Little Bits of History

March 27

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 27, 2017

1884: The Cincinnati riot begins. In the 1880s, Cincinnati was a rough industrial city and had a rising crime rate in part due to problems with labor issues and in part due to government corruption. The Cincinnati police force had 300 men and 5 paddy wagons. During the early part of the decade, 50 people were arrested for murder and of those, only four were hanged, the sentence for a guilty verdict. On January 1, 1884 there were 23 accused murderers awaiting trial. Corruption in the city controlled election results and the placement of judges along with influence of juries. In early March the Ohio River flooded with a crest at 71.9 feet leading to even more chaos in an already chaotic city. The papers were calling for justice in a city rife with murder.

On December 23, 1883, a German living in Cincinnati, William Berner and his accomplice, Joe Palmer, a biracial African-American, robbed and murdered their boss, a livery stable owner. They then dumped the body several miles away. Berner’s lawyer went through 500 potential jurors before he could find twelve men to sit on the jury. A long trial had seven different people on the stand testifying to Berner’s admission of planning and carrying out the execution of his employer. Despite this, the jury brought back a verdict of manslaughter rather than murder. The public was outraged. Palmer was tried in a later and separate trial and was found guilty of murder and hanged.

The papers called for a public meeting to condemn Berner’s verdict and even the New York Times reported on the miscarriage of justice. One of the jurors was harassed by irate citizens and spent the night in the police station for protection. When he headed home, the crowds threatened to lynch him and the police were called in. Later in the day, the juror was beaten and another juror was pelted with rotten eggs and dead cats. Another juror was fired when he returned to work. By the next day, the state militia was called in to try to control the angry mobs who were ready to administer their own justice to Berner, who had been secreted away for his safety.

A mob of 10,000 threw bricks and stones at the jail when they found Berner gone. Then they tried to set the jail on fired. The mobs continued to riot the next day and attacked the jail, unsuccessfully. They moved on to the courthouse and set it on fire. A gunfight broke out and nearby stores were looted. Before order was restored, 56 people had been killed with over 300 more wounded and the courthouse was destroyed, making it one of the most destructive riots in American history. Berner served his twenty years in prison and the local political bosses were forced to retire.

Laxity of laws gives the Queen City of the West its crimson record. Preeminence in art, science, and industry avail nothing where murder is rampant and the lives of citizens are unsafe even in broad daylight. – Cincinnati Enquirer, March 9, 1884

For once we find ourselves sympathising with rioters. – London Spectator

A riot is the language of the unheard. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

We hoped against hope that what we had been doing was enough to prevent a riot. It was not enough. – Jerome Cavanagh

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Goliad Massacre

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 27, 2015
Goliad Massacre monument

Goliad Massacre monument *

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

Get it Together

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 27, 2014
Ways to tie shoelaces

Ways to tie shoelaces

March 27, 1790: The modern shoe lace along with holes in the shoe is perfected by Harvey Kennedy in England. A book published in 1913 claimed that Kennedy made over $2.5 million from his invention. But the patent he produced was not the first use of a lace to keep a shoe or boot in place. Archeological records are rare since shoes and laces would disintegrate over time. Shoes and laces date back to at least 3500 BC, a sample of which was found in a cave in 2008. These shoes are a one-piece hide place around the foot and tied together by a lace put through slots. The shoes worn by Otzi the Iceman date from 3300 BC.

More modern types of laces date from about the 12th century but these laces again passed through hooks or eyelets. The newest version also included the holes in the shoes to accommodate the laces and help keep the entire product in place. Native Americans also used laces to hold leather thongs in place or to secure moccasins and winter leggings in place. Laces have been made from a variety of different substances from strings of hemp to strips of bark or leather. Placing the hardened tip, or aglet, on the lace to keep it from fraying was a great invention and it made it easier to lace as well.

Today’s laces not only come in a variety of patterns and with a selection of possible aglets, but also in a variety of lengths. Having the right length shoelace or shoestring for the number of holes in the shoe will keep the lace from tripping the wearer. The number of standard holes in shoes/boots ranges from two to 16 and the length of shoelaces ranges between 45 and 200 centimeters or 17.7 to 78.7 inches. Even with the right length of lace, tying or knotting the lace is also important. The usual way to tie one’s shoes is with a simple bow knot. Also available are reef knots, granny knots (which is less secure) or a double slip knot. The finish of the lace itself will also either help or hinder the knot to stay in place.

