Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 30, 2015
The Earth-Moon system

The Earth-Moon system

November 30, 3340 BC: An eclipse is recorded. At least that is a theory proposed by Paul Griffin who argues a stone in Ireland records the event. Records of solar eclipses have been kept since ancient times as the event was seen as a propitious omen. A Syrian clay tablet records the event in the Ugaritic language and tells of a solar eclipse which took place on March 5, 1223 BC (using the Gregorian calendar). The Babylonians also recorded the events and their records from the 13th century BC may have been used to help the Greeks find all three lunar motions to an extremely precise degree. They were able to calculate synodic, anomalistic, and draconitic motions to about one part in a million. The Chinese have been recording solar eclipses for about 4,000 years and these have been used to calculate the changes in the Earth’s rate of spin.

An eclipse is an astronomical event which takes place when one object is temporarily obscured by the passing of another body or by the passing of the shadow of another body across it. The word eclipse comes from the Greek ékleipsis which means “the abandonment”, “the downfall”, or “the darkening of a heavenly body”. This gives a rather ominous flavor to the word. There are different types of eclipses, but the term when left to stand alone usually refers to a solar eclipse which happens with the Moon passes between the Earth and the Sun. This only works when there is a new moon and when the Sun and the Moon are in conjunction as seen from Earth. Since orbits are not completely in alignment, this is not a monthly occurrence.

A lunar eclipse takes place when the Moon passes behind the Earth and is covered by the shadow it casts. Again, all three entities, Sun, Moon, and Earth, have to be perfectly aligned for this to happen, something called syzygy. A lunar eclipse can only take place on the night of a full moon. Other differences between the two types of eclipses is that a lunar eclipse lasts for hours rather than the few minutes a solar eclipse lasts. And a lunar eclipse can be seen from anywhere on the night side of Earth. A total solar eclipse can only been seen on a small portion of the planet. It is safe for anyone to gaze up into the night sky to witness a lunar eclipse and they will not damage their eyes. However, eye protection is needed if one is to look directly at a solar eclipse.

There are three parts of the Moon’s shadow in a solar eclipse. The umbra is the part where the Moon completely covers the sun. Because of the sizes of the bodies involved, it is possible, at times, for the Moon to seem to completely block the sun. The umbra moves eastward at a rate of 1050 mph and is seen along a track 155 miles wide. It can last up to 7 minutes and 31 seconds under the most favorable circumstances, that is when everything is perfectly aligned. It is interesting to note that astronauts in space can witness an eclipse unlike anything we can see on Earth. They have witnessed an eclipse of the Earth over the Sun. The Cassini probe was able to see Saturn eclipse the Sun in 2006.

There is no science in this world like physics. Nothing comes close to the precision with which physics enables you to understand the world around you. It’s the laws of physics that allow us to say exactly what time the sun is going to rise. What time the eclipse is going to begin. What time the eclipse is going to end. – Neil deGrasse Tyson

All Science is necessarily prophetic, so truly so, that the power of prophecy is the test, the infallible criterion, by which any presumed Science is ascertained to be actually & verily science. The Ptolemaic Astronomy was barely able to prognosticate a lunar eclipse; with Kepler and Newton came Science and Prophecy. – Samuel Taylor Coleridge

I have always read that the world, both land and water, was spherical, as the authority and researches of Ptolemy and all the others who have written on this subject demonstrate and prove, as do the eclipses of the moon and other experiments that are made from east to west, and the elevation of the North Star from north to south. – Christopher Columbus

The earth together with its surrounding waters must in fact have such a shape as its shadow reveals, for it eclipses the moon with the arc of a perfect circle. – Copernicus

Also on this day: I’ll Take Television for $200, Alex – In 2004, Ken Jennings finally lost at Jeopardy! after winning over $2.5 million.
100 Miles Per Hour – In 1934, the Flying Scotsman reached a speed of 100 mph.
Lucy – In 1974, Australopithecus was discovered.
Penal Reform – In 1786, the death penalty was outlawed for the first time.
Crystal Palace – In 1936, the palace burned to the ground.

