Faraaz Damji | 1 Apr 12:14 2007

April 1: George Washington (inventor)

  George Washington was an early inventor of instant coffee, and worked
  to ensure a full supply to soldiers fighting at the front.  Early on,
  his campaign was based in Brooklyn, but later he crossed into New
  Jersey toward a more profitable position.  In the countryside, he
  demonstrated a love of wild creatures, and was often seen with a bird
  or a monkey on his shoulder.  Washington's choice beverage was taken up
  by the soldiers for its psychoactive properties, even though it tasted
  terrible.  Some thought his brewed powder could even remedy the
  chemical weapons then in use.  But, despite this, Washington failed in
  his first bid for the Presidency, as papers were filed too late, and
  the nominator forgot to tell him about it.

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

  The Scottish re-took Berwick upon Tweed from the English.

  Eight million viewers watched the television programme Panorama,
  prompting several of them to contact the BBC the following day and ask
  for instructions on how to grow spaghetti trees.

  U.S. President Richard Nixon signed a law putting "the Surgeon
(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 4 Apr 08:15 2007

April 4: Mandy Moore

  Mandy Moore is an American pop singer and actress.  Moore grew up in
  Florida and came to fame as a teenager in 2000, after the release of
  her teen-oriented pop debut album So Real.  Moore has branched out into
  a film career, starring in 2002's successful teen film A Walk to
  Remember and later appearing in the lead roles of less well-received
  movies also aimed at teenage audiences.  Two of her latest films,
  American Dreamz and Saved!, were satires in which Moore portrayed
  darker characters than in her previous roles.  Moore's private life,
  including her relationships with tennis player Andy Roddick and actors
  Wilmer Valderrama and Zach Braff, has been much-discussed in the
  media.  She is scheduled to appear in several films during 2007 and is
  completing work on another album, Wild Hope, due for release the same

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

  Francis Drake completed a circumnavigation of the globe, the first
  Englishman to do so.

  Twelve nations signed the North Atlantic Treaty, creating NATO.

(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 6 Apr 19:40 2007

April 6: The Turk

  The Turk was a famous hoax that purported to be a chess-playing
  machine.  Constructed and unveiled in 1770 by the Hungarian baron
  Wolfgang von Kempelen, the mechanism appeared to be able to play a
  strong game of chess against a human opponent, as well as perform the
  knight's tour, a puzzle that requires the player to move a knight to
  occupy every square of a chess board once and only once.  Publicly
  promoted as an automaton and given its common name based on its
  appearance, the Turk was a mechanical illusion that allowed a human
  chess master to hide inside and operate the machine.  With a skilled
  operator, the Turk won most of the games played.  The apparatus was
  demonstrated around Europe and the United States of America for over
  80 years until its destruction in 1854, playing and defeating many
  challengers including statesmen such as Napoleon Bonaparte and
  Benjamin Franklin.

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

  Dutch sailor Jan van Riebeeck established the first permanent European
  settlement in sub-Saharan Africa on what eventually became known as
  Cape Town.

  Rama I succeeded King Taksin of Thailand, founding the Chakri Dynasty.
(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 8 Apr 05:04 2007

April 8: Daniel Webster

  Webster was a leading American statesman during the nation's
  antebellum era.  Webster first rose to regional prominence through his
  defense of New England shipping interests.  His increasingly
  nationalistic views and the effectiveness with which he articulated
  them led Webster to become one of the most famous orators and
  influential Whig leaders of the Second Party System.  As an attorney he
  served as legal counsel in several cases that established important
  constitutional precedents that bolstered the authority of the Federal
  government.  As Secretary of State, Webster negotiated the
  Webster-Ashburton Treaty that established the definitive Eastern
  border between the United States and Canada.  Primarily recognized for
  his Senate tenure, Webster was a key figure in the institution's
  "Golden Age".  So well known was his skill as a Senator throughout this
  period that Webster became a third of what was and still is known
  today as the "Great Triumvirate", with his colleagues Henry Clay and
  John C.  Calhoun.  His "Reply to Haynes" (1830) was generally regarded
  as "the most eloquent speech ever delivered in Congress." Though
  Webster made three bids he never achieved the Presidency, his final
  attempt failing in part because of his compromises.  Like his attempts
  at gaining the White House, Webster's efforts at steering the nation
  away from civil war toward a definite peace would ultimately prove

