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6th April 2016

7:33am: National Walking Day
1320: In the Declaration of Arbroath, the Scots affirm that they are an independent nation.
1327: Petrarch first sees Laura.
1453: Mehmed II besieges Constantinople (not Istanbul).
1712: Twenty-three black slaves revolt in New York City, a revolt that will result in 9 whites dead, 70 blacks arrested and 21 executed - 20 by burning and one on a breaking wheel.
1793: Establishment of the "Committee of Public Safety" as the executive power in the French government, beginning the period known as the Terror.
1830: Joseph Smith establishes the Church of Christ (which will eventually become the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a/k/a the Morons) in upstate New York.
1860: Joseph Smith III reorganizes the Mormons giving them the "Latter-Day Saints" name.
1861: Arthur Sullivan's first musical success, incidental music for a performance of The Tempest.
1893: Salt Lake Temple of the Mormons is dedicated by Wilford Woodruff.
1895: Oscar Wilde is arrested for "gross indecency with men."
1896: Opening of the first modern Olympic Games at Athens.
1909: Rober Peary's expedition reaches the North Pole.
1919: Mohandas Gandhi orders the General Strike.
1926: Varney Airlines, the ultimate parent of United, makes its first flight.
1929: Louisiana House of Representatives, impelled by oil interests, impeaches Governor Huey P. Long during a special session Long called to raise a new tax on oil production; the attempt fails.
1930: Gandhi declares the Salt Satyagraha.
1962: Leonard Bernstein makes controversial remarks before a performance, by Glenn Gould, of the Brahms Piano Concerto #1.
1965: Launch of Early Bird, the first geosynchronoush communications satellite.
1973: The American League abandons true baseball by instituting the Designated Hitter rule.
1994: An airplane carrying the Presidents of Rwanda and Burundi is shot down, starting the Rwandan Genocide.

1483: Raphael Sanzio da Urbino, painter.
1708: Johann Georg Reutter, composer.
1741: Nicolas Chamfort, author.
1826: Gustave Moreau, painter.
1860: René Lalique, jeweller and sculptor.
1892: Lowell Thomas, author and journalist who "discovered" Laurence of Arabia.
1917: Leonora Carrington, painter, sculptor.
1920: Jack Cover, inventor of the Taser.
1926: Gil Kane, comix author and illustrator.
1926: Ian Paisley, Northern Irish First Minister.
1928: James Watson, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA.
1929: Andre Previn, pianist, composer, and conductor.
1931: Richard "Ram Dass" Alpert, guru of sorts.
1939: John Scully, executive at Pepsi and Apple.
1941: Phil Austin, one-fourth of the Firesign Theatre.
1941: Gheorghe Zamfir, flautist and composer.
1947: John Ratzenberger, Pixar director and voice talent.
1953: Christopher Franke, German composer.
1956: Michele Bachmann, thing of evil politician and attorney.
1967: Julian Anderson, composer.

5th April 2016

6:35am: National Deep Dish Pizza Day...
...and the feast day of Vincent Ferrer.

1242: Alexander Nevsky repels an attempted invasion of Russia by the Teutonic Knights.
1614: Pocahontas marries John Rolfe.
1621: Mayflower sets out on its return voyage to England.
1710: Copyright law comes into being in the United Kingdom.
1792: President George Washington, for the first time, vetoes a bill passed by Congress - in this case, a bill for the apportionment of seats in the House. No Presidential veto will be overriden for 53 years.
1900: Discovery of the "Linear B" tablets.
1922: Foundation of the American Birth Control League, which will morph into Planned Parenthood.
1933: President Franklin Roosevelt signs Executive Orders establishing the Civilian Conservation Corps and forbidding the "hoarding" of gold.
1951: Julius and Ethel Rosenberg sentenced to death.

1588: Thomas Hobbes, whose life was not brutish, nasty, or short.
1732: Jean-Honoré Fragonard, painter.
1827: Joseph Lister, First Baron Liste, pioneer of antisepsis, after whom Listerine is named.
1837: Algernon Charles Swinburne, poet.
1856: Booker T. Washington, educator.
1858: Washington Atlee Burpee, Canadian founder of Burpee Seeds.
1869: Albert Roussel, composer.
1906: Lord Buckley, monologist-comedian.
1909: Albert R. "Cubby" Broccoli, producer of many James Bond films.
1911: John Revolta. No, really, there was a golfer by this name.
1916: Gregory Peck, who was Atticus.
1917: Robert Bloch, writer of horror and comedic fiction.
1920: Arthur Hailey, writer of blockbusters.
1923: Nguyễn Văn Thiệu, president of South Vietnam.
1926: Roger Corman, producer of schlock. But some of it is really good schlock.
1933: Frank Gorshin, who was The Riddler.
1933: Barbara Holland, author of "The Joy of Drinking."
1937: Colin Powell, soldier and politician.
1941: David Swarbrick, Fairport fiddler.
1949: Judith Resnick, astronaut.

4th April 2016

3:17pm: Read: Rage against the Night, edited by Shane Jiraiya Cummings (2016-22)
This anthology of horror stories, with a common theme of beating back the darkness, was put together as a tribute to and benefit for Rocky Wood, President of the Horror Writers Association at the time the anthology was conceived. Wood suffered Motor Neurone Disease, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease, and the anthology was put together to help him buy a gaze machine that would allow him to continue communicating as his voluntary nervous system gradually shut down.

There are twenty-five stories here, and to comment on each one seems both tedious and annoying to both me and you. There are a wide variety of horror types here, from gentle dark fantasy to psychological weirdness to zombie apocalypse to dystopian fiction of a sort decidedly not for young adults. There are gross things but never pointlessly detailed grossouts.

The authors range from some of the biggest names (Peter Straub, Stephen King, etc.) to solid midlisters (Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, F. Paul Wilson, etc.) to writers I've never heard of. And every single one of them can write well, if the stories included here are any indication at all.

The quality and variety kept me awake for some long airplane rides. Can you ask more from a tribute/benefit anthology, really?
2:46pm: Read: Five-Star Leadership by Patrick L. Townsend and Joan E. Gebhardt (2015-21)
This 1997 business book is a bit of fallout from the "quality revolution" of the '90s, and dares to suggest that all the quality processes in the world won't get you anywhere without quality _leadership_.

The first chunk of the book is devoted to defining just what a leader is; the rest is about how to be(come) one.

Their definition has nothing to do with ranks or org charts. Leadership, for these authors, is a quality that can be exhibited at any level in any organization, and often is - and often isn't, by those in managerial positions. They turn - reasonably, in my opinion - to the military for examples of leadership taught, learned, and carried out, as well, to a lesser extent, to companies and non-profits.

