?

Log in

Dan'l's Multiapostrophic LiveJournal

Recent Entries

You are viewing the most recent 25 entries.

25th June 2016

7:10am: National Catfish Day, but why?
Or, for the crafters among you, it's Leon day.

1530: Augsberg, Germany - The Augsberg confession, the primary credal statement of the Lutheran Church, is presented to the Holy Roman Emperor Charles V, by way of explaining just what it was his heretical princes and electors were on about.
1876: Little Big Horn River, Montana territory - Combined forces of the Arapaho, Lakota, and Northern Cheyenne peoples, led by Tȟašúŋke Witkó (Crazy Horse), Phizí (Chief Gall), and others, essentially destroy the Seventh Cavalry Regiment, killing Lt. Col. George Custer, his brothers Boston and Thomas, his nephew, and his brother-in-law, in the Battle of the Greasy Grass.
1910: Washington, DC - Congress passes the Mann Act, which famously forbids "transporting any woman or girl across state lines for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose," and will be used to selectively prosecute and persecute people for decades; it has been invoked as recently as 2012.
1910: Paris, France - Premiere of Igor Stravinsky's ballet The Firebird.
1947: Amsterdam, Netherlands - Publication of Anne Frank's diary.
1948: Berlin, Germany, and elsewhere - the Berlin Airlift begins.
1950: Korea - North Korea invades South Korea, beginning the Korean War.
1950: New York, NY, international territory - UN Security Council passes Resolution 82, demanding that North Korea immediately cease invading South Korea.
1967: Worldwide, more or less: The first live global satellite television program, Our World, is broadcast, featuring live performances by artists including Maria Callas, Pablo Picasso, and The Beatles.
1978: San Francisco, CA - During this year's gay pride parade, the rainbow gay pride flag is flown for the first time.
1998: Washington, DC - In Clinton v City of New York, the Line Item Veto Act of 1996 is struck down on the grounds that it gives the President the power to unilaterally amend or repeal parts of laws enacted by Congress.

1852: Antoni Gaudí, architect (Sagrada Familia, Park Güell).
1903: Eric Arthur Blair/George Orwell, writer (Nineteen Eighty-Four, Animal Farm).
1908: Willard Van Orman Quine, linguistic and mathematical philosopher (Word and Object).
1923: Dorothy Edith Gilman (Butters), writer (the "Mrs. Pollifax" series).
1925: June Lockhart, who was Dr. Maureen Robinson.
1928: Alex Toth, comix artist and animator (Space Ghost).
1929: Eric Carle, writer (The Very Hungry Caterpillar).
1935: Larry Kramer, writer and activist, cofounder of Gay Men's Health Crisis and ACT UP.
1935: Charles Sheffield, writer (The Web Between the Worlds).
1954: Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.

24th June 2016

6:51am: National Take Your Dog to Work Day
Or, international fairy day.

1374: Aachen, Germany - One of the largest outbreaks of dancing fever (St John's or Vitus's Dance) starts here, and quickly spreads to other parts of Europe. "No-one will tell what all this is about..."
1509: London, England - Enery the Ait'th is crowned King of England.
1604: (present) St John, New Brunswick - Samuel de Champlain discovers the mouth of the Saint John River and, shortly thereafter, the Reversing Falls.
1717: London, England - Founding of the Premier Grand Lodge of England, the first Masonic Grand Lodge in the world.
1821: Carabobo, Venezuela - The decisive battle of Venezuelan independence is fought here, and Simón Bolívar prevails over the Spaniard Miguel de la Torre.
1916: Hollywood, CA - Mary Pickford is the first female actor to sign a million-dollar contract.
1949: US - NBC broadcasts the first television Western, Hopalong Cassidy.
1957: Washington, DC - In Roth v United States, SCOTUS upholds the doctrine that obscene material, "utterly without redeeming social importance," can be banned and its publication and dissemination punished appropriately.
1973: New Orleans, LA - An arson attack at the UpStairs Lounge, a noted gay bar, kills thirty-two people. We've been here before.
2004: Albany, NY - The state Supreme Court declares capital punishment unconstitutional.

1386: Saint John of Capistrano, priest.
1542: Saint John of the Cross, mystic.
1813: Henry Ward Beecher, abolitionist.
1842: Ambrose Bierce, vanishing author (The Devil's Dictionary, "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge").
1893: Roy O. Disney, businessman.
1895: Jack Dempsey, boxer.
1901: Harry Partch, microtonal composer and writer (Genesis of a Music).
1904: Phil Harris, who was Baloo and Little John.
1915: Fred Hoyle, astronomer and writer (The Black Cloud, October the First Is Too Late).
1930: William Bernard Ziff, Jr., publisher.
1935: Terry Riley, composer (In C).
1938: Lawrence Block, writer (Eight Million Ways to Die).
1941: Julia Kristeva, psychoanalyst.
1941: Charles Whitman, Texas Tower murderer.
1942: Arthur Brown, singer-songwriter ("Fire").
1944: Jeff Beck, guitarist (The Yardbirds).
1946: Robert Reich, economist.
1948: Patrick Moraz, keyboard player (Yes, The Moody Blues).
1950: Mercedes Lackey, writer (Arrows of the Queen).
1958: Dan'l Danehy-Oakes, amateur almanacist.
1960: Walter E. Ellis, Milwaukee's Northside Strangler.
1961: Ralph E. Reed, founder of the Christian Coalition.

23rd June 2016

6:23am: United Nations Public Service Day
...or, Pink Day.

1314: Somewhere near Balquhiderock, Scotland - The Battle of Bannockburn (Blàr Allt nam Bànag), in which the Scottish army of Robert the Bruce, besieging Bannockburn, defeats a much larger British force, begins.
1611: Aboard the Discovery, Hudson's Bay, Canada - Wishing to return home to England, Henry Hudson's crew mutinies and puts Hudson, his son, and several other loyalists off on a small open boat or shallop. They are never seen again.
1683: Pennsylvania - William Penn signs a treaty of peace and friendship with the aborignal Lenni Lenape people. He keeps to his side of the treaty, but growing colonization gradually puts pressure on the Lenni Lenape; his sons finally abrogate the treaty and begin selling Lenape land to colonists.
1794: Russia - Following the Third Partition of Poland, Catherine II (the Great) grants Jews permission to settle in Kyiv.
1860: Washington, DC - Congressional Joint Resolution 25 establishes the Government Printing Office, now known as the Government Publishing Office.
1868: Washington, DC/Milwaukee, WI - Christopher Latham Sholes receives a patent for a device he calls the "Type-Writer." A part of the patent is purchased by James Densmore of Meadville, PA, who improves it (with the help of tester James O. Clephane, of Washinton, DC) and eventually develops into the Remington No. 1, the first commercially successful typewriter. Sholes sells his share of the patent to Remington for $12,000; Densmore insists on a royalty and eventually nets $1.5M.
1894: Paris, France - At the Sorbonne, the International Olympic Committee is formed.
1917: Washington, DC - In a game between the Boston Red Sox and the Washington Senators, pitcher Babe Ruth throws a punch at the home plate Umpire after walking the first batter, and is retired from the game. His replacement, Ernie Shore, throws the runner out trying to steal and retires the remaining 26 batters for a near-perfect game.
1947: Washington, DC - Congress overrides President Harry S Truman's veto of the Taft-Hartley act, which was called by labor leaders the "Slave Labor Bill."
1959: Wakefield, England - Convicted spy Klaus Fuchs is released from prison and allowed to repatriate to Germany.
1960: Silver Spring, MD - The Food and Drug Administration approves Enovid as the first legal oral contraceptive in the world.
1969: Armonk(?), NY - IBM creates the concept of a software industry by announcing that it will henceforth separate the pricing of their machines from that of the software that runs on them.
1972: Washington, DC - Richard Nixon and H.R. Haldeman discuss using the CIA to obstruct the FBI's investigation of the Watergate break-ins.
2013: Little Colorado River Gorge, Navajo Territory - Nik Wallenda walks 1400 feet across the canyon, which is sorta kinda part of the Grand Canyon.

