March 31, 1492: Queen Isabella I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon issue an edict. These Catholic monarchs of Spain are the same people who would fund Columbus later in the year. In the 700s, Muslims had conquered and settled in most of the Iberian Peninsula. Jews who lived there since Roman times were considered “People of the Book” and thrived under their rule. The tolerance of the Muslim Moorish rulers of al-Andalus, the region today that is most of Spain and Portugal, attracted more Jews to the region. As time went on, the treatment of the Jews declined and especially so after the fall of the Umayyad Caliphate.
The Reconquista was the retaking of the Iberian Peninsula by Christian kingdoms and was driven by religious motivation. By the 14th century, most of Iberia was back under control of Christian governmental control by the kingdoms of Castile, Aragon, Leon, Galicia, Navarre, and Portugal. Hostility toward Jews grew and they were both brutalized and oppressed. Thousands sought to mitigate the mistreatment by converting to Christianity and at first, it seemed to work. As the conversos or New Christians met with success, they also found disfavor with some of the clergy and royal families. This was exacerbated as some of the forced conversions were done in name only and the Jews continued to secretly practice their faith.
From the 13th to the 16th centuries, European countries expelled Jews from their territory on at least fifteen occasions. The hostility toward the Jews in Iberia came to a head when “the Christian Monarchs” married in 1469 and brought the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon in alignment. The Catholic monarchs seemed to be horrified that the conversos were insincere and were attempting to bring old Jews back into the Jewish faith. Granada had surrendered to the Spanish royals less than three months prior and on this day, the Alhambra Decree was issued and expelled all Jews from their kingdom and their colonies by July 31, 1492.
Many of the Spanish Jews fled to northern Africa to the Maghreb, where they intermingled with existing Mizrahi – the Arab Jewish communities. They became the ancestors of the Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian, and Libyan Jewish communities. There were between 130,000 and 800,000 who fled Spain. Another 50,000 to 70,000 chose to convert rather than leave the lands, but this did not work well and they continued to be persecuted. The edict was formally revoked on December 16, 1968 following the Second Vatican Council. In 2014, the Spanish government passed a law allowing dual citizenship to Jewish descendants who asked for it as a way to “compensate for shameful events in the country’s past.”
A Jew, in the dictionary, is one who is descended from the ancient tribes of Judea, or one who is regarded as a descendant from that tribe. That’s what it says in the dictionary, but you and I know what a Jew is: One Who Killed Our Lord…. There should be a statute of limitations for that crime. – Lenny Bruce
Pessimism is a luxury that a Jew can never allow himself. – Golda Meir
I am not a Jew in the sense that I would demand the preservation of the Jewish or any other nationality as an end in itself. Rather, I see Jewish nationality as a fact and I believe that every Jew must draw the consequences from this fact. – Albert Einstein
To be a Jew is a destiny. – Vicki Baum
Also on this day: Equality – In 1886, Abigail Adams pleads with her husband to include women as voting adults.
How TALL Are You? – In 1889, the world’s tallest structure was inaugurated.
Spring Forward – Fall Back – In 1918, DST was first used in the US.
Virgin Territory – In 1917, the US takes possession of the Virgin Islands.
The Bangorian Controversy – In 1717, Benjamin Hoadly delivered a controversial sermon.
March 30, 1964: A new game show airs on NBC. Jeopardy! was created by Merv Griffin with inspiration from his wife, Julann. It was originally called What’s the Question? and was hosted by Art Fleming. He hosted from this date until January 3, 1975 and then from October 2, 1978 until March 2, 1979 and never missed a taping. During his tenure, he earned two Emmy Award nominations. While Fleming was hosting, Don Pardo narrated from 1964 until 1975 and then John Harlen took over from the 1978-79 years. These years covered a total of 2,900 shows.
The premise of the game lies in the question/answer format. The answers are revealed when the contestant selects a category and dollar amount. The three players than must ring in for a chance to provide a question for which the answer would be correct. If they are correct, they earn the dollar amount displayed and if they are wrong, they lose that amount of money. There are Daily Doubles hidden on the board and only the person who selected the square has a chance to play and has to choose the dollar amount of the wager. After the first round, dollar amounts are doubled for the second round with six new categories. Final Jeopardy! has all three contestants playing (if they have any money to wager) and after the answer is revealed, they have thirty seconds to formulate the question.
