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January 2008 Archives

January 31, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 31

Today is the 31st day of 2008 and the 41st day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1606, Guy Fawkes was executed for his role in the Gunpowder Plot in Britain. In 1917, Germany announced the renewal of submarine warfare in the Atlantic. In 1968, the North Vietnamese Tet Offensive began in South Vietnam. In 2006, Samuel Alito, Jr. took the bench as the 110th Supreme Court justice.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Franz Schubert (1797-1828), composer; John O'Hara (1905-1970), writer; Jackie Robinson (1919-1972), baseball player; Carol Channing (1923- ), actress, is 85; Norman Mailer (1923-2007), writer; Justin Timberlake (1981- ), singer, is 27.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 2003, the Chicago White Sox announced that they were changing the name of Comiskey Park to U.S. Cellular Field.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "A modern democracy is a tyranny whose borders are undefined; one discovers how far one can go by travelling in a straight line until one is stopped." - Norman Mailer

TODAY'S FACT: The first Social Security check, issued today in 1940, was for $22.54 and went to Ida May Fuller, who lived on a Vermont farm. Having worked less than three years under Social Security, she only paid $24.75, but had collected $ 22,888.92 by the time of her death in 1975.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 10,000 - the number of Baby Boomers who become eligible for Social Security every day.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (January 30) and new moon (February 6).

January 30, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 30

Today is the 30th day of 2008 and the 40th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1649, England's King Charles I was executed. In 1943, German troops surrendered in Stalingrad, ending World War II's bloodiest battle. In 2005, Iraqi citizens voted in the first free elections in a half century despite surrounding violence.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Franklin D. Roosevelt (1882-1945), U.S. president; Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989), historian; Ernie Banks (1931- ), baseball player, is 77; Gene Hackman (1930- ), actor, is 78; Tammy Grimes (1934- ), actress/singer, is 74; Dick Cheney (1941- ), U.S. vice president, is 67; Jalen Rose (1973- ), basketball player, is 35.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 2002, Karl Malone became the second NBA player (after Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) to score 34,000 career points.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "In our personal ambitions we are individualists. But in our seeking for economic and political progress as a nation, we all go up--or else all go down--as one people." - Franklin D. Roosevelt

TODAY'S FACT: In 1660, after the restoration of the monarchy, the body of Oliver Cromwell, who had ruled England for 9 years following the execution of Charles I, was disinterred and hanged.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 5,171 - number of polling centers in Iraq that opened for free elections in 2005 (out of the 5,232 centers that were expected).

TODAY'S MOON: Last quarter (January 30).

January 29, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 29

Today is the 29th day of 2008 and the 39th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1861, Kansas was admitted into the union as the 34th state. In 1891, Queen Liliuokalani became the last monarch of the Hawaiian Islands. In 1984, Ronald Reagan announced that he would run for a second term as U.S. president. In 2002, Pres. George W. Bush described Iran, Iraq, and North Korea as part of an "axis of evil" in his State of the Union address.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Thomas Paine (1737-1809), patriot/philosopher; William McKinley (1843-1901), U.S. president; Anton Chekhov (1860-1904), playwright, writer; W.C. Fields (1880-1946), comedian; Tom Selleck (1945- ), actor, is 63; Oprah Winfrey (1954-), TV personality, is 54; Jonny Lang, (1981- ), musician, is 27.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1995, the San Francisco 49ers beat the San Diego Chargers 49-26, becoming the first NFL team to win five Super Bowls.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "I never vote for anyone. I always vote against." - W.C. Fields

TODAY'S FACT: Edgar Allan Poe published his famous poem "The Raven" anonymously in the New York Evening Mirror on this day in 1845. He was paid $15.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 2 - approximate percentage of Ellis Island arrivals not admitted into the U.S.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (January 22) and last quarter (January 30).

January 28, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 28

Today is the 28th day of 2008 and the 38th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1547, England's King Henry VIII died. In 1871, France surrendered to Germany, ending the Franco-Prussian War. In 1915, the U.S. Coast Guard was founded. In 1986, the space shuttle Challenger exploded shortly after liftoff, killing seven astronauts.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Jose Marti (1853-1895), poet/activist; Colette (1873-1954), writer; Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), artist; Alan Alda (1936- ), actor, is 72; Elijah Wood (1981- ), actor, is 27.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1901, baseball's American League formally organized as a major league.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Total absence of humor renders life impossible." - Colette

TODAY'S FACT: A ranch owner in Fort Keogh, Montana, discovered the largest reported snowflake on this day in 1887. It measured 15 inches wide and 8 inches thick.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 20,000-25,000 - estimated number of genes in the human genome, revised from 100,000 in 2001.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (January 22) and last quarter (January 30).

January 25, 2008

The Race for the White House

RConv08_predictions.jpg Elections have been referred to as horse races, so why not bet on them? In advance of the 2008 elections in the U.S., the online magazine Slate will be tracking the results from four political prediction markets:

The impetus for this undertaking is the frequency with which big political prediction markets have forecast election winners, making them "consistently" more accurate than pre-election polls, according to Slate. And as in horse racing, shares in a candidate who's perceived to have little chance of winning will pay off more if he or she is indeed chosen.

2008 Political Futures (Slate)

Graphic: Snapshot of the Iowa Electronic Markets' 2008 U.S. Republican National Convention Market, between Mar. 2007 and Jan. 24, 2008. The graph shows the recent decline of Giuliani and the rise of McCain and Romney.

Growing Up Online


Full disclosure: I almost never watch Frontline on PBS anymore. I usually watch it online.

But the other night, however unexpectedly, I sat down and watched "Growing Up Online" on PBS. The show examined how this first generation to grow up within the MySpace/Facebook sphere socializes on and is socialized by the Internet.

"Growing Up Online" refuses to reel off cautionary tale after cautionary tale in a tone of shrill alarm, as many media profiles of this issue seem to. Rather, the filmmakers try to offer a more nuanced documentation of how children, their parents, and teachers struggle to find their appropriate levels of interaction with the limitless resources of the Internet age.

Watch "Growing Up Online" on Frontline's website, where not only are the most recent shows available, but most programs since 2001 are archived, along with some older classic episodes from the show's 25-year history. If you've already seen it, there are some great topical resources on the show's site, along with some follow-up on the kids documented by the program.

