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25th May 2016

6:27am: National Missing Children's Day...
...or Geek Pride Day, or Towel Day.

240 BC: China - First certain record of the perihelion appearance of Halley's comet.
1521: Worms, HRE - HR Emperor Charles V declares Martin Luther an outlaw, ending the Diet of Worms.
1878: London, England - Premiere of Gilbert and Sullivan's H.M.S. Pinafore.
1895: London, England - Oscar Wilde is convicted of "gross indecency with other male persons," and enters Reading Gaol.
1914: London, England - The House of Commons passes the Home Rule Bill for Ireland.
1925: Dayton, TN - Teacher John T. Scopes is charged under Tennessee's Butler Act with teaching evolution in a public school.
1935: Ann Arbor, MI - Jesse Owens breaks three world records and ties a fourth at a track meet.
1953: Nye County, NV - Upshot-Knothole Grable, the US Army's only test of nuclear artillery, takes place at the Nevada Test Site.
1953: Houston, TX - The first public television station (KUHT) in the US begins broadcasting.
1961: Washington, DC - President John F. Kennedy announces the goal of putting a man on the Moon before the end of the decade.
1966: Beijing, China - The first dàzìbào ("big-character poster") is posted at Peking University.
1968: St. Louis, MO - Dedication of the Gateway Arch.
1977: US - Star Wars is released in theaters.
1977: China - The ban on Shakespeare's work is lifted, effectively ending the Cultural Revolution.
1986: US - In the event known as "Hands Across America," 6.5 million people form a hunman chain from New York City to Long Beach, CA, in a demonstration against homelessness. The associated fundraiser raised $34M.
2008: Mars - NASA's Phoenix lander lands.

1803: Edward Bulwer-Lytton, writer and politician.
1803: Ralph Waldo Emerson, philosopher.
1818: Jacob Burckhardt, historian.
1865: John Mott, founder of the YMCA, Episcopalian saint.
1887: "Padre" Pio of Pietrelcina, born Francesco Forgione, Catholic saint.
1889: Igor Sikorsky, aircraft designer.
1898: Bennett Cerf, publisher (Random House), punster.
1908: Theodore Roethke, poet.
1921: Hal David, lyricist.
1926: Phyllis Gotlieb, science fiction writer and poet (The Kingdom of the Cats).
1927: Robert Ludlum, suspense writer (The Bourne Identity, The Road to Omaha).
1938: Raymond Carver, short story writer and poet.
1938: Margaret Forster, novelist (Georgy Girl).
1944: Frank Oz, puppeteer.
1946: David Hargrave, game designer.
1949: Jamaica Kincaid, writer.
1949: Barry Windsor-Smith, painter and comix illustrator.
1952: Al Sarrantonio, novelist and editor.
1953: Eve Ensler, playwright (The Vagina Monologues).
1953: Stan Sakai, comix writer-illustrator (Usagi Yojimbo).
1967: Poppy Z. Brite, horror/dark comedy writer.

24th May 2016

5:51pm: Read: The Getaway God, by Richard Kadrey (2016-34)
This sixth book in the "Sandman Slim" series is also the third of a sort of internal trilogy. In previous books, we have learned that the Angra Om Ya, ancient gods from whom our current God stole the Universe, are returning with vengeance and destruction on their collective minds. Our hero, James Stark, a/k/a Sandman Slim, the monster who kills monsters, has come into possession of an artifact which he refers to as the 8 Ball, but which has the power to let the Angra in - or to destroy them.

Only he has no idea how to use it.

He has taken a temporary position with the Golden Vigil, a sort of "Men-in-Black"ish government agent whose purpose is to control supernatural threats to National Security. Here he gets to work on the 8 Ball with a 400-year-old self-mummified Buddhist monk.

In the meanwhile, it has been raining in LA. A _lot_. So much that sane people are clearing out. And in Stark's former home, Hell, it's raining angel blood.

But there is a more immediate threat. A serial killer called "St Nick" (because he nicks body parts and, well, it's almost Christmas) is wandering loose, chopping people up and making temples of their bodies.

Oh, and Stark's girlfriend appears to be going crazy.

It's almost enough to make a man long to go back Downtown.

Kadrey writes (and Stark narrates) with black, noirish humor and a clear voice. The plotting barrels along Apocalyptically, and there are twists and developments right up to the last page.

All in all, it's a Hell of a fun book.
6:54am: Victoria Day (Canada)
...or, if you prefer, it's the Feast of Mary, Help of Christians.

1218: Acre, the Levant - The Fifth Crusade departs for Egypt, which will prove disastrous.
1595: Leiden, Netherlands - The first printed catalog of an institutional library, the Nomenclator of the Leiden University Library, is published.
1607: Jamestown, VA - The first settlers arrive in this first English settlement in America.
1626: New Netherland - Director Peter Minuit questionably buys the island of Manhattan for trade goods valued at 60 guilders. In 1846, a historian equated that to $23, and the figure of twenty-four dollars seems stuck in the popular imagination. Modern historians James and Michelle Nevius put the figure between $2600 and $15600 in modern dollars.
1689: London, England - Parliament passes the Act of Toleration for Protestants. Catholics are still intolerable.
1738: Aldersgate, London, UK - John Wesley receives the "assurance" of his salvation. This is the kickstart moment for the Methodist movement.
1813: Mérida, Venezuela - Simón Bolívar enters the city and is proclaimed El Liberatador.
1830: Boston, MA - Publishing firm Marsh, Capen, & Lyon publish Sarah Josepha Hale's poem "Mary Had a Little Lamb." It was based on an actual incident, and the first four lines may have been written by John Roulston, a student who witnessed the event.
1844: Washington, DC to Baltimore, MD - Samuel Morse sends the message, "What hath God wrought?" over the first intercity telegraph line.
1856: Pottawatomie Creek, KS - Abolitionist John Brown leads a group of abolitionist settlers in the killing of five pro-slavery settlers.
1883: New York, NY - Opening of the Brooklyn Bridge, at this time the longest suspension bridge in the world. It was designed by German immigrant John Augustus Roebling, who died of tetanus while the project was under way, and completed by his son, Washington Roebling.
1930: Darwin, Australia - Amy Johnson lands after an 11,000 mile flight, becoming the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.
1935: Cincinnati, OH - The Cincinnati Reds beat the Philadelphia Phillies in the first official night game in Major Leageue Baseball. (There had been exhibition games in 1909 and 1927.)
1940: Coyoacán, Mexico - NKVD agent Iosif Grigulevich attempts (and fails) to assassinate Leon Trotsky.
1956: Lugano, Switzerland - The first Eurovision Song Contest is held, featuring entries from Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Switzerland. The winning entry is "Refrain," by Géo Voumard and Émile Gardaz, sung by Lys Assia.
1961: Jackson, MS - Freedom riders are arrested on disembarkation from their bus and charged with disturbing the peace.
1962: Near-Earth space: Scott Carpenter, in Aurora 7 (Mercury-Atlas 7), circles the Earth three times.
1963: New York, NY - Attorney-General Robert F. Kennedy invites a group of cultural leaders, led by James Baldwin, to discuss racial relations. It quickly becomes clear that Kennedy has no real understanding of the depth and extent of racism in the United States.
1968: Quebec City, Canada - Members of the Front de libération du Québec bomb the U.S. consulate.
1976: Paris - The "Judgment of Paris" - In a blind taste test, French judges rate California wines (a Chardonnay and a Cabernet Sauvignon) over their French equivalents.
1991: Ethiopia - In Operation Solomon, Israel evacuates over 14000 Ethiopian Jews to Israel in 36 hours.
1993: Eritria - Becomes an independent nation.
1999: The Hague - The International Criminal Tribunal indicts Slobodan Milošević for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

1686: Daniel Gabriel Fahrenheit, physicist and engineer.
1743: Jean-Paul Marat, revolutionary journalist.
1819: Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom.
1879: H.B. Reese, inventor of the Peanut Butter Cup.
1898: Kathleen Hale, writer-illustrator, creator of Orlando the Marmalade Cat.
1905: Michael Shokolov, writer (And Quiet Flows the Don).
1925: Carmine Infantino, comix illustrator.
1938: Tommy Chong, of Cheech y Chong.
1941: Bob Dylan.
1941: George Lakoff, linguist (Metaphors We Live By).
1963: Michael Chabon, novelist (The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay).