There are also a variety of way to lace the shoe or place the lace through the hooks, eyes, or holes in the shoe itself. The basic or standard way to lace a shoe is in a criss-cross pattern. This works well with athletic shoes but it isn’t as effective in leather Oxford shoes which need a more straight lacing to help bring the sides of the shoes together. Different lacing styles are used depending on the function of the shoes and what the wearer is hoping for. There are also a number of ways to create patterns from lacing shoes with different colors, textures, or patterns of laces. Usually these latter styles of lacing decrease the actual functionality or ease of use. After all this, one can still add accessories such as charms or use other items to help tighten the laces for the specific use or decorate the laces for a specific style.

You know you’re getting old when you stoop to tie your shoelaces and wonder what else you could do while you’re down there. – George Burns

I do have a blurred memory of sitting on the stairs and trying over and over again to tie one of my shoelaces, but that is all that comes back to me of school itself. – Roald Dahl

Kids can make fun of you for having the wrong shoelaces: that’s just kids. – Mark Ronson

Isn’t one of your first exercises in learning how to communicate to write a description of how to tie your shoelaces? The point being that it’s basically impossible to use text to show that. – Donald Norman

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.

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Tenerife Disaster

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 27, 2013
27 Tenerife Disaster

Tenerife Disaster

March 27, 1977: On a foggy runway in the Canary Islands, two planes collide. Both were Boeing 747s at Tenerife Los Rodeos Airport (now called Tenerife North Airport). The small island airport had only one runway with four taxi exits. The crash occurred shortly after 5 PM on an already bad day. At 1:15 PM, a bomb planted at the Gran Canaria International Airport exploded. The Movement for the Independence and Autonomy of the Canaries Archipelago planted a bomb in a flower shop on the concourse. Authorities were warned at 1 PM and managed to vacate the shop. No one was killed, but there were 8 injured, one seriously.

Later in the day, a phone call came in claiming responsibility and also hinting about a second bomb planted somewhere in the airport. The airport was shut down while authorities searched for the second explosive. Incoming planes, including long international flights, were diverted. Pan Am flight 1736 was told to divert to Tenerife. Captain Victor Grubbs offered to circle until given clearance at Gran Canaria, but it was denied. He went to Los Rodeos.

The Pan Am flight originated in Los Angeles with a stopover in New York City where the crew was changed. There were 380 passengers and 14 crew aboard. KLM flight 4805 originated in Amsterdam and Captain Jacob van Zanten was also diverted from the larger airport to Tenerife. There were 234 passengers and 14 crew on the Dutch flight. In all, five large aircraft were diverted from Gran Canaria to the smaller neighboring island. The smaller airport was not build for such large planes. The end destination for both the Pan Am and KLM flights was Gran Canaria.

Both planes were given instructions for takeoff. The runway and taxi exits were not clearly marked and the turn radius was too sharp for 747s. There was also a language barrier as locals spoke Spanish as a native tongue. The planes were told what route to take for takeoff as a thick bank of fog covered the airport. The planes could not see each other until suddenly, the pilot of the Pam Am flight saw landing lights coming straight at his plane. He veered sharply left to try to avoid a head on collision. The pilot of the KLM flight saw the plane in front of him and pulled up sharply, trying to climb. The lower fuselage of the KLM hit the upper fuselage of the Pan Am plane. The KLM plane was airborne briefly. All aboard died in the crash. The Pan Am flight had 61 survivors. With 583 dead, it is the most deadly aviation disaster.

