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It's the big primary day in the U.S. If you are in a primary state and can vote, please do so. Many's the artist from Leonardo to David to Daumier who got involved in politics. And the Athenian leader Pericles said a person who does not participate in public life is a useless person. This year more than any other shows how what goes on in Washington effects us all ( can we say- $4 a gallon for gas by this summer? )
Question: Why was a toilet sometimes called the can? Well, thats not too hard to guess why, but who started it?

Answer to yesterday’s question below:
History for 2/5/2008
Birthdays: Sir Robert Peel founder of London’s Metropolitan Police- the Bobbies, Female outlaw Belle Starr, John Carradine, William Burroughs, Arthur Ochs Schulzburger, Hank Aaron is 75, Tim Holt, Barbera Hershey, Charlotte Rampling, Roger Staubach, Michael Mann, Bobby Brown, H. R. Giger, Red Buttons, Christopher Guest, Jennifer Jason Leigh is 47, Laura Linney is 44

Happy Mardi Gras - Fat Tuesday- The day before Ash Wednesday ushering in the Catholic season of Lent is the cause for wild parties in many cultures- Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, Venice, Quebec and other cities. Carne-Vale is Latin for Goodbye to Meat., i.e. the Lenten fast. The Mardi Gras custom in America started in Mobile Alabama around 1708 then went to New Orleans. It died out in more somber Victorian times but was renewed after the Civil War- so-' Lesse Le Bon Temps Rolle’! “Let the Good Times Roll!”

2BC -The Senate awarded the Roman Emperor Octavian Caesar the title Father of His Country- Pater-Patria or the Augustus.

1887- Verdi’s opera "Othello" debuted. Guiseppi Verdi had retired from composing after 1875 but was goaded by a new generation of composers like Arrigo Boito to take up his pen once more. Boito was originally a critic of Verdi's style but later became his protege and wrote the libretto for Otello.

1895- PRESIDENT GROVER CLEVELAND asks BANKER J.P. MORGAN TO BAIL OUT THE UNITED STATES- The business climate of the late 1880’s & 90’s was dominated by the debate of whether U.S. currency should be backed by gold or silver bullion. Class distinctions and politics were aggravated by Gold Bugs vs. Silver Men. Wild speculation on Wall Street in both metals made and ruined fortunes overnight. In the midst of all this confusion it was suddenly noticed that the gold reserves of the U.S. treasury were so seriously depleted that the Federal government was about to go bankrupt.
So President Cleveland was reduced to going cap-in-hand to the famous tycoon for a loan. Morgan drove a hard bargain but the U.S. economy was saved. J.P. Morgan was so rich at this point he had stopped several Wall Street panics almost single-handedly.
Morgan smoked twenty fat cigars a day and on the advice of doctors never exercised because it would be bad for his health.

1919- Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks and D.W. Griffith form the United Artists Studio. It was declared: The lunatics are running the asylum!

1921- The Loews State Theater in Chicago opened.

1922- The Reader’s Digest began publication.

1936-THE BATTLE OF JARAMA - Spanish General Franco’s Fascist army was thrown back from the gates of Madrid with help from the Republic’s newly arrived foreign volunteers, called the International Brigades. The idealistic young Europeans and Americans (the Abraham Lincoln Brigade) were thrown into the battle with no training as they had just arrived. They suffered 50% casualties but won the day. The Lincolns sang a tune to Popeye the Sailor Man:
"In a green little vale called Jarama, We made all the fascists cry "Mama!; we fight for our pay, just six cents a day, and play football with a bomb-a "

1937- Charlie Chaplin’s film Modern Times premiered. Chaplin was inspired to lampoon modern technological madness when he was invited to view the auto assembly production lines in Detroit and saw men moving like machines.

1952-New York City is the first to adopt the three light traffic lights-red, yellow, green.

1953- Walt Disney’s "Peter Pan". They had been developing the story off an on since 1938.

1956- Darryl Zanuck resigned from 20th Century Fox, the studio he built into a powerhouse. He later won back the chairmanship in 1962 only to be ousted finally in 1970.

1957- Mel Lazarus’ comic strip Miss Peach debuted.

1970- TWA began 747 nonstop service between New York and Los Angeles.

1972- After numerous airline hijackings the U.S. institutes luggage inspection and metal detectors at major airports.

1974- Hearst Media heiress Patty Hearst kidnapped at gunpoint by an underground radical group called the Symbianese Liberation Army. She is kept in a closet, brainwashed, changes her name to Tania, does prison time for a bank job, and later appears in several John Water’s movies.

2003- Former war hero and US Secretary of State Colin Powell went to the United Nations to make the case for the United States attack on Saddam Hussein’s Iraq. He was doing so in emulation of Adlai Stephenson’s historic presentation to the UN of proof of the Soviet missiles in Cuba in 1962. But Stephenson had real proof. Powell had only the rumors and half truths supplied him after the CIA declared it all suspect. Describing some trucks and aluminum tubes as proof of mobile nuke labs. In 2005 these findings were declared totally false, and Powell’s reputation damaged. He privately confessed:” It was the worst day of my life.”
Yesterday’s Question: Sometimes people wishing to be witty, say “ that’ll be interesting, but in the Chinese Sense.” What does that mean, and why is it Chinese?

Answer: Allegedly the saying is based upon an ancient Chinese curse:” May you live in Interesting Times.” Meaning, times of political, social upheaval and great loss and sacrifice are considered interesting to historians. But the concept is not exclusive to Chinese wisdom. Ancient Roman philosopher Seneca (4BC- 65AD) made a similar observation:” Happy the people who’s history is dull.” Napoleon also once noticed:” How painful it is to write a page of history.”