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September 2007 Archives

September 30, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 30

This Day in History

1399: King Richard II of England resigns his crown after being captured by Henry Bolingbroke (later Henry IV ) in Wales. Richard dies in captivity a few months later.
1630: One of the first pilgrims to land in America, John Billington, is hanged for murder—the first criminal execution carried out in the colonies.
1788: Pennsylvania becomes the first state to elect U.S. senators.
1946: The judgment of the International Military Tribunal at the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi leaders is handed down on Sept. 30-Oct. 1. Twelve defendants are sentenced to death.
1949: The U.S.-British airlift of food to West Berlin ends. Pres. Harry S. Truman invokes the Taft-Hartley Act in a strike of coal miners, but the strikers refuse to obey the injunction to return to work.
1965: A coup attempt in Indonesia leads to the massacre of Communists and the eventual downfall of President Sukarno, who is unable to control the military.
1993: An earthquake measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale strikes Maharashtra in southern India, killing about 10,000 people, according to official estimates.
1998: Pres. Bill Clinton announces a budget surplus of $70 billion for fiscal year 1998; it is the first federal surplus since 1969.
2001: The Taliban say they are holding Osama bin Laden for his safety. A 10-member U.S. Congressional delegation visits Mohammed Zahir Shah, the deposed king of Afghanistan in exile near Rome.

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

September 29, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 29

This Day in History

1938: The Munich Pact, an attempt to appease Adolf Hitler by allowing Germany to occupy German-speaking parts of Czechoslovakia, is signed by Germany, Italy, France, and Great Britain. British prime minister Neville Chamberlain later returns home proclaiming "peace in our time."
1949: Iva Toguri D'Aquino (Tokyo Rose) is found guilty of treason for making radio broadcasts for Japan during World War II.
1950: In the Korean War, South Korean troops reach the 38th parallel.
1954: Willie Mays of the NY Giants makes one of the most famous catches in baseball history—an over-the-head grab of Vic Wertz's 426-foot drive to centerfield at the Polo Grounds—in the first game of the World Series.
1982: The first of 7 people die after taking Tylenol capsules that were contaminated with cyanide.
1988: The United States successfully launches the space shuttle Discovery, the first shuttle to fly since the 1986 Challenger disaster.
2001: The Defense Dept. places more than 3,400 National Guard and Reserves personnel on active duty; the total number activated since Sept. 11 is more than 20,000. The UN resumes aid shipments to Afghanistan for the first time since Sept. 11; the country has a food shortage and a deepening refugee crisis.
2005: The Senate votes to confirm federal Judge John G. Roberts Jr. as the 17th chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, succeeding William H. Rehnquist, who died earlier in the month.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Sept. 29" »

September 28, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 28

This Day in History

1066: William of Normandy lands at Pevensey, beginning the Norman conquest of England.
1542: Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovers California, reaching San Diego Bay.
1924: Two planes land in Seattle, Washington, after completing the first flight around the world.
1960: Boston Red Sox baseball great Ted Williams hits a home run in the last at-bat of his career, at Fenway Park.
1978: Pope John Paul I dies after having served only 34 days.
1984: Pres. Ronald Reagan meets with Soviet Foreign Min. Andrei Gromyko at the White House, his first meeting with a Soviet leader.
1989: Deposed Philippine Pres. Ferdinand Marcos dies in Hawaii at the age of 72.
2001: The UN Security Council unanimously approves a U.S.-sponsored resolution requiring all member states to assist in the American-led war on terrorism following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. A delegation of Islamic clerics from Pakistan fails to persuade the Taliban to hand over suspected Sept. 11 mastermind Osama bin Laden. The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopts a resolution requiring all member nations to work against terrorist operations within their borders and cooperate in international efforts against them. The FBI releases text of a letter in the possession of hijackers of at least three of the four planes used in the Sept. 11 attacks, with instructions on preparing for their mission.
2005: Rep. Tom DeLay (R, TX), majority leader of the House of Representatives, is indicted in Texas for allegedly conspiring to violate a state fundraising law.

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

September 27, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 27

This Day in History

1930: Bobby Jones wins the U.S. Amateur golf championship, his 4th major tournament win of the season, making him the first golfer to achieve a Season Grand Slam.
1954: The Tonight Show has its TV premiere, with Steve Allen as the host.
1998: St. Louis Cardinals baseball slugger Mark McGwire sets an all-time major league season home run record when he hits his 70th, far surpassing the 61 homers hit by Roger Maris in 1961.
2000: 200,000 opponents of Yugoslavian Pres. Slobodan Milosevic demonstrate in Belgrade to force the dictator's ouster after a first round of voting on Sept. 24 appears to give victory to his opponent, Vojislav Kostunica.
2001: Pres. George W. Bush asks for National Guard protection at the nation's airports in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks and announces measures to strengthen cockpit doors and place armed plainclothes federal marshals on many flights.
2002: Defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld asserts the U.S. has solid evidence of a link between Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq and al-Qaeda.
2003: Defying Pres. George W. Bush, Russian Pres. Vladimir Putin reaffirms his country's committment to helping the Iranians build a nuclear reactor.

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

September 26, 2007

New Stats on GDP by Metropolitan Area

0709gdpma.gifThe Bureau of Economic Analysis has released an interesting prototype report that breaks down the contribution of 363 metropolitan areas, including specific industries in those areas, to total annual U.S. GDP from 2001 through 2005. The map to the right shows the areas with the largest percent change between 2004 and 2005 with blue representing the most change and orange the least. Here are some highlights I calculated from the report:
The five areas accounting for the highest percentage of national GDP:
  1. New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, NY-NJ-PA
  2. Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana, CA
  3. Chicago-Naperville-Joliet, IL-IN-WI
  4. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, DC-VA-MD-WV
  5. Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX
  • The fastest growing area was Palm Coast, FL, which experienced a 163.8% growth from 2001 to 2005; nearly triple that of Corvallis, OR, the second fastest-growing area.
  • Of the top 50 largest metropolitan areas by GDP, Las Vegas-Paradise, NV experienced the largest growth, 31.2%, with its largest increase, 10%, between 2003 and 2004.
  • The biggest loss of GDP was experienced in Lafayette, LA (10.7% loss). It took its biggest hit in 2002 when the GDP dropped 11.3% because of the effects of tropical storm Isidore and Hurricane Lili on the oil and fishing industries.

If the BEA gets positive feedback about the report, they're hoping to have 2006 estimates available next Fall.

