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March 13, 2016
March 13th, 2016

Quiz: What does it mean to be idiosyncratic?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: Why is a slang term for going to prison “ being sent up the river”?
History 3/13/2016
Birthdays: Hugh Walpole, Earl Charles Grey 1764-English Prime Minister whom the tea blend 'Earl Grey Tea " is named for, Pope Innocent XII (1615), Abigail Powers Filmore- First Lady of Millard Filmore, Hugo Wolf, Ted Sears, Sammy Kaye, Danny Kaye, Neil Sedaka, L. Ron Hubbard, William Macy is 66, Dick Katz, Annabell Gish, Joe Ranft

27BC- AUGUSTUS BECOMES FIRST ROMAN EMPEROR- For about a hundred years the Roman Republic had been a football contested for by powerful politicians- Sulla, Pompey, Caesar, Mark Anthony and Lucullus. Julius Caesar had said that Rome was a Republic in name only. Since vanquishing Anthony & Cleopata, Caesar Octavian had been the first man in Rome (Princeps), yet he needed to solidify his hold on power. But Romans hated the title of King.
So this day in a carefully staged bit of political theater, Octavian told the Senate he was tired of responsibility. He would resign all his offices and retire. Senators shouted for him to reconsider. They voted him the title GAIUS CAESAR AUGUSTUS, IMPERATOR- PRINCEPS. Imperator used to be the name for a generals military authority and we get the word Emperor, Kaiser and Czar came from it. Augustus meant Father of His Country- with all the absolute power a father had in his family. Princeps meant first citizen. Rome had emperors until 476AD and continued on at Constantinople until 1453.

4 B.C.- King Herod the Great died. The vibrant king who guided Israel to independence through Rome’s Civil Wars and rebuilt the temple of Solomon aged badly. He became increasingly paranoid. When a bastard son convinced him his legitimate offspring was trying to kill him, he had them executed. This may be the explanation why he could order the infamous scene in the New Testament known as the Massacre of the Innocents. On his deathbed Herod ordered village elders across Israel rounded up and killed when he died. " I know I am hated, so I want all Israel to mourn". After his death his guards ignored the order and released the elders.

1639- Richard Burbage died. Burbage was the famed Elizabethan actor and friend of William Shakespeare. On his tombstone was a simple epitaph- EXIT BURBAGE.

1758- BATTLE ON THE SNOWSHOES-Col. Robert Rogers with "Roger's Rangers" American colonial frontiersmen in British service, got ambushed by a large French Huron Indian war party. The leathershirts scatter and Rogers eludes his pursuers by walking with his snowshoes turned backwards from the edge of a cliff. When the Indians see his tracks ending into thin air and then spot his figure running in the valley below they decided the Hipi-Manitou Spirit was with him, so they let him go.

1778- The French ambassador informed the British Government that France had recognized the independence of the United States and had made an alliance with them.

1781-the discovery of the planet Uranus by British astronomer William Herschel. The first planet discovered since prehistoric times. Galileo and Kepler used their early telescopes to spot the rings and Saturn and moons of Jupiter, but no planets. Herchel wanted to call his discovery Georgium Sidus after King George III, but other astronomers convinced him to keep to the pattern of naming planets after Roman gods. Hershel emigrated from Germany and played violin in several symphony orchestras before becoming interested in astronomy. He brought his sister over, and she became an opera singer, as well as observing and naming 5 comets.

1865- With the South overrun by Yankee armies, at the request of Gen. Robert E. Lee, the Confederate Congress finally authorized the enlistment of Black soldiers to fight for Dixie. Incredibly, they got 360 volunteers. On the Yankee side, 180,000 enlisted, almost 80% of the eligible population of free black men.

1881-Czar Alexander II assassinated. -He was the Czar-Liberator that freed the Russian serfs but he was still seen by patriotic movements as a symbol of oppression.
On this day young revolutionaries of the People’s Will movement had already hurled one bomb at the Czar's carriage but harmed no one. The Czar was getting out when another revolutionary (this one was Polish) stepped forward shouting "It's too early to thank God!" And threw a bomb which blew Alexander to bits. Later in the spring thaw St. Petersburg housewives were finding little bits of Czar on their rooftops when they cleaned.

1884- Chester Greenwood of Maine invented ear-muffs.

1920-THE KAPP PUTSCH - In postwar Berlin anarchy reigned as Bolshevik and right wing paramilitary groups fought in the streets for control. On this day the Kaiser's former army officers march on Berlin and try and overthrow the Weimar Republic and restore the monarchy. They fail, but the weak government can do no more than let them march away scot free. They even pause to fire into a heckling crowd of civilians. After this rebuff the old Prussian aristocratically -led German Army would remain aloof from politics until getting behind Hitler's Reich in the late 1930’s.
One of the central conspirators of the Putsch was a bizarre figure named Trebitsch Lincoln, a Hungarian Jew who moved to England, ran for Parliament and won, was a German spy during the World War I, and finished his life as a Lama in Tibet named Chao-Kung.

