Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Test pilot Reitsch pitches suicide squad to Hitler »

Test pilot Reitsch pitches suicide squad to Hitler » 1944 WW2 

German Cameroons surrenders to Allied forces »

German Cameroons surrenders to Allied forces » 1916 WW1 

Wheeler says Westmoreland will need more troops »

Wheeler says Westmoreland will need more troops » 1968 Vietnam War 

Basketball coaching legend Dean Smith born »

Basketball coaching legend Dean Smith born » 1931

Tyler narrowly escapes death on the USS Princeton »

Tyler narrowly escapes death on the USS Princeton » 1844

Contemporary lithograph depicting the explosion
The USS Princeton disaster of 1844 occurred on February 28, 1844, aboard the newly built USS Princeton when one of the ship's long guns, the "Peacemaker", then the world's longest naval gun, exploded during a display of the ship. Twenty people were injured and six people died. President John Tyler survived the disaster because he was below decks. 
The six people who were killed were:

Congress creates Colorado Territory »

Congress creates Colorado Territory » 1861

Thelonious Monk makes the cover of Time magazine »

Thelonious Monk makes the cover of Time magazine » 1964

Ben Hecht is born »

Ben Hecht is born » 1894

Ben Hecht
Ben Hecht Billboard.jpg
Hecht c. 1945
BornFebruary 28, 1894
New York CityNew York, United States
DiedApril 18, 1964 (aged 70)
New York City, New York, United States
StyleComedy, newspapers, gangster
  • Marie Armstrong (1916–1926; divorced; 1 child)
  • Rose Caylor (1926–1964; his death; 1 child) (1898–1979)
Ben Hecht /ˈhɛkt/ (February 28, 1894 – April 18, 1964) was an American screenwriter, director, producer, playwright, journalist and novelist. A journalist in his youth, he went on to write thirty-five books and some of the most entertaining screenplays and plays in America. He received screen credits, alone or in collaboration, for the stories or screenplays of some seventy films.
At the age of 16, Hecht ran away to Chicago, where in his own words he "haunted streets, whorehouses, police stations, courtrooms, theater stages, jails, saloons, slums, madhouses, fires, murders, riots, banquet halls, and bookshops". In the 1910s and early 1920s, Hecht became a noted journalist, foreign correspondent, and literary figure. In the 1920s, his co-authored, reporter-themed play, The Front Page, became a Broadway hit.
The Dictionary of Literary Biography - American Screenwriters calls him "one of the most successful screenwriters in the history of motion pictures." Hecht received the first Academy Award for Original Screenplay, for Underworld (1927). Many of the screenplays he worked on are now considered classics. He also provided story ideas for such films as Stagecoach (1939). Film historian Richard Corliss called him "the Hollywood screenwriter", someone who "personified Hollywood itself." In 1940, he wrote, produced, and directed, Angels Over Broadway, which was nominated for Best Screenplay. In total, six of his movie screenplays were nominated for Academy Awards, with two winning.
He became an active Zionist shortly before the Holocaust began in Germany, and wrote articles and plays about the plight of European Jews, such as, We Will Never Die in 1943 and A Flag is Born in 1946. Of his seventy to ninety screenplays, he wrote many anonymously to avoid the British boycott of his work in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The boycott was a response to Hecht's active support of paramilitary action against British forces in Palestine and sabotaging British property there (see below), during which time a supply ship to Palestine was named the S. S. Ben Hecht.
According to his autobiography, he never spent more than eight weeks on a script. In 1983, 19 years after his death, Ben Hecht was posthumously inducted into the American Theater Hall of Fame

Final episode of M*A*S*H airs »

Final episode of M*A*S*H airs » 1983

Pope Benedict resigns »

Pope Benedict resigns » 2013

First NATO Military Action »

First NATO Military Action » 1994

ATF raids Branch Davidian compound »

ATF raids Branch Davidian compound » 1993

Getty Museum endowed »

Getty Museum endowed » 1982

Subway crash in London kills 43 »

Subway crash in London kills 43 » 1975

Federal agents raid the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas »

Federal agents raid the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas » 1993

Gorbachev calls for nuclear weapons treaty »

Gorbachev calls for nuclear weapons treaty » 1987

Kilpatrick-Dahlgren raid begins »

Kilpatrick-Dahlgren raid begins » 1864 Civil War 

Racing legend Mario Andretti born »

Racing legend Mario Andretti born » 1940

Mario Andretti
Mario Andretti speaking at the Barber Legends of Motorsport 2010 crop.jpg
Andretti at Barber Motorsports Park in 2010
BornMario Gabriele Andretti
February 28, 1940 (age 76)
MontonaIstriaKingdom of Italy, (today Motovun, Istria CountyCroatia)

John Wesley charters first Methodist Church in U.S. »

John Wesley charters first Methodist Church in U.S. » 1784 American Revolution

Watson and Crick discover chemical structure of DNA

Watson and Crick discover chemical structure of DNA 1953

Monday, February 27, 2017

Today I Found Out

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The following is an article from our friends over at Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader

The Polish Schindlers

typhusYou’ve probably heard of Oskar Schindler, the German industrialist who saved the lives of 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust. Here’s a story you probably haven’t heard—about two men who pulled off a similar miracle in Poland.