BEA Introduces New Measures of the Metropolitan Economy

This Day In History: Sept. 26

This Day in History

1513: The Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa crosses the Isthmus of Panama and becomes the first European to see the Pacific Ocean from the Americas.
1781: In anticipation of the siege of Gen. Charles Cornwallis at Yorktown, George Washington and Jean Baptiste de Rochambeau, having joined forces, arrive near Williamsburg.
1918: The Battle of the Argonne, the last major battle of World War I, begins.
1950: In the Korean War, U.S. forces recapture Seoul.
1960: The first in a series of television debates takes place between presidential candidates Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy.
1983: Australia II sails to victory off Newport, RI, over the American yacht Liberty to capture the America's Cup trophy--the first time in 132 years that the United States has lost the Cup.
1996: Astronaut Shannon Lucid completes a space voyage of 188 days, setting a record for women and for U.S. astronauts.
2001: With an announcement from Delta that it will reduce its capacity by 15% and lay off up to 13,000 workers, the airline industry's layoffs after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks exceed 100,000. A pro-Taliban demonstration in the Afghan capital of Kabul destroys the U.S. embassy compound.
2002: More than 1,000 people die when a ferry capsizes off the coast of Senegal .

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

September 25, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 25

This Day in History

1789: Congress submits the Bill of Rights to the states for ratification.
1956: The first transatlantic telephone cable is activated.
1959: Prime Minister Bandaranaike of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka ) is shot by a Buddhist monk and dies a day later.
1963: Juan Bosch, the first freely elected president of the Dominican Republic in nearly four decades, is deposed in a military coup months after taking office.
1965: Satchel Paige, at age 59, becomes the oldest man to play major league baseball, pitching 3 scoreless innings for the Kansas City Athletics.
1981: Sandra Day O'Connor is sworn in as the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court.
1988: Presidential candidates George Bush and Michael Dukakis meet in the first of 2 television debates.
1992: NASA launches the space probe Mars Observer; communication with the craft is lost on Aug. 21, 1993.
2001: Saudi Arabia, following the pattern of other nations after Sept. 11, breaks off relations with the Taliban, leaving Pakistan as the only country to recognize the ruling Afghan regime.

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

September 24, 2007

Wake Up With Wobbly Willy (and Whoopi)

Campaign ButtonsAs promised, I am almost caught up with posting our backlog of World Almanac segments on Whoopi Goldberg's morning radio show. Today's posting brings us all the way up to September 13, when I stopped by to talk about:
  • Nasty presidential campaigns (and candidate nicknames) in U.S. history
  • Why you should immediately click through to the Library of Congress (as long as you have time to spare)
  • And a little background on the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

Keep checking back here for future conversations, or tune in and listen live at around 7:30 (Eastern time) every Thursday morning, online, or on the radio.

Listen: Whoopi-091307.mp3

Image from brighterworlds' Flickr stream

This Day In History: Sept. 24

This Day in History

1789: The Supreme Court is created by the Federal Judiciary Act.
1869: An attempt to "corner" gold by Jay Gould and James Fisk leads to financial panic, subsequently called "Black Friday," in New York.
1952: Rocky Marciano becomes world heavyweight boxing champion by knocking out Joe Walcott in the 13th round in Philadelphia.
1957: Pres. Dwight Eisenhower sends federal troops to enforce a court order on desegregating Little Rock, AR, schools.
1960: The first U.S. atomic-powered aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Enterprise, is launched at Newport News, VA.
1964: The Warren Commission submits its report, finding that Lee Harvey Oswald, "acting alone and without advice or assistance," fired the shots that killed President John F. Kennedy .
1998: Iran drops its 1989 call for the death of British author Salman Rushdie.
2001: President George W. Bush signs an order freezing the assets of 27 people and organizations suspected of involvement with terrorists.
2002: Assailants wielding automatic weapons kill 29 Hindu worshippers at a temple in Gandhinagar, India.
2005: Hurricane Rita, one of the most intense Atlantic hurricanes ever recorded, strikes the TX and LA coasts, killing several people and causing billions of dollars in damages.

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

September 23, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 23

This Day in History

1122: Henry V, king of Germany and Holy Roman emperor, signs the Concordat of Worms, thus ending the investiture controversy and guaranteeing the Roman Catholic church freedom to choose its bishops and abbots without interference.
1779: John Paul Jones on the Bonhomme Richard defeats the British man-of-war Serapis in the North Sea.
1780: Benedict Arnold is found to be a traitor.
1806: The Lewis and Clark expedition to explore the West ends with their return to St. Louis.
1846: The planet Neptune is discovered.
1911: The first transportation of mail by airplane to be officially approved by the U.S. Post Office Department begins in Long Island, New York.
1949: Pres. Harry S. Truman announces that the Soviets have developed an atomic bomb.
1952: Vice presidential candidate Richard Nixon delivers the nationally televised "Checkers speech."
1999: NASA reports that it has lost communication with the Mars Climate Observer space probe, which apparently broke up after coming too close to the planet because of a navigational error.
2001: The FAA grounds all crop-dusting planes after reports that a Sept. 11 hijacker had been gathering information on crop-dusting.

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

September 22, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 22

This Day in History

1776: Nathan Hale is executed as a spy by the British, proclaiming, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
1911: Baseball player Cy Young pitches the 511th and final victory of his career, beating the Pittsburgh Pirates, 1-0.
1927: Gene Tunney defends his heavyweight boxing title against Jack Dempsey, after being given a controversial "long count" by the referee.
1961: The U.S. Congress formally approves the legislation establishing the Peace Corps.
1973: Henry Kissinger is sworn in as secretary of state, becoming the first naturalized citizen to hold the post.
1975: Pres. Gerald Ford is unharmed after an assassination attempt by radical Sara Jane Moore, who fires a revolver at him.
1987: NFL football players go on strike over free agency and other issues.
2001: U.S. Sec. of Defense Donald Rumsfeld deploys surveillance and intelligence-gathering aircraft to the Middle East.
2002: Germany's governing center-left coalition narrowly retains its majority in parliamentary elections.

