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May 19th,2009 tues
May 19th, 2009

Question: What is an agent-provocateur?

Yesterday’s Question Answered Below: We speak of enlightened laws, that Americas founders were men of the Enlightenment. What does that mean?
History for 5/19/2009
Birthdays: Malcolm X- real name Malcolm Little, Ho Chi Minh- real name Ngyun Tat Tanth- Ho Chi Minh means the Enlightener, Giovanni Della Robbia, John Hopkins, Lord Waldorf Astor, Dame Nelly Melba –Australian opera singer for whom Melba Toast, Peach Melba and the cocktail the "Manhattan" were created, Frank Capra, Wilson Mizner, Elena Poniatowska, Jim Lehrer, Nora Ephron, Grace Jones, Peter Mayhew, Nancy Kwan, Pete Townshend, Pol Pot, Joey Ramone, Jimmy Hoffa Jr., and Tom Sito, aka me, your author.

988-Today is the Feast of Saint Dunstan, who pulled the Devil’s nose with hot tongs.

1536- Anne Boleyn-King Henry VIII's second queen, was beheaded not by axe but by a French swordsman with a sort of golf-swing. The king was playing tennis at Hampton Court. He had a relay signal of cannons fired from the Tower of London so he would know the minute he was single again.

1571- Spaniard Miguel Lopez de Lagazpi founded the city of Manila.

1586- Fleeing her rebellious nobles, Mary Queen of Scots crossed the border into England and threw herself upon the mercy of Queen Elizabeth, who promptly locked her up.

1635- Cardinal Richelieu confuses the religious nature of the Thirty Years War by putting Catholic France on the Protestant side. His eminence, the Cardinal, didn’t care a figgy about religious issues, he just wanted to break the power of Hapsburg Spain.

1643- The separate Anglo-American colonies of Plymouth, Connecticut, New Harbor and Massachusetts Bay form an association called New England.

1649- Oliver Cromwell’s victorious Puritan Parliament declared the British Monarchy extinct. England was to be a Commonwealth. They also stipulated that all nobles who had been for the King in the just-completed Civil Wars would be tax assessed to one-half the value of their properties. This tax drove many cash poor noble families to emigrate to American where they set up homes in Virginia- The Washingtons, Lees, Randolphs, Livingstons and Madisons. In the US Civil War many southerners flattered themselves as being the descendents of the Cavaliers and the Yankees of New England the heirs of the Puritan Roundheads.

1798- Napoleon embarks to invade Egypt, trying to thereby cut off England's easy access to India and if possible conquering his way across Turkey and Persia to join forces with Tippoo Sahib, the Indian Sultan fighting against British rule. On the boat to pass the time Nappy played cards with his generals. Everyone noticed he was cheating. When a brave soul finally pointed this out he replied:" I know. I never leave anything to chance. I'll return everyone's money later."

1812-U.S. declared War on Britain, the War of 1812- The U.S. government tired of having it's shipping harassed by the British and having ambitions of conquering Canada sent off a declaration of war. Two weeks later a Royal Navy vessel landed in Baltimore with concessions to most U.S. demands. Doh!

1859- Sir John Franklin leads a British Navy expedition to find the sea route across the top of Canada, the NorthWest Passage. Not only didn't he make it but the National Geographic Society is still thawing out his sailors today. The route that sailors looked for since Sir Francis Drake was not achieved until a Canadian icecutter did it in 1958.

1864- The Cherry Creek Flood- wipes out what there is of a little boomtown in silver mining country called Denver.

1884 - Ringling Brothers circus premiered.

1886- First performance of Camille Saint Saen's Organ Symphony (#3). Saint Saen's had actually written 6 such works but hated them all but three. He liked the third symphony so much he never wrote another. Composer Charles Gounod heard the symphony and exclaimed:" There is now a French Beethoven!" The theme of the last movement is now known as the music from the movie Babe the Pig.

1892 - Charles Brady King invented the pneumatic jackhammer- sleeping city dwellers rejoice.

