Friday, October 16, 2015


Look it up - it's a great word to use to describe the day - Happy Dictionary Day.

October 16, the birth of Noah Webster is commemorated as Dictionary Day. Celebrate the day by learning some new words, learning how dictionaries came to be, sprucing up your dictionary skills, or even creating your own dictionary!

OK, I'll calm down.

October 16, 1954 -
Elvis Presley made his first appearance on the radio on the program Louisiana Hayride, on this date.

Whether it was Elvis' stage fright or the originality of his act before a new audience, his performance was flat much like his Grand Ole Opry debut a few weeks previous.

Today in History:
On this date in 1792 (or 1799), there was baptized in Tegucigalpa, Honduras, a boy named Francisco Morazàn. He was young, like most newborns, and full of idealism. After a disappointing childhood, in which he turned out not to have been born to wealth and privilege, he decided first to educate himself and then to enlist in the fight against Mexican annexation of Honduras.

After a disappointing loss, in which Honduras turned out to be a part of Mexico even though neither of them was any longer a part of Spain, Morazàn joined the government of the United Provinces of Central America. Two years later he was the president of the Honduras State legislature and the following year he became president of the entire United Provinces by means of the traditional Central American electoral process ("civil war").

As president, he tried to limit the powers of the Roman Catholic Church, which eventually led to a new round of elections ("civil wars") that produced a new president, this time from the State of Guatemala. The new president exiled Morazàn, who returned several years later calling for electoral reform ("revolution") and was therefore impeached ("shot in the head") by one of his own troops.

It's a holiday in Honduras today.

But it is not a holiday in Guatemala. Or Mexico.

October 16, 1793 -
Deposed French queen Joséphe Jeanne Marie Antoinette sat in an open cart, enduring hours of public ridicule as she is slowly driven around the streets of Paris, on this day.

Finally, she was taken to the guillotine. On the scaffold she accidentally stepped on the executioner's foot, and her last words were, "Monsieur, I ask your pardon. I did not do it on purpose."

She wasn't having a good day.

Today is the birthday of Oscar Wilde (1854), known for his barbed wit, was one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London, and one of the greatest celebrities of his day.

In between bouts of buggery and posing for his Sodomite Trading Card photo, he found time to write the following passage in The Picture of Dorian Gray: "Humanity takes itself too seriously. It is the world's original sin. If the caveman had known how to laugh, History would have been different." Unfortunately for Oscar, had he fled England in the spring of 1895, his history would have been different.

I believe that cavemen did indeed know how to laugh, and that people who accuse humanity of being too serious obviously aren't paying attention. Voluminous scientific research has incontrovertibly proven that we are the only species to giggle at one other's farts.

I reminds you that our lives are haphazard accidents in an indifferent world and that the very absurdity of life is what gives it the most meaning. Burp. Laugh.

Ignore the serious bastards (and remember that the only difference between the saint and the sinner is that every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future.)

October 16, 1908 -
The first airplane flight in England was made at Farnborough, accomplished by Samuel Cody, a self-proclaimed American cowboy who built his own flying machines.

The machine had been damaged at the end of the October 16th flight.

After repairs and extensive modifications Cody flew it again early the following year.

October 16, 1916  -
Margaret Higgins Sanger opened the first birth control clinic at 46 Amboy St. in Brooklyn on this date. After opening her clinic in Brooklyn, she spent 30 days in jail for creating a public nuisance.

Sanger coined the term "birth control" and made the cause a worldwide movement. 

October 16, 1934 -
Mao Tse-tung decided to abandon his base in Kiangsi due to attacks from Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalists. With his pregnant wife and about 30,000 Red Army troops, he set out on the "Long March," - the longest march in the history of warfare.

The march lasted one year and four days, covering more than 6,000 miles (about 9,656 kilometers). In late 1935, with 8,000 survivors, he reached northwest China, and established Chinese Communist headquarters. (Hey, I want the Chinese censors to note that I occasionally have a good work for the PRC.)

October 16, 1946 -
10 high-ranking Nazi officials were executed by hanging for World War II war crimes in Nuremberg, Germany, on this date.

Many of the hangings were badly botched as of the prisoners were slowly strangle to death. One would have thought we'd have perfected that whole 'hanging thing' - America had been hanging prisoners with pride for almost two centuries at that point.

Hermann Goering, founder of the Gestapo and chief of the German air force,was to have been among them but he committed suicide in his cell the night before.

October 16, 1964 -
China detonated its first atomic bomb (to commemorate the anniversary of the "Long March") and became the world's fifth nuclear power on this date.

If you know what's good for you, please tip the delivery guys a hell of a lot more.

October 16, 1968  -
American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos sparked controversy at the Mexico City Olympics by giving "black power" salutes during a victory ceremony after they'd won gold and bronze medals in the 200-meter race on this date.

Little remembered is the third athlete on the podium with Smith and Carlos, Australian athlete Peter Norman, who joined the American athletes in solidarity and paid a huge price.

Take a moment to read about the story of this forgotten man in a major story of the Olympic Games history. (Thanks to Nag on the lake blog for this story.)

October 16, 1972 -
A light plane carrying House Democratic leader Thomas Hale Boggs of Louisiana (the most outspoken and critical member of the Warren Commission) and three other men was reported missing in Alaska. The plane was never found.

Perhaps if they had that bridge to nowhere, they would have found them.

October 16, 1984 -
... If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.

Anglican Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa won the Nobel Peace Prize on this date, for his struggle against apartheid.

And so it goes

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