May 24, 2016
May 24th, 2016

Quiz: What is the origin of the phrase ”To be Turned Down Flat?”

Yesterday’s Quiz answered below: If you covered yourself in woad, how would you look?
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History for 5/24/2016
Birthdays: Jean Paul Marat, Queen Victoria, Walt Whitman, Emmanuel Leutze, Gary Burghoff, Priscilla Presley, Patti LaBelle, Tommy Chong of Cheech & Chong, Peter Ellenshaw, Kristin Scott Thomas is 56, Alfred Molina is 63, Jim Broadbent is 67, John C. Reilly is 51, Bob Dylan is 75

1429- Near Champagne, Joan of Arc was captured by the Burgundians. The independent Duchy of Burgundy then was the area where Belgium and Lorraine are today. They sold her to the English, who put her on trial as a witch. The French king, Charles VI, whom Joan had re-conquered half of France for, did absolutely nothing to help or ransom her, as was the custom with noble prisoners. She was tortured and burned at the stake. While other kings are nicknamed Lion Heart or The Great, Charles VI nickname is Charles "The Well-Served."

1543- Astronomer Nicolas Copernicus died in Frombork, Poland. He made sure his book ‘Die Revolutionabus Orbium Coelestrum’, ‘On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Bodies’, would be published after his death. Legend says that after thirty years of trying to get it published, on his deathbed his friends laid the first copy on his pillow. The old scientist smiled and died. In the book, he mathematically proved the Earth went around the Sun instead of visa-versa, and that the Earth rotated on its axis daily. The Pope, Martin Luther and John Calvin all agreed that Copernicus was crazy. In Scripture, hadn’t Joshua commanded the Sun to stand still? One question historians debate is whether Copernicus was a priest or not. He worked for the Archbishop of Gniezno as a lay-clergyman that didn’t have to take Holy orders. No record exists of his saying a Mass. He never married, but he lived with his housekeeper like man and wife.

1578- Dutch Calvinists stage a march through Amsterdam. They dismiss the pro-Catholic town council and take over the large Catholic Cathedrals in the city for use by the new reformed faith.

1590- In Rome, construction of the great Dome of Saint Peters Basilica completed.

1626- MANHATTAN BOUGHT FROM THE INDIANS- Dutchman Peter Minuit stopped several Indians he found on the island and negotiated a purchase of the land for $24 dollars in trade goods, which at the time was not a bad price. To the Indians the purchase and ownership of land was crazy ("Why not also buy the clouds?"-Chief Seattle), and besides, the Hackensack-Lanapii Indians weren’t even from that area, they were just there hunting. Manhattoes is old Algonguin meaning " island of little hills". The Lenapii were named Canarsie by Frenchman Jacques Cartier “duck people”(canard) because their village on the Jamaica Bay (just west of present day J.F. Kennedy Airport,) was surmounted by a totem topped with the image of a duck.

1647- With the English Civil War almost over, the various factions of the Parliamentary side start to bicker and pull apart. Presbyterians and Puritans squabble over the spiritual direction of the nation and, on this day, Parliament ordered Oliver Cromwell to disband his New Model Army. The Army refused to disarm and instead marched on London- Cromwell declared: "This army is no mere assemblage of mercenaries, but the true embodiment of the will of the English people!” King Charles I, currently a prisoner in Scotland passing the time by learning to play a new game called “Golfe” would be encouraged to restart the civil war. Cromwell's Army, not Parliament, soon became the only real power in English politics.

1667- The War of Devolution- French King Louis XIV sent his armies in to conquer the Spanish Netherlands- aka Belgium, after the Spanish kings heir died and the title “devolved” to Louis wife Anne of Austria.

1738- English clergyman John Wesley pursued a stricter way to God, but a German Moravian preacher told him he wouldn’t really know God until God came to him and touched him. According to Wesley’s own diary this day at a sermon he “saw the light” the Magna Dies- the Great Day- the first of many revelations that would lead him to found the Methodists.

1804- On their route up the Missouri River, Lewis and Clark came ashore at Boone’s Settlement Missouri, near what will one day be Kansas City. They bought butter and corn. Did Lewis and Clark meet old retired Daniel Boone? Meriwether Lewis’ diary pages for that day are lost.

1818- Gen. Andrew Jackson captured Pensacola, capitol of the Spanish colony of Florida. Hotheaded Jackson decided the only way to stop Seminole Indian raids into Georgia territory was to invade Spanish Florida and chuck the Spanish Governor out. From the capitol of Pensacola he sends a message to the shocked Monroe Administration: " Gimme another regiment and I'll be in Key West in a fortnight. Gimme a frigate and I'll be in Cuba in a month!" The Spanish were outraged, but their resources were already stretched to the limit fighting the armies of liberation in South America. They couldn’t fight the U.S. as well. What Jackson started violently, Secretary of State John Quincy Adams negotiates peacefully, the U.S. acquisition of Florida.

1830 –The poem "Mary Had A Little Lamb," was written.

1844- Samuel Morse sent the first telegraph message. From Washington to Baltimore it said: "What Hath God Wrought?" The message was from the Bible- Numbers 23:23.
Samuel Morse considered himself an artist first and did a little inventing to pay the bills. He heard a French inventor had speculated about the idea of telegraphy so he decided to build a working model and invented the Morse code system of representing letters with dots and dashes. Members of Congress and octogenarian former First Lady Dolley Madison were present at the ceremony. By the decade’s end, twenty thousand miles of telegraph wire crisscrossed the country.

1850- America’s first nationwide newspaper/magazine Harpers Weekly began.

1853- First cases reported of Yellow Fever Epidemic in New Orleans. The city had swelled with ethnic immigrant Irish and Germans who had been forced to live and work in the low-rent swamp districts. 2,000 people or 10% of New Orleans population died in just four months, at the rate of 200 a day. The disaster was later evoked by Anne Rice in her book “ Interview with the Vampire.”