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

September 21, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 21

This Day in History

1784: The first successful U.S. daily newspaper, the Pennsylvania Packet & General Advertiser, is published.
1957: Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus complies with a federal court order to remove National Guardsmen from a Little Rock high school, where they have prevented black students from entering, but the students are ordered to withdraw by local authorities.
1964: Malta becomes an independent nation.
1970: Monday Night Football debuts on TV, with the Cleveland Browns football team defeating the NY Jets, 31-21 in the first game.
1981: Belize finally attains full independence, but Guatemala refuses to recognize the new nation; about 1500 British troops remain to protect Belize from the Guatemalan threat.
1982: NFL players go on strike for the first time in the regular season; they are out 8 weeks.
1998: A videotape of Pres. Bill Clinton's testimony before a grand jury on his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, lasting more than 4 hours, is shown on TV.
2001: Congress approves a $15 billion bailout package for America's whose passenger numbers have plummeted following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. The Dow Jones average hits 8,235.81, its lowest level since Sept. 11 and a decline of almost 1,800 points from its highest level of the month.
First Lady Laura Bush attends a memorial service near the crash site in Shanksville, PA, of hijacked United flight 93.:

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

September 20, 2007

When I Say "Jump," You Say...

OK, I know I told you all to get library cards, but I didn't expect you to do it so quickly...
Despite the rise of broadband Internet access in homes across the country and the ability to Google just about anything from anywhere, libraries are attracting record numbers of visitors.

Nationwide, visits to and items checked out of libraries are increasing steadily. According to the American Library Association, nearly 1.3 billion library patrons checked out more than 2 billion items in fiscal year 2005, the most recent figures available. That compares with 1.15 billion visitors checking out 1.7 billion items in fiscal year 2000.

Link: Libraries Attract Record Crowds (Denver Post)

A Little Love for Libraries

NYPL reading roomYup, we stopped in to chat with Whoopi & Co. again this morning, but I'm not posting that conversation until I'm caught up—so in that spirit, here's our chat from August 30. The topic of conversation: research, with some basic tips for kids and a shout-out to National Get a Library Card Month, which lasts for a few more days... so what are you waiting for?

Seriously, if you live near any kind of small- to mid-sized metropolitan area and you don't have a public library card, what the heck are you thinking? We're spoiled here in New York—the main NYPL Research Library (at right) is reference-geek paradise, and an NYPL card grants you access to a staggering number of specialized online databases—but even smaller library systems have much to offer. So get going, already!

No, wait: listen to the interview first. Then get going.

Listen: Wake Up With Whoopi, August 30, 2007 (mp3, 6MB)

This Day In History: Sept. 20

This Day in History

1378: French cardinals defy Pope Urban VI and elect an antipope, Clement VII, who flees to Avignon, France. For the next five decades the Roman Catholic Church will have two or even three contending popes, until a single legitimate pope is finally chosen at the Council of Constance (1414-18).
1697: The Peace of Ryswick ends the war between Louis XIV, king of France, and the Grand Alliance, a coalition including England, Spain, the Netherlands, and the Holy Roman Empire.
1792: During the French Revolution, the monarchy is supplanted by the First Republic.
1973: Billie Jean King defeats Bobby Riggs in 3 straight sets in tennis's nationally televised "Battle of the Sexes."
1981: In a 99-0 vote, the Senate confirms the appointment of Sandra Day O'Connor as first woman justice of U.S. Supreme Court.
1990: Justice William Brennan announces his resignation from the Supreme Court.
1991: Armenia's voters approved a declaration of independence from the USSR.
1998: Baseball player Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles takes himself out of the lineup, thus ending his record streak of consecutive games played at 2,632.
2001: Pres. George W. Bush demands that the Taliban hand over bin Laden or share his fate.
2002: Israel destroys all but one building in Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat's Ramallah compound a day after a Palestinian suicide bombing kills six and injures scores in Israel.

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

September 19, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 19

This Day in History

1676: Colonist Nathaniel Bacon, leading planters against the autocratic British Gov. Sir William Berkeley, defeats Berkeley's forces and burns Jamestown, VA.
1863: The Battle of Chickamauga, one of the major engagements of the American Civil War, is fought on Sept. 19-20 near Chickamauga Creek, in northern Georgia. The Union troops are forced to retreat.
1873: The New York Stock Exchange suffers a major financial crash that ushers in the Panic of 1873.
1881: Pres. James A. Garfield, shot in Washington, DC, by Charles Guiteau on July 2, dies in Elberon, NJ; Chester Alan Arthur becomes president.
1899: French Capt. Alfred Dreyfus, the victim of an anti-Semitic plot, is pardoned of treason by the French government.
1981: An estimated 260,000 members of the AFL-CIO and others hold a demonstration in Washington, DC, against the policies of Pres. Ronald Reagan.
1983: St. Kitts and Nevis jointly attain full independence within the Commonwealth of Nations.
2000: The U.S. Senate votes 83-15 to grant normal trade relations with China, ending the contentious process of annual review.
2001: The U.S. orders combat aircraft to the Persian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, and two former Soviet republics bordering Afghanistan, as Pres. Bush demands that the Taliban hand over bin Laden and Al Qaeda members. Pakistani Pres. General Pervez Musharraf defends his decision to cooperate with U.S. forces against bin Laden and Al Qaeda.

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

September 18, 2007

Waking Up Again (A Little Late)

I've been lax in reporting on my visits with the Wake Up With Whoopi crew, but we are still having weekly chats about all kinds of odd and essential facts. Despite the massive deadlines looming over us, I promise to play a little catch-up this week, starting with this visit from August 23. Topics of conversation that week: Quasimodo
  • Popular sections and common uses of The World Almanac
  • A light scolding from Whoopi for not having the complete World Almanac available online
  • A quick chat about the value of Wikipedia relative to other reference sources, and what happens when you look up "Paul Cubby Bryant"
  • And the meaty topic of the day: a quick survey of some interesting sumptuary laws, drawing on information in this year's World Almanac for Kids. (Click here for a variation of the New Jersey law that closes the segment, plus some additional reading on sumptuary laws around the world)

More to come this week, I swear!

Listen here: Wake Up With Whoopi: Aug. 23, 2007(mp3, 8MB)

Image: Screen capture from The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939). The Quasimodo reference will make sense when you listen to the clip...

This Day In History: Sept. 18

This Day in History

1759: In the French and Indian War, the British capture Quebec.
1793: Pres. George Washington lays the cornerstone of the U.S. Capitol.
1810: The town council of Santiago, Chile deposes the colonial governor of Chile, thus establishing Chilean independence from Spain .
1830: The Tom Thumb, the first U.S.-built locomotive, loses a celebrated race with a horse when its boiler springs a leak.
1931: The Japanese extend their military control over all of Manchuria.
1947: The National Military Establishment, precursor to the Department of Defense, is created. The U.S. Air Force officially becomes a separate military service.
1994: An agreement is reached with Haitian military leaders to restore deposed Pres. Jean-Bertrand Aristide to power, averting a U.S. military invasion.
1998: The Senate sustains Pres. Bill Clinton's veto of a ban on partial-birth abortions.
2001: U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft announces new rules allowing the detention of immigrants suspected of terrorism for up to 48 hours, or longer in extraordinary circumstances, without charging them.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Sept. 18" »

September 17, 2007

You're On Your Own, Google-philes...

