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5th September 2016

2:50pm: Labor Day
1661: Nicolas Fouquet, marquis de Belle-Île, vicomte de Melun et Vau, Superintendent of Finances to Louis XIV, is arrested by Charles Ogier de Batz de Castelmore, Comte d'Artagnan, captain of the King's musketeers, on vague charges. His trial will last three years, and is still considered a massive miscarriage of justice. He will be sentenced to banishment, which Louis will "commute" to life imprisonment.
1698: Czar Pyotr I of all the Russias, as part of Russia's ongoing attempt to "Westernize," a symptom of an ongoing Russian inferiority complex, imposes a tax on all beards except for peasants and the clergy.
1774: Philadelphia, PA - The First Continental Congress meets for the first time.
1781: Chesapeake Bay, off Virginia - A French naval force holds off a British naval force in a battle that is tactically indecisive but strategically decisive, for the failure of the British forces to reinforce or evacuate British troops in Virginia contributes significantly to Cornwallis's surrender at Yorktown.
1921: San Francisco, CA - At a party held by comic actor Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle, actress Virginia Rappe falls ill and, several days later, dies. Arbuckle is accused of raping and accidentally killing Rappe and, after two hung juries, is found not guilty, but his career will be in ruins.
1927: United States - The first "Oswald the Lucky Rabbit" cartoon, created by Walt Disney's studio, is distributed by Universal Pictures. Universal will, in time, steal the character (legally) from Disney, leading to the creation of Mickey Mouse.
1957: New York, NY - Viking Press releases Jack Kerouac's On the Road.
1960: Rome - Cassius Clay (who will become Muhammad Ali) wins the gold medal in the light-heavyweight boxing competition at the Olympics.
1972: Munich, Germany - At the Olympic Village, eight members of the Palestinian terrorist group Black September (Munaẓẓamat Aylūl al-aswad) take eleven Israeli athletes hostage, killing two of them in the attack. The next day a rescue attempt goes wrong, and the remaining hostages, plus all but three of the terrorists, are killed.
1987: Amsterdam, Netherlands - Opening of the Homomonument, a memorial to all gay and lesbian persons who have been subject to persecution.

1568: Tomasso Campanella, priest and philosopher, defender of Galileo.
1667: Giovanni Girolamo Saccheri, priest and mathematician, invented both spherical and hyperbolic geometry (and rejected them).
1735: Johann Christian Bach, composer.
1750: Robert Fergusson, poet ("Auld Reekie").
1781: Anton Diabelli, composer but best known as the originator/editor of the "Diabelli variations."
1791: Giacomo Meyerbeer, composer of operas, attacked by Wagner.
1847: Jesse James, outlaw.
1850: Jack Daniel, distiller.
1867: Amy Beach, pianist and composer (Gaelic Symphony, a setting of St. Francis's "Canticle of the Sun").
1897: Arthur Nielsen, analyist.
1899: Humphry Cobb, writer (Paths of Glory).
1905: Arthur Koestler, writer (Darkness at Noon).
1912: John Cage, composer and theorist.
1916: Frank Yerby, writer (The Golden Hawk, Judas, My Brother).
1921: Jack Valenti, schmo, created the MPAA rating system.
1927: Paul Volcker, economist.
1929: Bob Newhart, who was Bernard and Major Major Major Major.
1935: Werner Erhard, asshole.
1940: Raquel Welch, who was Loana, Lilian Lust, Constance Bonacieux, and Cora Petersen.
1942: Werner Herzog, director (Aguirre, the Wrath of God, Nosferatu the Vampire).
1945: Al Stewart singer-songwriter ("Year of the Cat", "Nostradamus").
1946: Freddie Mercury, singer-songwriter for Queen.
1947: Chip Davis, who essentially is Mannheim Steamroller.
1950: Cathy Guisewite, cartoonist (Cathy).
1951: Michael Keaton, who was Bruce Wayne and Beetlejuice.
1969: Dweezil Zappa, his father's son.

4th September 2016

5:55pm: Read: Summa Risus, by R.A. Lafferty, but mostly The Fall of Rome (2016-51)
I won't say where I acquired this ebook, as I suspect it of being a bootleg, but it (and a companion volume of collected short fiction) can be found for those who want it.

It purports to contain the collected non-fiction of R.A. Lafferty, and I have no particular reason to doubt it. There are a number of letters, essays, and reviews, most of them fairly trivial, and repeating certain themes, of which the two most important are: (1) Most science fiction blows goats, and (2) "The world" comes to an end now and then, and did so in the mid- to late-20th Century.

The former is self-explanatory, and is basically a harsh application of Sturgeon's Law.

To explain what he meant by the latter, best to examine the one book-length work contained in this collection, The Fall of Rome.

The Fall of Rome is simultaneously a mosaic history of the events leading up to the sacking of Rome on 24 August 410, and a biography of Alaric, the Goth who led the army that sacked Rome.

What both the moasic and the biography make clear is that Rome was not just a city, not just an Empire, but a kosmos. This word, from Classical times and through the Middle Ages, did not mean, as "cosmos" now means, "the physical Universe," but a structure, physical and mental, by which the world was ordered. (A word with a similar meaning was Aeon.) Kosmos is the word translated as "world" in the phrase, "As it was in the beginning it is now and ever shall be, world without end." While this kosmos did not encompass the whole physical Earth, it was indeed a self-enclosed ordering of the physical, mental, and spiritual worlds.

What is perhaps most surprising, in reading this book, is that the sack of Rome was not the fall of the civilized world to barbarians. The Goths who sacked Rome were (a) very Romanized and civilized themselves, and not at all barbarians, and (b) Christians - though largely Arians and not Catholics.

Alaric in particular was a magister militium - translated by Lafferty as "Master General" - in the service of Rome, and for many years led an army of Goths in Rome's defence. Except, on occasion, when he did things like wander around sacking Greek cities -- because he was also the King of the Visigoths. Indeed, Alaric was trained by, and was a pet pupil of, Flavius Stilicho, arguably the greatest, and certainly the last truly great, general of the Roman Empire (who was himself half Vandal).

Alaric, then, was completely caught up in and supportive of the Roman kosmos - indeed, it seems that he was rather reluctant to sack Rome, and did so only when put to extremes by the incompetent emperor Honorius at Ravenna. Lafferty does not dwell at all on the destruction of Rome, which is covered in one short chapter, and followed by a "what happened to them all" epilogue.

Lafferty does dwell, indeed it is the main theme of the book, that the Roman kosmos ended at that sacking. Though Rome was no longer the capital of the Western Empire - the aforementioned Ravenna held that honor - it was still "the eternal city," and its fall sent shockwaves not only through the Eastern and Western Empires, but throughout Eurasia and much of Africa. Both Sts. Jerome and Augustine, neither of them living anywhere near Rome, felt the shockwaves. Jerome, in Bethlehem, wrote simply that "the City that took the world has itself been taken." Augustine, more extremely, wrote the entire City of God in reaction to the fall of Rome.

This book is the clear product of massive research, and reinterprets event in a manner that, if not consistent with the popular picture of the fall of Rome, is completely consistent with itself and with the evidence Lafferty cites.

