31 October 2009

Daily Chat 31/10/09

Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg church in 1517.  A cyclone devastated India, killing more than 200,000 in 1876.  The Lincoln Highway, the first national highway to be built for automobiles in the United States, was dedicated in 1913.  It was 5454 kilometres long and stretched from Times Square in New York to Lincoln Park in San Francisco.  The Battle of Britain ended in 1940.  Stalin's body was removed from Lenin's Tomb in 1961 and Louise Woodward was convicted of second degree manslaughter in 1997.

Born today:  Johannes/Jan Vermeer (1632-1675), John Keats (1795-1821), Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975), Dale Evans (1912-2001), Jimmy Savile (1926), Kinky Friedman (1944), Michael Kitchen (1948), Larry Mullen, Jr. (1961), Johnny Marr (1963) and Marco van Basten (1964).

It is Halloween, Samhain or (if you're Cornish) Calan Gwaf.

30 October 2009

Daily Chat 30/10/09

Guangzhou was sacked by Arab and Persian pirates in 758.  Prince Wilhelm of Denmark became George I, King of the Hellenes, in 1863.  Orson Welles's radio broadcast of H.G. Wells's War of the Worlds created panic in several locations across the United States in 1938, as listeners thought they were hearing a real news broadcast.  Jackie Robinson, of the Negro League's Kansas City Monarchs, signed a contract to play with the Brooklyn Dodgers, becoming the first black player in American Major League baseball, in 1945.

Born today:  John Adams (1735-1826), Richard Sheridan (1751-1816), Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881), Alfred Sisley (1839-1899), Ezra Pound (1885-1972), Anna Wing (1919), Louis Malle (1932-1995), Grace Slick (1939), Henry Winkler (1945), Diego Maradona (1960) and Gavin Rossdale (1967).

It is the feast day of St. Serapion of Antioch.

29 October 2009

Daily Chat 29/10/09

Three people were killed as a result of the first trial for witchcraft in Paris in 1390.  Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded for allegedly plotting against James I in 1618. Mozart's Don Giovanni had its debut in Prague in 1787. Tanganyika and Zanzibar united to form Tanzania in 1964.

Born today:  Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002), Bob Ross (1942-1995), Denny Laine (1944), Richard Dreyfuss (1947), Dan Castellaneta (1957), Rufus Sewell (1967) and Edwin van der Sar (1970).

It is Republic Day in Turkey.

28 October 2009

Daily Chat 28/10/09

The first university in the New World, Universidad Santó Tomas de Aquino, was founded in what is now the Dominican Republic in 1538.  It closed in 1832.  The college that would become Harvard University was founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1636.  The first train in Spain, between Barcelona and Mataró, opened in 1848.  No clue whether that's on a plain or if there was rain.  The Statue of Liberty was dedicated in New York harbour in 1886.  Mussolini and the Fascists (sounds almost like a band) took over the Italian government in 1922.

Born today:  Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883), Elsa Lanchester (1902-1986), Evelyn Waugh (1903-1966), Cleo Laine (1927), Joan Plowright (1929), David Dimbleby (1938), the Anti-Chri, er, Bill Gates (1955), Mahmoud Ahmedinejad (1956) and Julia Roberts (1967).

It is Oxi Day in Greece.

27 October 2009

Daily Chat 27/10/09

The Saracens invaded Sardinia in 710.  Amsterdam was founded in 1275.  Philadelphia was founded in 1682.  The British government deregulated financial markets in 1986 and in 1999, gunmen stormed the Armenian Parliament, killing Prime Minister Vazgen Sargsyan and seven others.

Born today:  Erasmus (1466-1536), James Cook (1728-1779), Niccolo Paganini (1782-1840), Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919), Dylan Thomas (1914-1953), Oliver Tambo (1917-1993), Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997), Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), John Cleese (1939), Lula daSilva (1945), Roberto Benigni (1952), Peter Firth (1953), Glenn Hoddle (1957), Simon leBon (1958), Scott Weiland (1967), Kelly Osborne (1984) and my nephew Eric (1988).

