Friday, August 9, 2013

Books your kids should be reading right now

Reading is FUNdamental

August 9, 1930 -
A forerunner of the cartoon character Betty Boop made her debut in Max Fleischer's animated short Dizzy Dishes on this date.

In later films she loses the dog ears and becomes the familiar human character we know today.

August 9, 1944 -
Another brilliant war-time effort by Preston Sturges, Hail the Conquering Hero, once again starring Eddie Bracken premiered on this date.

As the marines are leaving the Oakridge station, a billboard behind them is advertising The Miracle of Morgan's Creek, the other war-time film by Preston Sturges.

Today in History:
August 9,  378 (Or what ever the hell the date was on the calendar they were using at the time) -
Valens, the Roman Emperor of the East, led an army of 30,000 men against a horde of Visigoths outside Adrianople, on this date.

The Romans got off to a good start, but soon the Visigoth cavalry returned from its foraging mission. The Roman infantry was no match for the Visigoths on horseback and two-thirds of the Romans, including the Emperor, were slaughtered.

Military strategists were at last compelled to acknowledge that guys on horses were stronger than guys who weren't on horses. This was the most significant development in western warfare since the discovery of the big stick and European warfare was permanently and irreversibly altered in favor of guys on horses.

Construction began on the Tower of Pisa began on this date in 1173.  Unfortunately it was still the Dark Age and without the proper illumination, tower started to lean almost immediately after construction began because of an improperly laid foundation (this was possibly the only thing improperly laid in Italy.)

Construction was delayed almost 200 years because the Pisans were almost constantly working on other projects like inventing Marinara sauce and The Renaissance.

August 9, 1492 -
Rodrigo Borgia allowed the Cardinals of Rome to inspect his genitals (a practice subsequently bequeathed to Bishops). Only after he had proved to the Cardinals' satisfaction that he was, indeed, a man, was Mr Borgia permitted to be Pope Alexander VI.

As the historian Orson Welles observed in The Third Man: "In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love -- they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."

Rodrigo Borgia had earned the papacy the old-fashioned way: through nepotism and bribery. Once he had it, he turned it into a family institution. His two legitimate children, Cesare and Lucrezia, were alternately married off to cement alliances, divorced or widowed to initiate hostilities, or dispatched with poison to conduct diplomacy.

When out of town on business, he left Lucrezia in charge of the Papacy. In gratitude, she bore him a son.

(Many scholars repudiate this charge, insisting that the Pope could not possibly have fathered his own daughter's child. They assign paternity to Lucrezia's brother Cesare.)

By 1503, Alexander VI had expanded Rome's powers considerably and was therefore poisoned. Three years later Cesare died while fighting as a mercenary in Spain. Lucrezia died in 1514 from complications of pregnancy. That was more or less the end of the Borgias, and the Papacy has become less and less interesting with the passing of every year since.

August 9, 1945 -
Just three days after Little Boy was dropped on Hiroshima, a second atomic bomb (a 22 kiloton Atomic Bomb) called Fat Man was dropped to Nagasaki, population 270,000.  Though the amount of energy generated by the bomb was significantly larger than that of the Little Boy, the damage to the city was slighter than that inflicted upon Hiroshima due to the geographic structure of the city.

The blast kills 24,000 immediately, but another 46,000 perish from radiation-related illnesses over the next four months.

Interesting side note that has surfaced. It was little known that at least 12 American prisoners of war (and as many as 23 Americans) lost their lives by the Atomic Bomb dropped on Hiroshima.  In Nagasaki, nine British and Dutch POWs were killed by the Atomic Bomb.

August 9, 1969 -
Charles Manson and his band of "children" committed the first in a series of grisly murders high in the Hollywood Hills today. The unfortunate victims, including Sharon Tate were probably not the intended target of this crime.

Rumors have it that Charlie was looking for record producer Terry Melchar (Doris Day's son) who turned him down for a record contract. Melchar was away and rented the house to Tate at the time.

August 9, 1974 -
After President Richard M. Nixon resigned from office, his successor, Gerald Ford, assures the American people that their "long national nightmare is over."

Ford was the only person to hold the office of US Vice President and US President without being elected to either office.  He also served on the Warren Commission.

Coincidence, you decide!

August 9, 1995 -
Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack at Serenity Knolls near Novato, California, on this date.

He had checked himself into the drug rehab center a few days prior, in hopes of kicking his longstanding heroin habit.

And so it goes.

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