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7th June 2016

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

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

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

6th June 2016

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

On June 5th then:

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

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

5th June 2016

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

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

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

4th June 2016

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3rd June 2016

5:54am: National repeat day.
No, I won't. I have some pride.

1140: Rome - At the instigation of St. Bernard, Pope Innocent II condemns the teachings of Peter Abelard as heretical, and excommunicates him. The claim against Abelard is using logic where it is inapplicable, which is illogical. The condemnation and excommunication will be lifted before Abelard's death, however.
1781: Virginia - The midnight ride of ... Jack Jouett? Yes: learning that British troops were on their way to arrest Thomas Jefferson and the Virginia legislature, Jouett undertook a 40-mile ride in the dark, along back roads, to warn Jefferson and the legislators.
1888: San Franciaco, CA - The San Francisco Examiner publishes Ernest Lawrence Thayer's comic poem, "Casey at the Bat," arguably the most famous poem about baseball ever written. Intended to be read in a broad Irish accent, the poem was an instant hit, and made Thayer a one-poem poet.
1937: Monts, France - Edward, Duke of Windsor and former King of England, marries Wallis Simpson at the Château de Candé.
1943: Los Angeles - In a series of racially-motivated incidents, propelled by the "Sleepy Lagoon" murder trial (in which nine Mexican youths were convicted of killing another), American servicemen clash with Mexican defense workers, whom they accuse of being unpatriotic, in the Zoot Suit Riots.
1950: Nepal - Maurice Herzon and Louis Lachenal complete the ascent of Annapurna, the first successful climb of one of the fourteen "eight-thousander" mountains.
1965: Cape Canaveral, FL - Launch of Gemini 4, the first US multiday mission (4 days), and featuring the first American spacewalk (by Ed White).
1968: New York, NY - Valerie Solanas shoots Andy Warhol three times in an failed assassination attempt.
1992: Canberra, Australia - In Mabo v Queensland, the Australian High Court recognizes the concept of aboriginal land rights and title.

1636: John Hale, minister who supported, then turned against, the Salem witch trials.
1808: Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States of America.
1844: Garret Hobart, 24th Vice President (under William McKinley) and sixth to die in office.
1864: Ransom E. Olds, founder of both Oldsmobile and REO Motor Car Company.
1906: Josephine Baker, actress, singer, dancer, and French Resistance operative.
1918: Lili St. Cyr, burlesque dancer.
1922: Alain Resnais, director (Night and Fog, Hiroshima mon amour, Last Year at Marienbad).
1926: Alan Ginsberg, poet.
1930: Marion Zimmer Bradley, fantasy and science-fantasy writer.
1931: Raúl Castro, Cuban president.
1931: John Frederick Lange ("John Norman"), philosopher and science-fantasy writer.
1936: Larry McMurtry, novelist (Lonesome Dove) and screenwriter (Brokeback Mountain).
1942: Curtis Mayfield, singer-songwriter ("People Get Ready," "Freddy's Dead").
1961: Lawrence Lessig, lawyer, founder of Creative Commons.
1980: Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Prince of Qatar.

2nd June 2016

6:58am: International Sex Worker's Day...
...or, in Germany, "Hurentag," God help us.

