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OCT 4, 2017
October 4th, 2017

Quiz: Who were Eleanor Duse, Mrs. Sarah Siddons, Ellen Terry and Sarah Bernhardt?

Yesterday’s Answer below: What is the origin of something excellent being called top notch?
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History for 10/4/2017
Birthdays: French King Louis X The Stubborn 1314, Richard Cromwell “ Tumbledown Dick, “ President Rutherford B. Hayes, Frederick Remington, Jean Millet, Buster Keaton, Englebert Dolfuss, Charlton Heston, Susan Sarandon is 71, Armand Assante, Damon Runyon, Alvin Tofler author of Future Shock, Anne Rice, Alicia Silverstone is 41, Christoph Waltz is 61, Liev Schreiber is 50

1648- Happy Birthday NYFD! Dutch Governor of New Amsterdam Peter Stuyvesant established the first regular municipal fire department in the New World. Fire depts. were volunteer brigades until the late 1800s.

1777- BATTLE OF GERMANTOWN George Washington tried a dawn surprise attack on the British army around Philadelphia. The same tactic had worked at Trenton, but here things went wrong from the start. In the morning fog the Yankee right flank got turned around and started shooting at the Yankee center. The Center thought they were being attacked by Loyalists and returned fire. Two thirds of the American army shot itself to pieces and ran away before the British even knew what was happening. Washington realized he was going to need some drill instructors....

1798- Lyrical Ballads, a small book of poems published jointly by English poets William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The book opened with the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner and finished with Wordsworth’s Lines composed a few miles above Tinturn Abbey.” The book didn’t sell that well. Wordsworth blamed Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner poem for being too long. Some of the best sales of the book were by sea captains who thought The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner was a collection of sea shantys.

1846- The First American mayor of Los Angeles, a Lieutenant Gillespie, was apparently such an asshole to the population of Spanish Californians that they rose in revolt and chased him out of town. The Californios under their old Mexican General Andres Pico waged a guerrilla war against the U.S. army for the next few months.

1869- Henry J. Heinz begins his condiment company, bottling horseradish in a little shop in Pittsburgh. He was later called the Catsup King, -or Ketchup, if you prefer. One of the Heinz Company's greatest stunts was in the 1920s they placed a 40 foot tall electrified pickle on the corner of 23rd and 5th Ave. in Manhattan.

1909- St. Louis Missouri was site of the first –and probably only- airship race in the US. Four dirigibles, the total number in America, ran a course for a purse of $1000 dollars.

1910-King Manuel II of Portugal abdicated. The Portuguese Republic is declared.

1918- The day after he took the job of German Chancellor, Prince Max of Baden first telegraphed Washington DC to request peace talks to end World War I. But the note said Germany would not give up any of the territory it conquered in Belgium, France or Poland. President Wilson refused this, so the war went on.

1931- Chester Gould's "Dick Tracy" comic strip debuts.

1943- Actor Clark Gable was awarded the Distinguished Flying Medal for flying combat missions over Germany. It was said Gable took these deliberately dangerous missions instead of doing USO shows out of a death-wish in grief for his wife Carole Lombard, who was killed in a plane crash the year before.

1950- The first Peanuts comic strip introducing Charlie Brown’s dog Snoopy.

1955- The Brooklyn Dodgers a.k.a. "Da Bums" win the World Series for the first time, and the only time they ever won it while inhabiting the precincts of Flatbush. The name Dodgers came from the fact that several main trolley car lines intersected in front of Ebbets Field on Atlantic Avenue. To get into the ballpark you had to cross this area dodging the traffic. So they were known as the Brooklyn Trolley-Dodgers, then Dodgers.

1957- SPUTNIK- Russia inaugurates the Space Age and first shoots an object into space orbit. A basketball sized satellite called" Sputnik-1". Sputnik means Satellite and the word spawned pop words like Beatnik, Nudnik and Peacenik. Americans used to thinking of themselves as the leaders in all technology reacted with shock. Why weren’t we first? We were losing the space race! Senate leader Lyndon Johnson complained “I don’t want to sleep under a Commie Moon!” Wild rock & roll star Little Richard Penniman thought Sputnik was an omen of the end of the world and resolved to give up sex, drugs and rock & roll and become a born again Christian preacher. Good Golly Miss Molly!

1957-"Leave it to Beaver' debuts on CBS.

1965- Pope Paul VI arrived in the US to deliver a plea for world peace at the United Nations. Then his Holiness visited the World’s Fair and took in a Yankee baseball game.