1668: Giambattista Vico, philosopher (Scienza Nuova).
1824: Karl Reinecke, composer (Drei Fantasiestücke für Viola und Klavier).
1894: Alfred Kinsey, sexologist and reporter.
1894: Edward VIII of England.
1910: Jean Anouilh, playwright (Antigone).
1912: Alan Turing, cryptographer, mathematician, computer scientist, sacrificial victim.
1927: Bob Fosse, choreographer.
1928: Michael Shaara, writer (The Killer Angels).
1936: Richard Bach, writer (Jonathan Livingston Seagull).
1940: Stuart Sutcliffe, original bassist for the Beatles.
1948: Clarence Thomas, SCOTUS justice.
1964: Joss Whedon, director-screenwriter-producer (The Cabin in the Woods, Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

22nd June 2016

6:21am: National Onion Rings Day...
...or, scraping the barrel even further, National Chocolate Eclair Day. A terrible combination.

1633: Rome, Italy - The Holy Office (the Inquisition; now known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) forces Galileo Galilei to make a public recantation of his view that the Earth revolves around the Sun, and admit that the Earth is the center of the Universe. He probably did not say "It still moves."
1807: Off the coast of Norfolk, VA - The British warship HMS Leopard pursues and attacks the American frigate USS Chesapeake. When fired upon, the Chesapeake returned a single round and then surrendered. Four sailors were removed from the American ship by the British, who then let Chesapeake return to port. Chesapeake's captain, James Barron, was court-martialed and removed from command. This affair led to the Embargo of 1807 and ultimately contributed to the War of 1812.
1870: Washington, DC - President Ulysses S. Grant signs the bill that creates the U.S. Department of Justice.
1942: Washington, DC - Congress formally adopts the Pledge of Allegiance.
1944: Washington, DC - President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Serviceman's Readjustment Act of 1944, the "G.I. Bill."
1969: Cleveland, OH - The Cuyahoga River catches fire.
1978: Washington, DC - Working at the US Naval Observatory, James W. Christy discovers Pluto's moon, Charon.
1990: Berlin, Germany - Dismantling of "Checkpoint Charlie."

1856: H. Rider Haggard, writer (King Solomon's Mines, She).
1864: Hermann Minkowski, mathematician.
1887: Julian Huxley, eugenicist and first President of UNESCO.
1898: Erich Maria Remarque, writer (All Quiet on the Western Front).
1903: John Dillinger, bank robber and quintuplet.
1906: Anne Morrow Lindbergh, pilot and inspirational writer.
1910: Konrad Zuse, computer scientist, creator of the Z3, the first working, fully-programmable, automatic omputer.
1933: Dianne Feinstein.
1947: Octavia Estelle Butler, writer (Kindred).
1947: Howard Kaylan, singer-songwriter ("Happy Together").
1948: Todd Rundgren, singer-songwriter ("Hello, It's Me").
1953: Cyndi Lauper, singer-songwriter ("Time After Time").
1958: Bruce Campbell, who was Ash.
1974: Jo Cox, assassinated MP.

21st June 2016

6:16am: World Music Day
...unless you prefer national sunlight appreciation day.

1877: Schuylkill County, PA - "The Day of the Rope" - Ten Irish immigrants, alleged members of the secret society "the Molly Maguires" (which may not even have existed), are hanged after their condemnation by a disgraceful kangaroo court.
1900: Beijing - As an effect of the Boxer Rebellion, and under the auspices of Empress Dowager Cixi, China declares war on the United States, Britain, France and Japan.
1915: Washington, DC - In Guinn v. United States, SCOTUS declares that the "grandfather clause" in Oklahoma's State Constitution is in violation of the Federal Constitution. Essentially, the clause held that those voters whose grandfathers were either (a) eligible to vote prior to January 1, 1866, or (b) residents of "some foreign nation" at that time, need not pass the literacy test to vote. This implicitly forced African Americans to pass the literacy test, which is what SCOTUS struck down.
1940: Vancouver, BC - RCMP officer Henry Larsen departs for what will be the first successful navigation of the Northwest Passage from West to East.
1964: Neshoba County, MS - The Ku Klux Klan murders three civil rights workers, Andrew Goodman, James Chaney and Mickey Schwerner.
1973: Washington, DC - In Miller v. California, SCOTUS strikes down the old "utterly without redeeming social value" test for obscenity, creating the three-pronged or Miller test: To be obscene, a work must meet three conditions: (1) the average person, applying contemporary community standards, would find the work prurient; (2) the work depicts or describes sexual conduct or excretory functions as defined by the state; and (3) the work lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.
2004: Space - SpaceShipOne achieves an altitude of 100 km, becoming the first privately built and operated vessel to reach "space," and winning the X Prize.
2005: Klansman Edgar Ray Killen is convicted of manslaughter in the cases of Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner.

1732: Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach, composer (Der Tod Jesu and other light works).
1786: Charles Edward Horn, singer-songwriter. (Who knew they had those in the 18th Century?)
1882: Rockwell Kent, illustrator.
1884: Feodor Gladkov, Socialist Realist writer (Cement).
1892: Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr, theologian (The Nature and Destiny of Man).
1893: Alois Hába, composer of microtonal music.
1899: Pavel Haas, composer of song cycles.
1903: Al Hirschfeld, illustrator.
1905: Jean-Paul Sartre, existential philosopher (Being and Nothingness).
1912: Mary McCarthy, writer and critic (Vietnam, Hanoi).
1919: Paolo Soleri, architect of arcologies.
1932: Lalo Schifrin, composer of incidental music (Mission: Impossible theme).
1944: Ray Davies, singer-songwriter (The Kinks).
1953: Benazir Bhutto, politician.
1957: Berkeley Breathed, cartoonist (Bloom County).
1965: Yang Liwei, astronaut.
2011: Lil Bub, cat.

20th June 2016

6:25pm: Read: The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, by Sydney Padua (2016-39)
The first chapter of this collected webcomic tells the true story (pretty much) of Ada Byron, Countess of Lovelace, coming right up to and explaining the fact that Babbage never got one of his Engines built, and Lovelace never got to run a program.

Then it diverges, and explains that in a Pocket Universe, it all worked out, and Lovelace got to program Babbage's Analytical Engine. Which, of course, they use to have thrilling adventures and (at the request of H.M. Queen Victoria) fight crime. Along the way is revealed the identity of the Person from Porlock, the nature of Boole, and how to deal with Luddite matheticians.

The art is crisp, clean, and cartoony, with characters easily recognizable from panel to panel and chapter to chapter. The writing runs from engaging to downright hilarious. The feetnote are amusing, and the endnotes (which explain the feetnote) doubly so.

Tee, as they say, hee.
9:31am: Read: Killing Pretty, by Richard Kadrey (2016-38)
Book seven of a series, which requires some background.

Okay, so: there's this guy named James Stark, who was sent bodily to Hell by people he trusted (so maybe he has some trust issues). Here he was made to fight in the demonic arena, where he was surprisingly successful and earned the nickname Sandman Slim, the monster who kills monsters. Some years later he escaped and took bloody revenge on the people who had sent him there. In the books since then, he has fought a zombie invasion, become Lord of Hell, quit, and battled nasty angry gods.

Now he is, somewhat against his will, working for a detective agency. When the Angel of Death comes to him saying, "Some guys trapped me in a human body and cut my heart out," he's somewhat dubious, but the guy _is_ an apparent human with a hole where his heart should be. And Julie, his boss, thinks that this guy is the perfect way to get her agency a reputation.

So he goes up against necromancers, a mystical Nazi group, the vampire queen of LA, the person who would be Death, and much more, to solve the case, which he of course does in his usual bloody and violent way.

Kadrey's (or Stark's) voice is clear, darkly humorous, and vivid. The plot is satisfying, and Stark's gradual evolution towards responsible adulthood takes a big step forward.
6:34am: Happy Solstice!
Well, sort of. It occurs today in UTC. Not so much in local time; where I am it will happen early tomorrow morning. So, for the nitpickers, it's also International Refugees Day.

