28 February 2010


Liu Bang was crowned as Emperor Gaozu of Han in 202 BC, beginning the 400 year Han Dynasty.  John Wesley chartered the Methodist Church in 1784.  The Republican Party was founded in Ripon, Wisconsin, in 1854.  Forty-three people were killed when an Underground train failed to stop at Moorgate station in 1975.  Olaf Palme was assassinated in 1986.  The Nisqually Earthquake, measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale, shook the Seattle area in 2001.

Born today:  Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592), Marcel Pagnol (1895-1974), Zero Mostel (1915-1977), Brian Jones (1942-1969), Sepp Maier (1944) and Mike Figgis (1948).

It is Kalevala Day in Finland.

27 February 2010


Henry IV was crowned King of France in 1594.  The Dominican Republic became independent of Haiti in 1844.  The Rosenstraße Protest began in 1943, as the wives and family members of around 1800 Jewish men who were being detained engaged in non-violent protest for their release.  In 1973, members of the American Indian Movement occupied the church and trading post at Wounded Knee on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota to protest treatment of Native Americans by the US government.  The stand-off lasted for 71 days.

Born today:  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), Marian Anderson (1897-1993), John Steinbeck (1902-1968), Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990), Joanne Woodward (1930), Elizabeth Taylor (1932), Peter André (1973) and Chelsea Clinton (1980).

Purim begins at sundown.

26 February 2010


Napoleon escaped from Elba in 1815.  The Original Dixieland Jass Band made the first ever jazz recording in 1917.  A truck bomb parked under the North Tower of the World Trade Center detonated, killing six and injuring more than 1000 in 1993.  Barings Bank collapsed in 1995, due to speculative trading by securities broker, Nick Leeson.

Born today:  Christoper Marlowe (1564-1593), Victor Hugo (1802-1885), Honoré Daumier (1808-1879), William "Buffalo Bill" Cody (1846-1917), Fanny Cradock (1909-1994), Fats Domino (1928), Johnny Cash (1932-2003), Sandie Shaw (1947) and Emmanuel Adebayor (1984).

It is the feast day of St. Nestor.

25 February 2010


Pope Pius V excommunicated Queen Elizabeth I in 1570.  Hiram Rhodes Revels, a Republican from Mississippi, was sworn in as a US Senator in 1870, becoming the first black man to serve in the US Congress.  In 1992, Armenian troops killed 613 civilians in Khojaly in the the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan in 1992.

Born today:  Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919), Enrico Caruso (1873-1921), Anthony Burgess (1917-1993), Tom Courtenay (1937) and George Harrison (1943-2001).

It is National Day in Kuwait.

24 February 2010


Pope Gregory XIII announced the Gregorian calendar in 1582.  Handel's Rinaldo was performed for the first time at the Queen's Theatre in the Haymarket in 1711.  The New Orleans Mardi Gras parade of 1868 was the first parade to feature floats.  Chuck & Di's engagement was announced in 1981 and Athens was shaken by a 6.7 earthquake on the same day.  Ayatollah Khomeini announced a $3 million bounty on Salman Rushdie in 1989.

Born today:  Charles le Brun (1619-1690), Wilhelm Grimm (1786-1859), Winslow Homer (1836-1910), Honus Wagner (1874-1955), Michel Legrand (1932), Renata Scotto (1934), Nicky Hopkins (1944-1994), Barry Bostwick (1945), Dennis Waterman (1948), George Thorogood (1950), Alain Prost (1955), Bill Bailey (1964) and me (like I'm going to tell you what year).

It is Dragobete in Romania.

23 February 2010



Muhammad delivered his Farewell Sermon in 632.  Emile Zola was imprisoned for writing "J'accuse" in 1898 and an avalanche devastated the village of Galtür in Austria in 1999, killing 31 people.

Born today:  Samuel Pepys (1633-1703), Georg Friedrich Handel (1685-1759), W.E.B. DuBois (1868-1963), Victor Fleming (1889-1949), Peter Fonda (1940), Bernard Cornwell, John Sandford and Johnny Winter (1944), Allan Boesak (1945), Howard Jones (1955), David Sylvian (1958).

