In 1444, on this day a mixed Papal army defeated a large Ottoman force near Varna in eastern Bulgaria.
Glorious Papal Victory at VarnaTheir hard fought victory was a personal triumph for Władysław III of Poland (also King of Hungary). Over-ruling the sound advice of the more experienced Bulgarian Commander Hunyadi János, he rushed five hundred of his Polish knights against the Ottoman center in a bold move that ultimately won the day.
It was of course a huge risk but the only way that the thirty thousand man Papal Army could overcome an Ottoman force nearly twice the size. It would prove a crucial turning point in the Ottoman War.
In 1973, lead members of the cast delayed the production of Godfather Part II by five whole weeks.
James Caan plays Young Vito Corleone in Godfather Part IIAl Pacino's lawyers told producer/director Francis Ford Coppola that he had grave misgivings with the script and was not coming. Coppola spent an entire night rewriting it before giving it to Pacino for his review. Pacino approved and the production went forward. And the actor James Caan (a native of the Bronx but not Italian, being the son of German Jewish Immigrants) demanded that he be paid the same amount he received for the entire previous film for the single scene in Part II which reprises the role of Sonny in the birthday flashback sequence.
At this juncture, Robert De Niro pulled out unexpectedly, and Coppola decided to offer Caan the part of Young Vito Corleone. Despite several strong performances in Part 1, Brian's Song and Rollerball it was this casting decision that took his acting career to a new level, albeit he was subsequently typecast as a wise guy. De Niro meanwhile would appear in a host of varied but non-violent roles in box office hits such as New York, New York and The Mission. In recognition of the significance of this pivotal decision, and of course being celebrated actors with a strong sense of history, both Caan and De Niro readily agreed to play alongside James Gandolfini and Joe Pesci in the 2010 remake Godfather, Redux. Set in post 9/11 New York, Caan played Mayor Rudolf Giuliani whereas De Niro starred as the ageing Michael Corleone. He won an Oscar for his masterful performance, the pulling of the "Deniro Face" left many wise guy fans to wonder what might have been.
In 1956, to the further embarrassment of the Soviet Union, the Russian adventurer Boris Skossyreff (pictured, with monocle) managed to join the revolutionary armed forces fighting for the Hungarian Uprising.
Conjoined Crisis Part 7
Colonel Pal Maleter welcomes King of AndorraColonel Pál Maléter and his troops were holed up in mines which dated back to the old Empire and extended across the border into Czechoslovakia. Their plight was being broadcast to the world by Imre Nagy who had been given refuge in the British Embassy. Despite their bold attempts to emulate the Cursed Soldiers of Poland, their resistance to Soviet forces was mostly symbolic. However, the intervention of Boris Skossyreff was a psychological blow to the Soviets.
A Lithuanian Baron who fled Russia after the Revolution he later proclaimed himself King of Andorra before being sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. He had been released from a labor camp in Siberia earlier in the year.
Superficially, the bold personal interventions of maverick nobles such as von Habsburg, Skossyreff and later Michael King of Romania was a rival "throwback" challenge to Soviet Authority. Regardless of the misreports in the Western Media that the old Royal Families were tearing down the Iron Curtain, there was of course absolutely no prospect of a return to power for the Imperial Houses of Eastern Europe. Which was not to say their token resistance was completely without significance, because the real issue was the series of blundering mistakes that had been made in the Politburo, not just the release of Skossyreff but also yielding to Władysław Gomułka the newly appointed First Secretary of the Party in Poland.
The impression was that Stalin's successors - Nikita Khrushchev, Mikoyan, Bulganin, Molotov, Kaganovich, Marshal Konev and others - had lost their grip, and it was becoming increasingly likely that the crises in Eastern Europe would force a regime change in Moscow. An article from the Conjoined Crisis thread.
In 2012, just days after Mitt Romney's defeat at the polls, Republicans demanded a fundamental restructuring of the Electoral College that would bring an end to the frustration of dysfunctional Federal Government. The result followed a wave of voter disappointment in which Donald Trump (pictured) called for a protest march on Washington. Other commentators remarked upon the excessive focus on swing states and undecided voters that perhaps disenfranchised the mainstream majority.
Radcliffe Cloud, ReduxBecause under these far-reaching proposals to address the change of demographics, the winner-take-all voting system would be slowly eliminated on a state by state basis. One option was a national roll-out of the congressional districting solution already operating in Maine.
Of course a more extreme option being proposed by GOP backers was secession model based upon a refinement of the Radcliffe Cloud in which those congressional districts would become red or blue cantons in a two-countries-in-one geography model like the modern India. Comedian Bill Maher suggested that perhaps Trump's hair and scalp represented an assessment model for the viability of two entities loosely connected in a shared living space.
In 2011, on this day the ruinously high costs of providing a nuclear shield to American allies was carefully examined by the US Congress Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.
Flaithiulacht The Federal Deficit forces America to call time on "Ruinous Generosity"Back in August, the Debt Celling Negotiations had introduced a "trigger mechanism" that should this Supercommittee fail to reach an agreement, disproportionate cuts would fall upon the defense budget. And for the past two decades the centrepiece of America's critical defense program had been the Strategic Defense Initiative. But the costs of providing a ground and space-based systems to protect the United States and its allies from attack by strategic nuclear ballistic missiles had become prohibitively expensive.
The problem was that there was an even bigger picture in November. That very day the International Atomic Energy Agency released a report estimating that Iran was less than eighteen months away from acquiring nuclear capability. Therefore the removal of the nuclear shield from Israel was currently unthinkable. And with the Eurozone close to financial collapse, America could not seek to recover costs from faltering countries such as Italy and Greece. Coming into view was the prospect of a contracted nuclear shield for critical coverage, a decision that could split the Western Alliance.