“I wouldn’t mind dying in a plane crash. It’d be a good way to go. I don’t want to die in my sleep, or of old age, or OD…I want to feel what it’s like. I want to taste it, hear it, smell it. Death is only going to happen to you once; I don’t want to miss it.” – Jim Morrison

“Flight is intolerable contradiction.” – Muriel Rukeyser

“You define a good flight by negatives: you didn’t get hijacked, you didn’t crash, you didn’t throw up, you weren’t late, you weren’t nauseated by the food. So you are grateful.” – Paul Theroux

“I have been sick, really sick, on flights in the last few weeks. And, I have been amazed by the kindness of strangers. There is, indeed, something about vulnerability that helps us to connect with people – even when we’re holding one of those little bags from the seat pocket of an airplane.” – Jan Denise

This article first appeared at in 2010. Editor’s update: In the wake of the crash, about 70 investigators from Spain, the Netherlands, and the US as well as the two airlines arrived to determine the cause of the crash. It was found that there were both false assumptions and misinterpretations leading to the crash. The KLM pilot was sure he had been cleared for takeoff, while the tower was sure the plane was stationary. Pan Am’s representative made statements that did not agree with those of the crew or the transcript of the tower/plane communications. There was a misunderstanding about which exit lane to take, either C-3 or C-4. The primary cause was stated as the takeoff of the KLM plane but the weather conditions and communication misunderstandings were contributory.

Also on this day: Long Distance Communication – In 1899, the first international radio communication occurred.
Earthquake – In 1964, Alaska was struck by a powerful earthquake.
Little Blue Pill – In 1998, Viagra was approved by the FDA.

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Little Blue Pill

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 27, 2012


March 27, 1998: The US Food and Drug Administration approves a new blue pill. Sildenafil citrate inhibits cGMP specific phosphodiesterase type 5, an enzyme that regulates blood flow. The drug is used to treat erectile dysfunction (ED) and is produced by Pfizer under the trade name Viagra. The drug was first synthesized at a research facility in Kent, England. It was initially studied as a method for controlling high blood pressure and/or angina or chest pain. The vascular effects did little to ease chest pain, but an interesting feature popped up.

The new compound was marketed as a treatment for ED. It was patented in 1996 and was the first oral treatment approved in the US. Viagra went on sale later in the year. It was and is available only by prescription but an advertising campaign was launched directed toward consumers. Pfizer was the number one pharmaceutical company in the world as rated by Fortune magazine in 1997. That was even before Viagra hit the market.

Viagra has been prescribed to over 15 million men. Today’s pharmacopeia includes tadalafil (Cialis) and vardenafil (Levitra) which can also both be given for treatment of ED. Rivatio is used to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension. It is the same chemical as Viagra but given in different doses. According to Viagra’s website, there are three factors involved in a satisfactory erection: hardness, timing, and ability to maintain the erection. The little blue pill can help with all three issues. It does not immediately cause an erection. The man must still be aroused. The pill usually works within thirty minutes and effects last for four hours. After sex, the erection fades.

Erectile dysfunction or male impotence is defined as the inability to achieve or maintain an erection. The physiology involved can be adversely affected by a variety of causes. There are neurogenic, hormonal, arterial, and cavernosal disorders resulting in ED. There can be psychological reasons along with certain life choices (alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and obesity) which can create problems as well. If the cause of ED is based on the blood flow, Viagra may help. It is ineffective for other causes. There are other treatments available up to and including surgical interventions.

A new Viagra virus is going round the Internet. It doesn’t affect your hard drive, but you can’t minimize anything for hours. – Joan Rivers

I am a sexual machine now. Raring to go every second of the day. I’m human Viagra. I am Will-agra.  – Will Smith

I’m taking Viagra and drinking prune juice – I don’t know if I’m coming or going. – Rodney Dangerfield

Bob Dole revealed he is one of the test subjects for Viagra. He said on Larry King, ‘I wish I had bought stock in it.’ Only a Republican would think the best part of Viagra is the fact that you could make money off of it. – Jay Leno

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.

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Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 27, 2011

Fourth Avenue in Anchorage, Alaska, looking east from near D Street.

March 27, 1964: The most powerful earthquake [to date] hit the US and North America. Called either the 1964 Alaska earthquake or the Good Friday earthquake, the 9.2 magnitude quake struck at 5:36 PM. It was a megathrust earthquake meaning one tectonic plate was thrust under another plate. These are the most dramatic, highest magnitude, types of quakes. The quake itself lasted for four minutes. The epicenter was 78 miles east of Anchorage, which suffered massive destruction. However, only nine people were killed by the quake and its damage.

