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2nd July 2016

8:57am: World UFO Day
1494: Castille, Spain - Spain ratifies the Treaty of Tordesillas, which divides the world (except for Europe) between Spain and Portugal.
1776: Philadelphia, PA - The Second Continental Congress adopts a resolution declaring American independence from Great Britain.
1816: Arguin Bay, Mauritania - The French frigate Méduse runs aground. 151 people on board are evacuated using a hastily-improvised raft. This inspires Théodore Géricault's painting The Raft of the Medusa.
1839: Near Cuba - A group of African slaves led by Joseph Cinqué successfully rebels and takes over the Spanish-owned ship Amistad.
1881: Washington, DC - Charles J. Guiteau shoots President James Garfield. Garfield's wound is infected and he dies in September.
1890: Washington, DC - Congress passes the Sherman Antitrust Act, designed specifically to remedy restraint of interstate trade.
1897: London - Guglielmo Marconi receives a patent for the radio.
1900: Friedrichshafen, Germany - The first flight of a Zeppelin. Commercial service will not begin until 1910.
1900: Helsinki, Finland - Premiere performance of Jean Sibelius's patriotic/nationalistic tone poem Finlandia.
1937: Near Howland Island - Amelia Earhart makes contact with the island by radio; this is the last that will ever be heard from her or navigator Fred Noonan.
1962: Rogers, AR - The first Wal-Mart store opens.
1964: Washington, DC - President Lyndon Johnson signs the Civil Rights Act of 1964, prohibiting segregation in public places.
1976: Vietnam - Fall of the Republic of Vietnam; union with North Vietnam into the Socialist Republic of Vietnam.

1489: Thomas Cranmer, archbishop and theologian, Archbishop of Canterbury.
1714: Christoph Willibald Gluck, operatic composer and reformer (Don Juan, Orfeo ed Euridice).
1877: Hermann Hesse, writer (Siddhartha, The Glass Bead Game).
1877: Rinaldo Cuneo, painter.
1908: Thurgood Marshall, SCOTUS justice.
1919: Jean Craighead George, writer (My Side of the Mountain, Julie of the Wolves).
1922: Pierre Cardin, designer.
1923: Cyril M. Kornbluth, writer (The Syndic, "The Little Black Bag", "The Marching Morons">.
1925: Medger Evers, activist.
1932: Dave Thomas, businessman.

1st July 2016

7:17am: National Postal Worker Day
and also International Tartan Day.

1523: Antwerp, Belgium - Johann Esch and Heinrich Voes, two monks of this city, are burnt at the stake after they refuse to recant their Lutheran beliefs. They are the first martyrs to the Lutheran cause.
1690: Near Drogheda, Ireland - William of Orange defeats James II, whom he has overthrown as King of England, in the Battle of the Boyne, pretty much cementing the Protestant ascendancy in England.
1766: Abbeville, France - A young nobleman named François-Jean de la Barre is tortured and beheaded, and his corpse burned with a copy of Voltaire's Philosophical Dictionary nailed to the torso. His crime? He failed to take off his hat as a Corpus Christi procession passed ... oh, and also the possession of banned and pornographic books.
1858: London, England - The Linnean Society hears the papers on evolution by Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin.
1863: Gettysburg, PA - The Battle of Gettysburg begins.
1870: Washington, DC - The US Department of Justice officially comes into existence, though there has been an Attorney-General for decades.
1879: Pittsburgh, PA - Pastor Charles Taze Russell publishes the first issue of Zion's Watch Tower and Herald of Christ's Presence, now known as The Watchtower Announcing Jehovah's Kingdom. It is not originally a specifically Jehovah's Witness publication, but an organ of the Bible Student movement, out of which the JW will grow.
1898: San Juan Hill, Cuba - in the Battle of San Juan Hill, future President Theodore Roosevelt leads the Rough Riders to victory. In 2001, he will be posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for this, making him (I believe) the only person to win both the Medal of Honor and the Nobel Peace Prize.
1903: Paris, France - The first Tour de France bicycle race begins.
1908: International - SOS (...---...) is adopted as the universal distress signal. Use of this, the only nine-symbol signal in Morse code, began in Germany and was adopted by the Second Radiotelegraphic Convention.
1921: Shanghai, China - founding of the Chinese Communist Party.
1933: New York, NY - Wiley Post completes the first solo flight around the world, landing where he took off, Floyd Bennet Field in New York, after seven days, eighteen hours, and forty-five minutes.
1942: Australia - State income taxes are abolished, and the Federal government becomes the sole collector of income tax.
1943: Tokyo, Japan - The City and Prefecture of Tokyo are merged, and the City dissolved; there is now no city actually named "Tokyo" anywhere in Japan.
1957: Worldwide - The opening of the International Geophysical Year.
1959: US and the Commonwealth - official, universal definitions of the yard, avoirdupois pound, and related units are agreed upon ... as multiples of metric units.
1963: United States - As part of the Zone Improvement Plan, ZIP codes are introduced in the US.
1963: London, England - The British government admits that their agent, Kim Philby, had actually been a spy for the Soviet Union.
1968: London, Washington, and Moscow - The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is signed by 62 countries.
1968: United States - The Union of Auto Workers formally withdraws from the AFL-CIO.
1979: Japan - The Sony Walkman goes on sale for about $150.
1997: Hong Kong - China resumes sovereignty after 156 years of British rule.
1999: Edinburgh - Elizabeth II opens the Scottish Parliament for the first time.
2003: Hong Kong - Over half a million people demonstrate in protest of Hong Kong Basic Law 23, an anti-sedition law.
2004: Space - The Cassini-Huygens probe inserts into Saturn orbit.

