Little Bits of History

August 30

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 30, 2017

1974: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) headquarters is bombed. MHI is located in Minato, Tokyo, Japan and was founded in 1934. They are involved in aerospace, defense, energy, shipbuilding, and wind power. They build several different types of aircraft, rockets, and spacecraft as well as ships from large cruise ships to ferries, tankers, and warships. They also build turbines for both fossil fuels and wind generation of energy and a host of other products. This multi-billion dollar corporation sprang from an earlier business started at the behest of the Tokugawa Shogunate, the last shogunate before the Meiji restoration. They began with shipbuilding and then spread out to other areas of heavy manufacturing.

The East Asia Anti-Japan Armed Front (EAAJAF) sprang up from the Hosei University history department. In 1970, Masashi Daidoji enrolled and formed the L-Class Struggle Committee which was a “non-sect radical” group of the far left. They were not affiliated with any outside group but were decidedly anti-Japanese. With people from the philosophy and literature departments joining the ranks, they swelled to over 100 members but the All Campus Joint Struggle Committee failed and soon the L-Class also ceased to exist. Doidoji dropped out of school, but not out of activism. In August, a “Research Group” sprang up and they looked into the many “evil deeds” of Japanese imperialism and found many reasons to be intensely anti-Japanese.

They also looked into methods of urban guerrilla warfare and resistance movements. These, along with past historical errors combined and the zealots got the idea of appealing to the masses with the idea of staunch anti-Japaneseism, a radicalized version of anti-Japanism. The group decided to bomb three different sites which they felt were particularly representative of Japan’s participation in World War II. In December 1971 and in April and October of 1972 they carried out small bombing attacks and then opted to initiate a full-blown terrorist attack.

The EAAJAF was too broad and individual names were given to each smaller cell. Daidoji’s team was named “Wolf’ to express their “proud independence”. They used 1973 to perfect their bombs, grow their war chest, and create propaganda materials. On August 14, 1974 they tried to blow up a bridge over which the Emperor’s train was traveling. They were forced to abort when they were spotted. Instead, on this day, they attacked MHI. The bomb killed 8 and wounded 376 people. They were so successful, they carried out a series of more bombings until they were finally arrested on May 19, 1975. Although Daidoji and one other cell leader were given the death penalty, they remain on death row even now and wage their “war” from behind bars, writing revolutionary essays and books from prison.

Without Revolutionary theory, there can be no Revolutionary Movement. – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin

Understand: the task of an activist is not to negotiate systems of power with as much personal integrity as possible–it’s to dismantle those systems. – Lierre Keith

The only real radicalism in our time will come as it always has – from people who insist on thinking for themselves and who reject party-mindedness. – Christopher Hitchens

The goal of radicalism is to improve the human condition, not to prove one’s own moral superiority. – Jack Newfield



Doodling Around

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 30, 2015
The first Google Doodle

The first Google Doodle

August 30, 1998: The first Google Doodle appears. Larry Page and Sergey Brin were both PhD students at Stanford University in California when they began Google! in January 1996 (complete with exclamation point). Search engines at the time used how many times the search term appeared on the page, but the two students thought there was a better way to organize the internet. They called their new process PageRank and it analyzed the relationships between websites and the relevance of a search was determined by the number of pages and the importance of those pages in terms of the search query. They were going to call their product BackRub, since it checked backlinks to rank relevance to the search terms. Instead, they misspelled googol, a huge number chosen because they intended to provide huge amounts of information.

Originally run from Stanford University’s website, they registered the domain name for Google on September 15, 1997. The two men were incorporating their company and by late August, with the chaos associated with such an endeavor, they decided they needed a break. They were going to participate in Burning Man.  The weeklong event began in California but moved to Nevada by this time. The radical self-expression and self-reliance of the week, along with the sense of community and the admiration of creativity and art, was just what the two young men needed. However, the internet can be a place of misadventure and they were fearful their new website might crash. They wanted to let people know they weren’t there and so they incorporated the logo for Burning Man into their logo and incidentally made the first Google Doodle.

