April Gnus
Science Gnus Almanac Home

April - probably comes from the Latin "aperire" meaning  to open referring to the opening of spring buds and flowers.

April is Cancer Control Month, Keep America Beautiful Month, Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Month, and National Automobile Month.  We'll celebrate Easter, Passover (usually) and take note of International Children's Book Day, Astronomy Day, Arbor and Earth Day.  If you were wondering why the date of Easter changes from year to year it's because Easter is celebrated on the  first Sunday after the first full moon of the Vernal Equinox. 

Science Gnus is an almanacish compendium of News of Science, History, Science, Mathematics,Items of Interest and Science as well as Professor Sy Yentz, Dr. Matt Matician, the Activity of the Month, Factorinos, Trivia Question, Bonus Trivia Question, Extinct, Trivia Answers, Jokes,Obscure Questions, and Word of the Month

Science Gnus is an almanacish compendium of News of Science, History, Science, Mathematics,Items of Interest and Science as well as Professor Sy Yentz, Dr. Matt Matician, the Activity of the Month, Factorinos, Trivia Question, Bonus Trivia Question, Extinct, Trivia Answers, Jokes,Obscure Questions, and Word of the Month

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1.        April Fool's Day- A day traditionally featuring jokes and pranks. Here’s a great idea for a joke; we’ll change the calendar overnight and see what happens.  Considering the difficulties the U.S Government (although, you’re right, it is the U.S government) had going from analog to digital television with years of warnings, alerts, and tutorials…………and they still couldn’t get it right!  The calendar change must have been hilarious.  

            In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar  rationally  known as the Gregorian Calendar to replace the old Julian Calendar (cleverly named after Julius Caesar). The new calendar called for New Year's Day to be celebrated Jan. 1.  Allegedly those celebrating the old date were called April Fools.  There are no really satisfactory explanation, all have holes in them and are liable to fool you but then just watch the evening news or read the newspapers – every day is Fool’s Day.  Most ancient cultures celebrated the New Year around the time of the Vernal Equinox, the first day of spring.  Seemed like a good time to bring in a new year. In 1582, France adopted the reformed calendar and shifted New Year's Day to Jan. 1. So the  popular explanation is that many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year's Day on April 1. Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on "fool's errands" or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe. There are other origin theories ranging from connections to the Vernal Equinox to biblical (the crows flying after Noah’s Ark, to the weather “fooling us”.  Of course a fool by any other name: in Scotland they are gawbs, in England gobs and in France poisson d’Avril, április bolondja in Hungarian, aprile pazzo in Italian, aprīlis in Latvian, אפריל טיפש in Hebrew, 4月ばかin Japanese, 愚人節 in traditional Chinese, and aprillinarri in Finnish, is still a fool

1578-Saturday-  Just like a romance novel ......... a pulsating, throbbing thrill.  Happy Birthday, William Harvey the English doctor who discovered the circulation of blood and the functioning of the heart. Harvey observed the action of the heart in small animals and fishes and proved that the heart receives and expels blood during each cycle. Experimentally, he also found valves in the veins, and correctly identified them as restricting the flow of blood in one direction. He developed the first complete theory of the circulation of blood, believing that it was pushed throughout the body by the heart's contractions. He was appointed “physician extraordinary” to  King James I, and in 1630 was engaged to "accompany the young Duke of Lenox in his travels beyond the Seas," In 1632, he was formally chosen physician to Charles I. We note that Charles still had his head at this point. Separation would come in 1649. He also shares with William Gilbert, investigator of the magnet, the credit for initiating accurate experimental research throughout the world.

1776 –Monday Happy Birthday, Sophie Germain, French mathematician.  Influenced by her childhood study of Archimedes, his work and his death – he was so engrossed with a geometrical configuration in sand that he ignored the orders of a Roman soldier and was speared to death- she developed a life long love (alliteration alert) of mathematics. She made major contributions to number theory, acoustics and elasticity.

1789-Wednesday- The U.S. House of Representatives held its first full meeting in New York City.  Frederick Muhlenberg of Pennsylvania was elected the first Speaker. He was also the Speaker for the Third Congress, 1793-1795. According to an Urban Legend, he was responsible for preventing German from becoming the official language of the U.S.  Probably not true but it’s a nice segue into our next item.

1792 – Sunday- Japan's greatest volcanic disaster as the volcano Unzen erupted killing over 15,000 people.  Unzen   is actually a massive volcanic complex that makes up much of the Shimabara Peninsula east of Nagasaki. There are three large stratovolcanoes with complex structures, Kinugasa on the north, Fugen-dake at the east-center, and Kusenbu on the south. Real estate sales are fluid.

1815-Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Otto von Bismarck,  the German Chancellor paved the way for the rise of the modern German state. Known as the "Iron Chancellor", Bismarck saw Germany grow from a loose confederation of states to a unified powerful empire. Under his leadership, Germany won the Austro-Prussian War, and the Franco-Prussian War and brokered a peace following the Russo-Turkish War. This peace led to the extension of German borders and the rapid growth of German industry.  Ultimately the German sense of overconfidence and empowerment would lead to WWI and WWII.  

1826 –Saturday-  Samuel Morey patented the internal combustion engine. Morey is one of the highest achieving yet among the most obscure  American inventors in history even though he secured at least 20 patents from 1793 to 1833 and was a true pioneer of steam propulsion. Yes, it was “the Morey, the merrier”. Morey’s work with engines also influenced Robert Livingston and Robert Fulton in the development of the steam boat. In fact, Fulton visited Morey’s steam boat before building his own.

1853-Friday-  Cincinnati, Ohio established the very first full time paid, professional fire department using steam fire engines pulled by horses. The plan called for full time paid city employees using a horse-drawn steam engine. The steam pumper allowed four or five men to affectively spray more water on a fire than hundreds of volunteers using hand pumpers.

1864 –Friday As the Civil War raged, J. G. Batterson, of The Travelers Insurance Company, introduced travel insurance into the United States.. Batterson with several other prominent Hartford, CT businessmen established The Travelers Insurance Company with the stated purpose to insure people while traveling. http://www.quotewright.com/weblog/category/history-of-travel-insurance/

1865-Saturday The Battle of Five Forks, dealt a death blow for Robert E. Lee’s already severely damaged Army of Northern Virginia as supply lines were now cut off (the surrender at Appomattox was  two weeks away). Five Forks was a road intersection that provided the key to Lee's supply line. Lee instructed General George Pickett (of Pickett’s Charge) to "Hold Five Forks at all hazards." He didn’t. Pickett had his force poorly positioned, and he was taking a long lunch with his staff when the Union attack occurred. Nearly 5,000 of Pickett's men were killed, wounded, or captured.

1865 –Saturday- Happy Birthday Richard Adolf Zsigmondy, Dutch chemist. He conducted pioneering research in colloid chemistry. Yes, “when worlds colloid”.  He also came up with the idea of the ultramicroscope – making visible sub microscopic particles whose linear extension is below the microscope's resolution limit. In 1913 he invented the immersion microscope. He also invented two types of filters, a membrane filter in 1918 and an ultra-fine filter in 1922. In 1925, Zsigmondy was awarded the Nobel Prize for colloid chemistry and the invention of the ultramicroscope.

1873-Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, Sergey Rachmaninoff, last of the great Russian romantic composers (other Russian romantic composers? Think Tchaikovsky).

1873 –Tuesday-  In the worst single ship disaster to occur off the Canadian Coast prior to the Titanic’s visit in 1912, the luxury steamship S.S. Atlantic, of the White Star Line, ran aground on Mar's Head, Lower Prospect, Nova Scotia.  Lifeboats were lowered by the crew but were washed away as the ship began to sink, killing 562.

1875-Thursday- Sir Francis Galton published the first newspaper weather map - in The Times, London, England.  We note that the map was of the weather for the previous day, March 31, not a prediction of coming weather. Galton was the first to describe the anti-cyclone and pioneered the introduction of weather-maps based on charting data about air pressure. His book Meteorographica, 1863, was the first systematic attempt to gather, chart and interpret weather data on a continental scale, a fundamental work of modern scientific meteorology.   

1889-Monday- The first commercial dishwashing machine was marketed for sale in Chicago, The automatic dishwasher had been invented by Josephine Garis Cochrane. She received an award for her invention at the famous 1893 World's Fair in Chicago, which featured a Women’s Exposition.  The company she founded to market the dishwasher to hotels, restaurants and other commercial groups was purchased in the 1920's by the Hobart Corporation. One could say she “cleaned up” in the deal. Hobart introduced the "Kitchen Aid" brand name that it is known as today. Dishwashers under the Kitchen Aid brand were first introduced in 1949, sixty years after Cochrane’s was sold in Chicago. 

1890-Tuesday-  The electric trolley car was patented by Belgian inventor, Charles Van Depoele. He had designed the first commercial electric railway in the US (maybe the world) for the Scranton Suburban Electric Railway which opened on Nov. 30, 1886, an intra-city line running a few miles between downtown Scranton, Pa. and Green Ridge. The line ran continuously until 1954. Scranton still calls itself the “Electric City”.

1905 –Saturday-  Paris and Berlin were linked by telephone. Of course in Paris they were speaking French and in Berlin they were speaking German and no one knew what anyone was talking about.

1924 –Tuesday They had him in jail. They had him locked away…… and they let him out. Adolf Hitler was sentenced to five years in jail for his participation in the "Beer Hall Putsch" – his almost slapstick comedic attempt to take over Bavaria. However, he spent only nine months in jail, during which he wrote the book Mein Kampf…..which may have originally be titled When Putsch Comes to Shove.  

1929 –Monday- The yo-yo was introduced in New York by Louie Marx who had already manufactured them commercially in Great Britain. In fact, American D.F Duncan is best known for being responsible for promoting the first great yo-yo fad in the United States. He started the Genuine Duncan Yo-Yo company, subsequently trademarking the name "yo-yo". Duncan was not the inventor of the yo-yo; they have been around for over twenty-five hundred years. In fact the yo-yo is considered the second oldest toy in history, the oldest being the doll.

1932 –Friday- Happy Birthday, Norman Abramson, American computer scientist who created ALOHAnet, - which sounds like a way to trap tourists in Hawaii but was really the first modern data network, and led to the development of the theory of random access ALOHA channels.  ALOHA channels created significant advancements within wireless and local area networking, and some versions are  still in use today in all major mobile telephone and wireless data standards. This influential work also developed the core concepts found today in Ethernet. It opened in 1970, operating at 9600 bits per second, using radio to provide a wireless packet-switched data network between several Hawaii islands.

1933 –Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Claude Cohen-Tannoudji, French physicist who shared the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1997 (with Steven Chu and William D. Phillips) for developing methods using laser light to cool gases to the micro-kelvin temperature range - nearly absolute zero to a fraction of a millionth of a degree.  This method of “trapping atoms” – sort of like tranquilizing them, was a long way from Ernest Rutherford’s early 1900’s experiments of shooting alpha particles at foil to locate the nuclei of atoms. With this technique the motion of the chilled atoms is thereby sufficiently slowed to permit their study with very great accuracy, and their inner structure can be determined.

1938- Friday- Panda kaput. Su Lin, the first panda to live in captivity outside China, died after a twig lodged in its throat. The clever keepers at Brookfield Zoo, Chicago, U.S. had added oak twigs to the panda's usual diet of bamboo even though there was no record of panda’s ever eating oak twigs…..why not just give them hamburgers????.  The panda had been brought from China to the site of its eventual demise  in 1936 by a Manhattan socialite (what, exactly is socialite?), Ruth Harkness. The zoo acquired Su Lin on February 8, 1837. Amazingly, an autopsy on the kaput panda  revealed Su-Lin was a male, not a female as had been thought.

1939 –Saturday- The end of the Spanish Civil War as Generalísimo Francisco Franco announced that the last of the Republican forces had surrendered.  The war had lasted from 1936-1939 between those loyal to the newly- established Republican government (which came power after the fall of the Spanish monarchy) and those who favored a conservative, militaristic system. The outcome of the Spanish Civil War altered the balance of power in Europe, as Germany and Italy used it to test their power and their weapons while the Communists supplanted the Republicans and it became in one sense, a proxy war.

1945-Sunday- American forces invaded the Japanese held island of Okinawa during World War II.  This was the final amphibious landing of the war.  Okinawa is the largest of the Ryukyus islands at the southern tip of Japan. It is about 60 miles long and between 2 and 18 miles wide.  It would be needed as base for the eventual attack on the mainland of Japan.

            1946 –Monday- During the early morning an earthquake of magnitude 7.4 occurred in an area of the Aleutian Trench located approximately 90 miles south of Unimak Island, part of the Aleutian Island chain. During the quake, a large section of seafloor was uplifted along the fault where the quake occurred, producing a large, Pacific-wide tectonic tsunami. The first wave of the tsunami reached the big island of Hawaii in about five hours. The destruction in the Aleutians had prevented any radio warning for Hawaii.  They were caught completely unawares. The Hilo waterfront was destroyed. Wave heights across the Islands reached an estimated maximum of 55 feet, 36 feet and 33 feet on Hawaii, O'ahu, and Maui, respectively. The tsunami inundated areas up to a half a mile inland in some locations. A total of 159 people were killed

1959  -Wednesday-  Freddy Cannons’ Tallahassee Lassie was released on an unsuspecting public. Featuring existential lyrics such as “She’s my Tallahassee Lassie, whoo”, Cannon’s record (written by his mother) would be followed by such dithyrambs as Way Down Yonder in New Orleans, the immortal Transistor Sister, and the, not bad, Palisades Park.  Cannon would become one of Dick Clark’s “pet acts” (see Fabian, Frankie Avalon, Bobby Rydell, et al) and kept making appearances long after he ran out of places to sing about.

1960-Friday- Tiros I, a two-camera weather satellite was launched.  After 2 months it had taken over 20,000 pictures of clouds.  The goal was to improve satellite applications for Earth-bound decisions, such as "should we evacuate the coast because of the hurricane?" or “Will I need my sun block SPF 30 at the beach today?”…….no, not really for the second question.  Professor Sy Yentz has his sunbathing sense of humor. TIROS proved extremely successful for weather forecasting but to this day, people are still reluctant to evacuate their homes.

1963 -Monday  Oh Dirk! Oh Audry! Oh, the awful writing. Oh the awful acting….The soap opera General Hospital, set in the fictional town of Port Charles NY, had its TV debut.

1967 - The United States Department of Transportation began operations. Well, that’s certainly worked out well. Its first secretary, Alan S. Boyd, took office on January 16, 1967 but the Department started its tradition of screwing everything up on this day

1970 –Wednesday-  Goodbye to the “Marlboro Man”, silly jingles and cigarettes as suave accessories……. when President Richard Nixon signed a measure banning cigarette advertising on radio and TV.

1976 –Thursday- Apple Computer was formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak. The first home computer with a GUI or graphical user interface was the Apple Lisa. The very first graphical user interface was developed by the Xerox Corporation at their Palo Alto Research Center (PARC). Apple  hit the mother lode with the 1984 release of the Macintosh.

1979-Sunday-  Perhaps his increasingly bizarre behavior in years to come was due to exposure to radiation. President Jimmy Carter, who had trained as an engineering officer for nuclear power plants – yet continued to say “nucular”  visited the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant, three days after the most serious nuclear accident in U.S history.  He toured the control room, giving a deliberate public display of confidence that the situation was under control, in order to allay the fears of the local population of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, as well as the country.  Fallout from the nuclear accident resulted in a mutated gene resulting in Blabberous Obnoxicus, a syndrome that causes people to talk loudly on their cell phones while using public transportation.

            1981 –Wednesday Always up to date with modern trends, daylight saving time was finally introduced in the USSR. This continued a tradition begun in 1709 when the calendar (the Julian calendar) was first printed in Russia, more than 127 years after the Gregorian calendar had been introduced in Europe. The Gregorian calendar was mandated by Lenin in 1918.  They were more on the ball when it came to adopting? Being inspired by? Imitating? Stealing? Western technology during the late 1940s-1980s.

            1984 –Sunday-  “What’s Going On?” On the day before his forty fifth birthday, Singer Marvin Gaye was shot to death by his father at age 44. Gaye, one of Motown’s principal artists, had a series of hits beginning with Stubborn Kind of Fellow in 1962 and continuing with hits such as I Heard it Through the Grapevine, and What’s Going On.  He also teamed with Tammi Terrell for Ain’t No Mountain High Enough. Addled by drug use, paranoia, and contentious relationship with his father, Gaye was shot point blank after a violent argument.

            1987 –Wednesday- Seeking to avoid rising air, sea and train fares,  Steve Newman became the first man to walk around the world alone. It took him 4 years, and he visited 20 countries.  He ran into a blizzard in the Pyrenees, wild boars in Algeria and narrowly escaped a flash flood in Australia. There were three life-threatening episodes, and he was arrested in Algeria, Yugoslavia and Turkey. Aside from that, everything was fine.

2001 –Sunday-  I Bob, take you, George…….” Same-sex marriage became legal in the Netherlands, which is the first country to allow it.  And in a possibly related development…..

            2002 –Monday-  The Netherlands legalized euthanasia, becoming the first nation in the world to do so.  The legislation allowed patients experiencing unbearable suffering to request euthanasia, and doctors who carry out such a mercy killing to be free from the threat of prosecution, provided they have followed strict procedures. The most popular method appeared to be forcing the patients to watch American congressional proceedings during which they died of boredom.

Back to Calendar


742 –Thursday-  Happy Birthday, Charlemagne, King of the Franks (Duke of Weiners, Earl of Hot Dogs, and Prince of Sausage) King of the Lombards and Charles I of the Holy Roman Empire.  The greatest of medieval kings, he was born in 742, at ……well, we don’t know exactly where he was born…. As King of the Franks, Charlemagne’ goal was to strengthen his realm and to bring order to the chaos of medieval Europe so in 772 he launched a 30-year military campaign to accomplish this objective. By 800 Charlemagne was the undisputed ruler of Western Europe. His kingdom encompassed what are now France, Switzerland, Belgium, and The Netherlands. He could have introduced the Euro!  It included half of present-day Italy and Germany, and parts of Austria and Spain. By establishing a central government over Western Europe, Charlemagne restored much of the unity of the old Roman Empire and paved the way for the development of modern Europe.

             1513-Wednesday-  Juan Ponce DeLeon, born in born in Tierra de Campos Palencia, Spain.while searching for The Fountain of youth (and abeach front condo), made the first European landing on the Florida shore. He landed near the site of what is now St. Augustine, Florida. He didn't realize he landed in North America. Clever Ponce, he thought he had landed on an island. He named it Florida because he saw lots of flowers (florida in Spanish means flowers). The next day he claimed the land in the name of the King of Spain. De Leon sailed through the Florida Keys – stopping at Sloppy Joe’s in Key West, then on to Cuba for the wonderful medical care, but found no Fountain of Youth DeLeon had sailed with Christopher Columbus on his second voyage to the New World in 1493 so the territory was vaguely familiar.

            1527 –Saturday- (Gonna find her)
(Gonna find her)
(Gonna find her)
(Gonna find her)

Yeah, I've been searchin'
A-a searchin'
Oh, yeah, searchin' every which a-way
Yeah, yeah
Oh, yeah, searchin'
I'm searchin'
Searchin' every which a-way
Yeah, yeah……
The Coasters………….. Happy Birthday,  Abraham Ortelius, born Abraham Ortels,  Flemish cartographer and geographer. Ortelius was a contemporary of Gerardus Mercator. He is the most famous of the 16th-century Flemish school of geography…..go ahead, name some others….see?  Ortelius traveled with Mercator in 1560 and was inspired to begin his chief work, Theatrum OrbisTerrarum (1570), the first modern atlas of the world. The first edition of this atlas contained 53 maps, in part compiled from maps of 87 cartographers; the 1587 edition had 103 maps.

            1618 –Monday-  Happy Birthday, Francesco Maria Grimaldi, Italian mathematician and physicist. Grimaldi discovered the diffraction of light and gave it the name diffraction, (although he probably called it diffrazione) which means "breaking up." He laid the groundwork for the later invention of the diffraction grating. He was one of the earliest physicists to suggest that light was wavelike in nature. Grimaldi was also responsible for the practice of naming lunar regions after astronomers and physicists.

            1647 Tuesday- Happy Birthday- Maria Sibylla Merian, German botanist.  Merian collected, raised, and observed the living insects, rather than working from preserved specimens, as was the norm which may have made for an interesting house. Following a divorce, at age fifty two, she and her eldest daughter embarked on a  trip to the Dutch colony of Surinam, in South America. Having seen some of the dried specimens of animals and plants that were popular with European collectors, Merian wanted to study them within their natural habitat. She spent the next two years studying and drawing the indigenous flora and fauna. Merian published her book, the lavishly illustrated Metamorphosis of the Insects of Surinam in 1705.

            1725-Monday- I have always loved truth so passionately that I have often resorted to lying as a way of introducing it into the minds which were ignorant of its charms. ………Happy Birthday, Giovanni Casanova, Italian ecclesiastic, writer, soldier, spy, and diplomat but mainly remembered as the prince of Italian adventurers and as the man who made the name Casanova synonymous with “libertine.” He spent his later years (1785–98) as librarian to the Count von Waldstein in Bohemia. The word modest was unknown to him and his huge autobiography, first published in 12 volumes in 1825–38, gives an excellent picture of 18th-century Europe; it established his reputation as an extraordinary seducer of women. He also wrote a History of Venice.

                1792-Monday-  The U.S Mint was established in Philadelphia.  There are now Mints in Denver, San Francisco, West Point, and Ft. Knox, Kentucky but they are Junior Mints. Mint was evidently a tastier name than the original suggestion of "U.S Jawbreaker." The Mint dated back to March3, 1791, when  the  United States Congress, by the passing of a resolution directed that a mint be established. President Washington did not act upon these recommendations until April of 1792.  The gold coins authorized by the government were as follows:

Gold Eagle Value


247-4/8 pure

Std. Grains 270

Gold Half Value

$  5.00

123-6/8 pure

Std. Grains 135

Gold Quarter Eagle Value

$  2.50 

  61-7/8 pure

Std. Grains 67-4/8

Washington appointed a well known scientist, David Rittenhouse, as the first director of the U.S. Mint. A mint building was under construction but it dissolved in the rain.  The next time they used stones and it is located at Seventh and Sugar Alley (now Filbert Street).  It was a three story building and bore the familiar sign painted on the building between the second and third floors, “Ye Old Mint”.

          "He now felt glad at having suffered sorrow and trouble, because it enabled him to enjoy so much better all the pleasure and happiness around him; for the great swans swam round the new-comer, and stroked his neck with their beaks, as a welcome." …from 'The Ugly Duckling'…. International Children‘s Book  Day- marks the birthday of Hans Christian Anderson in 1805 -Tuesday.  Anderson was a Danish author and poet best known for his fairy tales of which there are over one hundred and fifty, published in numerous collections during his life and many still in print today. Two of the best known fairy tales are The Ugly Duckling  and The Little Mermaid.   

            1814 –Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Erastus Bigalow, American industrialist who is famous as the developer of the power loom for making lace and many types of carpet. Yes, he was a “loomatic”. Bigalow’s invention led to led to Alexander Smith starting what would become the world's largest rug and carpet manufacturer of the modern era in the Bronx N.Y., in 1845.

            1827-Monday-  Take out those No. 2 pencils and begin taking note…..Lead pencils, which are really graphite (plumbago) pencils,  were first manufactured by Joseph Dixon, who built his factory in Salem, Mass. Dixon was responsible for the development of the graphite industry in the U.S. Not one to let grass grow under his feet, Dixon was a printer and a photographer, he designed a mirror into a camera that was the forerunner of the viewfinder, patented a double-crank steam engine, evolved a method of printing banknotes to foil counterfeiters, and patented a new method for tunneling under water

            1834-Wednesday-  Happy Birthday, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi, French sculptor of “Liberty Englightening the World”, aka The Statue of Liberty.  He launched his sculptathon  with "Lafayette arriving in America" was executed in 1872, and in 1876 was placed in Union Square in  New York. He was one of the French commissioners in 1876 to the Philadelphia centennial exhibition, and there exhibited bronze statues of "The Young Vine-Grower;"  "Genie Funebre;" "Peace;" and "Genius in the Grasp of Misery," for which he received a bronze medal.

                1840-Thursday-  Happy Birthday, Emile Zola, French novelist Emile Zola
novelist. Among Zola's most important works is his famous Rougon-Macquart cycle (1871-1893), which included such novels as L’Assommoir (1877), about the suffering of the Parisian working-class, Nana (1880), dealing with prostitution, and Germinal (1885), depicting the mining industry. Zola's open letter J'ACCUSE  in the newspaper L'Aurore on January 13, 1898, reopened the case of the Jewish Captain, Alfred Dreyfus, sentenced to Devil's Island.

            1841 –Friday- Happy Birthday-  Clément Ader, French aviation pioneer He is most well-known, however, for his two remarkable flying machines, the Ader Eole and the Ader Avion No. 3. He claimed to have flown before the Wright Brothers but he was told to go fly a kite.

            1845-Wednesday-  "Smile."........H.L. Fizeau & J. Leon Foucault took the first photograph of the Sun. Leon Foucault is a bit more famous for his pendulum, Foucault’s Pendulum, which proved the rotation of the Earth. The image, taken with an exposure of 1/60th of a second, was about 4.7 inches (12 centimeters) in diameter and captured several sunspots.

           1865 –Sunday-  …..And I wonder--
I wah-wah-wah-wah-wonder,
Why, why, why, why, why he ran away,
Yes, and I wonder,
A-where he will stay-ay,
My little runaway,
Run, run, run, run, runaway.
..apologies to Del Shannon……With the Confederate defences breached and Robert E. Lee in retreat, Confederate President Jefferson Davis and most of his Cabinet fled the Confederate capital of Richmond, Virginia.

             1872-Tuesday- George B. Brayton of Boston, Mass. received a patent for a gas-powered engine (No. 125,166). It was an unsuccessful two-stroke kerosene engine (it used two external pumping cylinders). However, it was considered the first safe and practical oil engine. In 1680  Dutch physicist, Christian Huygens designed (but never built) an internal combustion engine that was to be fueled with gunpowder.

            1875-Friday – and speaking of gasoline engines,  Happy Birthday, Walter P. Chrysler,  the industrialist, inventor and manufacturer who founded the Chrysler Corporation in1925 , and developed the six-cylinder engine. We were cleverly going to list all of the car models sold by Chrysler over the years but there are 83! So you’ll find them here: http://www.ranker.com/list/full-list-of-chrysler-models/reference?page=3&format=mainlist

            1889-Tuesday-  Charles M. Hall ( Independently, Paul Héroult  in France was doing the same thing at the same time) patented the anelectrolytic process to extract aluminum from its ore. He had invented the process on Feb. 23 1886. Although aluminum is the most abundant metal in the earth's crust – about 8% by weight…hundreds of millions of times more common than gold-  it is not found naturally in pure form. It is always bonded to something…usually oxygen… and thus it must be separated from its surrounding ore.  Thanks to Hall it can be done inexpensively. We note, thanks to Sam Kean in The Disappearing Spoon that in 1884, the Washington Monument was capped with a six-pound pyramid of aluminum. Following Hall’s development, Almost immediately the price of aluminum dropped dramatically. Developments in the early 1880s had reduced the price of a pound of aluminum from 12 dollars to 4 dollars a pound. The Hall process reduced it to 2 dollars a pound, and shortly after the company’s move to Niagara Falls—the first electrochemical company in that location—to 75 cents and then 30 cents. In 1907 the company was renamed the Aluminum Company of America, and in the 1990s this name was shortened to Alcoa Inc.

            1902 –Wednesday- The movie wasn’t so hot, it didn’t have much of a plot
We fell asleep, our goose is cooked, our reputation is shot
Wake up little Susie
Wake up little Susie, well
Whatta we gonna tell your mama
Whatta we gonna tell your pa
Whatta we gonna tell our friends when they say “ooh-la-la” ….
The Everly Brothers…."Electric Theatre", actually it was “Tally’s Electric Theater”  the first full-time movie theater in the United States, opened in Los Angeles, California at 262 South Main Street.  Admission was ten cents and “provided an hour's amusement in a vaudeville of moving pictures including Capture of the Biddle Brothers and New York in a Blizzard. Business was so good on the opening night that matinées started the next day. In less than twenty-five years, there were to be more than 20,000 motion picture theatres in this country.

            1917-Monday-  President Woodrow Wilson asked Congress to declare war against Germany, saying, "The world must be made safe for democracy." Plus “they drive too fast on the autobahn, “ they’re even more obnoxious than Americans as tourists”, “you can’t get a seat at OktoberFest”,  and “they have people named Fritz”… In February and March  of 1917, Germany, increased its attacks on neutral shipping in the Atlantic and offered, in the form of the so-called Zimmermann Telegram, to help Mexico regain Texas, New Mexico and Arizona if it would join Germany in a war against the United States. The public outcry against Germany resulted in this April 2 declaration of war.

            1920 –Friday-  Just the facts Ma’am…… "The story you are about to see is true. Only the names have been changed to protect the innocent." Happy Birthday, Jack Webb, American actor, director, producer, Sgt. Joe Friday, Dragnet, Mark VII Limited ,

            1934 –Monday-  Happy Birthday, Paul Cohen, American mathematician who received the Fields Medal – the Mathematics equivalent of the Nobel Prize(1966) for his for his research on one of David Hilbert's "23 most important problems" in mathematics, proving the independence of the continuum hypothesis.  The term consistency in mathematics refers to the condition that any mathematical theorem be free from contradiction. Developing a consistency proof had been listed as number one on David Hilbert's 1900 list of the 23 most important problems in mathematics for the twentieth century (balancing a check book was number 2, figuring out the tip for a party of eight at a restaurant was number 3. Although he had no specific background in the field of logic, in which the consistency proof is particularly relevant, Cohen saw it as a way of providing convincing evidence "that set theory is based on some kind of truth," Question from Professor Sy Yentz….who checked his work?  He also worked on differential equations and harmonic analysis. We presume harmonic analysis has something to do with harmonicas.

             1935-Tuesday- Robert Watt ( brother of Say Watt?, Some Watt and Kumq Watt) was granted a patent for RADAR (Radio Detecting And Ranging) radar locating of aircraft.  Watt built on the work of German physicist, Heinrich Hertz who had calculated that an electric current swinging very rapidly back and forth in a conducting wire would radiate electromagnetic waves into the surrounding space (today we would call such a wire an "antenna"). With the wire he created (in 1886) and detected such oscillations in his lab, using an electric spark, in which the current oscillates rapidly, we call "radio waves".  Watt also coined the phrase ionosphere.

            1953 –Thursday-  The journal  Nature published a paper  from Francis Crick and James Watson, with the catchy title of  Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids:  A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid, in which they described a double helix structure for DNA. There were four basic questions: Inquiry Questions -To solve the structure of DNA four ideas had to come together.
            That the phosphate backbone was on the outside, bases on the inside.
            That the molecule was a double helix.
           That the strands were antiparallel.
           That it had a specific base pairing. Rosalind Franklin had done most of the work but she got bogged down in calculations.  Franklin came up with a a draft paper, dated March, 17,  1953, which outlined that the molecule was a double helix, had specific base pairing and the antiparallel A form, which had not been applied to the B form. But………..Watson and Crick beat her to the publishing as they submitted a final paper on March 18 to be published April 2.        

            1956 –Monday  As the World Turns and The Edge of Night premiered on CBS-TV. The two soaps become the first daytime dramas to debut in the 30-minute format. As the World Turns starred Ruth Warrick and Helen Wagner.  Edge of Night was an attempt to transfer the Perry Mason character from its cancelled nighttime venue to daytime. When the attempt failed, a "new" Perry Mason was created in the person of Mike Karr, "Edge's" first lawyer-hero, soon to be joined by Adam Drake, his younger and flashier partner. It initially starred John Larkin, radio’s Perry Mason.

            1956-Monday-  I keep a close watch on this heart of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time.
I keep the ends out for the tie that binds
Because you're mine, I walk the line
………The two soap opera premieres obviously prompted Johnny Cash to walk the line as he recored I Walk the Line on this day.  It is a promise to remain faithful to his first wife, Vivian, while he is on the road….well we all know how well that worked out.

            1973 –Monday-  Launch of the LexisNexis computerized legal research service. In 1967, Data Corp, an Ohio-based company who developed ink jet printing technologies, was contracted by the Ohio State Bar Association to provide a "free-text" search and retrieval system.  Mead Data Central introduces LEXIS® and NAARS services. LEXIS provides the full text of Ohio and New York codes and cases, the U.S. code, and some federal case law. NAARS is the National Automated Accounting Research Service, a tax database from the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants. Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) paves the way for reliable electronic data delivery. The following year Lexis® service pioneers online legal research by allowing attorneys to search case law database in firm via private telecommunications network. http://www.lexisnexis.com/about-us/history.aspx Four New York law firms became the first subscribers to the LEXIS legal information service

            1978 –Sunday- Vini Vedi Velcro ….I came, I saw, I stuck around….Velcro, one of the great developments of Western civilization, was released (or is it attached?).  It was developed by Swiss engineer Georges de Mestral, who had noticed how cockle burrs clung to his clothing during a hike in the mountains. The cocklebur is a maze of thin strands with burrs (or hooks) on the ends that cling to fabrics or animal fur. Using a microscope, he discovered their natural hook-like shape. Velcro uses two tapes, one with stiff "hooks" like the burrs which clings to the second tape with soft "loops" like the fabric of his pants. The trademarked name Velcro comes from "vel" or velvet and "cro" from the French word crochet which means hook.

            1979- The world’s first anthrax epidemic (an overwhelming desire to continuously listen to Indians and Antisocial by Anthrax) , began in Ekaterinburg, Russia  By the time it ended six weeks later, 62 people were dead. Another 32 survived serious illness. As people in Ekaterinburg first began reporting their illnesses, the Communist government of the “workers paradise” –famous for never telling the truth about anything- announced that the cause was tainted meat that the victims had eaten. However, the town was the home of a biological-weapons plant so much of the rest of the world was immediately skeptical of the Soviet explanation. It was not until 13 years later, in 1992, that the epidemic was finally explained: typically effician socialist workers at the Ekaterinburg weapons plant failed to replace a crucial filter, causing a release of anthrax spores into the outside air. Anthrax is an  infectious, usually fatal disease of warm-blooded animals, especially of cattle and sheep, caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis. The disease can be transmitted to humans through contact with contaminated animal substances, such as hair, feces, or hides, and is characterized by ulcerative skin lesions.

            1982 –Friday- Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands. They had just read, “Whether you are looking for adventure or seeking quieter pleasures, the Falklands are a great place to relax and unwind. From personal encounters of the wildlife kind, to wilderness trout fishing, hiking and self-exploration to guided tours of our key cultural and historic sites - we invite you to discover all the Falklands has on offer.” 

Falkland Islands Tourist Board Team.  How could they resist?  Unfortunately, the British responded with an expeditionary force that landed seven weeks later and after fierce fighting forced an Argentine surrender on June 14,  1982.  The Falklands are are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located approximately 250 nautical miles  from the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago, consists of East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 lesser islands. At the same latitude South as London in the United Kingdom is North, the Falkland Islands enjoy a narrow temperature range between -5ºC in July and 22ºC in January.

            1984 –Monday- Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma was launched aboard Soyuz T-11, and becomes the first Indian in space.  Following a one day solo flight the Soyuz docked with the Salyut 7 space station on 04.04.1984 and common work with the third resident crew. The crew conducted scientific and technical studies which included 43 experimental sessions, as Earth observation program concentrating on India and silicium-fusing tests. Rakesh Sharma used Yoga techniques to combat the debilitating effects of weightlessness. His work was mainly in the fields of bio-medicine and remote sensing. The crew held a joint television news conference with officials in Moscow and Prime Minister Gandhi. Sharma also offered technical support to people having difficulty operating their Mac IIs.  He called himself “Steve”.  “Welcome John Cafarella.  How are you today John Cafarella. To provide you with excellent service today, may I have the name and phone number with your account?  Thank you for the information. May you please provide us with 2 can be reached numbers so we could use it for future account and service notifications? I’m glad to know that and I’m more than happy to assist you with a Very Satisfying service today. Please press and hold the power button on the front of your computer and while holding it down, press the OK button and the Down arrow button at the same time. Okay, just take you time Mr. John. I have all the time for you today. I am glad that I was able to resolve your issue today. You may receive a survey in the next few days. The purpose of the survey is to ensure that you were “very satisfied” with the service that I have provided you today. If you receive that survey, would you indicate you were “very satisfied” with the service I have provided?

            1993 –Friday- It’s only rock n roll but I like it………..The London tabloids broke the news that Rolling Stone bassist Bill Wyman's son Stephen was engaged to 46-year-old Patsy Smith, mother of Wyman's ex-wife, 22-year-old Mandy Smith.

            2002 –Tuesday-  The desecration of the Church of the Nativity (traditional birthplace of Jesus) as Muslim gunmen forced their way into the church and used it as a base of operations as they began a 39 day stand off with Israeli forces who had taken control of Bethlehem

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1043 -Monday Edward the Confessor – the last Saxon King -was crowned King of England. Of course in 1066 when Edward went kaput, his crown went to Harold Godwine….Edward’s brother-in-law.   This was disputed by William the Bastard of Normandy who invaded England, defeated Harold at the Battle of Hastings and changed history. Edward was the son of King Ethelred II the Unready…didn’t they have great names in those days? At last count, Edward the Confessor had confessed to: participating in the Kennedy assassinations, planting U.F.O evidence at Roswell, New Mexico, causing the extinction of the dinosaurs, hiding Osama bin Laden, putting the secret ingredient in Coca Cola, and watching Oprah.

            1367 –Friday- Happy Birthday, King Henry IV of England.  Made famous by Shakespeare as Bolingbroke, Henry (Lancaster) overthrew the inept Richard II in     1399.  Good old John of Gaunt was at the root of all these issues.  King Edward            III had fathered a plethora of sons; the oldest, Edward, the Black Prince,           predeceased the old king, but not before he himself had a son: Richard. When       Edward III went kaput the crown passed to Richard when he was only 10 years    old. Another of the late king's sons, John of Gaunt, served as regent to young     Richard. Henry was John of Gaunt's son. Richard II was imprisoned and      conveniently went kaput on February 14, 1400. Henry’s kingship was troubled            and relatively brief, in 1405 he suffered from an unnamed illness - some believe leprosy, and suffered recurring illnesses up to his kapution in 1413.  His son, Henry, who had been running the kingdom since 1410, became Henry V.

            1449 –Tuesday-  King Henry VI (grandson of Henry IV – see 1367 above) of England granted John of Utynam a 20-year monopoly to make stained glass. This was one of the earliest known patents. John was a master glass-maker from Flanders. The crown issued him Letters Patent, sealed with the King's Great Seal, to guarantee John's privileges. So John of Utynam received the first recorded patent in England which is home to the oldest continuous patent tradition in the world. However, John's was probably not the first patent ever issued -- Venice issued patents to glass-makers in the early 1420s. But John of Utynam's successful quest to protect his methods began the system that gave people official sanction to enjoy the economic benefits of their own inventions.

            1683 –Saturday- Happy Birthday, English naturalist, Mark Catesby. Catesby   traveled back and forth to America and between 1731 and 1743 (air fares were      quite reasonable in those days) and  published his Natural History of Carolina,         Florida and the Bahama Islands, the first published account of the flora and fauna       of North America. It included 220 pictures of birds, reptiles and amphibians, fish,      insects, and mammals. Catesby classified them as “the ones that taste like    chicken”, “the ones that bite”, “the ones that gave me a rash” and the “ones that             sneak into  your bed at night when you’re asleep and crawl up your……”.

             1715 –Wednesday-  Happy Birthday, William Watson, William Watson English physician and scientist who was born and died in London. His early work was in botany, and he helped to introduce the work of Carolus Linnaeus and his system of plant classification  into England. In 1746, he showed that the capacity of the Leyden jar could be increased by coating it inside and out with lead foil. A Leyden jar is a device that early experimenters used to help build and store electric energy. Later, he went to work on increasing the capacity of the peanut butter jar but he could never overcome the problem of crunchy peanut butter.

            1778-Friday-  Happy Birthday, Pierre-Fidèle Bretonneau, French epidemiologist who in 1825 performed the first successful tracheotomy – an incision of and entrance into the trachea through the skin and muscles of the neck.  Bretonneau was the first person to study and describe fully the symptoms of diphtheria, and gave the disease its name. He also believed there was a difference between typhoid fever and typhus, which were often mistaken as the same disease. In case you were wondering,Typhus, is caused by bacteria spreading through the bites of lice and fleas. The infection causes headache, fever and a rash of red spots. It arrived in Europe in the 15th century, and there was a fearful epidemic in 1557-59.Typhoid, on the other hand, is spread by consuming contaminated food or water and is not unrelated to salmonella. Meanwhile, back to Bretonneau who found time from his medical studies to be 25 years younger than his first wife and, at the age of 78, marry a young woman of 18. He was 84 when he died, presumably with a smile on his face.

            1783 –Thursday-  Happy Birthday, Washington Irving, American author who wrote The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Interestingly,  both Sleepy Hollow and Rip Van Winkle appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent.

            1798 –Tuesday- Happy Birthday, Charles Wilkes, American oceanographer, who named the continent of Antarctica. Wilks led the first major ocean expedition from1838-42, which circled the globe (the last all sail mission to do so) 1838-1840, and determined that Antarctica is a continent.  His Antarctic plans for beach front condos and a Disney Cruise Line port of call were frozen.

