Today in History for 2nd September 2018

Historical Events

1686 – Habsburg armies take Buda from Turks
1967 – KUHI (now KSNF) TV channel 16 in Joplin, MO (CBS) begins broadcasting
1968 – Jerry Lewis’ 3rd Muscular Dystrophy telethon
1969 – Ralph Houk signs 3-year contract to manage New York Yankees at $65,000 a season, then the biggest salary in MLB
1972 – Chicago Cubs pitcher Milt Pappas no-hits San Diego Padres, 8-0
1993 – Central African Republic ex-emperor Bokassa freed

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Famous Birthdays

1931 – Alan K Simpson, minority whip (Sen-R-WY, 1979- )
1931 – Pierre Huyskens, Dutch radio host
1965 – Lennox Lewis, heavyweight boxer (Olympic gold 1988, WBC boxing champ), born in London, England
1968 – Cynthia Watros, American actress
1981 – Katie Teft, gymnast (Olympics 1996), born in Grand Rapids Michigan
1987 – Spencer Smith, American musician (Panic at the Disco)

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Famous Deaths

1606 – Carel van Mander, Flemish painter/art historian, dies at 58
1870 – Charles Victor Arthur Saint-Leon, composer, dies at 48
1942 – Tom Williams, Irish republican (b. 1924)
1994 – Richard M Major, US anti-terror specialist (CIA Red Book), dies at 72
1994 – Roy Castle, English dancer, actor and tv presenter (Dr Who and the Daleks), dies of lung cancer at 62
2007 – Max McNab, National Hockey League executive (b. 1924)

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Today in History for 1st September 2018

Historical Events

1864 – Skirmish at Hood evacuated confederates from Atlanta GA
1873 – Cetshwayo ascends to the throne as king of the Zulu nation following the death of his father Mpande.
1972 – American chess grandmaster Bobby Fischer beats Russian champion Boris Spassky 12.5-8.5 in Reykjavik, Iceland; most publicised world title match ever played; Fischer 1st American to win title
1973 – Libya nationalizes 51 percent of nine other oil companies’ concessions
2007 – In one of the biggest upsets in college football history, 109,218 fans see Appalachian State’s Corey Lynch block a Jason Gingell 37-yard field goal attempt with 6 seconds remaining to inspire an epic 34-32 win v Michigan at Ann Arbor
2012 – Grenade injures 41 festival celebrants in Paquibato, Philippines

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Famous Birthdays

1922 – Melvin Laird, politician (Rep-R-Mich), US Secretary of Defense (1969-73), born in Omaha, Nebraska (d. 2016)
1931 – Cecil Parkinson, British politician (C), born in Carnforth, North Lancashire (d. 2016)
1953 – Ted Petty, American professional wrestler (d. 2002)
1955 – Bruce Foxton, rock guitarist (Jam)
1976 – Sebastián Rozental, Chilean footballer
1981 – Clinton Portis, American football player

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Famous Deaths

1648 – Marin Mersenne, French mathematician (Number of Mersenne), dies at 59
1687 – Henry More, English philosopher (b. 1614)
1896 – Johannes Habert, composer, dies at 62
1947 – Frederick Russell Burnham, father of the international Scouting movement (b. 1861)
1989 – A Bartlett Giamatti, American President of Yale University and baseball commissioner, dies of heart attack at 51
1998 – Vere Harmsworth, 3rd Viscount Rothermere, English press magnate (The Mail on Sunday), dies of a heart attack at 73

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Today in History for 31st August 2018

Historical Events

1422 – Henry VI becomes King of England at the age of 9 months
1881 – 1st US men’s single tennis championships (Newport, Rhode Island)
1907 – Britain, Russia and France form Triple Entente
1970 – WKMJ TV channel 68 in Louisville, Kentucky (PBS) begins broadcasting
1978 – Emily and William Harris plead guilty to 1974 kidnapping of Patty Hearst
1980 – 80th US Golf Amateur Championship won by Hal Sutton

