Category Archives: Today in history

Today in history – Thor finishes 4300 mile journey

The History Channel has lots of cool information on Thor Heyerdahl’s 4300 mile oceanic journey aboard the balsa wood Kon-Tiki raft in 1947. And with a name like Thor, how could I resist posting about it?

On this day in 1947, Kon-Tiki, a balsa wood raft captained by Norwegian anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl, completes a 4,300-mile, 101-day journey from Peru to Raroia in the Tuamotu Archipelago, near Tahiti. Heyerdahl wanted to prove his theory that prehistoric South Americans could have colonized the Polynesian islands by drifting on ocean currents.

Secretly, I think Heyerdahl was trying to impress some woman. That’s pretty much the primary motivator for 95% of what we men do, after all. We try to impress chicks, so we can have the sexx0ring with them. Any other behavior is driven by need for sleep or food.

Yes, we’re really that shallow, ladies.

[tags]Today in history, Thor Heyerdahl, Balsa, Kon-Tiki, raft[/tags]

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Today in History – Della Sorenson kills first victim

There are very few female serial killers. Whether it is because they are better at evading detection and capture (doubtful) or just because there are fewer women with psychopathic tendencies (psychotic – almost all of them; psychopathic – not so much), I don’t know. However, one of the few of this breed is Della Sorenson. On this date in 1918, Ms. Sorenson kills the infant daughter of her sister-in-law.

…Over the next seven years, friends, relatives, and acquaintances of Sorenson repeatedly died under mysterious circumstances before anyone finally realized that it had to be more than a coincidence.

. . .

Early in 1923, Sorenson killed her own daughter, Delia, on her first birthday. When Sorenson’s friend brought her infant daughter for a visit only a week later, the tiny infant was also poisoned. After an attempt on Sorenson’s second husband’s life left him sick–but not dead–authorities began to think that there might be a connection between these series of deaths.

I honestly believe that this type of killer would have a much shorter career in the modern era, but before the FBI get deeply involved in studying and classifying serial criminals it was easier. Especially since it was almost unthinkable back then that a woman could be a cold-blooded murderer.

Oddly, finding any information on Ms. Sorenson different from that available on The History Channel website has proven challenging. I have read about her in one of my serial killers books, but cannot find any more information about her online after a cursory search.

[tags]Della Sorenson, Today in History, Serial criminals, Female killers[/tags]

Today in History – Hello, Dolly

Well, probably not the “Hello, Dolly” you are thinking of, but on this day in history the first successful mammal clone, Dolly the sheep, was born.

Originally code-named “6LL3,” the cloned lamb was named after the buxom singer and actress Dolly Parton. The name was reportedly suggested by one of the stockmen who assisted with her birth, after he learned that the animal was cloned from a mammary cell. The cells had been taken from the udder of a six-year-old ewe and cultured in a lab using microscopic needles, in a method first used in human fertility treatments in the 1970s. After producing a number of normal eggs, scientists implanted them into surrogate ewes; 148 days later one of them gave birth to Dolly.

Also of note today in history is the 1946 introduction of the bikini, the first American fatality in the Korean war in 1950, and the 1921 accusation for throwing the 1919 World Series of several Chicago White Sox members. This and more at The History Channel’s This Day in History for July 5th.

[tags]Today in History, Hello Dolly, Mammalian cloning, Dolly the clone born, The real clone wars[/tags]

Today in history – first commercial television station starts broadcasting

On this day, 66 years ago, the first commercial television station began broadcasting. Now known as WNBC, this New York station was originally broadcast as WNBT television station, operating under license from the FCC issued originally as W2XBS. The station was one of 10 authorized commercial television stations granted license by the FCC, and the first to go live.

NewsChannel 4 signed on the air as WNBT on July 1, 1941, at 1:29 p.m. This historic event was the beginning of commercial television in the United States.

At 2:30 p.m. the same day, WNBT again made history when 4,000 television sets were tuned to the station’s first telecast, a game at Ebbets Field between Brooklyn and Philadelphia, followed by the P&G sponsored “Truth or Consequences” and “Uncle Jim’s Questions Bee.”