In 1938, on this day the British High Commissioner's office in Rome cabled prime minister Neville Chamberlain with alarming news: Martian militarist technicians were working with Italian and German physicists at a desert research station in Italian-occupied Libya on the development of a new type of explosive weapon which utilized the process of atomic fission to achieve its destructive effect.
Part Five of Parley To make matters worse, these same technicians were also consulting with German rocket scientists on the possibility of adapting the experimental atomic weapon to be capable of fitting into the warhead of a long-range or medium-range ballistic missile.
If the Nazis succeeded in devising such a warhead, the cable warned, Hitler could potentially attack targets as distant as London simply by pushing a button.
In 4004 B.C., Humanity Resists Temptation. On this day, as calculated by our brother James Ussher and remembered by Mother Eve, she was walking in The Garden when approached by a serpent, that crafty foe.
Humanity Resists Temptation The world was still young, having only been finished that October, and there were but two humans in all of Creation, Eve and our slightly older Father, Adam, from whose rib Eve, and thereby all of us, came. She meandered by the feared Tree of Knowledge that has long been buried under concrete and steel.
Before its protection, however, the tree was open to be seen and its fruit could be picked with mere fingertips. The serpent asked, "Has God indeed said, 'You shall not eat of every tree of the garden'?"
"Eve replied, "We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, 'You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.'"
The serpent scoffed and said, "You will not surely die. For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil".
After a moment of temptation, Eve resisted and ran screaming through the Garden, crying out for God. Upon hearing His voice asking after the matter, Eve explained she had been tempted. God found the spirit of Lucifer, that most rebellious angel cast out of Heaven, in the beast, and both were cast into the Pit. Since that day, we humans have always fought the temptation of the Tree, leading to its burial in the ongoing Babel project, putting it under a foundation someday as high as Heaven. Until the end of time, we will drive it deeper and deeper, away from our hand so that we will never know what it is to "die".
In the six thousand years since, humanity has grown and achieved feats applauded by the angels such as building cities and exploring to every corner of the Earth. As far as we have gone, all of us consider The Garden our home, and many continue to sleep under its boughs. We have even "created" on our own, making art and music and telling tales of fanciful things, such as if the morning dew were so heavy it fell from the sky in waves of drops or if we could fly like angels.
Meanwhile, Heaven has been quiet other than a second rebellion by angels suffering something known as "boredom," perhaps a thing akin to the arrogance of the first rebellion. The Word, which was in the beginning being with God and being God, also seemed at a loss, as if He were meant for more. Still, He was known to approach Earth and share fellowship with us. Most dramatically, some 2000 years ago, the Word became man by virgin birth and ruled as king. While a significant entry, most agree we would have accepted Him in any case, but who are we to question God's Plan?
In 1382 AH, in the hot lush savannah country which lies four days up river from the coast of the Gambia, Kajali Demba died peacefully in his sleep. For too many years he had been the griot of the village of Juffure, serving the local Mandinka as an oral historian, poet, praise singer and wandering musician.
Saga of an African FamilyHis successor would be the young man Kinte (pictured second from left) who began his first address with a simple demonstration. Cutting open a mango, he held the fruit high above his children, preventing them from taking it.
He then began his oration with a piece of homespun wisdom, "When you clench your fist, no one can put anything in your hand, nor can your hand pick up anything". This metaphor of non-violence had served his people for half a millenia of peaceful existence by the banks of the River Gambia.
In 1606, British colonists established the first permanent European settlement in what is today the state of Georgia.
|State of Georgia|
In 1968, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers made their first CFL postseason appearance in twelve years, taking on the Calgary Stampeders in the first round of the 1968 CFL Western Division playoffs. The Blue Bombers took a 13-0 lead in the first half only to collapse early in the second half and lose to Calgary 34-20.
The Stampeders subsequently beat Saskatchewan in the Western Division finals and were in turn defeated by the Eastern Division champion Ottawa Rough Riders in the 1968 Grey Cup title game in a 13-12 nailbiter. As for Winnipeg, its inglorious first round exit at Calgary's hands would mark the first of four straight early eliminations for the Bombers in the late '60s and early '70s.
On this day in 1974, the New England Patriots lost to the Cleveland Browns 24-14 in Clive Rush's final game as head coach. The next day Rush was fired; up until Rod Rust's disastrous 1-15 campaign in 1990, Rush's tenure would be regarded as the worst recorded by a Patriots head coach.
On this day in 1944, Allied forces in Germany began advancing toward Dortmund and Munster.
On this day in 1944, the Allied campaign in Germany was dealt an unexpected setback as the Wehrmacht, in a desperate and ultimately doomed last-ditch gamble, launched its famous 'Watch on the Rhine' offensive against the weakest point of the Allied lines.
On this day in 1962, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to a cease-fire in Cuba.
This marked the end of the Florida Coast War.
In 1989, East German troops begin dismantling the Berlin Wall.
In the United States, Democratic efforts to credit the fall of the Wall to what Senator Richard Gephardt calls 'the patient diplomacy of the cool-headed administrations of Presidents Ted Kennedy and Gary Hart' are greeted with furious Republican rebuttals.
Conservative pundit Patrick Buchanan noted acidly that 'patient diplomacy' did not bring down the Wall until a Republican once more occupied the Oval Office. 'It's more likely,' he suggests, 'that once a real leader, a real American, was in the White House again, the Soviets knew the jig was up, and lost their nerve.' Why that had not happened earlier, under President Ford or Buchanan's former employer Richard Nixon, he leaves unsaid.
In 1918, the Great War entered its last day and John Ronald Reuel Tolkien set about the life-long work of the Middle-earth opus.
"Beleriand was ablaze with the glory of their arms, for the host were arrayed in forms young and fair and terrible, and the mountains rang beneath their feet". ~ Of the Voyage of Earendil and the War of Wrath
In 1988, the U.S. Department of Energy approved the construction of a supercollider to be built near Corsicana, Texas. The supercollider, completed in 1997, has been used to produce anti-matter and has proved invaluable in advancing our knowledge of quantum particles.
