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August 2007 Archives

August 31, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 31

This Day in History

1887: Thomas Edison receives a patent for his Kinetoscope, which produces moving pictures.
1895: The first official professional football game is played, with the Jeanette Athletic Club defeating the Latrobe YMCA by a 12-0 score.
1980: The Solidarity labor movement is born in Poland under an agreement reached with striking shipyard workers in Gdansk.
1990: Ken Griffey and Ken Griffey Jr. become the first father and son baseball players to play together in the major leagues, during a Seattle Mariners game.
1997: Diana, Princess of Wales, is killed in an auto accident in Paris, France, along with her companion, Mohammed (Dodi) al-Fayed, and their driver.
2001: A Little League baseball team from the Bronx is forced to forfeit all of its season's victories after its star, Danny Almonte, is revealed to be 14 instead of 12.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 31" »

August 30, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 30

This Day in History

1856: John Brown leads antislavery fighters against Missourians at Osawatomie, KS.
1893: Frances Folsom Cleveland, wife of Pres. Grover Cleveland, becomes the first first lady to give birth in the White House, when daughter Esther is born.
1991: Mike Powell beats Bob Beamon's 23-year-old record in the long jump when he jumps 29'4" at the world championships in Tokyo, Japan .
1997: The Houston Comets basketball team beats the NY Liberty, 65-51, to win the first WNBA championship.
2002: Baseball owners and players avert a strike with a last-minute agreement on a new contract.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 30" »

August 29, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 29

This Day in History

1889: The first U.S. professional tennis match is played, in Newport, RI.
1957: SC Sen. Strom Thurmond sets a filibuster record of 24 hours, 27 minutes, when he speaks against a civil rights bill.
1991: In the USSR, the Supreme Soviet suspends all activities of the Communist Party.
1996: Dick Morris, a political strategist for Pres. Bill Clinton, resigns after being linked to a prostitute.
2004: The Summer Olympics conclude in Athens, Greece.
2005: Hurricane Katrina devastates the U.S. Gulf Coast and floods New Orleans, killing more than 1,000 and becoming the costliest natural disaster in U.S. history.

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August 28, 2007

Virgin Reefs: Expedition to Kingman

0708Kingmancoral.jpgWe only devote one sentence in the "U.S. States and Other Areas" chapter of The World Almanac to Kingman Reef, and deservedly so. It’s two barren coral outcroppings about 930 miles southwest of Hawai’i in the Line Islands group, relatively close to the equally remote Palmyra Atoll. But that’s a good thing for marine ecologist Dr. Enric Sala, who claimed back in 2005 that it’s “the closest thing to a pristine coral reef” that he had ever seen.

Dr. Sala has returned to Kingman Reef and is blogging the experience, from curious sharks to vicious “reef vampires.” Equal parts entertaining and informative, it's a great chance to learn about a unique place that none of us will probably ever visit.

Accompanying his team is National Geographic underwater photographer Brian Skerry, who is shooting for an upcoming issue.

Virgin Reefs: Expedition to Kingman

This Day In History: Aug. 28

This Day in History

1963: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivers his "I have a dream" speech as some 200,000 people march on Washington in support of black demands for equal rights.
1990: Iraq declares Kuwait, which it invaded weeks earlier, its 19th province.
1992: U.S. planes begin delivering emergency food to war-torn Somalia, joining international relief efforts.
1997: A controversial anti-affirmative action measure, Proposition 209, goes into effect in California.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 28" »

August 27, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 27

This Day in History

1776: In the Revolutionary War, Gen. George Washington loses the Battle of Long Island.
1859: The first commercially productive oil well is drilled near Titusville, PA.
1950: Under Pres. Harry Truman's order, the Army seizes all the railroads to prevent a general strike.
1999: The Russian space station Mir is vacated by its last crew. Scientists report finding the first liquid water in an object from space, a meteorite that fell to earth in Monahans, TX, in 1998.
2003: China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Russia and the U.S. begin three days of talks in Beijing over North Korea's nuclear activities.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 27" »

