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Blog Posts from July 2013:

July 1, 2013 Mon
July 1st, 2013

Quiz: What are franking privileges?

Yesterday’s Quiz answered below: The Rat Pack was the famous informal group led by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. But they got in and inherited it. Who were the original founders?
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History for 7/1/2013
Birthdays: Louis Bleriot, Tommy Dorsey, George Sand, Charles Laughton, James Cagney, Princess Diana, Twyla Tharp, Carl Lewis, Jamie Farr, Sidney Pollack, Wally "Famous"Amos, Olivia DeHavilland is 97, Estee Lauder, Debbie Harry (Blondie), Genevieve Bujold, Karen Black, Dan Ackroyd. Andre Crouch, Pamela Anderson is 46, Liv Tyler is 36

Welcome to July named for Julius Caesar. Before that the Romans called it month number five- "Quintilicus". They had a ten month calendar and ran out of names after Juno (June). So thank Julius Caesar that you don't have to celebrate the Fourth of Quintilicus.

330BC- Alexander the Great comes upon the body of his enemy Darius IV, the Great King of Persia. Darius was assassinated by several noblemen who thought it would make Alexander stop pursuing them. Alexander caught the assassins and had them executed. Their leader Bessus the Satrap of Bactria had his nose and ears cut off, then was tied by the arms to two bent trees that when released pulled his body apart.

987 A.D. Hugh Capet becomes King of France, replacing the last of the family of Charlemagne.

1097- Battle of Dorylaeum. Crusaders defeat the Saracens.

1251- After a contentious election at the Grand Kurlutai (conference) of Karakorum, the Mongols elect Mangu as the next Great Khan. Despite the immense size of their empire -from Vietnam and Korea across Eurasia and India to Poland and Syria, the Mongols were still an overextended tribal system, where the council elders anoint the next prince. Mangu pledged to renew his grandfather Genghis Khan's plan of World Conquest. Fortunately for the world, he died shortly thereafter.

1410 -at the crossroads of Czerwinsk King Casimir II Jagiello of Poland unites his army with Witold Wytautas Grand Duke of Lithuania and a contingent of Crimean Tartars for the final showdown with the Teutonic Knights of Prussia.

1776- During a hot, humid day in Philadelphia the Continental Congress held the final crucial debate over whether to declare American Independence. The conservative lawyer John Dickinson argued that the colonies indeed had grievances with England, but to declare independence was rash, "we would be embarking upon an ocean of storms in a skiff made of paper!" John Adams waited until he was finished, and then gave the greatest speech of his life. There is no record of what he said, because the debates were secret and Adams didn’t work from notes. Jefferson said his passion swept the room. Yet despite it all, four colonies still were not sure they could vote for a final break with the Mother England. So Adams got a delay of one day, to await the New Jersey and South Carolina delegations to get their instructions.

1789- In Paris, revolutionary sentiment had been building since the Estates General declared itself the National Assembly and demanded King Louis XVI create a constitutional monarchy like Britain. King Louis this day listened to his conservative advisors that his French Royal Guards could not be trusted anymore. In an amazingly dumb move, King Louis XVI ordered several regiments of German and Swiss mercenaries into Paris restore order. The foreign troops made camp in the Champs de Mars, where the Eiffel Tower stands today. This all but ensured that a violent Revolution would soon break out.

1851-Painter James MacNeil Whistler applied to West Point Military Academy. After failing entrance exams he washes out and concentrates on becoming one of the most celebrated artists of the century. He later joked:" If silicon was a gas, I’d be a major general by now!"

1858- Charles Darwin does a public reading of his theories on Evolution to the Linean Club in London.