1856- The Potawattomie Massacre. In pro-slavery vs. anti-slavery infighting in Kansas, abolitionist John Brown dragged James Doyle and five other slaveholders out of bed at night. Announcing he was the Avenging Arm of the Lord, Brown beheaded them with an antique broadsword. Later in New York, when John Brown was feted by high society like Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson, Brown would omit this little detail about his life.

1861- The day after Virginia finalized its joining the Confederate States, US troops occupied Arlington and the Potomac riverbank opposite Washington DC. John Ellsworth was a personal friend of Abe and Mary Lincoln. When the Civil War broke out, Ellsworth raised a volunteer regiment of New York City firemen and dressed them in colorful Algerian costume. The roughneck 6th New York Fire Zouaves were shunned by Washington society at first until they proved their worth when they stopped a fire that would have destroyed a popular hotel.
This day, Col. Ellsworth and some men, crossed the Potomac River into Alexandria, Virginia to pull down a Confederate flag flying on top of a building that all Washington could see. As he was descending the stairs with the miscreant banner, the building’s caretaker pulled out a gun and shot Ellsworth dead. The Zouaves riddled him with bullets. All Washington turned out for a massive state funeral for the gallant Ellsworth, filled with Victorian pomp and maudlin sentiment. But the real Civil War had only just started. Few Americans understood that soon they would be mourning not one death, but tens of thousands.

1866 - Berkeley, California founded, named for George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne.

1866- The Battle of Tuyuti- The Waterloo of South America. Paraguayan strongman Francisco Solano Lopez fought a war of annihilation against the combined armies of Argentina, Uruguay and Brazil. Lopez fell; Paraguay was defeated and dismembered. So many of its male population were dead by the war’s end it was factored out of the regional balance of power.

1881-Canadian Ferry Princess Victoria sinks near London, Ontario drowning 220.

1883-The Brooklyn Bridge Opened. After 14 years building it and 27 deaths, including the architect John Roebling, and the crippling of his son Washington Roebling, President Chester Allen Arthur and the Mayor of New York Franklin Edison walked out on to the span to be met at the middle by Seth Low the Mayor of Brooklyn. Washington Roebling’s wife Emily Roebling was the first person to cross the bridge. At this time the Brooklyn Bridge was the tallest structure in the world.

1899 - 1st auto repair shop and car garage opens: The Back Bay Cycle and Motor Company of Boston.

1929- The Marx Brothers first movie comedy” The Coconuts” premiered.

1935- The first Baseball night game- Reds vs. Phillies.

1941- The German Battleship Bismarck sunk the largest warship in the British Navy, HMS Hood, when a lucky shot exploded her internal ammunition stockpile. The news shocked a world accustomed to the invincibility of the British Navy.

1949- The city of Shanghai was captured from the Nationalists by the communist Peoples Liberation Army of Mao Tse Tung.

1950- Married movie star Ingrid Bergman shocked American morality by having an open love affair with neorealist film director Roberto Rosselini. This day they were finally married but the outcry of conservatives about this “Apostle of Degradation” was such that her image needed a makeover. So she played Saint Joan of Arc.

1954 - IBM announces vacuum tube "electronic" brain that could perform 10
million operations an hour.

1958 – United Press & International News Service merge into United Press International

1976 - 1st commercial SST Concorde flight to North America -London to Wash DC.

1989- In Los Angeles, a spectacular fire destroyed the Art-Deco-Moderne all-wood landmark, the Pan Pacific Auditorium.

1991- Tri-Star Pictures 75 million-dollar mega-flop "Hudson Hawk" opened.
Star Bruce Willis, whose own salary was $17 million, blamed the film’s costs on union filmworkers’ salaries. He would return to his car after a day’s shooting to find it covered with animal excrement. The film almost sank his career. Willis’ next two films, "Death Becomes Her" and 'Pulp Fiction", he did for scale. In 2000 he made a $100,000 dollar donation to the SAG/AFTRA strike fund.

1991- Ridley Scott’s Thelma & Louise opened.

2000- Prime Minister Ehud Barak withdrew Israeli troops from southern Lebanon after a military occupation of eighteen years. The mastermind of the 1982 Lebanon invasion, General Ariel Sharon, later took Barak’s job. Israel invaded Lebanon again in 2006.
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Yesterday’s Quiz: If you covered yourself in woad, how would you look?

Answer: Blue. Woad was a blue paint the British Celtic barbarians painted themselves with when they went into battle. The Romans called them “Picts”, Painted People.


May 23, 2016
May 23rd, 2016

Quiz: If you covered yourself in woad, how would you look?

Yesterday’s Quiz answered below: What does it mean in conversation when you offer a riposte?
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History for 5/23/2016
Birthdays: Douglas Fairbanks Sr., Scatman Crowthers, Rosemary Clooney, Artie Shaw, Alicia de Larrocha, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Melissa McBride, Drew Carey is 58, Joan Collins is 83

Today in ancient Rome was the feast of Vulcan.

37AD- Herod the Great captured Jerusalem back from a Greek pretender named Antigonus with Roman help. He reigned 37 years under Roman dominance and rebuilt the great temple of Solomon.

1498- In Rome, mystic monk Savonarola was hanged and his body burned for defying the Borgia Pope Alexander VI. Savonarola dominated Florence for a time like a Christian Ayatollah. Artists Michelangelo Buonarrotti, Sandro Botticelli and Luigi Della Robbia were admirers of his. Among his reforms were to hold a large Bonfire of the Vanities.

1533- King Henry VIII of England has his first wife Catharine of Aragon's marriage to him annulled. Henry's interest in multiple marriages wasn't merely a case of being horny, his father had won the throne in a bloody civil war (The War of the Roses) and it could all happen again because he couldn't produce a male child fast. Despite his efforts his Tudor dynasty was remembered for his female offspring, Mary I and Elizabeth I.

1618- THE DEFENESTRATION OF PRAGUE- The Protestant officials of Bohemia let the Catholic German Emperor know what they thought of his ultimatums by throwing his emissaries out of a window. "De-fenestrate" or to toss out a window. It was a low second floor window and a dung pile broke their fall, so only pride was injured. Catholic writers said they were saved by angels.
This event started the THIRTY YEARS WAR, a European Civil War, when Catholic and Protestant nations who's pent up anger had been boiling for decades broke forth. They battled for years, until nobody could remember who started the whole damn thing to begin with. Germany lost one quarter of her population and would not see this kind of devastation again until World War II.