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 10 Apr 17:44 2007

April 10: Dime (United States coin)

  In the United States<!--Don't add a link here.  The 1st link must go to
  the FA.-->, the dime is a coin with a face value of ten cents, or
  one-tenth of a dollar.  The dime is the smallest in diameter and the
  thinnest of all U.S. coins currently minted for circulation.  Former
  President Franklin D.  Roosevelt is featured on the obverse while a
  torch, oak branch, and olive branch are featured on the reverse.
  Mintage of the dime was authorized by the Coinage Act of 1792, and
  production began in 1796.  The most recent design change was in 1946.
  The composition and diameter of the dime has changed throughout its
  mintage.  Initially the dime was 19 millimeters wide, but it was
  changed to its present size of 17.91 millimeters in 1828.  The
  composition (initially 89.24 percent silver and 10.76 percent copper)
  remained constant until 1837, when it was altered to 90 percent silver
  and 10 percent copper.  Dimes with this composition were minted until
  1966.  Beginning in 1965, dimes also began to be minted with a clad
  composition of cupronickel; this composition is still in use today.
  The term 'dime' comes from the French word disme, meaning "tithe" or
  "tenth part".

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

  Mount Tambora in Indonesia began the most violent volcanic eruption in
  recorded history.

(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 11 Apr 04:46 2007

April 11: Anton Chekhov

  Anton Chekhov was a Russian physician, short story writer, and
  playwright.  His brief playwriting career produced four classics of the
  repertoire, while his best short stories are held in high esteem by
  writers and critics.  Chekhov practised as a doctor throughout his
  literary career: "Medicine is my lawful wife," he once said, "and
  literature is my mistress".  Chekhov renounced the theatre after the
  disastrous reception of The Seagull in 1896; but the play was revived
  to acclaim by Konstantin Stanislavski's Moscow Art Theatre, which
  subsequently also produced Uncle Vanya and premiered Chekhov’s last
  two plays, The Three Sisters and The Cherry Orchard.  These four works
  present a special challenge to an acting ensemble, and they also
  challenge audiences, because in place of conventional action Chekhov
  offers a "theatre of mood" and a "submerged life in the text".  Not
  everyone appreciated that challenge: Leo Tolstoy reportedly told
  Chekhov, "You know, I cannot abide Shakespeare, but your plays are
  even worse".  Tolstoy did, however, admire Chekhov's short stories.
  Chekhov had at first written stories only for the money, but as his
  artistic ambition grew, he made formal innovations which have
  influenced the evolution of the modern short story.  His originality
  consists in an early use of the stream-of-consciousness technique,
  later exploited by Virginia Woolf and other modernists, combined with
  a disavowal of the moral finality of traditional story structure.

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 12 Apr 05:23 2007

April 12: Scooby-Doo

  Scooby-Doo is a long-running American animated television series
  produced for Saturday morning television in several different versions
  from 1969 to the present.  The series was created by Joe Ruby and Ken
  Spears for Hanna-Barbera Productions, who produced numerous spin-offs
  and related works until being absorbed in 1997 into Warner Bros, which
  has handled production since then.  Though the format of the show and
  the cast (and ages) of characters have varied significantly over the
  years, the most familiar versions of the show feature a talking Great
  Dane named Scooby-Doo and four teenagers: Fred "Freddie" Jones, Daphne
  Blake, Velma Dinkley, and Norville "Shaggy" Rogers.  These five
  characters (officially referred to collectively as "Mystery, Inc.",
  but never referred to as such in the original series) drive around the
  world in a van called the "Mystery Machine," and solve mysteries
  typically involving tales of ghosts and other supernatural forces.  At
  the end of each episode, the supernatural forces turn out to have a
  rational explanation (usually a criminal of some sort trying to scare
  people away so that they can commit crimes).  (more...)</div>

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

  Anthemius became Emperor of the Western Roman Empire.