23rd May 2016

6:25am: A girl with colitis goes by...
Yes, it's World Crohn's and Colitis Day

1430: Compiègne, France - Jeanne d'Arc, attempting to raise the siege on this city, is captured by Burgundians.
1498: Florence, Italy - Self-appointed prophet Girolamo Savonarola is burned at the stake, ostensibly for inventing his visions and prophecies (which he had confessed under torture).
1618: Prague, Holy Roman Empire - The Second Defenestration of Prague, in which Protestants defenestrate two Catholic regents, begins the Thirty Years' War.
1701: London - Captain William Kidd is hanged for piracy and murder.
1829: Vienna, Austrian Empire - Cyrill Demian patents the accordion.
1873: London, England - Queen Victoria approves the Act establishing the North West Mounted Police, forerunner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Yaksmen Police.
1911: New York, NY - Dedication of the New York Public Library.
1934: Bienville Parish, LA - Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are ambushed and shot down by police.
1992: Capaci, Sicily, Italy - The Corleonisi Mafia clan murders a judge, Giovanni Falcone, his family, and three bodyguards.

1707: Carolus Linnaeus, botanist, zoologist, physician, taxonomist.
1734: Franz Mesmer, physician and astrologer.
1741: Andrea Luchesi, organist and composer.
1810: Margaret Fuller, journalist and writer (Women in the Nineteenth Century).
1824: Ambrose Burnside, general and Governor of Rhode Island; sideburns are allegedly named for him.
1844: `Abdu'l-Bahá, religious leader.
1883: Douglas Fairbanks, buckle swasher.
1891: Pär Lagerkvist, writer.
1910: Margaret Wise Brown, writer (Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny).
1910: Scatman Crothers, singer, actor.
1915: S. Donald Stookey, chemist (inventor of CorningWare).
1919: Robert Bernstein, comix writer (Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen).
1921: James Blish, writer (Black Easter, A Case of Consience).
1934: Robert Moog, inventor of the Moog synthesizer.
1970: Yigal Amir, assassin.
1974: Ken Jennings, Jeopardy! champion.

22nd May 2016

9:11am: World Biodiversity Day...
...or, here in California, Harvey Milk Day.

1176: Aleppo - The Hashishim attempt to assassinate Saladin.
1455: St Albans, England - The First Battle of St Albans, start of the War of the Roses. Richard, Duke of York, closest adult relative to King Henry VI, had been appointed Lord Protector during Henry's mental illness. After his recovery, politics happened, and at St Albans, Richard's 2000 troops defeated Henry's 7000, capturing Henry.
1762: Rome - Inauguration of the Trevi Fountain.
1807: Richmond, VA - Former VP Aaron Burr is indicted for treason by a grand jury. Despite the full force of the Jefferson administration behind the prosecution, Burr will be acquitted, demonstrating the efficacy of the "separation of powers" doctrine built into the US Constitution.
1849: Washington, DC - Future U.S. President Abraham Lincoln is issued a patent for an invention to lift boats over obstacles in a river, making him the only U.S. President to ever hold a patent.
1856: Washington, DC - Congressman Preston Brooks of South Carolina beats Senator Charles Sumner with a cane in the hall of the United States Senate for a speech Sumner had made attacking Southerners who sympathized with the pro-slavery violence in Kansas.
1906: Washington, DC - Wilbur and Orville Wright are issued a patent for their "flying-machine".
1960: Southern Chile - The most powerful earthquake ever recorded (9.5 on the moment magnitude scale) kills at least 1000 and possibly as many as 6000 people.
1964: Ann Arbor, MI - Lyndon Johnson makes the speech that first outlines the principles of his "Great Society" program.
1969: Moon - Apollo 10's lunar module, "Snoopy," flies to less than 10 miles above the lunar surface.
1980: Japan - Namco, Limited, releases Pac-Man.
1990: Redmond, WA - Microsoft issues Windows 3.0. Though called the "Windows 3.0 Operating System," Windows is not yet a full operating system, depending on DOS to perform most OS functions.
2015: Ireland - A public referendum legalizes same-sex marriage, the first country in the world to do so.

1783: William Sturgeon, invented the electromagnet and the electric motor.
1813: Richard Wagner, composer, dramaturge, essayist, and anti-Semite.
1833: Félix Bracquemond, painter.
1844: Mary Cassatt, painter.
1859: Arthur Conan Doyle, physician and writer.
1907: Georges Prosper Remi (Hergé), comix writer-artist (The Adventures of Tintin).
1914: Sun Ra, pianist and bandleader.
1927: Peter Mathiessen, writer and founder of The Paris Review.
1930: Harvey Milk, politician and martyr.
1936: M. Scott Peck, psychiatrist, writer (The Road Less Travelled).
1942: Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber.
1950: Bernie Taupin, lyricist for Elton John.
1968: Karen Lord, fantasist.
1972: Max Brooks, writer (World War Z).

21st May 2016

7:31pm: Read: The Long Utopia, by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (2016-33)
Since I reviewed #3 so recently I don't have to explain the series concept. So there.

In this fourth installment (of five), the artificial intelligence, Lobsang, fakes his death and settles down with Sister Agnes to pioneer and raise a son, in a place called New Springfield way out in the Long Earth. But some kids in New Springfield are wearing silver bracelets that they couldn't possibly have ... and there are freakish lights coming from that Earth's Moon...

There is an alien infestation on this Earth, and it is doing something huge to it. And, given the chance, they will do it to all the Long Earths.

Lobsang summons Joshua Valienté, and then the US Navy, Sally Linsay, and finally ... Lobsang. In the end, the help of the Next is needed, and the cost to protect humanity is high.

The book is a cleanly written as its predecessors, and even has some of Pratchett's trademark humor - or humour - but not very much. It has, compared to _The Long Mars_, a very straightforward and linear plot with only one real side story to tie into the main narrative thrust at the end. And it's a good read, even if the setup for the last book is kind of obvious at the end.

20th May 2016

7:26am: Josephine Baker Day...
...or National Bike to Work Day. Take your pick.

