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Dec 7, 2017
December 7th, 2017

Question: What’s the big deal about the number 666?

Yesterday’s Question Answered below: When we speak of Christmas, we call it Yuletide. Why? What’s a Yule?
History for 12/7/2017
Birthdays: Willa Cather, Larry Bird, Piero Mascagni, Madame Tussaud-1761, Johnny Bench, Louis Prima, Ted Knight –real name Wladsyslaw Konopka, Victor Kiam II, Noam Chomsky, Ellen Burstyn-real name Edna Mae Gilhooley, Harry Chapin, Clarence Nash the voice of Donald Duck, Eli Wallach, Tom Waits, Jeffrey Wright is 53

43 B.C.- Marcus Tullius Cicero executed. The great orator/writer was a declared enemy of Julius Caesar, yet Caesar preferred to ignore him. After Caesar’ murder at the Ides of March, Marc Anthony and Augustus were not so forgiving, They drew up lists of all those to be aced and the old philosopher's name was at the top. Cicero tried to flee by sea, but got so seasick he went back to his estate. The death squad caught him trying to flee again. When he saw it was no use, he calmly bared his neck to the soldiers. Gaius Pompilius Linus, the centurion who slew him, had once been successfully defended by Cicero in the law courts. Linus gave Cicero’s head and hands to Mark Anthony, who happily nailed them to the speakers rostrum in the Roman Forum.
Decades later, When the Emperor Augustus was an old man, he caught his grandson reading Cicero’s writings. Augustus paused to read some verses. He sighed:
” A learned man, and a patriot.”

185AD- Emperor LoYang wrote of seeing a bright star that was probably a supernova.

983- German Emperor Otto the Red died at age 28.

1671- In London two scientists- Nehemiah Grew and Italian Marcello Malpighi presented their findings on plants. This established the Science of Botany. That plants derive nutrients from the soil and grow from increased exposure to light and water, and not because they are urged to grow by a “Vegetable Soul”. That they cannot grow in a vacuum. That stamens, pistils and pollen are sexual organs and the veins of a leaf function much like the veins and arteries of humans. Malpighi later went on to human anatomy and discovered the capillaries and the human taste buds.

1775- The U.S. Navy granted a lieutenants’ commission to a young Scotsman named Paul Jones, who sometimes called himself John Paul and we know as John Paul Jones. When Abigail Adams met him she was surprised at his stature :” He is so small, I could wrap him in wool and carry him in my pocket.” She said. He had been a prospering merchant captain until he stabbed a rowdy shipmate in Tobago and fled his ship. He wandered about looking for employment for 20 months until the American Revolution gave him a new identity.

1787- Delaware became the first state to ratify the constitution, which is why it calls itself “the First State of the Union” on its license plates.

1815- The Mystery of Marshal Ney. Michel Ney was Napoleon's right hand. Called Le Rougeaud -the Redhead, because his hair color was inherited from his father, a Scots rebel for Bonny Prince Charlie. After Waterloo, the restored French Bourbon royalty needed a scapegoat to blame for the embarrassing ease with which the Corsican upstart took back France. So Michel Ney was court-martialed for treason and put up against the wall in the Luxembourg Gardens.

The fiery warrior offered no regret, and even gave the "Ready, Aim, -Fire!" order himself. The Duke of Wellington in charge of the occupational authorities was heavily criticized for allowing this travesty of justice to occur.

But maybe he didn’t? Recently some theorists claim the execution was a sham arranged by Wellington so that Ney could escape. They said the public was kept away from the execution site, and the soldiers of the firing squad were handpicked from Ney’s old veterans. When shot, Ney fell forward, instead of backwards after being hit by 12 -68 caliber musket balls, and no coup d' grace pistol shot to the brain was administered. Instead the body was immediately bundled up into a carriage and driven away. That night the Bourbons arrested the officer in charge of the firing squad.

Twenty-two years later, in 1837, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean in South Carolina, a French schoolteacher named Michael Stewart died of old age. On his deathbed, he told his confessor " I swear before God that I am Michel Ney, Marshal of France." While embalming, his family saw his body was covered with scars from musket and saber wounds.

1842- The New York Philharmonic, the oldest symphony orchestra in the U.S., gave its first concert, performing works of Beethoven under the baton of Ureli Corelli Hill.

