31 March 2010


Queen Isabella of Castille issued the Alhambra Decree in 1492, ordering the 150,000 Jews in Castille to convert to Christianity or face expulsion.  The Eiffel Tower was inaugurated in 1889.  Construction began on the RMS Titanic in 1909.  The Royal Australian Air Force was established in 1921.  Around 200,000 gathered in London to protest the poll tax in 1990.

Born today:  René Descartes (1596-1650), Andrew Marvell (1621-1678), Joseph Haydn (1732-1809), Edward FitzGerald (1809-1883), Serge Diaghilev (1872-1929), Octavio Paz (1914-1998), César Chávez (1927-1993), Gordie Howe (1928), Shirley Jones (1934), Christopher Walken (1943), Angus Young (1955) and Ewan McGregor (1971).

It is Freedom Day in Malta.

30 March 2010


The first recorded perihelion passage of Halley's Comet was in 240 BC.  US Secretary of State William Seward purchased Alaska from Russia for 7.2 million dollars in 1867.  The Yonge Street subway line, Canada's first subway, opened in 1954.

Born today:  Francisco Goya (1746-1828), Anna Sewell (1820-1878), Paul Verlaine (1844-1896), Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890), Sean O'Casey (1880-1964), Countee Cullen (1903-1946), Tom Sharpe (1928), Rolf Harris (1930), Warren Beatty (1937), Graeme Edge (1941), Eric Clapton (1945), Robbie Coltrane (1950), MC Hammer (1962), Tracy Chapman (1964), Piers Morgan (1965), Celine Dion (1968) and Norah Jones (1979).

It is Spiritual Baptist/Shouter Liberation Day in Trinidad and Tobago.

29 March 2010


Brazil's first capital, Salvador da Bahia, was founded in 1549.  The United Kingdom annexed the Punjab in 1849.  Queen Victoria opened the Royal Albert Hall in 1871 and the Republic of Ireland was the first country in the world to ban smoking in all workplaces, including restaurants and bars, in 2004.

Born today:  Thomas Coram (1668-1751), Pearl Bailey (1918-1990), Astrud Gilberto (1940), Eric Idle (1943), Christopher Lambert (1957), Elle Macpherson (1963) and Lucy Lawless (1968).

It is the Day of the Young Combatant in Chile.

28 March 2010


Paris was sacked by Vikings in 845.  France and Britain declared war on Russia in 1854.  The names of Constantinople and Angora were changed to Istanbul and Ankara in 1930.  The Three Mile Island, Pennsylvania, nuclear reactor went into partial meltdown in 1979.

Born today:  Maxim Gorky (1868-1936), Dirk Bogarde (1921-1999), Michael Parkinson (1935), Chris Barrie (1960) and Vince Vaughn (1970).

In addition to being Palm Sunday, it is Teachers' Day in the Czech Republic and Slovakia.

27 March 2010


The first English child born in Canada was born in Cuper's Cove, Newfoundland, in 1613.  A fire at a barn dance in Okoritofulpos, Hungary, killed 312 people in 1910.  A 9.2 earthquake in Alaska killed 125 people and cause significant damage to the city of Anchorage in 1964.  The worst airline disaster in history took place in Tenerife in 1977, when two Boeing 747s collided on a foggy runway, killing 583 people.

Born today:  Baron Haussmann (1809-1891), William Röntgen (1845-1923), Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969), Gloria Swanson (1899-1983), Sarah Vaughn (1924-1990), Mstislav Rostropovich (1927-2007), Julian Glover (1935), Michael York (1942) and Tony Banks (1950).

It is World Theatre Day.

26 March 2010


Utrecht University was founded in 1636.  The Book of Mormon was published in 1830.  Brenda sent the first royal e-mail in 1976.

Born today:  A.E. Housman (1859-1936), Robert Frost (1874-1963), Tennessee Williams (1911-1983), Leonard Nimoy (1931), Alan Arkin (1934), James Caan (1940), Richard Dawkins (1941), Diana Ross (1944), Steven Tyler (1948), Baz Warne (1964), Keira Knightley (1985).

It is Independence Day in Bangladesh.