August 26, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 26

This Day in History

1883: The volcano Krakatau (Krakatoa) erupts in Indonesia, causing huge tidal waves and killing some 36,000 people.
1939: A NY television station airs the first TV broadcast of a major league baseball game, between the Cincinnati Reds and Brooklyn Dodgers, played at Ebbets Field.
1957: The Soviet Union announces that it has conducted successful testing of an intercontinental ballistic missile.
1968: The Democratic National Convention opens in Chicago, marked by violent clashes between police and antiwar protestors.
2004: Iraqi Shiite leader Ali Sistani brokers a truce in fighting between U.S. troops and followers of Moqtada al-Sadr in the holy city of Najaf.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 26" »

August 25, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 25

This Day in History

1944: In World War II, Paris is liberated, and Charles de Gaulle leads a parade down the Champs Elysées.
1981: The Voyager 2 spacecraft, launched in August 1977, encounters the planet Saturn.
1985: NY Mets pitcher Dwight Gooden, at 20 years, 9 months, becomes the youngest baseball player ever to win 20 games in a season.
1989: Voyager 2 encounters the planet Neptune.
2000: The fledging Somali assembly elects Abdikassim Salad Hassan president, giving the war-torn country its first functioning government in a decade.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 25" »

August 24, 2007

To Read or Not to Read

reading.jpg Read any good books lately? (Yes, Harry Potter counts. No, the film adaptations do not.) If you haven't, you're not alone—not by a long stretch. An AP-Ipsos poll released yesterday found that 27 percent of Americans hadn't read a single book in the last year. And of the self-professed readers, the median number of volumes read was 6.5. The most frequently cited reading material was the Bible (and other religious works), followed by popular fiction/history/biography/mystery, and romance novels.
Other findings:
  • People from the West and Midwest are more likely to have read at least one book in the past year.
  • Southerners who read tend to read more books than people from other regions.
  • Whites read more than blacks and Hispanics.
  • Those who never attend religious services read nearly twice as many books as those who attend frequently.
  • Democrats and liberals typically read slightly more books than Republicans and conservatives.

    [via the Chicago Tribune]

U.S. Reading Habits [CNN]
Book Study Poll Results (pdf) [AP/Ipsos]

Flickr photo by jakebouma

This Day In History: Aug. 24

This Day in History

79: The volcano Mt. Vesuvius erupts in southern Italy, killing an estimated 16,000 people and destroying the cities of Pompeii, Stabiae, and Herculaneum.
1814: In the War of 1812, the British capture Washington, DC, and burn the Capitol and the White House.
1875: Matthew Webb of Britain becomes the first person to swim the English Channel.
1949: NATO is established by the United States, Canada, and 10 Western European nations for mutual defense.
1989: Cincinnati Reds manager Pete Rose is banned from baseball for life for gambling.
1992: Hurricane Andrew strikes southern Florida, causing severe damage.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 24" »

August 23, 2007



Twenty-four year old researcher Virgil Griffith has developed a database that traces the IP addresses of anonymous contributors to Wikipedia, the free online, user-written encyclopedia.

Among his reasons for doing so were the desire "to create a cornucopia of minor public relations disasters for companies and organizations I dislike" and the fact that "every time I hear about a new security vulnerability, I look to see if it can be done on a massive scale and indexed."

With his WikiScanner, Griffith was able to find several cases where unfavorable information was anonymously deleted from the entries of certain corporations; he was able to trace the digital footprint left by these anonymous users to IP addresses reserved for those very corporations.

"See Who's Editing Wikipedia--Diebold, the CIA, a Campaign" (Wired)
Wikidgame—reader-contributed list of the most "shameful" Wikipedia edits

Photo of Virgil Griffith by Jake Appelbaum.

This Day In History: Aug. 23

This Day in History

1305: Scotsman William Wallace is executed after being convicted of treason by an English court.
1914: In World War I, Japan declares war on Germany.
1927: Radicals Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti are executed for a 1920 Massachusetts holdup in which 2 were killed. (The controversial verdict against them was repudiated in 1977).
1939: The Soviet Union and Nazi Germany sign a nonaggression pact.
1999: For the first time since World War II, Berlin becomes the capital of a unified Germany.
2005: Israel completes the evacuation of all Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip, as well as several in the West Bank.
In response to a high-profile protest staged by Cindy Sheehan, mother of a soldier killed in the Iraq war, Pres. George W. Bush rejects calls for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.:

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 23" »

August 22, 2007

Edward's Untimely Death Series: Entry #8

isadora04.jpg The American dancer Isadora Duncan (1878-1927) based her expressive dance style on her vision of dances of the ancient Greeks. She laid the groundwork for the modern dance movement of the 20th century.

