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March 7th 2008 friday
March 7th, 2008

Question: When things are described as Byzantine, what does that mean?

Yesterdays Question answered below: In Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now, the colonel portrayed by Robert Duval says:” Charlie don’t surf!” Who is this Charlie?
History for 3/7/2008
Birthdays: Maurice Ravel, Piet Mondrian, Roman Emperor Geta, Luther Burbank, Tammy Fae Baker, Willard Scott, Lynn Swann, Franco Harris, Daniel D. Travanti, Rachel Weisz is 37, Michael Eisner is 66, Wanda Sykes is 44, Peter Saarsgard

322 BC- the Greek philosopher Aristotle died of indigestion.

161AD- The death of the Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius. Marcus Aurelius Antoninus became Emperor. Marcus named his brother Lucius Verus as co-emperor, but Verus died after a few years. Marcus Aurelius became famous as the philosopher-emperor, ruling justly and leaving behind his Meditations, one of the great books of western philosophy.

1274- Saint Thomas Aquinas died in Italy. Everybody knew the great teacher was so holy he undoubtedly would be made a saint (the medieval equivalent of being called to the Hall of Fame). So rather and wait for opportunity to sell his bones as relics the people sped up the process of decomposition by boiling his remains in lye.

1862- BULLETHOLE ELLIS- Rebel Guerrilla leader William Quantrill and his raiders shoot up the Kansas town of Aubrey. During the raid Quantrill fired his Colt revolver at a man in a second story window named Abraham Ellis. The bullet was slowed by smashing through the windowsill and embedded in the man’s skull, but just missed touching his brain. Quantrill apologized to Ellis. Ellis had helped him get a teaching job before the war. The raiders left him for dead, but Abe Ellis recovered. Old Bullethole Ellis lived to a ripe old age, just with a large round dark hole in the center of his forehead.

Bullethole Ellis, courtesy Elk City images

1906- Finland becomes the first nation to give women the right to vote.

1916- BMW- The manufacturing firms of Karl Rapp and Gustav Otto merged to form the Bayerische Flugzeugwerke AG -Bavarian Aircraft Works. The company would later become the Bayerische Motor-Werke -Bavarian Motor Works or BMW. The Logo circle actually represents a white propeller turning against a blue sky- the colors of the old Kingdom of Bavaria flag, and the Medieval heraldic shield of the old ruling dynasty the Wittelsbachs. After the war, BMW was prohibited from manufacturing aircraft engines, as their engines had powered the fiercest fighters of he Luftwaffe, among them the Messerschmitt Bf 109 and the Focke-Wulf 190. So BMW focused on making cars.

1932-BATTLE OF THE RIVER ROUGE- At the depth of the Great Depression unemployment in Detroit was up to 50% of the population. 10,000 desperately unemployed auto workers stage a protest march on Henry Ford's Rouge River plant, the largest factory in the world. They are met by police and thugs who fired into the crowd, killing 3 and wounding 25. Henry Ford, (who personally made $10 million that year) had machine guns mounted on his home's roof and advised his chief executives to carry sidearms. Fords private in-house police were called by the Orwellian misnomer the Service Department.

1942- The Japanese army captured Rangoon and cut the Burma Road, severing Anglo- Chinese supply lines. After this supplies would have to be brought in 'Over the Hump" meaning flown by unescorted transport planes from India over the Himalayas.

1945- THE BRIDGE AT REMAGEN- A hostile army had not crossed the Rhine into Germany since Napoleon in 1806. The Germans called their defense of the border the Seigfried Line. The fleeing Nazi's had ordered all Rhine bridges destroyed but the bridge at Remagen was detonated with inferior charges. So it stayed intact as the U.S. Third Army approached. Sgt. Alex Drabik of Ohio ran across the bridge, weaving back and forth like a football player with the enemy firing at him from all sides. Just as he reached the other side a Nazi popped out, pointed a lugar pistol in his face and pulled the trigger. The gun was empty. The Siegfried Line was breached, the Remagen bridge collapsed of exhaustion after the war and Sgt. Drabik died of very old age in 1993.

1947- Winston Churchill, while giving a speech in America about the Soviet dominance of Eastern Europe coins the term "Iron Curtain". " From Zagreb on the Adriatic to Stettin in the Baltic, an Iron Curtain has descended across Europe." The Iron Curtain came down in 1989

1951- The Prime Minister of Iran- General Ali Rasmara was assassinated by Islamic extremists.

1965- THE EDMUND PETTUS BRIDGE-As Dr. Martin Luther King’s Civil Rights marchers reached the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Gov George Wallace had Alabama police ambush them with firehoses, teargas, bullwhips and attack dogs. Dozens of peaceful marchers were beaten and hospitalized. Three were killed. The brutal images on television shocked the nation had probably did more to ensure passage of the National Civil Rights Bill than anything the police could do to stop it.

1969- Golda Meir became Prime Minister of Israel.

1988- 300 pound Female Impersonator Harry Milstead, better known as Divine in the John Waters films, died of sleep apnia.

1999- Famed film director Stanley Kubrick died just five days after completing his final film Eyes Wide Shut.
Yesterdays Question: In Francis Ford Coppola’s film Apocalypse Now, the colonel portrayed by Robert Duval says:” Charlie don’t surf!” Who is this Charlie?

Answer: The enemy. The Vietnamese guerrillas were called the Viet Cong. Because of the poor sound quality of battlefield radios, soldiers used names to make themselves understood. So A,B, C, D, F and T coordinates became Alpha, Beta, Charlie, Delta, Fox, Tango, etc. So referring to the enemy, Viet Cong or VC, was Victor-Charlie, later simply Charlie.