455: Rome - Vandals enter the city.
1692: Salem Village, MA - Bridget Bishop is the first person to go on trial for witchcraft in the Salem Witch Trials. She will be found guilty and hanged on 10 June.
1763: Mackinaw City, MI - Chippewas stage a game of baaga'adowe (an early form of lacrosse), diverting the guards at Fort Michilimackinack. Running into the fort after a ball, they turned on the garrison, killing most of the inhabitants and capturing the fort.
1774: London, England - Parliament passes the 1774 amendment to the 1765 Quartering Act. Passed as a reaction to the Boston Tea Party, this is one of the "Intolerable Acts" that helped drive the colonists to final rebellion.
1855: Portland, ME - In response to a Maine law which prohibited the manufacture and sale of alcoholic beverages, a largely-Irish-immigrant mob riots. When the mayor, Neal Dow, orders the militia to fire into the crowd, one man is killed and seven wounded. Dow will later be prosecuted (but acquitted) for violation of the temperance law.
1886: Washington, DC - Grover Cleveland marries Frances Folsom. He is the only President to wed in the executive mansion. At 21, she is the youngest First Lady ever.
1896: London - Guglielmo Marconi applies for a patent on his "wireless telegraph."
1919: Throughout the US - Anarchist followers of Luigi Galleani set off eight bombs in eight cities.
1924: Washington, DC - President Calvin Coolidge signs the Indian Citizenship Act, granting US citizenship to all indigenous Americans born within the territorial limits of the US.
1946: Italy - A referendum ends the Italian monarchy, exiling King Umberto II.
1953: Westminster Abbey, London, England - Elizabeth II is crowned Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australian, New Zealand, and Her Other Realms, and Head of the Commonwealth. This is the first major event to be broadcast on international television.
1962: Santiago, Chile - A FIFA World Cup game between Chile and Italy becomes so violent that police are forced to intervene on the field several times. The game is referred to by a BBC commentator as "the most stupid, appalling, disgusting, and disgraceful exhibition of football, possibly in the history of the game." Chile wins 2-0.
1966: Mars - Surveyor 1 is the first US spacecraft to soft-land on another planet.
1979: Poland - Pope John Paul II becomes the first Pope to visit a Communist country.
1997: Denver, CO - Timothy McVeigh is convicted on fifteen counts of murder and conspiracy.
2003: Baikonur Space Center, Kazakhstan - ESA's Mars Express probe launches, the first European Mars mission.

1731: Martha Dandridge Custis Washington, first First Lady of the United States.
1740: Donatien Alphonse François, Marquis de Sade, philosopher (of a sort).
1743: Giuseppe "Alessandro Cagliostro" Balsamo, occultist.
1840: Thomas Hardy, writer (Jude the Obscure).
1857: Edward Elgar, composer (The "Enigma" Variations)
1863: Felix Weingartner, composer (Orestes trilogy of operas); also, editor of the works of Berlioz.
1899: Lotte Reiniger, animator (The Adventures of Prince Achmed).
1904: Johnny Weissmuller, swimmer and actor.
1913: Barbara Pym, novelist (An Unsuitable Attachment).
1918: Ruth Atkinson, comix writer-artist (Millie the Model).
1929: Norton Juster, architect and writer (The Phantom Tollbooth).
1935: Carol Shields, writer (The Stone Diaries).
1944: Marvin Hamlisch, composer of film and theatrical scores.
1948: Jerry Mathers, who was The Beaver.
1953: Cornel West, racial theorist and writer (Race Matters).

1st June 2016

7:10am: International Children's Day, Global Day of Parents. Go figure.
It's also Neighbors Day, Global Milk Day, and National Heimlich Maneuver Day.

1215: Beijing, China - Jenghiz Khan captures the city, then known as Zhongdu.
1495: Fife, Scotland - Brother John Cor produces a batch of malt whisky for James IV, who gave him gifts in return. While whisky is almost certainly older than this, this is the first written reference to a batch of the stuff.
1660: Boston, MA - Mary Dyer is hanged for the crime of being a Quaker in the Massachussetts Bay Colony.
1779: Philadelphia, PA - Court-martial is brought against Benedict Arnold for "malfeasance" in a matte of money. His bitterness over this matter finally swings him to the British side.
1813: Near Boston, MA - During the naval engagement between USS Chesapeake and HMS Shannon, Captain James Lawrence of the Chesapeake is mortally wounded by a sniper. His final order: "Don't give up the ship. Fight her till she sinks," is not actually followed.
1831: Canada - James Clark Ross reaches the North Magnetic Pole.
1857: Paris, France - First publication of Charles Baudelaire's collection of poems, Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of evil). The book is tried for obscenity and Baudelaire is fined 300 francs; later editions of the book until 1949 will omit the six poems that caused the charges.
1890: Washington, DC(?) - The US Census Bureau begins using Herman Hollerith's punched-card tabulating machine to count census returns; variations on this machine will be used for half a century, until the Census Bureau acquires a Univac I machine.
1916: Washington, DC - Louis Brandeis becomes the first Jew appointed to the US Supreme Court.
1941: Baghdad, Iraq - In the Farhud, a pogrom, over 180 Jews are killed and a thousand or more injured.
1962: Ramla, Israel - Hanging of Adolf Eichmann.
1967: London and elsewhere - Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, by the Beatles, is released.
1974: Rockville, MD (?) - Emergency Medicine magazine publishes the Heimlich Maneuver.
1980: New York, NY - CNN begins broadcasting.
2012: Washington, DC - President Barack Obama orders the use of Stuxnet to attack Iran's Natanz nuclear facility.

