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June 15th, 2009 mon
June 15th, 2009

Question: True or False, chocolate is an Aztec word.

Yesterday’s Question answered below: How did you flip someone the finger in Italy during the Renaissance?
History for 6/15/2009
Birthdays: Edward the Black Prince of England, Rachael Donelson Jackson- Andy Jackson’s First Lady, Edvard Grieg, Saul Steinburg, Mario Cuomo, Jim Varney, Wade Boggs, Waylon Jennings, Xaviera Hollander the Happy Hooker, Jim Belushi, Ice Cube is 40, Neil Patrick Harris, Courtenay Cox is 45, Helen Hunt is 46

Happy St. Vitas Day ! "If St. Vitas Day be rainy weather, twill rain for thirty days together. "St.Vitus was the patron of epilepsy, and some extreme forms of spasmic seizure (chorea) was called "St. Vitus Dance".

1215- The MAGNA CARTA or the Great Charter SIGNED. On the field of Runymede. The rebellious English barons force King John Lackland ( also called John Soft Sword, John the Total Loser, etc. ) to sign a document granting basic rights such as trial by a jury of peers, Habeas Corpus, etc. It basically said for the first time that even a King was not above the law of the land.

After King John signed, he traveled to Rome to bribe the Pope to absolve him of his oath. Then he returned with an army of mercenaries to squash his uppity subjects. Even though he hired rogues like Victor the Villain and Mauger the Murderer, King John still lost. Magna Carta became the basis of English Law.

1300- Poet Dante Alighieri got a job as one of the governing priors of Florence, sort of a city council. We don’t know if it says something about his abilities at municipal governing, but he was run out of town in 1302.

1775 - The Continental Congress appointed Mr. George Washington, Esq. of Virginia to be commanding general of the new colonial army forming around Boston. John Adams urged Congress to pick a southerner to command the mostly New Englander farmers in the interest of colonial unity. The fact that he was one of the richest men in America didn't hurt either. Plus the 6’ 2 plantation owner dropped hints he was interested in the job, like being the only delegate to attend congress squeezed into his 20 year old militia uniform. They afterwards bought him dinner at Peg Mullen's Beefsteak House. During the meal he turned to Patrick Henry and said with the appropriate 18th Century modesty: " From the date I enter into command of America's Armies, I date the fall and ruin of my reputation!"

1776- William Franklin, the pro-British governor of New Jersey is arrested by the Yankee rebels and thrown into a dungeon. He was the illegitimate son of Benjamin Franklin and his cook Deborah Regan, whom Franklin had married out of sympathy for the boy. William had assisted his dad with his flying kite experiment years ago. The New Jersey delegates told Dr. Franklin while the Independence Declaration was being debated and he was 'unmoved'. Truth be told the two men couldn't stand one another. They said they reconciled after the Revolution but that may have been more for public record than reality. When he died Ben Franklin did not leave his son a penny in his will, bitterly stating it's only what William would have left him had the positions been reversed.

1800- US Congress ordered the disbanding of the US Army as a waste of money.

1815-THE WATERLOO BALL- In Brussels Belgium, the Duchess of Richmond hosts a ball for the officers of Wellington’s army before they go to stop Napoleon. Many of the dancers will be dead at Waterloo three days later. The event is dramatized in "Vanity Fair" and" Becky Sharp."

1844- Mr. Charles Goodyear invents the vulcanization process, that keeps rubber from getting sticky in warm weather and brittle in the cold.

1846-The Oregon Treaty. The United States and Great Britain settle a dispute over exactly where the northwest border was between the U.S. and Canada. Despite President Polk’s belligerent campaign slogan “Fifty-Four Forty or Fight!” a peaceful compromise was reached on the 49th parallel.

1849-Three months after leaving office President James K. Polk died. The President who fought the War with Mexico to get California and the southwest was a lifelong teetotaler and died of cholera from drinking tainted water. Sam Houston, who was one of the great alcoholics of American history, said of Polk's death: " It’s the natural end of all Water-Drinkers!"

1888 -Kaiser Wilhelm II becomes leader of Germany after the death of his father Frederich III, who died of throat cancer after reigning only 100 days. Kaiser Frederich was mild, liberal and had an English wife. He hated German powermongers and abhorred the cruel reputation Germany was getting for militarism. He was determined to alter these policies. The modern world would have been amazingly different had Frederich lived to see 1914 as Kaiser instead of his emotionally disturbed son " Willy ".
Kaiser Frederich III

The first thing Wilhelm did was have troops break into his mother's office and seize some confidential papers in her desk. He and his mother were hardly on speaking terms and he referred to her as "That English Princess who is my mother.."

1945- Judy Garland married director Vincente Minelli.

1951- Comedian Lenny Bruce married a stripper named Honey Stuart.

1955- DUCK & COVER. The US Government held Operation OPAL, the first nationwide Civil Defense alert drills. Not only did millions of school children have to jump under their desks to avoid imaginary Russian nukes but plans were made for commandos to grab the President, Congressional leaders, Supreme Court and even grab the Declaration of Independence and other valuable documents and whisk them out of endangered Washington D.C. to bunkers in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Top Russian officials said they learned a great deal about US intentions from observing these silly drills. President Eisenhower got a good laugh when the motorcade speeding him through the Virginia countryside was blocked by a heard of pigs. “Well, I guess that means we’re all dead boys!” The president joked.

1969- The country music comedy TV show Hee-Haw premiered as a summer replacement for the Smothers Brothers Hour. Hee Haw ran for two years with high ratings but CBS canceled the show anyway. This was because CBS chief Bill Paley disliked country music and CBS had so many shows like Mayberry RFD, Beverly Hillbillies and Hee Haw that insiders joked that CBS stood for the Country Broadcasting System. Hee Haw had the last laugh, going on to a successful syndication run until 1997.

1977- Everybody Disco! KC and the Sunshine band release “I’m your Boogie Man”.

1992- The US Supreme Court ruled that it was okay for American law agencies to kidnap suspects being given asylum in foreign countries and bring them to the US for trial, just no one better try kidnapping anybody outta da Good Old U-S of A!

1999- In San Diego, Nicholas Vitalich was arrested for slapping his wife with a large tuna.

2002- Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones was knighted.
Yesterday’s Question: How did you flip someone the finger in Italy during the Renaissance?

Answer: Shakespeare’s ROMEO & JULIET, Act 1, Scene 1:

ABRAHAM: Do you bite your thumb at us, sir?
SAMPSON: I do bite my thumb, sir.

Besides that, according to John Ciardi’s famous translation of Dante’s Inferno, another insult called Figs, was to place your thumb sticking out between your index and middle finger and wave that at someone.