1633- By an edict of the King, France declared that only good Catholics would be allowed to settle in their colony of New France, already being called Canada. French Huguenots settled for the Anglo Dutch territories in Maryland, and New Amsterdam.

1701 Pirate Captain Kidd was hanged in London for piracy, robbery and killing a sailor with a bucket. His last letter was written to try to bribe the judge with his buried treasure. His body was coated with tar and left hanging in a cage suspended over Execution Wharf on the Thames for years afterward, as a warning to other would-be pirates.

1706- BATTLE OF RAMILIES- the Duke of Marlborough destroyed the main French army of Louis XIV under Marshal Villeroi. Carried away by the excitement, Marlborough personally led a cavalry charge sword in hand against the Maison Du Roi – the French elite Guards Cavalry. In the melee' he was knocked off his horse, trampled, and he had to run for his life. As he was climbing up on another horse, the aide holding the reins had his head struck off by a cannon ball. His enthusiasm for mano-a-mano combat cooled, Marlborough spent the rest of the day in the rear directing the victory like a good general should.

1785- Ben Franklin invented bifocal glasses.

1861- Virginia, the most populous state and home of many presidents announced it was leaving the United States and joining the new Confederate States.

1865- Over a month after Richmond’s fall and Lee’s surrender the last bloodshed of the Civil War happened. In Texas Confederate General Magruder defeated a small Yankee force near Galveston Bay.

1865- UNION VICTORY DAY-To celebrate the end of the American Civil War today was the Union Victory Parade in Washington D.C.- The massed Grand Armies of the Republic marched down Pennsylvania Ave. to celebrate their victory over the Confederacy. They passed President Andrew Johnson and Generals Grant and Sherman. Sherman refused to shake hands with Secretary of War Edwin Stanton because of Stanton's criticism of Sherman's surrender terms to the Confederate western armies.
27 year old Gen. Custer, showing off for the crowd, with his golden locks flowing, managed to pass the reviewing stand twice. He claimed his horse was skittish. Despite the fact that 180.000 African American men fought in the war no black regiments were allowed in the parade, to avoid controversy. Even the gallant 54th Mass who did the heroic attack on Fort Wagner was refused permission to march. The flags in the nation's capitol were returned to full mast for the first time since Lincoln's assassination. Union veterans later formed the first professional veterans aid association the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR), a forerunner of the VFW and the American Legion.

1873- The first Preakness horse race. The winner's name was Survivor.

1903- MOTHER JONES 'CHILDRENS CRUSADE- Seventy three year old activist and union organizer Mary "Mother Jones" Harris led a strike of 16,000 Philadelphia mill workers, all children under 12 years old, to demand a 55 hour workweek down from 60 hours a week. That July she led a march of thousands of working children from Philadelphia to President Teddy Roosevelt's home in Oyster Bay New York to demand the repeal of child labor.

1911- President Taft dedicated the central branch of the New York Public Library.

1931- In Max Fleischer's Silly Scandals, the girl character first seen in Dizzy Dishes is first called Betty Boop.

1934- BONNIE & CLYDE were blown away in a hail of machine gunfire as they drove down a road near Gisland, Louisiana. She was 24, he was 25. The ambush was set up by Texas Ranger Frank Hamer. An estimated 107 shots were fired in less than two minutes. Each body had about 28 bullets in them. Hamer smiled:" It’s a shame I had to bust the cap on a lady." Their bullet ridden car still pops up at auto shows from time to time. In 1948 Frank Hamer was called out of retirement to help investigate voter fraud involving the first senate race of a young congressman named Lyndon B. Johnson.

1941-Hollywood union boss George Brown and assistant Willard Bioff (also a Frank Nitti bagman) were indicted on federal racketeering charges. Brown had been a Chicago operative and it was said 'he could drink 100 bottles of beer in one day". Their main contact among the Hollywood studio heads was Nicholas Schenck, the chairman of Loews Theaters and a head of MGM. Willie Bioff had tried to help Louis B. Mayer defeat the screen actor's guild and hijack the Disney animator's union. After their jail time Bioff blew up in his car after turning government witness and Brown 'disappeared...' Schenck meanwhile was pardoned by President Truman.

1945- Reinhard Gehlen was the head of Nazi intelligence and kept numerous agents in Washington, London and Moscow. After hiding for a month after the fall of Berlin, on this day he surrendered himself to the Americans. Initially they wanted to put him on trial for war crimes, until he revealed his agents in Moscow were still on his payroll, which greatly interested General Wild Bill Donovan, who was reforming the O.S.S. for it's new cold war responsibilities. So Generalobherst Reinhard Gehlen came to the U.S. and began his second career as a founder of the CIA.

1945- SS leader Heinrich Himmler committed suicide by biting a cyanide capsule shortly after being captured by the British authorities. "The bastards’ beat us!" A British army guard growled, when he heard the news.

1951- China formally annexed Tibet, a nation they invaded the year before.

1960- Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann was one of the architects of the Final Solution. He had been hiding in Argentina since the war ended. In 1957 a German prosecutor tipped off Israeli intelligence of Eichman’s whereabouts. This day Mossad agents kidnapped him in Buenos Aires and brought him to Israel for a public trial.

1969- The Who released their rock opera Tommy.

2003- In US occupied Iraq, American occupational viceroy L. Paul Bremmer overruled CIA and Pentagon advice and disbanded the Iraqi Army, internal security, Presidential Guards and police forces, about 500,000. With this one decree, thousands of angry, humiliated career officers were unemployed, robbed of their pensions and benefits, but allowed to keep their side arms. The Anti-American guerrilla insurgency exploded soon after. Today, most of the top leadership of ISIS are these former Iraqi commanders. Paul Bremmers’ excuse was he was only following orders, while Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney claim they were surprised by the move.
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Yesterdays Quiz: What does it mean in conversation when you offer a riposte?

