Little Bits of History

Fine! Just Fine?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 3, 2015
Kenesaw Mountain Landis  and Rockefeller

Kenesaw Mountain Landis and John D. Rockefeller

August 3, 1907: Federal Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis imposes a fine. President Theodore Roosevelt had appointed Landis as a Federal Judge two years earlier. He was appointed to the Northern District of Illinois. He sentenced Standard Oil Company of Indiana for breaking the Elkins Rebate Law – 1,903 times. The Elkins Act was passed in 1903 as an amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act. Prior to the Act, cattle and petroleum companies were able to secure rebates for moving their products between larger cities, something unavailable to the smaller businesses. The carriers needed the income from the larger businesses and would underbid each other in order to be able to secure the overall larger revenues from moving great amounts of product. This was seen as unfair to smaller businesses and the rebates were prevented which was supposed to make the prices for smaller businesses drop since they no longer needed to supplement the losses from the larger businesses. There was an insubstantial drop in carrier charges overall.

A suit was brought against Standard Oil for moving oil from Whiting, Indiana, to East St. Louis, Illinois, and from Chappell, Illinois, to St. Louis, Missouri. Between September 1, 1903 and March 1, 1905 the oil company had shipped 1,903 cars of oil after receiving concessions on price. There was a reduction of 441 counts as they were considered to not be involved. The company entered a plea of “Not Guilty.” The verdict came through as “Guilty” on all of the remaining 1,462 counts. Landis imposed the maximum fine on each count – $20,000. The total fine was $29,240,000 which was the largest fine ever placed on a company at the time. Standard Oil appealed and the case was reversed.

Landis was born in Ohio in 1866 and dropped out of school at the age of 15. He had several civil service jobs and at the age of 21, applied to become a lawyer. There were no educational requirements for the Indiana bar at the time. He became a lawyer and after little success, then decided to go to law school. He opened a private practice in Chicago which did better and moved from there to become the personal secretary of the US Secretary of State, Walter Gresham in 1893. When Gresham died two years later, he refused the offer of an ambassadorship. He served as a Federal Judge from 1905 to 1922. He was also the first Commissioner of Baseball from 1920 until his death in 1944 at the age of 78. While this case was noted for its huge fine, he is best remembered for his handling of the Black Sox scandal and expelling eight Chicago White Sox players after they threw the 1919 World Series.

John D. Rockefeller founded Standard Oil in 1889 as part of the Standard Oil trust. With the rise of the automobile, Indiana Standard was chosen to proved gasoline to consumers in 1911 and Standard Oil separated from the trust. Through mergers and acquisitions, the company became Amoco Corporation with headquarters in Chicago. In 1998 the company merged with British Petroleum and by 2001 BP announced that all stations were to be converted to the BP name or else be closed. BP is headquartered in London and in 2014 had 84,500 employees. Their 2014 income was about $358.7 billion with a profit of $4 billion. Carl-Henric Svanberg is Chairman of the company.

I know the world isn’t fair, but why isn’t it ever unfair in my favor? – Bill Watterson

In the civilisation a new law of hostility prevails. And to call it the law of the jungle is unfair to the jungle. – Colin Wilson

A fine is a tax for breaking the law; a tax is a fine for obeying the law. – J. H. Goldfuss

Society is well governed when the people obey the magistrates, and the magistrates obey the laws. – Solon

Also on this day: Columbus Sailed the Ocean Blue – In 1492, Christopher Columbus set sail for China.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road – In 1900, Firestone Rubber and Tire Company was incorporated.
Lenny Bruce – In 1966, Lenny Bruce died.
Row, Row, Row your Boat – In 1852, the first Harvard-Yale Regatta was held.
Santa All Year Long – In 1946, Santa Clause Land opened.

So Long

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 2, 2015
Alexander Graham Bell

Alexander Graham Bell

August 2, 1922: Alexander Graham Bell dies. Bell was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1847. His mother lost her hearing while he was still a child and both his grandfather and father worked on different aspects of speech. He was the middle of three sons and his father was a professor. Both of his brothers died at young ages of tuberculosis. Aleck had a natural curiosity which led him to experimentation even as a child. He also had an aptitude in the arts and taught himself to play the piano. He also played something he called “voice tricks” which was similar to ventriloquism. He and his brother Melville worked on an automaton which could produce some minimal speech.