Highly, highly recommended.
5:52pm: Read: The Big Book of Science Fiction, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer (2016-50)
Just a note to say I have finished this exhausting book. My "real" review is promised elsewhere.
9:25am: September 4
1781: El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora La Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula, California - is founded. Today it is known as Los Angeles.
1882: New York - Thomas Edison turns on the world's first commercial electrical power plant.
1886: Arizona - Geronimo surrenders for the last time. He will be deported to Florida.
1888: Rochester, NY - George Eastman receives a patent for a film roll camera, and trademarks the name Kodak.
1951: San Francisco, CA - The Japanese Peace Treaty, ending Japan's imperial pretensions for good, is signed by 48 nations - notably not the USSR or the People's Republic of China. This event is the site of the first transcontinental television broadcast.
1957: Little Rock, AR - The NAACP having registered nine African-American students in all-white Central High School, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus calls out the Arkansas National Guard to prevent them from attending. President Dwight Eisenhower responds by (a) calling in the 101st Airborne Division of the US Army (minus its black members) to protect the students, and (b) federalizing the 10,000-member Arkansas National Guard. The story does not have an entirely happy ending, as those nine were abused physically and verbally by the white students for their entire time at Central.
1957: Dearborn, MI - Ford Motor Company introduces the Edsel.
1972: Munich, Germany - future dentist Mark Spitz wins seven gold medals at a single Olympics, a record that will stand for 36 years.
1985: Houston, Texas - At Rice University, Harold Kroto, James R. Heath, Sean O'Brien, Robert Curl, and Richard Smalley generate the first fullerene molecule, C60 or buckminsterfullerene.
1998: Stanford, CA - Larry Page and Sergei Brin found Google.

1824: Anton Bruckner, composer (eleven symphonies and much else).
1896: Antonin Artaud, actor, director, playwright, writer (The Theater and its Double).
1905: Mary Renault, writer (The King Must Die, The Bull from the Sea).
1912: Syd Hoff, writer-illustrator (Sammy the Seal, Danny the Dinosaur).
1918: Paul Harvey, radio announcer.
1924: Joan Aiken, writer (The Wolves of Willoughby Chase and sequels).
1929: Thomas Eagleton, depressed Vice Presidential candidate.

3rd September 2016

8:41am: September 3
1189: Westminster, England - Richard I Lion-Heart is crowned King.
1838: Baltimore, MD - Frederick Douglass, a slave, escapes.
1933: Tajikstan - Yevgeniy Abalakov becomes the first person to successfully climb "Communism Peak," the highest point in the USSR (now known as Ismoil Somoni Peak).
1941: Oświęcim, Poland - Karl Fritsch, deputy camp commandant of the Auschwitz concentration camp, begins the use of Zyklon B in gassing Soviet POWs.
1976: Space - Viking 2 lands at Utopia Planitia, Mars.

1811: John Humphrey Noyes, founder of the Oneida community.
1849: Sarah Orne Jewett, writer (Tales of New England).
1875: Ferdinand Porsche, engineer and businessman.
1907: Loren Eisley, anthropologist and writer (The Immense Journey, Darwin's Century).
1910: Kitty Carlisle, game-show panelist.
1926: Alison Lurie, writer (The War Between the Tates, Foreign Affairs).
1929: Whitey Bulger, gangster.
1930: Cherry Wilder, writer (Cruel Designs).
1931: Albert DeSalvo, confessed Boston Strangler.
1963: Malcolm Gladwell, journalist (The Tipping Point, Blink!).

2nd September 2016

7:09am: V-J Day
31 BC: Ionian Sea near Actium - The forces of Octavian (grand-nephew of Julius Caesar, who would become Augustus) defeat the combined forces of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra; this is as good a place as any to draw the line between the Roman Republic and Empire.
1192: Jaffa, Palestine - Richard I Lion-Heart and Saladin sign the Treaty of Jaffa, which promises peace between the two for three years, ending the Third Crusade.
1666: London, England - In the bakery of Thomas Farriner, in Pudding Lane, the Great Fire of London begins. It will burn for three days and gut the medieval city, destroying at least 13000 buildings. Only six verified deaths were recorded.
1752: Great Britain - Adopts the Gregorian Calendar, two centuries after the rest of Western Europe, requiring that several days (September 3-13) be "skipped." This alleedly results in protests by people who want "our eleven days back"; however, there appears to be no real evidence of this.
1789: New York, NY - Creation of the US Department of the Treasury. Nine days later, Alexander Hamilton will be sworn in as the first Secretary of the Treasury.
1792: Paris, France - the September Massacres begin. Jean-Paul Marat, concerned that royalist and religious prisoners will be freed by attacking armies, calls for their immediate execution. Over 1200 prisoners are killed by the National Guardsmen and fédérés, including over two hundred nonjuring priests and two bishops.
1885: Rock Springs, WY - In this mine town, Chinese miners are paid less than white miners, and thus are hired preferentially. On this day 150 white miners, seeking to unionize for better wages, decide to drive the Chinese out, beginning the Rock Springs Riot in which at least 28 Chinese miners are killed and 75 homes destroyed.
1901: Ramsey County, MN - At the Minnesota State Fair, Vice-President Theodore Roosevelt utters the famous phrase, "Speak softly and carry a big stick," describing his vision of American foreign policy.
1912: Oceanside, NY - Arthur Rose Eldred of Troop 1 becomes the first American Boy Scout to receive the Eagle Scout Badge.
1963: New York, NY - First broadcast of the half-hour edition of The CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite; previously, it had been a fifteen-minute broadcast called Walter Cronkite with the News. This is the first US half-hour network news program.

1810: Lysander Button, engineer and inventor; numerous improvements to hand and steam fire engines.
1820: Lucretia Peabody Hale, writer (The Peterkin Papers, Six of One by Half a Dozen of the Other).
1838: Queen Lili'uokalani of Hawai'i.
1849: Albert Spalding, baseball player and founder of A.G. Spalding Sporting Goods and the famous "Spalding Ball."
1850: Eugene Field, poet ("Wynken, Blynken, and Nod", "The Duel (The Gingham Dog and the Calico Cat)").
1911: William Fisk Harrah, casino magnate.
1917: Cleveland Amory, TV critic, animal rights activist, and writer (The Cat Who Came for Christmas).
1918: Alan Drury, writer (Advise and Consent and sequels).
1923: René Thom, mathematician, developed catastrophe theory.
1934: Chuck McCann, comedian and actor.
1946: Billy Preston, one of the people called "the Fifth Beatle," the only musician besides the Fabs ever credited on a Beatles record.
1946: Walt Simonson, comix writer-artist (The Mighty Thor, Metal Men).
1946: Dan White, assassin.
1948: Christa McAuliffe, astronaut.
1953: John Zorn, composer.
1959: Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil</b>.
1964: Keanu Reeves, who was Neo and Ted "Theodore" Logan.
1966: Salma Hayek, who was Santanico Pandemonium, Serendipity, and Frida Kahlo.

1st September 2016

6:19am: random acts of kindness day
1532: England - King Henry VIII makes his fiancée Anne Boleyn Marquess of Pembroke.
1715: Versailles, France - King Louis XIV dies, marking the end of the longest reign by any major European monarch at 72 years. (For those who are keeping score, Elizabeth II has 12 years to go to reach that mark.)
1804: Lilienthal, Germany - Karl Ludwig Harding discovers the large asteroid Juno.
1878: Boston, MA - The Boston Telegraph Dispatch Company recruits Emma Nutt as the world's first female telephone operator. Previously, the work had been done by boys, often on roller-skates; they tended to play pranks, so Bell began hiring women instead.
1897: Boston, MA - Opening of the Tremont Street Subway, the first underground rapid transit system in North America. Its descendant is still operating and called "the T" by residents.
1914: Cincinnati, OH - The last known passenger pigeon dies in captivity in the Cincinnati Zoo.
1939: Germany and Slovakia invade Poland, marking the beginning of WWII in Europe.
1939: Berlin, Germany - Hitler signs the order implementing "Aktion T4," the mandatory euthanasia of disabled (physically or mentally) people.
1952: New York, NY - Publication of Ernest Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea, which will win the Pulitzer Prize and may be the final nudge that pushed the Nobel Prize committee to recognize Hemingway in 1954.
1967: Cambodia - Prince Sihanouk bans all "national friendship" associations, notably the Khmer-Chines Friendship Association, several of whose key members are arrested.
1969: Tripoli - A coup by the "Free Officers Movement," known as the al-Fateh Revolution, brings Muammar Gaddafi, or Moammar Khadafy, or however it's being spelled this week, to power.
1972: Reykjavik, Iceland - Bobby Fischer defeats Boris Spassky, 12½ games to 8½, to become the World Chess Champion.
1974: New York to London - The speed record (still held) for this route is set by the SR-71 Blackbird at slightly under two hours.
1979: Space - Pioneer 11 becomes the first spacecraft to fly by Saturn, passing through the ring plane and coming within 4000 km of the moon Epimetheus.
1983: Soviet airspace - Korean Air Lines Flight 007, on the way from Seoul to Anchorage, is shot down by a Soviet SU-15 interceptor, killing 269 people, including a US Congresscritter.