1969- Diane Linkletter, the daughter of television personality Art Linkletter got high on LSD and leapt out of a window to her death. Her boyfriend snatched at the belt loops of her dress in an attempt to save her, but they tore away. Afterwards Art Linkletter became a livelong crusader against drug abuse.

1971- Janis Joplin was found dead of a drug overdose at the Landmark Hotel in Hollywood. She was 27. Her song “Me and Bobby McGee” was as yet unreleased but soon topped the pop charts. Joplin left a considerable sum in her will for a party for her friends. The invitation read “ The Drinks are on Pearl”, her nickname.

1986- On a New York street a man named William Tager walked up to CBS News anchor Dan Rather and mumbling “Kenneth, what’s the Frequency?” started furiously punching Rather. He thought CBS was beaming microwaves at his brain and it was Dan’s fault. Who Kenneth was, remains a mystery.

1993- After a two week power struggle between Russian Parliamentary hard line conservatives and President Boris Yeltsin, Russian troops fire on and attack the barricaded Russian White House (Parliament building). The conservatives, including Yeltsin's own vice-president Victor Chernomyrdin, are arrested and the fragile democracy saved. This Parliament building is where Yeltsin himself was barricaded two years earlier during the failed August Coup.

2001- James Hemingway, the youngest son of writer Ernest Hemingway, was found dead in the women’s wing of a Miami jail. He had become a transsexual, and had gone by the name of Gloria, and was picked up by Miami cops for drug use and exposing himself in public. He was 69.

2006- Julian Assange founded Wikileaks.
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Yesterday’s Question: What is the origin of something excellent being called top notch?

Answer: The term goes back to 1839, when the term appeared in a Farmers Almanac. One theory is it comes from jumping hurdles, the best jumper being able to clear the bar placed on the top notch. Another theory is some pub games like darts, horseshoes, or cribbage, people kept score by a wooden board mounted on a pillar that a contestant’s peg was moved up a series of notches, until the winner reached the top notch.


OCT 3, 2017
October 3rd, 2017

Question: What is the origin of something excellent being called top notch?

Yesterday’s Answer below: Who were Siegfried and Roy?
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History for 10/3/2017
Birthdays: Gore Vidal, Mikail Lermontov, Harvey Kurtzman, Chubby Checker, James Herriot, Eleanor Duse, Emily Post, Leo McCarey the director of the Marx Brothers classic film Duck Soup, and many Laurel & Hardy shorts, Steven Reich, Dave Winfield, Tommy Lee, Neve Cambell, Clive Owen is 53

1226- Saint Francis of Assisi died at 44. He seldom bathed and he asked his followers to strip him naked so he could leave the world as he came in. They all sang his Canticle of the Animals, then he exclaimed 'Welcome, Sister Death." His gravesite was kept secret until 1818.

1574- The "Sea Beggers' the nickname of the Dutch rebel navy, lifted the Spanish siege of the Dutch city of Leyden. Surrounded by a large Spanish army, the Dutch flooded their dykes drowning thousands of enemy soldiers, then floated in their navy to the rescue. Singing their national hymn “Willhemus Van Nassauwen “they entered the city throwing bread from all sides to the starving populace. This victory turned the tide in the struggle with Spain for the independence of Holland. Prince William the Silent wanted to reward Leyden with a big tax cut, but Leydeners said they’d rather have a University. So William founded the University of Leyden.

1779- After the epic battle between the USS Bonhomme Richard and the HMS Serapis Captain John Paul Jones limped his battered ships into the nearest Dutch harbor near Amsterdam. The French and American strategists told him to do this, to drive the British crazy and get Holland into the war. The Dutch not only wouldn’t hand Jones over the British, they even allowed his men to guard his British POW’s under arms in a Dutch fort. Britain declared war on Holland soon after.

1800- The Gabriel Prosser Slave Revolt. Gabriel Prosser was a Virginia slave who planned an organized uprising in the Richmond area. His plan was to set fire to the downtown wharves as a distraction then seize guns from the armory and negotiate from strength his followers freedom. His plan as betrayed before he could put it into action and they were all executed. His plan had specific instructions about who was friend or foe. He wrote: “ Once armed Kill Everyone except Methodists, Quakers and Frenchmen. “

1855- American James McNeill Whistler arrived in Paris to study painting. He had tried to apply to West Point for a military career, but failed the entrance exam. Years later he joking told friends "If I hadn't identified phosphorous as a gas, I'd be a major general by now!'

1895-The Red Badge of Courage first published. Despite being one of the best books on the average soldiers experience, author Stephen Crane was never in the Civil War or any army. He died of tuberculosis at age 26.

