ON THIS DAY: August 12, 2019

August 12th is

International Youth Day *

World Elephant Day *

Julienne Fries Day

Middle Child Day

Vinyl Record Day *

Personal Computer Day *

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MORE! Gladys Bentley, Fatima Meer and Robin Williams, click

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WORLD FESTIVALS AND NATIONAL HOLIDAYS

Beginning of the Perseid Meteor Showers Peak Activity – best viewing expected tonight

Hungary – Budapest: Sziget Music Festival

India  – Library Day

Mexico – San Miguel de Allende, Guanjuato:
San Miguel de Allende Chamber Music Festival

Russia –  Russian Air Force Day

Thailand – The Queen’s Birthday/Mother’s Day

United Kingdom – ‘Glorious Twelfth’
(Start of shooting season for red grouse)

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On This Day in HISTORY

30 BC – Egyptian Queen Cleopatra VII Philopator, last ruler of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, commits suicide rather than be displayed in Rome as a prisoner of Octavian in his triumphal procession



1099 – Crusaders under Godfrey of Boullion defeat Al-afal Shahanshah’s Fatimid forces at the Battle of Ascalon, the last major engagement of the First Crusade

1323 – The Treaty of Nöteborg, known as the “permanent peace,” settles the border between Sweden and Novgorod (Russia) for the first time

1452 – Abraham Zacuto born, Spanish Jewish rabbi, astronomer, mathematician, and historian who taught astronomy at the University of Salamanca until 1492, when the Jews were expelled from Spain. Already famous in academic circles, he was invited to serve as Royal Astronomer and Historian by King John II of Portugal, and was consulted on the possibility of a sea route to India. He developed a new type of astrolabe, for the practical determination of latitude at sea. His treatise written in Hebrew before he left Spain, Ha-ḥibbur ha-gadol (The Great Book), contained 65 detailed astronomical tables charting the positions of the Sun, Moon and five planets using the meridian at Salamanca. His Almanach perpetuum (or Biur luḥot) was the first accurate table of solar declination, which enabled navigators to use more accurate sun sightings instead of the less reliable compass readings of “north” and played a major role in the revolution of ocean navigation. When Manuel I, who became King of Portugal after John II died in 1495, was trying to win Isabella of Aragon as his bride, one of the conditions in the marriage contract was his agreement to persecute the Jews of Portugal. In 1496, he decreed that all Jews must either convert to Christianity or leave the country, but only on ships specified by the king, and without their children. The Jews who chose expulsion were met at the port in Lisbon by clerics and soldiers who tried to use coercion and promises in order to baptize them and prevent them from leaving the country. Zacuto managed to leave, going first to Tunis, and later to Jerusalem. There are conflicting reports of his death, either in Jerusalem in 1515, or in Damascus in 1520



1604 – Tokugawa Iemitsu born, third Shōgun of the Tokugawa dynasty: He ruled from 1623 to 1651, and was notable for crucifying Christians, expelling all Europeans from Japan, and closing the country to outsiders, a policy which continued for over 200 years

1624 – Cardinal Richelieu becomes Louis XIII of France’s principal minister



1626 – Giovanni Legrenzi born, Italian Baroque composer

1687 – Holy Roman Empire forces under Charles of Lorraine soundly defeat the Ottoman Empire army under Sultan Mehmed IV at the Second Battle of Mohács, resulting in unification of Hungary under Habsburg rule

1696 – Maurice Greene born, English composer; organist at the Chapel Royal, then Master of the King’s Musick

1765 – The Mughal Emperor Shah Alam II signs the Treaty of Allahabad with the East India Company, granting Robert Clive “Diwani rights of Bengal, Behar and Odisha” in return for the annexed territories of the Nawab of Awadh after the Battle of Buxar,  marking the beginning of British rule in India


Shah’Alam conveying the grant of the Diwani to Lord Clive, by Benjamin West

1774 – Robert Southey born, English Romantic poet, essayist, historian and biographer; Poet Laureate of England (1813-1843)