It is Defender of the Fatherland Day in Russia.


22 February 2010


Galileo's Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, for which he was eventually found guilty of heresy, was published in 1632.  The Battle of Fishguard began in 1797.  Frank Woolworth opened his first 5 and 10 cent store in Utica, New York in 1879.

Born today:  Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860), Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941), Edna St. Vincent-Millay (1892-1950), Luis Buñuel (1900-1983), John Mills (1908-2005), Giulietta Masina (1921-1994), Edward Gorey (1925-2000), Bruce Forsyth (1928), Julie Walters (1950), Nigel Planer (1953).

It is Independence Day in St. Lucia.

21 February 2010


The Communist Manifesto was published in 1848. Gerald Holtom designed the peace symbol as a logo for the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament. Malcolm X was assassinated in 1965.

It is Language Movement Day in Bangladesh.

20 February 2010


It's Gordon Brown's birthday. And Sidney Poitier's. It's also apparently National Cherry Pie Day.

19 February 2010


The Third Anglo-Dutch War came to an end in 1674 with the signing of the Peace of Westminster.  Serfdom was abolished in Russia in 1861.  In one of the more shameful episodes of American history, Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066, allowing the US military to relocate Americans of Japanese ancestry to internment camps.  The order was not formally rescinded until 1976.  The Soviet Union launched the Mir space station in 1986.

Born today:  Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), Cedric Hardwicke (1893-1964), Yuri Olesha (1899-1960), Merle Oberon (1911-1979), Carson McCullers (1917-1967), Lee Marvin (1924-1987), Smokey Robinson (1940), Dave Wakeling (1956), Falco (1957-1998), Ray Winstone (1957), Helen Fielding (1958), Seal (1963).

Today is the feast day of St. Barbatus of Benevento.

18 February 2010


According to the Surya Siddhanta, the Epoch of Kali Yuga (Age of Vice) began in 3102 BC.  King Victor Emmanuel II of Piedmont, Savoy and Sardinia assumed the title King of Italy in 1861.  Mark Twain's The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn was published in 1884.  For the first time in recorded history, snow fell in the Sahara Desert in 1979.

Born today:  Nikos Kazantzakis (1883-1957), Wallace Stegner (1909-1993), Jack Palance (1919-2006), George Kennedy (1925), Len Deighton (1929), Gahan Wilson (1930), Toni Morrison (1931) Milos Forman (1932), Bobby Robson, Yoko Ono, Mary Ure and my new girl-crush, Nimmi, were all born in 1933, Audre Lord (1934), Jean Auel (1936), Graeme Garden (1943), Sinéad Cusack (1948), John Hughes (1950-2009), Robbie Bachman (1953), John Travolta (1954), Greta Scacchi (1960), Roberto Baggio (1967) and Gary Neville (1975).

It is Independence Day in the Gambia.

17 February 2010


The US House of Representatives passed the Missouri Compromise in 1819, prohibiting slavery in all US territory north of the 36°30' North parallel, except for the proposed new state of Missouri.  The first ship passed through the Suez Canal in 1867.  Madama Butterfly was performed for the first time at La Scala in 1904.  Flooding from the North Sea left 318 dead and 60,000 homeless in Hamburg in 1962.  The London Congestion Charge took effect in 2003.

Born today:  Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713), Lola Montez (1821-1851), Chaim Potok (1929-2002), Patricia Routledge (1929), Ruth Rendell (1930), Alan Bates (1934-2003), Barry Humphries (1934), Julia McKenzie (1941), Brenda Fricker (1945), Loreena McKennitt (1957), Michael Jordan (1963) and two that I may well be the only Utter who cares about:  Joseph Gordon-Levitt (1981) and Bolton midfielder Joey O'Brien (1986).

It is Independence Day in Kosovo.

16 February 2010


The Battle of Great Torrington took place in 1646.  Iceland's first football club, Knattspyrnufélag Reykjavikur, was formed in 1899.  Howard Carter unsealed King Tutankhamen's burial chamber in 1923.  Canadians were granted Canadian citizenship in 1947, having spent the first 80 years of independence still being considered British subjects.  Fidel Castro became Premier of Cuba in 1959.