1653: Johann Pachelbel, organist and composer (THAT canon).
1795: James Gordon Bennett, Sr., founder of the New York Herald.
1854: Engelbert Humperdinck - the composer, not the singer (Hansel and Gretel).
1875: Edgar Rice Burroughs, writer (aw, come on, you know).
1876: Harriet Shaw Weaver, journalist, activist, patron of James Joyce's works.
1896: A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, founder of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), the "Hare Krishna" movement.
1906: Eleanor Hibbert, who was Victoria Holt, Jean Plaidy, Philippa Carr, and several other pen names.
1913: Christian Nyby, film editor and director (The Thing (from Another World)).
1922: Yvonne de Carlo, who was Lily Munster.
1926: Gene Colan, comix artist (Howard the Duck, Blade).
1933: Ann Richards, Governor of Texas.
1935: Seiji Ozawa, conductor.
1938: Alan Dershowitz, attorney (defended O.J. Simpson, Mike Tyson, Patty Hearst, and Jim Bakker).
1939: Lily Tomlin, who was Ernestine and Edith-Anne.
1942: C.J. Cherryh, writer (Downbelow Station, Wave without a Shore).
1946: Barry Gibb, last surviving Bee Gee.
1950: Phil McGraw, a/k/a "Dr. Phil," twit.
1961: Christopher Ferguson, astronaut.
1964: Holly Golightly (Fauve; Holly G!), comix writer-artist (Sabrina, Nightmare Theatre).

31st August 2016

6:43am: August 31
Is 2016 over yet?

1803: Pittsburgh, PA - At 11 AM, Lewis & Clark set out on their famed Expedition.
1888: London, England - 3.40 AM - A cabdriver named Charles Allen Lechmere discovers a mutilated corpse. This turns out to be a prostitute named Mary Ann Nichols, the first confirmed victim of Jack the Ripper.
1895: ?, Germany - After 20 years of development, Graf Ferdinand von Zeppelin patents his "(Lenkbarer Luftfahrzug mit mehreren hintereinanderen angeordneten Tragkörpern [Steerable airship-train with several carrier structures arranged one behind another]," which will come to be known simply as the Zeppelin.
1897: Menlo Park, NJ/Washington, DC - Thomas Edison patents the Kinetoscope (which however had been demonstrated as early as 1891).
1920: Detroit, MI - Station 8MK, now known as WWJ AM, broadcasts the first radio news program.
1928: Berlin, Germany - Premiere of Die Dreigroschenoper (The Threepenny Opera), by Bertholt Brecht, with music by Kurt Weill.
1980: Gdansk, Poland - After two weeks of national strikes, the government is forced to permit the creation of the trade union Solidarność (Solidarity).
1997: Paris, France - A car crash (said to be at least partially caused by paperazzi) kills Diana, Princess of Wales; her companion Dodi Fayed; and their driver Henri Paul.

12: Caligula, Roman emperor, and not the worst.
1821: Hermann von Helmholtz, physicist and physician.
1834: Amilcare Ponchielli, composer of operas (La Gioconda, Il figliuol prodigo).
1870: Maria Montessori, educator.
1879: Alma Maria Schindler Mahler Gropius Werfel, socialite and composer.
1897: Fredric March, who was Henry Jekyll and Edward Hyde.
1908: William Saroyan, writer (The Human Comedy, My Heart's in the Highlands).
1914: Richard Basehart, who was Admiral Harriman Nelson.
1918: Alan Jay Lerner, songwriter/composer.
1935: Eldridge Cleaver, activist and Mormon convert.
1944: Roger Dean, illustrator.
1945: Van Morrison, singer-songwriter.
1945: Itzhak Perlman, violinist.
1953: Pavel Vinogradov, astronaut.

30th August 2016

10:23am: International Day of the Disappeared
1909: Fossil Ridge, Canada - Charles Doolittle Walcott discovers the Burgess Shale and some of its associated fossils.
1963: Washington, DC/Moscow, Russia - The Moscow-Washington hotline goes into operation. Popularly conceived as "the red telephone," it is in fact a teletype with a use-once cipher key.
1967: Washington, DC - Thurgood Marshall is confirmed as the first African-American Justice of SCOTUS.
1984: Cape Canaveral, FL - In mission STS-41-D, space shuttle Discovery is launched for the first (successful, after three launch aborts) time.
1992: Ruby Ridge, ID - Randy Weaver surrenders to Federal authorities, ending the Ruby Ridge standoff. Weaver's wife, son, and dog were killed during the standoff, as was a Deputy Marshal.

1400: Vlad II Dracul of Wallachia. No, he was not Dracula; that was his son, Vlad III Tepes.
1748: Jacques-Louis David, painter.
1797: Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin Shelley, writer (Frankenstein, The Last Man).
1871: Ernest Rutherford, "father of nuclear physics."
1901: John Gunther, writer (The Golden Fleece, Death Be Not Proud).
1925: Laurent de Brunhoff, writer (many "Babar" books, continuing the series started by his father Jean).
1930: Warren Buffett, billionaire and philanthropist.
1931: Jack Swigert, astronaut.
1943: Jean-Claude Killy, skier.
1944: Molly Ivins, journalist.
1972: Cameron Diaz, who was Princess Fiona.

29th August 2016

6:34am: August 29
or the Feast of the Beheading of St John the Baptist, if you will.

1758: Indian Mills, NJ - The first "Indian" reservation is established here "for" the Lenape of southern New Jersey, who had been pushed off their traditional lands. The Brotherton Indian Reservation came to be known as Indian Mills because of, well, mills run by Christian-converted Lenape called Brothertons.
1786: Northampton, NJ - A force of tax protestors shut down the courts in this town, marking the nominal beginning of Shays' Rebellion. The inability of the government to deal quickly and effectively with this rebellion was a galvanizing moment for leaders calling for a Constitutional Convention to form a stronger government. (Contrast President Washington's relatively rapid and effective response to the Whiskey Rebellion.)
1842: HMS Cornwallis, off Nanking - Signing of the "Treaty of Peace, Friendship and Commerce between Her Majesty the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland and the Emperor of China," better known as the Nanking Treaty, or, in China, the first of the "unequal treaties," because it laid obligations only on China, not the British Empire. It ends the first Opium War.
1885: Cannstadt (Stuttgard), Germany - Gottleib Daimler patents the world's first internal combustion motorcycle, the Reitwagen.
1910: Japan and Korea - In the Japan-Korea Treaty of 1910, also known as the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty, "His Majesty the Emperor of Korea makes the complete and permanent cession to His Majesty the Emperor of Japan of all rights of sovereignty over the whole of Korea."
1911: Foothills of Lassen Peak, CA - The last of the Yahi people of Northern California, previously uncontacted by Europeans, appears. He will not give his name because "I have no one to name me," and is called Ishi, which means "man" in his language. He lives the rest of his life (about five years) in a university building in San Francisco, being studied by anthropologists and especially Alfred Kroeber.
1922: New York, NY - Radio station WEAF broadcasts the first radio advertisement ... unless it was in Seattle, by KFC, in March ...
1958: Colorado Springs, CO - Opening of the US Air Force Academy.
1965: Atlantic Ocean - Gemini 5 lands 80 miles from its planned drop site, due to a programmer who input the Earth's rotation as 360 degrees per 24 hours when in fact it is 360.98.
1966: Nominally San Francisco, CA - The Beatles perform their last paid concert at Candlestick Park. Their final song is "Long Tall Sally."
1991: Moscow, Russia: The Supreme Soviet suspends all activities of the Soviet Communist Party.
2005: Florida to Louisiana - Hurricane Katrina strikes land, doing vast damage and killing nearly 2,000 people.

