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July 19th, 2008 sat
July 19th, 2008

Quiz: What is Newspeak?

Yesterday’s Question Answered below: What is the difference between Shiite and Sunni?
History for 7/19/2008
Birthdays: Edgar Degas, Col. Samuel Colt, Charles Mayo of the Mayo Clinic, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Vicki Carr, Max Fleischer, Lizzie Borden, Ille Nastase, George McGovern, Brian Harold May of Queen, Atom Egoyan, Anthony Edwards, Campbell Scott

64 A.D. THE BURNING OF ROME- Mad emperor Nero didn't fiddle as the fire raged ,but he was inspired to run up to an observation platform and sing an elegy on the destruction of Troy while accompanying himself on the lyre. Romans later became suspicious when the areas most affected by the fire on the Palatine Hill were expropriated by the Emperor to build the Golden House, a sort of Palace-theme park complex Nero dedicated to himself. The fire had started to die out after six days but flared up again on the grounds of the estate of Tigellinus, an aide to Nero. The fire burned for nine days total and destroyed two thirds of the city, including a temple built by Romulus the Founder and the shrine of the Vestal Virgins.

711 A.D. Battle of Medina-Sidonia- The Moors conquer most of Spain. When he first landed the Moorish commander Tarik Bin Ziyad ordered his landing ships burned and addressed his soldiers saying : " ...The enemy is in front of you and the sea behind you... You have no choice but victory ! Christian Spain was reduced to a thin strip up against the Pyrenees Mountains and in Galicia. The Moors weren’t driven out until 1492. Until then the Emirs of Granada and Cordoba set up lavish courts where great sums were spent on poets, artists, mathematicians and scientists.

1500-In the Vatican Lucretzia Borgia’s second husband Duke Alfonso of Naples was stabbed to death by men sent by her brother Caesar Borgia. Enemies of the Borgias said Caesar was jealous and had an incestuous passion for his sister, but the real reasons for the murder were political. Alfonso was angry about Caesar’s alliance with France, the enemy of Naples. Caesar had sent men attack Alfonso as he was leaving Saint Peters but he fought them off and recovered. While convalescing he spotted Caesar from his sickbed window, grabbed a bow and arrow and tried to shoot him. Then Caesar had him whacked. Cardinal Sforza, who arranged the marriage was later poisoned.

1717- George Frederich Handel premiered his suite the Water Music for a procession of King George II on pleasure boats from Whitehall to Lambeth Palace.

1799- THE ROSETTA STONE DISCOVERED. During Napoleons campaign in Egypt several soldiers digging a latrine uncover a black basalt slab with several forms of writing all over it. In 1821 Francois Champolion figured it out. The stone was the key to translating Egyptian hieroglyphics, sort of an ancient Berlitz Guide. The document in honor of Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy is written three times in Hieroglyphs (sacred letters of Ancient Egypt), in Hieratic (governmental cursive type, a simpler form of Hieroglyphs used for texts unrelated to the Temple and Religion) and in Coptic, the same Egyptian language written in Greek letters. Since Champolion knew Greek, and had contacts with Egyptian Christian priests who spoke Coptic... The rest was the proverbial piece of cake... Before the Rosetta Stone people thought Egyptian hieroglyphics were just magical symbols, but after the stones discovery the long mute voice of Ancient Egyptian civilization was heard again. Prayers, Literature and Poetry could now be understood. It was like the discovery of a long dead world.

1879- Doc Holiday had opened a saloon with a partner in Las Vegas, New Mexico. An army scout named Mike Gordon got mad at one of his dance hall girls, went out into the street and started firing wildly into the saloon. Doc Holiday came out, shot Gordon dead with one bullet, went back in and calmly resumed his poker game.

1941 - British PM Winston Churchill launched his "V for Victory" campaign. By coincidence the letter"V" in morse code corresponded with the opening notes of Beethoven ‘s 5th symphony "Dit-Dit-Dit Daaah."making it the musical theme of the BBC overseas radio service war news. If you ever lived in England you would know that reversing the two fingers sign is an insult akin to flashing someone the middle finger.

1952- Several UFO’s appeared on the radar of Washington DC’s National Airport. So many in fact that the Air Force was obliged to hold a news conference to calm public fears. They were dismissed as temperature inversions. Uh, huh…

1957- That great movie I WAS A TEENAGE WEREWOLF starring Michael Landon premiered.

1966- 50 year old Frank Sinatra married 21 year old Mia Farrow. Frankie’s ex Ava Gardner commented:” Hah! I always knew Frank would one day wind up in bed with a little boy. “ Two years later when Mia Farrow was offered the lead role in Roman Polanski’s film “Rosemary’s Baby” Frank gave her an ultimatum "Baby, it's either me or your career”. She took the part and he sent her a divorce notice on the set. Mia got an Oscar nomination and Frank recorded “Strangers in the Night”.

1990- The Richard Nixon Library dedicated in Yorba Linda California. Nixon's Western White House of San Clemente first refused the honor of being the site as well as his real birthplace town of Whittier . The little wood frame house where he was born was moved to the Yorba Linda site. At the dedication the five living Presidents were present. Senator Bob Dole pointed at former Presidents Ford, Reagan and Nixon and joked to a friend: "Look, there’s Hear no Evil, See No Evil, and- Evil.”

1991- Heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson raped a contestant for the Miss Black America Pageant Desiree Washington. He got 3 years in jail.

1993- President Clinton launched his Gays in the military initiative called "Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell." It caused a storm of controversy, and probably rooted more gay men and women out of their military careers than if nothing was done. The concept that homosexuality or bisexuality and the profession of arms are incompatible does not stand up to the historical record: Richard the Lionheart, Frederick the Great, Alexander the Great, Kitchener of Omdurman, The Sacred Band of Thebes, Shaka Zulu, Nicholson the Tiger of the Punjab and most of the Roman Emperors were gay or bisexual.
Yesterday’s quiz: What is the difference between Sunni and Shiite?

Answer from my old pal Hani in Egypt:
The Sunnis, literally 'Followers of the Sunnah', or the Tradition as set by the Prophet Mohammad. They form the large majority of Muslims. Soon after the death of Mohammad, some Muslims wanted Ali Bin-Abu-Talib, the prophet's cousin and son-in-law to succeed him as Calif and ruler of the Believers. These were the Shiite, literally
'Sectarians of Ali'. Several bloody battles later, Ali was assassinated, and his sons Hassan and Hussein were massacred. The Shiite developed as an independent sect of Islam (like Protestant vs. Catholic in Christianity). Shiites are mainly concentrated in Iran and parts of Iraq and the Gulf countries and even formed a dynasty of rulers in Egypt in the Xth to XIth Century, the Fatimids. They founded Cairo.