Little Bits of History

February 10

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 10, 2017

1906: HMS Dreadnought is launched. The Royal Navy battleship was a game changer, caused a paradigm shift at the time she was commissioned, and came to be associated with an entire generation of battleships as well as a class of ships. Dreadnought has been used for many ships of the Royal Navy and this was the sixth such named one. Admiral Sir John “Jacky” Fisher, First Sea Lord of the Board of the Admiralty, called for an entire reworking of the battleships of his time. He insisted the guns be uniform and large, 12-inch or 305 mm. He also wanted a top speed of 21 knots (39 km/h or 24 mph). Fisher, the father of the design, convened a Committee of Designs which not only helped to lay out the new ship, but helped protect the Admiralty from charges of insider work. With this group of experts, no one could charge they did not consult them.

Dreadnought was the first ship to have a uniform main battery rather than large guns supplemented by a second battery of smaller guns. She was also the first capital ship (these are the most important ships owned by any Navy) to be powered by steam turbines which also made her the fastest ship of her day. On this day, competing navies were put on notice as the stakes had now been raised. A naval arms race began as other nations beefed up their navies in preparation for what would become World War I. She was also one of the first ships of the Royal Navy to be fitted with instruments for electrically transmitting data (range, order, and deflection) to the turrets for more accurate firing.

The 527 foot ship displaced 18,120 long tons with a normal load and 20,730 long tons with a deep load. She was 82 feet at the beam and need 29 feet, 7.5 inches of water to sail when at sea with a deep load. Her Babcock & Wilcox water-tube boilers turned the four-shaft Parsons direct-drive steam turbine to unprecedented speeds. Her range was 7,620 miles at 10 knots. It took a crew of 700-810 to completely man the ship. Dreadnought became the only battleship to sink a submarine in March 1915 when she rammed the German U-boat, SM U-29 which was confirmed sunk. She was refitted in 1916 and road out the rest of the war but was put on coastal defense in the English Channel.

Fisher wanted the new ship built in a year and to that end, material was stockpiled in advance. As much prefabrication as possible was also done before she was officially laid down on October 2, 1905. Dreadnought was built at HM Dockyard, Portsmouth, considered to be the fastest building shipyard in the world. She was Christened with a bottle of Australian wine. On this day, King Edward VII launched the ship after only four months (taking several tries to smash the wine bottle). She was commissioned on December 2, 1906, only fifteen months after she was laid down. It cost £1,783,883 (£195,651,683 inflation-adjusted to 2016) to build. The ship was decommissioned in 1919 and sold for scrap in 1923.

The Royal Navy of England hath ever been its greatest defense and ornament; it is its ancient and natural strength; the floating bulwark of the island. – William Blackstone

In the Navy, the path is paved for you. Your job is to be a soldier and fit in. As long as you stick to your place, it’s actually really easy. – Kiesza

I don’t go anywhere without clean shoes. That’s one thing I’ve got from the navy. – Mark Hadlow

Before the BBC, I joined the Navy in order to travel. – David Attenborough


Taking Charge

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 10, 2015
John Comyn and Robert the Bruce

John Comyn and Robert the Bruce

February 10, 1306: John Comyn dies at the hand of Robert the Bruce. John III Comyn, Lord of Badenock and Lord of Lochaber was also known as Red Comyn. The Scottish nobleman was one of the Competitors for the Crown of Scotland and claimed descent from King Donald III of Scotland. He also had family ties to King John Balliol and his wife was related to King Edward I of England. When King Alexander III of Scotland died in 1286 he left only one descendant, his three-year-old granddaughter. The Guardians of Scotland were appointed to rule during the Queen’s minority. When she was seven, they drew up a Treaty to marry her to the heir apparent of the English throne, then five-year-old Edward of Caernarvon. The treaty specified that any issue from the marriage would rule both, but that Scotland would remain a separate state.

