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March 08, 2016
March 8th, 2016

Question: What does it mean when something is ad hoc?

Yesterday’s Question answered below: What is a Borromean knot?
History for 3/8/2016
Birthdays: Sophocles, Carl Phillip Emmanuel Bach, Hannah Hoes Van Beuren- the First Lady for Martin Van Beuren, Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., Alan Hovhannes, Kenneth Grahame the author of the Wind in the Willows, Cyd Charisse, Charlie Pride, Mickey Dolenz, Alan Hale Jr., Jim Rice, Aiden Quinn is 57, Freddy Prinze Jr is 40, Jim Bouton- baseball player, author, and inventor of Big League Chew bubble gum

1265-THE GREAT PARLIAMENT- For the first time in the modern era, a legislative body comprised of English Nobility, Clergy and Common men met to discuss the affairs of the kingdom. All modern representative government begins here. This inclusion of a "House of Commons" was the genius of Earl Simon de Monfort, a rebel baron who saw the need to curb King Henry III's power, and perhaps from the depths of the Middle Ages, he saw the future. First he had to defeat and capture the King in battle and forced the clergy to declare excommunicate anyone who messed with the system, just to make the whole thing stick. So even after Simon De Monfort was chopped up in battle and the king restored to full power, the Parliamentary system endured.

1702- After the death of King William III of Orange, Queen Anne takes over England.
She was an obese lady almost in constant pain from gout and pleurisy and had to be moved around in a chair, raised and lowered with ropes and pulleys. Like William and Mary she had no direct heir - she had 17 children but none of them made it past the age of 11. After her death the British throne went to a nephew, the German Elector of Hanover, George Ist because he was Protestant.
Pirate Edward Teech, called Blackbeard, named his ship "Queen Anne's Revenge", for reasons known only to him.

1778- France’s entry into the war for American Independence made London rethink it’s strategy. This day Colonial Secretary Lord Germain sent orders to Generals Howe and Clinton to stop chasing rebels in Philadelphia and fall back to New York City, where they could be more adequately supported by the navy. The American Revolution would now be a secondary consideration to the wider global war with France, Spain and Holland.

1782- Gnaderhutten massacre- Connecticut militia ambush 90 Pequot Christian Indians as revenge for Indian raids. The raiders were from another tribe, but these guys were more conveniently in the neighborhood.

1846- After the U.S. annexation of Texas, Mexico disputed exactly where the border ended. The U.S. claimed it was the Rio Grande, the Mexican Government claimed it was a few hundred miles further north at the River Nueces. This day President James K. Polk ordered General Zachary Taylor “Old Rough & Ready” to move his army into the disputed area and hope he gets attacked so they could declare war on Mexico with a clear provocation.

1862- The Confederate navy had dredged up the hull of a sunken warship named the Merrimac and outfitted her with iron boilerplate to create the C.S.S. Virginia, the first ironclad warship. Her skipper was Captain Robert Buchanan, before the war he was first commandant of the Annapolis Naval Academy.
On this day the Merrimac-Virginia steamed over to a large fleet of wooden warships blockading Hampton Roads inlet and sank them. While the big warship's cannonballs bounced harmlessly off her iron plate she rammed and sank the U.S.S. Cumberland, burned the U.S.S. Congress and ran two more ships aground. Eventually she drew off for the night resolved to finish them in the morning. Washington D.C. panicked: the entire wooden U.S. Navy was now obsolete.
What was to prevent the Merrimac-Virginia from sailing up the Potomac and shelling the White House? The USS Monitor, that's who, sailing down slowly from New York. It arrived this night and moored alongside the stricken Congress. Sailors said it looked like a “Cheese Box on a Raft.”

1862- THE LAST PIRATE - Ned Gordon was the last man hanged in the United States for high sea piracy. By then most of his companions had taken commissions in the Confederate Navy as privateers. The buccaneer life continued in the South Seas through the Twentieth Century by the Lascar people of Madagascar, and today pirates can still be found in Somalia. In 1999 China executed 13 men for sea piracy and in 2001, the Australian captain of the America’s Cup winner was killed by pirates off the coast of Brazil. In 2012 America sentenced a Somali pirate to 33 years in prison.

1886- A small time Scots doctor in Portsmouth England named Arthur Conan-Doyle had been trying his hand at writing fiction. He had sold a few stories to magazines and tried to publish a historical novel “Firm of Girdlestone” with lackluster results.
This day he began a new novel “ A Tangled Skein” which had a new character named at first Sheridan Hope, then Sheringford Holmes. By the time he finished his story month later, he had changed the title to “A Study in Scarlet” and the main protagonist name had become SHERLOCK HOLMES.
Conan Doyle was an admirer of the American writer Oliver Wendel Holmes who was touring Britain that year. Like him, Holmes was a doctor who turned writer. No one is sure where he got the name Sherlock. It may have been a neighbor. Conan Doyle’s professor in Edinburgh college Dr Joseph Bell excelled at deductive reasoning and had an assistant named Dr Watson.