1632: John Locke, philosopher, "Father of Liberalism."
1780: Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, painter.
1809: Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., writer (The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table).
1811: Henry Bergh, activist, founder of the ASPCA.
1862: Maurice Maeterlink, dramatist (Pelléas and Mélisande), poet, and plagiarist.
1898: Preston Sturges, director and producer (The Great McGinty, The Miracle of Morgan Creek).
1915: Ingrid Bergman, who was Ilsa Lund and Golda Meir.
1920: Charlie Parker, who was The Bird. Word.
1928: Charles Gray, who was Ernest Stavro Blofeld and The Criminologist.
1929: Thom Gunn, poet.
1935: William Friedkin, director-producer-screenwriter (The Exorcist, The French Connection).
1936: John McCain, naval aviator, prisoner of war, and politician.
1937: Carol Doda, "The Perfect 44," topless dancer.
1940: James Brady, White House Press Secretary and gun violence victim.
1941: Robin Leach. Champagne wishes and caviar dreams!
1947: Temple Grandin, ethologist and autism activist.
1958: Michael Jackson, singer-songwriter-dancer ("Thriller," Captain EO).

28th August 2016

9:19am: August 28
1565: St Augustine, FL - Pedro Menéndez de Avilés sights land here. He will found the city of St. Augustine, which is the longest continually-occupied Euro-style city in the US.
1609: Eastern Atlantic coast - Henry Hudson "discovers" the Delaware Bay. Actually, it had been known quite well by the Lenape people for some time...
1789: Bath, England - William Herschel discovers Enceladus, moon of Saturn, though he will not actually name it.
1830: Baltimore, MD - The "Tom Thumb" locomotive races a horse-drawn carriage. The locomotive takes an early lead but, due to a slipped belt, loses the race.
1845: New York, NY (but also Philadelphia and Boston...) - Publication of the first issue of Scientific American, which began life as a four-page weekly newspaper covering activity at the US Patent Office.
1859: Space (but also Earth...) - A series of massive sunspots and solar flares culminates in the "Carrington Event," a coronal mass ejection (CME) which creates a geomagnetic storm disrupting electrical telegraphy across the Earth. If such a thing were to happen today, the disruption to society would be incalculable.
1898: New Bern, NC - Caleb Bradham invents "Brad's Drink," which is today known as Pepsi-Cola.
1955: Money, MS - Fourteen-year-old Emmett Till is lynched, allegedly for flirting with a white woman.
1957: Washington, DC - Senator Strom Thurmond begins the longest single-Senator filibuster in the history of the US Senate. Its purpose is to prevent the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957. He fails.
1963: Washington, DC - The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. gives his "I Have a Dream" speech.

1749: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, poet, playwright (Faust), novelist (The Sorrows of Young Werther), and diplomat.
1774: Elizabeth Ann Seton, nun and saint.
1814: Sheridan Le Fanu, writer (Camilla, Uncle Silas).
1903: Bruno Bettelheim, psychologist.
1906: John Betjeman, poet.
1913: Robertson Davies, writer (The Deptford Trilogy, The Cornish Trilogy).
1915: Tasha Tudor, writer and illustrator (A is for Annabelle, The Great Corgiville Kidnapping).
1916: Jack Vance, writer (the Star Kings series, The Dying Earth).
1917: Jack Kirby, comix writer-artist (The Fantastic Four, The New Gods).
1948: Vonda McIntyre, writer (Dreamsnake, The Moon and the Sun).
1903: Quvenzhané Wallis, who was Hushpuppy and Annie.

26th August 2016

4:21am: Women's Equality Day
and the Feast of Melchizedek.

1498: Rome - Michelangelo receives the commission that will lead to the Pietà.
1883: Krakatoa - The famous eruption reaches its paroxysmal phase which will lead to the explosive destruction of the island.
1920: Washington, DC and elsewhere - Amendment XIX to the US Constitution takes effect, giving women the right to vote in those States where it did not already exist.
1970: US - Betty Friedan leads a nationwide Women's Strike for Equality.
1978: Rome - Cardinal Albino Luciani is elected as Pope, choosing the name John Paul I to honor his two predecessors. He will reign only 33 days before his death.

1740: Joseph-Michel Montgolfier, inventor of the hot-air balloon.
1743: Antoine Lavoisier, "father of modern chemistry."
1819: Albert, Prince-Consort of the United Kingdom.
1873: Lee de Forest, electrical engineer, invented the "Audion tube," the first vacuum tube.
1875: John Buchan, writer (Prester John, The Thirty-Nine Steps).
1880: Guillaume Apollinaire, surrealist poet and writer (Alcools, The Three Don Juans).
1898: Peggy Guggenheim, art collector and philanthropist.
1906: Albert Sabin, developed the oral polio vaccine.
1910: Mother Teresa, nun and missionary.
1911: Otto Binder, half of "Eando Binder," comix writer, creator of the Legion of Super-Heroes.
1920: Brant Parker, comix artist, co-creator of The Wizard of Id.
1921: Benjamin C. Bradlee, editor of the Washington Post.

25th August 2016

7:56am: 25 August
1609: Venice - Galileo demonstrates his first telescope.
1875: Dover, England - Calais, France - Captain Michael Webb becomes the first person to swim the Channel.
1912: Beijing, China - Foundation of the Kuomintang.
1945: Xuzhou, China - Eleven people, mainly Kuomintang members, are stopped by a group of Chinese Communists. One, John Birch, an American, is killed.
1948: Washington, DC - In the first ever televised Congressional hearing, Alger Hiss confronts Whittaker Chambers.
1967: Arlington, VA - George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party, is assassinated by a former follower.
1981: Space - Voyager 2 makes its closest approach to Saturn.
1989: Space - Voyager 2 makes its closest approach to Neptune.
1991: Helsinki - Linus Torvalds announces the first version of Linux.
2012: Space - Voyager 1 becomes the first man-made object to enter interstellar space.

1530: Ivan the Terrible, Tsar.
1744: Johann Gottfried (von) Herder, poet and philosopher.
1767: Louis Antoine de Saint-Just, leader of the Terror.
1819: Allan Pinkerton, founder of the Pinkerton agency, union-buster.
1836: Bret Harte, poet and writer ("The Luck of Roaring Camp", "The Outcasts of Poker Flat").
1905: Saint Maria Faustyna Kowalska of the Blessed Sacrament.
1909: Michael Rennie, who was Klaatu.
1913: Walt Kelly, animator (Disney Studios) and comix writer-artist (Pogo).
1918: Leonard Bernstein, conductor and composer (Mass, score for West Side Story).
1919: George Wallace, racist Presidential candidate.
1921: Monty Hall, who was, well, Monty Hall. And still is.
1927: Althea Gibson, color-line-breaking tennis player long before Arthur Ashe.
1930: Sean Connery, who was Robin Hood, William of Baskerville, and Henry Jones, Sr.
1938: Frederick Forsyth, writer (The Day of the Jackal, The Odessa File).
1942: Howard Jacobson, writer (Roots, Schmoots, Whatever It Is, I Don't Like It).
1949: Martin Amis, writer (Time's Arrow, Einstein's Monsters).
1958: Tim Burton, director-producer-screenwriter (Big Fish, Batman).

