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Oct. 11, 2023
October 11th, 2023

Question: Which is further East? The Ozarks or the Appalachian Mountains?

Yesterday’s Question Answered Below: What is a cat o’ nine tails?
History for 10/11/2023
Birthdays: Eleanor Roosevelt, Henry Heinz the Ketchup king, Jerome Robbins, Carl Hubbard, Ron Leibman, John Candy, Omar Shariff, Ben Vereen, Art Blakey, Luke Perry, Joan Cusak, Jane Krakowski, Sig Ruman– the fat actor with the goatee and the over-the-top German accent in the Marx Brothers comedies.

Today is the Feast Day of Saint Bruno of Cologne, the son of Saint Matilda and King Henry the Fowler.

1303- Pope Boniface VIII died. He was the Pope who first proclaimed Papal dominance in the bull Unam Sanctam, and who used to declare crusades against Italian families he didn't like. He died a raving lunatic in the dungeons of San Angelo eating the flesh off of his own arms. Dante hated him so much, in his poem "The Inferno" he has two devils stirring a boiling cauldron of lead and calling up to the world above:" Hey Boniface! When are you coming down? It's almost ready!"

1424- Czech general John of Ziska died of plague at age 64. He had never been defeated and led battles even when almost blind. When dying, he ordered that his body be skinned, and the skin dried and used to make a drum for his army. Tough Czech.
1492- As the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria continue sailing west, Christopher Columbus' fear crazed men began to see signs that land was close at hand: floating driftwood, a carved stick, moths, a seabird.

1531- Battle of Kappell- Civil war broke out between the Swiss cantons that were Catholic and the Protestant ones. In this battle the Catholics won. Among the killed was Ulrich Zwingli, the great Protestant theologian.

1649- Oliver Cromwell and his Ironside army captured the Irish town of Wexford and massacred all the inhabitants. A month earlier when the town of Drogheda was stormed, many thought the massacre was due to the stubbornness of its defense. But the slaying of the defenders of little Wexford showed that Cromwell intended to use terror as a weapon to pacify Ireland. No pity would be shown.

1737- A huge earthquake in Bejing China killed 300,000. 1776- The Battle of Valcour Island- American patriot Benedict Arnold built a little navy on Lake Champlain and let himself get shot up to slow down a huge British invasion force under Canadian Governor-General Sir Guy Carleton. Because of Arnold's delaying tactics it became too late in the year to cut off Washington's army retreating from New York and crush the Revolution in it's first year. Sir Guy Carleton's force had to return to Canada and wait until April for the Spring thaw. Valcour Island sometimes is called the first action of the U.S. Navy. One of Arnold’s little boats was recovered and today is in the Smithsonian.
1779- Battle of Savannah- During the Revolution, Polish immigrant Count Casimir Pulaski was killed leading a cavalry attack against British positions. He had been involved in a plot to kidnap the King of Poland, was a lover of Catherine the Great, and was in debtor's prison in Marseilles before running into Ben Franklin who sent him to America. He was the only officer to ever hold the rank in the U.S. Army of Master of Horse.

1800- The remaining French army trapped in Egypt and abandoned by Napoleon, made a deal with the Egyptians and their English allies to be evacuated back to France. One of the things that had to give up was the Rosetta Stone, the key to deciphering Ancient Hieroglyphics. Another thing the French troops brought back to Europe was marijuana, easily purchased in Egyptian bazaars. The old soldiers said the weed didn’t give you a hangover like drinking brandy did and made recovering from wounds easier.
1809- MERIWETHER LEWIS’ SUICIDE- Colonel Meriwether Lewis, of Lewis and Clark fame, shot himself -twice. He missed and wounded himself in the head the first time. He was 35. Meriwether Lewis was governor of Upper Louisiana (Missouri, Wisconsin, Montana, Illinois) and was the personal protégé of Presidents Jefferson and Monroe. It’s not inconceivable to assume that he would have been president one day.
Some contend that Lewis didn't commit suicide but was murdered, because it was at a small tavern on the Natchez Trace, he had been arguing with some men along the road, and he was found with two head wounds, and his belly slashed with a bowie knife. Another scholar recently theorized Lewis was suffering from delirium caused by advanced syphilis, which he may have contracted from a Shoshone woman while on the great trek over the Rockies. His friends Thomas Jefferson and Captain Clark maintained Lewis was emotionally overwrought and was drinking too much. Back then alcoholism was not considered as bad a vice as venereal indiscretions. What an important United States Territorial Governor was doing riding all alone with no staff on a country road is still a mystery.

1867- General George Armstrong Custer was courts-martialed for leaving his post without permission to see his wife Libby, ordering his men to shoot deserters in peacetime, and marching his troops too excessively. He was found guilty but only given a years suspension of pay.

1868- Telegraph operator Thomas Edison patented his first invention. It was a device that recorded the votes of legislators automatically. It proved unpopular with politicians because it eliminated their ability to rig votes.

1890- The Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) formed. 1899- THE SECOND ANGLO-BOER WAR. Ever since the British took over South Africa they had to contend with the fiercely independent German Dutch settlers called Afrikaners or Boers. Warfare flared up in 1886 but was settled temporarily.
Now egged on by the German Kaiser, and threatened by the nationalistic pressures of English speaking immigrants (Uitlanders), President Kruger of the Transvaal ("Oom Paul" -Uncle Paul) attacked the Orange Free State and the Cape Colony to throw off British domination. The Boers were defeated after three bloody years which saw the development of military barbed wire, khaki uniforms replacing redcoats (from the Persian word for dust, advocated by Arthur Conan-Doyle) and concentration camps. Twenty five thousand Boers died, of them only five thousand were soldiers, the rest were uprooted civilians stuffed into camps with inadequate sanitary conditions.
Despite his belligerent talk, the Kaiser begged off sending any aid, despite pleas from the Queen of Holland. When German-American societies asked Vice Presidential candidate Teddy Roosevelt to condemn British policy, Teddy replied: " It is right and natural that stronger nations should gobble up weaker ones!”

