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      Welcome!   03/05/2016

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This Day In History

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On September 10 in History:

210 BCE - Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of China, dies when alchemical potions designed to make him immortal do the opposite of that.

1419 - Duke John "The Fearless" of Burgundy is assassinated by two counselors of the French Dauphin he hadn't considered being afraid of.

1608 - John Smith is elected the council president of the Jamestown colony in Virginia by virtue of being the only one who knows what the **** he's doing.

1823 - Peru names Simón Bolívar its president. The fact that he is already president of Gran Colombia is considered a minor detail.

1897 - 19 unarmed striking immigrant miners are shot to death by a sheriff and his posse in Lattimer, Pennsylvania. The sheriff and his deputies claim the strikers started running at them. One can see how that would be frightening: a bunch of guys running backwards at you. They'll all be acquitted of course. But why am I even bringing this up? It can't possibly be relevant to anything going on today.

1919 - Following peace with Germany via the Treaty of Versailles in June, the Allies make peace with Austria in the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye. Once again conspicuously absent: the United States. I'm sure they've just got a lot going on.

1939 - The first British submarine to be lost in WWII, the HMS Oxley, is accidentally sunk by another British submarine, the HMS Triton. Whoopsie.

1939 again - Canada, though they have not been personally attacked and are not likely to be, joins the war against Germany because that's just how they roll. There is an awkward moment as they prepare to ship out when they politely offer the Americans to the chance to go first, but are told, "No no, you guys go ahead. We'll catch up with you."

1949 - American pundit Bill O'Reilly is born. After several botched attempts at a C-section, his mother grew frustrated and shouted, "F*** it, we'll do it live!"

1960 - Ethiopian marathon runner Abebe Bikila becomes the first citizen of a Sub-Saharan country to win an Olympic gold medal. Not turned off by the fact that he ran the event without shoes, numerous athletic companies begin vying to sponsor his feet.

1974 - Guinea-Bissau attains its independence from Portugal, which I point out purely because I have yet to mention Guinea-Bissau in any of these.

1977 - France carries out its last execution by guillotine. When someone suggest doing away with the death penalty altogether, the French reply, "Well now, let's not lose our heads." Everyone has a good laugh.

2001 - The Mayor of Campinas, Brazil, Antônio da Costa Santos, is assassinated. This is likely to dominate the news cycle for at least the next couple of days.

2002 - Switzerland determines that neutrality does not preclude them from joining the UN and hanging out with all their friends.

2008 - The Large Hadron Collider is powered up at CERN in Geneva. A black hole forms and exterminates all life as we know it.

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On September 11 in History:

1297 - Scots let by William Wallace and Andrew Moray defeat the English at the Battle of Stirling Bridge. If you've never heard of that second guy, it's because Mel Gibson is an actor with a torture fetish, not a historian.

1609 - The Kingdom of Valencia in eastern Spain orders the expulsion of Moriscos, who were the descendants of former Muslims who had converted to Christianity during the earlier Inquisition. Some folks just can't catch a break.

1609 again - The people of Manhattan Island discover the existence of Europeans when a dude named Henry Hudson shows up.

1852 - Buenos Aires secedes from Argentina. It doesn't stick.

1893 - The first Parliament of the World's Religions is held in Chicago. It will be 100 years before the next one. Remarkably, it turns out accomplishing anything with a group of people who all by definition believe each other to be fundamentally wrong about the universe is a difficult proposition.

1939 - Canada formally declares war on Germany. This is the first time they get to make the decision for themselves instead of Britain making it for them. Ostensibly.

1978 - Janet Parker is the last person to die of smallpox. This is possible because the anti-vax movement does not yet exist.

2001 - A national tragedy involving nearly 3,000 deaths - not including those of people who gave their lives trying to help - is utilized by pundits and 24 hour news networks as a stepping stone to total domination of media discourse.

2012 - A U.S. diplomatic compound is attacked in Benghazi, Libya. The four victims are honored by being used as fuel for political attacks for years to come.

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15 hours ago, Illjwamh said:

1978 - Janet Parker is the last person to die of smallpox. This is possible because the anti-vax movement does not yet exist.

15 million cases per year, 300 to 500 million deaths in the 20th century (and that's with the disease being eradicated three-quarters of the way through the century).  Which would have continued if the anti-vaccination...people....had their way.

15 hours ago, Illjwamh said:

2001 - A national tragedy involving nearly 3,000 deaths - not including those of people who gave their lives trying to help - is utilized by pundits and 24 hour news networks as a stepping stone to total domination of media discourse.

Current official death toll of September 11 attacks:  2,975     (this includes rescuers, and does not include the 19 hijackers)

Current official death toll of Hurricane Maria on Puerto Rico:  2,975

I wonder how many memorials will be built in their honor, how many Presidential visits will be made, how many fellow Americans will put up flags all over the country to show support to the victims of Maria?