Jeopardy! went into daily syndication on September 10, 1984 and remains so. Since that time, Alex Trebek has been host and Johnny Gilbert has been the announcer. In that time, there has been nearly 7,000 shows (6,829 at the end of the 2014 season). Trebek, a Canadian-American, hosted other game shows before coming to Jeopardy! The show has won a record 31 Daytime Emmy Awards and is the only game show to have received a Peabody Award. In 2013, the show was ranked as number 45 of the 60 greatest shows in American history, as published in TV Guide. There have been regional adaptations for broadcast in other countries. Their 31st daily syndicated season began on September 15, 2014.
Along with the regular show, there are special events staged. Beginning in 1985, an annual Tournament of Champions would bring the top fifteen champions since the previous tournament together to complete. The Teen Tournament began as a once-a-year event in 1987 and the College Championship was instituted in the 1988-89 season. This is played by undergrad students from American colleges and universities. The Teachers Tournament and Celebrity Jeopardy were added as were some special events such as Super Jeopardy!, specials dedicated to the number of season on the air, reunion tournaments, and international tournaments. Ken Jennings holds the record for the longest winning streak (in the early days, contestants were retired after five wins). Brad Rutter is the all-time money winner taking in $4,355,102 during his tenure.
Unless it’s an emergency, don’t bother me after 6:00 p.m. and on weekends. – Merv Griffin
It’s very important in life to know when to shut up. You should not be afraid of silence. – Alex Trebek
I think what makes ‘Jeopardy!’ special is that, among all the quiz and game shows out there, ours tends to encourage learning. – Alex Trebek
It’s so much fun that the money is just icing on the cake. There seems to be a lot of icing. – Ken Jennings
Also on this day: Pencil plus – In 1858, erasers were added to pencils.
Seward’s Folly – In 1867, the US purchased Alaska from Russia.
It’s a Knock Out – In 1842, a general anesthetic was first used for surgery.
Underground – In 1954, Toronto’s Yonge Street subway opened.
Fifteen – In 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was adopted.
March 29, 1683: Yaoya Oshichi dies. She was the daughter of a greengrocer Tarobei and her name literally means simply greengrocer Oshichi. The family lived in the Hongō neighborhood of Edo. Edo, which translates to English as “bay-entrance” or “estuary” was the former name of Tokyo. Edo was the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate which ruled Japan from 1603 to 1868. In December 1682, Yaoya met and fell in love with Ikuta Shōnosuke, a temple page, during the great fire in the Tenna Era. They met at Shōsen-in, the family temple. Hoping to meet the young man again, Yaoya attempted to start another fire, thinking it would bring him close again. Instead she was arrested.
Although the magistrate at the trial understood how old the young girl was, he asked if she was fifteen. She truthfully answered she was sixteen. The judge understood the consequences of such an answer. At the time, meticulous records were not kept and so it was possible to just ask and have the age confirmed by a local bureaucrat. The magistrate tried again and Yaoya, misunderstanding his intention which was to try her as a minor, again answered that she was sixteen. In accordance to the law, she was tried as an adult. The punishment for arson was to be burned at the stake and she died in that manner on this date.
Three years later, her story was incorporated into Ihara Saikaku’s book, Kōshoku Gonin Onna (English translation, Five Women Who Loved Love). In 1703, Ki no Kaion, using the story as a basis for his work, created a traditional puppet performance entitled Yaoya Ohichi. Seventy years after that, three playwrights took liberties with revising Kaion’s work. In 1773, two plays had Yaoya climbing a fire tower to ring a fire bell and call to her lover, rather than being an arsonist. The penalty for falsely ringing the bell was still death. In the plays, Oshichi is treated as a noble character of selfless devotion rather than an impetuous and foolish girl.