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A Fix

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 29, 2015
29 Teralogy_web

Tetralogy of Fallot

November 29, 1944: Surgery to correct blue baby syndrome is first done. Blue baby syndrome can be caused by a number of different heart defects, but the results are the same. The baby’s blood isn’t properly oxygenated which leads to a blue coloring of the fragile skin. The most common of these cardiovascular problems is called Tetralogy of Fallot. The first part of that refers to the four usual heart problems found in the condition. To get a diagnosis, all four are usually present, but at least three have to be. The major problem is that the heart has an opening between the right and left lower chambers (ventricles) allowing both the oxygenated and unoxgenated blood to mix before it pumped out to the body.

The condition was first described in 1672, again in 1773, and finally in 1888 by French doctor, Étienne-Louis Arthur Fallot, who got naming rights. It’s only treatment even today is surgical intervention and that doesn’t get the patient completely cured. While parts of the issues can be surgically corrected, there are lifelong problems stemming from the condition which lead to heartbeat irregularities and sometimes the need for other surgical procedures later, as well as other problems. The condition presents in about 3.9 births per 10,000 live births in the US and is responsible for about 10% of congenital heart problems.

Dr. Helen Taussig was a pediatric cardiologist and working at Johns Hopkins Hospital. She was presented with many babies with Tetralogy of Fallot and had no good way to treat them. She approach Dr. Alfred Blalock, a surgeon, and asked for his help in developing a treatment plan. Blalock’s surgical technician, Vivien Thomas, had developed a procedure which joined the end of the subclavian artery to the pulmonary artery for another purpose. It was thought that modifying this procedure would allow for the blood to be shunted properly to the lungs and then pumped out to the body with more oxygen.

The procedure was done for the first time on this day. Called the Blalock-Taussig shunt, the idea quickly caught on and spread throughout the world. As time passed, Thomas’s contribution to the procedure was finally recognized and his name was added as well. For his efforts, in 1976, Thomas was given an honorary doctorate from Johns Hopkins University. The procedure had been practiced in the lab using dogs so that Thomas could instruct Blalock on the procedure. Although Thomas was the man responsible for the technique, he could not operate on a human because he was not a doctor. Eileen Saxon was the 15-month-old patient who was the first human to be treated with the procedure. While it was initially successful, a few months later, Eileen was once again turning blue. It was hoped that a second procedure done on the opposite side would correct the problem, but she died soon after. They team learned the procedure was best done on older toddlers, but Eileen could not have waited as she was near death before the first surgery.

Advances in medicine and agriculture have saved vastly more lives than have been lost in all the wars in history. – Carl Sagan

Formerly, when religion was strong and science weak, men mistook magic for medicine; now, when science is strong and religion weak, men mistake medicine for magic. – Thomas Szasz

Medicine sometimes snatches away health, sometimes gives it. – Ovid

Medicine is a science of uncertainty and an art of probability. – William Osler

Also on this day: Warren Commission formed – In 1963, the Warren Commission was formed to investigate President Kennedy’s assassination.
Phonetic – In 1877, Thomas Edison demonstrated his phonograph.
Zong – In 1781, the Zong Massacre took place.
Going South – In 1929, the first fly-over of the South Pole occurred.
Video Games – In 1972, Pong came out.

College for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematical Experimental Learning

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 28, 2015
The Royal Society building

The Royal Society building

November 28, 1660: The 1660 committee of 12 announce the formation of a “College for the Promoting of Physico-Mathematical Experimental Learning”. Gresham College was established in London in 1597 as directed in the will of Sir Thomas Gresham. In the 1640s and 1650s, a group of scientists began to discuss their subject matter. They first met at Jonathan Goddard’s house and the first members were known as the 1645 group although others joined later. They disbanded in 1648. They were also called The Philosophical Society of Oxford and their original set of rules are kept even today at the Bodleian Library. After the Restoration, the group moved to Gresham College.

French scientists had been banding together at the Montmor Academy and there is some dispute over whether or not some of the big names in British science had been there prior to the formation of their new group. On this day, their official group was formed and by the second meeting, the King had given his blessing along with a royal charter which was granted on July 15, 1662 making the scientific-based group the Royal Society. The group has been a mainstay of British intellectualism and every monarch since 1550 has been a patron of the society.