325: Nicaea, Bithnya - The First Nicene Council opens. Not counting the "Council of Jerusalem" described (but not named) in the Book of Acts, this is the first ecumenical council of the Church, and results in the first defined statement of doctrine, the Nicene Creed.
1497: Bristol, England - John Cabot sets sail to look for a route to the West. He is the first European to reach the North American mainland since the Vikings of Vinland.
1521: Pampeluna, Spain - Ignatius of Loyola is wounded in battle, resulting ultimately in his conversion experience.
1609: Middlesex, England - First publication of Shakespeare's sonnets, by publisher Thomas Thorpe, who may not have actually had permission to do so.
1645: Yangzhou, China - Troops of the Qing dynasty, under command of Prince Dodo, as part of their conquest of China from the falling Ming, slaughter civilians - possibly as many as 850,000 - over a ten-day period.
1775: Charlotte, NC - Alleged signing of the Mecklenburg Declaration of Independence.
1802: France - Napoleon proclaims the Law of 20 May 1802 (30 floréal year X), reinstating slavery in those French colonies where its abolition had not yet taken effect - an interesting mirror of the Emancipation Proclamation, which was effective only in those places where it could not be effected.
1862: Washington, DC - President Abraham Lincoln signs the Homestead Act into law. Any adult who had never taken up arms against the U.S. Government was eligible.
1873: San Francisco, CA/Washington, DC - Business partners Levi Strauss and Jacob Davis receive a patent on blue jeans with copper-riveted pockets.
1875: Paris, France - Seventeen nations sign the "Metre Convention," establishing the International System of Units.
1883: Krakatoa - The volcano begins to erupt; it will be three months before its famous explosion.
1891: New York, NY(?) - At a convention of the National Federation of Women's Clubs, Thomas Edison gives the first public exhibition of his "kinetoscope," a film cinema in a box, which could be viewed by only one person at a time. The film showed a man bowing and taking off his hat.
1896: Paris, France - In the Paris Opera's Palais Garnier, a six-ton chandelier falls from the ceiling, killing one and injuring many. This is said to be the inspiration behind a certain scene in The Phantom of the Opera.
1899: New York, NY - Taxi driver Jacob German is arrested and given the city's first speeding ticket for driving at the outrageous speed of 12 mph down Lexington Street. These days you'd be really lucky to get up to 12 mph on Lex.
1902: Cuba - The island captured in the Spanish-American War becomes independent of the United States.
1916: New York, NY - The Saturday Evening Post prints its first issue with a Norman Rockwell cover.
1920: Montreal, Quebec - Radio station XWA begins the first regularly scheduled radio broadcasting in the North American continent.
1927: Long Island, NY - Charles Lindbergh takes off on the first successful non-stop transatlantic flight.
1932: Harbour Grace, Newfoundland - Amelia Earhart takes off on the first successful non-stop transatlantic flight by a woman.
1940: Oświęcim, Poland - The first prisoners arrive at the Auschwitz concentration camp.
1948: China - Chiang Kai-Shek is elected the first President of the Republic of China.
1949: Washington DC - Foundation of the Armed Forces Security Agency, which will in time morph into the NSA.
1956: Bikini Atoll - The first US test of an airborne hydrogen bomb.
1964: Holmdell Township, NJ - While working on a Bell Labs radio antenna, Robert Woodrow Wilson and Arno Allan Penzias discover a peculiar background "noise" in the signal. After eliminating all other possibilities, they realize that they have discovered something new, which comes to be known as cosmic microwave background radiation, the "echo of the Big Bang."
1983: The journal Science - Luc Montagnier publishes the discovery of the human immunodeficiency virus, or HIV.
1989: Beijing, China - In response to pro-democracy protests by students in Tienanmen Square, the Communist Party declares martial law.
1996: Washington, DC - In Romer v. Evans, SCOTUS rules that a Colorado State constitutional amendment which prevented protected status for gays and bisexuals did not satisfy the Equal Protection clause, and failed rational basis review. This landmark decision set the stage for several later decisions, including Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges.
2006: Dhaka, Bangladesh - nearly 1.8 million garment workers go on strike (or hartal).
2010: Worldwide - "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day."

1663: William Bradford, printer; founder of the New York Gazette.
1743: Toussant Louverture, revolutionary Hatian leader.
1759: William Thornton, architect (US Capitol).
1768: Dolley Madison, First Lady and famous hostess.
1799: Honoré de Balzac, writer (Comèdie Humaine).
1806: John Stuart Mill, utilitarian philosopher.
1818: William Fargo, cofounder of both Wells Fargo and American Express.
1908: James Stewart, who was George Bailey.
1911: Gardner Fox, writer of comix and other stuff.
1913: William Remington Hewlett, cofounder of Hewlett-Packard.
1915: Moshe Dayan, general and politician.
1946: Cher, singer and entertainer.
1956: Douglas Preston, thriller writer.
1959: Israel Kamakawiwoʻole, singer-songwriter.

19th May 2016

6:28am: Hepatitis Testting Day...
...Or, if you prefer, Malcolm X Day.

1499: England and Spain - Marriage by proxy of Catherine of Aragon (thirteen years of age) to Arthur, Prince of Wales (twelve); they have been betrothed since they were toddlers. They will not meet until November of 1501, and Arthur will live only about five months past that point.
1536: London - Execution by beheading of Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII (the first being the above-mentioned Catherine).
1568: England - Queen Elizabeth I orders the arrest of Mary, Queen of Scots.
1649: London - The Rump Parliament declares England a Commonwealth; it will be ruled as a Republic for eleven years.
1780: New England and Eastern Canada - The "Dark Day." A combination of smoke from forest fires, fog, and clouds makes it so dark that candles are necessary at noon.
1828: Washington, DC - President John Quincy Adams signs the "Tariff of Abominations," more properly the Tariff of 1828, which levies a protective tax on imported wool goods. This has a significant economic impact on the South, where the "Abominations" name is applied, because the South has mostly imported its wool goods from England.
1897: Reading, Berkshire, England - Oscar Wilde is released from Reading Gaol, pretty much a broken man. He immediately sets sail for France, and will never return to England or Ireland.
1921: Washington, DC - Congress passes the Emergency Quota Act, which creates limits to how many people may immigrate to the United States, and apportions those numbers by source country. One unforeseen consequence of this was an increase in the number of illegal immigrants, who would travel to Canada or Mexico, and thence to the United States; there were no quotas for Western Hemisphere countries.
1922: Moscow, Russia - Foundation of the "Vladimir Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization," a replacement for Scouting that emphasized Soviet principles.
1961: Space - Venera 1 becomes the first manmade probe to do a flyby of another planet. However, it had lost radio contact with Earth a month earlier and sent back no data.
1963: New York, NY - The NY Times publishes Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "Letter from Birmingham Jail."
1971: USSR - Launch of Mars 2.
1986: Washington, DC - President Ronald Reagan signs the Firearm Owners Protection Act, which implements the idea that the Second Amendment protects the right to own arms as individuals, but restricts access to "machine" guns.

1593: Jacob Jordaens, painter.
1762: Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Kantian idealist; creator of the formula thesis-antithesis-synthesis.
1795: Johns Hopkins, businessman and philanthropist.
1870: Albert Fish, serial killer.
1890: Ho Chi Minh, trailblazing Vietnamese politician.
1910: Nathuram Godse, assassin.
1921: Yuri Kochiyama, activist.
1925: Pol Pot, criminal against humanity.
1925: Malcolm X (né Little, a/k/a el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz), preacher, activist.
1933: Edward de Bono, creator of the concept of "lateral thinking."
1941: Nora Ephron, screenwriter and director.
1945: Pete Townshend, guitarist and primary songwriter for The Who.
1946: André "The Giant" René Roussimoff, wrestler and actor.
1966: Jodi Picoult, writer.

18th May 2016

6:48am: International Museum Day
1096: Worms, Germany - Count Emicho of Leningen, on his way to the First Crusade, arrives at Worms, where rumors are abroad that Jews had drowned a Christian, and poisoned the town well. Emicho and locals massacre 800 Jews over the next several days.
1291: Acre, Holy Land - The last Crusader stronghold in the "Kingdom of Jerusalem" falls, effectively ending Crusader presence in the Levant.
1593: London, England - Playwright Thomas Kyd, who has been caught with a fragment of a heretical tract, claims it belongs to Christopher Marlowe, leading to a warrant for Marlowe's arrest.
1631: Dorchester, MA - John Winthrop takes office as the first Governor of Massachusetts.
1652: Rhode Island - Outlaws slavery, the first such law in Anglophone America.
1860: Abraham Lincoln wins the Republican nomination for the Presidency over his rival, William Seward, whom he will appoint as Secretary of State.
1896: Washington, DC - In Plessy v Ferguson, SCOTUS holds that a "separate but equal" treatment of minority citizens in matters such as schooling is Constitutional.
1896: Moscow, Russia - At a celebration for the coronation of Czar Nicholas II, free food is distributed, and half a million people (est.) show up. Rumors claiming that there is not enough for everyone causes a mass stampede, in which 1389 people are trampled to death.
1910: Space - Earth passes through the tail of Comet Halley.
1926: Venice Beach, CA - Aimee Semple McPherson, a popular evangelist, vanishes, leading to general belief that she has drowned. Her church, the Angelus Temple, receives ransom notes.Five weeks later, she turns up in Mexico and confirms that she was chloroformed, kidnapped, and held for ransom.
1933: Washington, DC - President Franklin Roosevelt signs the bill creating the Tennessee Valley Authority.
1969: Cape Canaveral - Launch of Apollo 10, the second manned mission to orbit the Moon, and the first to detach and fly the LM; generally considered the "dress rehearsal" for Apollo 11's Moon landing later this year.
1974: Pokhran Test Range, India - India becomes the sixth nation to successfully test a nuclear bomb.
1980: Washington State - Mt. St. Helens erupts, killing 57 people.
1983: Ireland - Crackdown on pirate radio stations, beginning with the shutdown of Radio Nova.