The Guardians petitioned King Edward I to put to rest competing claims to the Scottish throne from the House of Balliol and the House of Bruce. Then the Queen died in September 1290 and Scotland was put in the thrall of England when Edward styled himself Lord Paramount of Scotland and made the claimants recognize Edward as their feudal superior. The Wars of Scottish Independence were a series of military campaigns fought between the Kingdom of Scotland and the Kingdom of England with the First War fought between 1296 and 1328. The Second War was fought between 1332 and 1357. The first battle of the first war was fought when Comyn’s troops crossed the border and attacked Carlisle which was defended for King Edward by the House of Bruce.

Comyn’s troops were forced to retreat and they met with other Scots at the Battle of Dunbar. John was among the prisoners and sent to the Tower of London. His father survived and was able to carry on the war effort. John was released after several months when it seemed the war was over. He was sent to Flanders to fight for Edward against the French. In France, he learned of William Wallace and the victory at the Battle of Sterling Bridge. John escaped France and managed to return to Scotland. John may or may not have been at the defeat at the Battle of Falkirk – historians differ. The defeat left an opening in the Guardians and now John Comyn and Robert the Bruce were fighting on the same side, with everyone aware of the Robert the Bruce’s thirst for power.

On this day, John Comyn was stabbed to death by Robert the Bruce at the high altar of the Greyfriars Church in Dumfries. Legend has it that Robert the Bruce called a meeting and then stabbed John and ran from the church to tell Roger de Kirkpatrick of his deeds. Whereupon Roger rushed into the church and stabbed John again, to make sure he was dead. However it was managed, with John dead, Robert had solidified his power base and less than seven weeks after the stabbing, Robert the Bruce was crowned King of Scotland on March 25. He reigned until his death at age 54 in 1329.

There’s just no place like Scotland when the sun is out. I just love coming home. – Ashley Jensen

I’m William Wallace, and the rest of you will be spared. Go back to England and tell them… Scotland is free! – William Wallace

I’ve always been hopeful about Scotland’s prospects. And I now believe more than ever that Scotland is within touching distance of achieving independence and equality. – Sean Connery

I look upon Switzerland as an inferior sort of Scotland. – Sydney Smith

Also on this day: American Mensa – In 1971, American Mensa was formed.
Boxing and Brains – In 1933, Ernie Schaaf was injured during a boxing match and died three days later.
St. Scholastica Riots – In 1355, The St. Scholastica’s Day riot began.
Arsonist – In 2008, the Namdaemun gate was set afire.
Boom – In 2009, two satellites crashed in orbit.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 10, 2014
Collision of Iridium 33  and

Collision of Iridium 33 and Kosmos 2251

February 10, 2009: The first major collision of two manmade satellites in Earth orbit takes place. Iridium 33 was a US communications satellite launched on September 14, 1997. It was manufactured by Lockheed Martin which is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland. They are a global technology company formed by the merger of Lockheed Corporation with Martin Marietta in March 1995. L-3 Communications formed in 1997 from portions of the two larger companies that were spun off. Today, they are headquartered in New York City and remain active in the communication sector. L-3 refers to the three founders, Frank Lanza, Robert LaPenta, and Lehman Brothers.

Kosmos 2251 was a Russian Strela-2M communication satellite. It was launched on June 16, 1993. It was launched into a Low Earth orbit from Site 312/1 at the Plesetsk Cosmodrome. The first three Kosmos satellites were launched on August 18, 1964 and they all reentered the atmosphere in November of that year. There were five different types of satellites used over the years. The last of these, Strela-3, is still used today and is also sometimes called Rodnik.

At the time of the collision, Iridium 33 was owned by Iridium Communications, Inc. and Kosmos 2251 was owned by the Russian Space Forces. The Iridium satellite was still operational at the time of the impact but the Russian satellite had been out of service since at least 1995 and was not being actively controlled. There had been several smaller collisions out in space prior to this, all of them low-velocity collisions. In 1996, the Cerise satellite collided with space debris. There have been eight total high-velocity collisions and they were usually noted after the fact.

