Friday, October 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Internet

October 29, 1969 -
The first computer-to-computer message transmission (ARPANET), the basis of today's internet, was established between UCLA and Stamford on this date.

And as far as I can tell Al Gore was not there.

The Fine Bros. Halloween edition

Psst - spoiler alert for most horror films - most of the characters in the film die.

October 29, 1891 -
Fanny Brice, popular and influential American comedienne, singer, theatre and film actress and entertainer, was born on this date.

The 1946 Warner Bros. cartoon Quentin Quail features a character based on Brice's characterization of Baby Snooks.

October 29, 1899 Akim Tamiroff, Georgian born actor (was the first Golden Globe Award-winning actor for Best Supporting Actor) was born on this date.

While Tamiroff may not be a household name in the present day, his malapropistic performance as the boss in The Great McGinty inspired the cartoon character Boris Badenov,

the male half of the villainous husband-and-wife team Boris and Natasha on The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.

Today in History - October 29, 1618 -

Sir Walter Raleigh was a fairly forgotten figure in England History on the previous day. Sir Walter, famous explorer and favorite of Queen Elizabeth I had been languishing in prison for years on some murky charges of plotting against King James I. He was left to languish in the Tower of London until 1616. While imprisoned, he wrote many treatises and the first volume of The Historie of the World, about the ancient history of Greece and Rome. His son Carew was conceived and born while Raleigh was legally 'dead' and imprisoned in the Tower of London (1604).

In 1616, Sir Walter was released from the Tower of London in order to conduct a second expedition to Venezuela in search of El Dorado. In the course of the expedition, Raleigh's men, under the command of Lawrence Keymis, sacked the Spanish outpost of San Thome on the Orinoco. During the initial attack on the settlement, Raleigh's son Walter was struck by a bullet and killed. On Raleigh's return to England, the outraged Diego Sarmiento de Acuña, the Spanish ambassador, demanded that King James reinstate Raleigh's death sentence. The ambassador's demand was granted.

Raleigh was beheaded at Whitehall on the 29th of October, 1618. "Let us dispatch," he asked his executioner. "At this hour my ague comes upon me. I would not have my enemies think I quaked from fear." After he was allowed to see the axe that would behead him, he mused: "This is a sharp Medicine, but it is a Physician for all diseases and miseries". According to many biographers — Raleigh Trevelyan in his book Sir Walter Raleigh (2003) for instance — Sir Walter's final words (as he lay ready for the axe to fall) were: "Strike a match man, strike!"

The corpse was to be buried in the local church in Beddington, Surrey, the home of Lady Raleigh. "The Lords," she wrote, "have given me his dead body, though they have denied me his life. God hold me in my wits". After Raleigh's execution, his head was embalmed and presented to his wife. She carried it with her in a velvet bag until she decided she didn't like the smell.

Gentlemen, remember either to keep your head upon your death or ask your wife to invest in a lot of room deodorizer.

October 29, 1901 - Leon Czolgosz was convicted and sentenced to death for the assassination of U.S. President William McKinley on September 23, 1901 in a brief trial that lasted eight and a half hours from jury selection to verdict. Upon returning to Auburn Prison, he asked the Warden if this meant he would be transferred to Sing Sing to be electrocuted, and seemed surprised to learn that Auburn had its own electric chair.

He was executed by electrocution, by three jolts at 1700 volts each, on October 29, 1901, in Auburn Prison in Auburn, New York. His brother Waldek and his brother-in-law Frank Bandowski were in attendance, though when Waldek asked the Warden for his brother's body to be taken for proper burial, he was informed that he "would never be able to take it away" and that crowds of people would mob him, so the body had to be buried on prison grounds.

His last words were "I killed the President because he was the enemy of the good people — the good working people. I am not sorry for my crime.". As the prison guards strapped him into the chair, however, he did say through clenched teeth, "I am sorry I could not see my father." Sulfuric acid and lye were thrown into his coffin so that his body would be completely disfigured, and to aid in its decomposition. His letters and clothes were burned.

The scene of the crime, the Temple of Music, was torn down in November 1901. A stone marker in the middle of Fordham Drive, a residential street in Buffalo today marks the approximate spot where the event occurred. Czolgosz's revolver is on display at the Pan-American Exposition exhibit of the Erie County Historical Society in Buffalo.

Today is the anniversary of Black Tuesday, the stock market crash in 1929 that signaled the beginning of the worst economic collapse in the history of the modern industrial world. Few people saw it coming except for Joseph P. Kennedy and Charlie Chaplin who had cashed out of the volatile market weeks early and preserved their fortunes.. The stock market had been booming throughout the 1920s. Brokerage houses had been springing up all over the country, to take advantage of everyone’s interest in investment. There were stories about barbers, messenger boys and prostitutes who'd gotten rich off of overheard stock tips. Americans who ordinarily couldn't afford to invest their money were taking out loans to buy stock so they wouldn't miss out (shades of the sub prime mortgage market.)

The stock market didn't do so well in September of 1929, but nobody really noticed anything was wrong until October 23, when 2.6 million shares were sold in the closing hour of trading. It looked as though the selling would continue on Thursday, October 24, but a group of the most influential American bankers in the country pooled their money and began to buy up the declining stocks, supporting the market. By the end of that day it seemed like everything would be all right.

But on this day in 1929, the bottom fell out of the market. Three million shares were sold in the first half-hour. Stock prices fell so fast that by the end of the day there were shares in many companies that no one would buy at any price. The stocks had lost their entire value.

The front-page story in The New York Times on this day read, "Wall Street was a street of vanished hopes, of curiously silent apprehension and of a sort of paralyzed hypnosis. Men and women crowded the brokerage offices, even those who have been long since wiped out, and followed the figures on the tape. Little groups gathered here and there to discuss the fall in prices in hushed and awed tones."

It was the most disastrous trading day in the stock market's history (until now). The stock market lost $30 billion dollars, more than a third of its value, in the next two weeks.

October 29, 1977 -
Rhoda got married today.

I'm still broken up that it didn't last.

And so it goes

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