Born in San Francisco in 1878, she made her professional debut in Chicago in 1899, and subsequently toured Europe and the U.S., establishing dance schools in Berlin (1904), Paris (1914), and in Moscow (1921). When she first introduced her style of dancing – characterized by free, flowing movements expressing inner emotion, inspired by waves, wind, birds, and insects, and wearing a tunic with her feet, arms, and legs bare – she was met with strong opposition, especially from the established ballet community.

An advocate of free love, Duncan had a daughter by the British stage designer Edward Gordon Craig and a son by American sewing machine heir Paris Singer (1892?-1953). Both of her children were killed in an automobile accident in 1913. She married Russian poet Sergey Yesenin (1895-1925) in 1922, but separated within a year. In the 1920s she had a passionate affair with poet Mercedes de Acosta (1893-1968).

Duncan’s dramatic death occurred in Nice, France on the evening of September 14, 1927. Returning to her hotel, she entered an open car wearing an “immense iridescent silk scarf around her neck and streaming in long folds, part of which was swathed about her body with part trailing behind” (New York Times obituary). Driving away, neither Duncan nor the driver realized that the long fringe had gotten wrapped in the spokes of the rear tire, and as the car reached full speed, she was dragged out of the car and slammed onto the cobblestone roadway, strangled and dying instantly.

This Day In History: Aug. 22

This Day in History

1911: Authorities announce in Paris that Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa has been stolen; it is recovered 2 years later in Italy.
1984: The Republican National Convention nominates Pres. Ronald Reagan and Vice Pres. George Bush for a 2nd term, in a single roll-call vote.
1989: Nolan Ryan of the Texas Rangers baseball team becomes the first pitcher to strike out 5,000 batters during a 2-0 Texas loss to Oakland.
1996: A major welfare reform bill is signed, providing for welfare through block grants to the states and ending the federal guarantee of subsidies to poor people with children.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 22" »

August 21, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 21

This Day in History

1831: Nat Turner, a Virginia slave, begins leading a local slave rebellion.
1858: The Lincoln - Douglas debates begin in Illinois.
1863: During the Civil War, Confederate William Clarke Quantrill launches a predawn raid on Lawrence, KS, killing 150 civilians and destroying much of the town.
1959: Hawaii is admitted to the Union as the 50th state.
1983: Benigno Aquino, the Philippine opposition leader, is shot and killed at the airport in Manila when he returns home after 3 years.
1993: NASA loses contact with the Mars Observer space probe as it nears Mars.
2002: President Bush publicly reiterates his support for "regime change" in Iraq .

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 21" »

August 20, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 20

This Day in History

1968: Czechoslovakia is invaded and occupied by Warsaw Pact troops.
1974: Pres. Gerald Ford nominates Nelson Rockefeller to be vice president.
1975: Viking 1 is launched to Mars, where it lands in July 1976.
1977: Voyager 2 is launched to the outer planets; it encounters the first, Jupiter, in July 1979.
1992: Pres. George Bush accepts the Republican presidential nomination on the last day of the Republican National Convention in Houston.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 20" »

August 19, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 19

This Day in History

1812: In the War of 1812, the USS Constitution destroys the British ship Guerriere.
1934: In a plebiscite, almost 90% of Germans vote to give Adolf Hitler the title of president in addition to chancellor, placing him in supreme command of the country.
1951: Eddie Gaedel, a 3'7" midget, goes to bat as a pinch hitter for the St. Louis Browns baseball team; he walks on 4 pitches and is taken out of the game for a pinch runner.
1991: Hard-line Communists stage a coup while Pres. Mikhail Gorbachev is away from Moscow on vacation; they give up 3 days later.
2002: A Russian military helicopter crashes in Chechnya, killing 117.
2003: A Palestinian suicide bomber kills himself and 20 others on a Jerusalem bus.
A suicide bomber driving a cement truck attacks the UN headquarters in Iraq, killing 22 including Sergio Vieira de Mello—the senior UN representative in Iraq—and wounding more than 100.:

