Monday, November 19, 2012

Things That Happened Today, But Not This Year

1493 – On his second voyage to the West Indies, Christopher Columbus first comes ashore on an island he had spotted the day before. He names it San Juan Bautista. The island is later renamed Puerto Rico. Of course, Columbus wasn't the first to discover it. Indigenous aboriginal peoples, known as Tainos, had already populated the island for centuries by this time.

1816 – The Royal University of Warsaw is established in Warsaw, Poland. Today, the University of Warsaw is the largest in all of Poland, with an enrollment of over 56,000 students and a staff of over 6,000, including over 3,100 educators.

1831 – James A. Garfield, the 20th U.S. President, is born. Fifty years later, Garfield is gunned down in a train station by a madman who had been stalking him for weeks. He dies two months later.

1862 – Billy Sunday, fleet-footed professional baseball player, is born. After eight seasons in the big leagues, Sunday will retire from baseball and go on to become a celebrated and fiery evangelist as well as one of the strongest supporters of Prohibition.

1863 – President Abraham Lincoln delivers the Gettysburg Address at the dedication of the military cemetery ceremony in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Despite Lincoln's assertion in the speech that "the world will little note nor long remember what we say here," hundreds of thousands of schoolchildren in the ensuing years have had to memorize, word for word, exactly what Lincoln said that memorable day.

1916 – Samuel Goldfish and Edgar Selwyn establish Goldwyn Pictures, one of the earliest motion picture production companies. In 1924, Goldwyn Pictures merged with Metro Pictures and Louis B. Mayer pictures, and the alliance became known as Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, or MGM for short. Sound familiar?

Yep, that's the one!

1917 – Indira Gandhi is born. Gandhi will go on to become the four-term Prime Minister of India (1966-77, 1980-4), the first woman to hold that position. She is also only the second female in the world to ever become the head of her country's government. (Sirimavo Bandaranike of Sri Lanka was the first.)

1946 – Afghanistan, Iceland, and Sweden join the United Nations.

1955 – National Review publishes its first issue. The fortnightly magazine was founded by the late William F. Buckley, Jr. Self-described as "America's most widely read and influential magazine and web site for conservative news, commentary, and opinion," the National Review still boasts a total circulation of 166,755 in a day and age where print magazines are on their way out.

1959 – The Ford Motor Company announces the discontinuation of the unpopular Edsel. Apparently, it didn't quite live up to the hype. Maybe it was the bad karma from the blatant sexism in this commercial...

1969 – Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean land at Oceanus Procellarum (the "Ocean of Storms") and become the third and fourth humans to walk on the Moon.

1976 – Jack Dorsey is born. Thirty years later, Dorsey will go on to create a popular online social networking service that enables its users to send and read text-based messages of up to 140 characters. You might have heard of it? It's called Twitter.

1985 – In Geneva, Switzerland, U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev meet for the first time. This would be one of several meetings between the two world leaders in an effort to end the Cold War, which had been going on for decades by that time.

1990 – Pop group Milli Vanilli are stripped of their Grammy Award because the duo did not sing at all on the Girl You Know It's True album. Session musicians had provided all the vocals. Busted!

This is not even that great of a song. 
How'd it win a Grammy in the first place?

1998 – The U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee begins impeachment hearings against President Bill Clinton.

1998 – Vincent van Gogh's Portrait Of The Artist Without A Beard sells at auction for $71.5 million. Wow! I wonder what it would have sold for if he'd painted himself with mutton chop sideburns?

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