BACK to Blog Posts

Jan 2, 2023
January 2nd, 2023

Quiz: Name an important event that occurred in 1923.

Yesterday: When a woman was called a bluestocking, what does that mean?
History for 1/2/2023
Birthdays: Turkish Sultan Mehmed IV-1642, Frederic Opper the cartoonist of Happy Hooligan, Phillip Freneau, Roger Miller, Issac Asimov, Julius LaRosa, Tito Schipa, Renata Tebaldi, Tex Ritter, Dick Huemer, Cuba Gooding Jr, is 55, Tia Carrere, Kate Bosworth is 40

1492- Sultan Abu-Abdallah, called Boabdil, surrendered the Emirate of Grenada, the last stronghold of the Moors in Spain to Ferdinand of Aragon and Isabella of Castile. As Boabdil rode out of the city between the Spanish troops, he paused on a hill for one last look at his beautiful city. The hill is today called El Ultimo Sospiro del Moro- the Last Sigh of the Moor.
This completed the master plan of the Christian Spaniards to regain the whole Iberian peninsula. Called La ReConquista, it had been raging for 500 years. In Rome Pope Alexander VI Borgia, who was also a Spaniard, celebrated the news by closing off Saint Peter's Square from worshippers to stage a bullfight.

Boabdil's mother, the Sultana Ayeesha, scolded him for weeping while surrendering the city. " I should have smothered you as an infant, rather than watch you live like a degenerate and surrender like a whore...!" Gee, Thanks Mom…

1496- Did Leonardo da Vinci try to fly? Leonardo studied the motor actions of birds and sketched numerous flying machines. In one of his notebooks Leonardo had written:” On the second day of January, I will make the attempt.” Leonardo later noted in his financial records payment to a physician when his apprentice named Antonio broke his leg. It’s been speculated Antonio broke it trying to pilot one of his master’s flying machines.

1522- Adrian VI, a Dutchman was elected Pope. He was the first non-Italian since 1378.
He really tried to be a true Christian spiritual guide and agreed with Martin Luther that the church was too corrupt and sinful in its ways. He demanded he and his cardinals live on only one ducat a day, about $12.50, he walled up the Belvedere Palace and it’s beautiful collection of ancient Greek & Roman art as pagan idolatry.
Poets, painters and sculptors were furious that this Pope cancelled all their lucrative contracts. The unemployed poet Aretino called the cardinals “miserable rabble that should all be buried alive" for choosing such a lousy pope.
After three months Adrian died. This time the cardinals selected a Medici Pope who loved art, music and parties. The artists of Rome sent flowers to Adrian’s doctor to congratulate him for losing his patient. The next non-Italian Pope was John Paul II in 1978

1542- The town of Geneva had put themselves under the Protestant theologian John Calvin to reform everybody’s lifestyles. His first move was to create order in their new way of religion. This day his great work the Ecclesiastical Ordinances were approved by the Grand Council and put into law. It created a ministry of deacons, pastors teachers and lay elders based on Biblical Law. Calvin’s new code became the basis of the future churches of Presbyterianism, Huguenots, Puritans and Calvinism and reached as far as England, Scotland and America.

1602- End of the siege of Kinsale. Rebel Earl Hugh O’Neill had invited the Spanish to help him overthrow British rule in Ireland. He lost, and the English domination of Ireland was confirmed.

1611-THE BLOOD COUNTESS- Beautiful Transylvanian Countess Elizabeth Bathory was indicted for the murder of 610 people. She apparently believed that bathing in the blood of virgin girls would keep her skin beautiful. The crimes of the Medieval nobility were often winked at until they become so outrageous, they couldn’t be ignored any longer. When peasant girls kept disappearing around Csejthe Castle word got back to her big uncle King Sigmund Bathory of Poland, the enemy of Ivan the Terrible. When King Sigmund discovered the full horror of her story, he had Elizabeth walled up alive in her chamber. Daily food passed through a slit in the wall. When after a few years the empty dishes stopped being passed through, that slit was bricked up as well.

1688- The great insurance house Lloyd’s of London founded. In the past they’ve insured Betty Grable’s legs, Bruce Springsteen’s lungs and offered a million English pounds to anyone who could prove Elvis Presley was still alive.

1757- British redcoats marched into Calcutta.

1785- Austrian Emperor Joseph II ordered the Jews throughout his empire to adopt family surnames. A similar law was passed in Prussia and the rest of Germany ten years later. Most Jews created surnames out of their profession. This was when someone like Yitzhak the diamond dealer became Issac Diamondstein and Yakub the butcher became Jacob Fleischman. If you think that’s funny, what if your name is Taylor, Miller, or Weaver?

1788- Georgia voted to ratify the Constitution.

1800- The free black community in Philadelphia petitioned Congress to abolish slavery. A South Carolina senator denounced the act as:” This new-fangled French philosophy of Liberty and Equality!”

1815- Lord Byron married Lady Anna Milbanke.

1837- It was the custom at New Years for the Mayor of New York to hold an open house. Average citizens could pay a call, have a glass of sherry and pound cake and express good wishes for the New Year. But Mayor Cornelius Lawrence was a Tammany politician who had been elected with the help of gangs of hooligans from the Bowery and Five Points. When he held an open house this day all these gang toughs stormed in, got drunk, wiped their fingers on the curtains and pocketed the silverware. It quickly became bedlam. Mayor Lawrence had to get militia troops to push the mob out and lock the doors.

