TODAY IN HERSTORY
WHERE WERE YOU WHEN THE LIGHTS WENT OUT?
A HANDY HISTORICAL GUIDE FOR THOSE OF US WHO TEND TO BLACK OUT A LOT
* 1400 - Owain Glyndŵr is declared Prince of Wales by his followers.
(They were actually just being catty: He had recently appeared in public wearing tights for the first time. However, the moniker caught on, and he embraced it. Original spelling: "Prince of Whales.")
* 1701 - James Francis Edward Stuart, sometimes called the "Old Pretender", becomes the Jacobite claimant to the thrones of England and Scotland.
(There's a story behind this. But it's obscene.)
* 1776 - American Revolutionary War: the Battle of Harlem Heights is fought.
(Police fail to respond.)
* 1795 - United Kingdom conquers Cape Town, South Africa.
(No one notices. No one lives there yet.)
* 1810 - With the Grito de Dolores, Father Miguel Hidalgo begins Mexico's fight for independence from Spain
(Unlike the good Father, Dolores has a job, and can only fight Spain part-time and week-ends.)
* 1812 - Russians set fire to Moscow shortly after midnight - the city burns down completely days later.
* 1863 - Robert College of Istanbul-Turkey, the first American educational institution outside the United States, is founded by Christopher Robert, an American philanthropist.
(Spring break goes international. Also, the phrase, "Will this be on the exam?" enters the Turkish language.)
* 1887 - The first game of softball was played in Chicago, Illinois
(Someone left the ball out in the rain.)
* 1893 - Settlers race in Oklahoma for prime land in the Cherokee Strip.
(Pinks slips are later substituted for prime land.)
* 1901 - Alturas, California, is incorporated as the only city in Modoc County.
(Modoc County becomes the only place in California that no one has ever heard of.)
* 1908 - General Motors is founded.
(The first recall occurs the very next day.)
* 1919 - The American Legion is incorporated.
(Funny hat sales skyrocket.)
* 1920 - The Wall Street bombing: a bomb in a horse wagon explodes in front of the J.P.Morgan building in New York City - 38 are killed and 400 injured.
(JP Morgan contributes thirty-eight cents to the widows & orphans fund. A library is built and dedicated to him.)
* 1940 - Sam Rayburn is elected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. He is widely regarded as the most effective Speaker of the House in American history.
(He doesn't get a book deal.)
* 1941 - World War II: concerned that Reza Pahlavi the Shah of Persia was to align his petroleum-rich country with Germany during World War II, the United Kingdom and the USSR invade Iran in late August and force him to resign in favor of his son, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.
(An Ayatollah is born.)
* 1955 - Juan Perón is deposed in Argentina.
(Eva Peron is deposed on the sofa.)
* 1963 - Malaysia is formed from Malaya, Singapore, British North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak.
(Numerous other smaller bits float off into the Andaman Sea, and are never recovered.)
* 1966 - The Metropolitan Opera House opens at Lincoln Center in New York City with the world premiere of Samuel Barber's opera, Antony and Cleopatra.
(Several old Jewish people from Long Island fall asleep in the balcony. Forty-two years later, they are still there.)
* 1970 - King Hussein of Jordan declares military rule following the hijacking of four civilian airliners by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). This results in the formation of the Black September Palestinian paramilitary unit.
(Jordanian tourism stalls.)
* 1975 - Papua New Guinea gains its independence from Australia.
(Three years later, Australia notices.)
* 1975 - The first prototype of the MiG-31 interceptor makes its maiden flight.
(Ah! Sweet Migstery of Life, At last, I've found you. Ah! At last I know the secret of it all. For the longing, seeking, striving, waiting, yearning, The burning hopes, The joy and idle tears that fall....)
* 1976 - Shavarsh Karapetyan saves 20 people from the trolleybus that had fallen into Erevan reservoir.
(But that's Shavarsh Karapetyan for you.)
* 1978 - An earthquake hits the city of Tabas, Iran measuring 7.5-7.9 on the Richter scale killing about 25,000 people.
(Allah sends flowers.)
* 1982 - Sabra and Shatila massacre in Lebanon.
( "Ariel Sharon for Prime Minister" campaign begins.)
* 1987 - The Montreal Protocol is signed to protect the ozone layer from depletion.
(George "Dubya" Bush rolls a joint in it and smokes it.)
* 1991 - The trial of Panamanian "strongman" Manuel Noriega begins in the United States.
(Pineapple sales plummet.)
* 1992 - Black Wednesday: the Pound Sterling is forced out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism by currency speculators and is forced to devalue against the Deutschmark.
(The next day, Mauve Thursday, Elton John is forced out of a taxi in Brussles, for no apparent reason.)
* 2005 - Camorra boss Paolo Di Lauro is arrested in Naples.
(No one knows why. Or cares.)
* 2007 - One-Two-GO Airlines Flight 269 carrying 128 crew and passengers crashes in Thailand killing 89 people.
(Airline then changes name to One-Two-Land-Safely Airlines, wins marketing awards.)
* 2008 - The video game Star Wars: The Force Unleashed is released; the first video game Star Wars creator George Lucas has had any involvement in.
(Fifty-year-old nerds flock to video-game stores.)
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