Early meetings were not just papers being read, but there were experiments done with the entire group able to witness the outcome. The group also published foreign material for enlightenment of the members. They continued to be associated with Gresham College, but the Great Fire of London in 1666 had them change venues. The college was not destroyed, but the Lord Mayor appropriated the building until London could be rebuilt. They returned to Gresham in 1673. They hoped to create a distinct place for the Royal Society and attempted to collect funding to build it, but it was unsuccessful at the time.

Today, the Royal Society, which now does have it own building, is located at 6-9 Carlton House Terrace in London which is headquarters. And they have a presence at Chicheley Hall, Chicheley, Newport Pagnell in Buckinghamshire. Their motto is Nullius in verba (Take nobody’s word for it). Sir Paul Nurse heads the group comprised of 5 Royal Fellows, 1,450 Fellows, and 120 Foreign Fellows. They remain an independent scientific entity of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth with a purpose of promoting excellence in science. They not only offer a variety of publications, both in print and online, but also strive to bring translations of other print works to help spread knowledge. They host about 30 international two-day conferences yearly to help bring understanding to the world. They award good science and their most prestigious award is the Copley Medal, first awarded in 1731.

A fool’s brain digests philosophy into folly, science into superstition, and art into pedantry. Hence University education. – George Bernard Shaw

There is no national science just as there is no national multiplication table; anything that is national is not scientific. – Anton Chekhov

The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom. – Isaac Asimov

Science has everything to say about what is possible. Science has nothing to say about what is permissible. – Charles Krauthammer

Also on this day: The Pitch Experiment – In 2000, the eighth drop in the 73 year old Pitch Experiment dropped.
Night Life & Death – In 1942, the Cocoanut Grove burned.
Hot Off the Presses – In 1814, The London Times was printed using a steam operated press.
Attack – In 2002, the Mombasa attacks took place in Kenya.
There Goes the Groom – In 1528, William Shakespeare was given a marriage license.

Practical Joker

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 27, 2015
Theodore Hook

Theodore Hook

November 27, 1810: The Berners Street hoax unfolds. Theodore Hook was an intellectual and composer and for a brief time, a civil servant. He was also a great practical jokester. He was born in London in 1788 and was educated at Harrow School and the University of Oxford. His father, also a composer, loved to show off his son’s precocious musical skills and he was feted in green rooms around London at an early age. He had his first commercial success at age 16 when he co-authored with his father The Soldier’s Return, a comic opera. But he is best known as a playboy and prankster. He made a bet with his friend, Samuel Beazley, he could transform any house in London into the most talked about address in a week.

Mrs. Tottenham lived at 54 Berners Street. Hook took up residence in the house directly across the street from her. He sent out thousands of letters in Mrs. Tottenham’s name, requesting services be provided at her house on this date. At 5 AM, the first person arrived to offer his services. The maid at 54 Berners Street sent the first chimney sweep away stating they had not requested his services. A few minutes later, the next chimney sweep arrived and was sent away, and then another showed up. In fact, a total of 12 chimney sweeps had received letters asking for their services on this particular date.

But sweeps were not the only people who had been directed to the house. Throughout the day, a number of delivery carts arrived with loads of coal. Then cake makers began to appear with the “requested” cakes. Doctors arrived as requested as did lawyers, vicars, and priests. They had all been told that a member of the household was dying and needed their services. Fishmongers and shoe makers brought their wares to the house. Over a dozen pianos were delivered to the address along with one organ, brought in by “six stout men”. But it wasn’t just a host of unwary shopkeepers who were tricked.

Dignitaries began to arrive including the Governor of the Bank of England, the Duke of York and Albany, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and the Lord Mayor of the City of London. Berners Street became jammed with delivery wagons as well as onlookers who found the day filled with amusement. Arrivals at the house continued until the early evening hours and brought a large part of London to a standstill. Hook watched the day unfold from across the street. As the street became ever more crowded, people began to look for the person responsible for the entire mess. Although Hook was suspected, he was never formally accused. He decided it might be wise to lay quiet for a week or two before taking off to the country in order to recuperate. Today, 54 Berners Street is occupied by the Sanderson Hotel.

Every Officer that could be mustered was enlisted to disperse the people, and they were placed at the corners of Berners Street to prevent trades people from advancing towards the house with goods.

The street was not cleared at a late hour, as servants of every denomination wanting places began to assemble at five o’clock.

