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May 16th, 2010 sun.
May 15th, 2010

Quiz: What does it mean to Mesmerize someone?

Answer to Yesterday’s Question below: In the discussions of the Supreme Court, one wag recently made a reference to Hammurabi. Who was Hammurabi?
History for 5/16/2010
Birthdays: Lily Pons, Richard Tauber, Henry Fonda, Liberace- real name Wladziu Valentine Liberace,

Jan Kiepura, Edmund Kirby-Smith, Gabriela Sabbatini, Thurman Thomas, Margaret Sullivan, Olga Korbut- the original adorable 16 year old Olympic Gold Medal gymnast, Debra Winger is 55, Tori Spelling, Janet Jackson, Woody Herman, Studs Terkel, Pierce Brosnan is 57. Megan Fox is 24

218 A.D.- Elagabulus hailed Roman Emperor by the Eastern Legions. During the long succession of Roman emperors many usurpers and mercenaries would try and prove a tenuous family link to Julius Caesar or Augustus for legitimacy. Elagabulus was the son of an Egyptian prostitute and had no idea who his father was. So he declared himself divinely conceived by the Sun god, Helios -hence Helio-gabulus. He liked to remove all his body hair with depilatories and proclaim to the startled Imperial Court: "Address me not as Lord, for I am a Lady!"

1571- By his own calculations, Astronomer Johannes Kepler was conceived at 4:37 AM.

1717- A Lettre du Cachet was issued to arrest young writer Voltaire. They locked him up in the Bastille for writing satires critical of the King’s government. He was not allowed to take anything but his clothes, and his mistress Suzanne De Livry consoled herself by promptly jumping into bed with his best friend. Philosopher Voltaire was philosophical: ” We must put up with these bagatelles.”

1763- James Boswell was drinking tea in Samuel Davis’ London bookshop when he first met Dr. Samuel Johnson. The two great men of letters became lifelong friends and Boswell’s biography of Dr Johnson became a literary classic.

1770- Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette marry. Louis was 15 and Marie was 14. Louis was just Duc' du Berry and never expected to become king until both his father and older brother died before grandpa King Louis XV. The old king's mistress Madame du Barry disliked Austrian born Marie Antoinette and liked to empty chamber pots on her head from high windows at Versailles. But Louis was unable to consummate their marriage because of an obstruction in his foreskin that caused him great pain. It took seven years and a painful operation before they could create any children. During that time the vivacious but undoubtedly frustrated Marie-Antoinette would put her dull husband to bed early and party all night with others.

1863- THE LONG CHANCE- In Richmond at a meeting of the Confederate Cabinet plans are discussed for helping relieve the fortress city of Vicksburg. If Yankee General Grant captured the city he would cut the Confederacy in half and choke off the Mississippi. Gen. Pierre Beauregard proposed drawing regiments from west and east to launch a grand assault into Ohio and Indiana. This would force Grant away from Vicksburg to defend the Yankee heartland. But Gen. Robert E. Lee countered with his idea for the Gettysburg Campaign. Lee proposed an invasion north through Pennsylvania to menace Philadelphia and descend upon Baltimore and Washington, in effect, gambling everything that he could knock out the U.S. Army with one giant blow. Some strategists agreed with Beauregard's plan but President Jefferson Davis disliked Beauregard personally and just couldn't say no to the invincible Bobby Lee. Of all the Confederate cabinet only postmaster general John Reagan had the nerve to disagree. He was outvoted. He still lost, 15-1. Lee was defeated at Gettysburg and Vicksburg fell to Grant.

1866- Congress authorized the creation of a new 5 cent coin, which because of it’s metal content people called the Nickel.