            1823 –Thursday-  Happy Birthday, William Marcy “Boss” Tweed, the model for felonious politicians everywhere. Tweed was the leader of the corrupt Democratic Party Tammany Hall organization in New York City. An estimated 75 to 200 million dollars were swindled from the City between 1865 and 1871. Tweed is famous for the Tweed Courthouse built in lower Manhattan.  Cost was $11 million but the city ended up $81 million in debt.  A plasterer who was a member of Tweed’s Tammany Club made over $130,000 for two days work. Today, the courthouse is the headquarters of the NYC Department of Education. No comment on that connection.  Crook that he was, Tweed also improved water supplies, sewage disposal and city streets. His influence helped to create such New York City landmarks as the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History and the Brooklyn Bridge.

                1829-Friday-  James Carrington of Wallingford, Conn, patented his coffee mill.  A coffee mill grinds the coffee beans. With Carrington’s mill, beans were ground with a handle. Today most are electric…..think Mr. Coffee.

             1837-Monday- Happy Birthday, John Burroughs, American conservationist.  He was born in New York’s Catskill Mountain area and did most of his nature exploration in New York’s Hudson River Valley.  He tried to model his life after that of Henry David Thoreau except that when he built his cabin in the woods he decided he needed an asphalt parking space and he was too far from the main road so he had a two lane highway built to his cabin, and sometimes he got hungry so he encouraged the building of a Kentucky Fried Chick Franchise  by filling in the beaver pond, and he needed a phone so several trees were cut down for telephone poles, and then the house got too small and he didn’t like wood, so he expanded it and had it covered with aluminum siding and ……………….

            1860-Tuesday- Giddyup! The Pony Express was started from St. Joseph, Missouri. The riders began the trip from both St. Joseph, Missouri and San Francisco, California.  James Randall actually traveled by ferry to Sacramento and then started his riding.  Johnny Fry, the rider from St. Joseph was very late getting started as the mail he was supposed to carry was late getting to him (some things never change).  The Pony Express ran each week in each direction, with an average time of 10 days. Delivery of Lincoln's inaugural address set a new record of slightly less than eight days. The mail averaged almost 250 miles a day. In the nineteen months the Pony Express existed, only one rider was killed by hostile Indians, and only one bag of mail was lost. The riders had covered 650,000 miles by horseback. Exciting as it was, the Pony Express was never a financial success. In fact it lost $500,000.  It was never a part of the U.S. Postal service, although the galloping Pony Express rider was the official symbol on every mailman's shoulder until the invention of Mr. Zip.

1866-Tuesday-  Addressing the problem of ill fitting hats, after years of trying to invent a machine that could re-shape people’s heads, R. Eickemeyer and G. Osterheld of Yonkers NY, invented  a hat shaping machine.

1882 –Monday As the song goes, “The dirty little coward who shot Mr. Howard has laid poor Jessie in his grave”.  Legendary outlaw Jesse James was shot in the back by  as he straightend a picture on his living room wall by Robert Ford, a member of his gang, some say he was just a “hanger on”,  who hoped to collect the bounty for Jesse’s capture “dead or alive”.  In case you were wondering, Jesse’s brother Frank later surrendered, was acquitted in two trials and died of old age. Jesse lives on  as he has been played in the movies by Tyrone Power (1939 – with Henry Fonda as Frank James), Robert Wagner (1957), John Lupton (1966 – Lupton was a 1950’s lead in the TV Western, Broken Arrow), Audie Murphy (1969), Robert Duvall (1972), James Keach (1980), Kris Kristofferson (1986), Rob Lowe (1994), J. D. Souther (1999), Colin Farrell (2001), and Brad Pitt (2007 – with playwright Sam Shepherd as Frank). Ford received a pardon for the murder from Missouri Governor Thomas Crittenden. On  June 8th, 1892, Ford was sitting in a saloon when in walked a man by the name of Edward O'Kelley with a sawed off shotgun. As Ford's back was to the door, O'Kelley said "Hello, Bob," and as Ford turned around to see who had addressed him, O'Kelley shot him with both barrels, killing him instantly

1885 –Friday- Gerhard Daimler, German inventor  was  granted a German patent for his engine design. Daimler had been working on the idea for years but reliable ignition was a problem.  In 1883 Daimler finally developed and patented a reliable self-firing ignition system using an incandescent tube in the cylinder head. Later that year, he used the engine to power a bicycle.  He got around to cars in 1889. Powered by a 1.5 hp, two-cylinder gasoline engine, it had a four-speed transmission and traveled at 10 mph. 

1898 –Sunday- Happy Birthday, Katherine Esau, German-American botanist. Follow this carefully now; she was born in Yekaterinoslav, Russian Empire (now Dnipropetrovsk and equally as unspellable, Ukraine) to a family of Mennonites of German descent that then moved to the U.S.  She was famous for her research into the effects of viruses upon plant tissues, and her studies of plant tissue structures and physiology. Plant tissues are, obviously used by plants to blow or wipe their stamens when they have a cold.  She was the sixth woman elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1957, and in 1989 she was awarded the National Medal of Science.

 1924 –Thursday- Happy Birthday Actor (and notably strange human being), Marlon Brando born in Omaha, Neb. Brando, considered by some to be the greatest actor of his time,  starred in  On the Waterfront, The Godfather, Last Tango in Paris, the lamentable One-Eyed Jacks (which he directed) and forty other movies.

1924 –Thursday-  Born on the same day as Marlon Brando, Happy Birthday, Doris Day, perpetually virginal American actress who staved off the attentions (at least until the end of the movie) of Rock Hudson, Clark Gable, Cary Grant,  and others in a series of frothy late 1950’s early 60s movie comedies – Pillow Talk, Teacher’s Pet, Lover Come Back, and That Touch of Mink.

1926 –Saturday- Happy Birthday, Virgil Grissom – one of the original seven American astronauts. Grissom had flown 100 combat missions with the 334th Fighter Interceptor Squadron in Korea and earned both the Air Medal with cluster and the Distinguished Flying Cross.  He piloted the Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft, the second suborbital Mercury test flight, on July 21, 1961. On March 23, 1965 Grissom served as command pilot on the first manned Gemini flight, a 3-orbit mission. He was chosen to serve as command pilot for the first three-manned Apollo flight, Apollo 1 and died in a fire in the capsule, along with Edward White and Roger Chafee, on the launch pad during countdown for launch in 1967.

1934-Tuesday- Happy Birthday, Jane Goodall, British anthropologist famous for her work with chimpanzees and appetite for bananas.  Goodall became the world's foremost authority on chimpanzees, having closely observed their behavior in the jungles of the Gombe Game Reserve in Africa, living in the chimps' environment and gaining their confidence by lending them money, allowing them to use her TV and promising to get Regis Philbin’s autograph.

1934-Tuesday-  Same day as Jane Goodall was born, inventor Percy Shaw of Halifax England,  got a patent for his “cats eye” road marker.  He described it as  "Improvements relating to Blocks for Road Surface." It consisted of two pairs of reflective glass spheres set into a white rubber dome, mounted in a cast iron housing. Designed to glow in the beam of a headlight, used on a vehicle as a safety device or set in rows along a highway, it was used to mark the center of the road, with one pair of cat's eye showing in each direction.                       

1936-Friday-  Richard Bruno Hauptmann, convicted in the 1932 kidnapping and murder of the 20-month-old son of Charles A. Lindbergh, was kaputed by electrocution. On March 1, 1932, Charles Lindbergh Jr., the son of the famous American aviator who made the first solo, nonstop transatlantic flight in 1927, was kidnapped from the nursery of the Lindbergh home in Hopewell, New Jersey. A ransom note was found on the scene of the crime demanding $50,000 in payment for the return of Charles Jr.

1936 –Friday- Friday, Speaking of knockouts (see above item) we are told that on this day, Shortest boxing bout with gloves lasted only 10 seconds. The Gnus attempted to identify the combatants, or combatant.  In the xeroxographic world of the internet, all references are the same.  We did find that it is not the shortest bout, 1 Russell Rees KO1 Des Sowden 4 seconds Jr. Lightweight Nov. 3, 2000 (Rees, noted for his exceptionally bad halitosis, exhaled deeply as he moved to the center of the ring and Sowden toppled over). 2 Jose Pons KO1 Cecilio Niz 5 seconds Middleweight Mar. 26, 1952 and 3 Ever Beleno KO1 Guillermo Salcedo 5 seconds Featherweight Sep. 16, 1994 , there are quite a few more till we reach 10 seconds and none of the 10 second entrees feature a 1936 bout. http://forum.philboxing.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=107289

1942 –Friday- Happy Birthday singer, Billy Joe Royal, who had a top ten hit in 1965 (see Wooley Booley, 1965 below) with Down in the Boondocks.  Billy Joe makes the Gnus because it gave us the opportunity to explore the notion of boondocks. Boondocks are defined as  wild and dense brush; jungle. Or rural country; the backwoods.  The word is derived from the Tagalog word bundok, meaning mountain.  Tagalog is an Austronesian language spoken in the Philippines by about 22 million people. It became part of American vocabulary during the Spanish-American War. Here it is in Tagalog, Happy Birthday-aawit, Billy Joe Royal, na may isang top sampung hit sa 1965 (tingnan ang Wooley Booley, 1965 sa ibaba) na may Down sa kaparangan. Billy Joe ang Gnus dahil ito nagbigay sa amin ng pagkakataon upang galugarin ang mga kuru-kuro ng kaparangan.

1946 Wednesday-  Lt. General Masaharu Homma, the Japanese commander responsible for the Bataan Death March, was executed in the Philippines.  After the Americans had surrendered at Bataan, the Japanese marched  their prisoners toward camps in northern Luzon, the Japanese denied food and water to the sick and starving men. When the weakest prisoners began to straggle, guards shot or bayoneted them and threw the bodies to the side of the road. Japanese guards may have killed 600 Americans and 10,000 Filipino prisoners.

1948-Saturday-  President Truman signed the Marshall Plan, which allocated more than $5 billion in aid for 16 European countries.  Eventually over $12 billion was given. The Marshall plan was able to stabilize and revitalize the economies of Western Europe in the aftermath of WWII and the Communist threats to freedom. British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin declared that it had been "a lifeline to sinking men."

1956-Tuesday- Elvis Presley performed his #1 hit Heartbreak Hotel on the Milton Berle’s Texaco Star Theater. Elvis was also in a skit with Berle  with Milton playing his long lost twin brother Melvin Presley. Accompanying Elvis on his songs were his back up band,  Scotty Moore, Bill Black and D.J. Fontana. In addition to Heartbreak Hotel, they also performed Blue Suede Shoes and Shake, Rattle and Roll. Other guests were,  swimmer Esther Williams, drummer Buddy Rich, comedian Arnold Stang and the Harry James Orchestra

1965-Saturday-  SNAP 10A, the first nuclear reactor in space, was launched from Vanden berg Air Force Base, Calif. It generated 500 kilowatt-hours of  power during its life, providing electrical power for a 1 kgf ion engine ( a force equal to a kilogram weight or a one-kilogram mass times the acceleration of gravity). Unfortunately, the orbiting reactor was shut down by an electrical failure in another of the satellite's systems after 45 days in operation. This failure resulted in nuclear rays being sent to the ocean where they caused a cuttlefish to mutate into a giant Barbara Walters and it came out of the water and attacked Tokyo.  Still orbiting the earth. SNAP stands for Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power.

1965 – Saturday- Saturday- possibly related to the previous item, another moment in classical music history as Wooley Booley by Sam the Sham (Domingo Samudio) and the Pharoahs was released.  The occasionally Homeric lyrics;

Uno, dos, one, two, tres, quatro

Matty told Hatty about a thing she saw.

Had two big horns and a wooly jaw.

Wooly bully, wooly bully.

Wooly bully, wooly bully, wooly bully.

Hatty told Matty, "Let's don't take no chance.

Let's not be L-seven, come and learn to dance."

Interestingly, while the song was the number one seller of the year, it only reached number 2 on the Billboard Charts.

1966-Sunday-  Luna 10 (U.S.S.R.) became the first spacecraft to orbit the Moon.(See March 31). The scientific instruments on board included a gamma-ray spectrometer, triaxial magnetometer, a meteorite detector, and lots of those thingees that, you know, do science stuff.

1968 – Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey had its premiere in New York City. Starring Keir Dullea, Garry Lockwood, and Douglas Rain as the voice of Hal 9000, and generally recognized as one of the great (although occasionally confusing) movies of all time.  Initial reviews after previews included: "Somewhere between hypnotic and immensely boring"-The New York Times, "A monumentally unimaginative movie"-Harpers, "Space Odyssey fails most gloriously"-Newsday, and "Big, Beautiful but plodding scifi epic. Superb photography major asset to confusing, long-unfolding plot."-Variety http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0062622/ The world probably wasn’t ready for it as the first spoken word is almost a half hour into the film, and there's less than 40 minutes of dialogue in the entire film. Much of the film is in dead silence (accurately depicting the absence of sound in space), or with the sound of human breathing within a spacesuit. The movie won only one Academy Award – Special Effects- the same number as Planet of the Apes.  Best movie award went to the musical Oliver.

1969-Thursday-  Dr. Denton A. Cooley implanted the first total artificial heart (the Liotta Total Artificial Heart) at the Texas Heart Institute in Houston. The heart was implanted into 47-year-old Haskell Karp and was not intended to be permanent. It was used as a bridge until he could receive a donor heart. It worked, and three days later, the patient received a heart transplant. Unfortunately, he died of respiratory insufficiency only 14 hours later.

1973 –Tuesday A huge technological breakthrough and a curse. The first portable phone call was placed by inventor Martin Cooper. The phone was 10 inches in height, 3 inches deep and an inch-and-a-half wide and weighed 30-oz. Cooper walked down the streets of New York City using the phone. As he said, “I made numerous calls, including one where I crossed the street while talking to a New York radio reporter - probably one of the more dangerous things I have ever done in my life." No, it could not take pictures, download music or play insipid music instead of ringing.  As writer Peggy Noonan has said, “Cell phones are wonderful, they empower the obnoxious and amplify the ignorant”.   

1973-Tuesday-  And on the same day as the first portable phone was demonstrated -Francis W. Dorion patented a "dual razor blade assembly.” Now people could get twice as many cuts but they could hold their portable phones to their clean shaven faces.

            1974 –Wednesday-  The worst tornado outbreak in U.S. history with 148 tornedos touching down in 13 states. Before it was over 16 hours later, 330 people were dead and 5,484 were injured in a damage path covering more than 2,500 miles.  At one point during the outbreak, 15 twisters were on the ground at the same time. One was on the ground for more than two hours. The tornados touched down in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio (Xenia, Ohio was devastated), Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina plus their was one in southwestern New York state.  A Kansas farm was deposited in Oz and kaputed a wicked witch unleashing a series of events featuring, talking scarecrows, cowardly lions, flying monkeys, and midgets sending people to the Yellow Brick Road.

            1986 –Thursday-  IBM unleashed their first laptop computer on the world. The computer considered by most historians to be the first true portable computer was the Osborne 1. Adam Osborne founded the eponymous Osborne Computer and produced the equally eponymous Osborne 1 in 1981, a portable computer that weighed 24 pounds and cost $1795. The Osborne 1 came with a five-inch screen, modem port, two 5 1/4 floppy drives, a large collection of bundled software programs, and a battery pack.  It was a failure. http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bllaptop.htm

            2007 –Tuesday-  An official new world record for conventional-train speed of 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph) was set by a French TGV on the LGV Est high speed line east of Paris. Meanwhile, in New York City, the “D”  train traveled at a rate of .5 km/h due to switch trouble under 8th avenue.

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186 Tuesday- Happy Birthday, Caracalla, Roman emperor from 211 - 217. Following the kapution of his father Septimus Severus, Caracalla was proclaimed co-emperor with his brother Publius Septimius Antoninius Geta. Caracalla killed Geta. Caracalla was one of Rome’s worst emperors but he was very clean.  He built colossal baths in Rome, which still stand. He gave Roman citizenship to all free inhabitants of the empire  but showed extreme cruelty toward all who opposed him, and he was an equal opportunity murderer of  Germans, Parthians, and Alexandrians. He in turn was kaputed in 217  by the praetorian prefect. His  reign contributed to the empire's decay, although with the baths, it was a more sanitary decay.

1581 –Saturday- Going around in circles, Francis Drake completed a circumnavigation of the world in 1580 and on this day was knighted on board his flagship the Golden Hind by Elizabeth I. Drake was the second captain to circle the globe – the feat had already been accomplished by the expedition of Ferdinand Magellan in 1519 although since Magellan went kaput in the Philippines, Drake was the first expedition leader to do the round trip Seven years later, with the aid of a huge storm, he would save the country from the Spanish Armada.

1688 –Sunday- Happy Birthday, Joseph-Nicolas Delisle, of “Delisles of Capri”, (you can also have two seats on Delisle), French astronomer who proposed that the series of colored rings sometimes observed around the Sun is caused by diffraction of sunlight through water droplets in a cloud right here on Earth. Delisle is also remembered as the author of a method for observing the transits of Venus and Mercury by instants of contacts.

1818-Saturday-  Congress decreed that the U.S. flag would consist of 13 red and white stripes and 20 stars, with a new star to be added for every new state added to flag on the first July fourth after statehood. That did not settle an issue that began in on June 14, 1777 when the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act, which announced, "Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation." The overall flag size, proportions, and arrangements of the stars and stripes were not fixed until President William Taft's administration in 1912. For one hundred and thirty-five years, the flag had no prescribed appearance, and many variations were designed and sewn.

1821-Wednesday- Happy Birthday, Linus Yale, American inventor born in Salisbury NY and manufacturer of locks.  Yale's lock used a flat key with serrated edges like the ones we still use today. When inserted into the lock, the key pushes the bottom pins into the right position, which allows the user to turn the key and unlock the lock. The cylinder lock perfected by Yale is based on a mechanism first employed by the ancient Egyptians over 4000 years ago. Yale also worked on permanent dial and shaft designs in many of his newer locks, such as used in what most know as "combination locks" today. In 1851, he invented the "Yale Infallible Bank Lock" for safes and vaults. He is also famous for the unique lock that required a distinctly shaped dough to open  it, the world renowned locks and bagels.

            1823-Friday- Happy Birthday, Charles Wilhelm Siemens, German/British scientist who invented a gas-heated, open-hearth furnace.  Repairs to the furnace were called "open hearth surgery."  He also did extensive work in electric telegraphy. Siemens designed the cable-laying ship Faraday for laying a new trans-Atlantic cable in 1874. He also worked on electric lighting and on the Portrush electric railway in Northern Ireland. The electrical unit of conductance, the siemens, is named in his honor as are successful sailors – we’ve all heard of able bodied Siemens.

             1828-Saturday- Casparus van Wooden, of Amsterdam, patented chocolate milk powder. He developed a system of separating the fat (cocoa butter) from the ground cocoa beans. This provided cocoa powder which tasted a lot better than the whole bean. Casparus is one of Professor Sy Yentz favorite inventors. Thanks to him a childhood of peanut butter sandwiches and chocolate milk was a continuing culinary delight.

            1841-Sunday – William Henry we hardly knew ye. Only thirty one days after assuming office (presidential inaugurations were held on March 4 in those days), William Henry Harrison, the ninth president of the United States, went kaput from pleurisy and  pneumonia at the White House.  The sixty eight year old  "Tippicanoe" clevery gave a 3 hr. inauguration speech in a cold rain.  During the address, the new president wore no coat or hat. He followed the address with a round of receptions in his wet clothing, it resulted in, to put it mildly,  a bad chill.  Doctors were called in, but medical practices were crude: heated suction cups to supposedly draw out the disease, and the same bleeding tactics that had killed George Washington. Doctors would also later be responsible for the death of the wounded James Garfield in 1881. All this only weakened Harrison further, and three weeks after taking office, he was clearly heading to that “big White House in the Sky”. . As a last resort, a number of Native American "remedies" were tried, (ironic considering he made his name at the Battle of Tippicanoe with a victory over the Indians) including one involving the use of live snakes.

            1846-Sunday-  Happy Birthday, Raoul Pictet,  Swiss chemist who was a pioneer of cryogenics which is the production of low temperatures or the study of low-temperature phenomena. Needless to say his work was met with a chilly reception by the Scientific community.

            1859 –Monday-

 O, I wish I was in the land of cotton

Old times there are not forgotten

Look away! Look away!

Look away! Dixie Land.

In Dixie Land where I was born in

Early on one frosty mornin'

Look away! Look away!

Look away! Dixie Land.


O, I wish I was in Dixie!

Hooray! Hooray!

In Dixie Land I'll take my stand

To live and die in Dixie

Away, away,

Away down south in Dixie!

The song, Dixie, made its debut in New York City (of all places). It was written by Daniel Decatur Emmett, of Mount Vernon, Ohio. "Dixie" was premiered by Emmett while performing with Bryant’s Minstrels, a blackface troop,  in New York. Interestingly, although it is best known as the song adopted by the Confederacy, Dixie was also Abraham Lincoln's favorite song, and it was played at his inauguration. The title of Dixie could have come from the fact that in New Orleans, "Dix" is a monetary unit (French for 10), or….that the title honors a kind farmer in Manhattan Island by the name of Dixy who was rumored to be connected with the Underground Railroad; "Dixy's Land" became known as a safe haven. Emmett also wrote such early American standards as Turkey in the Straw and Blue-Tail Fly.

            1866 –Wednesday- Alexander II of Russia narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in the city of St. Petersburg by one by Dmitry Karakozov. Alexander dodged a bullet, literally, again on April 20, 1879, as the tsar was walking towards the Square of the Guards Staff and met Alexander Soloviev, a 33-year-old former student. Having seen a revolver in his hands, the tsar ran away; Soloviev fired five times but missed.  Bullets didn’t seem to work so on the evening of February 5, 1880, some revolutionaries set off a charge under the dining room of the Winter Palace. The tsar was not harmed, as he was late to the supper. However, the explosion did kill or harm at least 67 other people. Alexander’s luck ran out on March 13, 1881 when as the tsar's carriage traveled along one of the central streets of St. Petersburg, near the Winter Palace, a bomb detonated, injuring several civilians. Accounts claim that when Alexander cleverly GOT OUT (emphasis is ours)  of his bulletproof carriage (a gift from Napoleon III), and was hit by another suicide bomber. He was mortally wounded by an explosion of hand-made grenades and died a few hours later.

            1902 –Friday- British financier Cecil Rhodes left $10 million in his will to provide scholarships for Americans at Oxford University in England, the Rhodes Scholarship, another of History’s ironies as at one time Rhodes dreamed of returning America to the British Empire.  Rhodes also named a country after himself, Rhodesia but now it is called Zimbabwe.

            1915 –Sunday-  Happy Birthday, Muddy Waters, American blues musician. Among his hits were; I Can't Be Satisfied, I Feel Like Going Home, Train Fare Blues but his influence on Rock & Roll is inestimable.  Waters “electrified” the blues of the Mississippi Delta, and brought it to Chicago. Over the years his band included such musicians as Otis Spann, Little Walter (aka Little Walter Jacobs), James Cotton, Junior Wells,  and Willie Dixon

            1932-Monday-   Professor Charles Glen (C.G)King isolated Vitamin C in the juice of lemons after five years of research.  Dr. King and  his colleague William Waugh were successful in obtaining a patent in 1941 for their process of isolating the vitamin, but were denied a patent for the vitamin itself by Patent Office This isolation gave C a complex but then Vitamin B already had a complex and now C was complex and.....oh, it's so confusing, and complex.

           1933-Tuesday-  Four years before the Hindenburg disaster, the Akron, a dirigible crashed in New Jersey, (also where the Hindenburg exploded and crashed), killing 73 people in one of the first air disasters in history. The Akron was the largest airship built in the United States when it took its first flight in August 1931. In its short life of less than two years, it was involved in two fatal accidents. And you thought flying on Southwest was bad……..

                1938-Monday-  Happy Birthday, Ananda Chakrabarty, Indian-American biochemist who patented the first genetically engineered life-form (which we now know as Paris Hilton). The U.S. Supreme Court, on June 16, 1980 ruled that new forms of life could be patented if they are the outcome of human ingenuity. Chakrabarty’s creation was a biology-based solution for cleaning up toxic spills using the generically engineered Pseudomonas (today classified as Burkholderia cepacia or B. cepacia). As noted, an unexpected outcome of Chakrabarty’s creation was the development of the parasite, Celebutardicus Moronicus, a species that appears to be growing faster than a fungus on week old bread.

            1963 –Thursday- The movie musical Bye Bye Birdie opened at Radio City Music Hall. The movie was based on a hit Broadway musical about a rock and roll star (think Elvis) who is drafted and comes to a small town to give "one last kiss" to a fan via the Ed Sullivan Show and has inspired thousands of High School and local theater productions through the years. Directed by George Sidney and starring Janet Leigh, Ann-Margaret, Dick Van Dyke, Paul Lynde, and even Bobby Rydell, it featured the woefully miscast Jesse Pearson in the  role of Conrad Birdie.  Pearson disappeared from filmdom after the movie, made a few television appearances and was last seen in The Guns of Will Sonnet, starring Walter Brennan and Dack Rambo. Van Dyke and Lynde had been in the 1960 Broadway production directed and choreographed by Gower Champion which won the 1961 Tony Award for Best Musical.

            1964 - The Beatles occupied the top five positions on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. - Can't Buy Me Love , Twist and Shout (cover of the Isley Brothers), She Loves You, I Want to Hold Your Hand, and Please Please Me ( a Gnus favorite).

             1968 –Monday- Martin Luther King was assassinated by James Earl Ray while standing on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis Tennessee. King was fatally shot just after 6 p.m. The civil rights leader was in Memphis to support a sanitation workers' strike and was on his way to dinner when a bullet struck him in the jaw and severed his spinal cord. King was pronounced dead after his arrival at a Memphis hospital. He was 39 years old.

            1968 –Monday NASA launched the unmanned Apollo 6.  The goals were to demonstrate structural and thermal integrity and compatibility of the launch vehicle and spacecraft, (i.e would they fall apart or burn up) confirm launch loads and dynamic characteristics and verify stage separations, propulsion, guidance and control, electrical systems, emergency detection system.  The tests were more severe than expected as two of the second stage engines shut down early. The remaining three engines fired longer than normal, but failed to achieve the speed expected. The third stage’s engine also fired longer than would have been burning. Apollo 6 was the last of the unmanned Apollo missions.

            1972-Tuesday-  The first electric power generated in the U.S. fueled by municipal solid waste was produced at the Meramec Plant of the Union Electric Company, St. Louis, Missouri. So just plug that toaster into your trash can.

            1978-Tuesday- Francisco Garcia was granted a patent "orthodontic pliers." No, no no, it’s not what you think.  They weren’t used for pulling teeth. The pliers were primarily  for bending the alignment wire end during orthodontic techniques…..think braces.

            1983-Monday-  The first flight of the shuttle, Challenger. The crew was Paul J. Weitz, Commander, Karol J. Bobko, Pilot; Donald H. Peterson, Mission Specialist; F. Story Musgrave, Mission Specialist It was named after the British Naval research vessel HMS Challenger that sailed the Atlantic and Pacific oceans during the 1870's. The first orbiter to launch and land at night on mission STS-8, Challenger also made the first Space Shuttle landing at Kennedy Space Center, concluding mission STS 41-B. Spacelabs 2 and 3 flew aboard the ship on missions STS 51-F and STS 51-B, as did the first German-dedicated Spacelab on STS 61-A. Challenger flew nine successful Space Shuttle missions in all.  On January 28, 1986, its tenth launch, the Challenger and its crew of seven were lost 73 seconds after launch when a booster failure, caused by cold weather, resulted in the breakup of the shuttle. See Judy Resnick, 4/5.

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456 -Wedneday St. Patrick returned to Ireland as a missionary bishop. When told he had missed the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, he immediately departed for New York so that he wouldn’t miss Little Italy’s San Gennaro Festival. Actually at age 16, some Irish marauders raided his village on the British mainland, and he was sold into slavery to Ireland. During his captivity he became a Christian. He escaped from slavery after six years, and went to Gaul to study in the monastery under St. Germain, bishop of Auxerre for twelve years. He was appointed second bishop to Ireland. His mission in Ireland lasted for thirty years. Subsequently, he retired to County Down. He died on March 17th in 461.

            1566 –Tuesday-  It’s……it’s………it’s…….The Spanish Inquisition! Two-hundred Dutch noblemen, led by Hendrik van Brederode, force dthemselves into the presence of Margaret of Parma (must have been a big room) and presented the Petition of Compromise, denouncing the Spanish Inquisition in the Netherlands. Then they sent it to Spain. Margaret was Duchess of Parma and regent of the Netherlands from 1559 to 1567, was a natural daughter (wink wink, nudge nudge) of Charles V. Speaking of Monty Python and the Spanish Inquisition; [The door flies open and Cardinal Ximinez of Spain [Palin] enters, flanked by two junior cardinals. Cardinal Biggles [Jones] has goggles pushed over his forehead. Cardinal Fang [Gilliam] is just Cardinal Fang]

            Ximinez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four*...no... *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again.

            [The Inquisition exits]

            Chapman: I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

            [The cardinals burst in]

            Ximinez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms - Oh damn!

            [To Cardinal Biggles] I can't say it - you'll have to say it.

            Biggles: What?

            Ximinez: You'll have to say the bit about 'Our chief weapons are ...'

            Biggles: [rather horrified]: I couldn't do that...

            [Ximinez bundles the cardinals outside again]

            Chapman: I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

            [The cardinals enter]

            Biggles: Er.... Nobody...um....

            Ximinez: Expects...

            Biggles: Expects... Nobody expects the...um...the Spanish...um...

            Ximinez: Inquisition.

            Biggles: I know, I know! Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. In fact, those who do expect -

            Ximinez: Our chief weapons are...

            Biggles: Our chief weapons are...um...er...

            Ximinez: Surprise...

            Biggles: Surprise and --

            Ximinez: Okay, stop. Stop. Stop there - stop there. Stop. Phew! Ah! ... our chief weapons are surprise...blah blah blah. Cardinal, read the charges.

            Fang: You are hereby charged that you did on diverse dates commit heresy against the Holy Church. 'My old man said follow the--'



            1588 –Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, Thomas Hobbes English philosopher and political theorist. In his most famous work, The Leviathan, he described life in the wilderness (without rule and law) as “nasty, poor, brutish, and short.”

                1614-Friday – (We’ve also seen this date as 1613 – it probably depends on when the catering hall was available) A social note as Pocahontas, daughter of the chief of the Powhatan Indian confederacy, married English tobacco planter John Rolfe in Jamestown, Virginia. The bride, eldest daughter of the Powhatans of Virginia, was resplendent in a gown of white taffeta. The groom, eldest son of the Rolfe’s of England a graduate of Jamestown Technical H.S, was working towards a degree in tobacco growing at Greater Jamestown Community College.  The reception, held at Anthony's Pier 9, featured music by the Lawrence Welk Orchestra, and D J Injun Joe.  John Rolfe brought Pocahontas, now known as Rebecca,  their son Thomas, and several other Native Americans to England in 1616.  In England, she was seen as an example of how the Native Americans could learn to adopt English ways. Returning to Virginia in 1617, Pocahontas became ill soon after the ship left port. The ship stopped in Gravesend, England, and she went kaput at age twenty two not long after.

            1621 -Monday The Mayflower left Plymouth, Massachusetts on a return trip to Great Britain.  The Mayflower was used primarily as a cargo ship, involved in active trade of goods (often wine) between England and other European countries. After its famous voyages the Mayflower, the ship returned to England,  and  disappeared from history. She was likely dismantled for scrap lumber in Rotherhithe in 1623. It does remind us that April Showers bring May flowers…..and May flowers bring……Pilgrims.

            1649-Monday  Happy Birthday, Elihu Yale, born in Boston, educated in England and worked for the British East India Company.  Like many colonists and contemporary politicians, he  had a financially questionable but profitable tenure as an official in India and returned to the U.S a wealthy man.   In 1718, Cotton Mather, a Harvard alumnus who was in a snit at being passed over for president of his alma mater,  wrote Yale suggesting that the Collegiate School at Saybrook, Conn., might be named for him in return for financial support. Yale donated a parcel of goods, which when sold brought £562—the largest single gift to the college before 1837.The gift, three bales of goods, 417 books, a portrait of King George I ("to remind them of their duties to the king,") and a set of royal arms, which was later destroyed during the American Revolution. The bales of goods included 25 pieces of garlic (a kind of cloth), 18 pieces of calico, 17 pieces of worsted goods, 12 pieces of Spanish poplin, 5 pieces of plain muslin, and 2 pieces of black and white silk crepe……and a partridge in a pear tree. The college, which had moved to New Haven, happily, took the name of Yale as Elihu U does not have the same dignitas as Yale U

            1722  -Sunday-  Dutch Admiral Jacob Roggeveen commanding three ships arrived at Easter Island.  Of course it wasn’t Easter Island when he arrived.  Well it was Easter Island but it wasn’t named Easter Island.  Rogeveen named it Easter Island because he arrived on Easter Sunday. According to islanders oral tradition, in this first encounter of a native with the Europeans, a man that was in a canoe was invited to come on board and it was offered a glass of wine and food, the islander instead of eating or drinking took the glass of wine and poured it on his own head

            1753-Thursday- The British Museum was founded by an Act of Parliament granting £20,000 to purchase the 50,000 volume library of Sir Hans Sloane and his vast collection of 69,352 items of nature and art. The man obviously had a large attic. The museum was officially opened in 1759.

            1801-Sunday- Happy Birthday, Felix Dujardin, French zoologist. He did valuable research on bacteria and on the “Infusoria” (dirty water). In 1834  he proposed that a new group of one-celled organisms be called Rhizopoda; meaning "root-foot”. This name was later changed to Protozoa. Contemporary protozoa are also known as local television station news readers. In 1835 he described protoplasm in unicellular animals, naming it “sarcode” which was later renamed protoplasm by Hugo von Mohl.  Protoplasm includes both the substance within and the cell membrane and is the " living substance" of the cell. It can be differentiated into cytoplasm and the nucleus. He also demonstrated the role of the vacuole for evacuating waste matter and tried to invent little protozoa sized toilet paper in the interests of single celled hygiene. So, basically, he made important discoveries but someone always changed the names.

            1804 –Thursday-  Happy Birthday, Mathias Jacob Schleiden, German botanist, cofounder (with Theodor Schwann – who extended it to animals and also invented the Schwann Dive) of the cell theory, promulgated in 1839 which states that all organisms are composed of similar units of organization, called cells.

            1806 Saturday- Isaac Quintard of Stanfield, Conn., received a U.S. patent for his apple cider and bark mill. Apples were processed to extract the juice (juice but not protestants or catholics). The fresh juice was known as sweet apple cider. It was preserved in wooden barrels where it fermented, transforming it into hard cider, an alcoholic drink. Hard cider was a very popular drink for the first colonists in the U.S. It was comparable in popularity to beer up until the time of prohibition. When prohibition ended in 1933, peoples' tastes had changed, and cider popularity faded.

            1815-Wednesday-  The volcano Tambora, a stratovolcano, on the island of Sumbawa in Indonesia, began to erupt.  Within two days it ejected 149 cubic km. of matter. In comparison, the famous Krakatoa, (named after the foot injury sustained by an early explorer ) ejected only 17 cubic km. In fact Tambora ejected so much ash into the upper atmosphere that, at least in the northern hemisphere, there was a cooling of the atmosphere, which resulted in snow in Boston in July and a famine across parts of Europe. In 1816, the overall temperature on Earth, specifically in the Northern Hemisphere, lowered so drastically that it became known as the year without a summer. Weather was disturbed all over, with problems in Western Europe and the United States, as well as Asia. Monsoon season was affected, which is thought to also be tied to a cholera epidemic that year. The summer temperatures in 1816 averaged just a few degrees below normal, but as we said, it frosted and even snowed throughout the summer. The highs were still close to 100 degreed Fahrenheit on some days. However, the cold spells, especially at night, cause massive crop failure, and, as a result, even more famine.  By all standards, the eruption was a pain in the ash.

            1827-Thursday Happy Birthday, Joseph Lister, (Listerine?) English surgeon and founder of modern antiseptic surgery.  Doctors had believed that infections were due to “bad air”. When, In 1865, Louis Pasteur suggested that decay was caused by living organisms in the air, which on entering matter caused it to ferment, Lister made the connection with wound sepsis. Combining his work with the work of Pasteur, he began cleaning wounds with carbolic acid. His basic surgical principle - that bacteria must never gain entry to an operation wound - remains the basis of surgery to this day.

            1856-Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Booker T. Washington, born a slave so the birthday is really an estimate, an educator and reformer who became an important spokesperson for black Americans at the turn of the 20th century. He had dedicated himself to the idea that education would raise his people to equality in this country, Washington became a teacher. He first taught in his home town, then at the Hampton Institute, and then in 1881, he founded the Tuskegee Normal and Industrial Institute in Tuskegee, Alabama.

            1858-Monday- Happy Birthday, Washington Atlee Burpee. Burpee (named after a gastric event) was the American seeds-man who founded the world's largest mail-order seed company. Always a seedy operation, the Burpee company was founded in Philadelphia in 1876 when his mother loaned in $1,000 in "seed money", the company  grew roots and eventually blossomed.

            1869 –Monday-  Daniel Bakeman kaput. Bakeman was the last surviving veteran of the American Revolution. Mr. Bakeman entered the service when he was about seventeen years of age and served as a private with the New York militia during the last four years of the war. His pension required an act of congress since he had no documentation proving he served in the war. After the war he cast his first presidential vote for George Washington and his last, in 1868 for Ulysses S. Grant.

            1879 –Saturday-  Chile declared war on Bolivia and Peru, starting the War of the Pacific. Chile gained substantial mineral-rich territory in the war, annexing both the Peruvian provinces of Tarapacá and Arica and the Bolivian province of Litoral, and making beach-front property in Bolivia an oxymoron as Bolivia was left a landlocked country.         

            1892 –Tuesday- Walter H. Coe of  Providence Rhode Island patented gold leaf in rolls. Later, he tried for gold leaf in bagels, bialys, muffins and torts. The patent was for a machine designed for winding up on a supporting strip of paper and into a package roll a continuous strip of gold leaf or similar metallic film entirely by mechanical action.  W.H. Coe Mfg. Co. manufactured the gold leaf in rolls 67 feet in length in widths between 1/16 to 3-1/4 inches

            1893-Wednesday-  As we all know, Thomas Corwin Mendenhall, then Superintendent of Weights and Measures, with the approval of the Secretary of the Treasury, decided that the International Meter and Kilogram would in the future be regarded as the fundamental standards of length and mass in the United States, both for metric and customary weights and measures. Well, that idea certainly caught on quickly.

            1894-Thursday-  Happy Birthday, Lawrence Bell, U.S. aircraft designer and  founder of Bell Aircraft Co. Bell’s experimental X-1 rocket-propelled airplane (nicknamed the “Glamorous Glennis”) piloted by Chuck Yeager (when he landed he was “ground chuck”) in 1947 was the first to break the sound barrier in level flight. The company also produced the nation's first jet propelled airplane, the world's first commercial helicopter, the world's fastest and highest flying airplane, the Bell X-1A, and the first jet vertical take-off and landing plane. 

            1895 –Friday-  Irish playwright and wit Oscar Wilde lost his criminal libel case against the Marquess of Queensberry, who had accused the writer of being a homosexual. Wilde (married with two children) had engaged in an affair with Queensbury’s son.  Queensberry was also famous for instituting the “Marquess of Queensberry Rules” that standardized boxing matches. Queensberry was also considered to be a bit unhinged.  He had stalked Wilde for months.  Wilde thought it would be a simple show trial in which he could show off his wit.  In losing the case, he was brought up on sodomy charges and received two years in prison effectively ending his career.

            1896 –Sunday- Sunday- After a hiatus of a few centuries, actually it was about 1,500 years, the Olympic games resumed. The ancient Olympic Games continued to be played every four years for nearly 1200 years until in 393 AD, the Roman emperor Theodosius I, a Christian, abolished the Games because of their pagan influences. On this day, the first of the modern Olympic Games opened in Athens. It attracted athletes, well sort of, from 14 nations.  Since the Games were not well publicized internationally, contestants were not nationally chosen but rather came individually and at their own expense. Some contestants were tourists who happened to be in the area during the Games.  The largest delegations came from Greece, (surprise!), Germany, France and Great Britain. On  April 6 1896, an American James Connolly, won the triple jump (he was being chased by customs officers at the time) to become the first Olympic champion in more than 1,500 years. Winners were awarded a silver medal and an olive branch. Greek Spyridon Louis won the most popular event, the marathon. 

            1909 –Monday-  Nerves were frayed as The Neurological Institute of New York (NI) was founded.  While the National Hospital for Nervous Diseases at Queens Square and the Salpêtrière were well known in Europe, there were no similar institutions in the United States.  At that time the U.S had special wards for patients with neurological disorders.  They were know as the House of Representatives and the New York City Council. The NI was established as the first specialty hospital in the nation devoted entirely to the study and treatment of disorders of the nervous system.

            1918-Friday-  Happy Birthday, Joseph Sobek, American inventor of racquetball. Sobek developed the sport in 1950 to play at the Greenwich, Connecticut, YMCA. He had been a squash and tennis professional for seven years but  he invented racquetball as an alternative indoor racquet sport. He drafted rules and drew a racquet design, which was created in 1951 by Magnan Racket Manufacturing Company. To promote his invention, he founded the Paddle Rackets Association with a group of players. There are now millions of players, and it is an Olympic sport. It’s quite a racket.