It is Independence Day in Turkmenistan.

26 October 2009

Daily Chat 26/10/09

The Treaty of Ripon was signed in 1640.  The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral was fought in 1881.  Norway became independent from Sweden in 1905.  The Australian government returned ownership of Uluru to the Pitjantjatjara in 1985 and the House of Lords voted to end the right of hereditary peers to vote.

Born today:  Domenico Scarlatti (1685-1757), Mahalia Jackson (1911-1972), François Mitterand (1916-1996), Bob Hoskins (1942) and Hillary Rodham Clinton (1947).

It is Labour Day in New Zealand.

25 October 2009

Daily Chat 25/10/09

Sorry for the delay -- I've been having some technical difficulties.

Battle of Agincourt in 1415.  Battle of Balaclava in 1854.  The Red Guard took the Winter Palace in 1914.  The Zinoviev Letter was published in the Daily Mail in 1924.  The US invaded Grenada in 1983.

Born today:  Georges Bizet (1838-1875), Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Nancy Cartwright (1957).

It is Republic Day in Kazakhstan.

24 October 2009

Daily Chat 24/10/09

Chartres Cathedral was dedicated in 1260.  Sheffield F.C. was founded in 1857.  The first transcontinental telegraph in the U.S. was completed in 1861.  Goodison Park, the first purpose-built association football stadium, was opened in 1892.  The Black Thursday crash of the New York Stock Exchange occured in 1929.  Concorde made its last commercial flight in 2003.

Born today:  Denise Levertov (1923-1997), Bill Wyman (1936), Kevin Kline (1947) and Wayne Rooney (1985).

It is United Nations Day.

23 October 2009

Daily Chat 23/10/09

Mark Antony and Octavian defeated Brutus in the Second Battle of Philippi in 42 BC.  The first treaty between Scotland and France against England was signed in Paris in 1295.  The Battle of Edgehill was fought in 1642.  The first National Convention on Women's Rights was held in Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1850.  The UN General Assembly met for the first time in an auditorium in Flushing, New York, in 1946.  The iPod was introduced in 2001.

Born today:  Ted Fujita (1920-1998), Johnny Carson (1925-2005), Diana Dors (1931-1984), Pélé (1940), Kim Larsen (1945), Ang Lee (1954) and Cat Deeley (1976).

It is Mole Day in North America.  A unit of measure, apparently.  Not a burrowing mammal.  Not an excess of melanin.  Not even a Mexican sauce.  It's more than my unscientific brain can explain.

22 October 2009

Daily Chat 22/10/09

In 1383, a two year-long civil war was sparked in Portugal when King Fernando died with no male heir.  André-Jacques Garnerin made the world's first recorded parachute descent in the Parc Monceau in 1797.  Sam Houston became the first president of the Republic of Texas in 1836.  The Cuban Missile Crisis began in 1962, when President John F. Kennedy announced that surveillance planes had found Soviet nuclear weapons in Cuba.

Born today:  Franz Liszt (1811-1886), Doris Lessing (1919), Bobby Seale (1936), Derek Jacobi (1938), Catherine Deneuve (1943), Arsène Wenger (1949) and Jeff Goldblum (1952).

The Syriac Orthodox Church will be observing the feast of Aaron the Illustrious today.

21 October 2009

Daily Chat 21/10/09

Magellan discovered his strait in 1520.  There was some sea battle in 1805.  Tralfamadore?  Traffic Cone?  Maybe you've heard about it before.  And French women were allowed to vote in 1945.

Born today:  Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), Alfred Nobel (1833-1896), Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993), Ursula LeGuin (1929), Geoff Boycott (1940), Peter Mandelson (1953), Carrie Fisher (1956), Julian Cope (1957) and Paul Ince (1967).

While Britain is celebrating nice, healthy Apple Day, we here in North America will be observing the International Day of the Nacho.  Ours is tastier.