1646: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, philosopher and polymath (Theodicy, Monadology).
1804: George Sand (Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dupin), writer and polyamorist.
1818: Ignaz Semmelweis, discovered that washing hands prevented spread of childbed fever.
1858: William Metcalf, painter.
1869: William Strunk, educator (The Elements of Style).
1885: Dorothea Mackellar, sunburnt country poet.
1892: James M. Cain, writer (The Postman Always Rings Twice, Double Indemnity).
1906: Estée Lauder, businesswoman.
1912: David Brower, founder of Sierra Club Foundation.
1916: Olivia de Haviland. Happy hundredth birthday, ma'am!
1935: David Prowse, who was Darth Vader but not his voice, and not Anakin Skywalker in any incarnation.
1941: Twyla Tharp, dancer and choreographer.
1943: Jeff Wayne, composer (War of the Worlds).
1945: Debbie Harry, singer-songwriter (Blondie).
1950: David Duke, Grand Wizard and member of the Louisiana House of Representatives.
1961: Diana, Princess of Wales.

30th June 2016

6:46am: Asteroid (or Meteor Watch) Day
And also Social Media Day.

1520: Tenochtitlan, Mexico - La Noche Triste: After the death in Spanish captivity of King Moctezuma II, Hernando Cortés and his troops, realizing that they are in a precarious position without their hostage, escape the city by night. Called "triste" because of the loss of life and treasure incurred during the retreat.
1859: Niagara Gorge (Ontario and New York): Charles Blondin is the first person to cross the Falls on a tightrope. He will later repeat the feat a number of times in a number of "stunt" forms (i.e., blindfolded, carrying a man on his back, etc.).
1860: Oxford, England - The "Oxford Evolution Debate," in which Bishop "Soapy" Sam Wilberforce allegedly asked Thomas Huxley whether he was descended from a gorilla "on his grandmother's side or his grandfather's side?"
1864: Washington, DC - President Abraham Lincoln grants the Yosemite Valley to California for "public use, resort, and recreation."
1905: Bern, Switzerland - Albert Einstein submits "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies," which introduces the concepts of Special Relativity, for publication. This is one of four ground-breaking papers Einstein publishes in 1905, his "annus mirabilis."
1906: Washington, DC - Passage of the Meat Inspection Act and the Pure Food and Drug Act.
1908: Yeniseysk Governate, Russian Empire - An explosion over the Eastern Siberian taiga flattens 770 square miles of forest. Estimates of the explosion range from 10 to 30 megatonnes. The cause remains uncertain. It is most often held to be an impact event, but no impact crater exists. Other, geophysical explanations have been offered, but there is even less evidence for them.
1921: Washington, DC - President Warren G. Harding appoints former President William Howard Taft Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court. There is a precedent for the next Democratic President to appoint Obama...
1934: Nazi Germany - In the Nacht der langen Messer, the SS and Gestapo, under orders from Adolf Hitler, kill a number of the leftist leaders of the Nazi party and the SA (or Brownshirts). The purge will continue till July 2.
1936: Geneva - Emperor Haile Selassie of Abyssinia (Ethiopia) addresses the League of Nations concerning the Italian invasion of his country. In what is considered one of the great speeches of the 20th Century, Selassie said:
It is collective security: it is the very existence of the League of Nations. It is the confidence that each State is to place in international treaties.... In a word, it is international morality that is at stake. Have the signatures appended to a Treaty value only in so far as the signatory Powers have a personal, direct and immediate interest involved?