In 1870, the family migrated to North America, originally settling in Canada. By this time, Aleck was the only surviving son, but his brother’s widow also traveled with the family. In Canada, he was able to work with languages not available in Britain. He learned Mohawk and translated its unwritten vocabulary into Visible Speech symbols. He set up a workshop and continued to work with electricity and sound. Father and son hoped to be able to teach together. Bell, Sr. was invited to become the principal of the Boston School for Deaf Mutes and to introduce the Visible Speech System. He declined the position, but offered his son’s services instead. Aleck left Canada for Boston and was so successful, his services were also used in Hartford, Connecticut and Northampton, Massachusetts.

Bell became a professor of Vocal Physiology and Elocution at Boston University School of Oratory. He lived in the US during the school year and returned to Canada for breaks. He also continued to work on his other interesting inventions. His busy schedule left him in ill health. He gave up a private practice teaching deaf students to communicate, keeping only two students. He continued to work with sound and one of the student’s father, a wealthy businessman, offered him lodging and a workshop. His other student was ten years younger than he was and he became infatuated with her. In fact, he married her in 1877 and the couple had four children.

His most famous work was in telephony. He and Elisha Gray were both working on an invention for transmitting sound which they called acoustic telegraphy. Gray filed a caveat with the patent office on February 14, 1876 and Bell’s patent was issued on March 7. Luckily, he finally got his telephone to actually work on March 10. The men were in disagreement over who had primacy with the invention. The patent examiner later said he was an alcoholic in debt to Marcellus Bailey, Bell’s lawyer, and had shown both lawyer and client Gray’s caveat after being paid to do so. Bell denied these allegations. Bell went on to have 18 more patents granted in his name alone and 12 more with collaborators. He always thought of himself as a “teacher of the deaf” – his greatest accomplishment. He died on this date from complications of diabetes. He was 75.

In scientific researches, there are no unsuccessful experiments; every experiment contains a lesson. If we don’t get the results anticipated and stop right there, it is the man that is unsuccessful, not the experiment.

To ask the value of speech is like asking the value of life.

I have always considered myself as an Agnostic, but I have now discovered that I am a Unitarian Agnostic.

Self-education is a lifelong affair. There cannot be mental atrophy in any person who continues to observe, to remember what he observes, and to seek answers for his unceasing hows and whys about things. – all from Alexander Graham Bell

Also on this day: Counting – In 1790, the US conducted the first census.
Who’s Calling? – In 1835, Elisha Gray was born.
PT-109 – In 1943, John Kennedy’s boat sank.
It’s Hot at Summerland – In 1973, Summerland caught fire.
Uniting – In 1918, the first general strike in Canada took place.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 1, 2015
NORAD blast doors

NORAD blast doors

August 1, 1957: The US and Canada announce the formation of the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD). Today, the word Air has been changed to Aerospace so the acronym remains the same. NORAD provided aerospace warning, air sovereignty, and defense for the two countries. In May 2006, the NORAD Agreement Renewal continued the program. The formation of NORAD was first proposed by a Joint Canadian-US Military Group in late 1956 and approved by the US in February 1957. Announced on this day, the command headquarters was set up at Ent Air Force Base on September 12. An international agreement in 1958 set up the practice of the NORAD commander always being a US officer and a Canadian as vice commander.

By late 1958, NORAD had begun the Continental Air Defense Integration North (CADIN) for the Semi-Automatic Ground Environment (SAGE) air defense network which as the name implied was semiautomatic. Large computers networked to provide coordinated data from radar sites to produce a single unified image of the airspace protected under NORAD. The costs were in the billions of dollars but also included the preparing the way for the Ballistic Missile Early Warning System (BMEWS) sites. Several SAGE sites were needed to provide the information, one in Canada and eight smaller sites in the US. As the Space Race took over the world’s attention, it was deemed necessary to also monitor against attacks launched from space and the name changed to reflect this “advance”.