Signing-On
The telecast also brought the first sponsor to the air. The Bulova clock filled the lower right hand quadrant of the test pattern and an announcer read the time. Bulova paid $4 for the first commercial and $5 for the use of facilities. And, America saw its first pair of televised dishpan hands — those of Irene Hubbard, the original star of the Ivory soap commercials. Operating out of Studio 3H, the first simulcast of a news program featured Lowell Thomas, in a Sunoco sponsored 15-minute report at 6:45 p.m. WNBT actually evolved from W2XBS, a pioneer RCA television lab and experimental station. W2XBS began in 1928, when RCA started operating from a transmitter in Van Cortlandt Park. On January 16, 1930, a television program originating from NBC’s Fifth Avenue studios was transmitted onto a six-foot screen for an audience at the Proctor Theater on Third Avenue and 58th Streets. NBC assumed control of the operation of W2XBS from RCA on July 30, 1930.

Also of note on this date, in reference to television, is the first commercial television station news telecast on WCBW, now known as CBS. This 15 minute broadcast started at 2:30 PM.

Note that these dates are for the first commercial television stations. There were television stations operating prior to this date, but they were considered experimental broadcasts by the FCC through the periods leading up to July 1st, 1941.

[tags]Today in history – first commercial television[/tags]

First Everest summit access

On this date in 1953, Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reached Mount Everest’s summit.

At 11:30 a.m. on May 29, 1953, Edmund Hillary of New Zealand and Tenzing Norgay, a Sherpa of Nepal, become the first explorers to reach the summit of Mount Everst, which at 29,035 feet above sea level is the highest point on earth. The two, part of a British expedition, made their final assault on the summit after spending a fitful night at 27,900 feet. News of their achievement broke around the world on June 2, the day of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, and Britons hailed it as a good omen for their country’s future.

Mount Everest sits on the crest of the Great Himalayas in Asia, lying on the border between Nepal and Tibet. Called Chomo-Lungma, or “Mother Goddess of the Land,” by the Tibetans, the English named the mountain after Sir George Everst, a 19th-century British surveyor of South Asia. The summit of Everest reaches two-thirds of the way through the air of the earth’s atmosphere — at about the cruising altitude of jet airliners — and oxygen levels there are very low, temperatures are extremely cold, and weather is unpredictable and dangerous.

A brief video and more details are available at the History Channel site.

[tags]May 29 – today in history 1953[/tags]

Today in History – Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated – April 4, 1968

On the eve of this day 39 years ago, Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated while standing on his balcony outside room 306 of lorraine_motel.jpgthe Lorraine Motel in Memphis, TN. King was shot at 6:01 PM and pronounced dead at 7:05 PM at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929-April 4, 1968) was born Michael Luther King, Jr., but later had his name changed to Martin. His grandfather began the family’s long tenure as pastors of the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, serving from 1914 to 1931; his father has served from then until the present, and from 1960 until his death Martin Luther acted as co-pastor. Martin Luther attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen; he received the B. A. degree in 1948 from Morehouse College, a distinguished Negro institution of Atlanta from which both his father and grandfather had graduated. After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class, he was awarded the B.D. in 1951.

And information from the Wikipedia article:

Friends lorraine_marker.jpginside the motel room heard the shots and ran to the balcony to find King shot in the throat. He was pronounced dead at St. Joseph’s Hospital at 7:05 p.m. The assassination led to a nationwide wave of riots in more than 60 cities.[18] Five days later, President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a national day of mourning for the lost civil rights leader. A crowd of 300,000 attended his funeral that same day. Vice-President Hubert Humphrey attended on behalf of Lyndon B. Johnson, who was meeting with several advisors and cabinet officers on the Vietnam War in Camp David (there were fears Johnson might be hit with protests and abuses over the war if he attended). At his widow’s request, King eulogized himself: at the funeral his last sermon at Ebenezer Baptist Church, a recording of his famous ‘Drum Major’ sermon, given on February 4, 1968, was played. In that sermon he makes a request that at his funeral no mention of his awards and honors be made, but that it be said that he tried to “feed the hungry”, “clothe the naked”, “be right on the [Vietnam] war question”, and “love and serve humanity”.


[tags]Today in History – Martin Luther King assassinated, MLK assassination[/tags]

This day in history, 1959 – Barbie debuts

At the American Toy Fair in New York city, Barbie made her debut today in 1959.