Answer: In fencing, when you deflect a lunge from an opponent and counter with your own thrust, that is called a riposte. In conversation, that means to respond to someone’s charge.


May 22, 2016
May 22nd, 2016

Quiz: What does it mean in conversation when you offer a riposte?

Yesterday’s Quiz answered below: Who said “The finest traditions of the Navy are Rum, Sodomy and the Lash!”..?
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History for 5/22/2016
Birthdays: Sir Lawrence Olivier, Mary Cassatt, Richard Wagner, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, T. Bone Pickens, Judith Christ, Irene Pappas, Paul Winfield, Richard Benjamin, Susan Strassberg, George Baker, Paul Winchell, Tommy John, Naomi Cambell, Dr. Robert Moog –inventor of the first Music Synthesizer, Ginnifer Goodwin is 38

In Kodiak Alaska, today is the Kodiak Crab Festival.

Happy National Bartender's Day

337AD- Emperor Constantine the Great, who raised Christianity from an illegal cult to the official religion of the Roman Empire, died after a ruling for 37 years. For some reason he himself didn't accept baptism until on his deathbed. His coins had Christ on one side and Sol Invictus, the Imperial Sun god on the other. To maintain order in the Empire until his son Constantius could be contacted and safely installed as leader in Constantinople, the embalmed corpse of Constantine continued to receive ambassadors and preside over meetings until that winter.

1276- Today is the feast day of Saint Humility of Faenza, a nun who insisted she be bricked up into her cell with only a hole cut for food, water and to hear Mass and slept on her knees. After twelve years of this she was talked out of her cell to become an abbess.

1455- Battle of St. Albans- First battle of the WAR OF THE ROSES. The conflict wasn't about differing views on horticulture but a dynastic struggle between two powerful branches of the royal family of England. It seems a hundred years earlier King Edward III had a lot of lusty sons. His two eldest and lustiest were Edward the Black Prince and John of Gaunt. Edward lusted after Joan the fair Maid of Kent and John lusted after the throne. The Black Prince should have become The Black king but he died young. Even then John couldn't be king because the rules said the throne went to the eldest Black Princeling, Richard II. So John of Gaunt had some lusty sons himself and they became the Lancaster branch of the family -after John's title as Earl of Lancaster- represented by the Red Rose; and The Black Prince's progeny were the York family represented by the White Rose. So they warred and conspired and murdered and had a lusty old time until they wiped each other out and were replaced by a third family, the Tudors.

1761-The first life insurance policy issued in the U.S.

1782- In a letter to one of his officers, George Washington rejected the calls to declare him King of the United States. " It pains me to hear such ideas are circulating within the army. I regard such ideas with horror and condemn it severely. It seems pregnant with the greatest misfortunes that could ever befall our country."

1800- The US Congress disbanded the US Army as being unnecessary and expensive. We would make do with militia to deal with Indians and a coast guard.

1809- Battle of Aspern-Essling. Napoleons army was crossing the Danube when the rivers flood washed out two bridges cutting his army in two. Austrian general Archduke Charles jumped on the opportunity and attacked, driving back Nappys troops against the river. Marshal Lannes, one of Napoleon’s top combat officers, was killed.

1843- Wagons Ho! The Great Emigration- One of the largest wagon trains ever formed set out from Independence Missouri to the new Oregon Territory. Thousands of settlers driving a thousand head of cattle set off along the Oregon Trail.

1854- The NEBRASKA COMPROMISE-One of many stop-gap legislative measures to try to stall the Civil War a few more years. In an attempt to keep the balance between slave states and free states entering the Union, Whig Congressmen strike a deal where Kansas and Nebraska could decide for themselves whether they wanted to enter the union as free or slave states. Nobody was pleased with this deal. Guerrilla war broke out in Kansas and the Whig party disintegrated from dissent. The dissident Whig politicians like Freemont and Lincoln soon formed a new political party. At first called the Anti-Nebraska Men, they later became the Black-Republicans or simply Republicans.

1856- San Francisco City supervisor James Casey was hanged by San Francisco City Vigilance Committee for murder. Casey had sought out the editor of the Evening Bulletin James King and shot him down on the street for insulting him in print. The vigilantes of the Barbary Coast then went into action.

1868- The Reno Gang robbed an Indiana express train of $96,000. The train was carrying the payroll of railroad and mine workers.

1915-The San Fernando Valley voted to become part of Los Angeles.

1920- THE DEARBORN INDEPENDENT- Henry Ford was a brilliant inventor with strange opinions. He overpaid assembly line workers, gave equal raises and promotions to black and Latino workers, but he hated Jews. He had purchased the newspaper the Dearborn Independent in 1918 and ran editorials in it with no advertising, totally his own opinions. This day the Independents Anti-Semitic campaign began with the headline -"The International Jew: The World’s Problem." 119 leading prominent Christian leaders including President Woodrow Wilson signed a petition demanding the slanderous publications be stopped, but Ford just ignored them. In 1934 when CBS correspondent William Shirer, interviewed Chancellor Adolf Hitler in Berlin, he noticed Hitler kept translations of the Dearborn Independent on his desk.

1922-The U.S. Supreme Court rules Baseball is not a monopoly but a sport. This is the Achilles heel issue everyone jumps on when arguments about baseball owners use of salary fixes and other group actions reach crescendo.

1925- First day of shooting on Fritz Lang’s film Metropolis.

1942- In a dark basement room in Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Navy Cryptographic Unit spent weeks at primitive computers breaking the Japanese radio codes. Cmdr Joe Rochefort paced the small room in his red smoking jacket, downing pots of coffee, and coming up with answers to riddles.

This day Joe Rochefort solved the most important riddle of his career. He deduced from intercepted radio messages that on June 4th Japan was going to feint a strike at the Aleutian Islands then launch it’s main battle fleet at Midway Island. When Admiral Nimitz received this report he had to decide whether it was a trick or the real thing before committing his own battered aircraft carriers. If Nimitz was wrong and the fleet outmaneuvered, Hawaii, Australia and even the California coast could come under Japanese attack. Nimitz chose to fight at Midway and Rochefort proved to be exactly right. The Battle of Midway June 4th would be the victory to turn the tide of the Pacific War.
In the month following the victory, the Chicago Tribune published the headline "Navy Breaks Jap Code" which cause Tokyo to change all their codes, so the work had to start all over again.