24th August 2016

6:10am: National Waffle Day
79: Mount Vesuvius - Erupts, destroying Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae by burying them in many feet of ash. (Traditional date; many modern historians suggest October 24).
394: Philae, Egypt - The scribe Esmet-Akhom leaves a graffito which is the last known historical use of hieroglyphics.
410: Rome - Is sacked by the Visigoths under Alaric I.
1215: Rome - Pope Innocent III voids the Magna Carta. The British nobles do not, as a whole, accept this nullification.
1349: Mainz, Germany - The Jews are blamed for the bubonic plague, and six thousand of them murdered.
1456: Mainz, Germany - Gutenberg finishes the printing of his Bible. No, it was not the first thing he printed.
1662: London, England - Parliament passes the Act of Uniformity, which requires the use of the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer in the Established Church of England. Adherence to the Act and the BCP was required to hold any governmental (or church) office.
1814: Washington, DC - British troops invade and burn many buildings, including the Capitol and the Presidential Mansion.
1891: Menlo Park, NJ/Washington, DC - Thomas Edison patents the "kinetograph," or motion picture camera.
1932: Newark, NJ - On arrival here, Amelia Earhart becomes the first woman to fly non-stop across the United States (she started in Los Angeles).
1954: Washington, DC - President Dwight Eisenhower signs the Communist Control Act, outlawing CP-USA and criminalizing membership in it or in any "Communist action" group. Even J.Edgar Hoover opposed this bill (because it would force Communists underground and make them harder to surveil).It has never been repealed, but neither has any Administration made any serious effort to enforce it. It was declared unconstitutional by a federal district court in Arizona in 1973; however, it has never been ruled on by SCOTUS.
1967: New York, NY - Abbie Hoffman leads the YIPpie party in disrupting trading on Wall Street by throwing dollar bills from the viewing gallery. Because of this, the NYSE closed the viewing gallery until a glass partition could be installed to prevent further such incidents.
1989: Columbia - Drug lords declare "total war" on the Columbian government.
1995: Redmond, WA and elsewhere - Microsoft releases Windows 95, which claims to be an operating system though it still relies on MS-DOS to handle many functions.
2016: Prague, Czech Republic - The traitorous International Astronomical Union redefines "planet" so that Pluto is not one. We still love you, Pluto!

1552: Lavinia Fontana, considered the "first significant" woman artist.
1556: Sophia Brahe, astronomer.
1591: Robert Herrick, poet.
1872: Max Beerbohm, cariacaturist and writer (Zuleika Dobson).
1890: Jean Rhys, writer (Wide Sargasso Sea, Sleep It Off Lady).
1898: Malcolm Cowley, poet and writer (Exile's Return).
1899: Jorge Luis Borges, writer (Labyrinths, The Book of Imaginary Beings).
1902: Carlo Gambino, mob boss.
1911: Durward Kirby, television host/announcer.
1915: James Tiptree, Jr (Alice Sheldon), writer ("Houston, Houston, Do You Read?", "The Girl Who Was Plugged In").
1922: Howard Zinn, activist and historian (The People's History of the United States).
1929: Yasser Arafat, President of the Palestinian National Authority.
1936: A.S. Byatt, writer (Possession).
1938: Mason Williams, guitarist and composer (Classical Gas).
1945: Vince McMahon, wrestling promoter.
1948: Alexander McCall Smith, writer (The "No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency" series.)
1951: Orson Scott Card, writer (Ender's Game, "Lost Boys") and bigot.
1955: Mike Huckabee, politician, minister, and bigot.
1957: Stephen Fry, who was Mycroft Holmes and much else.
1977: John Green, writer (The Fault in Our Stars).
1988: Rupert Grint, who was Ron Weasley.

23rd August 2016

7:00am: Black Ribbon Day...
...also known as the "Day of Remembrance for Victims of Stalinism and Nazism.

79: Mount Vesuvius, Italy - Begins to stir for the eruption that will destroy Pompeii and Herculaneum.
1305: London, England - Sir William Wallace is executed for treason.
1600: Gifu, Japan - Tokugawa Ieyasu's armies destroy Gifu Castle, leading to the Battle of Sekigahara, in which the Tokugawa Shogunate will be established.
1614: Frankfurt, Holy Roman Empire - Jews are expelled from the city following a minor pogrom in which the "Judengasse" or Jewish Alley is plundered.
1775: London, England - King George III declares (to Parliament) that the American colonies are in a state of open and avowed rebellion.
1927: Charlestown State Prison, MA - Despite an almost complete lack of evidence, Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are executed for murders that they almost certainly did not commit.
1966: Space - Lunar Orbiter</b> 1 takes the first picture of the Earth from orbit around the Moon.
1970: Salinas Valley, CA - Between five and seven thousand UFW workers begin the "Salad Bowl Strike," the largest farm worker strike in US history. This strike leads directly to the institution of the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act.
1973: Stockholm, Sweden - In Normalmstrong Square, a bank robbery goes wrong and turns into a hostage crisis. Some of the hostages begin to sympathize with the robber. This is the incident that gives rise to the term "Stockholm Syndrome," which will later be used to excuse the actions of Patricia Hearst as a convert to the Symbionese Liberation Army.
1996: London, England - First publication (in the Arabic-language Al-Quds-Al-Arabi) of Osama bin-Laden's "A declaration of war against the Americans occupying the land of the two holy places."
2011: Bab al-Aziza Compound, Tripoli, Libya - Muammar Gaddafi is overthrown by forces of the National Transitional Council.

1754: Louis XVI of France.
1849: William Ernest Henley, poet ("Invictus").
1852: Arnold Toynbee, historian.
1868: Edgar Lee Masters, poet (Spoon River Anthology).
1884: Will Cuppy, writer (The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody, How to Become Extinct).
1891: Roy Agnew, composer (Rabbit Hill, Deirdre's Lament).
1900: Malvina Reynolds, activist and songwriter ("Little Boxes", "Morningtown Ride").
1905: Ernie Bushmiller, cartoonist (Nancy).
1912: Gene Kelly, who danced with Jerry Mouse.
1927: Alan Kaprow, conceptual artist ("Happenings", "Environments").
1931: Barbara Eden, who was Jeannie.
1946: Keith Moon, drummer (The Who, Plastic Ono Band).

22nd August 2016

6:36am: Feast of the Queenship of Mary
565: Loch Ness, Scotland - St Columba reports seeing a monster.
1485: Market Bosworth, England - In the Battle of Bosworth, King Richard III of England is killed, ending the Plantagenet line of Kings and passing the crown to Henry VII Tudor.
1639: Chennai, India - The British East India Company builds a fort, which is the beginning of the city of Madras, which will become Chennai.
1642: Nottingham, England - King Charles I raises his standard, which is regarded as the first move of the English Civil War.
1654: New Amsterdam - Jacob Barsimon becomes the first (known) Jewish immigrant in America.
1791: Saint-Domingue, Haiti - Vodou priest Dutty Boukman gives a signal and the Haitian Slave Revolt begins. Influenced by the French Revolution, and led by Toussaint L'Ouverture, the slaves overthrow their masters and declare a free republic; however, the whites are massacred even after the republic is established.
1831: Southampton County, VA - Nat Turner's Rebellion begins. It fails, with 60 whites and 250 blacks killed.
1902: (location unknown without more research than I'm prepared to put in right now) - Theodore Roosevelt becomes the first POTUS to ride in an automobile.
1910: Korea - is annexed by Japan.
1952: Bagne de Cayenne, French Guiana - The Devil's Island penal colony is permanently closed.
1968: Bogotá, Colombia - Pope Paul VI makes the first visit of a Pope to a Latin American country.
1978: Managua, Nicaragua - The FSLN ("Sandinistas") occupy the national palace.
1996: Washington, DC - Bill Clinton signs a welfare "reform" law.
2003: Montgomery, AL - Roy Moore, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is suspended for refusing to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the Alabama Supreme Court building.
2004: Oslo, Norway - Two paintings by Edvard Munch (The Scream and Madonna) are stolen at gunpoint. They will be recovered by police two years later.