An interesting point is that the authors reject the concept of the charismatic, visionary leader. Such a leader might build a brilliant company, but a company that is driven by one person's charisma and vision tends to fall apart when that leader dies, retires, or moves on to something else. (Consider the state of Disney in the late '60s/early '70s...) Yes, the leader must identify goals and, well, lead their people toward those goals, but an irreplaceable leader is a liability waiting to happen.

The first step in becoming a leader is understanding what it is to be a follower. Perhaps the most telling example is the distinction between a military commander who says "Go there!" and one who says "Come with me!" -- the leader who exemplifies the values and models the behaviors s/he wants from his/her followers. And to be a follower, rather than a managed-person, is to be engaged with your leader's values and behaviors ... and to follow those examples and imitate those models is to be, to some extent, a leader yourself.

The biggest difference between leaders and managers, between followers and the managed, is initiative. The military again provides excellent examples: a soldier/marine/sailor/coast-guardian/airman/whatever is expected not only to obey orders (thinkingly, not unthinkingly) but to act appropriately in absence of orders, to take advantage of the situation whatever it may be, from the rankest recruit to the second-highest ranking officer in the service.

An important point on the mater of exemplifying values is that it can't be successfully faked. You must really live those values, must be committed to them. Among the values that cannot be faked are integrity and love (yes, love) of your people. A major distinction between leadership and management is that leaders live in a kind of covenant relationship with their followers, which makes them vulnerable to those followers.

So the leader must identify, promulgate, and demonstrate the core values of the organization, and hold the followers responsible to those values; and the followers will hold the leader responsible to those same values.

This means that communications flow is open in both directions, with, again, the vulnerability that this implies (though it should be noted that one of the authors' core traits of a leader is tact). Communications means not only formal communications at official moments but seizing the moment to communicate at any appropriate informal moment, and to communicate honestly (but tactfully) what is going right and wrong.

Which, of course, brings us to discipline. The authors distinguish between discipline, which is teaching, and punishment, which generally teaches only resentment. Much of what has already been discussed comes under the rubric of discipline: exemplifying and promulgating your organizational and personal values, at all times.

The last two chapters discuss methods for measuring your success (or lack thereof) in "unmeasurable" tasks, and "passing the torch" - creating the next round of leadership.

Townsend and Gebhardt write clearly and without any fancy stuff, using many concrete examples, and get their points across well. If in a few places above I have gone beyond what they wrote -- and I have -- it is because one of their best features is that they get the reader thinking for him/herself. They come across as very pragmatic idealists, which are the best kind.
7:11am: National School Librarian Day
back after a trip to LA area.

1581: Francis Drake gets Sirred.
1609: Expulsion of the Moriscos - Philip III of Spain orders the expulsion of Christian-converted Moors.
1721: Sir Robert Walpole becomes the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.
1818: US Congress adopts the Stars (then 20) and Stripes as the official flag of the United States.
1859: The song "Dixie" is premiered in a blackface minstrel show; it will go on to be one of the most popular songs in the American vernacular, and the de facto anthem of the Confederacy.
1873: The Kennel Club (UK) is founded, the first known kennel club.
1887: Susan M. Salter becomes the first female Mayor in the US, in Argonia, KS.
1925: Foundation of the Schutzstaffel, or SS.
1949: Formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization with initial members Belgium, Canadda, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
1958: The "crow's foot" peace sign is displayed for the first time by the Committee for Nuclear Disarmament, in London.
1964: The Beatles hold all five of the top five positions on the Billboard "hot 100" chart.
1968: Martin Luther King, Jr., is assassinated, allegedly by James Earl Ray.
1973: Dedication of the World Trade Center in New York City.
1975: Bill Gates and Paul Allen create a partnership called "Microsoft," in Albuquerque.
1979: Execution of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, former Prime Minister of Pakistan.
1983: Maiden voyage of Space Shuttle Challenger.
1988: Evan Mecham, a/k/a "Mr. Ev," governor of Arizona, is removed from office by impeachment.
1994: Foundation of Mosaic Communications Corporation by Marc Andreessen and Jim Clark; this company will become Netscape Communications Corp.

188: Caracalla, Roman Emperor; one of the really bad ones.
1572: William Strachey, English writer, whose work is said to have inspired Shakespeare's The Tempest.
1792: Thaddeus Stevens, Congresscritter, "radical" Republican who pushed the Reconstruction agenda.
1802: Dorothea Dix, Superintendent of Army Nurses and agitator for the indigent insane.
1826: Zénobe Gramme, inventor of the first commercial-scale electrical generator.
1829: Owen Suffolk, who has the distinction of being first "transported" to Australia and then exiled from there back to England; poet, thief, and confidence man.
1842: François Édouard Anatole Lucas, mathemetician; Lucas sequences and Lucas numbers are named after him.
1846: Comte de Lautréamont, Uruguayan-French writer whose work greatly influenced Surrealism.
1884: Isoroku Yamamoto, Japanese admiral.
1895: Arthur Murray, dance teacher.
1902: Stanley G. Weinbaum, early science fiction writer.
1906: John Cameron Swayze, Timex spokesperson.
1914: Marguerite Duras, screenwriter of Hiroshima Mon Amour.
1922: Elmer Bernstein, composer of film scores.
1924: Gil Hodges, who managed the "Amazing" Mets from the basement to their first World Series victory.
1927: Joe Orlando, comix artist, cocreator of The Inferior Five and much other good stuff.
1928: Maya Angelou, memoirist.
1939: Hugh Masakela, S.African trumpet player.
1942: Kitty Kelley, author of "tell-all" biographies.
1948: Dan Simmons, horror, fantasy, and science fiction writer.
1956: David E. Kelley, cocreator of a number of influential TV shows.
1965: Robert Downey, Jr., actor and poster-child for rehab.
1973: David Blaine, publicity stunt artist and magician.

2nd April 2016

4:30pm: Steve Hackett at the LA Orpheum 4/1/2016
Steve Hackett is, if not my absolute favorite guitarist (he may be) certainly in the top very-few. He has the rare combination of chops, musicality, and passion, combined with a real joy in playing that comes through every time I see him perform. (This was my fourth time, counting once with Genesis back in The Day.)

Hackett plays everything from classical (he has several albums of classical compositions and one of Satie "sketches" arranged to perform with his brother John on the flute) to jazz to blues to progressive rock, and is really, really good at all of them. He performed at least a little of all of these last night.

Hackett and his band performed two sets and an encore. The first set comprised his solo material; the second was old Genesis tunes; and the encore, one of each. From the opening number to the end, Hackett kept his audience engaged, happy, and energized; he received five standing ovations that I remember offhand. And he and his band were clearly having a good time doing it.

