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History Trivia & Comment: The Fun, The Useless, The Serious (11/9/2007)

November 9, 2007

On this day in …

– 1872, “Fire destroyed nearly 1,000 buildings in Boston.” … This came from the Chicago Tribune. Chicago apparently does not like to feel alone in remembering 1870s destruction. This is also known as the Great Boston Fire of 1872.

– 1906, “Theodore Roosevelt is the first sitting President of the United States to make an official trip outside the country. He did so to inspect progress on the Panama Canal.” … Uh, if he was sitting, he couldn’t have also moved for the trip. Get it?! … I wonder how many unofficial trips were made by prior presidents? Hmm…

– 1935, “United Mine Workers president John L. Lewis and other labor leaders formed the Committee for Industrial Organization.” … Doesn’t this guy look funny? It’s the eyebrows.

– 1960, “Robert McNamara is named president of Ford Motor Co., the first non-Ford to serve in that post. A month later, he quit to join the newly-elected John F. Kennedy administration.” … I love it that McNamara’s middle name is Strange. Did you know that? How’s that for taking a moderately interesting piece of trivia and adding something useless to it.

– 1965, “Several northeastern states and parts of Canada were hit by a series of power failures lasting up to 13 1/2 hours.” … This feels like pretty useless information. It would be a more useful, or dramatic, entry if the day’s temperatures in those states were given. Was the average temperature that day 25 or 55 F? Or, is this the longest power outage in Canadian history? This entry came from the NYT. The Chicago Tribune does a little better job with the remembrance: “The great Northeast blackout occurred as a series of power failures lasting up to 13 1/2 hours left 30 million people in seven states and two Canadian provinces without electricity.”

– 1971, “John List, an accountant from Westfield, New Jersey murders his mother, wife and three children. He then hides under a new identity for 18 years.” … This came from Wikipedia. … 18 years. Wow. Horrible. I don’t remember the late-1980s revelation.

– 1978, “President Jimmy Carter signed into law the National Energy Act of 1978, which contained a controversial provision to deregulate natural gas.” … Another one from the Chicago Tribune. The editors know that Chicago businessmen love to remember great moments in deregulation.

– 1994, “Discovery of the chemical element, Darmstadtium.” … Truly useless information. Absolutely worthless.

– 2000, “George W. Bush’s lead over Al Gore in all-or-nothing Florida slipped beneath 300 votes in a suspense-filled recount, as Democrats threw the presidential election to the courts, claiming ‘an injustice unparalleled in our history.’ ” … The conservative Chicago Tribune loves to mock Democrat defeats.

– 2004, “Houston Astros pitcher Roger Clemens won his record seventh Cy Young award.” … Perhaps it is because he never pitched for one of “my” teams, but this guy has been getting on my nerves for almost 20 years. I’m glad he’s retiring—or is he? Ugh.

[Sources: NYT, Wikipedia, Chicago Tribune]

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