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Friday Fun: History Trivia and Comment

September 7, 2007

On this day in …

– 1860, “Steamship Lady Elgin sinks on Lake Michigan, with the loss of around 400 lives.” … I never knew until moving to Chicago how many shipping accidents there were in the Great Lakes. I mean, you’d think that everyone one of the ship pilots played drunken slalom with shore line — at least once per week.

– 1876, “In Northfield, Minnesota, Jesse James and the James-Younger Gang attempt to rob the town’s bank but are surrounded by an angry mob and are nearly killed.” … And doesn’t this sound like a line from Monty Python’s The Holy Grail? — “Sir Jesse James and his squires were nearly killed by the Vicious Chicken of Bristol!”

– 1901, “The Boxer Rebellion in China officially ends with the signing of the Boxer Protocol.” … This is not to discredit practitioners of Chinese history, but am I the only one who ~still~ has to fight an immediate mental collage of thousands of little pets — wearing boxing gloves — pummeling each other? … Jeez I need to grow up.

– 1927, “TV pioneer Philo T. Farnsworth succeeded in transmitting an image through purely electronic means by using a device called an image dissector” … I wonder if TV’s invention was the direct result of Prohibition? Did the time Mr. Farnsworth save due to Prohibition – no bars or hangovers – aid his creative powers? Or, conversely, was TV the product of some of his bathtub hooch? … Hmm … Talk among yourselves while I think about the next entry.

– 1979, “ESPN (the Entertainment and Sports Programming Network) made its cable TV debut.” … Wow. Only two years and ESPN will be 30 years old. I wonder if they already have plans to cryogenically freeze Chris Berman for re-release at their 2079 anniversary?

– 1998, “St. Louis Cardinals slugger Mark McGuire equaled Roger Maris’ single-season home run record as he hit No. 61 in a game against the Chicago Cubs.” … Just another chapter in the ignominious history of the Cubs. And for this to have happened at the hands of a hulking Cardinal. At least we had Sammy. :/

– 2006, “Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage confirmed he was the source of a leak that had disclosed the identity of CIA employee Valerie Plame, saying he didn’t realize Plame’s job was covert.” … Mr. Armitage, you are now the answer to the following historical trivia question: Who was the biggest J@*K @$$ of 2006?

[Sources: NYT, Wikipedia]

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