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             Twisted History for 11 April 2000

Mechanical devices are not always our steadfast friends, 
a phenomenon that I am wont to refer to as "the innate 
perversity of inanimate objects." Today we have a pair of 
good examples in the US Navy's first submarine, and the 
stressful journey of Apollo-13. In both cases the men on 
board found ways to deal with it.

The opinion of history is even less predictable. By way of 
example I give you Edward Everett, the greatest public 
speaker of his day, who spoke for over two hours at the 
dedication of the cemetary at Gettysburg. Abraham Lincoln 
followed with comments that lasted barely two minutes, 
including the words "The world will little note, nor 
long remember what we say here." 

                                       Van

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On this day in history:

1506 - The foundation stone of the new St. Peter's Basilica 
was laid under the patronage of the warrier pope Julius II. 
(The church was not completed, however, until 1626.)

1900 - The U.S. Navy accepts its first submarine, the 
USS Holland after its designer John P. Holland. The hull 
was some 53-ft. long and approximately 11 feet in diameter, 
with a deck amidships about 3 feet wide. It barely held a 
crew of seven, most of whom were unable to stand. Powered 
by a 50 HP gasoline engine and faulty batteries.

1947 - Branch Rickey signs Jackie Robinson to a contract 
with the Brooklyn Dodgers, the first black player in major 
league baseball in this century. Rickey had previously 
signed Robinson to play for the Dodger's farm team, the 
Montreal Royals, in October of 1945. It was Rickey's 
personal desegregation campaign, Robinson was chosen for 
having the strength of spirit to stand up to the pressure 
that was certain to come.

1970 - Apollo-13, the one with the damaged oxygen tank 
(and several other problems) that made such a marvelous 
movie, is launched from Cape Canaveral at 14:13 EST, 
with James A. Lovell, Jr., John L. Swigert, Jr., and 
Fred W. Haise, Jr. bound for the moon.

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Holidays around the world today include:

National Heroes Day, Costa Rica - Also called Battle of 
Rivas Day and Juan Santamaria Day. In 1856 American 
adventurer William Walker set out to conquer Central America 
and then join the US as a slave state. With no army, 9000 
civilians drove Walker into a wooden fort in Rivas, 
Nicaragua. A drummer boy named Juan Santamaria volunteered 
to torch the fort, forcing Walker to flee but dying himself. 

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Birthdays on this day include:

1492 - Margaret of Navarre, French Renaissance, sister of 
King Francis I, supporter of early Protestantism. Protector 
of John Calvin, patron of writer Francois Rabelais. Wrote 
her religious views into poetry and plays, including the 
72 stories of her Heptameron. Died 21 December 1549.

1794 - Edward Everett, US statesman, orator. Born 
Dorchester Massachusetts, his public service included ten 
years as congressman, four as governor, and part of a term 
in the senate. The most renowned public speaker in the 
Union, he dedicated the national cemetary at Gettysburg 
Pennsylvania with a two hour oration on 19 November 1863, 
followed immediately by Abraham Lincoln's somewhat 
shorter address. Died 15 January 1865.

1862 - Charles Evans Hughes, US lawyer, politician, jurist. 
Defeated William Randolph Hearst for governor of New York 
in 1906, named to Supreme Court by Taft in 1910. Resigned 
court to run against Woodrow Wilson for president in 1916, 
beaten badly. Returned to law practice, US secretary of 
state 1921 - 1925, Chief Justice US Supreme Court 1930 - 
1941. Died 27 August 1948.

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

Most guys believe that they're supposed to know how to fix 
things. This is a responsibility that guys have historically 
taken upon themselves to compensate for the fact that they 
never clean the bathroom. A guy can walk into a bathroom 
containing a colony of commode fungus so advanced that it 
is registered to vote, but the guy would never dream of 
cleaning it, because he has to keep himself rested in case 
a Mechanical Emergency breaks out.
     - Dave Barry

Necessity is the plea for every infringement of human 
freedom. It is the argument of tyrants; it is the creed 
of slaves.
     - William Pitt

If the policy of the government upon vital questions 
affecting the whole people is to be fixed by decisions of 
the Supreme Court, then the people will have ceased to be 
their own rulers.
     - Abraham Lincoln

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Copyright 2000 G. Armour Van Horn, all rights reserved. 
This document may be distributed freely. Please forward 
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