1801: Brigham Young, cult leader.
1878: John Masefield, poet and novelist.
1926: Marilyn Monroe, actress and singer.
1934: Pat Boone, squeaky-clean singer and actor.
1935: Frederick J. "Reverend Ike" Eikerenkoetter, prosperity evangelist.
1936: Gerald Scarfe, illustrator and animator (Pink Floyd The Wall).
1937: Colleen McCullough, neuroscientist and writer (The Thorn Birds, The First Man In Rome).
1940: Rene Auberjonois, who was the Chef.
1940: Kip Thorne, physicist.
1941: Edo de Waart, conductor.
1945: Frederica von Stade, soprano.
1953: David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz, serial killer.
1981: Amy Shumer, comic.

31st May 2016

5:59am: Feast of the Visitation
And World No Tobacco day, too!

1279 BC: Rameses II the Great accedes to the throne of Egypt.
1669: Samuel Pepys writes his diary for the last time.
1790: New York, NY: Enactment of the first United States copyright act, granting copyright for 14 years with a one-time renewal of 14 years.
1854: France: Abolition of the "civil death" penalty. Common in medieval times, this penalty consisted of stripping the felon of all civil rights, including that to life. Anyone might injure or kill this person without penalty.
1859: London, England: The clock in the tower of the Houses of Parliament that houses the bell Big Ben begins keeping time.
1889: Johnstown, PA: The South Fork Dam on the Little Conemaugh River fails, sending a 60' wall of water (over 20 million tons of water) crashing over the town, killing over 2000 people. In the aftermath, Clara Barton's Red Cross is established as America's premier relief angency.
1902: Vereenging, South Africa: The Treaty of Vereenging ends the Second Boer War.
1910: South Africa - Creation of the Union of South Africa.
1929: United States - Release of "The Karnival Kid," the first Mickey Mouse cartoon with actual spoken words.
1961: South Africa - The Union of South Africa becomes the Republic of South Africa.
1971: United States - Memorial Day, which had formerly been May 30, is for the first time celebrated on the last Monday of May regardless of the cardinal date.
1973: Washington, DC - US Senate cuts off fundin for the bombing of Khmer Rouge targets in Cambodia. This well-intended act probably hastened the Cambodian civil war and the ascendancy of the Khmer Rouge.
1977: Alaska - Completion of the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.
2005: United States - Vanity Fair magazine reveals the identity of "Deep Throat" from the Watergate investigation, an FBI special investigator named Mark Felt.

1819: Walt Whitman, poet.
1898: Norman Vincent Peale, minister and writer (The Power of Positive Thinking).
1901: Alfredo Antonini, composer and conductor.
1923: Rainier III of Monaco.
1939: Terry Waite, humanitarian, writer, and hostage.
1940: Gilbert Shelton, comix writer-artist (The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers, Wonder Wart-Hog).
1943: Joe Namath, American rules football quarterback.

