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August 3rd, 2008 sun
August 3rd, 2008

Quiz: Why is a signature called a John Hancock?

Yesterdays’ question answered below: What do you mean by something being called apocryphal?
History for 8/3/2008
birthdays: British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin, Elisha Otis inventor of the Elevator, John T. Scopes- the teacher accused in the Monkey Trial, Habib Bourghiba, Ernie Pyle, Gene Kelly, Lenny Bruce, Tony Bennett, John Landis, Jay North, Dolores Del Rio, Leon Uris, Ann Klein, Martin Sheen

126 B.C. HANNIBAL DEFEATS THE ROMANS at CANNAE. Hannibal's defeat of a much larger Roman army is one of the great pieces of strategy still studied today. He had crossed the Alps to attack Italy with 30 war elephants but only 3 or 4 survived the crossing. The one-eyed Carthaginian was one of histories few conquerors with a sense of humor. When a nervous warrior named Gisgo remarked to him: "General, there must be a million Romans down there." Hannibal replied " Yes, and I’ll wager not one of them is named Gisgo". Hey, for a two thousand year old joke that's not bad ! His maneuvering and use of cavalry annihilated the top generals of Rome and left nothing between him and the city . Yet he uncharacteristically hesitated until the Romans recovered. His cavalry commander Mago snarled at him:" You know how to win battles, but not a war."The Romans recovered eventually drawing him off to Africa to protect his home city Carthage, where he was defeated by Scipio Africanis at Zama. Years afterwards Roman mothers would scare their children at night by recalling the old cry Annibale ad Portas! Hannibal is at our Gates!

48 B.C.-Battle of Pharsalia- Julius Caesar defeats his political rival Pompey the Great in northern Greece. Pompey fled to Egypt where he was murdered. Caesar came in hot pursuit where he met Cleopatra.

1492- One half hour before dawn Christopher Columbus set sail from Palos, Spain on the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria in search of the Indies. This was the first of four voyages. He took on board a linguist fluent in Turkish ,Sanskrit and Hebrew to speak to any natives they might encounter.

1769- Spanish explorer Gaspar de Portola made the first-ever recorded mention of the Rancho La Brea "tar pits" in Los Angeles: "The 3rd, we proceeded for three hours on a good road; to the right of it were extensive swamps of bitumen which is called chapapote. We debated whether this substance, which flows melted from underneath the earth, could occasion so many earthquakes.”

1858- British explorer John Speeckes discovered Lake Victoria Nyanza, the source of the Nile River. The question of the Nile's origins had become a cause celebre among British explorers and debate raged fiercely. Speeckes was traveling with famed Orientalist Richard Burton, translator of the Arabian Nights stories, but Burton absented himself from the last leg of the journey because of malaria. He regretted this decision for the rest of his life and grew to hate Speeckes. Speeckes and Burton began a feud that may or may not have contributed to Speeckes accidental suicide in 1864.

1916- Sir Roger Casement was executed for treason in London. Casement was an Irish patriot who went to Berlin to get Germany to fund the Irish Easter Sunday Uprising and he exposed human rites violations done by the Belgians in the Congo. After his conviction many leading English intellects like Arthur Conan-Doyle and Bernard Shaw lobbied for mercy for Casement, but the government produced his “black diaries” from his home in London, that proved he was homosexual. So the mercy movement was silenced, and Sir Roger Casement was hanged.

1943- In Sicily Gen. George S. Patton while touring a field hospital encountered a Pvt. Herman Kuhl. Private Kuhl wasn't physically wounded but suffering from nervous exhaustion called today Traumatic Stress Syndrome. Patton angrily accused him of cowardice and slapped him down. Allied High Command ordered Patton to apologize to Kuhl and the entire army, then recalled him to England. He would have no part in military actions until after D-Day, to the amazement of the Nazis General staff. Patton never could understand battle fatigue, I guess he never got tired of it.

1948- Time Magazine editor Whittaker Chambers publicly denounced a top Truman presidential aide Alger Hiss of being a Russian spy. Alger Hiss was a protege of both Franklin Roosevelt and Chief Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. The Hiss investigation eventually convicted Hiss of espionage based on the 'pumpkin papers', incriminating documents Chambers said were found hidden in a pumpkin. The senate investigation shot to national prominence a new young congressman named Richard Nixon. In 1991 Soviet KGB files revealed Hiss was never a spy.

1963 –Unemployed television producer Alan Sherman released an album of comedy songs at the request of his friends. Called “My Son the Folksinger” it contained the hit “Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh, Here I am at, Camp Granada” and became an overnight sensation.

1966- While celebrating his 39th birthday, Comedian Lenny Bruce died of a morphine overdose. The groundbreaking comedian who coined the term “T & A” was arrested in 1964 and charged with obscenity for using the "F" word in his act. President Johnson and his opponent Senator Barry Goldwater could swear enough to make a sailor blush, but comedians were only supposed to make mother-in-law jokes. Bruce served six months, was broken physically and financially and no club would hire him. Yet today he is the model for all modern stand-up comedy. Phil Spector said: Lenny died of an overdose of cops” Today no one is arrested for telling jokes. Whether he leapt to his death from a window yelling “ I’m Super Jew! ” is a matter of legend.

1981- U.S. Air traffic controllers (PATCO) go on strike despite Pres. Reagan's warning they would be fired. Reagan was once president of the Screen Actor’s Guild. Ironically the only U.S. President who has ever been a labor leader was the most union-busting president of all time.

1996- The silly dance the Macarena by Los Del Rio becomes the #1 hit worldwide.
Yesterday’s Quiz: What do you mean by something being called apocryphal?

Answer: The Bible, like any other book, was subject to editing. Rabbi Akivah comes down to us as one of the champions of keeping the Psalms and the poetry of David in the final. From 200BC to 100AD all the other Bible stories, Judith, Tobit, The Prayer of Manassah, was gathered up in a collection called Apocrypha, or the Hidden Books. They were considered by many churches as probably authentic but not enough to be considered sacred text. Since then, the term apocryphal has come to mean probably mythical, but believed by many to be true.