1895- Patriot leader Jose Martin killed fighting for Cuban independence.

1897- Writer Oscar Wilde was released from prison after doing two years of hard labor. The experience broke his health and he never completely recovered. He did use his experiences to write his last work The Ballad of Reading Gaol in 1898.

1919- Harlem jazz bandleader James Europe had toured Europe while in uniform for World War One and had made the Old World wild for the new syncopated rhythms. Europe was doing a triumphal tour of America with his Harlem doughboy band when his career was tragically cut short. In Boston he argued with one hotheaded musician who stabbed him in the neck and he bled to death. Had he lived James Europe might have been as famous as Satchmo Armstrong or Duke Ellington.

1927- Sid Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood opened. Ushers and doorman were dressed in imported Mandarin silk robes and wall hangings were painted by young artist/actor Key Luke. Sid Grauman was the showman who also invented the Hollywood premiere with spotlights and limo's pulling up to red carpets, etc.

1929 - General Feng Yu-Xiang, last of the great Chinese warlords, declared war on Chiang Kai-Shek’s Kuomintang ( KMT) government. After the Manchu Empire collapsed in 1912, China broke up into small states run by generals with private armies, European protectorates and Mao and his Communist guerrillas. The Nationalists under Chiang slowly reunified China piece by piece until the big Japanese Invasion in 1937.

1935- The National Football League adopts the college draft system.

1935- T.E. Lawrence "Lawrence of Arabia" died of injuries after a high speed motorcycle crash. The motorcycle was a gift from George Bernard Shaw.

1945- The German U-boat U-232 surfaced and surrendered in the harbor of Portsmouth, New Hampshire eleven days after the official surrender of Nazi Germany. Just before the fall of Berlin, they had been sent on a long-distance trip to Tokyo carrying military secrets, a disassembled jet fighter and a store of fission quality uranium. In the mid-Atlantic, the crew got the news of Hitler’s death and Germany’s surrender. An argument broke out between the crew, officers and two Japanese liaison officers about whether to proceed. The decision was made to sail to America and surrender. When in port it was discovered the two Japanese officers were missing. The Germans said “ they decided to walk home".

1956-Cecil B. deMilles film " The Ten Commandments" premiered. Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, Anne Baxter and Edward G, Robinson.

1960 - DJ Alan Freed is accused of bribery in the radio payola scandal, the first scandal to hit the new world of Rock & Roll.

1962- Giant birthday party and rally held for President John F. Kennedy in New York's Madison Square Garden -his birthday was actually the following week. What made it memorable was Marilyn Monroe in a dress so tight she had to be sewn into it, singing her sexy version of the Happy Birthday song. 'Haapie (exhale) Burth- Day, Mister - Prezz- a -dent (sigh), Happy, etc. "

1970- Al Gore married Tipper Gore.

1987- Charles Fleming got a patent for plans for a device that can keep a severed human head alive.

1990-Amy Fisher 16,the "Long Island Lolita" shot the wife of her lover, muffler salesman Joseph Buttafuco. Mary Jo Buttafuco survived the attack and Amy went to jail. This case titillates the sensationalist media of New York City for the next three years to the amazement of the rest of the U.S.

1997- Matthew Broderick married Sarah Jessica Parker.

1998- George Lucas much anticipated film Star Wars Episode One the Phantom Menace premiered, the first Star Wars sequel in 20 years. It featured Jarr Jarr Binks, a character so annoying that web sites like www.I Want Jarr-Jarr to Die-Die.Com soon racked up tens of thousands of hits.

2006- Dreamworks animated film ‘Over the Hedge’ premiered.
Yesterday’s question: We speak of enlightened laws, that Americas founders were men of the Enlightenment. What does that mean?

Answer: in the 1700’s American intellectuals like Jefferson, Adams and Franklin were inspired by the movement sweeping Europe called the Enlightenment, also called the Age of Reason, and in France the Philosophes. They declared the superstition of organized religion was responsible for all the woes of mankind, that the rule of Reason was the highest form of human development. “ We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights… etc.