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12 September

490 BC – Battle of Marathon: The conventionally accepted date for the Battle of Marathon. Some sources insist that the date was a month earlier based on excuses the Spartans gave for not participating in the fight.  The Athenians and their Plataean allies defeat the first Persian invasion force of Greece.  This proved  two things to the Greeks.  First, the Persians were not invincible.  Second, the other Greek states could defend themselves without relying on or submitting to Sparta.

1213 – Albigensian Crusade: Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester, defeats Peter II of Aragon at the Battle of Muret.  This was A Crusade where French Nobles didn't need to leave their home country or learn a foreign language.  Plus they could still kill people to claim their victim's property with the blessings of the Church.

1846 – Elizabeth Barrett elopes with Robert Browning.  Someone should write a poem about this.

1847 – Mexican–American War: the Battle of Chapultepec begins.  Despite heavy losses, US Marines are victorious in a battle near an old Aztec fortress.  Someone should write a song about this.

1933 – Leó Szilárd, waiting for a red light on Southampton Row in Bloomsbury, conceives the idea of the nuclear chain reaction.  Designing the atomic bomb because he was stuck in traffic.  This is the ultimate case of road rage.

1940 – Old graffiti is discovered in caves near Lascaux, France.  Some see it as a treasure of prehistoric art.  Others see it as a lot of bull.

1953 – U.S. Senator and future President John Fitzgerald Kennedy marries Jacqueline Lee Bouvier at St. Mary's Church in Newport, Rhode Island.

1958 – Jack Kilby demonstrates the first working integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments.  That circuit was integrated without a court order and without the protection of Federal Marshals.

1962 – On their ninth anniversary, President Kennedy is overheard paraphrasing Jackie Gleason's "To the Moon" line to his wife, Jackie, at Rice University.   Improvising, he expands this comment into the "We choose to go to the Moon" speech.

1966 – Gemini 11, the penultimate mission of NASA's Gemini program.  This flight reaches an altitude of 739 nautical miles, and remains the current human altitude record holder.  Except, of course, for the Apollo missions that went to the Moon.  This is less than the drive from Detroit to Winnipeg or Pensacola.  Less than the distance from Copenhagen to Monaco.  Closer than Alexandria to Baghdad.

1983 – A Wells Fargo depot in West Hartford, Connecticut, United States, is robbed of approximately US$7 million by Los Macheteros.  People robbing Wells Fargo?  This was 1983, not 1893.

1983 – The USSR vetoes a United Nations Security Council Resolution deploring the Soviet destruction of Korean Air Lines Flight 007.  Apparently nothing you do is deplorable as long as you have a Veto on the UN Security council.

1992 – In a desperate bid to prove their inclusiveness, NASA launches Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-47 which marked the 50th shuttle mission. On board are Mae Carol Jemison, the first African-American woman in space, Mamoru Mohri, the first Japanese citizen to fly in a US spaceship, and Mark Lee and Jan Davis, the first married couple in space.

Edited by Pharaoh RutinTutin
Useful Detail Added

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13 September

509 BC – The Temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on Rome's Capitoline Hill is dedicated.  It can also transform into a tractor-trailer or a large humanoid robot.

1437 – Battle of Tangier: a Portuguese expeditionary force initiates a failed attempt to seize the Moroccan citadel of Tangier.  Next time, the Portuguese Navy should just buy a few tangerine trees.  They will grow almost anywhere in greenhouses.

1541 – After three years of exile, John Calvin returns to Geneva to reform the church under a body of doctrine known as Calvinism.  Almost as if he was predestined to lead this reformation...

1743 – Great Britain, Austria and the Kingdom of Sardinia sign the Treaty of Worms.  This treaty was one of the worst diplomatic moves Britain ever made.  But I will take any opportunity to mention the City of Worms.

1791 – King Louis XVI of France accepts the new constitution.  A nice gesture.  But probably too little, too late.

1814 – In a turning point in the War of 1812, the British fail to capture Baltimore. During the battle, Francis Scott Key composes his poem "Defence of Fort McHenry", which is later set to music and becomes the United States' national anthem.  But there had to be better tunes that could fit the meter of the poem.  Singing John Stafford Smith's Anacreontic Song is not as easy as entwining the myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's vine.

1848 – Vermont railroad worker Phineas Gage survives an iron rod 1 1⁄4 inches (3.2 cm) in diameter being driven through his brain; the reported effects on his behavior and personality stimulate thinking about the nature of the brain and its functions.  One of the first assumptions to be challenged is that a human brain through which an iron rod has been driven can not function.

1899 – Henry Bliss is the first person in the United States to be killed in an automobile accident.  He would not be the last.

1985 – Super Mario Bros. is released in Japan for the Famicom (NES), which starts the Super Mario series of platforming games.  If human history somehow survives this, it has a chance of surviving anything.

1987 – Goiânia accident: A radioactive object is stolen from an abandoned hospital in Goiânia, Brazil, contaminating many people in the following weeks and causing some to die from radiation poisoning.  Turns out that radioactive material does not stop being radioactive when you are done using it.  Who knew?

