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May 12, 2014 mon
May 12th, 2014

Quiz: What city is called the City of Brotherly Love?

Yesterday’s Question Answered below: What does it mean to give someone the High-Hat? ( 1930s slang).
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History for 5/12/2014
Birthdays: Dolly Madison, Dante Rossetti, Frank Stella, Florence Nightingale, Tom Snyder, George Carlin, Wilfred Hyde-White, Emilio Estevez, Ron Zeigler, Farley Mowatt, Ving Rhames, Bruce Boxleitner, Katherine Hepburn, Yogi Berra is 89, Burny Mattinson

1463-B.C.- THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON- Egyptian Pharoah Thutmoses III defeated a coalition of Canaanite princes at an outpost fort named Ha-Megiddo. This fort was the intersection of several roads that led south through the Lebanon Mountains into Palestine, so for centuries it was known for all the vicious battles and invasions that occurred there. When Saint John of Patmos wrote of the final battle in Book of the Apocalypse he said it would be as terrible as one fought at Ha-Meggido or Armageddon.

1641- Thomas the Earl of Strafford was beheaded. In the rapidly deteriorating political climate between King Charles I of England and his Parliament, the Earl of Strafford advocated the king get tough with these rude peasants and rule dictatorially with an Irish army of occupation. So Parliament passed an act of attainment accusing the earl of treason and the terrified king signed it. Ironically the Earl was never tried for treason, he was 'legislated to death'. But the situation was deteriorating so rapidly even he petitioned the King to sign his death warrant to keep the peace. By June King and Parliament would declare the English Civil War.

1745- THE BATTLE OF FONTENOY- Britain and France fight (yet again) .this time the French under one-eyed illegitimate son of the King of Poland named Marshal De Saxe defeated British under the Duke of Cumberland who was the illegitimate son of King George II. Saxe was suffering from dropsy so he conducted the battle from a wicker chair. It was also the last time a King of France and Dauphin appeared on a battlefield.
As the British army approached the French line an English Guards officer Lord Charles Hay produced a silver flask and toasted the enemy, declaring ' Lay on gentleman of France! We never fire first!" His French counterpart the Comte d’Antroche bowed and said "No. After you please!" They would have kept bowing and curtseying all day until someone finally fired.

1775- During the American Revolution, a New York mob carrying clubs and torches broke onto the campus of King’s College determined to lynch it’s president Miles Cooper, who was an outspoken loyalist. The mob was blocked on the steps of Cooper’s home by student Alexander Hamilton. While Hamilton pleaded for mercy, Cooper watched from the second story window. Cooper was hard of hearing and he thought the Hamilton was the instigator of the mob. So while Hamilton begged the mob not to kill his professor, Cooper yelled down:” DON’T LISTEN TO HIM! HE’S A BLOCKHEAD!” Despite this curious strategy, Miles Cooper escaped unharmed and Kings College name was changed to Columbia University.

1776- France’s chief finance minister Turgot fell from power and resigned. Turgot tried to reform France’s almost medieval economy- While all the king could think of was to cut the budget for the Royal Lapdogs Turgot abolished outdated medieval tariffs, and subsidies to useless noblemen. He also began serious land reform. Many including Voltaire and Catherine the Great felt that if Turgot was allowed to be successful the French Revolution wouldn’t have happened. Frederick the Great agreed that “the Fall of Turgot presaged the collapse of France.”

1789- TAMANY HALL BORN- The first and oldest of U.S. political machines (clubs , pacts, lobbies, whatever ) Founded in Philadelphia and moved to New York it was named for a Chief Tamamend, the Delaware chief who welcomed William Penn. The Hall on 14 th street was nicknamed the Wigwam and the leaders called Sachems, the Algonquin word for chief.

Throughout the 1800's it was famous for buying and selling political offices, bribery and corruption. Boss Tweed and Slippery Dick Connolly, the first American to embezzle one million dollars, were Tamany Sachems. Tamany were the first to realize there was political power in mobilizing the mass of working class immigrants against the snooty New York power elite. Tamany Hall men would stand on docks welcoming immigrants with a voting card and a silver dollar to vote for their candidates. Another trick was for Tamany men to grow a full beard and vote, then go home, shave to a goatee, vote again, shave to a mustache, vote again, then clean shave and vote once more.