            1949-Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, Judith Resnick, American astronaut killed aboard the Challenger, January, 1986.  In 1984, Resnik, one of only seven Jewish astronauts, became the second American woman to travel in space. Dr. Sally K. Ride flew a mission in 1983. On her first trip into space, Resnick was a mission specialist on the maiden voyage of the space shuttle Discovery. Resnik had logged 144 hours and 57 minutes in space.

            1951 –Thursday-  Spies, and avowed Communist Party members, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were sentenced to death for conspiring to commit espionage in the form of sending U.S atomic bomb secrets, for the Soviet Union.  For many years there was public hand wringing by the usual  apologists and Lenin’s “useful idiots” over their innocence or guilt, a guilt finally proven through the opening in 1995, of the spy code decryption process known as the Venona Project.  In his memoirs, published posthumously in 1990, Nikita Khrushchev praised the pair for their "very significant help in accelerating the production of our atomic bomb."

            1951 –Thursday-  Cinematic masterpiece, Bedtime for Bonzo premiered in New York City.  Starring future President Ronald Reagan , a chimpanzee, Walter Slezak, Diana Lynn and Jesse White (who went on to fame as the Maytag repairman decades later) and directed by Fred de Cordova (who would later produce the Tonight Show with Johnny), the theatrical exemplar featured the tag line “The funniest new idea on film since "FRANCIS!" We note Francis was a talking mule but Bonzo didn’t speak.

            1964, 1975, 1976, 1992, 1997 – A series of kaputions as General Douglas MacArthur, Nationalist Chinese Leader Chang Kai Shek,  Billionaire weirdo, Howard Hughes, Walmart founder Sam Walmart, and Beat Poet Allan Ginsberg  all died on this day.

            1964 –Sunday- The Beatles launched the British Invasion.  Ed Sullivan supplied the landing craft.  The next group up after the Beatles was……The Searchers, somewhat lower in the Brit Rock pantheon, but hey, who knew?  The Searchers sang, Needles and Pins and Ain't That Just Like Me.  Also appearing on the show were Señor Wences, Topo Gigio (Gasp! Señor Wences and his hand puppets PLUS Togo Gigio on the same show!!!), singer Theresa Brewer, comedian Nipsey Russell, and tenor Franco Corelli.

            1973-Thursday- Washington: Scientists produced human blood cells in a living mouse. The mouse, which then donned white gloves and could talk, immediately opened a theme park, married another talking mouse named Minnie, and grew rich on the sales of memorabilia.

            1987 –Sunday-  The first launching of a television network in almost 40 years as the FOX Broadcasting Company, under the direction of Rupert Murdoch, started with two Sunday night shows, Married......With Children and The Tracey Ullman Show. They were the beginnings of the FOX lineup. And now all the airwaves are infested with reality shows providing ongoing opportunities for publicity seekers to demonstrate their lack of talent, brains, and class.  

            1994 – Tuesday- Lead singer of Nirvana, rock star and icon, Kurt Cobain committed suicide in his home in Seattle Washington. Kobain thus joined the “Twenty Seven” club with fellow members,  Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, and Jim Morrison, all of whom went kaput at age 27.

            1998 Sunday- The  Akashi-Kaikyo Bridge linking Shikoku with Honshū in Japan opened to traffic. At 6,527 feet  for the single span, it was the largest suspension bridge in the world.  The bridge was originally designed to be 12,825 feet. But on January 17, 1995, the Great Hanshin Earthquake stretched the bridge an additional three feet. The bridge holds three records: it is the longest, tallest, and most expensive suspension bridge ever built (so far).  The toll is ¥2,300 (~£11, ~ or $20.00) and is used by approximately 23,000 cars/day.

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 648 B.C.- Thursday- The earliest total solar eclipse chronicled by the Greeks was observed. Archilochus, Greek poet said, "Nothing can be surprising any more or impossible or miraculous, now that Zeus, father of the Olympians has made night out of noonday, hiding the bright sunlight, and . . . fear has come upon mankind. After this, men can believe anything, expect anything. Don't any of you be surprised in future if land beasts change places with dolphins and go to live in their salty pastures, and get to like the sounding waves of the sea more than the land, while the dolphins prefer the mountains." http://uk.geocities.com/solareclipsewebpages@btopenworld.com/SECalendar.html#_April

 “ And Melina Mercouri will win an Academy Award for Never on Sunday and then get elected to Parliament.”

            1199 –Tuesday - Richard the Lion Heart kaput.  The English king who between running around on Crusade, being captured and held in  dungeon  and attacking cities and towns in France, seemingly did everything he could to avoid being in England.  During his reign from 1189-1199, he spent a total of six months in England. On this particular occasion, having finally returned from captivity Germany, the Lion Heart, after a brief hero’s welcome in England, charged off to France to attack some more castles and cities. In Chalus, Aquitaine, a  feudal lord claimed the treasure from a vassal, Richard in turn claimed the treasure from the lord, who refused. This prompted Richard to siege the village. During the siege Richard was cleverly riding close to the castle without the protection of full armor. He spotted an archer with bow in hand on the wall aiming a shot at him. It is said that the idiot paused to applaud the Bowman. He was struck in the shoulder with the arrow and then, to compound his foolishness,  refused treatment for his wound. Infection set in and Richard the Lionheart went kaput.

            1327Sunday- Love at first sight.  The Italian poet  and scholar Petrarch (often called the “first humanist”) , born in Arezzo, Italy, first saw his ideal love and muse, Laura (possibly Laure de Noves, married in 1325 to Hugo de Sade), at the Church of St. Clare in Avignon, France, who inspired him with a passion which has become distinctive for its constancy and purity. He really had a crush on her. His Canzoniere (Song Book) was inspired Laura, chronicling his first encounter with her at the age of 23. However, his love appears to have been unrequited. There is no definite information concerning Laura, except that she was lovely to look at, with golden hair, and her bearing was modest and dignified…..and she had a nice tan, a buffed body, good caps on her teeth, a botoxed forehead, chewed gun, used the word “like” in like every like sentence, and went to the mall twice a week.

            1483-Friday-  Happy Birthday, Rafael (Raffaello Sanzi or Santi), Italian painter and architect of the Italian Renaissance, student and then rival of Michelangelo (who, interestingly, was born on one month and eight years earlier on March 6 ). Raphael is best known for his Madonnas and for his large figure paintings in the Vatican in Rome- a cycle of frescoes in a suite of medium-sized rooms in the Vatican papal apartments in which Pope Julius II himself lived and worked; these rooms are known simply as the Stanze. The Stanza della Segnatura (1508-11) and Stanza d'Eliodoro (1512-14) were decorated practically entirely by Raphael himself. The murals in the Stanza dell'Incendio (1514-17), though designed by Raphael, were largely executed by his seemingly multitudinous assistants and pupils.  The four main fresco walls in the Stanza della Segnatura are occupied by the Disputa and the School of Athens (look for Michelangelo in the middle towards the left) on the larger walls and the Parnassus and Cardinal Virtues on the smaller walls.       A true Renaissance Man, Raphael was also a student of archaeology and of ancient Greco-Roman sculpture.  In 1515 Leo X put him in charge of the supervision of the preservation of marbles bearing valuable Latin inscriptions; two years later he was appointed commissioner of antiquities for the city, and he drew up an archaeological map of Rome. Raphael had by this time been put in charge of virtually all of the papacy's various artistic projects in Rome, involving architecture, paintings and decoration, and the preservation of antiquities. Unlike his contemporary, Michelangelo who lived into his eighties, Raphael developed a fever and went kaput on his thirty seventh birthday.

            1652 –Saturday-  Dutch sailor Jan van Riebeeck established a re-supply camp at the Cape of Good Hope, which eventually became Cape Town, South Africa.  He built a fort (the castle) and gardens were established at the foot of what is now known as Table Mountain. A viticulture industry was initiated but there was no whining allowed and land was granted to settlers to grow crops. The Cape had probably received its name from in 1487, from the Portuguese sailor Bartholomeus Dias who had set out to find a sea route to the East It was Dias who named the peninsula Cabo Tormentosa (Cape of Storms). This name was later changed to Cabo da Boa Esperanca (Cape of Good Hope) to signify that the rounding of the Cape brought hope that a sea route to the East was possible. Ten years later, Vasco Da Gama completed the sea route from Portugal around the Cape to India, thus finally opening up the trade route between Europe and the East.

            1748-Saturday  The Roman city of Pompeii was buried by ash from an eruption of the volcano Vesuvius in 79A.D.  On this day excavations began at Pompeii to uncover the city. This was found to be a comparatively easy task, because the debris, which had been a pain in the ash and  had caused such death and destruction was light and not compacted. During the first phase, the excavation was carried out essentially in order to find art objects. Many artifacts considered suitable for the private collection of the Bourbon king Charles III who reigned 1759-88 were removed, and transported to Naples - where they remain to this day, displayed in the Museo Nazionale. 

            1830-Tuesday-  Fayette Township, New York, Joseph Smith, founder of the Mormon religion, organized the Church of Christ of the Latter-day Saints during a meeting with a small group of fifty five  believers.

                1841-Tuesday- John Tyler was sworn in as the new president. Tyler was elected as William Harrison’s vice president in the fall of 1840.He was suddenly thrust into the role of president when Harrison, 68, went kaput from pneumonia one month into office after his brilliant idea of delivering a 3 hr. inauguration speech in the cold rain. Tyler was the first vice president to immediately assume the role of president after a sitting president’s untimely exit and set the precedent for presidential succession.  He did not have a Vice President, because no provisions had been made in the Constitution for one. In fact, many tried to claim that Tyler was actually only "Acting President." He fought against this perception and won legitimacy.

            1852-Tuesday- Edward Sabine, Irish astronomer, scientist, ornithologist and explorer,  announced that the 11 year sunspot cycle was "absolutely identical" with the geomagnetic cycle. The geomagnetic cycle is variations in the natural magnetic field measured at the Earth's surface. The geomagnetic cycle is also responsible for the Numericallus Clueless virus that results in the bizarre behavior of people who bring massive amounts of items to the “10 or Less” express line in stores.

            1862 –Sunday- The beginning of the Battle of Shiloh as Confederate general Albert Sidney Johnson's surprise attack on the Union forces led by Ulysses S. Grant initially looked like a victory for the South. Late in the afternoon, Johnson was shot in the leg. Too involved with parries and thrusts and encircling flanks, he failed to notice the bleeding through his boot and subsequently bled to death. General Pierre Beauregard took over leadership and failed to follow up the initial successes thus giving Grant and his chief aide, William T. Sherman a chance to rally their forces. Union reinforcements arrived the next day resulting in a Confederate withdrawal. This bloody battle shocked the country (North and South) and made the human destruction by the war a reality for both sides.

            1869-Tuesday- Same month (different year) as the British Museum - The American Museum of Natural History in New York City was officially created with the signing of a bill by the Governor of New York, John Thompson Hoffman. All visitors immediately went to see the giant blue whale, then the dinosaurs, and then the gift shop, and then the restrooms.

            1869- Tuesday- Same day as the creation of the American Museum of Natural History, celluloid was the first plastic to be patented.  John Wesley Hyatt was the inventor and the initial use was for making dental plates – which didn’t last long since heat softened the celluloid and drinking tea became an adventure…plus the camphor taste tended to overshadow the tea taste.  An Englishman named Alexander Parkes had developed a "synthetic ivory" named "pyroxlin," which he marketed under the trade name "Parkesine," and which won a bronze medal at the 1862 World's Fair in London.  Parkesine was made from cellulose treated with nitric acid and a solvent.  However products made from Parkesine quickly warped and cracked after a short period of use (sort of like a contemporary rock star).  Parkes had failed due to a lack of a proper solvent, but Hyatt discovered that camphor would do the job. It made him a “happy camphor”.   Since cellulose was the main constituent used in the synthesis of his new material, Hyatt named it "celluloid."  It was introduced in 1863. Celluloid's real breakthrough products were waterproof shirt collars, cuffs, and the false shirt fronts known as "dickies," whose unmanageable nature later became a stock joke in silent-movie comedies. Speaking of movies, by 1900 Hyatt had figured out how to make celluloid into a strip for movie film.  One of the few products still made of celluloid is the  ping pong ball. Your serve.   

            1869-Tuesday – Wow! What a day! And on the same day as the two items above, the brouhaha over the invention of roller skates rolled on as Isaac Hodgson received a patent for his "roller skate." The earliest known type, using two large wheels on each skate was invented by a Belgian (there’s those Belgians again), Joseph Merlin, in 1759. In England, Robert John Tyers, patented his Volitos, in 1823 which he called an "apparatus to be attached to boots ... for the purpose of traveling or pleasure." Volitos used five small wheels in a single line. Another American inventor, James L. Plimpton of New York, had a patent for four-wheeled roller skates in 1865. Of course the best roller skate story concerns the afore mentioned, Joseph Merlin, London instrument maker and inventor.  Merlin decided to attenda masquerade party wearing one of his new inventions, metal-wheeled boots. Seeking to make a grand entrance, he added the feat of playing the violin while rolling into the ballroom.  Unfortunately, he didn’t know how to stop.  Even more unfortunate was the very expensive wall length mirror in the ballroom. Poor Merlin had no chance of stopping and……

            1870-Wednesday-  Happy Birthday, Clarence McClung, American geneticist and paleontologist who discovered the role of chromosomes in sex determination in a species of grasshopper. Of course any criticism of his work on grasshoppers made him hopping mad.  From grasshoppers to mammals, (quite a leap) he was one of the first to deduce that chromosomes determine the sex of offspring. His 1901 hypothesis stated that that an extra, or accessory, chromosome was the determiner of sex. The discovery of the sex-determining chromosome provided some of the earliest evidence that a given chromosome carries a definable set of hereditary traits. This explains why so many people that you meet are idiots. Also, if your grandparents did not have children, it is unlikely that you will have children.

            1875 –Tuesday Alexander Graham Bell was granted the patent for the multiple telegraph, which sent two signals at the same time.  This also occurs frequently when people are dating. Bell's invention of the telephone developed out of his research into ways to improve the telegraph.     

            1889-Saturday- The Kodak Camera was placed on sale by George Eastman.  Cost was $32.50.  Actually, this was the Kodak II, a more consumer friendly gadget than the Kodak I, which was actually cheaper at $25.00.  Eastman’s goal was to simplify photography and make it available to everyone, not just trained photographers. In 1883, Eastman had announced the invention of photographic film in rolls. The Kodak camera was pre-loaded with enough film for 100 exposures (no need to worry about lining up the sprockets….a lifelong problem for Professor Sy Yentz prior to the development of digital cameras). The Kodak camera could easily be carried and handheld during its operation. The development process was a bit cumbersome, after all the shots were taken, the whole camera was returned to the Kodak company in Rochester, New York, where the film was developed, prints were made, new photographic film was inserted, and then the camera and prints were returned to the customer.  Whew!

            1895-Saturday- Having lost the libel case that he thought was a sure winner,  Irish writer Oscar Wilde was arrested after losing his libel case against the Marques of Queensberry. See April 5. Homosexuality was classified as a crime in England at the time, and Wilde was arrested, found guilty, and sentenced to two years of hard labor.

            1896 –Monday-After a 1,500 year interlude, after being banned by Roman Emperor Theodosius I,  the Olympic Games, a tradition of ancient Greece, were re-started  in Athens, Greece.  The first events were held on this day. Roman Emperor Theodosius I had ended them in 393 A.D. At the opening of the Athens Games, 280 participants from 13 nations competed in 43 events, including track-and-field, swimming, gymnastics, cycling, wrestling, weightlifting, fencing, shooting, and tennis. The track-and-field events were held at the Panathenaic Stadium, which was originally built in 330B.C. Unlike the original games, athletes wore clothing this time.        

            1909-Tuesday- After 23 years of trying, Robert C. Peary and Matthew Hensen became the first men to reach the North Pole. They discovered a right jolly old elf and they laughed when they saw him in spite of themselves.  Later, one Dr. Frederick A. Cook challenged their claim of being the first to reach the North Pole. Cook claimed he had already reached the pole by dogsled the previous year. A major contretemps followed, and in 1911 the scientific geniuses of  the U.S. Congress formally recognized Peary's claim. In recent years, further studies of the conflicting claims suggest that neither expedition reached the exact North Pole, but that Peary and Henson came far closer, falling perhaps 30 miles short. On May 3, 1952, U.S. Lieutenant Colonel Joseph O. Fletcher of Oklahoma stepped out of a plane and walked to the precise location of the North Pole, the first man to undisputedly do so.

            1912-Saturday- The electric starter first appeared in cars.  Charles Kettering had invented the first practical electric automobile starter. Kettering's invention made gasoline-powered autos more user-friendly to consumers by eliminating the unwieldy hand crank starter and ultimately helped pave the way for the electric car's demise.  Considering today’s global climate crisis and energy costs, few knew the long range and ultimately devastating effects of this simple convenience.

           1920 –Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, Edmund H. Fischer, American biochemist, born in Shanghai, China who was the co-recipient with Edwin G. Krebs of the 1992 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for their discoveries concerning reversible phosphorylation, (say it fast, three times)  a biochemical mechanism that governs the activities of cell proteins. The discovery was a key to unlocking how glycogen (a storage form of glucose in the body) in the body breaks down into glucose (a simple sugar that is a major energy source for all cellular and bodily functions). It fostered the techniques that prevent the body from rejecting transplanted organs.

            1928 –Friday- Happy Birthday, James D. Watson, American geneticist and biophysicist who shared the 1962 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine (with Francis Crick and Maurice Wilkins – but not Rosalind Franklin) for the discovery of "the molecular structure of nucleic acids and its significance for information transfer in living material." Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is the substance contained in cells that controls heredity. The X-ray crystallography experiments of Franklin and Wilkins provided much information about DNA - in particular that DNA was a molecule in which two "strands" formed a tightly linked pair. Crick and Watson made the intuitive leap: in 1953, they proposed that the structure of DNA was a winding helix in which pairs of bases (adenine paired with thymine and guanine paired with cytosine) held the two strands together. Franklin died in 1958.  The Nobel is not awarded posthumously.  No more than three recipients can share the prize.  Had Franklin live, who would have been the three?

             1930-Sunday- An important date for Professor Sy Yentz and his presentations (see http://sciencegnus.com/Twinkies.pdf

             Hostess Twinkies were invented by bakery executive James Dewar. 

           1938 – Teflon was accidentally discovered by Du Pont researcher Roy J. Plunkett and his technician Jack Rebok. Actually they discovered the chemical compound polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) but polytetrafluoroethylene proved to be a bit of a tongue twister so  it was later marketed as Teflon. They  found an apparently defective cylinder of perfluoroethylene gas. Since no pressure was found when the valve was opened, even though the cyclinder weight was the same as full cylinders, they decided to saw it open to investigate. They found a slippery white powder. Plunkett found it had unusual properties, a wonderful solid lubricant in powdered form which was chemically inert and had a very high melting point (sounds a bit  like Senator Charles Schumer). Think about it the next time you use a Teflon pan to cook with.

            1947 - Named for Antoinette Perry, an actress, director, producer, and the wartime leader of the American Theatre Wing who had recently passed away, the Tony Awards made their official debut at a dinner in the Grand Ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria hotel on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1947. Originally they were only awarded to people named Tony. No, actually, the awards are for Broadway productions and performances. They are also famous for the televised awards show which is watched by no one. Since they keep coming up with new categories, it’s all very confusing but winners get a boost at the box office so they must be important. The first winners were 1947 Actors (Dramatic) Winner - José Ferrer (Cyrano de Bergerac) and Fredric March (Years Ago), actresses (Dramatic) Winner - Ingrid Bergman (Joan of Lorraine) and Helen Hayes (Happy Birthday).  There was no award for Best Play but the Director Winner was Elia Kazan (All My Sons)    

            1950 - A train fell off a bridge in Tangua, Brazil, killing 110 people. The train was filled with people vacationing over the Easter holidays. It had gone almost 60 miles when it approached the bridge over the Indios River. The river, swollen from days of torrential rains in the area, had undermined the bridge’s foundation.  There was no warning system to stop the train from attempting to cross the bridge. As it was about halfway across, the locomotive and five cars went into the river. The remaining 17 cars somehow managed to stay on the tracks despite the connected cars being dragged into the river.

            1954- Speaking of chemical food products with the Twinkies (see 1930), the TV Dinner was first put on sale by Swanson & Sons. Note; considering the size of the chemical content, some of these may still found in your local supermarket.  The first TV dinner featured turkey, corn bread dressing and gravy, buttered peas and sweet potatoes. It cost 98 cents and came in a box resembling a TV.  In 1962 they stopped calling them TV Dinners and reverted to “nuclear waste”.

            1955- It was confirmed that Jupiter emitted radio waves.  They were discovered by Bernard F. Burke and Kenneth L. Franklin, astronomers at the Carnegie Institution in Washington. The waves sounded a bit like the bombastic screeching of Mariah Carey murdering a ballad, no, no, no Professor Sy Yentz has his music critic sense of humor, actually they resembled short bursts of static, similar to the interference on home radios caused by lightning. This was the first time radio waves were detected from any planet in our solar system.

            1957 – Happy Birthday, Paolo Angelo Nespoli, Italian astronaut. On October 23, 2007 he was a member of the crew onboard STS-120, Discovery, to the International Space Station. This was  the Space Shuttle mission which delivered the Harmony module to the International Space Station.

            1957 – On the day astronaut Paolo Nespoli was born, New York City saw its final trolley car run.  The city  began phasing out trolley operations in the 1930s. Abraham Brower established New York City's first public transportation route in 1827, a 12-seat stagecoach called "Accommodation" that ran along Broadway from the Battery to Bleecker Street.  Toward the end of the century, electricity led to the development of electric trolley cars, which soon replaced horses. Trolley bus lines, also called trackless trolley coaches, used overhead lines for power. They first served Staten Island in the 1920s and were part of Brooklyn's surface transit for three decades, beginning in 1930. However, motor buses had completely replaced New York City public transit trolley cars and trolley buses by 1956 and 1960, respectively and now horses pull tourists in carriages around central park.

            1963 –Saturday-  The Kingsmen recorded their seminal version of the song Louie Louie. The original Louie Louie was written in 1955 by Richard Berry and released as a single in 1957 on Flip Records as Berry recorded it with The Pharaohs, (no, not Sam the Sham’s Pharoahs).  The Kingsmen originally hated the original recording and were equally disgusted when they discovered they had to pay the $50 recording fee. Louie Louie is legend. The mumbled lyrics made it the subject of obscenity investigations by the FBI and the FCC, culminating in an airwave ban in the state of Indiana.

With the exception of Paul McCartney's "Yesterday," it's been covered more times than any other pop song (over 1,000 versions and counting). http://www.louielouie.net/06-history.htm  

Louie Louie, oh no
Me gotta go
Aye-yi-yi-yi, I said
Louie Louie, oh baby
Me gotta go
Fine little girl waits for me
Catch a ship across the sea
Sail that ship about, all alone
Never know if I make it home

Louie Louie, oh no
Me gotta go
Aye-yi-yi-yi, I said
Louie Louie, oh baby
Me gotta go

            1965 - Launch of Early Bird, the first communications satellite to be placed in synchronous orbit. A synchronous orbit is a circular orbit around the equator, at a distance of 6.6 Earth radii. At this distance the orbital period is 24 hours, keeping the satellite "anchored" above the same spot on Earth. This makes the synchronous orbit useful for communication satellites: a satellite transmitting TV programs to the US, for instance, will always be in touch with the US if "anchored" above it, and receiving antennas will only need to point to a fixed spot in the sky.  This enables people to watch increasingly stupid and insipid television shows…….or be put to sleep by C-Span.

            1966- The Ghost in the Invisible Bikini had its world premiere. The “beach party”  movies had jumped the shark with Pajama Party.  Some say they jumped the shark with the first movie, but this one killed the franchise.  It was somewhere south of treacle.  Frankie and Annette had more common sense so the movie starred Disney reject Tommy Kirk, Deborah Walling, Nancy Sinatra – couldn’t sing and the movie proved she couldn’t act either- and featured the sadly used and fading fast, Francis X. Bushman, Boris Karloff, and Basil Rathbone. The series began in 1963 with Beach Party and then followed with, Muscle Beach Party, Bikini Beach, Pajama Party,   Beach Blanket Bingo, and this nail in the coffin.

            1973 – Pioneer 10 had been launched to explore the Solar System. On this day, Pioneer 11 was launched to explore Jupiter and Saturn.  Pioneer 11 reached Jupiter in December 1974, following Pioneer 10, which flew by the planet a year earlier. It came in under the giant planet's south pole and skimmed within 42,800 km (26,600 miles) of Jupiter's cloud tops. In 1990 Pioneer 11 became the fourth spacecraft to journey beyond the Solar System, heading in the same direction that the Sun moves through interstellar space. The last communication was received from Pioneer 11 on Nov. 30, 1995; its electric power source was exhausted, it could no longer operate any of its experiments or point its antenna toward Earth. Pioneer 11 is headed in the direction of the constellation Aquila and may pass relatively near Lambda Aquila in about 4 million years. More immediately, Pioneer 11 will achieve its first stellar encounter of sorts when it passes about 1.65 light-years (0.51 parsec) from the red dwarf AC +79° 3888 in the year 42,405 AD. We can hardly wait.

            1983 - Interior Secretary James Watt banned the Beach Boys from the 4th of July celebration on the Washington Mall, saying rock 'n' roll bands attract the "wrong element." When contacted about the wrong element, deceased Russian chemist Dimitri Mendeleev, who developed the periodic table of elements, said that it must be cadmium, which gives off a weird, yellow-colored vapor that is poisonous when it is boiled.

            1985 –Saturday- William J. Schroeder became the first artificial heart recipient to be discharged from the hospital. His health insurance coverage had run out and as he was wheeled on a gurney out of the hospital while adorned in open backed gown and attached to several machines to be sent to Prompt Care center, he took off his oxygen mask and protested that in fact he had six months worth of coverage………

             1993- In Russia, a huge radioactive cloud was released from an explosion of a tank of radioactive waste at the secret military facility at Tomsk 7 located in the Russian wilderness, 1700 miles east of Moscow, it was the worst nuclear accident, though not the only one (they do try to keep things secret over there) since the disaster at Chernobyl in Apr 1986. As a result of this radioactive cloud activity, Russia was infected with the dread disease Puttanessca in which  all Russian children will look like Vladamir Putin.

            2009 –Sunday-  3:32 AM, A 6.3-magnitude earthquake centered at  local capital L'Aquila, about 60 miles (96 kilometers) northeast of Rome killed scores of people.  Weeks before the disaster, an Italian scientist had predicted a major quake around L'Aquila, based on concentrations of radon gas around seismically active areas. Seismologist Gioacchino Giuliani was reported to police for "spreading alarm" and was forced to remove his findings from the internet. Italy's Civil Protection Agency reassured locals at the end of March that tremors being felt were "absolutely normal" for a seismic area. The quake was the latest and strongest in a series to hit the L'Aquila area. Earthquakes can be particularly dangerous in parts of Italy because so many buildings are centuries-old. About 2,700 people died in an earthquake in the south in 1980.  

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529 –Thursday-  Part one of the Corpus Juris Civilis the most comprehensive code of Roman law and the basic document of all modern juris prudence ….. Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?
Dear Prudence, greet the brand new day
The sun is up, the sky is blue
It's beautiful and so are you
Dear Prudence, won't you come out to play?.
.... It was compiled by order of Byzantine (Eastern Roman) Emperor Justinian I.  The first three parts appeared between 529 and 535 and they  were the work of a commission of 17 jurists presided over by the eminent jurist and questor, Tribonian. The Corpus Juris was an attempt to systematize Roman law, to reduce it to order after over 1,000 years of development.

            1770 –Saturday- Happy Birthday, William Wordsworth,  English poet from the Lake District (northwest England) and  one of the founders of the Romantic school of poetry.  Wordsworth lived with his sister Dorothy and developed a close working partnership with Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Together they published Lyrical Ballads, with a Few Other Poems in 1798, and before you can say iambic pentameter,  the Romantic movement was launched. The book, included Coleridge's Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Wordsworth's Tintern Abbey.         The collaboration of the two poets was analogous to  the doo wop album The Paragons Meet the Jesters of 1959.

            1794-Monday-Chemist Joseph Priestley (1733-1804), discoverer of oxygen, although we note the ill-fated and kaput Karl Scheele of Sweden had discovered it but not published his discovery, in 1772-  left England for good and traveled to the United States and his new home in Northumberland Pa. . The previous year, on July 14, 1791, his laboratory, home and library were burned to destruction by a mob of people angry at his support of the French Revolution. His French colleague, the chemist Antoine Lavoisier, was kaputed via guillotine a week after Priestly left England. On arrival in the hot Spring Break town of Northumberland, Priestly was offered various positions, including that of the presidency of the University of Pennsylvania, lead anchor on the NBC Nightly News, and the opportunity to open for Bruce Springsteen, all of which he declined, but he did pass on much of his experimental techniques to American chemists and preached from time to time. President John Adams was among those who attended his sermons, and George Washington made him a welcome visitor to his home.

            1805 – Sunday-“ Goodbye”.  “Don’t forget to send post cards”.  “Can you get me a t shirt and a refrigerator magnet?” After a long winter, …..it was North Dakota for crying out loud! …..the Lewis and Clark expedition left its camp among the Mandan Indians, where they had built Fort Mandan and resumed the journey West along the Missouri River. The Corps of Discovery had begun its trek the previous spring.  They would spend the winter of 1805-06 along the Pacific Coast, and Lewis did not finally meet with Thomas Jefferson in Washington, D.C., until January 1, 1807.

            1805 –Sunday- Meanwhile,  the public debut of Beethoven’s Third Symphony, (Eroica) Op. 55, in E-flat Major at the Theater-an-der- in Vienna. The musical work is considered to be the end of the Classical Era and the beginning of musical Romanticism. Beethoven is currently decomposing.

            1809-Friday-  Happy Birthday, James Glaisher, English meteorologist and aeronaut. Between 1862-66, he made numerous balloon ascents. The object was to carry out scientific observations such as the variation in temperature and humidity of the atmosphere at high elevations. On September 5, 1862, ascending from Wolverhampton, England Glaisher and his companion attained the greatest height that had then been reached by a balloon carrying passengers. Unfortunately, the exact altitude at the highest point is unknown because Glaisher lost consciousness and was therefore unable to read the barometer. But Glaiser assured everyone “it was really really high, the people looked like ants”.  Actually, estimates were 7 miles which is pretty darned high.

            1827-Saturday- "Truth is stranger than friction." John Walker, an English pharmacist, recorded his first sale of the friction matches he had invented the previous year. Like many scientific discoveries, his had been accidental. While trying to produce a readily combustible material for fowling-pieces (a kind of scattergun or shotgun).  His first match was the wooden stirring stick he used in a mixture of potash and antimony (note: antimony is the opposite of unclemony) . To remove a blob on the end of the stick, he had scraped it on the stone floor, and poof, it ignited. He never patented the invention, and his production was limited to a sideline of his pharmacy business. “Matches? Matches? We don’t need no stinking matches.”  Small phosphorus matches were first marketed in Germany in 1832, but they were extremely hazardous and consequently exciting as they showed a  tendency to blow up in the person’s face. In 1836 in the United States, Alonzo D. Phillips of Springfield, Massachusetts, obtained a patent for "manufacturing of friction matches" and called them “locofocos.” The blowing up in your face problem was not resolved until the invention of amorphous (red) phosphorus in 1845. Carl Lundstrom of Sweden introduced the first red phosphorus "safety" matches in 1855. Cigar smoker, Joshua Pusey invented book matches in 1889.

            1860-Saturday- Happy Birthday to a flaky guy, W.K, Kellogg, American industrialist and philanthropist who founded the W.K. Kellogg Company to manufacture cereal products as breakfast foods. He was a serial cereal producer. Along with his brother John Harvey,  Kellogg developed and promoted eating cereal as healthy breakfast food, especially corn flakes which he invented in 1894.  In 1906 he founded the Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company which later became the Kellogg Company. And thus Michigan became famous for cars and breakfast cereal.

            1866-Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Erik Fredholm, presented by Professor Sy Yentz as another of the mathematicians who were obviously very important but the Professor has no idea what any of this means. Fredholm was a Swedish mathematician who is remembered for “Fredholm integral equations” with applications in mathematical physics and actuarial science. His first paper, published in 1890, was on a special class of functions inspired by the heat equation. His 1898 doctoral dissertation involved a study of partial differential equations motivated by an equilibrium problem in elasticity. Fredhlom also had a career in actuarial science - Actuarial science applies mathematical and statistical methods to finance and insurance, particularly to risk assessment. - From 1902 on he studied various questions in this area, including an elegant formula he proposed to determine the surrender value of a life insurance policy. He built a machine to solve differential equations. He also liked to watch the daytime television judge shows because he thought they were real judges.

            1873 –Monday-  Happy Birthday, John (Mugsy) McGraw American baseball player and manager of the New York Giants from 1902 – 1932.  McGraw had also been with the Baltimore Orioles when they were in the National League and then Baltimore when it was in the American League.  In fact, in a way he contributed to the creation of the New York Yankees when  in 1902 he left Baltimore for the New York Giants and took all the best players with him.  The Baltimore team was disbanded and re-created in 1903 as the New York Highlanders, later to become the Yankees. (Can you tell that Professor Sy Yentz is a Yankee fan?)

            1906- Saturday- Mount Vesuvius erupted…..again.  The eruptive column of ash and gas reached a height of 13,000 meters. The eruption lasted through the rest of April. During this the eruption the top of Vesuvius was truncated and formed a huge crater with a diameter of approximately 500 m and a depth of 250 m. As always with volcanic eruptions, it was a pain in the ash.  Vesuvius is a composite volcano, made up of alternate layers of ash and lava. Composite volcanoes normally have two different kinds of eruptions. One kind produces mostly ash and cinders. The other kind produces lava. In Vesuvius these two types of eruption have not been seen to happen together but Vesuvius will get you either way.

           1911-Friday-  Happy Birthday, Kenneth Oakley, English physical anthropologist, geologist, and paleontologist who exposed the fraud known as the “Piltdown Man.” The Piltdown Man, “discovered” in 1912 in Piltdown, England was allegedly the “missing link” in human evolution.  Oakley had developed a method to date fossils bones (using  this process we know the correct age of Senator Robert Byrd of Virginia), by measuring their fluoride levels. With his fluoride and other tests he proved the true age of the bones to be a modern human braincase and an orangutan jawbone. So actually, the Piltdown man was actor Mickey Rourke.  The bones of the forgery had been chemically stained to appear ancient.

            1915-Wednesday-  Them that's got shall get
Them that's not shall lose
So the Bible said and it still is news
Mama may have, Papa may have
But God bless the child that's got his own
That's got his own
…..Happy Birthday, Billie Holiday, “Lady Day”, born Eleanora Fagan on April in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who was one of the great American blues/jazz singers. Among her many great recordings were; God Bless' The Child, There'll Be Some Changes Made, Fine And Mellow and Strange Fruit.

                1922 – During the incompetent, scandal filled administration of Warren G. Harding (cut short by his kapution in 1923), the Teapot Dome Scandal was on of the crooked highlights.  Teddy Roosevelt had established the conservation movement in the West. One of the politicians who opposed the conservation was Senator Albert B. Fall of New Mexico, who became Warren Harding's Secretary of the Interior in 1921. On this day, Fall convinced Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby to turn the control of the Teapot Dome oil fields in Wyoming over to him. Fall then moved to lease the Teapot Dome to Harry Sinclair's Mammoth Oil Company and the Elk Hills reserve to Edward Doheny's Pan American Petroleum Company. In return for leasing these oil fields to the respective oil magnates Fall received "gifts" from the oilmen totaling about $400,000 – an American tradition continued to this day.

            1927 –Thursday-  A precursor to television took place as the first simultaneous telecast of image and sound took place. Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover (elected president the following year) read a speech in Washington, D.C., which was transmitted to Bell Telephone Laboratories in New York City, where an audience saw and heard a tiny televised image of Hoover, less than 3 inches square. How much of the “audience” was actually able to see a 3” screen is open to debate.  It would be like showing your cell phone pictures in an auditorium. Comments ranged from “gee, how did they get him in there”, to “must be PBS, there’s no commercials”.

            1933 –Friday- Another “Nanny State” failure as Prohibition in the United States came to an end. On March 23rd, Franklin D. Roosevelt had signed  the Cullen-Harrison Act which legalized the manufacture and sale of certain alcohol, 3.2% alcohol by weight, Eight months later, on December 5th, prohibition was repealed with the 21st amendment. The boom era for the gangster industry began on January 16, 1919, the 18th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. Exactly one year later (January 16, 1920), this Amendment went into affect, making the manufacture, sale, and transportation of liquor illegal and beginning Prohibition in the United States.  Today's historians argue the evidence from the "noble experiment" affirms sound economic theory, which predicts prohibition of any mutually beneficial exchange is doomed to fail.

            1933 – Friday – “It was beauty killed the beast”. The world premiere of King Kong……the original King Kong. Starring Faye Ray, Robert Armstrong, and Bruce Cabot (actually King Kong gets billing too as the Eighth Wonder of the World), and directed by Merion C. Cooper, the movie was a huge hit, remained a huge hit and inspired another King Kong in 1976 and yet another King Kong (Peter Jackson spending some of his Lord of the Rings money) in 2005.  We also had Mighty Joe Young, Son of Kong, and King Kong vs. Godzilla. For the original, we note that the models of King Kong built for the island scenes were only 18 inches high. When director Cooper decided Kong needed to look bigger while in New York, a new 24-inch armature was constructed, thus changing Kong's film height from 18 feet on the island to 24 feet while in New York, thanks IMBd.  The body count is 40….not counting dinosaurs.  Our favorite quote:

Captain translates Native Chief's comments on Ann Darrow (Fay Wray)

Captain Englehorn: He says, "Look at the golden woman."

Carl Denham: Yeah, blondes are scarce around here.

            1940 –Sunday-  Booker T. Washington became the first African American to be honored with a postage stamp. The ten cent stamp is one of only five in the Famous American Educator Series.  The others are: Horace Mann, Mark Hopkins, Charles Eliot and Francis Willard.

            1945-Saturday-  The Japanese battleship, Yamato, the largest battleship of all time, displacing 72,000 tons – by comparison the U.S Iowa class battleships displaced 58,000 and the German Bismarck, 45,000 tons – was sunk by US planes as it attempted to prevent the attack on Okinawa.  The sister ship of the Yamato, the Musashi, was sunk during the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea in 1944.

            1946- Sunday- The World Health Organization (WHO) was confirmed as a U.N agency. In 1945, three physicians, Drs. Szeming Sze of China, Karl Evang of Norway, and Geraldo de Paula Souza of Brazil, proposed the formulation of a single health organization that would address the health needs of the world's people. Their joint declaration to establish an international health organization was approved when the constitution of the WHO was adopted in 1946

         1949 – The Broadway premiere of Rogers and Hammerstein’s South Pacific.  It won ten Tony Awards, including all four acting awards, and many of its songs have been much acclaimed, including, Some Enchanted Evening, I'm Gonna Wash That Man Right Outta My Hair, Happy Talk, Bali Ha'i, Younger than Springtime, and I'm in Love with a Wonderful Guy. It inspired a 1958 film adaptation and has enjoyed numerous successful revivals on  Broadway, amateur theater groups, D list theater groups (like the ones that play Pocono Playhouse) and high school productions. The original production starred Mary Martin (pre Peter Pan) and opera star Ezio Pinza. It was directed by Joshua Logan.

            1963 –Sunday-  Getting bored with running for re-election and inspired by Communist dictators all over the world, Joseph Broz Tito was proclaimed to be the leader of Yugoslavia for life. That life would end with his going kaput in 1980.  The country that he kept together did not outlive him by much more than a decade. Croatian nationalists won the first free elections in their province in April and May 1990, and the independence of Croatia was proclaimed on June 25, 1991, touching off a series of civil wars that left Yugoslavia a rump of Serbia and Montenegro.

            1969 –Monday- Not by C-Section but by the publication of the first “request for comments,” or RFC, documents gave birth to the internet. This day is often cited as a symbolic birth date of the net because the RFC memoranda contain research, proposals and methodologies applicable to internet technology. One interesting aspect of the RFC is that each document is issued a unique serial number. An individual paper cannot be overwritten; rather, updates or corrections are submitted on a separate RFC. The result is an ongoing historical record of the evolution of internet standards including a list of winners of the Nigerian Lottery. Although, in the frequently fuzzy world of the internet, when it comes to the birth of the net, Jan. 1, 1983, also has its supporters. On that date, the National Science Foundation’s university network backbone, a precursor to the World Wide Web, became operational.

            1970 –Tuesday- Fill your hand you son of a bitch….. John Wayne won his only Academy Award, Best Actor in the film, True Grit. Directed by Henry Hathaway and co-starring Kim Darby, Glen Campbell, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Strother Martin, great western villain, John Doucette, and Alfred Ryder the film was Wayne’s last best shot at an Academy Award. Glen Campbell?  Wayne liked to stick popular singers in his movies.  See, Ricky Nelson as “Colorado” in Rio Bravo.

            1983 –Thursday-  Aboard the Challenger, STS 6, launched on April 4, Donald Peterson and Story Musgrave enjoyed the first space walk of the Shuttle program. It lasted about four hours, 17 minutes. It was scheduled to last only two hours but shuttle commander Paul Weitz and pilot Karel Bobko refused to let them back in until they remembered the secret password.