1903- President Teddy Roosevelt dreamed of a canal across the Isthmus of Panama linking the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. A French company had started the project and now wanted the U.S. to buy them out for $40 million. Panama was a province of Columbia and Teddy offered them $10 million for the land. Columbia said they wanted $40 so Teddy decided it would be cheaper to start a revolution. On this day, he invited the leading Panamanian Nationalists including a Gen. Bonavilla to the White House and gave his support for an uprising. After the Independence of Panama was declared, Roosevelt recognized them within one hour, then bought the Canal Zone-for ten million.

1903- Dr Horatio Nelson Jackson, the first man to drive an automobile across the American continent, was given a ticket in his home town for driving faster than 6 miles an hour.

1910- English comedians Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel first arrive in the U.S. with a touring British vaudeville company, the Fred Karno Troupe.

1918- THE LOST BATALLION During the Meuse Argonne Offernsive the 577th Battalion of the US Rainbow Division moved too far ahead of other attacking units and was cut off and surrounded by superior German forces. Called upon to surrender the doughboys fought off all attacks in a heroic stand for five days. Six hundred men went in, barely two hundred came out. After the war their commander Major Wittelsey was awarded the Medal of Honor but he never got over the trauma. Three years later he shot himself.

1928- The Nationalist Chinese Kuomintang armies completed the unification of China. After the Manchu Emperor was overthrown in 1911, China had fallen to pieces and it’s provinces were ruled by small warlords and foreign armies. Feng Xiao Yang “The Christian Marshal” baptized his troops with a fire-hose. Or Zhang Zhong Chang the ”Dogmeat General” who it was said “had a penis the size of a stack of silver dollars!” The Kuomintang created a new national assembly, constitution and elected Generalissimo Chiang Kai Shek as their president. Chiang only had to deal now with those pesky Communists led by Mao Tse Tung.

1932- Iraq (formerly Mesopotamia) won its independence from British protectorate status.

1940- The US Army created Airborne troops. These soldiers would parachute behind enemy lines and infiltrate enemy positions. Because of the rigorous choosing and training process these troops turned out to be among the best prepared ground forces. The most well known divisions are the 101st Screaming Eagles and the 82 Airborne.

1941- Warner Bros. THE MALTESE FALCON "premiered. Screenwriter John Huston asked if he could direct an adaptation of this old Dashell Hammett story, which had been already made into movies twice. This version became the most famous. The name was kept despite producer Hal Wallis wanting to change it to THE GENT FROM FRISCO.

1942- In Pennemunde Germany, a group of Nazi scientists led by Dr. Werner Von Braun successfully launched a 12 ton rocket that flies 150 miles and almost broke through the stratosphere into orbit. The good thing is Braun proves his thermos-bottle type liquid-fuel rocket engines arranged in a cluster of three can work. The bad thing is Hitler named them the Vengance-2 (V-2), filled them with explosives, and started shooting them at England. When the war ended, Von Braun and his team had been working on a rocket that could carry explosives 4,000 miles- to North America.

1944- Haij-Amin al Husseini the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and spiritual leader of Palestinian Arabs was in Berlin writing Nazi propaganda for the Middle East. This day he proposed to SS Reichfuhrer Heinrich Himmler that he organize an Arab-Islamic Nazi Army with which to conquer Palestine and drive out the Jews. Nothing came of the plan. While Churchill organized all-Jewish desert brigades in the British Army, the Mufti organized an SS Division for Hitler from Bosnian Muslims in Yugoslavia. After the war he was held in France for trial as a war criminal but escaped to Egypt where he lived out his days preaching resistance to Israel.

1951- The Shot Heard Round the World- Bobby Thompson's bottom of the ninth, last out, home run which enabled the N.Y. Giants to defeat the Brooklyn Dodgers for the National League Pennant.

1955- 'Good Morning, Captain.' The Captain Kangaroo kiddy Show debuted on television.

1955- The Mickey Mouse Club TV show premiered. “Who’s the leader of the Band that’s Made for you and me…?”

1957-Walter Lantz's The Woody Woodpecker TV Show debuted.

1957- Jayne Mansfield met Greta Garbo and asked for her autograph.

1961- The Dick Van Dyke Show premiered. It made stars of Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore and was written by ex-Sid Caesar writer Carl Reiner and Rocky & Bullwinkle writer Alan Burns.

1967- Folksinger and union activist Woodie Guthrie died of Huntington’s Chorea. His family scattered his ashes in New York Harbor, then went to Nathans on the Coney Island Boardwalk for hot dogs, Woody’s favorite.