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14 September

1656 – Birth of Thomas Baker, English historian and author.  Official records state that he died in 1746.  But we know that Tom Baker is just one alias for a historical expert with a unique perspective.

1741 – George Frideric Handel completes his oratorio Messiah.  The work would not premier until the next April.  Which means that the Christmas of 1741 was the last time no one demanded that the Hallelujah Chorus be included in the Christmas Concert.

1752 – In the last step of a process that had taken almost two years, the British Empire adopts the Gregorian calendar by skipping eleven days (the previous day was September 2).  Of course, no where in the legislation is the Gregorian Calendar specifically mentioned.  This was entirely an original idea on the part of the British Parliament that just happened to synchronize their dates to the calendar being used in the rest of Western Europe.

1812 – Napoleonic Wars: The French Grande Armée enters Moscow. The Fire of Moscow begins as soon as Russian troops leave the city.  And if we are to believe Tchaikovsky, both the French and Russian army bands were forced to replace their regular percussion with artillery.

1954 – In a top secret nuclear test, a Soviet Tu-4 bomber drops a 40 kiloton atomic weapon just north of Totskoye village.  Not to get too nitpicky, but, if we know about it, was it really "Top Secret"?

1956 – The IBM 305 RAMAC is introduced, the first commercial computer to use disk storage.  Up until this point, the only disk concerns with computers would be the swollen disks between the vertebrae of the people trying to move those early computers.

1959 – According to the official records, the Soviet probe Luna 2 crashes onto the Moon, becoming the first man-made object to reach it.  But how did Beethoven write the Moonlight Sonata without going there?

1975 – The first American saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton, is canonized by Pope Paul VI.  Apparently, deceased American Catholics are not causing enough miraculous intercessions to get noticed by the Vatican.  Even after you're dead, you can still help your country.

2007 – Financial crisis of 2007–2008: The Northern Rock bank experiences the first bank run in the United Kingdom in 150 years.  But according to Mary Poppins, there was a run on a bank in London in 1910.  Please don't make me chose between encyclopaedical or Disney history.

2015 – The first observation of gravitational waves was made.  But the official announcement by the teams studying the LIGO and Virgo collaborations was not made until 11 February 2016.  Deliberately checking data for months before making a significant announcement?  What would happen if politicians and mainstream news sources got into that kind of habit?

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1 hour ago, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

Deliberately checking data for months before making a significant announcement?  What would happen if politicians and mainstream news sources got into that kind of habit?

They would turn into Bob Woodward.

This might not be a bad thing.

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14 September

1814 – British forces fail to batter Ft. McHenry into submission. This inspires a lawyer named Key to write a poem. It is fairly successful, as poems set to the tune of old drinking songs go.

Edited by Amiable Dorsai
Wanted better wording

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On September 15 in History:

668 - Byzantine emperor Constans II is assassinated in Syracuse while taking a bath. With a bucket. Looks like this time, the bucket...kicked him. YEEEEEEAAAAAAAHHH!

1795 - The British take control of the Dutch Cape Colony. Not because they need it or anything; they just don't want the Dutch to have it.

1812 - Napoleon and his men capture the Kremlin in Moscow. Victory at last!

1821 - Guatemala declares independence from Spain. The Spanish are so used to this by this point that they barely even care.

1835 - Charles Darwin arrives in the Galápagos Islands. I hope he gets to see some of the wildlife. I hear they're lovely over there.

1916 - Tanks are used in battle for the first time by the British at the Somme. It's all a bunch of fiddle-faddle, if you ask me. Nothing will ever beat a good, old-fashioned cavalry charge. Tally-ho!

1935 - Germany adopts a new flag, oh and by the way Jews aren't citizens anymore. The flag is mostly red, if you were wondering. Have a lovely day!

1952 - The UN gives control of Eritrea to Ethiopia. In hindsight, they probably should have asked the Eritreans about this.

2000 - The first Summer Olympic Games to take place in winter begin.

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16 September

1620 – Pilgrims set sail from England on the Mayflower...  Skip ahead a few years...  So now a New York department store holds a parade to advertise Christmas shopping while the rest of America eats a turkey late in November.

1701 – James Francis Edward Stuart, sometimes called the "Old Pretender", becomes the Jacobite claimant to the thrones of England and Scotland.  Guys, "what-if" games are a fine academic exercise.   But by the Eighteenth Century, Britain was already more "Parliamentary" than "Monarchy".  Parliament said that the crown would pass through Sophia of Hanover instead of any other descendant of that King they named after the Bible.  Holding your breath until you're as blue as the Nile won't make the government drop what they're doing and put you in charge.

1810 – With the Grito de Dolores, the Cry of Dolores,  Father Miguel Hidalgo begins Mexico's fight for independence from Spain.  A few people in the Spanish government begin to question if perhaps they should have saved some of that gold they had been looting from the Americas rather than spend it on European wars as soon as they moved it over the Atlantic.

