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Sept 23, 2013 mon
September 22nd, 2013

Quiz: Jules Verne was never specific where his character Captain Nemo came from, but he once did have an idea until his publisher talked him out of it. What nation would the protagonist of Twenty Thousand Leagues hail from?

Yesterday’s Question Answered Below: In Mary Shelly’s original novel Frankenstein, what part of Germany was Dr. Frankenstein from?
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History for 9/23/2013
Birthdays: Euripides-484BC, Victoria Woodhull, Walter Lippmann, Ray Charles, John Coltrane, Mickey Rooney is 93, Julio Inglesias, Walter Pidgeon, Louise Nevelson, Jason Alexander is 54, Mary Kay Place, Harry Connick Jr,, Bruce Springsteen is 64, William McGuffey*

*McGuffey was the educator and author of "the McGuffey Readers", a standard school textbook so successful, that by 1860 the U.S. had an 80% literacy rate.

480 BC THE BATTLE OF SALAMIS- Themistocles and the Athenian fleet defeated the giant armada of Xerxes the Great King of Persia and threw back his invasion. Xerxes was so angry he had his top Phoenician captains beheaded. This battle assured the Golden Age of Greek culture would flourish uninterrupted with democratic Athens at its’ center. The playwright Aeschylus fought in the ranks and Sophocles led the chorus of nude boys dancing and singing in the victory celebrations. Themistocles laid the foundation for Athenian power by insisting she built a large navy rather than an army and concentrate on trade rather than territorial conquest. But Themistocles liked to make money too, and used his offices to pad his fortune, which eventually got him exiled. But not before in another moment of originality he set himself up histories first known foreign bank account as a private slush fund. Aeschylus in his old age was supposedly killed by an eagle who dropped a turtle upon his head, mistaking his bald skull for a rock. Ouch.

Greek Chronicles tell us that also on this same day in 480 BC- Glycon of Syracuse defeated the huge Cathaginian host of Hamilcar and saved Sicily for Greece. Hamilcar spent the battle burning up animal sacrifices to the Gods for good omens. When he saw he was losing Hamilcar threw himself on the fire. Not a bad solution because Carthage’s tradition was to crucify generals who lost battles.

1326- Queen Isabella the "She-Wolf of France" and her lover Edmund Mortimer invade England to overthrow her openly gay husband, King Edward II. Sounds like a soap opera, doesn't it ?

1568- English merchantman John Hawkins and his 3 slave trading ship were blown by a hurricane into the harbor of San Juan de Ulua, the staging area for the fabulous treasure fleets that carry the gold of Peru to Spain. The Spanish and English worked out a temporary peace but on this day the Spanish Viceroy ordered his men to attack and kill most of the English heretics. Only two ships got away and one carried a young clergyman's son from Devon who then on nursed a grudge against Spain - Francis Drake.

1642- The first commencement ceremony at Harvard College.

1779- "I HAVE NOT YET BEGUN TO FIGHT !" Captain John Paul Jones on the U.S.S. BonHomme Richard defeated the larger British H.M.S. Serapis in an epic sea duel off Cape Falmouth, England. The two ships grappled each other side by side, pounded away with heavy cannon and fought hand-to-hand. The ships were so close that men could jump through the gun portals from one ship to another. At one point Bonhomme Richard was burning from stem to stern, sinking and all her guns out of action. But John Paul Jones refused to give up. The American crew thought their pint-sized Scots captain had lost his reason. When gunnery Ensign Grubb tried to haul down the Stars & Stripes Jones knocked him down with a pistol butt. English Captain Pearson overheard Jones arguing with his officers about surrender and called aloud "Sir, do you strike your colors, sir?" That’s when John Paul Jones shouted his famous retort: "I have not yet begun to fight!"

To make matters worse the other American ship in the area the USS Alliance was manned by a jealous captain named Launnay. He ordered a broadside fired into the Bonhomme Richard! Launnay hoped that by helping the Englishman kill Jones he could then finish off the Briton and take all the credit for the victory. Jones personally ran over to a ten pounder cannon whose crew had been killed, loaded it and fired it himself, bringing down the Serapis’ mainmast.

Finally it was English Captain Pearson who gave up. The Bon Homme was so shot to pieces it sank so the victors had to ride home on the Serapis. The point of the battle for Jones was trying to raid a British merchant convoy, and the convoy got away, but the symbolic victory to Americans and French was significant. John Paul Jones became a legend on the English Channel. In 2002 the wreck of the Bonhomme Richard was discovered 7 miles off the English coast and is being explored.

1780-"TREASON MOST FOUL !" General Benedict Arnold, fed up with being ignored for promotion by the American high command, planned to change sides by betraying West Point to the British. This was the huge American fortress that would give Britain control of the Hudson River and so split the rebellious colonies in half.

Major John Andre' of British intelligence had a meeting with Arnold and was passing back through the lines when he was apprehended by some Yankee militia. These rascals skulked between the armies robbing anyone who chanced their way but when they discovered incriminating documents in his boot they turned Andre over to the authorities. Because Andre was out of uniform he was hanged as a spy. This morning Benedict Arnold found out Andre had been arrested and the jig was up just as George Washington, Alexander Hamilton and Lafayette were riding over for breakfast !

Arnold escaped to the warship HMS Vulture waiting down river while his wife Peggy stalled Gen. Washington and party in the parlor. When Washington learned of Arnold's treason and freaked Peggy feigned a fit of hysterics. Disheveled, with her baby at her breast she shrieked to the horrified Washington :"They're putting hot irons in my Head! Hot irons in my Head!!". She was put to bed and later slipped away to safety. It wasn't known until 1930 when British Army Intelligence documents were made public that loyalist Peggy Arnold was not only deep in the scheme but had been the chief inspiration of Arnold's changing sides. When Peggy died in London of old age, a locket containing the picture of Major Andre was found around her neck..