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 19" »

August 18, 2007

This Day In History: Aug 18

This Day in History

1920: The 19th Amendment is ratified, giving women the vote.
1963: James Meredith graduates from the Univ. of Mississippi, becoming the first black to do so.
1983: Hurricane Alicia crosses the Texas coast near Galveston and then moves inland to Houston, causing some 20 deaths and over $1 billion in damage.
2002: Leaders of four Central European nations meet in Berlin to organize aid after the worst flooding in living memory, which has killed 109 and caused $20 billion in damage.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug 18" »

August 17, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 17

This Day in History

1807: Robert Fulton makes the first practical steamboat trip, leaving New York City on the Clermont; he reaches Albany in 32 hours.
1863: During the Civil War, Union forces begin shelling Fort Sumter in South Carolina.
1920: In baseball's only on-field fatality, Cleveland shortstop Ray Chapman dies a day after being beaned by NY Yankees pitcher Carl Mays.
1987: The last surviving Nazi convicted at Nuremberg, Rudolf Hess, commits suicide in a Berlin prison.
1998: In testimony provided to a grand jury, and in a televised address, Pres. Bill Clinton admits to having had an inappropriate relationship with former White House intern Monica Lewinsky.

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August 16, 2007

The World Almanac Wakes Up With Whoopi: #2

As promised last week, here's my second World Almanac for Kids visit with the Wake Up With Whoopi crew. We did this on August 2, but it makes sense to post it today because today is the anniversary of an event I mentioned on-air.

Yup, August 16 is the day that Capt. Joe Kittinger set a particularly astonishing set of records in 1960. And in my excitement to talk about inventors, parachutes, and insanely high-altitude free-falls, I mixed up a few key details. Most notably: Kittinger didn't jump from 18,000 feet, that was the height at which his main parachute opened; he actually jumped—out of a balloon dubbed Excelsior III—from an altitude of more than 100,000 feet. In the process, he set records for highest balloon ascent and highest parachute jump, and also set the record for fastest speed attained by a human without the assistance of an engine.

As penance for my fact-flubbing, I offer this video of his jump, which is far more interesting than listening to me talk. But you can still click here to listen to the show and catch up on some other facts (accurate ones!) about the first Census, National Inventors' Month, and how some of those off-the-wall "National [Something-Very-Strange] Month" holidays come about in the first place.

Kittinger speaking at the Kircher Society Meeting (Part 1; be sure to click on parts 2 and 3)

This Day In History: Aug. 16

This Day in History

1780: During the Revolutionary War, American troops suffer disastrous losses in the Battle of Camden, SC, with 1,000 dying and another 1,000 taken captive.
1812: In the War of 1812, the British take Detroit.
1896: Gold is discovered in the Yukon's Klondike region, sparking a famous gold rush.
1948: Baseball great Babe Ruth dies of cancer at the age of 53.
1977: Elvis Presley dies in a Memphis hospital at the age of 42.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 16" »

August 15, 2007

Evacuating an Airplane

I recently stumbled upon this amazing video, which shows an evacuation test that Airbus conducted for its new A380 aircraft on Mar. 26, 2006. The test took place at Airbus in Hamburg, Germany.

The test, which Airbus described in a press release as "the most stringent ever performed and the first ever on a passenger aircraft with two decks," simulated certain conditions, including the following:

  • performed in complete darkness, aided only by emergency lighting
  • half of the exits blocked, though neither crew nor test passengers know beforehand which ones
  • test passengers reflect demographics of actual travelers (e.g., at least 40% female, at least 35% over 50)

To pass, all passengers and crew—whatever the plane's maximum capacity—must be able to evacuate within 90 seconds. In this drill, all 853 "passengers" and 20 crew members got off the A380 within 78 seconds. The European Aviation and Safety Agency and the Federal Aviation Administration approved the results of the trial a few days later.