30th May 2016

8:17am: Memorial Day (US)
70: Jerusalem - Roman soldiers led by Titus breach the city's Second Wall; the Jews retreat to the First Wall.
1381: Brentwood, Essex, England - John Bampton arrives to investigate the non-payment of the poll tax. In the resistance that follows, Wat Tyler's Rebellion (a/k/a the Peasant's Revolt, a/k/a the Great Rising) breaks out. Among the outcomes will be the abolition of serfdom in England.
1431: Rouen, France - Jeanne d'Arc is burned at the stake for heresy and cross-dressing.
1536: England - Henry VIII marries Jane Seymour.
1539: Tampa Bay, FL - Hernando de Soto arrives with 600 soldiers, in hopes of finding gold.
1631: France - The first issue of La Gazette de France, France's first newspaper and first weekly publication.
1806: Adairville, KY - Future President Andrew Jackson and attorney Charles Dickinson fight a duel over Dickenson's claims that Jackson's wife was a bigamist. Dickinson dies.
1854: Washington DC - the Kansas-Nebraska act becomes law, creating the territories of Kansas and Nebraska. It allows "popular sovereignty" in these territories with respect to slavery, causing the situation known as "Bleeding Kansas" and pushing the nation further towards civil war.
1868: Decatur, IL - John A Logan, "Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic," declares this day Decoration Day, for decorating the graves of the war dead with flowers. This custom spreads and eventually becomes Memorial Day.
1899: Cane Springs Canyon, AZ - Pearl Hart and "Joe Boot" rob a stagecoach, one of the last such robberies in the Old West.
1922: Washington, DC - Dedication of the Lincoln Memorial.
1943: Oświęcim, Poland - Josef Mengele becomes the chief medical officer of the Romani family camp at Auschwitz.
1961: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic - Dictator Rafael Trujillo is assassinated.
1966: Cape Canaveral, FL - Launch of Surveyor 1, the first US probe to make a soft landing on the Moon.
1967: Nigeria - The Eastern Region declares independence as the Republic of Biafra.
1971: Cape Canaveral, FL - Launch of Mariner 9, which will map 70% of the surface of Mars.
1989: Beijing, China - In Tiananmen Square, the 33' tall "Goddess of Democracy" statue is unveiled.
1814: Mikhail Bakunin, founder of collectivist anarchism.
1846: Peter Carl Fabergé, goldsmith and jeweler, creator of the imperial eggs.
1902: Stepin Fetchit, comedic actor.
1903: Countee Cullen, poet.
1908: Mel Blanc, voice actor.
1909: Benny Goodman, clarinetist and bandleader.
1922: Hal Clement, science fiction writer.
1926: Christine Jorgenson, pioneering trans woman.
1962: Kevin Eastman, writer, co-created Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
1971: Idina Menzel, who was Elphaba and Elsa.
1975: Marissa Meyer, CEO of Yahoo!

29th May 2016

8:12pm: Seen: Captain America - Civil War (2016)
To get the obvious out of the way quickly, it's a superheroics action movie, with lots of things and people going fast and blowing up, so if that's not your cup of tea, don't bother.

That said: this is an unusually thoughtful superheroics action movie, actually about something other than the Menace Of The Month. I mean, yes, there's a menace, but the menace is almost a side-plot to what really matters.

Unfortunately, it's impossible to talk about what matters in this movie without spoilers. Read more...Collapse )
So anyway. This is quite possibly the best MCU movie to date - and I only say "possibly" because there are a couple I've yet to see. There is real ethical meat to chew on. At first glance it looks like the issues are only issues because of the existence in the MCU of superpeople, but it has a lot to say ... and more to ask... about the nature of law, freedom, and friendship.
2:56pm: International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers
Or, if that upsets your stomach, it's World Digestive Health Day.

1453: Constantinople - Falls, and with it, the Byzantine Empire.
1660: London, England - The Restoration: Charles II enters the city and is welcomed by Parliament.
1790: Rhode Island - Ratifies the Constitution, the thirteenth and last of the original States to do so.
1913: Paris, France - Premiere of Igor Stravinsky's ballet Le Sacre du Printemps. There is a riot which in retrospect appears to have been provoked more by Vasilav Nijinsky's choreography than by Stravinsky's music.
1919: Sobral, Brazil - Sir Arthur Eddington and Andrew Claude de la Cherois Crommelin travel to this remote site for a solar eclipse and use it to test Einstein's theory of general relativity. The test provides confirmatory evidence for the theory.
1942: Los Angeles, CA(?) - Bing Crosby, with John Scott Trotter and his Orchestra, and the Ken Darby Singers, record "White Christmas." Seventy-four years later, this remains the best-selling single of all time, with over 100,000,000 copies sold over the years.
1953: Mt. Everest, Nepal - Tenzing Norgay and Edmund Hillary reach the summit of the world's tallest mountain, the first human beings known to have done so.
1954: Oosterbeek, Netherlands - The first "Bilderberg Conference" opens at the Hotel de Bilderberg.
1999: Space - Discovery makes the first successful docking of a space shuttle with the International Space Station.

1736: Patrick Henry, lawyer, politician, orator.
1874: G.K. Chesterton, essayist, poet, novelist, playwright.
1880: Oswald Spengler, historian.
1893: Max Brand, writer; creator of Dr. Kildare.
1894: Josef von Sternberg, director (Der blaue Engel).
1903: Bob Hope, comedian.
1906: T.H. White, writer (The Once and Future King).
1914: Tenzing Norgay, mountaneer.
1917: John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States.
1922: Iannis Xenakis, composer (Metastaseis).
1929: Peter Higgs, physicist, for whom the boson.
1932: Paul Erlich, biologist and writer (The Population Bomb).
1953: Danny Elfman, singer-songwriter (Oingo Boingo) and soundtrack composer (The Nightmare before Christmas).
1955: John Hinckley, Jr., failed assassin.
1967: Steven Levitt, economist and writer (Freakonomics).

