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May 29th, 2008 thurs
May 29th, 2008

Quiz: When he was a Navy fighter pilot in World War Two, what was the nickname George Herbert Walker Bush, was given by his squadron mates?

Quiz: Did they use computers in World War II?
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History for 5/29/2008
Birthdays: King Charles II Stuart (the "Merry Monarch"), John F. Kennedy, J.G. Chesterton, Patrick Henry, Oswald Spengler, T.H.White, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, Josef Von Sternberg, LaToya Jackson, John Hinckley Jr., Al Unser Jr., Beatrice Lilly, Danny Elfman, Annette Benning, Melissa Etheridge, Rupert Everett, Bob Hope

1453- CONSTANTINOPLE CONQUERED BY THE TURKS- Sultan Mohammed II the "Scourge of Christendom" captured the capitol of the old Byzantine Empire. His great cherry wood cannons firing giant stone balls blew great holes in the city walls, proving the end of castles as serious defenses. When he knew the battle was lost the Last Eastern Emperor of the Romans, Constantine XI Paleologus sallied out sword in hand and went down fighting. His body was identified out of a pile of corpses only by the bejeweled purple slippers. As Mohammed II rode into the city in triumph he recited a Persian poem:" A spider weaves it's web in the palace of the Caesars, a shadow falls over the House of Amonhasarib". Legend has it that when he entered the great Basilica of Hagia Sophia he put is finger in a magic hole and caused the entire building to rotate and face Mecca. (?!) The Byzantine Empire’s fall did have one beneficial effect on Western Europe. All the fleeing Greek scholars and scientists with their arms full of the works of Plato and Aristotle would settle in European capitols and help spark the Renaissance.

1606- Michel Caravaggio the artist shot a man over a tennis match. Caravaggio was a mad-artist before the term was invented. The police records of Rome show the master painter constantly in trouble, seducing man, woman and child, throwing rocks at soldiers, stabbing waiters, etc.

1692- The Battle of La Hogue- Great naval battle when the French fleet of Admiral de Tourville was ordered by Louis XIV to attack an Anglo-Dutch navy despite being heavily outnumbered. The French admiral did a brilliant job but lost anyway, and the French monarch turned his back on the navy, abandoning supremacy of the seas to England.
Once considered the most important naval engagement until Trafalgar, La Hogue is now mostly remembered on cheap framed prints of naval battle paintings you see hanging in doctor’s waiting rooms.

1765 - Patrick Henry historic speech against the Stamp Act, answering a cry
of "Treason!" with, "If this be treason, make the most of it!"

1856- THE LOST SPEECH- Former Congressman Abraham Lincoln was called upon to deliver the adjournment speech to the convention inaugurating the new Illinois Republican Party. He had decided to abandon his strategy of mincing words about slavery and “hit it hard.”Lincoln delivered what many regarded as the best speech of his life, a speech better than the Gettysburg Address or “ With Malice Towards None” the Second Inaugural. And maddeningly for history we have no record of what he said. The newspapermen jotting it down shorthand were so amazed by what they heard that they stopped writing, confident they could share the notes of another later. Even Abe’s close friend Herndon, who was a prodigious note taker, gave up after fifteen minutes, admitting he “threw pen and paper away and was swept up in the inspiration of the hour”. The speech made Lincoln one of the rising stars of the party yet we don’t know anything he said that night.

1859 –Illinois Congressman Abe Lincoln says in a better documented occasion "You can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of time, but you can't fool all of the people all of time"

1908- Teddy Roosevelt signed the first ban on child labor in the U.S.

1911 -The first running of the Indianapolis 500

1912- 15 young women were fired by the Curtis Publishing Company for dancing "Turkey Trot" during their lunch break.

1914-THE COLONEL REDL AFFAIR- In the years before World War One the Great Powers of Europe spent vast sums on spies and agents to discover each other's future war plans. The period was known as the “soft war” not unlike the Cold War of a later generation. Coloneloberst Redl was on the Austro-Hungarian General Staff but was passing information on to Russian Intelligence. He was exposed by an Italian double agent who was also his male lover. According to the Austrian military code of honor Redl was forced by his fellow officers to shoot himself. An eccentric man, his apartment was filled with life-size mannequins in chairs. Hungarian director Istvan Szabo made an award winning film about Redl with Klaus Maria Brandauer in 1986. There were earlier films made of the story in 1931 and 55.

1932- The" BONUS MARCHERS "announce their march on Washington D.C. Men who joined the army during the Great War were promised a huge extra bonus to be received in 1945. But, by 1932, the Great Depression had so ruined people's lives a movement was started by a Portland Oregon veteran named Captain William Waters to have a bill in Congress to get their bonus early. Veterans would lobby congress by mounting a poor people's march on Washington. People's marches of this sort had happened before, like "Coxey's Army" in 1896. Veteran's groups came from all over the nation and by the time they got to Capitol Hill they numbered around 80,000. The set up shantytowns on the Mall nicknamed “Hoovervilles”. Everyday Senators going to work had to slip through a huge line of homeless men shuffling silently around the Capitol Building. The Hoover government panicked and believed Soviet-style revolution was imminent. The opposition to the bonus bill was led by Senator Howard Vidal, father of writer-activist Gore Vidal and uncle to Al Gore.

