Today in History: March 9

Adam Smith’s book on economics and philosophy, “An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations,” or, more familiarly, “The Wealth of Nations,” was published by W. Strahan and T. Cadell in London 240 years ago today. It was an instant, influential, best-seller and began to be cited in taxation policy discussions within months and referenced by politicians in London and America within a year of publication. Here is my attempt from last year at explaining my understanding of economics and Adam Smith’s influence: “Higgling, Haggling, Swapping, Dickering.”

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Sixty-two years ago tonight, CBS broadcast “A Report on Senator Joseph McCarthy” on its half-hour “See It Now” news broadcast. Hosted by Edward R. Murrow, it was a close look at the Wisconsin Republican’s several year-long campaign against Communists that he had claimed had infiltrated our government and the armed forces. Murrow used video and film of McCarthy’s own speeches to show his many contradictions, obfuscations, and possible lies. McCarthy’s only replies to the show were personal and insulting against Murrow and did not address anything of substance. The McCarthy Era in its then-specific guise was ending; McCarthyism still exists. A clip (below the fold):

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“On Heterocatalytic Detonations I. Hydrodynamic Lenses and Radiation Mirrors,” a scientific paper by physicists Edward Teller and Stanislaw Ulam, was published at Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory 65 years ago today. The paper introduced the concept of thermonuclear weapons and detailed their construction, thus the paper was neither openly published, announced, nor discussed in public at all, at least until the United States conducted its first successful test of a hydrogen bomb in November 1952. Even today, the declassified paper remains mostly classified: of its 22 pages, 20 are still blacked-out.

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Barbara Millicent Roberts of Willows, Wisconsin, was introduced on this date in 1959. That is the full character name for the Barbie doll, which was created by Ruth Handler, wife of the founder of Mattel. Handler later served as president of the toy company.

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“Operation Meetinghouse,” the firebombing of Tokyo, Japan, by the U.S. Army Air Force, commenced on this date in 1945. In one night, about 100,000 Tokyo residents were killed, making it the deadliest single air attack in history, bigger and deadlier than the single-bomb attack that destroyed Hiroshima. Many historians consider the 100,000 number to be conservative, as Tokyo’s downtown had over 100,000 residents per square mile and over 15 square miles were destroyed. The bombs used were incendiary, which means they ignited on impact or were in flames on their way down; the city’s wood-and-paper homes were particular targets for this sort of armament.

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Charles Bukowski died on this date in 1994. Ian Ballantine, who founded the publisher Ballantine Books with his wife Betty, died on this date in 1995. (They were frequent customers in the upstate New York bookstore I worked in.) George Burns died 20 years ago today at the age of 100.

The Notorious B.I.G. died on this date in 1997. David S. Broder died five years ago today. Peter Bergman of Firesign Theater died four years ago today.

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Samuel Barber was born on this date in 1910. Mickey Spillane was born in 1918 on this date. the late Ornette Coleman was born 86 years ago today. The late Marty Ingels was born 80 years ago today.

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Judge James L. Buckley, former U.S. Senator and older brother of William F. Buckley, is 93 today. Keely Smith is 84 today.

Mickey Gilley is 80 today. Charles Gibson is 73. Robin Trower is 71. Michael Kinsley is 65 today. David Pogue is 53 today. Emmanuel Lewis (“Webster”) is 45 today.

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  1. Mr. Militant Negro · March 9, 2016

    Reblogged this on The Militant Negro™.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Anton Wills-Eve · March 9, 2016

    Done it again, Mark 😃Adam Smith was our main work in politics & economics my last year @ school (1960), Ed Murrow’s show was the only US news programme on UK TV in the 50s & George & Gracie were great friends of my mother! How much older do you want me to feel? Thanks. Anton

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Anton Wills-Eve · March 11, 2016

    Yes, Mark. Mum’s side were all stage,radio early TV& films, & dad’s were 100% journalists! The bridge between them was my godfather, Walter Cronkite, who lived with us during WW2. He covered the Yanks, dad the British for UPI & BUP. Now I feel 100! 😃 Anton

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Today in History: July 21 | The Gad About Town

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