The calendar then in use in Japan had each year known by one of five element and one of twelve animals so that there was a series of sixty years. Oshichi was said to have been born in 1666, the year of the fire horse (Hinoe Uma [Japanese] or Bingwu [Chinese]). Every sixty years since this date, fewer children are born in such a year since it proved to be so unlucky. It is the 43rd combination possible in the cycle. The risk of having a child born with such a bad personality makes the birth rate drop during the year in East Asian countries. This is true even now, with the last such year having been in 1966. The next fire horse year will take place in 2026.
The professional arsonist builds vacant lots for money. – Jimmy Breslin
Men will confess to treason, murder, arson, false teeth, or a wig. How many of them will own up to a lack of humor? – Frank Moore Colby
Surprises are foolish things. The pleasure is not enhanced, and the inconvenience is often considerable. – Jane Austen
Even the wisest men make fools of themselves about women, and even the most foolish women are wise about men. – Theodor Reik
Also on this day: Rationing – In 1948, rationing of items increased to include more food products.
Ice Jam – In 1848, the Falls at Niagara stopped flowing.
Vesta – In 1807, Vesta was discovered.
New Sweden – In 1638, the first Swedish colony was established in the New World.
Knights – In 1882, the Knights of Columbus was formed.
March 28, 1566: The cornerstone of the city of Valletta is laid. It is the capital of Malta, a small island nation in the Mediterranean Sea just south of Sicily, east of Tunisia, and north of Libya. Malta covers just 122 square miles and has a population of about 416,000 making one of the world’s smallest yet most densely populated countries. The capital city of Valletta covers just 0.3 square miles and has a population of almost 7,000. It is colloquially called Il-Belt (The City) in Maltese. The Order of the Knights of Saint John, also called the Knights Hospitaller, were among the most famous of the Roman Catholic military orders in the Middle Ages. They arrived on Malta in 1530 and found the only building, a small watchtower dedicated to Erasmus of Formia (Saint Elmo).
In 1552, they demolished the tower and built Fort Saint Elmo on the site. During the Great Siege of 1565, the fort fell to the Turks, but the Knights eventually won the siege with the help of the Spaniards who sent reinforcements. The victorious Grandmaster, Jean de Valette, immediately set out to build a new fortified city. This would help secure their position as well as tie the Knights to the island. The city would be named for him. He asked European kings and princes for help. Since the Order became famous for this victory, help was forthcoming. Pope Pius V sent military architect, Francesco Laparelli, to design the new city while Phillip II of Spain sent money. De Valette himself laid the foundation stone on this date.
De Valette died on August 21, 1568 from a stroke. He was 74 and did not live to see his city completed. He is buried in St. John’s Co-Cathedral with other Grand Masters of the Knights of Malta. Unlike most Middle Ages city plans, Laparelli built Valletta using a rectangular grid plan, without the winding twisting streets and without a restricted area for important buildings. The streets were wide and straight and began centrally from the City Gate and ended at Fort Saint Elmo. When he died in 1570, Girolamo Cassar finished construction and the city became the capital of Malta in 1571 with the Grandmaster moving into the Grandmaster’s Palace.
Today, Valetta remains the capital and houses the Offices of the President and Prime Minister as well as the parliament, the courthouse, and other government buildings. Alexiei Dingli is the Mayor of the city while Marie Louise Coleiro Preca is President and Joseph Muscat is Prime Minister of the country. The city lies on a peninsula of the island and has two natural harbors. The climate is mild. Valletta has been designated European Capital of Culture for 2018, an honor bestowed to various cities in Europe for one calendar year where the city organizes a series of cultural events. Like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the city hosts the Maltese Carnival each year in February, leading up to Lent.
The four cornerstones of character on which the structure of this nation was built are: Initiative, Imagination, Individuality and Independence. – Eddie Rickenbacker
Love and work are the cornerstones of our humanness. – Sigmund Freud
What is sacred among one people may be ridiculous in another; and what is despised or rejected by one cultural group, may in a different environment become the cornerstone for a great edifice of strange grandeur and beauty. – Hu Shih
Those who first oppose a good work, seize it and make it their own, when the cornerstone is laid and memorial tablets are erected. – Edgar Lee Masters
Also on this day: Ragnar, the Viking – In 845, Ragnar sacked Paris.