25 March 2010


Robert the Bruce became King of Scotland in 1306.  The Swansea and Mumbles Railway, the world's first passenger railway, opened in 1807.  A fire in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory in New York City killed 147 workers, mostly young women, in 1911.  Thousands of people bearing candles gathered in Bratislava's Hviezdoslav Square to demonstrate for religious freedom in 1988.

Born today:  Arturo Toscanini (1867-1957), Béla Bartók (1881-1945), Norman Borlaug (1914-2009), Simone Signoret (1921-1985), Flannery O'Connor (1925-1964), Aretha Franklin (1942) and Elton John (1947).

It is Mothers' Day in Slovenia.

24 March 2010


James VI of Scotland became James I of England in 1603.  Archbishop Oscar Romero was assassinated while celebrating the mass in San Salvador in 1980.  The Exxon Valdez struck the Bligh Reef, spilling 240,000 barrels of oil into the Prince William Sound in 1989.  Two boys, aged 13 and 11, opened fire on fellow students of Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas, in 1998.  They killed four girls, aged 11 and 12 and a 32 year old teacher and injuring 10 others.

Born today:  William Morris (1834-1896), Harry Houdini (1874-1926), Malcolm Muggeridge (1903-1990), Steve McQueen (1930-1980), Nick Lowe (1949) and Nena (1960).

It is the feast day of Catherine of Vadstena.

23 March 2010


Meriwether Lewis, William Clark and the Corps of Discovery began their return journey eastward in 1806, after having spent the winter camped by the Pacific Ocean in what is now Oregon.  The Woolwich Ferry began operating in 1889.  The Soviet space station Mir was disposed of in 2001, with most of the remaining space station breaking up upon re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere and landing in the ocean near Fiji.

Born today:  Joan Crawford (1905-1977), Akira Kurosawa (1910-1998), Wernher von Braun (1912-1977), Roger Bannister (1929), Chaka Khan (1953), Damon Albarn (1968) and that cute, little Russell Howard turns 30 today.

It is Republic Day in Pakistan and Hungary-Poland Friendship Day.

22 March 2010


Algonquin warriors killed 347 English settlers from the Jamestown colony in what is now Virginia in 1622.  The first international Rugby Union match between England and France was played at the Parc des Princes in Paris in 1906.  It was a 35-8 victory for the English.  Valery Polyakov returned to Earth in 1995, after a record-setting 438 days in space.

Born today:  Anthony VanDyck (1599-1641), Marcel Marceau (1923-2007), William Shatner (1931), George Benson (1943), Andrew Lloyd Webber (1948), Fanny Ardant (1949) and Lena Olin (1955).

It is the feast day of Basil of Ancyra.

21 March 2010


Thomas Cranmer was burnt at the stake for heresy in 1556.  The Napoleonic Code became French civil law in 1804.  An earthquake shook Tokyo in 1857, leaving more than 100,000 dead.  On their third attempt, 3,200 civil rights marchers succeeded in marching from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965.  And in 1970, Yugoslavian ski jumper Vinko Bogotaj crashed on a jump at the Ski-flying World Championships in Oberstdorf, West Germany.  Film of the crash became a fixture of American pop culture as it was used in the opening sequence of a programme called The Wide World of Sports for over twenty years, to illustrate "the agony of defeat".

Born today:  Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750), Modest Mussorgsky (1839-1881), Brian Clough (1935-2004), and Gary Oldman (1958).

It is Independence Day in Namibia.

20 March 2010


After 13 years of imprisonment in the Tower of London, Sir Walter Raleigh was freed in 1616.  After escaping from Elba, Napoleon entered Paris in 1815 with 140,000 regular troops and 200,000 volunteers.  Albert Einstein published the General Theory of Relativity in 1916.

Born today:  Ovid (43 BC - AD 17), Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906), Michael Redgrave (1908-1985), Vera Lynn (1917), Carl Reiner (1922), Fernando Torres (1984).

In addition to being the Vernal Equinox, it is World Storytelling Day.

19 March 2010


The Mongol Yuan Dynasty defeated the Song Dynasty at the Battle of Yamen,  bringing and end to the Song Dynasty.  Sydney Harbour Bridge was opened in 1932.  India and Bangladesh signed a friendship treaty in 1972.

