30 November 2009

Daily Chat 30/11/09


Happy St. Andrew's Day!

King Charles XII of Sweden led 8500 troops in the Battle of Narva, defeating a Russian force of 37,000 men in 1700.  Scotland and England played to a scoreless draw in the first international football match ever played in 1872.  The Folies Bergère performed for the first time in 1886.  The Crystal Palace was destroyed by fire in 1936.  At least 40,000 people massed in downtown Seattle in 1999 to protest the opening of the ministerial conference of the World Trade Organisation.  Police were unprepared for the scale of the demonstrations and  the presence of anarchist groups, and the protest is now known as the Battle in Seattle.

Born today:  Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586), Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), Mark Twain (1835-1910), Winston Churchill (1874-1965), Lucy Maud Montgomery (1874-1942), Graham Crowden (1922), Ridley Scott (1937), Billy Idol (1955) and Gary Lineker (1960).

29 November 2009

Daily Chat 29/11/09


More than 700 Colorado Territory militiamen attacked a village of Arapaho and Cheyenne, killing 133 people, including 105 women and children in 1864.  The incident is known as the Sand Creek Massacre.  The Meiji Constitution, establishing a constitutional monarchy in Japan, went into effect in 1890.  King Tutankhamen's tomb was opened to the public in 1922.  And in 1972, Atari unleashed Pong on an unsuspecting world.

Born today:  Gaetano Donizetti (1797-1848), C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), Madeleine L'Engle (1918-2007), Jacques Chirac (1932), John Mayall (1933), Kasey Keller (1969) and Ryan Giggs (1973).

It is Liberation Day in Albania.

28 November 2009

Daily Chat 28/11/07


A bond of £40 was paid for the marriage licence of William Shakespeare and Anne Hathaway in 1582.  The Royal Society was formed in 1660.  The Times was printed by steam-powered presses for the first time in 1814, making newspapers available to a wide readership for the first time.  Women in New Zealand voted in the general election in 1893, marking the first time in any country that women were allowed to vote in a national election.

Born today:  Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687), William Blake (1757-1827), Friedrich Engels (1820-1895), Nancy Mitford (1904-1973), Claude Lévi-Strauss (1908-2009) and Berry Gordy, Jr. (1929).

It is Independence Day in Albania and Mauretania.

27 November 2009

Daily Chat 27/11/09



Pope Urban II declared the First Crusade in 1095.  Macy's in New York held their first annual Thanksgiving Day parade in 1925.  The descent module of the Soviet Union's Mars 2 became the first man-made object to reach the surface of Mars when it crash landed in 1971.  Helen Clark became the first elected female Prime Minister of New Zealand in 1999.

Born today:  Anders Celsius (1701-1744), Buster Merryfield (1920-1999), Ernie Wise (1925-1999), Bruce Lee (1940-1973), Jimi Hendrix (1942-1970) and Caroline Kennedy (1957).

Eid al-Adha begins at sundown.

26 November 2009

Daily Chat 26/11/09



James Cook became the first European to visit the island of Maui, in 1778.  While there, he soaked up some rays, caught some totally righteous waves and made it with a hot wahine.  Thomas Telford's Pontcysyllte Aqueduct was completed in 1805.  The heaviest rainfall ever recorded was at Basse Terre, Guadaloupe, in 1970, when 1.5 inches fell in one minute.  Last year, ten coordinated attacks in Mumbai killed 164 people and injured 250.

 Born today:  William Cowper (1731-1800), Eugène Ionesco (1909-1994), Cyril Cusack (1910-1993), Tina Turner (1939), John McVie (1945), Hilary Benn (1953) and Keith Vaz (1956).

In addition to being Thanksgiving Day here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave™, it is Independence Day in Mongolia.

25 November 2009

Daily Chat 25/11/09

Mother Nature seems to have been an especial bitch on this day throughout history.  A list of the devastation:

1343  An earthquake in the Tyrrhenian Sea created a tsunami that destroyed much of Naples
1667  An earthquake near Shemakha, in the Caucasus, left 80,000 dead
1703  The Great Storm of 1703 devastated southern England.  The storm began on 24 November, but reached a climax on 26/27 November, with winds up to 120 mph.  Somewhere between 8000-15000 people were killed (including the Bishop of Bath and Wells).  Daniel Defoe reported that 700 ships were destroyed from Shadwell to Limehouse, alone, and the Royal Navy lost 13 ships.
1759  An earthquake in the Mediterranean killed 30,000-40,000 and destroyed Beirut and Damascus.
1833  An earthquake measuring between 8.7 and 9.2 on the Richter scale created a tsunami that ravaged Sumatra.
1839  A cyclone hit India, destroying the port city of Coringa, 20,000 ships and killing 300,000 people.
1926  Twenty-seven tornadoes hit the several states in the Central US, killing 76 and injuring 400.
1950  A violent snowstorm slammed the Northeastern US and Appalachia.  The storm killed 323 people and parts of West Virginia received as much as 57 inches of snow.
1987  Typhoon Nina hit the Philippines, with wind speeds as high as 165 mph.  1036 people were killed.
1996  An ice storm hit the Midwestern US, killing 26 people.  Florida was hit with 90 mph winds on the same day.
2000  An earthquake measuring 7.0 hit Baku, Azerbaijan, killing 26 people.

Born today:  Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919), Karl Benz (1844-1929), Percy Sledge (1941), Imran Khan (1952), John F. Kennedy, Jr. (1960-1999), Xabi Alonso and the Bush twins (Barbara and Jenna) were born in 1981.

It is National Day in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

24 November 2009

Daily Chat 24/10/09


Abel Tasman was the first European to discover an island south of Australia, which he named Van Dieman's Land, in 1642.  Jack Ruby shot Lee Harvey Oswald in the basement of the Dallas Police Department in 1963.  The incident was broadcast live on television, as the networks were covering Oswald's transfer at the time.  Donald Johanson and Tom Gray discovered a 40% complete skeleton of an Australopithecus afarensis female in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia in 1974.  She was named Lucy, after the Beatles' song Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.  In 1993, eleven year-olds Robert Thompson and Jon Venables were convicted of the murder of two year-old James Bulger.

Born today:  Baruch Spinoza (1632-1677), Laurence Sterne (1713-1768), Frances Hodgson Burnett (1849-1924), Scott Joplin (1868-1917), Ian Botham (1957) and Arundhati Roy (1961).

It is Teachers' Day in Turkey.

23 November 2009

Daily Chat 23/11/09


John Milton's Areopagitica was published in 1644.  The Cutty Sark was launched from Dumbarton in 1869.  And every sensible person's favourite sci fi television programme, Doctor Who, had its debut in 1963.

Born today:  Boris Karloff (1887-1969), Harpo Marx (1888-1964), Erté (1892-1990), Diana Quick (1946) and Asafa Powell (1982).

It is Labour Thanksgiving Day in Japan.

22 November 2009

Daily Chat 22/11/09


Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species went on sale in London in 1859.  Tutankhamen's tomb was opened in 1922.  John Fitzgerald Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas in 1963.  Juan Carlos Alfonso Victor María de Borbón y Borbón-Dos Sicilias was declared King of Spain in 1975.

Born today:  George Eliot (1819-1880), André Gide (1869-1951), Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), Benjamin Britten (1913-1976), Terry Gilliam (1940), Tom Conti (1941), Billie Jean King (1943), Jamie Lee Curtis (1958), Boris Becker (1967) and Scarlett Johansson (1984).

It is Independence Day in Lebanon.

21 November 2009

Daily Chat 21/11/09


Judas Maccabeus restored the temple in Jerusalem in 164 BC.  The Mayflower Compact, setting out the rules by which Plymouth Colony would be governed, was signed by 41 men in 1620.  The Verrazano Narrows Bridge opened in 1964.  It was the largest suspension bridge in the world at the time.  Bombs exploded in two pubs in Birmingham, killing 21 people, in 1974.

Born today:  Voltaire (1694-1778), René Magritte (1898-1967) and Björk.

It is World Hello Day.  Greet 10 people to promote peace and better communication.

20 November 2009

Daily Chat 20/11/09


In 1820, an 80 ton sperm whale attacked the Nantucket-based whaling ship, Essex, an event that inspired Herman Melville's Moby Dick.  The Nuremberg Trials began in 1945.  Brenda and Phil got married in 1947. Francisco Franco died in 1975.  He's still dead.  And a fire in Windsor Castle caused £50 million in damage.

Born today:  Selma Lagerlöf (1858-1940), Alistair Cooke (1908-2004), Nadine Gordimer (1923) and Joe Biden (1942).

It is Teacher Day in Viet Nam.

