Monday, April 12, 2010

For no particular reason

Here's a great way to start the week

Sorry about the quality of the clip but this will still get up and going in the morning

Today in History:
April 12, 65 -
Seneca the Younger (not to be confused with his father Seneca the Elder or his grandfather Seneca the Dead), Roman philosopher and humorist was accused of being involved in the Pisonian conspiracy, a plot to kill Nero (old school Evil Bastard). Nero escaped the assassination attempt and Seneca went home to commit ritual suicide. Committing ritualistic suicide at work had become unfashionably and very messy. His wife, Pompeia Paulina, intended to commit suicide after but was forbidden to do so by Nero. She attempted suicide by cutting her wrists, but the wounds were bound up, and she did not make a second attempt. Unfortunately for Seneca, who also chose to cut his wrists, his diet caused the blood to flow slowly, thus causing pain instead of a quick death.

He took poison given to him by a friend, but it didn't work. He dictated to a scribe, and then jumped into a hot pool. He did not try to drown, but instead, it appears, tried to make the blood flow faster. Seneca finally died from suffocation from the steam rising from the pool.

This was not the easy way out.

April 12, 1861, -
The first shots of the American Civil War (aka the War of Northern Aggression) rang out at an attack on Fort Sumter, South Carolina. Abner Doubleday (of baseball fame) aimed the cannon that fired the first return shot in answer to the Confederate bombardment. No one died in the actual battle, but one Union soldier died and another was mortally wounded when firing a cannon showing their surrender.

Accounts, such as in the famous diary of Mary Chesnut, describe Charleston residents along what is now known as The Battery, sitting on balconies and drinking salutes to the start of the hostilities. Four years, two days and 618,000 dead later, Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by southerner John Wilkes Booth while watching Our American Cousin at the Ford Theatre. He died the following day.

Moral: avoid theatre.

April 12, 1945 -
Franklin D. Roosevelt, the only president ever elected to four terms of office, dies of a cerebral hemorrhage in Warm Springs, GA, after meeting with his long time mistress and his wife's social secretary.

The following day, Vice President Harry S. Truman assumes the post and is told for the first time about the Manhattan Project.

Roosevelt really liked to keep secrets.

April 12, 1947 -
It's David Letterman's birthday. 15 years ago, Drew Barrymore celebrated his birthday by climbing atop the Late Night desk and flashes her bosomy protuberances at the man.

Which puts me and David Letterman in a very special club (those of you who know me will remember this incident.)

April 12, 1954 -
The very fat and sweaty Bill Haley & His Comets record Rock Around the Clock in New York City.

Initially it was not a big hit on American Bandstand, the recording would help launch the rock and roll revolution a year later.

April 12, 1961 -
Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into space in Vostok 3KA-2 (Vostok 1), on this date. During his flight, Gagarin famously whistled the tune "The Motherland Hears, The Motherland Knows" The first two lines of the song are: "The Motherland hears, the Motherland knows/Where her son flies in the sky". This patriotic song was written by Dmitri Shostakovich in 1951 (opus 86), with words by Yevgeniy Dolmatovsky. It was obviously not a big hit on American Bandstand at the time - although it did have a good beat, you could hardly dance to it.

There were speculations in the media that from orbit Gagarin made the comment, "I don't see any God up here." There are, however, no such words in the full verbatim record of Gagarin's conversations with the Earth during the spaceflight.In a 2006 interview a close friend of Gagarin, colonel Valentin Petrov, stated that Gagarin never said such words, and that the phrase he uttered was, "I don't see any Goddamn toilet up here and I have to go."

April 12, 1988 -
U.S. patent 4,736,866 is granted to Harvard University for a genetically-modified mouse, engineered to be particularly susceptible to carcinogens.

The cancer-prone Harvard Oncomouse is the world's first patented creature, and perhaps also the most screwed.

April 12, 1989 -
1960s counterculture icon Abbie Hoffman swallows 150 Phenobarbital pills barbituates.

You'd think someone might have mentioned to him that perhaps this was not a good idea.

Apr 12 1992 -
EuroDisney opens to the public, attracting a meager 50,000 visitors. Expectations had been about ten times as many. This underwhelming response by the European public will continue for more than a year.

Finally, after 18 months of retooling, the resort is ultimately rechristened Disneyland Paris.

And so it goes

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