July 31, 781: Mount Fuji erupts for the first time in recorded history. The beautiful volcano situated 62 miles to the west of Tokyo, Japan is more complex than it looks. The highest mountain in Japan lies on the boundary between Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures on the island of Honshū. It is actually a dual volcano that formed over the eons, erupting hundreds of times, and created the perfectly cone-shaped mountain that we see today.
The mountain is a tourist attraction as well on of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains.” It was first climbed by an anonymous monk in 663. It was forbidden for women to climb the sacred mountain until the Meiji Era . It is still illegal to ascend the mountain without police escort outside the climbing season. Each year, about 200,000 people scale this 12,388 feet peak using paved paths and several rest stops.
The last recorded eruption was in 1707, called the Hoei Eruption after the era name. This eruption produced ash that drifted and settled as far away as Edo, today known as Tokyo. It is considered to be an active volcano with low risk of eruption. There are three cities surrounding the peak with Gotemba to the south, Fujiyoshida to the north and Fujinomiya to the southwest. There have been seismic tremors recorded in the area since October 2000 with more than 100 earthquakes recorded in April 2001.
Mount Fuji has not always been written with the same kanji, or Japanese characters. Today, there are two kanji used to write the name with one meaning wealth or abundant, and the other meaning man with a certain status. They were possible selected for their pronunciation rather than their meaning. Other names or kanji have been used for the great mountain in the past with the true history last to the mists of time. Whatever it is called, the peak rises majestically and is beautiful.
“Each and every master, regardless of the era or the place, heard the call and attained harmony with heaven and earth. There are many paths leading to the top of Mount Fuji, but there is only one summit – love.” – Morihei Ueshiba
“Aspire to be like Mt. Fuji, with such a broad and solid foundation that the strongest earthquake cannot move you, and so tall that the greatest enterprises of common men seem insignificant from your lofty perspective. With your mind as high as Mt Fuji you can see all things clearly. And you can see all the forces that shape events; not just the things happening near to you.” – Miyamoto Musashi
“There are two kinds of climbers, those who climb because their heart sings when they’re in the mountains, and all the rest.” – Alex Lowe
“We climb mountains because we like it.” – John Hunt
Also on this day, in 1930 The Shadow came to radio.
July 30, 1975: Jimmy Hoffa, ex-Teamster president, disappears from the Machus Red Fox parking lot at 2:30 PM. Hoffa was at the Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA restaurant nervously waiting for a lunch meeting with an unnamed person who never showed. Hoffa was the president of the Teamster’s Union from 1957-1971, making it one of the most powerful unions in the world. He had ties with the Mafia which he claimed were necessary to keep the Mob from disrupting strikes.
Federal investigators charged “that his empire thrived on violence, fraud and misuse of union money.” During the Kennedy administration, the charges finally stuck and Hoffa was convicted in 1964, and after all appeals were exhausted he went to federal prison in 1967 for four years. He was convicted of fund fraud, jury tampering and conspiracy. President Nixon commuted his sentence in 1971. The deal was that Hoffa would not resume his Teamster’s Presidency position until 1980, when his prison sentence would have ended.
It is believed that Hoffa was to meet with two gangster partners, Anthony “Tony Jack” Giacalone and Tony “Pro” Provenzano. Charles “Chuckie” O’Brien was considered by Hoffa to be one of the family. A maroon 1975 Mercury Marquis Brougham was seen leaving the parking lot by a truck driver. He states that Hoffa was in the back seat, but he was unable to see anyone else clearly. What appeared to be a rifle or shotgun was on the backseat, next to Hoffa.
Tracing the car led to Joe Giacalone, Tony Jack’s son, who told police he lent it to Chuckie O’Brien. Chuckie claimed to be elsewhere at the time of Hoffa’s disappearance, but no corroborative evidence was found. With DNA testing, proof was established that Hoffa was in the trunk of the Mercury at some time. Although investigators can’t prove who took Hoffa, they know who did it. What they don’t know is where Jimmy Hoffa’s body rests.
