January 19 in History

“People, feelings, everything! Double! Two people in each person. There’s also a person exactly the opposite of you, like the unseen part of you, somewhere in the world, and he waits in ambush.”―Patricia Highsmith, Strangers on a Train

Patricia Highsmith (above) was born on this date in 1921. She wrote twenty-two novels and many short stories, most of which are psychological thrillers.

Many of these have since been made into films. One character, Tom Ripley, appears in five novels, The Talented Mr. Ripley being the first, in which he kills 10 people directly, causes the deaths of several others, and is charming company when he is not murdering: “Mr. Greenleaf was such a decent fellow himself, he took it for granted that everybody else in the world was decent, too. Tom had almost forgotten such people existed.”
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January 18 in History

Thomas Davenport, inventor of the electric motor, published the first issue of a new periodical on this date in 1840 that carried a mouthful of a title: The Electro-Magnet, and Mechanics Intelligencer. It was the first technical journal, the first periodical that had electricity as its only topic, and it was the first publication on the planet that was printed on a press run on electricity.

It was also a failure as a publication: Davenport could not attract enough subscribers to sustain the journal and he folded it after only three issues.

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On this date in 1644, something strange was seen in the waters off what is now the North End of Boston. It qulifies as America’s first USO sighting: Unidentified Submerged Object.
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Justice Delayed Once Again for Shawkan

A journalist’s job is to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

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Mahmoud Abu Zeid, an Egyptian photojournalist who goes by the name “Shawkan,” learned today that his trial was once again postponed, this time until Tuesday, February 7. Ten prisoners, co-defendants with Shawkan, were released today for medical reasons. Shawkan’s deteriorating health began to qualify him for a release under medical grounds two years ago, but his detention continues, three-and-a-half years after his arrest.
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January 17 in History

A King Features comic strip called Thimble Theatre was in its eleventh year when a new character was introduced in the strip on this date in 1929: Popeye. Popeye, at first a secondary character, quickly became the most popular figure in the comic and after a few years, his adventures were the focus of the strip.

Popeye’s first appearance in the strip, from 88 years ago today, is at top. He is hired as a deck hand.

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Betty White is 95 today.
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duck edited

A Marathon, Not a Sprint

If you look at this page via a Windows browser, there should be a logo on left side of the tab at top, a little green-brown-yellow blob.

It is a photo of a duck. I first placed the picture there, seen full-size at top, as an inside joke with myself, but the story is worth sharing. (Most of this first appeared in a post from December 2013, “A Duck About Town.”)

The photo was taken in 2013 (with friends alongside: LT and HG), and it was added at the very last second on the very first post written later that same year. If you have looked at this web site once or a thousand times (thanks, mom!), the duck has been there, on whatever device you use, each time. It is this site’s mascot, a companion to each piece I write.
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January 16 in History

Citizens from twenty-eight communities located in the “New Hampshire Grants”—land across the Connecticut River to the west of the colony of New Hampshire—declared independence 240 years ago today. The land was in a dispute between New York and New Hampshire; the citizens wrote a constitution in which the land is referred to (in different places) as the “State of Vermont” and the “Commonwealth of Vermont.” Eventually, it became the fourteenth state.

Between 1777 and statehood in 1791, Vermont was the Republic of Vermont, a sovereign entity that did not much want to be a republic (historians refer to it as the “reluctant republic”) but had a population that was only interested in joining a nation on its terms. It issued currency and had a flag, the “Green Mountain Boys Flag” seen at top.

After negotiations failed to unite Vermont with Quebec, it joined the colonies in the fight for independence from Great Britain. Most of its citizens fought on behalf of independence in the Revolutionary War.
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An Exquisite Trolling

For those who read everything published everywhere every day, as I do not, the name of the person who writes the television listings for the Sunday Herald in Glasgow, Scotland, will come straight to mind. It is Damien Love, but you knew this already. I did not.

Earlier today, the newspaper published Love’s television listings for the week just started, the week that will culminate at noon (EST) on Friday, January 20, with the debut of a new reality show in the United States: the next presidential administration.

Damien Love wrote this brilliant description (as seen above):
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January 15 in History

The “Miracle on the Hudson,” in which the crew of a US Airways passenger jet, Flight 1549, safely glided the plane to a water landing in the Hudson River after it lost power from its engines after striking geese during takeoff, took place seven years ago today. All passengers and crew survived.

The crash has since been memorialized in a film Sully, directed by Clint Eastwood, and the airplane itself is now on exhibit at the Carolinas Aviation Museum.
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