In 1973, a church group in Rugby, North Dakota burned all the copies of the novel Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut that were in the town's library. Reverend Jonathan Clark of the First Church of Christ proclaimed Vonnegut a false prophet. When the author arrived in Rugby the next day to seek some sort of common ground with the congregation, he was himself seized and burned at the stake. This lynching of a famous and respected novelist shocked the nation, turning Rugby into a flashpoint against fundamentalist religion.
In 1917, 41 Suffragettes, in a staged protest in front of the White House, commit suicide as the police arrive to arrest them. The horror of the nation at the desperation this action speaks of makes Congress rush through legislation granting universal suffrage throughout the United States.
In 1863, Swiss Immigrant Henry Wirz was hung for the murder of hundreds of Union soldiers during his tenure as commander of the Andersonville Prison Camp in Georgia. When the Southern Rebellion broke out against President Walt Whitman, the rebels sent any Union prisoners to Andersonville, a small stockade that had no facilities for the care of any prisoners at all. Over the months of incarceration, Wirz allowed horrific deaths by disease and starvation to thin out the prisoner population. President Whitman, on hearing of the conditions at the camp, said, 'There are deeds, crimes that may be forgiven, but this is not among them.'
In 12-9-12-16-9, the Osage nation surrended its southern plains to the Oueztecan Empire, under threat of losing their entire nation if the Empire should fight them for it. The farmlands of these plains became the larder of the Empire, producing enough food to both feed the Empire and export to the continent around them.
In 1898, the modern four borough city of New York was founded by the consolidation of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens. But in fact the original plan was for five boroughs including Staten Island, however this was undone by a chance discovery of a copy of the original bill of sale document in Oude Dorp.
Modern History of the Four Borough New York
By Ed., Jackie Speel and Eric LippsThe disputed chain of ownership began with the Treaty of Breda wherein the Dutch ceded Staaten Eylandt which subsequently became part of the English colony of New York. Three years later in 1670, the Native Americans ceded all claims to Staten Island in a secret deed to the English Governor Francis Lovelace. However the document actually specified a three hundred year lease and therein lie the knotty legal problem that was holding back consolidation throughout 1898. In the event, the planners decided not to wait for a resolution.
Regarding the proposed five borough mega-city, one can only speculate as to what might have been. Would Robert Moses still have been elected mayor in 1934? Would the Dodgers have left Brooklyn for Los Angeles in 1959? Would Queens County Executive Rudy Giuliani have been elected mayor of a five borough NYC (after all, he was elected Governor of New York in 2002).
Would David Dinkins have been elected mayor of a larger NYC in 1993? After all, the Crown Heights riots did cost Mayor Elizabeth Holtzman of Brooklyn her re-election that year.
Although we can never answer these questions with certainty, perhaps we might surmise that the Staten Islanders would have been unloved, feeling neglected by a city government, the so-called "fools of Gotham". And so when Governor Giuliani finally put the issue back on the agenda, a pre-requisite was the construction of an underwater connection to the New York Subway System. It was an expensive but surely worthwhile price to pay, even if ultimately, the Lenape never saw one cent of their money.
In 1908, on this day Senator Lenore Romney née LaFount was born in Logan, Utah.
Birth of Senator Lenore Romney (R-MI)The wife of American businessman and politician George W. Romney she was First Lady of Michigan from 1963 to 1969. After her husband stood down as Governor, he made an unsuccessful run for the Presidency and later was appointed Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary by Richard Nixon.
Too used to be listened to and making his own decisions, this dis-empowered position in the Cabinet quickly became untenable. Both men were frustrated. Nixon, who could not bring himself to fire Romney, made a pointed remark about the upcoming 1970 senate race, but Romney completely missed the coded signal and instead advised his wife to run.
It was a tall order to beat popular, two-term Democratic incumbent Senator Philip Hart and in fact Lenore even struggled to overcome State Senator Robert J. Huber in the Republican party primary. However Hart's electoral support soon evaporated because of his controversial stand on gun control and busing . And the result was the narrowest of victories for Lenore Romney.
In 1918, Kaiser Wilhelm II of Germany crossed the border by train and went into exile in Holland. But it took the "Dutch Courage" of Neiu Nederlander President Theodoor van Rosevelt to insist that Dutch Queen Wilhelmina extradite Kaiser Wilhelm II, a "big stick" to prevent the rise of a future generation of dictators... An article from the multi-author American Mini-states thread.
Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go farUpon the conclusion of the Treaty of Versailles in early 1919, Article 227 expressly provided for the prosecution of Wilhelm "for a supreme offence against international morality and the sanctity of treaties", but Queen Wilhelmina refused to extradite him, despite appeals from the Allies. King George V wrote that he looked on his cousin as "the greatest criminal in history", but opposed Prime Minister David Lloyd George's proposal to "hang the Kaiser". President Woodrow Wilson of the United States rejected extradition, arguing that punishing Wilhelm for waging war would destabilize international order and lose the peace.
And therefore we can say with certainty that the extradition and subsequent hanging of the Kaiser was the result of a precipitous twist of fate. Because in 1664, a freak storm had sunk the English Fleet before it could seize New Amsterdam. Somehow, the Dutch Republic had held onto the Colony, which later emerge as one of the Eastern Sea-board mini-states after the American Revolution. By the early twentieth century, Neiu Nederlands was completely autonomous, and governed by the charismatic figure of Theodoor van Rosevelt. An unflinching advocate of the projection of military power by democratic governments, his intervention in the extradition crisis would be truly historic. Because as time would tell, the Kaiser's hanging would discourage the rise of dictators during the turbulent 1930s, proving that the wrong-headedly idealistic Wilson was quite completely mistaken. And what really mattered to keeping the peace in the real world was ensuring that would-be belligerents were kept in a constant fear of the firm use of authority by the democracies.