1972- After much backroom arm twisting by the Nixon White House, the House Banking Committee denied funds to the Packman Committee investigating the Watergate scandal.
This all but insured that the Watergate scandal would not break out in the open until after the 1972 Presidential election. Nixon won re-election by a landslide and the Watergate scandal made him leave office in 1974.

1986- THE K-219 INCIDENT- In the final years of the Cold War duel between the US and Soviet Union large nuclear submarines packed with missiles played a deadly game of hide and seek in the waters off the US and Russian coastlines. These submarine duels were dramatized by Tom Clancy’s novel the Hunt for Red October.
But recently evidence was declassified about a real incident. Either from mechanical failure or collision with an American sub, the Soviet nuclear submarine K-219 had an explosion and reactor fire 250 miles west of Bermuda. As American ships looked on the Russian crew fought fire, acid fumes and radiation. The sub sank but not before Captain Alexei Britanov was able to evacuate 119 crewmen to a rescue ship. 4 crewman died including a young sailor named Pamynin, who gave his life to shut down the reactors with a hand wrench before they melted down. This young Russian sailor prevented the U.S. East Coast from being bathed in deadly nuclear radiation. A statue was dedicated to Pamynin in 1996. There were similar accidental sinkings of Russian nuclear subs in 1964-the K-19, and the Kursk in 2000.

1990- The rift between East Germany and West is declared officially over.

1992- Barack Obama married Michelle LeVaughn Robinson.

1992- Bald Irish pop star Sinead O’Connor caused a fuss by tearing up a picture of the Pope on the show Saturday Night Live. She was later booed off stage during a concert at Madison Square Garden.

1993- THE RAID ON MOGADISHU- US troops were deployed with other UN forces to the civil war wracked nation of Somalia to aid the starving population. Once there they found themselves plunged in a chaos of heavily armed warring clans. This day a Delta Force was sent into the capitol city Mogadishu to apprehend lieutenants of the faction leader Mohammed Farah Idide. Once there two helicopters were shot down by hand held missiles and the Deltas were surrounded in the narrow streets by swarms of hostile militia. The US forces fought their way out with the aid of UN Pakistani mountain troops. But the images of dead American troops being dragged through the dusty streets by gleeful Somalis soured the American public back home and the forces were soon withdrawn. Idide was later assassinated and the chaos continued. The Ridley Scott film BLACK HAWK DOWN dramatized the incident.

1995- After a long sensationalist trial turned into a media spectacle, celebrity O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the double murder of his second wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman. He was later convicted in a wrongful death suit brought in Civil Court by Nicole’s family.

2002- Disgruntled Gulf War vet John Allen Mohammed and his 17 year old stepson John Lee Malvo went on a shooting spree in the suburbs of Washington DC as the DC Sniper. They shot thirteen people at random with one bullet each and terrorized Maryland and Virginia before they were caught. Even Son of Sam killer David Berkowitz was employed from prison to appeal to the Sniper to stop.

2003- The Siegfried and Roy magic show in Las Vegas comes to an end after a large Bengal Tiger attacks Roy Horn and tears his throat open in front of an audience. Most thought it was part of the act.
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Yesterday’s Quiz: Who were Siegfried and Roy?

Answer: A popular Las Vegas trained tigers and magic act. See above- 2003.


OCT. 2, 2017
October 2nd, 2017

Quiz: Who were Siegfried and Roy?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: What monarch was known as The Sun King?
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October 2, 2017
Birthdays: King Richard III, Nat Turner, Mahatma Ghandi, Claus Von Hindenburg, Ferdinand Foch, Spanky MacFarland, Julius Marx known as Groucho Marx, Bud Abbott, Moses Gunn, Graham Greene, LeRoy Shield (composer of the music in the Hal Roach comedies), Donna Karan, Gordon Sumner known as Sting is 66, Lorraine Bracco is 53, Tiffany, Kelly Ripa

Happy Farm Animals Day

1370- King Charles V makes Bertrand De Guesclin (De-Goo-Clan) Constable of France
and so in charge of the French side of the Hundred Years War. De Guesclin was a
very noble and able knight; not many artifacts remain of his time, but if you go
to the monastery of Mont. St. Michel in Brittany where he kept his wife, they have
the complete selection of her chastity belts.

1608- Dutch lens grinder Hans Lipperschei sent to the States General in the Hague
a plan for an invention to see enemies at great distances. It used a tube with concave
lenses on one end and convex lenses on the other. The Telescope. Another Dutch lens
maker asked for a similar patent. But it was Italian scientist Galileo Galilei who
read their doctoral papers. Within a year he had ground his own lenses and created
his own telescope. He was the first to train it on the Universe, and he got all the credit.