It turned out that letters had been written to the different trades people, which stated recommendations from persons of quality.

A reward has been offered for the apprehension of the author of the criminal hoax. – all from the Morning Post’s next day’s paper.

Also on this day: First Crusade – In 1095, Pope Urban II called for European princes to rescue the Holy Lands from desecration by the infidels.
No Twinkies – In 1978, Harvey Milk and George Moscone were murdered.
Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics – In 1839, the American Statistical Association was formed.
Hung – In 1835, the last executions for homosexuality in England took place at Newgate Prison.
Celebrate – In 1924, Macy’s held its first Thanksgiving Parade.

Gold Rush

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 26, 2015
John Palmer*

John Palmer*

November 26, 1983: The Brink’s MAT robbery takes place at Heathrow Airport. The plan had been to steal about £3 million from the warehouse. When Anthony Black, the security guard, let the robbers in, they found much more inside. There was £26 million worth of gold, diamonds, and cash. That’s worth about £75 million in today’s currency. Once the thieves were inside, they poured gasoline over the staff and threatened to light them on fire if they did not reveal the combination to the vault. The thieves were given the combination and made off with tons of gold bullion along with the other items.

Two days after the robbery, a couple in Bath noticed a white-hot crucible operating in a garden. Since this device is known for its use to melt metals, the couple became suspicious. They informed police who arrived but found the hut out of their jurisdiction. They promised to inform the correct police precinct. The couple who made the discovery were never asked for an official statement and were never asked to appear in court. The local police did not only not take a statement, but they did not contact any other police stations. It was not until 14 months later that the premises were raided and the smelter found. It was only then that John Palmer, a local jeweler and bullion dealer, was arrested. He testified that he had no idea the gold he had melted was associated with the robbery and was found innocent and released.

Black gave the name of his brother-in-law, Brian Robinson, who was arrested in December 1983. Black and Micky McAvoy were tired in December 1984 and both sentenced to prison with the former getting 6 years and the latter getting 25 years. McAvoy gave his share of the proceeds to Brian Perry and George Francis, his partners in crime, to dispose of. Perry hired Kenneth Noye to get rid of the gold since he was an expert in such things. It might have worked but the movement of such large amounts of gold came to the attention of the Bank of England who called in police. He was under surveillance and killed a police officer who was in his garden. Noye was found to have acted in self defense. He was fined for his part in the robbery as well as given a 14 year sentence, of which he served 7 years.

About 3.5 tons of the gold has never been recovered and four others involved in the robbery have never been convicted. By 1996, it was thought that much of stolen gold, the part that had been smelted, had made its way back into the legitimate gold market. There is some speculation that anyone wearing gold jewelry purchased in the United Kingdom after 1983 is probably wearing some of the gold taken in this heist. Noya, after his release from prison, killed again. This time in a fit of road rage. He fled the country but was captured in Spain and extradited. He is now serving a life sentence for this second crime. The goods stolen had been insured by Lloyd’s of London and they paid out for the losses. The bank who owned the assets went out of business the following year after a number of shady transactions led to a collapse.

If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world. – J. R. R. Tolkien

Wealth stays with us a little moment if at all: only our characters are steadfast, not our gold. – Euripides

Avarice is fear sheathed in gold. – Paul Eldridge

O accursed hunger of gold, to what dost thou not compel human hearts! – Virgil

Also on this day: Instant Camera – In 1948, Polaroid produced an instant picture camera, first sold on this day.
Puck You – In 1917, the National Hockey League was founded.
KV62 – In 1922, Howard Carter opened King Tut’s tomb.
Water – In 1805, the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct opened.
We Interrupt This Program – In 1977, the Southern Television broadcast was interrupted by an “alien”.

*”John Palmer 1950-2015″ by Source (WP:NFCC#4). Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia –


Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 25, 2015
Protest for the Hollywood Ten

Protest for the Hollywood Ten

November 25, 1947: The Hollywood Ten are systematically blacklisted. In the 1930s and 1940s, Hollywood saw a number of disturbing trends exacerbated by the Great Depression and World War II. A number of strikes brought the producers and unions into greater conflict. The American Communist Party lost a great deal of their membership after political intrigue in Europe escalated. The Russian agreements with Germany led to the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC) to proclaim a widespread sympathy between Hollywood and Communism. Martin Dies, Jr. was chairman of HUAC in 1940 he was given a list of 42 movie industry people who were Communists, according to John Leech, former Party member. Some big names were mentioned, but Dies would “clear” them if some terms were met.

