Thursday, June 14, 2012

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


On this day in 1884, ten inches of snow falls in New England. This was the "year without a summer," thanks to all the crap thrown into the atmosphere by the massive explosion of the island of Krakatoa, near Indonesia. Don't bother looking for it on a map... it blew up real good, and it ain't there no more.

On this day in 1934, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Securities Act into law, establishing the Securities and Exchange Commission. Ever since then, subsequent Republican administrations have done their damnedest to file down the Act's fangs.

On this day in 1984, one of the best-selling video games of all-time is released: TETRIS! It remains, to this day, the single most popular cultural artifact ever to emerge from Soviet Russia.

On this day in 1988, President George Herbert "Poppy" Walker Bush promises to provide reparations and an official apology to the thousands of Americans of Japanese descent who were held in work camps for the duration of World War II. Neither the reparations nor the apology were ever tendered.

On this day in 2002, a near-Earth asteroid estimated at 10 meters diameter explodes over the Mediterranean Sea between Greece and Libya. The resulting explosion is estimated to have a force of 26 kilotons, slightly more powerful than the Nagasaki atomic bomb. This occurred during a time of great tension between nuclear rivals Pakistan and India, leading some to speculate about what might have happened if the detonation had occurred over one of those countries. Could it have been mistaken for a nuclear first-strike? Might it have lead to an accidental retaliation? Who knows? All I know is, now I'm hungry for some Butter Chicken!

Tuesday, June 5, 2012


On this day in 8239 BC, the Universe is imagined into existence by two void-dwelling Gods, according to the Mayan "long-count" calendar. FYI, this same calendar lists December 21st, 2012 AD as the day that the Universe will come to an end... So smoke'em if ya got'em!

On this day in 1956, new-fangled rock-and-roller Elvis Presley creates a nationwide panic when he goes on The Milton Berle Show and performs a swivel-hipped rendition of his cover tune classic, Houndog. Later that night, pretty much anywhere within a five mile radius of a television set, if you went outside and breathed in deep, you could smell the faint aroma of sopping wet panties hanging in the air.

On this day, in 1968, at 12:16 am Pacific Standard Time, Sirhan Sirhan shoots Bobby Kennedy (or not), who dies the next day. JFK, RFK, MLK, John Lennon... Hey! How come these whack-job lone gunmen only succeed when they go after liberals? God must be a conservative, I guess.

On this day in 1933, U.S. Congress abrogates the gold standard by enacting a joint resolution (48 Stat. 112) nullifying the right of creditors to demand payment in gold. This is one of those historical "wrong turns" Ron Paul is always harping on about.

On this day in 1963, British Secretary of State for War John Profumo resigns after it comes to light that he's been shagging sexy, commie-connected call girl Christine Keeler. The scandal is popularly known as the Profumo Affair. Why it isn't called the Keeler Kerfuffle, I have no idea.

On this day in 1967, the Six-Day War begins when the Israeli air force launches (ahem) simultaneous pre-emptive attacks on the air forces of Egypt and Syria.

On this day in 1977, the Apple II, one of the first personal computers, goes on sale. So... have you ever wondered what that "apple with a bite out of it" logo means? Or why the first Apple computer sold for $666? So have these guys.

On this day in 1981, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that five people in Los Angeles, California have a rare form of pneumonia seen only in patients with weakened immune systems, in what turns out to be the first recognized cases of AIDS.

On this day in 1989, a single man halts the progress of a column of advancing tanks for over half an hour during the Tiananmen Square massacre. You gotta hand it to him. He was one ballsy fucker, and that's for damn sure.

On this day in 2004, after nearly 16 years out of office and out of the public eye, President Ronald Reagan dies at 93 years old. He is the oldest serving and the longest-living of all American Presidents. The heavily stage-managed media spectacle that followed Reagan's passing was, simply put, astonishing in its mercenary zeal. I wrote some good editorials about it, back in the day. If anybody asks, I'll email them. Also, don't worry... I hope to get some new quality writing done soon, so I can stop reveling in my former glories.

Monday, June 4, 2012


On this day in 1760, British Loyalists from New England arrive in Nova Scotia, claiming the land as their own, despite the fact that said land had already been occupied by the French-speaking Acadians for over two hundred years. Yeah, my ancestors also got screwed by the British. A lot of that going around, it seems.