There have been at least three times when the NORAD systems failed. In November 1979, a test tape was loaded, but the technician failed to switch the system status to “test” and a stream of false warnings were issued. In June 1980 two separate events of computer communication failure caused sporadic false warning messages of a nuclear attack to be sent to US Air Force command posts. Planes with nuclear bombs were sent up from the Pacific Air Forces but none were sent up from Strategic Air Command (SAC), since they assumed the reports were false. SAC was criticized for not following procedure. Both commands were receiving information from other radar, satellite, and missile detection systems at the time and other data did not match the NORAD data.

As the Cold War came to an end, the mission of NORAD changed. Rather than looking for nuclear attack from the Communists, they started helping with counter-drug operations. After September 11, 2001 they again shifted focus and rather than simply looking for incoming threats, look for threats originating inside the borders. Today, they are headquartered at Paterson Air Force Base with a secondary post at Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station. Admiral William Gortney, USN is the current commander with Lieutenant General JAJ Parent, RCAF second in command. NORAD is also tasked with making sure Santa’s trip around the world is safely accomplished as children worldwide can watch his sleigh travel ever closer to their house on December 24.

Blind aggressiveness would destroy the attack itself, not the defense. – Carl von Clausewitz

A war is never undertaken by the ideal State, except in defense of its honor or its safety. – Cicero

Every state has not only the right but the duty to make adequate provision for its own defense in the way it thinks best, providing it does not do so at the expense of any other state. – Lester B. Pearson

Our defense is not in our armaments, nor in science, nor in going underground. Our defense is in law and order. – Albert Einstein

Also on this day: “You’ll never look at music the same way again” – In 1981, MTV began broadcasting.
Collapse – In 2007, the I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River collapsed.
University of Texas Sniper – In 1966, the Texas Sniper struck.
London Bridge is Going Up – In 1831, a new bridge across the River Thames opened.
Slavery Abolished – In 1834, the UK abolished slavery, sorta.

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Successful Crash

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 31, 2015
Ranger 7 picture

Ranger 7 picture

July 31, 1964: Ranger 7 crashes. The Ranger program was part of the US unmanned space exploration with the objective of obtaining close-up pictures of the Moon. They were to take pictures of the satellite as they descended and transmit them back to Earth. They were not meant to survive impact with the Moon. There was a series of mistakes and the first six missions were failures. At one point, the program was called “shoot and hope” and Congress eventually led an investigation into NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory looking for problems with management. Finally, the seventh mission was able to hit the target.

NASA launched the 806 pound spacecraft on July 28, 1964 via an Atlas LV-3 Agena-B rocket from Cape Canaveral launch pad 12. Built by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Ranger 7 had six television vidicon cameras aboard. There were two wide-angle and four narrow-angle cameras arranged on two separate chains or channels. Each camera was self-contained and had separate power supplies, timers, and transmitters. With this redundancy, it was hoped that high-quality video pictures could finally be received. The flight from Earth to the Moon took 68.6 hours. In the final 17 minutes of the flight, 4,300 photographs were taken and transmitted back home. The spacecraft crash landed between Mare Nubium and Oceanus Procellarum.

The Ranger program consisted of three different Blocks. Both of the Block 1 missions (Ranger 1 and 2) had issues right from the start as both failed to launch properly. Block 2 (Ranger 3, 4, and 5) were all launched in 1962 and cleared the launch but two of them missed hitting the Moon while Ranger 4 had mechanical issues which kept it from sending back any useful information. Block 3, (Ranger 6, 7, 8, and 9) finally saw success. Ranger 6 had camera failures but the final three tries were able to send back the information sought. This first successful picture of the Moon was 1000 times more clear than any pictures able to be obtained from Earth.

Ranger 7’s crash landing site was later name Mare Cognitum. The impact made when the ship hit the Moon at a speed of 1.62 miles per second lies in the second ring of Oceanus Procellarum. Several other spacecraft have landed near the same place. Ranger 7’s pictures exceeded expectations and no other experiments were to be performed. During this mission, a NASA tradition began. After six failures, hopes were not high for this seventh try. But after the stunning pictures returned, it was noticed that someone had been eating peanuts and the “peanut” tradition began. All control rooms now ceremoniously open a container of peanuts for luck.