            1990 –Saturday-  Incredibly, two fatal ferry accidents occurred on the same day in two different continents.  The first took place in Burma (Myanmar) on the Gyaing River. as a  double-decker ferry traveling from Moulmein to Kyondo was carrying approximately 240 passengers and crew through a violent storm with very strong winds. The ferry capsized and many of the people on board were trapped underwater. An estimated 215 of the ferry’s 240 passengers went kaput. On the night of that same day, the Scandinavian Star, a Danish-owned vessel, was making its maiden voyage.  It was carrying 493 passengers and their cars and trucks from Oslo, Norway, to Frederikshaven, Denmark.  Fire broke out on board. Smoke detectors failed and no fire alarm was set off. The crew, most speaking only Portuguese, were not prepared for the emergency and were unable to communicate escape plans to the passengers. While some made it to lifeboats, panic ensued, and 110 died, mainly from smoke inhalation

            1994 –Thursday-  Hutus in Rwanda, having decided to kill all the Tutsis, killed 10 Belgian peacekeeping officers in a successful effort to discourage international intervention in the genocide that had begun only hours earlier. In approximately three months, the Hutus, who controlled Rwanda brutally murdered an estimated 500,000 to 1 million innocent civilian Tutsis in the worst episode of ethnic genocide since World War II.

            2000-Friday-   NASA launched the 2001 Mars Odyssey spacecraft on a Delta 2 rocket. Odyssey would travel 286 million miles before entering orbit around Mars on Oct. 24, 2001. Its primary mission was to look for water in the form of ice under the Martian surface and to create a thermal map of the planet but it actually discovered the source of the dreaded Earth disease Fastium Foodicus Fatticus and its aftereffect, Someonus Elsium Faltismo.

            2008 – Monday-  Note to the people who booed Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival when he broke out the electric guitar; Dylan was awarded an honorary Pulitzer Prize for his impact on music and culture.  There’s a bit of history at work here and the Gnus Research Department has collated the series of events; The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan saw that The Times They Are a-Changin' but it brought out Another Side of Bob Dylan and he was Bringing It All Back Home but then he packed for Highway 61 Revisited  and met a Blonde on Blonde  but lost her to John Wesley Harding on the Nashville Skyline.  He restored his self esteem with a Self Portrait on a New Morning but got dizzy watching Pat Garrett & Billy the Kid due to Planet Waves.  He left Blood on the Tracks and also on his The Basement Tapes. He was overcome with  Desire but kept it strictly Street Legal. He saw a Slow Train Coming and knew he would be Saved by a  Shot of Love  until Infidels ran amok at the Empire Burlesque and he was Knocked Out Loaded,  and toppled over backwards Down in the Groove and finally cried, Oh Mercy  while looking up Under the Red Sky . Eventually, the Pulitzer Prize folks decided that since he was as Good as I Been to You and had comforted a World Gone Wrong  since Time Out of Mind through "Love and Theft" until Modern Times, they would be Together Through Life.

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563 B.C –Friday- Happy Birthday, Buddha as Buddhists celebrate the commemoration of the birth of Gautama Buddha, the founder of Buddhism, who lived in India from 563 B.C. to 483 B.C. Actually, the Buddhist tradition that celebrates his birthday on April 8 originally placed his birth in the 11th century B.C., and it was not until the modern era that scholars determined that he was more likely born in the sixth century B.C., and possibly in May rather than April but, hey, it’s sometime during the spring.

            217 –Tuesday-  Roman Emperor Caracalla, one of the more odious on the list of Roman emperors, was kaputed.  Caracalla had slewn his brother, Geta to capture the throne. His death was, shall we say, less than heroic when Julius Martialis, an officer in the imperial bodyguard, kaputed the emperor on a journey between Edessa and Carrhae, when, unable to find a convenient port-o-san or rest stop,  he relieved himself out of sight from the other guards. Martialis himself was killed by the emperor's mounted bodyguard. But the mastermind behind the murder was the commander of the praetorian guard, Marcus Opelius Macrinus, who became, surprise! the future emperor.

            1525 –Wednesday-  On this day, just six years after Martin Luther had instigated the Protestant Reformation, Albert of Brandenburg  grand master of the Teutonic Knights first duke of Prussia, on the advice of Martin Luther he secularized the dominions of the Teutonic Knights and became duke of the hereditary duchy of Prussia . The knights' lands had been held as a fief from the king of Poland, and the new duchy remained under Polish suzerainty and Suzie was very please.  

            1732-Tuesday- Happy Birthday, David Rittenhouse, American astronomer, instrument maker and inventor, famous for being an early observer of the atmosphere of Venus. He found the interior décor to be too cloying, the color scheme didn’t match, and the sulfuric acid burned his lungs.  He was the first one in America to put a spider web as cross-hairs (having had a haircut that morning, he had lots of hairs to cross) in the focus of his telescope .  A clockmaker by trade, he developed great skill in the making of mathematical instruments. He was called upon to determine, with his own instruments, the boundary lines of several states and also part of the boundary of the good old Mason-Dixon Line between Pennsylvania and Maryland. In 1769 he was asked by the American Philosophical Society to observe the transit of Venus. He  was the first director of the United States Mint. Rittenhouse Square, one of the five original squares (it was originally called Southeast Square) in Philadelphia was named in his honor

            1766-Tuesday-  A good day for fire safety as the first patent was granted for a fire escape. The “fire escape” consisted of  a wicker basket on a pulley and a chain designed by a London watchmaker, David Marie. In 1879, also on the 8th of April, a fire escape ladder was patented by the American inventor, J R Winters in New York.  See below.

            1778 –Saturday-  John Adams arrived in Paris, France, on this day in 1778 to replace former Continental Congress member Silas Deane as a member of the American commission representing the interests of the United States. Deane had been accused of misappropriating funds and went into exile.  The charges were not true but he became a footnote in history although he does have a highway in Connecticut named after him.  

            1779-Thursday-  Happy Birthday, Johann Schweigger, German physicist who invented the galvanometer in 1820. Since a galvanometer is a device used to measure the strength of an electric curren, Schweigger developed the galvanometer as a tool for, yes,  measuring the strength and direction of electric current. Schweigger named this instrument in honor of Italian scientist Luigi Galvani. It was the first sensitive instrument for measuring and detecting small amounts of electricity. Yes, sensitive, but also strong and manly.

            1805-Monday-  Happy Birthday, Hugo von Mohl, German botanist who was the first to propose that new cells are formed by cell division. The previous belief was based on cell addition, then later cell subtraction but cells really needed a graphing calculator to do their division.  Yes, he believed “the Mohl the merrier.” He was an expert on microscopy and laid the foundation for later work on the structure of palms and cycads. His works include Principles of the Anatomy and Physiology of the Vegetable Cell

            1820 –“Ah, it has no arms.  We’ll never be able to sell it”.  The Venus de Milo was discovered on the Aegean island of Melos, also called Milo. The statue (of Aphrodite) was found in two pieces by a peasant named Yorgos. He hid it from the authorities but was later discovered by Turkish officials, who seized the sculpture. A French naval officer, Jules Dumont d'Urville, recognized its significance and arranged for a purchase by the French ambassador to Turkey, the Marquis de Riviere. After some repair work, like putting the two pieces back together, the statue was presented to King Louis XVIII in 1821. He eventually presented it to the Louvre museum. http://www.louvre.fr/llv/oeuvres/detail_notice.jsp?CONTENT%3C%3Ecnt_id=10134198673237785&CURRENT_LLV_NOTICE%3C%3Ecnt_id=10134198673237785&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=9852723696500817&bmLocale=en


            1850-Monday- Happy Birthday William Welch, one of the founders of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.  Welch concentrated specifically on bacteriology and became one of the earliest proponents of this science in the United States. In 1884 Welch was appointed professor of pathology at Johns Hopkins Hospital and Medical School in Baltimore, which was then under construction. When the medical school opened in 1893, Welch was appointed dean of the medical faculty.

            1862-Tuesday- The first aerosol dispenser, an "improved bottle for aerated liquids" was patented in the U.S. by John D. Lynde of Philadelphia, Pa.  An aerosol dispenser allows a liquid substance to be sprayed from a container. Aerosol dispensers use a propellant, which is a vapor or a compressed gas, to push down on the container's contents, creating pressure on the liquid. When the valve is opened, the solution is forced up and out through a spray nozzle. in 1825, Charlie Plinth invented “The Regency Portable Fountain”, the first portable dispenser for soda water to dispense carbonated beverages using the gas (carbon dioxide) pressure.  An early soda siphon incorporating a valve was invented by  a gentleman named Perpigna.  In 1899, a pair of inventors named Helbling & Pertsch developed a method of pressurized aerosol delivery using gases as propellants.  We note that none of the aerosol history sites investigated by the Gnus found mention of John D. Lynde.  He comes up repeatedly in the Xeroxographic world of search engines where everyone copies everyone else’s entry.

            1868- Wednesday- Happy Birthday, Herbert Jennings, U.S. zoologist, one of the first scientists to study the behavior of individual microorganisms.  Poorly behaved microorganisms had TV privileges taken away and could be “grounded” for up to a week.  Some even had to write “I will not mutate” hundred times on the blackboard.

            1869-Thursday-  Happy Birthday, Harvey Williams Cushing, American surgeon, who was a pioneer of neurosurgery. Among his contributions to the practice of medicine were; the use of x-rays in surgical practice, physiological saline for irrigation (replaced the backhoe) during surgery, the discovery of the pituitary as the master hormone gland, founding the clinical specialty of endocrinology, the use of blood pressure measurement in surgical practice, and the physiological consequences of increased intracranial pressure and in his spare time…… He also performed the first brain surgery in the U.S. on Feb. 21, 1902. Actually, it was the second.  The first attempt was on newswoman Paula Zahn but no brain was found.

            1873-Tuesday-  The first commercially successful margarine manufacturing process was patented by Alfred Paraf of New York.  Unsuccessful margarine manufacturing ended up with margarine that needed to be cut with a chain saw, margarine that could be used as construction material, and margarine that grew to 10,000 ft. wide and attacked Tokyo.  When the success of margarine threatened butter sales, dairy farmers lobbied the legislatures and federal and state taxes were levied on it.

             1879- Tuesday- Milk was sold in glass bottles for the first time in the U.S. They were introduced by the Echo Farms Dairy Co. of Brooklyn, New York.  Previously milk was measured from barrels carried in milk wagons into pitchers brought by housewives and serving maids. Prior to that milk was sold by vendors who walked around with a shoulder yolk and dispensed milk to home owners. The Echo Farms bottles were based on a bottle patented on January 29, 1878 by George Lester of Brooklyn, New York and used by his business, the Lester Milk Company.  Most people consider this the first glass jar specifically designed to hold milk.

            1879 –Tuesday- And, on the same day, a "Fire Escape Ladder" was patented by black American inventor, Joseph.R. Winters. It was  a wagon-mounted fire escape ladder for the city of Chambersburg, PA.

            1886-Thursday- German scientist, Dr. Carl Gassner, was issued a patent for the first "dry" cell, which used zinc as its primary ingredient. He encased the cell chemicals in a sealed zinc container for the other elements as well as for the negative electrode. The electrolyte was absorbed in a porous material and the cell was sealed across the top. This cell was easy to handle and portable. In fact,  became the prototype for the dry battery industry This 1886 battery was much like the carbon-zinc, general-purpose batteries sold today. In the U.S, in 1896, the Nation Carbide Company, later Union Carbide and Eveready, produced the first consumer dry cell battery. And since you asked……an example of a wet cell  battery would be a car battery.

            1893 –Saturday-  The first recorded college basketball game occured in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania when the Geneva College Covenanters defeated the New Brighton YMCA. Geneva College is a small, private, liberal arts located in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. The New Brighton YMCA’s starting five consisted of a construction worker, and Indian, a policeman, a cowboy and a soldier.  Play was continually disrupted as they stopped to sing and dance to

It's fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A.

It's fun to stay at the Y-M-C-A.

They have everything that you need to enjoy,

You can hang out with all the boys ...

            1899-Saturday-  Martha Place earned the dubious distinction of being the first woman to be electrocuted in the electric chair.  The electric chair had replaced hanging as a more humane method of enforcing the death penalty.  Nowadays prisoners are forced to watch 48 consecutive hours of The View and die screaming for mercy.  Martha was convicted of murdering her 17 year old step-daughter, Ida, by pouring acid in her mouth and then smothering her to death. Old Martha then attacked her husband with an axe.

            1947-Tuesday-  The largest recorded number of sunspots was observed.  A Clearasil rocket was immediately dispatched to clear up these unsightly blemishes.  Typically, a big sunspot can be two or three times the size of the entire surface area of the Earth. A sunspot is a cooler darker spot appearing periodically on the sun's photosphere; associated with a strong magnetic field.

            1953-Wednesday-  The first 3D motion picture produced and released by a major company as Man in the Dark, directed by Lew Landers, opened at the Globe Theater in New York City, starring Edmond O'Brien. Man in the Dark was a “noir” film. In the plot a  thug (Edmond O'Brien) is convicted and undergoes experimental brain surgery to remove the criminal element in his brain. The operation wipes out all memories of his past life, including, cleverly,  where he stashed the loot. He is abducted by his gang and they try to beat the truth out of him. His memories return in the form of weird dreams, and he and his old girlfriend (Audrey Totter) track down the clues to find the money. The next 3D feature movie, The House of Wax, (a horror film) was the first from a major company in color and it opened only two days later, at the Paramount Theater in NYC.

            1974-Monday-  Hank Aaron of the Atlanta Braves hit his 715th career home run, breaking New York Yankee Babe Ruth's legendary record of 714 homers. Aaron’s home run came off former Yankee, Al Downing. While a great hitter, Aaron’s record, like Pete Rose’s record for hits, was more a tribute to longevity than prowess. His season high was forty seven but he hit over forty home runs in eight seasons, and in  the thirties in seven seasons. He accomplished all of this without the assistance of performance enhancing drugs that could have turned him into a Michelin man with a gigantic head.

            1975 – Tuesday- Frank Robinson managed the Cleveland Indians in his first game as major league baseball's first African American manager. A Yankee killer as a player, Robinson continued as manager, a playing manager to boot, he homered in his first at bat as the Indians beat the Yankees 5-3.

            1983 –Friday-  Danny and the Juniors kaput. Lead singer Danny Rapp was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. He was 41. Danny and the Junior had one of the greatest of all rock n roll records, At the Hop in 1957.  They followed it up with Rock and Roll is Here to Stay – great title but basically At the Hop including piano intro all over again.  The kapution of Danny did not deter the Juniors as they continue to perform as Danny and the Juniors featuring Joe Terry.

            2008 –Tuesday-  The completion of the Bharain World Trace Center, the world's first building to integrate wind turbines.  Three wind turbine blades were successfully installed on the twin skyscraper complex. This was the first time that a commercial development has integrated large-scale wind turbines within its design to harness the power of the wind….although it did blow a lot of sand around but they’re used to that in Bahrain.

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193 –Tuesday-  Oh, it's a long, long while from May to December
But the days grow short when you reach Septimus
…………Septimius Severus was proclaimed Roman Emperor by the army in Illyricum (in the Balkans). Not one of the prouder periods of Roman history as The assassination of Commodus, followed by the short reign of Pertinax and the auction of the empire to Didius Julianus, led to civil war (again)  and the rise of Septimius Severus. He was succeeded by his two sons, Geta and the rather hygienic Caracalla (see Baths of Caracalla).  Septimius is reported to have given his sons three pieces of advice: "Get along; pay off the soldiers; and disregard everyone else." The first piece of advice would not be heeded. Caracalla slew Geta and was in turn slewn himself while visiting the loo (actually some bushes) while travelling from Edessa to Carhhae in 217. Severus died in York on  February 4, 211 at the age of 65.

            1336 –Monday-  Happy Birthday, Tamerlane, Turkic ruler and conqueror, one of the greatest military campaigners in history, and the most influential Central Asian military leader of the Middle Ages. Tamerlane’s far-flung expeditions carried him from southern Russia to India, and from Central Asia to Turkey. He returned as a back up singer in 1963 on Barry and the Tamerlanes hit, I Wonder What She’s Doing Tonight

            1413 –Friday-  Henry V was crowned King of England. The House of Lancaster via John of Gaunt, one of the sons of Edward III begat Henry IV who usurped  and probably kaputed the hapless Richard II produced Henry’s son, Shakespeare’s “Prince Hal”. As victor of the Battle of Agincourt (1415, in the Hundred Years' War with France), he made England one of the strongest kingdoms in Europe. Henry V conquered most of Normandy from  the conspicuously inept French king Charles IV and was named heir to the French throne and regent of France in 1420 (under the Treaty of Troyes). He married Charles's daughter, Catherine de Valois (1421), and they had a son (the future Henry VI) before Henry went kaput of dysentery at age 34. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.

            1626-Thursday-  In an event too strange for even the Gnus to make up, Francis Bacon, English philosopher and scientist went kaput as a result of a chill he caught while trying to invent frozen food.  He stuffed a dead chicken with snow to see if cold would preserve its flesh.  He couldn’t chill the chicken but he ended up as frozen Bacon.  This was truly a fowl deed.          

            1682 –Thursday-  French explorer Rene Robert La Salle reached the Mississippi River.  LaSalle traveled down the Illinois River to the Mississippi and continued all the way south to the Gulf of Mexico. On this day La Salle claimed all of the Mississippi River Basin for France. That was a huge chunk of real estate because it included all the rivers and streams that feed into the Mississippi, and all of the land between including golf courses, country clubs, malls and waterfront condos.  In fact it includes much of the western part of North America. He named this area Louisiana in honor of the king. Later, in 1803, France sold this land to the United States as the Louisiana Purchase and that led to the explorations of Lewis and Clark and then the westward expansion of America.  Sadly, LaSalle was slewn in Texas in 1687 by three of his own men. 

            1770-Monday-  Happy Birthday Thomas Johan Seebeck, German physicist who discovered that an electric current flows between different conductive materials that are kept at different temperatures, known as the Seebeck effect.  Seebeck also made investigations into photoluminescence (the luminescent emission from certain materials excited by light…..aren’t we all excited by light?......Especially when they have those two for one sales of fluorescents), the heating and chemical effects of different parts of the solar spectrum, polarization, and the magnetic character of electric currents as well as the magnetic character of Regis Philbin.

            1794 – Happy Birthday- Theobald Boehm, Bavarian goldsmith, flutist, composer, and industrialist who invented the type of flute that became the basis for the modern instrument.  In  London in 1831 he constructed an experimental flute that gave the fingers new mechanical means to control holes placed beyond their reach. He refined the concept of his new flute in the following year, and the "ring-key" flute of 1832 was taken up by a few prominent performers in Paris and later officially adopted at the Brussels Conservatoire. Boehm devised a metal flute with a new cylindrical bore in 1847. Upon leaving home he flute the coop. http://www.flutehistory.com/Players/Theobald_Boehm/index.php3

            1806-Wednesday-  Happy Birthday, Isambard K. Brunel, English civil (he was very polite) and mechanical engineer. Brunel  designed the first transatlantic steamer, the Great Western.  In addition to ships, he designed and built bridges, dockyards, and viaducts. As Groucho Marx would say, “Viaduct?”

            1859 Saturday-  Twenty three year-old Samuel Langhorne Clemens received his steamboat pilot's license. Clemens went on to greater fame as a writer known as Mark Twain. If you can’t fathom why he  took the name Mark twain, it means  the mark of two fathoms used when sounding river shallows. If you can’t fathom what a fathom is, it’s a unit of length equal to 6 feet (1.83 meters), used principally in the measurement and specification of marine depths.

                1860 –Monday- Au clair de la lune,
Mon ami, Pierrot,
Prete-moi ta plume
Pour ecrire un mot!
Ma chandelle est morte,
Je n'ai plus de feu;
Ouvre-moi ta porte,
Pour l'amour de Dieu.
.....Jean Baptiste Lully………The oldest recording of the human voice - made 17 years before Thomas Edison invented the phonograph.  The 10-second recording is of a person singing a snippet of a French folk song, Au clair de la lune' and was recorded on by Parisian inventor Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville.  Scott de Martinville used a device he he called a "phonautograph" that scratched sound waves onto a sheet of paper blackened by the smoke of an oil lamp. However, unlike Edison, whose great achievement was to not only record but also play back the recording, Scott de Martinville was never able to hear what was traced on the smoked paper.  In 2008, record historian David Giovannoni of Derwood, Md., and an informal group of researchers known as First Sounds, uncovered the first cache of the recordings. In 2009  he played that recording of a young girl singing a 10-second snippet of the French folksong.  The B-side  was Play That Funky Music White Boy by Wild Cherry. They have since found some phonautograms dating to 1857 http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/44267/title/Earliest_known_sound_recordings_revealed


            1865 –Sunday- Won’t you please surrender to me
            Your lips, your arms, your heart, dear
            Be mine forever
            Be mine tonight  -
The great Confederate General Robert E. Lee, surrounded by Grant’s forces and having had his supply line cut after the defeat at Five Forks, surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia and its remaining 28,000 soldiers to Union General Ulysses S. Grant, Appomattox, Virginia, effectively ending the Civil War.  The Gnus highly recommends, April 1865, The Month that Saved America by Jay Winik. The surrender took place in the parlor of William McClean's home. Grant allowed Rebel officers to keep their sidearms and permitted soldiers to keep their horses and mules. Though there were still Confederate armies in the field, the war was officially over. The four years of fighting had killed 360,000 Union troops and 260,000 Confederate troops. Ironically, the first Battle of Bull Run Because the first Battle of Bull Run, also known as the First Manassas, took place on July 21 1861……..and it was fought  on McLean’s farm. McLean

            1867 –Friday-  Passing by a vote of 37-2,  the United States Senate ratified a treaty with Russia for the purchase of Alaska.  Secretary of State William Seward of New York, had negotiated its purchase for $7.2 million, (plus an autographed picture of Mariah Carey, two season tickets for Seattle Mariners games, and a gift certificate to Crate and Barrel)  or about two cents per acre. Critics labeled the purchase "Seward's Folly." Congressional opposition delayed the appropriation until 1868, when extensive lobbying and bribes by the Russian minister to the U.S. secured the required votes.  Gee, some things never change do they?

            1872-Tuesday-  Dried milk was patented by Samuel R. Percy. He called it "Improvement in Drying and Concentrating Liquid Substances by Atomizing".  This must have sounded very appetizing on the container.  Actually, Marco Polo arrived in Mongolia in 1275 and stayed in Kublai Khan's court for 17 years. During this time, he made written records of how the Mongols used powdered milk.

            1881-Saturday-  I'll sing you a true song of Billy the Kid,
I'll sing of the desperate deeds that he did,
Way out in New Mexico, long long ago
When a man's only chance was his own 44.
When Billy the Kid was a very young lad
In the old Silver City he went to the bad
Way out in the West with a gun in his hand
At the age of twelve years he first killed his man…
….Woody Guthrie…….After a one day trial, William H. Bonney, “Billy the Kid” was convicted of the murder of sheriff of Lincoln County, New Mexico.  The Kidster was sentenced to hang.  However, on April 28, in a scene right out of the movies, except there were no movies in 1881, Billy escaped after asking his two guards if he could use the outhouse.  A friend had probably hidden a gun there (see Michael Corleone in the Godfather) and Billy shot and killed both deputies.  He escaped but was slewn in June by Sheriff Pat Garrett (an old friend).

            1895-Tuesday- A spectrogram (a spectrogram is a graphic or photographic representation of the spectrum) made by American astronomer James Keeler proved that the rings of Saturn were indeed composed of meteoric particles, as predicted  in 1859 by James Maxwell in his riveting read,  On the Stability of the Motion of Saturn's Rings. Competing theories regarding the structure of the rings involved Play Doh, gefilte fish.  and  borax.

            1901-Tuesday-  If you’ve ever undergone physical therapy thank - Happy Birthday, Howard Rusk, American physician and founder of the science of rehabilitation medicine -physical therapy- which he established through efforts to rehabilitate wounded soldiers during and after WW II.  During his career he was variously, a consultant on rehabilitation to the Veterans Administration, the United Nations Secretariat, and the New York City Department of Hospitals, a member of the city's Board of Hospitals and president of the International Society for the Welfare of Cripples. Broken Bodies and Spirits and an advisor to nine Presidents, although Gerald Ford probably doesn’t count because he would have no idea what Rusk was talking about but he would have needed him because he fell down a lot.

            1903-Thursday-  Happy Birthday- Gregory Pincus, the American scientist whose discoveries led to the development of the first birth-control pills. In 1953, when Margaret Sanger (also famous or infamous for her belief in Eugenics) and Katharine McCormick went looking for a scientist to develop a birth control pill, they turned to Pincus for his expertise. . In 1955 two drug companies, Syntex and Searle, had each developed a form of synthetic progesterone. They allowed Pincus to explore use of this female hormone in his work and invent the birth control pill. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Searle's drug for contraceptive use in 1960.

            1905 Sunday- In a trip that must have been a delight in February…..in Minnesota….., the first aerial car ferry was put in operation over the ship canal from Lake Avenue, Duluth, Minnesota, to Minnesota Point, Minnesota.  Lots of people wanted to visit Duluth. The car ferry  was suspended in the air from a superstructure that was 135 feet over Lake Superior. The aerial ferry spanned 393 feet in length and could accommodate six cars (probably the entire population of Minnesota at that point) and two glassed-in passenger cabins with a carrying capacity of 125,000 pounds. A round trip on the aerial car ferry from Duluth to Minnesota Point lasted 10 alarming, daunting minutes.

            1913 –Wednesday-  Ebbet’s field, at 55 Sullivan Place, Brooklyn New York,   home of the lamented and defunct Brooklyn Dodgers had it’s official opening. It    was built by Dodgers owner Charlie Ebbetts  who had risen through the organization from ticket seller to business manager.  He became the owner in     1902, buying the team from Harry von der Horst.  Built on the site of the Pigtown garbage dump at a cost of $750,000, approximately 11,000 fans who watched as the Philadelphia Phillies defeated the hometown Brooklyn Dodgers 1-0. Baseball's first televised baseball game was played on the field by the Dodgers on  August 26, 1939 against the Reds.  Jackie Robinson became the first black man in    the 20th century to play in Major League Baseball at Ebbet’s  on April 15, 1947.   http://www.baseball-statistics.com/Ballparks/LA/Ebbetts.htm

            1930 –Sunday- Happy Birthday-F. Albert Cotton, American chemist who  conducted important research into metal-metal-bonding. He found numerous compounds containing metal atom clusters with single bonds, and discovered the existence of double, triple and quadruple metal-metal bonds as well as James Bond. At one count there were there were 1,070 people in the U.S. named James Bond.

            1932 –Saturday-  Well, it's one for the money, two for the show
Three to get ready now go cat go
But don't you, step on my blue suede shoes
You Can do anything
But lay off of my blue suede shoes
You can knock me down, step on my face
Slander my name all over the place
Do anything that you wanna do
But uh uh honey lay off of my shoes
You can do anything

But lay off of my blue suede shoes Happy Birthday, Carl Perkins American singer who virtually defined and established rockabilly music in the rock and roll cannon. IMBd sourced the following anecdote, Perkins and good friend Johnny Cash gave each other the ideas for two of their biggest songs. Perkins got the inspiration to write his best known song, Blue Suede Shoes from Cash, who told Perkins stories of soldiers on leave while Cash was in the military who would start a fight with anyone who got near their blue suede shoes. Cash got the idea for I Walk the Line when Perkins commented on all the groupies that they had access to now that they were famous and Cash countered, "Not me, brother, I walk the line." Perkins immediately responded, "Hey, I walk the line...that would be a great title for a song."

            1939- Sunday- African American singer Marian Anderson performed at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C..  She had been s denied the use of Constitution Hall by the Daughters of the American Revolution because of her race. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt resigned from the DAR in protest of its discriminatory leasing policies. Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes, at the instigation of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt offered her the Lincoln Memorial as the stage for her concert. On this  Easter Sunday,  the contralto stood at the feet of the statue of Abraham Lincoln and sang to an interracial crowd of over 75,000 people, the largest open-air assembly yet held in the nation's capital. Millions more heard her over a radio broadcast. Some featured songs included; Inna Gadda Da Vida, Don’t Worry Be Happy, Never Gonna Give You Up, and Who Let the Dogs Out?

            1940 –Tuesday-  In an invasion that may have occurred sooner except that they couldn’t figure out where Norway was…..after all, everyone gets the order of Norway, Sweden and Finland mixed up, Nazi Germany now invaded neutral Norway, a move that completely surprised the Norwegian and British defenders of the country.  The Nazis immediately captured several strategic points along the Norwegian coast. It was during the invasion's preliminary phase, that the term “Fifth Column” came into use as Norwegian Fascists under Vidkun Quisling (now a the eponymous synonym for traitorous weasel) acted as a so-called fifth column for the German invaders, seizing Norway's nerve centers, spreading false rumors, and occupying military bases and other locations. In June, Norway fell to the Nazis. Quisling would be executed in October 1945.

            1942 –Thursday-  The beginning of the Bataan Death March as Major General Edward P. King Jr. surrendered at Bataan, a province of the Philippines occupying the whole of Bataan Peninsula on Luzon------s--against General Douglas MacArthur's orders--and 78,000 troops (66,000 Filipinos and 12,000 Americans), the largest contingent of U.S. soldiers ever to surrender, were taken captive by the warm, cuddly, Japanese. The prisoners were immediately forced to walk 55 miles from Mariveles, on the southern end of the Bataan peninsula, to San Fernando, on what is now  known as the "Bataan Death March." At least 600 Americans and 5,000 Filipinos died because of the extreme brutality of the Japanese, who starved, beat, and kicked them. Those those who became too weak to walk were bayoneted. Those who survived were taken by rail from San Fernando to POW camps, where another 16,000 Filipinos and at least 1,000 Americans died from disease, torture mistreatment, and starvation.

            1952 –Wednesday-  The Los Angeles premiere of Singin’ in the Rain ( it premiered in New York on March 29 and nationally on April 11). Gene Kelly may still be post mortem soggy from the famous Singin in the Rain singing/dancing number. Generally recognized as one of the greatest movies of all time, directed by Stanley Donen and Gene Kelly, “the Singin' Swingin' Glorious Feelin' Technicolor Musical” starred Kelly, Donald O’Connor (it was customary to cast  Donald O’Connor in all late 40’s/early 50’s musicals), Debbie Reynolds, Cyd Charise, and a young Rita Moreno. The title song was originally created by lyricist Arthur Freed and composer Nacio Herb Brown for MGM's Hollywood Revue of 1929.. The general storyline of the film was derived from Once in a Lifetime, an adaptation of the Moss Hart-George S. Kaufman play also set during the time of panic surrounding Hollywood's transition to talkies.]

            1959-Thursday-  NASA announced the selection of America's first seven astronauts for project Mercury: Scott Carpenter, Gordon Cooper, John Glenn, Gus Grissom, Wally Schirra, Alan Shepard and Donald Slayton. Not, Doc, Sneezy, Happy, etc. The seven men had all served as military test pilots and were carefully selected from a group of 32 candidates to take part in Project Mercury, America's first manned space program. NASA planned to begin manned orbital flights in 1961.  This was the only astronaut group with members that flew on all classes of NASA manned spacecraft of the 20th century, from Mercury, through Gemini and Apollo, and ending with John Glenn's flight on the STS-95 Space Shuttle mission.

           1970 –Thursday- Paul McCartney quit the Beatles. In a case of “I quit, no you             quit, no….”, in September 1969, John Lennon told the band that he was leaving.    The others persuaded him not to go public until they made one more effort to get       an acceptable version of their final album, Let It Be, which had been recorded   several months before Abbey Road but put on hold after two attempts by producer     George Martin to put it in final form.  Phil Spector, who had produced Lennon's       Instant Karma single was enlisted to make a last ditch effort at producing Let It           Be (originally titled Get Back.) McCartney, unhappy with the way several of the     songs were produced, tried without success to stop the album's release, not a bad    idea since it would have prevented The Long and Winding Road from being             inflicted on the public. The band's breakup was announced on  April 10, 1970, a           month before Let It Be was released.           http://classicrock.about.com/od/beatles/a/beatles_history_5.htm

            1974 –Tuesday-  "The surrey with the syringe on top" - African American, Phil             Brooks was issued a U.S. patent for a disposable syringe.  Though Arthur E.         Smith received eight U.S. patents for a disposable syringe from 1949-1950 it was         Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) who eventually mass produced the         first       glass disposable syringes in 1954, called the BD Hypak. Syringically speaking,           Charles Gabriel Pravaz (1791-1853), French surgeon, and Alexander Wood (1817-1884),   Scottish physician, independently invented the hypodermic             syringe. It was first used to inject morphine as a painkiller

           1977 Saturday-  In one of the darkest days of rock history, Shaun Cassidy lip synched his version of Da Doo Ron Ron on "American Bandstand." The Crystals, Darlene Love and Phil Specter must have been mortified as would most music lovers with an I.Q above 70.  They may have never recovered.  In fact, if Phil Spector cited it as a reason for his dementia when he shot the starlet, he might not have even been arrested.

             1981-Thursday-  For next year's spelling bee - Nature published the longest scientific name in history. With 16,569 nucleotides, the systematic name for human mitochondrial DNA is 207,000 letters long. Try it and see if your spell check works. You can find it at [PDF]   Nature Vol. 290 9 April 1981

            1986 –Wednesday-  Life after death, it was announced that Patrick Duffy's      character, Bobby Ewing, on the TV show Dallas would be returning after being        kaputed.  This involved making the whole of season 7 into a  dream.  You can do that on television. Really. It’s allowed. It’s even in the bylaws.  Bobby had been             slewn by Pam's crazed half-sister Katherine Wentworth. So Pam Ewing opened      the shower and poof there was Bobby instead of the dead body of another             character (Mark Graison).

            1991 –Tuesday-  Georgia voted to secede from the U.S.S.R.  This completely mystified the leaders of the U.S.S.R who thought Georgia had seceded from the United States in 1860 but was now back in the fold.  However, after considering that Georgia is the home state of Jimmy Carter, Atlanta, CNN, a terrible hockey team, and rhinoceros sized palmetto bugs, they decided to let it go.

            1998 –Thursday-  Engaging in one of their favorite cultural  pastimes,  the stampede, more than 150 Muslims died in stampede in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, on last day of the Haj pilgrimage.

            2005- Saturday- In an event that rendered gossip columnists, gossip television shows and paparazzi orgasmic with delight, Prince Charles, the addlepated, purblind, offspring of Queen Elizabeth II, married long time lover, the morally challenged, debased, conspicuously ugly Camilla Parker Bowles who was now Camilla Parker Bowles Windsor.  Windsor was created from the British branch of the German House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha by George V by a royal proclamation in 1917.  Having a German name while the country was fighting Germany wasn’t particularly helpful for the monarchy so they changed it to Windsor.

            2008 - After all the excitement about the successful docking of the European ATV "Jules Verne", it's time to spare a thought for its Russian predecessor. The Progress 28 module was filled with rubbish and unneeded equipment, quietly severed from its docking bay and steered toward Earth. On Monday at 0850 GMT, the selfless module dropped through the atmosphere, burned and eventually reached the Pacific Ocean, sinking into the satellite graveyard 3000 km east of the New Zealand coast…


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879Monday – The editorial staff of the Gnus, never resting in the quest  for strange names for rulers, could not pass up the opportunity to note the kaputing of Louis the Stammerer,  eldest son of Charles the Bald and Ermentrude of Orléans.  In 878, he gave the counties of Barcelona, Gerona, and Besalú to Wilfred the Hairy…..we don’t make this up……really. Louis stammered his way to his demise in a battle against the Vikings on this day in 879.  

            1389 –Friday-  Happy Birthday, Cosimo de' Medici, ruler of Florence.  Financier, statesman, and philanthropist, born in Florence, NC Italy and known posthumously as ‘father of his country’, he began the long and celebrated epoch of the Medici family. As ruler of Florence he procured for Florence (nominally still republican) security abroad and peace from civil dissensions. He was influential in the establishment of Humanism and at the dawn of  the Renaissance as he used his wealth to encourage art and literature. He built the Medici library, the first public library in Europe, as well as many other magnificent buildings, and made the city the center of the new learning. He help old ladies to cross the street, he never played loud music after 10 p.m, and kept a “green” house.

            1633 –Sunday-  Going Bananas - Bananas appeared on sale in Great Britain for the first time. They were exhibited in the shop window of herbologist Thomas Johnson of London.The debuting fruit were brought back from Bermuda and  were hung up to ripen and be admired in Johnson’s  shop. However!!!! Excavations by the Museum of London at a building site on the south bank of the Thames River have pushed back banana- tasting by about 175 years. A skin found preserved in the waterlogged remains of a 15th-century fish farm has been identified as banana by the museum's archaeobotanists, (experts in relic plant material). It has been dated to about 1460. This banana probably came from West Africa. Unappealing as it may sound, we shall keep at work at peeling this enigma..  

            1710Thursday- The first law regulating copyright in the world was issued in Great Britain. Known as the British Statute of Anne (after Queen Anne), The Statute replaced the monopoly of the Stationer's Company granted in 1557 during the reign of Mary (Bloody Mary) Tudor which expired in 1695 and gave authors rather than printers the monopoly on the reproduction of their works. http://www.copyrighthistory.com/anne.html

            1755 – Thursday- Happy Birthday, Samuel Hahnemann, German physician and founder of the system of therapeutics known as homeopathy. Hahnemann was the first physician to prepare medicines in a specialized way; proving them on healthy human beings, to determine how the medicines acted to cure diseases. Before Hahnemann, medicines were given on speculative indications, mainly on the basis of authority without experimental verification. Homeopathy is also the walkway to the house of a homosexual.

            1766-Thursday-   Happy Birthday, Sir John Leslie, Scottish physicist, meteorologist and mathematician who first created artificial ice. He also gave the first correct description of capillary action in 1802 and invented many instruments, most notably an accurate differential air thermometer, and also a hygrometer, a photometer, the pyroscope (An instrument for measuring the intensity of heat radiating from a fire, or the cooling influence of bodies), an atmometer (an instrument measuring rate of evaporation into atmosphere), and aethrioscope (of course you knew that a aethrioscope is an instrument consisting in part of a differential thermometer. It is used for measuring changes of temperature produced by different conditions of the sky, such as clear or cloudy). He was a busy guy who this thing for scopes. When not busy scoping out things he found the time to write, An Experimental Inquiry into the Nature and Propagation of Heat (1804) The ice came about in 1810 when he developed a method of obtaining very low temperatures, by evaporating water in a receiver emptied  with an air-pump but containing a drying agent. This produced a considerable degree of refrigeration on the principle of exposing in the exhausted receiver of an air-pump sulfuric acid, a substance rapidly absorbing vapor

            1790 –Saturday- Same day, 80 years later than The Statute of Ann, creating copyrights,  President George Washington established the United States Patent system. For the first time in history the intrinsic right of an inventor to profit from his invention was recognized by law. Previously, privileges granted to an inventor were dependent upon the prerogative of a monarch or upon a special act of a legislature.

            1814 –Sunday-  Like the Battle of New Orleans, fought the first week of 1815, two weeks after a peace treaty had been signed, the Battle of Toulouse was unnecessary. The last major battle of the Peninsular War, it was fought over the important southern French city of Toulouse and - like many of the Duke of Wellington's attacks on fortified strongholds  was  a bloody affair. Napoleon Bonaparte had abdicated four days earlier however, However, neither of the protagonists Wellington and Marshal Soult knew of the end of the war and so like Jackson at New Orleans, they went about their duties.The job of the former to push further into France, and the job of the latter was  to hold the British at bay.

 1821 –Tuesday-  Patriarch Gregory V of Constantinople  was hanged by the Muslim Turks from the main gate of the Patriarchate and his body  then heaved into the Bosphorus.  During  the Greek War of Independence Gregory V was blamed by Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II for his inability to suppress the Greek uprising. He was taken out of the Patriarchal Cathedral on this Easter Sunday, , directly after celebrating the solemn Easter Liturgy, and hanged (in full Patriarchal vestments) from the main gate of the Patriarchate compound by order of the Sultan. His body was later recovered by Greek sailors and was eventually enshrined in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Athens.

            1827 –Tuesday- Happy Birthday General Lew Wallace, Union Civil War general and author of Ben Hur - A Tale of the Christ (1880).one of the most popular novels of the 19th century later made into at least two movies in the 20th century both of which had exciting chariot races, the second of which featured Charlton Heston knocking  Stephen Boyd off his chariot and smushing him into the dust. At the close of the Civil War Wallace sat on the court-martial which tried the Lincoln conspirators and presided over the trial which sent Andersonville Prison chief Henry Wirz to the gallows. In later years he was governor of the New Mexico Territory and a diplomat to Turkey.

            1838-Tuesday- Happy Birthday, Frank Baldwin (not related, thankfully,  to any of the acting Baldwin brothers), inventor best-known for his development of the Monroe calculator.  Okay, okay, okay, why wasn’t it called the Baldwin Calculator?  Baldwin designed it for the Monroe Company.  It had  a keyboard for fast data entry but and a shiftable carriage for easy multiplication and division. Baldwin had previously invented the pinwheel calculator which was good for multiplication and division but not addition and subtraction.  The Monroe calculator performed all four functions.

            1849-Tuesday-  New York mechanic Walter Hunt (brother of Witch Hunt, Fox Hunt, and Scavenger Hunt) received a patent for his invention, the safety pin. “Necessity is the mother of invention” said Victor Hugo in 1852. Hunt lived up to the saying as he was apparently in need of money and within the space of three hours, he conceived the idea, made a model, and immediately sold the patent rights for $400.  However, safety pins existed prior to this patent. In Great Britain, for example, a safety pin was patented by Charles Rowley on Oct. 12 of the same year. The story of Hunt’s life, like those of many in science and inventions,  was of creative ideas and then having someone else make money from them.  First he invented a machine to spin flax (yes, it was a flax machine).  Then he invented a fire engine gong, a forest saw, and a stove that burned hard coal.