Dr. Eugene Lazowski was a young Red Cross physician living in the village of Rozwadow during the Nazi occupation of Poland in World War II. Life in Poland under German occupation was a time of unimaginable suffering and horror. By the time the Soviet Union’s Red Army finally drove the Germans out in 1945, one fifth of the entire Polish population had been murdered, including 3 million of Poland’s 3.4 million Jews, and 3 million Polish Gentiles. Millions more Poles were arrested and put to work in forced labor camps, including 1.6 million who were sent to camps in Germany.

As a physician, Lazowski did what he could to alleviate the suffering of his countrymen. A member of the Polish resistance, he provided medical care and supplies to resistance fighters hiding in the forests around Rozwadow. Lazowski’s house backed up against the Jewish ghetto, and though assisting Jews in any way was punishable by death, he set up a system whereby Jews who needed medical attention could let him know by hanging a piece of white cloth on his back fence, then return after dark to be treated and given medicine that Lazowski passed through a hole in the fence. “Every night a white cloth would fly and lines would form,” Dr. Yoav Goor wrote in the Israel Medical Association Journal in 2013. “The Jews trusted him. He helped anyone who needed help, creating a system of faking his medicinal inventory to conceal this clandestine activity.”


Lazowski’s biggest opportunity to provide assistance came in 1942 when a fellow physician, Dr. Stanislaw Matulewicz, told him that he’d discovered a way to make healthy patients test positive for the deadly disease typhus. The Germans were terrified of typhus, which was spread by body lice. The disease killed as many as one in every four people who contracted it, and under battlefield conditions of close quarters and poor hygiene, it spread quickly from one soldier to another. A typhus epidemic could mean the difference between victory and defeat: during Napoleon’s disastrous 1812 invasion of Russia, in which 570,000 of his 600,000 troops died, more soldiers were killed by typhus than by the Russians. During the Russian Civil War, which raged from 1917 to 1922, it’s estimated that typhus killed more than 3 million people.

To prevent the same thing from happening again, the Nazis required physicians in German-occupied Europe to take blood samples from any patient they suspected of having typhus, and send the samples to German labs for analysis. The test was conducted by mixing the blood sample with some dead typhus cells. If the sample became cloudy, the patient had typhus. Gentiles with typhus were quarantined in their homes; Jews with typhus were shot and their houses burned to the ground.


What Matulewicz had discovered was that if he injected some of the dead (and therefore harmless) typhus cells into a patient before taking the blood sample, the sample would test positive for typhus even though the patient did not have the disease. When he told Lazowski about his discovery, Lazowski suggested creating a fake typhus epidemic in Rozwadow by injecting villagers with dead typhus cells. The Germans, he hoped, would quarantine the villagers in their homes and leave them alone.

From then on, every time Lazowski or Matulewicz treated non-Jewish patients, the doctors injected them with the dead typhus virus without telling them what they were doing or why. (Since Jews risked being shot if they tested positive for typhus, they were not injected with the virus.) To avoid attracting suspicion, rather than take blood samples from all the patients they injected, the doctors referred some patients to other physicians in the area to have their blood drawn there. That way, every doctor in the area submitted samples that tested positive for typhus, not just Lazowski and Matulewicz. The two men then paced their injections, referrals, and blood sample submissions to mimic the spread of a real typhus epidemic.


Within weeks, the Germans began posting signs around Rozwadow that warned, “Achtung, Fleckfieber!” (“Warning, Typhus!”). As time passed, the “epidemic” spread to nearby communities—about a dozen villages in all. These were home to some 8,000 Polish Gentiles and an unknown number of Jews in hiding. (By then, most of the Jewish population of Rozwadow had been deported to labor camps or death camps.) All of the villages fell under the quarantine, and German soldiers began to avoid them entirely, giving the residents their first feeling of safety, however fragile, since the Nazi invasion of Poland in September 1939.

Faking a deadly epidemic right under the noses of the Germans was a dangerous ruse. “I was scared,” Lazowski admitted in an interview with theChicago Sun-Times in 2001. “I didn’t know if I would be arrested and tortured by the Gestapo. So I carried a cyanide pill in case I was arrested.”