19 November 2009

Daily Chat 19/11/09


Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address during the dedication of a cemetery for the soldiers lost in that battle.  (Lincoln can be seen almost exactly in the middle of the photograph.  He appears to be looking down to his right.)  In 1969, Pelé scored his 1000th goal on a penalty kick during a match between Santos and Vasco da Gama.  Anwar Sadat became the first Arab leader to make an official visit to Israel in 1977.

Born today:  Indira Gandhi (1917-1987), Ofra Haza (1957-2000) and Jodie Foster (1962).

It is International Men's Day.

18 November 2009

Daily Chat 18/11/09


A sea wall on the Zuider Zee broke, flooding 72 villages and leaving 10,000 dead in 1421.  William Caxton published the first book in England to be printed on a printing press in 1477.  St. Peter's Basilica was consecrated in 1626.  Members of the People's Temple cult in Jonestown, Guyana, committed mass murder/suicide in 1978.  Hours after members assassinated Congressman Leo Ryan, who had come to investigate the cult, they drank poisoned Kool-Aid on the orders of cult leader Jim Jones.  There were 270 children amongst the 918 dead.  A fire in the Kings Cross/St. Pancras tube station killed 31 people in 1987.

Born today:  Margaret Atwood (1939), Graham Parker (1950), Kim Wilde (1960) and Peter Schmeichel (1963).

It is Buß- und Bettag in Saxony.

17 November 2009

Daily Chat 17/11/09


Elizabeth I became Queen of England in 1558.  The Suez Canal was inaugurated in 1869.  Nine Czech students were executed, 1200 were sent to concentration camps, and Czech universities were closed in 1939 for anti-Nazi demonstrations.  Tenzin Gyatso became the 14th Dalai Lama at the age of 15 in 1950.  And in 1989, riot police suppressed a student demonstration in Prague, sparking the Velvet Revolution.

Born today:  F.A. Möbius (1790-1868), Rock Hudson (1925-1985), Peter Cook (1937-1995), Gordon Lightfoot (1938), Auberon Waugh (1939-2001), Martin Scorsese (1942) and Jonathan Ross (1960)

It is International Students' Day.

16 November 2009

Daily Chat 16/11/09


Jadwiga was crowned King of Poland in 1384.  Prettiest king ever, so they say.  Pizarro captured the Inca emperor Atahualpa in 1532.  Fyodor Dostoevsky was sentenced to death for anti-government activities in 1849, though the sentence was later commuted to life at hard labour.  Benazir Bhutto was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan in 1988.

Born today:  W.C. Handy (1873-1958), Alexander Blok (1880-1921), Chinua Achebe (1930), Griff Rhys Jones (1953), Frank Bruno (1961), Diana Krall (1964) and Paul Scholes (1974).

It is the International Day for Tolerance, so get out there and tolerate things!

15 November 2009

Daily Chat 15/11/09


Thomas Wolsey was invested as a cardinal in 1515.  Francisco Pizarro arrived in Cuzco in 1533.  The Continental Congress approved the Articles of Confederation in 1777.  William Tecumseh Sherman's troops burn Atlanta at the beginning of Sherman's March to the Sea in 1864.  The first assembly of the League of Nations met in Geneva in 1920 and the Anglo-Irish Agreement was signed in 1985.

Born today:  Georgia O'Keeffe (1887-1986), Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960), Petula Clark (1932) and Anni-Frid Lyngstad (1945)

It is Shichi-Go-San Day in Japan.

14 November 2009

Daily Chat 14/11/09

In 1889, pioneering female journalist Nellie Bly(aka Elizabeth Cochrane) begins a successful attempt to travel around the world in less than 80 days. She completes the trip in seventy-two days. Jules Verne eat your heart out.

Czechoslovakia became a republic on this day in 1918, while in 1940, the city of Coventry is attacked and Coventry Cathedral almost razed to the ground by the Luftwaffe.

In 1971, the Mariner 9 reaches Mars, inspiring David Bowie as well as one of the best cops shows on British television so far this century. In 1982, Lech Walesa, leader of the outlawed Solidarnosc movement in Poland, is released from internment.

Happy Birthday to Freddy Garrity of Freddie and the Dreamers, Bernard Hinault the cyclist, Letitia Dean, Sharon from EastEnders, and, interestingly, both Dominique De Villepin and Condoleezza Rice (which just goes to show that astrology must be a load of bollocks).

13 November 2009

Daily Chat 13/11/09


Slow day in history.