Tornado Outbreak – In 1920, a series of devastating tornadoes swept the US.
Three Mile Island – In 1979, a partial nuclear meltdown began in Pennsylvania.
He Changed the Way We Live – In 1897, Victor Mills was born.
Majestic Theatre – In 1927, the theater opened in New York City.
* Picture by Frank Vincentz
March 27, 1836: The Goliad Massacre takes place. The Republic of Texas was an independent sovereign country which existed from March 2, 1836 to February 19, 1846. The region had been part of New Spain and also of interest to the French. It had a high Native American population and was largely ignored by European powers. When Mexico fought for its independence from New Spain, Texas was part of the freed region. The area then wished to be free from Mexican rule as well. The Texians – non-Hispanic white residents of Mexican Texas and later the Republic of Texas wished to be separate from their southern rulers. The Goliad Campaign was part of their fight for independence from Mexico and Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna.
General José Urrea was in charge of troops sent into Texas and his men surprised Texian troops under Frank Johnson on February 27, 1836 which led to the Battle of San Patricio where some prisoners were taken and some were able to escape back to Goliad and James Fannin, commander of the Texian troops. Several more battles took place over the next month and many more Texians were captured. Although there were some executions as well, several men were able to escape and return to the lines. Eventually the Mexicans had control of the fort at Goliad, Fort Defiance, and were holding all prisoners of war there. The Texians were under the impression they would be set free back in US territory in a few weeks.
Back in December, the Mexican government passed a law stating all armed foreigners taken in combat would be treated as pirates and executed. Urrea had begged Santa Anna for clemency but was denied. Urrea left the fort in the hands of Colonel José Nicolás de la Portilla. Santa Anna sent direct orders to the “Officer Commanding the Post of Goliad” and these were received on March 26. Portilla decided it was his duty to carry out those orders despite receiving countermanding orders from Urrea the same day. On this day, Palm Sunday, Portilla had 303 Texians marched out of Fort Defiance in three columns along three roads. They were driven between two rows of Mexican soldiers who shot them at point blank range. Those who did not immediately die, were clubbed or stabbed to death.
There were forty more Texians who were unable to leave the fort due to their wounds. Captain Carolino Huerta carried out their executions saving Colonel Fannin as the last to be executed, having already witnessed the deaths of the men under his command. He was 32 years old. He asked for three things as they blindfolded him, seated in a chair waiting for death. He wished his personal possessions go to his family, that he be shot in the heart, and given a Christian burial. They stole his possessions, shot him in the face, and burned his corpse. Twenty-eight men escaped death by feigning their demise. Another 75 soldiers were spared because they were taken unarmed. Today, a memorial exists to commemorate where the bodies were finally buried one month later, when Santa Anna was finally defeated and surrendered.
In every country where independence has taken the place of liberty, the first desire of a manly heart is to possess a weapon which at once renders him capable of defence or attack, and, by rendering its owner fearsome, makes him feared. – Alexandre Dumas, père
I believe that the fundamental alternative for man is the choice between “life” and “death”; between creativity and destructive violence; between reality and illusions; between objectivity and intolerance; between brotherhood-independence and dominance-submission. – Erich Fromm
Nationality is the miracle of political independence; race is the principle of physical analogy. – Benjamin Disraeli
Injustice in the end produces independence. – Voltaire
Also on this day: Long Distance Communication – In 1899, the first international radio communication occurred.
Tenerife Disaster – In 1977, the worst aviation disaster took place at Tenerife.
Earthquake – In 1964, Alaska was struck by a powerful earthquake.
Little Blue Pill – In 1998, Viagra was approved by the FDA.
Get it Together – In 1790, the shoe lace and holes were perfected.