"Growing Up Online"
Frontline Archive

Test the Nation: Bloggers FTW*

trophy.jpgIt took me a few days to recover, but the CBC's Test the Nation: Trivia seemed to be a roaring success. Six teams locked horns: chefs, flight crews, cab drivers, celebrity lookalikes, backpackers, and bloggers. But in the end, there could be only one...
The bloggers dominated all three categories: highest-scoring celebrity guest (Samantha Bee with 49/60), highest-scoring individual in studio (Rick Spence of CanEntrepreneur and The National Post with 57/60) and yes, the team with the overall #1 high score (average 50/60).
You can still take the test online, and match your wits against Canada's finest bloggers and The Daily Show's Most Senior Correspondent... let us know how you did!

Image from photojunkie, operated and maintained by Rannie Turinga of "Team Blogger." Congrats!

* FTW = for the win, for those who aren't fluent in l33t-speak

This Day In History: Jan. 25

Today is the 25th day of 2008 and the 35th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1533, King Henry VIII of England married Anne Boleyn. In 1787, Shay's Rebellion broke out in Massachusetts. In 1915, Alexander Graham Bell made the first transcontinental telephone call from New York to San Francisco. In 1961, a few days after his inauguration, President John F. Kennedy held the first televised presidential news conference.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Robert Burns (1759-1796), poet; W. Somerset Maugham (1874-1964), novelist; Virginia Woolf (1882-1941), novelist/essayist; Etta James (1938- ), singer, is 70; Paul Nurse (1949- ), biochemist, is 59; Chris Chelios (1962- ), hockey player, is 46; Alicia Keys (1981- ), singer, is 27.

TODAY'S SPORTS In 1924, the first ever Winter Olympics began in Chamonix, France.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Yet it is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top." - Virginia Woolf

TODAY'S FACT: In the first Winter Olympics, the Canadian ice hockey team trounced their opponents, winning all 5 games and outscoring the competition 110-3.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 6 - number of wives of King Henry VIII, two of which he ordered executed by beheading.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (January 22) and last quarter (January 30).

January 24, 2008

The New York Public Library Blog

0801NYPL Lion.jpgUnbeknownst to me, the staff at The New York Public Library has been blogging since last August. So far the staff of nine departments are involved including sports and cooking. The blogs are technically in beta mode and aren't all updated frequently (sadly, the maps department only has 3 posts). There seem to be several posts each week, most pertaining to the library's extensive Digital Gallery, work on upcoming exhibitions, or the history of New York City.

For instance, a post recently noted their newly uploaded collection of early baseball photos from A. G. Spalding (yes, the guy whose name is on your basketball). Paula Baxter, Curator of the Library's Art and Architecture Collection, has been sharing her thoughts on an upcoming exhibition on Art Deco fashion and design.

New York Public Library Blog
Photo: "New York City Public Library front" by melanzane1013 via Flickr.


0801Gold Rush.jpgJames W. Marshall was merely hired to build a sawmill for John Sutter along the American River at what is now Coloma, CA, but when he found small pieces of gold in the mill's tailrace on this day 160 years ago it touched off a rush for riches.

More than 100,000 people moved to California in the following years—so many that it entered the Union on Sept. 9, 1850 with the nickname "The Golden State." Very few made their riches through gold, but some found success in other ways, including Levi Strauss (jeans), James McClatchy (newspapers and publishing), and Leland Stanford (railroad tycoon and founder of Stanford Univ.).

The Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco has a chronology of the gold rush and accounts by Marshall, Sutter, and several "Argonauts of 49" (49ers for short).

The California State Library has posted some of their manuscripts pertaining to the gold rush in an online exhibit of ephemera, including some by Marshall and Sutter.

The Gold Rush (Virtual Museum of the City of San Francisco)
California As We Saw It (California State Library)
Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park

"Gum Shan Meets El Dorado" Quarter plate daguerreotype by J. B. Starkweather (c. 1852)

This Day In History: Jan. 24

Today is the 24th day of 2008 and the 34th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1848, gold was discovered at Sutter's Mill in California, setting off the California Gold Rush. In 1965, Winston Churchill died at the age of 90. In 2003, Tom Ridge was sworn in as the first secretary of the Department of Homeland Security.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Pierre de Beaumarchais (1732-1799), playwright; Edith Wharton (1862-1937), novelist; Robert Motherwell (1915-1991), artist; Oral Roberts (1918- ), evangelist, is 90; Neil Diamond (1941- ), singer/songwriter, is 67; John Belushi (1949-1982), comic actor; Nastassja Kinski (1960- ), actress, is 48; Mary Lou Retton (1968- ), Olympic gold medalist, is 40; Mischa Barton (1986- ), actress, is 22.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1980, Fred Wilpon and Nelson Doubleday bought the New York Mets for an estimated $21.1 million, at the time the most ever paid for a baseball franchise.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Songs are life in eighty words or less." - Neil Diamond

TODAY'S FACT: Seventy-three years ago today, canned beer went on sale for the first time, in Richmond, Virginia.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 2,558 - number of times Barry Bonds was walked in the 2007 season, more than Hank Aaron (1,402) or Babe Ruth (2,062).

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (January 22) and last quarter (January 30).

January 23, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 23

Today is the 23rd day of 2008 and the 33rd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1845, Congress designated that presidential elections would be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. In 1922, in Toronto, insulin was first injected into a human patient with diabetes. In 1968, North Korean patrol boats captured the USS Pueblo.. In 2005, Viktor Yushchenko was sworn in as president of the Ukraine, only four months after becoming seriously ill as a result of dioxin poisoning.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Stendhal (1783-1842), novelist; Edouard Manet (1832-1883), artist; Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948), film director; Ernie Kovacs (1919-1962), comedian; Chita Rivera (1933- ), actress/dancer, is 73; Rutger Hauer (1944- ), actor, is 64; Princess Caroline of Monaco (1957- ) is 51; Mariska Hargitay (1964- ), actress, is 44.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1944, the Detroit Red Wings set a record for the most one-sided hockey game by beating the New York Rangers 15-0.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Eighty percent of success is showing up." - Woody Allen

TODAY'S FACT: Chita Rivera was the first Hispanic woman to receive a Kennedy Center Honors Award. She has also received two Tony Awards for her work in musical theatre.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 2,600,000 - highest recorded mileage for a car, a 1966 Volvo P1800-S owned by retired science teacher Irv Gordon of Long Island in New York.