King Ethelred the Unready ordered the deaths of all Danes in England in 1002.  The Denny Party landed at Alki Point on the Puget Sound in 1851 and founded the settlement that became the city of Seattle.  Great Britain defeated France in the final of the first Rugby League World Cup in 1954.

Born today:  Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), Hermione Baddeley (1906-1986), Jean Seberg (1938-1979), Art Malik (1952), Gerard Butler (1969) and Ayaan Hirsi Ali (1969).

It is the feast day of St. John Chrysostom.  It's Tridi, 23 Brumaire CCXVIII (Garance day), if you're using the French Republican calendar.

12 November 2009

Daily Chat 12/11/09


Tibetan troops occupied the Tang dynasty capital of Chang'an for 15 days in 764.  Plymouth became the first town in England to receive a charter from Parliament in 1439.  Leon Trotsky was expelled for the Communist Party in 1927 and Seymour Hirsh broke the story of the My Lai Massacre in 1969.

Born today:  Elizabeth Cady Stanton (1815-1902), Alexander Borodin (1833-1887), Auguste Rodin (1840-1917), Roland Barthes (1915-1980), Princess Grace (1929-1982), Neil Young (1945), Nadia Comaneci (1961) and Mariella Frostrup (1962).

It is Constitution Day in Azerbaijan.

11 November 2009

Armistice Day

Four years, three months, fourteen days
9.7 million military deaths
6.8 million civilian deaths
21 million wounded

London 1918


London 2008

10 November 2009

Daily Chat 10/11/09



The Stockholm Bloodbath came to an end in 1520.  As near as I can tell, around 215 people were killed over a four-day period by Danish King Christian II's men.  René Descartes apparently had some dreams in 1619 that lead him to write Meditations on First Philosophy.  In 1969, American children were introduced to a happy world where people of all ethnicities lived in peaceful harmony with monsters and mutant birds when Sesame Street hit their tv screens.  The freighter SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank suddenly during a storm on Lake Superior in 1975.  Ken Saro-Wiwa and eight other members of the Movement to Save the Ogoni People were executed in Nigeria in 1995.

Born today:  Martin Luther (1483-1546), William Hogarth (1697-1764), Oliver Goldsmith (1728-1774), Vachel Lindsay (1879-1931), Richard Burton (1925-1984) and Screaming Lord Sutch (1940-1999).



Turkey observes the Day of Remembrance of Ataturk today.

09 November 2009

Daily Chat 09/11/09


The de Medici became rulers of Florence in 1494.  The Treaty of Seville was signed in 1729.  The Tokugawa Shogunate ceded power to the Emperor of Japan in 1867.  Jack the Ripper killed Mary Jane Kelly, his last known victim, in 1888.  Wilhelm II abdicated in 1918.  Kristallnacht began in 1938.  This date in 1963 was especially tragic in Japan.  An explosion at the Miike coal mine killed 458 people and sent 839 to hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning, while in Yokohama, a three-train collision killed 160.  And the Berlin Wall came down in 1989.

Born today:  Ivan Turgenev (1818-1883), Carl Sagan (1934-1996) and Billie August (1948).

It is Independence Day in Cambodia.

08 November 2009

Daily Chat 08/11/09


Aztec emperor Montezuma welcomed Hernán Cortes into Tenochtitlán with a great celebration in 1519.  That worked out well for him, didn't it?  The Bodleian Library opened to the public in 1602.  The Louvre was opened to the public as a museum in 1793.  Wilhelm Röntgen discovered x-rays in 1895 and the death penalty was abolished in the UK in 1965.

Born today:  Vlad the Impaler (1431-1476), Edmond Halley (1656-1742), Bram Stoker (1847-1912), Christiaan Barnard (1922-2001), Alain Delon (1935), Guus Hiddink (1946), Bonnie Raitt (1949), Kazuo Ishiguro (1954), Gordon Ramsay (1966) and Joe Cole (1981).

It is Remembrance Sunday in the UK.

07 November 2009

Daily Chat 07/11/09

A meteorite landed in a wheat field near Ensisheim, Alsace, in 1492.  The London Gazette was published for the first time in 1665.  Jeannette Rankin of Montana became the first woman elected to the US House of Representatives in 1916.  Only four months after opening, the Tacoma Narrows Bridge collapsed when steady 42 mph wind caused the bridge to begin swaying.  Carl Stokes became the first black mayor of a major US city (Cleveland) in 1967.  Douglas Wilder became the first black governor of a US state (Virginia) in 1989.  David Dinkins became the first black mayor of New York City, also in 1989 and Mary Robinson became the first female president of the Republic of Ireland in 1990.