1906- The San Francisco Board of Education ordered children of Chinese and Japanese ancestry placed in segregated schools. This act caused outrage back in Japan who thought the Americans were their friends after helping settle their war with Russia. President Teddy Roosevelt intervened and forced San Francisco to rescind their law.
1910- Teddy Roosevelt becomes the first U. S. President to fly in an airplane.

1939- Albert Einstein sent a letter to President Franklin Roosevelt describing the feasibility of atomic weapons, and urging the US to begin an atomic program before Hitler created an A-Bomb. Years later with atomic weapons a reality, Einstein said of his letter of Oct.11, “ It was the biggest mistake of my life.”

1942- As the Russian Army continued to collapse before the Nazi invasion, dictator Josef Stalin reacted in the best way he knew- an act of terror. This day he signed Order # 227. It ordered no further retreat and the penalty of death for cowardice. The Russian Secret Police NKVD planted troops behind the combat soldiers called blockers who machine-gunned anyone falling back. They also set up Penal Battalions of solders arrested for cowardice (Straftbat). The only way out of these suicide squads was to show a wound got in battle, in which case your record would read” Atoned with his own blood”. Just last week in the modern Ukraine war, Putin has re-established penal battalions in the Russian Army.

1944-“ To Have and to Have Not,” written by Ernest Hemingway premiered. The movie paired Humphrey Bogart with a sultry Harpers model turned actress Betty-Lou Persky, now renamed Lauren Bacall. Bacall originally had a higher voice, but director Howard Hawks told her every day to go behind the soundstage and scream for an hour, to bring her voice down to a dusky, sexy alto. It worked on Bogart, who fell in love and married her despite his being 44 and she 20 years old. They called each other Slim and Steve after the characters in the film. “If you want me, just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you? Just put your lips together and blow.”

1956- The Muppets first appeared on national TV, on the Steve Allen Show.

1960- The Bugs Bunny Show premiered on TV. “Overture, Curtain, lights! This is it, we’ll hit the heights, and oh what heights we’ll hit…..etc..”

1962- Pope John XXIII convened the 2Nd Ecumenical Council. Nicknamed Vatican II, it instituted major reforms in the Catholic Church including ordering the Mass said in the vernacular instead of Latin, and toleration of Judaism and other faiths. Many conservative Catholic splinter groups including the one Mel Gibson’s family belonged to are still mad about Vatican II.

1962- McHales Navy TV show premiered. Starring Ernest Borgnine, Tim Conway and Joe Flynn.

1967- The NY Times printed an image of a nude by Bell Lab artists-in-residence Leon Harmon and Ken Knowlton. Titled Study in Perception I, It was done on a computer as a digital mosaic of thousands of numbers. It was an early breakthrough in digital imaging or CGI.

1968- Apollo 7 blasted off. The first of the Apollo Program, replacing the Gemini program.
1975- NBC needed a Saturday replacement for the Best Of Carson reruns, so Lorne Michaels’ TV show SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE premiered. Featuring the Not-Yet-Ready-For-Prime-Time Players: John Belushi, Dan Ackroyd, Gilda Radner, Garrett Morris, Chevy Chase, Lorraine Newman, Gilda Radner, Jane Curtin and Michael O’Donaghue. First guest host George Carlin did his opening monologue while stoned.
Albert Brooks did a short film and Andy Kaufman did his Mighty Mouse lip sync bit.
Paul Shaefer conducted the music and the show was held in NBC’s Studio 8H, which was built originally for Maestro Arturo Toscanini and The NBC Symphony of the Air. At the last moment a sketch by young Billy Crystal was cut from the show.
The show also revived the career of announcer Don Pardo, who had trouble finding work since the original Jeopardy quiz show was canceled. He was the announcer for the show until his death in 2014 at age 96.

1975- Bill Clinton married Hillary Rodham.

1976- After the death of Chairman Mao, Chinese authorities arrest his widow Chiang Ching and three followers and accused them of plotting a coup- the Gang of Four.

1978- Sex Pistols bass player Sid Vicious murdered his girlfriend Nancy Spungen at the Chelsea Hotel in New York. Sid was too stoned to explain why he had killed her. It’s assumed they had a suicide pact. Sid Vicious died of an overdose before his trial.

1987- The AIDS Quilt was first displayed on the National Mall in Washington.

1991- Comedian Redd Foxx was famous for doing bits like faking a heart attack. This day on the set of his new TV series The Royal Family, while joking with Della Reese, he clutched his chest and fell over. Everyone thought he was faking and laughed. But this time he wasn’t. He died at the hospital an hour later.

2001- V.S. Naipul won the Nobel Prize for literature.

2005- Angela Merkel named Chancellor of Germany. She is the first woman to lead Germany and the first head of state from the former East Germany.
Yesterday’s Quiz: What is a cat o’ nine tails?

Answer: In Lord Nelson’s Navy it was a whip with nine leather straps, usually festooned with metal stars to increase the victim pain. A “kiss of the cat” meant to be flogged as punishment.