“To take life is always to die a little.” – John Wain
“Violence is the last refuge of the incompetent.” – Isaac Asimov
“You can get a lot more done with a kind word and a gun, than with a kind word alone.” – Al Capone
“Violence is not the problem; it is the consequence of the problem.” – Jim Wallis
“I may have many faults, but being wrong ain’t one of them.” – Jimmy Hoffa
July 29, 1836: The Arc de Triomphe is inaugurated in Paris, France. Parisians refer to the arch as L’Etoile. It is located in the center of the world’s largest roundabout. The arch rises 164 ft above the ground and nearly as wide. The exterior was intricately carved. There are 284 steps to the top where a breathtaking view of Paris awaits. There is a museum inside that gives the history of the arch and the twelve streets that radiate from it.
In 1806, Napoleon I patterned his triumphal arch after the ancient Roman arches dedicated to the glorious armies. Napoleon’s arch was designed by Jean François Thérèse Chalgrin and was completed during the reign of Louis Philippe.
The Arc’s pillars are four relief sculptures 1) The Triumph of 1810, carved by Cortot; 2) Resistance; 3) Peace, both carved by Etex; and The Departure of the Volunteers, commonly called La Marseillaise carved by François Rude. Engraved around the top of the arch are the victories of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic periods and 558 generals names are carved on the inside walls.
In 1920, the French Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was placed beneath the Arc de Triomphe with the first eternal flame in Western Europe since the Vestal Virgins’ flame was extinguished in 391. The Tour de France bicycling event rides up the cobbled Champs-Élysées and ends at the Arc de Triomphe. Because of the twelve streets converging on the roundabout, the safest way to get here is via the underground passage.
“Patriotism … applies to true love of one’s country and a code of conduct that echoes such love.” – Howard Fast
“The noble kind of patriotism … aims at ends that are worthy of the whole of mankind.” – Albert Schweitzer
“France cannot be France without greatness.” – Charles de Gaulle
“The French people can be killed but [not] intimidated!” – Napoleon
Also on this day, in 1848 the Irish rebelled against British rule.
July 28, 1858: Sir William Herschel, Chief Magistrate of the Hooghly district in Jungipoor, India has Rajyadhar Konai leave an imprint of his palm on a contract to frighten him should he have any thought of repudiating the document. Sir William used the whole hand for a time and then switched to the right index and middle fingers alone as a signature.
In 1880, Dr. Henry Faulds was working in Tokyo and began the study of the finger ridges and looked at the possibility of using fingerprints left at the scene of a crime as a method of identifying the criminal. By 1892, Juan Vucetich, a police officer in Argentina, actually used this method of identifying a criminal and opened the first fingerprint bureau in the world.
In 1897, Sir Edward Henry identified a simplified fingerprint classification system that is still used in most English-speaking areas of the world. During the next century, more and more countries developed methods of storing and utilizing these fingerprints in order to capture criminals. Today, Interpol with over 180 member countries, shares fingerprint and other biometric data collected across the globe.
Even now, fingerprints must be looked at and found to be a match by two qualified experts. There are 35-50 minutiae, identification points, per fingerprint but when matching prints only 8-12 are used. Prints left behind in normal living are called “latent” prints as distinguished from comparison prints taken deliberately with inked fingers placed on fingerprinting cards.
“The DNA is the fingerprint of the 21st Century, but DNA tests are only part of the solution. They are a window into the larger problems in the system, like inadequate counsel.” – Patrick Leahy
“In future, the recording of biometrics, such as fingerprints, iris patterns or facial image means that we will have a much stronger way of linking identity to the person. A national ID card will be a robust, secure way to establish that identities are real, not fabricated.” – Charles Clarke
“The Ripper case is not one to be conclusively solved by DNA or fingerprints, … and in a way, this is good. Society has come to expect the wizardry of forensic science to solve all crimes, but without the human element of deductive skills, teamwork, very hard investigation, and smart prosecution, evidence means nothing.” – Patricia Cornwell
“We’re moving to an area where international travelers’ fingerprints are going to be part of their identifier.” – Stewart Baker
Also on this day, in 1958 Lord Jellicoe first spoke to the House of Lords after being a member for 19 years.