The first set began with a blistering rendition of the title track from Hackett's Spectral Mornings album, followed by a few tracks from his newest album, Wolflight. A personal favorite of mine, "Every Day," followed, a lighthearted tune with a lovely melody and one of the best outros in rock music. He picked up the acoustic twelve-string for "Loving Sea," which he dedicated to his wife Jo. He often let his sax player, Rob Townshend (who also plays flute, pennywhistle, extra keyboards, and hand percussion) take leads or double with him.

The highlight of the first set, though, was the last four songs, all from his first solo album, The Voyage of the Acolyte, recorded while he was still with Genesis and featuring the rhythm section from that band. The closing number, "Shadow of the Hierophant," is a simple, repeating melody that, on the album, gradually builds (kind of like a bolero but different :) ). On stage, it gradually built for much, much longer and reached an almost unbearable intensity, driven by Gary O'Toole, in what may be the single most amazing drumming performance I've ever seen: it literally left me sweating.

For the second set, Hackett began with the crowd-pleasing "Get 'em Out by Friday," one of Peter Gabriel's more melodramatic turns handled more than adequately by Hackett's touring vocalist, Nad Sylvan. The story of an evil real estate agent who puts "a four-foot restriction on humanoid height," "Friday" is actually pretty silly when regarded on that level, but has some wonderful tunes.

Sylvan is an excellent singer but has a decidedly weird stage presence, with flouncy body movements and a facial expression that seems like he doesn't quite know why he's up there or why all those people are staring at him.

Next, he pulled out some deep Genesis catalog: "Can-Utility and the Coastliners," a mutated story of King Canute; and "After the Ordeal," a lovely instrumental which begins with some lovely 12-string and, well, builds from there. Neither, I believe, was ever played live by Genesis.

Sylvan's bandmate in "Agents of Mercy," Roine Stolt, is Hackett's bass player and occasional second guitarist; on "Ordeal," he got to display some serious guitar chops, trading riffage with Hackett in a way that showed Stolt's talent while keeping Hackett the center of attention.

Next came "The Cinema Show," which Hackett described as "a love story mixed with something in seven-eight." That it is, and it was a spectacular outing for Roger King, Hackett's long-time keyboardist, and also for Townshend. This segued, as it does on the album, into the peculiar "Aisle of Plenty," which Genesis had always omitted in live versions of "Cinema Show;" and from there directly into "The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway," which featured a bit of a singalong. The show proper closed with what is probably early Genesis' signature tune, "The Musical Box," another over-the-top melodrama with amazing tunes.

After a short break, the band came on and played "Clocks - The Angel of Mons," followed by "Firth of Fifth." At this point I was frankly happy that the show ended, because I was exhausted both physically and emotionally - not to mention a certain ringing in my ears! (But no damage seems to have been done, the ringing was gone by the time we got to lodgings - for which I am very grateful to my friend, Dan Cooper, who also provided the tickets to this show.)

All in all, I have to rank this among the very few top concerts I have ever attended, a life-affirming musical extravaganza that I don't for a minute regret the twisted travelling I've had to do to attend it. I got up at Oh-Dark-Thirty Friday morning, flew from Oakland to Burbank via Portland, and - because I couldn't get a flight home today - am travelling back via Phoenix tomorrow. But it was completely and utterly worth it, and even more so for the chance I had to spend time with a few friends while I'm down here.

If Steve Hackett comes within a reasonable distance of your town, you will not regret seeing him perform.

31st March 2016

6:12am: Cesar Chavez Day; international Transgender Day of Visibility
1492: Alhambra Decree - Isabella of Castille orders Jews and Muslims to convert or be expelled from Castille.
1854: Convention of Kanagawa - Commodore Matthew Perry forces Japan to open two ports, Shimoda and Hakodate, to American trade.
1889: Opening of the Eiffel Tower.
1909: Construction begins on RMS Titanic.
1913: The Skandalkonzert: at a performance of pieces by several modernist composers (including Schoenberg, Webern, and Mahler), the audience riots during a piece by Alban Berg.
1917: US takes possession of the US Virgin Islands.
1918: Daylight Savings Time begins in US; this is the first time a national DST had been imposed.
1930: Institution of the Motion Picture Production Code, which empowered the Hays office and censored the shit out of movies until 1968.
1951: US Census Bureau takes posession of the first UNIVAC I computer.
1959: Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama, accepts political asylum in India.
1966: USSR launches Luna 10, the first probe to establish an orbit around the Moon.
1990: Nearly a quarter-million protestors take to the streets in Britain to protest a poll tax.

1596: René Descartes, who didn't have another.
1621: Andrew Marvell, who had neither world enough nor time.
1685: Johann Sebastian Bach, composer.
1732: Joseph "Papa" Haydn, composer.
1747: Johann Abraham Peter Schulz, composer.
1809: Edward FitzGerald, translator of the "Rubaiyat" of Omar Khayyam.
1809: Nikolai Gogol, who had an overcoat, apparently.
1809: Otto Lindblad, composer.
1823: Mary Boykin Chesnut, diarist.
1872: Sergei Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes.
1914: Octavio Paz, poet and diplomat.
1915: Shoichi Yokoi, who hid for 27 years.
1924: Leo Buscaglia, author.
1926: John Fowles, novelist.
1927: Cesar Chavez, organizer.
1932: John Jakes, author.
1935: Herb Alpert, trumpeter.
1935: Judith Rossner, novelist.
1936: Marge Piercy, novelist.
1938: Arthur Rubenstein, pianist and composer.
1940: Barney Frank, Senator, co-author of Dodd-Frank.
1940: Patrick Leahy, Senator.
1942: Michael Savage, vicious loudmouthed idiot.
1947: Kristian Blak, composer.
1948: Al Gore, Vice President.
1971: Craig McCracken, animator.
1972: Evan Williams, noted Twit.
1980: Kate Micucci, half of Garfunkel and Oates.

30th March 2016

6:08am: Manatee Appreciation Day
I really appreciate manatees!

1822: Creation of the United States' Florida Territory, which will become the State of Florida just under 23 years later.
1842: Dr Crawford Long of Georgia uses ether (ethyl disulfide) as a surgical anaesthetic for the first time in removing a tumor from a man's neck.
1867: "Seward's Folly" (or "Seward's Icebox") - US purchases Alaska from Russia for $7.2 million.
1949: Iceland joins NATO; rioting breaks out in Reykjavik.
1964: First episode of Jeopardy! is broadcast, starring Art Fleming and Don Pardo.
1981: John Hinckley shoots Ronald Reagan in the chest, causing a punctured lung and significant internal bleeding. Alexander Haig claims to be "in control here."