Born today:  Georges de la Tour (1593-1652), Tobias Smollett (1721-1771), David Livingstone (1813-1873), Richard Burton (1821-1890), Wyatt Earp (1848-1929), Patrick McGoohan (1928-2009), Ursula Andress (1936), Glenn Close (1947).

Today is the day that the swallows traditionally return to the mission at San Juan Capistrano, California.

But the only thing that really matters is that the very lovely and talented Mr. Terry Hall was born in Coventry on this day in 1959. *Sigh*  Happy birthday, Tel.  (I need to go lie down now...)

18 March 2010


The Mongols ransacked Kraków in 1241.  Jacques de Molay, last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, was burnt at the stake in 1314.  The Tolpuddle Martyrs were sentenced to be transported to Australia in 1834.  In 1937, a natural gas explosion blew up the London School in New London, Texas, killing 295 students and teachers.  Aleksei Leonov became the first man to walk in space in 1965.

Born today:  Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), Peter Graves (1926-2010), John Updike (1932-2009) and Wilson Pickett (1941-2006).

It is Mens' and Soldiers' Day in Mongolia.

17 March 2010


Okay.  The fact that today is St. Patrick's Day has caused me way more angst than it should have when it comes to getting today's thread up.  For one thing, it's my understanding that St. Patrick's Day is a much bigger deal here than it is in Ireland and that Irish SPD celebrations tend to be for the benefit of idiot American tourists (someone can correct me on this if I'm wrong -- it won't hurt my feelings).  For another, Americans with Irish ancestry tend to suffer what I call "Shamrock & Shillelagh Syndrome" -- a simplistic and overly-romanticised notion of Ireland and a tendency to identify themselves as Irish first, American second, regardless of whether they actually know anything beyond the fact that they have an Irish surname.  I've always (well, since I was a teenager, anyway) found this as irritating as the 1/16th Cherokee ancestry that nearly every white person in America will claim to have.  Having Irish ancestry myself (no -- really), I have an almost allergic reaction to the whole thing.  So, even though most of you wouldn't have known that I have Irish ancestry, I just couldn't bring myself to treat today the way I did St. Andrew's Day or St. David's Day.  It would have felt like I'd come down with S & S Syndrome, if only for a day.  So, Thauma & Scherfig:  Happy St. Patrick's Day or not.  It's your call.

Now that I have that out of the way:  Edward, the Black Prince, became the first Duke of Cornwall in 1337.  Stephen Perry received a patent for the rubber band in 1845 and 919 members of a Ugandan cult called the Movement for the Restoration of the Ten Commandments were killed/committed suicide in 2000.

Born today:  Gottlieb Daimler (1834-1900), Kate Greenaway (1846-1901), Mikhail Vrubel (1856-1910), Nat "King" Cole (1919-1965), Rudolf Nureyev (1938-1993), Paul Kantner (1941), John Sebastian (1944), Kurt Russell (1951), Lesley-Anne Downe (1954), Gary Sinise (1955), Clare Grogan (1962), Rob Lowe (1964), Billy Corgan (1967) and Stephen Gately (1976-2009).

16 March 2010


Caligula became emperor in 37.  Samoset, the first Native American to make contact with the settlers of Plymouth Colony and the first Native American that little white kids used to learn about in school, walked through the colony, greeting the shocked colonists in English, in 1621.  Wanderers FC defeated the Royal Engineers AFC 1-0 in for the first FA Cup in 1872.  Robert Goddard launched the first liquid-fuelled rocket in 1926.  Mississippi ratified the Thirteenth Amendment to the US Constitution, thereby abolishing slavery in the state, in 1995.  Yes, 1995.

Born today:  James Madison (1751-1836), Georg Ohm (1789-1854), Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899), René François Armand Sully-Prudhomme (1839-1907), Leo McKern (1920-2002), Jerry Lewis (1926), Bernardo Bertolucci (1940), Isabelle Huppert (1953), Nancy Wilson (1954), Peaches Geldof (1989) and Theo Walcott (1989).

It is St. Urho Day in Finland, the US and Canada.