Needless to say, the emergence of a leadership role for the American mini-state was wholly unexpected. Even though Holland remained neutral throughout the war, van Rosevelt had travelled to Washington to tell Wilson that the American Dutch would bravely join them. This was but the first step on the world stage. He would prevail upon Queen Wilhelmina, and later, at the Paris Peace Conference, persuade the victor powers to establish a League of Nations with a robust collective security policy. A bully club for the smaller nations to fight world domination, if you will. Because after all, who could anticipate whether a future German dictatorship would respect Dutch neutrality?
In 2012, on this day American writer and researcher Paula Broadwell (pictured) was tragically killed in a mysterious automobile accident in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Embedded JournalistBroadwell graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 1995. She earned a master's degree from the University of Denver's Josef Korbel School of International Studies in 2006. She earned a Master of Public Administration from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. She later entered the Ph.D. program at Department of War Studies at King's College London.
She was most famous for co-authoring the biography All In: The Education of General David Petraeus. The book was developed during her six months service as an embedded journalist following the General around the Battlefields on the Korean peninsula. Some of the hardest and most penetrating work was conducted under cover with the old soldier.
They met in 2006 when he was a speaker at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. Broadwell was a graduate student at the time. According to the Charlotte Observer, she told him about her research interests after he spoke. He handed her his card and offered his help. She began a doctoral dissertation that included a case study of his leadership, with Petraeus fully cooperating. The General is currently overseeing the drawdown of US forces, which is expected to complete by the end of the first half of 2013.
In 1330, the inexorable Hungarian march to the Black Sea continued with a hard-fought victory in the Carpathian Mountains.
Charles I Robert survives Wallachian ambushA small Wallachian army formed of cavalry, foot archers, as well as local peasants led by Basarab ambushed the 30,000-strong army of Charles I Robert in a mountainous region near the border between Oltenia and Severin.
The Hungarians had entered Curtea de Argeş, the main city of the Wallachian state and realised that Basarab had fled into the mountains and decided to give chase. After many days of difficult marching in the Carpathian Mountains, with his troops beginning to starve, the king and Basarab agreed to an armistice, with the condition that the latter would provide guides who knew the way out of the mountains and would lead the army back to the Hungarian plain by the shortest route. The guides, however, were ordered to lead the Hungarians into an ambush. However the Cumans switches sides and warned Charles I Robert, who was able to defeat the Wallachians by outflanking them in a ravine from where they planned to attack.
In 1313, on this day the forces of Frederick I of Austria triumphed at the Battle of Gamelsdorf.
Glorious Austrian Victory at GammelsdorfThe vanquished army was led by his cousin Ludwig (Louis the Bavarian of the House of Wittelsbach). Originally, the two bitter rivals (pictured) were childhood friends who had been raised together as siblings at the Habsburg court.
However, armed conflict arose when the guardianship over the young Dukes of Lower Bavaria (Henry XIV, Otto IV and Henry XV) was entrusted to Frederick. This decision to elevate him to the first rank of Princes forced his cousin to break with the House of Habsburg. But his challenge ended with Frederick's triumphant victory which allowed him to impose a tutelage over the subordinate nobility. It was a case of birth order sibling rivalry settled in blood on the battlefields of southern Germany.
In 2008, just days after Barack Obama's landslide defeat at the polls, the Democratic Party proposed a "no more amateurs amendment".
No More Amateurs AmendmentUnder this principle of progression of offices, candidates would be required to serve two full terms as either senator or governor as a condition of eligibility for the Presidency.
Because inside the beltway, it was fully understood that the US had constructed a political maze that only the insiders could understand. But suitable experienced candidates such as six-term senator Joe Biden were always disadvantaged by populist candidates such as Obama who were less experienced but more photogenic. And worse, such an imbalance also ran the larger risk of a dysfunctional government whereby the electorate would be tempted to vote for a progressive candidate of hope that would inevitably fail to enact the promised kind of legislative program. Whereas a terms-limit would ensure the Chief Magistrate had a record of voting that would unambiguously demonstrate their ability to build bipartisan support on the Hill.
In 1960, on this day Robert McNamara was named president of Ford Motor Co., the first non-Ford to serve in that post.
The Best and the BrightestA month later, he turned down an opportunity to join the newly-elected John F. Kennedy administration. And eight years later, he introduced the Kennedy Continental, the re-branded 1969 model personal luxury car.
The rebadging decision had been discussed at the highest levels of management at Ford's Corporate Headquarters in Dearborn ever since President John F. Kennedy had been shot dead inside a customised Lincoln 4-door convertible.
The Secret Service had code named the vehicle "SS-100-X" after the Hess & Eisenhart company of Cincinnati, Ohio adapted a 1961 model, later updating the limousine with the grille/headlight/bumper assembly from the 1962 Lincoln. After the assassination, the limousine was repaired and retrofitted with full armor and a fixed roof, subsequently continuing in service for the White House for many years before being put on display at the Henry Ford Museum.
It is Nov 9 1923, and Adolf Hitler's effort to take over the Munich government ends abruptly when the soldiers and police defeat his Beer Hall Putsch (named in honor of the tavern where the uprising started).
The Return of the KaiserHe flees to the home of an American supporter named Helen Hanfstaegnl, determined to commit suicide there. She struggles to take the gun from him, but to no avail, and he is soon lying dead at her feet.
His second-in-command of the Nazi Party is Ernst Rohm, the leader of the Stormtroopers, who tries to take Hitler's place. But Rohm is fat, homely and beset by rumors of homosexuality. Completely lacking in Hitler's compelling charisma, he soon sees the Nazis and Communists constantly battling each other. Helpless to stop them, he soon flees the country.