1868-The IMPEACHMENT OF THE PRESIDENT -President Andrew Johnson survived a Senate vote of Impeachment by one vote. The pro-union governor of rebel Tennessee was made Vice President, then became president because of Abe Lincoln’s assassination. Johnson was filling out Lincoln's term and was despised by Washington circles for being too quick to forgive the defeated Confederacy and restrict the new rights of the freed slaves. His campaign slogan was “This Nation was made for the White Man.” He was continually at odds with the members of Lincoln's cabinet who wanted to control him, especially Secretary of War William Stanton. When Johnson tried to fire Stanton the bewhiskered secretary not only barricaded himself into his office but he instigated impeachment proceedings in Congress. He even accused President Johnson of treason and of complicity in the plot to kill Lincoln! Senate leader pro-tem Benjamin Wade was so sure he was going to be president he had already announced his cabinet. The House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly for impeachment and the Senate was only one vote short of the 2/3 majority required. The one vote that kept Johnson in office was a Senator Edmund Ross. Ross deliberately voted no because he didn’t want to be famous as the man who impeached a President. Ross’ career was ruined- “He will die in the street!” thundered one-legged N.Y. Senator Dan Sickles. A century later John F. Kennedy included Ross's story in his book 'Profiles in Courage'.
Andrew Johnson for the rest of his life bitterly resented the questioning of his patriotism when he had sacrificed friends and family to stay loyal to the U.S. When he died he left instructions that his body be wrapped in the Stars and Stripes and a copy of the U.S. Constitution put under his head.

1879- Dvoraks’ Slavonic Dances premiered.

1900- MAFEKING- During the Boer War in South Africa the besieged city of Mafeking was rescued by the British Army. When the first combat units fought their way into the beleaguered post the first Englishman they saw was a droll gentleman seated on a porch sipping lemonade who calmly stated:" Ah, so there you are. We'd heard you chaps had been knocking about. " The public in London went wild with the news and a huge spontaneous street party breaks out, forever called a "Mafeking Night". The British commander at Mafeking was Sir Anthony Baden-Powell "Good Old B.P." After the war he would form the Boy Scouts. The scout uniform with the ranger hat and neckerchief was based on his own uniform in the Boer war. The slogan 'Be Prepared' was an abbreviation of the more sanguine orders B.P. gave at the height of the Mafeking battle “ Be Prepared to Die for your Country! “

1913-President Woodrow Wilson held a crisis cabinet meeting over a potential war with Japan. The Japanese Government was shocked and insulted by the State Legislature of California passing a law forbidding Japanese immigrants the rights of citizenship or to own property. Wilson’s own policy advocated states rights but he didn’t want to needlessly offend Tokyo any further. The crisis was averted by January when Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan was sent to negotiate milder treaty language, not with the Japanese but with the State of California!

1929- The First Academy Awards ceremony at the Rose Ballroom of the Biltmore Hotel. The best picture winner was William Wellman’s “Wings”. The name Oscar for the award supposedly came from Betty Davis joking that it's butt looked like her husband Oscar’s. The ceremony was originally a dinner party with some industry business conducted. During the Depression in 1933 the Oscars was the place to announce across the board wage rollbacks and salary cuts. Must have made for a swell party.

1934- 35,000 Pacific longshoremen go on strike and paralyze ports from Seattle to San Diego.

1946- the musical Annie Get Your Gun starring Ethel Merman premiered on Broadway.

1957- in a small town in Pennsylvania, a failing small time businessman who had been drinking heavily, died of a heart attack at age 54. Ironically, he had just approved the first draft of a memoir about his days as a young Treasury Agent in Al Capone’s Chicago. His name was Elliot Ness. The book - The Untouchables- became a national best seller and Hollywood turned it into a hit television series, films. Elliot Ness became the most famous lawman since Wyatt Earp.

1963- Gordo Cooper orbits the Earth in the last flight of Project Mercury.

1965 – the birthday of Spaghetti-O's.

1975 - Wings release "Listen to What the Man Said" in UK

1980 - Brian May of rock group Queen collapses on stage with hepatitis.

1980 - Paul McCartney releases "McCartney II" album

1981 - "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes hits #1 for next 9 weeks. The elderly movie legend was not impressed:” Kim Carnes does not have eyes like me!” quote Bette.

1985 - Michael Jordan named NBA Rookie of Year. He retired in 2003.

1986 – the film "Top Gun," directed by Tony Scott and starring Tom Cruise premieres.

1996- One of the lamest moments in TV writing. On DALLAS Pam Ewing encounters her husband Bobby Ewing in the shower although he had been dead for one year. The incident meant the entire previous season’s events had only been a bad dream.

Yesterday’s Quiz: In the discussions of the Supreme Court, one wag recently made a reference to Hammurabi. Who was Hammurabi?

Answer: King Hammurabi the Lawgiver of Babylonia created the oldest written law code in human history. His code called for " an eye for an eye", etc.