1893 – Settlers make a land run for prime land in the Cherokee Strip in Oklahoma.  This is the fourth and largest of the Oklahoma homesteading land runs.  And once again "Sooners", or settlers entering the designated territory before the event officially began, claim much of the best land.  A majority of the legitimate participants were unable to secure claims for  themselves.

1908 – The General Motors Corporation is founded. "...what was good for our country was good for General Motors, and vice versa." Charles E. Wilson, GM CEO, 1952, in Confirmation hearings before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

1920 – The Wall Street bombing: A bomb in a horse wagon explodes in front of the J. P. Morgan building in New York City killing 38 people and injuring 40.  The property damage, other than the horse and wagon, was mostly superficial.  The human victims were mostly young messengers, clerks, and stenographers.  It is suspected that the perpetrator was an anti-capitalist agitator.  Possibly Communist or Anarchist.  Unfortunately for the bomber, the most wealthy and powerful capitalists escaped injury.  Unfortunately for justice, New York's zeal to clean up the mess and get back to work the next day wound up destroying most of the evidence so no particular culprit was ever identified or prosecuted.

1945 – World War II: The Japanese occupation of Hong Kong comes to an end.  Is it possible they some how didn't get word that the rest of the Japanese Empire had already surrendered two weeks ago?

1955 – The military coup to unseat President Juan Perón of Argentina is launched at midnight.  Don't cry for me, Argentina.  And while you're at it, don't shoot or arrest me either.

1961 – The United States National Hurricane Research Project drops eight cylinders of silver iodide into the eyewall of Hurricane Esther. Wind speed happens to fall by 10%, giving rise to Project Stormfury.  Fidel Castro and a generation of conspiracy theorists are convinced that the US Government is controlling hurricanes as weapons.  The US Government, in actual reality, is forced to concede a point that the legitimate meteorologists claimed all along.  Humans can't control hurricanes.  A terrifying prospect.

1966 – The Metropolitan Opera House opens at Lincoln Center in New York City with the world premiere of Samuel Barber's opera Antony and Cleopatra.  Why must so many Operas about Egypt revolve around that Ptolemaic Queen?  Sneferu led quite the colorful life.  And Imhotep more than deserves artistic recognition.  Cleo just accelerated the end of both an independent Egypt and the Republic of Rome.

1976 – Armenian champion swimmer Shavarsh Karapetyan saves 20 people from a trolleybus that had fallen into a Yerevan reservoir.  Injuries and infections from this event end his competitive career.  The title "Hero" is used a lot in sports.  So often that many people forget what it is actually supposed to mean.

1987 – The Montreal Protocol is signed to protect the ozone layer from depletion.  This is good news indeed.  Now can someone pass the SPF One Million Sunblock?

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On September 17 in History:

1382 - Mary, daughter of Louis the Great, is crowned King of Hungary (as opposed to Queen). Once again, a ruler with a pretend penis is deemed preferable to one with a real vagina.

1630 - Boston, Massachusetts is founded. Suck it, Quebec.

1775 - While in the midst of Revolutioning, the U.S. decides to give invading Canada a try. It goes about as well as one might expect.

1778 - The first official treaty between the new U.S. government and a Native American tribe (the Lenape). The American signatories manage to violate it while still writing their names.

1787 - The U.S. Constitution is signed in Philadelphia. Rushed to release, it garners many complaints and work begins almost immediately on a patch.

1849 - Harriet Tubman escapes from slavery. She was so good at it that she goes back and does it again multiple times, presumably just to rub in the faces of the the slave-catchers just how bad they are at catching her, and maybe to also bring some other people along for the ride. Super badass either way, really.

1862 - The Battle of Antietam is the bloodiest single day in American military history. Both sides recoil in horror at the carnage, and the realization of what they have become; peace talks begin immediately. Nah, I'm just kidding. They keep fighting for three more years.

1862 still - Also an arsenal explodes in Pittsburgh, so a lot of civilians die, too. Kind of a shit day all around, really.

1916 - An allied pilot is shot down in France by some guy in a garishly red triplane. Spoiler alert: it won't be the last time.

1954 - William Golding's "The Lord of the Flies" is published. His use of young boys to illustrate the darkness that lives within us all is poignant and powerful, and is an excellent tool for teaching archetypes and symbolism. That is, unless you're a movie studio who missed the entire goddamn point of the whole thing.

1978 - Israel and Egypt sign the Camp David Accords, basically agreeing not to kill each other or steal each others' land anymore. I can't even be snarky about it, since it pretty much worked. I mean, unless you're Palestinian. Dammit.

2006 - A recording is leaked of the Hungarian prime minister admitting that his party lied in order to win the election. Protests spring up all over the country. This is contrary to the modern American reaction of, "And?"

2011 - Occupy Wall Street begins in Zuccotti Park in New York City. Goals include "Some stuff", and "Like, you know, whatever."

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17 September

 I can't believe you forgot the big one...