1862-President Abraham Lincoln signed into law the Revenue Act, calling for a 3% tax on people for the duration of the Civil War. Real graduated income tax didn’t become permanent until 1913. One other institution Lincoln started from this act was the Internal Revenue Office

1863- GETTYSBURG- the most famous battle ever fought on U.S. soil.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee decided to invade north into Pennsylvania and hopefully by threatening Philadelphia and Washington force peace talks. Union General Meade shadowed his movements. With all their cavalry away chasing each other the two large armies groped around blindly through the backwoods of Lancaster County. Rebel General Henry Heath stopped in the little crossroads town of Gettysburg to get shoes for his men. While there he ran into some blue uniforms up the street. "Go on boys, that's jes some Pennsylvania militia." Heath said. Actually it turned out to be the Yankee's elite "Iron Brigade". A nasty firefight brewed up and both armies started to boil into each other like a slow motion trainwreck. Union General Winfield Scott Hancock drew up his cannon in a hilltop cemetery for defense. The battle would last three days and Lee's defeat would be the turning point of the Civil War.
Through the screams and gunsmoke one could read a little sign on the Gettysburg Cemetery gate: " The Carrying or Discharge of Firearms on these Premises are strictly Prohibited".

1867-HAPPY CANADA DAY- By treaty Her Majesties North American Colonies of Upper and Lower Canada, Maritimes, Prince Rupert Land and diverse other holdings are incorporated as the Autonomous Dominion of Canada. This master plan to consolidate the British Empire's colonial administration was invented by Lord Caernarvon, who Queen Victoria nicknamed "Twitters."

1898- THE CHARGE UP SAN JUAN HILL. Teddy Roosevelt and his Rough Riders take the Spanish fortifications on the two hilltops above the harbor of Cuba's second city, Santiago. His main attack was actually up Kettle Hill and the Rough Riders were on foot, and Teddy was not in charge, but it made great hardcopy. Roosevelt"s superior was elderly former Confederate General Fightin' Joe Wheeler, who occasionally mixed up calling the Spaniards-"Yankees". Teddy was so excited about being under fire that at one point he stopped before a trooper dying of a terrible abdominal wound, shook his hand and said: " Isn't this just a splendid day ?!" Equally engaged in the fighting was the U.S. Ninth Cavalry, the famed Buffalo Soldiers led by Lt. John Pershing, who because of his affinity for his black troops was already referred to as Blackjack Pershing. Artist Frederick Remington was there as a news correspondent as was author Stephen Crane and William Randolph Hearst. On the Spanish side was a young soldier named Pablo Castro, who’s son would be Fidel Castro.

1898- The Second Treaty of Peking- Britain leased Hong Kong from China for 99 years. Hong Kong was given back in 1997.

1902- The United States declared the Philippine Insurrection officially over.

1916- THE SOMME- During World War One while the French and Germans were stalemated at Verdun the British began the "Big Push" also known as the First Battle of the Somme. The British high command were so confident this attack would break open the stalemate and get them out of the trenches that they began training their men in open country tactics. But after four months of hell and one million casualties all they managed to do was move their trench line up just 5 miles. Twenty thousand men fell in just one day. The descendant of one veteran of the battle recalled his grandfather reached the German trenches and saw a dead Hun machine gunner knee deep in spent bullet cartridges.
Young Captain Robert Graves was sent back to England for an operation on his deviated septum. He missed the attack while his unit suffered 60% casualties. Graves survived to write books like " I Claudius". At one point he was in hospital with poet Wilfred Owen and A.A. Milne (Winnie the Pooh). Another lieutenant there named J.R.R.Tolkein was jotting down notes about old Norse-Celtic warriors and wizards for a future book. The Somme became to the British psyche a symbol of pointless gallantry much as Vietnam became to Americans or Verdun to the French. Historian John Keegan said in retrospect the English sense of naïve optimism from the Victorian Era turned cynical after the Somme.

1916- Dwight and Mamie Eisenhower married.

1925- THE KRUPP COMPANY PLANS FOR THE FUTURE- In Postwar Berlin a small industrial design office is set up with a few designers and drafting tables. The company called itself Koch und Kinsell but the real owner was Krupp Armaments Company. While the main Krupp steelworks produced bottle openers and trash bins, in secret violation of the Versailles Treaty these men designed the weapons of mass destruction that would wreak havoc in World War Two: Panzer Tanks (code named "tractors"), 88mm guns, more lethal U-boats, bombs and torpedoes. At a time when no one had ever heard of Adolph Hitler, the Krupp engineers were drawing up blueprints with notes like :" Keep gage widths of tanks within the dimensions of French railroad rolling stock for rapid movements inside France and Belgium.”