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Famous Birthdays

1884 – George Al Sarton, Belgian-American chemist and historian, born in Ghent, Belgium (d. 1956)
1921 – Raymond Williams, Welsh academic and novelist (Second Generation), born in Llanfihangel Crucorney, Wales (d. 1988)
1954 – Tula, [Barry Kenneth Cossey], England, transsexual (For Your Eyes Only)
1969 – Jonathan LaPaglia, Australian actor
1976 – Vincent Delerm, French singer-songwriter, pianist and composer
1982 – Patrick Nuo, Swiss singer

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Famous Deaths

1056 – Theodora, Byzantine Empress (b. 981)
1604 – Giovanale Ancina, composer, dies at 58
1888 – Mary Ann Nichols, a 42-year-old prostitute, was found stabbed to death in London, 1st of at least five murders by Jack the Ripper
1902 – Mathilde Wesendonk, German author/poetess, dies at 73
1910 – Emils Darzins, composer, dies at 34
1918 – Joe English, Irish/Flemish signaler (WWI), dies at 36

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Today in History for 30th August 2018

Historical Events

1791 – Thomas Jefferson responds to Benjamin Banneker’s letter on the issue of slavery
1914 – 1st German plane bombs Paris, 2 killed
1919 – Ernst Toller’s “Die Wandlung” premieres in Berlin
1944 – Soviet troops enter Bucharest, Romania
1960 – Boston 2nd baseman Pete Runnels goes 6-for-7
1995 – Cable News Network joins the internet

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Famous Birthdays

1866 – Georges Minne, Belgian sculptor, born in Ghent, Belgium (d. 1941)
1943 – David Henry Maslanka, composer
1949 – Ted Ammon, American financier (d. 2001)
1967 – Barbara Kendall, New Zealand mistral sailor (Olympic gold 1992, silver 1996, bronze 2000), born in Auckland, New Zealand
1970 – Michael Wong Guang Liang, Chinese Malaysian singer
1978 – Swizz Beatz, American rapper/producer

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Famous Deaths

1826 – Theodor Zwetler, Austrian composer, dies at 67
1917 – Uritsky, leader of Petrogradse Czech, dies
1970 – Del Moore, American comedian and actor (Cal-Bachelor Father), dies at 53
1989 – Joe De Santis, dies at 80
1995 – Thomas Chalmers, British broadcaster, dies at 82
2008 – Killer Kowalski, Canadian professional wrestler (b. 1926)

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Lest We Forget

Lest We Forget

Paul Lay

The British public are obsessed with the First World War, but know little about how it was brought to an end.

Countless words have been devoted to the origins of the First World War, while the churning battles of the Somme, in 1916, and Passchendaele the following year, haunt Britain’s collective memory. They continue to do so, even though the last men to have experienced the realities of the Western Front have long since passed. The end of the Great War, however, is a very different matter.A service of remembrance took place on 8 August at Amiens Cathedral, broadcast by the BBC, to honour the centenary of the Battle of Amiens. It marked the beginning of the ‘Hundred Days Offensive’, when the allied forces under Foch, Pétain, Haig and Pershing fought back against Germany’s Operation Michael, the last throw of the dice for the Central Powers, liberated from the Eastern Front by the Russian Revolution, but blockaded by the Royal Navy to the point of starvation. The French capital was threatened by the Stomtroopers’ advances, which were eventually stopped at the Second Battle of the Marne. Deploying the new technologies of tanks and aircraft – and bitter experience – the allies finally broke the German Hindenburg Line, though this new war of movement proved even more costly than the trench-bound stalemates of the previous years: as many as 760,000 German casualties against 700,000 allied soldiers killed or wounded. The War to End All Wars reached its conclusion with an Armistice prompted in part by both Allied and German fears that Germany would soon collapse into Bolshevism. It became effective on the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918.The Hundred Days Offensive is now widely regarded by military historians, including Gary Sheffield, Jonathan Boff and Nick Lloyd, as one of the most effective campaigns in British military history, but it inhabits only a small space in a public imagination that continues to see only futility in the Great War’s undoubted tragedy. That is not how most of the men who fought it saw it. They deserve to be better understood.

