8.02.2016 Day in History

Two thousand three hundred fifty-four years ago, more or less, an army of Macedonians under the leadership of a second ruling Phillip routed a combination of fighters from Athens and Thebes, thereby enabling Macedonian oversight for a soon-to-be expansive Alexander; a hundred twenty-two years onward from that martial juncture, in 216 BCE, another battle unfolded in the Second Punic War, in which Carthaginians under the aegis of Hannibal defeated Roman forces that consuls were leading against the North Africans; a single decade less than a millennium and a half later, in 1274, a wandering mercenary of the Ninth Crusade returned to England to await his pending coronation as Edward I; sixty-nine years further along time’s march to the present, in 1343,French authorities beheaded Olivier de Brisson for suspected treason after they had invited him to participate in a knightly tournament, which led his wife to sell everything and declare a Lioness of Brittany war against French shipping and soldiers, which she captured and destroyed and slaughtered for over a decade; not quite three and a half decades subsequent to that, in 1377, the better part of a thousand miles to the East in Russia, Muscovite forces unwarily indulged in strong local drink in what is now Mordovia and faced an almost universal slaughter at the hands of Mongol fighters of the so-called Blue Horde at the Battle of Pyana River, which translates as ‘drunken’ River; four hundred five years back, Henry Hudson first sailed into what we now have named Hudson Bay, in so doing believing that he had discovered a Northwest Passage to Asia; one hundred sixty-six years onward from there, in 1776, to the South in the nascent United States, members of the Continental Congress formally signed the Declaration of Independence; a dozen years past that point, in 1788, across the ocean in London, the estimable portrait and landscape artist of an entire generation, Thomas Gainsborough, painted a final stroke; two years further along, in 1790, back in North America, the first Census Day unfolded, with slaves counted as three fifths of a human being; eight years more along the temporal arc, in 1798 back in the Eastern Hemisphere, British fighting ships won out over France in the Battle of the Nile, in some senses sealing the fate of the Napoleonic project by cutting it off from colonial dominance in Africa and Asia; just over six decades thereafter, in 1859, Horace Mann, the ‘father’ of mass schooling as opposed to public education, lived through his last ever lesson; a half dozen additional years en route to today, in 1865, a baby boy was born whom fate had designated as the opponent of Rousseau and the proponent of classical, upper-crust values, Irving Babbit, prominent critic and ‘father of New Humanism;’ a thousand ninety-six days henceforth, in 1868, nearly halfway round the planet in Japan, the Meiji Restoration abolished the Samurai-at-the-top caste system that had long held sway in the land of the rising sun; a mere year nearer to now, in 1869, in England’s island realm, the pseudonymous George Eliot began composing Middlemarch; another three hundred sixty five days forward in space and time, in 1870 London, the world’s first ‘tube’ subway system opened for business; thirty-three years farther down the pike, in 1903, across the English Channel and through Europe to the Balkans, the slow-moving disintegration of Ottoman Imperial imprimatur proceeded another step as Macedonian revolutionaries rose up, albeit for the moment unsuccessful, against Turkish rule; an extra eleven years onottoman the road to today, in 1914,a male infant entered the world in standard fashion who would, as Big Walter Price, for almost a hundred years shout out the ‘thunderbird’ blues sound in South and East Texas; a thousand four hundred sixty-one days hence, in 1918, Japan opportunistically invaded Siberia in hopes of gaining territory and resources while they tried, vis a vis Winston Churchill, to ‘strangle the Bolshevik infant in its cradle,’ while on the other side of the wide Pacific, Canadians in Vancouver found themselves in the throes of the country’s first attempted general strike; four years beyond that conjunction, in 1922, the prolific inventor and progenitor of monopoly enterprise, Alexander Graham Bell, breathed his last; another two spin cycles around the solar flare, in 1924, a male child opened his eyes who would rise as the iconic champion of justice and consciousness, James Baldwin, while another baby male started out en route to life as the multidimensional performer and talented screenwriter of progressive ideas, Carroll O’Connor; eight years addition amble down time’s trails, in 1932, Carl Anderson discovered the predicted but till then invisible positron, the counterpart of the electron; a pair of years even closer to the current context, in 1934, across the Atlantic and much of Europe, the fascist strategy of the National Socialist German Workers Party, gleichschaltung—loosely, ‘synchronization’—in some senses culminated in Adolf Hitler’s assumption of both Chancellor’s and President’s duties on the death of President Hindenburg, on the basis of a law-of-succession that had come into force the previous day; three years after that chilling day, in 1937 Canada, a baby boy bounced into our midst en route to a life as rocker and lyricist Garth Hudson; a pair of years yet later on, in 1939, Albert Einstein added his signature to a letter that Leo Szilard had drafted and that financier and Presidential confidante Alexander Sachs would deliver, a missive that explained how a chain-reaction in Uranium made the likelihood of a huge explosive capacity almost certain, and that the Germans would be pursuing a weapon Doomsday_Clock nuclear  atomic nukewith it, events that would lead to the Manhattan Project and the formal emergence of a Modern Nuclear Project, while across the Atlantic the U.S. Congress passed the Hatch Act, stripping at first only Federal employees of certain rights of political participation, at the same time that a duo of male infants were born, one in Cleveland who would grow to become the writer and film impresario Wes Craven, the other in New York City who would go on to become the academic and democracy theorist, Benjamin Barber; three years hence, in 1942, the baby girl opened her eyes who would rise as the immeasurably brilliant and soulful writer and storyteller and memoirist, Isabel Allende; a single year still more proximate to the present pass, in 1943, back in Eastern Europe’s hell hole, Jewish inmates at the Treblinka extermination camp rebelled, against hopeless odds but with the result a push to ensure that the murderous facility would soon close, as, on the other side of the world, PT-109, under the command of John F. Kennedy, sank after a Japanese destroyer rammed it, and Lieutenant Kennedy helped several of his crew to survive; two years still later, in 1945, the Potsdam Conference on a ‘New World Order’ ended, with Stalin under advisement to watch what was about to happen to Japan; four years subsequently, in 1949, a boy baby called out who would mature as the writer and thinker and Atlantic correspondent James Fallows; six more years afterward, in 1955, the poetical representative of establishment ideas and capital’s social ascendancy, Wallace Stevens, lived out his final stanza; forty-four years back, the prolific writer and creator and social theorist, whose Growing Up Absurd, both foretold and promoted a ‘youth movement,’ Paul Goodman, lived to the end of his final chapter; another four years beyond that passing, in 1976, the venerable and stories film maestro, Fritz Lang, shot his final frame, far from his native Vienna in Beverly Hills; an additional fourteen hundred and sixty one days thereafter, in 1980, a terrorist bomb at the Bologna, Italy train station killed over eighty people and injured hundreds of others; eight years in even greater proximity to this precise point in time, in 1988,the redoubtable modern short story master and evocative writer and critic, Raymond Carver, lived out his final day; around the globe in Sri Lanka the following year, in 1989, India’s so-called ‘peacekeeping’ forces shot and killed over sixty people, possibly in retaliation for Tamil Tiger attacks on their garrison; eight more years after that depredation, in 1997, the aged aficionado of heroin and privilege and pistols, William Burroughs, lived his final scene.