The Russian satellite was larger and weighed 2,094 pounds while the American one weighed in at 1,235 pounds. It was part of a constellation of 66 communication satellites. When the two collided, they were destroyed. The impact caused at about 1,000 pieces of debris measuring more 4 inches or more and many smaller pieces. The debris was a risk to other satellites and the International Space Station (although it is a low risk) as well as a threat to shuttle launches. There is more risk to Chinese Sun-synchronous orbits. As time went on, the pieces of debris continued to decay toward Earth and as they entered the atmosphere, they were destroyed. Satellites in space come within several miles of each other many times a day. Precise location of all satellites is difficult to maintain and avoidance maneuvers are not always possible. Because of the amount of old, out of date satellites in orbit, there is concern that out of use satellites should be taken out of orbit. There is no international law making this mandatory.

Man is flying too fast for a world that is round. Soon he will catch up with himself in a great rear end collision. – James Thurber

If you wish to avoid foreign collision, you had better abandon the ocean. – Henry Clay

For the wise man looks into space and he knows there is no limited dimensions. – Lao Tzu

Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the drug store, but that’s just peanuts to space. – Douglas Adams

Also on this day: American Mensa – In 1971, American Mensa was formed.
Boxing and Brains – In 1933, Ernie Schaaf was injured during a boxing match and died three days later.
St. Scholastica Riots – In 1355, The St. Scholastica’s Day riot began.
Arsonist – In 2008, the Namdaemun gate was set afire.

Boxing and Brains

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 10, 2013
 Ernie Schaaf

Ernie Schaaf

February 10, 1933: A boxing match held at Madison Square Garden in New York City ends in tragedy. Primo Carnera met Ernie Schaaf in the ring. Primo won the fight with a knockout in the 13th round. A boxing match typically consists of a pre-determined number of rounds – up to 25 – with each round lasting three minutes. A winner is declared by three methods. 1) The winner knocks down his opponent who is unable to rise from the mat before a count of ten (KO). 2) A referee calls a technical knock out (TKO) stating one contestant is too injured to continue. 3) Points are awarded at the end of the final round.

Primo was born in Sequals, Italy in 1906. He stood nearly 6’6″ tall and weighed 265 pounds. He had a sizable reach advantage over most of his opponents who stood on average 7 inches shorter and weighed about 60 pounds less. Because of his size (he was the largest heavyweight champion until 2005), he was called The Ambling Alp. He became the world champion on June 29, 1933 again at Madison Square Garden by KO over Jack Sharkey in 6 rounds. He fought 103 bouts winning 89 – 72 by KO. He lost 14 times.

Ernie Schaaf was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey in 1908. He was taller than most boxers at 6’2″ and weighed 207 pounds. He met future heavyweight champion Max Baer on August 31, 1932. During that fight with 2 seconds left in the final round, Ernie was knocked out cold. It took several minutes to revive him and he suffered from headaches afterward. He had three intervening fights, two wins and one loss, before getting into the ring with Primo. Ernie took another KO loss, suffering another head injury. He was in a coma and although he underwent immediate surgery, he died three days later. He was 24.

Manuel Velazquez was born in Tampa, Florida in 1904. Over the years he befriended many boxers. One friend, Pete Nebo, retired from the sport at the age of 27. He was arrested for assault and was incompetent to stand trial because of the brain injuries sustained during his boxing career. Manuel began collecting data on boxing injuries and became an opponent of the sport. Even though Manuel died in 1994, others have continued to add to his data. There have been 1,465 boxing fatalities with 751 deaths in the US, 175 in the UK, and Australia came in third with 76. Numbers come from November 2007 data.