For more on airplane evacuation trials, check out this article from Slate. The article discusses the Airbus test as well as the safety of such tests in general. For example, the writer notes, "Friction causes the majority of evacuation injuries. ... Dismounting can also be treacherous. ... If you don't plant both feet when you get to the bottom of the slide--or if you plant your feet too hard--you can easily sprain or fracture your ankle or break your leg."

"How Did Airbus Ace Its Airplane Evacuation Test?" (Slate)
"A380 Successfully Completes Evacuation Test" (Airbus press release)

This Day In History: Aug. 15

This Day in History

1914: The Panama Canal opens.
1935: Humorist Will Rogers and aviator Wiley Post are killed in a plane crash in Alaska.
1944: In World War II, Allied forces begin landing on the south coast of France.
1947: India gains its independence from Britain.
1969: The Woodstock music festival begins near Bethel, NY, drawing hundreds of thousands of people.
2003: Libya admits responsibility for the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988 that killed 270, in a $2 billion settlement with victims' families.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 15" »

August 14, 2007

The Voyager Recordings

0708VoyagerCover.gif When Voyager I and Voyager II were launched in 1977, their purpose wasn’t limited to teaching humans about the universe. Aboard each is a gold-plated copper disk designed by astronomer Carl Sagan and other scientists. The disc is actually an audio record containing natural sounds, 90 minutes of music, and 55 spoken greetings. It also includes 115 images encoded in analog. The records were stored in aluminum cases along with a cartridge and needle. On each case is an extremely detailed diagram of how to play the record, starting with the rotation of a hydrogen atom.

While this NASA page has a good selection of pieces from the record, the Latvian electronic arts and media center E-Lab is hosting more.

Voyager I became the most distant human-made object from the Sun on February 17, 1998 and it's still traveling. It was 9,597,000,000 miles away on July 6, 2007. NASA still provides weekly reports on both crafts.

This Day In History: Aug. 14

This Day in History

1842: An unpopular 8-year war with the Indians, protesting their forced removal from their lands, ends.
1935: The U.S. Congress passes the Social Security Act.
1941: Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt and British Prime Min. Winston Churchill issue the Atlantic Charter, an 8-point declaration of principles.
1945: Japan agrees to surrender, ending World War II.
2003: A blackout leaves 50 million people without electrical power for up to 2 days in Ohio, Michigan, and the northeastern U.S., as well as eastern Canada.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 14" »

August 13, 2007

This Day In History: Aug 13

This Day in History

1521: Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortez takes Mexico City from the Aztecs.
1812: In the War of 1812, the USS Essex captures the British ship Alert.
1961: The East and West sectors of Berlin, Germany are divided by a barbed wire fence (the Berlin Wall), which is soon replaced by an actual concrete wall.
1981: Pres. Ronald Reagan signs a measure calling for a 3-year, 25% cut in personal income tax rates and cuts in business taxes, as well as a bill providing for sharp cuts in spending on many federal programs.
2004: Hurricane Charley sweeps across central Florida, killing 34 and causing billions in property damage.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug 13" »

August 10, 2007

The World Almanac Wakes Up With Whoopi: #3

63672main_image_feature_206_jw4.jpg Yeah, that's right: #3. I don't have a clip of our second installment yet, but it'll be more relevant next week, anyway. Come back then to find out why...

Anyway, I had another fun visit with the incredibly warm and friendly Wake Up With Whoopi crew yesterday. In this week's free-for-all:

  • The awesome lap-breaking power of the The World Almanac hardcover edition (yes, we publish one, and yes, the type is bigger than the paperback)
  • In honor of the anniversary of Nixon's resignation (announced Aug. 8, 1974, but in effect at noon on Aug. 9), some selections from our list of Embarrassing Presidential Moments. Some bonus links: President Ford's 1942 Cosmo cover appearance (not an embarrassing moment, just an interesting one), and Pres. Carter's official report on his UFO sighting.
  • A heads-up about this weekend's Perseid meteor shower
  • And at the very end, a quick hello from the next guest: Abby Cadabby, Sesame Street's newest resident. Even at my age, it was a truly great, geeky thrill to meet a Muppet.
Listen to the clip here (mp3, 7MB).