What do you think of the foremost philosophers of this University? In spite of my oft-repeated efforts and invitations, they have refused, with the obstinacy of a glutted adder, to look at the planets or Moon or my telescope. – Galileo Galilei

The greatest fallout of the space program, … was not the close-up view of the moon, but a look at spaceship Earth from afar. For the first time in the history of humanity, we were able to see our planet for what it really is. – Theodore Hesburgh

How do you expect to get us to the Moon if you people can’t even hook us up with a ground station? – Gus Grissom

A country so rich that it can send people to the moon still has hundreds of thousands of its citizens who can’t read. That’s terribly troubling to me. – Charles Kuralt

Also on this day: Mount Fuji – In 781, Mount Fuji erupted for the first time in recorded history.
Who Knows? – In 1930, The Shadow came to radio.
First US Patent – In 1790, the first US patent was granted.
All Wet All-Stars – In 1961, the baseball game ended in a tie.
Daniel Defoe – In 1703, the author was placed in the pillory.

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Stormy Weather

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 30, 2015
SS Brother Jonathan

SS Brother Jonathan

July 30, 1865: The SS Brother Jonathan sinks just off the coast of Crescent City, California. The paddle steamer was 220 feet long and 36 feet wide at the beam. She was built in 1851 and had a refit and update done in 1861. On this day she carried 244 passengers and crew. Of them, only 19 people survived making it the deadliest shipwreck on the Pacific Coast of the US up to that time. The final trip began from San Francisco Bay and the ship was headed to Portland and then to Victoria, British Columbia. She ran into gale force storms soon after leaving the bay’s protection. Most passengers were confined to their rooms by the “frightful winds and stormy seas”. The first night out, the ship anchored at Crescent City harbor. The weather seemed calmer.

On this day, they again left the calmer waters and headed out into the ocean and ran into more storms. The conditions became so perilous, the captain ordered the ship to turn around and get back to the harbor they had so recently left. Less than an hour after turning around, the ship struck an uncharted rock which pierced the hull. Within five minutes, the captain realized the ship was sinking and ordered everyone to abandon ship. Although there were enough lifeboats for all aboard, only three boats were able to be safely launched. The first to be launched capsized soon after it was lowered. The second lifeboat crashed against the sides of the quickly sinking ship. Only one boat safely managed to escape the wreck and make it to shore.

The nineteen aboard included the Union Commander of the Department of the Pacific, Dr. Anson Henry (Lincoln’s personal physician and closest friend), James Nesbit (a well known publisher) and Roseanna Keenan (a well known San Francisco madam). There were 11 crew members, five women, and three children in the lifeboat. Because of this shipwreck, new laws were enacted including one to assure that lifeboats could be released from a sinking ship and safely escape. Wells Fargo was shipping gold northward and there was what would be $50 million worth of the precious metal aboard. Although the ship sunk very close to shore and many attempts were made, the gold was not recovered.

It would take over a century and much more sophisticated technology before the wreck could be found and some of the artifacts salvaged. In 1993, the ship was found two miles from the reef it had struck. The wreckage was found at a depth of 275 feet using a mini-sub. In 1996, divers found 875 gold coins from in the early 1860s. They were in nearly mint condition. Eventually more gold was found along with other artifacts. No human remains were found amid the wreckage. It took legal intervention to determine who the owners of the salvage were and eventually the goods were auctioned off. A memorial has been established for the ship and her passengers and crew. It is registered as California Historical Landmark #541 and can be found in Crescent City.