1859 – Joshua A. Norton contacts the newspapers of San Francisco, California, and declares himself "Norton I, Emperor of the United States."  Mainstream historians would later try to revise history by portraying the Emperor as insane.  But does declaring yourself a ruler without the support of the citizens, religion, military, or other politicians really mean that you are insane?

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18 September

1066 – Norwegian King Harald Hardrada (he also claimed the throne of Denmark and who knows what else) lands with Tostig Godwinson at the mouth of the Humber River and begins his invasion of England.  English forces eventually kill Hardrada at the Battle of Stamford Bridge and England's King Harold Godwinson keeps his crown.  Under most circumstances, repelling one foreign invader/usurper in a given year is more than enough.

1714 – George I arrives in Great Britain after becoming king on August 1st.  It took him a while to find his way since he had never been there before.

1837 – Tiffany & Co. (first named Tiffany & Young) is founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany and Teddy Young in New York City. The store is called a "stationery and fancy goods emporium".  They still deal in "Fancy Goods".

1919 – The Netherlands gives women the right to vote.  The Dutch Kingdom also gives women the right to pay their own way on a date.

1927 – The Columbia Broadcasting System goes on the air.  Despite what the name may suggest this is an English language radio, and later television, network operating in the USA.

1928 – Juan de la Cierva makes the first autogyro crossing of the English Channel.  Ok, the Autogyro may not be quite what Juan De La Cierva originally had in mind when he set out to design an aircraft that wouldn't stall at slow speeds.  And it may be so rarely used that spellcheck doesn't recognize the name "autogyro" as a standard English word.  But at least it still beats an Ornithopter.

1931 – The Mukden Incident gives Japan a pretext to invade and occupy Manchuria.  Manchuria, don't blame your self for "Giving Japan an Excuse".  If a country is looking for a pretext for military activity, they will usually find it.

1939 – World War II: The radio show Germany Calling begins transmitting Nazi propaganda.  Even with an announcer named Lord Haw Haw, the show really isn't all that funny.

1943 – World War II: Adolf Hitler orders the deportation of Danish Jews.  The orders didn't specify neutral Sweden as the destination.  But somehow that is where most of them went.

1945 – General Douglas MacArthur moves his command headquarters to Tokyo.  With the Japanese Emperor scheduled to renounce his divinity, MacArthur wanted to be in position to take up that mantle.

1948 – Operation Polo is terminated after the Indian Army accepts the surrender of the army of Hyderabad.  When Britain gave up its control over India and Pakistan, the so-called Princely States that were not directly controlled by Britain technically had the right to remain independent, or seek unification with India or Pakistan on their own terms.   Apparently India didn't agree with that part of the treaty.

2001 – The 2001 Anthrax attacks begin.  The enduring lesson is that using the US Postal Service may be the least effective way to spread Anthrax.

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1 hour ago, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

1943 – World War II: Adolf Hitler orders the deportation of Danish Jews.  The orders didn't specify neutral Sweden as the destination.  But somehow that is where most of them went.

An incredibly courageous German diplomat caught wind of what was going on and he and some of his friends risked their lives in getting word out before the operation started. Many Danish Jews quietly prepared for flight. On the night between October 1 and October 2, 1943 the Nazis started their action but only caught 500 Danish Jews, or about 5% of the total. The rest managed to escape to Sweden or simply to stay hidden in the time that followed.

I have mentioned that my own family was part of this. My uncle Per was only a few months old, and my grandfather and grandmother did not dare to bring him along for fear that his crying would bring the Nazis down on them. Instead my family's beloved and loyal nanny Gerda took charge of him and went out of town, pretending that he was her own. My grandparents and my eight year old father then went to the coast hoping to find transport across the Sound. They could not find a vessel willing to carry them but managed to buy a leaky rowboat for the exorbitant price of five thousand crowns, or roughly thirty to fifty thousand dollars in today's currency. The rowboat nearly sank and one time they feared they had been turned around, but they finally reached Sweden. Fortunately they were not greeted by a Nazi-sympathising government that separated my father from his parents and sent him to a children's internment camp. I am very thankful for that.

Faithful Gerda stayed hidden for three months but rumour got around that she was hiding a Jewish baby and she was forced to flee. She managed to reach Sweden and started to search for my grandparents. Once again, the Swedes did not seize my uncle and send him to a holding facility for refugee babies. And after many weeks of searching she found my grandparents and my father. It was an emotional reunion and Gerda was part of my family for the rest of her life.

Of course, this would have been impossible without the cooperation of many Danish politicians, police officers and civilians. Fortunately not all of the fleeing families had to deal with greedy war profiteers to escape. And happily and importantly, when it became possible to return home to Denmark again, the way opened by the Allied soldiers who fought so long and hard to destroy the Nazi abomination, Danish Jews were welcomed home. My own family found their apartment completely untouched if a bit dusty. All that was missing was a bottle of brandy that the janitor had availed himself of, and given how well he had taken care of everything my family hardly begrudged him that.