Google was founded, officially, on September 4, 1998 and a new logo appeared at the end of October. Their first intentional Doodle was displayed on November 26, a Thanksgiving Doodle. The next year, there were just four Doodles (Halloween, Thanksgiving, an Uncle Sam doodle on November 30, and a Christmas doodle which was more winter than Christmas themed). By 2000, there were 34 different Doodles, 11 of them for the Olympics, held that year. In the beginning, Doodles were neither animated nor hyperlinked. Their complexity also increased with time and in January 2010, the first animated Doodle was displayed in honor of Isaac Newton. The first interactive Doodle was Pac-Man in May 2012 and hyperlinks were also added.

At first, Doodles were designed by an outside contractor. For Bastille Day in 2000, intern Dennis Hwang was asked to create a Doodle and since then, they have been created and published by a team of Google employees called Doodlers. Doodles have been created for specific days and to honor specific people including scientists and artists. Thanksgiving has been honored each year since 1998 and Halloween since 1999. There are several other holidays that have been regularly celebrated with a Google Doodle as well. Of course, there have been criticisms of the Doodles themselves and sometimes of the event honored or ignored. There has been a yearly contest for students to submit a Doodle and the winners get to have their art displayed on the homepage. The variety of Doodles is almost as fun as the creativity involved in making them.

Invention is not enough. Tesla invented the electric power we use, but he struggled to get it out to people. You have to combine both things: invention and innovation focus, plus the company that can commercialize things and get them to people. – Larry Page

If we were motivated by money, we would have sold the company a long time ago and ended up on a beach. – Larry Page

Solving big problems is easier than solving little problems. – Sergey Brin

Once you go from 10 people to 100, you already don’t know who everyone is. So at that stage you might as well keep growing, to get the advantages of scale. – Sergey Brin

Also on this day: Yesterdays and Todays – In 1909, the Burgess Shale site was discovered.
Thin Red Line – In 1963, a direct link between Washington, D.C. and Moscow was established.
Wreck of the Pandora – In 1791, the Pandora sunk.
Well Being with Sikhs – In 1574, Ram Das Ji became a Guru.
Lone Shooter? – In 1918, Fanya Kaplan shot Vladimir Lenin.

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Lone Shooter?

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 30, 2014
Fanya Kaplan

Fanya Kaplan

August 30, 1918: Fanya Kaplan gets off three shots from her Browning pistol. Fanya was born in Volhynian Governorate, Russian Empire in 1890. Birth records have disappeared and it is uncertain what name she had at birth. Others give her name as Vera Figner, or perhaps the family name was Roytman in Russia or as Reutemann in German/Yiddish. She was one of seven children born into a Jewish family. She became a political activist at a young age and joined a social group, the Socialist Revolutionaries (Esers). At the age of 16, she was arrested in Kiev when she was implicated in a terrorist bomb plot.  She was sentenced to life in prison at a hard-labor camp. She was sent to Siberia.

At the Akatuy prisons of the Nerchinsk katorga, she was not only subjected to a life of hard labor, but other abuses as well. Fully undressed corporal punishment was not the usual practice, but she was severely caned on her bare body as disciplinary punishment. She lost her sight (which was later partially restored). She was released on March 3, 1917 after the February Revolution overthrew the imperial government. Although freed from prison, she continued to suffer constant headaches and periods of blindness.

With the Imperial government eradicated, a new power struggle ensued between the Socialist Revolutionaries and the Bolshevik party. In November 1917, the Socialist Revolutionaries were able to win a majority of the Constituent Assembly and they were able to get their man elected President in January 1918. By August 1918, the Bolsheviks banned competing parties including Kaplan’s favored party. She vowed to kill Vladimir Lenin. On this day, Lenin spoke at a Moscow factory called the Hammer and Sickle. As he left the building, Kaplan called out to him and he turned towards her. She fired her three shots. One passed through Lenin’s coat and the other two struck him. One passed through his neck and punctured part of his lung while the other lodged in his shoulder.