Eleven inches tall, with a waterfall of blond hair, Barbie was the first mass-produced toy doll in the United States with adult features. The woman behind Barbie was Rith Handler, who co-founded Mattel, Inc. with her husband in 1945. After seeing her young dauther ignore her baby dolls to play make-believe with paper dolls of adult women, Handler realized there was an important niche in the market for a toy that allowed little girls to imagine the future.

Barbie’s appearance was modeled on a doll named Lilli, based on a German comic strip character. Originally marketed as a racy gag gift to adult men in tobacco shops, the Lilli doll later became extremely popular with children.

A brief video of Barbie’s beginning plus a lot more information on her origins at the link above.

[tags]Today in history 1959 – Barbie debuts, Barbie’s 1959 beginnings[/tags]

Today in History – dinner party ends for Donner and Reed families

A video presentation from the History channel gives us this news about the long-delayed rescue of the Donner party in 1847.

On this day in 1847, the first rescuers reach surviving members of the Donner Party, a group of California-bound emigrants stranded by snow in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.

In the summer of 1846, in the midst of a Western-bound fever sweeping the United States, 89 people – including 31 members of the Donner and Reed families – set out in a wagon train from Springfiled, Illinois. After arriving at Fort Bridger, Wyoming, the emigrants decided to avoid the usual route and try a new trail recently blazed by California promoter Lansford Hastings, the so-called “Hastings Cutoff.” After electing George Donner as their captain, the party departed Fort Bridger in mid-July.

If you are somehow unfamiliar with the Donner Party, let’s just say the short-cut wasn’t, nor was the party a party. The group was stuck in the mountains by an early and harsh winter set-in, and stranded there for 4 months. The survivors had to turn to cannibalism to make it until then, as all other supplies ran out long before rescuers arrived.

[tags]Today in History, Donner Party finally rescued this date in 1847[/tags]

Today in history – Know-Nothing party meet in Philly to nominate Pres. candidate

The headline covers almost everything that matters: this date in 1856 saw a convening in Philadelphia by the Know-Nothing political party to nominate its first presidential candidate.

The Know-Nothing movement began in the 1840s, when an increasing rate of immigration led to the formation of a number of so-called nativist societies to combat “foreign” influences in American society. Roman Catholic immigrants from Ireland and Italy, who were embraced by the Democratic Party in eastern cities, were especially targeted. In the early 1850s, several secret nativist societies were formed, of which the “Order of the Star-Spangled Banner” and the “Order of United Americans” were the most significant. When members of these organizations were questioned by the press about their political platform, they would often reply they knew nothing, hence the popular name for the Know-Nothing movement.

When their candidate, former President Fillmore, failed to win anywhere except Maryland, the party effectively ceased to exist. Although the name might lead you to think they merely changed their name to the Democrats, they really did go away (which I know some of you wish would happen to the Democrats).

[tags]Today in History, The Know-Nothing party[/tags]

Today in history 2007-02-14: St. Valentine’s day massacre

In what is sure to be viewed as an amazing coincidence by many of the less bright people in the world, we recognize today the St. Valentine’s day massacre of 1929, which oddly enough happened on St. Valentine’s day.

In Chicago, gunmen in the suspected employment of organized-crime boss Al Capone murder seven members of the George “Bugs” Moran North Siders gang in a garage on North Clark Street. The so-called St. Valentine’s Day Massacre stirred a media storm centered on Capone and his illegal Prohibition-era activities and motivated federal authorities to redouble their efforts to find evidence incriminating enough to take him off the streets.

Continue reading Today in history 2007-02-14: St. Valentine’s day massacre

Today in history – Harry Houdini dies

October 31, 1926:

Harry Houdini, the most celebrated magician and escape artist of the 20th century, dies of peritonitis in a Detroit hospital. Twelve days before, Houdini had been talking to a group of students after a lecture in Montreal when he commented on the strength of his stomach muscles and their ability to withstand hard blows. Suddenly, one of the students punched Houdini twice in the stomach. The magician hadn’t had time to prepare, and the blows ruptured his appendix. He fell ill on the train to Detroit, and, after performing one last time, was hospitalized. Doctors operated on him, but to no avail. The burst appendix poisoned his system, and on October 31 he died.

And that, dear friends, is people are stupid.  Who the hell thinks that punching someone unprepared in the stomache is a clever thing to do?  Idiots.  That’s who.

[tags]Today in History, Harry Houdini dies, Stupid human tricks[/tags]