Harbour, n. A place where ships taking shelter from storms are exposed to the fury of the Customs. – Ambrose Bierce

The greater the difficulty the more glory in surmounting it. Skillful pilots gain their reputation from storms and tempests. – Epictetus

I wished to see storms only on those coasts where they raged with most violence. – Marcel Proust

You don’t need to pray to God any more when there are storms in the sky, but you do have to be insured. – Bertolt Brecht

Also on this day: Where Did He Go? – In 1975, Jimmy Hoffa disappeared.
Follow the Money – In 2002, the Sarbanes-Oxley Act was signed into law.
Exterminated – In 2003, the last old style Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the assembly line.
House of Burgesses – In 1619, the legislative body first convened.
Grand Combin – In 1859, the Swiss mountain was first climbed.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 29, 2015
International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna

International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna

July 29, 1957: The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is established. In 1953 US President Dwight D. Eisenhower proposed an international body to regulate and promote peaceful use of atomic power during his Atoms for Peace address to the UN General Assembly. In September 1954 the US again submitted a proposition to the UN General Assembly, this time for an agency to control fissile material which could be used both for nuclear power and for nuclear missiles. Also called for was an international conference to study all peaceful aspects of nuclear power. By November 1954, it was obvious the USSR was not amenable to international custody of fissile material, but they might acquiesce to a clearing house for nuclear transactions.

In August 1955, the UN held an International Conference in Geneva, Switzerland to discuss peaceful uses for nuclear power and to discuss the founding of the IAEA. A group of twelve countries negotiated on the prospect and the IAEA was approved on October 23, 1956 and came into being on this day. The first Director General of the group was former US Congressman W. Sterling Cole. He served for one term, from 1957 to 1961, after which the agency was headed by two Swedes for nearly forty years. First, scientist Sigvard Eklund held the job from 1961 to 1981 and then Swedish Foreign Minister Hans Blix held the job from 1981 to 1997. Mohamed ElBaradei of Egypt headed the agency until 2009 and the job then went to Yukiya Amano of Japan who remains Director today.

The three main goals of IAEA are safety and security, science and technology, and safeguards and verification. It is an autonomous group but does report to both the UN General Assembly and the Security Council. The IAEA has three main bodies – the Board of Governors, the General Conference, and the Secretariat. They are responsible for inspecting existing nuclear facilities for safety and to ensure they are functioning for peaceful purposes. They also provide information and develop standards for nuclear facilities, and they serve as a hub for scientific endeavors to expand peaceful uses for nuclear power.

The Chernobyl disaster of 1986 should have helped the IAEA better prepare the world for safety considerations. However, their response to the Fukushima disaster proved to not be up to standards held by Russian nuclear accident specialist Iouli Andreev. He accused the agency of not using information gained from the 25 years prior to Japan’s crisis and that their response was sluggish and confusing. It helped to detract from the possibilities of expanding nuclear energy progress. This is in part due to the 164 member states each having a private agenda and making consensus and implementation difficult. The IAEA is headquartered in Vienna, Austria and has two regional safeguards offices. One is located in Toronto, Canada and the other is in Tokyo, Japan. There are two liaison offices with one in New York City and the other in Geneva.

Peaceful uses: Promoting the peaceful uses of nuclear energy by its member states. – IAEA main mission

Safeguards: Implementing safeguards to verify that nuclear energy is not used for military purposes – IAEA main mission

Nuclear safety: Promoting high standards for nuclear safety. – IAEA main mission

It recommends safety standards, but member states are not required to comply; it promotes nuclear energy, but it also monitors nuclear use; it is the sole global organization overseeing the nuclear energy industry, yet it is also weighed down by checking compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. – criticism from Najmedin Meshkati

Also on this day: Arc de Triomphe – In 1836, the Arc de Triomphe was inaugurated.
Irish Unrest – In 1848, the English put down a revolt by the Irish at Tipperary.
I Spy – In 1864, Isabella Boyd was captured.
USS Forrestal – In 1967, a fire broke out on the aircraft carrier.
First Hague Convention – In 1899, the first convention was signed.

Children’s Author

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 28, 2015
Beatrix Potter

Beatrix Potter

July 28, 1866: Helen Beatrix Potter is born. The English natural scientists and conservationist is best known as an author and illustrator of children’s book featuring animals. Her best known book is The Tale of Peter Rabbit. She and her younger brother grew up in an artistic family in the countryside. Both children had many small pets and drew pictures of them. Beatrix was educated by private governesses and she was presented with a wide variety of languages, literature, science, and history. She was a good student. She was given private art lessons and practiced with watercolors, her favorite medium, creating pictures of flora and fauna found in the country. She drew fungi and their spores and came to the attention of the scientific world for her study of fungus reproduction.