1843- Richard Wagner’s opera The Flying Dutchman premiered in Dresden.

1863 HELL’S HALF-ACRE- In the American Civil War the battle of Stones River or Mufreesboro resumed after a two days truce for New Years. The Union Army had been surprised attacked New Years Eve and caved in to a tight horseshoe configuration. By now it was now dug in and further fighting seemed fruitless. But Confederate army Commander Baxton Bragg couldn’t bring himself to retreat again as he had at Perryville.
So over the protests of his subordinates that it was suicide, he ordered a direct frontal attack. One brigade commander named Hanson declared he’d rather kill Bragg than murder his own soldiers. Hanson was killed in action. The Kentucky Orphans Brigade led by Confederate Vice President John Breckinbridge charged into a furious Yankee artillery cross fire and was annihilated. The attack failed and Bragg retreated anyway.

1873- Richard “Slippery-Dick” Connolly becomes the first American to embezzle a million dollars -he actually embezzled four million. He was the financial controller for the City of New York under Boss Tweed. Together the Tweed ring bilked New York City out of $60 million dollars. This day he fled abroad ahead of the police. Tweed was nabbed and died in jail but Slippery Dick Connolly lived in Europe happily ever after.

1878- Farmer John Martin thought he saw something shiny flying in the sky above Denizen Texas. He is the first person to describe it as a “flying saucer.”

1882- John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil company controlled almost 90% of the U.S. crude oil output but the government seemed poised to hit it with anti-monopoly laws. So anticipating this move he reorganized Standard Oil into a Trust with himself as chief Trustee. Standard Oil later became ESSO (S-O) then EXXON-MOBIL.

1897- Young writer Stephen Crane survived a shipwreck when the good ship SS Commodore went down off the coast of Florida. He went on to write The Open Boat and The Red Badge of Courage.

1904- The Russians surrendered their big Pacific base of Port Arthur to the Japanese after a one-year siege. During the boredom of the siege the game Russian Roulette was invented- of putting a six shooter to your head with one bullet in a spun chamber. When their men kept dying for no reason the Stavka, or High Command, were at a loss how to stop it. When they caught men playing this lethal game they charged them for illegal use of government property- i.e. the bullets.

1909- Aimie Semple MacPherson was given her ordination by the Evangelical community of Chicago. Sister Aimie moved to Los Angeles and became one of the first great broadcast evangelists, entertaining millions with salvation and sin, while keeping toy-boys and popping pills on the side.

1937- Hollywood actor Ross Alexander had hit on tough times. He had been in a few movies like Captain Blood and A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but his career seemed to be stalled, he was in debt, and his wife committed suicide. This day the 29 year old went into the barn behind his Encino home and shot himself. The Warner Bros. Studio looked around for a replacement to refill their roster of handsome male leads. They replaced Alexander with an Illinois college sportscaster called “Dutch”- Ronald Reagan.

1939- Time Magazine named Adolf Hitler it’s “Man of the Year”.

1942- The Japanese army under General Homma entered Manila. They said they had come to drive out the American Western colonialists and create pan-Asian harmony. But they offended the Filipinos with atrocities like hanging the Chief Justice of the Philippine Supreme Court from a flagpole when he refused to be part of the occupation regime. Homma also had the city bombed even after they agreed to surrender.

1958- Maria Callas threw one of the more celebrated temper tantrums in Opera history when she stormed off the stage at La Scala in the middle of Bellini’s Norma with the President of Italy in the audience. La Divina Callas was a Greek-American with a beautiful voice and the slimmest waistline since Lili Pons. She was part of the Jet-Set society culture and her temper was famous.

1960- Young Mass. Senator John F. Kennedy announced he was a candidate for president. When asked why do you want to be president? Kennedy replied:” Because it’s the best job there is.”

1963- The Magic Castle opened in Hollywood. The Academy of Magicians renovated this 1908 mansion and declared it the world’s most unique private club. Even today, you can only get in by being invited by a member.

1971- Israeli archaeologists in Jerusalem discovered the 2,000 year old remains of a crucified man. No, they didn’t think it was You-Know-Who. But it did provide the first empirical proof that Romans really used that method of execution.

1975- In a letter to MITS, college kids Bill Gates and Paul Allen offered their computer language adaptation of BASIC for the new Altair personal computer. They named themselves Microsoft.

1984- The Zenith Corporation announced it would stop selling video recorders in Betamax format and go over wholly to VHS. Other electronics giants followed suit and VHS won out over the higher quality Beta system.

1995- Washington D.C. Mayor Marion Barry was inaugurated for a second term after winning re-election, despite his conviction for smoking crack. Comedian Chris Rock said: “Who ran against him? Who was such a bad choice that people said- I’d rather vote for a crackhead? “

2000- Internet developers Larry Sanger and Jimmy Wales, had a conversation about writing data entries for collaborative websites called wikis. Saunders conceived of an open on-line encyclopedia encompassing all world knowledge. He called it Wikipedia.

2019- The Chinese space probe, the Chang’e 4 became the first man made object to successfully land on the Dark side of the Moon.
Yesterday’s Question: When a woman was called a bluestocking, what does that mean?

Answer: A bluestocking was a derogatory label for an educated, independent woman. It began in XVIII Century England when Elizabeth Montagu began the BlueStocking Society. Women then attending university in Britain were required to wear blue stockings as part of their school uniform. When XIX Century women’s movements also embraced temperance, a Bluestocking came to mean sour killjoys who were too smart for their own good.