1048: Omar Khayyám, poet, author of the Rubaiyát.
1822: Matthew Brady, photographer of the Civil War.
1850: Oliver Heaviside, engineer, mathematician, and physicist; proposed the existence of the ionosphere.
1855: Francis Bellamy, minister, Christian Socialist, author of the original Pledge of Allegiance.
1872: Bertrand Russell, mathematician and philosopher.
1883: Walter Gropius, architect, second husband of Alma Maria Mahler Gropius Werfel.
1891: Rudolf Carnap, philosopher, anti-metaphysician.
1895: Augusto César Sandino, for whom the FSLN "Sandinistas" were named.
1897: Frank Capra, director.
1902: Meredith Wilson, musician and playwright (The Music Man).
1917: Bill Everett, comix writer-artist, creator of the Sub-Mariner; co-creator of modern Daredevil.
1920: Pope St. John Paul II "the Great".
1930: Fred Saberhagen, SF/F writer ("Berserker" stories).
1931: Don Martin, comix writer-artist. Fwoompf!
1949: Rick Wakeman, keyboardist (Yes).
1950: Mark Mothersbaugh, singer-songwriter (Devo).
1952: Diane Duane, fantasy writer (So You Want to Be a Wizard).
1958: Toyah Wilcox, singer (Sunday All Over the World, the Humans).

17th May 2016

6:11am: International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHO)
1792: New York, NY - Under a buttonwood tree at 68 Wall Street, 24 stockbrokers sign an agreement that creates the New York Stock & Exchange Board - known today as the NYSE.
1902: Greece - Archaeologist Valerios Stais discovers, in the trove of a shipwreck found in 1900, the "Antikythera Mechanism," a geared analog computer from the second or third century BCE. It appears to have been built to predict a variety of astronomical phenomena, and also the cycle of the Olympiads.
1933: Norway - Vidkun Quisling founds the Nasjonal Samling, the Norwegian National Socialist party.
1939: New York, NY - The first televised sporting event in the United States takes place, a college baseball game.
1954: Washington, DC - In Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, SCOTUS unanimously declares "separate but equal" schools for ethnically distinct groups, specifically African Americans, to be unconstitutional under the Fourteenth Amendment.
1969: Venus - Venera 6 sends atmospheric data about Venus back to Earth, and is ultimately crushed by Venusian atmospheric pressure.
1970: Morocco - Thor Heyerdahl sets sail on board the papyrus boat Ra II in what will be a successful crossing of the Atlantic Ocean.
1980: Chuschi, Ayacucho, Peru - Maoist "Shining Path" guerillas attack a polling place, beginning the "Internal Conflict" (called by the Maoists the "People's War") - which is still going on today.
1990: ? - The World Health Organization delists homosexuality as a psychiatric disease.
2004: Massachusetts - The first legal same-sex marriages in the United States take place.

1682: Bartholomew Roberts, "Black Bart," pirate.
1732: Francesco Pasquale Ricci, composer and violinist.
1749: Edward Jenner, creator of the first vaccine.
1836: Wilhelm Steinitz, chess master.
1866: Erik Satie, pianist and composer.
1868: Horace Elgin Dodge, co-founder of the Dodge Brothers car company.
1912: Archibald Cox, attorney, first Watergate Special Prosecutor, fired by Richard Nixon.
1919: Merle Miller, wrote "What It Means to Be a Homosexual."
1931: Marshall Applegate, founder of Heaven's Gate UFO/suicide cult.
1934: Ronald Wayne, the often-forgotten third founder of Apple; sold out for a total of $2300.
1946: F. Paul Wilson, sf/horror writer.
1949: Bill Bruford, drummer for Yes, King Crimson, National Health and others.
1950: Howard Ashman, playwright/composer, half of Ashman and Menken.
1956: Dave Sim, comix writer/artist, creator of Cerebus.
1988: Soccer, dog who was Wishbone.

16th May 2016

6:14am: National Sea Monkeys Day
...or, for those who prefer something a little more serious, Whitmonday.

1527: Florence, Italy - After driving out the Medici (for a second time), Florence returns to being a republic.
1843: Elm Grove, MO - The first major wagon train sets out for Oregon.
1866: Washington, DC - Congress eliminates the silver "half dime" coin and replaces it with the nickel.
1868: Washington, DC - End of the impeachment trial of President Andrew Johnson. His Presidency survives by a single vote.
1918: Washington, DC - The Sedition Act of 1918 is passed, making it a crime to criticize the government during wartime.
1920: Rome - Canonization of Jeanne d'Arc.
1929: Hollywood, CA - Presentation of the first Academy Awards.
1960: Malibu, CA - At Huges Research Labooooooratories, Theodore Maiman successfully operates the first ruby LASER.
1966: Beijing - The "May 16 Notice" is issued by the Chinese Politburo, warning of those who "wave the red flag to oppose the red flag," i.e., traitors within the Communist Party. The only way to identify these "counter-revolutionary revisionists" is through the "telescope and microscope of Mao Zedong thought." This is generally held to be the starting point of the Cultural Revolution.
1969: Venus - Landing of the Soviet probe Venera 5. More properly, of a mission capsule ejected by the main probe, which remains in orbit. The mission capsule descends on parachutes to return data for 53 minutes on Venusian atmosphere and general conditions.
1975: Nepal/Tibet - Junko Tabei is the first woman to reach the summit of Mt. Everest.
1988: Washington, DC - Surgeon-General C. Everett Koop issues a statement that the addictive properties of nicotine are similar to those of heroin and cocaine.
1991: Washington, DC - Queen Elizabeth II of the UK becomes the first British monarch to address the US Congress.

1718: Maria Gaetana Agnesi, mathematician and philosopher, the first woman to write a mathematics handbook, and the first to be appointed full professor of mathematics at a University.
1801: William H. Seward, Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State; the purchase of Alaska was his "folly."
1864: Herman Webster "H.H. Holmes" Mudgett, serial killer.
1898: Tamara de Lempicka, painter.
1906: Margaret Rey, co-creator of Curious George.
1912: Studs Terkel, writer.
1919: Władziu Valentino Liberace, pianist.
1929: John Conyers, Dean of the House of Representatives.
1929: Adrienne Rich, poet and essayist.
1944: Danny Trejo, ex-con, drug counselor, and actor.
1946: Robert Fripp, guitarist.
1950: Bruce Coville, writer.
1955: Olga Korbut, gymnast.

15th May 2016

7:20pm: Read: 97 Things Every Programmer Should Know, ed. by Kevlin Henney (2016-32)
I'm honestly not sure what possessed me to read this book. I'm not a programmer, though I work in the software industry and majored in Computer Science. But that major was going-on four decades ago, and I've never done much coding since, so as a programmer I'm not just out of practice - I'm obsolete.

But there it was, and I thought I'd give it a try. It might give me some insight into what my coding coworkers do, right?

Strangely, I was immediately hooked. The book consists of 97 two-page essaylets by a variety of programming experts (most of whom I've never heard of...), on a variety of programming and programming-related subjects, and, while there were two or three I just didn't get, most of them were clearly enough written that someone in my position vis-a-vis coding could, if not grok them deeply, at least get something out of them. And many of them were downright entertaining. So there's that.

The messages are varied and scattered, not grouped by subject or author. Some of them contradict each other, at least on a surface level. But through them all is a clear passion for writing good code that is not just pretty but that serves the needs of the end user.

Which is good, because it's the end user who ultimately pays our salaries, right?
8:20am: Pentecost
Or, if you happen to be an ancient Roman pagan, Mercuralia.