Seeing their nation collapsing into chaos, the soldiers who had demanded Kaiser Wilhelm II's abdication during the last days of the Great War are now calling for his return. They make a startling alliance with the socialists, who still remember the Kaiser's public commitment to helping the workers, most notably the mistreated miners. As for the former Allied leaders, they are now coming to see their old arch-enemy as a welcome voice of moderation calming his chaotic land. And, of course, there is still a staunch group of monarchists who have longbeen encouraging his return.
Bolstered by all the widespread encouragement, he soon leaves his castle in Holland and returns home to cheering crowds, along with his lovely second wife Princess Hermine and his handsome son, the Crown Prince Frederick William.
By winning the admiration of the right- and left-wing alike, the Kaiser (pictured) is able to inspire patriotism, pride and proletarian sympathies. He also warns the crowds that he will ruthlessly crush all Jew baiting, thus impressing them with his stern, sincere commitment to an unpopular cause. Not surprisingly, his great-grandson Frederick Nicholas is ruling Germany to this day.
In 1916, in the midst of trench fever, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, signals officer with the Lancashire Fusiliers, began hallucinations that would forever change him.
JRR Tolkien Hallucinates in the Trenches He was meant to have been invalided the day before, but he chose to stay behind to let another, sicker soldier take his place. Still in the miserable conditions of the trenches, Tolkien relapsed the next day into a high fever, crippling muscle soreness in his legs, and stabbing pain in his eyes. Others went to fetch a medic while he remained propped in the dark of a supply tent, near an unused machine gun. He had listened to the thunderous blasts of machine gun fire often in training in Staffordshire and later in combat during the Somme offensive.
This time, however, the noise was only in his mind, which translated the mechanical pattering into a language. He thought he could just about translate the words, a series of taps as if a living telegraph key, reassuring him that the gun would fight on just as a fellow soldier would. When medics arrived to take him away from the front, he told them, "The gun. It shall fight on".
Tolkien returned to England and to his wife, Edith, whom he had married three years before after five years of waiting due to his guardian's refusal they see one another before Tolkien was 21. He would spend the rest of the war alternately in hospitals or on light guard duty since he was too ill with recurrent fever to participate other than stints in camps on the home front, but honor kept him in the service until the end of the war. While recovering, Tolkien would begin writing fanciful stories, mixing the worlds of myth he had always studied with his new ideas of animated machines. He devoured science romances of Jules Verne and the like, but the use of machines as tools carried too little personification. Instead, Tolkien created machines that were as human as men, with personalities and special skills, just as the dwarves or elf creatures in Northern European myth. One of his first stories, "Fall of Gondolin" told of a city made of machines, each working its duty to create a glorious world, and its betrayal and destruction by the armies of an industrial behemoth monster called Morgoth ("Black Foe of the World" in Klindirin, a clicking language he invented for his machines).
"Tolkien was not the only fiction-writer fascinated with intelligent machines. Just after the turn of the century, Frank L. Baum wrote about Tik-tok, a living clockwork being. The idea was taken further in 1921 by the Czech playwright Karel Capek in his play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), first coining the term "robot" for a humanlike automaton built to do work. Films would soon have their own robots with Fritz Lang's Metropolis in 1927 giving a robot indistinguishable from the human Maria. In all of these, the machines were written to emulate humans, but Tolkien's stories went further, creating a world complete with history, language, and culture with different races of machines, not metal emulations of humanity. His studies of myth, particularly Beowulf, turned him to a sense of social tribalism and competition over resources. In 1936, Tolkien published The Robbit about a portly, quiet machine chosen by a magical Tinkerer to join a quest to liberate a coal mine from Smaug, an ancient predatory machine. This and the following Bearing trilogy would inspire the next generation of science fiction writers such as Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke.
While he would continue to write during his free time, Tolkien's professional life kept him busy. He worked for the Oxford English Dictionary, became the youngest professor at the University of Leeds, and finally settled at Oxford first at Pembroke College and then Merton, becoming chair of English Language and Literature. Tolkien often ate with fellow writers in a club nicknamed "The Inklings", including C.S. Lewis, the unquestioned Father of Modern Fantasy with his Wardrobe tales. In World War II, Tolkien served his country again as a code-breaker (though was notoriously vocal about his anti-war sentiments) and worked alongside men such as Alan Turing, who would be inspired by Tolkien's ideas on machine communication. While Tolkien never officially worked on computer development projects, he and Turing kept close correspondence, even through Turing's indecency debacle in the early ?50s. Shortly before Tolkien's death in 1973, Turing's Beren system came online, creating the first vocal command interface and allowing man and machine to talk just as Tolkien dreamed. Mankind would far surpass Arthur C. Clarke's description of a "HAL 9000" by its fictional birth date in 1997 for his 2001: A Space Odyssey.
In 2009, on this day the future of the super-violent billion-dollar video gaming industry was thrown into jeopardy when the US Government prohibited sales of Call of Duty (COD): Modern Warfare 2 (pictured), an appropriately timed decision that was intended to show a mark of respect to the victims of the Fort Hood Massacre.
Blood-Soaked Blockbuster Cancelled by Ed. & Chris OakleyThe latest installment of COD was due to debut at selected retail outlets that same evening. To fans, the game sets the benchmark for stunning cinematography and striking realism, with troops of elite soldiers hunting down targets in South America, Russia, Kazakhstan and Afghanistan. Players typically plug into an online community, moving in teams to hunt down enemy snipers. But detractors last minute calls had finally convinced the President that COD represents everything that is wrong with the billion-dollar video gaming industry: blood-soaked images of warfare that poses a risk to the mental health of children and even some adults who may not be able to tear themselves away. The President was influenced by the release of COD, which came at a particularly awkward time, just days after thirteen people were killed and twenty-nine wounded in a mass shooting at Fort Hood, Texas.