TODAY'S MOON: Between full moon (January 22) and last quarter (January 30).

January 22, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 22

Today is the 22nd day of 2008 and the 32nd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1901, Britain's Queen Victoria died at age 82, after a record 64-year reign. In 1973, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling on abortion in the Roe v. Wade case. In 1997, Madeline Albright was confirmed as the first female U.S. Secretary of State. In 1998, "Unabomber" Ted Kaczynski pleaded guilty in Sacramento, CA, and was sentenced to life without parole.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Francis Bacon (1561-1626), philosopher/essayist; Lord Byron (1788-1824), poet; August Strindberg (1849-1912), playwright; D.W. Griffith (1875-1948), film director; George Balanchine (1904-1983), choreographer; Steve Perry (1949- ), singer, is 59; Linda Blair (1959- ), actress, is 49.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 2006, Kobe Bryant of the L.A. Lakers scored 81 points against the Toronto Raptors, the second most in a regular NBA game.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Opinions are made to be changed--or how is truth to be got at?" - Lord Byron

TODAY'S FACT: The tradition of performing Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker during the holiday season began with George Balanchine and the New York City Ballet in 1954.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 16 - number of bombings attributed to Ted Kaczynski over his 17-year spree.

TODAY'S MOON: Full moon (January 22).

January 21, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 21

Today is the 21st day of 2008 and the 31st day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1793, King Louis XVI of France went to the guillotine in Paris. In 1861, Jefferson Davis resigned from the U.S. senate. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter pardoned nearly all Vietnam War draft evaders. In 2003, the U.S. Census Bureau reported that Hispanics had surpassed Blacks as the largest minority group in the U.S.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Stonewall Jackson (1824-1863); soldier; Christian Dior (1905-57), fashion designer; Telly Savalas (1924-1994), actor; Jack Nicklaus (1940- ), golfer, is 68; Placido Domingo (1941- ), opera singer, is 67; Geena Davis (1956- ), actress, is 52.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1979, the Pittsburgh Steelers defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 35-31, in Super Bowl XIII to become the first NFL team to win three Super Bowls.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Governments rest on the consent of the governed, and that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish them at will whenever they become destructive of the ends for which they were established." - Jefferson Davis

TODAY'S FACT: Though it was primarily in use during the French Revolution, the guillotine was used for executions in France as recently as 1977; the death penalty was abolished there in 1981.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 44.3 million - estimated Hispanic population of the U.S. as of July 1, 2006.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (January 15) and full moon (January 22).

January 18, 2008

Doonies vs. Uppies

Ba'_2007.jpg One of the more entertaining articles I've recently read is The Washington Post's "Tradition: The Old Ba' Game," one in a special series called "Why We Compete."

Ba' has been played in the town of Kirkwall—located on the largest of Scotland's Orkney Islands—since at least the mid-1600s. The games are held twice a year, on Christmas Day and New Year's Day. The premise of the game is simple:

Half of the men in Kirkwall, called Doonies, try to push a small ball into the sea using any means necessary. The other half, called Uppies, work to push the ball to a wall one mile across town. The ba', which refers to both the game and the ball with which it is played, can last anywhere from four minutes to nine hours in freezing temperatures and hurricane-force winds.

A players' place of birth used to determine his team: men born closer to the ocean joined the Doonies while those born closer to the hills above town became Uppies. (A women's ba' game was attempted but fizzled out after a few years due to low participation.) Now that all births occur at the town hospital, family tradition usually dictates a man's team.

Parts of the St. Olaf Hotel were trashed during one game when the scrum "trampled through its lobby." Though injuries are a given—scrapes and gashes, black eyes, players falling unconscious from the crush of bodies—there has reportedly been only one death in known history.

Photo: "Men's Ba, New Year 2007" by Sandwick via Flickr.

This Day In History: Jan. 18

Today is the 18th day of 2008 and the 28th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1778, Captain James Cook discovered the Hawaiian Islands, calling them the Sandwich Islands. In 1964, planners unveiled the designs for New York's World Trade Center. In 1993, Martin Luther King Jr. Day was officially observed in all 50 states for the first time. In 2002, the decade-long civil war in Sierra Leone was declared over by President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Baron de Montesquieu (1689-1755), political philosopher; Daniel Webster (1782-1852), statesman/orator; A. A. Milne (1882-1965), children's author; Cary Grant (1904-1986), actor; Danny Kaye (1913-1987), entertainer; Kevin Costner (1955- ), actor, is 53; Mark Messier (1961- ), NHL player, is 47.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1976, wide receiver Lynn Swann gained 161 yards on four receptions and was named MVP as Pittsburgh defeated Dallas, 21-17, in Super Bowl X.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "One of the advantages of being disorderly is that one is constantly making exciting discoveries." - A.A. Milne

TODAY'S FACT: Cary Grant's real name was Archibald Leach.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 137 - number of islands included in Hawaii's official territory, a chain extending more than 1,000 miles.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (January 15) and full moon (January 22).

January 17, 2008

Flickr: The Library of Congress Pilot Project

rothstein-chute.jpgNo, it's not a World Almanac editor's meeting, though we do wear remarkably similar uniforms... this is a photo pulled from a terrific new collaboration between the Library of Congress and Flickr. The LOC has placed thousands of images from two major collections on Flickr, and invites the public to browse the collections and contribute tags, notes, and comments to individual photos. User-generated data might (or might not) end up in the LOC's own database; for the time being it's just a test program, focused on three major goals:

  • To share photographs from the Library's collections with people who enjoy images but might not visit the Library's own Web site.
  • To gain a better understanding of how social tagging and community input could benefit both the Library and users of the collections.
  • To gain experience participating in Web communities that are interested in the kinds of materials in the Library's collections.

There's really nothing more to say except: clear a few hours from your schedule, and start browsing some fascinating photographs.