On July 29, 1946, William Wilkerson, founder of The Hollywood Review, published a column entitled “A Vote for Joe Stalin” and named many Communist sympathizers. He followed with more lists in August and September. As a side note, his son admitted in 2012 on the 65th anniversary of the articles that his father was motivated by revenge against those who thwarted his ambition. In October 1947, the HUAC used the lists Wilkerson published and subpoenaed a number of those on the lists to testify at hearings. The goal was to find if Communist sympathizers had been placing propaganda in US films. The hearings opened with Walt Disney and Ronald Reagan who was at the time the president of the Screen Actors Guild.

Several big names in Hollywood formed a Committee for the First Amendment but the group soon came under attack. Many of those who were investigated had at one time been members of the American Communist Party. Of the 43 witnesses, 19 declared they would not give evidence. There were 11 “unfriendly witnesses” and one of them, foreign born Bertolt Brecht, finally agreed to testify. The other ten refused and cited the First Amendment. When they refused to testify, the HUAC put pressure on the film industry to demonstrate an “anti-subversive” ideology. On November 17, the Screen Actors Guild voted to make officers swear they were not Communists. On November 24, the House of Representatives voted 346 to 17 to approve citations against the Hollywood Ten for contempt.

On this day, a press release, called the Waldorf Statement, announced the ten would be fired or suspended without pay and not reemployed until they were cleared of the contempt charges. The list grew over the next few years and was finally unofficially ended in 1960 when Dalton Trumbo, one of the Ten, was finally credited once again as a screenwriter. A number of those who were blacklisted were still barred from working for years to come.

One of the most dangerous plots ever instigated for the overthrow of this Government has its headquarters in Hollywood … the greatest hotbed of subversive activities in the United States. We’re on the trail of the tarantula now. – John E. Rankin

You fuckers sold me out. – Humphrey Bogart to Danny Kaye at a Committee for the First Amendment meeting

Members of the Association of Motion Picture Producers deplore the action of the 10 Hollywood men who have been cited for contempt by the House of Representatives. We do not desire to prejudge their legal rights, but their actions have been a disservice to their employers and have impaired their usefulness to the industry. – from the Waldorf Statement

To this end we will invite the Hollywood talent guilds to work with us to eliminate any subversives: to protect the innocent; and to safeguard free speech and a free screen wherever threatened. – from the Waldorf Statement

Also on this day: Trapped – In 1952, Agatha Christie’s play, The Mousetrap, was first produced – and it continues live performances to this day.
Striking Hunger – In 1984, Do They Know It’s Christmas was recorded.
Perfect Storm – In 1703, England was ravaged by its worst storm when a hurricane made landfall.
Thankful – In 1926, this Thanksgiving Day spawned several tornadoes.
Plans Gone Awry – In 1120, the White Ship sunk.

Down to Earth Lucy

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 24, 2015
Lucy's skeleton

Lucy’s skeleton*

November 24, 1974: Lucy is found (in the ground and without diamonds). Maurice Taieb, French geologist and paleoanthropologist, recognized the historic potential of the Hadar Formation located in the Afar Triangle of Ethiopia in 1972. He formed the International Afar Research Expedition (IARE) and invited three prominent scientists to join his search. Donald Johanson (American), Mary Leakey (British), and Yves Coppens (French) joined by four Americans and seven Frenchmen set out for Hadar in the fall of 1973. Some leg bones were discovered at the end of the season in November and they indicated they had belonged to an upright walking hominid. Labeled as specimen AL 129-1, they dated at more than three million years old. This was much older than previous hominid specimens.

The team returned the next year and began to search again. On this day, a little more than 1.5 miles away from the first find, more bones were found near the Awash River. Johanson was going to update his field notes, but instead went to Locality 162 to look for bones. He and Tom Gray spent two hours in increasingly hot temperatures surveying. Johanson played a hunch and looked down in a gully which had already had two passes by other workers. He saw nothing and turned to leave. It was then he saw a fossil. He first saw a bone from an arm and then next to it, a fragment from the back of a skull. A few feet away, he saw a leg bone. The two men searched in earnest and found many more bones, including vertebrae, parts of a pelvis, ribs, and a portion of the jaw. They marked the spot and returned to camp.