15 March 2010


Well, I think we all know what happened to Julius Caesar on this day back in 44 BC.  Apart from that, the most interesting (to me, anyway) things that have happened on this day were Columbus returning to Spain in 1493 after his first voyage and the first day of the first international test match in 1877, between England and Australia.  The only people born on this day that I've heard of are all Americans and I'm never too sure of whether anyone outside the US has heard of American slebs.  The ones I'm guessing many/most of you will be familiar with are; Mike Love of the Beach Boys (1941), Sly Stone (1944) and Ry Cooder (1947).  Terence Trent D'Arby was born in 1962.  Not sure how known he ever would have been outside the US, though.

I must say, I'm a bit disappointed to find that one of my two favourite days of the year has been such a boring one for most of the past 2054 years.

14 March 2010


Happy Mothers' Day!*

So many cutesy, sappy, flowery images for the day.  I think this, from The Onion, has more of an Untrusted vibe:

*or, Mothering Sunday, if you prefer.

13 March 2010


These are the lives that were lost in Dunblane on 13 March, 1996:

Victoria Elizabeth Clydesdale
Emma Elizabeth Crozier
Melissa Helen Currie
Charlotte Louise Dunn
Kevin Allan Hasell
Ross William Irvine
David Charles Kerr
Mhairi Isabel MacBeath
Brett McKinnon
Abigail Joanne McLennan
Gwen Mayor
Emily Morton
Sophie Jane Lockwood North
John Petrie
Joanna Caroline Ross
Hannah Louise Scott
Megan Turner

12 March 2010


Witiges, King of the Ostragoths, ended his siege of Rome in 538.  Andrew Watson became the first black man to play in an international football match in 1881, when he played in Scotland's 6-1 victory over England.  Moscow became the capital of Russia again, after St. Petersburg had that designation for 215 years.  Mahatma Gandhi began the Salt March to Dandi in 1930 and the Church of England ordained its first female priests in 1994.

Born today:  Richard Steele (1672-1729), Thomas Arne (1710-1778), Vaslav Nijinsky (1890-1950), Gordon McRae (1921-1986), Jack Kerouac (1922-1969), Al Jarreau (1940), and Pete Doherty (1979).

It is National Day in Mauritius.

11 March 2010


El Bosque de los Ausentes
In memory of the 191 victims of the Madrid train bombings.

10 March 2010


The First Punic War came to an end when the Romans sank the Carthaginian fleet in 241 BC.  The French Foreign Legion was established in 1831.  Europe's worst mining disaster occurred in 1906, when an apparent dust explosion killed 1099 miners (including children) in a coal mine 2 km east of Lens, France.  Fulgencio Batista declared himself provisional president after successfully leading a coup in Cuba in 1952.

Born today:  Fellow Iowegian Bix Beiderbecke (1903-1931), Sepp Blatter (1936), Chuck Norris (1940) and Sharon Stone (1958).

It is Tibetan Uprising Day.

09 March 2010


Napoleon and Josephine were married in 1796.  InterMilan was founded in 1908 and Barbie was unleashed on the world in 1959.

Born today:  Amerigo Vespucci (1454-1512), Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962), Mickey Spillane (1918-2006), Keely Smith (1932), Yuri Gagarin (1934-1968), Juliette Binoche (1964)

It is Teachers' Day in Lebanon.

08 March 2010


Slow day today.  In 1775, Thomas Paine published "African Slavery in America", calling for the emancipation of slaves and abolition of slavery in America.  Radio 4 broadcast the first episode of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy in 1978.

Born today:  Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932), Cyd Charisse (1922-2008), Lynne Redgrave (1943), Mickey Dolenz (1945) and Gary Numan (1958).

It is International Women's Day.

07 March 2010


Constantine I declared that Solis Invicti (sun day) would be a day of rest throughout the Roman Empire in 321.  Roald Amundsen announced in 1912 that his expedition had reached the South Pole on 14/12/11.  State and local police attacked 600 people who were attempting to march peacefully from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, in 1965.

Born today:  Rob Roy (1671-1734), Piet Mondrian (1872-1944), Maurice Ravel (1875-1937), Townes Van Zandt (1944-1997), Viv Richards (1952), Rik Mayall (1958), Ivan Lendl (1960), Jesper Parnevik (1965) and Ronan O'Gara (1977).