The epicenter was also 12.4 miles north of  Prince William Sound and 40 miles west of Valdez. The focus of depth was approximately 15.5 miles. The ocean floor shifted and created tsunamis measuring up to 220 feet high. There were another 106 deaths attributed to the tsunamis in Alaska. More tsunami destruction hit Oregon and California resulting in another 16 casualties. There were also rockslides triggered in Alaska, causing property damage but no deaths. There was a measurable vertical displacement up to 38 feet and the quake affected an area of 100,000 square miles.

Property damage was estimated at $310 million [about $2.12 billion in today’s dollars]. Most of this damage occurred in Anchorage. The downtown area was heavily damaged. Much of the region was built on sandy bluff sitting atop “Bootlegger Cove clay”. The resulting landslides caused buildings to crumble. The Government Hill school was torn into two pieces by the landslide and the area near the rail station was also heavily damage by sliding buildings.

The coastal areas of Prince William Sound, Kenai Peninsula, and Kodak Island were heavily damaged. The ports of Seward, Whittier, and Kodiak were all damaged by the earthquake itself and then inundated by the ensuing tsunami. Fires were also damaging post disaster. Near Cordova, the Million Dollar Bridge collapsed – it was being renovated and work had begun in 1958 and stopped after the quake. The western shore of Canada also was hit by the tsunamis causing more property damage but no deaths. There were over 10,000 aftershocks recorded after the main quake. In the first day alone, eleven aftershocks with a magnitude greater than 6.0 struck and nine more of these major events occurred in the next three weeks.

“All farewells should be sudden, when forever.” – George Byron

“Animals when in company walk in a proper and sensible manner, in single file, instead of sprawling all across the road and being of no use or support to each other in case of sudden trouble or danger.” – Kenneth Grahame

“God answers sharp and sudden on some prayers, And thrusts the thing we have prayed for in our face, A gauntlet with a gift in it.” – Elizabeth Barrett Browning

“Hence the same instant which killed the animals froze the country where they lived. This event was sudden, instantaneous, without any gradual development.” – George Cuvier

Also on this day:
Long Distance Communication – In 1899, the first international radio communication occurred.
Tenerife – In 1977, the worst aviation disaster occurred.

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Long Distance Communication

Posted in History by patriciahysell on March 27, 2010

Guglielmo Marconi with his invention in 1876

March 27, 1899: The first international radio transmission takes place when Guglielmo Marconi transmits a message between England and France. Marconi was the son of an Italian landowner and Annie Jameson, the Irish granddaughter of the founder of Jameson & Son Distillery.

Many other electrical engineers and scientists were instrumental in developing the radio, but Marconi’s contributions to a useful form make him known as “the father of radio.” He first transmitted his Morse code messages across water in 1897, and across the Atlantic in 1901.

Marconi continued to work with longwaves and lower frequencies, broadcasting for longer distances. Messages were more easily sent at night, going more than twice as far without day time interferences. In 1903, on March 29, the first transatlantic new service between New York and London was begun. Voice over radio waves was finally introduced in the 1920s. In 1922, the first regular radio broadcasts for entertainment were introduced.

Today, radio is still used for audio transmissions, both word and music. It can also be used to transmit video if there is a proper receiver and digital television uses 8VSB modulation. Radio can be used for telephones with mobile phones transmitting to local cell sites. Radio is used for navigation and radar by bouncing radio waves off solid objects. Data can be sent across digital radio bands. There are licensed and unlicensed radio services available for short wave frequencies. Radio can be used to control remotely as in toy cars and planes. As a side effect, radio produces heat, and so can be used as a heating source.

“Every improvement in communication makes the bore more terrible.” – Frank Moore Colby

“You see, wire telegraph is a kind of a very, very long cat. You pull his tail in New York and his head is meowing in Los Angeles. Do you understand this? And radio operates exactly the same way: you send signals here, they receive them there. The only difference is that there is no cat.” – Albert Einstein, when asked to describe radio

“Cinema, radio, television, magazines are a school of inattention: people look without seeing, listen in without hearing.” – Robert Bresson

“The wireless music box has no imaginable commercial value. Who would pay for a message sent to nobody in particular?” – David Sarnoff’s associates in response to his urgings for investment in the radio in the 1920s.

Also on this day, in 1977 at Tenerife Airport, the world’s most deadly aviation disaster.

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