Flickr: The Commons
Library of Congress Photos on Flickr (FAQ)

Image: Instructor explaining the operation of a parachute to student pilots, Meacham Field, Fort Worth, Tex. (LOC)

This Day In History: Jan. 17

Today is the 17th day of 2008 and the 27th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1773, Captain James Cook, along with his shipmates, became the first to sail south of the Antarctic Circle. In 1819, Simon Bolivar proclaimed Colombia a republic. In 1991, a U.S.-led coalition's planes struck targets in Kuwait and Iraq, launching the Persian Gulf War.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), statesman/inventor/author; Al Capone (1899-1947), organized crime boss; Betty White (1922- ), actress, is 86; James Earl Jones (1931- ), actor, is 77; Muhammad Ali (1942- ), boxer, is 66; Jim Carrey (1962- ), actor, is 46.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1971, the Baltimore Colts defeated the Dallas Cowboys, 16-13, in Super Bowl V, a game so filled with errors it was called the "Blunder Bowl."

TODAY'S QUOTE: "A man who views the world at 50 the same way as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life." - Muhammad Ali

TODAY'S FACT: When James Earl Jones was four he developed a stutter and refused to talk. A high school teacher finally helped him overcome it.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 26 - age of Al Capone when he became boss of the Chicago Outfit.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (January 15) and full moon (January 22).

January 16, 2008

Test the Nation, Test Yourself

TTN-studio.jpgIf you're reading this, chances are you're something of a trivia buff already—so why not put all that arcane knowledge to the test? Canadian viewers can tune in to CBC Television this Sunday (Jan. 20) at 8PM EST for the latest edition of Test the Nation, which is...
...a two-hour television event, with viewers playing at home as they watch our six teams of Canadians compete in our Toronto studio. By the end of the test, you'll know if you've been paying attention to the world around you, or if you've been sleepwalking through the last eight years.

The show will also reveal information about others who are playing at home and in the studio. Who will turn out to be more century savvy? The Men or the Women? Will the meat eaters devour the vegetarians? Will the coffee drinkers overpower the tea drinkers? We'll find out as Canadians give us their answers on the most technologically advanced and information saturated century the planet has ever seen!

And the most important question... will World Almanac readers crush all other test-takers? They just might: the producers of Test the Nation asked us to review the quiz, and I was pleasantly surprised to see how many questions could be answered within the pages of our book. So if you need to cram for the quiz, you could do worse than to pick up a copy of the 2008 World Almanac.

If you don't get CBC TV, you can still take the test at the Test the Nation website (starting Sunday) and find out how you measure up against test-takers around the world. You can warm up this week in the "Mental Gym," or take tests from previous shows: IQ Test and Watch Your Language.

If you do tune in, watch for my smiling mug to pop up somewhere between questions 26 and 27, offering up some "expert" commentary on the test...

Test the Nation: Trivia

Most Common Last Names

Census last names On page 727 of The World Almanac 2008 is a list of the 30 most common last names in the U.S. The list is based on a count of surnames from the 1990 Census. The U.S. Census Bureau lately released a list of the most common last names from the 2000 Census (the top ten from each Census shown at right).

That two Hispanic surnames made the top 10 list in 2000 seems to reflect the country's growing Hispanic population. The proportion of Asian surnames in the population also increased. I'm happy to report that my surname, Liu, rose from a rank of 2300 in 1990 to 650 in 2000. That's higher than the surnames of World Almanac editors Joyce (#948), Janssen (#3101), and Steinitz (not among top 5,000) but well below Thomas (#14).

More than 6 million surnames were identified in Census 2000 records. About 26% of the population sample, or 60 million people, accounted for 275 of the most common surnames. Around 65% (4 million) of all surnames identified were unique to one individual.

The entire list of 1,000 most common surnames from the 2000 Census can be found at the link below. In addition, the Census document "Demographic Aspects of Surnames from Census 2000" (pdf) ranks surnames by their frequency among different races.

Frequently Occurring Surnames from Census 2000 (Census Bureau)
Genealogy page, including frequently occurring surnames from the 1990 Census (Census Bureau)
"In U.S. Name Count, Garcias Are Catching Up with Joneses" (includes name search function) (NYTimes.com)

This Day In History: Jan. 16

Today is the 16th day of 2008 and the 26th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1920, the League of Nations held its first meeting. In 1964, Hello, Dolly! opened on Broadway. In 1979, the Shah of Iran fled his homeland in the wake of a revolution. In 2006, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf took power in Liberia as the first woman in Africa to be elected head of state.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Ethel Merman (1909-1984), Broadway star; Dizzy Dean (1910-1974), baseball player; Susan Sontag (1933-2004), author/critic; Marilyn Horne (1934- ), opera singer, is 74; Ronnie Milsap (1944- ), singer, is 64; Roy Jones Jr. (1969- ), pro boxer, is 39; Kate Moss (1974- ), model, is 34.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1961 Mickey Mantle signed a contract for an annual salary of $75,000, making him the highest paid player in the American League.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Silence remains, inescapably, a form of speech." - Susan Sontag

TODAY'S FACT: Ethel Merman was the 8th performer to play the lead in the Broadway production of Hello, Dolly!, following in the footsteps of the likes of Carol Channing, Pearl Bailey, Phyllis Diller, Betty Grable, and Ginger Rogers.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 28 - number of countries that were members of the League of Nations for its entire duration; 35 other nations were members intermittently.

TODAY'S MOON: Between first quarter (January 15) and full moon (January 22).

January 15, 2008

Dubious Data


When new studies and demographic analyses are published, it's easy to find yourself making assumptions by interpreting the raw data. Those assumptions can lead to misleading conclusions that run contrary to what the data actually illustrates. STATS, a "non-profit, non-partisan Statistical Assessment Service (STATS)... on the use and abuse of science and statistics in the media," attempts to provide a counterbalance to quickly rendered assumptions made upon the release of studies, just published their "Dubious Data Awards." The awards are an interesting collection of the way new research and statistics have been interpreted by the media in ways that misinform or mislead.