It is Teachers' Day in Albania.

06 March 2010


Ferdinand Magellan reached Guam in 1521.  York, Upper Canada, was incorporated as Toronto in 1834.  After a 13-day siege, the Alamo fell to General Santa Anna's troops.  La Traviata was first performed in Venice in 1853.  And in 1987, the MS Herald of Free Enterprise capsized shortly after leaving Zeebrugge, killing 193 passengers and crew.

Born today:  Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-1655), Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861), Frankie Howerd (1917-1992), Gabriel García Márquez (1927), Valentina Tereshkova (1937), Kiri Te Kanawa (1944), David Gilmour (1946), Alan Davies (1966), heyhabib, a few years ago.

It is Independence Day in Ghana.

05 March 2010


Lowen dydh sen Piran!

The Persian poet, Nasir Khosrow began a seven year journey in 1046 which he described in Safarnama.  Five civilians were killed by British troops in what is referred to over here as the Boston Massacre in 1770.  The Britannia Bridge opened in 1850.  Paul Okalik was elected to serve as the first Premier of the newly created Canadian territory of Nunavut in 1999.

Born today:  Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919), Rex Herrison (1908-1990), Samantha Eggar (1939), Murray Head (1946), Clodagh Rodgers (1947), Eddy Grant (1948), Elaine Page (1948) and Craig and Charlie Reid (1962).

For the sake of my great-grandfather, I am morally obligated to tell you that it is St. Piran's Day in Cornwall.  Kernow Kensa.  Kernewek, onen hag oll.  Dydh da.  Denbal ov vy.  (And there's my Cornish exhausted.)

04 March 2010


Frederick I Barbarossa became King of Germany in 1152.  Hernan Cortes arrived in Mexico in 1519.  The National Institute for the Preservation of Life from Shipwreck was founded in 1824.  It was renamed the Royal National Lifeboat Institute in 1858.  Jeanette Rankin from Montana became the first woman to serve in the US House of Representatives in 1911.

Born today:  Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741), Alan Sillitoe (1928), Miriam Makeba (1932-2008), and Kenny Dalglish (1951).

It is the feast day of St. Basil and his companions.

03 March 2010


Bizet's Carmen premiered at the Opéra Comique in Paris in 1875 and the world's first organised indoor hockey game was played in Montreal on the same day.  Arthur Scargill announced in 1985 that the NUM national executive had voted to end the miners' strike.  And Los Angeles police were videotaped beating Rodney King during a routine traffic stop in 1991.

Born today:  Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922), Robyn Hitchcock (1953), Miranda Richardson (1958) and Charlie Brooker (1971).

It is Hinamatsuri, or Girls' Day, in Japan.

02 March 2010


Louis V became King of the Franks in 986.  The first Comintern met in Moscow in 1919.  King Norodom Sihanouk abdicated the throne of Cambodia in favour of his father, Norodom Suramarit in 1955.

Born today:  Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884), Kurt Weill (1900-1950), Theodore Geisel (Dr. Seuss) (1904-1991), Mikhail Gorbachev (1931), Lou Reed (1942), Harry Redknapp (1947), Karen Carpenter (1950-1983) and Daniel Craig (1968).

It is Independence Day in Morocco.

01 March 2010


Dydd Gwŷl Dewi Sant hapus!

Wishing our Welsh contingent (yeah, Annetan & Leni, we're looking at you!) a happy St. David's Day.  Nearly interesting things that have happened on this date:

The Unitas Fratrum (Moravian Church), the second oldest Protestant denomination in the world, was founded in 1457.  Rio de Janeiro was founded in 1565.  Nikola Tesla demonstrated radio to the public for the first time in 1893 and the Soviet Union's Venera 3 crash landed on Venus in 1966.

Born today:  Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849), William Dean Howells (1837-1920), Lytton Strachey (1880-1932), Glenn Miller (1904-1944), David Niven (1910-1983), Ralph Ellison (1913-1994), Harry Belafonte (1927), Roger Daltrey (1944) and Atomboy.