I owe my life and freedom to the German officials who leaked a warning of the upcoming purge, to the Danish politicians who quietly spread the word, to all the people who aided in the flight, to the Swedes who so generously gave shelter to my family and so many others, and of course to the efforts of the American and English soldiers -- and to all the Americans and English who worked so hard and paid so much back in their homes. My wife's grandfather, a Captain in the U. S. Corps of Engineers, fought his way from D-Day to Berlin, missing only the Ardennes offensive because he was on Christmas leave. It was a privilege to have known him. (Lord, but the man hated Nazis. I find it hard to blame him.)

This story is very much on my mind these days. I apologise for rambling about it, but I feel better with it out here. Thank you all.

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Avast and heave to ye scurvy dogs.  It be the nineteenth of Septembarrrr.  Talk Like A Pirate Day.

Aye, and some otharrrr things happened on this here day in history.  Here be a few...

1676 – Jamestown is burned to the ground by the forces of Nathaniel Bacon during Bacon's Rebellion.  But Bacon is good.  Bacon makes everything better.  Bacon is our delicious friend...

1778 – The Continental Congress passes the first United States federal budget.  Majority side, "We did the best we could with what we had".  Minority side, "You squandered resources from your children's children".  Repeat annually for the next 240 years.

1952 – The United States bars Charlie Chaplin from re-entering the country after a trip to England. Apparently Joseph McCarthy and/or J Edgar Hoover were not fans.

1982 – The Death of Language – Scott Fahlman posts the first documented emoticons :-) and :-( on the Carnegie Mellon University bulletin board system.  :(

1985 – Tipper Gore and other political wives form the Parents Music Resource Center as Frank Zappa and other musicians testify at U.S. Congressional hearings on obscenity in rock music.  This is why relatives of politicians need real jobs.  Otherwise they try to do what their spouses, siblings, or parents were elected or appointed to do, and usually with less than desirable results.

1991 – Ötzi the Iceman is discovered in the Alps on the border between Italy and Austria.  It doesn't matter if they seal you in a pyramid or a glacier.  If you leave an well preserved corpse, someone is bound to think that you should be a scientific specimen.

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42 minutes ago, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

1991 – Ötzi the Iceman is discovered in the Alps on the border between Italy and Austria.  It doesn't matter if they seal you in a pyramid or a glacier.  If you leave an well preserved corpse, someone is bound to think that you should be a scientific specimen.

Look, I apologised already and I promise I won't let any more von Dänikenites in to look for alien technology in your pyramid. The last batch was a mistake anyway.

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On September 20 in History:
1066 - Harald Hardrada defeats English defenders at the Battle of Fulford to kick off his invasion. Looks like we'll all be speaking Norwegian soon.
1187 - Saladin begins his siege of Jerusalem, as the never-ending tog-o-war for this one patch of dirt in the middle of nowhere continues. Orlando Bloom defends.
1378 - Cardinal Robert of Geneva is elected Pope, despite the one small detail of there already being a Pope.
1498 - A tsunami washes away the temple at Kōtoku-in in Kamakura, leaving the bronze Great Buddha statue exposed to the elements. They'll want to get to work on a replacement structure for it right away.
1519 - Ferdinand Magellan sets sail from Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Destination: Sanlúcar de Barrameda. They'll take the long way.
1835 - The adorably-named Ragamuffin War begins when rebels in the province of Rio Grande de Sul, attempting to secede from the Empire of Brazil, capture the town of Porto Alegre. Little rascals.
1870 - Rome is captured, completing the unification of Italy. This is a nice call-back to the original unification of the peninsula two millennia before, which started in Rome.
1911 - The White Star Line's HMS Olympic accidentally collides with warship HMS Hawke, but stays afloat and manages to return to port. Told you it was unsinkable. Now lets get its sister ships up and running.
1946 - The first film festival at Cannes is held. They meant to start seven years ago, but you know know. Nazis. Bloody ruin everything, don't they?
1973 - 55 year old Bobby Riggs confidently asserts that women can't play tennis. Billie Jean King tells him to shut up.
1990 - South Ossetia declares independence from Georgia. "We'll get back to you," replies the rest of the world.
2001 - The United States declares war on an abstract concept. Swift victory will surely follow.
2010 - Gym teacher Leonard Skinner dies. He's as free as a bird now.
2017 - Hurricane Maria strikes the island of Puerto Rico, resulting in roughly 3,000 deaths and $90 billion in damage. "We'll get back to you," replies the U.S. government.

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21 September

1170 – The Kingdom of Dublin falls to Norman invaders.  The Vikings keep declining rematch offers from the Fighting Irish.

1435 – The Congress of Arras causes Burgundy to switch sides in the Hundred Years' War.  Wait a minute.  Congress can just tell countries to switch sides in a war and they'll do it?  We could legislate world peace and all it would take is for a majority of both houses to agree... OK, I see the problem.