1432: Mehmed the Conqueror, Ottoman sultan.
1746: Francisco Goya, really weird painter.
1820: Anna Sewell, author of Black Beauty.
1844: Paul Verlaine, poet.
1853: Vincent van Gogh, another really weird painter.
1863, Mary Whiton Calkins, first woman to become president of the American Psychological Association and the American Philosophical Association.
1880: Seán O'Casey, playwright.
1905: Albert Pierrepoint, hangman who executed "Lord Haw-Haw."
1913: Marc Davis, animator, one of the "Nine Old Men."
1913: Richard Helms, DCI.
1922: Turhan Bey, "the Turkish Delight."
1928: Tom Sharpe, author of Blott on the Landscape and other light classics.
1930: John Astin, who was Evil Roy Slade and the "real" Gomez Addams.
1930: Rolf Harris, humorous singer-songwriter ("Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport").
1945: Eric Clapton, guitarist.
1950: Robbie Coltrane, who was Rubeus Hagrid.

29th March 2016

6:01am: National Lemon Chiffon Cake Day? Really?
845: Vikings sack Paris.
1638: Colonists arrive at New Sweden, now known as Delaware.
1849: The British Empire annexes the Punjab, the northernmost part of modern India.
1857: Start of the Sepoy Mutiny.
1871: Queen Victoria opens the Albert Hall. How many holes was that anyway?
1882: Institution of the Knights of Columbus by Father Michael McGivney in New Haven, Connecticut.
1886: Dr. John Pemberton brews the first batch of Coca-Cola.
1936: In a referendum to ratify the reoccupation of the Rhineland, Adolf Hitler receives 99% of the vote.
1951: Conviction of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg for espionage.
1955: Security Council Resolution 106 condemns an Israeli military attack on Palestinians.
1961: Amendment XXIII to the United States Constitution, allows citizens of the District of Columbia to vote in Presidential elections.
1971: William Calley is convicted of premeditated murder in the My Lai massacre and sentenced to life in prison.
1971: The jury in the Charles Manson case recommends the death penalty for Manson and three of his followers, all women.
1973: The last US combat soldiers leave Vietnam. Covert bombing of Laos ends.
1974: In Xi'an, Shaanxi province, famers discover the first of what will prove to be an army of terra cotta warriors buried since the third Century B.C.
1974: Mariner 10 becomes the first space probe to fly by Mercury.
2004: Ireland is the first country in the world to ban smoking in all workplaces.

1790: John Tyler, tenth President of the United States.
1867: Cy Young, baseball icon.
1902: William Walton, composer.
1916: Eugene McCarthy, politician.
1917: Man o'War, horse.
1918: Pearl Bailey, singer.
1918: Sam Walton, founder of Walmart.
1929: Richard Lewontin, foundational molecular biologist.
1936: Judith Guest, author of Ordinary People.
1937: Billy Carter, Presidential embarrassment.
1943: Eric Idle, actor and singer.
1955: Marina Sirtis, actress.
1956: Elizabeth Hand, author.

28th March 2016

6:30am: So, National Something On A Stick Day
193: Emperor Pertinax assasassinated by the Praetorian Guards, who then auction off the throne.
1910: First flight of a seaplane, the Fabre Hydravion.
1959: PRC dissolves the government of Tibet.
1979: Partial meltdown of Three Mile Island Unit 2 nuclear power plant.

1472: Fra Bartolomeo, painter.
1483: Raphael Sanzio da Urbino, painter.
1515: Teresa of Ávila, Doctor of the Church.
1868: Maxim Gorky, novelist.
1905: Marlin Perkins, host of Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom.
1909: Nelson Algren, novelist.
1912: A. Bertram Chandler, novelist.
1914: Edmund Muskie, politician.
1928: Zbigniew Brzezinski, National Security Adviser.
1936: Mario Vargas Llosa, novelist.
1942: Daniel Dennett, philosopher.
1977: Lauren Weisberger, novelist.

27th March 2016

7:52pm: Read: Devoted in Death, by J.D. Robb (2016-20)
This being an odd-numberered book (#41), I shan't go through the background again.

This is the purest of police procedurals: we (the readers) know who's committing the crimes from page one, and the fascination is in watching Eve and her homicide detectives pursue limited evidence and find the murderers. The stakes are upped by the knowledge that the baddies have at least one other victim _right now_ and are slowly torturing her to death. (Not sexual torture, by the way; they're kinked a whole nother way.)

Turns out that Eve & co. have gotten themselves involved in an FBI hunt that's been going on from months, from the South all the way to New York. Can they - and a smalltown cop from Silby's Mills, Arkansas - catch the baddies before the Feebs come in and ruin everything?

In the end, of course, justice will be served...
8:23am: Easter...
1309: Pope Clement V interdicts and excommunicates the entire city of Venice.
1794: Founding of the US Navy as a permanent entity.
1836: General Antonio López de Santa Anna massacres 342 Texian POWs at Goliad, Texas.
1851: Whites "discover" Yosemite Valley.
1866: Pres. Andrew Johnson vetoes the Civil Rights Act of 1866; Congress will override the veto.
1886: Geronimo surrenders to the US Army.
1915: "Typhoid" Mary Moran is placed in a quarantine that will last the rest of her life.
1958: Nikita Khrushchev becomes Premier of the USSR.
1981: 12,000,000 Poles walk off their jobs as Solidarity holds a warning strike.

45: Statius, poet.
1416: Francis of Paola, saint.
1785: Louis XVII of France.
1797: Alfred de Vigny, romantic poet overshadowed by Hugo.
1813: Nathaniel Currier, half of Currier and Ives.
1824: Virginia Minor, suffragette who argued that the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution gave women the right to vote. SCOTUS disagreed.
1845: Wilhelm Röntgen, discoverer of X-rays.
1886: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, architect.
1892: Thorne Smith, author of Topper and other "risque" fantasies.
1901: Carl Barks, "the good duck artist."
1917: Cyrus Vance, US Secretary of State.
1923: Lorenzo Semple, Jr. - created the 1960s Batman TV show.
1926: Frank O'Hara, poet.
1931: Walter Hooper, hagiographer of C.S. Lewis.
1943: Phil Frank, cartoonist, created Farley.
1950: Tony Banks, keyboardist for Genesis.
1953: Rick Kirkman, cartonist, co-creator of Baby Blues.
1962: Kevin J. Anderson, writer.
1971: Nathan Filion, actor.

26th March 2016

5:54pm: Holy Saturday; Purple Day
1169: Saladin becomes Emir of Egypt.
1484: William Caxton prints his translation of Aesop's Fables.
1812: The word "Gerrymander" is coined in a political cartoon.
1830: Publication of the Book of Mormon.
1942: The first female prisoners arrive at Auschwitz.
1958: Launch of Explorer 3; the Explorer shots discover the van Allen belts.
1979: Anwar al-Sadat, Menachim Begin, and Jimmy Carter sign the Egypt-Israel Peace Treaty.
1982: Groundbreaking for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
1995: The Schengen Treaty comes into effect, effectively dissolving a number of European borders.
1997: The Heaven's Gate suicides.
1999: Melissa Worm infects MS Word and email systems.