On this day in 1783, France's Montgolfier brothers launch the first-ever hot-air balloon.

On this day in 1913, suffragette Emily Davison runs out in front of King George V's horse at the Epsom Derby and is promptly trampled. She never regains consciousness and dies a few days later. Six years later to the day, the U.S. Congress approves the 19th Amendment to the American Constitution, guaranteeing suffrage (i.e., the vote) to American women.

On this day in 1939, the MS St. Louis, a ship carrying 963 Jewish refugees, is denied permission to land in Florida, after already being turned away from Cuba. Forced to return to Europe, more than 200 of its passengers would later die in Nazi concentration camps.

On this day in 1984, American singer/songwriter Bruce Springsteen releases the most mis-understood song in the history of rock: Born in the USA.

On this day in 1986, spy Jonathan Pollard pleads guilty to espionage for selling top secret United States military intelligence to Israel. He is currently serving a life sentence. Check out his Wikipedia page for a hilarious account of the Israeli reaction to Pollard's treatment. Un-fucking-believable.

On this day in 1989, the Ayatalloh Ruhullah Khomeini of Iran dies of internal bleeding at the age of 86. That same day, Iran's Assembly of Experts choose Ali Khamenei to be the new Supreme Leader of Islamic republic of Iran.

On this day in 1998, Tim McVeigh's bomb-buddy Terry Nichols is sentenced to 161 consecutive life sentences for his role in the Oklahoma City bombing that claimed 168 lives (including 19 children). He is currently serving his time in ADX SuperMax in Florence, Colorado, on "Bomber's Row" with Ted "Unabomber" Kaczynski and Ramzi "Bojinka" Yousef.

Sunday, June 3, 2012


On this day in 1839, in Humen, China, Lin Tse-hsü destroys 1.2 million kg of opium confiscated from British merchants, providing Britain with a casus belli to open hostilities, resulting in the First Opium War. And now, in Afghanistan, the poppy fields are... well... as you can see, 'twas ever thus, folks.

Czech novelist Franz Kafka dies on this day in 1924 at the age of 41. His last will and testament ordered that all his writings should be burned. Fortunately, his friends refuse his dying wish, and the world gets to read his many works of genius.

On this day in 1937, the Duke of Windsor abdicates his rightful place as the King of England in order to marry his American divorcee girlfriend Wallis Simpson. And it's a good thing, too, seeing as the Duke was a Hitler-admiring, Nazi-sympathizing reprobate.

After being arrested on suspicion of having broken into a Florida poolroom, Charles Gideon was put on trial and immediately found guilty... thanks mostly to the fact that he couldn't afford a lawyer. In Florida at the time, that meant he had to defend himself. It also pretty much guaranteed he was jail-bound. Afterwards, while in jail, Gideon made multiple appeals on the grounds that he had a constitutional right to be represented in court by a professional lawyer. Eventually, his case made its way to the Supreme Court of the USA, which declared: "a fair trial cannot be realized if the poor man charged with the crime has to face his accusers without a lawyer to assist him." And that's how, on this day in 1960, the ceaseless whining of one petty thief permanently changed the way the nation's legal system works, for the better... a rare thing indeed!

On this day in 1968, radical feminist and SCUM Manifesto author Valerie Solanas shoots superstar artist Andy Warhol three times. He survives.

On this day in 1989, Chinese military troops and tanks storm through Beijing's Tiananmen Square which, unfortunately for them, just happened to be chock full with nearly a million pro-democracy protesters at the time. At the time, Western witnesses estimated between 300 and a thousand protesters had been killed - either shot by soldiers or trampled in a mad dash to avoid getting shot - and nearly 10,000 were arrested for taking part in the protests. Then-President George Herbert "Poppy" Walker Bush reacted swiftly to this massive assault on human rights by granting China Most Favored Nation trade status.

Friday, June 1, 2012


On this day in 1566, plague-era physician and infamous prophet Nostradamus dies in Salon, France. In the weeks before passing on, he told his friends and servants that he was going to die, and had a silver plate engraved. He instructed his family to bury it with him. One hundred and thirty four years later, officials decided to move his body to a new, more distinguished grave site. Workers dig for hours, slide the lid off his sarcophagus, and gaze upon his skeleton. Beneath the bony hands folded across the now empty rib cage was the aforementioned silver plate with an inscription reading "MDCC", as in 1700 AD in Roman numerals. The very year in which the workers were moving his body. Freaky, no? Also freaky is the fact that, during the French Revolution, two soldiers from Marseilles allegedly dug up Nostradamus's second grave in search of loot. Finding none, one of them decided to drink wine from his skull as a lark. The next day, that soldier was killed in combat. Coincidence? HA!