1248: Oxford, England - The University of Oxford, after exisitng for at least two centuries, receives its Royal Charter from King Henry II.
1631: Baltimore, Ireland - This village on the coast of County Cork is sacked by Algerian pirates.
1756: Calcutta, India - After the fall of Fort William to the Nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-Daulah, at least 64 and possibly as many as 146 of the surviving British garrison are stuffed into "the Black Hole of Calcutta," a dungeon room intended for two or three prisoners. The room is so small that the men quickly begin dying of suffocation, heat, and thirst; in the end only 21-23 survive.
1782: Philadelphia, PA - Congress adopts the Great Seal of the United States of America.
1787: Philadelphia, PA - At the Federal Convention (which drafts the US Constitution), Oliver Ellsworth of Connecticut moves that the new government be called "The United States."
1819: Liverpool, England - The first steam-powered vessel to cross the Atlantic, SS Savannah, arrives at this port; however, most of the voyage was made under sail.
1837: London, England - Queen Victoria ascends to the throne of the United Kingdom.
1840: Washington, DC/New Haven, CT - Samuel Morse receives the patent for the single-wire telegraph.
1863: West Virginia/Washington, DC - Having separated from the rebellious State of Virginia, the loyalist West Virginia is admitted as the thirty-fifth US State.
1877: Hamilton, ON - Alexander Graham Bell installs the world's first commercial telephone service.
1893: New Bedford, MA - After a two-week trial, the jury in the Lizzie Borden case deliberates for an hour and a half and returns a verdict of acquittal.
1945: Washington, DC - Secretary of State Edward Stettinus, Jr., approves the "transfer" of Wernher von Braun and his team of Nazi rocket scientists to the US.
1948: New York, NY - The premier episode of The Talk of the Town (which would become The Ed Sullivan Show) is broadcast, featuring Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis, Rodgers and Hammerstein, a pianist, a ballerina, a troupe of crooning firemen and a boxing referee.
1963: Washington, DC/Moscow, Russia: Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Moscow-Washington Hotline is installed. Though popularly known as "the Red Telephone," it is in fact a teletype encrypted with a use-once cypher.
1972: Washington, DC - Richard Nixon discusses the Watergate burglary with certain aides, on tape; when the tape is released, there is an 18-1/2 minute gap in the recorded conversation.

1819: Jacques Offenbach, composer (The Tales of Hoffman).
1858: Charles W. Chesnutt, writer (The Conjure Woman, and Other Conjure Tales).
1884: Mary R. Calvert, astronomer (Atlas of the Northern Milky Way).
1905: Lillian Hellman, playwright/screenwriter (The Little Foxes).
1909: Errol Flynn, doer of derring and buckler of swashes.
1910: Josephine Johnson, writer (Now in November).
1941: Ulf Merbold, astronaut.

18th June 2016

10:24am: Read: The Dark Forest, by Cixin Liu (2016-37)
So in _The Three-Body Problem_, we are introduced to the Trisolarians, aliens whose home is inherently unstable and who intend to invade us in about four hundred years. Fortunately, we have warning. Unfortunately, they have used quantum entanglement and other physics magic (including an item I just plain don't believe in, the "sophon") to block human progress in fundamental physics. Furthermore, the magic sophons can spy on us and see and hear everything we do.

So the world is preparing for a huge space battle, the "Doomsday Battle," knowing that, though the alien armada is technically advanced, and knows all our plans, it is limited in size. The UN institutes the "Wallfacer Project," in which four individuals are selected and given vast, discretionary, even arbitrary power to institute their plans - but they may not tell anyone what the plans _are_, or how they will stop the aliens. The Wallfacers are three world-class scientists ... and one Luo Ji, an academic who has transitioned from astronomy to sociology. Luo Ji has no idea why he has been chosen, and neither do the others, who don't completely respect him.

Oh, and: the aliens have agents among humans. People who believe humanity _deserves_ destruction, or perhaps redemption, through alien conquest. This Earth-Trisolarian Organization (ETO) selects, at the behest of their Trisolarian controllers, three "Wallbreakers," one for each of the scientists. Luo Ji, we are told, will be his own Wallbreaker.

One by one the three scientists fail. Luo Ji becomes ill and is put into cryonic suspension until he can be cured, awakening two hundred years later...to find a Golden Age, wherein humanity has produced a vast armada of fusion-powered ships ready to take on the Trisolarians. Their first test comes when a single, unmanned (unaliened?) advance probe arrives ... and wipes out the human fleet.

This throws humanity's last hope on Luo Ji. I won't say how the book comes out, but there _is_ a third book in the series, so draw your own conclusions.

Cixin Liu is not really like any of the classic Anglophone science fiction writers - he is, however, rather like all of them, in his ability to take wild stfnal ideas and spin out their social and personal consequences to create engaging stories. If I had to compare him with anyone, it would be Asimov: characters slightly deeper than Clarke's, but as intellectually rigorous as Clarke.

Do read the first one first!
9:46am: Autistic Pride Day
1178 - Canterbury, England - Five monks witness an odd phenomenon on and about the Moon. The most likely explanation is that it was an exploding meteor that happened to align with the Moon, however, it has been speculated that this was the formation of the Giordano Bruno Crater (just barely) on the far side.
1429 - Patay, France - A French army under Jeanne d'Arc routs an English army under Sir James Fastolf, effectively destroying the English army and turning the tide of the Hundred Years' War towards the French.
1812: Washington, DC - Congress declares war on Great Britain, Canada, and Ireland, formally beginning the War of 1812.
1873: Rochester, NY - Susan B. Anthony is fined $100 for attempting to vote in the 1872 election.
1900: Beijing, China - In response to and partial support of the Boxer Rebellion, Empress Dowager Cixi orders all foreigners, including diplomats and their families, killed.
1940: London, England - Winston Churchill gives his "Their Finest Hour" speech before the House of Commons.
1948: New York City - Columbia Records introduces the Long-Playing (33 1/3 RPM) record.
1971: Washington, DC - President Richard Nixon declares that some drugs are Public Enemy Number One. This speech is generally considered the start of the War On Some Drugs.
1983: Cape Canaveral, FL - With the launch of STS-7 (second mission for Challenger), Sally Ride becomes the first American woman in space.

1673: Antoni Lliteres Carrió, composer (Acis y Galatea).
1834: Auguste-Théodore-Paul de Broglie, philosopher and academic.
1857: Henry Clay Folger, founder of the Folger Shakespeare Library.
1877: James Montgomery Flagg, painter ("I Want YOU" poster).
1904: Keye Luke, who was Number One Son and Master Po.
1913: Sammy Cahn, songwriter ("High Hopes", "Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!").
1915: Red Adair, firefighter and capper.
1929: Jürgen Habermas, pragmatic philosopher.
1936: Barack Obama, Sr., economist.
1937: Vitaly Zholobov, cosmonaut.
1942: Roger Ebert, film critic.
1942: Pat Hutchins, children's author-illustrator (The Wind Blew).
1942: Paul McCartney, bassist and singer-songwriter for Wings.
1957: Richard Powers, writer (Galatea 2.2).
1985: Alex Hirsch, animator (Gravity Falls).

17th June 2016

7:03am: National Eat Your Vegetables Day
...really...

1462: Near Târgovişte, Wallachia - The "Night Attack." Ottoman troops have invaded Wallachia, seeking to punish Vlad Ţepeş for failing to pay the jizya and impaling 20000 Turks. Vlad attacks the Ottoman camp at night with debateable results; his aim is to kill Sultan Mehmed, which clearly fails. But when the Sultan's troops reach Târgovişte, they find another 20,000 impaled Turks; horrified, the Sultan retreats.
1579: Bay Area(?), CA - Sir Francis Drake claims "New Albion" from "sea to sea" for the British crown.
1631: Burhanpur, India - Mughal Empress Mumtaz Mahal dies in childbirth. Her husband, Shah Jahan, will spend the next 22 years building her mausoleum, the Taj Mahal, in Agra.
1673: Near Prairie du Chien, WI - Jacques Marquette and Louis Jolliet reach the Mississippi River. After navigating down the river to the Gulf of Mexico and back, they will be the first European explorers to give a reasonably-full account of its course.
1775: Charlestown, Boston - In the Battle of Bunker Hill, part of the Siege of Boston, the British more-or-less defeat the colonists, though taking more than twice as many casualties. The main effect of the British sortie was to show the colonists that their militias could in fact stand up to British troops in battle.
1839: Kingdom of Hawai'i - King Kamehameha III issues an "edict of toleration," allowing Roman Catholics to worship in the Islands.
1885: New York Harbor, NY - Arrival of the Statue of Liberty from France.
1930: Washington, DC - President Herbert Hoover signs the Smoot-Hawley Tariff. (That's a fun sentence to say out loud.)
1939: Versailles, France - Eugen Weidmann, a convicted murderer, is the last person publically guillotined in France.
1963: Washington, DC - In Abington School District v Schempp, Moe and Larry SCOTUS rules that public schools may not require the reading of Bible verses and recitation of prayers.
1972: Washington, DC - Five (secret) White House operatives are arrested for burgling the Democratic National Headquarters at the Watergate office complex.
1987: Gainesville, FL - "Orange Band," the last dusky seaside sparrow, dies.
1994: Los Angeles and Orange Counties, CA - Following a long, slow-speed motor chase, O.J. Simpson is arrested in connection with the two murders of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.
2015: Charleston, SC - Dylann Roof kills nine people in a mass shooting at Emmanuel AME Church.