1921- Mongolia declared its independence from China.

1928- In New York City, Walt Disney sent a telegram to his brother Roy back in California, informing him of his disastrous meeting with producer Charles Mintz. That Mintz had exercised a clause in their contract to take the rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit away from them. He cabled “ Leaving Tonight, stopping over KC. Arrive Sunday Morning. Don’t Worry. All Will be Well.” Later Walt with Ubb Iwerks, Les Clark and his wife Lillian came up with a new character named Mickey Mouse.

1929- The White House never had much security. When you rang the bell, President Thomas Jefferson himself answered the door in his robe and slippers. Abe Lincoln had one bodyguard, and after the Civil War the one soldier guarding the front door was removed. Presidents like Grant & McKinley would take a stroll at night down by the Potomac with no guards. Children played baseball and sheep grazed on the White House lawn.
This night President Herbert Hoover was having dinner with Hollywood producer David O’ Selznick when a homeless man wandered into the room and asked the president for a job. He just walked through the front door while the butler was preoccupied. The next day by Executive Order, the Secret Service took over direct control of the White House security and could command the D.C. police.

1938- At the height of Stalin’s purges top Bolshevik Nicholai Bukharin was shot.

1939-Hollywood recognizes the Screen Director’s Guild later called he DGA. After a nasty battle lasting several years Guild President Frank Capra signs the contracts representing 80% of movie directors. They also contractually ensure the custom of the directors credit being the last one seen at the opening title sequence of a film.

1943- Radio station WNYC goes on the air.

1944- Abbot & Costello copyrighted their baseball routine ‘Who’s on First?"

1945- After systematically destroying the Japanese cities of Tokyo and Nagoya, this day the hundreds of massed B-29 bombers reduced the city of Osaka to burning rubble.

1946- The UAW struck General Motors. In 1936 businessmen had asked the Rand Corporation to come up with a solution to workers labor unions. The Rand Group came up with a pamphlet called the Mohawk Valley Rules. It said the way to defeat unions was not in the streets with vigilantes and tear gas but in the press. Make their arguments seem unAmerican and subversive. All sides took a hiatus to win World War II so this was the first major strike where the Mohawk Rules were put into practice. So even though the union won concessions in the settlement they lost popular support. People blamed unions for the higher car prices and Communistic activity while the heads of GM and other defense corporations made 400%+ profits from the war. Today people still think unions are not important even though wages have not risen in 20 years, and CEO salaries have jumped 1,400 %.

1957- The F.B.I. arrested Teamster’s Union President Jimmy Hoffa on bribery charges.

1964- The Kitty Genovese murder. A sad moment in urban history when a New York cocktail waitress was jumped and murdered in front of her Queens apartment complex. 38 of her neighbors heard her screams "He's stabbing me! He's killing me!" They watched from their windows but no one bothered to come down to her aid.

1965- Guitarist Eric Clapton quit the band The Yardbirds.

1969- Disney’s comedy about a Volkswagen beetle "The Love Bug" premiered.

1970- Under pressure from the U.S. foreign affairs guru Henry Kissinger , Cambodian leader Prince Siahnnouk asked the Vietcong and Khmer Rouge armies to get out. The civil war in Cambodia immediately grew from a lukewarm insurgency to a full-scale holocaust resulting in the government’s defeat, and the Killing Fields of 1975.

1983- The Larry King Show debuted on HBO, later moving to CNN. King retired that show in 2010, but still does shows on cable.

1988-Overly endowed porn star John Holmes, also called Johnny Wad, died of HIV/AIDS. He claimed to have had sex with 14,000 women and a few men in his career, but that he contracted the disease through intravenous drug use. He also got involved with some drug dealers and was implicated in a murder. The film Boogie Nights was based on him.

1997- In Malaysia, a man named Hassan Abdallah had his penis cut off by his wife in his sleep. Her excuse was she claimed she was sleep walking and dreamed she was only strangling him. Uh- huh….?

2002-In a national press conference President George W. Bush declared he did not know where top 9-11 terrorist Osama Ben Laden was, and that he no longer cared much about him.

2013- Pope Francis I elected aka Pope Frank. The first Argentine Pope. The first from the New World.

Yesterdays Question: Why is a slang term for going to prison “ being sent up the river”?

Answer: The federal penitentiary Sing-Sing was in the New York State town of Ossning, up the Hudson River from NYC. So NY gangster knew what it meant to be sent “ up the river”.