July 27, 1940: Bugs Bunny makes his cartoon debut in A Wild Hare. According to his biography, Bugs was born in 1940 in Brooklyn, New York. He was the hare-brained child of many men, including Ben Hardaway who created the prototype in 1938, Bob Clampett, Tex Avery who developed his personality, Robert McKimson who created his character design, and Mel Blanc, his voice.
Bugs’s pugnacious personality is portrayed against a list of enemies who include Elmer Fudd, Yosemite Sam, Daffy Duck, and Wile E. Coyote, among scores of others. Bugs Bunny is usually provoked by his nemesis and then when pushed beyond endurance drawls, “Of course you realize, ‘DIS means war!” This set up allowed the audience to enjoy his constant victories without dear Bugs ever looking like a bully.
Bugs Bunny was a star of the Looney Tunes group, a subsidiary of Warner Bros. enterprise. Bosko was their first major star in 1930 and by 1935, they had a megastar on their hands when Porky Pig took center stage. Daffy Duck followed in 1937. Bugs Bunny, however, is one of the most recognized faces, real or imagined, in the world.
The first animated cartoon, in the traditional sense, was “Fantasmagorie” by Émile Cohl released in 1908. Walt Disney introduced Steamboat Willie with Mickey Mouse in 1928 which introduced sound to the mix. The very first computer generated imagery film was produced in 1995 by Pixar Animation Studios. Toy Story was released in November of that year.
“Back then, my idol was Bugs Bunny, because I saw a cartoon of him playing ball – you know, the one where he plays every position himself with nobody else on the field but him? Now that I think of it, Bugs is still my idol. You have to love a ballplayer like that.” – Nomar Garciaparra
“My generation grew up watching ‘Bugs Bunny’ and ‘Roadrunner’ cartoons. But that didn’t make me want to go out and pick up a wooden mallet and hit people on the head.” – Tod Burke
“The rabbit is considered a kind and intelligent creature in Cambodian culture.” – Bugs Bunny
“Sometimes it was hard to tell where my dad’s personality left off and his characters began, … He was a method actor and taught me that I had to ‘become’ the character in order to effectively do the voice.” – Noel Blanc
July 26, 1875: On a mountain pass in Calaveras County, California, a man draped in a long, soiled duster (housecoat) with a flour sack festooned with two eye holes over his head, holds up a stagecoach, making off with the Wells Fargo strongbox and the US mail. Black Bart thus began his legendary string of robberies.
Charles E Boles or Bolton, a.k.a. Black Bart, was born in England in 1829 and migrated to the US when he was two. He led an adventurous life, traveling around the country, prospecting for gold and even serving in the Civil War, fighting with distinction and earning awards and promotions.
In 1865, he was discharged and moved to Iowa to farm. This existence did not suit his adventurous spirit and he took off to hunt gold again. He did not take his wife and children with him and they assumed he was dead when he stopped writing home. The four years from 1871-75 must have held some significant event that is lost to history because he emerged from these years as a robber.
He robbed stage coaches on 28 different occasions, stealing about $18,000 total from Wells Fargo. Legend states that during a hold up when a woman in a panic threw her purse out the window, he left it behind stating that he only stole from Wells Fargo. Twice, he left taunting poems in the emptied strongboxes. He was caught in 1883, after leaving a handkerchief with a laundry mark at the scene of the crime. He served four years of his six year sentence at San Quentin and after his release was never seen again.
