Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine’s Day to all those in relationships! Happy Singles Awareness Day to the rest of us! St. Valentine’s Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early Christian saints named Valentinus. The most popular martyrology associated with Saint Valentine was that he was imprisoned for performing weddings for soldiers who were forbidden to marry and for ministering to Christians, who were persecuted under the Roman Empire; during his imprisonment, he is said to have healed the daughter of his jailer Asterius. Legend states that before his execution he wrote “from your Valentine” as a farewell to her.

Some of the writers born on February 14th include:

Pierre-Claude Nivelle de La Chaussée (1692), Edmond François Valentin About (1828), Piet Paaltjens (1835), Frank Harris (1856), Kostas Varnalis (1884), Eric Andersen (1943), Carl Bernstein (1944), Alan Parker (1944), Tim Buckley (1947), Odds Bodkin (1953), Phillip Hamilton (1961), Jim Jefferies (1977), Josh Senter (1980), and Shane Harper (1993).

Also born today was the inventor Christopher Sholes (1819), who invented the first practical typewriter and the QWERTY keyboard still in use today. George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr. (1859) was also born on February fourteenth. He was an American engineer who is most famous for creating the original Ferris Wheel for the 1893 Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition.

Three years ago we lost the British jockey-turned-novelist, Dick Francis.

On February 14, 1349, several hundred Jews were burned to death by mobs while the remainder of the population was forcibly removed from the city of Strasbourg.

The United States Flag was formally recognized by a foreign naval vessel for the first time 235 years ago today when French Admiral Toussaint-Guillaume Picquet de la Motte rendered a nine gun salute to USS Ranger, commanded by John Paul Jones.

The Battle of Kettle Creek was fought on this day in Georgia in the year 1779 as part of the American Revolutionary War. On that same day James Cook was killed by Native Hawaiians near Kealakekua on the Island of Hawaii. Captain James Cook was a British explorer, navigator, cartographer, and captain in the Royal Navy. Cook made detailed maps of Newfoundland prior to making three voyages to the Pacific Ocean, during which he achieved the first recorded European contact with the eastern coastline of Australia and the Hawaiian Islands, and the first recorded circumnavigation of New Zealand.

The original Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, in the Latter Day Saint movement was formed on this day in 1835 in Kirtland, Ohio.

On the fourteenth of February of 1849 James Knox Polk, in New York City, became the first serving President of the United States to have his photograph taken.

The first hospital that provided in-patient beds specifically for children in the English-speaking world was founded in London on February 14, 1852.

Texas was linked by telegraph to the rest of the United States on this day in 1855 with the completion of a connection between New Orleans and Marshall, Texas.

Oregon was admitted as the 33rd U.S. State on the fourteenth of February in 1859. Exactly 53 years later Arizona was admitted as the 48th U.S. State on February 14, 1912.

It was on this day in 1876 that Alexander Graham Bell applied for a patent for the telephone, as did Elisha Gray.

The U.S. Congress approved voting machines on February 14, 1899 for use in federal elections.

The United States Department of Commerce and Labor was established 110 years ago today. It was subsequently renamed the Department of Commerce on March 4, 1913, as the bureaus and agencies specializing in labor were transferred to the new Department of Labor.

One hundred and one years ago today the first diesel-powered submarine was commissioned, in Groton, Connecticut.

On February 14, 1924 the ComputingTabulatingRecording Company changed its name to International Business Machines Corporation, commonly known as IBM.

The League of Women Voters was founded on this day in 1920, in Chicago, Illinois. Nine years to the day later in Chicago, in a completely unrelated event, seven people were murdered. Six of them were gangster rivals of Al Capone’s gang. This event is called the Saint Valentine’s Day massacre.

The U.S.-Saudi diplomatic relationship officially began on February 14, 1945 when President Franklin D. Roosevelt met with King Ibn Saud of Saudi Arabia aboard the USS Quincy.

On February 14, 1962, First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy took American television viewers on a tour of the White House with Charles Collingwood of CBS News. In the tour she said, “I just feel that everything in the White House should be the best—the entertainment that’s given here. If it’s an American company you can help, I like to do that. If not—just as long as it’s the best.”

On February 14, 1966 Australia decimalised its currency. Decimalisation is the process of converting a currency from its traditional denominations to a decimal system, based on one basic unit of currency and a sub-unit which is a power of 10, most commonly 100. The new Australian dollar is equivalent to ten shillings or half an Australian pound in the previous currency. Since a shilling became equal to ten cents, the Australian cent was equal to 1.2 Australian pence, although they were usually exchanged on a 1:1 basis during the brief period when both were circulating.

Twenty four years ago today the Iranian leader Ruhollah Khomeini issued a fatwa encouraging Muslims to kill the author of the novel The Satanic Verses, Salman Rushdie. A fatwā in the Islamic faith is a juristic ruling concerning Islamic law issued by an Islamic scholar. In Sunni Islam any fatwā is non-binding, whereas in Shia Islam it could be considered by an individual as binding, depending on his or her relation to the scholar.

1984 cover image

Today our highlighted title is 1984 by George Orwell.  This is a required reading assignment for many students. This book is approximately 330 pages long.  We have new copies of the mass market paperback edition in stock. Amazon gives the following short description:

Written in 1948, 1984 was George Orwell’s chilling prophecy about the future. And while 1984 has come and gone, Orwell’s narrative is timelier than ever. 1984 presents a startling and haunting vision of the world, so powerful that it is completely convincing from start to finish. No one can deny the power of this novel, its hold on the imaginations of multiple generations of readers, or the resiliency of its admonitions—a legacy that seems only to grow with the passage of time.


Disclaimer: Much of the information in this blog is taken directly from Wikipedia and Amazon.   Images have been taken from various sources around the World Wide Web.


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