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July 19, 2007 thurs
July 19th, 2007

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 did run up to an observation platform and sang 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 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.

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.

1553-Lady Jane Grey deposed after being queen for only nine days. When Henry VIII's sickly son died at 15 the Protestant grandees panicked that the next in line to the throne was the bigoted catholic daughter Mary Tudor. So they attempted a bit of dynastic sleight of hand with this distant protestant cousin.(remember Elizabeth was still considered illegitimate). It didn't wash and Mary soon earned the sobriquet "Bloody Mary" by having all their heads.

1629- Communications between Europe and America in the colonial period were always spotty and confused. The fastest news could travel across the Atlantic was two months. On this day an English expedition attacked the French settlement of Quebec and captured Governor Samuel Champlain. Shortly afterwards a message came from London saying the war had been over for two months and they should let him go and apologize.

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

1799- THE ROSETTA STONE DISCOVERED. During Napoleons campaign in Egypt several soldiers digging a latrine uncover a large 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. The Rosetta stone was a document in honor of Cleopatra and her brother Ptolemy. It's the same text 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.

1848- THE SENECA FALLS DECLARATION- The Birth of the American Woman's Rights Movement. In a Wesleyan Chapel 200 women delegates heard Lucretzia Mott and Elizabeth Cady-Stanton explained the case for women to be treated as equal citizens under the law. Frederick Douglas attended and admitted that at first he was a skeptic, but he left convinced.

1878- In New Mexico Territory the climax of the Lincoln County Wars, a feud between cattle barons and smaller independent ranchers. John Tunstall's attorney Big Jim McSween and his men including outlaw Billy the Kid were surrounded by a large force of rancher Murphy’s men backed up by militia with a Gatling gun and a howitzer. The Murphy men set the house on fire and shot the defenders as they rushed out. Billy the Kid blasted his way out to freedom but McSween tried to surrender and was shot down.

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.

1913 - Billboard Magazine publishes earliest known "Last Week's 10 Best Sellers among
Popular Songs" Malinda's Wedding Day is #1

1932- writer Daphne du Maurier married General Frederick Browning.

1934- In an affidavit dated this day an old blacksmith from Pittsburgh named Louis Davarich claimed in 1899 he flew in a flying machine before the Wright Brothers. The inventor was a German immigrant named Gustav Whitehead and he designed a monoplane powered by a small steam engine. If true this would predate the Wright Brothers by 5 years, but Whitehead never documented nor published his discoveries, did not apply for a patent and died poor and forgotten in 1927. Is it true? Believe it or not!

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 - 1st rocket with nuclear warhead fired, Yucca Flat, Nevada

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 “Doobie-Doobie- Doo”.

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 chosen 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. In 1944 at the height of the D-Day campaign General Eisenhower went out into his secretarial pool and told the officer in charge:" Colonel, I heard there is a lesbian in your group. I want her out of here and sent stateside right now!" The Lt. Colonel snapped a crisp salute and responded:"Sir, if that is so you have to fire me too!" And her assistant saluted :"And Me sir!"And her assistant said:"And me sir!" Ike paused a moment, then turned back into his office saying nothing.