Sunday, May 6, 2012


Been a long time since... that horrifying airship crash.

On this day in 1937, the Hindenburg zeppelin bursts into flames upon landing at a Lakehurst, New Jersey air-field, killing 36 of the 97 passengers on board. NBC Radio's Herbert Morrison witnesses the horrifying calamity and is overcome with emotion during a live, coast-to-coast radio broadcast during which he utters the infamous phrase: "Oh, the humanity!"  Controversy still surrounds many aspects of the Hindenburg disaster.

On this day in 1861, the city of Richmond, Virginia is declared the capital of the Confederate States of America, a mere 108 miles south of Washington DC. Nowadays, neo-Confederates would probably choose some city in Texas... pretty much anywhere but Austin, I suspect.

On this day in 1882, the United States Congress passes the Chinese Exclusion Act... a law which does exactly what its name implies, which is refreshingly candid when compared to the Orwellian New-speak nightmares of T.H.E.P.A.T.R.I.O.T.A.C.T. and No Child Left Behind. Originally intended to exclude Chinese "skilled and unskilled laborers employed in mining" from entering the country for ten years (under penalty of imprisonment and deportation), the law was not repealed until 1943... over 60 years later. 

On this day in 1889, the Eiffel Tower is officially opened to the public at the Universal Exposition in Paris, France. At 1,050 feet, it was the tallest man-made structure in the world, surpassing the Washington Monument, which - at 555 feet - had only held the record for five years. In contrast, the Eiffel Tower would remain the tallest man-made structure on the planet for over 40 years, until the Chrysler Building surpassed it in 1930.

On this day in 1954Roger Bannister becomes the first person to do what would eventually become a commonplace, but which physicians and scientists at the time had deemed impossible... he runs a mile in under four minutes' time.

On this day in 1994, after  Former Arkansas state worker / nude model / Country singer / late-night infomercial "psychic" Paula Jones files a lawsuit against President Bill Clinton alleging that he had "dropped trou" and showed her his pecker back in 1991 when he was still Governor of Arkansas. Of course, it didn't hurt any that ultra-right-wing proto-fascist newspaper publisher / billionaire / Clinton-hater / murderer (?) Richard Mellon Scaife's so-called Arkansas Project had essentially bribed her into launching her suit, and bankrolled the entire enterprise from its sketchy beginnings to its silly, sordid end. 

On this day in 1996, The body of former CIA director William Colby is found washed up on a riverbank in southern Maryland, eight days after he "disappeared". Quite a bit of background is necessary to begin to grasp the enigma that is the life and death of William Colby. 

On this day in 2002, anti-Islam, anti-immigration, openly homosexual Dutch politician Pim Fortuyn is gunned down by "animal rights activist" Volkert Van der Graff, who decided to assassinate Fortuyn to prevent him from "scapegoating the weaker members of society."

Celebrating parapolitical birthdays on this day are Maximilien Robespierre (1758), French Revolutionary and prime figure in The Terror; father of psychoanalysis Sigmund Freud (1856) and multimedia wunderkind  and psychological warfare pioneer Orson Welles (1915).

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