In the afternoon, the entire expedition returned to the gully and began to section off the site to prepare for a careful examination of the area. They returned to the camp and a Beatles song was played over and over again that night – “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” – and that is how their specimen came to be named. Over the next three weeks, they were able to recover about 40% of a female (based on the shape of the pelvis) hominid skeleton. Lucy was three feet, seven inches tall and weighed 64 pounds. She looked a bit like a chimpanzee with a small brain, but the pelvis and leg bones were nearly identical to  modern humans. Johanson was given permission to bring the bones back to his native Ohio.

Lucy’s age was determined using potassium-argon radiometric dating, but the technology had some growing up to do. By later methods, Lucy’s age was determined to be between 3.18 and 3.22 million years old. Lucy’s scientific name is Australopithecus afarensis, Latin for Southern ape from Afar. It is unknown if the species was a direct ancestor to modern Homo sapiens or whether it was just a closely related specimen. There have been other specimens found in Omo, Maka, Fejej, and Belehdelie all in Ethiopia and others were found in Koobi Fora and Lothagam in Kenya.  Lucy’s skeletal reconstruction is on display at the Cleveland Natural History Museum.

At 2.8 million years ago, this places the evolution of our genus very close to 3.0 million years ago, which is when we last see Lucy’s species. – Brian Villmoare

The new species is yet another confirmation that Lucy’s species, Australopithecus afarensis, was not the only potential human ancestor species that roamed in what is now the Afar region of Ethiopia during the middle Pliocene, current fossil evidence from the Woranso-Mille study area clearly shows that there were at least two, if not three, early human species living at the same time and in close geographic proximity. – Yohannes Haile-Selassie

Evolution could so easily be disproved if just a single fossil turned up in the wrong date order. Evolution has passed this test with flying colours. – Richard Dawkins

Uproar against a new idea, and laws to prevent anybody’s accepting it, nearly always can be regarded as a signal that the new idea is just about to be taken for granted. … they didn’t start making laws to prohibit the teaching of evolution until everybody was about to take it for granted. – Gwen Bristow

Also on this day: Little Jamie – in 1993, James Bulger’s murderers were found guilty.
Jump to Nowhere – In 1971, Dan Cooper jumped from a plane and was never seen again.
Wilt the Stilt – In 1960, the basketball player garnered another record.
Alone? – In 1963, Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald.
Originally – In 1859, Origin of the Species by Charles Darwin was published.

* “Lucy Skeleton” by Andrew from Cleveland, Ohio, USA – Lucy. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons –

No Longer Boss

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 23, 2015
Boss Tweed

Boss Tweed

November 23, 1876: Boss Tweed returns to New York. William Magear Tweed was born in 1823 in New York City where he left school at age 11 to join his father’s chair making business. He tried a variety of other jobs (saddler, bookkeeper, brush maker) before returning to the family business in 1852. He was a member of the Odd Fellows and Masons and also served as a volunteer firefighter where he and some of his friends organized the Americus Fire Company No. 6 and it was there the snarling red Bengal tiger was first used. It would become Tweed’s symbol throughout his years at Tammany Hall. Infighting among the volunteer fire companies was so intense that buildings would burn to the ground while they fought over who would put the fire out.

Tweed was elected to the US House of Representatives and served two non-descript terms beginning in 1852. The Republican state government was concerned by the corruption in New York City government and increased the New York County Board of Supervisors to 12 members, six appointed by New York City’s mayor and six elected. In 1858, Tweed was appointed to the Board and was able to finally use it for his wide-spread graft. He and others would add a “surcharge” of 15% to be paid to them for anyone who wished to work in the city. He never trained as a lawyer, but a Judge friend proclaimed he was one and he opened a law office. He was chosen to lead Tammany’s general committee in January 1863 and was soon known as Boss.