In the 1890s, Potter sent illustrated stories to the children of her former governess, Annie Moore. Moore suggested her former student make them into a book and was able to provide all the former correspondence so Potter could work on a book. In 1901 she privately published The Tale of Peter Rabbit based on a letter she had sent to then 5 year old Noel. The letter was too short to make a book, so Potter fleshed it out and added more illustrations. She passed out copies of this book and one finally came into the hands of Arthur Conan Doyle. The original run had been 250 copies and she had another 200 printed when those ran out with the second printing containing a note that her beloved pet rabbit had died.

She entered into a commercial contract to publish 5,000 copies and that was done after long negotiations and an agreement was reached in June 1902. She was able to work closely with the publishing house and made adjustments in both the text and illustrations. The book was to go on sale in October of that year and had sold out 8,000 copies prior to print. By the end of the year, 25,000 copies of the book were printed. The book was a hit and by the end of the next year, 56,470 books were in print. The publisher’s New York office failed to copyright the book in the US and unlicensed copies were printed there. Potter received no royalties from the US editions as well as future US merchandising ventures.

She went on to write over 20 books between 1902 and 1922. The stories of her beloved pets came to life for children around the world as her books were translated into many languages. She was engaged to her editor/publisher, something her parents were against as socially unsuitable. Her fiancé died only a month later from leukemia at the age of 37.  Potter purchased a country home and William Heelis helped her run it. They married in 1913 again against her parents’ wishes since he was just a country solicitor. But the marriage suited Potter who settled into the large Heelis family. She continued to write for many years. She died of complications from heart disease and pneumonia in December 1943 at the age of 77.

All outward forms of religion are almost useless, and are the causes of endless strife. Believe there is a great power silently working all things for good, behave yourself and never mind the rest.

Thank goodness I was never sent to school; it would have rubbed off some of the originality.

It is said that the effect of eating too much lettuce is ‘soporific’.

Thank God I have the seeing eye, that is to say, as I lie in bed I can walk step by step on the fells and rough land seeing every stone and flower and patch of bog and cotton pass where my old legs will never take me again. – all from Beatrix Potter

Also on this day: Dusting for Prints – In 1858, fingerprints were first used – sorta.
Motormouth – In 1958, Lord Jellico spoke for the first time in 19 years.
Plane Flies into Building in New York – In 1945, the Empire State Building was hit by a plane.
B-17 Flying Fortress – In 1935, a test flight for the WWII bomber was made.
In the Stars – In 1855, the USS Constellation was commissioned.

Vincent van Gogh

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 27, 2015
Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh

July 27, 1890: Vincent Willem van Gogh shoots himself in the chest. He was born in Zundert, Netherlands in 1853 and was a major Post-Impressionist painter of far-reaching influence. He drew as a child but did not start painting until his late twenties and still produced an oeuvre of far reaching depth and breadth, including portraits (including self portraits), landscapes, and still lifes.  He produced over 2,100 artworks including 860 oil paintings and more than 1,300 watercolors, drawings, sketches, and prints. He was born into a middle class family and as a young man worked for art dealers which allowed him to travel extensively. He then worked as a missionary and during that time began to sketch people. He moved to Paris and then to the south of France. His paintings became more vivid with bright, cheerful colors as he succumbed to anxiety and depression.

In December 1888, van Gogh cut off his ear and presented it to a barmaid. He was found the next morning in his room, seemingly in very ill health and was taken to the hospital. By 1889, his mental health had deteriorated to such an extent that a public petition led to his being committed in a hospital. By March, with his health improved, he was almost able to travel to his brother’s wedding but at the last moment, instead requested to be confined in an asylum. Theo van Gogh tried to persuade his brother to stay with friends, but finally relented, even paying the fees for the asylum. He was discharged in May 1890 and stayed with his brother and sister-in-law before going to Auvers-sur-Oise, a commune of artists north of Paris, to live at one of the local inns.