1698: Prokop Diviš, early experimental meteorologist; invented a grounded lightning rod.
1773: Nathaniel Bowditch, navigator.
1814: Charles Mackay, author of Extraordinary Popular Delusions and the Madness of Crowds.
1859: A.E. Housman, poet.
1874: Robert Frost, poet.
1881: Guccio Gucci, designer.
1904: Joseph Campbell, mytholographer.
1905: Viktor Frankl, existential psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor.
1911: T. Hee, animator.
1911: Tennessee Williams, playwright.
1913: Paul Erdős, mathematician/economist, has a number.
1914: William Westmoreland, American general in Vietnam.
1923: Bob Elliott, of Bob and Ray.
1925: Pierre Boulez, composer and conductor.
1930: Gregory Corso, poet.
1930: Sandra Day O'Connor, jurist.
1931: Leonard Nimoy, actor.
1940: Nancy Pelosi, politician.
1941: Richard Dawkins, atheist and biologist.
1942: Erica Jong, novelist.
1943: Bob Woodward, journalist.
1944: Diana Ross, singer.
1953: Lincoln Chafee, politician.

25th March 2016

6:12am: Good Friday/Shushan Purim/Feast of St. Dismas
421: According to legend, the city of Venice was founded at noon.
1306: Robert the Bruce becomes King of Scotland.
1584: Sir Walter Raleigh is granted the right (patent) to colonize Virginia.
1655: Christiaan Huygens discovers Saturn's moon Titan.
1807: Slave trade abolished in the British Empire.
1807: Oystermouth Railway, originally built to carry limestone blocks, becomes the first passenger-carrying railway in the world.
1811: Percy B. Shelley is expelled from Oxford for publishing a pamphlet on The Necessity of Atheism.
1894: The Army of the Commonwealth in Christ - better known as Coxey's Army - marches on Washington DC to protest widespread unemployment; generally considered the first major American protest march.
1911: Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire. Never forget!
1931: Arrest of the Scottsboro Boys. Never forget!
1957: Seizure of Allan Ginsberg's poem "Howl" on claims of obscenity.
1957: Foundation of the EEC, predecessor of the European Union.
1965: Completion of the March on Montgomery.
1969: John Lennon and Yoko Ono hold their first "bed-in" for peace.
1975: King Faisal of Saudi Arabia is assassinated by his own nephew, who is mentally ill. The assassin is later beheaded in a slow, three-stroke manner.
1995: Publication of WikiWikiWeb, the Web's first Wiki site.
1996: Beginning of the 81-day standoff of the "Christian Patriot" group, Montana Freemen, against the FBI. The FBI eventually wins the game of waiting.
1996: The export of British beef is banned due to Mad Cow Disease.

1347: Catherine of Sienna, Doctor of the Church.
1541: Francesco de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany.
1867: Arturo Toscanini, conductor.
1881: Béla Bartók, composer.
1908: David Lean, director.
1911: Jack Ruby, murderer of Lee Harvey Oswald.
1918: Howard Cosell, mensch.
1920: Paul Scott, author of The Jewel in the Crown.
1920: Patrick Troughton, the second Doctor.
1925: Flannery O'Connor, Catholic Southern Gothic novelist.
1928: Jim Lovell, astronaut.
1934: Gloria Steinem, second-wave feminist icon.
1939: D.C. Fontana, screenwriter and producer.
1940: Anita Bryant, Miss Oklahoma, orange-juice barker, and anti-gay activist.
1942: Aretha Franklin, The Voice.
1942: Richard O'Brien, creator of Rocky Horror.
1946: Stephen Hunter, author of thrillers.
1947: Elton John, pianist and singer.
1958: Susie Bright, a/k/a Susie Sexpert.
1958: John Ensign, disgraced Republican Senator.
1964: Kate DiCamillo, two-time Newbery Medalist.

24th March 2016

6:27am: Purim; Holy Thursday
1603: King James VI of Scotland becomes King James I of England and Ireland and, by extension, of the United Kingdom (though it would actually be that until the early 1700s).
1603: TokUgawa Ieyasu establishes the Tokugawa shogunate.
1707: Acts of Union - the Kingdoms and Parliaments of England and Scotland are combined.
1721: Dedication of the Brandenburg Concertos.
1829: Roman Catholic Relief Act - permits Catholics to serve in Parliament.
1832: Latter-Day Saints founder Joseph Smith beaten, tarred, and feathered in Hiram OH.
1896: Aleksandr Popov of Russia sends and receives the first radio transmission in history.
1900: Ground is broken for the first New York Subway system.
1934: Tydings-MacDuffie Act: grants independence (from the United States) to the Philippine Islands.
1944: "The Great Escape" - 76 Allied prisoners of war begin their breakout from Stalag-Luft III.
1965: Ranger 9 sends its images of the Moon's surface to Earth, shortly before crashing thereupon.
1972: UK imposes direct rule on Northern Ireland.
1980: Martyrdom of Abp. Óscar Romero while celebrating Mass.
1989: Exxon Valdez spills an uncertain but immense (estimates range from 11M to 38M gallons) amount of oil in Prince William Sound, Alaska. Never forget!
1993: Discovery of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9.

1755: Rufus King, Federalist candidate for both the Presidency and Vice Presidency; signatory to the US Constitution.
1820: Edmond Becquerel, discoverer of the photovoltaic effect, basis for most solar electrical power.
1834: William Morris, Socialist activist, writer, designer, poet, etc.
1869: Émile Fabre, playwright, director of the Comédie-Française.
1874: Harry Houdini, escape artist and magician.
1887: Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, victim of false accusation.
1897: Wilhelm Reich, psychologist, victim of academic ostracism.
1901: Ub Iwerks, co-creator of Mickey Mouse and Oswald the Lucky Rabbit.
1902: Thomas E. Dewey, losing candidate for the Presidency of the United States.
1903: (Thomas) Malcolm Muggeridge, convert on many levels.
1909: Clyde Barrow, outlaw.
1911: Joseph Barbera, co-founder of Hanna-Barbera.
1915: Gorgeous George, wrestler.
1916: Donald Hamilton, author of the Matt Helm books.
1919: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, poet and bookseller, who, improbably, is still alive today.
1919: Robert Heilbroner, economic historian.
1920: Mary Stolz, two-time Newberry medalist.
1924: Michael Legat, romance novelist.
1945: Robert T. Bakker, dinosaur heretic.
1949: Tabitha King, writer, wife of Stephen.
1960: Nena, "99 Red Balloon" singer.