1949- Admiral James Forrestal was a top strategist during World War Two and was serving as President Truman’s Secretary of Defense. But the pressures of command in first the World War, then the Cold War may have been too much for him. Several days after President Truman awarded a medal to Forrestal he was admitted to the Bethesda Naval Hospital for nervous exhaustion. This day he leapt out a window with his bathrobe cord knotted around his neck. It was ruled a suicide.

1954- Bob Dylan’s Bar Mitzvah. Maseltov!

1955-The Golden Age of Radio ended when after 22 years the Jack Benny show was canceled. Once the top broadcast show in the nation, Benny went on to television.

1957- A U.S. B-36 bomber accidentally drops a Hydrogen Bomb on Albuquerque, New Mexico. The bombardier, Lt. Robert Carp lost his balance in the bomb bay area and grabbed for a handle that released the nuke. He ran back to the cockpit yelling: "I didn't touch anything! I didn't touch anything!" The bomb blew up a mesa and killed a cow but miraculously the thermonuclear triggering mechanism didn't kick in. This was kept a classified top secret until the late 1980's.

1964- In a speech at Ann Arbor, President Lyndon Johnson called for the Great Society. Johnson is remembered as the Vietnam War president but many of his Great Society social programs like Medicare and Medicaid are still in effect today.

1966- Bill Cosby became the first African-American to win an Emmy Award for starring in a television series- I-Spy.

1967- T.V. children's show Mr. Roger's Neighborhood debuted.

1969- PEOPLE’S PARK- The escalating tension between anti-war counter-culture and "the Establishment" picked an unusual item to fight over. A group of activists in Berkeley took over a 2 acre plot of land scheduled for development by the college. They planted grass and flowers and called it a "people’s park". Conservative Governor Ronald Reagan wasn’t going to tolerate any more tomfoolery and after officers and a chain link fence failed to keep out the squatters he sent in the National Guard. This day the confrontation between the bayonet wielding troops and hippies broke out into violence. One man was killed and another was blinded by riot gas. The college decided to yield the land for the park and it stays so today.

1972- The land of Ceylon declared itself the Republic of Sri Lanka.

1973- Scientist Bob Metcalfe of Xerox PARC patented the Ethernet.

1981- Peter Sutcliffe was convicted in the Yorkshire Ripper trial of murdering 13 women.

1985- Top Disney animation director Wolfgang "Woolie" Reitherman who directed the Jungle Book among other films, died in a car crash following lunch at the Smoke House in Burbank.

1992- The film Encino Man premiered, with Brendan Frazier and Pauly Shore.

2001- Ted Turners divorce from actress Jane Fonda became official.

2002-The Ayatollahs of Iran outlaw Barbie dolls. They denounce Barbie as "agents of subversive Zionist Western propaganda."

2004- The heir to the Spanish throne Prince Felipe of Asturias married a TV news anchorwoman. The first commoner in the Spanish Royal family.

2004- Manmohar Singh was sworn in as Prime Minister of India. The first Sikh ever to hold this office. His Congress party had been led Sonya Ghandi, but she declined the job. Let me see, if my husband P.M Rajiv Ghandi was blown up by a suicide bomber, and my mother-in-law Indira was machined gunned by her own body guards, and my great uncle the Mahatma was shot, maybe this job isn't a good career move for me?

2012- SpaceX, the world’s first privately owned spacecraft, blasted off to bring supplies to the International Space Station.
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Yesterday’s Question: Who said “The finest traditions of the Navy are Rum, Sodomy and the Lash!”..?

Answer: The anecdote is attributed to Winston Churchill. When made First Lord of the Admiralty, he sought to enact badly needed reforms. When an outraged old salt said to him “ You are subverting the finest traditions of the British Navy!”, such was Churchill’s reaction.


May 21, 2016
May 21st, 2016

Quiz: Who said “The finest traditions of the Navy are Rum, Sodomy and the Lash!”..?

Yesterday’s Question: To what country are the Balearic Islands part of?
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history for 5/21/2016
Birthdays: Plato, Fats Waller, Albrecht Durer, Andre Sakharov, Armand Hammer, Raymond Burr, John Hubley, Dennis Day, Sen. Al Franken is 65, Harold Robbins, Judge Reinhold, Larry Terro called Mr. T. is 64

1420- After the great victory of Agincourt King Henry V of England and King Charles VI the Mad of France conclude a peace treaty at Troyes. Harry of England would marry the French king's daughter and become heir. But Henry's early death from dysentery at 35 canceled these plans. That would have been an early end to the Hundred Years War, making it the 75 Years War.

1471- King Henry VI of Lancaster had been captured in the battle of Tewkesbury when he was defeated in the War of the Roses. On this day the prisoner-king was slain in the Tower of London while at prayers. Many say he was done in by King Edward IV hunchbacked brother Richard of Gloucester (later Richard III). To this day the spot where the king was murdered is covered with flowers every May 21st.

1506-Christopher Columbus died. Bitter, forgotten, watching other people take credit for his discoveries.

1540- Hernand DeSoto discovered the Mississippi River, the "Father of the Waters."

1542- Hernand DeSoto's yellow fever ridden body is dumped in the Mississippi to keep it from being violated by outraged Indians.

1661- BLIMEY! TEA COMES TO ENGLAND- King Charles II of England the Merry Monarch, married Catherine of Braganza, the Princess of Portugal. Her dowry included Tangiers and Bombay India. Poor Catherine never gave Charles any children, and she had to endure his constant philandering with a steady stream of mistresses. But she did introduce Britain to a new custom. She preferred drinking tea to the more traditional English Ale. Soon everyone had to have some.