            1866-Tuesday-  The ASPCA was founded. It was chartered under the leadership of 55-year-old Henry Bergh. Bergh was horrified by the extensive cruelty he observed towards working horses, as well as stray cats and dogs in New York City. A philanthropist and diplomat, Bergh persuaded the New York state legislature (this must have been before they became a collection of idiots and criminals) to pass the USA's first effective animal anti-cruelty law.

            1870-Sunday-  Happy Birthday, to one of the great villains of the 20th century, Vladimir Lenin, Russian Communist leader of the Bolshevik Revolution, which was essentially a coup that toppled the more moderate Mensheviks of Alexander Kerensky. Having set the stage for decades of terror, tyranny and misery in Russia Lenin suffered a serrieds of strokes beginning in 1922.  He tried to ensure that the more moderate Leon Trotsky and not the evil Josep Stalin would succeed him. He failed. Stalin was far too clever, astute and, depraved even for Lenin. Lenin died of a cerebral hemorrhage on January 21, 1924.

                1874 –Friday-  Interesting that in a plains state with like maybe six trees in the entire state, the first Arbor Day was celebrated in Nebraska.  It was the brainchild of Julius Sterling Morton, a Nebraska journalist and politician originally from Michigan (where they do have trees). He proposed that a special day be set aside dedicated to tree planting and increasing awareness of the importance of trees.  Nebraska's first Arbor Day was an amazing success.  More than one million trees were planted.  A second Arbor Day took place in 1884 and Nebraska made it an annual legal holiday in 1885, using April 22nd to coincide with Morton's birthday (and now Earth Day). http://www.arbor-day.net/

            1896 –Friday-  While being chased by Rosie O’Donnell, Oprah Winfrey, and Paris Hilton (armed with Chihuahuas), Spiridon Louis ran 26.2 miles to win  the first marathon of the Olympic Games.  The Marathon, had never been held before. It had been suggested by Frenchman Michel Bréal, and was inspired by the legend of the messenger Phidippides, who had run from the town of Marathon to Athens to announce the Athenian victory in the Battle of Marathon in 490 B.C. The initial field consisted of thirteen Greeks and four foreigners. Louis’ victory, in a time of 2:58:50, fuelled along the way by wine, milk, beer, an Easter egg, and some orange juice set off wild celebrations among his native Greeks.

            1912 –Wednesday-  Leonardo Di Caprio, Kate Winslet, Billie Zane, Kathy Bates and James Cameron,  set sail on the luxury liner Titanic for its ill-fated maiden voyage from Southampton, England  at noon.  In a harbinger of things to come, there was almost an immediate disaster in the form of  a near collision with the steamer New York. The New York being much smaller than the Titanic was sucked in to her wake as the Titanic giant triple screw propellers rotated. The New York's mooring snapped and was dragged towards the port side of her. Having escaped one disaster,  Titanic sailed to Cherbourg in France and later to Queenstown in Ireland to pick up additional passengers. There were 1320 passengers and 907 crew. On the night of April 12, Titanic would not escape a second disaster.

            1919 –Thursday- Emiliano Zapata, a leader of peasants and indigenous people during the Mexican Revolution, was ambushed and shot to death in Morelos by government forces led by Col. Jesús Guajardo. Zapata, who had famously said, "It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees.", had earlier joined forces with Pancho Villa and others to fight the government of Porfirio Diaz. Zapata supported agrarian reform and land redistribution. Though Diaz was defeated, Zapata continued to resist subsequent government leaders;

             1921 –Sunday Happy Birthday, Sheb Wooley singer, songwriter of one of the great recordings in music history : The Purple People Eater.  If you have ever seen the wonderful film, High Noon, Sheb Wooley played of the bad guys waiting for Frank Miller so they could go to town and kill Marshal Kane (Gary Cooper).  It the film's climatic shoot out, Sheb broke a window to get a ribbon and thus alerted Kane to their presence.  Alliteratively, Sheb was shot.  Good old Sheb, he also appeared as scout Pete Nolan on the hit TV series Rawhide with Eric Fleming and the young Clint Eastwood.

          1925-Friday-  "The Great Gatsby," by F. Scott Fitzgerald, was published.  This great novel reminded readers that: Money cannot buy happiness. You cannot relive the past. If dreams are too fantastic, and reality cannot keep up with ideals they are usually not fulfilled. And, even Robert Redford couldn’t make a good movie out of the book.

            1927Sunday- Happy Birthday, Marshall Nirenberg, American biochemist and co-recipient, with Robert William Holley and Har Gobind Khorana, of the 1968 Nobel Prize for Medicine. Nirenberg was able to show how RNA transmits the "messages" that are encoded in DNA and direct how amino acids combine to make proteins. By 1966, Nirenberg had deciphered all the RNA "codons"--the term used to describe the "code words" of messenger RNA--for all twenty major amino acids. The explanation for the deciphering of the genetic code is so complicated that it compare to a congressional bill with ear marks, so we’ll take everyone’s word for it and just stick with Mendel.

            1930-Sunday-  The first of two synthetic breakthroughs on this day (see quinine, 1944 below) as the first synthetic rubber for manufacture was produced when Dr. Arnold M. Collins, working on the staff of Dr. Wallace Carothers  (inventor of nylon) at DuPont,  isolated a chemical called chloroprene and observed its polymerization.  During World War I, Germany made a synthetic rubber, but it was too expensive for peacetime use.

            1942 –Friday-  The day after the surrender of the main Philippine island of Luzon to the Japanese, the 75,000 Filipino and American troops captured on the Bataan Peninsula begin a forced march to a prison camp near Cabanatuan. This was known as the "Bataan Death March," the prisoners were forced to march 85 miles in six days, with only one meal of rice during the entire journey. By the end of the march, which was infamous for the atrocities committed by the Japanese guards, hundreds of Americans and many more Filipinos had been killed.

           1944-Monday- The first synthetic quinine was produced by Dr. Robert Burns Woodward (on his birthday) and Dr. William von Eggers Doering at the Converse Memorial Laboratory, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Quinine is an anti-malarial drug. South American Indians have been using cinchona bark to treat fevers for many centuries.  Synthetic quinine proved to be very effective against malaria and had fewer side effects, and the need for natural quinine subsided. Over the years, the causative malarial parasite became resistant to synthetic quinine preparations. Interestingly, the parasites have not developed a full resistance to natural quinine. The parasites, Corruptium Activistium Ad Nauseum can be found in many urban areas.

                1947-Thursday- Brooklyn Dodgers president Branch Rickey announced he had purchased the contract of Jackie Robinson from the Dodgers’ minor league Triple A affiliate the Montreal Royals. Robinson had played second base on the Royals team during the 1946 season. Robinson would become the first African American ballplayer on April 15.

            1953 – Friday- The premier the first 3-D film, (actually the second – Man in the Dark starring Edmund O’Brian beat it by two days) House of Wax. Directed by Andre de Toth and starring Vincent Price, Frank Lovejoy, Phyllis Kirk, Carolyn Jones, and a young Charles Buchinsky (he would later change his name to Bronson) as Igor, a horribly disfigured sculptor, Price,  opens up the House of Wax in New York, using the wax-covered bodies of his victims as his displays. Terrible waxlike actors noted for wooden performances inspired by the House of Wax figures include, Sylvester Stallone, Paris Hilton (who actually appeared in a re-make of the movie), Nicole Kidman, Vin Diesel, Eddie Murphy, Lindsey Lohan, Kevin Costner, Mike Myers, and Demi Moore.   Eventually there would be more  than sixty 3-D films, including Hitchcock’s “Dial M for Murder” and “Hondo”, starring John Wayne. Although these films were shot with state-of-the art technology, 3D fell out of use because of the poor viewing conditions in most theatres and due to the complex equipment required to exhibit 3D movies  such as silver screens, polarized glasses, double synchronized projectors, and special lenses.

            1957 –Wednesday-  Ricky Nelson lip synched his first record, a tepid cover of Fats Domino’s I'm Walkin', on his parents' ABC-TV show, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. This was the series fifth season and Ricky Nelson continued  then “end the episode with a song” tradition on through the end of the series in 1966.

            1958 –Thursday-  Splish splish, I was takin' a bath

                                Long about a Saturday night

                                A rub-a-dub, just relaxin' in the tub

                                Thinkin' everything was alright

                                Well, I stepped out the tub, put my feet on the floor

                                I wrapped the towel around me and I

                                Opened the door, and then I

                                Splish, splash... I jumped back in the bath.

                                Well how was I to know there was a party going on?

            Bobby Darin recorded Splish Splash. Noted for the cultivated yet abstruce lyrics, "the title was suggested by Murray 'the K' Kaufman's mother, Jean, but she also penned the music; Bobby and Murray wrote the lyrics. Murray the Kwas a very influential DJ in New York http://www.songfacts.com/detail.php?id=1820 Splish Splash was Darin’s first big hit. He followed it up the same year with Early in the Morning and then Queen of the Hop.

            1959 – The premiere of Gidget – mother of all beach –surfing movies. Starring Sandra Dee, who would marry Bobby Darin in another of those enduring Hollywood marriages, Cliff Roberston as “The Big Kahuna”, James Darren as “Moondoggie” and directed by Paul Wendkos, it was the coming of age story of a young girl in the land of surfers. Also appearing were the Four Preps, Tom Laughlin, who would go on to the Billy Jack films and Yvonne Craig, who would go on to TV as Bat Girl.  

             1963Wednesday- The atomic submarine the USS Thresher sank in the Atlantic Ocean, killing the entire crew. One hundred and twenty-nine sailors and civilians were lost when the submarine  plunged to the sea floor 300 miles off the coast of New England. The Thresher had been launched on July 9, 1960.  It was built with new technology, it was the first submarine assembled as part of a new class that could run more quietly and dive deeper than any sub that had come before. Just before 8 a.m., the Thresher was conducting drills off the coast of Cape Cod. At 9:13 a.m., the USS Skylark, another ship participating in the drills, received a communication from the Thresher that the sub was experiencing minor problems. Other attempted communications failed and, only five minutes later, sonar images showed the Thresher breaking apart as it fell to the bottom of the sea.

            1970 –Friday-  Paul McCartney officially resigned from The Beatles, effectively disbanding the most influential rock group in history at a public news conference. He would later sue for the dissolution of the group in December of the same year. The Beatles hit, Let It Be, was riding high on the record charts. The last recording for the group, the treaclish The Long and Winding Road –featuring only McCartney (also from the documentary film Let It Be), would be number one for two weeks beginning on June 13. The Beatles would continue with solo projects but would never play together again thanks to svengali type self-styled Japanese “poets”, cancer, assassination and one-legged gold diggers.

             1996 –Wednesday-  Presidential stud muffin Bill Clinton vetoed a bill that would have outlawed partial-birth abortion. According to the bill, introduced in the U.S House of Representatives, partial birth abortion is  "an abortion in which the person performing the abortion partially vaginally delivers a living fetus before killing the fetus and completing the delivery."

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1241 –Thursday- We knew you were wondering when we’d get around to the Battle of Muhi when Mongol Batu Khan defeated Béla IV (Lugosi) of Hungary. The battle was another of those in the ongoing invasions by Mongols of Europe. It was the main battle between the Mongol Empire and the Kingdom of Hungary during (yet another) Mongol invasion of Europe. It took place at Muhi, southwest of the Sajó River. After the invasion, Hungary lay in ruins. Nearly half of the inhabited places had been destroyed by the invading armies. Around a quarter of the population was lost. But other than that, things were fine.

            1688-Sunday- Called the “Glorious Revolution”, William and Mary of the Netherlands were called to Britain to replace the hopeless James II  who was deposed by Parliament. After James’s accession in 1685 his Catholicism and the birth of a Catholic prince who would succeed to the throne united Parliament in opposition to the Jamester. James also possessed that Stuart knack for winning friends. When he succeeded his brother Charles II to the English throne, he proceeded to alienate virtually every politically and militarily significant segment of English society. Seven Whig and Tory leaders sent an invitation to the Dutch prince William of Orange and his consort, Mary, the Protestant daughter of James, to come to England. William landed at Torbay in Devonshire with an army. James’s forces, under John Churchill deserted him, and James fled to France in Dec., 1688 claiming he was just going to get some tax free wine and cheese but that he would be right back.  

             1755-Friday  Happy Birthday, James Parkinson, English physician and amateur paleontologist. He was first to recognize a burst appendix as a cause of death, (particularly meaningful to Prof. Sy Yentz who suffered a ruptured appendix in 2005) and wrote the first scientific article on appendicitis in 1812. In his Essay on the Shaking Palsy written in 1817, he was the first to describe the now eponymous neuromuscular disease which is known as Parkinson's disease.  Parkinson was also a political radical and his associations almost cost him his life.  He advocated reform and representation of the people in the House of Commons, the institution of annual parliaments, and universal suffrage. He was a member of several secret political societies, including the London Corresponding Society for Reform of Parliamentary Representation in 1792. In 1794 the society was charged with complicity in an alleged plot to murder King George III - "the popgun plot" as it was popularly called, because it was alleged that the plan was to fire a poisoned dart from a pop gun at the King in the theatre. Parkinson was questioned but not charged.

            1803-Monday-  Colonel John Stevens, one of several Stevens of Hoboken, NJ received  a patent for the engine used on a twin-screw propeller steamboat. The boat was 25-feet-long and four-feet wide, with two 5-foot screw propellers with four blades set at an angle of 35º. It successfully navigated in New York Harbor in 1804. Stevens also developed the first sea-going steamship and initiated regular ferry service from New Jersey to New York City.  Stevens is also considered to be the father of American railroads. (see Who’s Your Daddy? http://sciencegnus.com/Who%27s%20Your%20Daddy.html

In 1826, he demonstrated the feasibility of steam locomotion on a circular experimental track constructed on his estate in Hoboken, New Jersey, three years before George Stephenson perfected a practical steam locomotive in England. The first railroad charter in North America was granted to Stevens in 1815.

             1810-Wednesday-  Happy Birthday, Henry Rawlinson, English archaeologist.  He is best known for his decipherment of ancient cuneiform, one of the earliest forms of writing, cuneiform was (probably) invented in Uruk, Mesopotamia around 3000 BC by people who attended CUNY. The word is from the Latin, meaning "wedge shaped". Rawlinson spent much time in the Middle East as a British army officer, he knew modern Persian and other Oriental languages and he accomplished the translation of the Old Persian portion of the trilingual multilingual cuneiform inscription of Darius I, King of  Persia 522-486 B.C, belonging to the Achaemenid dynasty. This success provided the key to the deciphering, of the  Mesopotamian cuneiform (as one woman said, “ I love a man in a cuneiform”.) script. It was soon learned that the cuneiform system had been used by many different groups and for writing a variety of languages. Semitic speaking Babylonians and Assyrians used the cuneiform for hundreds of years. Once the Persian text had been translated, it was then possible to turn to the study of the other two languages. One was Babylonian. This discovery is very important to students of Assyriology, and we know who you are, since Babylonian and Assyrian languages were both Semitic and closely related. The third type was called Median or Scythian. It was the most difficult of all and, like the United States Tax Code, no one has successfully translated it.

            1814 –Monday-  Napoleon Bonaparte was exiled by the Allied (Austria, England, Prussia and Sweden)  governments to Elba after his defeat at the Battle of Leipzig and  following his abdication as Emperor at Fontainebleau.  He landed on the island on May 4. He was allowed a personal escort of some 1000 men, a household staff and was even given the title Emperor of Elba and rule over its 110,000 people. He also received discounts at off season hotels and scuba diving lessons.  Elba is Italy's third biggest island and lies just off the coast of Tuscany. Elba is where Napoleon developed “tennis elba”.  On February 26, 1815, he escaped, landed in France and the “100 Days Campaign” that would end at Waterloo had begun.

            1831 –Monday- "And never the twain shall meet".  Well actually, trains did meet thanks to - Happy Birthday, Grenville Dodge American civil engineer who was responsible for much of the railroad construction in the western and southwestern U.S. during the 19th century. During the Civil War, Dodge distinguished himself as brigade commander of the 4th Iowa Volunteer Regiment at the Battle of Pea Ridge in 1862 – 10,000 men……one Port O Potty…… In the Vicksburg campaign  Dodge commanded fighting troops and used his engineering skills to reconstruct bridges and railroads essential to the Union victory. He was chief engineer of the Union Pacific Railroad. The Gnus recommends Nothing Like It In The World:The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869by Stephen E.Ambrose.

            1876-Tuesday-  John C. Zachos of New York City received a patent for "Type Writers and Phonotypic Notation". This was the first patent for a device for printing legible text in English alphabet at high reporting speed and he the the called new system of shorthand "stenophonotypy”.  A stenotype is a specialized chorded keyboard or typewriter used by stenographers for shorthand use. Probably the first short hand system was that of Tiro, the freed slave of the great Roman orator, Marcus Tullius Cicero.  In 63 B.C, Tiro used a metal stylus to report a speech by Cato. Tiro's system was simple, consisting of abbreviations of well-known words, he then omitted words that could easily be supplied from memory or by context.

            1899-Tuesday- Happy Birthday, Percy Julian, the grandson of slaves, who discovered cortisone as well as extracted an inexpensive protein from soybeans.  He held over 100 patents including the synthesis of cortisone, hormones, and other products from soybeans.  Cortisone is used in treating rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions. His synthesis reduced the price of the drug. Early in his career he synthesized physostigmine, a glaucoma drug. His refined soya (which evidently inspired the Beatles song, I Soya Standing There) protein was the basis of Aero-Foam, a foam fire extinguisher used by the U.S. Navy in WW II.

            1900-Wednesday-  The U.S. Navy purchased its first submarine, a 53-foot craft designed by Irish immigrant John P. Holland. Propelled by gasoline while on the surface and by electricity when submerged, (it had a really long electrical cord) “the Holland” served as a blueprint for modern submarine design.  Holland had built his first steam-powered submarine in 1875. The US Navy purchased this, his sixth submarine, for $160,000 and ten pounds of salt water taffy. The 53.3-foot-long, 63-ton submarine could travel to a depth of 75 feet. It was commissioned October 12, 1900, as the USS Holland (SS-1). This submarine was a second attempt by Holland and the Navy. It was an alternative to the joint venture that produced the unsuccessful, but accurately named, submarine Plunger of 1895

            1907-Thursday-On opening day, New York Giants catcher, Roger Bresnahan wore shin guards for the first time in a major league game as the Giants lost to the Philadelphia Phillies 3-0. The shin guards resembled those worn by a wicket keeper in Cricket.  Bresnahan was quite an innovator. In 1905, after nearly being killed by pitch that conked him on the head, he began experimenting with a leather type batting helmet.  Later he improved on the catcher's mask by adding padding around the edges.

            1908-Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Masaru Ibuka, Japanese electronics pioneer who co-founded Sony Corporation. He changed the Japanese electronics industry from making cheap imitations of Western products to innovation with their own electronic products. Ibuku brought transistor technology to Japan, and Sony built the first Japanese transistor radio and the world's first transistorized television set.  A transistor is the result of your brother having sex change surgery.

            1915-Sunday-  Comedian Charlie Chaplin’s movie The Tramp, made it’s debut.  His “Tramp” character had appeared in two previous movies but this was the first to star “The Tramp”.  He also created his famous “waddle walk” for this movie.  Although The Tramp was a silent movie it had better “dialogue” than many of today’s cinematic disasters. Directed by Chaplin, it co-starred Edna Purviance as the “farmer’s daughter”. Purviance would be his leading lady for many films was well as his on again off again off screen romantic lead.  

            1921-Monday- Let me tell you how it will be;
There's one for you, nineteen for me.
'Cause I
m the taxman,
Yeah, I
m the taxman……..The Beatles…… Iowa became the first state to impose a cigarette tax. It was two cents a pack. It was the state’s first use tax and was increased 11 times over an 87-year period before the rate was raised from 36 cents to $1.36 in 2007. By 1930, 11 other states had adopted the revenue measure. In 1969, North Carolina, home of some major tobacco companies,  became the last state to enact a cigarette excise tax

            1921 –Monday-  On the same day that Iowa was busy taxing cigarettes, KDKA Radio of Pittsburgh made the first broadcast of a sporting event: a 10-round, no decision fight between featherweights Johnny Ray and Johnny Dundee in Pittsburgh's Motor Square Garden.
 1952 –Friday-  On James Parkinson’s (for whom the disease was named) birthday, Parkinson's disease was successfully treated with surgery for the first time.  Irving Cooper in Islip, N.Y. operated on the brain of patient Raymond Walker. Surgery was the preferred treatment before the availability of L-dopa in 1968 - an amino acid that is the metabolic precursor of dopamine. L-dopa, named after a Mexican drug dealer, is converted in the brain to dopamine, and used in synthetic form to treat Parkinson's disease. When the patient awoke from anesthesia, his symptoms had disappeared, and his motor and sensory functions were preserved.   

            1957-Thursday- The Ryan X-13 Vertijet (VTOL) became the first jet to take-off and land vertically like a helicopter. It completed a first full-cycle flight at Edwards Air Force Base, California. It took off vertically from its mobile trailer, rose into the air, nosed over into a level attitude, and flew for several minutes. It then reversed the procedure to vertical flight and slowly descended to its trailer for a safe landing.  Attention Newark Airport, the plane was number 18 in line for take off, it managed to skip the first seventeen planes and take off on time.

            1966 – Hullaballoo, NBC’s imitation of ABC’s Shindig had its last broadcast (with reruns continuing until August 29, 1966). The final episode, hosted by Paul Anka, featured Leslie Gore singing Tab Hunter’s Young Love, the Cyrkle – Red Rubber Ball-, and Peter and Gordon singing Woman.       

            1961 –Tuesday-  Robert Zimmerman of Minnesota, made his New York City professional debut as "Bob Dylan" at Gerdes Folk City (at 11 West 4th Street, 1 block west of Broadway. The building no longer exists) opening for the great bluesman,  John Lee Hooker. Dylan appeared through April 23rd. There appears to be no record of what he or Hooker performed that night but when he returned on Sept. 26 opening for the Greenbriar Boys, he got a great review in the New York Times and he was on his way. http://www.punkhart.com/dylan/tapes/62-may.html

            1970-Saturday-  Apollo 13 - of movie fame-(note that‘s 13 for those of you triskadeckaphobes ) had to abort its mission to the Moon when an oxygen tank exploded. The spacecraft's destination was the Fra Mauro highlands of the moon, where the astronauts James A. Lovell, John L. Swigert, and Fred W. Haise were scheduled to explore the Imbrium Basin and conduct geological experiments. The oxygen tank exploded on the evening of April 13 when they were about 200,000 miles from Earth.  The new mission was to return to Earth……alive.

            1970 -Saturday  Peter Green announced that he would be leaving Fleetwood Mac. Well they sure missed him.

            1979 –Wednesday-  Demented, meshuggenah, Ugandan dictator Idi Amin fled the Ugandan capital of Kampala as Tanzanian troops and forces of the Uganda National Liberation Front closed in. Two days later, Kampala fell and a coalition government of former exiles took power. Amin, who had taken power in a coup had assumed the title of "His Excellency President for Life, Field Marshal Al Hadji Doctor Idi Amin, VC, DSO, MC, Lord of All the Beasts of the Earth and Fishes of the Sea, and Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular." He became infamous for his butchery, friendship with Islamic terrorists, and complete disregard for human rights.  Amin fled to Libya, where he fit right in.  He stayed for almost ten years, before finally relocating to Saudi Arabia, where he remained in exile until he, happily, died in 2003.

            1982-Sunday-  Magellan? Francis Drake? Feh! - Instead of circling the globe around the equator, British explorer Ranulph Fiennes and Charles Burton decided to do it the hard way.  They reached the North Pole on this day during their circumnavigation of the Earth via the Poles circling the earth on longitude 0, of the Greenwich Meridian. They had reached the South Pole sixteen months earlier during their journey across Antarctica - which took 67 days. The ocean voyage was undertaken in a craft named Benjamin Bowring. Beginning in 1979, the 52,000-mile "Transglobe" expedition took three years as it became the first circumnavigation of the world's polar axis, ending on Aug  29, 1982

            1984-Wednesday-  Challenger astronauts completed the first in-space satellite repair. George Nelson and James Van Hoften retrieved the malfunctioning  Solar Max astronomy satellite and brought it into the shuttle cargo bay to make the first-ever in-space satellite repair.  They took out their “Handy Dandy Satellite Repair Kit” and fixed the attitude control mechanism and the main electronics system of the coronagraph instrument. And then like an eagle raised in captivity, the  Solar Max was released back into the wild, ready to resume normal operation…….until it mutated and returned to Earth and attacked Tom Cruise’s house in Staten Island, NY.

            1985 –Thursday-  Because you wouldn’t want to run out of fuel on the trip, scientists in Hawaii used a 30” telescope to  measure the distance from Earth to Moon with accuracy to one inch (shame shame, metrics is the language of science). The Apollo program was still paying dividends as The Laser Ranging Retroreflector experiment, deployed on Apollo 11, 14, and 15 was the source for the measurement. It  consisted of a series of corner-cube reflectors, a special type of mirror with the property of always reflecting an incoming light beam back in the direction it came from…….and a really long retractable tape measure.

            1986-Friday-  Halley's Comet (named in honor of, yes Edmund Halley, who accurately predicted its 1758 return) made its closest approach to Earth on this trip, 63 million kilometers (39 million mi), on its outbound journey after orbiting the Sun.  We Earthlings were somewhat disappointed because the famous comet was barely visible to the naked eye. Some years are simply better than others, as in 1066 when the comet was so bright that it terrified millions of Europeans and was seen as an omen of ill luck by the troops of English King Harold just before the Battle of Hastings with William the Conqueror.  Cheer up Halley’s Comet will be back in 2061 when it returns on its 76-year orbit.

            1986 –Friday- "Melvin was a 90lb. weakling until nuclear waste transformed him into..." The Toxic Avenger. The seminal movie had its world premiere. Directed by two people, Michael Herz and Lloyd Kaufman (Kaufman also wrote it), Toxic Avenger starred………..well,………….actually…………no one we ever heard of or would hear of again. The title role, Toxic Avenger (Mitchell Cohen)  was played by ………..Mitch Cohen.  Andree Miranda was the female lead but the Gnus’ favorite  roles were: Dan Snow ...  Cigar Face,  Doug Isbecque ...  Knuckles, Charles Lee Jr. ...  Nipples, and  Xavier Barquet was unforgettable as the  Man Killed In Mexican Restaurant

            2000-Tuesday-  AT&T Park in San Francisco, (San Francisco Giants) Minute Maid Park in Houston, (Houston Astros) and Comerica Park in Detroit (Detroit Tigers opened.  Of course it wasn’t AT&T Park in 2000. With corporate exigencies being what they are, it was originally named Pacific Bell Park, then renamed SBC Park in 2003. Then, as a result of the SBC acquisition of Pacific Bell, the stadium was currently christened AT&T Park on March 3, 2006. Minute Maid Park was (formerly The Ballpark at Union Station, Enron Field, (Whoops! Big mistake on that one! ) and Astros Field.  Comerica Park is still Comerica Park but Comerica isn’t there anymore.  Comerica Bank,  was based in Detroit at the time the park opened, and paid for the naming rights but Comerica then moved to Dallas, Texas. Presumably the stadium would not fit in the moving van.  Thank you Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park and Wrigley Field.

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1606 – The Union Jack became the official flag of Great Britain when King James VI of Scotland became king of England, King James I.  It was decided that the union of the two countries under one king should be represented symbolically by a new flag. Originally it consisted in the red cross of England superimposed on the white cross of Scotland on the blue background of the Scottish flag. The flag didn’t fly.  What was meant to be a symbol of unity actually became a symbol of international controversy. The English resented the fact that the white background of their cross had disappeared and that the new flag had the blue Scottish background. Ahh, brotherhood and togetherness.  They should have all sung Kumbaya before unveiling the flag.  Over the years there was all sorts of dithering over which cross went where until the name "Union Jack" became official when it was approved in Parliament in 1908. It was stated that "the Union Jack should be regarded as the National flag". http://www.know-britain.com/general/union_jack.html

             1633 –Tuesday-  The beginning of the inquisition trial of physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei for holding the heretical belief that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Convicted of heresy, Galileo was forced to renounce his views. (But he secretly had his fingers crossed behind his back).  Galileo agreed not to teach the heresy anymore and spent the rest of his life under house arrest. It took more than 300 years for the Church to admit that Galileo was right and to clear his name of heresy. We have obtained a transcript via one of the judges, Montythium Pythonium.

Ximinez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four*...no... *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again.

            [The Inquisition exits]

            Galileo: I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

            [The cardinals burst in]

            Ximinez: NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Amongst our weaponry are such diverse elements as: fear, surprise, ruthless efficiency, an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope, and nice red uniforms - Oh damn!

            [To Cardinal Biggles] I can't say it - you'll have to say it.

            Biggles: What?

            Ximinez: You'll have to say the bit about 'Our chief weapons are ...'

            Biggles: [rather horrified]: I couldn't do that...

            [Ximinez bundles the cardinals outside again]

            Galileo: I didn't expect a kind of Spanish Inquisition.

            [The cardinals enter]

            Biggles: Er.... Nobody...um....

            Ximinez: Expects...

            Biggles: Expects... Nobody expects the...um...the Spanish...um...

            Ximinez: Inquisition.

            Biggles: I know, I know! Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition. In fact, those who do expect -

            Ximinez: Our chief weapons are...

            Biggles: Our chief weapons are...um...er...

            Ximinez: Surprise...

            Biggles: Surprise and --

            Ximinez: Okay, stop. Stop. Stop there - stop there. Stop. Phew! Ah! ... our chief weapons are surprise...blah blah blah. Cardinal, read the charges.

            Fang: You are hereby charged that you did on diverse dates commit heresy against the Holy Church. 'My old man said follow the--'

            http://people.csail.mit.edu/paulfitz/spanish/script.html and also,


            1770-Thursday-   The British government  repealed most of the hated Townshend Act.  Pete Townshend, lead guitarist of the rock group  The Who was famous windmilling and smashing his guitars at the end of a concert and……no, no, no it was probably during The Who’s twenty seventh comeback after twenty six retirements and he was playing acoustic guitar…..  Actually, this one was passed on June 29, 1767,  and this Townshend Act (Charles Townshend)  placed import taxes on many of the British products bought by Americans, including lead, paper, paint, glass and tea.   Parliament also reduced the number of British troops in America, but shifted the financial burden of accommodating the soldiers to the colonies. The Boston merchants boycotted English goods. The Massachusetts Assembly was dissolved (1768) for sending a circular letter to other colonies explaining the common plight, and British troops sent to enforce these laws and keep peace were involved in unpleasant incidents, notably the Boston Massacre. The Townshend Acts also contained a provision for mandatory attendance at a Herman’s Hermits concert

            1798 –Thursday-  Phineas Pratt – no, not as you were thinking, the Massachusetts Bay Colony Phineas Pratt of  the 1630s, this  Phineas Pratt was a clockmaker who invented a saw for cutting elephant tusk.  It was originally powered by hand, then by wind, and finally by water. This invention was originally used for sawing ivory into combs and utensils, was a flourishing business at the time. It also gave Americans an edge over the more experienced British comb makers. Since there was a paucity of elephants in America at the time, the ivory tusks were shipped from Zanzibar Africa via ports in Salem, Mass., and New York then hauled by horse drawn wagons to the factories. http://www.pianoandorgankeys.com/articlesmailers-overviewofivoryapplication.htm

            1829-Sunday- What?.........he couldn't explore someplace warm? The explorer-naturalist Alexander von Humboldt at age fifty nine (he should have been playing mahjong in Florida), began a scientific expedition to uncharted regions of Siberia at the invitation of Tsar Nicholas I who also financed the journey. Humboldt crossed Asia, from Russia and Siberia to Mongolia. He recorded temperatures and noted that temperatures varied at the same latitude in accordance with distance from the ocean.  The Humboldt Current off the coast of California bears his name.

            1831-Tuesday-  The first U.S. railroad tunnel, the Staple Bend Tunnel,  was started between Hollidaysburg and Johnstown, Pennsylvania. The railroad portaged canal boats over the Allegheny Mountains, which formed a barrier to the Pennsylvania canal system. Horses and mules pulled the first trains. Later steam locomotives were used. The Staple Bend Tunnel was 901 feet long, 25 feet wide and 21 feet high and lined throughout with masonry 18 inches thick. It would officially open in 1834 and yes, there was a light at the end of it.

            1833 –Friday-  Charles Gaylor patented the fireproof safe. It was pretty safe and consisted of two chests, one so formed within the other as to have one or more spaces between them, to enclose air or any known non-conductors of heat. But it wasn’t the first fireproof safe, nope! In 1826, Jesse Delano of New York City patented an improvement in fire proof safes "which consisted in coating the wooden foundation with a composition of  equal parts, clay and lime, plumbago (a plant)  and mica, or saturating the wood in a solution of potash lye and alum, to render it incombustible”.

            1839 –Friday-  Happy Birthday, Nikolai Przhevalsky, Russian explorer who made five major expeditions most of which went to places we’ve never heard of. Hoping to find some more vowels for his last name, Przhevalsky’s first one lasted from November 1870 to September 1873. With three men he set out from Kyakhta, south of Lake Baikal, traveled through Urga (Ulan Bator – capitol of Mongolia), crossed the Gobi Desert, and reached Kalgan, 100 miles northwest of Peking. On the return he explored the Ordos Plateau to the Ala Shan Range and Koko Nor and mapped parts of the upper Hwang Ho and the upper Yangtze. Finally he went into Tibet and reached the Drechu River.

            1851 –Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Edward W. Maunder, English astronomer famous for his investigations into sunspots. In 1893 Maunder, while checking the sunspot cycle in the past, came across the surprising fact that between 1645 and 1715 there was virtually no sunspot activity at all….none…..nada……zilch….. For 32 years not a single sunspot was seen on the Sun and in the whole period fewer sunspots were observed than have occurred in an average year since. He wrote papers on his discovery in 1894 and 1922 but, as frequently happened to scientist who fell short of fame – see Karl Scheele of Sweden-- they aroused no interest…until recently.  More sophisticated techniques have established that Maunder was correct in the detection of the so-called “Maunder minimum” – also on his Visa and Mastercard. Also, the realization that the period of the minimum corresponds to a prolonged cold spell suggests that Maunder's discovery links sunspot activity with climatic change on Earth.

            1869 –Monday-  Happy Birthday, Henri Désiré Landru, French serial killer aka “Bluebeard”.  Landru murdered eleven people, ten women plus the teenaged son of one of his victims between 1914 and 1918..  However, he dismembered ( I dismember Mama) and disposed of the bodies. With no bodies, the victims were just listed as missing, and it was virtually impossible for the police to know what had happened to them since Landru used a wide variety of aliases. In fact, he had so many aliases  that he had to keep a ledger listing all the women with whom he corresponded and which particular identity he used for each woman. In 1919, the sister of one of Landru's victims, persuaded the police to arrest him. Originally, Landru was charged only with embezzlement. He refused to talk to police, and with no bodies (police dug up his garden, but with no results), there was seemingly not enough evidence to charge him with murder. However, policemen did eventually find various bits of paperwork that listed the missing women combining those with other documents, they finally built up enough evidence to charge him with murder.

Landru was sent to the guillotine on February 23, 1922. Forty years later, the daughter of the defense lawyer found a message scribbled on a drawing handed to him from Landru that had been hanging on the wall of his office. It read: "I did it. I burned their bodies in the kitchen stove." http://www.marvunapp.com/Appendix/landru.htm

            1852-Monday- Happy Birthday Ferdinand von Lindemann, German mathematician who was the first to prove that  is transcendental (it is not a solution of any algebraic equation with rational coefficients). This was von Lindemann’s transcendental meditation and he needed no maharishis to complete it. This finally established the insoluble nature of the classical Greek mathematical problem of squaring the circle (constructing a square with the same area as a given circle using ruler and compasses alone.) Really, the Greeks worried about stuff like that.  In 1873, Lindemann visited  Charles Hermite (who’s work in the theory of functions includes the application of elliptic functions to the quintic equation. In 1873 he published the first proof that e is a transcendental number and discussed the methods which Hermite had used in his proof that e, the base of natural logarithms, is transcendental. They formed a singing group, Herman’s Hermites – see Townshend Acts 1770-.  Following this visit, Lindemann was able to extend Hermite's results to show that  was also transcendental in 1882. It was easy as pi.

            1861-Friday-  The beginning of the Civil War as Confederate shore cannon under orders from General P.G.T. Beauregard opened fire on Union-held Fort Sumter(named after Revolutionary War hero Thomas Sumpter) commanded by Major Robert Anderson  in South Carolina's Charleston Bay.  On April 11, Gen. Beauregard sent his aides, Col. James Chestnut and Capt. Stephen Lee to deliver an ultimatum to Maj. Anderson. In it Beauregard specified that he would facilitate the removal of weapons and supplies from the fort, send personal items to any location desired but Anderson was to evacuate Sumter immediately after making all the beds, dusting the rooms, and leaving the refrigerator stocked with Dixie Beer. Anderson replied that his honor prevented him from doing so. He also informed Beauregard that the matter would be taken out of his hands anyway if they (the Confederates) didn’t batter down the walls, the Union soldiers would be starved out anyway in a few days.  We note that Brig. Gen. Beauregard had graduated West Point in 1838 and it just so happened his artillery instructor was no other than Major. Robert Anderson.

           1865 –Wednesday-  Four years to the day that the Civil War started, The last major Confederate port city fell when Mobile, Alabama, surrendered to Union troops. Mobile bay had been attacked by ships under the command of David Farragut in August, 1864.

            1877- Thursday-  Harvard catcher,  James Tyng became the first man to wear a catcher's mask in a professional game. Based on a fencing mask, he hired a local tinsmith, Frederick Thayer,  to construct a "bird cage" mask with padding in the chin and forehead area. Thayer received a patent for the mask in 1878. Later in the year, A.G Spalding and Brothers Company, the leading sporting goods dealer in the country, began selling the Thayer Catcher's Mask for $3.00 in their catalogue. http://bestblog.mlblogs.com/archives/2006/02/the_invention_o.html

            1888-Thursday-  A French newspaper mistakenly published an obituary for Albert Nobel, inventor of dynamite, calling him "a merchant of death." The mistake was that it was actually Albert's brother, Ludwig Nobel, who had just died (at age 56, due to heart trouble). However, shocked by the newspaper's report, and feeling guilty (being described as a “merchant of death” can be a wake up call), Albert Nobel began a change in the direction of his work, which led to the establishment of the Nobel Prizes. Nobel's last will left approximately 94 percent of his worth to the establishment of five prizes (physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace) to "those who, during the preceding year, shall have conferred the greatest benefit on mankind."

            1892-Tuesday-  The first U.S. patent for a portable typewriter,  eponymously named the  Blickensderfer,  was obtained by George Blickensderfer of Stamford, Connecticut. The Blickensderfer 5 (we don’t know what happened to numbers 1-4)  was the first portable with a full keyboard. This was the DHIATENSOR keyboard - He placed the most commonly used letters DHIATENSOR along the first row of keys. The machine was available with a QWERTY keyboard also, but only on request. Blickensderfer was also a great marketer.  The machine was presented in public for the first time at the 1893 Columbian Exhibition in Chicago, where George's attractive red-headed secretary May Munson  drew large crowds as she typed away at great speed on the machine with its fascinating typewheel. Other typewriters companies are reported to have closed their booths early, as George brought in hundreds of orders, including his first export deals. No word on what type of bonus the lovely Miss Munson received. http://www.typewritermuseum.org/history/inventors_blick.html

            1892 –Tuesday-  The first official use of a lever type voting machine, known then as the "Myers Automatic Booth," occurred in Lockport, New York in 1892. Some of these originals are still used in some states to this day…..just follow the vote counting on election night. Four years later, the presidential election featured McKinley defeating Bryant,  and Frank Black defeating Wilbur Porter for Governor of New York.. They were employed on a large scale in the city of Rochester, New York, and soon were adopted statewide. By 1930, lever machines had been installed in virtually every major city in the United States, and by the 1960's well over half of the Nation's votes were being cast on these machines.

            1924-Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Peter Safar, Austrian-American physician who pioneered the "Kiss of Life" procedure of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.  Also known as the “kissing bandit”, Safar is credited with saving countless lives. Yes, he was so near yet Safar away.  In the 1960s the technique was combined with new chest compressions, producing what's known today as CPR, or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. Although there are ancient references to the apparent use of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in the Bible, the technique fell out of practice until rediscovered by Safar in the 1950s. The motivation for that work came out of the 1966 death of his 11-year-old daughter, Elizabeth, who lapsed into a coma after a severe asthma attack. The resuscitation expert could revive his daughter's heart and lungs, but not her brain. Safar designed a daring experiment, he sedated and paralyzed volunteers. Then he would tilt a volunteer's head back and thrust the jaw forward, demonstrating effective airway opening. One can image the brouhaha if he tried to do that today. Although….it might make a nice reality show as intellectually challenged contestants vie to be sedated, paralyzed and kissed by an aging class D celebrity…….. He proved the “kiss of life,” or mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, was far more effective than the then standard chest pressure and arm lift technique.