20 October 2009

Daily Chat 20/10/09

The United States Senate ratified the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.  Galatasaray SK was formed in 1905.  The Long March ended in 1935 and, boy, were Mao's feet tired.  Jacqueline Kennedy married Aristotle Onassis in 1968.  The Sydney Opera House opened in 1973 and tragedy struck a UEFA Cup match at Lenin Stadium in Moscow between FC Spartak and HFC Haarlem in 1983.  Spartak supporters were crushed as some who had been leaving the stadium turned around to try to re-enter.  The official death toll was 67, though family and witnesses placed the number at closer to 340.

Born today:  Christopher Wren (1632-1723), Arthur Rimbaud (1854-1891), Bela Lugosi (1882-1956), Jelly Roll Morton (1890-1941), Jomo Kenyatta (1891-1978), Empress Michiko(1934), Tom Petty (1950), Viggo Mortensen (1958), Danii Minogue (1971) and Snoop Dogg (1971).  Fo shizzle.

Bahá'is are celebrating the Birth of the Báb today.

19 October 2009

Daily Chat 19/10/09

The Vandals took Carthage in 439.  John Jay was sworn in as the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States in 1789 and the First Battle of Ypres began in 1914.

Born today:  John leCarré (1931), Michael Gambon (1940), Peter Tosh (1944-1987), Sam Allardyce (1954) and Amy Carter (1967).

It is Constitution Day in Niue.

Today's image has squat to do with any of today's events.  It is a view of the rue Vavin in Paris from a window of the Pension Ladagnous.  I'm a bit freaked out to have found this shot, because it looks like it might be taken from the window of the very same room that I stayed in when I lived there in 1980.  This photo was taken in 2005.

18 October 2009

Daily Chat 18/10/09

The Danes defeated the Saxons in the Battle of Ashingdon in 1016.  Basel was destroyed by an earthquake estimated to have measured 6.5 on the Richter scale in 1356.  The British Broadcasting Company was formed in 1922.  A bomb attempt to assassinate Benazir Bhutto left 139 dead in Karachi in 2007.

Born today:  Lotte Lenya (1898-1981), Pierre Trudeau (1919-2000), Melina Mercouri (1920-1994), Chuck Berry (1926), Klaus Kinski (1926-1991), Peter Boyle (1935-2006), Martina Navratilova (1956), Jean-Claude van Damme (1960) and Wynton Marsalis (1961).

Those of you living your life by the French Republican calendar know that today is Septidi, 27 Vendémaire, CCXVIII.

17 October 2009

Daily Chat 17/10/09

Cyrus the Great released the Jews from their exile in Babylon in 539 BC.  Charles II sold Dunkirk to France for £40,000 in 1662.  In 1814, a vat at the Meux and Company Brewery in Tottenham Court Road ruptured, causing other vats to rupture and spilling 323,000 gallons of beer into the streets of London.

Born today:  Rita Hayworth (1918-1987) and David St. Hubbins, er Michael McKean (1947).

It is Diwali.

16 October 2009

Daily Chat 16/10/09

Crap!  I forgot to do this and I seriously need to be getting to bed.  Marie Antoinette's body became separated from her head in 1793 and I'm sure some other stuff worth telling you about probably happened.  Oscar Wilde was born and maybe some other really fascinating people.  And it's World Food Day.  'night folks!

15 October 2009

Daily Chat 15/10/09

Not entirely intentional French theme to today's events:  Napoleon began his exile on St. Helena in 1815.  Alfred Dreyfus was arrested on charges of spying in 1894.  Mata Hari was executed at Vincennes in 1917.  Pierre Laval was executed in 1945 and the Great Storm of 1987 slammed France and England with winds up to 100 knots and air pressure equivalent to a Category 3 hurricane, leaving 22 dead.

Born today:  Virgil (70-19 BC), Mikhail Lermontov (1814-1841), Friederich Nietsche (1844-1900), P.G. Wodehouse (1881-1975), Mario Puzo (1920-1999), Italo Calvino (1923-1985), Penny Marshall (1942) and David Trimble (1944).

