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July 11th, 2008 fri.
July 11th, 2008

Quiz: What is a Quonset hut?

Yesterday’s Quiz answered below: When someone describes something as Orwellian, what does that mean?

History for 7/11/2008
Birthdays: Scottish King Robert the Bruce, John Quincy Adams, Sir Thomas Bowdler, E.B. White, Yul Brynner- real name Tadjhe Khan, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Leon Spinks, Tab Hunter, Susan Vega, Giorgio Armani, Sela Ward, Kimberly “Little Kim’ Jones

480 a.d.- Today is the Feast of SAINT BENEDICT, the monk who established the first rules for monks, convents and abbeys. Before this people who wished to express Christian zeal renounced the world and ran off into the hills to become hermits. Benedict said “Idleness is the Enemy of the Soul” and encouraged his followers to serve the community- make jam, milk goats, whatever, just do something useful. He ordered that monks wear the same uniform cowl and do not eat animal flesh. In the same year the last Pagan schools of philosophy were being closed down he established the first great monastery of Monte Cassino on the site of an old temple to Apollo.

1798- The Birthday of the U.S. Marine Band, the most famous military band in the U.S.. Called the 'President's Own" it achieved world fame in 1881 under it's director John Philip Sousa.

1804 THE HAMILTON-BURR DUEL- The only other Vice President other than Dick Cheney shot someone while still in office. Aaron Burr shot and killed the former Secretary of the Treasury in a duel. The guy currently on the ten dollar bill.
Aaron Burr was a lieutenant under Alexander Hamilton during the Revolution, later in politics they became bitter foes. No one was sure what one word or incident sparked this duel but they spent years ruining each others political schemes: Hamilton withheld support from Burr in the presidential election of 1800 even though they were in the same party, Burr arranged Hamilton would lose the race for governor of New York. Finally they couldn't stand each other any more. They rowed across the Hudson to have the duel in Weehawken New Jersey, this way the winner would only be wanted for murder in one state. The site was the same field that Hamilton's son had died in a duel three years earlier. Friends of Hamilton insist he deliberately shot wide as a gesture while Burr shot to kill. Burr said baloney, he was just nervous. Hamilton died the next day. Amazingly, Burr was allowed to finish his term as Vice President, because there weren't any laws on what to do with a Vice President who kills somebody. He presided over Congress and even had dinner with President Jefferson - Tom didn't like Hamilton either. Burr never went to trial, but his political career was as dead as Hamilton.

1922- The first regular concert at the Hollywood Bowl. The natural amphitheater called Bolton Canyon, had been used for Easter morning services and some concerts before, but now on a regular basis. Frank Lloyd Wright’s bandshell was built in 1927.

1936- The Triboro Bridge project opens in New York City. A massive WPA project to link the various boroughs of New York by highways, it was begun in 1933 but delayed for years by corruption, and the fact that Franklin Roosevelt personally despised it's chief architect, Robert Moses. Moses had referred to the handicapped Roosevelt as a "gimp" and "half-man". FDR denied any federal money for the project until Moses was fired. Mayor Fiorello Laguardia used all of his personal charisma and friendship with FDR to keep the project moving. Robert Moses was not only retained but created other engineering marvels like Jones Beach and the World's Fairs of 1939 and 1964. The first Disney animatronic Mr. Lincoln, for a demonstration was programmed to say "How do you do, Mr. Moses."

1938- The radio show The Mercury Theater of the Air with Orson Welles and John Houseman premiered.

1943- OPERATION HUSKIE-During the invasion of Sicily American strategists decided to drop parachute troops behind German lines to trap them before they could evacuate to Italy. The first drop was successful, the second less so and today's was a complete disaster. For some reason ships of the U.S. Navy mistook the flying transports for the enemy and began shooting down their own planes. Planes full of paratroops of the 82nd Airborne crashed and burned and prematurely cut gliders that smashed into the ocean. Afterwards there was a news blackout and from then on parachute planes wing's were painted with three broad white 'invasion stripes' to prevent similar accidents. The secret was so well kept it’s still not mentioned in many popular histories of World War Two. One C-47 transport that peeled off, and ran for base avoiding the carnage contained Sergeant George Sito, who survived the war to sire this author.
Go Dad!

1944- Despite being ill and frail, Franklin Roosevelt announced he would be a candidate for an unprecedented 4th term in office as President. After his death Congress passed the 22nd amendment forbidding any other President to have more than two terms.

1945- Napalm first used on Japanese positions in Luzon in the Philippines.

1952- The Republican Convention nominated Gen. Dwight Eisenhower to be their candidate for President. No body was sure until then what Eisenhower’s political affiliation even was and there is evidence that Truman wanted Ike to run as a Democrat in 1948. The nomination came as a great shock to the ambitions of the other republican World War Two hero, General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur reacted ungraciously when he heard the news and called Ike: “ He was the best damn orderly I ever had!”

1962-The Tellstar I satellite transmitted the first television images from France to USA.

1969 - Rolling Stones release "Honky Tonk Woman".

1970- “Mama Told Me Not to Come” by Three Dog Night hits #1 in the pop charts. The song was written by young composer Randy Newman. Despite all the success and Oscars nominations Randy Newmans had with songs like Short People and I Love LA, this song was his only one to be #1.

1975- Chinese archaeologists excavating at the ancient site of XIAN discover an entire army of 6,000 terra cotta statues buried in formation with chariots and cavalry. Each statue was an individual portrait. They were buried in 221 BC to protect the tomb of China's first emperor Chi Yuan Zsi, who’s name is where the name China came from.

1979- The world holds it’s breath and covers it’s head as the first U.S. space station SKYLAB falls from orbit. 77 tons of space debris in 500 pieces falling around Australia and the Indian Ocean. Luckily it didn’t hit any one although chunks were stuck in an office building in Perth.

1991- Disney announced it would enter into a distribution deal with a Bay area digital offshoot of Lucasfilm named PIXAR. Nine hit films including Toy Story, Monsters Inc. Finding Nemo and Wall-E are the result.

1997- A fruitcake named Jonathan Norman was arrested for trying to break into Steven Speilbergs Malibu home. He believed Speilberg “wanted to be raped” and had on him chloroform, duct tape and S&M paraphernalia.

Yesterday’s Quiz: When someone describes something as Orwellian, what does that mean?

Answer: Named for author George Orwell, whose books, 1984 and Animal Farm, described how modern technological tyranny will warp political discourse with twisted euphemisms to hide outrages they commit on human rights. So War is Peace, and the place where you are tortured is called the Ministry of Love.