Not many interesting birthdays today.  Eugénie Blanchard of St. Barth's, France, celebrates her 114th birthday today.  The only other vaguely interesting birthdays:  John McEnroe (1959)*, Christopher Eccleston (1964), and Cathy Freeman (1973).

It is Restoration of Lithuanian Statehood Day in Lithuania, of all places.

*which means that Fidel Castro becoming Premier of Cuba wasn't the worst thing to happen on this day in 1959.

15 February 2010


Well, today we're officially a year old.  Happy Birthday to us!

The Great Ormond Street Hospital took in its first patient in 1854.  The Labour Representation Committee officially adopted the name The Labour Party in 1906.  Decimalisation of British currency was completed in 1971.  In 2003, the largest peace protest in history took place as anywhere from 8 to 30 million people in more than 600 cities protested the Iraq War.

Born today:  Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), Charles-André van Loo (1705-1765), Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832), Ernest Shackleton (1874-1922), Miep Gies (1909-2010), Yelena Bonner (1923), Claire Bloom (1931), Jane Seymour (1941) and Matt Groening (1954).

It is John Frum Day in Vanuatu.

14 February 2010


Two thousand Jews were burned to death or otherwise forcibly removed from Strasbourg in 1349.  Thomas Cranmer was declared a heretic in 1556.  Five members of Bugs Moran's Northside mob and two other men were killed by members of Al Capone's Southside gang in 1929 in Chicago, a city which, contrary to what 1970s pop group Paper Lace might think, does not have an east side.  The Bank of England was nationalised in 1946.  Australian currency was decimalised in 1966.

Born today:  Frederick Douglass (1818-1895), BoomBoom Geoffrion (1931-2006), Kevin Keegan (1951) and Simon Pegg (1970).

Today is the Lunar New Year and the first day of the Year of the Tiger.  Happy New Year, everyone.

(You didn't really think I was going to say anything about that other thing that is happening today, did you?)

13 February 2010


Yes, I know I've said this before, but when I started this up, I thought I'd be lucky if anyone ever found it and I didn't hold out much hope that the place would still be going by now.  I really want to thank you all for making this so much fun.  I can't possibly tell you how much you all mean to me and how much you've done for my sanity.  Kisses to you all!  Here's the usual stuff:

Galileo Galilei arrived in Rome for his trial in 1633.  The Massacre of Glen Coe happened in 1692.  The feminist newspaper La Citoyenne was first published in Paris in 1881.  The National Negro League, the first successful professional baseball league for black players, was founded in 1920.  And Black Sabbath released its eponymous first album in 1970.

Born today:  Charles Maurice de Talleyrand (1754-1838), Thomas Robert Malthus (1766-1834), Grant Wood (1891-1942), Georges Simenon (1903-1989), Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984), Costa Gavras (1933), Kim Novak (1933), Oliver Reed (1938-1999), Peter Gabriel (1950), Pernilla August (1958), Henry Rollins (1961), Robbie Williams (1974), and Feist (1976).

Ancient Romans would be enjoying the first day of Lupercalia if they were alive today.

Here is Grant Wood's Stone City.


12 February 2010


Santiago, Chile, was founded in 1541.  Puyi, the last Emperor of China, abdicated in 1912.  Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was exiled from the Soviet Union in 1974 and Carmen Lawrence became the first female premier in Australia in 1990, when she became Premier of Western Australia.

Born today:  Thomas Campion (1567-1620), Charles Darwin (1809-1882), Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), Anna Pavlova (1881-1931), R.F. Delderfield (1912-1972), Franco Zefferelli (1923), Annette Crosbie (1934), Ray Manzarek (1939).

It is Red Hand Day, a day to promote awareness of the plight of child soldiers.

11 February 2010


Sorry -- rush job here.  Way too late to be up on a school night.

University College London was founded in 1826.  The BBC aired the first-ever science fiction television programme in 1938, with an adaptation of Karel Capek's R.U.R.  And Nelson Mandela was freed in 1990.

Even if I weren't in a hurry, the only three celebrities having a birthday today that don't annoy the hell out of me are Paul Bocuse, Mary Quant and Damien Lewis.  You can find out yourself what year they were born, if you care.  I think they're all still alive.