Tamany Hall was still influential into modern times. Bill O'Dwyer, a Tamany sachem was mayor of New York in the late 1940’s and in 1963 future Mayor Ed Koch became a congressman by unseating the last Tammany sachem Carmine DeSapio..

1796- Napoleon's French Army occupied the city of Venice and destroyed the last traces of the independent Venetian Republic 'La Serenissima" The Most Serene Republic. The Last Doge Daniele Manin was forced to abdicate and his Byzantine crown and trappings of office were burned, along with his famous golden barge, the 'Boucintoro'. Venice, an independent city-state since 976AD was going to be part of Italy whether she liked it or not!

1797- The Peace of Leoben- Napoleon forced a peace treaty on Austria by menacing Vienna. He went in French eyes from a popular general to a national figure. At one point when frustrated with negotiating with the Austrian diplomats he smashed a china tea set to the floor and shouted “ If you don’t submit to my terms I will break your empire like so much old crockery!” With this treaty France gets it’s first real peace since the Revolution started in 1789.

1809- Napoleon’s heavy cannon- called Napoleon’s Daughters- began bombarding the Austrian capitol Vienna. Beethoven hid in a celler. A cannonball fell near composer Franz Josef Haydn’s house but the octogenarian composer comforted his friends:” Children don’t be frightened; Where Papa Haydn is, no harm can come to you.” When the city was occupied the French officer in charge of the guard on Haydn’s house comforted the old composer by singing an aria from his oratorio The Creation.

1812- Czar Alexander signed a peace treaty with Turkey in order to free up troops to face Napoleon’s pending invasion. Napoleon encouraged the Sultan to declare a jihad on Russia and promised him Moldova and other lost Balkan provinces. But the Sultan knew a con when he heard one and wouldn’t take the bait.

1846- The Donner Party wagon train left Independence Missouri to start it’s trek out west to California. They tried a new short cut proposed by a charlatan named Lansford Hastings to get to California. They crossing the burning alkaline deserts of Utah and were attacked by Paiute Indians. By Halloween heavy snow storms stranded the Donners in the High Sierra Mountains where the starving survivors resorted to cannibalism.

1864-BATTLE OF SPOTSYLVANIA- After Lee whips Grant in the Wilderness, instead of retreating Grant wheels around and attacks again. This time winning a draw. The fighting was dreadful, reports of trees so thick you couldn't put your arms around cut down by bullets, and men hit with so many 68 cal. musket balls at one time that their bodies literally would fall apart.

At the fight in the center of the line called The Angle Yankees and Confederates crowded in so tightly they pressed against one another like a massive rugby game. Soldiers fought hand to hand with pistol butts, flag staffs, clubs, fists, some even took their empty bayonet muskets and hurled them into the crowd like a spear. Nothing failed to cause injury.

One casualty was union general "Uncle John" Sedgewick, shot by rebel snipers. His last words were:" Aw go on men! Them rebs couldn't hit an elephant at this dis......."

1881- Tunisia was made a colonial protectorate of France.

1915- THE BRYCE COMISSION- An English commission to study reports of German atrocities that was really a propaganda machine aimed at getting the United States into the Great War. America had the problem that if she chose the allied side in World War One, several million immigrant citizens of German, Hungarian and Austrian descent were sympathetic to the Kaiser. Add to them millions of English-hating Irish, Jewish Americans who wanted the openly Anti-Semitic Russian Empire beaten and many average Americans who felt the main reason their forefathers crossed the ocean was to get away from the kind of trouble that occurred back in Europe.

So you can see it was hard to get everyone up for intervention. The American yellow press printed all the British accounts without ever questioning their accuracy- they horrified the average reader with hair-raising stories of German troops raping and killing Belgian women, chopping the hands off of children and crucifying Canadian prisoners with bayonets through their hands and feet. Even though some atrocities stories were verified, like the needless burning of the medieval Library of Louvain -The German term was Shreiklichkeit- Rule by Fear- today it is acknowledged that most of these accounts were dressed up to get us to Hate the Hun!

Later the U.S. Office of War Information took over feeding these stories to the press. It was headed by a psychiatrist Edmund Bernays, a psychoanalyst nephew of Sigmund Freud who after the war went into advertising.

1934- Hungarian scientist Dr Leo Szilard took out a secret patent on his concept of a chain reaction, being able to theoretically release energy from uranium on an atomic level. Enrico Fermi proved this and created the first controlled chain reaction in 1939.

