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February 16th, 2008 Monday
February 16th, 2009

I really enjoyed the trailer for Nina Paley's animated feature Sita Sings the Blues. Yeah, I know... I came to it later than all you cooler people out there. But hey, better late than never.
Too bad it didn't make it for Oscar competition this year, but I heard there was some trouble about the commercial rights to some old blues music. I hope it can qualify next year. Here is the website- check out the trailor on YouTube.
Quiz: Did George Washington really cut down a cherry tree?

Yesterday’s Question Answered below: Question: Why is a police van for transporting prisoners called a Paddy Wagon?
History for 2/16/2009
Birthdays: Henry Adams, Charles Taze Russell founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Edgar Bergen, Sonny Bono, John MacEnroe, Frank Welker, John Schlesinger, Faith Hubley,
Katherine Cornell, John Corligiano, Kim Jong Il, Levar Burton is 52, Ice-T is 51

In America it’s HAPPY PRESIDENT’S DAY, a silly three day holiday devoid of any emotional meaning created by Richard Nixon in 1970 to usurp the double days off of Lincoln’s Birthday Feb 12 and Washington’s Birthday Feb 22nd.

In ancient Rome it was the Festival of Quirinalia- when the founder of Rome Romulus was taken up into the clouds and became the god Quirinus

Today is the feast of St. Juliana, who was tortured by both her father AND her boyfriend. I know a lot of you girls out there can relate to that. She also liked to wrestle winged devils in her spare time.

1804- To The Shores of Tripoli....The U.S. Navy goes to North Africa to try and get the Barbary Pirates to leave Yankee merchant ships alone. The Barbary Pirates had been extorting money from Mediterranean shipping for three hundred years but they weren’t a problem while American shipping was under British Royal Navy protection. But now the little republic was on it’s own. When the Bey of Algiers demanded his usual payoff the U.S. Congress said: "Millions for defense, but not one cent for Tribute!" So the US Navy was sent.
The frigate U.S.S. Philadelphia was sent to Tripoli harbor to threaten, but only managed to get stuck on a sand bar and her entire crew became hostages. On this day Captain Stephen Decatur sneaked into Tripoli harbor and burned the Philadelphia. British Admiral Nelson said it was "one of the boldest actions of the age. "Actually more valuable was when Decatur landed a small force of U.S. Marines and Greek mercenaries who overland surprised the largest Algerian fortress at Dara and terrified the Bey of Algiers into making peace. Decatur took full credit. He said "My country right or wrong", commanded Old Ironsides in the War of 1812, and was killed in a pistol duel in 1819.

1842- Eccentric British General Charles Gordon resumed command of the Ever Victorious Army in China to defeat the Taiping Rebellion. The Ever Victorious Army was a force of mercenaries recruited by an American named Stone to help the Manchu Emperor defeat his enemies western style. The leader of the Taipings Tzu Wang Ti had told his followers he was the son of Jesus Christ come to Earth to lead them to victory. Gordon’s command soon destroyed the Taipings and Tzu had committed suicide by eating as much gold leaf as was necessary.

1863- THE DRAFT- U.S. Congress passed the National Conscription Act. The Confederates had started drafting a year before. Riots broke out in Northern cities whenever the draft board set up. Rich men could buy their way out of the draft for $300. John Rockefeller, Grover Cleveland and Teddy Roosevelt’s father took that way out. There was a popular song of the era called "We are Coming Father Abraham, Three Hundred Thousand More" which was changed by bitter wags to We are Coming Father Abraham, Three Hundred Dollars More."

1923- Bessie Smith made her first recording-"Downhearted Blues".

1937- Chemist Wallace Carothers working for the Dupont Company received the patent for the synthetic fiber called Nylon. This fabric could replace expensive silk. By World War Two nylon stockings for women were so popular that limited by shortages resourceful women would draw a seam in pencil down their bare leg to impersonate the effect.

1942- Operation Drumroll- Hitler sent a wolfpack of 5 large long range U-Boat submarines to sink ships along the American coastline.

1978- The first computer bulletin board goes on live. Ward Christensen and Randy Seuss's Computerized Bulletin Board System was an S-100 motherboard and CP/M, and a Hayes 300 baud modem. It still runs to this day, but the Internet has taken the place that BBS's used to have

1987-"Family Dog" episode on Steven Spielberg’s Amazing Stories show. The first direction by Brad Bird, who also wrote the script.

1994- Apple announced the introduction of the digital camera, the first camera that needed no film but could load images directly into a computer.
Question: Question: Why is a police van for transporting prisoners called a Paddy Wagon?

Answer: In the 1800’s in many large Eastern Cities, many of the police were of Irish origin, as were many of the urban gangs and waterfront toughs. Paddy was a common slang term for Irish People. Police vans were also called Black Mariahs and Mother’s Heart, because there is always room for one more.