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May 1, 2015
May 1st, 2015

Question: What is a Rube Goldberg Device?

Yesterday’s question answered below: Who was Little Egypt?
History for 5/1/2015
Birthdays: Mary Harris a.k.a. Mother Jones, Marshal Vauban 1633, Benjamin Latrobe, Calamity Jane, Joseph Addison, Kate Smith, Jack Paar, Joseph Heller, Rita Coolidge, Steve Cauthen, Judy Collins, Glen Ford, Ray Parker Jr., Maurice Noble, Fyodor Khytruk, Louis Nye, John Woo, Wes Anderson is 46, Joanna Lumley is 69, Eric Goldberg is 60

May or Maius is named for Maia, Roman god of flowers, daughter of Fauna and Vulcan.

This day Romans celebrated the LARALIA- the feast of the Lares, your personal domestic gods who watch over you and your family. Many times they included the founder of your house, a famous family member or a particular allegiance to one deity, for example Julius Caesar claimed to be descended from Venus. It’s also the Roman festival for the Bona Dea or the Good Goddess, a deity of fertility.

Feast of Saint Phillip and Saint James the Lesser

62BC- Publius Clodius Pulcher- The Handsome, seduced the wife of Julius Caesar by dressing like a woman and sneaking into Caesars home while the women were celebrating the secret sacred mysteries of the goddess Bona Dea. Part of Greco-Roman religious mysteries was the drinking of a wine mixed with herbs like Ergot, approximating the effect of modern LSD. Caesar wasn’t too fussed, because he was sleeping around as well. Sex, Drugs and Latin Conjugations!

305AD- The Abdication of Roman Emperors Diocletian and Maximian- Diocletian attempted to solve the problem of Roman emperors being chosen by means other
than murder or civil war. He split the Empire into two pieces and took a colleague, Maximian, as Emperor of the West. They would each select a vice-emperor or Caesar and after a set number of years retire and the succession moves up. This system worked while Diocletian was around but it began to unravel almost as soon as he retired to his estates in Yugoslavia to grow cabbages. When the emperors started to fight and kill each other the Senate tried to recall Diocletian. He responded: "If you could but see my cabbages, you would not ask me to do so ! "

1152- Henry II Plantagenet, king of England and Duke of Normandy (grandson of
William the Conquerer) married Eleanor of Aquitaine, divorced wife of King
Louis VI of France and heiress of half of France. This union created the
powerful state called the Angevin Empire, so named because one of Henry's
family titles was Duke of Anjou. They would bear those rather interesting offspring
Richard the Lionhearted and John Lackland.

1373- Dante Alighieri met the love of his life Beatrice at a MayDay party in Florence. Although she married another he was inspired to write his Divine Comedy to her.

1516-The poor of London band together and stage a demonstration, complaining of their harsh life. The King's Chancellor, Cardinal Woolsey, replied by having 60 of them hanged.

1776- THE ILLUMINATI- In Ingolstadt Germany a former Jesuit named Adam Weishaupt created a radical fringe off-shoot of Freemasonry called the Illuminati. Their program of anti-religion, anti-royalist pro-democratic secular humanism gained great influence over intellectual Freemason lodges in Europe before being suppressed by the Bavarian government in 1785. A new Order of Illuminati formed in 1880 and the members roster claimed to have included Alastair Crowley ( The Great Outer Head ) ,King Arthur, Sir Francis Bacon, Goethe, Gaugin, Cocteau, Nietzche and King Ludwig the Mad. Today some Christian Fundamentalists who see pro-Satanic conspiracies under every bed point to the Illuminati as proof.

1786- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozarts opera THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO premiered in Vienna. So many encores and bows were demanded that the evening went on twice as long.

1798- The Birth of American Industry- Cotton Gin maker Eli Whitney proposes
to the U.S. government that he could make the army 10,000 muskets by a new automated
machine process. He gets the contract but delivers only 500, many of them
handmade the old fashioned way. The first Defense department cost overrun.

1813- On the first day of the Saxon Campaign outside of Bautzen Germany one
of Napoleon's top generals, Marshal Bessieres, is struck dead by a rebounding
cannonball. Marshal Ney stood over him and said:" It's a Good Death. It's Our kind of
Death!" Bessieres was one of the last of his generation to wear his hair long, powdered white and in a tied que long after it was out of fashion.

1851- Queen Victoria and Prince Albert open the Great Exhibition of 1851 at the new Crystal Palace in Hyde Park. This first World's Fair would last until October and have exhibits and inventions from all around the world. Many European crowned heads stayed away for fear of all their revolutionary exiles England had given asylum to. A touching moment was when the Chinese ambassador did a public kowtow or prostrated himself before the Queen, symbolizing China's submission to England. The fact that the diplomat wasn't a diplomat but a local London resident named Hai Sing who gave tours of his Junk on the Thames for a shilling a head didn't seem to bother anybody. The Queen at one point was frantic that the Crystal Palace was attracting hordes of sparrows whose droppings were covering the glass roof with an unwanted glazing. The elderly Duke of Wellington came upon a solution: "Try sparrow hawks, M'am."