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Today in History for 29th August 2018

Historical Events

1793 – Slaves in French colony of St Domingue (Haiti) freed
1964 – On Elston Howard Night, Mickey Mantle ties Babe Ruth’s career strikeout record (1,330)
1970 – Black Panthers confront cops in Philadelphia (1 cop killed)
1988 – 45th Venice Film Festival: “The Legend of the Holy Drinker” directed by Ermanno Olmi wins Golden Lion
2002 – 19th MTV Video Music Awards: Eminem and Pink win
2011 – “Tha Carter IV” 9th studio album by Lil Wayne is released

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Famous Birthdays

1862 – Maurice Maeterlinck, Belgian poet (Blue Bird, Nobel 1911), born in Ghent, Belgium (d. 1949)
1898 – Preston Sturges [Edmund Biden], American director and screenwriter (Sullivan’s Travels), born in Chicago, Illinois (d. 1959)
1917 – Isabel Sanford, American actress (Louise-Jeffersons/All in the Family), born in NYC, New York (d. 2004)
1959 – Rebecca De Mornay, Santa Rose Cal, actress (Hand that Rocks Cradle)
1959 – Eddi Reader, rocker (Fairground Attraction-Find My Love)
1981 – Brian Chesky, American internet entrepreneur (CEO of Airbnb), born in Niskayuna, New York

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Famous Deaths

1653 – Gillesz de Hondecoeter, painter/Hostage rights, buried at about 49
1799 – Pius VI, [Giovanni A Braschi], Italian Pope (1775-99), dies at 71
1930 – William Archibald Spooner, English writer (b. 1844)
1977 – Brian McGuire, Australian racing driver, killing practising at Brands Hatch at 31
1994 – Gladys Marea Hartman, athletics Administrator, dies at 74
2003 – Ayatollah Sayed Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, Iraqi political leader (b.1939)

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Today in History for 28th August 2018

Historical Events

1864 – First Geneva Convention, governing rules of warfare, signed by 26 nations
1956 – England retain cricket Ashes, Jim Laker 46 wickets in the series
1964 – US performs nuclear test at Nevada Test Site
1972 – USSR performs nuclear test at Novaya Zemlya USSR
1986 – Tina Turner’s star unveiled in Hollywood
1987 – 2nd Athletics World Championships open at Rome, Italy

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Famous Birthdays

1913 – Robertson Davies, Canadian novelist essayist/dramatist, born in Thamesville, Ontario (d. 1995)
1913 – Lindsay Hassett, Australian cricketer (great Australian bat and capt after Bradman), born in Geelong, Australia (d. 1993)
1947 – Shoto Tanemura, Japanese martial artist
1971 – Shane Andrews, infielder (Montreal Expos), born in Dallas, Texas
1988 – Ray Jones, English footballer (d. 2007)
1991 – Kyle Massey, American actor

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Famous Deaths

1951 – Robert Walker, American actor and writer (Strangers on a Train, Bataan, Madame Curie), dies from an adverse reaction to prescription drugs at 32
1961 – Thomas Connolly, 1st baseball umpire elected to hall of fame, dies
1988 – Hazel Dawn, US singer/actress (Under Clover, Margie), dies at 98
2007 – Arthur Jones, American inventor of the Nautilus exercise machines (b. 1926)
2008 – Phil Hill, American race car driver and one-time F1 world champion (b. 1927)
2016 – Juan Gabriel, [Alberto Aguilera Valadez], Mexican singer, dies at 66

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We All Scream for Ice Cream

We All Scream for Ice Cream

Alexander Lee

Sweets made of ice or snow have been with us for millennia, evolving slowly into the modern chilly treat.