1674- COSSACKS AND BAGELS- Hetman of the Ukraine Jan III Sobieski crowned king of Poland. He replaced King Michael Wisnoviecki, of whom it was said ' He could speak nine languages, but had nothing intelligent to say in any of them!'. Jan Sobieski became a warrior king. Some speculate that the Bagel was invented to celebrate his victories over the Turks. It's supposedly shaped like his stirrup. Others say baloney, the hole is in the bagel so you can stack them on a stick and sell them on the street.

1780- Off the coast of Connecticut, General George Washington conferred with his allies Admiral DeGrasse and the Comte Du Rochambeau aboard DeGrasse’s flagship. Washington wanted to attack the British in occupied New York, but Rocheambeau had a better idea: to pretend to assault New York, then their troops and ships would rendezvous down in Virginia and trap British General Cornwallis in Virginia at a little place called Yorktown.

During this time a French officer wrote home about the curious American custom of whittling. “Whenever the American generals need to ponder great strategies, invariably they take out a knife and carve fruitlessly upon a small stick!”

1800- Napoleon crossed the Alps into Italy at the Great Saint Bernard Pass. Napoleon waited for his last troops to complete the crossing, then thanked the monks who aided his men and crossed himself. Artist David portrayed Napoleon as crossing on a fierce white charger. In actuality he did the crossing on a donkey and at one point tucked his big gray overcoat between his legs and slid down a snowy mountain slope on his butt.

1856-CONGRESSIONAL SLUGFEST- During an angry debate on the slavery issue South Carolina Congressman Preston Brooks attacked and beat unconscious Massachusetts Representative Charles Sumner right on the floor of the House of Representatives. "I wore out my cane on his head!” Brooks boasted. Admirers sent Brooks more canes.
The slavery argument had become so ugly Congressman took to carrying concealed pistols and daggers to Capitol Hill. The news outraged abolitionists. In far away Kansas territory it affected preacher John Brown. "Dad went a little crazy when he got the news."-his son admitted. Brown would break into slave owners homes in the dead of night and announcing he was the Avenging Angel of the Lord, behead them with an antique broadsword.

1863- ARMY CHOW... The standard ration for soldiers in the Civil War was a baked flour biscuit called HardTack. Soldiers loved complaining about how awful it tasted and how hard it was to eat. ( Examples of hardtack 135 years old are still edible ). When Ulysses Grant marched his men around the back of the Confederate stronghold of Vicksburg Mississippi he cut himself off from his supply lines and let him men live off the local farms for food. His men feasted three weeks straight on roast turkey and goose, smoked hams, bacon, buttermilk and sweet potatoes. This relentlessly rich diet sparked an unusual protest on this day. As Grant was riding past his troops digging trenches they started yelling out loud: "Hardtack! Give us Hard Tack! A man can't work with this heavy food !" Soon thousands of men were chanting in unison "HARD-TACK! HARD-TACK!!' General Grant was forced to stop and pledge on the spot to restrict their diet back to the bland old biscuit.

1881- Clara Barton convened the first meeting of the American Red Cross as a branch of the International Red Cross.

1885- The pieces of the Statue of Liberty leave for the U.S. I wonder if the crates said "Some Assembly Required"? .The sculptor, Felix Bartholdi was requested to do something so that “Liberty does not leave France”, so he a made a smaller copy of the lady that is placed on the Seine facing westward. She and the Liberty in New York are facing one other.

1878- Mr. D.A. Buck of Waterbury Conn. received a patent for a low cost, mass produced pocket watch. Within a few years he was selling half a million Waterbury Watches a year at $3.50 each.

1892- Leoncavallo's opera "I Pagliacci" debuts at La Scala.

1906 - Louis H Perlman patents a de-mountable tire-carrying rim for cars.

1908 - 1st horror movie “Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde” premiered in Chicago.

1914 - Greyhound Bus Co begins in Minnesota.

1916 - Britain begins "Summer Time" Daylight Savings Time. The US adopted the system in the 1930s.

1921- LEOPOLD & LOEB- Two preppie millionaire's sons who were pumped up on Nietzches theory of the superman decided to commit the perfect murder. They lured Loeb's 15 year old cousin into their car, bludgeoned him to death with a chisel then had lunch. Despite their confidence in their superior intellects they were quickly identified and tried for murder. The rich families hired famed social-progressive lawyer Clarence Darrow for the defense. Darrow made no attempt to prove their innocence but got them off on a life sentence. In 1936 Loeb was cut up with a razor while trying to rape another prisoner, Leopold was paroled in 1958 and died in 1971. The pointless cold bloodedness of the murder today would seem like just another Jerry Springer show, but it horrified 1920's America. F.Scott Fitzgerald said the Jazz Age lost some of it's innocent fun after Leopold & Loeb.

1921- The Soviet Army re-conquered Chechnya. They had been conquered in Czarist times but after the Revolution tried to break free. The Red Army came back, executed their Imam Godzhink and reasserted the rule of Moscow. The Chechens rose again in 1991 and were put down after a bloody war.

1922- On the Road to Moscow, the first political cartoon to win a Pulitzer prize. The cartoonist Rollin Kirby, was passionate about Prohibition. He had a regular character to extol temperance named Mr. Dry. When Prohibition was repealed in 1933 Kirby killed off Mr. Dry in print.

1927-LINDBERGH- Charles Lindbergh-Lucky Lindy, The Lone Eagle, etc. reaches a field outside Paris called Le Bourget after flying nonstop across the Atlantic. There was no such thing as an auto-pilot yet, so he had to stay awake and alert for 33 hours straight. His fatigue would have let him crash, if the gremlin ghoulies he was hallucinating hadn’t kept him company. As soon as he was sighted over Paris, huge searchlights were beamed on his plane. The light temporarily blinded him so that he almost crashed. As he landed people swarmed around the whirring propeller, narrowly missing another tragedy. But Lindy was safe and history made. He said he had never been to Europe and had wanted to see the sights, but almost immediately he was whisked by battleship back to the U.S. for tumultuous ovations and parades.

1933- Woolie Reitherman’s first day at Walt Disney Studio.

1945- BOGEY LOVES BABY-Humphrey Bogart married Lauren Bacall on a friend’s farm in Ohio. He was 48 and she was 21. Her real name was Betty Persky, but she passed for wasp. So when the publicity photographers came, they were under strict instructions from Jack Warner to frame out of the shots Bacall’s more Jewish-looking relatives.

