Monday, August 18, 2014

Things to know

The Latvian city of Riga was founded on this date in 1201 - but you don't care. Today is National Bad Poetry Day in the United States.

There's a very fun website with a great deal of very bad poetry here.

August 18, 1957 -
Denis Colin Leary,
actor, comedian, writer, and director was born on this date.

When Leary guested on The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien, he confessed that he was terrified of bats. Coincidentally, the show concluded with an animal expert who presented Conan with a variety of bats that were conveniently suspended behind Leary on studio "tree branches".

Today in History:
August 18, 1227
Genghis Khan died in his sleep, after a fall from his horse on this date. His old age and drinking probably contributed to his death

(or perhap a Tangut princess, to avenge her people and prevent her rape, castrated him with a knife hidden inside her - ouch) , which the Mongols manage to keep secret for some time. Apparently, it was only just announced.

August 18, 1503 -
... In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed — they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock....

Pope Alexander VI (a Borgia) died on this date. He was the father of seven illegitimate children, and during his reign chose as his lover the lovely sixteen year old Guilia Farnese. He is said to have uttered the last words "Wait a minute" before expiring. (Interesting aside - before the pope could be properly buried, his corpse bloated then exploded.  Share that at the dinner table tonight.)

August 18, 1590 -
Sent to England to get supplies three years prior, John White finally returns to Roanoke Island and discovers his colony "strongly enclosed with a high palisade of great trees, with [curtain walls] and [bastions] -- very fort-like."

There is no sign of the settlers or where they may have gone, but carved in the bark of one of the trees is the word CROATOAN.

Luckily, REDRUM wasn't carved in the trees, because that would have been scary.

August 18, 1920 -
When Tennessee became the 36th state to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution on this date, all American women were guaranteed the right of to vote.

It appeared that the amendment might fail by one vote in the Tennessee house, but 24 year-old Harry Burn surprised observers by casting the deciding vote for ratification. At the time of his vote, Burns had in his pocket a letter he had received from his mother urging him, "Don't forget to be a good boy" and "vote for suffrage."

August 18, 1958 -
... Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul....

Lolita, a novel by Vladimir Nabokov, first written in English and published in 1955 in Paris, later translated by the author into Russian, was finally published on this date in New York. The novel is both internationally famous for its innovative style and infamous for its controversial subject: the book's narrator and protagonist, Humbert Humbert, becoming sexually obsessed with a 12-year-old girl named Dolores Haze.

August 18, 1999 -
A giant black rainbow encircled the Earth, sucking all oxygen from the atmosphere. The air returns shortly thereafter, but only after millions die from asphyxiation. On the bright side, the survivors go on to build a Utopian civilization.

It all happens precisely as predicted in the 1950s by Criswell, the TV psychic immortalized in the movie Plan 9 from Outer Space. If you don't remember this happening, fear not, the government deemed you too stupid to handle this terrifying information and had you anally probed to erase your memory.

It's much too complicated to explain to the likes of most of you.

And so it goes.

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