8.24.2016 Day in History

Today in Ukraine is Independence Day, when the nation declared its complete independence from Soviet control, and this evening in Uruguay is Nostalgia Night; in what is now Algeria, along the Bagradas River, two thousand sixty-five years ago, Roman imperial forces that sought to dispose of Rome’s African colonies as Caesar dictated faced a crushing defeat at the hands of Numidian fighters who wanted to order matters differently; one thousand nine hundred thirty-seven years prior to this moment, some historians state that Mount Vesuvius erupted, levelling the cities of Pompeii, Herculaneum, and Stabiae in the process; sixteen hundred twenty-two years before the here and now, the last recorded utilization of Egyptian hieroglyphs occurred, in the Graffito of Esmet-Akhom; sixteen years hence, in 410, Visigoth forces accelerated the declining imperial colossus that had been Rome with a pillaging of the city itself; five years shy of half a century thereafter, in 455, Vandal armies agree to spare Roman lives in their looting of much of Rome’s imperial ‘treasure,’ itself ‘loot’ from Rome’s conquests; seventy-three decades past that conjunction, in 1185, an evolution of this culture of plunder took place with the Norman overthrow of the redoubt at Thessalonica, along with the sacking of the Sicilian Kingdom’s metropolis and the slaughter of thousands of the city’s populace; forty years further along, in

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1215, the Pope invalidated the recently enacted Magna Carta, throwing English ruling processes into flux; six hundred sixty-seven years back, meanwhile, Mainz’s citizens joined in a popular response to the spread of the Bubonic Plague, slaughtering as many as six thousand local Jews as somehow bearing responsibility for the pestilence; forty-two years later, in 1391, across Europe in Southern Spain, as many as a thousand Jews faced death as residents of Mallorca, rising up against indebtedness and grasping for Jewish property, rioted violently against Jewish people and those who protected them; sixty-five years past that conjunction, in 1456, early printers finished the first edition of a Gutenberg bible; another six decades henceforth, in 1516, Ottoman Turks completed the conquest of Syria, routing Arabic Muslims in the process of consolidating imperial rule; ninety-two years subsequently to the day, in 1608, English merchants established their first outpost in India at Surat; fifty-four years hence, in 1662, the Act of Uniformity required England to accept the Book of Common Prayer; two decades subsequent, in 1682, William Penn added the area which is now the state of Delaware to his Pennsylvania colony; eight years further onward, in 1690, the consolidation of saltpeter production at a factory in Bengal led both to a significant enrichment of the East India Company and to the manifestation of what came to be the great city of Calcutta; two centuries and two years back, British troops razed and burned much of what was the first incarnation of the United States capitol at Washington; seven years still nearer to now, in 1821, the Treaty of Cordoba established the Mexican nation’s independence from Spain; six years down the pike, in 1827, the publication which is believed to be the first U.S. Labor newspaper is published in Philadelphia, which was an outgrowth of a failed strike by carpenters demanding a shorter work day; thirty years still later, in 1857, one of the initial worldwide ‘panics’ gripped centers of capital everywhere, in particular destroying wealth and afflicting property in the United States; precisely a quarter century more proximate to the present, in 1872, an upper crust English family welcomed a new son, who would mature as the caricaturist and critic and multifaceted railroad railway train track hobo homeless transient povertywriter, Max Beerbohm; one hundred thirty-nine years ago, thugs from the Gatling Gun Co. go on record as saying that they will provide guns to railroad barons for the sake of eliminating strikers; twelve years onward, in 1889, the National Association of Letter Carriers was formed; three hundred sixty-five days closer to today’s light and air, in 1890, the baby girl first cried out on her way to becoming formidable Dominican-English writer Jean Rhys; a hundred twenty-five years in advance of this moment in time, Thomas Edison gained the patent for a motion picture camera that was to change the face of culture and human communication; seven years after that juncture, in 1898, a baby boy was born who would grow up as the critic, writer, and editor Malcolm Cowley, and over in Russia, the foreign minister presented a rescript that convoked the First Hague Peace Conference; three hundred sixty-five years more along time’s path, in 1899, an Argentine boy child gave voice en route to a life as the prolific and peripatetic Jorge Luis Borges; three years hence in France, in 1902, another male infant came along whose destiny was intellectual insight and legerdemain as the historian and philosopher Fernand Braudel; seven years hence, in 1909, Southwest across the Atlantic, U.S. contractors poured the first concrete that went into the formation of the Panama Canal;

"Panama Canal Gatun Locks opening" by Stan Shebs. cc 3.0
“Panama Canal Gatun Locks opening” by Stan Shebs. cc 3.0

thirteen years additional along the temporal path, in 1922, the infant male took breath who would gain acclaim and audience as the popular historian, Howard Zinn; seven years beyond that point in time, in 1929, in British mandate Palestine, a massacre of several score Jews took place in Hebron at the hands of Palestinian Arabs who were rioting about immigration and possible plans for a Jewish homeland, and, in a fascinating twist of fate, on that same day, the baby destined to become the leader of the Palestine people, Yasser Arafat, was born; two year further on, in 1931, France and the Soviet Union signed a neutrality/no attack treaty; another five years onward, in 1936, the baby girl opened her eyes who would soon enough see her way to write the iconic and disturbing novels of A.S. Byatt; a year after on the dot, in 1937 on the Iberian Peninsula, Basque forces surrendered en masse to fascist Italian volunteers who had been assisting Franco’s forces in the Spanish Civil War; two years later, in 1943, the French philosopher and mystic-idealist Simone Weil drew here last breath; four years still closer to today, in 1947, the Brazilian boy baby shouted out who would end up the popular and critically acclaimed writer Paulo Coelho; seven hundred thirty-one days onward, in 1949, the formal papers that created the North Atlantic Treaty Organization came into force; another year afterward, in 1950, Edith Sampson became the first Black representative of the United States to the United Nations; another year later still, in 1951, a baby boy opened his eyes on his way toward life as the thinker and storyteller Oscar Hijuelos, and another male infant was born, to the Mormon Card family in Richland, Washington, who would go on to great popularity and critical controversy as Orson Scott Card; three years yet nearer to the here and now, in 1954, the Communist Control Act took effect, essentially outlawing the American Communist Party; a dozen years after that, in 1966, the trust fund baby entered our midst who, as Nick Denton, would go on to monopoly media success with

CC BY-NC-ND by Scott Beale
CC BY-NC-ND by Scott Beale

Gawker; another year even closer to today’s light and air, in 1967, Abbie Hoffman led Youth International Party activists in raining dollar bills onto the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, setting off a scramble that temporarily halted trading; forty-three years behind us, the baby boy who would in the future become the comedian, actor, producer, and screenwriter Dave Chappelle came into the world; thirty-two years ago, the iconic thinker and leader, Scott Nearing, took a final breath just after his hundredth birthday; six years hence, in 1989, Colombian drug gangs ‘declared war’ on the central government there; five years to the day from that point, in 1994, the initial accord in the decades – or centuries – long battle between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization took place; three hundred sixty-five days hence, Microsoft released its first operating system to the general public; three years later, in 1998, the first radio-frequency identification human implantation tested in the United Kingdom; six years later still, in 2004, the renowned thinker and psychologist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross died.