1936- John Maynard Keynes most famous work "the General Theory of Money, Interest and Work" was published. Today if a politician advocates government control in the business market, he is called a "Keynesian". Keynes once said: ' My only regret in life is that I did not drink more champagne."

1937-After the abdication of Edward VIII to marry Mrs. Simpson, his brother Bertie was crowned today as King George VI at Westminster. King George and Queen Elizabeth were the parents of the current Queen and were the first English monarchs to ever travel to America and eat hot dogs.

1938- “The Adventures of Robin Hood” starring Errol Flynn, Basil Rathbone, Olivia DeHaviland, Claude Rains and Eugene Paulette premiered. The swashbuckling film then cost a whopping $2 million dollars to make! The light brown horse Maid Marion rode in the movie was later bought by singing cowboy Roy Rogers and renamed Trigger.

1940-Despite being neutral, Switzerland mobilized it’s tiny army in anticipation of a Nazi invasion.

1943- Penned in at Tunis by English and American armies, Rommel's Nazi Afrika Korps laid down their arms. Rommel himself was hospitalized in Germany with diphtheria and would fight again. Besides desert and snows of Norway the Germans were so sure they would be active in all climates that after the war the allies found warehouses full of Tropical uniforms for action in some future African equatorial jungle.

1945- Reischmarshall Herman Goring drove to an American air base and surrendered himself and his family to USAAF commander General Spaatz. The former fighter pilot said he wanted to surrender to a fellow airman. Spaatz was later reprimanded for being photographed toasting and celebrating the end of the war with Goring.

1948- In Palestine, the secret key cabinet meeting of Jewish leaders over whether to declare independence before the British evacuated on May 15th. The UN and even the US was asking for a UN sponsored three month cooling off period but Jewish leaders like David Ben Gurion felt any more delay would be fatal. The decided that even though they would be attacked by five Arab nations simultaneously they would declare independence on May 14th.
The last problem was what to call the new country? After Zion, Zionia and Herzelania was suggested, they decided to go with the name of a kibbutz using an ancient Biblical name- Eretz-Israel or simply Israel.

1949- THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF WEST GERMANY BORN- Seventy German politicians free of a Nazi past meet in a schoolroom and create Germany's first ever democratic constitution. The Allied Military Governor General Lucius Clay announced he would close his office and return to America. In 1989, The Federal Republic or West Germany, reunited with the Democratic Republic, aka East Germany.

1962- First day shooting on Frederigo Fellini’s film 8 1/2. When screened for American Producer Joe Levine, Levine took the cigar from his mouth and growled-” Frederigo, what da hell did that movie mean? ” Fellini shrugged –“I dunno”.

1963- Folksinger Bob Dylan walked out of a taping on the Ed Sullivan Show. He objected to CBS censors wanting to cut his number making fun of extra Right-Wing extremists like the John Birch Society.

1971 - Rolling Stone Mick Jagger weds Bianca Macias at St Tropez Town Hall.
They later divorced and Bianca became a famous habitue’ of trendy discos and fashion magazines.

1971- Tor Johnson died of a heart attack at age 68. Swedish wrestler turned actor Tor’s preferred role was the bald eyeless zombie in classics like Plan Nine from Outer Space and Bride of the Monster.

1977- A small Westchester radio station WENW hired a thin, gawky, college grad as a DJ- Howard Stern. US radio would never be the same.

1982- The comic strip 'Marvin' debuted.

1985- Philadelphia Police were trying to break into the headquarters of a militant anarchist group called MOVE. They were barricaded in a row house. Someone had the bright idea of dropping a bomb on the building. The explosion and fire killed 11 including some children and set off a conflagration that engulfed the neighborhood. Some people remember it as noteworthy in that it was the first time an air strike was used on an American city by American authorities

1999- The First Scottish Parliament in three hundred years and the first Welsh assembly since Owen Glendower in 1410 sat in session today.

2008- A powerful earthquake hit Chungdu in Sichuan Province in China, killing tens of thousands.
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Yesterday’s Question: What does it mean to give someone the High-Hat? (1930s slang).

Answer: In the era of rail travel, a high-hat was a round lantern hung high to signal an express train that the track ahead was clear and they didn't have to slow down. So a girl giving you the high hat meant just keep moving on and don't stop to flirt.


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