1945- The remaining barracks of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp were destroyed with U.S. Army flamethrowers.

1952- Actor John Garfield died. Some say he died in the midst of wild fornications; in truth he died alone of alcohol abuse at 40. The matinee idol of “The Postman Rings Twice” and “Kid Galahad” was too politically left for the conservative postwar age. When a young stage actor he had run guns to the IRA, later he supported progressive union movements, anti-fascism and desegregation. His outspoken politics got him blacklisted in Hollywood, his friends deserted him and he was ruined.

1952- Famed writer Lillian Hellman testified before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee HUAC but refused to name names. “I cannot cut my conscience to fit the fashions of the day.” She escaped a contempt of Congress wrap but she was blacklisted and at one point was working in a department store.

1966 - Heavyweight Cassius Clay KOs Henry Cooper in London

1968- Future President George W. Bush graduated Yale with a C average.

1972- A Hungarian lunatic shouting I am Jesus Christ, attacked Michelangelo’s statue La Pieta with a hammer. He is the reason why today we can only enjoy this beautiful sculpture from behind 3 inch thick bulletproof glass.

1979 - Elton John becomes 1st western rocker to perform live in USSR.

1980 – Star Wars “The Empire Strikes Back" premiered.

1983 - David Bowie's "Let's "Dance," single goes #1. The tracks featured a then little known guitarist named Stevie-Ray Vaughn.

1991- Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi was blown up by a suicide bomber girl carrying a bomb in a bunch of flowers. She was believed to be one of the Tamil Tiger separatists.

1992- Tonight Show host Johnny Carson did his last show “I bid you a very heartfelt goodnight.” Johnny spent his remaining years in privacy, even ignoring an invitation to appear at the NBC 75th anniversary spectacular.

2011- An 89 year old California reverend named Harold Camping caused a sensation in the U.S. when he declared today would be the Rapture, the Christian version of the End of the World. Uh…..It didn’t happen.
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Yesterday’s Question: To what country are the Balearic Islands part of?

Answer: Majorca, Minorca, Ibiza. They are part of Spain. A short flight from Barcelona.


May 20, 2016
May 20th, 2016

Question: To what country are the Balearic Islands part of?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: The medieval Story of Parzival by Chretien du Troyes, later by rewritten by Wolfram by Eisenbach in 1378 was adapted into a Hollywood movie. What was it ?
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History for 5/20/2016
Birthdays: Honore Balzac, Jimmy Stewart, Leon Schlesinger, William Fargo of Wells Fargo, Moshe Dayan, Henri Rousseau, Dave Thomas, Ted Bessell (Donald to Marlo Thomas’ “That Girl”), Japanese baseball great Sadaharu Oh, Antony Zerbe, Bronson Pichot, Joe Cocker, Cher is 70, Busta Rhymes

1347- Cola di Rienzi became the “tribune”, or leader of the city of Rome. The Pope was a prisoner in Avignon so the Eternal City was in chaos. Rienzi tried to bring about reforms and restore infrastructure, but like Mussolini he eventually got too arrogant and overplayed his hand. A mob slaughtered him and danced with his corpse.

1520- A violent young Spanish mercenary soldier named Ignacio was hit by a cannonball but miraculously lived. When he recovered he underwent a spiritual conversion and became St. Ignatius Loyola. Loyola founded a religious order called the Society of Jesus or Jesuits. Instead of acting like monks the Jesuits were organized on military discipline. Their leader is not called an abbot but the Secretary General. He is nicknamed “the Black Pope”.

1520- Hernando Cortez had not only to fight the entire Aztec Empire with just 391 troops, he also had the Spanish Governor of Cuba out to get him! This day Cortez surprised attacked the troop of Spaniards sent to arrest him. After a short battle he defeated the Governor’s force, and invited the survivors to join him.
1609- Shakespeare’s sonnets first published.
1621- The Sack of Magdeburg-During the Thirty Years War Catholic armies captured this Protestant German city. They cut down the surrendering Dutch commander Dietrich Von Falkenberg, and committed horrible atrocities on the population. The medieval cry "Cria Havoc!" was the signal for the pent up soldiers to run amuck. According to the rules of war they have the right to rape, and pillage for three days before discipline is restored.
But at Magdeburg they burned the city down and for 14 days the victors dumped the bodies of the innocent in the Elbe River. The army’s commander Johan Tserclas von Tilly explained: “ The soldier must get something for his toil and trouble.” The incident galvanized Protestant resistance. Ironically a lot of the troops in the Catholic army were protestant mercenaries who figured the religious questions were for kings to worry about, they just thought the catholic side had better benefits.

1690- The English Parliament passed the Act of Grace, giving pardon to all who had supported the deposed Stuart king James II.

1756- Battle of Minorca or Port Mahon- French Admiral the Marquis de Galissioniere defeated a British fleet led by Admiral of the Blue Sir John Byng, allowing the French to conquer the isle of Minorca. Byng was such a stickler for regulations he actually directed the battle while reading from an open copy of the Naval Rules of Engagement manual. The British admiralty was so incensed by Byng’s incompetence they recalled him to London, had him courts martialed and shot by firing squad on the deck of his own flagship.
1830 - D Hyde patented the fountain pen, replacing the goose quill .
1862-Congress passed the Homestead Act. 250 million acres of Free Land to all families who move west and build a home. Of course nobody told the Indians about this plan…

1873- Mr. Levi Strauss of San Francisco patents Jacob Davis’ process of riveted blue jeans. One alteration he made was to remove a rivet that was at the base of a cowboys crotch. It seems when they squatted around the campfire that rivet got red hot and caused much whoopin’ an a’ dancin’.

1887- In Russia a young man named Alexander Ulyanov was hanged by the police for plotting to assassinate the Tsar with a bomb hidden in a dictionary. His baby brother Vladimir watched him hang and was deeply affected. He took up his brother’s revolutionary cause, and to protect his family, he changed his name to Lenin.