It's National Youth Day in Cameroon.

10 February 2010


Baghdad fell to the Mongols in 1258.  Robert the Bruce murdered John Comyn in front of the high altar of Greyfriars Church in Dumfries in 1306.  In evidence that students have always had their priorities straight, a dispute between two Oxford students and some local residents over beer turned into the St. Scholastica Day Riot in 1355.  The fights lasted for two days and in the end, 63 scholars and 30 local residents were dead.  Vicky and Albert got married in 1840.  New Delhi became the capital of India in 1931 and the US traded Soviet spy Rudolf Abel for Francis Gary Powers in 1962.

Born today:  John Suckling (1609-1642), Charles Lamb (1775-1834), Boris Pasternak (1890-1960), Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), Roberta Flack (1937) and Michael Apted (1941).

Strangely enough, it is the feast day of St. Scholastica.

09 February 2010


John Hooper, the Bishop of Gloucester, was burnt at the stake for heresy in 1555.  John Quincy Adams was elected President of the United States by the House of Representatives in 1825, after no candidate received a majority of votes in the Electoral College.  William G. Morgan invented a game he called mintonette in 1895.  It is now called volleyball.  The Beatles made their first appearance on American television, appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show in 1964.

Born today:  Ronald Colman (1891-1958), Carmen Miranda (1909-1955), Brendan Behan (1923-1964), Clive Swift (1936), Janet Suzman (1939), J.M. Coetzee (1940), Carole King (1942), Alice Walker (1944), Ciarán Hinds (1953) and Gordon Strachan (1957).

It is the feast day of St. Teilo.

08 February 2010


A doctor in Salem, Massachusetts, suggested that two daughters of the local pastor might be suffering from bewitchment in 1692, setting off the hysteria that led to the Salem Witch Trials.  The Devil's Footprints mysteriously appeared in the Devon snow in 1855.  D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation premiered in 1915 and the city of Melbourne was enveloped in a 320m-deep dust cloud in 1983.

Born today:  Samuel Butler (1612-1680), John Ruskin (1819-1900), Jules Verne (1828-1905), Kate Chopin (1850-1904), Lana Turner (1921-1995), Jack Lemmon (1925-1901), Neal Cassady (1926-1968), James Dean (1931-1955) and Trinny Woodall (1964).

It is Preseren Day in Slovenia.

07 February 2010


Edward of Caernarvon became the first English Prince of Wales in 1301.  Supporters of Girolamo Savonarola burned cosmetics, art and books in the Bonfire of the Vanities in 1497.  The strongest earthquake in the recorded history of the US occurred along the New Madrid fault line in southeastern Missouri in 1812, measuring 8.3 on the Moment Scale.  Emile Zola was put on trial for libel in 1898 for publishing J'Accuse.  The Maastricht Treaty was signed in 1992 and, last year, bush fires killed 173 people in Victoria, in what is now the worst natural disaster in Australian history.

Born today:  Thomas More (1478-1535), Thomas Killigrew (1612-1683), Charles Dickens (1812-1870), Laura Ingalls Wilder (1867-1957), Sinclair Lewis (1885-1951), Eubie Blake (1887-1983), Gay Talese (1932), Pete Postlethwaite (1945) and Eddie Izzard (1962).

It is Independence Day in Grenada.

06 February 2010


In 1820, eighty-six freed slaves from the United States founded a settlement in what is now Liberia.  The Treaty of Waitangi, establishing New Zealand as a British colony, was signed in 1840.  Brenda became queen in 1952.  And in 1958, the Munich Air Disaster claimed the lives of 23 people, including eight Man Utd players, three Man Utd staff, eight journalists, two airline crew members and two other passengers.

Born today:  Patrick Macnee (1922), François Truffaut (1932), Leslie Crowther (1933-1996), Bob Marley (1945-1981), Kate McGarrigle (1946-2010), Axl Rose (1962) and Rick Astley (1966).

It is Waitangi Day in New Zealand and Sami National Day in Finland and Scandinavia.