The World Almanac has a ton of uses, but alas: acing an interview with Google may not be one of them. Or at least, that's the conclusion I come to after reviewing this list of Crazy Questions at Google Job Interviews. Yeah, if you spend any time online at all, you've seen lists like this before. But some of these questions were new to me. Among the highlights:

9. Every man in a village of 100 married couples has cheated on his wife. Every wife in the village instantly knows when a man other than her husband has cheated, but does not know when her own husband has. The village has a law that does not allow for adultery. Any wife who can prove that her husband is unfaithful must kill him that very day. The women of the village would never disobey this law. One day, the queen of the village visits and announces that at least one husband has been unfaithful. What happens? superchicken.jpg

13. Four people need to cross a rickety rope bridge to get back to their camp at night. Unfortunately, they only have one flashlight and it only has enough light left for seventeen minutes. The bridge is too dangerous to cross without a flashlight, and it's only strong enough to support two people at any given time. Each of the campers walks at a different speed. One can cross the bridge in 1 minute, another in 2 minutes, the third in 5 minutes, and the slow poke takes 10 minutes to cross. How do the campers make it across in 17 minutes?

17. You have five pirates, ranked from 5 to 1 in descending order. The top pirate has the right to propose how 100 gold coins should be divided among them. But the others get to vote on his plan, and if fewer than half agree with him, he gets killed. How should he allocate the gold in order to maximize his share but live to enjoy it? (Hint: One pirate ends up with 98 percent of the gold.)

Hmmm... we will (I kid you not) have some new information about notorious pirates and other outlaws in the 2008 Almanac, but I don't think we have room to cover Rules of Booty Distribution. So, yes: you're on your own. But maybe in the 2009 edition...

P.S. When reading these questions, is anyone else reminded of the "Superchicken" team-building exercise from the BBC's The Office (above)?

Link: Crazy Questions at Google Job Interviews (Tihomir Nakov, via Tyler Cowen's excellent Marginal Revolution)

This Day In History: Sept. 17

This Day in History

1631: The First Battle of Breitenfeld, an engagement of the Thirty Years' War, is fought near Leipzig, Germany. The Protestant forces are victorious over the Roman Catholic forces, and go on to occupy southern Germany.
1787: Delegates at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia vote to accept the Constitution.
1796: President George Washington delivers his Farewell Address as president, and warns against permanent alliances with foreign powers, a big public debt, a large military establishment, and the devices of a "small, artful, enterprising minority."
1862: The Battle of Antietam pits Gen. George McClellan's Union forces against Robert E. Lee's Confederate troops; said to be the bloodiest battle of the Civil War, it stops the Confederate advance into the North.
1911: C. P. Rodgers makes the first transcontinental airplane flight (with numerous stops), from New York to Pasadena, CA, Sept. 17-Nov. 5; time in the air: 82 hours, 4 minutes.
1920: The American Professional Football Association, later renamed the National Football League, is formed in Canton, OH.
1972: M*A*S*H begins its 11-year TV run.
1978: Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat and Israeli Premier Menachem Begin reach accord on a "framework for peace" after Carter-mediated talks at Camp David.
1986: The Senate confirms the nomination of William Rehnquist as chief justice of the Supreme Court and Antonin Scalia as an associate justice.
2001: Trading resumes on Wall Street after an unprecedented 6-day closure following the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Pres. George W. Bush says bin Laden is wanted "dead or alive;" he also condemns violence against Arab-Americans.
2002: Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi meets in Pyongyang with North Korean leader Kim Jong Il; the two nations have not had diplomatic ties since 1948.
2004: Tropical Storm Jeanne hits the island of Hispaniola, causing flooding which kills over 1000 in Haiti.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Sept. 17" »

September 16, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 16

This Day in History

1620: The Pilgrims set sail from Plymouth, England, on the Mayflower.
1810: Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a priest in the small village of Dolores, Mexico, raises the standard of revolt against the colonial government, demanding the abolition of Indian serfdom and caste distinctions.
1915: Haiti becomes a virtual U.S. protectorate under a treaty signed after U.S. troops enter the country.
1920: A bomb explosion on New York City's Wall St. kills 30 people, injures 100, and does $2 million in damage; the bomber or bombers are unknown.
1955: In Argentina, a rebellion by parts of the armed forces leads to three days of civil war and the resignation and flight of President Juan Perón.
1963: The Federation of Malaysia comes into existence, consisting of Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak, and North Borneo (later called Sabah ). Economic and political disputes lead to Singapore's exit in 1965.
1974: Pres. Gerald Ford offers amnesty to Vietnam War draft evaders and deserters, in exchange for public service.
1982: Christian militiamen enter 2 Palestinian refugee camps, Sabra and Shatila, in West Beirut Lebanon—apparently allowed entry by Israelis—and kill hundreds of people.
1999: Congress completes action on a measure that raises the president's salary from $200,000 to $400,000.
2001: U.S. Transportation Sec. Norman Mineta creates two task forces to study airline and airport security after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
2004: Hurricane Ivan hits the U.S. Gulf coast after causing destruction in the Caribbean, ultimately killing 115.

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

September 15, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 15

This Day in History

1776: In the Revolutionary War, British troops under Gen. William Howe seize New York City.
1821: Guatemala, which includes present-day Central America from Chiapas to Costa Rica, proclaims its independence.
1916: During World War I, tanks are used for the first time in the Battle of the Somme near Courcelette, France, with disappointing results.
1940: In the turning point of Hitler's World War II siege of Britain, the Battle of Britain ends, concluding the biggest daylight bombing raid of the country by the Luftwaffe.
1944: U.S. troops enter Germany, reaching the southwest frontier.
1950: In the Korean War, U.S. forces land on Inchon.
1959: Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev begins an unprecedented visit by a Soviet leader to the United States.
1963: A Baptist church in Birmingham, AL, is bombed, killing 4 black girls.
1972: Two former White House aides, G. Gordon Liddy and E. Howard Hunt, are indicted along with 5 others on charges stemming from the break-in at Democratic headquarters in the Watergate complex in Washington, DC.
2001: Ahmed Shah Massoud, the leader of Afghanistan's military opposition to the Taliban rulers, dies of injuries incurred in a Sept. 9 suicide attack attributed by some to Osama bin Laden . The government of Pakistan, which borders on Afghanistan, pledges its "full support" to the U.S. in tracking those responsible for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

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

September 14, 2007

Map Mashups

Yahoo just rolled out a very cool new beta product called MapMixer, which lets you upload your own maps and overlay them on Yahoo's interactive world maps—even if your map doesn't have just the right proportions or perspective.