His greed knew no bounds. He used his friends and his influence to increase both his power and his personal wealth. After the election of 1869, he was able to take control of the New York City government. His election promise had included a new city charter, which he promptly instituted. He did not stick to his campaign promises and used the charter to send more power and money to his own office. His private coffers were filling to the detriment of the city. After the Orange riot of 1871, the attacks on his policies became more intense and scrutiny into the workings of both Tweed and Tammany Hall increased. Outrage over his antics finally led to his arrest. He was released on a $1 million bond and went about getting re-elected. He was but many of his friends did not fare so well.

Tweed was re-arrested and forced to resign his city positions and then released again, this time on $8 million bond. He was tried in January 1873 and the jury was unable to agree on a verdict. A retrial in November brought in 204 convictions on the 220 counts. He was levied a fine and prison time. After his release, he tried to retrieve embezzled funds and was arrested and unable to make bail. He escaped during a home visit and wet to Spain. The US government located him and had him extradited. He returned to New York City and prison on this day. He died in prison on April 12, 1878 from pneumonia at the age of 55.

The way to have power is to take it.

I don’t care a straw for your newspaper articles, my constituents don’t know how to read, but they can’t help seeing them damned pictures.

I don’t care who does the electing, so long as I get to do the nominating. – all from William Boss Tweed

The arrogance of the full possession of power and the defiance against the remonstrances of honest men drove him to the extreme of audacity, “What are you going to do about it?” which preceded his fall. – William Martin

Also on this day: Healthy Hearts – In 1964, the first coronary bypass graft surgery was performed by Dr. Michael DeBakey.
Censorship – In 1644, John Milton wrote about freedom of the press.
Hijacked – In 1985, EgyptAir Flight 648 was hijacked.
Why Thespians? – In 534 BC, Thespis won an entertainment contest in Athens.
Pretender – In 1499, Perkin Warbeck died.

The Beatles

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 22, 2015
The Beatles

The Beatles

November 22, 1968: The Beatles release The Beatles. The double album was released in a sleeve which was white and contained only the name of the band/title embossed on the front cover. They were also numbered. Because of the appearance of the album, it is also called the White Album. Their prior album cover had been vividly (possibly garishly) colored in 1967 when Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band debuted. Most of the songs on The Beatles were written in March and April of 1968 and it was recorded between May 30 and October 14 of that year. No singles were released from the double album set but it reached the number one slot in both their homeland and in the US. At the time of its release, it was met with mixed reviews and cited as being non-responsive to the turbulent issues of the late 1960s.

Most of the songs included were written during the men’s stay in India. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in Rishikesh had hosted The Beatles for a Transcendental Meditation course which included long periods of meditation and self-reflection. While the trip was conceived as an escape from the troubles of the world, instead John Lennon and Paul McCartney were both revitalized and resumed their songwriting, often in met in secret to share what they had accomplished separately. While Sgt. Pepper was written in an LSD fog, the men took no hard drugs with them to India. All they had at their disposal was some marijuana. Their cleared minds have been said to allow them to reconnect with their music and Lennon stated he thought he wrote some of his best songs while on retreat.

The album included work from four increasingly independent artists rather from a group effort. The men were becoming more differentiated and more at odds with each other. Some of the recordings do not even include all four members of the band working together. They sometimes worked in different studios using different engineers and then combining sounds. The animosity between the band and managers, editors, engineers, and others became intense and caused disruptions during much of the recording. Things got so intense, Ringo Starr left and had to be begged to return. Of the 30 tracks included, only 16 have all four band members included.

The Beatles was released on this date in Britain and three days later in the US. It was originally to be called A Doll’s House, but the title was scrapped after another British band released Music in a Doll’s House earlier in the year. It was the first album by the band to be released by Apple Records and the only original double album. There was much contention around the double album itself with many, including the producer, feeling it should have been a single album. The cover design was by Richard Hamilton with input from McCartney. In 2008, an original pressing of the album cover with serial number 0000005 sold for £19,201 on eBay.