1780- The Americans hang British Major John Andre' as a spy at a tavern near
present day Nyack New York. Andre' was Benedict Arnold's contact. He had
put aside his redcoat uniform to slip through American lines. He was arrested before
he could get back. Washington really wanted to trade Andre for Benedict Arnold if he could, and the British were disgusted that Arnold refused to nobly offer himself in exchange. The hangman chosen was a loyalist prisoner who was promised his freedom. It was felt if the executioner was a Yankee, the man's family might be harmed in revenge.

Up until now the British and their Yankee cousins had been quite civil to each other
and it was not uncommon to see paroled American and British officers dining together
at the height of the Revolution. But the British considered this hanging a barbaric
abuse of a prisoner of war. Everyone knew Andre was not a professional spy or turncoat,
but a gentleman British officer of high standing. John Andre had always been dismissed
as a dandy fop, but it was admitted by all he met his end well. Benedict Arnold
became a redcoat, but he was never accepted by British.

1807- Napoleon met Goethe at the philosopher's home at Weimar. People expected
sparks to fly as the Great Enslaver of Nations would meet the Champion of the Human
Spirit. Actually they had a pleasant afternoon conversation.

1836- Charles Darwin on the HMS Beagle returned to Falmouth England, ending a five
year voyage to Brazil, the Galapagos and New Zealand. The knowledge he gained on
exotic flora and fauna would lead him to write the Origin of the Species.

1914- Charles Taze Russell, founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, predicted this day
would be the beginning of the Apocalypse and the End of the World. When nothing
happened he responded that it was the beginning of a process of events that would
lead to the eventual end of the world. - oh.

1918- As the German lines on the Western Front continued to crumble Prince Max of
Baden agreed to become Chancellor of a new government in Berlin. He demanded that
that Kaiser relinquish the power to make war and peace to the Reichstag. He also
brought two leading Social Democrat deputies into the cabinet. They and General
Ludendorf urged an immediate peace with the Allies before red revolution broke out
in Germany.

1919- President Woodrow Wilson suffered a massive stroke after a speech at Pueblo, Colorado. For two months he lingered paralyzed while the Nation was run by first lady Edith Wilson. No one told the public or the Vice President. Their are many interpretations of how the government was run in those weeks. Edith claimed to be passing on Wilson's wishes to the government from his sickbed, but many thought Wilson was too incapacitated even for that and The First Lady was just running America herself. When Wilson’s debilitated condition became known in Feb, he still refused to relinquish the presidency, inspiring lawmakers to create the 25th Amendment.

1920 - The only triple-header in baseball history was played on this day, as the
Cincinnati Reds took two out of three games from the Pittsburgh Pirates.

1925-The first bright red Leyland doubledecker omnibuses appear on London streets.

1928 - This was a busy day at Victor Records Studios in Nashville, Tennessee. DeFord
Bailey cut eight masters. Three songs were issued, marking the first studio recording
sessions in the place now known as Music City, USA.

1933- Library of Congress musicologist John Lomax met with an Arkansas chain gang
convict named Hudlan Ledbetter, who everyone called Leadbelly. He recorded a cotton picking work song of his called "the Rock Island Line'. Leadbelly became famous
and recorded his own version 3 years later.

1936- Mussolini attacked Ethiopia.

1937 - Ronald Reagan, just 26 years old, made his acting debut this day
with Warner Brothers release of "Love is in the Air".

1950- Charles Schulz's "Peanuts" comic strip debuts. Good ol'
Charlie Brown was the name of a fellow post office worker all the guy's liked
to play jokes on. Schulz's idea 'little folks' was initially rejected
by all the major comic syndicates. Three months before the strip was accepted his
girlfriend broke off their engagement. He had left his job at the post office and
she was convinced he would never amount to anything.
At the time of his death Charles Schulz had mountains on the moon named for his characters, and he was arguably the richest visual artist on earth.

1954- Elvis Presley is fired from Nashville's Grand Ol' Opry Show after
one performance. He was told: "Son, you ain't a' going no where. Go
back to driving a truck!"

1955 - "Good Eeeeeeevening." The master of mystery movies, Alfred
Hitchcock, presented his brand of suspense to millions of viewers on CBS
on this night.

1957- Raintree County, the first film in Panavision.

1958- The Huckleberry Hound show.

1959- The television show the Twilight Zone debuts. Producer/writer Rod Serling
had fought network execs for months that a mystery-suspense show could compete with
all the Doctor and Cowboy shows on TV. He originally wanted Orson Welles to be
the host of the show but when Welles asked for too much money, Serling decided to
do it himself. He wrote 90 episodes. He said he got the name Twilight Zone from a
term airline pilots used for the area when both the clouds and ground are invisible
from view and you lose your bearings.