It's Global Handwashing Day, so wash those filthy mitts.

14 October 2009

Daily Chat 14/10/09

Well, I still can't find my copy of 1066 and All That, but I do know that today is the 943rd anniversary of one of the two Genuine Dates.  I just don't remember if Messrs. Sellar & Yeatman declared it to be a Good Thing or a Bad Thing.  Other things that have happened on this day in history:  Robert the Bruce defeated Edward II at Byland in 1322.  In 1789, George Washington declared this to be the first National Day of Thanksgiving.  It didn't become an annual holiday until the mid-19th Century.  The 265 year-long Tokugawa Shogunate came to an end in 1868.  The United Kingdom's worst mining disaster occurred in 1912, when an explosion at the Senghenydd Colliery killed 439 men.  And in 1943, prisoners at the Sobibor death camp revolted.  Nearly half of the camp's prisoners escaped and 50 survived the war.

Born today:  William Penn (1644-1718), Eamon de Valera (1882-1975), e.e. cummings (1894-1962), Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), Roger Moore (1927), Cliff Richard (1940) and Steve Coogan (1965).

It is Teacher Day in Poland.

13 October 2009

Daily Chat 13/10/09

Nero became emperor of Rome in 54.  French astronomer Charles Messier discovered the Whirlpool Galaxy in 1773.  Ankara replaced Istanbul as the capital of Turkey in 1923.  And in 1962, the Pacific Northwest was slammed with a cyclone with wind speeds as high as 288 km/hr.  Forty-six people were killed and damage came to about $230 million (1962 value).

Born today:  Lillie Langtry (1853-1929), Yves Montand (1921-1991), The Wicked Witch of the North (1925), Nana Mouskouri (1934), Paul Simon (1941), Cruella deVil (1946), Sacha Baron Cohen (1971), Ian Thorpe (1982) and Gabriel Agbonlahor (1986).

In the Roman Catholic Church, it is the feast day of Edward the Confessor.

12 October 2009

Daily Chat 12/10/09

Cyrus the Great took Babylon in 539 BC.  King John lost his crown jewels in The Wash in 1216.  The first Oktoberfest is celebrated in Munich in honour of the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria and Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen in 1810.  The Pledge of Allegiance was recited by American schoolchildren for the first time in 1892.  British nurse, Edith Cavell, was executed by the Germans in 1915 for helping Allied soldiers escape into Belgium.  Douglas Adams's The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy was published in 1979.  The Provisional IRA attempted to assassinate Margaret Thatcher by planting a bomb in Brighton's Grand Hotel in 1984.  Five people were killed, 31 wounded.

Born today:  Dmitri Donskoi (1350-1389), Ramsay MacDonald (1866-1937), Ralph Vaughn Williams (1872-1958), Magnus Magnusson (1929-2007), Luciano Pavarotti (1935-2007), David Vanian (1956) and Hugh Jackman (1968).

It is National Day in Spain, Thanksgiving Day in Canada, Mothers Day in Malawi and Columbus Day in the United States.

11 October 2009

Daily Chat 11/10/09

An earthquake believed to measure 8.5 on the Richter scale devastated Aleppo, Syria in 1138.  Historical records suggest that 230,000 people were killed.  In 1634, a tidal storm called the Burchardi Flood slammed the Nordfriesland coast, killing from 8,000 to 15,000 people.  The Sack of Wexford occurred in 1649.  Pope John XXIII convened the Second Vatican Council in 1962.  The first episode of NBC's Saturday Night Live was aired in 1975.  The Mary Rose was raised from the seabed in 1982.

Born today:  Eleanor Roosevelt (1884-1962), Elmore Leonard (1925), Thich Nhat Hanh (1926), Bobby Charlton (1937) and Dawn French (1957).

Here in the USA, we're observing National Coming Out Day.