1926- The Northern Expedition- After the fall of the Manchu Dynasty, China had broken up into provinces dominated by warlords with private armies and areas under foreign commercial control. Chiang Kai Shek and the Nationalist or Kuomintang government controlled most of the southern provinces. This day he launched five armies north to bring these provinces back into unified China.

1933- Scarface Al Capone got his start in the crime from New York mobster Frankie Yale. But when Yale started to get inconvenient for Big Al, he didn’t have any problem with having him killed this day.

1941- Animation director Tex Avery stormed out of the Looney Tunes Studio when Jack Warner ordered cuts in the first Bugs Bunny cartoon, A Wild Hare. Boss Leon Schlesinger put him on a four week suspension without pay, but Avery had already lined up a gig at MGM.

1941- THE FIRST TV COMMERICAL -During the live coverage of a Brooklyn Dodgers-Philadelphia Phillies baseball game the first FCC sanctioned television commercial aired. It was for the Bulova Watch Company.

1945- Bill Mauldin's wartime comic strip "Willie and Joe' ends it's run along with the European front line edition of Stars and Stripes magazine. Charles Schulz of Peanuts fame said no one could draw mud like Bill Maudlin. Mauldin was once chewed out by General Blood & Guts Patton for making his GIs so slovenly and cynical. He felt it was a negative image of the American Fighting Man. Seesh...everybody’s a critic!

1945- NY Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia read the Sunday comics section over the radio because of a newspaper strike.

1946- The first peacetime A-Bomb detonated in the Bikini Islands. The army wanted to study the effects of the bomb so they parked old German warships, buildings and dummys around it, as well as chained down animals. They soldiers nicknamed the bomb 'Gilda' after the Rita Hayworth movie. When Ms. Hayworth heard her name was being used to incinerate 1,500 innocent sheep, horses and elephants she collapsed in shock. The inhabitants of the island were removed and to this day the islands are uninhabitable. A cloud of radiation also killed the crew of a Japanese fishing boat in the area. But the island's name gave a neat idea to French designer Jacques Clauzel what to call his daring new ladies’ two-piece swimsuit.

1958- Does She or Doesn’t She? Clairol hair dye introduced.

1963-U.S. POST OFFICE introduced Zip Codes.

1966- The US Medicare Program began. The first Medicare card was given by LBJ to elderly former President Truman. At the time it was felt there was no need to include prescription drugs in the program since their cost was so low. Since then while general inflation rate has been nil to 1% prescription drugs average inflation rate is 400%.

1970- Hanna & Barbera’s attempt at a primetime animated series "Where’s Huddles?"

1970 - The Xerox Company of Connecticut are convinced to open a new computer science lab on the west coast near Stanford University, It’s called Palo Alto Research Center, or Xerox PARC. In 9 years PARC will develop laser-printing, color graphic interface, cursor point and click and the Ethernet.

1972- Ms. Magazine started publication.

1981- The Wonderland Murders. Over-endowed porn star Johnny Holmes was implicated in a gang murder. In a Los Angeles home known to be involved in drug dealing. four people were found beaten to death with a steel pipe. Holmes was picked up and tried as an accomplice but was acquitted.

1996- the movie Dinosaur Valley Girls premiered.

1998- Barbara Streisand married James Brolin.
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Yesterday’s Question: The Rat Pack was the famous informal group led by Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin. But they got in and inherited it. Who were the original founders?

Answer: Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall as Den Mother. Originally the Holmby Hills Rat Pack, members included Cary Grant, Spencer Tracy and Katherine Hepburn, Rex Harrison, Nat King Cole, Judy Garland, Sid Luft and agent Swifty Lazar. After Bogarts death in 1957 the group transitioned to Sinatra, Martin, Sammy Davis and company.


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