Because COD was the most highly anticipated game of the year, the outcome was a financial catastrophe for the software author Activision Blizzard Inc who had confidently expected to break sales records. Amazon pre-orders had topped 1.6 million, and the e-tailer had officially named COD the biggest selling pre-order video game of all time. Robert Kotick, chief executive of Activision crowed that the shooter game is likely to be "one of the largest entertainment launches of any media of all time".
Across the Atlantic in the U.K., the British Prime Minister Bryan Gould had already denounced the portrayal of violence in the game and called for the US government to enact measures to prevent sales to minors. To assuage his critics, Barack Obama added a personal touch in announcing the controversial decision. Having just been informed that he would become a father for the third time, Obama said that the decision had finally come down to a personal judgement, would he permit his son to play COD at the White House?
In 2009, on this day in Canada, the mortality rate from the zombie virus known as Solanum exceeded the pre-apocalypse unemployment count for the first time.
That the excesses of the credit crunch had been addressed by a population control measure foreseen by Thomas Malthus was of course of little cause for comfort to the Government. Because Stephen Harper and his senior ministers were desperately holed up behind a hastily erected maximum security cordon in Ottawa's "Green Zone".
The War on Terror Plus, Part 7 - "The Frozen Chosen"According to now irrelevant Olympic schedules, the Cabinet's focus should have been on the twenty members of the post who call themselves "The Frozen Chosen". Because on this, Day 10 of the cross-Canada Olympic torch relay, the Olympic athletes were due to arrive in the polar bear capital of the world, Churchill, Manitoba.
Their plan was to run with the flame into the Arctic darkness, which lasts 24 hours-a-day this time of the year. But instead, on day one the first torchbearers Catriona Le May-Doan and Simon Whitfield had carried the Olympic flame through a crowd of thousands in Victoria. Infected with Solanum, they also carried with them the deadly zombie virus.
Which was not to say that people werent arriving in Churchill, and in large crowds. Because the latest advice from Health Canada was for the non-infected to travel to the far north of the country, where it was hoped that the living dead would be unable reach...
In 1963, on this day US President John F. Kennedy signed Executive Order No. 11110 in the Oval Office. Accordingly the force of law was given to the planned withdrawal of all American personnel absolutely no later than the end of 1965. Because just four months after a Vietnamese Buddhist by the name of Thich Quang Duc set himself on fire in a Saigon street (pictured), the security situation in the country was rapidly deteriorating.
Bear any burden, pay any priceIn so doing, the Kennedy brothers were backtracking big-time on a key inauguration pledge to "Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty. This much we pledge - and more".
Yet two other Catholic brothers had even more reason to regret listening to those warm words, the Vietnamese Dictator Ngo Dinh Diem and his younger brother Ngo Dinh Nhu. Because on the celebration of Buddha's 2,527 birthday on May 8th, the Diem Regime had ordered the Catholic deputy in Hue to prevent the Buddhists from flying their own flag. A wave of religious fervour swept the county. And just about the last thing South Vietnam needed right now was a religious feud, and so a group of generals led by Doung Van Minh and Tran Van Don acting unilaterally without US approval overthrew the Diem regime and executed the brothers and their sister-in-law, the anti-Buddhist "dragon lady" Madame Nhu. The US-financed Nationalist Chinese Armies who had sustained Diem in power since 1962 also evacuated the country. Those departing soldiers had been resettled by the French in 1950 in what was then Chochin China and expanded over time by local recruitment.
Commander R. Sargent Shriver was the last American out of Saigon. He told Embassy staff that it was a matter of deep regret that the Peace Corps had been unable to complete their mission in Vietnam.
In 1989, Soviet and Warsaw Pact forces invaded West Germany, provoking a counterattack by NATO forces and touching off World War III.Falklands Emergency Part 9 - Sunny Jim by Chris Oakley
Most of the burden for turning back the Soviet bloc tide would have to be borne by the United States, since Great Britain no longer had the influence necessary to rally America's other European NATO partners to oppose the invasion. The outbreak of the Third World War would later be seen by historians as an inevitable consequence of Great Britain's defeat in the Falklands Emergency of 1982.
Leonard James Callaghan (pictured), Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, KG, PC (27 March 1912 - 26 March 2005), was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and leader of the Labour Party from from 1976 to 1983. Commonly known as Jim Callaghan (and nicknamed Sunny Jim or Big Jim), Callaghan is the only person to have served in all four of the Great Offices of State: Prime Minister, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary. Despite this unpredecented level of experience at the highest levels of Government, Sunny Jim was considered most directly responsible for the series of events that led to 'Callaghan's Surrender'.
To be continued..
On this day in 1962, a confrontation between pro-Brezhnev and anti-Brezhnev demonstrators in Leningrad escalated into a full-scale riot, forcing Soviet authorities to declare martial law in that city.
Meanwhile, in Cuba, the late Fidel Castro's old comrade-in-arms Ernesto 'Che' Guevara was sworn in as the new Cuban president and vowed to avenge Castro's assassination.
In 1934, Rabbi Carl Sagan was born in Brooklyn, New York. The spiritual leader of the Semitic-African Resistance in the northeastern United States, he led the non-violent movement through most of his life; after his wife and son were lynched in 1977, he began advocating more direct action against the worldwide Nazi movements.
In 1799, Napoleone Buonaparte names himself Emperor of Italy. Under his brilliant lead, Italy conquers most of Europe. After a disastrous winter campaign in Russia, Buonaparte's empire begins to fall apart; he is finally defeated by the Swedish in 1814 at the battle of Copenhagen.
In the period between 1788 and 2000 a cascading failure in the membrane separating alternate dimensions results in all elections in the United Soviet Confederated North American States of America Confederation Commonwealth being held at once. An astonishing 332 candidates of various political parties, ethnic groups, genders and species win the office of First Prime Presidential Chancellor Minister. Unsurprisingly, no one is really happy with the results.