1967- Thurgood Marshall was sworn in as the first African American to be a Supreme
Court Justice.

1967- San Francisco Police raid the Haight-Ashbury home of the rock band the Grateful
Dead, busting everyone for possession of narcotics.

1968- Just a week before the Olympics were set to begin in Mexico City the Mexican
government shot hundreds of rioting student demonstrators and arrested hundreds
more who were never seen again. Thirty years later the incident is still not acknowledged
by them as ever even happening. In 2001 President Vincente Fox did a South-African style peace commission.

1977 - Following a foiled attempt to steal the body of Elvis Presley from
Forest Hill Cemetery, both Presley's and his grandmother's bodies were moved
to Graceland.

1978- Future TV star Tim Allen was busted in Kalamazoo Michigan for selling cocaine.

1982- Godfrey Reggio’s haunting documentary Koyaanisqatsi premiered at Radio City Music Hall. Music by Phillip Glass.

1985- Actor Rock Hudson died of AIDS. The first major celebrity to die of the disease.
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Yesterday’s Quiz: What monarch was known as The Sun King?

Answer: French King Louis XIV, called L’Roi Soliel.


OCT. 1, 2017
October 1st, 2017

Question: What monarch was known as The Sun King?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: What does a SNAFU mean? What does it stand for?
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History for 10/1/2017
Welcome to Month Number 8, Octubrius to the Romans. In 138 AD the Roman Senate wanted to rename month eight as Faustina, after the wife of the Emperor Antoninus Pius. But being a rare modest empress, she declined the honor.

Birthdays: Vladimir Horowitz, Julie Andrews is 82, Walter Matthau, Richard Harris, Phillipe Noiret, James Whitmore, Pres. Jimmy Carter is 93, Everett Sloane, Rod Carew, Stanley Holloway, Tom Bosley, Randy Quaid, Cindy Margolis, Zack Galifanakis is 48

522BC- The Magiophonia, the Massacre of the Magi. When a member of the Persian priestly caste, the Magi, attempted to usurp the throne, the Great King of Persia Darius killed him and ordered a general massacre of Magi priests. Greek writer Herodotus wrote: 'This day was celebrated each year as the feast of Magophonia or the day of the slaughter of the magi...the Persians observe this day with one accord, and keep it more strictly than any other in the whole year...this day is the greatest holy day that all Persians alike keep.'"

331BC. BATTLE OF GAUGAMELA or Arbelum - Alexander the Great's victory over the Persian army of King Darius IV. Darius had sought to once and for all destroy this Greek troublemaker by assembling an enormous army from all over his kingdom. But this multinational, polyglot force had no cohesion and the disciplined Macedonian-Greek veterans knifed through their ranks. Alexander ordered his elite Companion Cavalry to make right for King Darius, since he was the only thing holding his army together. Darius had to run for his life and his army broke up soon after seeing their Great King fleeing. The Persian kingdom collapsed and Alexander soon captured his capitol and family.

326 A.D. Emperor Constantine the Great banned sentencing criminals to Gladitorial schools, effectively ending Gladitorial Combat. Games continued on a little while longer using prisoners of war, but the fun and professionalism had gone out of it. The last recorded bout in Rome was in 407AD.

Today is the Feast of Saint Bavo of Ghent, who begged one of his former servants to drag him by a chain around his neck because of what a cruel master he was before his conversion.

1202- To the sound of massed trumpets and singing the hymn Veni Creator Spiritus, the knights of the Fourth Crusade left by ship from Venice for the Holy Land.

1273- German Electors choose Duke Rudolph of Hapsburg as Holy Roman Emperor. The Hapsburg family was the most successful dynasty in Europe. They remained in power (with one or two interruptions) for 645 years, finally being deposed in 1918. And several Hapsburgs are still around in case Austria gets tired of republican democracy. When a Hapsburg chided Napoleon for having no royalty in his blood he snapped back" I prefer to be the Rudolph of my race!'

1791- The first day of the French Legislative Assembly, the second French parliamentary body after the Assembly National that had started the French Revolution adjourned itself. In this assembly for the first time the conservatives sat on the right side of the hall, the liberals on the left side and the moderates in the center. This gives us the designation today used around the world for political Leftists and Right Wingers.