1937: London, England - Introduction of the world's first emergency telephone number, 999. The proximate cause was a 1935 fire in which five women were killed while a neighbor, attempting to phone the fire brigade, was held in a queue by the telephone exchange.
1953: Flint, MI - The first Chevrolet Corvette rolls off the production line.
1968: Vatican City - Pope Paul VI promulgates the Credo of the People of God.
1971: Columbus, OH - Ohio ratifies the 26th Amendment to the US Constitution, lowering the voting age nationally to 18.
1972: Worldwide - The first leap second takes place.
1986: Washington, DC - In Bowers v Hardwick, SCOTUS holds that the Constitution does not confer "a fundamental right to engage in homosexual sodomy." Chief Justice Warren Burger concludes that "To hold that the act of homosexual sodomy is somehow protected as a fundamental right would be to cast aside millennia of moral teaching." This ruling will stand for seventeen years, until SCOTUS overrules it in Lawrence v Texas.
1997: Hong Kong - Sovereignty of this island is returned from the United Kingdom to the People's Republic of China.

1685: John Gay, poet.
1801: Frédéric Bastiat, economist ("What is Seen and What is Not Seen," the "Glazier's Paradox").
1803: Thomas Lovell Beddoes, poet and playwright (Death's Jest Book).
1908: Winston Graham, writer (Marnie, the "Poldark" series).
1927: James Goldman, screenwriter and playwright (The Lion in Winter, They Might Be Giants).
1934: Harry Blackstone, Jr., magician.
1979: Matisyahu, Orthodox Jewish reggae rapper.

29th June 2016

6:41am: Feast of Sts. Peter and Paul
1613: London, England - The original Globe Theatre (12.5% owned by William Shakespeare) is destroyed by fire.
1776: Near Cape May, NJ - The Battle of Turtle Gut Inlet is the first privateer battle of the American War of Independence. The brigantine Nancy, laden with arms and bound for Philadelphia, tries to run a British blockade but is spotted. Aided by John Barry ("Father of the American Navy") on the fourteen-gun Lexington, Nancy successfully unloaded most of her cargo, leaving one hundred barrels of powder and a long fuse, which they lit and lowered their flags and sails; thinking this a sign of surrender, the British boarded Nancy just as the barrels ignited.
1776: Modern-day San Francisco - Founding, by Padre Francisco Palóu, of the Mission San Francisco de Asís (now commonly known as the Mission Dolores, which name actually comes from a nearby creek, "Arroyo de Nuestra Señora de los Dolores").
1895: Transcaucasia - The Doukhobors, a pacifist religious community, burn their weapons and refuse, en masse, service in the Russian military, while singing psalms and other religious songs. They are arrested and beaten by Cossacks.
1914: Syzran, Siberia - Khioniya Kuzminichna "Jina" Guseva drives a knife into the abdomen of Grigori Rasputin, crying "I have killed the Antichrist!" Rasputin survives and Kuzminichna is placed in an insane asylum.
1927: Wheeler Field, Oahu - The Bird of Paradise, a triplane, completes the first flight from California to Hawai'i in 25 hours and 50 minutes.
1956: Washington, DC - President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Federal Aid Highway Act, creating the Interstate highway system.
1972: Washington, DC - In Furman v Georgia, SCOTUS holds that, for the death penalty to be constitutional at all, it must be applied consistently, creating an effective four-year moratorium on capital punishment in the US. It also, incidentally, declared the death penalty unconstitutional for rape.
1974: Toronto, Ontario - Mikhail Baryshnikov defects from the Soviet Union to Canada.
1975: Present-day Silicon Valley, CA - Steve Wozniak tests the Apple I computer, which he and Steve Jobs will demonstrate to impress the Homebrew Computer Club.
1995: Space - As part of STS-71, the space shuttle Atlantis docks with the Russian space station Mir.
2006: Washington, DC - In Hamdan v Rumsfeld, SCOTUS holds that George W. Bush's military tribunals for trying the Guantanamo Bay detainees lack "the power to proceed because its structures and procedures violate both the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the four Geneva Conventions signed in 1949."
2007: San Jose, CA - Apple Computer releases the first iPhone.