“I’ve labored long and hard for bread,
For honor and for riches,
But on my corns too long you’ve tred
You fine-haired sons of bitches.” – Black Bart, 1877
“Trust not in oppression, and become not vain in robbery: if riches increase, set not your heart upon them.” – (Psalms 62:10), Bible
“It is a poor family that hath neither a whore nor a thief in it.” – proverb
“Things ain’t what they used to be and probably never was.” – Will Rogers
Also on this day, in 1803 the Surrey Iron Railway opened.
July 25, 1978: Louise Joy Brown is born at 11:47 PM, the world’s first “test tube” baby. She was born via Cesarean section in Oldham, England weighing in at 5 pounds, 12 ounces. Her parents had been trying to conceive for nine years without result. It was found that her mother had blocked Fallopian tubes thereby preventing the ovum or egg to descend naturally and be fertilized in the normal fashion. Drs. Edwards and Steptoe had been experimenting with fertilization outside the body.
The two doctors harvested an egg from Mrs. Lesley Brown and added Mr. John Brown’s semen in a special culture media for 18 hours. The sperm fertilized the egg and the resulting zygote was allowed to grow in a specialized growth medium and then was implanted into Mrs. Brown’s uterus as an embryo. This process is called in vitro fertilization [IVF].
By the time Louise was 21 in 1999, over 300,000 test tube babies had been born. Even in the 21st century, the success rate for a live birth following an IVF cycle is around 20-30% with some clinics claiming as high as a 50% success rate. There are a variety of ethical questions still not completely resolved. One issue is the creation of “designer” babies. Post-menopausal pregnancies are no longer impossible. There have been objections from major religions, as well.
There are many factors that contribute to the success or failure of IVF: timing for harvesting the eggs, quality of the semen, fertilization may or may not occur, the resulting zygote’s progress, and proper implantation of the resulting embryo. All these were especially true in 1977 when Lesley Brown attempted IVF. In fact, no child had been so conceived. Louise was such a success, however, that the Browns also had Natalie through IVF. Louise is married now to Wesley Mullinder and their son, conceived the old fashioned way, was born on December 20, 2006.
“Bringing a child into the world is the greatest act of hope there is.” – Louise Hart
“The hand the rocks the cradle / Is the hand that rules the world.” – William Ross Wallace
“Every baby born into the world is a finer one than the last one.” – Charles Dickens
“Babies are such a nice way to start people.” – Don Harold
July 24, 1911: The Lost City of the Incas, known as Machu Picchu, is rediscovered by Hiram Bingham. Bingham was born in Hawaii, to a missionary family. He was educated at Yale and Harvard and served as Preceptor at Princeton.
In 1906, Bingham sailed to South America to follow the route Bolivar had taken in 1819. He returned to Peru in 1911 as Director of the Peruvian Expedition and studied writings from the 17th century which led to his search for the last two Incan capitals – Vilcabamba and Vitcos.
On July 23, he camped by a river and a local farmer told him, through his interpreter, of some ruins at the top of the mountain. The next day, Bingham, the farmer, and his interpreter climbed the mountain and found a group of people farming the lower terraces. The stonework of the terraces was inspirational. Pablito, an 11-year-old from the farming community led Bingham to the site of the remains of the abandoned place we know as Machu Picchu.
Machu Picchu consists of approximately 200 buildings: residences, temples, storage structures, and public buildings. In the late Incan period about 1,200 people lived in the buildings made of granite block cut with bronze or stone tools. The blocks fit together perfectly without mortar even though none of the blocks are the same size. Some have as many as 30 corners. The architectures blends with the landscape perfectly. The astrologically oriented intihuatana, a column of stone, was used by the priests to tie the sun to the earth to keep it from disappearing as the winter solstice approached. Although the site was never found by the Spanish conquistadores, it is assumed that smallpox preceded the Europeans and wiped out the population.
“No pessimist ever discovered the secret of the stars or sailed to an uncharted land or opened a new heaven to the human spirit.” – Helen Keller
“The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand.” – Frank Herbert
“By mutual confidence and mutual aid – great deeds are done, and great discoveries made.” – Homer
“A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.” – Lao Tzu
Also on this day, in 1866 Tennessee was readmitted to the Union.