23rd March 2016

6:10am: Taanit Esther
1708: James (III/VII) Francis Edward Stuart, "The Old Pretender," lands at the Firth of Forth.
1775: Patrick Henry delivers his "Give me liberty" oration in Richmond, VA.
1801: Assassination of Czar Pavel the First, who is almost as hard to kill as Rasputin.
1806: Having reached the Pacific Ocean, Lewis and Clark turn around and head for home.
1856: Elisha Otis's first elevator is installed. It goes up and down, not side to side.
1868: Foundation of the University of California.
1909: Theodore Roosevelt departs for his African safari, sponsored by the National Geographic Society and the Smithsonian Institute.
1919: Benito Mussolini founds the Fascist political movement.
1933: Enabling Act - the Reichstag makes Adolf Hitler de facto dictator of Germany.
1956: Pakistan becomes the world's first Islamic republic.
1965: Gemini 3, NASA's first two-man mission, puts Gus Grissom and John Young into orbit. The first space flight to make in-orbit maneuvers (orbit corrections). Young smuggles a corned beef sandwich aboard.
1977: Videotaping of the first Nixon/Frost interview.
1980: Abp. Oscar Romero makes the speech, asking the military to stop killing the people, that leads to his assassination.
1983: Ronald Reagan makes his initial proposal of "Star Wars," a/k/a the Strategic Defense Initiative.
2001: Russian space station Mir falls into the Pacific Ocean after breaking up in the atmosphere.

1823: Schuyler Colfax, Vice President under Ulysses S. Grant; probable benefit in the Crédit Mobilier scandal.
1862: Nathaniel Reed, Western outlaw, later evangelist.
1900: Erich Fromm, psychologist, sociologist, Talmud scholar, and existentialist.
1904: H. Beam Piper, creator of Little Fuzzy.
1910: Akira Kurosawa, film dirctor.
1912: Eleanor Cameron, creator of The Mushroom Planet.
1912: Wernher von Braun, hypocritical apolitical rocketeer.
1924: Bette Nesmith Graham, inventor of Liquid Paper and mother of Monkee Mike Nesmith.
1933: Philip Zimbardo, psychologist, overseer of the Stanford Prison Experiment.
1943: Sharon Presley, libertarian feminist.
1944: Michael Nyman, composer of operas.
1947: Elizabeth Anne Scarborough, fantasy writer by herself and with Anne McCaffrey.
1952: Kim Stanley Robinson, science fiction writer.

22nd March 2016

8:58am: Read: Archipelago, by R.A. Lafferty
Raphael Aloysius Lafferty exploded into my consciousness in the late 1970s with a book called _Apocalypses_, which contained two short novels, both of which were absurd and wonderful. In "Where Have You Been, Sandaliotis?" a large subcontinent appears out of nowhere and the World's Greatest Detective has to figure out why. "The Three Apocalypses of Enniscorthy Sweeney" is a story in which our world is an alternate history, which makes it an alternate history but its history is somehow realer than ours, except that it is utterly absurd.

There is a world in which R.A. Lafferty's books were all published as intended and kept in print. This is not, alas, that world, though it might perhaps in time become that world; who can say?

This particular book, _Archpelago_, has never had a mass publication, and copies are expensive and hard to come by; it is perhaps best that I not describe how I happened to come by my copy, save to say hat I broke no obvious laws in doing so.

It is a riot and a romp, a mystery and a tragedy, and a puzzle box of the finest manufacture. Perhaps when I read more - for this is the first volume of a trilogy, whose name is also the name of the second book, _The Devil Is Dead_ - I will understand more. I hope so, and I also hope not.

It is the story, or part of the story, of an archipelago of people: a pentipelago, to use a term used by one or more of the characters in the book: five islands together but separate (for they are islands). They are first introduced as the Dirty Five, soldiers in World War II, but their lives run far beyond it in both directions, and indeed resonate throughout history, myth, and legend. They are Hans and Henry, Vincent and Casey, and especially Finnegan, and they are the clashing rocks on which they themselves are broken, as are many other characters, for this is a part of the voyage of the _Argo_, though in the twentieth century. But it isn't a metaphor like Joyce's _Ulysses_, no one-to-one correspondences here.

They are all of them many people from myth and legend: Finnegan being most obviously Finn McCool, Jason, and Ulysses, as well as a monster of not-entirely-human blood. These names are not only implied by the text but given in a list in Chapter Two, because Lafferty gives us keys to his puzzle box, knowing that we will still be frustrated trying to open it. How do the keys fit into the slots? Are they even the right keys? Who knows?

It is a novel by courtesy, not so much plotted as splattered, a glorious mess of character and incident and style flung against a canvas of nothingness and everythingness, which are somehow the same thing.

The Dirty Five scatter across the country, and in Finnegan's case occsaionally beyond it, and gather together at least once in St. Louis for Vincent's wedding, a gathering which happens at least twice in different ways. In the end much is revealed but more is not.

Did I mention that the book is funny? It is funny. It is witty, urbane, and satirical, and almost devoid of punning. Nothing is perfect.

Lafferty's Roman Catholicism plays a heavy part in the book, as it should, but it's very hard to say just what part it plays. This is one thing that the two sequels may, or may not, manage to make at least a little clearer. I have them, and I will read them, but not right away: I want to digest this one a little further first.
6:41am: National Goof Off Day
1508: Amerigo Vespucci is commissioned as the chief navigator of the Spanish Empire.
1621: Peace treaty between the Plymouth colony and the Wampanoags of Massasoit.
1630: Massachussetts Bay Colony outlaws the possession of gaming equipment.
1638: Massachussetts Bay Colony banishes Anne Hutchinson for teaching that the Puritans practiced a "covenant of works."
1765: Passage of the Stamp Act, which leads to the Boston Tea Party.
1871: William Woods Holden of North Carolina becomes the first United States governor to be removed from office by impeachment.
1872: Illinois requires gender equality in employment. No, really.
1916: Yuan Shikai abdicates the throne of China. (Contrary to popular belief the child emperor Pu Yi was not the last Emperor.)
1945: Founding of the Arab League.
1960: First patent for a laser is granted to Schawlow and Townes.
1963: Please Please Me, the Beatles' first album, is released in the UK.
1972: The Equal Rights Amendment is submitted to the states for confirmation. It ultimately fails.
1972: Eisenstadt v. Baird: SCOTUS determines that unmarried persons may legally possess contraceptives.
1984: Teachers at McMartin Preschool are charged with Satanic ritual abuse; charges later dropped as without foundation.
1993: Shipment of the first Pentium chips.
1995: Cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov completes his 438 day stay on the Mir space station.
1997: Tara Lipinski becomes world figure skating champion at age 14 years (almost 15, but...)
1997: Perigee of comet Hale-Bopp.