* Picture by P6150
March 26, 1484: Aesop’s Fables are printed in English for the first time. William Caxton was an English merchant, diplomat, writer, and printer. He is said to have introduced the printing press into England in 1476. He was also the first Englishman bookseller; all his contemporaries were either Flemish, German, or French. His place of birth is uncertain as is the time, but it is assumed to have been around 1415. In the preface of his first printed work, The Recuyell of the Historyes of Troye, he said he was born and educated in the Weald of Kent. He was in London by 1438 and apprenticed to Robert Large, a wealthy dealer in luxury goods and Lord Mayor of London. Large died in 1441 and left Caxton £20, which was less than other apprentices, so it is assumed Caxton was still a junior apprentice at that time.
Caxton settled in Bruges by 1450 and was successful in business there. He became governor of the Company of Merchant Adventurers of London and in that capacity traveled to Burgundy and became a member of the household of Margaret, Duchess of Burgundy. Margaret was the third wife of Charles the Bold and sister to two British Kings. Caxton was able to travel more extensively and was impressed by German printing and aware of the influence of printed material. He set up his first press in Bruges and printed his first book there. The translation of the Troye book was done by Caxton himself. He came back to England and set up a press at Westminster in 1476. His first book printed in England was Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.
His printing of Aesop’s Fables on this day was the first time the tales had been translated into English and again it was his own translation. Many other editions would follow over the centuries with some in prose and some written in verse. The fables or Aesopica are credited to the slave named Aesop. He is believed to have lived in Greece between 620 and 560 BC. The stories associated with his name are of diverse origins. They continue to be reinterpreted as they are translated. There is some historical reference to the slave/author by the Greek historian Herodotus as well Apollonius of Tyana, a 1st-century AD philosopher, among others.
The fables have been, even since classical times, differentiated from other narratives. The fables must be short and unaffected. They also must be fictitious and have useful insight into life. While they had to be true to nature, there were often talking animals and plants. In very few of the stories do humans interact only with humans. After the short story is told, the moral is given at the end, reinforcing the idea of the tale. The context would often help guide the story’s interpretation. Some of the titles, such as the “Goose that Laid the Golden Egg,” have become proverbs in their own right. Sometimes, a story seems to have been invented to help illustrate and even older proverb. It remains a mystery as to how the tales managed to survive the millennia, but they have managed to be translated into every language now.
Aesopian language was used by all of us. And of course, using this language meant having readers who understood it. – Ryszard Kapuscinski
It is my contention that Aesop was writing for the tortoise market. Hares have no time to read. – Anita Brookner
Because philosophy arises from awe, a philosopher is bound in his way to be a lover of myths and poetic fables. Poets and philosophers are alike in being big with wonder. – Thomas Aquinas
Fable is more historical than fact, because fact tells us about one man and fable tells us about a million men. – Gilbert Keith Chesterton
Also on this day: Stella! – In 1911, Tennessee Williams was born.
Cruising Legally – In 1934, Britain began testing drivers.
Dr. Death – In 1999, Dr. Kevorkian was found guilty of second degree murder.
Mother Ship – In 1997, the Heaven’s Gate suicides were discovered.
Inspired Writing – In 1830, the Book of Mormon was published.
* Picture by Djembayz
March 25, 421: Venice is founded. According to tradition, the area was populated by refugees from nearby Roman cities – Padua, Aquileia, Treviso, Altino, and Concordia as well as from the undefended countryside. The area had seen successive waves of Germanic and Hun invasion forces and the survivors headed to the marshy lagoons and set up homes on the many islands. These people were called the incolae lacunae or lagoon dwellers. The founding of Venice is given as noon on this day when the first church, San Giacomo, was dedicated on the islet of Rialto. As successive invasions took place, the rule of Venice often changed hands.
Between the 9th and 12th centuries, Venice developed into a city state. The other three city states were Genoa, Pisa, and Amalfi. Venice had a strategic advantage at the head of the Adriatic Sea and it made the city powerful in naval and commercial endeavors. The elimination of coastal pirates helped secure their position and the region became a flourishing trade center between Western Europe and the rest of the known world, especially the Byzantine Empire and the Islamic controlled area. Because of their interaction with the eastern world, they maintained close ties to Constantinople. Their rule of their colonies was fairly benign and rather enlightened for the era, which helped them maintain control.
