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Jan 6, 2015 Epiphany
January 5th, 2015

Quiz: Why is going to prison called going too the hoosegow?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: Which was the world’s first commercial airline?
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History for 1/6/2015
Birthdays: St. Joan of Arc, Mountain man Jedediah Smith, Tom Mix, Alexander Scriabin, Gustav Dore', Loretta Young, Earl Skruggs. Carl Sandburg, Danny Thomas, Nancy Lopez, John DeLorean, Alan Watts, John Singleton, Rowan Atkinson is 60, Anthony Minghella

Happy Feast Of Epiphany or Twelfthnight. Today is the end of the twelve days of Christmas when the Magi, the three kings- Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar, visited the Holy Family. In many countries the Three Kings, not Christmas, is when children get their presents, because that’s when JC got his.

The Magi were the priestly caste of ancient Persia. They were believed to predate the Persians and come from the Chaldaeans, the people who invented the western branch of the science of astronomy. The Maya and Chinese were doing astronomy on their sides of the world. A lot of the Magi ritual concerned observation of the stars.

Some astronomers theorize the Star of Bethlehem was a rare planetary alignment that created a bright spot the Magi weren't used to, or a close orbit of Jupiter. Others have calculated that there was a supernova around 6 BC, which is more or less the right time.

1066- After the death of Edward the Confessor, Saxon Earl Harold Godwinsson crowned himself King of England, which made Duke William of Normandy feel like invading.

1522- The Augustinian Monastery of Wittenburg had been the home of reformer Martin Luther. Today, inspired by Luther’s preaching against the Vatican, the monks and nuns voted to disband themselves, move in together and start having sex like bunnies. Martin Luther had go back to sermonize them to calm down and get married.

1558- English Queen Mary Tudor had been talked by her proxy husband Phillip II into declaring war on France. The war went well for Spain, but this day the French recaptured Calais, the last English stronghold on the continent, which had been English for 211 years. Over the main gate of Calais was a stone image of a donkey that bore the inscription “Calais shall be English until this Donkey eats straw!”

1759- George Washington and Martha Custis marry. Washington first loved another woman who refused him, a Sally Fairfax who married a prominent English loyalist plantation owner. They fled to Europe when the Revolution began and never returned. When George married Martha she was a very rich widow, but beyond childbearing years.

This might have been a factor in Washington's decision later not to be King of America, for he would have no direct heirs. Imagine the complications in the young democracy trying to establish this concept of an elective President if there was a George Washington Jr. to contend with. Or a George W.Washington? In later years when Washington wanted to be alone, he would ride over to the ruins of the Fairfax Mansion.

1842- THE RETREAT FROM KABUL - This day15,000 British troops and their dependants march out of Kabul, Afghanistan on the road to Jellallabad. They were attacked by Afghan Ghilzais tribesmen all along the route through the Khyber Pass. Only one man survived, a surgeon William Brydon, who got lost along the way.

1849- the first cartoon cover of Punch Magazine.

1853- President-elect Franklin Pierce and his family are involved in a train wreck in Concord Mass. Pierce and the first lady survived but their last surviving child Ben was killed. First Lady Jean Pierce took this as a sign that God was punishing them for wanting the Presidency and she morosely withdrew from society. Franklin Pierce himself spent most of his administration drunk or on his knees singing psalms.

1872- Millionaire robber-baron Big Jim Fisk was shot dead by Ned Stokes, his rival for the affections of beautiful actress Josie Mansfield. Fisk once conned President Grant into a business partnership while he tried to corner the gold bullion market.

1912- New Mexico statehood.

1912- Scientist Alfred Wegener presented his paper to the German Geological Society in Frankfurt. In it he theorized that the Earth’s continents are not fixed in place but moving. He named it Continental Drift. This was all dismissed as nonsense until after WWII when submarines charting the ocean floor discovered tectonic plates. Today it is understood that the continents move at the speed with which you grow a fingernail. About 6 feet a century.

1919- Teddy Roosevelt died peacefully at Oyster Bay N.Y. at 60. He was never expected to survive childhood asthma, was wounded in Spanish American War, thrown 40 feet in a streetcar wreck, got a dangerous leg abscess while on safari, almost died of malaria in the Amazon and was shot by an assassin while giving a political speech, which he finished anyway. His daughter Alice said: " The problem with father is at every wedding he wants to be the bride and at every funeral the corpse."

1919- In the social anarchy after the defeat in World War I, German Communists storm the Chancellery in Berlin and try to set up a Bolshevik style Revolution. They are driven out by right wing mobs and more chaos reigns in the streets.

1945- First Pepe Le Pew cartoon, "Odorable Kitty". When the Warners producer who replaced Leon Schlesinger, Eddie Selzer, heard the plans to do a short about a skunk he thundered: "Absolutely Not! Nobody will like a cartoon skunk!" Chuck Jones recalled: "As soon as he said no, I knew we just had to do it." Selzer's final opinion:" Nobody'll laugh at that sh*t!" The short won an Oscar. Selzer later went on into network T.V.

1945- Navy Lt. George H. W. Bush married Barbara Pierce. Despite Barbara’s mother’s opinion of Bush “Singularly Unimpressive”, Poppy Bush made Barbara First Lady and the mother of another president.

1949- Composer Leonard Bernstein noted in his diary that “JR (Jerome Robbins) called today with a novel idea- a modern version of Romeo and Juliet set in the slums.” At first the musical was going to be called East Side Story, then GangWay, finally West Side Story.

1956- Prince Rainier of Monaco announced his engagement to movie star Grace Kelly.

1962- Bob Clampett's Beany and Cecil the Sea-Sick Sea Serpent. This was the animated version of his popular puppet show.“So Long Kids, Wind Up Your Lids, We’ll look for You Real Soooooon.”

1975-“ Ease on Down the Road.-“ The musical The Wiz premiered on Broadway.

1993- Ballet star Rudolf Nureyev, the most famous male dancer since Nijinsky, died of HIV/AIDS.

1994- “WHY ME, WHY ME?” Shortly after a practice in a Detroit skating rink, Olympic hopeful Nancy Kerrigan was attacked by a man trying to smash her knees with a steel pipe. The man Derrick Smith later confessed to the FBI that he was paid $6500 to do the deed by Jeff Gilhooly, the manager of Kerrigan’s rival Tanya Harding. After all the intense media coverage Nancy Kerrigan won one Silver medal, Tanya Harding nothing and the Olympic Gold went to Ukrainian Oksana Baiul, who was later busted for drunk driving.

1995- In another great leap for low journalism, CBS anchor Connie Chung gets Kathleen Gingrich, the mother of Republican Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, to call First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton a “bitch”. In an earlier time such gutter utterances would have been politely edited, but this was given national prominence.

1996- In Gaza, Hamas leader Yahya Ayyash called the Engineer, dialed his cellphone and it blew his head off. It was a remote control bomb set by the Israeli Mossad. 100,000 Palestinians attended Ayyash’s funeral.
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Yesterday’s Question: Which was the world’s first commercial airline?

Answer: KLM, Royal Dutch Airline. Started in 1919.


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