1603: St. Joseph of Cupertino, mystic.
1704: John Kay, inventor of the flying shuttle.
1882: Igor Stravinski, composer (The Firebird, Petrouchka, The Obligatory Rite of Spring).
1898: Maurits Cornelis Escher, illustrator.
1903: Ruth Graves Wakefield, creator of the Toll House (chocolate chip) cookie.
1914: John Hersey, writer (Hiroshima, The Child Buyer).
1927: Wally Wood, comix writer-artist (MAD, Daredevil, many others)
1942: Mohammed ElBaradei, diplomat and Vice President of Egypt.
1943: Newt Gingrich, amazing hypocrite.
1943: Barry Manilooowwwwzzzzzzzzzz.
1943: Burt Rutan, air and spacecraft designer.
1951: Starhawk, stone newage writer (The Spiral Dance).
1958: Jello Biafra, singer (The Dead Kennedys) and spoken-word performer.

16th June 2016

6:25pm: Read: The Buried Giant, by Kazuo Ishiguro (2015-36)
It has been years since the fall of King Arthur, and the Britons and the Saxons are living in (more or less) peace. In a Briton village, an old couple - Axl and Beatrice - decide to go and visit their son, whose village is somewhere to the West.

Well, sort of. In fact, they have some trouble remembering just where their son's village is, but they know it's off that way. And they can't quite remember why they haven't gone to visit him sooner. In fact, now that they think of it, a lot of people aren't remembering a lot of things that it seems they should.

(That last bit comes out only gradually, but its so pervasive that it's hard not to say it outright.)

They meet a number of odd characters: a boatman and an old woman who hates him; a young Saxon boy whose people want to kill him; a Saxon warrior who rescues the boy (and the people); Sir Gawain, an aging knight whose last mission is to slay the local dragon; and many others. There are mysteries and intrigues, and the subject of memory is never far from the fore.

This is a leisurely, deliberate novel; it was fifty pages before I was sure I was enjoying it, but by that point I was enjoying it so much that there was no chance of my stopping. A friend complained that it moves too slowly, especially the travel "bits": I think this is a deliberate choice to give the reader a feeling for how long travel took in those days.

And yes, there be dragons.
6:25am: Bloomsday
Or for those less lit'ry minded, it's The International Day of the African Child.

1487: East Stoke, England - Henry VII (Tudor) of England soundly defeats a Yorkist rebellion supporting one Lambert Simnel, a pretender who claimed to be Edward, Earl of Warwick, and John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln, in what is considered to be the last battle of the Wars of the Roses, the Battle of Stoke Field.
1755: Chignecto Isthmus, between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia - The French surrender Fort Beauséjour to the English, who rename it Fort Cumberland. Shortly thereafter, those French settlers (Acadians) who refused to sign a loyalty oath to the British Crown were expelled from Canada. Many relocated to Louisiana, where they came to be known as Cajuns.
1858: Springfield, IL - Abraham Lincoln delivers his second most famous speech, the "House Divided" speech, accepting the Republican Party's nomination for the Senate.
1871: London, England - Parliament passes the Religious Tests Act, which removes the religious test as a requirement for students entering the Universities of Oxford, Cambridge, and Durham - except, reasonably enough, for those students intending to pursue studies in theology.
1884: New York, NY - LaMarcus Adna Thompson opens the "Switchback Railway," the first true roller-coaster. It is essentially a simple descent from one of two towers to the base of the other, through a series of switchbacks; at the base of the tower, the car would be hauled to its top to serve the next patron.
1903: Oslo, Norway - Roald Amundsen departs for what will be the first successful East-West navigation of the Northwest Passage. His expedition is the first to complete the Passage solely by ship. After spending two years at King William Island (modern Nunavut), and sending a success message by telegram from Eagle City, AK on 5 December 1905.
1904: Dublin, Ireland - James Joyce's romantic/sexual relationship with Nora Barnacle, whom he will marry, begins. In honor of the day, Joyce sets his novel Ulysses on this date, which in turn is celebrated by Joyceans all over the world, and especially in Dublin, as "Bloomsday."
1911: Endicott, NY - Foundation of the Computing-Tabulating-Recording Company, which will eventually change its name to International Business Machines and then to IBM.
1933: Washington, DC - Passage of the National Industrial Recovery Act, which will be declared unconstitutional by SCOTUS in 1935.
1961: Paris, France - Rudolf Nureyev defects from the Soviet Union at Le Bourget Airport.
1963: Baikonur, USSR - Vostok 6 launches Valentina Tereshkova to become the first woman in space.
1967: Monterey, CA - Opening of the Monterey International Pop Festival, musically more significant than Woodstock in its effect.
1977: Redwood Shores, CA - Larry Ellison, Bob Miner and Ed Oates incorporate Oracle.
2012: Jiuquan, China - Launch of Shenzhou 9, carrying three astronauts including China's first woman in space, Liu Yang.

1723: Adam Smith, economist (The Wealth of Nations).
1829: Goyaałé (Geronimo), Bedonkohe Apache tribal leader.
1890: Stanley Laurel, actor and comedian.
1896: Will F. Jenkins/Murray Leinster, science fiction writer ("First Contact").
1917: Katherine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post.
1920: Isabelle Holland, writer (The Man Without a Face).
1937: Erich Segal, writer (Love Story).
1938: Joyce Carol Oates, writer (them).
1966: Phil Vischer, co-creator of Veggie Tales.

15th June 2016

6:35am: June 15
Move along, there's nothing to celebrate here.

1215: Runnymeade, England - King John puts his seal to the Magna Carta.
1300: Bilbao, Spain - Is founded, based on a municipal charter dated this date in Valladolid.
1502: Martinique - On his fourth voyage, Christopher Columbus lands here.
1520: Rome - Pope Leo X issues the bull Exsurge Domine, which gives Martin Luther sixty days (from its publication in Saxony) to recant or be excommunicated. It specifically lists 41 errors in Luther's 95 Theses.
1648: Boston, MA - Margaret Jones, a midwife, is the first woman to be hanged for witchcraft in the Massachussetts Bay Colony.
1752 (date traditional): Philadelphia, PA - In his famous "kite" experiment, Benjamin Franklin extracts sparks from a cloud, demonstrating the electrical nature of lightning.
1775: Philadelphia, PA - The Continental Congress appoints George Washington commander-in-chief of the Continental Army.
1776: Delaware - Votes to separate from Pennsylvania.
1785: Wimereux, France - Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and Pierre Romain become the first human beings to die in an air crash. During an attempt to make the first crossing of the English Channel from France to England, their balloon suddenly deflated and plummeted to the ground from an estimated height of 1500'.
1804: New Hampshire - Provides the ratifying vote for the Twelfth Amendment to the US Constitution, establishing (technically) separate elections for President and Vice President. Previously, the first runner-up for the Presidency became Vice President.
1808: Joseph Bonaparte, brother of Napoleon, becomes King of Spain.
1816: Cologny, Switzerland - George Gordon, Lord Byron, challenges his four fellow-guests at the Villa Diodati to write ghost stories. Three of them do so: Mary Shelley writes Frankenstein, Dr. John Polidori writes "The Vampyre," and Byron himself writes an unfinished vampire novel and the poem "Darkness."
1844: Washington, DC / Springfield, MA - Charles Goodyear receives patent #3633 for the vulcanization of rubber, although Thomas Hancock had made a patent filing for the process eight weeks prior to Goodyear.
1864: Arlington County, VA - In a spiteful (but not purely spiteful) act, Robert E. Lee's home estate of Arlington House, which had descended to Lee's wife from a child of Martha Washington, is seized and established as Arlington National Cemetery. In 1882, in US v. Lee, SCOTUS will rule that the property was seized without due process, and returned to Lee. Less than a year later, his son, Custis Lee, will sell it back to the US Government for $150,000 (roughly equivalent to $3.2M today).
1877: West Point, NY - Henry Ossian Flipper becomes the first African American to graduate from the US Military Academy, where the white students had ostracized him. He is immediately appointed to an all-black regiment.
1878: Eadweard Muybridge takes his famous series of photographs, "Sallie Gardner at a Gallop," that (a) established once and for all that all four feet of a galloping horse are in the air at once, and (b) provided the basis for the invention of the motion picture.
1916: Washington, DC - President Woodrow Wilson signs a bill incorporating the Boy Scouts of America.
1919: Clifden, County Galway, Ireland - John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown complete the first non-stop transatlantic flight.
1934: Washington, DC - Foundation of the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.
1992: Washington, DC - In US vs. Alvarez-Machain, SCOTUS rules that the manner in which a suspect is brought before the court does not affect the court's jurisdiction, meaning that suspects may be kidnapped in other countries without due process of extradition, brought to America, and tried.
2012: Niagra Falls, US/Canada - Nik Wallenda, a seventh-generation member of the Flying Wallendas family, walks a tightrope across the widest point of the Falls from the US to Canada.