Their power began to decline in the 15th century and as a port city, they were bombarded with waves of Black Death. The plague killed 50,000 people in just three years and sixty years later, in 1630, another third of Venice’s 150,000 population was killed. Portugal took over as the leader in ports for international trade and Venice’s economy was as decimated as her population. May 12, 1797 was the end of Venice’s Republic status when she fell to Napoleon Bonaparte. With the European continent in flux, rule of Venice changed hands several times. During World War II, the city remained fairly intact and precise strikes by the Royal Air Force on the German naval operations did virtually no structural damage to the city itself.
Today, the 160 square mile city is home to about 271,000 people with about 60,000 living in historic Venice. The historic city is divided into six areas or sestiere while the whole municipality is divided into six boroughs. Buildings are constructed on closely spaced alder wood piles which are still intact after centuries of submersion. The foundations of buildings rest on plates of limestone which rest on the piles. The water is oxygen-poor and the wood does not decay rapidly. The climate is humid subtropical and there is always danger of flooding since the elevation of the city is barely above sea level. Although once a bastion of trade, today, tourism leads many people to visit. Art and architecture combine to make it the 28th most visited city in the world with nearly 3 million visitors coming each year.
Though there are some disagreeable things in Venice there is nothing so disagreeable as the visitors. – Henry James
If you read a lot, nothing is as great as you’ve imagined. Venice is. Venice is better. – Fran Lebowitz
Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs in one go. – Truman Capote
Is it worth while to observe that there are no Venetian blinds in Venice? – William Dean Howells
Also on this day: On Your Marks – In 1668, the first horse race was run in the American colonies.
Titan Discovered – In 1655, Christiaan Huygens discovered one of Saturn’s moons.
First Passenger Train – In 1908, the Oystermouth Railway began service.
Jobs – In 1894, Coxey’s Army began their march on Washington, D.C.
Richard the Lionheart – In 1199, Richard I of England was shot.
* Picture by Didier Descouens
March 24, 1832: Joseph Smith, Jr. is tarred and feathered. Smith was the leader and founder or Mormonism. He was born in Vermont in 1817 but the family soon moved to western New York, a hotbed of religious revivalism during the Second Great Awakening. Smith experienced visions where he was directed to a buried book of golden plates. In 1830 he published an English translation of the texts found on the plates – the Book of Mormon. He also organized a Church of Christ and claimed it to be a restoration of the early Christian church. Later visions instructed Smith to rename his church the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. In 1831, he and his followers moved west and hoped to form a commune of the American Zion.
Smith and his wife, Emma Hale Smith, moved to Kirtland, Ohio. There is a possibility they moved west in an effort to get away from persecution in Pennsylvania and New York. They lived with Isaac Morley while they waited for a house to be built for them on the family farm. Others of their group went to Jackson County, Missouri where Smith had been instructed to build the new Zion. While in Ohio, Smith was dragged from his bed in the middle of the night, beaten, strangled, poison pressed against his teeth, and tarred and feathered. He was left for dead, but managed to survive the degradations.
Tarring and feathering have been in use as a means of unofficial justice or revenge since feudal days in Europe. It was mostly a type of mob vengeance, similar to lynching. A typical attack had the victim stripped to the waist, as Smith was, and then tar applied. The victim was then covered in feathers or possibly rolled in a pile of feathers. Usually, the next step was to parade the humiliated person through town. Petroleum tar, what is used to tar roads, would have been so hot it would have burned skin off the individual. Pine tar has a lower melting point. While it would be very hot, it would not be as extreme. Unless the tar was boiling, it was not necessarily a brutal procedure. Smith’s friends scraped the tar and feathers off until his skin was raw.
The speculation for what incited the crowd is varied. There are some who believe that Eli Johnson, a son of Smiths’ host, wanted to punish Smith with castration for his closeness to Nancy Miranda Johnson (his sister). Another possible motive was that Symonds Ryder, another participant in the night’s events, was fearful Smith was trying to take property from members of the community. This was to warn him against such actions. Whatever the reasons for the attack, the person who paid the highest price was an adopted child of the Smiths. This baby was torn from Smith’s arms and put on a trundle bed. The child was knocked from the bed as the adult Smiths were dragged from the house. The child died of exposure, possibly pneumonia, five days after the event.
