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Almanac – April 28

1789 –  The Mutiny on the Bounty, aboard the British Royal Navy ship HMS Bounty.

The mutiny was led by Fletcher Christian against commanding officer Lieutenant William Bligh. According to most accounts, the sailors were attracted to the idyllic life on the Pacific island of Tahiti and were further motivated by harsh treatment from their captain.

Mutineers set  Bligh afloat in a small boat with  some crew loyal to him. The mutineers then variously settled on Pitcairn Island or in Tahiti and burned the Bounty off Pitcairn Island, to avoid detection and to prevent desertion.

Bligh navigated the 23-foot (7 m) open launch on a 47-day voyage to Timor in the Dutch East Indies, equipped with a quadrant and pocket watch and without charts or compass. He recorded the distance as 3,618 nautical miles (6,710 km). He then returned to Britain and reported the mutiny to the Admiralty on 15 March 1790, 2 years and 11 weeks after his original departure.

Descendants of some of the mutineers still live on Pitcairn Island.

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1945 – Benito Mussolini and his mistress Clara Petacci were executed by a firing squad consisting of members of the Italian resistance movement. He had been traveling with retreating German forces and was apprehended while attempting to escape recognition by wearing a German military uniform.

His body was then taken to Milan where it was hung upside down at a petrol station for public viewing and to provide confirmation of his demise.

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1948 – Terry Pratchett born.  English author of fantasy novels,  best known for the Discworld series of about 40 volumes –  since his first Discworld novel (The Colour of Magic) was published in 1983, he has written two books a year on average.

His latest Discworld book, Snuff, was at the time of its release the third-fastest-selling hardback adult-audience novel since records began in the United Kingdom, selling 55,000 copies in the first three days.

Pratchett was the UK’s best-selling author of the 1990s, and has sold over 70 million books worldwide in 37 languages.  He is currently the second most-read writer in the UK, and seventh most-read non-US author in the US.

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Almanac – August 15

1057 – Macbeth (Mac Bethad mac Findlaích ) killed at the Battle of Lumphanan by the forces of Máel Coluim mac Donnchada (the future King Malcolm III.)  According to tradition, the battle took place near the Peel of Lumphanan in Aberdeenshire. Macbeth’s Stone, some 300 metres  south-west of the peel, is said to be the stone upon which Macbeth was beheaded – although The Prophecy of Berchán ( a verse history which purports to be a prophecy) has it that he was wounded and died at Scone, sixty miles to the south, some days later.

1928 – Nicolas Roeg born. English film director and cinematographer.  He started his film career by contributing to the visual look of Lawrence of Arabia and Roger Corman’s The Masque of the Red Death, and co-directing Performance in 1970. He would later direct such landmark films as Walkabout, Don’t Look Now and The Man Who Fell to Earth.

1941 – Corporal Josef Jakobs executed by firing squad at the Tower of London at 7:12 am, making him the last person to be executed at the Tower for treason. He  was a German spy who was captured shortly after parachuting into the United Kingdom during the Second World War. Convicted of espionage under the Treachery Act 1940, he was shot by a military firing squad.

1963 – Execution of Henry John Burnett, the last man to be hanged in Scotland

1965 – The Beatles played to nearly 60,000 fans at Shea Stadium in New York, New York, an event later regarded by some as the birth of stadium rock.

1967 – René Magritte died. Belgian surrealist artist. He became well known for a number of witty and thought-provoking images that fell under the umbrella of surrealism.

1969 – Woodstock opened,  more properly the  Woodstock Music & Art Fair   –  “An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music”.  And rain. And mud

1977 – The Big Ear, a radio telescope operated by Ohio State University as part of the SETI project, received a radio signal, the so-called Wow ! signal,  from deep space – a strong narrowband radio signal detected by Jerry R. Ehman. The signal bore expected hallmarks of potential non-terrestrial and non-Solar System origin. It lasted for the full 72-second duration that Big Ear observed it, but has not been detected again.

Amazed at how closely the signal matched the expected signature of an interstellar signal in the antenna used, Ehman circled the signal on the computer printout and wrote the comment “Wow!” on its side, and so it became known.

2008 – Jerry Wexler died.  A music journalist turned music producer, he was regarded as one of the major record industry players  from the 1950s through the 1980s. He coined the term “rhythm and blues” in  1948 as a musical marketing term replacing the term “race music”, and was integral in signing and/or producing many of the biggest acts of the last 50 years, including Ray Charles, the Allman Brothers, Aretha Franklin, Led Zeppelin, Wilson Pickett, Dire Straits, Dusty Springfield and Bob Dylan.

Mr. Frankenstein

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