“I say get an education. Become an electrician, a mechanic, a doctor, a lawyer – anything but a fighter. In this trade, it’s the managers that make the money and last the longest.” – Muhammad Ali

“If there’s magic in boxing, it’s the magic of fighting battles beyond endurance, beyond cracked ribs, ruptured kidneys and detached retinas. It’s the magic of risking everything for a dream that nobody sees but you.” – Paul Haggis

“Unlike any other sport, the objective in boxing is chillingly simple: One man purposefully endeavors to inflict bodily harm on another man.” – Howard Cosell

“Boxing was on the one hand barbaric, unconscionable, out of place in modern society. But then, so are war, racism, poverty, and pro football. Men died boxing, yet there was nobility in defending oneself.” – Ralph Wiley

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: Dementia pugilistica (DP) is the official name for the neurodegenerative disease suffered by boxers due to head injuries. Both amateur and professional boxers take many rotational force shots to the head. This can lead to concussion which is when the brain is bashed against the opposite side of the skull after the head is struck. This can lead to temporary loss of brain function as well as physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms. Because boxers are repeatedly struck in the head, the deleterious effects accumulate either due to loss of neurons or scarring of brain tissue. It might also be caused by other neuron traumas and the damage is similar to that of patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. As many as 15 – 20% of boxers suffer from this syndrome.

Also on this day: American Mensa – In 1971, American Mensa was formed.
St. Scholastica Riots – In 1355, The St. Scholastica’s Day riot began.
Arsonist – In 2008, the Namdaemun gate was set afire.


Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 10, 2012

Namdaemun on fire

February 10, 2008: The Namdaemun gate is severely damaged by fire. The two-tiered wooden and stone gate was built from 1395-98. It was part of the original wall built around Seoul, South Korea during the Joseon Dynasty. Officially called Sungnyemun or “Gate of Exalted Ceremonies” its common name means “Great Southern Gate.” It was originally one of three main gates. The East Gate or Dongdaemun still exists but the West Gate has been destroyed. Namdaemun was rebuilt in 1447 and has been renovated several times.

During the Japanese occupation in the early 1900s the walls surrounding Seoul were torn down. The gate was closed to the public in 1907 and damaged during the Korean War. Again repaired in 1961-63, the gate was rededicated on May 14, 1963. South Korea put out a list of National Treasures that contains treasures, artifacts, sites, and buildings showing artistic, cultural, and historic value. South Korea issued a numbered list first on December 20, 1962. It listed Namdaemun as the #1 national treasure. The first list contained 116 items. There have been several more additions and the list now contain 307 National Treasures.

The Namdaemun gate was again renovated in 2005 and opened to the public on March 3, 2006. It was rated as one of the most recognizable landmarks in Korea. The two story wooden structure atop the massive stonework base rose familiarly into the city sky.

At 8:50 PM a fire broke out in the wooden portion of the gate. Firefighters got it under control but were hesitant to be too aggressive, lest their efforts cause more damage. After midnight, the fire once again raged out of control. Thirty fire trucks were at the scene with hundreds of firefighters trying to save the monument. A 70-year-old confessed to arson. He had climbed to the wooden portion, sprayed paint thinner on the floor, and used disposable lighters to start the blaze (they were found at the scene). He was angry with the government for not paying him full value for his lands. He was also responsible for a 2006 fire in one of the royal palaces, that one causing $5,000 in damages. The arsonist chose this site because it was not heavily guarded. There was $21 million in damages and it should take three years to repair the National Treasure. Restoration is scheduled to be completed by December 2012.

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

They can be strategic, as in hate crimes or crimes to cover up other crimes, or they can be mere delinquency. But there is no such thing as a friendly arson fire. – Bob Khan

Arson, after all, is an artificial crime…A large number of houses deserve to be burnt. – H. G. Wells

Also on this day:

American Mensa – In 1971, American Mensa was formed.
Boxing and Brains – In 1933, Ernie Schaaf was injured during a boxing match and died three days later.
St. Scholastica Riots – In 1355, The St. Scholastica’s Day riot began.

St. Scholastica Riots

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 10, 2011

Carfax Tower in Oxford, a "witness" to the events

February 10, 1355: The St. Scholastica’s Day riot begins. The riot was the result of a feud between two students at the University of Oxford, Walter Spryngeheuse and Roger de Chesterfield, and John Groidon, the tavern keeper at Swindlestock Tavern. The two students complained about the quality of the drinks. An argument followed. The two younger men threw their drinks in Groiden’s face and then beat him up. This event led to clashes between the locals and students at Oxford, including armed confrontations. The mayor of Oxford asked the Chancellor of the University to arrest the two students. This was denied and instead 200 students turned out in support of their friends.

