Monday, February 21, 2011

On This Day in History

1543 – Outnumbered by nearly two-to-one, Ethiopian and Portuguese troops defeated the Adal Sultanate of the Ottoman Empire at the Battle of Wayna Daga in northern Ethiopia.  It was the final battle of the 14-year Ethiopian-Adal War, in which a potential Islamic conquest was quelled.  Some historians trace the present and longstanding hostility between Somalia and Ethiopia to this war.

1848 – Featuring a bunch of bad ideas regarding how capitalist societies would be replaced by socialism, and then eventually communism, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published the The Communist Manifesto.

1862 – The Battle of Valverde was fought near Fort Craig in the New Mexico Territory (present-day central New Mexico) between Confederate units from Texas and Arizona, and U.S. Army regulars and Union militia from northern New Mexico.  The South won.

1878 – The first telephone book was issued in New Haven, Connecticut.

1885 – The Washington Monument was dedicated in commemoration of our first President.  It remains both the world's tallest stone structure and the world's tallest obelisk, standing just over 555 feet.

1947 – Edwin Land demonstrates the Polaroid Land Camera, the first "instant camera," to a meeting of the Optical Society of America in New York City.

1948 – The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) is founded by William France, Sr.

1952 – The British government, per Winston Churchill, abolished identity cards throughout the United Kingdom to "set the people free."  Remember that when the issue of a nation identity card is brought up by our government.

1953 – Francis Crick and James D. Watson co-discovered the structure of DNA, for which they both received the Nobel Prize nine years later.

1958 – Designed by British artist Gerald Holtom, the Peace Symbol [pictured] was commissioned by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, in protest against the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment.

1962 – David Foster Wallace was born in Ithaca, New York.  Once called "one of the most influential and innovative writers of the last 20 years," Wallace was best known for his '96 novel Infinite Jest, which TIME magazine included in its "All-Time 100 Greatest Novels" list (from 1923-2006).  Having suffered from severe depression, he ended his own life in 2008.

1965 – Malcolm X (born Malcolm Little forty years earlier in Omaha, Nebraska) was assassinated at the Audubon Ballroom in New York City by members of the Nation of Islam.  The movie about his life remains Spike Lee's magnum opus.

1979 – The bubbly and vivacious Jennifer Love Hewitt was born in Waco, Texas.  I think she's wonderful.

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