  Chinese Civil War: A large-scale purge of communists from the
(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 13 Apr 11:12 2007

April 13: Fairy tale

  A fairy tale is a story featuring folkloric characters such as
  fairies, goblins, elves, trolls, giants, and talking animals, and
  usually enchantments.  In cultures where demons and witches are
  perceived as real, fairy tales may merge into legendary narratives,
  where the context is perceived by teller and hearers as having
  historical actuality.  However, unlike legends and epics they usually
  do not contain more than superficial references to religion and actual
  places, persons, and events; they take place once upon a time rather
  than in actual times.  Fairy tales are found in oral folktales and in
  literary form.  The history of the fairy tale is particularly difficult
  to trace, because only the literary forms can survive.  Still, the
  evidence of literary works at least indicates that fairy tales have
  existed for thousands of years, although not perhaps recognized as a
  genre; the name "fairy tale" was first ascribed to them by Madame
  d'Aulnoy.  Literary fairy tales are found over the centuries all over
  the world, and when they collected them, folklorists found fairy tales
  in every culture.  Fairy tales, and works derived from fairy tales, are
  still written today.

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

  King Henry IV of France issued the Edict of Nantes, allowing freedom
  of religion to the Huguenots.

(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 17 Apr 20:05 2007

April 17: United States Marine Corps

   The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the U.S. military
   responsible for providing power projection from the sea, utilizing the
   mobility of the U.S. Navy to rapidly deliver combined-arms task forces
   to global crises.  Alongside the U.S. Navy, the Marine Corps operates
   under the United States Department of the Navy.  Originally organized
   as the Continental Marines, the Marine Corps has evolved its mission
   with changing military doctrine and American foreign policy.  The
   Marine Corps has served in every American armed conflict including the
   Revolutionary War.  It attained prominence in the twentieth century
   when its theories and practice of amphibious warfare proved prescient,
   and ultimately formed the cornerstone of the Pacific campaign of World
   War II.  By the early twentieth century, the Marine Corps had become
   the dominant theorist and practitioner of amphibious warfare.  Its
   ability to rapidly respond to regional crises has made and continues
   to make it an important body in the implementation and execution of
   American foreign policy.  The United States Marine Corps, with 180,000
   active duty and 40,000 reserve Marines as of 2005, is the smallest of
   the United States' armed forces in the Department of Defense.

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

   The Empire of Japan and the Qing Empire signed the Treaty of
   Shimonoseki, an unequal treaty that ended the First Sino-Japanese War.

(Continue reading)

Faraaz Damji | 22 Apr 06:41 2007

April 22: Dhaka

   Dhaka is the capital of Bangladesh and the main city of the Dhaka
   District.  Located on the banks of the Buriganga River, Dhaka and its
   metropolitan area have a population of 11 million, making it the
   largest city in Bangladesh and one of the most populous cities in the
   world.  Under Mughal rule, the city was also known as Jahangir Nagar.
   The modern city was largely developed by British authorities and soon
   became the second-largest city in Bengal after Calcutta.  With the
   partition of India, Dhaka became the administrative capital of East
   Pakistan before becoming the capital of an independent Bangladesh in
   1972.  During this period Dhaka witnessed extensive political turmoil,
   including many periods of martial law, the declaration of Bangladesh's
   independence, military suppression and devastation from war and
   natural calamities.  Modern Dhaka is the centre of political, cultural
   and economic life in Bangladesh, enjoying the highest literacy rate
   amongst other Bangladeshi cities and a diverse economy.  While the
   urban infrastructure is the most developed in the country, Dhaka
   suffers from severe challenges such as pollution, congestion, supply
   shortages, poverty and crime.  In recent decades Dhaka has seen a
   modernisation of transport, communications and public works.

Read the rest of this article:

Today's selected anniversaries:

   Portuguese explorer Pedro Álvares Cabral and his crew became the first
   Europeans to sight Brazil.
(Continue reading)