1858: George Washington Goethals, engineer, principal designer of the Panama Canal.
1858: Julia Lathrop, first woman to head a United States Federal Bureau.
1861: William James Mayo, co-founder of the May Clinic.
1873: Leo Frobenius, ethnologist and archaeologist.
1900: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, poet and writer (Le Petit Prince).
1908: Leroy Anderson, composer ("Sleigh Ride", "The Syncopated Clock").
1910: Frank Loesser, songwriter ("Luck Be a Lady", "Baby It's Cold Outside").
1911: Bernard Herrmann, film composer (Psycho, The Devil and Daniel Webster).
1912: José Pablo Moncayo, composer (Huapango).
1920: Ray Harryhausen, animator and producer (Mighty Joe Young, Jason and the Argonauts).
1929: Oriana Fallaci, interviewer.
1941: Stokely Carmichael, activist, "Honorary Prime Minister" of the Black Panther Party.
1950: Michael Whelan, illustrator.
1956: David Mattingly, illustrator and matte painter.
1966: Yoko Kamio, manga writer-illustrator (Boys Over Flowers).

28th June 2016

6:10pm: Read: Viriconium, by M. John Harrison (2016-40, 41, 42, 43)
An omnibus containing three novels about the fictional city Viriconium, and the seven stories that make up the collection _Viriconium Nights_.

Viriconium exists - except when it doesn't - in the dim future of the Earth, after the "afternoon cultures" have come and gone. Its people are, largely, decadents, living in the ancient Pastel City and using the ruined technology of millenia gone by. That it doesn't seem to have much of a political economy may be part of the point, or may not.

The first novel, _The Pastel City_, introduces us to Viriconium and its environs as a storm of barbarians is coming down from the North, led by the Old Queen, relative of Viriconium's Young Queen Jane, and vengeful. She has awakened a terrible ancient weapon. tegeus-Cromis, veteran of many battles, is called upon to "get the band back together" and defeat the Northerners, even while a mysterious metallic lammergeier tells him to go in the opposite direction.

The second novel is _A Storm of Wings._ It takes place, apparently, eighty years later - though it's hard to be sure of these things in Viriconium. The assassin Galen Hornwrack is, more or less, drafted to go North and put down the source of an invasion of _things_ from _elsewhere_. Saying more would give away some interesting surprises. But the themes of the series come clear by comparing the first two books: saving a city which may not even deserve it; rescuing a princess; a dwarf; betrayal; a contrast between the High and Low cities; many others.

The relationship of _In Viriconium_ to the first two novels is obscure. A character who died in the second is alive here, but it may be centuries later - or earlier. There is no Queen Jane; instead the city seems to be ruled by a dwarf who calls himself the Grand Cairo, except that nobody knows that he does. The city is doubly cursed, by a plague and by its twin gods, the Barley Brothers, who in trying to become human have become crude images of Cockney thugs. Against this background, a portrait painter named Ashlyme tries to save the city's greatest(?) painter, Audsley King, from the plague zone, which is constantly shifting and advancing.