Image: From NASA's Astronomy Picture of the Day (Katsuhiro Mouri & Shuji Kobayashi, Nagoya City Science Museum / Planetarium)

This Day In History: Aug. 10

This Day in History

1821: Missouri is admitted to the Union as the 24th state.
1949: Pres. Harry Truman signs the National Security Act, creating the Dept. of Defense from the War Dept.
1989: Army Gen. Colin Powell is nominated by Pres. George Bush as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the first black to hold the post.
1993: Ruth Bader Ginsburg is sworn in as the 2nd female Supreme Court justice.
1999: White supremacist Buford Furrow Jr. opens fire in the lobby of a Los Angeles Jewish community center, wounding 3 young children and 2 staff members; he then kills a Filipino-American letter carrier a few miles away.
2001: UNITA rebels in Angola kill 250 people after planting a land mine on railroad tracks outside the capital of Luanda.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 10" »

August 9, 2007

The United Countries of Baseball

baseball.jpg As longtime readers of this blog know, the editors of the World Almanac are suckers for data visualizations of any and all varieties. I especially enjoy this map of the United States, with state border lines redrawn in favor of a more population-based border determination: baseball team loyalty. It may not be as data-centric as the maps you'll find in the World Almanac, but I'm a baseball fan, so I think it's pretty cool. Though it may have missed the mark in some places: Do the Washington Nationals really have more Maryland-Virginia area fans than the Baltimore Orioles?

Comment to let us know how well it represents your local loyalties. Do our nation's redrawn borders hold up?

United Countries of Baseball [strangemaps]
CommonCensus Sports Map Project [similar idea, based on internet votes, for other pro sports]

This Day In History: Aug. 9

This Day in History

1842: The Webster-Ashburton Treaty is signed, fixing the U.S.-Canada border in Maine and Minnesota.
1945: During World War II, the 2nd atomic bomb is dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, killing some 40,000 people.
1974: Pres. Richard Nixon resigns, the first president ever to do so; Vice Pres. Gerald Ford is sworn in as the 38th president.
1981: Following the settlement of a 7-week players' strike, baseball play resumes with the All-Star Game; the regular season is divided into 2 halves.
1989: Pres. George Bush signs a multibillion-dollar measure to rescue the savings and loan industry.
2000: Bridgestone/Firestone, Inc. announces the recall of 6.5 million tires after a government investigation implicates the company's tires in the deaths of 46 people.
2001: President George W. Bush announces that he will allow federal funding for limited stem-cell research.
2005: The space shuttle Discovery returns after a 14-day mission to the International Space Station. It is the first shuttle flight since the February 2003 loss of the orbiter Columbia.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 9" »

August 8, 2007

Drug Naming Conventions


Despite the pervasiveness of drug advertisements, you might still be confused about whether a certain drug treats restless leg syndrome, erectile dysfunction, anxiety, or insomnia (or maybe all four?). Certain names, like Viagra, have gained enough cultural cachet to be widely recognized, but most, though familiar sounding, don't reveal their intended use.

According to The Merck Manuals, "When a drug is approved by the Food and Drug Administration ... it is given a generic (official) name and a trade (proprietary or brand) name. The trade name identifies it as the exclusive property of a particular company."

The United States Adopted Names (USAN) Council is responsible for selecting a drug's generic name and approving the drug's trade name, as proposed by the pharmaceutical company. Click below for insight into drug naming schemes, and a list of names currently under consideration (anyone for a little lebrilizumab?).

United States Adopted Names Council
FDA Approved Drug Products (Drugs@FDA)

Photo: Cheap Pharmaceuticals in Cabo San Lucas by Nelson Minar.

This Day In History: Aug. 8

This Day in History

1900: The first Davis Cup tennis tournament begins; the United States defeats Britain after the 2-day match.
1972: Sen. Thomas Eagleton, George McGovern's Democratic running mate in the 1972 presidential election, is replaced on the ticket by Sargent Shriver following disclosure that Eagleton had undergone treatment for depression.
1974: Pres. Richard Nixon announces his resignation.
1988: The Cubs play baseball under the lights for the first time at Chicago's Wrigley Field.
2000: Vice President Al Gore formally announces that his running mate for the 2000 presidential election will be Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, the first Orthodox Jew ever to run for the nation's second-highest office.
2001: With the promise of NATO troops, ethnic Albanian and Macedonian Slav political parties reach an agreement to end more than six months of violence in Macedonia.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 8" »

August 7, 2007

107th National Hobo Convention

0708HoboPAKid.JPGThumb a ride or hop in a boxcar to Britt, Iowa because this weekend is the 107th National Hobo Convention. While you could stay at a nearby hotel, there’s free camping at the hobo jungle by the railroad tracks on the northeast side of town. In addition to the typical arts, crafts, and music, there will also be free Mulligan Stew in the park, and a hobo king and queen; “true rail-riders” as they say.