There are already some great examples online, including the historical lower Manhattan overlay at right. Make sure you zoom out and play with the overlay opacity. Oh, what a little landfill can do...

If you want to play around with MapMixer but don't have your own personal stash of maps, I suggest you click on over to the Library of Congress, which has some great historical maps its American Memory collection.

MapMixer (beta) (Yahoo!)

This Day In History: Sept. 14

This Day in History

1847: In the Mexican War, U.S. troops under Gen. Winfield Scott take Mexico City—the effective end of fighting in the war.
1812: Moscow is taken by Napoleon. The Russians have burned the city, making it impossible for Napoleon's troops to establish winter quarters there.
1829: The Treaty of Adrianople, which ends the Russo-Turkish War of 1828-9, gives Russia suzerainty over the peoples of the Caucasus and the emperor a protectorate over Moldavia and Walachia.
1901: Pres. William McKinley dies 8 days after being shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz; Theodore Roosevelt is sworn in, becoming the youngest president in U.S. history.
1940: The first peacetime draft in the history of the United States is approved.
1975: Elizabeth Ann Seton becomes the first native-born American to be canonized.
1984: Joseph Kittinger makes the first solo transatlantic crossing by balloon when he flies his helium-filled Rosie O'Grady's 5690 km (3536 mi) from Caribou, Maine, to the Italian Riviera near Savona.
1994: The baseball season, halted by a strike that began on Aug. 11, and the World Series are cancelled.
2001: Congress approves a $40 billion emergency spending package largely to aid the immediate recovery of lower Manhattan and Washington, D.C. after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Both houses authorize the use of all "necessary and appropriate force" against the attackers, and the Justice Dept. releases the names of 19 men identified as the hijackers of the four planes used in the attacks. Pres. George W. Bush authorizes the callup of 50,000 military reservists. Bush views the devastation and thanks the rescue workers at the New York site of the twin towers' collapse.
2003: Trade talks between 146 countries in Cancun, Mexico, which had been aimed at opening markets and lowering barriers, collapse over the issue of agricultural subsidies.
2005: Twelve suicide bombings in Baghdad, Iraq, claim at least 167 lives and wound nearly 600.

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

September 13, 2007

Searching for Fossett Online

Steve_Fossett.jpg One of the more innovative projects I've learned about recently is the one that's been set up in the search for adventurer Steve Fossett, who went missing on Monday, Sept. 3, while flying over Nevada.

Richard Branson, a friend of Fossett's, spoke to Google, who in turn spoke with two companies that deal commercially with satellite imagery. The companies—GeoEye and DigitalGlobe—compiled recent satellite photographs of the area in which Fossett is believed to be. They then passed along these images to Amazon's Mechanical Turk Web service, where the general public can make a contribution to the search effort.

The following comes from an NPR story:

Amazon's tool divides the whole search area—6,000 square miles—into small squares about 300 feet across. It assigns each of those small squares to anyone who signs up to help.

"And they click 'yes, there is something interesting in this image,' or 'no, there is nothing interesting in this image,'" explains Peter Cohen, the director of the effort at Amazon.

Steve Fossett search site (Amazon Mechanical Turk)
"Internet Users Join Search for Steve Fossett" (NPR)

Image: Screenshot of Steve Fossett search site on Amazon Mechanical Turk.

This Day In History: Sept. 13

This Day in History

1788: Congress picks New York City to be the capital of the new federal government.
1814: In the War of 1812, the 25-hour bombardment of Fort McHenry, Baltimore, begins; the failure of the British fleet to take the fort inspires Francis Scott Key to write the words to "The Star-Spangled Banner."
1847: Chapultepec Castle in Mexico City, Mexico is captured by U.S. troops in the final battle of the Mexican War.
1970: The first New York City Marathon is held, in Central Park; fewer than half of the 127 runners who start complete the race.
1985: The United States successfully tests an antisatellite weapon, an ASAT missile fired by an Air Force jet against an orbiting satellite.
1993: Israeli Prime Min. Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat, in Washington, DC, sign an accord allowing for Palestinian self-rule.
2001: Commercial air traffic resumes to and from most airports in the U.S. after the total stoppage that followed the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11. Logan International Airport in Boston and Ronald Reagan National Airport near Washington, D.C., remain closed. Secretary of State Colin Powell names Osama bin Laden as the prime suspect in the attacks; bin Laden and his Al Qaeda organization have been based in Afghanistan under the protection of the country's Islamic fundamentalist Taliban regime.
2002: Five Yemeni men residing in Lackawanna, NY are arrested on suspicion of supporting the Sept. 11 terrorists; a sixth is arrested in Bahrain two days later.

September 12, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 12

This Day in History

1814: In the War of 1812, the Maryland militia succeeds in stopping the British advance.
1918: Gen. John J. Pershing leads the first U.S. Army against the Germans in the Battle of Saint-Mihiel, the first major U.S. offensive of World War I.
1959: The Soviet craft Luna 2 is launched; it becomes the first spacecraft to land on the Moon.
1974: Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie is overthrown by the military.
2001: Pres. Bush, speaking to cabinet members and congressional leaders, says, "The deliberate and deadly attacks, which were carried out yesterday against our country, were more than acts of terror. They were acts of war." Both houses of Congress (the House shortly after midnight) unanimously pass a resolution of support for Bush in going after the attackers. NATO for the first time cites its mutual defense provision in saying it would cooperate in the event of a U.S. response to the attack.
2002: U.S. Pres. George W. Bush addresses the UN General Assembly and argues that the international community must confront Iraq and its weapons programs.
2003: The UN lifts sanctions against Libya, which has renounced terrorism and agreed to compensate families of victims of two aircraft bombings in the late 1980s.
2005: The last Israeli troops leave the Gaza Strip under a pullout plan adopted by the Israeli government.