The danger grew as time passed and nobody died; some of the villagers even began to suspect that something was afoot. Most kept quiet, though, either for their own personal safety or (if they guessed who was behind the ruse) to protect Lazowski and Matulewicz. But every Polish community had its German collaborators, and when those living in and around Rozwadow passed their suspicions on to the Germans, a team of Nazi physicians was dispatched to Rozwadow to investigate.


Lazowski was ready. He greeted the physicians on the outskirts of Rozwadow with a feast of sausages, vodka—both hard to come by during the war—and musical entertainment. Just as Lazowski hoped, the senior doctors stayed to enjoy the party, dispatching their two young subordinates to perform the unpleasant and (as far as they knew) dangerous task of entering the quarantine area to examine infected villagers to see if they really had typhus. The patients waiting to be examined were the oldest and sickest-looking people that Lazowski could find, and he put them up in the most ramshackle, lice-ridden huts in the village.

Examining patients for typhus exposes physicians to the risk of contracting the disease themselves, and the young doctors weren’t fools. Rather than give the patients thorough medical exams, they merely took blood samples. They raced through the process as quickly as possible, then beat it back to the party before the vodka and sausages ran out.

The blood samples tested positive for typhus, of course, and the Nazis didn’t bother Lazowski or Matulewicz again until the end of the war. They even left Lazowski alone after collaborators reported him for treating members of the Polish resistance, who were fighting a savage guerrilla war against the Nazis. “They didn’t kill me because I was needed to fight the typhus epidemic,” he recalled. “I was kind of a hero to the Germans because I was a young doctor who was not afraid to be infected.”


By early 1945, however, when the war was clearly lost and Rozwadow was about to be overrun by the Red Army, the Germans were more interested in punishing people who’d aided the Polish resistance than they were in containing the typhus epidemic. Lazowski was marked for death by the Nazis; he and his wife and daughter only managed to escape to Warsaw after a German soldier he’d treated for venereal disease warned him that he was about to be arrested.


Both Lazowski and Matulewicz survived the war. In 1958, Lazowski emigrated to the United States, where he became a professor of pediatrics at the University of Illinois Medical Center. It was only after he arrived in Chicago that he began to speak of his wartime experiences; until then, not even his wife knew the full story of what he and Matulewicz had been up to. In Poland, Lazowski had been afraid of reprisals from Polish anti-Semites and wartime collaborators of the Nazis, but now he felt free to tell his story.

In the 1990s, Lazowski and Matulewicz wrote a memoir called Private War. Published in Poland, it told their story to their countrymen for the first time and was a best-seller. In 2000, the two men, now well into their eighties, made their first trip back to Rozwadow since the end of the war. They received a warm welcome from the villagers, including many old enough to remember being treated by the physicians. Some villagers still did not realize the full extent of the ruse that the doctors had played on the Nazis during the war. When one man approached Lazowski and thanked him effusively for the “miracle” of curing his father’s typhus in only five days, all Lazowski could do was smile. “It was not real typhus,” he said. “It was my typhus.”
This article is reprinted with permission from Uncle John's Uncanny Bathroom Reader. This groundbreaking series has been imitated time and time again but never equaled. And Uncanny is the Bathroom Readers’ Institute at their very best. Covering a wide array of topics—incredible origins, forgotten history, weird news, amazing science, dumb crooks, and more—readers of all ages will enjoy these 512 pages of the best stuff in print.
Since 1987, the Bathroom Readers’ Institute has led the movement to stand up for those who sit down and read in the bathroom (and everywhere else for that matter). With more than 15 million books in print, the Uncle John’s Bathroom Reader series is the longest-running, most popular series of its kind in the world.

U.S. aircraft carrier Langley is sunk »

U.S. aircraft carrier Langley is sunk » 1942 WW2 

Austrians occupy Durazzo in Albania »

Austrians occupy Durazzo in Albania » 1916 WW1 

Communist offensive continues »

Communist offensive continues » 1969

United States assails North Vietnamese "aggression" »

United States assails North Vietnamese "aggression" » 1965

Diem survives coup attempt »

Diem survives coup attempt » 1962 Vietnam War 

U.S. Olympic hockey team beats Soviet Union »

U.S. Olympic hockey team beats Soviet Union » 1960

Mathew Brady photographs Abraham Lincoln

Mathew Brady photographs presidential candidate Abraham Lincoln » 1860

"I Will Survive" wins the first-and last-Grammy

"I Will Survive" wins the first-and last-Grammy ever awarded for Best Disco Recording » 1980

The Valley of Fear is published »

The Valley of Fear is published » 1915

Shirley Temple receives $50,000 per film »