1330: Edward, the Black Prince.
1479: Lisa del Giocondo, subject of the Mona Lisa.
1763: Kobayashi Issa, poet.
1789: Josiah Henson, escaped slave and minister. His memoir is believed to have been a major source for Harriet Beecher Stowe's "Uncle Tom" character.
1843: Edvard Grieg, composer (Peer Gynt Suites, Piano Concerto in A minor).
1902: Erik Erikson, psychoanalyst.
1911: Wilbert Awdry, author ("Thomas the Tank Engine").
1914: Yuri Andropov, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
1927: Ross Andru, comix artist (Metal Men).
1927: Hugo Pratt, comix writer-artist (Corto Maltese).
1937: Waylon Jennings, singer-songwriter.
1941: Neal Adams, comix illustrator (Deadman).
1941: Harry Nilsson, singer-songwriter ("Coconut").
1943: Xaviera Hollander, madam and writer (The Happy Hooker).
1973: Neal Patrick Harris, who was Dr. Horrible.

14th June 2016

6:52am: World Blood Donor Day
Or, in the United States, or at least Pennsylvania, it's Flag Day.

Ahem.

1158: Munich - is founded by Heinrich der Löwe.
1381: London - "Soldiers" of the Peasants Revolt storm the Tower of London and enter without resistance. Richard II meets with rebel leaders on Blackheath, where he makes promises he has no intention of keeping.
1404: Wales and France - Owain Glyndŵr, leader of the Welsh revolt, makes an alliance with the King of France, Charles VI (the Mad).
1775: Philadelphia - The Continental Congress establishes the Continental Army, affirming that the American Revolution was really a thing. This is a nominal birthday for the US.
1777: Philadelphia - The Continental Congress establishes the Stars and Stripes as the Flag of the United States, though the layout of the stars is not at this point specified.
1789: Timor - Captain William Bligh and eighteen other survivors of the mutiny on HMS Bounty arrive here, after a grueling 4600 mile journey in an open boat.
1807: Friedland, Poland - Napoleon's army defeats the Russians, ending the War of the Fourth Coalition.
1822: London, England - Charles Babbage presents a paper to the Royal Astronomical Society proposing a "difference engine."
1830: Algeria - France invades.
1846: Sonoma, CA - Anglo settlers raise the Bear Flag and declare the California Republic. The maximum time this "republic" appears to have lasted in any form is until July 9 of the same year.
1900: Hawai'i - becomes a US territory.
1907: Norway - grants women the right to vote.
1919: St. Johns, Newfoundland - Aviators John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown depart for the first successful non-stop transatlantic flight.
1937: Harrisburg, PA - Pennsylvania becomes the first (and only) State to celebrate Flag Day officially.
1940: Oświęcim, Poland - 728 Polish political prisoners become the first inmates of KS Auschwitz.
1949: Space - Albert II becomes the first monkey in space when his V-2 rocket reaches an altitude of 83 miles. Albert is a rhesus monkey.
1954: Washington, DC - President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the bill that adds the words "Under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance.
1959: Anaheim, CA - The first daily operating monorail system in the United States opens.
1962: Paris, France - Establishment of the European Space Research Organization, now the European Space Agency.
1966: Vatican City - Abolition of the Index Librorum Prohibitorum, which has existed since 1557.
1967: Cape Canaveral, FL - Launch of Mariner 5 for Venus.
1967: Lop Nor Test Site, China - China tests its first hydrogen bomb.

1730: Antonio Sacchini, opera composer (La contadina in corte).
1763: Simon Mayr, composer (La rosa bianca e la rosa rossa) and Bavarian Illuminatus.
1811: Harriet Beecher Stowe, writer (Uncle Tom's Cabin, but she actually did write dozens of other books).
1820: John Bartlett, publisher and compiler of "Familiar Quotations."
1864: Alois Alzheimer, psychiatrist and neuropathologist.
1923: Judith Kerr, writer (The Tiger Who Came to Tea and the "Mog" series).
1928: Ernesto "Che" Guevara, rebel leader.
1932: Joe Arpaio, Sheriff of Maricopa County, AZ and scumbag.
1933: Jerzy Kosinski, writer (Being There).
1939: Stenny Hoyer, Congresscritter.
1946: Donald Trump, pathetic bag of $#!T.
1947: Kat Martin, romance writer.
1948: Laurence Yep, writer (The "Golden Mountain Chronicles").
1949: Harry Turtledove, writer (Agent of Byzantium).
1957: Mona Simpson, writer (Anywhere but Here).

13th June 2016

6:17am: Friday the 13th is on a Monday this month
1373: St Paul's, London, England - Apparent date of the signing of the Anglo-Portugese Treaty, beginning the oldest still-continuing alliance between two countries in the world.
1381: London, England - Wat Tyler's revolting peasants burn the Savoy Palace (residence of John of Gaunt).
1525: Wittenburg, Germany - Oathbreaker Martin Luther marries Katharina von Bora.
1774: Rhode Island - RI bans the importation of slaves, the first of the British North American colonies to do so.
1886: Lake Starnberg, Germany - Mad King Ludwig (Ludwig II of Bavaria) is found dead in the lake.
1927: New York, NY - Ticker tape parade for Charles Lindbergh on 5th Avenue.
1955: Mirny, Eastern Siberia - Discovery of the Mir Mine, the first diamond mine to be found in Russia.
1966: Washington, DC - In Miranda v. Arizona (consolidated with three other cases), SCOTUS holds that statments, both inculpatory and exculpatory, made by a defendant in police custody are inadmissible as evidence unless the prosecution can show that the defendant was properly informed of the right to an attorney. In 2010, in Berghuis v Thompkins, some of the impact of Miranda will be rolled back as the court holds that statements made by a defendant who is aware of the rights to silence and to an attorney, but chooses not to "unambiguously" invoke them, are admissible.
1967: Washington, DC - President Lyndon Baines Johnson appoints Thurgood Marshall as the first black Supreme Court justice.
1971: New York, NY - The New York Times begins publication of the Pentagon Papers.
1983: Space - Pioneer 10 becomes the first manmade probe to leave the central Solar System, passing the orbit of Neptune.
1994: Anchorage, AK - A jury, leveling accusations of recklessness at both Exxon and Captain Joseph Hazelwood, allows victims of the Exxon Valdez oil spill to seek $15 billion in damages.

1752: Frances "Fanny" Burney, writer (Camilla).
1831: James Clerk Maxwell, physicist and mathematician, had a daemon.
1865: William Butler Yeats, poet ("The Second Coming").
1884: Gerald "Scire" Gardner, founder of the Gardnerian Wicca "tradition."
1892: Basil Rathbone, who was Sherlock Holmes and Sir Guy of Gisborne.
1893: Dorothy L. Sayers, writer (The Mind of the Maker, The Man Born to Be King, the Lord Peter Wimsy mysteries).
1914: Barbara Reynolds, scholar, biographer of Dorothy L. Sayers.
1926: Paul Linde, who was Uncle Arthur.
1928: John Forbes Nash, Jr., game-theorist.
1929: Ralph McQuarrie, illustrator and concept designer.
1935: Christo and Jean-Claude, conceptual artists.
1943: Malcolm McDowell, who was Alex DeLarge.
1944: Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations.
1945: Whitley Streiber, horror novelist and crazy person.
1968: Marcel Theroux, writer (The Confessions of Mycroft Holmes: a paper chase).
1969: Virginie Despentes, writer (Baise-moi, King Kong Theory).
1986: Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, child actresses and fashion designers.

11th June 2016

12:34pm: Kamehameha Day
...or, according to Disney, "Speak Like a Whale Day." Ooooooookaaaaaaaay.