1800- By the secret Treaty of San Idelfonso Spain returned Louisiana to France in exchange for the Italian Duchy of Parma. Spain had owned Louisiana for her part in the French and Indian War (Seven Years War) victory. Napoleon needed it back for his planned worldwide colonial challenge to Britain. But when Santo Domingo revolted against French rule and Nelson sank the French navy Napoleon soured on his colonial plans. He decided to sell Louisiana to the one country he knew would annoy the British most, the United States. And Spain never did get Parma.

1810- The first Berkshire Cattle Show.

1857- Gustav Flaubert's Madame Bovary premiered in magazine installments. Flaubert was tried for pornography because of it, but acquitted.

1880- John Phillip Sousa was named leader of the Marine Corps Band and began his career as the March King.

1903- First World Series of Baseball. The Boston Pilgrims had lost the first game today to the Pittsburgh Pirates 7-3, even though Cy Young was the starting pitcher. But Boston went on to win the series in best of nine games. There was no 1904 World series because the owners couldn't agree on a format.

1908- Ford announces the Model "T" the "Tin Lizzie" the first mass-produced affordable car. It was called the Model T because it took Twenty prototypes to perfect it. The Model T cost $825, paid on installments with as little as $10 down. Its top speed was 45 miles and hour and 15 million were sold. When they asked Henry Ford what color should it be, he replied: "Any color so long as it's black.' The auto goes from being a rich mans plaything to something every home could afford.

1910- A bomb blew up the L.A. Times building, killing 23 people. The Times had a hostility to unions and two union organizers the McNamara Brothers were arrested.
Despite having Clarence Darrow as a lawyer they were convicted, possibly because halfway through the trial the brothers confessed and Darrow had to beat a charge of jury tampering. As the MacNamaras were hanged they shouted 'Hurrah for Anarchy!'

1919- THE FIX IS IN- First game of the 'fixed' world series. The Chicago White Sox had the best team in baseball at the time but Charles Comisky paid them wages lower than most minor league teams. They were nicknamed the Black Sox because Comisky was too cheap to pay for laundering their uniforms. So this year five players accepted bribes from gangster Arnold Rothstein to throw the world series. Pitcher Eddie Cicotte ,who spent much of the previous night sewing $10,000 into the lining of his overcoat, at first threw a perfect fastball strike, then hit the batter in-between the shoulderblades on the next pitch- a signal to the gangsters that "The Fix was In" Cincinnatti won this game 9 -1 and eventually the series.

The scheme was uncovered a year later and Baseball Commissioner Judge Kennesaw Mountain Landis banned all the Sox players from ever playing again. The White Sox have never made it to a World Series since.

1923- The first football game in the L.A. Coliseum- USC defeated Pomona.

1931- Construction completed on the new Waldorf Astoria Hotel. The original Waldorf Astoria from the XIX Century was demolished to make way for the Empire State Building. The new Waldorf boasted the Waldorf Towers, where kings, presidents and other Hoi-Paloi could enter by a private lobby and stay for weeks at a time.

1932- Babe Ruth's "Called" Home Run. Ruth was hitting against a Chicago Cubs pitcher when he pointed with his bat towards right field. He then swung his bat and hit a home run over the right wing bleachers.

1937- After heavy lobbying by millionaire publisher William Randolph Hearst the first Federal law banning Marijuana goes into effect. The law was sought chiefly by southwestern states, that wanted to have any excuse to deport Mexican immigrants. Plus Hearst had many powerful paper manufacturers behind him who wanted wood pulp to be the chief source of paper products rather than hemp, which grows, well…. like a weed.

1942-The test flight of America’s first experimental jet aircraft- the XP59A Comet.

1943-THE DANISH MIRACLE- This day the Nazis were to begin deporting Denmark's Jewish population to death camps. The Danish people meanwhile had quietly smuggled the entire Jewish population to the coast and onto ferries to neutral Sweden. The Germans only found a few hundred stragglers. Earlier in a show of defiance when the Nazi authorities ordered all Jews to wear a large yellow Star of David, every Danish citizen including the King wore one.

1944- Nazis doctors in Buchenwald concentration camp began conducting experiments on homosexuals.

1945- Looney Tunes director Frank Tashlin left the cartoon business to work full time at Paramount doing live action movies. He wrote for the Marx Brothers and later directed the Dean Martin Jerry Lewis comedies.

1946- NUREMBERG-The verdicts read in the International Military Tribunal Trials of top Nazi war criminals. Herman Goering, Hans Franck, Jodl and 8 others got death sentences, their bodies later to be burned in the very crematoriums they created. Others like Rudolf Hess life prison terms. Admirial Doenitz, the leader of the U-Boats, got a lighter sentence by appealing to US Admiral Nimitz. Nimitz admitted that US submarines sinking the Japanese merchant marine learned their stuff studying the German tactics. Japanese submarines never sunk US cargo ships because sinking other than a war ship was considered dishonorable.