Continue reading "This Day In History: Sept. 12" »

September 11, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 11

This Day in History

1297: William Wallace leads the Scots to victory over the English at Stirling Bridge.
1777: The Battle of the Brandywine, an engagement of the American Revolution, is fought near Chadds Ford, PA. It results in a withdrawal of the American forces under George Washington.
1786: The Annapolis Convention opens in Maryland with state delegates meeting to discuss commercial matters; when the convention closes on Sept. 14, the delegates have adopted a resolution to call a convention to write a constitution for the 13 states.
1814: In the War of 1812, the United States wins a naval victory at the Battle of Lake Champlain.
1897: A coal miners' strike is settled after more than 20 miners are fired on and killed by lawmen in Pennsylvania.
1948: Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan and its first governor-general, dies in Karachi.
1959: Congress passes a bill to begin the food-stamp program for low-income Americans.
1985: Baseball player Pete Rose of the Cincinnati Reds gets his 4,192nd career hit, breaking Ty Cobb's record for most lifetime hits.
1997: The Mars Global Surveyor space probe begins orbiting Mars on a mapping survey of the surface.
2001: Islamic terrorists hijack four U.S. passenger airliners and fly two into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York City, bringing both towers crashing down within 100 minutes of the first impact; a third hijacked jetliner crashes into the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., and a fourth is apparently brought down by passengers over rural Pennsylvania. Barely an hour after the first plane hits, the FAA grounds all commercial passenger and cargo flights nationwide. More than 3,000 people perish in the attacks; the World Trade Center attack alone claims more than 2,800 lives. Speaking in the evening, President George W. Bush calls the attacks "evil, despicable acts of terror."

Continue reading "This Day In History: Sept. 11" »

September 10, 2007

Updates, Past and Future

wa08.jpgWe just made the leap to Movable Type 4, which shouldn't have any effect on your use or enjoyment of our site... yet. But we've got a total redesign of worldalmanac.com in the works, so keep your eyes peeled in the coming weeks for some long-overdue cosmetic and functional changes across the entire domain. In the meantime, if you encounter any problems reading, searching, or commenting on the blog, let us know.
And while I'm thinking about it, have you pre-ordered your copy of the 2008 World Almanac? In addition to a fine collection of new features and the usual cover-to-cover update of millions of facts, we're adding more online bonus content just for readers of the book... including a downloadable copy of the complete first edition of The World Almanac, from 1868. Good stuff.

This Day In History: Sept. 10

This Day in History

1813: In the War of 1812, Oliver H. Perry defeats the British fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie.
1846: Elias Howe receives a patent for his first sewing machine.
1919: A peace treaty between the Allies and Austria is signed at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France.
1935: Louisiana Sen. Huey Long, a national political figure, dies two days after having been shot in Baton Rouge.
1943: In World War II fighting, the Germans occupy Rome, Italy to counter the Allies' invasion of southern Italy.
1955: Gunsmoke, TV's longest running western series, premieres.
1960: At a conference in Baghdad on September 10-14, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, Venezuela, and Kuwait found the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to coordinate their policies and help sustain oil prices.
1967: In a referendum, the people of Gibraltar vote overwhelmingly to remain under British rule and to reject ties with Spain .
1974: Portugal formally grants Guinea-Bissau independence.
1989: Hurricane Hugo sweeps through the Caribbean and the Carolinas Sept. 10-22, causing at least 40 deaths and $6 billion in damage in the Carolinas alone.
1996: The United Nations General Assembly approves and opens for signature the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty banning all nuclear test explosions.
2000: The United States government drops 58 of 59 charges against nuclear scientist Wen Ho Lee. Lee had been charged with the removal of classified documents from the top-secret nuclear research facility in Los Alamos, NM.
2002: Switzerland becomes the 190th member state of the UN after its voters approved a referendum in March.

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

September 9, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 9

This Day in History

1513: A Scottish army commanded by James IV, king of Scotland, is defeated by the English in the Battle of Flodden Field. James is among the dead.
1850: Under Sen. Henry Clay's Compromise of 1850, California is admitted to the Union as the 31st state, with slavery forbidden. Also under the measure, Utah and New Mexico become territories, the Fugitive Slave Law is made more harsh, and the slave trade is ended in the District of Columbia.
1919: Boston police go on strike. Governor Calvin Coolidge calls in the National Guard and states that "there is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anytime, anywhere."
1945: Gen. Douglas MacArthur takes over supervision of occupied Japan.
1965: Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Sandy Koufax throws the 4th no-hitter of his baseball career, a perfect game, beating the Chicago Cubs by a score of 1-0.
1972: The U.S. men's Olympic basketball team loses the gold medal for the first time in a controversial finish with the Soviets.
1976: Chinese leader Mao Zedong dies in Beijing.
1998: Independent counsel Kenneth Starr delivers to the U.S. House what he calls "substantial and credible information that may constitute grounds" for impeaching Pres. Bill Clinton.
2001: In Afghanistan, two men linked to al-Qaeda, posing as journalists, are believed responsible for the suicide bombing on that kills Northern Alliance commander Ahmed Shah Massoud.
2003: The Roman Catholic archdiocese of Boston and lawyers representing about 550 victims of sexual abuse by priests announce a settlement worth up to $85 million.

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

September 8, 2007

This Day In History, Sept. 8

This Day in History

1565: St. Augustine, Florida—now the oldest continuing settlement in the United States—is founded by Pedro Menéndez de Aviles.
1664: British troops seize New Netherland from the Dutch; the English later rename it New York.
1781: The Battle of Eutaw Springs, the last important engagement in the Carolina campaign of the American Revolution, is fought near Eutawville, SC. It is a strategic victory for the Americans.
1883: The Northern Pacific Railroad is completed.
1935: Huey Long, senator from Louisiana and national political leader, is shot; he dies two days later.
1939: U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaims a limited national emergency.
1945: U.S. forces enter Korea south of the 38th parallel to displace the Japanese.
1951: A peace treaty with Japan is signed in San Francisco by U.S., Japan, and 47 other nations.
1954: The Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO), is founded by Australia , France, Great Britain, New Zealand, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, and the U.S. as an alliance for defense and economic cooperation.
1969: Tennis great Rod Laver wins the U.S. Open, thus achieving a Grand Slam—becoming the only player ever to win 2 Grand Slams.
1971: The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. opens to the public
1974: Pres. Gerald Ford issues a pardon to ex-Pres. Richard Nixon for any federal crimes he committed while president.
1998: St. Louis Cardinals baseball player Mark McGwire hits the 62d home run of the season, breaking Roger Maris' 1961 season record of 61.

Continue reading "This Day In History, Sept. 8" »

September 7, 2007

New Features for Google Book Search

piggy.jpgMy new favorite World Almanac-related quote:

He was famished, he was ravenous, he could eat every pig the World Almanac had tallied for the year.