1745 – A Hanoverian army is defeated, in ten minutes, by the Jacobite forces of Prince Charles Edward Stuart.  A little appreciated aspect of German efficiency.  If you're going to lose, you are better off losing quickly and getting on with the rest of your day.

1780 – American Revolutionary War: Benedict Arnold gives the British the plans to West Point.  Giving the West Point plans to the British was Treason.  But at least he didn't give the West Point plans to the Naval Academy.  That would be Blasphemy.

1792 – French Revolution: The National Convention abolishes the monarchy and ends the Gregorian calendar.  Neither decision lasts.

1937 – J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, or There and Back Again, is published.  Although if Bilbo's Hobbit nature had been portrayed accurately, the novel would have been Here and Here Again Without Going There.

1964 – The North American XB-70 Valkyrie, the world's fastest bomber, makes its maiden flight from Palmdale, California.  Nearly everyone in the military concedes that it was obsolete before it was built.  The landing gear would not retract when it was flown from the manufacturer to the Air Force, so the Mach 3 fighter's maiden flight was under 400 mph.

1967 – Fred McFeely Rogers begins taping the first episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood at WQED, Pittsburgh.  Throwing horse shoes had been a game for centuries.  Who knew it could be fun to throw human shoes?

2003 – The Galileo spacecraft is terminated by sending it into Jupiter's atmosphere.  Apparently NASA did not want to litter on any of Jupiter's moons.  But Jupiter itself is big enough that no one will notice if we seep an old satellite under the Great Red Spot.

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20 hours ago, Illjwamh said:
2001 - The United States declares war on an abstract concept. Swift victory will surely follow.

Yes, just like the war on certain chemicals, officially declared by President Nixon.

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22 September

1598 – English playwright Ben Jonson kills actor Gabriel Spenser in a duel and is indicted for manslaughter.  Johnson confesses to the deed, but avoids hanging by claiming "Benefit of the Clergy" by being able to read.  So his thumb is branded.

1692 – The last hanging of those convicted of witchcraft in the Salem witch trials; others are all eventually released.  Someone confessed to murder, and they let him off with just branding his thumb.  But a scared teenaged girl accused several people of witchcraft, without any evidence that would be admissible in a regular court, and many of them are hanged?  Hate to say it, but the Salem colony needed...MORE LAWYERS!  By all that is merciful and good, may I be forgiven for telling the truth as I have seen it.

1776 – Nathan Hale is hanged for spying during the American Revolution.  Turns out he did only have one live to give for his country, or anything else for that matter.

1789 – The office of United States Postmaster General is established.  Benjamin Franklin really was the very model of the modern Postmaster General.

1791 – Birth of Michael Faraday, English physicist and chemist (d. 1867).  Had a goofy idea that light, electricity, and magnetism were all some how the same thing.  Crazy.

1888 – The first issue of National Geographic Magazine is published.  And it's still sitting under a stack of the other old National Geographics in grandma's garage because someone might need them someday.

1892 – Lindal Railway Incident, a locomotive and quite a bit of track collapse in a sink hole.  No one is hurt, but it does disrupt transportation for quite a while. And of course rumors abound making the event seem far more destructive that it actually was.  This provides inspiration for "The Lost Special" by A.C. Doyle.  It is also, somehow, inspiration for the TV show, Lost.  For this reason alone, we should dig up that old engine and show that it was an ordinary accident.  No mystical or sci-fi shenanigans involved here.

1927 – Jack Dempsey loses the "Long Count" boxing match to Gene Tunney.  When the referee tells you to go to a neutral   corner, GO THERE AND STAY THERE until the referee says otherwise.

1939 – World War II: A joint German–Soviet military parade in Brest-Litovsk is held to celebrate the successful invasion of Poland.  Good to see old friends getting along so well after a shared victory.  I'm sure nothing will come between them.

1948 – Gail Halvorsen officially started parachuting candy to children as part of the Berlin Air lift.  The coal and grain are useful to the citizens of Berlin.  But little packs of chocolate and chewing gum dropped at random across the besieged city have an incalculable symbolic value.

1979 – A bright flash, resembling the detonation of a nuclear weapon, is observed near the Prince Edward Islands.  The Prince Edward Islands near Antarctica, not the PEI of the Canadian Maritimes. Its cause is never determined.  There are several compelling hypothesis.  But proving any of them would mean confirming that certain countries that were not supposed to have nuclear weapons were in fact testing nuclear weapons.

1991 – The Dead Sea Scrolls are made available to the public for the first time.  But before you check them out, consider what they charge as over due fines.  If you have to ask, you can't afford it,

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7 hours ago, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

1888 – The first issue of National Geographic Magazine is published.  And it's still sitting under a stack of the other old National Geographics in grandma's garage because someone might need them someday.

You can actually buy replicas of it, or read a digital copy of it as part of the "Complete National Geographic" collection... (SPOILER: That issue is incredibly boring.)