We teach them proper principles and let them govern themselves.
The best way to obtain truth and wisdom is not to ask from books, but to go to God in prayer, and obtain divine teaching.
If you do not accuse each other, God will not accuse you. If you have no accuser you will enter heaven. What many people call sin is not sin; I do many things to break down superstition, and I will break it down.
I told the brethren that the Book of Mormon was the most correct of any book on earth, and the keystone of our religion, and a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts, than by any other book. – all from Joseph Smith, Jr.
Also on this day: Alaska Mess – In 1989, the Exxon Valdez ran aground and began to spill oil.
Cruising – In 1898, the first American built automobile was purchased.
Metropolitan Life – In 1868, the insurance company was formed.
Beating a Killer – In 1882, Robert Koch announced the cause of TB.
You’re in the Army Now – In 1958, Elvis Presley was inducted into the US Army.
March 23, 1989: Martin Fleischmann and Stanley Pons hold a press conference. The two men reported on an apparatus they had built which produced “excess heat” and was a demonstration of cold fusion. This is a hypothetical kind of nuclear reaction which would take place at or near room temperature. “Hot” fusion requires a temperature in the millions of degrees, such as that found naturally in stars. The two men not only claimed to have produced heat from cold fusion, but also measured small amounts of nuclear byproducts such as neutrons and tritium. All this was done with a small tabletop device which used electrolysis of heavy water on the surface of a palladium electrode. If true, it would be a source of cheap and abundant energy. The operative phrase there, was “if true”.
Fleischmann was a British chemist famous worldwide for his work in electrochemistry. He was born in Czechoslovakia in 1927 to Jewish parents who fled first to the Netherlands and then to England by 1938. After receiving his PhD from Imperial College London, Fleischmann taught at King’s College and then University of Newcastle upon Tyne. He moved to the University of Southampton, where he was the Faraday Chair of Chemistry and was the president of the International Society of Electrochemists. He began working with Pons in 1983 where the two men spent $100,000 in self-funded experiments at the University of Utah. Fleischmann wished to publish first in an obscure journal in a joint publication with another university doing similar work. The University of Utah wished for priority and went public with the announcement, forcing the two men to also go public.
Pons was born in North Carolina and studied chemistry at Wake Forest University in North Carolina and then began his PhD at the University of Michigan, but quit before finishing. He completed his studies at the University of Southampton where he met Fleischmann. The two men were interested in the problem of cold fusion, like many before them. The search for this energy source began in the late 1920s when two Austrian born scientists reported the transformation of hydrogen into helium by spontaneous nuclear reaction at room temperature. They later retracted their report, saying the helium measurement was due to background presence in the air. Others still held out hope.
Fleischmann and Pons did not publish their experimental protocol but physicists around the world attempted to replicate their experiment without success. The first paper submitted to Nature passed peer-review but was rejected regardless because similar experiments were negative and no theories could explain the positive result. The two men still believed in their process and the University of Utah asked Congress to provide $25 million for research. Pons was scheduled to meet with President Bush in May but by April 30, 1989, the New York Times declared the idea dead. On May 1, 1989 the American Physical Society concurred. Disgraced but undaunted, the two men moved to France to continue their work. Their funding ran out in 1992. Fleishmann died in 2012 of natural causes; he was 85. Pons gave up his US citizenship and remains in France.
There is not the slightest indication that nuclear energy will ever be obtainable. It would mean that the atom would have to be shattered at will. – Albert Einstein
I will say this, though: If it is true that fusion will put unlimited amounts of energy into our hands, then I’m worried. Our record on this score is extremely poor. – David Brower
All I know about thermal pollution is that if we continue our present rate of growth in electrical energy consumption it will simply take, by the year 2000, all our freshwater streams to cool the generators and reactors. – David Brower
Today we know four types of forces – electromagnetic, gravitational, and the strong and weak nuclear forces. But the existence of the latter two was not even suspected before this century. I don’t believe that we have found all the forces in nature yet. There is probably at least one more type of energy operation at the physical level which serves to support psychic phenomena. – William Tiller
Also on this day: The Man Who Would Be Pope – In 752, Pope Stephen was elected but he died before taking his seat.