            1934-Thursday- The highest surface wind speed ever recorded (231mph) blew all toupees away, on Mt. Washington, New Hampshire.  On May 3, 1999, the University of Oklahoma's Doppler on Wheels remotely sensed tornado wind speeds above ground level as high as about 318 mph …………while depositing a house on the head of an evil witch.

            1945 –Thursday- Franklin D. Roosevelt, the longest serving president in American history, went kaput from a cerebral hemorrhage at age 63 just three months into his fourth term.  Vice President Harry S. Truman became president. Roosevelt had been ailing for some time (he never should have gone to Yalta). Roosevelt, accompanied by “good friend” (wink wink, nudge nudge) Lucy Rutherford  was on vacation at Warm Springs, Georgia.  At around 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time, the butler brought FDR and his guests their lunch. At that moment, Roosevelt seemed agitated and flinched in his chair. An assistant asked the President if he needed help. FDR's head went forward. He gripped his head with his left hand and said, "I have a terrific headache." They would be his final words. The President collapsed and lost consciousness. He was pronounced kaput at 3:35 p.m.

            1954 –Monday- Speaking of Halley’s Comet on April 11, 1986 - Bill Haley and his band, the Comets, recorded Rock Around the Clock on this day in 1954. The song was released in May and barely made the pop charts, spending one week at No. 23 and then slipping into recording oblivion.  It became a hit after it opened the movie Blackboard Jungle  1955, a film about juvenile delinquency – Glenn Ford as the first of a seemingly endless line of dedicated teachers working with troubled “youths” and Sidney Poitier as a noble troubled “youth” with Vic Morrow as a really troubled troubled youth,….but we digress, and that’s troubling.  After the movie opened, sales of  Rock Around the Clock skyrocketed, selling six million copies by the end of 1955. The song climbed to the top of the charts in July 1955, becoming the first rock and roll song to reach No. 1. Of course Edmund’s Halley rhymed with valley and Bill Haley didn’t even spell it the same way.

            1954-Monday-  Get outta that bed, wash your face and hands
Get outta that bed, wash your face and hands
Well, you get in that kitchen, make some noise with the pots 'n pans
Way you wear those dresses, the sun comes shinin' through
Way you wear those dresses, the sun comes shinin' through
I can't believe my eyes, all that mess belongs to you
I believe to the soul you're the devil and now I know
I believe to the soul you're the devil and now I know
Well, the more I work, the faster my money goes
I said shake, rattle and roll, Shake, rattle and roll
Shake, rattle and roll, Shake, rattle and roll……….
And on the same day, Big Joe Turner’s Shake Rattle and Roll was released. On June 7, 1954 Bill Haley and His Comets would record a sanitized cover version. Even Elvis got into the act with a 1956 version, which had only limited success, combining Haley's faster, rockabilly arrangement with Turner's suggestive lyrics, though Elvis used Haley's lyrics when performing the song on his first national television appearance

            1961-Wednesday-  Vostok 1 carried the first man into space, Yuri Gagarin of the Soviet Union.  The flight lasted 108 minutes. The only statement attributed to Gagarin during his one hour and 48 minutes in space was, "Flight is proceeding normally; I am well." Followed by “don’t believe it! Get me the hell out of this tin can……arrgggh!”.  No, no, no Professor Sy Yentz has his claustrophobic sense of humor. The flight was automated and to prevent Gagarin from assuming manual control, the stick was locked - the code to unlock in a sealed envelope. Gagarin ejected after reentry and descended under his own parachute, as was planned. However for many years the Soviet Union denied this, (see list of Communist Lies, volume CLIX)  because the flight would not have been recognized for various FAI world records unless the pilot had accompanied his craft to a landing. He was recovered the same day at GMT southwest of Engels Smelovka, Saratov Tragically, Gagarin died during a routine test flight in 1965.  His ashes were  placed in the Kremlin wall.

            1966 –Tuesday-  Dead Man's Curve, it's no place to play
Dead Man's Curve, you must keep away
Dead Man's Curve, I can hear 'em say:
"Won't come back from Dead Man's Curve" …………..
Twenty five year-old Jan Berry of the singing duo Jan and Dean crashed his Corvette Stingray into the back of a parked truck on a side street in Beverly Hills. Berry, initially thought to be kaput, spent several weeks in a coma with severe injuries to the head and brain. The career of Jan & Dean was effectively kaput.  Of course there are “dead man’s curves” all over the world.  The legendary aspect to this story has it that Jan Berry's accident occurred on the very same "dead man's curve" that he had written sung about two years earlier in the Jan & Dean hit Dead Man’s Curve. However, the Beverly Hills side street where Berry ran his car into the truck was in fact south of Sunset Blvd., a few miles away from the real location of the song’s "dead man's curve." With therapy and time, Jan & Dean toured with the Beach Boys in 1978 and 1979. They performed intermittently until Berry went kaput in 2004.

            1966 –The official opening of the Houston Astrodome. It was billed as billed as the Eighth Wonder of the World by Astros original owner, Judge Roy Hofheinz. The Astrodome was the first ballpark to have a roof over the playing field. At first, the Astrodome had real grass. During the first Astros game, an April 9 exhibition with the New York Yankees, demonstrated that the semitransparent cream-colored panels in the roof made fly balls too difficult to see.(Note long term affect on the Yankees was that they finished in 10th place, LAST, in the American League that year.) Cleverly, they decided to pain the ceiling tiles but, oops,  the grass died. This led to the installation and ensuing plague of plastic grass known as Astroturf. The Astros lost this first game to the Philadelphia Phillies, 2-0.

1981-Sunday-  Twenty years to the day after Yuri Gagarin’s fight, the Space shuttle Columbia STS-1 became the first reusable spacecraft launched into space.  Piloted by astronauts Robert L. Crippen and John W. Young, the Columbia undertook a 54-hour space flight of 36 orbits before successfully touching down at California's Edwards Air Force Base on April 14. Mission goals were modest, The primary mission objectives for STS-1 were to accomplish a safe ascent into orbit, check out all the systems on the space shuttle and to return to Earth for a safe landing. Residual effects included the release of a mutant space virus that created annoying poofter judges on Dancing With the Stars and other “reality” shows.

1984 –Thursday-  Louie Louie, oh no
Me gotta go
Aye-yi-yi-yi, I said
Louie Louie, oh baby
Me gotta go

Fine little girl waits for me
Catch a ship across the sea
Sail that ship about, all alone
Never know if I make it home
Three nights and days I sail the sea
Think of girl, constantly
On that ship, I dream she's there
I smell the rose in her hair.
Okay, let's give it to 'em, right now!

See Jamaica, the moon above
It won't be long, me see me love
Take her in my arms again
Tell her I'll never leave again
Let's take it on outa here now
Let's go!!

Olympia Washington held a Louie Louie Day in an effort to have the quintessential party song declared the official state song replacing Washington, My Home written by Helen Davis.  Louie Louie. was written by Richard Berry in 1955 but the Kingsmen’s 1963 version endures.

The state song effort failed but the following year, the state Senate's Resolution 1985-37 declared April 12, 1985, "Louie Louie Day". A crowd of 4,000, estimated by press reports, convened on the state capitol for speeches, singalongs, and performances by the Wailers, the Kingsmen, and Paul Revere and the Raiders (!!!?????).

1985 –Friday The premiere of Girls Just Want to Have Fun, yet another movie metamorphosing from the title of a rock song (see Cyndi Lauper). With the tagline, “Getting into trouble is easy but getting out of it is all the fun!”,directed by Alan Metter and starring, the ubiquitous Sarah Jessica Parker, Helen Hunt and Shannon Doherty, the cinematic masterpiece scored a 33 on the Tomatometer on Rotten Tomatoes http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/girls_just_want_to_have_fun/

For a comprehensive list of movies named after songs see: http://www.amiright.com/names/movie-song-title-named/

1988-Tuesday-  The first U.S. patent was issued on an animal life form to Harvard scientists for a genetically engineered mouse. The mouse, which wrote the patent, re-designed the lab, painted the walls, and was captain of the football team, later claimed credit for writing Of Mice and Men.

1994 –Tuesday- Primoris nos iuguolo totus lawyers.  The first Internet spamming program was used by an attorney (it figures!)  in Arizona. Laurence Canter created the software program, , a Perl script, that flooded Usenet message board readers with a notice for the "Green Card Lottery" to solicit business for his law firm. The process was universally condemned then as now but “You win bic mony in Nigeria Lottey. Contac Mr. Obobo immediate.”

1999 –Monday-  Presidential stud muffin, US President Bill Clinton was cited for contempt of court for giving "intentionally false statements" in a sexual harassment civil lawsuit. President, “depends on what the meaning of is is”, gave intentionally false" testimony about his relationship with Monica S. Lewinsky in the Paula Jones lawsuit, marking the first time that a sitting president has been sanctioned for disobeying a court order.

Back to Calendar


1390-Tuesday-   “Hail hail the gangs all gone…..”A sudden hail storm was responsible for the deaths of almost 1,000 English soldiers in Chartres, France. Lightning struck, killing several people, and hailstones began pelting the soldiers, scattering the horses. One described it as “a foul day, full of myst and hayle, so that men dyed on horseback [.” Two of the English leaders were killed and then many soldiers died in a stampede as  panic set in among the troops, who had no shelter from the storm.

            1598-Monday-  King Henry IV of France signed the Edict of Nantes, granting rights to the Protestant Huguenots.  It marked the end of France’s Wars of Religion [1562 – 1598].  Over the course of these wars a series of treaties had been negotiated that provided certain privileges to the Huguenots.  However, all had been broken.  The Edict of Nantes integrated the various religious provisions of this series of broken treaties and provided a number of additional ones. Generally, under its provisions, it included full liberty of conscience and private worship; liberty of public worship wherever it had previously been granted and its extension to numerous other localities and to estates of Protestant nobles; full civil rights including the right to hold public office; royal subsidies for Protestant schools; special courts, composed of Roman Catholic and Protestant judges, to judge cases involving Protestants; retention of the organization of the Protestant church in France…all  with the exception of Paris. 

            1625 –Sunday The word "microscope" was first suggested term in a letter written by Johannes Faber of Bamberg, Germany, to Federigo Cesi, Duke of Aquasparata and founder of Italy's Accademiadei Lincei (Academy of the Lynx). Of course he used the German mikroskop or possibly Italian word, microscopio.  We’re pretty sure he didn’t use the Swahili, darubini. Microscope is the English word.

            1742 –Friday-  Hallelujah, Hallelujah,
Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah [3x]
For the Lord God omnipotent reigneth
Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah Hallelujah [2x]
……..George Frideric Handel's (yes, his musical notes were on Handel Bars) oratorio Messiah had its world-premiere in Dublin, Ireland at a charity event to raise money for a hospital. In 1741, Handel interrupted his work on classical MacDonald’s jingles when the librettist Charles Jennens approached him about a musical oratorio on the life of the Messiah. Jennens' concept was to tell the entire story of the Christ through passages of Scripture put to music, an orotorio.

            1743-Saturday-  •"In questions of power, then, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but bind him down from mischief by the chains of the Constitution."  —Thomas Jefferson …….Happy Birthday, Thomas Jefferson, horticulturist, statesman, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, author, inventor and founder of the University of Virginiaand, yes,  the third U.S president. Jefferson was the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), and one of the most influential Founding Fathers for his promotion of the ideals of Republicanism in the United States. Major events during his presidency include the Louisiana Purchase (1803) and the Lewis and Clark Expedition (1804-1806). His first Vice President was the odious Aaron Burr, the 2nd, George Clinton (also famous as lead singer of  Parliament Funkadelic). Jefferson was so multi talented that when John F. Kennedy welcomed forty-nine Nobel Prize winners to the White House in 1962 he said, "I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent and of human knowledge that has ever been gathered together at the White House - with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."¹

          1782 –Saturday-  For some reason, the name of Forks of the Tar, North Carolina was changed in to Washington in honor of General George Washington, making l Washington the first town to be named after the  First President.

             1796- Wednesday- “One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I'll never know.”……….Groucho Marx………The first elephant brought to the U.S. arrived at New York City from Bengal, India. It was exhibited by Jacob Crowninshield at the corner of Beaver Street and Broadway. The elephant was two years old and 6-1/2 feet high, The original press release described it as; "It eats thirty pounds of rice besides hay and straw - drinks all kinds of wine and spirituous liquors,(an alcoholic elephant??) eats every kind of vegetable, and it will also draw a cork from a bottle in its trunk." Crowinshield  had purchased the pachyderm in India and brought it to America. The entire venture cost him $450. At that exhibition, a Welshman named Owen offered to buy it for $10,000. From there, it seems the elephant went of tour constantly for many years. The elephant never received a name.  It was always called “the elephant” or “he”. But, in fact, he was a she.

          1808 – William Henry Lane (1825 - 1852) was known as Master Juba and the "Juba dance," also known as "Pattin' Juba," was a mix of European Jig, Reel Steps, Clog and African Rhythms. It became popular around 1845. This was, some say, the creation of tap dancing in America as a theatrical art form and American Jazz dance.  The Xeroxian world of the Internet (dozens of citations all copying each other)  lists 1808 with  Lane “perfecting the tap dance”.  This was quite an accomplishment since he wouldn’t be born for another seventeen years.  Anyway this gives us a chance to explore the dance. The All About Tap Dance straightens out the missteps.  Tap dancing started with the Africans in early America who would beat out rhythms in their dances with brushing and shuffling movements of the feet. These dancers came to be called Levee Dancers throughout the south. White performers copied many of these intricate steps and the Shuffle Dance style would eventually find fame within the minstrel shows around 1830. Meanwhile, back at the potato famine, Irish immigrants were bring clogging to America. Tap Dance and Irish Clogging share deep roots. The most difficult of the Irish clogs are the Irish Jigs and Hornpipes. In some of these the feet can tap the floor more than seventy times in fifteen seconds. Irish clog dancer, John "Jack" Diamond (1828 - 1850) was considered one of the greatest "Jig dancers" of all time. Modern tap dancing evolved though the years 1900 to 1920. http://www.theatredance.com/tap/

            1831-Wednesday-  Got coffee on the paper
My dog's an alligator
I want you now and later
I got a crush got a crush on you
Got a crush got a crush on you
………….Roxette……….The first patent for a stone crushing machine was issued to Benjamin F. Lodge and Ezekial T. Cox of Zanesville, Ohio. This stone crushing machine replaced circus strongman Elrod Loothgum who used to crush stones with his bare hands and sometimes with his teeth.

            1852 Tuesday-  It was a lucky April shower
It was the most convenient door
I found a million dollar baby
In a five and ten cent store.
The rain continued for an hour.
I hung around for three or four.
Around a million dollar baby
In a five and ten cent store.
………Harry Warren (lyrics Mort Dixon & Billy Rose) …….Happy Birthday, F.W Woolworth, born in Rodman, NY. While working at a store, Woolworth discovered that selling items for 5 cents would attract customers (duh).  He opened his own store in Utica, NY and was an immediate success.  However, as the novelty of the five cent sale wore off, so did sales and he had to close.  His next store, opened in 1889, in Lancaster, Pa was in the center of town and a huge success as he found that by adding ten-cent items, he was able to increase his inventory greatly and thereby acquired a unique institutional status most important for the success of his stores. Like the Blob in the 1958 movie, he kept expanding and by 1912 there were 631 outlets doing a business of $60,558,000.  In that year Woolworth merged with five of his leading competitors, forming a corporation capitalized at $65 million. The next year, at a cost of $13.5 million, he built the Woolworth Building in downtown New York, the tallest skyscraper in the world at the time.     

            1866-Friday-  Happy Birthday, Butch Cassidy, (Leroy Parker) the last of the great western train-robbers born Beaver, Utah Territory. The first major crime attributed to Cassidy is the robbery of the San Miguel Valley Bank in Telluride, on June 24, 1889. He and three cowboys got away with $20,000. Later, he formed the Wild Bunch, which included Dick Maxwell, Elzy Lay, and Harry Longabaugh, who was perhaps better known as the Sundance Kid. Later the group was joined by Henry Wilbur 'Bub' Meeks, and George Currie. Driven from the U.S by the pursuit of lawmen, the outlaws plied their trade in South America. Though there is no evidence definitely to confirm it, Bolivian troops reportedly killed the partners in the village of San Vicente in 1908. The families of both men insist, however, that the men survived and returned to live into old age in the United States. Today, thanks to the 1969 movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, most people think of Butch as Paul Newman and Sundance as Robert Redford.  IMDb tells us that Dustin Hoffman was considered for the role of Butch and Jack Lemmon turned down the role of Sundance because he was making the movie The Odd Couple.

            1869-Tuesday-  The first U.S. patent for an air brake was issued to George Westinghouse of Schnectady, N.Y.  Westinghouse, who would eventually hold more than 400 patents related to railroads and the development of electric power, he invented the railroad airbrake and kept improving it. Why air brakes?  Air is everywhere. Hydraulic fluid isn't. Trains, buses and tractor-trailers use air-brake systems so they don’t have to rely on the hydraulic fluid in car braking systems, which can run out in the event of a leak. All of these types of transportation are weighed down by heavy passenger or cargo loads, so safety is of the utmost importance. A speeding locomotive that relied on hydraulic brakes would turn into a deadly steel bullet if the brake system suddenly busted a leak. http://auto.howstuffworks.com/auto-parts/brakes/brake-types/air-brake1.htm The airbrake was a revolutionary advancement in railroad safety and efficiency, making it possible to stop an entire train by pulling just one lever.

            1888-Friday-  Happy Birthday, John  Hays Hammond. U.S. inventor whose development of radio remote control served as the basis for modern missile guidance systems.  In 1911, he established the Hammond Radio Research Laboratory and by 1914 had laid the foundations for all subsequent radio remote control. He also invented a target-seeking system and he began work on the first radio-guided torpedo.

            1906-Friday- “Let's go. Yes, let's go. (They do not move)."
- Samuel Beckett, Waiting for Godot.
 Samuel Beckett, the Irish-born author, critic, and playwright who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969 and may still be Waiting for Godot.

            1919-Sunday-  In Amritsar, Punjab, India's holy city of the Sikh religion, British and Gurkha troops massacred at least 379 unarmed demonstrators meeting at a city park. Troops under Gen Edward Dyer opened fire without warning on a crowd of some 10,000, assembled to protest against the arrest of two Indian National Congress leaders.  "The impossible men of India shall rise and liberate their Motherland"
Mahatma Gandhi, after the Amritsar Massacre.

                1941 – Sunday- Attention Lipitor and Zocor fans, Happy Birthday, Michael Brown, American molecular geneticist who traced a genetic defect that resulted in people being deficient in cell receptors for LDL (low-density lipoproteins - the primary cholesterol carrying particles, aka “Bad Cholesterol”). These cell receptors draw the LDL particles into the cells as a prelude to breaking them down, and thus remove them from the bloodstream.  Along with Joseph L. Goldstein, Brown was awarded the 1985 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine 

            1954-Tuesday-  Baseball hall-of-famer Hank Aaron made his major league debut playing left field for the Milwaukee Braves. He went 0 for 5 against the Cincinnati Reds in a 9-8 loss. Aaron batted 5th  behind right fielder Andy Pafko and before  1st baseman, Joe Adcock.

            1958 –Sunday -The first Moscow of the International Tchaikovsky Competition, for pianists and violinists was held and with Russia's legacy of musical virtuosos, it was expected to be a showcase for Communist cultural superiority. Surprise! The winner was a 23 year old from Texas, Van Cliburn. In the first round, Cliburn received an eight-minute standing ovation from the Moscow audience for his recital performance of  Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No. 1 and Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 3 as well as Jerry Lee Lewis’ Great Balls of Fire and Breathless,  and his subsequent rounds were given equally tumultuous responses.

            1962 –Friday- The New York City premiere of the watershed cinematic magnum opus, Don’t Knock the Twist. In a master stroke of casting, the movie starred Chubby Checker. The plot centered on the effort to put together a “twist themed” television show in only a few weeks. How did they ever do it?  There was a companion movie, the cleverly named Twist Around the Clock, released in 1961 which also starred the Chubster as well as a Belmontless Dion. Don’t Knock the Twist also starred the Duke of Earl, Gene Chandler and the Dovells, (Bristol Stomp).

            1970-Monday-  Houston we’ve had a problem here.”  Apollo 13 commander, Jim Lovell informed the world that oxygen tank no. 2 had exploded 200,000 miles from Earth.  9 minutes earlier Lovell had stated: "This is the crew of Apollo 13 wishing everybody there a nice evening, and we're just about ready to close out our inspection of Aquarius (the LM) and get back for a pleasant evening in Odyssey (the CM). Good night." When no. 2 tank exploded, no. 1 also failed The Apollo 13 command module’s normal supply of electricity, light, and water was lost, and they were about 200,000 miles from Earth. They had to use the Lunar Module as a lifeboat to live in and steer back to Earth.

                1990-Friday-  The Soviet government officially accepted blame for the Katyn Massacre of World War II, when nearly 5,000 Polish military officers were murdered and buried in mass graves in the Katyn Forest. The Stalin led Soviets had invaded Poland in 1939. Sometime in the spring of 1940, thousands of Polish military officers were rounded up by Soviet secret police forces, taken to the Katyn Forest outside of Smolensk, massacred, and buried in a mass grave. The Communist government of the U.S.S.R had denied responsibility for 49 years.

                2000-Thursday-  "Hickory Dickory Dock, three mice ran up the clock.  The clock struck one......and the other two escaped with minor injuries." Happy  Birthday to the mouse named Yoda. It became the world's oldest mouse on his fourth birthday in 2004 (which at 1,462-days-old compares to about 136 in human-years). A dwarf mouse, Yoda lived with a hot babe, a larger female concubine (Princess Leia) to provide him with protective body warmth (wink, wink, nudge nudge),  The life span of the average laboratory mouse is slightly over two years. Yoda died peacefully in his cage at the U-M Medical School. He was four years and 12 days old. If Princess Leia was there with him it was probably with a smile on his little rodent face.

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43 BC –Tuesday-  Just over a year after the assassination of Julius Caesar came the Battle of Forum Gallorum- just outside Modena,  Mark Antony, besieging Julius Caesar's assassin Decimus Junius Brutus (not the “et tu Brute….another Brutus) in Mutina (now Modena home of  wonderful balsamic vinegar), defeated  the forces of the consul Pansa, who was rendered kaput during the hostilities. Decimus Brutus decided to flee to Macedonia, where Marcus Junius Brutus (this was the Et tu Brute) and Cassius  were garrisoned. He left Italy, abandoning his legions, but was killed shortly afterwards, before reaching his fellow assassins.

            1205 – Battle of Adrianople (in Turkey) between Bulgars under Tsar Kaloyan, and Latins (Crusaders) under the Latin emperor Baldwin I. It was won by the Bulgars after the latins spent too much time conjugating verbs and were ambushed. Around 300 Latin knights were killed, and the emperor was captured, had his eyes plucked out and later died in captivity. The happy Bulgars then overran much of Thrace and Macedonia, exterminating a large part of the Greek population.        

            1471 –Friday-  In the English Wars of the Roses, the Yorkists under Edward IV defeated  the Lancastrians under Richard Neville, the Earl of Warwick (supporters of the feeble minded shlump Henry VI)  at the Battle of Barnet. In 1470 Warwick, “The Kingmaker” drove Edward from the throne and re-installed the addled Henry VI.  During the Battle of Barnet, Neville was killed and Edward IV, who had reigned since 1461, (with just the one year interruption) when with Warwicks help he usurp Henry VI, now resumed the throne.

            1611 –Thursday- The word "telescope" was first used in public by Prince Federico Cesi at a banquet held by the pioneer scientific society, the Academy of Linceans honoring Galileo Galilei. After Galileo showed the guests the moons of Jupiter, other celestial sites, and even an inscription on a building three miles away, and exotic dancer Fifi La Boom Boom changing her costume while standing in front of the adjacent window. The name was announced by Cesi to christen Galileo's instrument, the word telescopio (in Italian) it was derived from Greek words (tele = far and scopeo = see). Also note that on April 13 1625, another member of the Linceans, Giovanni Faber of Bamberg coined the analagous word microscope. The 14th has been a great day for “scopes”

            1629-Saturday-Happy Birthday, Christiaan Huygens, Dutch physicist (not related to the Huygens of Scotland), who probably wrote the first formal treatise on probability. He also discovered the rings of Saturn, and its moon, Titan in 1655.  Huygens also developed the wave theory of light. Never one to let grass grow under his feet, he discovered the difference of the polar and equatorial diameter of Jupiter, made a first map of Mars and calculated the Martian day at 24 hours because of the movement of surface marks on the red planet. He  proposed that Venus is covered by clouds, and he observed the inner region of the Orion nebula and mapped the stars within. Whew! This brightest part of the Orion nebula therefore is called Huygens region after him. Turning his attention to mathematics, Huygens created a complete theory about the game of dice, which was published by his mathematics teacher Frans van Schooten  in 1657 as De ludo aleae. With this Huygens is known as the founder of the theory of probabilistics. Although the pendulum clock was invented by Galilei and da Vinci already, Huygens was the first who worked out the practical problems of such a chronometer and let build many (different) clocks of that type. It is believed that on the afternoon of July 5, 1671, he took an hour off work, kicked off his shoes, had a beer, and just relaxed.

           1775 –Friday-  The first American society for the abolition of slavery , the Pennslyvania Abolition  Society  was organized by Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush at the  Rising Sun Tavern in Philadelphia.

            1827-Saturday-  Name of the day honors go to….. Happy Birthday, Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt-Rivers, English archaeologist often called the "father of British archaeology" for expressing the importance of thorough site excavation through stratigraphic observation and recording. Pitt-Rivers stressed the need for total excavation of sites but mainly Professor Sy Yentz picked him because it's a great name to drop during a casual dinner conversation.            

            1828-Monday- Talk in everlasting words, and dedicate them all to me.
And I will give you all my life, I'm here if you
should call to me.
You think that I don't even mean a single word I say.
It's only words, and words are all I have, to take
your heart away
……The Bee Gees…….Noah Webster published his first dictionary.  This also answered the question, “Do you noah Webster?” Actually, to “noah him was to love him.” Webster  had published his first dictionary of the English language in 1806, and on April 14,  1828 published the first edition of his An American Dictionary of the English Language. The work came out in two volumes. It contained 12,000 words and from 30,000 to 40,000 definitions that had not appeared in any earlier dictionary.  Webster changed the spelling of quite a few words in his dictionaries in an attempt to make them more phonetic. Many of the differences between American English and other English variants evident today originated this way. In other words, he lived in the center centre theater theatre of a humourless humorless neighbourhood neighborhood.  Take that spell check!  The modern convention of having only one acceptable and correct spelling for a word is due mostly to the efforts of Webster in standardizing spelling. Prior to this, the popular sentiment toward spelling might have best been summed up by Benjamin Franklin who said that he “had no use for a man with but one spelling for a word.

        1863-Tuesday-  The first American patent for a continuous-roll printing press was issued to William Bullock of Philadelphia. Two years later the machine had been built, and was the first press built to use special curved stereo-type plates. It was first used by the New York Sun…later merged with the New York World Telegram to become the World Telegram & Sun and then kaput with the newspaper strike of 1962).  Both sides of the paper were printed, as well as being cut into sheets, either before or after printing. It achieved the speed of rotary printing, and by feeding from a continuous roll of paper, it eliminated the heretofore laborious hand-feeding required by presses. Bullock's press could print 10,000 two-sided sheets per hour. Unfortunately, as happens with Science Gnus, William Bullock did not enjoy the profits from his innovative invention. In 1867, he went kaput as a result of injuries sustained when he got caught in the gears of his press. In 1452,  metal plates were first used in printing. Gutenberg began printing the Bible which he finished in 1456. The rotary printing press invented by David Napier in 1819.

                1865 -Friday Abraham Lincoln was shot by Confederate fanatic (and actor) John Wilkes Booth as he watched a performance of the British comedy, Our American Cousin at Ford's Theater in Washington D.C. Halfway through Act III, Scene 2, the character Asa Trenchard (the title role), played that night by Harry Hawk, utters a line that is considered one of the play's funniest, "Don't know the manners of good society, eh? Well, I guess I know enough to turn you inside out, old gal—you sockdologizing old man-trap..." During the raucous laughter that followed this line, Booth, shot the President. That same evening, co-conspirator Lewis T. Powell broke into Secretary of State William Seward's home and stabbed him, seriously wounding him. However, another of the conspirators, George A. Atzerodt, assigned to assassinate Vice President Andrew Johnson, lost his nerve and fled. Just after 10 p.m. when Booth had entered Lincoln's private theater box unnoticed. Lincoln's bodyguard, John Parker of the Metropolitan Police Force, had left his post. At about 10:15 P.M. Booth opened the door to the State Box, shot Lincoln in the back of the head at near point-blank range with a single bullet .44 caliber bullet  from his single shot derringer pistol. Booth then jumped to the stage and shouted "Sic semper tyrannis! (Thus always to tyrants)—although some in the audience heard it as the South is avenged!" Booth broke his left leg when jumping to the stage.  Still, he managed to escape but was later cornered in a barn, and shot to death. 

           1866-Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Anne Sullivan Macy, the American teacher who helped educate the blind, deaf and mute Helen Keller.  When she was nineteen months old an illness left Keller deaf, blind, and mute. Anne Sullivan, herself formerly blind, managed to break through to communicate with Helen. The child developed a love of learning thanks to Sullivan, and her remarkable achievements in reading, writing and even speaking soon made her internationally famous.  The story was made into the 1962 movie, The Miracle Worker starring Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke.

            1894 –Saturday-  Thomas Edison's Kinetoscope first appeared in a New York City arcade. The peep-show film machines accommodated only one viewer at a time and later showed short films of entertainers like Annie Oakley, Buffalo Bill, and the Jerry Springer Show.

           1898- We’ve all heard the painful to the ears squealing electronic feedback from microphones and electric guitars so Happy Birthday, Harold S. Black, American electrical engineer who discovered and developed the negative-feedback principle, in which amplification output is fed back into the input, thus producing nearly distortionless and steady amplification.  Negative feedback soon allowed the Bell system to reduce overcrowding of lines and extend its long-distance network by means of carrier telephony. Without Harold Black, Jimi Hendrix couldn’t have played the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock.

            1902 –Monday James Cash Penney opened the first J. C. Penney  store  in Kammerer, Wyoming. It  was a one-room wooden building. He and his family lived in the attic above the store. Penney stocked quality products at fair prices for mining and farm families…….all six of them.  Yeesh! How many people lived in Wyoming?   He accepted “cash only” for his goods, rather than credit. Penney’s store was successful because his customers liked the merchandise and good service. Actually, this first store wasn’t J.C Penney.  The original name for the store was The Golden Rule, but was changed to J.C. Penney in 1913

             1910-Thursday-  Starting a tradition that would last many years, President William Howard Taft threw out the first ball for the opening of the baseball season.  The Philadelphia Athletics, under manager Connie Mack (who would finally retire as manager in 1950), played the Washington Senators.  The rotund president tossed the first ball to future Hall of Famer Walter Johnson, who then pitched the first of his 14 Opening Day Washington games.  Johnson, aka “The Big Train” struck out nine, en route to a  3 - 0 one hit shutout against Eddie Plank and the Philadelphia Athletics.

            1912 –Sunday-  They should have pensus intentio ut admonitio -------The R.M.S Titanic hit an iceberg.   At 9:40pm, a radio operator took a message from the westbound SS Mesaba: "From Mesaba to Titanic and all eastbound ships. Ice report in latitude 420N to 41025’N, longitude 490W to 50030’W. Saw much heavy pack ice and great number large icebergs. Also field ice. Weather good, clear."     The Mesaba’s message was the sixth ice warning received by the Titanic that day. The Titanic then proceeded to hit the iceberg at just after 11:40 p.m. At about 2:20 a.m. on the morning of April 15, the huge liner, on its maiden voyage, sank into the North Atlantic. Because of a shortage of lifeboats and the lack of satisfactory emergency procedures, more than 1,500 people went down in the sinking ship or froze to death in the icy North Atlantic waters.  As an interesting broadcasting side note, 19 year old David Sarnoff picked up a message of distress call of the Titanic relayed from ships at sea: "S.S. Titanic ran into iceberg, sinking fast." Sarnoff, was a telegraph operator managing a Marconi radio telegraph station on top of Wannamaker's department store in New York. He stayed at his post for 72 hours, receiving and transmitting the first authentic information on the disaster.  Sarnoff went on to become a pioneer in radio and television broadcasting: He founded NBC in 1926, created an experimental television station for NBC in 1928, and became president and chairman of RCA.

            1921-Thursday- The snow is snowing, the wind is blowing
But I can weather the storm!
What do I care how much it may storm?
I've got my love to keep me warm. ……
Irving Berlin……The world‘s largest snowfall in a 24 hour period took place in Silver Lake, Colorado.  75 inches fell, putting a chill on the Greater Rocky Mountain Botanists’ “Fun in the Sun Picnic and Leaf Smelling Extravaganza” scheduled for that day.

            1927-Thursday-  And now we know why no fish have fingers. Clarence Birdsye took them!  Frozen fish fingers were patented by Clarence Birdseye of Gloucester, Mass. Later, due to a guilty conscience, Clarence invented fish finger gloves so that they could keep their little frozen fingers warm. Birdseye, while working as a trapper in the northwest came to realize that frozen fish and meat could taste as good (Birdseye thought that – not Professor Sy Yentz) as regular fish and meat.  Freezing it slowly resulted in a gooey mush when thawed but a quick freeze in very cold temperatures did the trick et voila!

            1927 –Thursday-  Happy Birthday, Alan MacDiarmid,  New-Zealand-born American chemist who shared the 2000 Nobel Prize in Chemistry (with Alan Heeger and Hideki Shirakawa) "for the discovery and development of conductive polymers." Plastics (formed of repeated units in long-chain polymer molecules) most often do not conduct electricity, and are used for insulation. Conductive polymers applications include display devices ( for mobile telephones and small television screens) ; photographic films, sensors and even, in the future,  artificial nerves and muscles. The hottest thing, which is likely to cause a ‘revolution’, may be "organic LEDS – Smartboards, which are already changing the way teachers conduct classroom activities.

            1956-Saturday-  On the same day that Edison’s kinescope first appeared (in 1894), the first practical commercial black-and-white video recorder was demonstrated at a broadcast convention in Chicago. It would have been a tough fit for your home entertainment center as the "VT-100" was the size of a freezer with an additional five 6-foot racks of wiring. CBS vice president, William Lodge made a speech at the convention. During his remarks, Lodge mentioned a new technological breakthrough, but was not specific. At the conclusion of his address, he remained at the podium. As the crowd began to murmur and break up, the video monitors went from black to an image of Lodge. Only this time, Lodge was still making his presentation, not standing silently. They had just demonstrated the first video recording.  The crowd went wild.

            1960 - We love you Conrad
Oh, yes we do
We love you Conrad
And we'll be true.

When you're not near us
We're blue.
Oh, Conrad, we love you! …
. Lyrics by Lee Adams; Music by Charles Strouse…………… The musical Bye Bye Birdie (a rock star spoof aimed at Elvis) opened at the Martin Beck Theatre in New York City. Chita Rivera and Dick Van Dyke, along with Dick Gautier, Paul Lynde, Kay Medford and Michael J. Pollard,  starred in the Broadway show which ran for 607 performances.

            1961-Friday-  The manmade element 103, Lawrencium (Lw), Atomic Number:  103 Atomic Weight:  262 - was produced in the U.S by four American scientists, Albert Ghiorso, Torbjørn Sikkeland, Almon E. Larsh and Robert M. Latimer  Too bad it wasn't found in the Middle East.  It could have been "Lawrencium of Arabia".  Since only tiny amounts of lawrencium have ever been produced, there are currently no uses for it outside of basic scientific research although it may be responsible for the increasing numbers of people who never use their turn signals while driving their cars.

            1963 –Sunday- Elvis met Richard Nixon.  Orpheus met Eurydice. Napoleon met Josephine.  Antony met Cleopatra.  The Paragons met the Jesters.  And on this day, The Beatles met the Rolling Stones.  The Beatles were in the audience at the Stones' show in Richmond at the Crawdaddy Club at the Station Hotel. Shortly thereafter, George Harrison recommended that Decca Records -- the same label that had passed on the Beatles -- sign a deal with the still-unknown Stones. http://www.therockradio.com/2007/04/flashback-beatles-meet-rolling-stones.html

            1984 – Ignoring Blood on Satan’s Claw, Daytona Beach Party, American Psycho and Oliver Twist which all debuted on April 12, the Gnus salutes multicultural diversity, today’s movie note is Yeojaga duebeon hwajeonhal dae which premiered in South Korea on this day. Directed by In Soo Kim, stars So-yeong Ahn and Yeong-ha Lee. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0331092/

            1986 –Monday-  In retaliation for Libyan sponsoring of terrorist acts against U.S troops and citizens, the United States launched air strikes which began shortly before 7 p.m. EST (2 a.m., April 15 in Libya).  The attacks involved more than 100 U.S. Air Force and Navy aircraft, and were over within an hour. Five military targets and "terrorism centers" were hit, including the headquarters of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi.

            1993-  British archaeologists unearthed a 7,000-year old seafarer's village on Dalma island in the United Arab Emirates. They said it was the first major settlement of the Ubaid period in that area. They even found records of the village mayor, one Larry King, through identification of a fossilized pair of suspenders. The Ubaid culture had a long duration beginning before 5300 BC and lasting until the beginning of the Uruk period, c. 4100 BC. The invention of the wheel probably occurred during the Ubaid period.

            2003 –Monday-  The Human Genome Project was completed with 99% of the human genome sequenced to an accuracy of 99.99%.  The Human Genome Project was the international 13-year effort, formally begun in October 1990 and completed in 2003, to discover all the estimated 20,000-25,000 human genes and make them accessible for further biological study. Another project goal was to determine the complete sequence of the 3 billion DNA subunits (bases in the human genome). Still another goal was to determine why people watch anything on the CW network. Some current and potential applications of genome research include:
            Molecular medicine
            Energy sources and environmental applications
           Risk assessment
            Bioarchaeology, anthropology, evolution, and human migration
            DNA forensics (identification)
            Agriculture, livestock breeding, and bioprocessing
            Determining exactly what composes a cheese doodle

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Tax Day – Professor Sy Yentz spent a bit of time trying to find out why April 15 is the day that Income Taxes are due.  Thanks to a Fortune.com article we know that that Congress passed the Sixteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which allowed for the implementation of personal income tax, on February 3, 1913, and chose March 1 of the following year as the filing deadline. The deadline was changed to March 15 in 1918, and, then  to April 15 in 1955. Moving back the date from the end of the tax year served two purposes -- it gave the IRS more time to handle the work and, more importantly, more time to hang on to your money before paying those wasteful bedlamites in the government or….. issuing you a refund…..which is your money anyway. We looked for some of the dumbest, worst, “what were they thinking” taxes in history and found; The Salt Tax - Salt taxes were partially responsible for the fall of the Chinese empire, the French salt tax (the gabelle) helped precipitate the French Revolution and Gandhi himself marched in an anti-salt tax protest in 1930; The Danegeld – The Saxons  began paying the Danegeld a tax to the Danes on not being killed by Danes; Peter the Great’s Beard Tax – Yes, he taxed beards and since everyone in 18th century Russia had a beard (including many of the women), that was some tax.  Peter didn’t like beards and bearded folks were also required to wear medals admitting that their beards were ridiculous; The IRA (a paragon of stupidity) has the Illegal-Drugs Tax. Yes, the Internal Revenue Service expects people to actually implicate themselves in crimes just so they can get at those deductibles as they file a comprehensive tax return. The IRS tax income guidelines insist that "…illegal income, such as money from dealing illegal drugs, must be included in your income on Form 1040, line 21."; and in England the Hearth and the Window Taxes, The 1660 hearth tax was a tax on chimneys, so people started  hiding  their chimneys, http://www.askmen.com/top_10/entertainment/top-10-pain-in-the-ass-taxes-in-history_3.html and that happened with the Window Tax where windows were taxed to people began bricking up their windows.  There’s probably something like that in the U.S Tax Code but you can find out for yourself by going to the US Government Printing Office ( www.gpo.gov ),  and ordering  a complete set of Title 26 of the US Code of Federal Regulations (that's the part written by the IRS), all twenty volumes of it, at the bargain price of $974, shipping included, and if you order within the next ten minutes you get a free DVD of someone doing their taxes.  According to the US Government Printing Office, it's 13,458 pages in total. The full text of Title 26 of the United States Code (the part written by Congress--available for an additional $179) is a mere 3,387 printed pages, bringing the adjusted gross page count to 16,845. In  comparison, the United States Constitution is printed on 6 pages: pages 1-4 are the base text of the constitution page 5 is the letter of transmittal,  page 6 contains the Bill of Rights

            1452-Thursday- Happy Birthday, Leonardo Da Vinci, Renaissance Man -  Italian artist and inventor and genius. Da Vinci was a great engineer and inventor who designed buildings, bridges, canals, forts and war machines. He kept huge notebooks sketching (including a helicopter – we note this because of Forlanini’s helicopter on this same day in 1877 and Sikorsky’s helicopter on this same day in 1941) his ideas. He is most famous for being one of the greatest painters of all times, best known for such works as the Mona Lisa and the Milan fresco, The Last Supper.  Indeed, DaVinci’s interests were so broad, and he was so often compelled by new subjects and challenges, that he usually failed to finish what he started. This lack of assiduity resulted in his completing only about six works in 17 years at one point, including "The Last Supper" and "The Virgin on the Rocks," (named after an alcohol-free drink)  and he left dozens of paintings and projects unfinished or unrealized (such as his bronze horse for the Duke of Milan). He spent most of his time studying science and nature either by observing things or by locking himself away in his workshop cutting up the bodies of beasties,  or pondering universal truths.


