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March 28, 2023
March 28th, 2023

Quiz: Who were Paulo and Francesca? (hint: Medieval Literature)

Yesterdays Question answered below: What does it mean to go around half cocked?
History for 3/28/2023
Birthdays: Paul Whiteman, Pearl Bailey, Freddy Bartholomew, Dirk Bogarde,
Confederate Gen. Wade Hampton, pianist Rudolph Serkin, Swifty Lazar, Marlin Perkins, Diane Weist, Reba McEntire, Vince Vaughn is 53, Julia Stiles is 42, Lady Gaga (born Stefani Germanetta) is 37

193A.D. THE DAY THE WORLD WAS PUT UP FOR AUCTION- The Roman Emperor Pertinax had just been assassinated by his bodyguards and the Praetorian Prefect Marius Maximus wisely turned down the job- bad retirement prospects. The guards realized they cannot be Imperial Guards without an emperor to guard. They might even get sent back to the frontier! So, they posted an announcement that "whoever wanted to be Emperor of the Known World" should come to the Praetorian camp that night and submit a bid. Several senators competed. The winner was Didius Julianus, with a winning bid of 15,000 silver pieces per man in the 1,500 man Guards. Almost none of Rome’s generals went along with this dippy solution to the succession to the throne of the Caesars. Julianus was soon bumped off in a violent civil war that eventually saw Septimius Severus the winner.

1456- Today is the feast of St. John Capistrano. The Saint of the Swallows of California was born in Italy and was a preacher, was married, fought the Turks in Hungary, and in later life after becoming a monk was put in charge of the Holy Inquisition in Central Europe. He burned Protestant reformers and ordered all Jews to wear yellow badges so as not to seduce good Christians. He was so hated that a century after his death from plague the Calvinists dug up his grave and threw his bones down a well.
The Mission St. John Capistrano in California was named so by monk Fra Junipero Serra even though the Saint never visited the Golden State.

1778 -GEORGE WASHINGTON ANNOUNCED MAJOR GENERAL BARON VON STEUBEN, LATELY OF KING FREDERICK THE GREAT'S SERVICE, WOULD TRAIN THE AMERICAN ARMY. It turned out later Von Steuben was barely a real Baron. One British source claimed his medals were fakes purchased at a London theatrical costume shop. He did work on the Prussian General Staff. Von Steuben was a gay young man. And Frederick the Great was a gay king. And well, he made out well.
America was a new land, where if you wanted to be called a baron, you could be a baron. Von Steuben did an excellent job training the farmers and shop keeps in modern warfare. He wrote the first US Army manuals, he adapted and revised from the Prussian. He wrote: “ In Germany I order a soldier to do something and they do it. In America when I order a soldier to do something I must then explain WHY I want him to do it and WHY it is important!” The minutemen enjoyed watching him shout in a language they didn't understand, and at night around the campfire his big pet greyhound Azor howled along to the fiddle music.
Proof of his methods success was at the Battle of Monmouth. Lord Cornwallis groused:” Hmpf! Damned rebels formed up well.”

1800- Congress voted to extend Franking privileges to Martha Washington. Franking meant she could mail letters without having to pay for postage.

1862- SIBLEY'S RAID. THE BATTLE OF APACHE PASS -The closest the Civil War ever came to California. Confederate Henry Hastings Sibley proposed to the Confederate High Command in Richmond that since most of the US Army was now back East fighting, there was no one to stop them riding from Texas to the gold fields of California! Richmond gave him a brigade of Texas Volunteers, and they quickly overran Santa Fe, Albuquerque, and won a skirmish at Valverde. Plans were made for the Confederate conquest of Colorado, Utah and set up a new rebel state in Arizona. Fighting got as far west as some Pima villages that one day would be Phoenix.
But what Richmond didn’t appreciate was the regional rivalry – As soon as Colorado and New Mexico men heard they were being invaded by Texans, they rushed to fight them. And Sibley turned out to be a bad leader- because of his drinking habits, his men called him a Walking Whiskey Barrel.

This day a pitched battle was fought outside of Tuscon in Glorieta or Apache Pass. The Confederates won the battle, but during the confusion a Yankee captain named Chivington sneaked behind the lines and set fire to Sibley’s supply train. This proved decisive, since you can’t march armies in the Arizona desert without supplies and water. Sibley had to retreat to Texas, he, riding in a remaining wagon, drunk with officers wives, while his men marched with no water.

1870- THE ROCK OF CHICKAMAGUA KILLED BY A NEWSPAPER. Gen. George H. Thomas, retired Union war hero had a heart attack in a St. Louis Hotel after reading an editorial saying all in all he wasn't that great a general, and all his victories were just mistakes. Survivor of shot and shell, they found Thomas in his room, clutching a written rebuttal to his chest.

1881- P.T. Barnum formed a partnership with his chief competitor James Bailey to create Barnum & Bailey’s Circus. He proclaimed it the Greatest Show on Earth!

1920- Silent film stars Douglas Fairbanks & Mary Pickford married.

1928- Via radio broadcast, the public heard the voice of Charlie Chaplin for the first time.

1929- Disney short The Opry House was released. The first short where they changed Mickey Mouses’ design to give him white gloves.

1930- The name of the City of Constantinople was officially changed to Istanbul, Turkish for “The City”. Angora was renamed Ankara.

1935- Leni Reifenstahl’s hypnotic movie paean to Nazism- Triumph of the Will, premiered.

1941-Battle of Matapan- British Navy sank Mussolini's Navy off the coast of Ethiopia.

1941- English writer Virginia Woolf filled her pockets with stones and drowned herself in the River Ouse in Sussex. Her body was never found.

1942- Albert Hurter, Swiss designer for Walt Disney's "Snow White' and 'Pinocchio", and called the first inspirational artist in animation, died of rheumatic heart disease. He was 59.

1953- Senator Joseph McCarthy, the grandstanding Commie chaser, held a news conference where he decried that European countries that were receiving US aid from the Marshall Plan were also trading with Communist countries. He announced he had received a pledge from a Greek shipping concern not to trade with Communist states in the future.
This speech elicited a storm of protest, under Secretary of State Symington accused the Wisconsin senator of conducting his own foreign policy. Yet the new Eisenhower administration stayed silent and did nothing, which encouraged McCarthy to grow bolder.

1958- The Killer Slide- US 1, The Pacific Coast Highway has always been at the mercy of wind and weather erosion effecting the unstable cliffs it was carved from. This day while repairing a previous land slide, construction workers were caught in an even bigger hillside collapse- several people were killed.

1979- THREE MILE ISLAND- Partial Meltdown of the Pennsylvania reactor panicked the nation. Despite the official attempts to belittle the danger, Governor Richard Thornburg in Harrisburg moved his office underground to a bunker and Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia gave the entire counties of Lancaster and Harrisburg a blanket unction (Last Rites). just in case.... The accident spawned the largest civilian protests since the Vietnam War and nuclear energy business never quite recovered.

1987- The first Disney Store opened at the Glendale Galleria in California. Selling Disney themed merchandise outside of the parks.

1999- Matt Groening’s cartoon series Futurama debuted.
Yesterday’s Question: What does it mean to go around halfcocked?

Answer: In the age of muskets and firelocks, to fire the gun you first had to pull back the hammer holding the flint. There was an intermediate stage where you could pull back the hammer halfway in preparation. Since then, going off half-cocked means a person has not thought things through and is not ready to proceed.