1781 – Robert Mills born, American architect who designed the Washington Monument, U.S. Department of the Treasury and U.S. Patent Office buildings; an early advocate of fire-resistant constitution methods

1806 – Elizabeth Oakes Smith born, prolific American author, poet, lecturer and women’s rights activist; one of the speakers at the Seneca Falls Convention, but has been largely forgotten. She is notable for “Woman and Her Needs,” a series of essays published in the New York Tribune between 1850 and 1851 that argued for woman’s spiritual and intellectual capacities and woman’s rights to economic and political opportunities, including a right to higher education and the right to vote



1831 – Helena Blavatsky born, Russian author and theosophist, co-founder of the Theosophical Society, noted for Isis Unveiled, and The Key to Theosophy

1833 – Lillie Devereux Blake born, American author, suffragist and reformer, Civil War correspondent for the New York Evening PostNew York World and Philadelphia Press; she wrote the successful novels Southwold and Rockford



1834 – In Brazil, the Additional Act amends the Brazilian Constitution of 1824, to enhance the autonomy of the provinces, and introduce the direct and secret ballot

1851 – Isaac Singer patents the double-headed sewing machine

1857 – Ernestine von Kirchberg born, Austrian landscape painter


Waldbach im Sonnenschein, by Ernestine von Kirchsberg

1859 – Katharine Lee Bates born, American writer, poet, academic, and social activist; her poem “America the Beautiful” became the lyrics for the song; she was one of the pioneers in creating American Literature as a field of study, teaching one of the first college courses, and writing one of the first textbooks on the subject; She co-founded Denison House, a settlement house in Boston, and worked for the rights of women, workers, people of color, immigrants, and slum dwellers; after WWI, she was active in the peace movement, and the attempts to establish the League of Nations, and opposing American isolationism



1865 – Joseph Lister uses disinfectant during surgery for the first time

1866 – Jacinto Benavente y Martínez born, Spanish playwright who wrote 172 works; 1922 Nobel Prize for Literature; his most famous and performed work is Los intereses creados (The Bonds of Interest)

1867 – Edith Hamilton born in Germany, American author and educator, known for her books The Greek Way and Mythology



1875 – Ettore Panizza born, Argentine composer and a leading early 20thcentury conductor; most noted as a composer for his opera, Aurora, and its aria “Alta en el cielo” (High in the Sky) about the Argentine flag

1876 – Mary Roberts Rinehart born, American author and playwright, known for mystery and suspense novels, best remembered for The Circular Staircase



1877 – Thomas Edison, working on transcribing telegraphic messages, discovers recording sound directly onto cylinders to play it back, leading to the phonograph (see 2002 entry)

1879 – U.S. National Archery Association holds its first tournament in Chicago IL

1880 – Radcliffe Hall born, English poet and author; best known for her groundbreaking 1928 novel of lesbian literature, The Well of Loneliness. Though not sexually explicit, it became the subject of an obscenity trial in the United Kingdom which resulted in a ruling that all copies of the book be destroyed. Its U.S. publication was allowed only after an extended court battle



1881 – Vincent H. Bendix born, American pioneer in automotive and aviation inventor and industrialist; developer of the Bendix gear drive, leading to the electric starter

1882 – George W. Bellows born, American ‘Ashcan’ and realist painter, noted for depicting New York City urban life


Cliff Dwellers, by George Bellows – 1913

1883 – Quagga, a subspecies of plains zebra native to South Africa, became extinct when the last one died at the Natuta Artis Magistra zoo in Amsterdam. Quaggas had been heavily hunted after the Dutch settlement of South Africa because domestic animals had to compete with them for forage. They were already extinct in the wild by 1878



1887 – Erwin Schrödinger born, Austrian physicist and academic, winner of the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics for the formulation of the Schrödinger equation, the 1937 Max Planck Medal; author of What Is Life? The Physical Aspect of the Living Cell and The Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics. In spite of his considerable contributions to quantum theory, thermodynamics, cosmology and even color theory, he is primarily known to the general public for his “Schrödinger’s cat” thought-experiment