Lenin insisted on returning to the Kremlin and was adamant about not going to the hospital. He was certain others would be involved in an assassination attempt. Doctors were brought in, but surgery was needed. He survived, but never fully recovered and it is possible this contributed to his death in 1924. Kaplan was taken into custody and interrogated. She admitted to shooting Lenin and was unwavering in her assertion that she was working alone. She was executed on September 3, 1918 without revealing any other names. Some historians do not accept Kaplan’s avowal of lone wolf. They point out her eyesight as reasons. There are conflicting reports about who and how many were arrested on this day. There is speculation that Kaplan was put forward as the shooter because she was the archetypal enraged woman and nothing less could have harmed Lenin.

My name is Fanya Kaplan. Today I shot Lenin. I did it on my own. I will not say from whom I obtained my revolver. I will give no details. I had resolved to kill Lenin long ago. I consider him a traitor to the Revolution. – Fanya Kaplan

I was exiled to Akatui for participating in an assassination attempt against a Tsarist official in Kiev. I spent 11 years at hard labour. After the Revolution, I was freed. I favoured the Constituent Assembly and am still for it. – Fanya Kaplan

A revolution is impossible without a revolutionary situation; furthermore, not every revolutionary situation leads to revolution. – Vladimir Lenin

There are no morals in politics; there is only expedience. A scoundrel may be of use to us just because he is a scoundrel. – Vladimir Lenin

Also on this day: Yesterdays and Todays – In 1909, the Burgess Shale site was discovered.
Thin Red Line – In 1963, a direct link between Washington, D.C. and Moscow was established.
Wreck of the Pandora – In 1791, the Pandora sinks.
Well Being with Sikhs – In 1574, Ram Das Ji became a Guru.

Thin Red Line

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 30, 2013
Jimmy Carter's hot line phone

Jimmy Carter’s hot line phone

August 30, 1963: A direct link between the US and USSR goes live. The Cuban Missile Crisis began on October 15, 1962 when aerial reconnaissance revealed SS-4 nuclear missiles in Cuba. President Kennedy met with Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko on October 18 to let him know the US would not tolerate Soviet missiles so close to US borders. The tensions escalated between the two super powers and the world was on the brink of nuclear war. The threat was exacerbated by the painfully slow communications between Washington and Moscow.

On June 20, 1963, spokesmen for both nations signed an accord in Geneva, Switzerland. “Memorandum of Understanding Regarding the Establishment of a Direct Communication Line” made the creation of a “hotline” a priority. During the 1962 October Crisis it took the US about twelve hours to receive and decode Nikita Khrushchev’s 3,000 word settlement – time for him to send a more strongly worded missive. A quick way to communicate was essential to the world’s peace if not outright survival.

The image of a red telephone sitting on the desk in the Oval Office is compelling – and false. Instead the hotline was a full duplex wire telegraph circuit – this means both sides could send messages at the same time. There was no verbal communication since it was thought there was too much chance for misunderstanding. The first line was not a direct line running non-stop from the Pentagon to the Kremlin. There were several stops: Washington – London – Copenhagen – Stockholm – Helsinki – and finally Moscow. Messages were sent in the native tongue and translated after reception.

Telecommunications have improved greatly in the 40+ years since delayed “chat” nearly ended civilization as we know it. With more nations entering the nuclear weapons stage, there is even more need for instant, reliable contact. Automatic signaling service or point-to-point communication is spreading. Nations on the brink of disaster need to forestall total annihilation. The hotline has been upgraded as technology advances arrived on the scene. There is a proposal to set up instant communication between the US and China.

“The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.” – Edward R. Murrow

“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.” – Ernest Hemingway

“The more elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.” – Joseph Priestley

“Communication leads to community, that is, to understanding, intimacy and mutual valuing.” – Rollo May

This article first appeared at in 2009. Editor’s update:  Communication is the ability to convey information. This can be done via exchange of thoughts by speech, visuals, signals, writing, or behavior. The delivery is essential, as is the interpretation at reception. Humans convey messages either verbally (which can include the written word) or nonverbally. The latter is what is meant by “tone of voice” or “body language” which can add meaning to the words spoken. Part of the difficulty with online communication is that both of these aspects are missing even with the use of an emoticon added. There is also difficulty with translation. There are some words or phrases which are not readily translated between languages. Even when everyone is speaking the same language, there are issues with dialects. The fact that we can exchange ideas with some level of accuracy is really quite amazing.