1536: London - Anne Boleyn stands trial for treason, adultery, and incest. She is found guilty and condemned to death by a "specially selected" jury.
1718: London - James Puckle, a London lawyer, patents what is considered the first machine gun, in the species of a revolver capable of firing 63 shots in 7 minutes.
1789: Paris - Maximilien Robespierre proposes to the Constituent Assembly the "self-denying ordinance," which specifies that members of this interim assembly may not sit on the Legislative Assembly which will succeed it.
1793: Coruña del Conde, Spain - Diego Marín Aguilera makes a flight of about 300 meters ("431 Castilian varas") in a flapping-wing glider of his own design. It only fails at this point because of a poorly smithed joint.
1836: Roxburghshire, UK - Francis Baily observes "beads" of light around the edge of an annular solar eclipse. Caused by unevennesses in the Moon's surface, they are known as "Baily's Beads."
1862: Washington, DC - President Abraham Lincoln signs the bill that creates the US Bureau (now Department) of Agriculture.
1869: New York, NY - Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton form the National Woman Suffrage Association.
1891: Rome - Pope Leo XIII issues the bull Rerum Novarum ("a new thing"), defending the rights of workers and providing the foundation for modern Catholic social justice action.
1905: Las Vegas - is founded.
1911: Washington, DC - In Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey v. United States, SCOTUS holds that Standard Oil is an monopoly whose restraint of trade is beyond the "rule of reason," and must therefore be broken up.
1928: Los Angeles - First release of "Plane Crazy," the very first Mickey Mouse cartoon, black & white and silent. It sees only limited release, and is later rereleased with sound; for this reason, "Steamboat Willie," the second short but the first with sound and a general release, is usually considered the first Mickey cartoon.
1940: San Bernardino, CA - Brothers Richard and Maurice McDonald open a hamburger restaurant featuring the "Speedee Service System," an innovation in fast food delivery.
1958: USSR - Launch of Sputnik 3.
1960: USSR - Launch of Sputnik 4.
1963: Cape Canaveral, FL - Launch of Mercury-Atlas 9, the final Mercury mission. Astronaut Gordon Cooper becomes the first American to spend more than 24 hours in space.
1969: Berkeley, CA - At the orders of Gov. Ronald Reagan, "People's Park" is fenced off from protestors, sparking the "Bloody Thursday" riots.
1970: Washington, DC - President Richard Nixon appoints the first two female US Army Generals, Anna Mae Hays and Elizabeth P. Hoisington.

1567: Claudio Monteverdi, composer and priest.
1759: Maria Theresia von Paradis, pianist and composer.
1856: L. Frank Baum, first Royal Historian of Oz.
1859: Pierre Curie, physicist.
1863: Frank Hornby, inventor of Meccano/Erector Set.
1890: Katherine Anne Porter, writer.
1891: Mikhail Bulgakov, writer.
1902: Richard Daley, politician. Ewige blumenkraft!
1904: Clifton Fadiman, gameshow host, writer, but best known to me as the editor of Fantasia Mathematica.
1905: Abraham Zapruder, businessman who happened to be in the right place at the right time.
1923: Richard Avedon, photographer.
1926: Anthony Shaffer, playwright and screenwriter (Sleuth).
1930: Jasper Johns, painter of flags.
1936: Wavy Gravy, clown and activist.
1936: Ralph Steadman, really weird illustrator.
1936: Paul Zindel, writer (The Pigman).
1937: Madeleine Albright, first female American Secretary of State.
1941: Jaxon, comix artist, co-founder of Rip-Off Press.
1948: Brian Eno, egghead musician and producer.
1953: Mike Oldfield, musician (Tubular Bells).
1974: Ahmet Rodan Zappa, musician.

14th May 2016

9:43am: National Miniature Golf Day...
....really, you can't make this $#!T up....though I guess someone does....

1607: Jamestown, VA - Settlement by English colonists.
1643: Paris - Louis XIV becomes King of France at age four.
1787: Philadelphia, PA - Delegates convene for the Constitutional Convention.
1796: England - Edward Jenner performs the first vaccination against smallpox, using pus from a cowpox blister.
1889: London - Foundation of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children.
1897: Philadelphia, PA - Premier performance of Sousa's "The Stars and Stripes Forever".
1925: Hogarth Press, UK - Publication of Virginia Woolf's Mrs Dalloway.
1961: Anniston, AL - A Freedom Riders bus is set afire and the escaping riders savagely beaten by an angry mob.
1973: Cape Canaveral, FL - Launch of Skylab.

1727: Thomas Gainsborough, painter.
1771: Robert Owen, utopian philanthropist, founder of the New Harmony colony.
1917: Norman Luboff, conductor and composer.
1927: Herbert W. Franke, science fiction writer.
1932: Richard Estes, painter.
1944: George Lucas, filmmaker.
1952: David Byrne, singer-songwriter and weird guy.
1964: James M. Kelly, astronaut.
1984: Mark Zuckerberg, cofounder of Facebook.

13th May 2016

6:57am: Friday the 13th
Or, if you prefer, National Blame Someone Else Day.

1373: Norwich, England - A woman we call Julian of Norwich (her actual name is unknown), recovering from a near-fatal illness, has a series of visions which will later be written down as Revelations of Divine Love.
1787: Portsmouth, England - Eleven ships full of convicts, the so-called "First Fleet," depart for Botany Bay, Australia. They will take about 250 days to get there.
1861: London, England - In response to the secession of several of the United States (making them somewhat less United), Queen Victoria issues a declaration of neutrality, considering the status of the rebel States as belligerents, not mere rebels.
1861: Windsor, New South Wales - Amateur astronomer John Tebbutt discovers the Great Comet of 1861, using an ordinary marine telescope. The comet will make its closest approach to Earth on June 30, and will actually contain the Earth in its tail for two days.
1888: Brazil - The Lei Áurea abolishes slavery.
1917: Fátima, Portugal - Lúcia Santos and her cousins Jacinta and Francisco Marto - three shepherd children - report a vision of the Virgin Mary.
1939: Bloomfield, CT - Opening of the first commercial FM radio station in the United States.
1940: London, England - Winston Churchill makes his "blood, toil, tears, and sweat" speech to the House of Commons.
1958: Caracas, Venezuela - The car carrying American Vice President Richard Nixon is attacked by a mob wielding pipes.
1960: San Francisco, CA - Thirty-one students protesting the visit of the House Un-American Activies Committee are arrested, an early event leading to the birth of the Free Speech Movement.
1963: Washington, DC - In Brady v. Maryland, SCOTUS holds that failure, on the part of the prosecution, to provide exculpatory evidence "material either to guilt or to punishment" violates due process.
1981: Mehmet Ali Ağca attempts to assassinate Pope John Paul II in St. Peter's Square in Rome.
1985: Philadelphia, PA - Having declared MOVE (a Black Power organization) a terrorist group police drop two one-pound water gel bombs ("entry devices") provided by the FBI on their headquarters, resulting in eleven deaths. This is the only time in US history that a police force has dropped a bomb on its own citizens. Fifteen years later, courts will hold that excessive force was used and punitive damages are paid to the one survivor and two relatives of the deceased.
1989: Beijing, China - Large numbers of pro-democracy students occupy Tiananmen Square. This is the beginning of the endgame that will lead to the June 4 massacre.
1992: Changchun, China - Li Hongzhi gives the first public lecture on Falun Gong.

1024: St. Hugh "the great" of Cluny, built an abbey church which was the largest structure in Europe for several centuries.
1221: Alexander Nevsky, Prince of Novgorod and Grand Prince of Kiev and Vladimir. He is generally considered the greatest military hero in Russian history.
1842: Sir Arthur Sullivan, composer (of Gilbert And).
1882: Georges Braque, painter and sculptor. foundational figure in cubism.
1907: Daphne du Maurier, writer (Rebecca, "The Birds")
1914: Joe Lewis, boxer whose defeat of Max Schmeling in two minutes was a huge defeat for Nazi propaganda - a Nazi publicist had claimed that "no black man" could defeat Schmeling and that Schmeling's prize money would go to build tanks in Germany.
1931: Jim Jones, cult leader.
1937: Roger Zelazny, writer (Lord of Light, Creatures of Light and Darkness).
1938: Francine Pascal, writer (the "Sweet Valley High" books).
1940: Bruce Chatwin, writer (The Songlines).
1941: Richard "Ritchie Valens" Valenzuela, singer ("La Bamba").
1944: Armistead Maupin, writer (Tales of the City).
1946: Marv Wolfman, comix writer (The New Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths).
1952: John Kasich, Presidential candidate.
1961: Dennis Rodman, basketball player and companion to dictators.