1647: Denis Papin, physicist and mathematician, invented the pressure cooker.
1862: Claude Debussy, pianist-composer (Claire de Lune, Pelléas et Mélisande).
1880: George Herriman, cartoonist (Krazy Kat).
1893: Dorothy Parker, Dorothy Parker.
1898: Alexander Calder, sculptor, inventor of the mobile.
1902: Leni Riefenstahl, actress and director (Triumph des Willens , Impressionen unter Wasser).
1920: Ray Bradbury, writer (The Martian Chronicles, Dandelion Wine).
1925: Honor Blackman, who was Cathy Gale and Pussy Galore.
1928: Karlheinz Stockhausen, composer (Zyklus, Kontra-Punkte).
1932: Gerald P. Carr, astronaut.
1934: Norman Schwarzkopf, Jr., general.
1935: Annie Proulx, writer ("Bareback Mountain", The Shipping News).
1939: Valerie Harper, who was Rhoda Morgenstern.
1959: I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, scapegoat.

21st August 2016

9:32am: August 21
1770: New South Wales, Australia - Captain James Cook claims Eastern "New Holland" for Britain, naming it New Wales. The "South" is added in his report to the Admiralty.
1831: Southampton County, VA - Nat Turner leads a slave rebellion that ultimately costs the lives of about 60 whites and 200 black slaves.
1879: Knock, County Mayo, Ireland - Fifteen people witness an apparition of the Blessed Virgin, St Joseph, St John the Evangelist, an altar, and several angels.
1888: St Louis, MO/Washington, DC - William Seward Burroughs receives several patents related to his adding machine, and founds what will become the Burroughs Corporation.
1897: Lansing, MI - Ransom E. Olds founds the Oldsmobile company.
1911: Paris, France - A Louvre employee steals the Mona Lisa.
1959: Washington, DC - President Dwight Eisenhower signs the executive order that makes Hawai'i the 50th state.

1567: Francis de Sales, bishop and saint.
1872: Aubrey Beardsley, artist.
1904: William James "Count" Basie, pianist, songwriter, and bandleader.
1906: Isadore "Friz" Freleng, animator (260+ Warners' cartoons, created Porky, Bugs, Tweety, Sylvester, Yosemite Sam, and Speedy Gonzales).
1908: M.M. Kaye, writer (The Far Pavilions) and artist.
1920: Christopher Robin Milne, inspiration.
1929: X.J. Kennedy, poet.
1936: Wilt "the Stilt" Chamberlain, basketball player.
1943: Jonathan Schell, writer (The Fate of the Earth, Observing the Nixon Years).
1943: Lucius Shepard, writer (The Jaguar Hunter). The Dragon Griaule).
1953: Ivan Stang, cultist and writer (The Book of the Sub-Genius).

20th August 2016

8:33am: Yes, indeedy, it's WORLD MOSQUITO DAY. Beware!
1308: Rome - Pope Clement V pardons Jacques de Molay, head of the Knights Templar, essentially absolving him of heresy. de Molay will be burned at the stake five years later for heresy.
1858: London, England - Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace publish essentially identical theories of evolution in the Journal of the Proceedings of the Linnean Society of London. Indeed, it is a letter from Wallace that prompts Darwin to publish.
1882: Moscow, Russia - Premiere of Tchaikovski's 1812 Overture.
1920: Detroit, MI - The first commercial radio station (now known as WWJ) begins operations.
1940: Mexico City - Assassination of Leon Trotski by Ramón Mercader, though Trotski will actually die the next day.
1975: Cape Canaveral, FL - Launch of Viking 1, the first probe to succesfully land on Mars, and will operate for about 6 years.
1977: Cape Canaveral, FL - Launch of Voyager 2, which is still operating.

1778: Bernardo O'Higgins, first leader of an independent Chile.
1833: Benjamin Harrison, 23d President of the US.
1881: Edgar Guest, poet.
1886: Paul Tillich, theologian (The Courage to Be).
1890: Howard Phillips Lovecraft, writer (At the Mountains of Madness, "The Call of Cthulhu").
1910: Eero Saarinen, furniture designer and architect (the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO).
1918: Jacqueline Susann, writer (Valley of the Dolls, The Love Machine).
1935: Ron Paul, libertarian congresscritter.
1943: Sylvester McCoy, who was the Doctor and a rather unfortunate Radagast.
1947: Alan Lee, arguably the best Tolkien illustrator.
1947: James Pankow, trombonist (Chicago).
1948: Robert Plant, singer (Led Zeppelin).
1951: Greg Bear, writer (Blood Music, Eon).
1961: Greg Egan, writer (Permutation City, Our Lady of Chernobyl).
1974: Amy Adams, who was Polly Purebred and Lois Lane.

19th August 2016

7:50am: August 19
43 BC: Rome - Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus (who would become Augustus) is elected Consul by the Roman Senate.
1561: Leith, Scotland - Mary Queen of Scotland, having spent thirteen of her eighteen years in France, arrives in Scotland. She has nominally been Queen since her father died when she was six days old, but she now intends to take power. What actually happens is a lot more complicated than that.
1692: Salem Village, MA - five people (four women and a clergyman) are executed for witchcraft.
1812: 400 mi. southeast of Halifax, NS - A single-ship battle between USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere ends with the destruction of the British ship. It is this battle that earns Constitution her nickname of "Old Ironsides."
1839: Paris, France - The Government of France, having purchased the rights from Louis-Jaques-Mandé Daguerre in return for a lifetime pension, announces that Daguerreotypography is "a gift free to the world," with no patent restrictions.
1854: Near Fort Laramie, modern WY- Troops come to arrest a Miniconjou Lakotan warrior who has killed and eaten a cow belonging to Mormon pioneers. When the Lakota refuse to turn him over, 2d. Lt. John Lawrence Grattan breaks off the negotiations, but a nervous trooper shoots Chief Matȟó Wayúhi ("Conquering Bear") in the back. In return all thirty troopers are massacred, beginning the First Sioux War.
1895: El Paso, TX - Constable John Selman, Sr. shoots and kills outlaw John Wesley Hardin (not Harding) in a saloon.
1934: Germany - A referendum approves the merging of the offices of Chancellor and Prime Minister, the new title to be Führer.
1953: Iran - American (CIA) and British (MI5) agents arrange the toppling of the government of Mohammad Mosaddegh, a democratically elected leader, for the crime of nationalizing oil reserves claimed by British companies. They replace the democratic government with the absolute rulership of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
1960: Baikonur Cosmodrome, USSR - Launch of Korabl-Sputnik 2, which carries aboard two dogs, who survive, as well as 40 mice, 2 rats, and some plants.
1964: Cape Canaveral, FL - Launch of Syncom 3, the first successful geostationary communications satellite.

1570(?): Salmone Rossi, violinist and composer unique for his putting original Hebrew texts to Baroque arrangements in his "Songs of Solomon."
1689: Samuel Richardson, publisher and writer (Clarissa, Pamela).
1743: Jeanne Bécu, comtesse du Barry, "Madame du Barry," mistress to Louis XV and victim of the Terror.
1871: Orville Wright, engineer and pilot.
1883: Coco Chanel, designer.
1889: Arthur Waley, sinologist and translator.
1900: Gilbert Ryle, philosopher (The Concept of Mind).
1902: Ogden Nash, versifier (Parents Keep Out!.
1903: James Gould Cozzens, writer (The Last Adam, The Just and the Unjust).
1906: Philo T. Farnsworth, inventor of the video camera tube, the all-electronic television, and the fusor.
1915: Ring Lardner, Jr., screenwriter (Forever Amber, M*A*S*HThe Steel Crocodile, The Continuous Katherine Mortenhoe).
1944: Jack Canfield, writer ("Chicken Soup for the Soul" books).
1945: Ian Gillian, who was Jesus Christ.
1946: Bill Clinton, president and womanizer.
1952: Jonathan Frakes, who was Number One.
1961: Jonathan Coe, writer (The Rotters' Club, The Dwarves of Death).