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23 September

99 Days in the Year left to go
99 Days in the Year...

1338 – The Battle of Arnemuiden was the first naval battle of the Hundred Years' War and the first naval battle using gunpowder artillery.  How many millennia of Human History at sea, and NOTHING went BOOM until less than 700 years ago?

1459 – The Battle of Blore Heath, the first major battle of the English Wars of the Roses, takes place.  Everybody loved the petals.  But when it came time to fight, the thorns won the day.

1641 – The Merchant Royal, carrying a treasure of over 100,000 pounds of gold (worth over £1 billion today), is lost at sea off Land's End.  Wait a minute!  We KNOW there is fifty TONS of gold off the coast of Land's End?  Why hasn't someone drained the Atlantic to get it yet?

1642 – First commencement exercises occur at Harvard College.  The first commencement speaker should be wrapping up his speech any year now.

1780 – American Revolution: British Major John André is arrested as a spy by American soldiers exposing Benedict Arnold's change of sides.  Remember kids, if you want to commit high treason, don't let anyone who might talk know about it.

1806 – Lewis and Clark return to St. Louis after exploring the Pacific Northwest of the United States.  They fail to find the North West Passage.  But they do inspire the name for a Soap-Opera version of the Superman Story.

1846 – Astronomers Urbain Jean Joseph Le Verrier, John Couch Adams and Johann Gottfried Galle collaborate on the discovery of Neptune.  But they did it the hard way with math and telescopes.  All they had to do was join the Navy, then they would have discovered Neptune as soon as they crossed the Equator.

1889 – Nintendo Koppai (Later Nintendo Company, Limited) is founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi to produce and market the playing card game Hanafuda.  How does one go from printing playing cards to destroying human civilization in less than a century?

1909 – The novel Le Fantôme de l'Opéra (The Phantom of the Opera), by Gaston Leroux, is published as a serialization in Le Gaulois.  Who knew that the story of a maimed drama nut would translate so well from magazines to books to any number of other languages to silent film to talkies to Broadway?

1913 – Roland Garros of France becomes the first to fly in an airplane across the Mediterranean (from St. Raphael in France to Bizerte, Tunisia).  And for this, he becomes the muddiest of all the major tennis tournaments.

1938 – The Czechoslovak army is mobilized in response to the Munich Agreement.  This mobilization, along with the concessions to Germany and the guarantee of Neville Chamberlain should be more than enough to ensure the safety and security of Czechoslovakia.

1962 – The Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts opens in New York City.  Because "Lincoln" is exactly the thought you want at a theatre.

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1 hour ago, Pharaoh RutinTutin said:

1338 – The Battle of Arnemuiden was the first naval battle of the Hundred Years' War and the first naval battle using gunpowder artillery.  How many millennia of Human History at sea, and NOTHING went BOOM until less than 700 years ago?

Now that's just not true. Ships managed their foresails with booms long before that.

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On September 24 in History:

768 - Frankish king Pepin the Short dies. I hope his sons are up to the challenge or this kingdom could fall apart really fast.

787 - A bunch of dudes in funny hats gather in Nicaea (again) to discuss how to Christian. On the docket: veneration of icons. On the one hand, pretty sure there's a relevant commandment about that, but on the other hand, hells yeah!

1572 - Túpac Amaru, the last king of the Inca, is executed by the Spanish. Conspiracy theories that he's still alive about, though admittedly become less and less credible with each passing year.

1830 - Two distinct culture groups stitched together Frankenstein style form the provisional government of Belgium. This will work splendidly.

1877 - The Battle of Shiroyama cements the new order in Japan over the old samurai traditions. Contrary to popular belief, Tom Cruise was not a samurai, and the "last" refers to the group (plural) he fought with.

1890 - Mormons officially denounce polygamy (though a small number continue to practice it on the DL for a while longer) because they really want Utah to be a state.

1948 - The civic-minded Honda Motor Company makes an accord with the public to sell them fit automobiles that will shuttle them about the city. I am so sorry.

1957 - President Eisenhower has had it with Arkansas governor Orval Faubus's bullshit.

1973 - Guinea Bissau declares independence from Portugal. If you read these regularly, you'll know they'll need to wait almost a year before they get it. South Ossetia plays the world's smallest violin.

1991 - They brought in the experts from medical college, who doctored and nursed with all of their knowledge. They tested with chemo and lots of bed rest, they tried litting puffbeezers sit on his chest. But no matter the method, there just was no answer, Theodore Geisel has perished from cancer. And think now of this, and think of it well, for just one cheap laugh I'll now be roasting in hell.

1993 - Norodom Sihanouk is crowned king of Cambodia, a position he himself abdicated and dissolved 38 years prior. In the interim, he has served as Cambodia's prime minister, leader of its single ruling party, official head of state, leader of its government in exile, right hand figurehead to Pol Pot, leader of an exiled resistance group, head of state again, and finally president. "I wish I knew how to quit you, Cambodia."

2014 - India is the first nation on Earth to put something into Mars orbit on their first try. Unfortunately, the best joke I could think of for this would probably be at least a little bit racist.

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