12th May 2016

6:39am: National Odometer Day. No, really.
Also, International Nurses' Day, of somewhat more importance...

1191: Cyprus - Richard I Lionheart of England marries Berengaria of Navarre, "the only Queen of England never to set foot in the country."
1551: Lima, Peru - Foundation of the National University of San Marcos, the oldest university in the Americas, by a royal decree of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.
1933: Washington, DC - Enactment of the Agricultural Adjustment Act, which pays farmers to not grow food.
1935: Akron, OH - Bill W. and Doctor Bob meet for the first time.
1941: Berlin, Germany - Konrad Zuse presents the Z3, the first functional programmable computer, which ran on relays, had a 22-bit word length, and did not have branching instructions. Nonetheless, it has been shown to be Turing-complete.
1965: The Moon - Crash landing of Soviet probe Luna 5.
2002: Cuba - Former US President Jimmy Carter arrives for a five-day visit with Fidel Castro, the first US President to visit Cuba since the Castro revolution to do so.

1590: Cosimo II de'Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
1812: Edward Lear, nonsensologist.
1820: Florence Nightingale, nurse and social reformer.
1828: Dante Gabriel Rossetti, poet and painter.
1842: Jules Massenet, composer.
1845: Gabriel Fauré, composer.
1850: Henry Cabot Lodge, Senator and historian.
1859: William Alden Smith, Senator who chaired the committee investigating the sinking of the Titanic.
1895: William Giaque, chemist who studied the near-absolute-zero behavior of atoms.
1907: Leslie Charteris, writer.
1911: Charles Biro, comix artist/writer; cocreator of the first Daredevil.
1914: Howard K. Smith, anchorman.
1918: Mary Kay Ash, businesswoman; founded Mary Kay Cosmetics.
1918: Julius Rosenberg, spy (probably).
1921: Farley Mowat, environmentalist and writer.
1925: Yogi Berra, baseball catcher; "I didn't say most of the things I said."
1928: Burt Bacharach, songwriter.
1936: Tom Snyder, talk show host.
1937: George Carlin, comic.
1939: Ron Ziegler, Keeper of the Lies White House Press Secretary to Richard Nixon.
1950: Bruce Boxleitner, who was John Sheridan.

11th May 2016

5:42pm: Read: The Long Mars, by Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter (2016-31)
At the intersection of a master of fantasy and a master of hard SF, you find the Long Earth series of, apparently, five books.

In the first book of this series, the Long Earth was discovered: a seemingly infinite series of just-slightly-different Earths, just a step away ... with the help of a stepping box. And, it turned out, there were people who could do it naturally; and "soft places" where anyone could accidentally fall across the Long Earth.

That first book (_The Long Earth_) introduced the major characters of this series, especially Joshua Valienté; Lobsang, a vast computer who claims to be the reincarnation of a Tibetan monk; and Sally Linsay, a natural stepper whose ability led her father to create the Stepping Box.

Which, by the way, is cheaply made and powered by a potato. Just thought you should know that.

And, since humans had only evolved on our "Datum" Earth, colonization is opened up to a seemingly infinite new frontier. (The space program is a casualty...)

In the first book, these three went on a voyage across the Long Earth, millions of steps from Datum Earth, and discovered wonders galore. Much of the book is a travelogue.

The second book (_The Long War_) is more plot-focussed. The nations of Datum Earth have declared their "aegis" across the territories of the Long Earth analogous to their home territories. A number of the colonists, especially out in the boondocks, don't care for this, and a war is brewing. Efforts to stop the war are the focus of the plot.

Which brings us to _The Long Mars_, which begins shortly after the Yellowstone megavolcano blows on the Datum Earth, pretty much destroying much of the United States, and wrecking the climate and economy of the whole Datum. Colonization expands from "an interesting idea" to "a mass migration."

Against this background, three plots take place, which will, of course, conjoin at the end of the book.

In the titular storyline, Sally Linsay, her father, and a would-be NASAnaut travel to Mars. Not from the Datum, but from the "Brick Moon," a space station built where an Earth would have been had it not been destroyed by a massive asteroid smash. (I know, *really* massive. Roll with it here.) So no escape from Earth's gravity is necessary.

This, plus some cool technology, allow them to reach Mars in a matter of days rather than months, where the real mission will begin. There are already bases on the Gap Mars. But Willis Linsay wants to traverse the stepwise Marses, in search of ... well, Willis isn't telling, but the guy who unleashed stepping boxes on the world clearly has big ideas.

Meanwhile, the United States (now governed from a stepwise Madison) sends a mission to explore reaches of the Long Earth much farther than has been done before, ultimately to a quarter billion Earths away from the Datum. This enables another travelogue, to be sure, but there are important things going on here, and at least a few things hidden from the mission commander.

And, back in the colonized parts of the Long Earth, it appears that a new race of super-intelligent children is rising. Lobsang gets Joshua Valienté to investigate, and it quickly turns out that Lobsang isn't the only one interested in these Next.

Clearly, these are books of Big Ideas explored at leisure. They are classic SF at its nerdy best, and enjoyable as hell if you like that sort of thing. I do. They're more in the Asimov-Clarke line of things than the Heinlein-Simak line, if you follow me: there are characters, but they aren't the point; the point is the cool stuff going on. And a lot of it is _very_ cool indeed.
6:39am: Yom Hazikaron l'Chalalei Ma'arachot Yisrael ul'Nifge'ei Pe'ulot Ha'eivah
...or, if you prefer, Twilight Zone Day.

330: Byzantium - A ceremony is held renaming the city Nova Roma, but it is better known as Constantinople (until it becomes Istanbul, of course).
868: China - The Diamond Sutra is block-printed. This is not the world's first block-printed book, but it is the first with a specific date ("the 13th of the 4th moon of the 9th year of Xiantong").
1502: Cádiz - Christopher Columbus sets out on his fourth and final voyage to the New World.
1812: London - PM Spencer Perceval is assassinated in the lobby of the House of Commons. His assassin, John Bellingham, is arrested, tried, and executed within a week of the assassination.
1820: Woolwich, UK - Launching of the HMS Beagle.
1846: Washington, DC - President James K. Polk asks for, and receives, the Declaration of War that begins the Mexican-American War.
1894: Chicago, IL - Four thousand workers start a wildcat strike against the Pullman Palace Car Company; this leads to a nationwide boycott by the American Railway Union (led by Eugene V. Debs) of all trains carrying a Pullman car. At its peak, the strike involved a quarter of a million workers. The Government will issue an order to end the boycott, claiming that the ARU is in violation of the Sherman Act(!); ultimately, Debs is jailed.
1910: Washington DC - Congress creates Glacier National Park in Montana.
1927: Los Angeles, CA - Foundation of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
1987: Baltimore, MD - Dr. Bruce Reitz performs the first successful heart-lung transplantation.
1997: New York, NY - "Deep Blue," an IBM program, defeats world chess champion Garry Kasparov in the tiebreaking (sixth) game of a five-game match.

1811: Chang and Eng Bunker, conjoined twins made famous by P.T. Barnum as the "Siamese Twins."
1852: Charles W. Fairbanks, Vice President of the US under William Howard Taft.
1875: Harriet Quimby, first woman to pilot a plane across the English Channel.
1888: Irving Berlin, composer/songwriter.
1889: Paul Nash, surrealist painter.
1892: Margaret Rutherford, who was Miss Marple.
1894: Martha Graham, choreographer and dancer.
1904: Salvador Dalí, surrealist painter and icon.
1911: Phil Silvers, who was Sgt. Bilko.
1918: Richard Feynman, who brought uncommon sense to modern physics.
1927: Mort Sahl, comic.
1930: Edsger W. Dijkstra, computer scientist. ("The question of whether Machines Can Think (…) is about as relevant as the question of whether Submarines Can Swim.")
1930: Stanley Elkin, writer.
1933: Louis Farrakhan, religious leader.
1946: Robert Jarvik, developer of the Jarvik artificial heart.
1975: Ziad Jarrah, hijacker-pilot of United Airlines Flight 93 on 9/11.