Wanna be a hobo? The convention website has some pointers from the Texas Madman Grand Duke of Hobos.

Pick a name from the long list at The 700 Hoboes Project of fictitious hobo names with illustrations. [Note: Inspired, of course, by fake-almanackist extraordinaire John Hodgman -CAJ]

Brush up on your hobo conversation points with some field recordings posted over at Otis Fodder’s 365 Days Project at WFMU (Part 11 with Sidedoor Pullman Kid is a must. Skip parts 1,2,6 if you're uncomfortable with explicit language).

Painting of Pennsylvania Kid Wilson, hobo king 1963, 1966, 1968, 1971

This Day In History: Aug. 7

This Day in History

1942: In World War II, the Marines land on Guadalcanal, an island in the South Pacific.
1947: Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl completes a 101-day journey across more than 4,000 miles of the Pacific on a balsa raft, the Kon-Tiki.
1964: The U.S. Congress passes the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, authorizing presidential action in Vietnam.
1990: Operation Desert Shield forces leave for Saudi Arabia.
2003: In apparent retaliation for Jordan's support of the Iraq war, a car bomb detonates outside the Jordanian embassy in Baghdad, killing 19 and wounding 65.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 7" »

August 6, 2007

Battle of the Kegs, Revisited

turtle-2007.jpgIn case you missed it when Andrew Steinitz (our resident Nostradamus) posted it back in December, feast your eyes on his entry The Battle of the Kegs for some historical perspective on the weird homemade submarine found floating off the coast of Red Hook, Brooklyn last week.

From The New York Times:

The man, Duke Riley, a heavily tattooed Brooklyn artist whose waterborne performance projects around New York have frequently landed him in trouble with the authorities, spent the last five months building the vessel as a rough replica of what is believed to have been America's first submarine, an oak sphere called the Turtle, said to have seen action in New York Harbor during the Revolutionary War.

The Battle of the Kegs (Andrew Steinitz)
An Artist and His Sub Surrender in Brooklyn (New York Times)

This Day In History: Aug. 6

This Day in History

1926: Gertrude Ederle, 19, becomes the first woman to swim the English Channel.
1945: The U.S. bomber Enola Gay drops the first atomic bomb, on the Japanese port of Hiroshima; some 75,000 people are killed.
1965: Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act of 1965, designed to stop attempts to discriminate against minorities at the polls.
1990: As a result of Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, the UN imposes a ban on all trade with Iraq and calls on member nations to protect the assets of Kuwait's legitimate government.
1998: Monica Lewinsky, testifying before a grand jury, admits having had a sexual relationship with Pres. Bill Clinton, but says she was never asked to lie.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 6" »

August 5, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 5

This Day in History

1861: Pres. Abraham Lincoln signs a measure creating the first federal income tax, as an emergency wartime measure.
1864: In the Civil War's Battle of Mobile Bay, Union Admiral David Farragut defeats Confederate troops, proclaiming "Damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead!"
1962: Actress Marilyn Monroe dies in Los Angeles from an overdose of sleeping pills.
1974: Tapes are released implicating Pres. Richard Nixon in the Watergate cover-up.
1981: Pres. Ronald Reagan dismisses federal air traffic controllers, who defied a back-to-work order after going on strike days earlier.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 5" »

August 4, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 4

This Day in History

1914: Pres. Woodrow Wilson proclaims U.S. neutrality in the European war (World War I ).
1964: The bodies of 3 civil rights workers, missing since June, are found buried in Mississippi.
1972: Arthur Bremer is convicted and sentenced to 63 years in prison for shooting AL Gov. George Wallace and 3 bystanders in May.
1977: Pres. Jimmy Carter signs an act creating a new cabinet-level Energy Dept.
2003: The first West African peacekeepers arrive in Liberia's capital to quell two months of continuous civil war, days after Pres. Charles Taylor announces he will step down.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 4" »