In the short stories, the shattered and constantly reassembling nature of Viriconium becomes clear, even as its image becomes less so. They are jewel-like in their intensity, and as varied as one might like. The last, "A Young Man's Journey to Viriconium," is a sort of pendant to the sequence which deconstructs it - or reconstitutes it.

Far from escape fiction, this is fiction which escapes from the reader, seeming always to give more than it promises, but what it gives seems always just out of reach. To call it _weird fiction_ seems to call up the shades of Lovecraft and Machen (or of Mieville and Barker); of such company it is worthy but not deserving, for it is weird very differently from any of them. Comparisons may be made too to the "Dying Earth" subgenre named after Jack Vance's tales and epitomized by Gene Wolfe's _Book of the New Sun_: but such comparisons miss the point; there is some of the same decadance and lushness of language, but the matter is very very different. In fact, after reading these four books I'm not sure what that matter _is_, but I am sure it will haunt me for years to come.
6:41am: National Paul Bunyan Day
Or: National Insurance Awareness Day.

1838: London, England- Coronation of Queen Victoria. Huzzah!
1846: Paris, France - Adolphe Sax patents the saxophone.
1880: Glenrowan, Australia - Capture of Ned Kelly.
1894: Washington, DC - Labor Day becomes an official US holiday.
1902: Washington, DC - Passage of the Spooner Act, which empowers and authorizes President Theodore Roosevelt to purchase, from Colombia, the rights for the creation of the Panama Canal.
1914: Sarajevo, Bosnia - Bosnian Serb nationalist Gavrilo Princip assassinates Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife Sophie. While the actual causes of WWI are much more complex (Duh!), this is the match in the tinderbox.
1919: Versailles, France - The signing of the Treaty of Versailles officially ends the state of war between Germany and the Allied nations.
1936: Inner Mongolia - Formation of a Japanese puppet state, Mengjiang.
1950: South Korea - the Bodo League massacre begins. The Bodo League was a "reeducation" program established by the government of South Korea under President Syngman Rhee, for collaborators with Japan and for suspected Communist sympathizers. Beginning on this date, immediately after the North Korean invasion, the Rhee government began a systematic and carefully covered-up slaughter of Bodo League members. The actual number killed is estimated between 100,000 and 200,000.
1950: Also on this day, North Korean soldiers massacred approximately 900 doctors, nurses, students, and patients at Seoul National University Hospital.
1969: New York, NY -Police raid (nominally an operation of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms Bureau, on the grounds of bootlegged liquor) the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar on Christopher Street. As a woman (generally identified as Stormé DeLarverie) complains that her cuffs were too tight, she is hit on the head with a baton and thrown into a wagon. This sparks a riot, in which ten police officers barricade themselves inside the Stonewall for safety. The riots continue, on and off, for six days, and the Gay Pride and Gay Power movements are born.
1978: Washington, DC - In Regents of the University of California v Bakke, SCOTUS holds that, while affirmative action programs are legitimate, and race can be a factor in college admissions, racial quotas are not permissible.
1987: Sardasht, Iran - For the first time in history, a civilian population is deliberately targeted with chemical weapons as Iraqi planes drop (what is believed to be) mustard gas bombs on this town. Five thousand are still suffering illness as a result of these attacks.
1994: Matsumoto, Japan - Aum Shinrikyo cultists release sarin gas in this town, killing seven.

1491: Enery the Aitth of England.
1577: Peter Paul Rubens, painter.
1703: John Wesley, cofounder of Methodism.
1712: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, philosopher (The Social Contract).
1824: Paul Broca, anatomist.
1867: Luigi Pirandello, playwright (Six Characters in Search of an Author).
1902: Richard Rodgers, composer, collaborator with Hart and Hammerstein.
1909: Eric Ambler, thriller writer.
1926: Mel Brooks, comic and moviemaker (Young Frankenstein).
1932: Pat Morita, who was Mr Miyagi.
1946: Robert Aspirin, writer (The "MythAdventures" series).
1947: Mark Helprin, writer (Winter's Tale).