Senator Robert Taft was a leading Republican Senator who pointed out that even though the Nazis were evil and deserved punishment, the Nuremberg trials had no legal precedent and were against the U.S. Constitution's guarantee against ex-post-facto – after the fact, laws. Technically speaking, there were no such laws like Crimes Against Humanity at the time, so how could anybody be convicted of violating them? Intriguing, but not a popular argument. Taft was being considered for a presidential run in 1948 until these statements ruined his career. John F. Kennedy put him in his book Profiles of Courage.

1947-THE BIRTH OF THE BURBS- William Levitt's postwar dream, a planned community of affordable pre-fab homes on the outskirts of New York, called Levittown, is born. Mr. and Mrs. Bladykas moved into the first 2 bedroom house, which cost $7,990 bucks. The first true suburb.

1948- After the Israeli War of Independence the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haij Amin Al Husseini gathered many Arab refugees displaced by the fighting and declared a Palestinian State in the North of Israel, in accordance with the UN Resolution. The King of Jordan Abdallah rejected this and declared all Palestinian lands not claimed by Israel were part of Jordan. While Arab states lined up on either side to argue, the Palestinians were kept in refugee camps instead of being allowed to assimilate into the populations of the surrounding Arab countries. This confusion in part explains why Israel and other Western nations for many years had trouble understanding Palestinian nationalism. For years Israeli leaders like Golda Meir and Moshe Dayan felt Jordan was the homeland for resettled Palestinians. King Abdallah was assassinated by a Palestinian.

1949- THE EAST IS RED - Mao declared the Peoples Republic of China. "Now Let the World Tremble! " he said. In China today is a holiday –National Day. Contrary to paranoid conservative American politicians who feared the growing global Communist Conspiracy, Soviet dictator Stalin hated Mao and continued to support Chiang Kai Chek’s nationalist government. During World War II, Mao sent his wife to Moscow for safety. Stalin locked her up in a lunatic asylum just to annoy him.

1952- This Is Your Life TV show hosted by Ralph Edwards premiered.

1955- The Honeymooners with Jackie Gleason, Jayne Meadows and Art Carney premiered on TV.

1957- Los Angeles outlaws garbage incineration to try and cut down smog levels. Even though Los Angeles has reduced it's pollution levels by 30% in ten years it still had the worst air in the United States until surpassed by Houston in 1999.

1958- NASA born. The National Aeronautics & Space Agency. The U.S. government takes the space program out of the hands of the military and sets up a civilian space agency to get us into orbit.

1960- The independence of Nigeria.

1962- Johnny Carson took over the Tonight Show, after host Jack Paar in a rage walked of the set and resigned. Paar was annoyed at network censors for cutting a comedy sketch that featured the sound of a toilet flushing. At first, people were cool to Carson. Even his own mother in Nebraska wasn’t impressed. But by years end Johnny Carson became the king of late night TV, and ruled it for 32 years.

1963- People who argue that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy take note: It is a fact that this day weeks before the assassination top Mafioso Jimmy Roselli flew from Chicago down to New Orleans to have two secret meetings with Jack Ruby, the man who later shot Oswald. Why would a national crime boss take time to talk with a two-bit strip joint manager?

1964- THE FREE SPEECH MOVEMENT- It’s hard to believe now, but once upon a time most US universities had strict laws against students holding political protests on campus. It changed when this day on the campus of Berkeley, Cal., Jack Weinberg was arrested by Oakland police for distributing Civil Rights pamphlets. A mob of students surrounded the police car he was handcuffed in and would not let it proceed. The crowd held the car for 32 hours as speakers stood on the roof and made speeches denouncing the ban and other issues. The University lifted the ban on public political rallies and set the stage for the Ant-War protest of the 60’s.

1966- Largest demonstrations in China of Mao's Cultural Revolution.

1968-George Romero's weird film "Night of the Living Dead' premieres.

1982- Disney's EPCOT opens.

1987- The Whittier Earthquake rocks L.A. 5.9 on the Richter Scale, it killed 8 and caused millions in damage.

1992 -The Cartoon Network started.

2013- The Obamacare sign-up website, Healthcare.gov went on line. It quickly crashed and caused much embarrassment and scoffing from critics of the administration. But eventually it signed up millions of uninsured and arrested the rise of medical costs.
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Yesterday’s Question: What does a SNAFU mean? What does it stand for?

Answer: It was World War II slang meaning Situation Normal, All F**ked Up.


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