1599: Anthony van Dyck, Flemish painter.
1814: Thomas Crawford, sculptor of Freedom Triumphant in War and Peace, or simply the Statue of Freedom, atop the US Capitol Dome.
1846: Randolph Caldecott, illustrator of children's (and other) books, after whom the medal.
1873: Ernest Lawson, landscape painter.
1887: Leonard Chico Marx, eldest Brother.
1899: Ruth Page, choreographer.
1903: Bill Holman, creator of Smokey Stover.
1908: Louis L'Amour, writer of Westerns.
1912: Karl Malden, actor.
1914: John Stanley, cartoonist.
1920: Werner Klemperer, Col. Klink.
1923: Marcel Marceau, .
1924: Al Neuharth, founder of USA Today.
1929: Mort Drucker, MAD illustrator.
1930: Pat Robertson, televangelist.
1930: Stephen Sondheim, songwriter.
1931: William ... Shatner!
1934: Orrin Hatch, Senator.
1946: Rudy Rucker, transrealist science fiction writer.
1947: James Patterson, writer.
1948: Andrew Lloyd Webber, composer.

21st March 2016

8:13am: Seen: Zootopia (2016)
Boy, Disney is on a roll, one that I think is averaging better than the late '80s through '90s streak that included The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin and The Lion King. They stuttered along for about a decade and a half, producing good things like Lilo and Stitch and The Emperor's New Groove but also lesser efforts like Pocahontas, Home on the Range, and the execrable Atlantis, through, roughly, Tarzan and Fantasia 2000.

But now they are indeed on a roll, one that began roughly around the time of The Princess and the Frog and has continued through Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph, the triumphant Frozen, Big Hero 6, and now Zootopia, in some ways the best of the lot.

I should, therefore, begin with the film's biggest weakness: its plot.

Viewed from, at least, one angle, it's a by-the-numbers "buddy cop" film. There is a great deal more to it than that, but that's the outline.

What makes it work are the characters, the animation, and (especially) the world-building.

You can't talk about the characters and the animation without talking about the world-building, because they are part and parcel of it, or it of them, or something. So let's start with the world.

What we've got here is a world where, instead of the ascendancy of humans, all the other mammals gained sapience, language, tool use, whatever you want to call it, at around the same time, and have developed a society where all the species live more or less at peace, predator and prey alike. This essentially silly idea is developed so well that it isn't silly at all but real. Nearly every frame contains details that add to the overall world picture in some clever and creative way.

The characters, then, are anthropomorphic animals, not exactly an original idea but one (again) developed to the extreme. Somebody spent a lot of effort thinking about how an anthropomorphic rabbit, fox, lion, weasel, sheep, etc., would look move and behave, and that thought is all over the screen. Weasels act and move like weasels; lions like lions. rabbits like rabbits.

Our hero is Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin), a rabbit farmgirl who wants to be a police officer in the big city. The big city is Zootopia, a massive place of many districts, each with its own environment, from the Rainforest District to Savannah Central to Little Rodentia. In Zootopia, "Anyone can be anything." The metaphor for the United States as the Land of Liberty and Equality is clear but never strained.

Judy graduates top of her class from the police academy, and is promptly assigned to District One in Savannah Central ... where the district chief, a bison named Bogo (Idris Elba), assigns her to parking duty. This is particularly onerous because there is a major crisis going on: mammals - all of them predators - are disappearing all over Zootopia. Hopps sets out to exceed his expectations and succeeds hugely - and on the way meets and is conned by Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a fox hustler.

Naturally, they become tangled up together in the search for the missing mammals. Naturally, the disappearance has multiple layers of secrecy. Naturally, they each have a Dark Night Of The Soul along the way, and go their separate ways. And, naturally, they get back together and solve the case.

As I said, it's a police buddy movie.

What elevates it above police buddy movie is the completeness of the vision. Everything is spot-on, even the cliches of the plot. For example, one of the best minor characters is Mr. Big (Maurice LaMarche), a fabulous send-up of Marlon Brando's Godfather, which could have been awful but is wonderful. It hits every beat of the buddy movie, not only indulging but adapting the tropes, and brings them to something new.

And, in the end, the messages (there are more than one) are clear and consistent and good. "Anyone can be anything" is repeated and reinforced, reminding us of what America should be. And Gazelle's (Shakira's) song "Try Everything" reinforces another: Keep making new mistakes; get up and dust yourself off and keep going.

This is a very positive movie, well-written, well-animated, and everything just works together.
7:37am: National Common Courtesy Day
630: Emperor Heraclius of Byzantium returns what is alleged to be the True Cross to Jerusalem.
1556: Burning at the stake of Abp. Thomas Cranmer.
1925: The Butler Act, which forbade teaching of evolution in Tennessee, is promulgated; results in the "Scopes Monkey Trial."
1928: Charles Lindbergh receives, oddly, the Medal of Honor.
1952: The Moondog Coronation Ball, generally acknowledged as the first major rock'n'roll concert, takes place in Cleveland, OH.
1965: NASA launches Ranger 9 to the Moon.
1965: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., sets out on the third and final march from Selma to Montgomery.
1970: Mayor Joseph Alioto of San Francisco proclaims the first Earth Day.
1980: US President Jimmy Carter announces that the United States will boycott the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow as a protest against the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan (this invasion led ultimately to the reign of the Taliban, which led to the US invasion of Afghanistan two decades later...).
1980: Somebody shoots JR.
1999: Completion of the first successful circumnavigation of the Earth in a hot-air balloon, by Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones.

1768: Joseph Fourier, mathematician.
1839: Modest Moussorgski, composer.
1867: Florenz "Flo" Ziegfeld, Jr., he of the Follies.
1904: Forrest Mars, Sr., creator of the Mars bar and M&Ms.
1905: Phyllis McGinley, light poet and children's author.
1906: John D. Rockefeller III, more or less a philanthropist.
1910: Julio Gallo, winemaker.
1917: Yigael Yadin, translator of the Dead Sea Scrolls and excavator of Masada.
1922: Russ Meyer, auteur of such masterpieces as Beneath the Valley of the Ultra-Vixens and Faster Pussycat! Kill! Kill!.
1931: Al Williamson, comix illustrator.
1943: Vivian Stanshall, Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band member.
1962: Rosie O'Donnell, talk show host.

20th March 2016

9:08am: Happy Extraterrestrial Abduction Day!
1602: The Dutch East Indies Company - arguably the single company with the greatest impact on history - is formed.
1815: The beginning of the "Hundred Days": Napoleon enters Paris at the head of an army of about a quarter of a million regulars and volunteers.
1852: Publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin, which did not start the Civil War but didn't slow it down any.
1854: Organization of the (US) Republican Party.
1916: Publication of Einstein's general theory of relativity.
1942: Gen. Douglas McArthur's "I Shall Return" speech.
1972: The first car bombing by the Provisional IRA.
1985: Libby Riddles becomes the first woman to win the Iditarod dogsled race.