August 3, 2007

This Day In History: Aug. 3

This Day in History

1492: Christopher Columbus sets sail from Spain aboard the Santa Maria.
1914: In World War I, Germany and France declare war on each other.
1981: Federal air traffic controllers walk out in an illegal nationwide strike.
1992: In South Africa, millions of blacks begin a 2-day general strike to show their support for ending white minority rule.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 3" »

August 2, 2007

The Virtual Universe

2007-08-02_170023.jpgRight now I'm reviewing the Astronomy chapter for the upcoming 2008 World Almanac—so it was a nice coincidence to run across this link. Haha.nu runs down a list of "The Top Five Virtual Sky Simulators," each of them catering to slightly different levels of interest and expertise.

Need some help making sense of the nighttime sky? Click through and get some fast (and free) electronic assistance.

Top Five Virtual Sky Simulators (Haha.nu)

This Day In History: Aug. 2

This Day in History

1923: Pres. Warren G. Harding dies after falling ill; he is succeeded by Vice Pres. Calvin Coolidge.
1939: Albert Einstein writes a letter to Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt alerting him to the opportunity to construct an atomic bomb.
1945: The Potsdam Conference ends, with the leaders of the United States, the Soviet Union, and Britain agreeing on the disarmament of Germany, occupation zones, and war crimes trials.
1974: John Dean, former aide to Pres. Richard Nixon, is sentenced to 3 years in prison after pleading guilty in the Watergate cover-up.
1990: Saddam Hussein orders the Iraqi army to invade Kuwait, sparking an international crisis and Operation Desert Storm.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 2" »

August 1, 2007

When a Mule Foals


A mule in Colbran, CO, reportedly gave birth to a foal in April. Genetic testing has verified that the as-yet-unnamed foal is indeed the mule's offspring.

A Denver Post article explains the significance of the event (believed to be so rare that the Romans apparently had the saying "when a mule foals"):

The foal is being called a miracle because mules aren't supposed to give birth. Mules are a hybrid of two species—a female horse and a male donkey—so they end up with an odd number of chromosomes. A horse has 64 chromosomes and a donkey has 62. A mule inherits 63. An even number of chromosomes is needed to divide into pairs and reproduce.

Testing done in a previous observed case revealed that the foal, the offspring of a mule and a donkey, was itself a mule, with 63 chromosomes. The outcome of testing to determine whether this latest foal is a mule, a donkey, or a mix of the two, is pending.

"Mule's Foal Fools Genetics" (The Denver Post)
"Morocco's Miracle Birth 'Confirmed'" (BBC News)
"Male Mule Foal Qualifies as the Offspring of a Female Mule and Jack Donkey" (Journal of Heredity, purchase required)

Photo: Horse and Mule by eliotphillips.

This Day In History: Aug. 1

This Day in History

1790: The first U.S. census is completed.
1876: Colorado is admitted to the Union as the 38th state.
1944: Anne Frank makes the last entry in her diary; she and her family are discovered in their hiding place 3 days later and taken to concentration camps.
1951: The United States suspends tariff concessions to the Soviet Union, Communist China , and all Communist-dominated lands.
1987: Mike Tyson defeats Tony Tucker, unifying boxing's heavyweight title.
2002: The U.S. Senate votes 64-34 to grant fast-track trade negotiating authority to Pres. George W. Bush. United Nations investigators announce they have found no evidence that the Israeli army massacred Palestinian civilians during a raid on the city of Jenin in April.
2003: A suicide bomber linked to Chechen separatists drives a truck through the gates of a military hospital in Mozdok, North Ossetia, Russia, killing 50.
2004: The U.S. government announces a threat alert on U.S. financial institutions after a Pakistan raid yields Al Qaeda materials. In Paraguay, hundreds were killed in a supermarket fire near the capital of Asuncion.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Aug. 1" »

About August 2007

This page contains all entries posted to The World Almanac in August 2007. They are listed from newest to oldest.

July 2007 is the previous archive.

September 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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