In Auvers, his health was not improving and his letters to his brother were filled with dread in early May. But by the end of the month, he reported that he was doing much better. His letters through June were optimistic. But by the middle of July, he was reporting illnesses again. Theo noticed the downturn in the tone of the letters and wrote letters of encouragement. On July 23, Vincent wrote about a revived interest in painting. On this day, van Gogh left after breakfast and still had not returned home by dusk. As darkness fell around 9 PM, he returned to his home holding his stomach. He was asked if he was all right, but clutching himself, he climbed the steps to his bedroom. Groans brought others to his bedside where he claimed he had tried to kill himself.

The wound was attended to but there was no surgeon available. The bullet which had missed any vital organs, remained lodged near van Gogh’s spine. The gun was never found and it is unclear even where van Gogh was when he shot himself. His brother arrived the next day as soon as he was informed of the event. While Vincent survived the initial shooting, he could not survive the infection which followed. He died at 1.30 AM on July 29 at the age of 37. There is some supposition that van Gogh did not fire the gun and it was an accidental shooting by a young boy. Modern day psychologists have tried to diagnose van Gogh and give a name to his illness and they have not reached a consensus.

I am giving my canvases my undivided attention. I am trying to do as well as certain painters whom I have greatly loved and admired. – Vincent van Gogh, July 23, 1890 letter to Theo

I tried to kill myself. – Vincent van Gogh

My body is mine and I am free to do what I want with it. Do not accuse anybody, it is I that wished to commit suicide. – Vincent van Gogh, when questioned by police about the shooting

The sadness will last forever. – Vincent van Gogh’s last words

Also on this day: What’s up Doc? – In 1940, Bugs Bunny made it to the silver screen.
Reign of Terror – In 1794, Maximilien Robespierre was arrested.
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes – In 1586, Sir Walter Raleigh brought tobacco to England.
Olympic Bomb – In 1996, a bomb went off at the Atlanta Summer Olympics.
Bank of England – In 1694, the bank was established.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 26, 2015
LL Zamenhof

LL Zamenhof

July 26, 1887: Unua Libro is first published. The English translation is First Book and its official title was Esperanto’s International Language. Its first publication was in Russian and it was written by Polish oculist, LL Zamenhof. He was born in 1859 to Polish-Lithuanian Jewish parents. He was bilingual raised to speak in both Yiddish and Russian (Polish was restricted and forbidden to be used in public by order of the Tsar). He went on to learn to speak German, French, and Hebrew. He also learned to speak Polish. In school he learned Latin, Greek, and Aramaic and in later life learned to speak English but by his own account, not fluently. He also picked up some Lithuanian and Italian. He grew up in a region with many dialects and watched as neighbors argued ineffectively, often causing much greater damage since they could not understand each other. He dreamed of having one common language available to all.

Using the pseudonym of Esperanto (which translates to “one who hopes”) he published his booklet with sixteen rules of grammar and 900 roots of vocabulary. Also included were translations of the Lord’s Prayer, some Bible verses, and other literature. He called the work “an international language” and like a national language, it was “common property”. In essence, he put the work in the public domain. He signed the work as “Doktoro Esperanto”. Those who learned the new language, called it Esperanto after the pen name used by Zamenhof. The language itself came to be known as Esperanto.

The work was first put into English by Julian Steinhaus and called Dr Esperanto’s International Tongue. Richard Geoghegan pointed out to Zamenhof the poor translations throughout the English version and the doctor purchased all remaining copies and paid Geoghegan to produce a new and improved translation. In 1905, Zamenhof brought out a new book with the sixteen grammar rules, a dictionary, and some exercises to help the novice become acclimated to the new language. In the original book, he called for a petition to be signed by 10 million people pledging to learn to speak Esperanto. He never received that many votes, but the idea was revived in 2014.

Today, it is used as an international auxiliary language. There are between 160,000 and 300,000 active or fluent users and at the turn of the millennium there were an estimated 2 million people who were able to use Esperanto to help communicate effectively. The language is available in 120 countries with the highest usage in Europe, East Asia, and South America. The most popular platform to learn the language is lernu! where 150,000 registered users were studying and between 150,000 and 200,000 visitors come each month. Esperanto Wikipedia has about 215,000 articles (32nd largest) and as a comparison, there are almost 5 million articles in English. In 2012, Google Translate added Esperanto as its 64th language.

