Sunday, July 31, 2011

Laugh and grow strong

It's the feast day of St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of Society of Jesus (the Jesuits).

I owe any intellectual curiosity I have to the fact many of my early teachers were Jesuit Brothers.

Today in History:
July 31, 1945 -
Wearing a stolen army uniform, prisoner John Giles attempts to escape from Alcatraz island by boarding an outbound cargo boat. But instead of San Francisco, the vessel heads for Angel Island, where Giles is promptly captured.

When attempting your escape from prison, confirm that you did not by a return ticket before boarding your escape craft.

It was on this day in 1954 that human feet first stood upon the summit of Pakistan's K2 mountain, the second-tallest mountain in the world.

K2 was known to the Chinese as "Great Mountain" and to Indian and Pakistani locals as "That Big Thing Over There." It was not until 1856, when T.G. Montgomerie of Britain's Survey of India was logging the mountains of the Karakorum range, that it was dubbed K2. This helped distinguish it from K1, to its left, and K3, to its right.

(K1 was later named Mount Masherbrum. K3 moved to New Mexico, where it is believed to be running a New Age bookstore under an assumed name.)

It was an Italian expedition led by Ardito Desio that first succeeded in ascending to the peak of K2. Team members Lino Lacedelli and Achille Compagnoni achieved that distinction on July 31, 1954.

The summit wasn't reached again until 1977, when a Japanese team with more than 1500 porters found their way to the top.

The first American expedition reached the top in 1978 without the aid of any stinking porters.

July 31, 1948 –
At Idlewild Field in New York, New York International Airport was dedicated by President Harry Truman on this date.

A 30 year old Congressman John F. Kennedy suddenly has a blinding headache that day and doesn't know why.

July 31, 1966 -
Beatles records are burned in Birmingham, Alabama -- only because John Lennon innocently declared that the band happens to be "more popular than Jesus."

The record burning of course has the opposite effect, as sales of Beatles records dramatically increase (in part to burn them.)

July 31, 1966 -
Charles Whitman, as a student at the University of Texas at Austin, wounds 30 and kills 16, before being killed by police.

Two years later, Peter Bogdanovich directs his first film, Targets, based of the the Whitman slayings.

The film, starring Boris Karloff, is hailed as one of the most promising debuts of a director since Orson Welles.

July 31, 1971 -
One of the most expensive car rides occurred on this date, when James B. Irwin and David R. Scott took the Lunar Roving Vehicle or "Moon Buggy" on it's premiere jaunt on the surface of the moon.

I bet there was a lovely Earth out that evening.

July 31, 1980 (I'm now going with 1980 and not getting involved in the 1979 controversy)-
Harry Potter, an orphan who discovers that he is a wizard was born on this dates. J K Rowlings, the Harry Potter brand author, shares a birthday with her creation, who has made her a billionaire.

Who knew an orphaned kid with a facial birthmark could make someone so much money?

And so it goes.

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