1889 – Zerna Sharp born, American author and educator, creator of the Dick and Jane series for beginning readers



1898 – The Hawaiian flag is lowered from Iolani Palace in an elaborate annexation ceremony and replaced with the flag of the United States to signify the transfer of sovereignty from the Republic of Hawaii to the United States; six years after American planters had overthrown Queen Liliʻuokalani

1898 – The peace protocol to end the Spanish-American War is signed

1907 – Gladys Bentley born, African American lesbian cross-dressing blues singer, pianist and lyricist who reached the height of her career during the Harlem Renaissance. She appeared in her signature white tails and top hat, and sang in a deep, booming voice her own raunchy lyrics to popular tunes of the day. As a headliner at Harlem’s Ubangi Club, she backed by a chorus of drag queens. With the repeal of Prohibition, the Harlem speakeasies began closing, and she moved to Southern California, but without recreating her past success. She was often harassed for wearing men’s clothes. During the McCarthy era, she started wearing dresses, claimed to have been “cured” of lesbianism by taking female hormones, and was briefly married. She died of pneumonia in 1960 in Los Angeles, at age 52



1914 – Ruth Lowe born, Canadian songwriter; “I’ll Never Smile Again” and “Put Your Dreams Away”

1914 – Great Britain declares war on Austria-Hungary, continuing the escalation of WWI

1915 – W. Somerset Maugham publishes his novel Of Human Bondage



1918 – Regular airmail service begins between New York City and Washington DC

1919 – Margaret Burbidge born in England, British-American astrophysicist; did her undergraduate and graduate studies in astronomy at University College, London (1936-1939, Ph.D. 1943), then was turned down for a Carnegie Fellowship in 1945 for the Mount Wilson Observatory because only men were allowed there at the time. She did come to the U.S. in 1951 on a grant for the Yerkes Observatory in Wisconsin, focusing on the chemical abundances in stars. Returning to England in 1953, she collaborated with her husband and others on the stellar nuceleosynthesis theory, that all the chemical elements could be synthesized within stars by nuclear reaction. In 1955, she finally made it to Mount Wilson, posing as her husband’s assistant. When management found out, they agreed to let her stay on condition that the couple live in a cottage on the grounds instead of in the segregated dormitory.  In 1972, for the first time in 300 years, the directorship of the Royal Greenwich Observatory was not combined with the post of the Astronomer Royal, but was given to Margaret Burbidge, while Martin Ryle got the more prestigious post of Astronomer Royal. Her appointment was short-lived. In 1974, she left after controversy broke out over moving the Isaac Newton Telescope from its place in the observatory to a more useful location. Burbidge became one of the foremost and most influential advocates for ending discrimination against women in the field of astronomy.  In 1972 she turned down the Annie J. Cannon Award of the American Astronomical Society because it was awarded to women only. In 1984, the Society awarded her its highest honor, regardless of gender, the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship. Burbidge was the first director of the Center for Astrophysics and Space Science at the University of California San Diego (1979-1988). In 1976, she became the first woman president of the American Astronomy Society. In 1977, she became a U. S.  citizen. She was elected president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in 1981. In 1983, she was awarded the National Medal of Science. She also received the 1988 Albert Einstein World Award of Science



1928 – Fatima Meer born, South African writer academic, feminist, human rights and anti-Apartheid activist, a leader in the South African Indian Community. In 1976, Meer became the first woman to be banned by the Apartheid regime, and was put in solitary confinement. The ban was extended until 1981. She also survived two assassination attempts. She published over 40 books, including Higher than Hope (1988), the first biography of Nelson Mandela



1932 – Sirikit, current Queen mother of Thailand, born; the world’s longest-serving consort to a reigning head of state; took on duties as queen regent in 1956, when the king entered the Buddhist monkhood for a time



1939 –First showing of The Wizard of Oz starring Judy Garland, in Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