05 February 2010


It will never cease to amaze me how days seem to either be feast or famine, in terms of events and notable births.  Yesterday was a feast.  I left out quite a bit of stuff that was interesting.  Today, I'm hard-pressed to find any of it terribly interesting.  But here goes:

An earthquake measuring approximately 7.5 on the Richter Scale caused major damage to Pompeii in 62.  Twenty-six Christians were crucified as threats to Japanese society in 1597.  And the Royal Greenwich Observatory began broadcasting an hourly signal in 1924.

Born today:  William S. Burroughs (1914-1997), Charlotte Rampling (1946), Sven-Göran Eriksson (1948), Christopher Guest (1948), Carlos Tévez (1984) and Irritating Portuguese Pretty-boy (1985).

The good folk of San Marino are celebrating their Liberation from the Alberoni Occupation today.

M.C. Escher has no association with today's events, that I'm aware of.  My son liked the Leger that I put with yesterday's thread and told me that I should use an Escher some day.  Since the only thing relevant that I could think of would have been a photo of Pompeii, I decided to go ahead and use this.

04 February 2010


The Song Dynasty began in 960, with the coronation of Emperor Taizu.  George Washington was unanimously elected to be the first President of the United States by the Electoral College in 1789.  Three earthquakes have struck on this date in recent decades:  1328 people were killed in 1975 in Haicheng, China; twenty-two thousand were killed in Guatemala and Honduras in 1976; and 5000 were killed in Afghanistan in 1998.

Born today:  Fernand Leger (1881-1955), Nigel Bruce (1895-1953), Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945), Rosa Parks (1913-2005), Ida Lupino (1918-1995), Alice Cooper (1948), Dara O'Briain (1972), Oscar de la Hoya (1973), Natalie Imbruglia (1975).

It is Independence Day in Sri Lanka.

03 February 2010


More than 2000 people in the town of Cesena were killed by the troops of Pope Gregory XI in 1377.  Tulip Mania in the United Provinces crashed in 1637.  New Zealand's worst natural disaster, an earthquake at Hawkes Bay, killed 258 in 1931.  And in 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper (JP Richardson) were killed when their plane crashed near Clear Lake, Iowa.

Born today:  Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1947), Walter Bagehot (1826-1877), Gertrude Stein (1874-1946), Norman Rockwell (1894-1978), Alvar Aalto (1898-1976), Simone Weil (1909-1943), Dave Davies (1947), Melanie Safka (1947), Henning Mankell (1948), Lol Tolhurst (1959) and Isla Fisher (1976).

It is the Festival of Setsubun in Japan.

02 February 2010


The city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, was founded in 1536.  The first Groundhog Day was celebrated in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, in 1887.  Queen Victoria's funeral occurred on this date in 1901.  And James Joyce's Ulysses was published in 1922.

Born today:  Nell Gwynne (1650-1687), James Joyce (1882-1941). Jascha Haifetz (1901-1987), Ayn Rand (1905-1982), Valéry Giscard-d'Estaing (1926), Les Dawson (1931-1993), David Jason (1940), Graham Nash (1942) and Eva Cassidy (1963-1996).

It's Groundhog Day here in the US.

01 February 2010


Texas seceded from the Union in 1861.  Abraham Lincoln signed the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution in 1864, outlawing slavery.  The first edition of the Oxford English Dictionary, covering from A to Ant, was published in 1884.  La Bohème premiered at the Teatro Regio in Turin in 1896.  The Royal Canadian Mounted Police began in 1920.  The space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on reentry to the Earth's atmosphere in 2003, killing all seven crew members.  During the Hajj of 2004, 251 people were trampled to death and another 244 were injured at the Stoning of the Devil ceremony.  Civil marriage became legal in Canada in 2005.  And one year ago, Johanna Sigurðardottir became the first female Prime Minister of Iceland and the first openly gay head of state in the modern world.

Born today:  Yevgeny Zamyatin (1884-1937), Clarke Gable (1901-1960), Langston Hughes (1902-1967), Muriel Spark (1918-2006), Don Everly (1937), Terry Jones (1942) and Rick James (1948-2004).

It is Imbolc, or St. Brigid's Day, if you prefer.