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Twisted History

29 June 2000

The Panama Canal is a marvel of engineering, 51.2 miles long, 500 feet wide at minimum, able to accept ships up to 106 feet in beam and 950 feet in length, lifting them in three steps to a height of 85 feet for the passage over the Isthmus of Panama. Swamps swarming with malarial mosquitoes had to be dealt with, landslides occasionally filled in weeks of work, and the first two directors of the project walked away. Colonel Goethels got it done, persevering through ten years of 16-hour days.

It's time, once again, for me to do my "George Ray thing." Who is George Ray? If you live in the Northwest you probably recognize the name, he's the host of the quarterly fund drives for KCTS-9, Seattle's public television station. He talks about the thousands of hours of volunteer time that go into running the station, the dollars needed for programming, and the smiling volunteers standing by to take your pledges to keep public television alive in Seattle for another quarter.

The Twisted History project is a little less intense. But server and bandwidth expenses need to be met, and it does take almost four hours a day to ferret out the details (and confirm them - I don't think you will find a more accurate daily history source), and prepare the mailing. Advertising revenue is the only source of income, so if you value this service there are two ways to make sure it continues. First is to help build the subscription list - tell your friends. I get mail every day telling me how wonderful readers think Twisted History is, and I appreciate it, but the important thing is to tell your friends. We have over 4500 subscribers now, it really needs to be ten times that a year from now. And then it will help a lot if you respond to the ads from time to time to keep those advertisers coming back. Buying your books and CDs through the Amazon.com link on the website will also help.

I hate begging, even in the exalted tradition of George Ray and university presidents everywhere, but I don't want to go out and get a job either!.

  On this day in history:

1613 - The Globe Theatre catches fire during a performance of Shakespeare's Henry VIII, burns to the ground. The restored theatre is the only building in London with a thatched roof, but it has sprinklers this time.

1767 - The Townshend Acts passed the British parliament. Chancellor of the Exchequer Charles Townshend proposed the import duties on glass, lead, paint, paper, and tea to raise revenue, tighten customs enforcement, and assert the crown's authority in the colonies.

1880 - Following the death of Queen Pomare IV, the French protectorate of Otaheite (Tahiti) gains status as a colony. The date is currently celebrated as Internal Autonomy Day.

1949 - Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act, Bill Number 55, is passed by the South African parliament. A victory for the recently-elected National Party government, this bill is one of the first major pieces in the legal establishment of apartheid, to take effect on 8 July 1949.

1956 - US President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 and the Highway Revenue Act of 1956, authorizing the national system of Interstate and Defense Highways, and creating the Federal Highway Trust Fund.

  Holidays around the world today include:

Feast of Saints Peter and Paul, Apostles and Martyrs, Officially celebrated in Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Italy, Malta, Peru, San Marino, Spain, Vatican City, and Venezuela. Writings of the early church indicate that they were martyred at Rome during the reign of Nero (AD 54 - 68). Peter, "The Fisherman" and first Bishop of Rome, is said to have been crucified head down. Paul, missionary to the Gentiles, was a Roman citizen and eligible for the quick death of beheading with a sword.

  Birthdays on this day include:

1858 - George Washington Goethals, US engineer - Born at Brooklyn, New York to Belgian immigrants he was a big, quiet, serious youth, put himself through three years at College of the City of New York, entered US Military Academy at West Point, graduated second in the class of 1880 and joined Corps of Engineers. Married 1884, two sons, alternated managing in the field and teaching at West Point, building dams, bridges, levees, and locks on inland waterways including the Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland rivers. After two Panama Canal project leaders quit, President Theodore Roosevelt wanted someone who would finish the project, the Secretary of War suggested Lieutenant Colonel Goethals. Worked 7:00 am to 11:00 pm, touring the length of the project in a motorized rail car in the afternoons. Held court Sundays, hearing and settling disputes between workers and within families. Canal finished six months ahead of schedule in 1914, served as Governor of the Canal Zone for two years, Quartermaster eneral during World War I, retired from army and consulted on major civilian projects until his death 21 January 1928.

  Quotes that may (or may not) relate to the events above:

I despise all adjectives that try to describe people as liberal or conservative, rightist or leftist, as long as they stay in the useful part of the road.
     - Dwight D. Eisenhower

The road to hell is paved.
     - Paul Ramsey

The road to success is dotted with many tempting parking spaces.
     - Will Rogers

It's one of the tragic ironies of the theatre that only one man in it can count on steady work - the night watchman.
     - Tallulah Bankhead

  About Twisted History:

Twisted History is sent daily, absolutely free, to our subscribers who understand that the events of the past centuries have shaped our lives today - and are probably less depressing than the events on today's TV news. Both an HTML version (which looks just like this) and a text version that is compatible with all mail clients are available.

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Copyright 2000 G. Armour Van Horn, all rights reserved. This document may be distributed freely. Please forward the complete message including this copyright notice.