1184 BC: Troy - The city is sacked and burned, according to Eratosthenes.
1509: Greenwich, England - Henry VIII marries Catherine of Aragon.
1770: Great Barrier Reef, off Australia -- Captain James Cook runs aground. It takes a week to nurse the ship to a river mouth near Cooktown in modern Queensland, and seven more to repair it.
1775: Machias, Maine - In the first naval engagement of the American Revolution, the first Battle of Machias, two American packets overwhelm and capture the British schooner Margaretta.
1776: Philadelphia, PA - The Continental Congress appoints Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston as a "Committee of Five" to draft a Declaration of Independence.
1898: Melbourne, Australia - The "Limelight Department," one of the world's first film studios, is established to film evangelical material for the Salvation Army.
1919: Elmont, NY - Sir Barton wins the Belmont Stakes, the first horse to win the Triple Crown.
1920: Chicago, IL - As Republican party leaders gather in a hotel room to concur on the nominee (this is at the GOP Convention), Associated Press coins the term "smoke-filled room."
1962: Alcatraz Island, off San Francisco, CA - Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin, using an improvised inflatable raft, become the only possibly-successful escapees from Alcatraz. Their fate remains unknown.
1963: Tuscaloosa, AL - Governor George Wallace, in an attempt to keep two African-American students from registering, personally blocks the door to Foster Auditorium of the University of Alabama. Federalized National Guard troops accompany the students and they are permitted to register.
1963: Saigon, South Vietnam - Thích Quảng Đức, a Buddhist monk, sits down in the lotus position at a busy street corner. He chants a prayer to Amida Buddha, then douses himself with gasoline and lights a match. His self-immolation is a protest against South Vietnam's religious intolerance.
1963: Washington DC - President John F. Kennedy, against the background of Wallace's obstructionism, presents what will (with the help of Kennedy's martyrdom in November) become the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This Act, beneficial as it was, is what turned much of the South Republican and gave us the bad-to-disastrous Nixon, Reagan and Bush Presidencies.
2004: Space - The Cassini-Huygens probe makes its closest flyby of Saturn's moon Phoebe.

1540: Barnabe Googe, poet ("Eglogs").
1572: Ben Jonson, playwright and poet (Every Man In His Humour).
1776: John Constable, painter.
1797: Father José Trinidad Reyes y Sevilla, founder of the Autonomous National University of Honduras, philosopher and theorist.
1818: Alexander Bain, philosopher and linguist.
1847: Dame Millicent Garrett Fawcett, suffragist.
1864: Richard Strauss, composer (Also Sprach Zarathustra, Til Eulenspiegel's Merry Prnaks).
1867: Charles Fabry, co-discoverer of the ozone layer.
1876: Alfred L. Kroeber, anthropologist.
1880: Jeanette Pickering Rankin, first woman to hold national office in the United States (Representative from Montana, elected in 1916 and again in 1940).
1894: Kiichiro Toyoda, businessman.
1899: Yasunari Kawabata, writer (The Master of Go).
1910: Jacques Cousteau, codeveloper of the aqualung.
1913: Vincent Lombardi, football coach.
1915: Magda Gabor, eldest of the Gabor sisters.
1925: William Styron, writer (The Confessions of Nat Turner).
1933: Gene Wilder, who was Frederick Frankenstein.
1969: Peter Dinklage, who is Tyrion Lannister.
1986: Shia LaBeouf, who is not a celebrity, honest.

10th June 2016

6:32am: Iced Tea Day
We're really scraping the bottom of the barrel, aren't we?

1190: River Saleph, Turkey - Holy Roman Emperor Frederick Barbarossa drowns, possibly complicated by a heart attack. His men pickle his body in vinegar for transport back to the capitol. The Golden Legend says that he will return.
1692: Gallows Hill, near Salem, MA - Bridget Bishop is hanged for "certaine Detestable Arts called Witchcraft & Sorceries." She is the first, but will not be the last.
1829: Henley-on-Thames, London, England - The first Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race takes place on the Thames. Cambridge loses.
1916: Mecca - Sherif Hussein bin Ali declares the "Arab Revolt," an attempt by many Arabs to separate from the Ottoman Empire and establish a unified Arab state. This revolt will, obviously, interplay with World War I, which is already raging, and contribute to the dismantling of the Empire. Oh, and T.E. Lawrence played a part :)
1935: Akron, OH - Dr. Robert Smith ("Dr. Bob") takes his last drink, and he and Bill Wilson found Alcoholics Anonymous.
1963: Washington, DC - President John F. Kennedy signs the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Its purpose is to abolish wage disparity between the sexes. So far, it hasn't succeeded.
1964: Washington, DC - A 75-day filibuster intended to prevent passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, is broken.
1967: Israel and Syria - The two countries agree to a cease-fire, ending the Six-Day War.
1977: San Francisco, CA - The Apple ][, having been introduced by Steve Jobs at the West Coast Computer Faire in April, goes on sale.
2003: Cape Canaveral, FL - Launch of the Spirit rover.
2003: New York, NY - The musical Wicked, based loosely on the novel by Gregory Maguire, opens on Broadway.

940: Abu al-Wafa' Buzjani, mathematician who made significant advances in spherical trigonometry, and whose "Book on What Is Necessary in Mathematics for Scribes and Businessmen" contains the first use of negative numbers in a medieval Islamic text.
1819: Gustave Courbet, painter.
1895: Hattie McDaniel, actress and comedian, first African-American to win an Oscar.
1901: Frederick Loewe, composer, of Lerner and Loewe fame (My Fair Lady, Camelot).
1915: Saul Bellow (Herzog, Mr Sammler's Planet).
1922: Judy Garland, who was Dorothy Gale.
1925: Nat Hentoff, jazz critic (Jazz Is) and novelist (The Day They Came to Arrest the Book).
1925: James Salter, novelist (The Hunters) and screenwriter (Downhill Racer).
1928: Maurice Sendak, writor-illustrator (Where the Wild Things Are).
1929: James McDivitt, astronaut.
1929: E.O. Wilson, biologist and writer (Sociobiology: The New Synthesis).
1952: Kage Baker, sf writer (The Women of Nell Gwynne's).
1971: Bobby Jindal, politician.

9th June 2016

7:19am: National Career Nurse Assistants Day
...well, it's slightly better than National Rhubarb Pie Day...

411 BC: Athens, Greece - The "Four Hundred" (who may have been as few as fifty actual conspirators) successfully overthrow (for a short time) Athens's democracy in favor of an oligarchy.
1732: London, England - James Oglethorpe is granted a royal charter for the prison colony that will become the State of Georgia.
1928: Brisbane, Australia - Charles Kingford Smith arrives, having completed the first trans-Pacific flight. (He made stopovers at Hawai'i and Fiji.)
1934: USA - Donald Duck first appears in a Disney cartoon, "The Wise Little Hen."
1938: Huayuankou, China - Under the orders of Chiang Kai-Shek, the dike holding back the waters of the Yellow River is destroyed. This leads to massive flooding in Henan, Anhui, and Jiangsu provinces, resulting in the deaths of over a million Chinese peasants, and the displacing of 12 million more. This, the largest-scale act of environmental warfare in history, was an attempt to stop the Japanese invasion; in the event, the Japanese were not even slowed.
1954: Washington, DC - In what will prove to be the climactic moment of the Army-McCarthy hearings, Joseph Welch says to Senator McCarthy: "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
1959: Gorton, CT - Launch of the USS George Washington, the first nuclear-powered submarine carrying ballistic nuclear missiles.
1965: Phước Long Province, South Vietnam - The Viet Cong engages the Army of the Republic of Vietnam in the Battle of Đồng Xoài. Over several days, ARVN forces are driven from Đồng Xoài; when US Army forces intervene (at the command of Gen. Westmoreland), the Viet Cong withdraw quickly. Both sides take heavy casualties.
1973: Elmont, NY - The horse Secretariat wins the third race of the Triple Crown. In all three races, he sets records which stand to this day.
1978: Salt Lake City, UT - The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints abandons Joseph Smith's ban on black men as priests, allowing "all worthy men" to the priesthood.