10th May 2016

6:25am: May 10
Well, what do you want? Lipid Day? Confederate Memorial Day (in the Carolinas)? It's just a day.

But on this day in ...

28 BC: China - Observation of sunspots by Han dynasty astronomers.
70: Jerusalem - Roman forces under Titus launch a major assault on the city's Third Wall.
1497: Cádiz, Spain - Amerigo Vespucci (allegedly) departs for the New World, according to a possibly spurious letter: this voyage may not have taken place at all.
1503: Cayman Islands - Christopher Columbus visits and names the island group the Tortugas.
1774: Paris/Versailles - Louis XVI ascends to the throne of France.
1775: Fort Ticonderoga, NY - Is captured by Colonial forces led by Ethan Allen and Benedict Arnold.
1775: Philadelphia - Opening of the Second Continental Congress.
1849: New York, NY - A dispute between rival actors Edwin Forrest and William Charles Macready, having grown in the public eye due, in part, to the fact that one was American and one English, explodes into a riot at the Astor Opera House. Militia are called out and fire into the crowd. At least 22 and possibly as many as 31 are killed, and at least 50 police injured. As a result of all this, New York's police become the first to be armed with deadly weapons.
1869: Promontory, UT - The "driving of the Golden Spike" to mark the completion of the first Transcontinental Railroad; the spike is now on display at Stanford University's Cantor Arts Museum.
1893: Washington, DC - In Nix v. Hedden, SCOTUS rules that a tomato is a vegetable and not a fruit.
1908: Grafton, WV - First observation in America of Mother's Day.
1924: Washington, DC - J. Edgar Hoover is annointed appointed Director of the nascent FBI.
1940: Freiburg, Germany - Luftwaffe accidentally bombs the city. Oopsy!
1941: Scotland - Rudolf Hess parachutes into the country, to try to arrange peace between Germany and the UK.
1954: US - Bill Haley and His Comets release "Rock Around the Clock," the first #1 rock'n'roll single.
1962: New York, NY - Marvel Comics publishes the first issue of The Incredible Hulk.
1994: Pretoria, South Africa - Nelson Mandela becomes the first black President of South Africa.

1002: Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, historian and scholar of hadith.
1788: Auguste-Jean Fresnel, inventor of a lens commonly used in lighthouses and student of wave mechanics.
1838: John Wilkes Booth, actor and assassin.
1886: Karl Barth, theologian.
1898: Ariel Durant, historian and writer.
1899: Fred Astaire, singer-actor-dancer.
1911: Bel Kaufman, writer (Up the Down Staircase).
1940: Wayne Dyer, writer.
1955: Mark David Chapman, assassin.
1957: Sid Vicious, bass player and murderer.
1958: Rick Santorum. Ick.
1963: Lisa Nowak, astronaut.
1969: John Scalzi, writer.

9th May 2016

6:18am: Mr. Punch's Birthday
1662: Covent Garden, London - An Italian puppeteer presents the character who will come to be known as Mr. Punch.
1671: London - Col. Thomas Blood attempts to steal the Crown Jewels from the Tower.
1726: Tyburn, England - Five men, seized in a raid at Mother Clap's molly house, are executed under the Buggery Act of 1533.
1873: Vienna - A stock market crash here marks the beginning of the "Long Depression," which will continue to 1879.
1901: Melbourne - Opening of Australia's first parliament.
1972: Canberra - Opening of Australia's first parliament here.
1958: San Francisco, CA - Premiere of Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo.
1961: Washington, DC(?) - FCC Chairman Newton Minow gives his speech "Television and the Public Interest," in which he describes commercial programming of the time as a "vast wasteland."
1974: Washington, DC - The United States House Committee on the Judiciary, having finally realized that President Richard M. Nixon was, in fact, a crook, opens public impeachment hearings.

1800: John Brown, whose body lies a'moldering in the grave.
1860: J.M. Barrie, novelist and playwright (Peter Pan).
1874: Howard Carter, discovererer of the tomb of King Tut.
1882: Henry J. Kaiser, relatively enlightened war profiteer.
1883: José Ortega y Gasset, philosopher of circumstantiality.
1893: William Moulton Marston, creator of Wonder Woman.
1906: Eleanor Estes, children's writer (The Moffats).
1916: William Pène du Bois, children's writer (The Twenty-One Balloons).
1920: Philip "William Tenn" Klass, science fiction writer (Of Men and Monsters).
1926: John "Richard Cowper" Middleton Murry, Jr., science fiction writer (The Twilight of Briareus).
1942: John Ashcroft, Senator, Attorney General, and singer-songwriter ("Let the Eagle Soar").
1949: Billy Joel, singer-songwriter ("Piano Man").

8th May 2016

9:18am: Hello, Muddah!
1541: Mississippi River - Hernando de Soto reaches it and names it Rio de Espiritu Santo.
794: Paris - Arrest, trial, and execution of chemist Antoine Lavoisier.
1877: New York, NY - First Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
1886: Atlanta - First sales of Coca-Cola, invented by John Pemberton as an alternative to his "French Wine Coca" because of burgeoning temperance laws.
1899: Dublin - the Irish Literary Theatre gives its first play, W.B. Yeats's
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1541: Mississippi River - Hernando de Soto reaches it and names it <i>Rio de Espiritu Santo</i>.
794: Paris - Arrest, trial, and execution of chemist Antoine Lavoisier.
1877: New York, NY - First Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show.
1886: Atlanta - First sales of Coca-Cola, invented by John Pemberton as an alternative to his "French Wine Coca" because of burgeoning temperance laws.
1899: Dublin - the Irish Literary Theatre gives its first play, W.B. Yeats's <bThe Countess Cathleen</b>.
1945: Reims, France - The last German forces surrender unconditionally: V-E Day.
1990: New York, NY - Blue-collar construction workers take to the streets against anti-war protesters ("damn dirty hippies"), beginning the Hard Hat Riot that will end with 70+ injuries.
1976: Valencia, CA - Magic Mountain theme park premieres the world's first rollercoaster with a vertical loop.

1786: St. John Vianney, the "Cure of Ars."
1884: Harry S Truman, 33rd President of the United States.
1895: Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.
1895: Edmund Wilson, writer and critic.
1911: Robert Johnson, blues guitarist.
1920: Saul Bass, creator of logos, credit sequences, and movie posters.
1926: David Attenborough, environmentalist and tv host.
1926: Don Rickles, hockey puck.
1928: Ted Sorenson, White House Counsel and ghost-writer for John Kennedy.
1936: Kazuo Koike, manga writer (<b>Lone Wolf and Cub</b>).
1937: Thomas Pynchon, disappearing writer.
1938: Jean Giraud, comix writer/artist: "Moebius."
1940: Peter Benchley, writer (<b>Jaws</b>).
1944: Gary Glitter, singer and child molester.
1955: Stephen Furst, who was Vir Cotto.

7th May 2016

9:56am: Free Comic Book Day...
1429: Orléans - Jeanne d'Arc pulls an arrow from her own shoulder, then leads the charge that breaks the siege.
1718: New Orleans - Is founded, by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville.
1794: Paris - Maximilien Robespierre introduces the Cult of the Supreme Being as the state religion of the (First) French Republic.
1824: Vienna - Michael Umlauf, under the supervision of Ludwig van Beethoven, conducts the premiere of the latter's Ninth Symphony.
1895: Saint Petersburg - Alexander Stepanovich Popov demonstrates his "lightning detector," a primitive radio receiver.
1915: North Atlantic - Sinking of the Lusitania.
1992: Michigan ratifies what not becomes the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, forbidding Congress from giving itself a midterm pay raise.
1992: Cape Canaveral, FL - STS-49, the first flight of the Endeavor.
1999: Romania - John Paul II becomes the first Pope to visit an Eastern Orthodox-majority country since the Schism of 1054.