1862- Battle of Prairie Grove- Brutal Civil War battle in Missouri where the chief recollection was how wounded soldiers stuck between the armies crawled into haystacks for shelter. Cannon shots ignited the hay and the 200 men roasted to death, Then the smell of barbecued flesh brought out local hogs who feasted on the human flesh and entrails while the combatants watched in horror. So next time you have pork chops don’t feel guilty. Those little piggies would do the same to you if they had the chance.
It was one of the few battles that future outlaws Frank James and Cole Younger were present at. Frank later wrote:” All those men standing around for hours trying to kill each other. I wouldn’t have wasted so much time…”

1869- The Davis County Savings Bank in Gallatin Missouri was robbed by some Clay County boys who began to get a reputation – Jesse James and Frank James. The bank manager Capt. Sheely was shot dead by another gang member Ed Anderson. Anderson had mistook Sheely for a union officer who had killed his brother Bloody Bill Anderson during the Civil War. While attempting to escape, Anderson’s horse bucked and dragged him down the street by his stirrup.

1872- The Los Angeles Library Association formed.

1916- David Lloyd George became Prime Minister of Great Britain. The little Welshman with Ferret-black eyes was considered one of England’s great statesmen despite helping to create some of the biggest problems of our time- The 1923 Anglo-Irish treaty that created Northern Ireland, The Versailles Treaty that spawned World War II and the Balfour Declaration that helped create Israel with no solution for the dispossessed Arabs. In is old age Lloyd George visited Hitler in Bertchesgarden and found him “A most fine fellow.”

1919- “Blind Husbands” premiered, the first film by Erich Von Stroheim. Originally a Viennese hat salesman, Stroheim cultivated his Germanic aristocratic image on the silver screen. The premiere issue of the New Yorker in 1923 glibly noted how “Mr. Stroheim has grown a very stylish “Von” in the Southern California Sun”.

1927- Olympic swimmer Johnny Weissmuller set a world record in the 150-meter freestyle, one minute 25 and 2/5th seconds. He competed in two Olympics and was never beaten. He later went to Hollywood and was the star of the Tarzan movies.

1934- Aviator Wiley Post discovered the strong air current in the upper atmosphere called the Jet Stream.

Dec. 7, 1941-THE ATTACK ON PEARL HARBOR- At dawn on a quiet Sunday morning 360 Japanese planes surprise attacked and sank most of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, causing 4,000 casualties. Lt. Kermit Tyler was awakened by the radar post on Diamond Head reporting hundreds of unknown planes headed towards them. His famous reply:" Well...don't worry about it.." Simultaneous attacks were made on British and Dutch military posts in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Singapore. The White House butler recalled a general telling President Franklin Roosevelt-“ It’s Pearl! They got the whole g*ddamn navy!”
While average Americans were enraged by the "Day of Infamy" sneak attack, the U.S. government was bracing for some kind of attack since July when FDR embargoed Japan’s steel and oil imports. Most experts expected a strike at Manila. The fact that Japan had sent a special envoy to Washington named Kurusu to negotiate the crisis even while preparing this attack was even more maddening to Americans.

Japan had begun her previous foreign wars with surprise attacks: against China in 1891 and Russia in 1905. It had it's philosophical roots in the Emai school of samurai, that of dealing a death stroke with one decisive blow. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, Harvard class of 1926, masterminded the plan. He was anti-war and knew a war with America was a long shot. When he heard that the surprise was complete but delivered before the war declaration in Washington, he said:" All I fear we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with terrible resolve."

1942- An RAF bomber pilot named Lumsden filed a report about seeing a UFO following his plane in the night skies over the English Channel. British pilots nicknamed the unexplained lights Foo Fighters, after a phrase in a comic strip.

1945- The microwave oven patented.

1964- Height of student uprising at Berkeley College in California. Students won more liberalized curriculum and open teaching and created the first major student protest of the tumultuous 1960's and earned Berkeley the national reputation of the nations most radicalized school. The Oakland police were later nicknamed the Blue Meanies after the villains in the Beatles cartoon Yellow Submarine.

1974- The disco song “Kung Fu Fighting” by Carl Douglas hit #1 in the pop charts.

1983- The first execution by lethal injection. The man’s name was Charles Brooks, a murderer in Texas. Interestingly enough the barbiturate used was Sodium Pentothal, the “truth serum” when administered in small dosage. Comedian George Carlin asked;” When they give you a lethal injection, why do they swab your arm with alcohol first?”

1988- A huge earthquake in Armenia killed 100,000 and left 5 million homeless.

1995- The Galileo space probe reached an orbit around Jupiter.
Yesterday’s Question: When we speak of Christmas, we call it Yuletide. Why? What’s a Yule?

Answer: Yule was the ancient pagan Viking festival of the solstice. It lasted 12 days. A big Yule Log was brought in from the sacred grove to light the family hearth.