In 1966, a deep-underground nuclear detonation of a small magnitude is reported by atomic energy authorities throughout the world. None of the nuclear club of nations claims responsibility, and Washington suspects a new power has emerged, possibly Israel or South Africa.
In 1918, following the outbreak of the German Revolution, a republic was proclaimed on this day, marking the end of the monarchy. The Kaiser fled the next day to the neutral Netherlands, which granted him political asylum (see Weimar Republic for details). His fifteen year exile was finally ended upon the invitation of Fuhrer Adolf Hitler, who was keen to provide a replacement for the recently diseased figurehead Paul von Hindenburg.
It is Nov. 8, 1861, and the Union Navy has seized a British ship called the HMS Trent and arrested the two Confederate passengers, John Slidell and James Mason, who were headed for England to seek diplomatic recognition. This might well have led to a military alliance, since Southern cotton was needed to feed the English mills.
Prince Albert dies too soonPrince Consort Albert would not have agreed. As an ardent foe of slavery, he would have vehemently opposed any alliance with the American South. He had died two years earlier of typhoid, however, and his royal widow, Queen Victoria, admired the Confederates for their "gallantry". With Britain AND the Confederacy arrayed against them, the Union struggle did not last long.
The importance of the alliance was reflected in a romantic alternate history fantasy novel called "Gone With The Wind", when Rhett Butler says that Queen Victoria would never support the South because, "That fat Dutchwoman does not believe in slavery". He did not seem to realize that she always shared her handsome "Dutchmans" beliefs.
In 1775, General Washington inherited the very same provincial differences and rivalries that had beset British Commanding Officers during the Seven Years War. And surely he would find it incredibly difficult to install military order because the enlisted men of the Continental Army were used to the easy familiarity of being commanded by neighbours in local militias with elected officers.
Gen Washington abandons efforts to make militias into a militaryWashington was shocked and embarrassed by the slovenly camp conditions at Valley Force. The Continental troops were accustomed to living in their own filth and lacked basic hygiene discipline such as latrines. Describing these intractable organizational problems, he wrote in the simple words of a military man, "Connecticut wants no Massachusetts man in her corps. Massachusetts thinks there is no necessity for a Rhode Islander..".. But worse was to come because the New Englanders all went home to their farms at the end the year.
As Commander in Chief, Washington's overarching objective was to keep the patriot cause alive long enough for the British to despair of victory. During the cruel winter of 1775-6, he came to the bitter conclusion that this could only be achieved by a nationally co-ordinated insurgency, fought on the ground by the State militias. Because the Continental Army would only ever be an easy target for the Redcoats, giving the British the opportunity for a symbolic victory even if they did not re-establish control over the colonies. We seek him here, we seek him there, those Redcoats seek him everywhere...
It is November 1578, and the intercessory prayers of the Protestant Cathedral of York have spared the life of Edward Fawkes. God willing, the incomparable proctor and advocate of the the consistory court slowly recovered from the mysterious life-illness that had threatened his life throughout the long autumn months. An article from our Happy Endings thread.
Happy Endings 41:
Miracle of YorkFew were more relieved than his wife Edith and their vulnerable young children. They were spared from the clutches of the mother in law's family, all recusant Catholics that would no doubt have forced them to obey the Pope. This indeed was not uncommon to Tudor England, merely an everyday consequence of the knife edge that the religious divide had become in the late sixteen century.
Instead, Edward would live to introduce his spirited second son Guy into the Tudor Court. A natural soldier, he rose to the position of Captain of the Guards, a dashing goatee bearded figure safeguarding the Houses of Parliament. And in this trusted position of responsibility, he repaid God's mercy, fulfilling his destiny by foiling a sinister Popish plot to kill His Majesty. Because in Robert Catesby and his band of Catholic mercentaries, Fawkes heard a terrible echo from his own childhood. From the personal experience of his own enlightenment, he knew that the Reformation had come to England, and it was not to be denied.
In 2012, on this day Comrade President Barack H. Obama tearfully thanked his campaign workers for seeing off his Capitalist opponent Mitt Romney.
America Chooses Socialism, AgainWith a few noticeable exceptions Communist candidates have occupied the White House ever since the election of Al Smith. And naturally the consensual view of government as an omnipotent provider has created a self-perpetuating majority that the Capitalists stigmatize as freeloaders seeking government hand-outs.
But it has also created an enormous Federal deficit partly because of America's ruinous generosity in helping other countries find their own path to socialism. This was acknowledged by the election headline "America Chooses Socialism"  in Israel Today a recognition of massive aid to the creation of the kibbutzim state.
Due to the debt situation, this time around Capitalists wrongly believed they had a better chance of regaining the White House. However, the changing demographics of America appear to have made such a scenario unthinkable for the foreseeable future. This is because the appeal of a low taxation, small government was restricted to the strata of society that had originally developed such out-moded concepts in the late eighteenth century. Marxist historians generally agree that America would not have embraced Communism without the self-evident failure of Capitalism, and the prospect - however remote - of a revisionism prevented a declining majority from forcing a non-political confrontation. An article from the Soviet States of America thread conceived by Robbie Taylor.
In 960, on this day the forces of the Hamdanid Emirate of Aleppo won a famous victory at the Battle of Andrassos.
Hamdanid Victory at AndrassosBy conducting a series of raids across Asia Minor, the emir Sayf al-Dawla had taken full advantage of the absence of much of the Byzantine army on campaign against the Emirate of Crete. But when General Leo Phokas the Younger returned, am ambush was organized in the mountain pass of the Taurus Mountains.
However due to a series of costly defeats in the previous years the increased confidence of the Hamdanid had been seriously underestimated and the ambush turned into an unmitigated disaster. Leo Phokas himself barely escaped with his life, and his army was annihilated.