1863- The Confederate Congress reacted to the Union Army enlisting black soldiers by passing a resolution that any African-American captured in battle would be considered a slave in insurrection and hanged. I can’t recall any such executions taking place but in several battles Rebs refused to take black soldiers prisoner and just killed them outright. This did not deter 180,000 black volunteers, 85% of the eligible free black male population.

1869- LEE & GRANT MEET AGAIN- Four years after the Civil War ended, Ulysses Grant was U.S. President and Robert E. Lee was dean of Washington University. They had not seen each other since Appomattox. Grant invited Lee to the White House where they sat together and chatted amiably for an hour. No one was allowed to hear or record what they said to each other. On the train passing through Arlington was the only time Lee saw his family mansion, now the centerpiece of a giant national cemetery. He said nothing about it. Robert E. Lee died of angina the following year, Grant of throat cancer in 1885.

1886- MAYDAY- In most of the world except the U.S. this is Labor Day. Ironically the tanks and red banners that used to parade down Tianamehn or in Havanna celebrate events that began in the United States. In 1886- The Knights of Labor- an underground movement of unions came out in the open and announced itself America's first national labor organization. On this day they called for strikes against all employers who wouldn't institute an 8 hour workday. The norm in America was 12 hours, 7am to 7pm six days a week. 500,000 people go out on 1,700 strikes and paralyze the nation's economy. The authorities crushed the strikes with violence, shootings, arrests and firings with a brutality that shocked the rest of the world. Karl Marx said: " Isn't it amazing what's happening in America ?". The 8 hour day doesn't become normal in America until 1913. In 1889- in Europe the International Socialist Congress declaring itself in sympathy with the embattled American worker designated May 1st as International Worker's Day. In 1894 American Federation of Labor, a less militant successor to the Knights, ask President Cleveland to move Labor Day from May 1st to the end of August. This was so people can have a holiday between Independence Day and Thanksgiving, but also a Labor Day free of "radical politics".

1893- The WORLD COLUMBIAN EXHIBITION opened in Chicago. A great White City topped by the first Ferris Wheel, a giant that carried passengers higher than the crown of the Statue of Liberty. Worlds Fairs then still had a certain amount of cheap sensationalist burlesque to attract customers uninterested in dynamos and new farming exhibits. Walt Disney’s father Elias worked as a carpenter building the exhibits. Candy maker Milton Hershey inspected some new German milk chocolate machines and was inspired to build his business around chocolate. This exhibition was made famous by the erotic gyrations of belly dancer Little Egypt. the famous tune "In the Land of Oz Where the Ladies Smoke Cigars" was not written in Egypt but by a local songwriter named Joe Blume. It also displayed the World’s Largest Red Cedar Bucket, then filled with lager beer. In 2001, I had the pleasure of seeing the Bucket at Mufreesboro Tennessee, minus the beer.

1894- COXEY'S ARMY- Retired colonel Jacob Coxey was a self-proclaimed spokesman for the rights of the underprivileged. He organized led several marches of thousands of hungry and unemployed on Washington DC, proclaiming them the Army of the Commonwealth of Christ . He loudly demanded on the steps of Capitol Hill workers compensation, unemployment insurance and national works projects to put the unemployed back to work. All these goals were achieved by the New Deal in 1933 but for now all Jacob Coxey got was 20 days in jail for disturbing the peace.

1898- BATTLE OF MANILA BAY- Admiral Dewey's fleet sinks the Spanish fleet when
he gives the order to the captain of the USS Olympia :"You may fire when ready, Gridley:" I'm sorry, Bugs Bunny didn't say it first. The Spanish admiral Marquis de Montijo is remembered in Spain as a hero for even trying to engage the Americans with his outdated and outgunned fleet. Forgoing the support of shore batteries he deliberately drew his ships up away from the city of Manila so civilians wouldn't get hurt in the battle and his ships could sink in shallow water. Hundreds of Spanish sailors were killed but the only Yankee who died was an engineer who had a heart attack from all the excitement.

1902- Richard Outcault's comic strip Buster Brown and Tige first appeared. Outcault, the creator of the first hit cartoon the Yellow Kid was so famous that as part of his deal to do this strip he negotiated the first back-end deal for a percentage of the merchandise sales.

1914-THE BIRTH OF THE BIG BLUE- Thomas Watson got a job at a little business machine company called CTR, the Calculating Typewriter and Regulating Company. He quickly rose to the top and renamed the company International Business Machine or IBM. When he retired in 1956 it employed 60,000 and is one of largest companies in the world.