When you think about rock at its origin, and you think of the Beatles and millions of kids screaming as loud as they can and running as fast as they can towards the Beatles, there’s no one who is that kind of lightning rod, who commands that kind of power and has that kind of creative magma. – Jack Black

My model for business is The Beatles: They were four guys that kept each others’ negative tendencies in check; they balanced each other. And the total was greater than the sum of the parts. – Steve Jobs

The Beatles’ story is all of our stories. It is about how the youth culture emerged, the drug culture emerged, how politics rose to the fore as a universal debate. It’s about rebellion, it’s about the growth of the British entertainment system, the growth of the rock n’ roll entertainment system. – Bob Spitz

You’re not a baby boomer if you don’t have a visceral recollection of a Kennedy and a King assassination, a Beatles breakup, a U.S. defeat in Vietnam, and a Watergate. – P. J. O’Rourke

Also on this day: Blackbeard – In 1718, Blackbeard the Pirate (alias for Edward Teach) was tracked down and killed.
10 – In 1928, Ravel’s Bolero was first performed.
China Clipper – In 1935, airmail service began.
The Ship – In 1869, Cutty Sark was launched.
Humane – In 1954, the Humane Society was founded.

Under the Lights

Posted in History by patriciahysell on November 21, 2015
1902 Athletics football team*

1902 Philadelphia Athletics football team*

November 21, 1902: The Kanaweola Athletic Club loses to the Philadelphia Athletics 39-0. Kanaweola Athletic Club began as a bicycling club and was based in Elmira, New York. They boasted an indoor bicycling track located within the Steele Memorial Library building. They were also able to pull together a football team. On this date, a game began at 8 PM at the Maple Avenue Driving Park in Elmira. The locale is today known as Dunn Field. They met their superior opponents and failed miserably. The next day, the local newspaper simply printed the score. What was not touted then, and wasn’t realized for quite some time, was the significance of the game rather than just the score. It was the first pro football game to be played at night.

The Philadelphia Athletics were a member of the National Football League which is totally different from the NFL today. The earlier league was a mixture of both professional baseball and football and was only in existence for a year. The football team was formed as part of the baseball wars between the National League and the American League which began the year before. Teams from one side or the other attempted to lure players away from opposing teams. The Philadelphia Phillies owner decided to start a football team and so the Philadelphia Athletics owner decided to go along. Both teams used many of their baseball players on their football teams. In order to be a World Champion football team, they would need to play a team from Pittsburgh where football was king.

The Philadelphia Athletics had a great left-handed pitcher – when he was in the mood. But he had mood swings. The papers of the day noted his erratic behavior. The coaches felt that including Rube Waddell in their football lineup would give them a few more months of trying to control his performance and he was signed as an extra lineman. They failed miserably at trying to control their star baseball player who had no interest in football. The team lost their first championship game and out of defeat scheduled a second. They won that and then called the first a Stars Game to explain how their loss could turn into a win. The team had a second season in 1903 before collapsing.

A night game played outdoors after sunset. While technically true to call any sporting event after sunset a night game, it is realized that sports played indoors are always played with artificial lighting. The significance of a night game is that it is played “under the lights”. The lights can be floodlights or low-light conditions, depending on the sport. Baseball was first played under the lights back in the 1880s but it was thought of as a gimmick and not appreciated. Their first big game under the lights came in 1935 when the Philadelphia Phillies played the Cincinnati Reds on May 24. Cricket was late to the night game party with the first lighted game in 1952. The idea finally really took off in 1977 and international interest in the sport increased dramatically. Motorsports come with their own lights since endurance races can continue after sunset. But it is also possible to light the track for races. This innovation was brought to the public in 1992 when Charlotte Motor Speedway lit their 1 mile track.

 All sports are time control demonstrations. – Buckminster Fuller

In the field of sports you are more-or-less accepted for what you do rather than what you are. – Althea Gibson

As best as I can tell, God was undefeated in all sports last year. Anybody who won thanked Him, and I never heard a single loser blame Him. – Lewis Grizzard

Unlike any other business in the United States, sports must preserve an illusion of perfect innocence. – Lewis H. Lapham

Also on this day: Missing Link – In 1953, the Piltdown Man was declared a hoax.
North, to Alaska – In 1942, the Alaskan Highway’s completion was celebrated.
Senator Rebecca – In 1922, the first female US Senator took her seat.
Revolting – In 1910, the Revolt of the Lash took place.
Terrorism – In 1974, two Birmingham, England pubs were bombed.

* “1902 Athletics Football” by Unknown – Licensed under PD-US via Wikipedia –