- Fred Chappell, Brighten the Corner Where You Are

...courtesy of a Google Book Search for references to "World Almanac" in works of fiction. Nothing like a little navel-gazing at 7 AM on a Friday morning.

But my main reason for visiting GBS this morning wasn't to troll for references to our book—it was to check out a new feature that lets you add any books in Google's system to your own personal online "Library." Then you can add ratings, reviews, and tags, share your collection with others, or even let other folks subscribe to an RSS feed of any changes or additions to your library.

You can find more full-featured "My Library"-type features at Amazon and other online retailers, but Google's new tool is simple, quick, and uncluttered. I could see this being a really useful tool for people who have big home libraries, or who just read a lot of books—it's nice to be able to create a smaller subset of books you've actually read, so you don't have to search the whole, gigantic Google database every time you need to track down a particular volume, or a specific phrase.

I'll be interested to see how it (along with the rest of Google Book Search) develops.

My (own) library on Book Search (Google Book Search Blog)

P.S.: How many pigs did we (OK, the USDA's National Agriculture Statistics Service) tally in 2006? The preliminary figure for the U.S. alone was 61,197,000 hogs and pigs. That's a lotta bacon.

Photo from Maurice's Flickr stream

Coaching Pays

football.jpg With the commencement of college football season, the Kansas City Star took it upon itself to reveal what probably isn't a shock to anyone who follows college football: college football coaches, even those coaching at public universities, are very, very well compensated for their gridiron grit. The paper compared each state's governor's salary with its highest paid coach, who was most often a football coach. The result: Coaches 49, Governors 1.

And that one point the governors won? It doesn't really count, at least according to the Star:


Gov.: Sarah Palin, $125,000

Highest Paid Coach: Dave Shyiak, Alaska-Anchorage ice hockey, $112,000

(NOTE: There is no college football in Alaska)

Find where your state lies on the coaching payscale at the link below.
(Warning to residents of Florida: Your governor makes less than 5 percent of its two highest paid coaches' salaries. Of course, given how 2006-07 turned out for Florida football and basketball, you probably don't care.)

Governors vs. Coaches

Flickr photo by shortstopeleven

This Day In History: Sept. 7

This Day in History

1797: The U.S. frigate Constellation is launched at Baltimore, MD.
1812: The Battle of Borodino is fought near Moscow between the French, led by Napoleon, and the Russians. The French are victorious, and soon enter and occupy Moscow.
1822: In São Paolo, the independence of Brazil from Portugal is proclaimed.
1892: In the first modern boxing match played under Marquis of Queensbury rules, James J. Corbett defeats John L. Sullivan.
1901: A peace treaty with punitive conditions is forced upon the imperial Chinese government after the Boxer Rebellion and the occupation of Beijing by British, French, Japanese, Russian, German, and American troops.
1986: Pres. Augusto Pinochet of Chile survives an assassination attempt by the leftist opposition, and a state of siege is declared.
1999: Viacom, the world's largest cable network company, announces that it plans to buy CBS. An earthquake in Greece shakes the Athens region, killing 143 people and causing property damage estimated at nearly $650 million.
2003: In a televised address, Pres. George W. Bush asks Congress for $87 billion to rebuild Iraq.

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

September 6, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 6

This Day in History

1899: Sec. of State John Hay sends a letter to countries with interests in China, proclaiming an Open-Door Policy to make China an open international market.
1901: Pres. William McKinley, welcoming citizens at the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, NY, is shot by anarchist Leon Czolgosz; he dies on Sept. 14.
1914: During World War I, the first Battle of the Marne begins, halting the German advance near the Marne River in northeastern France, less than 30 miles from Paris.
1945: Singapore, occupied by the Japanese, is liberated by British troops.
1972: Nine Israelis taken hostage from the Olympic Village at the Munich Olympics in Germany, and 5 Arab terrorists, die in a shootout with police at the Munich airport.
1991: The Soviet government formally recognized the independence of the Baltic republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.
1995: Baseball player Cal Ripken Jr. of the Baltimore Orioles plays in his 2,131st straight game, breaking Lou Gehrig's record of most consecutive games played.
1997: Diana, the Princess of Wales, is laid to rest after a public service in London's Westminster Abbey.
2001: In a reversal of the Clinton administration's policy, the Justice Dept. announces that it will not seek to split Microsoft, Inc. into more than one company.
2003: Mahmoud Abbas resigns as Palestinian PM, citing recalcitrance from Palestinian leaders and Israeli obstruction of the peace process.

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

September 5, 2007

Visualization of the Day #2: Boomerang!

Ah, Almanac season. Tomorrow is the second in a string of important deadlines for the next edition of The World Almanac, so I'm churning through final approval of a half-dozen chapters while also trying desperately to chip away at the small mountain of early-draft chapters that has quietly accumulated on my desk (thanks a lot, Sarah, Andy, and Lisa).

boomerang.jpgBut that doesn't mean I don't have time to catch up on one of my favorite blogs, information aesthetics—which drew my attention to today's earlier, rather heavy Superfund link, and also to this more enjoyable chaser, an article on the Science of Boomerangs at Popular Mechanics. Cool time-lapse photos of LED-tipped boomerangs at night, a nice visual explanation of boomerang aerodynamics (a small snippet, at right), and at least one truly terrible pun from Eric Darnell, holder of several boomerang world records:

Darnell has himself set world records for endurance (43 catches in 5 minutes) and maximum time aloft (1 minute and 44 seconds). He has also sold millions of boomerangs. He says he isn’t into the sport for the money, although he admits, “I make many happy returns.”


Science of Boomerangs at Popular Mechanics (via information aesthetics, again)

Visualization of the Day #1: Superfund 365

I don't know about you, but the first time I heard the word "Superfund," I thought it referred to something really cool or fun—it's not just any old fund, right? It's the Superfund. Right on!

Then I learned that Superfund is the federal government's program to clean up uncontrolled hazardous waste sites. And that new sites are being added faster than old ones can be cleared off the list. So, OK: maybe not so fun after all. superfund.jpg

We get our information about Superfund sites straight from the EPA, which has a ton of information online, including tools to map Superfund sites near your home. But a new site (commissioned, curiously enough, by New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., with funding from the Jerome Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts) is working to bring the Superfund to life in a different way. I'll let them explain it:

Each day for a year, starting on September 1, 2007, Superfund365 will visit one toxic site currently active in the Superfund program run by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). We begin the journey in the New York City area and work our way across the country, ending the year in Hawaii. (We will need a beach vacation by then!) In the end, the archive will consist of 365 visualizations of some of the worst toxic sites in the U.S., roughly a quarter of the total number on the Superfund's National Priorities List (NPL).