10 October 2009

Daily Chat 10/10/09

The forces of Charles Martel defeated the Moors in the Battle of Tours in 732.  The Wuchang Uprising, which lead to the end of Imperial China took place in 1911.  The Sudetenland was ceded to Nazi Germany by the Munich Agreement in 1938.  The Windscale Fire happened in 1957 and London Bridge reopened in Lake Havasu, Arizona, in 1971.

Born today:  Jean-Antoine Watteau (1684-1721), Giuseppe Verdi (1813-1901), Thelonius Monk (1717-1982), Harold Pinter (1930-2008), Charles Dance (1946), Midge Ure (1953), David Lee Roth (1955), Kirsty MacColl (1959-2000) and Martin Kemp (1961).

It is World Mental Health Day.  Pretend to be sane.

09 October 2009

Daily Chat 09/10/09

Leif Ericson landed at L'Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland, in 1003.  Roger Williams was banished from the Massachusetts Bay Colony in 1635 for arguing that there should be a "wall of separation" between civil and religious authority and a right to "liberty of conscience".  The Siege of Sebastopol began in 1854.  And in 1919, the Cincinnati Reds won the eighth game of the World Series, beating the Chicago White Sox, 5 games to 3.  It would later come to light that the White Sox had deliberately lost the Series in a gambling scandal, now known as the Black Sox Scandal.

Born today:  Camille Saint Saëns (1835-1921), Nikolai Bukharin (1888-1938), Alastair Sim (1900-1976), Jacques Tati (1907-1982), Brian Blessed (1937), John Lennon (1940-1980), John Entwistle (1944-2002), Jackson Browne (1948), Sharon Osborne (1952), David Cameron (1966), PJ Harvey (1969), Annika Sörenstam (1970) and Sean Lennon (1975).

It is Independence Day in Uganda and the Jewish holiday Shemin Atzeret begins at sundown.

08 October 2009

Daily Chat 08/10/09

San Marino adopted their constitution in 1600, making it the oldest constitutional republic in the world.  The Great Chicago Fire began around 9:00 pm on this day in 1871.  It died out on its own in the early hours of 10 October, having burnt an area of about 4 square miles and having killed up to 300 people.  Germany annexed western Poland in 1939 and Che Guevara was captured in Bolivia in 1967.

Born today:  Juan Perón (1895-1974), Fred Stolle (1938), Jesse Jackson (1941), Johnny Ramone (1948-2004), Sigourney Weaver (1949), Ardal O'Hanlon (1965) and Matt Damon (1970).

It is Independence Day in Croatia.

07 October 2009

Daily Chat 07/10/09

George III issued a royal proclamation in 1763, closing the lands north and west of the Allegheny Mountains to white settlement.  KLM was founded in 1919 and is now the oldest airline operating under its original name.  The German Democratic Republic was formed in 1949.  The Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro was hijacked in 1985.  The Great Flood of 1993 finally subsided after 103 days, as the Mississippi River finally returned to below flood-level in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Born today:  Niels Bohr (1885-1962), Henry A. Wallace (1888-1965), Desmond Tutu (1931), Vladimir Putin (1952), Jayne Torvil (1957), Simon Cowell (1959), Sherman Alexie (1966) and Thom Yorke (1968).

It is Composer Day in Brazil.

06 October 2009

Daily Chat 06/10/09

Jacopo Peri's Euridice, the world's oldest surviving opera, debuted in Florence in 1600.  Thirteen German families -- the first German immigrants to North America -- arrived in Pennsylvania in 1683.  The Great Fire of Newcastle and Gateshead left 53 people dead in 1854.  Thomas Alva Edison showed the first motion picture in 1889.  The world's first major motion picture with sound, Al Jolson's The Jazz Singer, debuted in 1927.  Anwar Sadat was assassinated in 1981.

Born today: Le Corbusier (1887-1965), Thor Heyerdahl (1914-2002), Britt Ekland (1942), Elisabeth Shue (1963) and Ioan Gruffudd (1973).