28th May 2016

8:56am: Is it my fault...
...if National Hamburger Day and National Menstrual Health Day fall on the same day?

No, it is not.

585 BC: Mediterranean area - The first predicted (by Thales) solar eclipse.
1754: Fayette County (modern), PA - In the first battle of the French and Indian War, George Washington defeats a French reconnaissance party.
1892: San Francsico, CA - John Muir organizes the Sierra Club.
1936: Cambridge, England - Alan Turing submits for publication the paper "On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem," which introduces the concept of the Turing Machine.
1937: Washington, DC/San Francisco, CA - President Franklin Delano Roosevelt pushes a button which signals the opening of the Golden Gate Bridge to motor traffic.
1937: Germany - Foundation of the Volkswagen company.
1951: Britain - Premiere broadcast of The Goon Show.
1961: International - The founding of Amnesty International is dated from this day, when an article by Peter Benenson called "The Forgotten Prisoners" appeared in a number of newspapers.
1964: Cairo - Foundation of the Palestinian Liberation Organization.
1998: Pakistan - Tests five nuclear bombs in response to India's test.
2002: Mars - Odyssey discovers signs of large ice deposits.

1738: Joseph-Ignace Guillotin, physician and inventor.
1759: William Pitt the Younger, politician.
1779: Thomas Moore, songwriter ("The Minstrel Boy")
1888: Jim Thorpe, decathlete, football and baseball player.
1908: Ian Fleming, writer (Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang).
1916: Walker Percy, novelist (Love in the Ruins).
1917: Barry Commoner, biologist and politician.
1917: Papa John Creach, violinist.
1923: György Ligeti, composer.
1940: Maeve Binchy, writer (Light a Penny Candle).
1945: Hunter Doherty "Patch" Adams, physician and clown.
1945: John Fogerty, singer-songwriter.
1971: Marco Rubio, scumbag.

27th May 2016

7:33am: National ... Cellophane Tape Day?
1199: Westminster, England - John Lackland is crowned King of England.
1703: Saint Petersburg, Russia - Is founded by Czar Piotr the Great.
1907: San Francisco, CA - In the aftermath of the 1906 earthquake, an outbreak of bubonic plague, a last echo of the 1901-04 outbreak.
1917: Rome - Pope Benedict XV promulgates the first comprehensive code of canon law in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.
1927: Detroit, MI - The Ford Motor Company discontinues the manufacture of the Model T.
1930: New York, NY - The Chrysler Building opens as the tallest building in the world, a status it would hold for only eleven months before being surpassed by the Empire State Building.
1933: Washington, DC - The Federal Securities Act requires that all securities to be traded interstate (which essentially means anything that could vaguely be interpreted as "interstate commerce," such as the use of the phone or the mail) must be registered with the FTC.
1933: Los Angeles, CA - Walt Disney releases the cartoon "The Three Little Pigs." Its song, "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?" will be a huge hit in Depression America.
1933: Chicago, IL - The "Century of Progress" World's Fair opens when the rays of the star Arcturus are detected in the evening.
1935: Washington, DC - In A.L.A. Schechter Poultry Corp. v United States, a/k/a "the sick chicken case," SCOTUS holds that the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933 is invalid under the Constitution.
1937: San Francisco/Marin County, CA - the Golden Gate Bridge opens to pedestrian traffic.
1941: North Atlantic Ocean - Sinking of the Bismarck.
1967: Australia - Overwhelming (90%+ of the vote) passage of a referendum that removes phrases from the Australian Constitution that singled out the aborignal peoples for different treatment under the law.
1986: Japan - Dragon Quest, the ur-role-playing video game, is released.
1995: Culpeper, VA - Actor Christopher Reeve is thrown from his horse in a riding competition, and is paralyzed from the neck down.
1997: Washington, DC - In Jones v Clinton, SCOTUS rules that a sitting President can be required to defend a private civil lawsuit.