1891- Thomas Edison demonstrated an early prototype of kinetoscope- a motion picture machine- to his wife's friends at a party. The footage was of engineer W.K.L. Dickson and his associates dancing. That night Edison wrote a letter about his movie machine to photographer Edweard Muybridge: " I doubt it will ever have any commercial value.." 1892- J.P. Morgan created the General Electric Company.

1892 - George Sampson patents the electric clothes dryer.

1902- US military occupation of Cuba after the Spanish American War ended.

1916- Polar Explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton set off in 1914 to cross the continent of Antartica. No one had heard from his party for two years and everyone assumed he was dead like Scott of the Antarctic 4 years before. This day Shackleton and two survivors reached a Norwegian Whaling Station on South Georgia Island ahead of the rest of his party. Sir Ernest asked about the Great War in Europe and assumed that by now the war was probably over. “Who won that war?” he asked. He was told: “It is still going on. Europe has gone mad. The World has Gone Mad.”

1916- Artist Norman Rockwell sold his first painting for a Saturday Evening Post cover.
1926 - Thomas Edison says Americans prefer silent movies over talking pictures. He also thought the flat record disc could never replace the cylinder.
1927- Charles Lindbergh took off for France in his little plane The Spirit of Saint Louis. The day before two pilots died when their plane failed to clear some power lines. Weighed down with extra fuel, Lindbergh barely cleared them himself. By attempting the trip alone it meant he would have to stay awake for 33 1/2 hours with no company but a Felix the Cat doll.

1932- Amelia Earhart landed in Londonerry, Northern Ireland, completing the first solo flight by a woman across the Atlantic Ocean. Since Lindbergh, five aviators had died trying to recreate the feat, until Earhart did it. 1937-The Cinema Editor's Guild started.

1937- Bob Clampett promoted to director at Leon Schlesinger’s Looney Tunes Studio. Clampett, whose mother hand sewed the first Mickey Mouse dolls for Walt Disney. After leaving Looney Tunes Clampett created the Beany & Cecil Show for early television.
1939- Pan Am establishes "Yankee Clipper"" flying boat passenger service across the Atlantic. From Long Island New York to Lisbon Portugal in 22 hours. For awhile it was thought flying boats would be the future of civilian aviation because they land in water so save land for airports and runways. Also safer because if there was any kind of engine trouble they could just put down in water and bob around until help arrived. 1942- Nazi parachutists capture Crete. One of the paratroopers was Max Schmelling, who boxed Joe Louis for the heavyweight title. The Germans casualty rate was so high the Germans abandoned all future parachute assaults. 1943- Admiral Yamamoto shot down and killed in transit by American pursuit squadron tipped off by the broken Japanese code. Ironically the mastermind of Pearl Harbor was against the war with America and predicted: " If I can knock out the American fleet early I can raise hell in the Pacific for two years. If you don't negotiate after that we will eventually lose."

I recently read a theory of one historian who said that right around this time Prime Minister Hideki Tojo's government had fallen over the conduct of the war and Yamamoto, as Japan’s most popular soldier, could have been the next Prime Minister. In which case he would have opened peace talks as early as 1943, long before Okinawa, Iwo Jima and Hiroshima ! It’s a stretch, but one of the intriguing “what if’s” of history.

1948- A tornado touched down on a commercial airport in Tinker Oklahoma. What made this episode special was two air force meteorologists named Miller and Forbush just happened to present studying tornado weather patterns when the twister showed up as if on cue. The result was the invention of the first serious tornado warning systems.

1969- The Battle of Hamburger Hill ended- U.S.101st Airborne took the summit of Hill 937 from North Vietnamese regulars after nine days of incurring grievous losses. The hill was abandoned shortly afterwards.

1970-THE HARD HAT PARADE- In a response to the anti-war demonstrations convulsing US colleges and cities, several thousand people marched in downtown New York in support of President Nixon’s Vietnam policies. The so-called Hard Hat Parade was made up of union construction workers and middle aged veterans. Conservatives made a lot of this event, but the fact is this was a one time anomaly in the face of hundreds of thousands marching nationwide against the unpopular war.

1975- In a small warehouse in Van Nuys California, George Lucas assembled an effects crew to create the film Star Wars. It is the birth of Industrial Light & Magic, or ILM.

1979- The last Saturday Night Live show done by the original cast. Many of them had their 5 year contracts up and wanted to do something else. Plus producer Lorne Michaels was feuding with NBC chairman Fred Silverman and wanted to leave. So goodbye Lorne Michaels, Gilda Radner, Lorraine Newman, Garret Morris, Bill Murray and Al Franken, Hello Jean Doumainian and Joe Piscopo! Lorne Michaels came back to the show a few years later and has produced it ever since.

1984- Hanna Barbera’s “The Smurfic Games”.

1993 - Max Klein, the inventor of Paint by Numbers sets, died at 77. President Eisenhower once passed out paint-by-numbers sets to his senior cabinet so their paintings could adorn the West Wing offices. Imagine seeing on your wall an original artwork by Richard Nixon or Curtis LeMay!

1994- Walt Disney released Aladdin II, the Return of Jaffar. Done overseas at ¼ the budget of the original, it’s nevertheless success spawned the industry of Disney direct-to-video sequels, called “cheapquels” by some animators.

2003- In 1977, when Walt Disney's the Rescuers was being completed, the artists for a joke added a Playboy picture into a pan shot. Going by at 1/24th a second, they were confident nobody would ever spot it. Later in the 1990s, when Rescuers went to VHS video, they edited out the controversial frame. But when it was time in 2003 to rerelease on DVD, the Studio apparatchniks went back to the original 1977 negative, without ever bothering to consult any of us artists. We could have warned them. but no. So on May 20, 2003, nine million copies of the Rescuers DVD hit the stores, with the ensuing out cry, firestorm, and embarrassed apologies you can imagine.
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Yesterday’s Quiz: The medieval Story of Parzival by Chretien du Troyes, later by rewritten by Wolfram by Eisenbach in 1378 was adapted into a Hollywood movie. What was it ?

Answer: Terry Gilliam’s 1975 film The Fisher King.


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