It is Labour Day in Australia.

05 October 2009

Daily Chat 05/10/09

Italy, Spain, Portugal and Poland didn't have a 5 October, 1582, due to adopting the Gregorian calendar.  Christianity was disestablished in France in 1793.  In 1877, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce gave up his 3 month struggle to lead his people to Canada to avoid having to settle on reservation lands being forced upon them by the US government.  The Jarrow March set off for London in 1936.  The first episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus was aired in 1969.

Born today:  Denis Diderot (1713-1784), Robert Goddard (1882-1945), Donald Pleasence (1919-1995), Vacláv Havel (1936), Brian Connolly (1945-1997), Bob Geldof (1951), Clive Barker (1952), Mario Lemieux and Patrick Roy (1965), Kate Winslet (1975).

It is Republic Day in Portugal.

04 October 2009

Daily Chat 04/10/09

The first complete English language Bible was published in Antwerp in 1537.  Belgium declared independence from the Netherlands in 1830.  The Boys' Brigade was founded in Glasgow in 1883, with the aim of developing Christian manliness.  Gutzon Borglum began sculpting Mount Rushmore in 1927.  Sputnik I was launched in 1957.

Born today:  Richard Cromwell (1626-1712), Jean-François Millet (1814-1875), Frederic Remington (1871-1909), Buster Keaton (1895-1966) and Ann Widdecombe (1947).

I don't normally include anniversaries of deaths, but Graham Chapman died twenty years ago today and I think that's worth a mention.  The world isn't quite as funny as it could be.

It is World Animal Day, so be nice to an animal today.

03 October 2009

Daily Chat 03/10/09

Vercingetorix surrendered to the Romans in 52 BC.  Dafydd ap Gruffydd was the first person to be executed by being hanged, drawn and quartered in 1283.  Edgar Allen Poe was found in a gutter, muttering incoherently, in Baltimore in 1849.  Pravda was founded by Leon Trotsky, Adolph Joffe, et al., in Vienna in 1908.  The Maze Prison hunger strike came to an end in 1981 after seven months and ten deaths.  And the German Democratic Republic ceased to exist on this day in 1990.

Born today:  James Herriott (1916-1995), Gore Vidal (1925), Stevie Ray Vaughn (1954-1990) and Clive Owen (1964).

As luck would have it, today is German Unity Day.  Happy German Unity Day, elementary watson!

02 October 2009

Daily Chat 02/10/09

Saladin captured Jerusalem in 1187.  John Logie Baird performed the first test of a working greyscale television in 1925.  Josemaría Escrivá founded Opus Dei in 1928.  Thurgood Marshall became the first black man to serve as a Justice on the Supreme Court of the United States in 1967.  And in 2006, five Amish girls were killed in their school house in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania.  They were; Naomi Ebersol, age 7, Marian Fisher, 13, Anna Mae Stoltzfus, 12, Lena Miller 7, and Mary Miller, 8.  The Amish community reacted by immediately forgiving the gunman and offering support to his family.

Born today:  Richard III (1452-1485), Mohandas K. Gandhi (1869-1948), Graham Greene (1904-1991), Richard Hell (1949), Sting (1951) and Phil Oakey (1955).

It is Independence Day in Guinea.

01 October 2009

Daily Chat 01/10/09

In 331 BC, Alexander the Great defeated Darius III at the Battle of Guagamela.  News of the World began enriching the world of British journalism in 1943.  Congress established Yosemite and Yellowstone National Parks in 1890.  The Shinkansen bullet trains began service between Tokyo and Osaka in 1964 and Denmark became the first country to allow civil partnerships for homosexual couples in 1989.

Born today:  Jimmy Carter (1924), Julie Andrews (1935) and Tim O'Brien (1946).  If you've never heard of Tim O'Brien -- he is the author of one of my favourite books, The Things They Carried, about the Viet Nam War.  It is brilliant.

It is Independence Day in Tuvalu, Nigeria and Cyprus.