Shirley Temple receives $50,000 per film » 1936

AIM occupation of Wounded Knee begins »

AIM occupation of Wounded Knee begins » 1973

Leaning Tower needs help »

Leaning Tower needs help » 1964

Supreme Court defends women's voting rights »

Supreme Court defends women's voting rights » 1922

Britain recognizes U.S. authority over Western Hemisphere »

Britain recognizes U.S. authority over Western Hemisphere » 1897

Mine explosion kills 74 in Montana »

Mine explosion kills 74 in Montana » 1943

Video recreates the crime »

Video recreates the crime » 1991

"Shanghai Communique" issued »

"Shanghai Communique" issued » 1972

Federal prisoners begin arriving at Andersonville »

Federal prisoners begin arriving at Andersonville » 1864

Auto safety crusader Ralph Nader born »

Auto safety crusader Ralph Nader born » 1934

Patriots score early victory at Moores Creek, North

Patriots score early victory at Moores Creek, North » 1776 American Revolution 

New Orleanians take to the streets for Mardi Gras

New Orleanians take to the streets for Mardi Gras 1827


A carousel (American English: from French carrousel and Italian carosello), roundabout (British English),[1] or merry-go-round, is an amusement ride consisting of a rotating circular platform with seats for riders. The "seats" are traditionally in the…

Sunday, February 26, 2017

15 Things You Might Not Have Known About Julia Child

Julia Child is a well-loved American icon best known for cooking French cuisine. She was a pioneer during the early stages of cooking shows and charmed audiences…

Best Fishing Days and Times

Best Fishing Days and Times

The Story of Mardi Gras

When you look at the parades and parties of Mardi Gras, it’s hard to believe that it started with long hard winters and acts of charity.

Who Invented Braille?

Braille was invented by a nineteenth century man named Louis Braille, who was completely blind. Braille’s story starts when he was three years old. He was playing in his father’s shop in Coupvray, France, and somehow managed to injure his eye. Though he was offered the best medical attention available at the time, it wasn’t enough—an infection soon developed and spread to his other eye, rendering him blind in both eyes. While a tragedy for him, had this accident not happened, we wouldn’t have braille today. There was a system of reading in place for the blind at the time, which consisted of tracing a finger along raised letters. However, this system meant that reading was painfully slow...(more)

All Lifesavers Spark When Chewed, Not Just Wintergreen

Today I fount out that all lifesavers spark when chewed, not just the Wintergreen Lifesavers (also known as Wint-O-Green). The flash you see when these hard sugar candies are crunched is caused by triboluminescence, which is similar to the electrical charge build-up that produces lightning, except on a much smaller scale here. With most hard sugar candies, this flash tends to be mostly outside of the human visual spectrum; typically giving off most of the flash in the ultra-violet spectrum. However, many other kinds of hard sugar candies, such as normal fruit lifesavers will give off a very dim flash in the visual spectrum if crunched and a nice bright flash in the ultra-violet spectrum. This phenomenon has been noticed...(more)

The First AfricanAmerican Invited to Dinner at the White House

In the autumn of 1901, Booker T. Washington, the great educator, author, and orator, was on a speaking tour. In Mississippi, he received a telegram from President Theodore Roosevelt. (President William McKinley had been assassinated less than two months before, an event which led to Roosevelt being sworn in as President.) The telegram asked Washington to come to the capitol for a conference. When Washington arrived on the afternoon of October 16, 1901, he received an invitation to dine with the President at 8:00p that evening. According to Roosevelt biographer...(more)

When Did Men Start Getting Circumcised?

Having served variously as a mark of virility, servility and gentility, circumcision has throughout the centuries worn many symbolic hats. While anthropologists disagree as to the definitive origins of circumcision, the earliest hard evidence comes from the first ancient Egyptian mummies of considerable vintage, around 2300 BC. That being said, Egyptian paintings date circumcision to centuries prior, depicting ritual circumcision as prerequisite to entering the priesthood. Contention remains as to whether circumcision was a sign of pride rather than prejudice among the ancient Egyptian world. While popular among the elite, forced circumcision was inflicted on...(more)

Is it Actually Possible to be Allergic to Exercise?

Most couch-potatoes have probably at some point in their lives said, “I can’t run a mile without feeling like I’m going to die!” They might also sarcastically proclaim they must be allergic to exercise. And, amazingly enough, it turns out there is a rare disorder in which someone can be deathly allergic to exercise, a condition known as Exercise Induced Anaphylaxis (EIA). Allergies, in general, come with a wide range of symptoms, and can range from mild to deadly. Fortunately for most, a deadly allergic reaction, known as anaphylaxis, is rare. It’s generally accepted..(more)