1711: David Hume, philosopher.
1812: Robert Browning, poet.
1833: Johannes Brahms, composer.
1840: Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovski, composer.
1892: Archibald MacLeish, poet.
1892: Josip Broz Tito, first President of Yugoslavia.
1909: Edwin H. Land, inventor of the "Land camera" and founder of Polaroid.
1917: David Tomlinson, who was Mr. Banks.
1922: Darrin McGavin, who was Karl Colchak.
1923: Anne Baxter, who was Nefirtiri.
1931: Gene Wolfe, writer and national treasure.
1940: Angela Carter, writer.
1948: Susan Atkins, of the Manson Family.
1968: Traci Lords, underage porn actress.

6th May 2016

9:23pm: Read: I Am Princess X, by Cherie Priest (2016-30)
When May was in grade school, she met Libby. They were both kind of outsiders. Libby could draw, and May could tell stories; together they created Princess X, a fantasy character, and for years wrote and drew her adventures.

Then Libby's mom drove off a bridge with Libby in the car.

Three years pass. May's parents divorce and her mom takes her back to Georgia, while her dad stays in Seattle. She's visiting her dad for the summer when she sees the sticker on the wall - it's Princess X. Apparently this has been going on for a while, and there's a Princess X webcomic. Reading it, May becomes convinced that Libby is still alive.

With the help of a hacker, she begins to trace the clues she is certain are embedded in the comic.

Then someone tries to kill them...

This is a fun, well-told YA novel with a nicely messed-up protagonist and supporting cast. The pacing is taut, and the action stays at a level that I would have no problem giving to a twelve-year-old - or an intelligent ten-year-old.
6:35am: Space Day
1527: Rome - Is sacked by German and Spanish troops.
1536: Cuzco, Peru - Is besieged by Incan forces trying to retake the city from conquistadores.
1536: London - Henry VIII orders English-language Bibles to be placed in every church in the realm. This results in the publication of "the Great Bible," the first authorized (by Henry) English-language Bible.
1836: New York - Publication of the first issue of the New York Herald.
1840: United Kingdom - The Penny Black goes into use.
1844: London - The Glaciarium, the world's first mechanically frozen ice skating rink, opens.
1877: Near Fort Robinson, NE - Chief Crazy Horse, Little Big Man, and the Oglala Lakota surrender to U.S. troops.
1882: Washington, DC: Congress passes the Chinese Exclusion Act, forbidding the immigration of Chinese laborers; President Chester A. Arthur signs it the next day. This law will be renewed twice and not repealed until 1943.
1889: Paris - The Eiffel Tower, at this time the tallest building in the world, opens to the public.
1915: New York, NY - Babe Ruth, at this time a pitcher (his record for the year is 18-8) for the Boston Red Sox, hits his first Major League home run. This is the "dead ball" era, and home runs are relatively rare.
1935: Washington, DC - President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issues Executive Order 7034, creating the Works Progress Administration.
1937: Lakehurst, NJ - German Zeppelin LZ 129 Hindenburg catches fire while attempting to dock, resulting in 36 fatalities (there were 97 people on board).
1941: March Field, Riverside County, CA - Bob Hope performs his first USO show.
1949: Cambridge - EDSAC ("Electronic Delay Storage Automatic Calculator"), the second stored-program computer and the first practically useful one, runs its first programs (a table of squares and a list of primes).
1954: Oxford - Roger Bannister runs a mile in under four minutes for the first time in history.
1994: England and France - opening of the Chunnel.
1994: Washington, DC - Paula Jones files a sexual harassment lawsuit against standing President William Jefferson Clinton.
1996: Wicomico River, MD - The body of former CIA Director William Colby is found in a marsh, leading to conspiracy theories about murder and suicide, though the ME calls it an accidental drowning.
1999: Scotland and Wales - the first elections to the "devolved" (i.e., separate) Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly are held.
2001: Syria - Pope John Paul II becomes the first Pope to enter a mosque.

1668: Alain-René Lesage, author and playwright, probably best known for Gil Blas.
1758: Maximilien Robespierre, revolutionary and Terrorist.
1856: Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis.
1856: Robert Peary, who probably didn't reach the North Pole after all.
1868: Gaston Leroux, journalist, wrote The Phantom of the Opera.
1880: William Joseph Simmons, founder of the second Ku Klux Klan, and the first to use burning crosses (a symbol derived from the movie Birth of a Nation).
1895: Rodolfo Alfonso Raffaello Pierre Filibert Guglielmi di Valentina d'Antonguolla, better known as Rudolph Valentino, romantic silent-film star.
1904: Moshé Feldenkrais, martial arts expert and founder of the Feldenkrais Method of "self-awareness through movement."
1915: Orson Welles, auteur.
1915: Theodore H. White, historian and writer of the "Making of the President" series.
1916: Adriana Caselotti, the voice of Disney's Snow White, also heard as the voice singing "Wherefore art thou Romeo" in The Wizard of Oz
1931: Willie Mays, baseball player and coach.
1934: Richard Shelby, switch-hitting Senator.
1942: Ariel Dorfman, writer of, among other things, How to Read Donald Duck: Imperialist Ideology in the Disney Comic.
1953: Tony Blair, UK Prime Minister.
1960: John Flansburgh, half of They Might Be Giants.
1983: Gabourey Sidibe, actress.

5th May 2016

6:30am: Cinco de Mayo; Yom HaShoah
1215: England - Rebellious barons renounce their allegiance to King John.
1494: Jamaica - Christopher Columbus lands here and claims the island for Spain.
1809: Washington, D.C. - The first patent is awarded to a U.S. woman, Mary Kies.
1862: Puebla, Mexico - Troops led by Ignacio Zaragoza put a stop to a French invasion.
1865: North Bend, OH - The first train robbery in the United States takes place.
1866: Waterloo, NY - The first celebration of what would come to be known as Memorial Day.
1891: New York, NY - Opening of "The Music Hall," later known as Carnegie Hall.
1904: Boston, MA - Cy Young pitches the first "perfect" game in "modern" baseball.
1912: Saint Petersburg, Russia - The first issue of Pravda is published.
1920: Braintree(?), MA - The arrest of Sacco and Vanzetti.
1925: Dayton, TN - John T. Scopes is arrested for teaching evolution in violation of the Butler Act.
1934: USA - Release of "Woman Haters," the first Three Stooges short.
1936: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - Italian troops occupy the city.
1941: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - The return of Emperor Haile Selassie to the city, commemorated to this day as Patriot's Victory Day or Liberation Day.
1961: Florida - Alan Shepard becomes the first American to reach space in Freedom 7.
1965: Menlo Park, CA - A band called the Warlocks has their first public concert; they will later be known as the Grateful Dead.
1973: Louisville, KY - The horse Secretariat wins the Kentucky Derby, setting a time record (1:59 2/5) which stands to this day. Secretariat will go on to win the Triple Crown.
1977: USA: The first part of the Nixon/Frost interviews, concerning Watergate, is broadcast.
1985: Germany - "Bonzo goes to Bitburg" - Ronald Reagan visits the military cemetary at Bitburg, containing criminal SS Waffen officers.
1987: Washington, DC: Televising of the Iran-Contra hearings begins.
1994: Singapore - American teenager Michael P. Fay is caned for theft and vandalism.

1813: Søren Kierkegaard, philosopher and theologian.
1815: Karl Marx, philosopher and economist.
1830: John Batterson Stetson, founder of the Stetson company.
1832: Hubert Howe Bancroft, eponym and ethnologist.
1864: Nellie Bly, investigative journalist; went "around the world in 72 days."
1903: James Beard, cook and writer.
1905: Floyd Gottfredson, comix writer-artist, did the Mickey Mouse strip for 45 years.
1910: Leo Lionni, children's writer-artist.
1925: Leo Ryan, who holds the distinction of being the only member of the U.S. House of Representatives to have been assassinated while holding office (during the Jamestown massacre in Guyana).
1937: Delia Derbyshire, composer and keyboardist, created the electronic version of the Doctor Who theme.
1940: Sir Michael Edward Lindsay-Hogg, producer/director; best known for his work with the Beatles and the Rolling Stones; directed Nasty Habits among other good things.
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