Also on this day: Yesterdays and Todays – In 1909, the Burgess Shale site was discovered.
Wreck of the Pandora – In 1791, the Pandora sinks.
Well Being with Sikhs – In 1574, Ram Das Ji became a Guru.

Well Being with Sikhs

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 30, 2012

Ram Das Ji

August 30, 1574: Ram Das Ji becomes Guru. He was born in Lehore, Punjab, Pakistan (now India) in 1534. He married Bibi Bhani who was the younger daughter of Guru Amar Das who was the third Guru of the Sikhs. Ram Das became the fourth of the Ten Gurus of Sikhism. He was instrumental in organizing the structure of Sikh society. He was the author of four hymns of the Sikh Marriage Rites. He also founded the town of Ramdaspur which is now a Sikh holy city. He wrote many more hymns and 688 are included in the Guru Granth Sahib – a book of teachings for Sikhs.

Sikhism is a monotheistic religion founded in the Punjab region in the 15th century. Guru Nanak Dev was the first guru. Today, it is the fifth-largest world religion and has over 25 million followers. They follow a philosophy called Gurmat, meaning “of the gurus” which was designed by the Ten Gurus. Devout Sikhs are to embody the ideal of “Sant-Sipahie” or saint-soldier. This means they must have control over their vices and be immersed in virtues. Their principle beliefs are Faith and Justice. They advocate for salvation through personal meditation centered on the name and message of God.

Sikhism is a revealed religion and is based not on a final destination of heaven or hell, but rather on a spiritual union with God which results in salvation. The Khalsa Code of Conduct is the official guide for Sikhs and was laid out by the last of the Ten Gurus. They do not believe in reincarnation; this is your chance to reach salvation. In the Khalsa, members are said to be part of the Army of God. They are not the army of the Punjab nor the Sikhs. They are tasked with protecting and safeguarding all people regardless of religion, color, race, or creed.

Between 1469 and 1708, the Ten Gurus were able to lay down the foundations for the new religion and give an underlying structure for believers to follow. Guru means teacher, guide, or mentor. As each new leader emerged, he reinforced previous teachings and laid down new ones to help define the religious tenets. Today, Punjab is the only place on Earth with a Sikh majority however there are many who live outside the region in India and small enclaves elsewhere around the globe.

I have studied the scriptures of the great religions, but I do not find elsewhere the same power of appeal to the heart and mind as I find here in these volumes. – Pearl S. Buck on Sikhs

If some lucky men survive the onslaught of the third world war of atomic and hydrogen bombs, then the Sikh religion will be the only means of guiding them.  – Bertrand Russell

Unlike the scriptures of other creeds, they do not contain love stories or accounts of wars waged for selfish considerations. They contain sublime truths, the study of which cannot but elevate the reader spiritually, morally, and socially. – Max Arthur Macauliffe

British people are highly indebted and obliged to Sikhs for a long time. I know that within this century we needed their help twice and they did help us very well. As a result of their timely help, we are today able to live with honour, dignity, and independence. – Winston Churchill

Also on this day:

Yesterdays and Todays – In 1909, the Burgess Shale site was discovered.
Thin Red Line – In 1963, a direct link between Washington, D.C. and Moscow was established.
Wreck of the Pandora – In 1791, the Pandora sinks.

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Wreck of the Pandora

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 30, 2011

Lt.-Col. Batty's etching of Peter Heywood's painting of the foundering of HMS Pandora

August 30, 1791: The HMS Pandora sinks. The ship belonged to the British Royal Navy and was launched in May 1779. When first put to sea, she was stationed in the English Channel as Britain was threatened by the fleets of France and Spain. Later, during the American Revolutionary War, she was sent to the Americas. There she served as an escort between England and Quebec. As a single cruiser along the coast of America, she captured several rebel privateers. Finally, in 1783, she was retired from formal service.