On this day in 1740Donatien Alphonse Francois - better known as the Marquis de Sade, is born. A war vet who spent 27 years in jail for adultery (most of it with his wife’s sister) de Sade built a cosmic metaphysics around his taste and appetites. In 1777 he was put in the Bastille. In 1785 he started writing 120 Days of Sodom on 100 tiny sheets, both sides, in a tiny, cramped script. On Bastille Day, it was stolen. Sade joined the Revolution but held on to his aristocratic trappings, claiming capital punishment was wrong because murder should never be political... only pleasure. He died in 1819 having never again laid eyes on his 120 Days of Sodom, which was eventually recovered and posthumously published to much shock and indignation.

On this day in 1953, the first major international event to be televised around the world takes place: the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II! Her Royal Highness is crowned "Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Her Other Realms and Territories" Quite a mouthful.

On this day in 1997, radical right-wing terrorist Timothy McVeigh is found guilty in the bombing of the Murrah building in Oklahoma City which killed 168 men, women and children. He was eventually put to death for his role in the bombing... but do we know all the facts? Thanks to a recent push by Alex Jones, some alternate theories of what really happened in OK City have been bandied around lately. Personally, I think a lot of what's appearing through his venues is simple-minded, knee-jerk "patriot" stuff... but in the interest of fairness, I will post the trailer to the film he is promoting on the subject, entitled A Noble Lie, below. For more (and, in my opinion, superior) coverage of competing OK City bombing weltanschauungs, check out this site.


On this day in 1495, friar John Cor brews up the first known batch of scotch whiskey.

On this day in 1921, the Black Wall Street Riot takes place. A prosperous black community in Tulsa, Oklahoma was burned to the ground by a mob of 5,000 white people enraged that a group of armed black men had convened on City Hall to prevent the lynching of a shoe-shine boy accused of raping a white woman (she later reversed her story). At one point, the city called in bi-planes to bomb the community with dynamite, leveling it. Officially, the body-count was 81 - 21 whites, 60 blacks - but estimates have ranged as high as 3000. Many records were destroyed during and after the attack, and efforts are underway to examine abandoned mine-shafts in the area, long-believed to have been used as mass graves for hundreds of unaccounted-for blacks.

On this day in 1980, Ted Turner's Cable News Network - better known as CNN - begins broadcasting its particular blend of USA Today-style quasi-news-nuggets and obsessive-compulsive over-coverage of irrelevant bullshit.

On this day in 1979, after 90 years of European rule, Rhodesia holds elections that put Bishop Abel Muzorewa's ZAPU party in power. The nation is promptly re-named Rhodesia-Zimbabwe and Muzorewa builds a power-sharing government with the former ruling whites that lasts all of six or so months, at which point Robert Mugabe's ZANU party wins in a violent, fishy election marred by terrorist intimidation of every other party. Upon gaining power, Mugabe drops the "Rhodesia" entirely, leaving just plain "Zimbabwe". Today, Zimbabwe is one of the only nations on Earth capable of giving North Korea competition as the most totally FUBAR place in the world.

Up until this day in 2001, Nepal's King Birendra was the only Hindu king in the world, a man beloved by his subjects for presiding over that nation's constitutional monarchy with grace, patience, and wit. That all came to a sudden end, however, when his useless, fat-faced son - the sullen Party Boy Prince Dippy, as the press called him - went bonkers, unloading a couple clips of ammo into King Birendra and seven other royal family members, including the Queen and his own brothers and sisters, before turning the gun on himself. In a shocking twist, as he lay in hospital, brain dead, Prince Dippy was crowned King of Nepal in accordance with the laws of the land. Sparing the mountain nation the indignity of having a mass murderer as the head of its royal family, Prince Dippy graciously succumbed to his wounds later that same day. At this point, Gyanendra, brother of slain King Birendra, was crowned King just in time to preside over the funerals of over a half-dozen of his family members.