Born today:  Captain James Cook (1728-1779), Marie Curie (1867-1934), Leon Trotsky (1879-1940), Albert Camus (1913-1960), Mary Travers (1937-2009), Jean Shrimpton (1942), Joni Mitchell (1943), Danny Grewcock (1972) and Rio Ferdinand (1978).

It is National Day in northern Catalonia.

06 November 2009

Daily Chat 06/11/09


One of those days.  Nothing interesting happened.  No one interesting born.  (Well, no one interesting who's achieved enough recognition to be in a "born today" list.  I'm guessing there are actually quite a few really nice, interesting people celebrating birthdays today.  Happy Birthday to them.)

It's Swedishness Day in Finland.

No reason for the Tasmanian devil beyond the fact that I like them.

05 November 2009

Daily Chat 05/11/09


I'm guessing you're all vaguely aware of what happened on this day in 1605.  In 1872, Susan B. Anthony cast a vote in the presidential election.  She was fined $100 for her illegal vote two weeks later, but never paid the fine.  In 1916, twelve members of the IWW from Seattle were killed when the boat they were on was fired upon by vigilantes trying to prevent them from attending a demonstration by striking IWW members in the town of Everett, Washington.  Two of the vigilantes were also killed.  IWW members were charged with the murders of the vigilantes, but charges were dropped because they'd been shot in the back by gunfire from other vigilantes.  In 1917, Communist revolutionaries overthrew the provisional government in Estonia.

Born today:  Roy Rogers (1911-1998), Vivien Leigh (1913-1967), Ike Turner (1931-2007), Lester Piggott (1935), Elke Sommer (1940), Art Garfunkel (1941), Gram Parsons (1946-1973), Peter Noone (1947) and Tilda Swinton (1960).

Happy Guy Fawkes Night!

04 November 2009

Daily Chat 04/11/09


In 1333, the Arno River flooded, causing massive damage to the city of Florence.  The Newport Rising took place in 1839.  Nellie Tayloe Ross of Wyoming became the first woman to be elected governor of an American state in 1924.  In 1966, the Arno again flooded, killing 113 and leaving 30,000 homeless.

Born today:  Chris Difford (1954) and Lena Zavaroni (1963-1999).

It is the feast day of Our Lady of Kazan in the Russian Orthodox Church.

03 November 2009

Daily Chat 03/11/09


Columbus sighted Dominica in 1493.  The Times of India was founded in 1838 and in 1957, the Soviets launched Sputnik II with Laika, the first mammal in outer space aboard.

Born today:  Thomas Kyd (1558-1594), Karl Baedeker (1801-1859), Jeremy Brett (1933-1995), Lulu (1948) and Adam Ant (1954).

It is Independence Day in Panama.

02 November 2009

Daily Chat 02/11/09



A North Sea tidal wave hit the coast from Holland to Jutland, leaving more than 1000 dead in 1570.  The Balfour Declaration, giving British support to a homeland for Jews in Palestine, was issued in 1917.  Haile Selassie was crowned Emperor of Ethiopia in 1930.  The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation was formed and the British Broadcasting Corporation began the world's first regular television service in 1936.  Martin Luther King, Jr. Day became a national holiday in the U.S. in 1983.

Born today:  Marie Antoinette (1755-1793), Queen Sofia of Spain (1938) and Keith Emerson (1944).

It is All Souls Day and the second day of Mexico's Día de los Muertos celebrations.

01 November 2009

Daily Chat 01/11/09


The ceiling of the Sistine Chapel was exhibited for the first time in 1512.  Shakespeare's Othello was performed publicly for the first time in 1604.  Early reviews called the play misogynist, racist and offensive.  Lisbon (the one in Portugal, not the one in Iowa) was destroyed by an earthquake and tsunami in 1755.  Between 60,000 and 90,000 people were killed.  Mehmet VI, the last sultan of the Ottoman Empire, abdicated in 1922 and the Maastricht Treaty went into effect in 1993.

Born today:  Edna Krabappel/Marcia Wallace (1942), Lyle Lovett (1957), Anthony Kiedis (1962), Magne Furuholmen (1962), and Aishwarya Rai (1973).

It is All Saints' Day.  Día de los Muertos celebrations begin in Mexico.