18th August 2016

6:35am: Raksha Bandhan
1587: Roanoke Colony, NC - Birth of Virginia Dare, first English child born in the Americas. She will disappear along with the rest of the colonists.
1612: Lancaster, England - At the Lancaster Assizes, the trial of the Pendle and Samlesbury Witches and two others begins. Of the eleven Pendle witches who survived gaol, ten were found guilty of murder by witchcraft and sentenced to hang.
1634: Loudon, France - Urbain Grandier, who had spoken and written against Cardinal Richelieu, is burned alive for sorcery.
1920: Washington, DC - Ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, giving women the right to vote (which they already had in many states).
1958: New York, NY - G.P. Putnam's Sons publishes Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita. It is into its third printing within three days, and sells over 100,000 copies in three weeks.
1977: Port Elizabeth, South Africa - Student and activist Stephen Bantu Biko is arrested by security police at a roadblock under the notorious Terrorism Act No 83. In Police Room 619 of the Sanlam Building, Biko is questioned, tortured, and beaten for 22 hours, resulting in a coma. He will die in police custody in Pretoria on 12 September.

1596: Jean Bolland, priest and hagiographer (The Lives of the Saints v. 1-5).
1750: Antonio Salieri, composer (La fiera di Venizia, Falstaff), who did not kill Mozart.
1774: Meriwether Lewis, soldier, explorer, Governor of Upper Louisiana.
1904: Max Factor, Jr., businessman, guided the development of Pan-Cake makup for use with Technicolor film.
1917: Caspar Weinberger, Secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan, indicted but pardoned by George H.W. Bush.
1922:Alain Robbe-Grillet, writer (Jealousy) and screenwriter (Last Year at Marienbad).
1925: Brian W. Aldiss, writer (Hothouse, Barefoot in the Head).
1933: Roman Polanski, director (Fearless Vampire Killers) and child abuser.
1934: Vincent Bugliosi, celebrity lawyer and writer (Helter Skelter, The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder).
1934: Roberto Clemente, baseball player and relief worker.
1936: Robert Redford, who was the Sundance Kid and John Dortmunder.
1943: Martin Mull, who was Colonel Mustard.
1944: Paula Danziger, writer (the "Amber Brown" books).
1954: Umberto Guidoni, astrophysicist and astronaut.

17th August 2016

7:20am: August 17
309 (or maybe 310): Rome - Emperor Maxentius exiles Pope Eusebius to Sicily, over the issue of the lapsi, Christians who became apostate and then returned to the Church. The question was whether they should, after appropriate penance, be readmitted to Holy Communion. Eusebius said yes; Maxentius said no.
1498: Italy - On the death of Giovanni Borgia, illegitmate son of Pope Alexander VI, is brother Cesare becomes the first person to resign from the cardinalate (he had been Cardinal of Valencia); on the same day Louis XII of France names him Duke of Valentinois.
1560: Scotland - The Roman Catholic church is overthrown as the national religion of Scotland, to be replaced with a form of Calvinism.
1585: Antwerp, Flanders - The city is taken by Spanish forces. Protestants are ordered to leave the city.
1858: Roanoke Island, NC - Landing of the colonists for the first Roanoke Colony, led by Ralph Lane. This is the one that famously disappears.
1798: La Vang, Quảng Trị Province, Vietnam - During a persecution of Christians, Vietnamese Catholics hiding in the rain forest here report a Marian apparition, in which a "Lady bearing a child" tells them to boil certain leaves to cure the illnesses ravaging them.
1896: London, England - While crossing Dolphin Terrace on the grounds of the Crystal Palace, Bridget Driscoll is struck by a Benz automobile going that the fantastic speed of 4 MPH and killed, becoming the first pedestrian motor fatality in the UK.
1908: Paris, France - Premiere of the first animated film, Émile Cohl's Fantasmagorie. It's on YouTube, and it's only about a minute long.
1958: Cape Canaveral, FL - The space probe Pioneer, intended to orbit the Moon, fails to launch.
1970: Baikonur, USSR - Launch of Venera 7, which, on 15 December 1970, will become the first probe to send back data from the surface of another planet (Venus).
1977: North Pole - Is reached by the Soviet icebreaker Arktika.
1978: Miserey, France - Double Eagle II, crewed by Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson, and Larry Newman, becomes the first balloon to successfully cross the atlantic, having launched from Presque Isle, ME, five an a half days earlier.
1980: Ayers Rock, Northern Territory, Australia - "A dingo ate my baby!" Azaria Chamberlain, 2 months 8 days old, disappears from a family campground. It is years before the parents' story is corroborated by physical evidence, during which time the mother was convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment.
1998: Washington, DC - President Bill Clinton admits to an "improper physical relationship" with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

1601: Pierre de Fermat, lawyer and mathematician.
1786: Davy Crockett, pioneer, soldier, and congresscritter.
1863: Gene Stratton-Porter, writer (A Girl of the Limberlost, The Magic Garden) and photographer.
1887: Marcus Garvey, journalist, activist, founder of the Black Star shipping line.
1893: Mae West, actress and screenwriter.
1913: Mark Felt, deputy director of the FBI, who was "Deep Throat."
1924: Evan S. Connell, writer (Mrs. Bridge, Son of the Morning Star).
1929: Francis Gary Powers, CIA U-2 pilot.
1930: Ted Hughes, husband of Sylvia Plath, poet, playwright, and writer (The Iron Man).
1932: V.S. Naipaul, writer (The Mystic Masseur, A House for Mr Biswas).
1933: Gene Kranz, NASA mission director, who did not in fact say "Failure is not an option."
1944: Larry Ellison, cofounder of Oracle Corporation.
1945: Rachel Pollack, writer (Grandmother Night) and comix writer (Doom Patrol).
1959: Jonathan Franzen, writer (The Corrections, Freedom).
1959: David Koresh, cult leader.
1959: Eric Schlosser, writer (Fast Food Nation).
1988: Mohammed Emwazi, "Jihadi John".

16th August 2016

6:30am: Gozan no Okuribi
1819: Manchester, England - Between sixty and eighty thousand people gather on St. Peter's Field to peaceably demand reform of the antiquated Parliamentary allocation system. (For example, Old Sarum, a ghost town with one eligible voter, controlled two MPs.) Cavalry charge into the crowd with sabres drawn, killing fifteen and wounding 600. (The first to die is a two-year-old thrown from his mother's arms as cavalry rode her down.) This is commemorated as the Peterloo Massacre.
1841: Washington, DC - President John Tyler vetoes a bill to re-establish the Second Bank of the United States, whose charter had expired. Every member of his Cabinet except for Daniel Webster resigns, and Whigs riot outside the White House, but Tyler stands firm.
1927: Oakland, CA - The "Dole Air Derby" begins with eight participants attempting to fly to Honolulu. Only two make it; the other six crash or disappear.
1930: United States - Release of "Fiddlesticks," Ub Iwerks's first cartoon after leaving Disney Studios. Notable as the first cartoon to feature both sound and color (two-strip Technicolor), it is the first of Iwerks's "Flip the Frog" series, and also features an awfully familiar-looking mouse.
1942: San Francisco Bay Area - the Naval Blimp L-8 takes off from Treasure Island on a routine anti-submarine patrol. Several hours later, it crashes in Daly City, with no sign of the two-man crew. The crew have never been seen or accounted for.
1945: Manchuria, China - The Last Emperor of China, Puyi, is captured by Soviet troops. Puyi had collaborated with the Japanese and been their titular ruler of "Manchukuo." In the 1946 tribunals, he testified that he had been captured and pressured by the Japanese, but later recanted this, saying that he was ashamed of his testimony. During the Cultural Revolutiion he was targeted by the Red Guard and placed under protection by the local security bureau, but died shortly thereafter.
1962: Liverpool, England - Ringo Starr leaves Rory Starr and the Hurricanes to join The Beatles, who have just fired their previous drummer, Pete Best.
1989: Space - A solar flare causes a geomagnetic storm on Earth, affecting microchips in various places, and forcing a halt of all trading on the Toronto exchange.