Who doesn’t like ice cream? According to the International Dairy Foods Association, 3.7 million tons of it are consumed in the US each year alone – an average of 23lbs per person. But, while we are only too eager to guzzle it down, we seldom pause to consider how our favourite frozen dessert came into being.‘Ices’ – that is to say, desserts made of ice or snow – have been around for millennia. As far back as the fifth century BC, the ancient Greeks were refreshing themselves with snow flavoured with honey or fruits. Although Hippocrates famously disparaged snow-water as unhealthy and warned his patients to steer clear of chilled drinks (which he thought produced ‘fluxes of the stomach’), these icy treats enjoyed tremendous popularity throughout the Aegean – so much so that, one hundred years later, no less a figure than Alexander the Great could be counted among their admirers. The Persians were equally enthusiastic. At about the same time as Hippocrates was criticising his fellow Greeks for eating ices, they developed faloodeh, a dessert made from rosewater-flavoured snow and vermicelli-like noodles. The Romans got in on the act, too. While Seneca and Pliny the Elder criticised Nero for having ice carted down from the mountains simply to cool his swimming pool, for example, they seem to have seen nothing unusual in his fondness for chilled wines and snow flavoured with honey.Technological changesThe popularity of ices necessitated an important technological shift. Unless you wanted to eat your ices in the depths of winter, or high up in the mountains, you needed not only to bring snow or ice to where you wanted to consume it, but also to find some way of storing it in warm weather. This required a special sort of building, now known as an ice house. Often built underground and generally insulated with straw, these stone chambers were sufficiently cold to preserve ice that had been cut from frozen lakes and rivers in the winter, or snow that had been brought down from the mountains. When exactly they came into being is a matter of some debate. It has been suggested that the Babylonians may have built rudimentary ice pits as early as the second millennium BC and there is some evidence to indicate that, much later, Alexander the Great had an ice house, too. But that they were in regular use in ancient Rome is beyond doubt; and their growing prevalence soon facilitated the development of a thriving snow trade, criss-crossing Europe, the Near East and the Mediterranean. By the later Middle Ages, snow was on sale in most large ports.Matter of physicsYet ice cream – made with frozen dairy products, rather than snow or ice – did not come until much later. It wasn’t for want of trying. During the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), for instance, the Chinese made a cold, creamy gloop by packing buffalo milk, flour and camphor in snow. But while it was easy enough to cool milk down, it proved remarkably difficult to freeze it. It was all a matter of physics. As we now know, most cows’ milk freezes at somewhere between -0.535°C and -0.565°C, a little below the freezing point of water; and packing it in snow doesn’t get it cold enough to become a solid.The challenge was, therefore, to work out not just how to store snow and ice, but how to make it colder once you’d got it, as well. Surprisingly, the solution to this seemingly intractable problem was salt. When salt is added to snow or ice, energy is absorbed from the surrounding environment – thus producing a rudimentary form of refrigeration.As early as the mid-16th century, foodies were beginning to cotton on to the potential of this process. In Magia naturalis (1558), for example, the Neapolitan polymath Giambattista della Porta described how ice laced with salt could be used to freeze wine – which, like milk, has a freezing point below that of water.When a mixture of salt and snow or ice was first used to produce ice cream, however, is something of a mystery. There are plenty of legends. Some say that Catherine de’ Medici brought the recipe with her to France when she married Henri, duc d’Orleans in 1533, while others suggest that Charles I of England gave his chef a lifetime pension to keep the original recipe a state secret. These are, however, nothing more than 19th-century fantasies – every bit as nonsensical as the claim that Marco Polo brought ice cream back from China in the Middle Ages.Although it is hard to be certain, the earliest form of ice cream seems to have been produced a little before Della Porta started freezing wine. As the historians Caroline and Robin Weir have recently pointed out, the first printed references