1926- Satchel Page pitched his first baseball game. His nickname came from Satchel-mouth.

1930- Marry Harris- AKA Mother Jones, union activist and child labor crusader made her last speech on her 100th birthday: " I was born of the struggle, of torment and pain. A child of the wheel, a brat of the cogs, a woman of the dust. Whenever a worker weeps tears of blood, I am his remedy !"

1931- The Empire State Building in New York dedicated. For fifty years it was the worlds tallest office building and King Kong’s hangout. It’s topmost deck was designed to be a dirigible mooring post, but despite several tries no zeppelin has ever been able to park there. A Goodyear Blimp attempted mooring there in 1976 but the high winds bobbed it around like a bucking bronco. The building was dedicated during the depths of the Great Depression when business was so bad it was nicknamed the 'Empty State Building'.

1935- Lou Gehrig, the Yankee "Iron Man" who had never missed a baseball game, takes himself out of a game because of illness. It is the first sign of the degenerative muscular disease that would be called Lou Gehrig's Disease.

1939- The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia exports it's first barrel of crude oil.

1939- The first Batman comics created by Bob Kane appear on newsstands.

1941- Orson Welles film "Citizen Kane" debuted at the Paramount theater (the El Capitan) in Hollywood. At the last minute William Randolph Hearst's friend Louis B. Mayer tried to buy and destroy every print of the film and the Hearst press went crazy attacking it. Hearst spokesperson Louella Parsons threatened "A Beautiful Lawsuit" if the film was not pulled. Despite winning some Oscars the film didn't do well in it's initial release, but it remains one of the greatest films of all time. Welles said later:" The problem I've always had is my movies become classics ten years later."

1942- The last execution by hanging at San Quentin Federal Prison.

1945- THE SECOND FUEHRER- Grand Admiral Doenitz, leader of the Nazis u-boat campaigns is informed of Hitler's death and that he was the Fuehrer's handpicked successor. Hitler was mad at Himmler and Goring and everybody else had shot themselves. Doenitz was leader of what was left of the Third Reich for 23 days. Even with Berlin fallen his country overrun he deliberately dragged out negotiations so he could smuggle as many people as he could away to the Anglo-American zones.

1960- THE U-2 INCIDENT Soviet authorities shoot down a high observation U-2 spy plane violating Soviet airspace and capture the pilot Francis Gary Powers. Ironically President Eisenhower had ordered a halt to the U-2 spy program but the Pentagon tried to get one more flight in. After 1989 the US Government admitted the overflights of Russian airspace had been going on since 1950.

In those ten years the Soviets had shot down around 20 planes with a loss of 100-200 U.S. servicemen killed or sent to die in Siberian Gulags, ignored by their government to whom they did not officially exist. Powers’s plane was hit and disintegrated. He fell 70,000 feet but miraculously he survived. Before he was captured he at first hitchhiked a ride from a Russian couple going to a wedding. They saw nothing strange in the uniformed man and when they noticed he couldn’t speak Russian in the middle of Russia they decided he must be Bulgarian.

1964- Scientist John Kemeny at Dartmouth created the computer language BASIC.

1967- Elvis Presley married Priscilla Beaulieu at the Aladdin casino in Las Vegas.

1989- Walt Disney Feature Animation in Orlando Florida opens. It closed in 2006.

1993- The Florida Animation Union Local 843 chartered.

1997- Frank Gifford, ABC television sportscaster and husband of morning show celebrity Kathy Lee Gifford, was caught on videotape doing the nasty with stewardess Suzie Johnson. She got paid by a tabloid and posed nude for Playboy.

1997- Bebe, the dolphin who played Flipper on the television show, died at age 40.

1997- Tony Blair defeated Tory John Major to become Prime Minister of Britain.

1999- Spongebob Squarepants premiered on Nickelodeon.

2003-MISSION ACCOMPLISHED. President George W. Bush lands a military jet onto the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to deliver a speech declaring the war in Iraq to be officially over. In the next 8 years thousands more Americans would be killed and wounded. A large banner on the carrier read Mission Accomplished. The White House said it was set up spontaneously by crewmen, but later admitted it was conceived, printed and hung by the presidents men.

2004- The European Union expanded from thirteen to twenty five countries, including Estonia and Malta.

2005- The Sunday Times of London first printed the Downing Street Memo. It was minutes of a meeting between US and British strategists, that proved that the Bush White House was irrevocably settled on attacking Iraq and removing Saddam Hussein in July 2002. This while the official position of the Bush Administration was that they were only going to war as a last resort.
In an earlier generation, the Downing St. Memo would have been as important as the Watergate Smoking Gun, but the complacent US media buried it’s importance, and a blizzard of conservative spin challenged it’s veracity.
Yesterday’s Question: Who was Little Egypt?

Answer: The first belly-dancer to tour the USA. She made a sensation at the Chicago Exhibition. See above, 1893.