1815: John Bosco, priest and saint.
1884: Hugo Gernsback, writer (Ralph 124C41+) and publisher-editor (Amazing Stories).
1888: T.E. Lawrence, "Lawrence of Arabia."
1892: Hal Foster, comix writer-artist (Prince Valiant in the Days of King Arthur).
1892: Otto Messmer, animator, co-creator of Felix the Cat.
1894: George Meany, plumber and union leader.
1902: Georgette Heyer, writer (Regency Buck, These Old Shades).
1902: Wallace Thurman, writer (The Blacker the Berry).
1911: E.F. Schumaker, economist and statistician (Small is Beautiful).
1913: Menachim Begin, Prime Minister of Israel.
1917: Matt Christopher, writer (The Lucky Baseball Bat).
1920: Charles Bukowski, poet.
1924: Fess Parker, who was Davy Crockett.
1933: Julie Newmar, who was THE Catwoman.
1934: Diana Wynne Jones, writer (Tough Guide to Fantasy, Howl's Moving Castle).
1954: James Cameron, director-producer-screenwriter (Titanic, Avatar).
1958: Madonna Ciccone, entertainer.

15th August 2016

6:21am: Feast Day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin
1056: Peel of Lumphanan, Scotland: Mac Bethad mac Findlaích (Macbeth) is defeated and killed by the forces of Máel Coluim mac Donnchada (Malcolm III).
1248: Köln, Germany - The foundation stone of Cologne Cathedral, which contains relics (allegedly) of the Three Magi, is laid. Construction will take 632 years.
1843: Honolulu, HI - The Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace (Malia o ka Malu Hale Pule Nui) is dedicated. It is now a Minor Basilica, and holds the relics of Sts. Damien de Veuster & Marianne Cope; it is the oldest Roman Catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States.
1843: Copenhagen, Denmark - The Tivoli Gardens opens. It is the second oldest amusement park still operating in the world (the oldest is Dyrehavsbakken in nearby Klampenborg). Featuring many rides, a concert hall, and a pantomime theatre, it hosts nearly 5 million visitors per year.
1914: Panama - The Panama Canal opens to traffic. The first ship to transit the Canal is the otherwise unmemorable SS Ancon.
1935: Barrow, AK - Will Rogers and Wiley Post are killed in a takeoff plane crash.
1939: Los Angeles, CA - The Wizard of Oz premieres at Graumann's Chinese Theater. Though it has great critical acceptance, it is not an immediate commercial success, and will not be profitable for ten years.
1965: New York, NY - The Beatles play to 55,000 fans in Shea Stadium. This is generally considered the beginning of "stadium rock."
1969: Bethel, NY - The Woodstock Music and Art Fair opens on Max Yasgur's farm. Over 400,000 people attend.
1971: Washington, DC - President Richard Nixon produces "Nixon Shock" by ending the convertibility of US currency to gold for foreign investors, one of the bases of the "Bretton Woods" international monetary system.

1717: Blind Jack Metcalf, builder of turnpikes.
1740: Matthias Claudius, poet, whose "Der Tod und das Mädchen" was set to music by Schubert.
1769: Napoleon I Bonaparte, general and emperor.
1771: Walter Scott, writer (Ivanhoe, Rob Roy).
1785: Thomas De Quincey, writer (Confessions of an English Opium-Eater).
1858: E. Nesbit, writer (Five Children and It, The Story of the Treasure Seekers).
1875: Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, composer (Little Songs for Little Folks, Hiawatha, ballet in five scenes).
1885: Edna Ferber, writer (Show Boat, Cimarron).
1892: Louis de Broglie, physicst.
1904: George Klein, invented the motorized wheelchair.
1912: Julia Child, chef and writer.
1914: Paul Rand, logo designer.
1917: Blessed Óscar Romero, martyr.
1924: Phyllis Schlafly, activist.
1928: Nicholas Roeg, director (The Man Who Fell to Earth, The Witches).
1933: Stanley Milgram, social psychologist.
1938: Stephen Breyer, Associate Justice of SCOTUS.
1954: Stieg Larsson, writer (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo et seq.).
1964: Melinda Gates, philanthropist.
1990: Jennifer Lawrence, who was Katniss and Mystique.

14th August 2016

9:02am: V-J Day
1040: Bothnagowan, Scotland - King Donnchad mac Crinain (Duncan I) dies in battle against Mac Bethad mac Findlaích (Macbeth), who succeeds him as King of Scotland.
1880: Köln, Germany - The construction of Cologne Cathedral (which began in 1248) is completed.
1888: London, England - At a press conference, a recording of Arthur Sullivan's "The Lost Chord" is played, the first use of a phonograph in England. Sullivan recorded a message to Edison, in which he admitted that he was amazed by the device, but "terrified at the thought that so much hideous and bad music may be put on record forever."
1901: Fairfield CT - Gustave Whitehead allegedly flies half a mile in his "Number 21" powered aircraft. While the truth of this is debated, it was reported in a local newspaper at the time. If it is true, then he precedes the Wright Brothers by two years.
1935: Washington, DC - President Franklin Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act.
1945: USS Missouri, Pacific Ocean - The Empire of Japan formally surrenders to the Allied Powers.
1975: London, England - Premiere of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
2015: Havana, Cuba - Re-opening of the US Embassy after 54 years.

1777: Hans Christian Ørsted, physicist, chemist, and philosopher.
1840: Richard von Krafft-Ebing, psychiatrist (Psychopathia Sexualis).
1851: John Henry "Doc" Holliday, gambler, gunfighter, and dentist.
1863: Ernest Lawrence Thayer, poet and columnist ("Casey at the Bat").
1867: John Galsworthy, writer (The Forsyte Saga).
1923: Alice Ghostly, who was Esmerelda.
1928: Lina Wertmüller, director and screenwriter (Seven Beauties).
1932: Lee Hoffman, fan and writer (The Valdez Horses, Telepower).
1934: Trevor Bannister, who was Mr. Lucas.
1945: Steve Martin, comedian, actor, banjo player.
1947: Maddy Pryor, singer (Steeleye Span, Silly Sisters).
1947: Danielle Steele, writer.
1950: Gary Larson, cartoonist (The Far Side).
1953: James Horner, film score composer (Humanoids from the Deep, Krull). (Oh, all right: Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, Titanic).
1959: Earvin "Magic" Johnson, basketball player.
1966: Halle Berry, who was Ororo and Selina Kyle Patience Philips.

13th August 2016

8:47am: Left-Handers Day
1624: Paris, France - Louis XIII appoints Cardinal Richelieu Prime Minister of France.
1779: Penobscot Bay, ME - A 44-ship American naval task force is routed by the British Navy, losing the most significant number of ships the US will experience until Pearl Harbor.
1831: Southampton County, VA - Slave Nat Turner sees an eclipse which inspires him to lead a slave revolt. (Yes, of course that's an oversimplification...)
1876: Bayreuth, Germany - The premiere of the complete Ring des Nibelungen cycle begins at the Beyreuth Festspielhaus. The first two operas, Das Rhinegold and Die Walküre, had previously been performed separately in 1869 and 1870 respectively.
1898: Berlin, Germany and Nice, France: Gustav Witt (Berlin) and Auguste Charlois (Nice) discover Eros, the first near-earth asteroid to be discovered.
1918: Washington, DC - By sheer dint of being first in line, Opha May Johnson becomes the first woman to enlist in the US Marine Corps.
1942: US - Premiere of Walt Disney's Bambi.
1997: US - First broadcast of the first episode of Comedy Central's South Park.

1860: Annie Oakley, trick and target shooter.
1895: Bert Lahr, who was the Cowardly Lion and the "Betcha can't eat just one" guy.
1899: Alfred Hitchcock, direck-tohr.
1902: Felix Wankel, SS officer and engineer, developed the Wankel rotary engine.
1926: Fidel Castro, President of Cuba.
1930: Don Ho, singer.
1933: Jocelyn Elders, Surgeon-General of the United States.
1959: Danny Bonaduce, who was Danny Partridge and is a radio asshole.
1963: Valerie Plame, former CIA operative.
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