appear in Europe around 1530. Yet it was not until the publication of Mrs Mary Eales Receipts in 1718 that the first recipe appeared in English. Even then, the process described was laughably vague. ‘Take Tin Ice-Ports’, Eales explained, ‘fill them with any Sort of Cream you like, either plain or sweeten’d, or Fruit in it; shut your Pots very close … set it in a Cellar where no Sun or Light comes, [and] it will be froze in four Hours, but it may stand longer …’Refined processBy 1768, when M. Emry published the very first ice-cream recipe book – L’Art de bien faire les glaces d’office; ou Les vrais principes pour congeler tous les Rafraichissemens – the process had become more refined. Greater care was taken to describe exactly how long milk would take to freeze; how the ice and salt should be packed; and how the ingredients could be protected from contamination by the refrigerants.Still, there was considerable scope for variation. Milk, cream and custard were used almost interchangeably; and the flavourings could be even more diverse. As Jeri Quinzo has shown, the authors of recipe books recommended using rose petals, crushed macaroons, caramel, ginger, lemon, musk, chocolate, laurel, tarragon, parsley and even asparagus.For many years, historians assumed that these early ice creams were consumed primarily by elites – and it is not hard to see why. Most recipe books were written by those who catered to aristocratic, or even royal households; and there is abundant evidence of ice creams being served in an unambiguously ‘elite’ context. During the 18th century, for example, the Sèvres Manufactory produced a range of beautiful ice-cream coolers and dishes for Louis XV and his court; in 1813, President James Madison’s wife arranged for ice creams to be served at his inauguration ball in Washington DC; and, 25 years later, Balzac delighted in describing the lavish plombiers, which were served as a dessert in the great houses of Paris in his novel, Splendeurs et misères des courtisanes (1838-47).But as Melissa Calaresu has argued, ice cream was not just the preserve of the elites – especially in 18th-century Naples. Partly because of the vibrancy of the snow trade, it was possible for people much lower down the social scale to make, sell and enjoy ice cream as well. Not only were there plenty of shops and cafes selling ice creams, but there was also a host of vendors who sold it in the streets; and there is evidence to suggest that many families may have made it at home, as well.Silky smoothIrrespective of who was eating it, however, early ice creams were still some way from being the chilly treat we enjoy today. Since the milk, cream or custard was static when it was frozen, it tended to form large, icy chunks, resulting in a grainy – even lumpy – texture. In 1843, however, Nancy Johnson, a resident of New Jersey, invented a hand-cranked freezer, which allowed her to make silky-smooth ice cream. This consisted of a large tub, containing layers of ice and salt, a tightly closed cylinder for the ingredients and a removable handle, which could be turned to agitate the ice cream until it was properly frozen.Even with Nancy Johnson’s freezer, however, it was only possible to make a relatively small batch of ice cream at a time, meaning that supply could never keep up with demand. Only when Clarence Vogt of Louisville, Kentucky invented the continuous freezer in 1926 did it become possible to produce ice cream on an industrial scale. The resulting explosion in output pushed prices down, making smooth, creamy ice cream available to everyone, everywhere; and, as more companies started manufacturing their own brands, increased competition led to the standardisation of core ingredients and to ever more inventive flavours.By the middle of the 20th century, ice cream had become big business. In response to ever-growing demand, new techniques of pasteurisation, homogenisation and freezing were developed and specialist enterprises began to dominate the market. Despite their humble beginnings, Baskin-Robbins (est. 1945), Häagen-Dazs (1961) and Ben & Jerry’s (1978) have all become multinational firms, boasting a wide range of distinctive flavours and instant brand recognition the world over.Because of its easy availability and endless variety, ice cream has become synonymous with leisure and comfort. But if you take a moment to remember the technological leaps that were needed to make ice cream what it is today, it’s sure to taste even better.Alexander Lee is the author of Humanism and Empire: The Imperial Ideal in Fourteenth-Century Italy (OUP, 2018).

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