1945 – Dorothy E. Denning born, American computer scientist, software engineer and information security researcher, innovator in lattice-based access control (LBAC) and intrusion detection systems (IDS); inducted into the National Cyber Security Hall of Fame in 2012; now Emeritus Distinguished Professor of Defense Analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School; author of Cryptography and Data Security; named a Fellow of the Association of Computing Machinery in 1995; recipient of the 2001 Augusta Ada Lovelace Award from the Association for Women in Computing



1952 – The Night of the Murdered Poets: 13 Soviet Jews, five of them Yiddish writers, are executed by the USSR, after being imprisoned in Lubyanka Prison without formal charges for three years

1953 – The Soviet Union secretly tests its first thermonuclear bomb

1955 – The U.S. Minimum Wage is raised from 75 cents an hour to $1.00 an hour

1960 – First balloon communication satellite, Echo One, is launched

1964 – The IOC bars South Africa from the Tokyo Olympics because of Apartheid

1966 – John Lennon apologizes at a Chicago press conference for saying the Beatles are more popular than Jesus

1970 – The Hollywood Bowl holds a Woody Guthrie Memorial Concert in Los Angeles



1977 – The space shuttle Enterprise passes its first solo flight test, taking off atop a Boeing 747, separating and then touching down in California’s Mojave Desert



1981 – Personal Computer Day * – IBM introduces the first Personal Computer, IBM PC Model 5150. Retailing at $1,565 USD, the basic unit had 16 kB of memory.  One Megabyte is about 1,024 Kilobytes – One Gigabyte is 1,000 Megabytes. Most of today’s tablets have at least 1 Gigabyte of RAM, and 16 GB of internal memory, and prices start around $180 USD



1990 – American paleontologist Sue Hendrickson discovers the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus Rex skeleton yet found, in South Dakota. It is dubbed “Sue” in her honor, displayed at the Field Museum in Chicago IL



1998 – Swiss banks agree to pay $1.25 billion in restitution to Holocaust survivors to settle claims for their assets

1999 – The UN General Assembly designates August 12 as International Youth Day *, to recognize and celebrate young people’s contributions to ecological, social justice and peace movements world-wide

2002 – Vinyl Record Day * is proclaimed in San Luis Obispo County CA; now sponsored by Vinyl Record Day, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the cultural influences, cover art of vinyl records, and records themselves (see 1877 entry)



2007 – Archaeologists find 8 million-year-old cypress trees preserved in Hungarian open coal mine

2012 – The first World Elephant Day * is launched by Canadian Patricia Sims and the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation of Thailand; sponsored in partnership now with 100 other elephant conservation organizations across the globe. In 1930, as many as 10 million wild elephants roamed huge swaths of the African continent. Today, there are just around 415,000 elephants across Africa. Asian elephant numbers have declined by 50% since the late 1930s, and also listed as an endangered species



2014 – Robin Williams, brilliant, beloved actor and comedian, was found dead at age 63; Marin County officials rule it a suicide. Williams had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2013. His wife Susan blamed the effects of the disease for his suicide, calling it “the terrorist inside my husband’s brain.”



2017 – Violence erupted at the white nationalist ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. Heather Heyer, age 32, one of the anti-racist demonstrators staging a counter-protest, was killed in a vehicle attack by a white nationalist. He deliberately rammed his car into the anti-racist crowd, killing Heyer and injuring 19 more. At least 15 other people were hurt by four other white supremacists, who were arrested for inciting a riot and attacking the counter-protesters, which were under consideration as hate crimes

Heather Heyer

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About wordcloud9

Nona Blyth Cloud has lived and worked in the Los Angeles area for the past 45 years, spending much of that time commuting on the 405 Freeway. After Hollywood failed to appreciate her genius for acting and directing, she began a second career managing non-profits, from which she has retired. Nona has now resumed writing whatever comes into her head, instead of reports and pleas for funding. She lives in a small house overrun by books with her wonderful husband and a bewildered Border Collie.
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