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November 3rd, 2007 Saturday
November 2nd, 2007

QUIZ- Some Americans have a habitual anger towards the French. To try to understand this attitude, answer a question: How many wars have we fought against France?

Some Americans and Brits hate the French, but the French love Screwy Squirrel. So they can't be All bad!

I’ve been so busy with my recording sessions for Car Talk in New York and Boston, Pat reminded me I forgot to answer the question I posed in the Oct 31st Quiz: What is meant by three square meals a day?

Answer to yesterdays and Oct 31st quiz below.
History for 11/3/2007
Birthdays: The Roman writer Lucan 39AD, John Montague the Earl of Sandwich and inventor of the same, Walker Evans, William Cullen Bryant, Stephen Austin, Bronco Nagurski, Andre' Malraux, Vincenzo Bellini, Bob Feller, Karl Baedeker author of the Baedeker guidebooks, Ken Berry, Lulu, Roseanne Barr, Astroboy creator Osamu Tezuka, Terry Gilliam

55 B.C. CLEOPATRA MARRIED PTOLOMEY VIII. They were brother and sister. Because the Pharoah was a god, he couldn't mate with a mortal, and the only available goddesses were in the immediate family. This curious inbreeding in the Royal line insured that the mighty family of Ptolomey, general of Alexander the Great, would produce descendants like Orestes the Flute Blower. No wonder Julius Caesar was more fun.

361AD- JULIAN THE APOSTATE BECAME EMPEROR OF ROME, upon the death of is uncle Constantius II. Julian's life was much like Claudius 300 years earlier, except the Imperial Family's official religion was now Christianity. The children of Constantine the Great fought, intrigued, seduced and poisoned each other with great gusto, then went to Church. This had a funny effect on bookish young Julian, and he decided Christianity was the mistake and everyone was a lot better off worshiping Jupiter, Hercules, bulls and such like the good old days. He just couldn't command it so, because Rome had been Christian for 50 years and would just kill him rather than switch. So he had to move cautiously. He was slain in battle with the Persians after only a five year reign, before he could affect any real change, but if he had reigned as long as Constantine did ( 30 years) the world might've looked different. When he went on campaign against Persia he sacrificed 5,000 bulls to Mars. One Christian joked: " If it was 5,000 bulls just to start, if Caesar Julian wins any battles I fear for the market price of beef!"

1503- MONA LISA- Leonardo Da Vinci was hired by a Florentine senator Francesco del Giocondo to paint a portrait of his third wife Madonna Elizabetha or Lisa. He fussed over the painting for four years and never gave it to Francesco, he said it was still unfinished and kept it for himself. Eventually he needed money so he sold it to the King of France and today it sits in the Louvre. Was her enigmatic smile because she had lost a child earlier that year and Leonardo was trying to cheer her up? He used to have musicians playing in the room when she posed. Or is she emblematic of Woman smiling at all the foibles of Men? One historian called Mona Lisa “ the Face that Launched a Thousand Reams Upon a Sea of Ink.”

1623- The Dutch government in the Hague decided Henry Hudson had discovered something interesting in America after all and ordered the Dutch West India Company to prepare plans for the building of a colony to be called New Amsterdam. This colony would eventually become New York City.

1755- The Massachusetts Colony offered a bounty of 20 English pounds each for scalps of Indian children under the age of 12. Warrior scalps fetched a higher bounty, about 30 pounds.

1761- Battle of Torgau- Frederick the Great had his last big victory over the invading Austrian army. Frederick “Die Alte Fritz”- Old Fritz, personally led his men into battle and had three horses killed under him. At one point he was struck in the chest with a cannonball but it had been fired at such a great distance that it had lost velocity and merely knocked the wind out of him.” It’s nothing,” he said, and returned to the battle. If he had been killed then the Prussian kingdom would have collapsed and the future capitol of united Germany would have been Vienna or Frankfurt than Berlin.

1836- California ranchero Juan de Alvarado rallies local ranchers to overthrow Governor Juan de Michaltorena sent from Mexico City. This story may have been an early inspiration for Zorro.

1849-THE PNEUMATIC TRAIN- Alfred E. Beech, the publisher of Scientific American Magazine, first proposed an underground railway be built under New York City to ease traffic snarls. He had invented the pneumatic tube system of delivering messages in tubes pulled through buildings by means of suction and compressed air. He now proposed to build tube shaped railroad cars that would carry people along via suction like a big straw. In 1868 he spent $350,000 to build a Pneumatic train under Broadway that could go one block. Beecher eventually gave up the idea and his tunnel was sealed but the New York City Subway system was inaugurated in 1904.

1888- Jack the Ripper killed his last victim, a prostitute named Mary Reilly.

1930- Amadeo Gianini changed the name of his San Francisco based Bank of Italy to the Bank of America.

1948 -The Chicago Daily Tribune prints the famous premature headline “Dewey Defeats Truman” based on early poll returns. Truman himself was so sure he’d lost the election he went to bed early. When he awoke he discovered he had won and he had a ball mocking the newspapers and doing nasal imitations of hostile correspondent H.B. Kaltenborn.

1957- the first living thing sent into orbit, a Russian dog named Laika. He never came back down but he probably was satisfied knowing he made history- woof.

1963- THE FIRST ALL COSMONAUT WEDDING- Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in Space, marries cosmonaut Andrisyan Nikolayev.

1966- President Lyndon Johnson signed the Truth in Packaging Act, which required all packaged foods to print their ingredients on the label.

1969- In a speech President Richard Nixon announced his opposition to young anti- Vietnam War protestors by appealing to what he called the Silent Majority.

1971- The first UNIX manual released. And I still can’t make heads or tails of them.

1971- Carly Simon married James Taylor.

1977- Disney's Pete's Dragon starring Helen Reddy and Red Buttons. “Passamaquody, Passamaquody..”

1979- T.V. sitcom Different Strokes premiered, featuring 2003 gubernatorial candidate Gary Coleman..

1990- GM's new car line the Saturn announced. The last Saturn was made in Oct. 2006.

1981- WALLY WOOD was one of the most influential cartoonists of the 1950’s and 60’s. His amazing versatility enabled him to draw everything from superhero comics to very cartoony to playfully naughty girls like Sally Forth. He drew EC Comics, the Mars Attacks series, Mad Magazine, Weird Science, THUNDER Agents and much more. He had done a famous drawing of the Disney characters having sex that brought down upon him the wrath of the Disney legal dept. But hard living and deadlines took their toll. Suffering from a stroke, failing kidneys and on dialysis, this day Wally Wood put a 44 cal pistol to his right temple and pulled the trigger. Police say the bullet passed through his head and was lodged in the pillow.

1986- A Lebanese newspaper Ash Schirra revealed the details of the Reagan Presidency’s illegal sales of weapons to Iran- the Iran Contra Scandal.

Answer to yesterdays quiz-

Question: In British slang, what is the meaning of “ Bob’s yer uncle?”

Answer: at the turn of the Twentieth Century British politician Sir Arthur Balfour was the nephew of the powerful Prime Minister Lord Robert Salisbury. No matter how Arthur screwed up at anything, he wound up being promoted because of his connections. The explanation was “ I know, Bob’s yer uncle..” So Bob’s yer uncle became another term for having friends in high places.

Oct 31st Quiz: What is meant by three square meals a day?

Answer: The British Royal Navy in the time of Admiral Nelson offered little for
a new sailor: flogging, two years away from family, scurvy and wounds. But it did
promise wages and three regular meals a day, served on square wooden plates. So,
three square meals a day.

argh Mateys! At least I get me three square a day!