1672: Piotr "the Great," Czar of All the Russias.
1837: Anne Isaballa Thackeray Ritchie, author (Bluebeard's Keys, and Other Stories).
1865: Carl Nielsen, composer (Pan and Syrinx, Aladdin).
1891: Cole Porter, songwriter.
1906: Robert Klark Graham, founder of the "Hermann J. Muller Repository for Germinal Choice."
1915: Les Paul, guitarist.
1916: Robert McNamara, Secretary of Defense under Presidents Kennedy and (Lyndon) Johnson.
1917: Eric Hobsbawm, historian and writer (The Age of Revolution).
1925: Keith Laumer, science fiction writer (The "Retief" and "Bolo" series).
1939: Charles Webb, novelist (The Graduate).
1943: Joe Haldeman, science fiction writer (The Forever War).
1954: Gregory Maguire, writer (Wicked).
1954: George Pérez, comix writer-illustrator (The New Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths).
1956: Patricia Cornwell, mystery writer (Body of Evidence).
1961: Michael J. Fox, actor (Back to the Future).
1961: Aaron Sorkin, screenwriter and playwright (The West Wing).
1963: Johnny Depp, actor (Pirates of the Caribbean).
1981: Natalie Portman, actor (Léon the Professional, V for Vendetta).

8th June 2016

7:02am: World Oceans Day
seems a lot more positive than World Brain Tumor Day, does it not?

632: Muhammad dies in Medina.
1191: Acre, Palestine - Richard Lion-Heart arrives on his crusade. Over the months that follows he and his troops will capture Acre and eventually Jerusalem, but his hand-picked candidate for the Kingship of Jerusalem will not in the end be crowned.
1789: Philadelphia, PA - James Madison introduces to the Congress twelve proposed Amendments to the new Constitution. Seven of these eventually make their way into the Bill of Rights.
1794: Paris, France - Maximilien Robespierre introduces the Cult of the Supreme Being, a deist faith which is the new State religion. It will falter quickly and by 1802, Napoleon Bonaparte will ban it.
1906: Washington, DC - President Theodore Roosevelt signs the Antiquities Act, which gives the President the power to create national monuments from public lands for the preservation of significant natural, cultural, or scientific features.
1948: US - Milton Berle hosts the premiere of the new Texaco Star Theater on television, carrying over a popular show from the radio.
1949: Washington, DC - An FBI report names a number of celebrities, including Helen Keller, Dorothy Parker, Danny Kaye, Fredric March, John Garfield, Paul Muni and Edward G. Robinson, as Communist party members.
1949: London, England - Publication of George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.
1953: Washington, DC - In District of Columbia v. John R. Thompson Co., SCOTUS upholds laws, nearly a hundred years old but never formally enforced, that public places (such as restaurants) must serve patrons regardless of race. The case was brought on behalf of Mary Church Terrell, an elderly black activist who had been refused service at Thompson's Diner.
1972: Trang Bang, Vietnam - South Vietnamese planes drop a napalm bomb on this South Vietnamese village. One of the wounded, Phan Thi Kim Phuc, is photographed (by AP photgrapher Nick Ut) running naked from the fire, and yelling "Nóng quá, nóng quá" ("too hot, too hot"); this photograph becomes one of the iconic moments of the Vietnam War.

1671: Tomaso Albinoni, composer (Zenobia, regina de Palmireni).
1810: Robert Schumann, composer (Carnaval).
1959: Smith Wigglesworth, faith healer.
1867: Frank Lloyd Wright, architect.
1897: John G. Bennett, mathematician and Gurdjieffian teacher.
1910: C.C. Beck, co-creator (with writer Bill Parker) of the original Captain Marvel.
1910: John W. Campbell, editor and writer ("Who Goes There?").
1916: Francis Crick, molecular biologist and neuroscientist.
1921: LeRoy Neiman, painter (Playboy magazine's "Femlins"; many sports paintings).
1925: Barbara Bush, first lady.
1933: Joan Rivers, comedian.
1943: William Calley, lieutenant and war criminal.
1947: Sara Paretsky, writer of mysteries.
1947: Annie Haslam, singer (Renaissance).
1955: Tim Berners-Lee, inventor (more or less) of the World-Wide Web.
1957: Scott Adams, comix writer-artist (Dilbert).
1970: Gabrielle "Gabby" Giffords, blue-dog Democrat and shooting victim.

7th June 2016

6:04am: National Chocolate Ice Cream Day
Which is better than National VCR Day, anyway.

1494: Tordesillas, Spain - In the Treaty of Tordesillas, Spain and Portugal agree to divide the new world between them along a meridian about halfway between the Cape Verde islands (off the west coast of Africa) and "Hispaniola."
1628: London, England - The "Petition of Right" is given the Royal Assent by Charles I. This document, a predecessor of the British Bill of Rights (1689), restricted non-Parliamentary taxation, forced billeting of soldiers, and the use of martial law.
1654: Paris(?), France - Louis XIV is crowned at the Cathedral in Reims.
1776: Philadelphia, PA - Richard Henry Lee of Virginia presents the "Lee resolution," recommending that Congress declare independency from England. This part of the resolution will be passed on 2 July.
1892: Washington, DC - Benjamin Harrison becomes the first sitting President to attend a baseball game.
1892: New Orleans, LA - Homer Plessy, an "octoroon," is arrested for refusing to leave a "whites-only" railroad car. The resulting case, Plessy v. Ferguson, will go to the Supreme Court and enshrine the doctrine of "separate but equal" for half a century.
1893: Pietermaritzburg, South Africa - Mohandas Gandhi, holding a legitimate ticket for the "whites-only" first class car of a train, is ejected forcibly from the train, and his luggage thrown after him. This is Gandhi's first act of civil disobedience.
1899: Kiowa, KS - Temperance activist Carrie Nation enters a saloon, says, "Men, I have come to save you from a drunkard's fate," and smashes the inventory with rocks. She will become famous for her "Hatchetations" of saloons; over the years she will be arrested 32 times.
1929: Lateran Palace, Rome, Italy - The Italian parliament ratifies the "Patti Lateranensi," or Lateran Treaty, which recognizes the Vatican as an independent state.
1965: Washington, DC - In Griswold v. Connecticut, SCOTUS invalidates a Connecticut law forbidding the use of contraception, using the "penumbras" of the Fifth and Ninth Amendments, and the Due Process clause, to establish an implied "right to [marital] privacy."
1971: Washington, DC - In Cohen v. California, SCOTUS establishes that vulgar writing is protected under the First Amendment. Cohen had been arrested for disturbing the peace due to his wearing a jacket in a public courthouse which read "Fuck the Draft."
1977: London, England - This is the "high day" of Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee. The celebration is watched worldwide by half a billion people. On this day also, the Sex Pistols' manager and record label charter a boat named The Queen Elizabeth on the Thames to perform "God Save the Queen" (originally titled "No Future") by Westminster Pier and the Houses of Parliament.

1778: Beau Brummell, cricketer and fashion designer.
1837: Alois Hitler, civil servant and father of Adolf.
1848: Paul Gauguin, painter.
1868: Charles Rennie Mackintosh, architect and artist.
1879: Knud Rasmussen, explorer and anthropologist, called "the first Eskimologist."
1909: Virginia Apgar, pediatrician, created the Apgar test of neonate health.
1911: Brooks Stevens, engineer, designer of the Wienermobile.
1917: Gwendolyn Brooks, poet.
1917: Dean Martin, actor-singer.
1940: Tom Jones, singer.
1943: Nikki Giovanni, poet.
1958: Prince, singer-songwriter.

6th June 2016

6:33am: Yesterday's almanacking today..
...because I accidentally did today's yesterday. Sigh.

On June 5th then:

70: Jerusalem - Titus and his legions breach the middle wall.
1851: US - The ten-month-long serialization of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin begins in the National Era, an abolitionist newspaper.
1883: Paris - The first regularly scheduled Orient Express train departs for Istanbul.
1917: United States - "Army registration day," the beginning of conscription for WWI.
1933: Washington, DC - Congress enacts a statute ending the right of creditors to demand payment in gold, ending the gold standard for American currency.
1956: San Diego - Broadcasting from the deck of the USS Hancock, the Milton Berle show features Elvis Presley, introducing his new single, "Hound Dog." The audience is scandalized by Presley's hip movements, and the nickname "Elvis the Pelvis" dates from this performance.
1967: Israel-Egypt border: Israel attacks Egyptian airfields, in response to Egyptian mobilizations on the border (which was in response to false reports of Israeli troops massing on the border), beginning the "Six-Day War."
1968: Los Angeles, CA - At the Ambassador Hotel, during a celebration of his victory in the California primary, Robert F. Kennedy is shot by Sirhan Sirhan.
1975: Egypt: The Suez canal opens after eight years.
1981: Los Angeles - Five people are diagnosed with a rare form of pneumonia, only seen in people with weakened immune systems. They become the first diagnosed cases of AIDS.
1995: JILA, Colorado - First creation of a "pure" Bose-Einstein condensate, a state of matter where quantum properties become observable on the (more or less) macroscopic scale.
2000: Another, less-well-known, "six day war" begins, this one between Ugandan and Rwandan forces, in the city of Kisangani, Democratic Republic of the Congo; the city will be effectively destroyed.