1894-First dog licenses issued in New York.

1908- The British House of Commons voted down a bill giving women the vote.

1921- Spanish premier Eduardo Dato was assassinated while leaving the Cortes or Paliament in Madrid.

1930- An angry mob of unemployed battle the police in New York’s Tompkin’s Square.

1933- As a result of President Roosevelt's Nationwide Bank shutdown, Hollywood Studios go into a cash panic. MGM, RKO and the others ask for 30-50% salary cuts from their stars and artists. At one point they announced the salary cuts at the Oscar banquet ( betchya that made for a real fun party!)
Louis B. Mayer, tearful and unshaven pleaded his case to his contract-stars, who reluctantly accepted the cuts. Lionel Barrymore called out "We're with ya. L.B. !" Afterwards Mayer winked to his secretary and giggled:” So how’d I do?” A week later Mayer hired his new son-in-law David Selznick as a producer at $4000 a week. Production chief Darryl Zanuck quit Warner Bros. over the cuts and went on to build Twentieth Century Fox.

1933- Nazi interior minister Wilhelm Frick announced the creation of a system of Concentration Camps to incarcerate political undesirables.

1941- Writer and playwright Sherwood Anderson dies from pterioteritus- internal bleeding- after swallowing a toothpick at a cocktail party.

1941- The National Television System Committee set up by the FCC to standardize television technology recommended an industry standard of 525 scan lines at 30 frames a second- what we now call after their name- NTSC. England later adopted the PAL (Phase Alernation Line) of 625 lines, 25 frames per second and France the SECAM System (Systeme Electronique Couleur Avec Memoire).which is also a 625 line, 25fps system. This is why British t.v. shows like the Prisoner always looked so grainy on American sets and American shows look so garish on British sets. By garish I mean the color, not the content.

It also speeds up the film during video from 24 frames to 25fps (i.e. 4%)...which is why in England and the rest of Europe, all Hollywood movies are 4% shorter and the voices of the actors all sound a little squeaky. The way to remember NTSC is "Never-The-Same-Color'. DVD and BluRay went to a thousand- scan lines. The invention of digital screens is making most of this irrelevant.

1942- Dutch forces surrender Java to Japanese invaders. They roll on to Sumatra.

1950- the Volkswagen bus introduced.

1961-The Frito Company merges with potato chip makers H.L. Lay company to form Frito-Lay. The recipe for Fritos corn chips was bought by milkshake salesman Elmer Doolin from a Mexican fry cook in Texas.

1966- London gangster Ronnie Kray entered the Blind Beggar Pub on Whitechapel Road and shot gangster George Cornell in the head. Ronnie and his identical twin brother Reggie ran rackets in London as well as a West End nightclub that booked performers like Frank Sinatra and Judy Garland. The Krays were finally imprisoned in 1968.

1968- The Soviet nuclear submarine K-19 sank in the Pacific off the US coastline. In 1974 the CIA tried to secretly dredge it up with a research ship the Glomar Explorer designed by Howard Hughes Company. In 2002 Harrison Ford made a movie about the K-19, but that sank without a trace also.

1969 The Pontiac Trans-Am introduced. Muscle car enthusiasts rejoice!

1970- The Nixon White House announced that the Americans operations in Vietnam and Cambodia had also been expanded into the neutral nation of Laos and already 27 Americans had been killed in fighting there.

1973- Paul McCartney was fined 100 pounds for growing marijuana on his farm Mull of Kintyre.

1977- Ralph Bakshi’s film Wizards premiered.

1994- Don Ku invented the ubiquitous little wheeled black suitcase with collapsible handle that bumps into your legs at airports today.

1998- In Ladson South Carolina, Daniel Rudolph, the brother of Abortion Clinic bomber Eric Rudolph, videotaped himself cutting off his own hand with a power saw. He said he intended this to be a message to the FBI and the Media!

2014- A Malaysian airliner MH Flt 370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 227 passengers and crew disappeared mid-ocean. Evidence showed that it’s satellite tracking had been turned off from inside the cabin shortly before it disappeared. An actual piece of wreckage was identified on the African coast just last week 2016.
Yesterday’s Question: What is a Borromean knot?

Answer: The Borromean knot is an interlocking three-ringed pattern made up of a single line. You see it a lot in Celtic designs and the like. The knot is sort of like a Moebius strip in that it is unending, but if any one of the rings is cut, all three rings would unravel completely. Old New Yorkers remember it as the Ballantine Beer logo.