Safety First – In 1857, Elisha Otis installed his first passenger elevator.
Patrick Henry – In 1775, Patrick Henry spoke to the Virginia House of Burgesses.
Row, Row, Row your Boat – In 1889, the free Woolwich Ferry began service.
Circumvention – In 1896, The Raines Law was passed.
March 22, 1784: The Emerald Buddha is moved. The Kingdom of Thailand counts this statue as its palladium, an image or object of antiquity on which they depend for safety. The original Palladium was a wooden statue of Pallas Athena which Odysseus and Diomedes stole from the citadel of Troy and which was later taken to Rome by Aeneas. It remained there until it was moved to Constantinople and was lost. The Emerald Buddha is a figurine of the meditating Buddha in seated yogic posture. It is not made of emerald, but instead is made of green jasper, a type of quartz and/or chalcedony. Jasper’s most common color is red and rarely it comes in blue. Jasper is one of the traditional stones of March. The Emerald Buddha is about 30 inches tall and is clothed in gold.
Legend states the Emerald Buddha was created in India in 43 BC by Nagasena, a Buddhist sage from Kashmir, who made the statue in the city of Pataliputra where it remained for 300 years. After that, the statue was taken to Sri Lanka to save it from harm during a civil war. In 457, a Burmese king requested the statue and scriptures to be sent home to help with study in his country. While in transport, the ship was caught in a storm and the statue ended up in Cambodia. The Thais captured Angkor Wat in 1432 and with it the Emerald Buddha which was moved to Laos where it was hidden.
Historical sources note the surfacing of the Emerald Buddha in Thailand in the Lannathai kingdom in 1434. One record states the statue was in a building struck by lightning and when it was dug out it was thought to be made from emerald, hence the name. A less romantic version says that in Thailand “emerald” simply means “green colored” and is not specific. An elephant carrying the statue was supposed to go to Chiang Mai, but would not travel there and went to Lampang three times. This was seen as a divine sign and the Emerald Buddha stayed there until 1468 when it was finally taken to Chiang Mai. It stayed there until 1552. It was then taken to Luang Prabang until 1564 when it was brought to Vientiane. In 1779 it was captured during an insurrection and brought to Siam and on this day, it was ceremoniously moved to its current home – Wat Phra Kaew.
Wat Phra Kaew literally means Temple of the Emerald Buddha. It is regarded as the most sacred Buddhist temple (wat) in Thailand. It is located in the Phra Nakhon District or the historic center of Bangkok. The Buddha has remained in the specially built temple for hundreds of years. He has three different sets of gold clothing. The King of Thailand or a liaison changes the Buddha’s outfit at the changing of the season, around March, July, and November. The three sets of clothes correspond to Thailand’s three seasons – the summer season, the rainy season, and the cool season. Two sets of golden garments are displayed at the Pavilion of Regalia on the grounds of the Grand Palace when the statue is not wearing them. There they can be viewed by the public.
If you have a preconceived idea of the first principle, that idea is topsy-turvy, and as long as you seek a first principle that is something to be applied in one way to every occasion, you will have topsy-turvy ideas. Such ideas are not necessary. Buddha’s great light shines forth from everything, each moment. – Shunryu Suzuki
Endurance is one of the most difficult disciplines, but it is to the one who endures that the final victory comes. – Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)
A good friend who points out mistakes and imperfections and rebukes evil is to be respected as if he reveals a secret of hidden treasure. – Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)
Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without. – Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)
Also on this day: Laser – In 1960, the laser was patented.
Hockey is Rough – In 1989, Clint Malarchuk was hurt during a hockey game.
Flying Wallendas – In 1978, Karl Wallenda died from a fall.
Preschool Predicament – In 1984, the McMartin Preschool indictments were brought.
Elite Golf – In 1934, the first Augusta National Invitational Tournament was held.
* Picture by Gremel Madolora