In 1853, on this day Thomas "Tad" Lincoln was was born in Springfield, Illinois. He would be elected President of the United States; on the forty-fourth anniversary of his father's election to the office for a single term.
Southern Integration, Northern SecessionThe elder Lincoln, Abraham, had yielded to the South after long argument and implemented a slave code that brought slavery to New Mexico, Arizona and Cuba by the start of the 20th century.
The North was also irritated at the Southern mode in keeping the Slave State delegation the size of the Free States by the measure of splitting themselves. Texas was now five states (North, East, Central, South and Pecos) and Florida, Alabama and Georgia now came as North and South States. Abraham Lincoln had gone down to defeat by John C. Breckingridge of Kentucky. Horace Greeley had been the next Republican President elected in the wake of a corruption scandal. And the third Republican President had been Ambrose Bierce of California.
Thomas "Tad" Lincoln had won the Presidency largely because Democratic President Alton B, Parker had gotten mixed up in a stockyards scandal yet got nomination for a second term anyway. Lincoln acquired 50.85 percent of the popular vote, and scored surprise electoral vote wins in Virginia, Tennessee, North Alabama and Cuba.
In the address he made to an audience in Chicago on election night, "Tad" Lincoln said: "My father, Abraham, did predict that this country could not endure half slave and half free, but we know that the weight of office and the principle of compromise brought slavery some additional land and more Slave State senators by the division of Southern states.
How can we outlaw child labor or provide a decent subsidy to the colonization programs which elderly slaves are entrusted to? How will a modern road system be financed when half the Senate approves gravel roads smoothed by local slaves? When will labor unions be recognized under federal law?
Friends, I see the solution as Secession. We, the non-slave states. ought to separate from the Slave States which have a malign influence in
our daily affairs. With our own Congress, we shall have our own majority to do what comes natural to us, unhampered by the slaveholders.
And to my supporters in Virginia, Tennessee, North Alabama and Cuba, who voted for me knowing what I thought of slavery, I welcome you to the new Union I propose to form. Any state that is within twenty years of emancipation by the plan they have adopted may join the new Union I suggest".
In 2012, on this day President-elect Mitt Romney announced that due to family reasons his running mate Marco Rubio was standing aside and instead Paul Ryan would take his place as Vice President.
Waiting in the WingsDuring the Presidential campaign, both Ryan and Rubio had sought re-election in their respective seats. A budgetary policy wonk, Ryan offered a great deal in terms of executive support; but the Romney ticket had desperately needed to attract Latino voters in order to secure the White House.
Meanwhile, Rubio intended to pursue his Senate career and focus on the people of Florida. In private, both Romney and Rubio had enjoyed a relationship strained by flip-flops immigration policy. Because in order to secure the nomination, Romney had been forced to prematurely adopt hard positions that would have lost him the General election. Only Rubio's tacit approval as a running mate, permitted some form of mindset changing direction to be made by the GOP Leaderships. Of course cynics suggested that in fact Ryan had been waiting in the wings all long and Rubio had actually been uncomfortable with Romney from the very beginning. But of course he had kept his family in his hometown after being elected to the U.S. Senate, preferring to commute to Washington from his West Miami home.
In 1745, on this day the five thousand man Jacobite army invaded England. But it took a woman to save the forty-five rebellion from abject failure.
This article is a reversal of the Jackie Rose story Hard Man which focuses on Captain Francis O'Neill
Hard Woman saves the Forty-Five RebellionSince they had stepped ashore at Modart in the Outer Hebrides, hopes had built up rather quickly. Most recently at the Battle of Prestonpans they had soundly defeated the only government army in Scotland.
But their hapless commander General John Cope would soon be replaced by the murderous Duke of Cumberland and the mood in the camp would drastically change.
In despair the Young Pretender had left the still undefeated Jacobite Army in the hands of his trusted companion, Captain Francis O'Neill. Planning to flee Scotland forever, the Prince sought the incomparable Highland rebel Flora MacDonald for her assistance only to discover that the MacDonalds were secretly sympathetic with the Jacobite cause. She convinced the Prince to rejoin the Jacobite Army by promising to organize reinforcements from her own Clan. With fresh resolve, he inspired the "forty-five" rebels with a fiery new leadership that turned the tables on the Hanoverians.
The full novel is available for download at the Extasy Books web site.
In 1861, Confederate negotiators James Mason and John Slidell narrowly escape Federal arrest on the British mail packet RMS Trent but unfortunately their steam-powered exo-skeletons fail and Yankee sailors from the USS San Jacinto fish them out of the sea. A cursory inspection of their Dixie-logoed Head bags soon confirmed the sinister nature of their secret mission: to travel to London to seek diplomatic recognition for the Confederacy.
The Mason and Slidell SkankInfuriated by the combination of American disrepect and the humiliation of British technology failure Queen Vic pens an angry letter to Union Prez Abe Lincoln (pictured). Fortunately, Bert the Prince Consort was able to exert a moderating influence and when his missus wasn't watching he made a single character change in the opening sentence of the letter from "p*ssed" to "dissed".
Nevertheless, tensions continued to rise and lighter than air dirigibles were placed on standby in Britain and France. This international crisis soon threatened to escalate the American Civil War into a general conflict between the Steam Club of Great Nations. But after several weeks of tension and loose talk of war, the crisis was resolved when the Lincoln administration released the envoys and disavowed the actions of Charles Wilkes, the Captain of the USS San Jacinto. No formal apology was ever issued. Mason and Slidell resumed their voyage to Britain but failed in their goal of achieving diplomatic recognition. And nine months later at Antietam, Bob Lee's men were overwhelmed by Union soldiers equipped with fully functioning steam-powered exo-skeletons.
© Today in Alternate History, 2013-. All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.