43 BC: Ovid, poet.
1770: Friedrich Hölderlin, poet.
1821: Ned Buntline, Western author, "biographer" of Wyatt Earp.
1828: Henrik Ibsen (not to be confused with Henry Gibson), playwright.
1895: Fredric Wertham, defender of the ordinary and persecutor of the not.
1904: B.F. Skinner, tormentor of pigeons.
1906: Ozzie Nelson, Harriet's husband, Ricky's father.
1915: Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a singing nun, but not The Singing Nun.
1917: Vera Lynn, we shall meet again.
1922: Carl Reiner, interviewed the 2000 year old man.
1925: John Ehrlichman, half of "Jan and Hans," convict.
1928: Fred Rogers, decent human being.
1934: Willie Brown, flamboyant mayor of San Francisco.
1934: David Malouf, writer.
1936: Vaughan Meader, comedian whose career suddenly died in 1963.
1950: Carl Palmer, drummer for Emerson and Lake.
1955: Nina Kiriki Hoffman, writer.

19th March 2016

2:45pm: Feast of St Joseph, patron of fathers and laborers
1649: The House of Commons passes an act abolishing the House of Lords; this will be effectively repealed in 11 years.
1895: Les freres Lumiere record their first cinematograph footage.
1918: Congressional (US) establishment of time zones; official establishment of Daylight Savings Time. Ninety-eight years of this madness is enough!
1920: US Senate rejects (for the second time) the Treaty of Versailles.
1931: Legalization of gambling in Nevada.
1941: Activation of the 99th Pursuit Squadron, a/k/a the Tuskegee Airmen.
1943: Suicide of Frank Nitti, successor of Al Capone.
1945: Hitler decrees that all valuable capital installations in Germany be destroyed rather than fall into the hands of the allies; this decree is largely ignored.
1962: Bob Dylan's self-titled first album is released.
1987: Jim Bakker resigns as the head of the PTL club under the shadow of a sex scandal.

1590: William Bradford, longtime governor of Plymouth Plantation colony.
1661: Francesco Gasparini, baroque composer and inspiration for J.S. Bach.
1721: Tobias Smollett, author of picaresque novels.
1813: David Livingstone, missionary and explorer.
1821: Sir Richard Francis Burton, explorer, soldier, geographer, diplomat, translator.
1848: Wyatt Earp, lawman.
1860: William Jennings Bryan, who there just was no defyin'. Prosecutor in the Scopes trial.
1891: Earl Warren, SCOTUS Chief Justice who Left His Mark.
1894: Moms Mabley, defier of custom.
1904: John J. Sirica, judge who defied Nixon (and vice versa).
1905: Albert Speer, war criminal.
1906: Adolf Eichmann, war criminal.
1916: Irving Wallace, novelist.
1925: Brent Scowcroft, general, diplomat, National Security Advisor.
1928: Hans Küng, theologian.
1928: Patrick McGoohan, who was not a number but a free man.
1933: Philip Roth, novelist.
1944: Sirhan Sirhan, assassin of Robert F. Kennedy.
1955: Bruce Willis. Yippee ki yay, muthafucka.

18th March 2016

7:42am: Science!
A new way of preventing Alzheimer's. If it proves out I imagine it would only be for high-risk people (like me).
6:12am: National Lacy Oatmeal Cookie Day (you can't make this up...)
37: The Roman Senate makes Caligula Emperor, going against the will of the late emperor Tiberius.
1314: Jacques de Molay is burnt at the stake.
1850: The American Express company is formed by Henry Wells and William Fargo.
1874: Hawai'i (then still a functioning kingdom) grants exclusive trade rights to the United States.
1922: Mohandas Gandhi is sentenced to six years for civil disobedience.
1938: Mexico nationalizes all foreign-owned oil assets and creates Pemex.
1940: Der Fuhrer & Il Duce meet to agree upon an alliance against France and the UK.
1959: President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the bill granting Statehood to Hawai'i (though it did not take effect until August 21 of that year).
1965: First spacewalk ever is performed by Alexey Leonov, Soviet cosmonaut.
1968: Congress repeals the requirement for a gold reserve to back US currency. I have often heard this blamed on Nixon; let us be clear that this was a Democratic congress under LBJ.
1969: Secret US bombing in Cambodia begins. This one's on Nixon.
1970: Wildcat Strike begins in the U.S. Postal Service.

1690: Christian Goldbach, who conjectured.
1837: Grover Cleveland, who had discontinuous terms as President of the US.
1842: Stéphane Mallarmé, who influenced cubism, futurism, surrealism, structuralism, and even deconstructionism.
1844: Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, who composed Scheherezade (and a number of other things...).
1858: Rudolf Diesel, who invented an engine.
1869: Neville Chamberlain, who probably really believed he had brought "peace in our time," though he never actually said those words.
1874: Nikolai Berdyaev, who sailed on the "philosopher's ship."
1877: Edgar Cayce, who prescribed Jerusalem artichokes for diabetes.
1886: Edward Everett Horton, who narrated the "Fractured Fairy Tales" on the various Rocky & Bullwinkle shows.
1909: Ernesto Gallo, who made wine (or something like it).
1915: Richard Condon, who wrote thrillers.
1922: Fred Shuttlesworth, who cofounded the SCLC.
1927: George Plimpton, who participated.
1927: Lilian Vernon. who founded a mail-order company.
1932: John Updike, who wrote about small people.
1936: Frederik Willem de Clerk, who was for Apartheid before he was against it.
1944: Dick Smith, who had fun.
1951: Ben Cohen, who made ice cream, not war.
1952: Will Durst, who championed the infrastructure.
1959: Luc Besson, who has made some really good movies.
1962: Mike Rowe, who is famous for being famous.
1963: Vanessa Williams, who was the first African-American Miss America.
1972: Reince Priebus, who can't seem to keep his own party from nominating Drumpf.

17th March 2016

6:34am: Yeah, yeah, St. Patrick's Day, The Wearin' o' the Corned Beef and Cabbage, all that stuff.
624: Battle of Badr: Medina, led by Muhammad, defeats Mecca.
1780: Gen. Washington gives the Continental Army a holiday for St. Patrick's Day, in "solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence."
1941: US National Gallery of Art opened by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
1949: The 14th Dalai Lama flees Tibet.
1960: President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs an order that ultimately leads to the tragicomic Bay of Pigs invasion of Cuba.
1985: Richard "The Night Stalker" Ramirez commits his first two murders.
1992: A referendum to abolish Apartheid in South Africa passes by a better than 2/3 majority.

1846: Kate Greenaway, children's author and illustrator.
1912: Bayard Rustin, activist.
1919: Nat King Cole, singer.
1930: James Irwin, astronaut.
1936: Ken Mattingly, astronaut.
1941: Paul Kantner, Jefferson Airplane co-founder.
1942: John Wayne Gacy, serial killer.
1947: James K. Morrow, author of strange fantasies.
1948: William Gibson, author.
1956: Patrick McDonnell, creator of Mutts.
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