1529 Sultan Suleiman of the Ottoman Empire folded his tent and abandoned the siege of Vienna and retreated before the winter struck, so much wiser than either Napoleon or Hitler. I am told his tent can be seen in the Arsenal in Vienna and we hope to see it soon.

tent vienna.jpg

1917 The French Army executed Dutch woman Margaretha Geertruida Zelle (Mata Hari, 'eye of the day' in Malay) by firing squad at Vincennes. When stupid French strategies were repeatedly defeated, there could only be one explanation. Witchcraft! Some things never change.

Mata Hari.jpg

1928 After a four day trip the German dirigible Graf Zeppelin landed in Lakehurst, NJ, ushering in a new era of lighter than air luxury Trans-Atlantic travel. That is what the posters said. We saw some specially designed lightweight luggage for Zeppelin flights at the Handbag Museum in Amsterdam.


1935 Il Duce's Italians invaded Ethiopia. The League of Nations proved unequal to the challenge this war brought. Haile Selassie made a remarkable plea in Geneva for intervention. There are clips of it on You Tube. Frank Moorhouse's 'Dark Palace' (2000) recounted some of this drama. I once spend a couple of days in the archives of the League of Nations in Geneva reading index card records.


1964 Nikita Khrushchev was ousted as secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR. Leonid Brezhnev and Alexei Kosygin took over. It was a frightening time of uncertainty on the Platte.

Khrush out.jpg

When What

1066 William of Normandy defeated King Harold in the Battle of Hastings (not on Platte or Hudson). 'Foyle's War' made it all better until Christopher got all holier-than-everyone-else.

1890 The man from Abilene (Kansas) was born: Dwight David Eisenhower. Been to the house where the six boys grew up.
Ike House.jpg

1926 A. A. Milne published ‘Winnie the Pooh.’

1947 Chuck Yeager became the first person to fly faster than the speed of sound in Bell XS-1. A milestone on the way to space flight. Immortalised in Tom Wolfe’s ‘The Right Stuff.'
Wolf book.jpg

1962 USAF U-2 reconnaissance planes photographed installations of Soviet-made missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads in Cuba. In school we trooped to the basement and did duck and cover drills just like this.
Atomic War kids.jpg

13 October ……..

When What
54 Nero became emperor of the Romans. The rest is history.

1792 George Washington laid the cornerstone of the White House, which was completed eight years later. John Adams was the first president to occupy it. Seen that.
Stone White house.jpg

1933 Sydney's first 'electromatic vehicle actuated controller' (traffic light) was installed at the Intersection of Kent and Market streets. Waited there. (In 1965 Canberra got its first set.)
Traffic light sydney.jpg

1958 The bear was found in Paddington Station. Been there but no bear was sighted.

1983 Back when greed was good the first public cell phone network began operations in Chicago using the Motorola DynaTAC phones the size of a brick. The company was Ameritech. Mine's smaller than yours!

When What
1492 Columbus sailed the ocean blue to the Bahamas. The date was first celebrated in the United States in 1792. There are many memorials to the Genoese in Spain. Seen this massive crypt in Sevilla.
Columbus crypt Sevilla.jpg

1576 Rudolf II became Holy Roman Emperor. Rudy II dabbled in alchemy, the occult, and automata. He had little interest in imperial duties but loved the laboratory and workbench. One result was the Thirty Years War over religion, as Protestants and Catholics murdered each other to prove they were Christians. Occasionally united in the desire to murder Jews. We walked through his Prague palace on that hill which later had far more unsavoury residents.
Rudy II.jpg

1918 Norman Lindsay published ‘The Magic Pudding.’ It came with mother's milk for generations of Australian children.

1823 Charles MacIntosh began selling raincoats in Scotland. The ‘k’ came later. The image is an 1892 model. It took much trial and error to get to the contemporary versions. We bought ours in Dublin from a man with an Italian name and an Irish accent.

1984 The Vancouver SkyTrain was completed with 64 kilometres of track. World’s longest automated light rail. It is one of the lasting benefits of the Vancouver Expo. Almost all of it is elevated. I rode on it once when in Rain City. Did it inspire the ill fated Sydney monorail which is now long gone?

1899 Second Boer War began as the Republic of Transvaal and the Orange Free State declared war on Britain to gain control of mining areas. The conflict lasted three years and ended in the annexation of the Boer Republics into British South Africa. (The First Boer War was 1880-1881.) The Netherlands whence came the Boers remained neutral in both conflicts. About 20,000 Australians took part, including Harry Morant who killed unarmed and defenceless Boer prisoners and a clergyman who had witnessed these murders. He became an Australia hero. Below are Boer irregulars at Mafikeng.

1939 FDR read Albert Einstein’s letter about an atomic bomb. It is a terse, short letter of less than two pages. Little Boy and Fat Man followed in 1945.

1950 CBS began colour TV broadcasts in limited areas. A set that received colour could not receive black-and-white and vice-versa. CBS marketed its own receiver for a time.

1987 An extensive sonar search did not find anything in Loch Ness but empty beer cans. The search went on for three days and cost more than a million pounds to truck the equipment in and out and employ the technicians. Facts convinced no one, just like today.

2001 The Polaroid Corporation began descent into bankruptcy. Edwin Land made the first instamatic in 1947 as a toy for Christmas. The hundred or so at Bloomingdale's sold out instantly (ha, ha) and it went into mass production in the next year. It was so successful that it became the corporation. I used one in the office for years to take pictures of students.

1886 Dinner jacket worn to a ball in Tuxedo Park, NY becomes known as a tuxedo. Tuxedo Park was and is an enclave of the rich on the Hudson River. Pictured is one such estate.
Tuxedo park.jpg

1903 Emmeline Pankhurst founded the Women’s Social and Political Union in Great Britain.

1957 U.S. President Dwight Eisenhower invited Ghanaian foreign minister to dinner at a public restaurant in Washington D.C. to apologise after he was refused service in Dover Delaware.
Ike 1957.jpg

1970 La crise d'octobre a commencé au Québec. The Federal Government declared a state of siege and put the army on the streets of Ottawa, Quebec Cité, and Montréal.
October 1970.jpg

2013 Canadian Alice Munro was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. She wrote mostly short stories, a lot of them, and won all the literary prizes there are in Canada. The mint struck a commemorative coin on the occasion.
Munro coin.jpg

768 Charlemagne crowned himself King of the Franks. He went on to unite most of Western Europe for the first time since the fall of the Roman Empire. He came to be called the Father of Europe because of that.

1000 Leif Ericson landed in Vinland in North America, perhaps I'Anse aux meadows in Newfoundland. Been there.
Leif 11.jpg

1635 Massachusetts Bay Colony expelled Roger Williams because he had opposed punishing religious dissension and confiscating Indian land. He went on to found Rhode Island as a haven for religious freedom. Ironic, isn't it that those seeking religious freedom in the new world defined that as the freedom to punish others on religious grounds and to steal. Never been to Rhode Island.

1779 Ned Luddite led riots against spinning cotton machines in Manchester. His relatives today eschew ATMs, the Opal Card, and self-check with lame excuses. Drove through Manchester once.

1874 The General Postal Union Treaty was signed by twenty-two nations, agreeing to deliver each others' mail. It became the Universal Postal Union. Have licked many stamps but no more.

The Authors

About the Blog

Thoughts on the canon of poltical theory and life.

You are visitor:
hit counter script