A riot ensued and lasted for two days. In the melee, 63 scholars were killed and as many as 30 locals also died. Eventually, the scholars lost the battle. However, they won the war when the dispute was settled in favor of the university. A special charter was created. Each year thereafter, on February 10 (feast day of St. Scholastica) the town’s mayor and councilors had to march through the streets bareheaded. They were also to pay a fine of one penny for every scholar killed, five shillings and three pennies.

The fine was paid yearly until 1825. After 470 years, the mayor simply refused to take part in the punishment. After so many years, 29,610 pennies had been paid to the University of Oxford by the town of Oxford. In 1955, after six centuries, all was finally forgiven. The Mayor or Oxford was given an honorary degree and the Vice-Chancellor was made an Honorary Freeman.

These types of disagreements between locals and students are sometimes called “town and gown” issues. In the Middle Ages, students at European universities held minor clerical status and often wore the gowns of the clergy. Universities had been seen as sanctuaries from Plato’s time at the Academy. When modern universities emerged in the 12th century, they were without campuses and were simply professors teaching to eager students. Since there were no concrete buildings, they were separate from the towns and cities and did not pay taxes. They could negotiate for concessions from the towns or threaten to leave (and take the students with them). Once they opened actual schools, there were two governing bodies – the town and the university – and it led to a number of clashes, this one being one of the worst.

“No man who worships education has got the best out of education…. Without a gentle contempt for education no man’s education is complete.” – G.K. Chesterton

“Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.” – Albert Einstein

“It is a thousand times better to have common sense without education than to have education without common sense.” – Robert G. Ingersoll

“Education is an ornament in prosperity and a refuge in adversity.” – Aristotle

Also on this day:
American Mensa – In 1971, American Mensa was formed.
Ernie died – In 1933. two boxers, Primo Carnera and Ernie Schaaf, met at Madison Square Garden.


American Mensa

Posted in History by patriciahysell on February 10, 2010

Brainiac humor?

February 10, 1971: American Mensa, Ltd is incorporated in New York. Everybody likes to feel smart and capable. Some people take this seriously. In 1946, Mensa was formed in England to be an “aristocracy of the intellect.” Roland Berrill (an Australian lawyer) and Dr. Lance Ware (a British scientist and lawyer) wanted a club or society whose only admittance qualification was a high IQ. No qualifications such as race, creed, or country of origin (or status therein) were needed.

Mensa has three goals: 1) foster intelligence for the benefit of humanity; 2) encourage research into the nature of intelligence; and 3) promote intellectual and social opportunities for its members. A successful applicant is that one reside at or above the 98th percentile on certain standardized IQ tests. This means that a score for the Stanford-Binet must be at least 132 and for the Cattell a score of at least 148 is needed. Mensa also has it’s own application exam. There are about 100,000 members in 100 countries today. About 50,000 of those members are American.

Mensa has several events for members to meet and interact. Some are local and others are international in scope. Several countries hold large events called Annual Gatherings which are held in a different city each year with a slate of many options to socialize. There are many brain games available to attendees. There are also smaller gatherings called Regional Gatherings with the largest of these held in Chicago around Halloween. There was also a Mensa World Gathering held in August 2006 in Orlando, Florida to celebrate 60 years of “smart.”

Because of differences of opinion the American Mensans wished to separate from the British brains and incorporated in 1971. Mensa is a not-for-profit group that enjoys deep thoughts, or perhaps, high-mindedness.

“We should take care not to make the intellect our god; it has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality.” – Albert Einstein

“If children grew up according to early indications, we should have nothing but geniuses. – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb… and I also know that I’m not blonde.” – Dolly Parton

“A great many people think that polysyllables are a sign of intelligence.” – Barbara Walters

Also on this day, in 1933 two boxers met at Madison Square Garden, Primo Carnera and Ernie Schaaf. Ernie died.

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