A different language is a different vision of life. – Federico Fellini

Language comes into being, like consciousness, from the basic need, from the scantiest intercourse with other human. – Karl Marx

A man who does not know foreign language is ignorant of his own. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Language is an anonymous, collective and unconscious art; the result of the creativity of thousands of generations. – Edward Sapir

Also on this day: The Polite Bandit – In 1875, a strange, but polite, man committed his first robbery.
First Railway – In 1803, Surrey Iron Railway opened.
As the Worm Turns – In 1989, Robert Morris was indicted.
Feebs – In 1908, the FBI was formed.
And the Rains Came – In 2005, Mumbai flooded.

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Battle of Molinella

Posted in History by patriciahysell on July 25, 2015
Battle of Molinella*

Battle of Molinella*

July 25, 1467: The Battle of Molinella takes place. It was one of the most important battles in present day Italy from the 15th century. The Republic of Venice, led by Bartolomeo Colleoni, met the Republic of Florence, led by Frederico da Montefeltro for Piero di Cosimo de’ Medici. Although Colleoni was fighting for Venice, his own agenda was the capture of Milan. He was allied with Borso d’Este, the Marquis of Ferrara and the Lords of Pesaro, Forli as well as other renegade families from Florence. The Medici family was allied with Galeazzo Maria Sforza who ruled the Duchy of Milan, King Ferdinand II of Aragon, and the ruler of Bologna, Giovanni II Bentivoglio. The Venetians brought about 14,000 troops to the battle while the Florentines had about 13,000.

The battle was fought on the banks of the Idice River near Molinella. It is also sometimes called the Battle of Riccardina. Historians cannot agree on a winner for the day’s carnage but they know that there were between 600 and 700 casualties as well as a large number of horses slaughtered during the day’s event. Nearly 1,000 horses were lost as the cavalries met. The sure result was that Colleoni abandoned his plans to conquer Milan. The battle is noteworthy because it was the first time (in Italy) that artillery and firearms were extensively used. A large fresco in the Castle of Malpaga depicts the battle. It is thought to have been created by Girolamo Romani. In 1468, Pope Paul II brokered a peace between the two belligerents.

The Most Serene Republic of Venice originated in 697 and began in Venice. As the locals banded together to defend themselves against invasions from the Lombards, Huns, and others, they grew into their own kingdom. They eventually were able to expand and take on lands on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. They were a wealthy state due to their control of trade routes between Europe and the Levant. Their navies were impressive with hundreds of ships. As the Crusades brought people through the region, they were able to capitalize on the movements of troops and their return with booty. By the early 15th century, rather than expansion solely into the Byzantine Empire, Venice also began expanding inward towards Italy proper. The republic lasted for over a millennium and finally came to an end in 1797 when Napoleon conquered the land.

The Republic of Florence, centered on the city of Florence and located in what is today Tuscany, Italy began in 1115. Florence was established in 59 BC by Julius Caesar. The city’s struggle with power and rule had been chaotic and long-lasting. In the late 1000s, several aristocratic families moved into the region and the republic was built. The city became a banking center about the time the Black Death came to Europe. The florin, the first gold coin in Europe, came from the banks of Florence and since they were international, it became the standard. With money comes power. The Medici family’s rise to power followed. The family was able to rule until 1533 when the infuriated population rebelled and brought an end to the republic.

War is not only a matter of equipment, artillery, group troops or air force; it is largely a matter of spirit, or morale. – Chiang Kai-shek

A battery of field artillery is worth a thousand muskets. – William Tecumseh Sherman

Artillerymen believe the world consist of two types of people; other Artillerymen and targets. – saying

Artillery adds dignity, to what would otherwise be an ugly brawl. –  Frederick the Great

Also on this day: Oh Joy! Louise – In 1978, Louise Joy Brown was born.
TP – in 1871, a patent was granted for perforated toilet paper.
Free Press – In 1925, TASS was established.
SS Andrea Doria – In 1956, the ship was struck out at sea.
“Temporary” Tax – In 1917, Canada got a new income tax.

* “Malpaga1″ by Giorces – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 it via Wikimedia Commons –


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