One example: In July, the Associated Press - and many other news organizations - reported that "Using marijuana seems to increase the chance of becoming psychotic... even infrequent use could raise the small but real risk of this serious mental illness by 40 percent." Since marijuana use rates have skyrocketed since the 1940's and 50's, going from single digit percentages of the population trying it to a peak of some 60 percent of high school seniors trying it in 1979 (stabilizing thereafter at roughly 50 percent of each high school class), we would expect to see this trend have some visible effect on the prevalence of schizophrenia and other psychoses.

Roughly one to two percent of the population has schizophrenia (and another two percent or so have other psychotic disorders), and this percentage does not vary much with the region within the U.S. Over time, diagnosis of schizophrenia has changed, making it almost impossible to evaluate whether low-level exposure to pot could increase the risk by as much as 40 percent.

Of course, the STATS analysis is not necessarily the right one every time, but the different perspective they offer is helpful.

STATS Dubious Data Awards [via kottke]
The STATS Blog

Advertisement, published in Popular Science, Dec. 1957, via Todd Ehlers's Flickr

This Day In History: Jan. 15

Today is the 15th day of 2008 and the 25th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1759, the British Museum opened to the public. In 1920, prohibition went into effect in the United States. In 1930, Amelia Earhart reached a speed of 171 mph in a Lockheed Vega, setting an aviation record for women. In 2006, Michelle Bachelet became the first woman elected president of Chile.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Edward Teller (1908-2003), physicist; Gene Krupa (1909-1973), jazz drummer; Lloyd Bridges (1913-1998), actor; Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918-1970), Egyptian president; Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968), civil rights leader; Mario Van Peebles (1957- ), actor/director, is 51; Kari Mattila (1959- ), opera singer, is 49.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1942, U.S President Franklin D. Roosevelt sent a letter to the commissioner of Major League Baseball that gave the "green light" to play during World War II.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Human salvation lies in the hands of the creatively maladjusted." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

TODAY'S FACT: The Volstead Act, passed by Congress to enforce the 18th (Prohibition) Amendment, made concessions for medicinal, sacramental, and industrial liquors, as well as for fruit and grape beverages prepared for personal use in homes.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 44 - number of years Queen Elizabeth I of England reigned after being officially crowned on this day in 1559.

TODAY'S MOON: First quarter (January 15).

January 14, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 14

Today is the 14th day of 2008 and the 24th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1784, the U.S. ratified the "Treaty of Paris" that ended the Revolutionary War. In 1943, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill, and Charles de Gaulle met in Casablanca, Morocco. In 2004, former Enron CFO Andrew Fastow pleaded guilty to wire and securities fraud, accepting a 10-year prison sentence.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Benedict Arnold (1741-1801), American soldier/traitor; Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965), theologian/physician; Hal Roach (1892-1992), film and TV producer; John Dos Passos (1896-1970), writer; Andy Rooney (1919- ), writer/TV commentator, is 89; Faye Dunaway (1941- ), actress, is 67; Shannon Lucid (1943- ), astronaut, is 65; LL Cool J (1968- ), rapper, is 40; Jason Bateman (1969- ), actor, is 39.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1973, the Miami Dolphins defeated the Washington Redskins in the Super Bowl, 14-7, and became the only NFL team ever to end the season undefeated.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The creation of a world view is the work of a generation rather than of an individual, but we each of us, for better or worse, add our brick to the edifice." - John Dos Passos

TODAY'S FACT: Franklin D. Roosevelt's meeting in Casablanca marked the first time a U.S. president ever left the country's soil during wartime. .

TODAY'S NUMBER: 16 - number of other conflicts ended by treaties known as a "Treaty of Paris," including the Seven Years War and Spanish-American War

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (January 8) and first quarter (January 15).

January 13, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 13

Today is the 13th day of 2008 and the 23rd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1864, American songwriter Stephen Foster died in New York's Bellevue Hospital at age 37. In 1910, inventor Lee de Forest made a live radio broadcast from New York's Metropolitan Opera. In 1942, the Allies announced that they would prosecute war criminals after the end of World War II. In 1990, Virginian L. Douglas Wilder became the first elected African American governor.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Horatio Alger (1832-1899), author; Sophie Tucker (1884-1966), singer; Gwen Verdon (1926-2000), dancer and actress; Charles Nelson Reilly (1921-2007), actor; Julia Louis-Dreyfus (1961- ), actress, is 47; Orlando Bloom (1977- ), actor, is 31.

TODAY'S SPORTS In 2005, Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig sold the Milwaukee Brewers to Mark Attanasio for $223 million.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "You can only milk a cow so long; then you're left holding the pail." - Hank Aaron.

TODAY'S FACT: In 1959, Lee De Forest won an honorary Oscar for his 1920 invention that made "talkies," films with audio, possible.

January 12, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 12

Today is the 12th day of 2008 and the 22nd day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1915, the United States established the Rocky Mountain National Park. In 1932, Hattie Wyatt Caraway of Arkansas became the first woman elected to the Senate. In 1991, a divided Congress authorized Pres. George H.W. Bush to use force in expelling Iraq from Kuwait.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: John Hancock (1737-1793), founding father of the U.S.; Edmund Burke (1729-1797), British statesman; Jack London (1876-1916), writer; Joe Frazier (1944- ), boxer, is 64; Rush Limbaugh (1951- ), radio personality, is 57; Howard Stern (1954- ), radio personality, is 54; Kirstie Alley (1955- ), actress, is 52; Jeff Bezos (1964- ), Amazon.com founder, is 44.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1999, Mark McGwire's 70th home run ball was sold in auction to Todd McFarlane, creator of Spawn comics, for $3 million, the most ever paid for a sports artifact.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Toleration is good for all, or it is good for none." - Edmund Burke

TODAY'S FACT: Amazon.com opened in 1995 but it didn't make a profit until 2002.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 16 - number of women serving at the start of the 110th U.S. Senate.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (January 8) and first quarter (January 15).