27th June 2016

7:09am: National HIV Testing Day
National PTSD Awareness Day, too.

1844: Carthage, IL - Martyrdom of Joseph and Hyrum Smith, as a mob shoots and kills them in the jail.
1905: The Black Sea - Mutiny by socialists aboard the Russian battleship Potemkin.
1971: New York, NY - Bill Graham closes the Fillmore East.
1981: Beijing - The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China puts the blame for the Cultural Revolution squarely on the shoulders of Mao Zedong.
1985: US - Route 66 is removed officially from the US Highway System.

1806: Augustus de Morgan, mathematician and logician, mentor for Ada Lovelace.
1938: Bankim Chandra Chattopadhyay, writer (The Poison Tree).
1846: Charles Parnell, Irish nationalist politician and libel victim.
1850: Lafcadio Hearn, writer (Kwaidan).
1869: Emma Goldman, activist.
1872: Paul Laurence Dunbar, writer and poet.
1880: Helen Keller, activist and writer (The Story of My Life).
1914: Robert Aickman, writer (Cold Hand in Mine).
1927: Bob Keeshan, who was the Captain and the original Clarabell the Clown.
1930: Ross Perot, businessman and candidate.
1941: James P. Hogan, writer (The Gentle Giants of Ganymede).
1959: Dan Jurgens, comix writer (Booster Gold).
1966: J. J. Abrams, producer (Cloverfield, Super 8).

26th June 2016

9:39am: What a cheerful day...
It is both "International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking," and "International Day in Support of Victims of Torture."

1718: St. Petersburg, Russia - Alexei Petrovich, Tsarevich of Russia, dies mysteriously in prison two days after being condemned to death.
1843: Nanking, China - The Treaty of Nanking cedes Hong Kong to Britain "in perpetuity."
1870: Washington, DC - Christmas is declared a Federal holiday.
1934: Washington, DC - President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Federal Credit Union Act, establishing credit unions in the US.
1945: San Francisco, CA - Signing of the United Nations Charter.
1948: New York - Publication of "The Lottery," by Shirley Jackson, in the New Yorker magazine.
1963: West Berlin, Germany - US President John F. Kennedy gives his "Ich bin ein Berliner" speech.
1974: Troy, OH - First scanning of a UPC code (yes, that's redundant) to actually sell an item. It's a package of Wrigley's Chewing Gum.
1977: Indianpolis, IN - Elvis Presley performs what will be his final concert.
1997: Washington, DC - In Reno v. American Civil Liberties Union, SCOTUS holds the Communications Decency Act unconstitutional because it does not permit parents to determine what materials are acceptable for their children.
2003: Washington, DC - In Lawrence v. Texas, SCOTUS holds that gender-based sodomy laws are unconstitutional.
2013: Washington, DC - In United States v. Windsor, SCOTUS holds that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage act, defining marriage as heterosexual, is in violation of the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.
2015: Washington, DC - In Obergefell v. Hodges, SCOTUS holds that, under the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, same-sex couples have a right to marry.

1730: Charles Messier, astronomer, produced the first catalog of nebulae and star clusters.
1824: William Thompson, 1st Baron Kelvin, physicist, formulated the first two laws of thermodynamics.
1892: Pearl S. Buck, writer (The Good Earth).
1903: Big Bill Broonzy, singer-songwriter.
1904: Peter Lorre, who was Mr. Moto.
1905: Lynd Ward, graphic novelist (God's Man).
1909: "Colonel" Tom Parker, talent manager.
1911: Babe Didrikson (Zaharias), basketball player and golfer.
1916: Virginia Satir, "Mother of family therapy."
1922: Walter Farley, writer (The Black Stallion et seq.).
1931: Colin Wilson, writer (The Outsider).

25th June 2016

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

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

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

24th June 2016

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

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

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

23rd June 2016

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

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

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

22nd June 2016

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

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

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

21st June 2016

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

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

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

20th June 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

18th June 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

17th June 2016

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

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

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

16th June 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

15th June 2016

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

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

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

14th June 2016

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

Ahem.

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

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

13th June 2016

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

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

11th June 2016

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

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

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