1941-THE GREAT WALT DISNEY CARTOONIST'S STRIKE. The picket line and campsite went up across the street where St. Joseph's Hospital is today. Chefs, from nearby Toluca Lake restaurants, would cook for the strikers on their off-time and the aircraft mechanics of Lockheed promised muscle if any ruffstuff was threatened. Striking assistant, Bill Hurtz's future wife, Mary, was Walt Disney's secretary and they would meet at a chain link fence to swap gossip. Picketers included Hank Ketcham (Dennis the Menace), Walt Kelly and Margaret Selby (later Kelly) (Pogo), Bill Melendez (A Charlie Brown Christmas), Steve Bosustow and John Hubley (Mr. Magoo), Maurice Noble and Chuck Jones (What's Opera Doc?), George Baker (Sad Sack), Dick Swift ("the Parent Trap") Frank Tashlin (Cinderfella) and four hundred others. The strike was eventually settled by Federal arbitration and a little arm twisting on Walt by the Bank of America. Many of the artists who left the studio afterwards set up U.P.A. and pioneered the 1950's style.


Me with John Hubley's Picket Sign, courtesy of Emily Hubley.

1942- JOHN BARRYMORE- The great dramatic actor, the first American to dare to play Hamlet in England, died of his vices at age 60. Whether the infamous prank actually happened where Raoul Walsh, Bertholdt Brecht, Peter Lorre, W.C. Fields and some others (the"Bundy Drive Boys") kidnapped Barrymore's body from Pierce Brothers Funeral Home and propped it up at the poker table to scare the willys out of Errol Flynn is a matter of debate. Flynn and Paul Heinried said it was true, writer Gene Fowler said it was false. The Barrymore family has a history of brilliant acting and alcoholism. Barrymore's father and grandfather were famous actors who drank themselves to death. His daughter Diana overdosed on sleeping pills and his son John Drew Barrymore just barely saved himself from drugs in the 1960s and dropped out of show business. His granddaughter Drew Barrymore started drugs and liquor at age 9 and was a recovered alcoholic by 17. John Barrymore's last words were to screenwriter Gene Fowler-"Say Gene, isn't it true you are an illegitimate son of Buffalo Bill?"

1942- Bing Crosby records "White Christmas," arguably the greatest selling record to date.

1952- Edmund Hillary and Sherpa guide Tenzing Norga become the first men to reach the top of Mt. Everest.

1954- New York Police raid the studio of Irving Klaw, the photographer of the Betty Page kinky pin-up photos. Klaw tried to appeal to the Supreme Court but couldn’t get a hearing.

1956- Hollywood director James Whale (Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, and The Invisible Man) drowned himself in his pool. His career was over, and his health was deteriorating from a series of strokes. Bruises were found on his head and at first the public suspected foul play. It wasn’t until 1989 his partner made his suicide note public. His head had struck the pool’s bottom as he jumped in causing the bruise. He himself never swam, but he had the pool built so he could watch his friends frolic.

1972- Moe Berg died of old age. He was a master spy who using a front as a catcher for the Washington Senator’s Baseball team, fluent enough in quantum physics to converse with Einstein and Neils Bohr. He was once ordered by Washington to meet with Rudolph Heisenberg, the Nazi Einstein, and kill him if he felt the Germans were getting too close do developing their own atomic bomb. He chose not to shoot him. In his later years he was a regular contestant on television trivia game shows. Believe it or not!

1973 - Columbia Records fired president Clive Davis for misappropriating
$100,000 in funds, Davis then founded Arista records

1978 - Bob Crane, actor (Donna Reed Show, Hogan-Hogan's Heroes), died at 49 under mysterious circumstances. He was found bludgeoned to death in a Tucson hotel room surrounded by pornography.

1987 –Eccentric pop singer Michael Jackson attempted to buy the nineteenth century remains of Joseph Meredith a.k.a. the Elephant Man.

1999- Hikers in Malibu California discover the remains of Phillip Taylor, the bass guitar player of the 60’s band Iron Butterfly. The musician had disappeared four years before. Now his skeleton was found sitting in his Ford Aerostar at the bottom of a steep ravine.

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Quiz: Did they use computers in World War II?

Answer: Yes. And this was before silicon chips or transistors. During World War II a number of advanced analog counting machines were developed for code breaking and precision bombing. The Norden Bombsite and the Enigma Machine are now considered forerunners of the computer. When John Whitney, the Father of Computer Graphics, first experimented with electronic images, he began by adapting a war surplus Mark V Anti-Aircraft targeting sight.


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