January 11, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 11

Today is the 11th day of 2008 and the 21st day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1908, Pres. Theodore Roosevelt declared the Grand Canyon a national monument. In 1964, the U.S. surgeon general issued the first U.S. government report concluding that smoking could be hazardous to health. In 2003, departing Illinois governor George Ryan commuted the sentences of an unprecedented 156 death row inmates.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Alexander Hamilton (1755?-1804), U.S. statesman; William James (1842-1910), philosopher/psychologist; Rod Taylor (1930- ), actor, is 78; Jean Chretien (1934- ), former Canadian prime minister, is 74; Naomi Judd (1946- ), singer, is 62; Mary J. Blige (1971- ), singer, is 37.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1973, the owners of MLB's American League teams approved the rule of the designated hitter.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Let us endeavor so to live that when we come to die even the undertaker will be sorry." - Mark Twain

TODAY'S FACT: Alexander Hamilton was born to a poor family on the Caribbean island of Nevis; conflicting sets of records leave it unclear whether he was born in 1755 or 1757.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 438,000 - estimated number of smoking-related deaths in America each year from 1997 to 2001.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (January 8) and first quarter (January 15).

January 10, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 10

Today is the 10th day of 2008 and the 20th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1776 Thomas Paine published his pro-independence pamphlet Common Sense, which quickly sold some 100,000 copies. In 1863, the London Underground (subway) began operations. In 1901, Texas had its first significant oil strike at Beaumont. In 2003, North Korea withdrew from the multi-nation treaty barring it from developing a nuclear weapons program.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Ray Bolger (1904-1987), actor/dancer; Paul Henreid (1908-1992), actor; Sal Mineo (1939-1976), actor; Rod Stewart (1945- ), singer, is 63; George Foreman (1949- ), boxer, is 59; Pat Benatar (1953- ), singer, is 55.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1982, Dwight Clark caught a touchdown pass, thrown by Joe Montana, with 51 seconds to spare to secure a San Francisco 49er's victory over the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC championship game.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Boxing is sort of like jazz. The better it is, the less amount of people can appreciate it." - George Foreman

TODAY'S FACT: A butterfly can see the colors red, green, and yellow.

TODAY'S NUMBER: $530 million - estimated amount of John D. Rockefeller's philanthropy at the time of his death in 1937, which would now equal about $7.7 billion.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (January 8) and first quarter (January 15).

January 9, 2008

Recycling Those Old Electronics

Computer_disposal.gifThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced yesterday its launch of a campaign urging consumers to recycle their old cell phones. Partners in the campaign include many of the major cell phone service providers and some retail stores.

The EPA estimates about 100 to 130 million cell phones in the U.S. are no longer in use; less than 20% of unwanted cell phones are recycled each year. Consumers are encouraged to drop off in stores or mail in their old cell phones. A list of participating locations can be found here.

The campaign is just one initiative in Plug-In To eCycling, the electronics recycling program created by the EPA in 2003. The graph, based on EPA data, shows how many tons of computer products people got rid of each year between 1999 and 2005. (The numbers include desktop and portable computers; peripherals including printers, scanners, fax machines, mice, and keyboards; and monitors.) The majority of these products are thrown out--only a small portion is recycled, a trend that seems likely to continue unless consumer behavior changes.

For exact figures and related statistics, refer to page 351 of The World Almanac 2008.

Recycle Your Cell Phone. It's An Easy Call. (EPA)
Recycled Cell Phones--A Treasure Trove of Valuable Metals (U.S. Geological Survey fact sheet)

This Day In History: Jan. 9

Today is the 9th day of 2008 and the 19th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1788, Connecticut ratified the U.S. Constitution and became the fifth U.S. state. In 1905, nervous guards at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, opened fire on unarmed protesters, killing about 200 and sparking revolution. In 1945, Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the American 6th Army invaded the island of Luzon in the Philippines. In 2005, Mahmoud Abbas, Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), was elected president of the Palestinian Authority.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Chic Young (1901-1973), creator of Blondie; Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986), writer; Richard Nixon (1913-1994), U.S. president; Judith Krantz (1928- ), writer, is 80; Bob Denver (1935-2005), actor; Joan Baez (1941- ), singer, is 67; Mark Martin (1959- ), NASCAR driver, is 49; Dave Matthews (1967- ), musician, is 41.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1972, the Milwaukee Bucks ended the L.A. Lakers' record 33-game winning streak with a 120-104 win.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Don't get the impression that you arouse my anger... You see, one can only be angry with those he respects." - Richard Nixon

TODAY'S FACT: The comic strip "Blondie," launched by Chic Young in 1930, eventually appeared in more than 2,000 newspapers around the world and was the subject of a 1995 stamp commemorating the centennial of the American comic strip.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 1,057 - number of rooms in the Winter Palace. It is now part of the Hermitage museum.

TODAY'S MOON: Between new moon (January 8) and first quarter (January 15).

January 8, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 8

Today is the 8th day of 2008 and the 18th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1815, Andrew Jackson defeated the British at the Battle of New Orleans. In 1877, Crazy Horse fought—and lost—his final battle against the U.S. Cavalry. In 1916, Allied forces retreated from Turkey's Gallipoli Peninsula after a crushing defeat. In 1982, AT&T agreed to give up its 22 local "Baby Bells."

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Jose Ferrer (1912-1992), actor; Elvis Presley (1935-1977), singer/actor; Soupy Sales (1926- ), TV personality, is 82; Stephen Hawking (1942- ), physicist, is 66; David Bowie (1947- ), musician, is 61; Wolfgang Puck (1949- ), chef, is 59; R. Kelly (1967), singer, is 41.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1901, the first American Bowling Congress sanctioned tournament was held in Chicago, IL.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "People who boast about their I.Q. are losers." - Stephen Hawking when asked his I.Q. by a New York Times reporter

TODAY'S FACT: About 600,000 people annually visit Elvis Presley's Graceland estate.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 641 - projected length (in feet) of the Crazy Horse Memorial, which will be the largest sculpture in the world when it is completed.

TODAY'S MOON: New moon (January 8).

January 7, 2008

All We Were Saying in 2007


As my enjoyment of all end-of-the-year lists (particularly those of the linguistic variety) has already been established here, I'm sure everyone can understand my regret over not being able to post about this NY Times article before I left for the holiday.

I thought this collection of buzzwords (and buzz-phrases) was especially interesting because, while I have seen many of them before in similar collections—colony collapse disorder, for example—I hadn't even heard of many of them (dramaprice, anyone?), which seemingly contradicts their status as buzzwords. And yet, I knew immediately to what phenomena of 2007 they referred.

A few of my favorite, previously unknown phrases from 2007:

earmarxist n.
A member of Congress who adds earmarks — money designated for pet projects — to legislation.

