Tag Archives: Virginia

Almanac – November 11

HOLLANTIDE

If ducks do slide at Hollantide
At Christmas they will swim.
If ducks do swim at Hollantide
At Christmas they will slide.

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1493 – Paracelsus born.  Aka Philippus Aureolus Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim. The alternate birthdate of 17 Dec is sometimes given.
German-Swiss Renaissance physician, botanist, alchemist, astrologer, and general occultist. He is also credited for giving zinc its name, calling it zincum.
“Paracelsus”, meaning “equal to or greater than Celsus”, refers to the Roman encyclopedist Aulus Cornelius Celsus from the 1st century, known for his tract on medicine.

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1831 – Nat Turner executed.  American slave who led a slave rebellion in Virginia on August 21, 1831 that resulted in 60 white deaths and at least 100 black deaths,the largest number of fatalities to occur in one uprising prior to the American Civil War in the southern United States.

Turner was convicted, sentenced to death, and hanged. In the aftermath, the state executed 56 blacks accused of being part of Turner’s slave rebellion. Two hundred blacks were also beaten and killed by white militias and mobs reacting with violence.

Across Virginia and other southern states, state legislators passed new laws prohibiting education of slaves and free blacks, restricting rights of assembly and other civil rights for free blacks, and requiring white ministers to be present at black worship services.

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1869 – The Victorian Aboriginal Protection Act was enacted in Australia, giving the government control of indigenous people’s wages, their terms of employment, where they could live, and of their children, effectively leading to the Stolen Generations.

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1880 – Australian bushranger Ned Kelly was hanged at Melbourne Gaol.  He is considered by some to be merely a cold-blooded killer, while others consider him to be a folk hero and symbol of Irish Australian resistance against the Anglo-Australian ruling class

It was reported that Kelly intended to make a speech, but instead merely said, “Ah, well, I suppose it has come to this,”  as the rope was being placed round his neck.

In August 2011, anthropologists announced that a skeleton found in a mass grave in Pentridge Prison had been confirmed as Kelly’s. His skull, however, remains missing.

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1922 – Kurt Vonnegut Jr. born. American writer.His works such as Cat’s Cradle (1963), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), and Breakfast of Champions (1973) blend satire, gallows humor, and science fiction.

As a citizen he was a lifelong supporter of the American Civil Liberties Union and a critical leftist intellectual. He was known for his humanist beliefs and was honorary president of the American Humanist Association.

 While a prisoner of war in WW2 he witnessed the fire bombing of Dresden in February 1945 which destroyed most of the city. Vonnegut was one of a group of American prisoners of war to survive the attack in an underground slaughterhouse meat locker used by the Germans as an ad hoc detention facility. The Germans called the building Schlachthof Fünf (Slaughterhouse Five) which the Allied POWs adopted as the name for their prison.

 Vonnegut said the aftermath of the attack was “utter destruction” and “carnage unfathomable.” This experience was the inspiration for his famous novel, Slaughterhouse-Five, and is a central theme in at least six of his other books.

In Slaughterhouse-Five he recalled that the remains of the city resembled the surface of the moon, and that the Germans put the surviving POWs to work, breaking into basements and bomb shelters to gather bodies for mass burial, while German civilians cursed and threw rocks at them. Vonnegut eventually remarked, “There were too many corpses to bury. So instead the Germans sent in troops with flamethrowers. All these civilians’ remains were burned to ashes.”

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Almanac – October 12

1216 – King John of England loses his crown jewels in The Wash.
According to contemporary reports, John travelled from Spalding in Lincolnshire to Bishop’s Lynn, in Norfolk, was taken ill and decided to return. While he took the longer route by way of Wisbech, he sent his baggage train, including his crown jewels, along the causeway and ford across the mouth of the Wellstream.
 This route was usable only at low tide. The horse-drawn wagons moved too slowly for the incoming tide, and many were lost.The location of the accident is usually supposed to be somewhere near Sutton Bridge, on the River Nene.

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Astronomical study, however, permits a reconstruction of the tide table for the relevant day and it seems most likely, given travel in the usual daylight hours, that the loss would have been incurred in crossing the Welland Estuary at Fosdyke.
There is also a suspicion that John left his jewels in Lynn as security for a loan and arranged for their “loss”.

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1692 – The Salem witch trials were ended by a letter from Massachusetts Governor William Phips.

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Consequently, October 12th is Freethought Day , the annual observance by freethinkers and secularists of the anniversary of the effective end of the Salem Witch Trials.

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1773 – America’s first insane asylum opens for ‘Persons of Insane and Disordered Minds’ in Virginia

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1872 – Ralph Vaughan Williams born. English composer of symphonies, chamber music, opera, choral music, and film scores. He was also a collector of English folk music and song: this activity both influenced his editorial approach to the English Hymnal, beginning in 1904, in which he included many folk song arrangements set as hymn tunes, and also influenced several of his own original compositions.

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1875 – Aleister Crowley born.  English occultist, mystic, ceremonial magician, poet and mountaineer, who was responsible for founding the religious philosophy of Thelema. In his role as the founder of the Thelemite philosophy, he came to see himself as the prophet who was entrusted with informing humanity that it was entering the new Aeon of Horus in the early 20th century.

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1945 – Desmond Doss became  the first conscientious objector to receive the U.S. Medal of Honor. He refused to kill, or carry a weapon into combat, because of his personal beliefs as a Seventh-day Adventist. He thus became a medic, and his Medal of Honor was earned by the risks he took to save the lives of many comrades.

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1954 – Linval Thompson born. Jamaican reggae and dub musician and record producer.

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1964 – The Soviet Union launched Voskhod 1 into Earth orbit as the first spacecraft with a multi-person crew and the first flight without space suits.

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1971 – Gene Vincent died. American Rock & Roll and Rockabilly musician. Died of a ruptured stomach ulcer.

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1979 – The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams was published.

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1984 – Brighton hotel bombing: The Provisional Irish Republican Army attempted to assassinate Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet. Thatcher escaped but the bomb killed five people and wounded 31.

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Almanac – September 22

1780 – Captain William Lynch‘s name was immortalised when he issued a proclamation in Virginia, saying that if citizens believed the official course of justice was not strong enough, they should take the law into their own hands – hence   “lynching”.

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1921 – Climbers on the first Everest reconnaissance expedition saw a number of enourmous footprints in a snowfield 20,000 ft up, where they had earlier seen dark shapes moving about. Sherpa porters said they were the tracks of a hairy man-beast they called metoh or mehteh kangmi. Or as a journalist in search, as ever, of a snappy headline had it – the Abominable Snowman.

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1957 – Nick Cave born.  Australian musician, songwriter, author, screenwriter, composer and occasional film actor,  best known for his work as a frontman of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds,  and previously The Birthday Party.

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1979 – The Vela Incident (also known as the South Atlantic Flash)  observed near Bouvet Island, South Atlantic –  an unidentified “double flash” of light that was detected by an American Vela Hotel satellite. Meteorite strike or possible nuclear explosion by parties unknown ? Or maybe the satellite malfunctioned ?  The jury still seems to be out.

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2007 – Marcel Marceau died. French actor and mime artist.

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