On June 30, 1790, the HMS Pandora was brought back into service. It once again seemed that war might break out between England and Spain. But the Pandora’s orders were changed in August of that year. Five months after learning of the Mutiny on the Bounty, the First Lord of the Admiralty, John Pitt, ordered Pandora to go and recover the Bounty, capture the mutineers, and bring them back to England to stand trial. Her guns were refitted and she set sail from Portsmouth on November 7, 1790. She was captained by Edward Edwards and had a crew of 134 men.

Some of the mutineers had stayed loyal to Capt. Bligh and returned to Tahiti where they settled in with the natives, many having fathered children on the island. Fletcher Christian’s group sailed off and eventually landed and settled on Pitcairn Island. The Pandora reached Tahiti on March 23, 1791. Five of the men voluntarily boarded and nine more had to be hunted down. All fourteen were imprisoned. Edwards left Tahiti on May 8, 1791. He spent three months searching the South Pacific for the remaining mutineers.

Heading west, the ship ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef on August 29. As she was sinking, the prisoners were released. As she slipped under the waters, 31 of the crew and 4 prisoners were killed. They settled on a small sand cay for two days and then set sail in four open boats and arrived in Kupang on September 16. Next they set sail for Jakarta and 16 more men died. Eventually 78 men were returned to England. Capt. Edwards was exonerated for the lost of the ship at a court martial. Four of the mutineers were found innocent, six were found guilty and of those, three were hanged. The descendants of the mutineers who made it to Pitcairn Island remain there to this day.

“It is not the ship so much as the skillful sailing that assures the prosperous voyage.” – George William Curtis

“The effect of sailing is produced by a judicious arrangement of the sails to the direction of the wind.” – William Falconer

“Blue, green, grey, white, or black; smooth, ruffled, or mountainous; that ocean is not silent.” – H. P. Lovecraft

“How inappropriate to call this planet Earth when it is quite clearly Ocean.” – Arthur C. Clarke

Also on this day:
Yesterdays and Todays – In 1909, the Burgess Shale site was discovered.
Thin Red Line – In 1963, a direct link between Washington, D.C. and Moscow was established.

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Yesterdays and Todays

Posted in History by patriciahysell on August 30, 2010

Fossils found in Burgess Shale

August 30, 1909: Charles Doolittle Walcott first discovers fossils in the Burgess Shale near British Columbia, Canada. During the Cambrian Explosion, 500 million years ago, a full spectrum of complex animals formed in the oceans after about 2 billion years of unicellular life forms. In only 10-20 million years, the oceans were full of multicellular, complex flora and fauna.

The Burgess Shale, high in the Canadian Rockies, was at one time part of the seabed in a warm, shallow sea. Mudslides would occur and bury the animals. After millions of years of being embedded in the sediment, these creatures left fossil records of their existence. Many of the fossils were of soft bodied creatures, rarely surviving in the fossil world.

Walcott spent every summer from 1910 – 1917 excavating the site and recovered more than 65,000 specimens. He sent the fossils and his notes to the Smithsonian Institute where they were mostly ignored for nearly 50 years. Harry Whittington of Cambridge University and his grad students studied the fossils in 1966-7 and found that many of the creatures defied classification within our modern system.

These findings show that there was a greater diversification of life forms half a billion years ago than there is today. Many creatures had bizarre forms. One specimen has five eyes and a vacuum cleaner type nose. One animal resembles a flower more than an animal. Another has both fins like crustacean and a shell like a vertebrate.

“It should not be believed that all beings exist for the sake of man. On the contrary, all the other beings too have been intended for their own sakes and not for the sake of something else.” Moses Maimonides

“Nature … makes nothing in vain.” Aristotle

“This world, after all our science and sciences, is still a miracle; wonderful, inscrutable, magical and more, to whosoever will think of it.” Thomas Carlyle

“Man masters nature not by force but by understanding.” Jacob Bronowsky

Also on this day, in 1963 the hotline between the US and the USSR goes live.

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