July 23, 1982: Vic Morrow and two child actors are killed on a movie set when a helicopter goes out of control and crashes into them. Twilight Zone: The Movie was being filmed in four parts. Three classic episodes from the 1959-64 television series and one new episode were filmed separately with a prologue and epilogue tying them together.
Vic Morrow’s role was that of a bigot sent back in time to become the people he despised. He was to play a Jewish Holocaust victim, an African-American about to by lynched by the KKK and a Vietnamese man fleeing from US soldiers. He was on the set holding two small children, Myca Dinh Le, aged 7, and Renee Shin-Yi Chen, aged 6. The scene had the helicopter flying in low, pursuing Morrow and the children. A pyrotechnic explosion caused the copter to lose control and crash into the actors. Morrow and one of the children were decapitated and the other child was crushed to death by the falling copter. The people inside the helicopter were slightly injured. .
Involuntary manslaughter charges were brought against Landis, the film’s director as well as the associate producer, the production manager, the special effects supervisor, and the pilot. The final results were that one second assistant director had his name removed from the credits. The friendship between Landis, the director, and Steven Spielberg, the producer, was shattered. That relationship was already shaky because of disagreements between the two over Landis’s violating so many codes.
The other noted results of this accident were that child labor laws in the US were radically altered and the use of night sets and special effects scenes were further regulated. The film was shrouded in the horror of the crash and was not a huge success at the box office. It does have a cult following and helped bring about the resurrection of the 1980s television version of The Twilight Zone.
“You’re traveling through another dimension. A dimension, not only of sight and sound, but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Next stop, The Twilight Zone!” – Tagline for the television show
“There’s a remedy for all things but death, which will be sure to lay us flat one time or other.” – Cervantes
“To die is poignantly bitter, but the idea of having to die without having lived is unbearable.” – Erich Fromm
“Life in the movie business is like the beginning of a new love affair: it’s full of surprises and you’re constantly getting fucked.” – David Mamet
July 22, 1934: John Dillinger is gunned down by FBI agents in a set-up as he leaves the theater with his girl friend and his betrayer. During the Depression, banks failed across America, sweeping away the life savings of millions of regular folks. Homes were lost to foreclosure and businesses failed because of the banking crash. Banks were not seen as the “good guys.”
John Dillinger was a bank robber. Many Americans did not see this as a terrible crime. There was a Robin Hood mystique around bank robbers when these robbers destroyed mortgage paperwork while they were stealing the money. The daring and glamorous getaways were also viewed as entertainment, especially when the robbers were seen as handsome and polite.
The newly formed Federal Bureau of Investigation [FBI] run by J. Edgar Hoover did not view it this way. The FBI did not see the Robin Hood side of Dillinger, but instead noticed the ten dead men, seven wounded, the robberies of banks and police arsenals, and the three jail breaks he staged. The FBI made a deal with Ana Cumpanas who was trying to avoid deportation. She set up Dillinger while they exited the theater.
Maybe. Even today, there is no definitive agreement on the identify of the corpse outside the theater. Dillinger’s father denied that the body was his son’s. They eyes were listed as the wrong color on the autopsy report. There were signs of a childhood illness that Dillinger did not have. However, his sister did positively identify the body by a scar on the leg. Dillinger had plastic surgery to change his appearance and acid treatments to his fingertips to blur fingerprints. Many legends have grown around who died that night. John Dillinger Day is still held every year on this date.
“The greatest crimes are caused by excess and not by necessity. ” – Aristotle
Anonymous: How could crime be reduced?
Solon: If it caused as much resentment in those who are not its victims as in those who are.
“The duty to disclose knowledge of crime rests upon all citizens.” – Robert H. Jackson
“The repetition of a crime is sometimes part of a device of justification: we do it again and again to convince ourselves and others that it is a common thing and not an enormity.” – Eric Hoffer
Also on this day, in 1796 a new community was named for Moses Cleaveland.