1640: Pu Songling, writer (Strange Stories from a Chinese Studio).
1723: Adam Smith, philosopher and economist (The Wealth of Nations).
1850: Patrick Floyd Jarvis "Pat" Garrett, sheriff.
1878: Pancho Villa, revolutionary.
1883: John Maynard Keynes, philosopher and economist (The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money).
1884: Ralph Benatzky, composer of operas (Die Drei Musketiere).
1884: Ivy Compton-Burnett, writer (Manservant and Maidservant).
1898: Federico Garcia Lorca, poet.
1905: Wayne Boring, comix artist.
1919: Richard Scarry, writer-artist (Here Comes the Parade).
1920: Cornelius Ryan, writer (A Bridge Too Far, The Longest Day).
1932: Christy Brown, writer (My Left Foot).
1934: Bill Moyers, White House press secretary and journalist.
1939: Margaret Drabble, writer (The Millstone).
1941: Spalding Gray, actor and monologist.
1947: Laurie Anderson, performance artist and violinist.
1949: Ken Follett, writer (The Pillars of the Earth).
1964: Rick Riordan, writer (The Lightning Thief).
1965: Michael E. Brown, astronomer and writer (How I Killed Pluto and Why It Had It Coming).

5th June 2016

8:47am: World Environment Day
...or, for the UN, it's Russian Language Day; go figure. And, of course, it's D-Day.

1586: St. Augustine, FL - Sir Francis Drake (and his forces) raid the Spanish fort of San Augustin.
1674: Raigad, India - Pandit Gaga Bhatt crowns Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, initiating the Maratha empire.
1683: Oxford, England - Founding of the Ashmolean Museum, the first university museum in the world. It opened with the collection of Elias Ashmole.
1844: London, England - Foundation of the YMCA.
1882: Mumbai, India - Cyclone-driven waves in the harbor of Bombay kill over 100,000 citizens.
1889: Seattle, WA - A fire burns twenty-five city blocks, including the entire downtown business district and several wharves.
1892: Chicago, IL - Opening of the "L" elevated commuter train.
1932: Washington, DC - Revenue Act of 1932 imposes the first federal tax on gasoline in the US, at a rate of one cent per gallon.
1933: Camden, NJ - Opening of the first drive-in theater.
1933: Washington, DC - President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signs the Securities Act of 1933, which creates the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
1944: Normandy, France - In "Operation Overlord," 155,000 Allied troops are landed on the beaches here and break through Germany's "Atlantic Wall."
1946: New York, NY - Founding of the National Basketball Association.
1968: Los Angeles, CA - Robert F. Kennedy dies from gunshot wounds inflicted the previous night by Sirhan Sirhan.
1971: Baikonur Cosmodrome, USSR - Launch of Soyuz 11, the first and only mission to dock with Salyut 1, the world's first space station. During the return trip on 30 June, the capsule will critically depressurize, causing the deaths of all three cosmonauts. Georgy Dobrovolsky, Vladislav Volkov, and Viktor Patsayev are the only humans so far to actually die in space.
1984: Moscow, USSR - Alexey Pajitnov releases the video game Tetris. By some measures it is the second best-selling downloaded game of all time (so far); IGN rates it #2 in the 100 best video games of all time (so far).

1606: Pierre Corneille, playwright (Le Cid).
1735: Anton Schweitzer, composer of operas (Alceste).
1755: Nathan Hale, soldier and patriot.
1756: John Trumbull, painter.
1799: Aleksandr Pushkin, poet (Eugene Onegin).
1868: Robert Falcon Scott, Antarctic explorer.
1875: Thomas Mann, writer (Joseph and His Brothers).
1903: Aram Khachaturian, composer (Gayane).
1918: Edwin G. Krebs, biologist with a cycle.
1923: V.C. Andrews, writer with a ghost.
1941: Alexander Cockburn, co-founder of Counterpunch.
1946: Tony Levin, bass player (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, John Lennon, Paul Simon...)
1954: Harvey Fierstein, playwright (Torch Song Trilogy).
1963: Eric Cantor, scumsucker.
1973: Patrick Rothfuss, writer (The Kingkiller Chronicle).
1988: Maria Alyokhina, activist, punk rocker (Pussy Riot).

4th June 2016

4:25pm: Read: The City of Mirrors, by Justin Cronin (2016-35)
Well.

Six years ago I was blown away by Cronin's _The Passage_, the first volume of a trilogy (of which this is the last) about a Vampire Apocalypse. Ever-so-slightly-rationalized as a viral infection, vampirism in these books is a plague carried by human - or, former human - vectors. The "virals" do not fly, nor do they flee from crosses and holy water; but they do burn in the sun, and they do drink copious amounts of blood.

Four years ago the sequel, _The Twelve_, excited me, if not quite as much as the first, still a great deal. Cronin's evolving picture of North America in the years A.V. follows both human and vampiric logic to a tee.

By the end of _The Twelve_, the viral threat is, or seems to be, ended. The twelve boss vampires have been destroyed, and their "descendants" fall down dead at their death.

But this leaves the Zero, and that's what this book is about.

Over a period of decades, the human survival colony in Texas opens its gates and begins recolonizing the area around it. Farms and towns grow up and all seems good.

But Michael, one of the heroes of the first two books, isn't so sure. He becomes obsessed with his boat, the _Nautilus_. On a wrecked vessel, Michael finds something terrible: the virus wasn't limited to North America, but destroyed humanity across the Earth.

Meanwhile, the war hero Alicia "of the Blades" travels slowly, but surely, to New York, where she knows the Zero is waiting. Patient Zero, the first infectee, from whose blood the Twelve were infected, waits patiently for her. He knows her - because she, an infectee herself, is "his." She cannot kill him, and listens while he tells his story.

Michael is right. The virals are coming back, because the Zero has something to prove. And this time they are smarter and more terrible than they were when led by the Twelve.

This is a story of survival, not only physical but moral survival, at the individual and species level. It is so well written that one gets lost in it without ever wondering at how well written it is. The characters are real, they matter, their situation matters. And the endings (there are more than one) are as satisfying as can be.

If you have not read _The Passage_, go read it. It's one of the best books of the century so far. Then read the other two. They are as close to worthy sequels as you are going to get to a book like that.
8:12am: International Day of Innocent Children Victims of Aggression
Or: Tiananmen Square Protests of 1989 Memorial Day

1615: Osaka, Japan - Tokugawa Ieyasu captures Osaka Castle, putting an end to the Toyotomi clan and establishing the Tokugawa shogunate.
1783: Annonay, France - Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Étienne Montgolfier make the first public demonstration of their hot-air balloon.
1876: San Francisco, CA - An express train reaches the city only 83 hours, 39 minutes after leaving New York City.
1896: Detroit, MI - Henry Ford makes the first test run of his "Quadricycle," his first gasoline-powered motorcar.
1912: Boston, Massachussetts - The first statewide minimum wage law in the US is passed.
1919: Washington, DC - Congress approves the Nineteenth Amendment (Women Suffrage) to the US Constitution and submits it to the states for ratification.
1939: Florida - The MS St. Louis, a ship carrying 963 Jewish refugees, is denied permission to land in the United States, after already being turned away from Cuba. Forced to return to Europe, more than 200 of its passengers later die in Nazi concentration camps.
1975: Sacramento, CA - Gov. Jerry Brown signs the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act, giving farmworkers the right to collective bargaining.
1989: Tehran, Iran - Following the death of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Assembly of Experts elects Ali Khamenei Supreme Leader.
1989: Beijing, China - The Chinese government and military put an end to the Tiananmen Square protests, resulting in at least 241 deaths.
1989 (quite a day!): Poland - Solidarity wins a victory in the first democratic elections since WWII.

1928: Ruth Westheimer, "Dr. Ruth"
1951: Wendi Pini, comix writer-artist (Elfquest).
1967: Robert S. Kimbrough, astronaut.
1972: Joe Hill, horror writer.
Powered by LiveJournal.com