FTW interj.
For The Win. A bragging exclamation of approval, as in "K-Fed got the kids FTW," or "I was able to open the file with Photoshop. FTW!!!" Originally part of the patter of the game show "Hollywood Squares" and later found in online games like World of Warcraft. Now largely used ironically and sarcastically.

global weirding n.
An increase in severe or unusual environmental activity often attributed to global warming. This includes freakish weather and new animal migration patterns.

All We Are Saying [nytimes]

"Bee and His Shadow" photo from Lasre's Flickr.

This Day In History: Jan. 7

Today is the 7th day of 2008 and the 17th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1785, Jean-Pierre Blanchard and John Jeffries crossed the English Channel in a balloon. In 1955, Marian Anderson made her debut at New York's Metropolitan Opera House, becoming the first African American to sing there. In 1999, the impeachment trial of President Bill Clinton began in the Senate.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Millard Fillmore (1800-1874), U.S. president; Francis Poulenc (1899-1963), composer; Zora Neale Hurston (1901-1960), writer; Charles Addams (1912-1988), cartoonist; David Caruso (1956- ), actor, is 52; Katie Couric (1957- ), TV news anchor, is 51; Nicolas Cage (1964- ), actor, is 44.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1927, in Hinckley, IL, the Harlem Globetrotters played the first game of their long career.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "You know, everybody makes mistakes when they are president." - Bill Clinton

TODAY'S FACT: The original Harlem Globetrotters were actually from Chicago. The name was a marketing tool. The team didn't play a game in Harlem until 1968.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 2.5 - length in hours of the first balloon trip across the English Channel (at its narrowest point of 21 miles).

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (December 31, 2007) and new moon (January 8, 2008).

January 6, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 6

Today is the 6th day of 2008 and the 16th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1838, Samuel F. B. Morse publicly demonstrated the telegraph for the first time. In 1912, New Mexico was admitted to the Union as the 47th state. In 1919, former President Theodore Roosevelt died at age 60. In 1941, Pres. Franklin D. Roosevelt declared the Four Freedoms (freedom of speech and religion, and freedom from want and fear) in a speech to Congress.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Joan of Arc (1412-1431), French saint and national heroine; Max Bruch (1838-1930), composer; Carl Sandburg (1878-1967), poet/biographer; Tom Mix (1880-1940), actor; Khalil Gibran (1883-1931), poet/novelist; Danny Thomas (1912-1991), comedian; Loretta Young (1913-2000), actress; Rowan Atkinson (1955- ), actor, is 53; Howie Long (1960- ), football player/broadcaster, is 48.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1994, U.S. champion figure skater Nancy Kerrigan is clubbed on the knee on the orders of a rival, Tonya Harding.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Slang is a language that rolls up its sleeves, spits on its hands, and goes to work." - Carl Sandburg

TODAY'S FACT: Theodore Roosevelt, the youngest president to take office at age 42, was the first president to travel outside of the U.S.

TODAY'S NUMBER: $30,000 - amount Congress appropriated in 1843 for Samuel F. B. Morse to construct the first experimental telegraph line between Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (December 31, 2007) and new moon (January 8, 2008).

January 5, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 5

Today is the 5th day of 2008 and the 15th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1914, Ford Motor Company raised basic wages from $2.40 for a 9-hour day to $5 for an 8-hour day. In 1968, Alexander Dubcek came to power in Czechoslovakia, launching what is known as the "Prague Spring." In 1979, the Vietnamese captured Phnom Penh, ending the rule of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia. In 2005, the dwarf planet Eris was discovered.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Walter Mondale (1928- ), former U.S. vice president, is 80; Umberto Eco (1929- ), author, is 79; Robert Duvall (1931- ), actor, is 77; Juan Carlos (1938- ), king of Spain, is 70; Diane Keaton (1946- ), actress, is 62.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1957, Jackie Robinson retired from Major League Baseball, 23 days after being traded from the Brooklyn Dodgers to the New York Giants.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "The real hero is always a hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else." - Umberto Eco

TODAY'S FACT: The National Weather Service issues a blizzard warning when a storm has sustained winds or frequent gusts of 35 miles an hour or more, and enough falling snow to cut visibility to under 1/4 mile for 3 hours.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 1,672 - number of performances of "The Wiz," Broadway's musical adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, at the Majestic Theatre in New York, after premiering this day in 1975.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (December 31, 2007) and new moon (January 8, 2008).

January 4, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 4

Today is the 4th day of 2007 and the 14th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1920, the Negro National League, the first black professional baseball league, was established. In 1995, the 104th U.S. Congress convened with Republican majorities in both the House and Senate for the first time since the Eisenhower presidency. In 2006, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a debilitating stroke that prevented him from governing.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Isaac Newton (1642-1727), mathematician/physicist; Louis Braille (1809-1852), Braille alphabet inventor; King Camp Gillette (1855-1932), safety razor inventor; Jane Wyman (1914- ), actress, is 93; Floyd Patterson (1935- ), boxer, is 72; Dyan Cannon (1937- ), actress, is 70; Michael Stipe (1960- ), rock musician, is 47; Julia Ormond (1965- ), actress, is 42.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1991, 12-year-old Fu Mingxia from China won the women's 10-meter platform at the World Swimming Championships in Perth, Australia, becoming the youngest aquatic world champion ever.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "It's easy to do anything in victory. It's in defeat that a man reveals himself." - Floyd Patterson

TODAY'S FACT: King Camp Gillette wanted to devise a new product that consumers would need to purchase repeatedly; his safety razors were one of the first and most successful disposable products ever made.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 17 - number of Negro League and pre-Negro League members inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2006.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (December 31, 2007) and new moon (January 8, 2008).

January 3, 2008

World Oil Reserves and Consumption

whohastheoil-400.jpg Via EnergyBulletin.net comes this map showing world oil reserves and oil consumption by country at year-end 2004. (Click on the map for a full-size image, or here for the original.) What's neat about the map is that the size of each country is proportional to its share of the world's oil reserves. At a glance, one can tell that Saudi Arabia held most of the world's oil, or about 22.3% of all reserves.