They're only up to site #5, but it's a promising project so far—with eye-catching visualizations of contaminants at each site, plus maps, photos, and assorted other data. It's not a fun, happy site by any means, but it's an admirable attempt to illuminate a problem that most people are aware of only in an abstract sense.

Superfund365 (via information aesthetics)

Image: No, it's not a Spirograph—that's a visualization of soil, groundwater, and building contaminants at the Jackson Steel manufacturing plant in Mineola, NY.

This Day In History: Sept. 5

This Day in History

1774: The First Continental Congress opens in Philadelphia.
1795: U.S. buys peace from Algerian pirates by paying $1 million ransom for 115 seamen, followed by annual tributes.
1905: The peace treaty ending the Russo-Japanese War is signed in Portsmouth, NH.
1939: The United States declares its neutrality in World War II.
1972: Eight Arab guerrillas, members of the Black September terrorist group, invade the Israeli dormitory in the Olympic Village in Munich, Germany, killing 2 Israelis and taking 9 hostages.
1975: Pres. Gerald Ford is unharmed when a Secret Service agent grabs a pistol aimed at him by Lynette (Squeaky) Fromme, a follower of Charles Manson, in Sacramento, CA.
1977: Space probe Voyager 1 is launched toward Jupiter and Saturn.
1997: Mother Teresa, who worked for decades on behalf of the poor and ill in India, dies in Calcutta at the age of 87.
2002: A gunman narrowly misses Afghanistan's Pres. Hamid Karzai after opening fire on his car in Kandahar.
2004: Hurricane Frances hits Florida after crossing the Bahamas, killing 35.

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

September 4, 2007

Great Museums: Lawnmower World

0709lawnmower.jpgWant to see Princess Diana's lawnmower?

Ever wonder what the origin of "Shank's Pony" is?

Or what the first lawnmower looks like?

Visit the British Lawnmower Museum in Lancashire, England, just across from Discount Mower Warehouse Stanleys.

British Lawnmower Museum

This Day In History: Sept. 4

This Day in History

1781: Los Angeles is founded by Spanish settlers.
1886: Apache leader Geronimo surrenders in his long fight against settlers in the Southwest.
1944: In World War II, British and Canadian troops liberate the Belgian cities of Brussels and Antwerp.
1951: Transcontinental television begins with Pres. Truman's address at Japanese Peace Treaty Conference in San Francisco.
1957: National Guardsmen, called out by Arkansas Gov. Orval Faubus, bar 9 black students from entering an all-white high school in Little Rock.
1972: Mark Spitz, swimming on the U.S. 4x100-meter medley relay team, wins his record 7th gold medal at the Munich Olympics.

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

September 3, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 3

This Day in History

1651: At the Battle of Worcester, Charles II of England is defeated by Oliver Cromwell and flees to France.
1658: Oliver Cromwell, leader of the parliamentary forces during the English Civil War and virtual dictator of England, dies. The monarchy is restored less than two years later.
1783: The Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War, is signed by the United States and Britain.
1939: France and Britain declare war on Germany, setting World War II in motion.
1940: The United States announces the transfer of 50 overaged destroyers to Britain to aid the country in fighting World War II.
1943: In World War II, British Gen. Bernard Montgomery and the 8th Army invade the Italian mainland, and Italy surrenders.
1969: Ho Chi Minh (Nguyen Tat Thanh), Vietnamese Communist leader and the principal force behind the Vietnamese struggle against French colonial rule, dies in Hanoi.
1976: Space probe Viking II lands on Mars and begins sending back photographs.
1977: Japanese baseball great Sadaharu Oh hits the 756th home run of his career for the Yamiuri Giants, breaking Hank Aaron's record of career homers.
2002: The International Criminal Court, a permanent United Nations war crimes tribunal, holds its first meeting, in The Hague.
2004: A hostage crisis in the Russian town of Beslan ends in a gun battle between security forces and Chechen guerrillas. Hundreds are killed.

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

The Library was Overdue

abigail2.jpg The first schoolteacher to become First Lady, Abigail Powers Fillmore (1798-1853) had a passion for literature. Educated at home by her mother, she read all of the books in her fathers’ library, and began to teach school at the age of 16, while continuing to go to school. After her marriage to Millard Fillmore, she continued to teach school, the first First Lady to have a job outside of her home.

Books were an important focus of Abigail’s life, and she founded the first circulating library in Sempronius, New York. Her husband often purchased books for her when he was traveling, and in the years of their marriage they collected over 4,000 books.

As First Lady, Fillmore was dismayed to find that there were no books in the White House, and she got Congress to appropriate $2,000 to purchase several hundred books. Shakespeare, Dickens, Thackeray, Burns, travel books, biographies, histories, law books, religious works and other novels were chosen.

An 1842 ankle injury had lasting effects on Abigail’s life and she limited her activities as First Lady during her husband’s abbreviated term of office (he succeeded to the Presidency with the death of Zachary Taylor). Standing during the snowy inauguration of President Franklin Pierce on March 4, 1853, she grew ill soon after, and died of pneumonia on March 30th.

September 1, 2007

This Day In History: Sept. 1

This Day in History

1715: Louis XIV of France, the "Sun King," dies at Versailles in the 73d year of his reign.
1807: On trial for treason, former vice-president Aaron Burr is acquitted after a six-month trial in Richmond, Virginia.
1864: Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman, on his march through Georgia during the Civil War, takes Atlanta.
1870: The Battle of Sedan is fought in northern France. Napoleon III surrenders himself and his army the next day, ending the Franco-Prussian War.
1897: The first U.S. subway line begins service in Boston, running from the Public Gardens to Park St.
1905: Saskatchewan and Alberta enter the Canadian Confederation as the eighth and ninth provinces.
1923: An earthquake measuring 8.3 on the Richter scale hits Yokohama, Japan, killing 143,000 people.
1939: World War II begins when Germany invades Poland.
1951: The ANZUS pact, a mutual-defense pact between Australia, New Zealand (until 1986), and the U.S., is signed.
1969: In Libya, a group of young army officers overthrow the royal government and establish a republic. The revolutionary government is dominated by Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi.
1983: Korean Air Lines Flight 007, flying from New York City to Seoul, South Korea, is shot down after violating Soviet airspace; all 269 people aboard are killed.
1985: A joint U.S.-French expedition of scientists, led by Robert Ballard and using the submersible Argo, discovers the wreck of the Titanic.

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

About September 2007

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

August 2007 is the previous archive.

October 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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