1794: Cornelius Vanderbilt, steamboat and railroad tycoon; by some measures the wealthiest man in American history.
1818: Amelia Bloomer, journalist and activist, who did not create the garment associated with her name.
1819: Julia Ward Howe, poet/songwriter ("The Battle Hymn of the Republic").
1837: James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok, police officer and gunfighter.
1884: Max Brod, author and composer; best known as Kafka's literary executor.
1894: Louis-Ferdinand Céline, physician, anti-Semite, and writer (Journey to the End of the Night).
1894: Dashiell Hammett, writer (The Thin Man).
1907: Rachel Carson, biologist and writer (Silent Spring).
1911: Hubert Horatio Humphrey, Vice President of the United States.
1911: Vincent Price, actor and bon vivant.
1912: John Cheever, writer ("The Enormous Radio").
1915: Herman Wouk, writer (The Caine Mutiny).
1921: Caryl Chessman, kidnapper.
1922: Christopher Lee, actor.
1923: Henry Kissinger, political scientist.
1925: Tony Hillerman, writer (The "Chee and Leaphorn" mysteries).
1930: John Barth, writer (Giles Goat-Boy).
1934: Harlan Ellison, writer ("'Repent, Harlequin!' Said the Ticktockman").
1948: Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart, occultist (The Church of All Worlds).
1956: Siouxsie Sioux, singer.

26th May 2016

6:36am: Corpus Christi
...or, for the secular, Red Nose Day.

1538: Geneva, Switzerland - The City expels John Calvin and his followers, as was preordained.
1647: Hartford, CT - Alse (Alice) Young becomes the first person to be hanged as a witch in the American colonies.
1822: Grue, Norway - A stave church catches fire, killing between 113 and 117 people.
1828: Nuremberg, Germany - Kaspar Hauser, a boy of about 16 years of age, is found wandering the streets. His origins are questionable, and his linguistic abilities minimal; he answers most questions with "Don't know."
1830: Washington, DC - Congress passes the Indian Removal Act, which Andrew Jackson will sign into law two days later. Its implementation, especially against the Cherokee, is referred to as "the Trail of Tears."
1857: Missouri - Three months after the Dred Scott decision, Scott and his family are manumitted by their owner, Taylor Blow. Scott will live only a bit over 15 months after his manumission.
1896: New York - Charles Dow publishes for the first time the Dow Jones Industrial Average, based at this time on twelve companies.
1897: Westminster, England - Archibald Constable & Company publish Bram Stoker's fifth novel, Dracula.
1923: Le Mans, France - The first "24 Hours of Le Mans" race is held.
1938: Washington, DC - First session of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC), originally created to uncover citizens with Nazi ties.
1948: Washington, DC - Establishment of the Civil Air Patrol.
1972: Moscow, Russia - During a summit meeting between President Richard Nixon and General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty is signed, to be effective for thirty years.
1977: New York, NY - George Willig, the "Human Fly," climbs 2 World Trade Center.
1998: Washington, DC - In New York v New Jersey, SCOTUS rules that the majority of Ellis Island is in New Jersey, not New York. At issue was land added to the island since the original compact that placed the island in New York's control.
1998: Australia - This is the first "National Sorry Day," seeking reconciliation for the mistreatment of native Australian peoples.

1865: Robert W. Chambers, writer (The King in Yellow).
1886: Al Jolson, singer and actor.
1895: Dorothea Lange, photographer.
1898: Ernst Bacon, composer.
1907: John Wayne, actor.
1912: Jay Silverheels, who was the longsuffering Tonto.
1926: Miles Davis, trumpet player.
1928: Jack Kevorkian, "Doctor Death."
1933: Edward Whittemore, writer (the Jerusalem Quartet).
1939: Herb Trimpe, comix illustrator (The Incredible Hulk).
1948: Stevie Nicks, singer (Fleetwood Mac).
1951: Sally Ride, astronaut.
1955: Masaharu Morimoto, "Iron Chef Japanese."
1962: Bobcat Goldthwaite, comedian.
1964: Caitlin R. Kiernan, Tiptree-winning writer (The Drowning Girl: A Memoir).
1971: Matt Stone, co-creator of South Park and The Book of Mormon.
1977: Raina Telgemeier, comix writer-illustrator.

25th May 2016

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

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

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

24th May 2016

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

Only he has no idea how to use it.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

23rd May 2016

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

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

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

22nd May 2016

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

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

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

21st May 2016

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

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

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

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

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

20th May 2016

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

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

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

19th May 2016

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

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

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

18th May 2016

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

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

17th May 2016

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

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