Four Is the Loneliest Number

The Wikipedia disambiguation page for the commonplace partial phrase “rule of three” lists nine items. Actually it lists 10, the tenth not being an example of the concept of the rule of three in day-to-day life but the title of a play; it may have been added by an editor simply to amuse himself or herself. (It was not me.)

It would be amusing if there were nine, because it would be a perfect example of the “rule of three” to have three sets of three things in a list of the possible definitions of that very phrase; it is comic to have 10 instead. (Nerds Unite!)
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Today in History: Oct. 28

The Statue of Liberty National Monument was dedicated in New York Harbor on this date in 1886. President Grover Cleveland (he was a former New York State governor) was among the dignitaries.

The huge statue, a gift from France, was hidden behind an enormous cloth, and a signal was to be given when the final speech was done to drop the cloth and reveal the work. The last speaker, U.S. Senator William Evarts, had been on the committee that raised funds to build the pedestal for the statue. He paused in the middle of the speech, and this was interpreted as the end, so the signal was given, and the veil was dropped. With that, guns were fired from hips in the harbor for the next 30 minutes, and Sen. Evarts sat down.
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Where There’s Smoke, There’s Ire

I was fighting with temptation
But I didn’t want to win
A man like me don’t like to see
Temptation caving in
—Leonard Cohen, “On the Level”

* * * *
Not included on the long list of substances, people, and activities that have not even briefly scratched my addiction itch is, mysteriously, cigarette smoking.

I wrote, “mysteriously,” because I gave smoking its shot at me. For a period of time measured somewhere between one day and half a decade, I considered myself someone who smoked cigarettes.
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Today in History: Oct. 27

Ben E. King recorded “Spanish Harlem” in a session held in New York City on this date in 1960, and when he and his producers noticed that they still had time booked in the studio for the day, they asked him if he had anything else.

Indeed. He had part of a song, so he and the producers Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller finished writing it, and then he recorded it: “Stand By Me.”

In 2012, Mike Stoller recounted the moment for JazzWax online:

Ben E. had the beginnings of a song—both words and music. He worked on the lyrics together with Jerry, and I added elements to the music, particularly the bass line. To some degree, it’s based on a gospel song called Lord Stand By Me. I have a feeling that Jerry and Ben E. were inspired by it. Ben, of course, had a strong background in church music. He’s a 50% writer on the song, and Jerry and I are 25% each.

The song, as released in 1961 (after the jump):
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Today in History: Oct. 26

The Gunfight at the O.K. Corral (more correctly, the gunfight several doors down from the O.K. Corral) took place 135 years ago on this date in Tombstone, Arizona Territory.

The local marshal, Virgil Earp, and his two brothers, Morgan and Wyatt Earp—who were both a part of the police force—along with a temporary officer, Doc Holliday, faced a gang that had become the bane of the Earp family’s existence in Tombstone. The members of the gang called their group the Cowboys. The Cowboys involved in the shootout were Tom and Frank McLaury, Billy and Ike Clanton, and Billy Claiborne.
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Today in History: Oct. 25

From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remembered—
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile,
This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England, now a-bed,
Shall think themselves accurs’d they were not here;
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon St. Crispin’s day.
—William Shakespeare, Henry V

The Battle of Agincourt took place on this date in 1415 in northern France. King Henry V of England and his badly outnumbered English forces defeated the far-larger French army, with the result that Henry became heir to the French throne.

Modern historians estimate that the French outnumbered the English by a 4:3 ratio; some argue that the ratio was closer to 6:1. The English pioneered the use of the longbow in battle, a tool that proved decisive; Henry himself fought in hand-to-hand combat.
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Oct. 24: A Visit with Shawkan

Update, October 24/25, 2016: Two sources confirmed to me this afternoon that the father of Mahmoud Abou Zeid, the Egyptian photographer known as “Shawkan,” saw him in prison on Monday, October 24. Shawkan is safe and is at present located at the Tora Investigation Complex, which is a different part of the prison in which he had been held prisoner most recently during his three-year-plus ordeal.

Some background: Shawkan’s brother, Mehmet, visited Tora Prison to see his brother last week, at which time he was informed that Shawkan was not at the prison. (Mehmet confirmed this himself to this website and to other publications.) This was the first time that anyone had learned of Shawkan’s transfer. To the best that I have been able to ascertain, even Shawkan’s lawyers had not been contacted in advance or advised about any changes in Shawkan’s status.
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