1803- Battle of Assaye- The Maharatta Rajahs of the Deccan are defeated by a young British general named Arthur Wellesley who Napoleon would meet twelve years later as the Duke of Wellington at a place called Waterloo. Wellington in retirement said Assaye was still his toughest fight.

1806- LEWIS and CLARK RETURN to St. Louis, their starting off point, after two years exploring the West to the Pacific. In all that time they only lost one man to disease and almost never fired their guns in anger.

1845- After only six weeks of U.S. rule, angry Los Angeleanos attack Commodore Stockton's home. The War with Mexico hadn't broken out yet but American and Mexican paramilitary expeditions (called Filibusters) angled for power in California due to the loose and confused control from Mexico City. Mexican-Californian rancheros themselves frequently defied the government authorities, giving rise to the Zorro stories.

1846- The planet Neptune discovered by Johann Gottleib Gala.

1862- writer Leo Tolstoy married Sophie Behrs.

1862- Battle of Wood Lake- Minnesota militia put down the Great Santee Sioux Uprising led by Chief Little Crow. The Sioux had set up an ambush in the tall grass on either side of a road but the hungry Army troops steered their wagons right into the fields to look for left over potatoes. The Indians had to reveal their position and fire before they were run over.

1889- The Nintendo Company started in Kyoto, They began by making hand-painted playing cards. In 1956 they transitioned to electronics, and in the 1980s invented Donkey-Kong and Legend of Zelda.

1908- Giants batter Fred Merkle hit the winning run in a pennant game with the Chicago Cubs. But in running the bases he neglected to touch second base so his run was disallowed and the game was declared a tie. They replayed the game the following day and the Cubs won the pennant. Thereafter Merkle's nickname became Bonehead Merkle.

1912- "Cohen Collects a Debt" Max Sennet's first film comedy featuring the Keystone Kops.

1915- The German submarine U-9 shows the world the power of submarines by sinking three big British battle cruisers all in one day. The HMS Hogue, Aboukir and Monmouth were torpedoed and sent to the bottom.

1921- The Band-Aid self-adhesive bandage introduced. A scientist at Johnson &Johnson invented it for his wife who kept cutting herself in the kitchen. Supposedly the skin tone color, which doesn't seem to match anybodies skin, was her skin coloring.

1933- At a dedication ceremony Adolf Hitler broke ground for the construction of Germany’s Autobahn system- 1400 miles of modern freeway. One story says Hitler himself conceived the idea since he was a lifelong auto enthusiast. But that is untrue. German designers as early as 1913 were inventing the road features common to today’s motorists- the Blending Lane and Clover Leaf, Fast Lanes and meridian divided roads.

1939- At the World’s Fair in New York a time capsule was buried not to be opened until the year 6939. It contains a Bible, a mail order catalog and newsreels of President Franklin Roosevelt.

1939- Sigmund Freud died at age 83. Suffering from inoperable cancer of the jaw, he had his doctor euthanize him with a lethal shot of cocaine.

1942- Erwin Rommel the Desert Fox left his his Afrika Korps at El Alamein and flew home to Germany to be treated for acute diphtheria. He missed most of the battle, but returned when things were going badly.

1942-Dr. Robert Oppenheimer and General Leslie Grove start the "Manhattan Project", the building of a "cosmic-super bomb" (the A-Bomb). Hungarian Professor Leo Szilard had been pestering the U.S. government since 1938 to do something before the Hitler made one first. Finally the War Dept. gave the go ahead to collect the finest physicists in the free world to create a super bomb. Scientists like Richard Fenyman and Enrico Ferme would arrive for work at an office in downtown Santa Fe and be immediately whisked out the back in a sealed truck to the top secret lab complex at Los Alamos.

The project was so secret that they were warned if they breathed a word about it the government would make sure they "disappeared' for at least ten years ! Vice President Truman had no idea of the project until he was told the night Roosevelt died. Leo Szilard was never asked to join the team because the F.B.I. considered him 'politically suspect', yet we now know at least two scientists were Soviet spies, Dr. Karl Fuchs and Ted Hall.

1952- The "CHECKERS" SPEECH- Young Senator Richard Nixon saved his career as Eisenhower's running mate by going on nationwide T.V. and explaining away allegations of accepting improper gifts while a congressman. Included is a dog "checkers" for his kids. "He’s a good dog, and we’re gonna keep him." "My wife doesn't own a mink coat, she has a good Republican cloth-coat." Eisenhower was close to dumping the embattled senator from the ticket but the popular outcry of support after this speech but Nixon back on top. In effect he four-walled Ike into keeping him on the ticket.

1962- H& B's show The Jetsons' premiered. It was the first ABC show to be presented in color. Jane! Stop this Crazy Thing! Jane!

1964- Marc Chagalls’ paintings on the ceiling of the Paris Opera House unveiled.

1969- the film "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" premiered. Written by William Goldman and directed by George Roy Hill. It made fortunes for stars Paul Newman and Robert Redford, who later started and independent film festival called Sundance.

1984-Michael Eisner, Jeffrey Katzenberg and Frank Wells met the Disney Animation Dept. and are pitched storyboards for the film Basil of Baker Street, later called the Great Mouse Detective. Eisner dictates memos to start the television animation division. Up to now their thinking had been to dismantle the animation department and earn income from the licensees of the existing library. Roy Disney was instrumental in insisting the animation division remain.
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Yesterday’s Question: In Mary Shelly’s original novel Frankenstein, what part of Germany was Dr. Frankenstein from?

Answer: He was Swiss.


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