          1688 –Thursday-  Happy Birthday, German composer Johann Friedrich Fasch. He is currently decomposing.  A biographical movies series  has been named after him, The Fasch and the Furious.  

            1707-Friday-  Happy Birthday, Leonard Euler, Swiss mathematician and physicist, one of the founders of pure mathematics,  including analytic geometry, trigonometry, geometry, calculus and number theory. He was a student of tutored by Johann Bernoulli, one of the seeming dozens of Bernoullis running around in the17th and 18th centuries.  Euler systematized mathematics by introducing the symbols e , i , and f(x) for f a function  of x. At age 28, he blinded one eye by staring at the sun while working to invent a new way of measuring time. Thirty one years later, he lost his sight in the other eye.  Semi blindness and eventual blindness did not slow him down.  While fathering thirteen children, he also published over eight hundred papers in his lifetime.   

1726-Monday-  The story of “Newton’s apple” was born as writer William Stukeley reportedly had a conversation with Isaac Newton during which Newton recalled "when formerly, the notion of gravitation came into his mind." Later, Stukeley writing in his Memoirs of Sir Isaac Newton's Life, recorded that Newton said, "It was occasioned by the fall of an apple”, as he sat in contemplative mood. “Why should that apple always descend perpendicularly to the ground, thought he to himself. Why should it not go sideways or upwards, but constantly to the earth's centre.”

1793 –Monday-  Happy Birthday, Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve,  German-Russian astronomer, best known by his observations of double stars, which he carried on for many years. These bodies had first been regularly measured by William Herschel, who discovered that many of them formed systems of two stars revolving around their common center of gravity.

1801-  Happy Birthday- Édouard Lartet was a French geologist, archaeologist, and a principal founder of paleontology, who is credited with discovering man's earliest art and, after he found a mammoth tooth in a cave with a drawing of a mammoth announced that he had found the first mammoth dental office. Actually,  it proved  that man lived at the same time as the mammoth. He also he discovered Pliopithecus antiquus, later identified as Congressman Henry Waxman of Texas, the first fossil ape found, and  Dryopithecus fontani, another fossil ape, identified as Joan Rivers.

1817 –Tuesday-  The founding of The American School for the Deaf in Hartford, Ct.  It opened in what was formerly Bennett's City Hotelon .  The school became the first recipient of state aid to education in America when the Connecticut General Assembly awarded its first annual grant to the school in 1819. When the United States Congress awarded the school a land grant in the Alabama Territory in 1820, it was the first instance of federal aid to elementary and secondary special education in the United States. More than four thousand alumni have claimed this historic school as their alma mater. Also notable is that the school survived a presentation by Professor Sy Yentz, who visited to train teachers in a new science program.

1850-Monday- One year after the Gold Rush of 1849, San Francisco was incorporated as a city by the California state legislature.  The 1850 City Charter established the boundaries of;  on the south, a line parallel to Clay Street, two miles south from Portsmouth square; on the west, a line parallel to Kearny Street, one and a half miles from the square; on the north and east, the county limits

1856 –Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, Akiba Horowitz, Russian born entrepreneur who entered into the United States through Ellis Island in 1891. Horowitz changed his name to Conrad Hubert.  He started a business and as it grew, he purchased a patent for an electrical bicycle light, and later, the patent for the first tubular flashlight. Hubert is often credited with the invention of the flashlight, but that light should shine on David Misell, British man working in Hubert's New York shop in 1898 and the man from whom he purchased that patent. Conrad Hubert does, however, get the credit for first introducing the flashlight to the world. Hubert's great marketing idea for his Flash Lights (it was two words back then) was  to offer them to New York City policemen, resulting in high visibility for the product and a near instant success for him.  Oh yes……his company changed its name to Ever Ready.

            1865-Tuesday-  On this day President Lincoln died as a result of the gunshot wound received on April 14 when he was shot by John Wilkes Booth at Ford's Theater.  Andrew Johnson became the 17th president of the United States. Lincoln had been carried to William Peterson’s Boarding House across the street from the theater after the shooting where he passed away.  Lincoln’s body was moved to the White House At the White House, an autopsy was performed by Army Surgeons Edward Curtis and Joseph Janvier Woodward. Also in attendance were Surgeon General Joseph K. Barnes and a few military officers, medical men and friends. During the autopsy Mary Todd Lincoln sent a messenger to request a lock of hair; a tuft was clipped from the head for her. From the autopsy: There was a gunshot wound of the head around which the scalp was greatly thickened by hemorrhage into its tissue. The ball entered through the occipital bone about one inch to the left of the median line and just above the left lateral sinus, which it opened. It then penetrated the dura matter, passed through the left posterior lobe of the cerebrum, entered the left lateral ventricle and lodged in the white matter of the cerebrum just above the anterior portion of the left corpus striatum, where it was found. http://www.nlm.nih.gov/visibleproofs/galleries/cases/lincoln.html

            1877 –Sunday-  Continuing our Da Vinci (born in 1452 on this day) theme. A steam-engine driven helicopter model built by Enrico Forlanini rose 40 ft . over Milan, Italy.  In 1900 he would combine flying and sailing by building the first efficient manned hydrofoil ship. Hydrofoils were not widely used until the 1950s, when military and commercial models were built. By the 1970s hydrofoil craft were in operation in many places, and speeds of up to 80 knots (nautical miles per hour) had been achieved.

1878-Monday- It was quite a gamble but  Harley Procter developed Ivory Soap, which when marketed later, made Procter and Gamble a multi-million dollar business. The company made a product called “White Soap”. The story goes that batch of White Soap was mixing when a workman at the factory went to lunch and left the machinery running.  When he returned, he found that air had been worked into the mixture. He decided not to discard the batch of soap because of such a small error, and he poured the soap into the frames.  The soap hardened and it was cut, packaged, and shipped. A few weeks later, letters began arriving at Procter & Gamble asking for more of the soap that floated. Harley Procter came up with the name "Ivory" about a year later. http://blog.modernmechanix.com/2008/07/14/harley-procters-floating-soap/


            1880-Thursday-  Happy Birthday, Max Wertheimer, Czech-born psychologist, one of the founders, with Kurt Koffka and Wolfgang Köhler, of Gestalt psychology. Professor Sy Yentz used to think that “gestalt” was what you said when someone sneezed but it’s really a science which attempts to examine psychological phenomena as structural wholes, rather than breaking them down into components.  In 1910 Wertheimer performed his famous experiments on apparent movement, that movement which we see when, under certain conditions, two stationary objects are presented in succession at different places. You’ll note it as a phenomenon familiar in moving pictures or after several drinks at the bar. This was the beginning of Gestalt psychology  and a major revolution in psychological thinking.

1894 –Sunday-  Happy Birthday, Bessie Smith, American Blues singer. Smith  has been described as the greatest of the vaudeville blues singers.  As one should with the blues, she brought the emotional intensity, personal involvement, and expression of blues singing into the jazz repertory. Listen to  Baby Doll and After You've Gone, both made with Joe Smith, and Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out, with Ed Allen on cornet,

1909-Thursday-  New York Giants pitcher Red Ames hurled (no, he wasn’t bulimic) his second no-hitter.  He lost to the Brooklyn Superbas as the game went 13 innings. Ames gave up single with one out in 10th and allowed six more hits in losing 3-0.

1912-Monday After striking the iceberg late on the night of April 14, the RMS Titanic sank at about 2:20 a.m. It appears that five of the “water tight” compartments were flooded. These water tight compartments were not floor to ceiling and as the ship listed, the water from each compartment joined the water in the next compartment causing ever more listing. 1500 people died. An eyewitness account from John Thayer who watched the sinking from a lifeboat; "We could see groups of the almost fifteen hundred people still aboard, clinging in clusters or bunches, like swarming bees; only to fall in masses, pairs or singly, as the great after part of the ship, two hundred and fifty feet of it, rose into the sky, till it reached a sixty-five or seventy degree angle." 750 people were rescued by the Carpathia about an hour and 20 minutes later.  Compounding a night of tragic mistakes, the liner California was less than 20 miles away but missed the Titanic’s distress call because the radio operator was off duty.

1920 –Thursday-  A paymaster, Frederick Parmenter and a security guard, Alessandro Berardelli, were killed during a mid-afternoon armed robbery of a shoe company in South Braintree, Massachusetts. Two Italian immigrant anarchists, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were arrested. One witness claimed Sacco said “take the cannoli, leave the gun”.  The jury got the case on July 14, 1921. To say the trial was prejudiced ant that they were “railroaded” is an understatement  After five hours of deliberations, they found both men guilty.  That was just the beginning.  After years of appeals and worldwide protests, Massachusetts Governor Alvan T. Fuller was asked to commute the death sentence. Fuller appointed an advisory committee headed by Harvard president Abbott Lawrence Lowell to review the entire case.
The Lowell Committee interviewed 102 witnesses in addition to those from the trial. After two months, the committee upheld the conviction and concluded that Sacco and Vanzetti had a fair trial. Sacco and Vanzetti's lawyers petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court, but the justices refused to hear the case, saying it was not within their jurisdiction.  Sacco and Vanzetti were executed in the electric chair on August 23, 1927.

1921 –Friday-  Happy Birthday- Georgi Timofeyevich Beregovoi, Ukrainian cosmonaut. He flew on a single space mission, Soyuz 3. Why?  He was supposed to dock with the unmanned Soyuz 2 ( I “soyuz standing there”). The failed docking was blamed on manual control of the Soyuz by Beregovoi, who for some reason repeatedly put the spacecraft in an orientation that nulled the automatic docking system. Beregovoi used nearly all of his orientation fuel in his first attempt to dock - of 80 kg allocated, only 8 to 10 kg was remaining.

1923-Sunday-  Insulin became available after two Canadian scientists, Frederick Banting and Charles Best (who had sugary personalities), discovered the hormone in 1922 when they gave the material extracted from the islets of Langerhans (called "insulin," from the Latin for "island") to diabetic dogs, their abnormally high blood sugars were lowered.

            1924 –Tuesday-  Rand McNally released its first comprehensive road atlas on this day.  It was called the Auto Chum.  Also note that the U.S highway system was not established until 1926. Today Rand McNally is the world's largest maker of atlases in print and electronic media.  In 1858 - Irish immigrant Andrew McNally took a job in Rand's printing shop for $9 a week.  In 1872 - The first-ever Rand McNally map appeared in the December 1872 issue of the Railway Guide. Rand McNally useda new wax engraving method, which significantly reduced the cost of printing maps.

1935-Monday The first pipeless organ (Gasp! Had they performed a pipe ectomy?) was exhibited at the Industrial Arts Exhibition of New York City in Radio City's RCA Building. It was the invention of  Laurens Hammond,  and had been patented on April 24, 1934 shortly after a breakfast of Hammond eggs.  In the place of reeds and pipes, Hammond had a set of rapidly spinning magnetic wheels, called tonewheels, which served as transducers (what is a transducer? -an electronic device that converts energy from one form to another. Some examples include microphones, loudspeakers, and antenna.) that generated electrical signals of various frequencies that were fed through an amplifier to a loudspeaker. The organ was electrically powered, replacing the reed organ's twin bellows pedals with a single pedal more like that of a pipe organ. The organ weighed 275 pounds. The vast range of sounds it could produce contributed its success despite its $1,250 price. Some of Hammond’s other organs were his pancreas, his kidney and his liver.

1941-Tuesday-  Continuing our DaVinci (born in 1452 on this day) theme, and Forlanini’s helicopter flight of 1877,  Russian immigrant, Ivor Sikorsky made the first helicopter flight over one-hour duration. It used a three-bladed main propeller 28-feet in diameter, and stayed in the air for 65 minutes and 14.5 seconds. Although Sikorsky is not generally credited with inventing any new solutions to the problems of controlling a helicopter in flight, he is widely regarded as the person who improved existing technology and made the helicopter practical and successful. Sikorsky Aircraft remains the oldest helicopter firm in the world.

1947 –Tuesday-  Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in major league baseball as he made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers.  He didn't get a hit in his first game, but he scored the game's winning run. He played the season at first base (the only position open that year in the Dodgers' lineup) and faced incredible racism and odds. Robinson hit .297 with 12 home runs, 48 RBI and a league-leading 29 stolen bases. He was named baseball's first-ever rookie of the year. Robinson played until he was traded to the hated New York Giants after the 1956 season.  He retired.  Moses Fleetwood  “Fleet” Walker was the first black major league player and he went  0-3 with Toledo of the American Association on May 1, 1884. Robinson, however , was the first to sign a contract. .

1953 –Wednesday- Pope Pius XII gave his approval of psychoanalysis but warned of possible abuses .  He then resumed sucking his thumb and looking for his “blankie”.  The Pope’s approval was based on the work of Agostino Gemelli, a Catholic priest, psychiatrist, administrator, and educator, who was able to identify in psychoanalysis an integrated view of the human condition and what was acceptable and  what needed to be rejected to work with Church doctrine.

1956 - WMAQ-TV became the world’s first all-color TV station.  Yes, everything was puce. No, actually the NBC station in Chicago was described by Broadcasting-Telecasting magazine as "a daring breakthrough the black-and-white curtain." At 4:15 PM, Robert W Sarnoff, then President of NBC, pushed a button and ushered in a new era in television that would result in such fare as Joanie Loves Chachie, Baywatch, The Real World, My Mother, the Car, and Cavemen.  Channel 5 became the world's first all-color TV station as "Wide, Wide World" carried the event to 110 NBC-TV affiliated stations across the country.

1965-Thursday-  The Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel (officially called the William Preston Lane, Jr., Memorial Bridge )opened. It replaced two vehicular ferries that ran from near Annapolis, to the Chesapeake Eastern Shore. The bridge connects Kiptopeke and Chesapeake Beach, Virginia. The bridge-tunnel spans the entire mouth (but not the jaw or lips) of Chesapeake Bay. It is the longest such structure in the world at 17.65 miles in length. The bridge-tunnel is basically a causeway raised on platforms. At the north end of the bay, a high extension bridge crosses a shipping lane. At the south end of the structure, two mile-long tunnels cross under commercial shipping lanes. Plus, with the Rand McNally Road Atlas begun on this day in 1924, now you can find it.

1966 –Friday-  There’s something happening here. What is ain’t exactly clearOne of rock’s most influential groups, The Buffalo Springfield performed for the first time, opening for the Byrds in San Bernardino, California.  The five original members, Stephen Stills, (who had failed in his audition for the Monkees),  Richie Furay,  Neil Young, Bruce Palmer and drummer Dewey Martin were all Canadian-born. They released their biggest hit,  For What Its Worth in January 1967. . Ironically, the group broke up over squabbling between Stills and Young who  would later re-group and break up and re-group and break up and re-group and break up as part of Crosby, Stills, and Nash and sometimes Young.

1990-Sunday-  The Hubble Space Telescope was deployed from the Space Shuttle Discovery into an orbit 381 miles above Earth. It was the first major orbiting observatory, carrying a 94.5 inch primary mirror with several instrument packages and cameras. It was named after the American astronomer, Edwin Powell Hubble. It cost $1.5 billion dollars and whoops!,  were initial problems due to a design flaw in the mirror (Professor Sy Yentz calls it the “Hubble bubble”),  a tiny mistake in the manufacturing which made the mirror flatter than it should be by just one-fiftieth of the width of a human hair. It was enough to blur a significant part of the viewing. Correcting optics were installed during the Shuttle Endeavor flight of 1993. There was a final servicing mission by Discovery in 2008 saving Hubble which was due to go out of service when NASA overreacted and decided a servicing mission was too dangerous after the Columbia disaster of 2003.

1997-Tuesday- Baseball honored Jackie Robinson by retiring #42 for all teams. The Yankees' Mariano Rivera would be the last player in the major leagues to wear # 42. He continued wearing it until his retirement.

1998- Wednesday- Pol Pot, another of history’s mass murderers – architect of Cambodia's killing fields, went kaput of apparently natural causes while serving a life sentence imposed against him. Presumably he went straight to hell.

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73 – Sunday- Masada, a Jewish fortress, fell to the Romans after several months of siege, ending the Jewish Revolt. After a Roman army led by Titus, son of the emperor Vespasian, destroyed Jerusalem and the Second Temple in 70, the surviving Zealots, fled Jerusalem to the fortress of Masada, overlooking the desert near the Dead Sea. They held out for three years. Unable to hold off the Tenth Legion any longer and faced with horrible deaths for the men and slavery for the women, the remaining 960 jumped from the cliffs to their deaths.

            1495 Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, Petrus Apianus, born  Peter Bienewitz, German cosmographer and mathematician. He was professor of mathematics at Ingolstadt and was noted for his knowledge of astronomy and his general learning. Best known among his writings is the Cosmographia (1524), which has some of the earliest maps of America and also featured the earliest “Cosmograhia Girls”, the antecedents of the modern Cosmo Girl.

            1521 –Saturday-  Martin Luther made his  first appearance before the Diet of Worms to be examined by the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V.  Luther’s opening act was Wayne Newton.  The Diet of Worms - helminthology.- consisted of Platyhelminthes for breakfast,  Nemertea for lunch,  Nematoda for an afternoon snack and Annelida for dinner. When they weren’t eating worms or listening to Wayne sing Daddy Don’t You Walk So Fast, Martin Luther defended the principles of the Reformation. Luther had already been excommunicated by Pope Leo X, but Emperor Charles V granted him safe conduct to a hearing at the Diet. Luther refused to recant his views. Disorder broke out, the emperor adjourned the proceedings, and Luther had to go into hiding. In May the Diet issued the Edict of Worms, declaring Luther an outlaw and a heretic and banning his writings unless he ate a Nematoda pizza.

            1660 –Friday-  Happy Birthday, Hans Sloane,  British physician and naturalist who cleaned out his attic and  whose collection of books, manuscripts, and curiosities formed the basis for the British Museum in London.

            1682-Thursday- Happy Birthday, John Hadley, British mathematician, optician, and inventor who perfected methods for grinding and polishing telescope lenses. Hadley improved the reflecting telescope, first introduced by Newton in 1668, and produced the first of its kind having sufficient accuracy and power to be useful in astronomy. It had a six inch mirror. He also designed a double-reflecting quadrant (an octant, naturally) which became the basis for the sextant. Sextant, quadrant, octant…all were “tantalizing”. The sextant is used to measure the position of the Sun or other celestial bodies above the horizon.  Yes, Hadley made if possible to experience the Joy of Sextant. It was essential for sea travel.  The telescope also came in handy for watching the dressing room of  Fifi La Boom, exotic dancer.

                1705 –Thursday-  Queen Anne of England traveled to Cambridge and knighted three men, one of whom was Isaac Newton.  However, the act was "an honor bestowed not for his contributions to science, nor for his service at the Mint, but for the greater glory of party politics in the election of 1705"

                1728 –Friday-  Happy Birthday, Joseph Black, Scottish scientist born in Bordeaux, France.  Black established for the first time that a gas could combine with a solid, previously believed to be impossible. He recognized that there were various types of airs (air had been considered an element).  'Fixed air' was a definite chemical entity different from air.  This completely changed the understanding of the chemical nature of gases and commenced the era of pneumatic chemistry in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and early nineteenth centuries. Important goals of this work were an understanding of the physical properties of gases and how they relate to chemical reactions and, ultimately, the composition of matter.  Black is considered the “founder of calorimetry” and was one of the most widely sought-after teachers of chemistry in the eighteenth century His pioneering work with latent heats of fusion and evaporation and with what is now call specific heat and heat capacity proved invaluable to James Watt who used the information to improve the steam engine.  (In Black's time, heat was considered a kind of matter.) Black’s day job was physician.  Amongst his patients was the empiricist philosopher David Hume. They probably discussed contemporary cognitive science and philosophical naturalism as Black banged Hume’s knee with a rubber hammer.

                1746 –Saturday-  The Battle of Culloden – also known as Drummossie Moor, in a howling, freezing gale and  the failure of the Jacobites “Bonnie Prince Charlie”. Charles Stuart, the grandson of the de-throned (1688) Catholic king James II was defeated by the forces of George II, led by his son the Duke of Cumberland.  Charlie had led his mostly Highlander forces to a series of quick victories beginning with his return to Scotland in 1745. He could have continued marching to London but his commanders refused to continue the attacks.  As the prince's forces had marched south, they had not secured territory behind them and the army retreated to Scotland. Ignoring the advice of his best commander, Lord George Murray, Charlie (who obviously inherited his gift for martial ineptitude from his grandfather,  chose to fight on flat, open, marshy ground near Inverness where his forces would be exposed to superior British firepower. To make matters worse, Charles commanded his army from a position behind his lines, where he could not see what was happening. The victorious English commander, the Duke of Cumberland was determined to stamp the king's authority on a rebellious people, he let loose his soldiers in slaughter. The wounded were murdered where they lay and any prisoners were shot. A group of men found in a local barn, for instance, were simply locked in and left to burn to death.

            1853 –Saturday-  The first passenger rail opened in India, from Bori Bunder, Bombay to Thane. The train, with 14 cars and 400 guests left Bombay's Bori Bunder for Thane, with a 21-gun salute......eliminating of dozens of guests It was hauled by three locomotives: Sindh, Sultan, and Sahib. The journey took an hour and fifteen minutes. Whenever the engineers ran into difficulties, they called technical support and eventually spoke with  “Floyd from Calcutta”, who walked them through the process and left them more confused than before they called.

            1867-Tuesday-  Happy Birthday, Wilbur Wright, one of the brothers who made the first airplane flights.  Incidentally, it was brother Orville who actually made the first flight. Wilbur took the second flight, covering 853-ft (260-m) in 59 seconds. Wilbur also had to circle Newark Airport for two hours due to air-traffic controller tests on a new computer system. The in-flight meal was trail mix and boxed wine.  He went kaput in 1912 from typhoid fever.

            1881 –Saturday-  Dodge City, Kansas - famous western lawman and gunfighter (William Barclay – changed from Bartholomew), Bat Masterson had his last gun battle. This “battle” had its origins in threats to Masterson’s brother, Jim.  Masterson arrived in Dodge, got off the train, saw his brother’s rivals  and immediately got into a shoot out with them.  When the dust had cleared, one miscreant and one bystander were wounded – both recovered.  Dodge City being Dodge City, no serious charges were made.  Bat Masterson paid an $8 fine and left Dodge that evening…..having barely had time to tour the city, buy a refrigerator magnet and purchase a snow globe filled with cow manure.  Bat, like many other westerners, achieved great fame through movies and television shows – Masterson was played by Gene Barry on the TV show. Theme song:

Back when the west was very young,

There lived a man named Masterson.

He wore a cane and derby hat,

They called him Bat, Bat Masterson…………”

Some have wondered how one “wears” a cane.

                1889- Tuesday- Happy Birthday, Sir Charlie Chaplin, the British-born actor, comedian, and director who became famous for his roles in American silent movies such as  The Tramp, City Lights, and the “talkie”, The Great Dictator. Chaplin is widely regarded as the greatest comic artists of the screen and one of the most important figures in motion-picture history. Modern Times (1936), was a hybrid, essentially a silent with music, sound effects, and brief passages of dialogue. In this film Chaplin gave the Little Tramp a voice, as he performed a gibberish song and it was the character's farewell to the screen. Chaplin’s personal life, a weakness for teenage girls, and accusations of being a Communist sympathizer, marred his later career.

            1912-Tuesday-  American aviator Harriet Quimby became the first female pilot to fly across the English Channel.  She left England and landed 59 minutes later near Hardelot, France. Also the  first American woman to become a licensed pilot, Quimby died the same year, July 1, 1912, when she lost control of her plane at a flying exhibition near Quincy, Mass. Her career as a pilot had lasted eleven months. Sadly, Quimby’s great flying achievement was lost in the outcry over the Titanic disaster which had occurred the day before.

            1917 –Monday Commensing seventy two years of  a new misery (the czarist regime was the old misery), Vladimir Lenin, leader of the revolutionary Bolshevik Party, returned to Petrograd (we have also seen April 9 as a return date) after a decade of exile to take over leadership of the Russian Revolution. One month before, Czar Nicholas II had been forced from power when Russian army troops joined a workers' revolt in Petrograd, the Russian capital. Lenin’s return was expedited by the Germans who knew that any Lenin success would result in Russia leaving WW I, enhancing chances for a German victory.   Also note that on this day in 1947, Bernard Baruch first used the term “Cold War” to describe the tension between the free world and the communist world.

            1921-Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Marie M. Daley, American biochemist who, in 1947, was the first African-American woman to receive a Ph.D. in Chemistry.  She received the degree at Columbia University in New York City. Daly conducted most of her research in areas related to the biochemical aspects of human metabolism (how the body processes the energy it takes in) and the role of the kidneys in that process. She also focused on hypertension (high blood pressure) and atherosclerosis (accumulation of lipids or fats in the arteries). Her later work focused on the study of aortic (heart) smooth muscle cells in culture. Later, she studied the uptake, synthesis, and distribution of creatine in cell cultures and tissues. In addition to her research,  as a  “day job”, she taught for fifteen years at Yeshiva University's Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

            1928 –Monday-  Happy Birthday, Dick,  "Night Train", Lane, American football player the Los Angeles Rams (currently in St. Louis), the Chicago Cardinals (moved to St. Louis and currently in Arizona) and most famously  for the Detroit Lions (still in Detroit) during the early 1960s. A defensive back, Lane held the all time record for pass interceptions. He played in an era before players preened and posed after every tackle or play….even if they are not involved in the tackle or play.  

            1940 –Tuesday-  On a damp, cold day in Chicago in front of only 14,000 fans, 22 year old Bob Feller (Rapid Robert) pitched the first no-hit, no-run game thrown on an opening day of baseball season as the Cleveland Indians shut out the Chicago White Sox 1-0. His catcher, Rollie Hemsley drove in the only run. The losing pitcher was Chicago’s Edgar Smith. On April 15, 1909, Red Ames (see above)  held Brooklyn hitless for 9 1/3 innings on Opening Day. Unfortunately, his teammates failed to score any runs and he lost 3-0 after 13 innings, having surrendered four hits in the extra innings.

            1943 –Tuesday-  Attention 1960’s…… take note…. the hallucinogenic effect of the drug LSD, lysergic acid diethylamide, was first observed. Swiss chemist, Albert Hofmann had synthesized the drug five years earlier. He had hoped to used it to treat respiratory problems but it didn’t work. Three days later, on the 19th, he became the first person in the world to experience a full-blown "acid trip" –which became known among aficionados as "Bicycle Day" as it was while cycling home from his laboratory that he experienced the most intense symptoms.

On this day, however,  he accidentally absorbed some of the drug through his skin from touching its container. It affected his nervous system such that he became dizzy with hallucinations. He pronounced it “far out”, called Timothy Leary, bought some Grateful Dead records, announced that their May 8, 1977  concert in Binghamton, NY was their best,  tie-dyed a few shirts, and moved to Haight-Asbury in San Francisco where he changed his name to Flower Libido.  LSD is related to a substance in ergot, a fungus that grows on rye and other grains. It is now known LSD acts to block the action of serotonin (the indole amine transmitter of nerve impulses) in brain tissue.

            1947 –Wednesday-  In the Galveston Bay port city of The Texas City, a small fire broke out among bags of ammonium nitrate fertilizer in the hold of the ship Grandcamp. Despite immediate attempts to extinguish the fire, it rapidly intensified until the Grandcamp exploded in a blast  that destroyed the ship, the dock and most of the city. Six hundred people were killed and over three thousand  were injured.  To make matters worse, the ship at the next dock, the High Flyer,  was also carrying fertilizer.  It exploded the following day.  Fortunately, most of the city’s population had been evacuated by then.

             1947 –Wednesday-  In contrast to the heat of the Texas City fire, The term ‘Cold War’ was first used by Bernard Baruch, advisor to US President Truman, in a speech. Baruch spoke about Truman's intent for the United States to ‘support free peoples who are resisting attempted subjugation by armed minorities or by outside pressures’ i.e the Soviet Union and its puppets.  ''Let us not be deceived. We are today in the midst of a cold war.'' The Cold War would last until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989.

            1947 –Wednesday-  Same day as the “Cold War” and the hot Texas City fire, Dr. Frank Back demonstrated his invention, the zoom lens for the television camera at the National Broadcasting Company in New York City. Previously, moving into a close-up shot required moving the entire camera toward the actor or object, or away for a long-distance shot. Now the same zoom effects could be produced using the Zoomar lens.  The zoom lens revolutionized television and TV sports in particular. Now people could watch auto racing – cars going around in circles over and over- up close too, soccer, in which every injury is a near death experience, fishing – just stick that finger in a fish’s mouth- ultimate fighting – kicking and punching up close, and Japanese sports/contest shows which usually feature people falling off giant balls.

            1962 - "...and that's the way it is," Walter Cronkite became the managing editor and anchor for the CBS Evening News.  Unlike many contemporary news “readers”, Cronkite was actually a reporter.  After joining United Press in 1939 he served as a war correspondent from 1942-45 and reporter at the Nuremberg trials. He joined the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) in 1950, where he covered the 1952 the first televised presidential nominating conventions. CBS had begun evening news programming on May 3, 1948 with  Douglas Edwards as a regular 15-minute nightly newscast. It aired every weeknight at 7:30 PM and was the first regularly-scheduled television news program..  On September 2, 1963, CBS Evening News became network television's first half-hour weeknight news broadcast, lengthened from its original 15 minutes to 30 minutes. Dan Rather followed Cronkite and devolution continues with the arrant Katie Couric.

            1964-Tursday-  The Rolling Stones’ first album was released. Title was, The Rolling Stones (in the U.S they added England's Newest Hitmakers when it was released a month later).  Included on the album was a cover of Not Fade Away which had been released by Buddy Holly and the Crickets in 1957- added for U.S version. The Stones were also inspired by Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, and Marvin Gaye. Unlike later albums, the only original Jagger Richards composition on this one was Tell Me (You're Coming Back).

            1968 –Tuesday-  On the same day (twenty eight years later) as Bob Feller’s no-hitter, the Houston Astros beat the hapless New York Mets 1-0  in a six hour, six minute 24 inning marathon when Met substitute shortstop, Al Weis committed and error in the bottom of the 24th inning. 14,000 fans began watching the game and a few hundred snored through the ending.

            1972 –Sunday-  Apollo 16, the fifth of six American flights to the Moon, carrying astronauts John W. Young, Thomas K. Mattingly II, and Charles M. Duke, Jr., lifted off at 12:54 p.m. EST.  Landing site for the 71 hours they spent on the Moon was the  Descartes Highlands where Young’s first words should have been “cogito ergo sum”.  It was the first study of highlands area. In a side note Tang, the orange-drink sponsor of CBS TV coverage of the mission, was not pleased when Young confided to a crewmate, not knowing that his words were being broadcast live: "I got the farts again... I mean, I haven't eaten this much citrus fruit in twenty years...in another twelve f***ing days, I ain't never eating any more...I'll be damned if I'm going to be buried in oranges.." Three moon walks with lunar surface activities totaling 20 hours and 17 minutes were accomplished by Young and Duke. After lunar liftoff, the Lunar Module rendezvoused with the Command Module and Mattingly. Residual effects from rocks brought back to Earth included the unleashing of the hideous Touristicus Crushicusium syndrome in which five full flights arrive at Leonardo DaVinci Airport in Rome within 30 minutes of each other and only one Passport Control Agent is on duty to process nine hundred people. 

            1976- The Helios B spacecraft made the closest approach yet to the Sun, 27 million miles .  Don‘t worry, it was covered with Coppertone SPF 15 water proof "all day" sun tan oil.  The purpose of the Helios-B mission was to make measurements and comparisons of the material found in space between Earth's orbit and a distance from the Sun of 0.3 A (AU). The vehicle carried a fluxgate magnetometer, yes, the dreaded fluxate magnetometer, the same fluxate magnetometer that altered the brains of people causing them to talk in movie theaters or during theatrical performances (actually it’s an instrument for measuring the magnitude and direction of a magnetic field).; electric and magnetic wave experiments; charged particle experiments; and a micrometeoroid experiment.

            1992-Thursday-  In an amazing science turn-around, the drug thalidomide, which had caused birth defects in babies in the 1950’s and 60’s, was found to improve the survival rate of patients who get bone-marrow transplants. The drug effectively fought graft-versus-host disease, the most common and dangerous complication. Interestingly, the same properties of the drug that cause the birth defects were the ones that helped the cancer patients.

            1993 –Friday-  Billy Burnette added his name to the lexicon of great career moves as he announced that he was leaving Fleetwood Mac to concentrate on recording country music. Evidently Billy had sought advice from Maclean  Stevenson who left M*A*S*H to become a big star,  Tom Selleck who turned down the role of Indiana Jones, David Caruso who left NYPD Blue to be a big movie star (asterisk here since he is back on TV posing standing sideways while taking off and putting on his sun glasses), Shelley Long who quit Cheers to become a…..well, what did she become?, and George Raft passed on High Sierra, The Maltese Falcon, and Casablanca

            2007 –Monday-  The deadliest mass shooting in modern American history occurred at Virginia Tech University in Blacksburg, Va. in which Seung-Hui Cho, a deranged South Korean immigrant  killed 32 people and wounded many more before committing suicide.

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69 –Wednesday- In the “Year of the Four Emperors” (actually it was a year and a half following the kaputing of Nero by the Praetorian Guard), after the First Battle of Bedriacum, Vitellius became Roman Emperor. The first of the four had been Galba – slewn in January, 69, then came Otho, defeated and slewn at Bedriacum by Vitellus who lasted until he was slewn by the forces of Vespasian who started his revolt in July. In December with Vespasian’s army in control of Rome, the defeated Vitellius disguised himself in dirty clothing and hid in the imperial doorkeeper's quarters, cleverly leaning a couch and a mattress against the door for protection. Dragged from his hiding place by Vespasian’s soldiers, he was hauled off half-naked to the Forum, where he was tortured, slewn, and tossed into the Tiber. Other than that, he was fine. Vespasian would begin the Flavian dynasty.

            1397 Monday-  “Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote   

                                         The droghte  of Marche hath perced to the roote, 

                                          And bathed every veyne in swich  licour, 

                                          Of which vertu engendred is the flour; ……”

            On this day, Geoffrey Chaucer told the Canterbury Tales for the first time at the court of Richard II. Chaucer scholars have also identified this date (in 1387) as when the book's pilgrimage to Canterbury actually started. This lengthy poem, which weighs in at an impressive 17,000 lines, was never finished. It is the tale of a group of pilgrims journeying from London to the shrine of Thomas à Becket at Canterbury. To pass the time on their trip, they tell each other stories.

            1492-Sunday-  Christopher Columbus signed a contract with a representative of Spain's King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, giving Columbus a commission to seek a westward ocean passage to Asia.  Columbus left for Palos de la Frontera to begin his preparations.  The people of Palos were ordered to provide and equip two caravels (small, light sailing ships). The first was called the Pinta; the second, was officially named the Santa Clara but known as the Niña. The third ship, a small, round ship with a large hold, most likely a type of vessel known as a nao, was Columbus’s flagship. It was called the Santa María. Little is known about the actual construction of the ships, but evidence suggests that the Niña and the Pinta were small, about 54 metric tons each and 21 to 24 m (70 to 80 ft) in length. The Santa María was a bit heavier at 80 to 90 metric tons but not much longer than the other two. Of the three, the Pinta was the fastest ship of the three. The Santa Maria would run aground on a reef near Hispaniola.  The Niña and Pinta both returned to Spain.

            1524 –Thursday-  Italian explorer Giovanni da Verrazano reached present-day New York harbor. Unfortunately, he did not have correct change or his E Z Pass to cross the bridge and could continue no further. Verrazano was sailing on commission of King Francis I of France.  He had set out with four ships.  Two were wrecked and a third was sent back to France with loot from Verrazano’s privateering.  Verrazano was actually making a tour of the Atlantic seaboard.  His first stop was North Carolina, where he stopped long enough to identify the body of water on the other side of the Outer Banks as the Pacific Ocean.  On this day he sailed up the narrows into what is now New York Harbor.  There the crew visited the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and the Liberty Science Museum.  Following a visit to the South Street Seaport for refrigerator magnets and t shirts, he continued on to Block Island, Narragansett Bay and the coast of Maine where he fought through clouds of black flies to get to L.L Bean and purchase flannel shirts for the trip home.

            1598-Friday-  Happy Birthday, Giovanni Riccioli Italian astronomer, and Jesuit priest,  who along with Francesco Maria Grimaldi assigned the majority of the lunar feature names in current use. He named the more prominent features after famous astronomers, scientists and philosophers, while the large dark and smooth areas he called "seas" or "maria". The lunar “seas” were named after moods (Seas of Tranquility, Serenity, Not Tonight, I Have a Headache) or terrestrial phenomena (Sea of Rains, Ocean or Storms) His map was published as  Almagestum Novum in1651. He was also the first to observe in 1650,  a double star (a double star is two stars so close together that they appear to be one, you know sort of like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt) -  Mizar in Ursa Major, the middle star in the handle of the Big Dipper is a double star.

            1629 – A bit to the west, horses were romping and frolicking all over the land but the Puritans didn’t know it.  On  this day, horses were first imported into the colonies by the American Massachusetts Bay Colony.  The  Spaniards had brought more horses to the New World after Columbus, with their landing in South America and eventual conquering of Peru, Mexico and other parts of the southern continent. Native Americans (of course they weren’t Americans then, actually learned to ride by watching the Spanish. Slowly, horsemanship among Native Americans developed and spread north until the Plains Indians, in the territory we now call the Midwestern United States, had mastered the art of horseback riding. Their skills on horseback would be put to the test a few centuries later.   Meanwhile, back in New England, these newly arrived horses were expected to work in the fields during the week, run in races on Saturdays and pull a carriage to church on Sundays.

            1790-Saturday- Benjamin Franklin kaput. American statesman, printer, scientist, writer, and true Renaissance Man,  Benjamin Franklin died in Philadelphia at age eighty four. At his age, pleurisy proved fatal. His funeral in Philadelphia attracted the largest crowd of mourners ever known. An estimated 20,000 people crowded around the Christ Church Burial Ground where he was buried beside his wife Deborah Read Rogers Franklin who had gone kaput sixteen years before him. The tombstone on their grave said "Benjamin and Deborah Franklin: 1790."

            1794 Thursday- Happy Birthday, Karl Friedrich Philipp von Martius, German botanist and explorer most famous for the three years he spent on expedition in Brazil (he really enjoyed Carneval and took samba lessons) with zoologist Johann Baptist von Spix to study the botany, zoology, mineralogy, and ethnology of Brazil. In all they covered 6,500 km of Brazilian territory. Upon returning to Munich, they carried with them numerous examples of mammals, birds, fish, insects and vegetation, rashes, and boils and other unsightly blemishes.

             1810-Tuesday-  Lewis.M Norton of Troy, Pennsylvania, received a patent for pineapple cheese. Now, don’t you feel better now that you know that? At the time an artful blending of fruit and dairy and was very popular in fine European restaurants. However, this was not a combination of fruit and dairy, what Lewis actually patented was a cheddar-style cheese cured in string bags which left criss-cross marks on the yellow surface of the cheese which were suggestive of the pineapple, hence the name. Incredibly, it helped America break into the top echelon of culinary recognition…..that is until America inflicted fast food on the rest of the world. http://theoldfoodie.blogspot.com/2007/04/pineapple-cheese.html

            1861-Wednesday-  "Oils not well in Pa." the first recorded oil well fire occurred at the Little and Merrick well at Oil Creek, near Rouseville, Pennsylvania. It ignited shortly after gushing, burned for three days, and resulted in 19 deaths. Among the kaputed was Henry R. Rouse (remember, it was Rouseville) a  former teacher and Warren County legislator who became a successful oil lease owner. As he lay dying, Rouse dictated a will that provided liberally for roads and the poor. Buchanan Farms had been renamed Rouseville two month earlier in February.

            1861 –Wednesday- Same day as the oil well fire, the Virginia State Convention voted to secede from the Union.  The first state to secede from the Union was South Carolina. On January 9th, 1861, Mississippi joined South Carolina. Florida joined the secession ranks the next day on January 10th. On January 11th, Alabama passed her secession resolution. The Alabama delegation had met in Montgomery and had voted 61 to 39 for secession. On January 19th, Georgia delegates voted 209 to 89 for secession. A week later Louisiana became the sixth state to leave the Union. Ironically, as Louisiana was leaving the Union, Kansas was admitted on January 29th. Texas, which had just got into the Union in 1845,  was the seventh state to leave the Union. On March 4th, 1861, Abraham Lincoln was inaugurated as President of the United States. Two days later, the Confederacy called for 100,000 volunteers for its provisional army. On March 11th, delegates adopted the Confederate Constitution. Two days after the surrender of Fort Sumter, President Lincoln declared a state of insurrection and called for 75,000 volunteers to put down the rebellion.  That didn’t work too well as  the remaining Southern states that had not seceded refused to comply with Lincoln’s request. Instead, four more Southern states left the Union. The first was Virginia.

            1866-Tuesday- Happy Birthday, Ernest Henry Starling, British physiologist. He was an authority on heart action and circulation. His contributions to a modern understanding of body functions (and how many of us really understand our bodily functions?), especially the maintenance of a fluid balance throughout the tissues, the regulatory role of endocrine secretions, and mechanical controls on heart function, was and still is  the unifying theme of contemporary circulatory theory. He was also the first to use the term hormone……possibly after a visit to a prostitute.  