The amount of oil consumed determines each country's color. Although the U.S. had only 1.8% of the world's oil at year-end 2004, it was the biggest oil consumer. China, Russia, Canada, Mexico, and Brazil were also among the world's top oil consumers.

As of Jan. 1, 2006, Saudi Arabia still controlled the largest percentage (20.6%) of the world's oil reserves. More recent statistics on the size of each country's oil reserves can be found on page 107 of The World Almanac 2008.

Also, check out the two bar graphs depicting the world's major consumers and producers of primary energy in 2005, on page 105 of the Almanac. Among all countries, the U.S. still consumed the most primary energy (petroleum, natural gas, coal, net hydroelectric, nuclear, geothermal, solar, wind, and wood and waste electric power). That same year, however, the U.S. led the world in primary energy production.

Map source: BP Statistical Review Year-End 2004, Energy Information Administration (Aaron Pava, CivicActions)

This Day In History: Jan. 3

Today is the 3rd day of 2008 and the 13th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1777, Revolutionary forces under the command of George Washington defeated the British at Princeton, NJ. In 1959, Alaska entered the union as the 49th state. In 2004, the unmanned NASA spacecraft Spirit landed on Mars.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: John Paul Jones (1747-1792), U.S. naval officer; Lucretia Mott (1793-1880), women's rights pioneer; J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973), author; Victor Borge (1909-2000) comedian/pianist; Mel Gibson (1956- ), actor, is 52; Danica McKellar (1975- ), actress, is 33; Eli Manning (1981- ), football player, is 27.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1983, Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett set an NFL record by running 99 yards from scrimmage for a touchdown.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "We too often bind ourselves by authorities rather than by the truth." - Lucretia Mott

TODAY'S FACT: In 2000, evidence that liquid water flowed on Mars was discovered, supporting the theory that life could exist on the Red Planet.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 670,053 - estimated population of the state of Alaska in July 2006--about triple its population at the time it attained statehood.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (December 31, 2007) and new moon (January 8, 2008).

January 2, 2008

Memorable Moments in Sports: "The Band is on the Field!"

Here's another Memorable Moment from the World Almanac 2008—this time, an amazing final play from 1982:
"The Band is on the Field"
November 20, 1982: Univ. of California v. Stanford

With four seconds left on the clock, Stanford took the lead (20-19) with a field goal. On the last-second kickoff return California players charged down the field, as the Stanford marching band ran out to celebrate. California players shot five lateral passes, ending with Cal's Kevin Moen, who scored the game-winning touchdown by charging through the middle of the band--and knocking down Stanford trombone player Gary Tyrrell.

Of course, if you know anything about "The Play," you know that the legality of some of those laterals has been hotly contested over the years. Hit the links below for more exhaustive background and discussion of this crazy moment in college sports.

The Anatomy of a Miracle (Sports Illustrated, Sept. 1, 1983)
The Play Lives On (SportsIllustrated.com)
20 years later, 'The Play' a tough act to forget (Daily Vanguard, Nov. 11, 2002)
The Play: Bears Attack the Band (YouTube)

This Day In History: Jan. 2

Today is the 2nd day of 2008 and the 12th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1492, the Moors were driven out of Spain as Granada fell to the forces of Ferdinand and Isabella. In 1893, former slave Frederick Douglass delivered an address at the Chicago World's Fair. In 1974, Pres. Richard Nixon signed legislation that required all states to institute a 55-mph highway speed limit or lose federal highway aid. In 2006, a methane gas explosion in a Sago, WV, coal mine trapped 13 miners, only 1 survived.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Tito Schipa (1888-1965), opera tenor; Sir Michael Tippett (1905-98), composer; Isaac Asimov (1920-1992), writer; Roger Miller (1936-1992), singer/songwriter; Jim Bakker (1939- ), former televangelist, is 69; J. Dennis Hastert (1942- ), former speaker of the U.S. House, is 66; Cuba Gooding, Jr. (1968- ), actor, is 40; Christy Turlington (1969- ), model, is 39; Taye Diggs (1971- ), actor/singer, is 37.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1984, Miami upset heavily favored Nebraska in the Orange Bowl, 31-30, as Nebraska failed on a two-point conversion at game's end.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will." - Frederick Douglass

TODAY'S FACT: Frederick Douglass was the first African American to receive a vice presidential nomination, with the Equal Rights Party in 1872, but he neither campaigned for nor acknowledged it.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 466 - number of books written by Isaac Asimov, according to his memoir.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (December 31, 2007) and new moon (January 8, 2008).

January 1, 2008

This Day In History: Jan. 1

Today is the 1st day of 2008 and the 11th day of winter.

TODAY'S HISTORY: In 1831, William Lloyd Garrison launched publication of the abolitionist newspaper The Liberator. In 1863, the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing Confederate slaves, took effect. In 1892, the Ellis Island immigration station opened in New York City. In 1959, the Cuban government of Fulgencio Batista was overthrown by the rebel forces of Fidel Castro. In 2002, the Euro became the legal tender for all European Union member states.

TODAY'S BIRTHDAYS: Paul Revere (1735-1818), American patriot; E.M. Forster (1879-1970), novelist; J. Edgar Hoover (1895-1972), FBI chief; J.D. Salinger (1919- ), writer, is 89; Frank Langella (1940- ), actor, is 68; Grandmaster Flash (1958- ), hip hop performer, is 50; P.T. Anderson (1970- ), filmmaker, is 38.

TODAY'S SPORTS: In 1961, the Houston Oilers won the first American Football League championship, 24-16, against the Los Angeles Chargers.

TODAY'S QUOTE: "In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free." - Abraham Lincoln

TODAY'S FACT: Kathleen Casey Wilkins, considered the first of some 78 million postwar baby boomers, was born in Philadelphia, a minute after midnight on January 1, 1946.

TODAY'S NUMBER: 100 - number of light bulbs on the first-ever Times Square New Years Eve ball, made of iron and wood, dropped to celebrate the start of 1907.

TODAY'S MOON: Between last quarter (December 31, 2007) and new moon (January 8, 2008).

About January 2008

This page contains all entries posted to The World Almanac in January 2008. They are listed from newest to oldest.

December 2007 is the previous archive.

February 2008 is the next archive.

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

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