Sunday, April 3, 2011

⅏Did You Know - These Random Facts? #16 - April

Did You Know...

The nursery rhyme Ring Around the Rosey is a rhyme about the plague. Infected people with the plague would get red circular sores ("Ring around the rosey..."), these sores would smell very badly so common folks would put flowers on their bodies somewhere (inconspicuously), so that it would cover the smell of the sores ("...a pocket full of posies..."), People who died from the plague would be burned so as to reduce the possible spread of the disease ("...ashes, ashes, we all fall down!")

Did You Know?  For the month of
back in.....

  • 1916, California road race kills five.  At the Boulevard Race in Corona, California, an early racing car careens into a crowd of spectators, killing the driver and two others. At the time, racing events were still a relative rarity and the fatal accident helped encourage organizers to begin holding races on specially built tracks instead of regular streets. The first organized race of "horseless carriages," as they were then called, was held in France in 1894. The winning speed was less than 10 miles per hour and the winner was disqualified because his steam-driven tractor was deemed not to be a practical vehicle. The first Grand Prix was held 12 years later.
  • 1920, Indian sitar legend Ravi Shankar is born.  "East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet," goes the famous Rudyard Kipling quotation. It's a statement that certainly applied in the world of pop music prior to the 1960s, when a handful of influential British groups brought the sound of Indian classical music into rock and roll. Experimentation with the sitar by Brian Jones and George Harrison gave songs like "Paint It, Black" and "Norwegian Wood" their distinctive sound, and that experimentation was inspired almost entirely by the work of one man: Ravi Shankar. A classically trained sitar virtuoso who influenced a generation of Western pop stars and introduced millions of listeners to the music of his native India, Ravi Shankar was born in Varanasi, India, on April 7, 1920.
  • 1933, A dirigible crashed in New Jersey, killing 73 people in one of the first air disasters in history. The Akron was the largest airship built in the United States when it took its first flight in August 1931. In its short life of less than two years, it was involved in two fatal accidents
  • 1946, An undersea earthquake off the Alaskan coast triggered a massive tsunami that killed 159 people in Hawaii.
    In the middle of the night, 13,000 feet beneath the ocean surface, a 7.4-magnitude tremor was recorded in the North Pacific. (The nearest land was Unimak Island, part of the Aleutian chain.) The quake triggered devastating tidal waves throughout the Pacific, particularly in Hawaii.
  • Donna Summer
    1950, Train falls off bridge in Brazil.  A train dropped off a bridge in Tangua, Brazil, killing 110 people. Twenty-two cars made up the Leopoldina Railways train that departed Rio de Janeiro for Victoria, Espirito Santo. The passenger cars were filled with people vacationing over the Easter holidays. The train left after midnight and had gone almost 60 miles when it approached the bridge over the Indios River at about 1:30 a.m.
  • 1978, "Last Dance" from the film Thank God It's Friday won the Acadamey Award for Best Original Song in 1978.  It became a smash single for disco queen Donna Summer, who, to this day, counts it as her personal favorite of her 21 number-one hits!
  • Post-it
    1979, Anthrax poisining kills 62 in Russia. The world's first anthrax epidemic begins in Ekaterinburg, Russia (now Sverdlosk).   By the time it ended six weeks later, 62 people were dead. Another 32 survived serious illness. Ekaterinburg, as the town was known in Soviet times, also suffered livestock losses from the epidemic.
  • 1980, Post-its were created... after researcher Art Fry realized that his team's failed attempt to create a new glue might work as a peel-and-stick bookmark instead.  He asked 3M secretaries to try it, and the rest is history!
  • 1984, Marvin Gaye is shot and killed by his own father.  At the peak of his career, Marvin Gaye was the Prince of Motown—the soulful voice behind hits as wide-ranging as "How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You)" and "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)." Like his label-mate Stevie Wonder, Gaye both epitomized and outgrew the crowd-pleasing sound that made Motown famous. Over the course of his roughly 25-year recording career, he moved successfully from upbeat pop to "message" music to satin-sheet soul, combining elements of Smokey Robinson, Bob Dylan and Barry White into one complicated and sometimes contradictory package. But as the critic Michael Eric Dyson put it, the man who "chased away the demons of millions...with his heavenly sound and divine art" was chased by demons of his own throughout his life. That life came to a tragic end on April 1st, 1984, when Marvin Gaye was shot and killed by his own father one day short of his 45th birthday.
  • 1992, Disney opened its second overseas theme park (the first was in Japan), just outside of Paris.  Next in line: a park in Shanghai, China, on track to open in 2013.
  • 1993, The "Polish Prince" killed in plane crash.  Race car driver and owner Alan Kulwicki, who won the 1992 National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) Winston Cup championship by one of the tightest margins in series history, is killed in a plane crash near Bristol, Tennessee, where he was scheduled to compete in a race the following day. The 38-year-old Kulwicki had been the first owner-driver to collect the championship since Richard Petty did so in 1979, as well as the first NASCAR champ to hold a college degree.
  • 1994, The Rwandan genocide.  Rwandan armed forces kill 10 Belgian peacekeeping officers in a successful effort to discourage international intervention in their genocide that had begun only hours earlier. In less than three months, Hutu extremists who controlled Rwanda murdered an estimated 800,000 innocent civilian Tutsis in the worst episode of genocide since World War II. The Tutsis, a minority group that made up about 10 percent of Rwanda's population, received no assistance from the international community, although the United Nations later conceded that a mere 5,000 soldiers deployed at the outset would have stopped the wholesale slaughter.
  • 2004, Scientists reported finding the richly furnished tomb of a pet cat in Cyprus.  It had been buried alongside a Stone Age human's grave about 9,500 years ago!  Interestingly, the cat was not a domesticated kitty, but a larger wildcat!

Resources:, various magazines

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