            1869 –Saturday-  The first professional baseball game.  The Cincinnati Red Stockings were the first professional baseball team. They began with a  close pitchers duel, a 45-9 crushing of a team called the Great Western of Cincinnati.  They then proceeded to win nearly every one of their more than seventy games against overmatched amateur teams in the Midwest. They finally lost a game in 1870, when the Brooklyn Atlantics beat them 8-7 in extra innings. Alexander Joy Cartwright  of New York had invented the modern baseball field in 1845. Cartwright and the members of his New York Knickerbocker Base Ball Club, devised the first rules and regulations for the modern game of baseball.  The first recorded baseball game in 1846 when Alexander Cartwright's Knickerbockers lost to the New York Baseball Club. The game was held at the Elysian Fields, in Hoboken, New Jersey.

            1885 – Happy Birthday, Karen Dinesen, Baroness Blixen-Finecke ,Danish author  better known by her pen name Isak Dinesen. Her memoir, Out of Africa, which started with the famous words, "I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills." about her career as a coffee planter in Kenya from 1914-1931, gained the interest of millions of readers.  Though Danish, Blixen wrote her books in English and then translated her work into her native tongue. So, the Gnus reverses the process: Happy Birthday, Karen Dinesen, baronesse Blixen-Finecke, dansk forfatter bedre kendt som hendes pen navn Isak Dinesen. Hendes memoir, Out of Africa, som startede med de berømte ord: "Jeg havde en farm i Afrika ved foden af Ngong Hills." om hendes karriere som kaffe plantageejer i Kenya fra 1914-1931, fik interesse for millioner af læsere. Selvom dansk, Blixen skrev hendes bøger på engelsk og derefter oversat hendes arbejde i hendes modersmål. Så det GNUs tilbagefører processen

            1899 –Friday- Happy Birthday, Sir Vincent Wigglesworth, British entomologist who made significant contributions to the field of insect physiology. In particular, Wigglesworth, like Franz Kafka (in a different way) was interested in the study of metamorphosis. Yes, he “never met a morphisis he didn’t like”.

            1911-Monday-  Charles F. Kettering applied for a patent for the self-starting mechanism he had designed for the Cadillac Car Company.  Cadillac purchased it from the Dayton Engineering Laboratory Company - the initials spell the now familiar DELCO. The self starter for the internal combustion engine was a nail in the coffin of the electric car.  The electric car’s attraction lay in its easy start.  Kettering’s invention replaced the crank start….but not cranky people.

                1924 –Thursday-  Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studios was formed from a merger of Metro Pictures (Sam Metro), Goldwyn Pictures(Samuel Goldwyn), and the Louis B. Mayer Company. You know it as MGM. Theater magnate Marcus Loew orchestrated the merger. The first full length MGM movie was Erich von Stroheim’s Greed starring Gibson Gowland and Zasu Pitts.

                1936 –Friday- CSI “horsehair”.  The discovery of a single horse hair on the bedspread of the rape/murder scene of Nancy Titterton in New York City led to the arrest, trial and execution of  the murderer, John Fiorenza.  Firorenza worked at an upholstery shop where Mrs. Titterton’s couch had recently been re-stuffed…………with horse hair.

                1937 –Saturday-  Daffy Duck made  his  cartoon debut in the Tex Avery and Bob Clampett  Warner Bros. black and white short Porky's Duck Hunt.  Mel Blanc supplied  the voice of Daffy which was a  high pitched impersonation of producer Leon Schlesinger, who, apparently, found it to be an extremely funny voice and asked where the animators got it from...he never did get the joke. http://toolooney.goldenagecartoons.com/daffy.htm

            1951-Tuesday-  Baseball Hall-of-Famer Mickey Mantle, wearing number six – he would later change to his famous seven-  made his major league debut (in right field – Joe DiMaggio was playing centerfield) with the New York Yankees as they beat the hated Boston Red Sox, 5-0 behind the pitching of Vic Raschi. Legendary Yankee Stadium announce Bob Shepperd (Reggie Jackson called him “the voice of God”) also made his debut on the same day.

            1960 –Sunday-  Eddie Cochran kaput. Cochran had just completed a tour of England promoting his great hit Summertime Blues and was on his way to the airport with his girlfriend and singer Gene Vincent (Be Bop a Lula). His driver swerved after a tire blew.  They hit a lamppost. Although the driver was unharmed, Sharon Sheeley suffered a broken pelvis, Vincent, received a broken collarbone and fractured ribs, and Cochran, thrown through the windshield, was fatally injured. He was only twenty one  years old.

            1961 –Monday- The slap stick invasion of Cuba known as the Bay of Pigs commenced as  a CIA financed and trained group of Cuban refugees landed in Cuba and attempted to topple the communist government of Fidel Castro. The attack was an utter, absolute, all encompassing failure. Castro, then as now, a festering sore on the Western Hemisphere landscape, had overthrown incompetent, corrupt dictator, Fulgencio Batista in 1959. In March 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower ordered the CIA to train and arm a force of Cuban exiles for an armed attack on Cuba. John F. Kennedy inherited this program when he became president in 1961. Kennedy gave the go-ahead and then wimped out, failing to provide promised air support as Castro’s superior forces crushed the slip shod collection of “invaders.

            1964-Friday- Geraldine “Jerrie” Mock (38-year-old mother of three) of Columbus, Ohio, became the first woman to complete a solo airplane flight around the world.  She had left on March 19th in her Cessna, The Spirit of Columbus 180 aircraft for her 23,206-mile, 19-stop flight around the globe. Reminiscent of other races for inventions or credit (Bell and Gray) as Mock prepared for her flight, she heard of another woman pilot, Joan Merriam Smith, who was also planning to fly solo around the world. Merriam planned to retrace Amelia Earhart's ill fated flight. Jerrie Mock was the first of the two women to register her intentions to fly solo around the world with the NAA (representing the FAI in the US). Rules of the FAI stipulate that only one pilot at a time can apply to make an attempt to set the same record. Although the two women pilots insisted they were not racing against one another, Russell Mock pushed his wife to fly faster, not wanting her to be caught by Smith who had dreamt of being the first woman to fly solo around the world, andto finish, where Amelia Earhart had failed. http://womenaviators.org/JerrieMock.html

            1964 –Friday As Jerrie Mock (see above) completed her solo flight around the world, the Ford Motor Company, still reeling from the disaster known as the Edsel, introduced the Ford Mustang on the first day of the New York World's Fair in Flushing, Queens – which would officially open on April 22. The Mustang was so successfully marketed, thanks in part to its introduction at the World's Fair, that it became one of Ford's best-selling models of all time. The base price for the Mustang was $2,368, (about the price of some options on today’s cars) but buyers purchased an average of $1,000 worth of options. Or, as  (the wicked) Wilson Pickett said:

“Mustang Sally uh-huh

Guess you better slow your Mustang down

Oh Lord what I said now

Mustang Sally now baby

Oh Lord guess you better

Slow your Mustang down hu-oh yeah….”

            1967-Monday-  The spacecraft Surveyor 3 was launched from Cape Kennedy, Florida. It was the second US spacecraft to make a soft landing on the moon (as opposed to a hard landing which is better known as a crash landing). Surveyor landed at Oceanus Procellarum where it sent more than 6300 pictures back to Earth. Included in the photos were the birthplace of Dan Rather, a former husband of Elizabeth Taylor, and  Elton John sans wig.  A total of seven Surveyors were sent to the moon between May 1966 and January 1968.

            1969 –Thursday-  Palestinian Muslim, Sirhan  B. Sirhan was convicted of assassinating Robert F. Kennedy in the kitchen Los Angeles Ambassador Hotel on June 5, 1968. Kennedy had just completed his victory speech after winning the California Democratic Primary election. Sirhan was sentenced to death but had the sentence converted to life imprisonment when the California Supreme Court struck down all pending death penalties prior to 1972.  Since then Sirhan, who simply won’t go away,  has made several attempts to be released on parole. 

             1970-Friday-   Apollo 13 landed safely with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, four days after the spacecraft aborted its mission while it was four-fifths of the way to the moon. It was crippled when a tank containing liquid oxygen burst, or as NASA, borrowing freely from the Department of Jargon, called it and “LO2 tank anomaly”. The world held its breath (pretty hard to do for 4 days!) as the astronauts made their dramatic voyage home.  Reentry required the unusual step of undocking the lunar module, which had been retained for the flight back to Earth, in addition to the separation of the damaged service module…..sort of like tossing out your motor while you’re parking your car.  The lunar module had remained attached to the spacecraft to preserve the maximum electrical power in the command module for entry.

            1970 –Friday-  Johnny Cash performed at the White House for occasionally muddled President Richard Nixon.  Music fan Nixon, trying establish his bonifidas with the common man, mistook him for Merle Haggard and asked him to sing Okie from Muskogee.

            1986 –Thursday-  A Treaty was signed, ending Three Hundred and Thirty Five Years' War between the Netherlands and the Isles of Scilly. This endless, bloody conflict in which millions died…….no, wait….wrong war….. the Isles of Scilly are located off the southwest coast of the United Kingdom and the war is said to have been extended by the lack of a peace treaty for 335 years without a single shot being fired, which would make it one of the world's longest wars and as well as the  war with the fewest casualties. Despite the uncertain validity of the declaration of war, peace was finally declared in 1985. The origins of the war dated back to the English Civil War.  Following Oliver Cromwell’s victory, the elements of the Royal Navy still loyal to Charles I retreated to the Isles of Scilly.  The Netherlands, fiercely Protestant, declared war (Charles was a Catholic sympathizer) . Larry King, who was on hand to report on the outbreak of the conflict, was there to cover the peace treaty.

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 1480 Sunday- Happy Birthday, Lucrezia Borgia, daughter of daughter of Cardinal Rodrigo Borgia, later Pope Alexander VI,  and his mistress, Vannozza de Cattanei. Lucrezia’s reputation for villainy and  for poisoning husbands is undeserved. In fact, she may have been the most decent of the Borgia’s (brother Cesare did make a practice of poisoning enemies and he may have also been responsible for the murder of his brother Juan ).  Lucrezia had two political marriages by age seventeen as her father, the Pope kept looking for lucrative political alliances.  Her second husband, Alfonso, was probably “slewn”  by Cesare.  Following the kaputing of husband number two, it was on to husband number three. At age twenty one she married the heir to the Duchy of Ferrara. This was the third and last.  Surprisingly, she was a good Duchess and mother (other than a few affairs but for Borgias that was trivial) and had four children. She went kaput after giving birth to her fifth child at age thirty nine.

            1521-Monday- The Worms Crawl In,
The Worms Crawl Out,
Into your stomach,
And out your mouth.
They eat your intestines,
They scramble your heart.
Now you feel like
You’re all apart………………
At the Diet of Worms (was this one of those 16th century high protein diets? Was it more effective than the South Beach Diet?), Martin Luther, the main proponent of what would be known as Protestantism, ate Platyhelminthes, Nemertea; Nematoda; and Annelida in one sitting. Well, not really.  Actually he refused to recant his writings. He had been called to the city of Worms, Germany, to appear before the Diet (assembly) of the Holy Roman Empire, Charles V, to answer charges of heresy. For a week various theologians argued with him, but he would not retire from his ground. According to tradition Luther ended his defense on Apr. 18 with the words, "Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise. God help me. Amen." The study of worms is helminthology.

            1739-Saturday- John Winthrop, one of the first American astronomers, began making a series of sunspot observations. "There's one! Hey! There's another one! And another!.................Jeez, they're all over the place". Winthrop was the first important scientist to teach at Harvard. There were Winthrops running around all over New England back then.  The first John Winthrop, 1588–1649 was governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony. The next John Winthrop, 1606–76  was also a  colonial governor in America, and Winthrop the Astronomer’s father, John Winthrop, 1638–1707, was colonial governor of Connecticut.

            1775-Tuesday- Patriots Paul Revere and William Dawes set out on horseback from the city of Boston to warn Samuel Adams and John Hancock and rouse the Patriot minutemen that the British were on there way to Concord to arrest them.  Revere borrowed a horse from his friend Deacon John Larkin. The “one if by land and two if by sea” signal indicated that two lanterns had been hung briefly in the bell-tower of Christ Church in Boston, indicating that troops would row "by sea" really the Charles River to Cambridge, rather than marching "by land" out Boston Neck. Three lanterns would indicate that they took the “T”.  Revere’s clothing was, of course, Revere Wear.

            1848 –Tuesday- The Battle of Cerro Gordo. General Winfield Scott’s troops defeated those of the serially inept Santa Anna during the Mexican War. Santa Anna’s twelve thousand Mexican troops dug in to block the road to Mexico City. Scott concluded that a costly frontal assault was the only option until an April 17 reconnaissance by Captain Robert E. Lee (yes, that Robert E. Lee)  revealed that Santa Anna, as usual, had made a glaring mistake.  He  had trusted the terrain on his left  wasimpassible, and therefore had only lightly defended that approach. The Americans still worked their way around the Mexican line, cut off their line of retreat, and captured their camps. Santa Anna’s forces, fearing encirclement, fled.  U.S. troops killed or wounded an estimated 1,000 Mexican soldiers and captured another 3,000, as well as the artillery, baggage, and supplies of Santa Anna’s army.  U.S. losses were a little more than 400.

            1857 –Saturday-  Happy Birthday, Clarence Darrow, American attorney.  It was Darrow who defended teacher John Scopes in the famous “Monkey Trial” over evolution.

            1863-Saturday-  Stand Back!
Stand Back!
What are those dogs doing sniffing at my feet
They're on to something, picking up
Picking up this heat, this heat
[Chorus 1:]
Give me steam
And how you feel to make it real
Real as anything you've seen
Get a life with this dreamer's dream …
……..Peter Gabriel…….Happy Birthday, H.L Callendar, English physicist famous for his work in calorimetry (the study of heat flow), thermometry and especially, the thermodynamic properties of steam. He published the first steam tables in 1915. Steam tables failed in household use as objects kept falling through them.  In 1886, he invented the platinum resistance thermometer which used the electrical resistivity of platinum to enable the precise measurement of temperatures.  In 1915 he published The Callendar Steam Tables and in 1920 Properties of Steam and Thermodynamic Theory of Turbines. The tables are still widely used by engineers and scientists.

             1872-Thursday-  Happy Birthday, Bernard O. Dodge, American botanist and pioneer researcher on heredity in fungi. So this mushroom walks into a bar. He orders a drink.  He is refused service and asks why. The bartender says we don’t serve mushrooms in here.”  The mushroom says “why not, I’m a fungi”. Yes, if your grandparents were mushrooms, chances are you will be too.  Dodge is mainly known for his researches on the genetic behavior of the genus Neurospora.  Neurospora is not an anti bacterial ointment, it is a genus of fungi. The genus name, meaning "nerve spore" refers to the characteristic striations on the spores that resemble axons.

            1881 –Monday William Bonney, “Billy the Kid” escaped from the Lincoln County jail in Mesilla, New Mexico. He had been tried and convicted of murder. During the escape he  killed two deputies. It was also one of the slowest escapes in history.

After wielding a gun smuggled into his jail cell to bust out and kill the two deputies guarding him, Billy, a bit of a yenta,  spent more than an hour lounging around town talking to friends, shmoozing and bragging about his escape before riding off into the sunset. http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/360406/lincoln_new_mexico_celebrates_billy.html?cat=16

 Mr. Kid  was hunted down three months later and shot to death by Sheriff Pat Garrett. Garrett had tracked the elusive “Kid” to the Maxwell ranch.  Garrett was questioning Maxwell in a darkened room when the barefoot Billy, who was visiting a local girl friend, spotted two deputies on the porch and advanced armed with his Colt and a butcher knife to ask Maxwell who they were. Recognizing the voice, Garrett fired twice in the dark and the Kid collapsed, slewn by his former friend.  

            1895 –Thursday- splish splash
I was taking a bath
All about a staurday night
Rubbed up
Just relaxin in the tub
Thinkin everything was alright
Well I got out the tub
Put my feet on the floor
I wrapped the towel around me
Then I opened up the door
and then
Splish Splash
I got back in the bath
well how was I to know there
was a party goin on?
……..Bobby Darin………..“ The advance of civilization is largely measured by the victories of mankind over its greatest enemy….dirt”.  Josiah Quincy, 1840. On this day New York State cleaned up its act by passing a law enabling the establishment of free public baths. During the legislative debate, the only local board of health to testify, actually opposed the law. The law only applied to larger cities. The baths had to be open at least fourteen hours a day and hot and cold water provided.  Sticking a bath in the ocean or lake or river didn’t count.

            1906-Wednesday- “The fault, dear Brutus is in San Andreas”. 5:15 a.m. The San Francisco earthquake was caused by a 20 ft. shift in the San Andreas Fault. The resulting fires burned much of the city.  Years later, researchers assigned it a magnitude of 7.8 or so. Violent shaking went on for some 60 seconds. The rupture extended far to the north and south, 430 kilometers in all.  The San Andreas is a classic ``Strike Slip'' fault: the two sides (for the most part) move past each other horizontally.  San Andreas Lake (from which the fault takes its name) is a ``sag pond'' that naturally formed in the valley of the San Andreas fault. Strike slip faults are good places for lakes; the fault creates a low spot to collect the water.  The next major earthquake occurred in October 1989. Then there’s the Hayward Fault which runs through Berkeley……………..right through the football stadium…….

            1906 – Wednesday- Why don’t Penticostals have sex?  It can lead to dancing. On the same day that San Franciso was shaken by its earthquake, The Los Angeles Times story on the Azusa Street Revival, held at the home of Richard and Ruth Asberry (214 North Bonnie Brae Street). launched Pentecostalism as a worldwide movement. The revival was led by William J. Seymour, an African American preacher. It began with a meeting on April 14, 1906. The revival was characterized by ecstatic spiritual experiences accompanied by speaking in tongues.

            1923-Wednesday-  The first game was played at Yankee Stadium in New York City, with the Yankees beating the hated Boston Red Sox 4-1.  74,200 fans filled the Stadium while thousands more milled around outside after the fire department finally ordered the gates closed. Before the game began, John Phillip Sousa and the Seventh Regiment Band led both cteams to the flagpole in deep center field where the American flag and the Yankees' 1922 pennant were raised. Appropriately, Babe Ruth christened “the House that Ruth Built”, with a three-run homer to complete a four-run third inning.

            1925-Saturday-  The first Women‘s World’s Fair was held in Chicago.  The fair detailed progress women had made in 70 industries. It was officially opened by the country’s First Lady, Grace Coolidge.  Lasting from April 18–25 in the American Exposition Palace, it attracted more than 160,000 visitors, and consisted of 280 booths representing 100 occupations in which women were engaged. The fair was the idea of Helen Bennett, the manager of the Chicago Collegiate Bureau of Occupations, and Ruth Hanna McCormick, a leading clubwoman and Republican politician. Women publicized and ran the fair; its managers and board of directors were all women.  It was so successful that it was held for three more years.

            1925 –Saturday-  “Just the fax m’am”. The first U.S. commercial transcontinental radio transmission of a radio facsimile was sent from San Francisco, California to New York City. The photograph showed Marion Davies actress, better known as the mistress of William Randolf Hearst, receiving a make-up box as a gift from Louis B. Mayer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures. The fax service had been tried out the previous month by the American Telephone and Telegraph Company on March 4, 1925. That first photograph sent showed the inauguration of President Calvin Coolidge taken in Washington, D.C. Of course, considering Coolidge’s dullness it might have been difficult to differentiate between the real Calvin and a photograph.

            1929-Thursday- Small Talk, the first "Our Gang" picture with sound, made its debut.  Producer Hal Roach had started producing the (then silent) Our Gang short comedies in 1922. Later known as the "Little Rascals," they quickly caught on with the public. The most famous characters Spanky, Alfalfa, and Darla were added in the early 1930s. In 1938, Roach sold the Our Gang rights to MGM, which produced the shorts until 1944. In total, more than 100 Our Gang films were made. Small Talk starred Bobby 'Wheezer' Hutchins as  “Wheezer”, Joe Cobb as Joe  and  Allen 'Farina' Hoskins, as, yes Farina.

             1934-Wednesday- Is he really goin' out with 'er? I don't know. Look, here he comes now. Let's ask
'im. Hey, Murray, is it true Betty's wearin' your ring? Uh-huh.
Who's that bangin' on the piano? I don't know. You goin' out with
her tonight? You bet yer fur. By the way, where'd ya meet her? ]
I met her one day at the Laundromat.
[She turned around and smiled at me, ya get the picture? Yes, we see.]
And that's when I fell in love with the Leader Of the Laundromat
…..The Detergents……The world‘s first Laundromat , originally called a “Washateria”, was opened by C. A. Tannahill in Fort Worth. Ft. Worth, Texas. It all started with the first wringer washer, built in 1907. During the Depression, enterprising businesspeople started using wringer washers to operate

public laundries.  The first coin laundries were small, narrow stores that offered a few washers on one wall, and a few dryers on the other. Coin operated machines were not added until the 1950’s.

    1939 –Tuesday- I'm back in the saddle again
Out where a friend is a friend
Where the longhorn cattle feed
On the lowly gypsum weed
Back in the saddle again
Ridin' the range once more
Totin' my old .44
Where you sleep out every night
And the only law is right
Back in the saddle again
Rockin' to and fro
Back in the saddle again
I go my way
Back in the saddle again
……Gene Autry recorded his signature song (if you don’t count Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer), Back in the Saddle Again co-written with Ray Whitely. We note that the “longhorn cattle fee on gypsum weed” and then note Jimson Weed (Datura stramonium) otherwise known as Gypsum Weed, Stink Weed, Loco Weed, Jamestown Weed, Thorn Apple, Angel’s Trumpet, and Devil’s Trumpet among others, is a common weed that grows though out the US and Canada as well as the rest of the world and is an hallucinogen. Whoopi-ty-aye-yay.

      1942-Saturday-  Sixteen American B-25 bombers, launched from the aircraft carrier USS Hornet commanded by Lieutenant Colonel James H. Doolittle, attacked the Japanese mainland.  They inflicted only minor damage but coming just four months after the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, it was a major boost for American morale and later became the book and movie 30 Seconds Over Tokyo.  Doolittle went on to distinguished service in North Africa and Europe, serving under General Dwight Eisenhower.  Radio Tokyo, was broadcasting a program of English language propaganda at the time when  a little after  noon the announcer's s English diction suddenly gave way to frantic Japanese, and then dead air. Remarkably, most of the 80 pilots and crewmen survived the mission. Of eight airmen who were captured, three were executed by the Japanese, and another died in captivity. Four others were killed during the mission.

1949- On an Easter Monday, six days less than thirty three years after the Easter Rising, The Irish Republic was proclaimed.  Eire became the Republic of Ireland, formally free of allegiance to the British crown and the Commonwealth of Nations. In the following month, the British Parliament approved a bill continuing the status of Northern Ireland as a part of Great Britain and extending to citizens of the republic resident in Britain the same rights as British citizens. Similar legal provision was made by the Eire government in respect of British citizens resident in Eire. The republic became a member of the United Nations on December 14, 1955

            1955 –Monday- Einstein kaput. Physicist Albert Einstein died at age 76. Although Einstein's body was cremated, his brain was saved. Dr. Thomas S. Harvey, a pathologist at Princeton Hospital, removed Einstein’s brain on the morning of Einstein's death.  Then it sort of like, you know, disappeared !!!!. “Hey, anybody see a brain?  I left it in the pan and its gone!”  It wasn’t found until Steven Levy, a reporter for the New Jersey Monthly, set out on a quest to find Einstein’s brain. Mr. Levy published his story in 1978.  He discovered that Einstein’s brain was still with Dr. Harvey who was now in Wichita, Kansas. The brain was in two mason jars in a cardboard box that was marked with the words "Costa Cider". Most of the brain, except for the cerebellum and parts of the cerebral cortex, had been sectioned (sliced). Interestingly, a more recent study of Einstein's preserved brain has discovered that the inferior parietal region--the part thought to be related to mathematical reasoning--was 15% wider than normal. http://www.stevenlevy.com/index.php/einsteins-brain

 Just to make your day complete, the ninety-ninth element in the periodic table was discovered shortly after Einstein's death in 1955, and it was named "einsteinium."

            1980- Friday- Great Britain recognized the country's independence and Rhodesia's name was officially changed to Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe then became a train wreck of a country ruled by meshugener dictator, Robert Mugabe.

            1984 –Wednesday-  Possibly fed up with the lengthy wait for an elevator, paratroopers, Amanda Tucker and Mike MacCarthy from England, parachuted from the third level  of the Tower without permission.  In case you were wondering, the Eiffel Tower has 2,500,000 rivets and 18.038 steel pieces.  The height is 300.51 meters (986 feet) (+/- 15 cm depending on temperature),1st level -  57 meters, 2nd level - 115 meters
And Tucker and McCarthy jumped from the  3rd level - 276 meters

            1997 –Friday- Proving once again that when you’re out of ideas, grab an old idea, especially an old television series,  the movie McHale’s Navy premiered. Directed by Bryan Spicer, it starred the awful Tom Arnold as McHale (Ernest Borgnine on TV), and David Alan Grier as Ensign Parker (Tim Conway on TV).  1990’s political correctness mandated a female role so Debra Messing was inserted into the cast of a  movie vacuus humor. In the graveyard of cinematic failures based on television shows conceived by obviously addled creative geniuses we find: Car 54 Where You?, The Avengers, The Beverly Hillbillies, Bewitched, Charlie’s Angels, The Mod Squad, My Favorite Martian, Leave it to Beaver, The Honeymooners (a special place in artistic Hell for this one), and the Dukes of Hazzard. http://listing-index.ebay.com/movies/List_of_TV_shows_made_into_films.html

            2007 –Wednesday-  In Stenberg v. Carhart,  US Supreme Court upheld the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act in a 5-4 decision. The law was passed in 2003. The procedure , scientifically called intact dilation and extraction, involves the baby being partially born before its abortionist-induced termination.

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1587 –Sunday-  NOBODY expects the Spanish Armada! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four*...no... *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise....apologies to Monty Python…..One year before the more famous Spanish Armada attack, Sir Francis Drake defeated the Spanish fleet in Cádiz Harbor. He captured six ships, while destroying 31 more and a vast quantity of supplies. The attack set back the sailing of the armada for over a year. As England prepared for the attack of the Spanish Armada, Drake was named vice admiral of the English fleet.

             1713 –Wednesday-  We all know that children have inherited thrones but  Holy Roman Emperor,  and King of Bohemia, Charles VI devised the first pre-coital inheritance as with no living male heirs, he issued the Pragmatic Sanction of 1713 to ensure that Habsburg lands and the Austrian throne would be inherited by his daughter, Maria Theresa (not actually born until 1717). We note that there have been several Pragmatic Sanctions.  The Pragmatic Sanction of Bourges,. issued by Charles VII of France in 1438, sharply limited the papal authority over the church in France.  The sanctio pragmatica said to have been issued by St. Louis IX of France in 1269

Its purpose was to oppose the extension of, yes,  papal power. The German Pragmatic Sanction of 1439 as in March, 1438, the German ruling princes also declared their neutrality in the struggle between Eugenius IV (the Pope)  and the Council of Basle. Charles III  was also was King of Naples and Sicily until he succeeded his brother Ferdinand upon the throne of Spain in 1759. The pragmatic sanction that he issued  Oct., 6 1759, before he left Naples, was  also an edict of succession. As earlier treaties forbade the union of Spain and Naples, he transferred Naples and Sicily to his third son Ferdinand. No popes involved in this one.

            1775 –Wednesday-  Hit Me With Your Best Shot!
Why Don't You Hit Me With Your Best Shot!
Hit Me With Your Best Shot!
Fire Away!........
Pat  Benatar….."The shot heard round the world" – Ralph Waldo Emerson. At about 5 a.m., 700 British troops, on a mission to capture Patriot leaders……who had been warned on the 18th by Revere and Dawes……. and confiscate militia weapons, arrived at Lexington, MA. After buying t-shirts and little key chains that said  ‘John’s Bar’, they encountered 77 armed minutemen under Captain John Parker waiting for them on the town's common green. British Major John Pitcairn ordered the outnumbered Patriots to disperse, and after a moment's hesitation the Americans actually began to do so. Suddenly, the "shot heard round the world" was fired from an unknown gun from an unknown side, and the British opened fire. When the “Battle of Lexington” ended, eight Americans were dead and 10 others were wounded. Only one British soldier was injured. That “shot heard round the world” signaled the beginning of  the American Revolution .

         1810 -Thursday Venezuela achieved home rule as Vicente Emparan, Governor of the Captaincy General was removed by the people of Caracas and a Junta was installed. Pineapple headed twenty first century dictator, Hugo Chavez claimed credit for the victory.  However, it was under Francisco de Miranda in 1811 that complete independence was declared. The revolution soon encountered difficulties. An earthquake in 1812 destroyed cities held by the patriots and helped to forward the cause of the royalists. Later, however, Simón Bolívar (born in Venezuela) and his lieutenants, working from Colombia, were able to liberate Venezuela despite setbacks administered by the royalist commander, Pablo Morillo. The victory of Carabobo (1821) secured independence from Spain.

            1813 –Monday-  Happy Birthday, Dr. Samuel Gregory, born in Guilford, Vermont. Gregory was  one of the major forces in the medical education of women, who founded the Boston Female Medical School in 1848.  It was the first medical school in the world exclusively for women  because Gregory disapproved of male doctors attending childbirth. It later merged with the Boston University School of Medicine in 1874, becoming one of the first co-educational schools in the world

         1824 –Monday-  Lord Byron kaput. Thirty four year old George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron, died in what is now Greece at the age of 36.  Byron he had traveled to support the Greek struggle for independence from Turkey. On April 9 he was caught in the rain while out riding and became ill possibly from reading the future works of Rod McKuen The exact cause of his death remains a mystery; uremia, marsh fever, typhoid, and rheumatic fever have been suggested but the constant application of leeches by physicians and the subsequent enormous loss of blood certainly didn’t help.

            1839 –Friday-  The Treaty of London established Belgium as a kingdom.  Under the treaty, the European powers recognized and guaranteed the independence and neutrality of Belgium and confirmed the independence of Luxembourg from the Netherlands. The National Congress had decided that Belgium should be a monarchy, but finding a king proved difficult. In the end, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg, who was related to the British royal family and who became engaged to the daughter of the French king, was acceptable to both Britain and France and became King Leopold I.   It should be noted that Article 7 of the treaty , bound Britain to guard the neutrality of Belgium in the event of the latter's invasion. Such an invasion occurred in 1914 and Britain entered World War I.

             1877 –Thursday-  Attention boaters! Happy Birthday, Ole Evinrude, Norwegian inventor and manufacturer. In 1909, he invented the first practical and reliable outboard motor. He claimed that his invention was inspired by rowing a boat on a hot day to get ice cream for his girlfriend.  Good thing she didn’t want perfume…..he might have invented an ocean liner to get to Paris.

         1880-Monday  Happy Birthday, Albert W. Hull American physicist who discovered the powder method of X-ray analysis of crystals in 1917.  This “Hullova”  development  permits the study of crystalline materials in a finely divided microcrystalline, or powder, state. He just had to be careful not to sneeze.  Hull’s first work was on electron tubes, He also invented the magnetron (it was a magnetron that Percy Spencer was observing in the late 1940s when it melted chocolate in his pocket and he ended up invention the microwave)  in 1921 and thethyratron (sounds like a bizarre exercise machine)  in 1927, and other electron tubes with wide application as components in electronic circuits. 

            1892Tuesday-  “Liar liar pants on fire”.  The date of the first gas-powered U.S auto built by the Duryea brothers is also given as September 20, 1893. Charles Duryea claimed that he first drove the first gas-powered U.S.-built automobile in a rented loft space in Springfield, Massachusetts on this day- April 19.  Duryea's brother, Frank, who witnessed Charles' first drive, later set the date at September 20, 1893. Frank's claim was supported by newspaper accounts of the day. Charles' prescience was probably the result of the competition to claim the title of America's first car builder. Duryea later wrote an article entitled It Doesn't Pay to Pioneer, in which he claimed to have "designed and built the first gasoline automobile to actually run in America, sold the first car on this side, did the first automobile advertising, and won the first two American races." None of these claims is absolutely true. These partially true claims and the discrepancy over the actual date resulted in Duryea’s failure to receive credit for having been the first American to design and run a gas-powered vehicle until after his death. Duryea’s Clintonesque credibility led automotive historians to credit Elwood Haynes with having made America's first car.

            1897 –Monday The first Boston Marathon began at exactly 12:19 p.m., 18 men leaped from the starting line in front of Metcalf's Mill in Ashland (since 1924, the race has begun at Hopkinton Green). The starting official had no gun; he simply shouted "Go!" to start the BAA marathon. The winner was John McDermott of New York City. The 18 ran for their lives as they were pursued though out the (then) twenty five miles by Paris Hilton seeking a publicity photo with them.

             1902 –Saturday- An 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck the Quezaltenago area of southwestern Guatemala.  More than 2,000 people were killed and another 50,000 left homeless. The towns of the Quezaltenago region were covered with ash, which in some places reached a height of three feet. It was definitely a pain in the ash.

            1903 –Sunday- Happy Birthday, Eliot Ness of the ‘Untouchables” fame.  Ness was a federal agent during the 1930’s and helped send gangster Al Capone to prison.  He died of a heart attack just before the publication of his book, The Untouchables in1957….. the story of his battles against gangsters. The book inspired a popular ABC television series 1959-63 starring Robert Stack, and a movie in 1987, with Kevin Costner and a then another syndicated TV series in1993.

            1912-Friday- Happy Birthday, Glen Seaborg, American nuclear chemist. During the years 1940-58, Seaborg and his colleagues at the University of California, Berkeley, produced nine of the transuranic elements.  Transuranic includes any element having an atomic number greater than 92 (which is the atomic number of uranium); all of them are radioactive. Seaborg and colleagues bombarded uranium and other elements with nuclei in a cyclotron. He coined the term “actinide” for the elements in this series. Element 106, seaborgium, discovered in 1974, was named in his honor.  You can see the work area and the cyclotron if you visit the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley.  A note – the Hayward Fault is within a ½ mile of the work area. Another note- fallout from the newly discovered radioactive elements resulted in the development of the disease Oral Incrediblus in which the victims say the word incredible an incredible number of times during the day.

            1919Saturday-  Leslie Irvin made the first ever free fall parachute descent using a rip cord, rather than using a canister or tether line attached to the aircraft to pull open the parachute.  He made the historic jump from a plane over McCook field near Dayton, Ohio. Irvin believed that a free fall jump would be safer because an aircraft spinning out of control could interfere with the deployment of the earlier chutes. He broke his ankle when he landed. What became known as the Irvin parachute gained rapid acceptance, and by the early 1930's was in service with some 40 air forces around the world.

            1943-Monday-  The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising began as Nazi forces attempting to clear out the city's Jewish ghetto were met by gunfire from Jewish resistance fighters.  The battle lasted into May. Thousands of Jews were killed and when the Nazis finally took control, the survivors were sent to the Treblinka concentration camp.  Almost none had survived when the camp was finally liberated in 1945.

                 1943-Monday-  “It was like, I don’t know, like seeing inside like yourself.  Like really intense you know?” “ Like all these like colors and like bright stuff, you know….” Albert Hoffman chose to deliberately ingest 250 micrograms of the Lysergic Acid Diethylamide  better know as LSD he had synthesized at the Sandoz Laboratories in Basel, Switzerland. Three days earlier he had accidentally absorbed some through his skin by touching a container of the drug. He now pronounced it "far out" and promptly attended a Grateful Dead concert wearing a tie dyed t shirt.

        1945 –Thursday- When you walk through a storm
Keep your chin up high
And don't be afraid of the dark.
At he end of the storm
Is a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind,
Walk on through the rain,
Tho' your dreams be tossed and blown.Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you'll never walk alone,
You'll never walk alone……
The Richard Rogers, Oscar Hammerstein II musical Carousel, based on Molnar’s Liliom, opened at the Majestic Theatre in New York City. Directed by

Robert Mamoulian and choreographed by Agnes De Mille, the show starred

 John Raitt (father of Bonnie Raitt) as Billie Bigolow,  and Jan Clayton ( who would later star in the original Lassie on television)  starred in the show which ran for 890 performances. Among the most famous songs were; If I Loved You and You’ll Never Walk Alone.

            1956 –Thursday- On a social note, Actress Grace Kelly married Prince Ranier (Grimaldi) and became Her Serene Highness, popularly known as Princess Grace of Monaco. The American actress, famous for such movies as Dial M for Murder, High Noon, and The Country Girl) from Philadelphia married the stout publicity seeking biproduct of European monarch inbreeding in a storybook wedding. More than 1,500 radio, TV, newspaper and magazine reporters were on hand for the event in Monaco, as were most of the citizens of the tiny country. Music was provided by Run DMC and DJ Sleezy Offspring. The flowers by Edna's of Delancy Street, and the bridal gown was a K Mart one size fits all. The happy couple honeymooned in the Poconos of Pennsylvania in a room featuring a heart shaped bathtub and complimentary Cold Duck with nachos.         

            1961 –Wednesday Inspired by the birthday of Elliot Ness, see 1903, we continue our intermittent exploration of the late 50’s early 60’s gangster movie oeuvre inspired by Television’s The Untouchables. This day saw the New York Premiere of Portrait of a Mobster starring Vic Morrow as Dutch Schultz. “The screen puts on brass knuckles and a bulletproof vest to tell the Dutch Schultz story all the way!” Directed by Joseph Pevney, it costarred, Leslie Parrish as the love interest, and Ray Danton (direct from The Rise and Fall of Legs Diamond) as Legs Diamond.  

            1967 –Wednesday I know I stand in line, until you think you have the time
To spend an evening with me
And if we go someplace to dance, I know that there's a chance
You won't be leaving with me
And afterwards we drop into a quiet little place
And have a drink or two
And then I go and spoil it all, by saying something stupid
Like: "I love you"
………C. Carson Parks……. The golden voiced soprano,  Nancy Sinatra and her influential and talented father Frank Sinatra were awarded a  gold record award in the mailbox, for their collaboration on the hit single, Something Stupid. Frank sang and sound engineers worked miracles in making it appear that Nancy was singing.

             1971 –Monday-The first space station, Salyut 1 was launched by the Soviet Union. It had only a single main module. Its scheduled first crew launched in Soyuz 10 couldn’t get on board the space station due to a failure in the docking mechanism and had to go home.  Basically, they were locked out……and you thought you had problems when arriving home and finding you’d lost your key.  These guys were hundreds of miles up in space.  The second crew arrived in Soyuz 11 and remained on board for 23 days. Alas, they  didn’t get home as a pressure-equalization valve in the Soyuz 11 reentry capsule opened prematurely when the crew returned to Earth, killing all three. Mercifully, this space station burned up in the Earth's atmosphere Oct 11, 1971 before any more disasters could occur.

            1975-Saturday-  India announced the launch of its first satellite, Aryabhata, named after the great Indian mathematician and astronomer 476 AD – 550.  It was launched by the Soviet Union from Kapustin Yar using a Cosmos-3M launch vehicle. Aryabhata was built by the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) to conduct experiments related to astronomy as well as solving technology problems for American computer users. The satellite went kaput as it reentered the Earth's atmosphere on February 11, 1992. Resulting radiation from the satellite caused the development of the sub human species Moronicus Cell Phonicus Restaurantium Ad Nauseum. There appears to be no cure.

            1978 – The release of Patti Smith’s only hit, Because the Night..  When Bruce Springsteen gave this to Patti Smith, He had the music and the chorus written, but not the verses. She wrote the words in one night.  We found a few other Because the Night covers, including Bruce’s cover of his own song:  Quantize Featuring Jackie Lowry 1992 , 10,000 Maniacs 1993, Beki Bondage 1997, SKAndalous All-Stars 1998, Kim Wilde November 1998, Airbag 2000, Jan Wayne 2002, Soraya November 2006,Cascada December, and  2007 CO.RO feat. Tarlisa http://www.secondhandsongs.com/performance/9337

            1982 -Monday NASA announced that the first black astronaut would be Guion S. Bluford, Jr., and the first woman astronaut would be Sally K. Ride. On  August 30,  1983, Bluford became the first black American astronaut to travel in space, flying aboard the future ill-fated shuttle Challenger  in the eighth Space Shuttle Mission. Ride was the first American woman to orbit the earth when she flew aboard that same Space Shuttle Challenger. Bluford eventually took four shuttle flights and logged 688 hours in space.
He left NASA in July 1993 to work in private industry and was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame in 1997.  In 2001 Sally Ride founded her own company, ‘Sally Ride Science’ to pursue her long-time passion of motivating girls and young women to pursue careers in science, math and technology.  She is the only person to have served on the Commissions investigating both the Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia accidents.

          1995-Wednesday- Just after 9 a.m., a massive truck bomb exploded outside the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The blast collapsed the north face of the nine-story building, instantly killing more than 100 people and trapping dozens more in the rubble. The final death toll was 168 people killed, including 19 young children who were in the building's day-care center at the time of the blast. On April 21, Timothy McVeigh, a former U.S soldier and member of a radical right wing group was arrested for this, at the time, the worst terrorist attack ever committed on U.S. soil. This occurred on the same day as 51-day siege in 1993 at the Branch Davidian compound near Waco, Texas, ended when fire destroyed the structure after federal agents smashed their way in. Dozens of people, including sect leader David Koresh, were killed.  McVeigh was later executed.  Presumably he went straight to hell.

          1997 –Saturday- From this valley they say you are going.
I will miss your bright eyes and sweet smile.