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This Week in History: Corrupt politics and British music

The Beatles arrive in New York City on Feb. 7, 1964. Two days later they would make their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. (Source: Library of Congress/Wikipedia) The Beatles arrive in New York City on Feb. 7, 1964. Two days later they would make their first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show. (Source: Library of Congress/Wikipedia)
A Mark 15 hydrogen bomb similar to this one is located somewhere off the coast of Savannah, GA. A Mark 15 hydrogen bomb similar to this one is located somewhere off the coast of Savannah, GA.

(RNN) – You may or may not share this column with your friends on Facebook, but the mere fact that you could if you wanted to is cause for celebration.

Mark Zuckerberg may or may not have stolen the idea of two Harvard rowers (crewers?) when he introduced Facebook on Feb. 4, 2004, known then as The Facebook and limited only to selected university students. It was a huge deal when it became available to Louisiana Tech, where I went, and I searched valiantly, but to no avail, for a link to the article written about it in the school paper at the time.

Even at a sometimes-forgotten technical school in rural northern Louisiana, the introduction of Facebook went viral before we knew that was even a thing. Now, it makes half the world mad every few months by changing layouts and has what are probably the world's most misunderstood privacy settings.

It can make you new friends or get you fired from work. (Oh, never mind. That's alcohol.)

If you like this column, share it so other people can "like" it, too.

Here are some of the events of note that happened between Feb. 4-10.

Life and Death

Perhaps the world's greatest composer was born this week. It's not Beethoven or Bach or even Handel. It's Rick Astley, born Feb. 6, 1966. If you're unfamiliar with Astley's work, he's the subject of the Internet meme known as rickrolling, where an Internet prankster sends you a link disguised to be something interesting, but instead sends you to a video of Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up. Why that song? Because it's terrible.

Seriously, though, a great composer was actually born this week – Axl Rose on Feb. 6, 1962.

Ok, enough joking. John Williams was born Feb. 8, 1932. If you've ever seen a Steven Spielberg movie, you've heard Williams' music. If you think the best movie theme ever written is from Superman, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jaws, E.T., or Jurassic Park, John Williams wrote it, among many others. He's the second most Oscar nominated person in the history of the award behind Walt Disney. If you think Williams isn't a great composer, or are unfamiliar with him, here's a compilation of his work. It's more than worth a listen.

My personal favorite is Superman. Most of this column was written while it played on a loop in the background, so if it's better or worse than usual, that's why.

Garth Brooks, another great composer, was born Feb. 7, 1962.

This week also marks the birth of both halves of the greatest love story in American history. Forget Romeo and Juliet, Isidor and Ida Straus have a much better story. Both were born Feb. 6 – Isidor in 1845 and Ida in 1849. Isidor was a member of the House of Representatives at one time and co-owned Macy's department store with his brother, but he and his wife are most remembered for being on board the Titanic when it sank in 1912. Reports say both of them were offered a seat in a lifeboat, but Isidor turned his down because women and children were still on board, and Ida turned hers down because Isidor was still on board. Both died. Isidor's body was recovered. Ida's wasn't.

It was the best of times for Charles Dickens (Feb. 7, 1812), Charles Lindbergh (Feb. 4, 1902), Rosa Parks (Feb. 4, 1913), Hank Aaron (Feb. 5, 1934), Babe Ruth (Feb. 6, 1895), Ronald Reagan (Feb. 6, 1911), Tom Brokaw (Feb. 6, 1940) and Zsa Zsa Gabor (Feb. 6, 1917).

It was the worst of times for Mary, Queen of Scots (Feb. 8, 1587), crab boat captain Phil Harris (Feb. 9, 2010) – one of the men featured on the Discovery Channel series Deadliest Catch – and Zsa Zsa Gabor, who has been clinging to life for two years.

George VI died Feb. 6, 1952, installing Kate Middleton's grandmother-in-law as Queen of England. At the actual time of her ascension to the throne, Elizabeth II was in Kenya staying in a tree house at the Treetops Hotel.

Overlooked Anniversaries

The British invaded. Normally, this would appear a few categories down, but this invasion was musical in nature. The Beatles performed on the Ed Sullivan Show on Feb. 9, 1964. The performance shows the range the group had to make themselves sound like a screaming hoard of teenage girls (seriously, people, let them sing). It was a historic moment as a musical crossover, but it has been cheapened by other people like One Direction doing the same thing.

The devil's footprints showed up in England on Feb. 8, 1855, which might explain why the Beatles wanted to leave. Can't blame them for that.

February seems to be the best time to change the Constitution, unless you're Delaware and you like slaves. The 11th Amendment was ratified Feb. 7, 1795. It deals with a state's sovereign immunity to prosecution from anyone outside that state. The 20th Amendment went into effect Feb. 6, 1933, telling us when to inaugurate the president-elect and how to replace him if he dies. The 25th Amendment was ratified Feb. 10, 1967, it tells what to do if the president dies. Delaware rejected the 13th Amendment on Feb. 8, 1865, but later ratified it in 1901 after 33 other states, including slavery bastions Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina Louisiana and Virginia, had already done so.

George Washington was unanimously elected president Feb. 4, 1789, and Jefferson Davis was elected president of the Confederacy on Feb. 9, 1861. Neither was as controversial as the next entry (and, yes, I realize one of them was considered an act of treason).

If you think Al Gore was elected president in 2000, you can scream about it all you want, but that's not even close to the controversy stirred up by the election of 1824. John Quincy Adams was elected president by the House of Representatives on Feb. 9, 1825. Today it's known as the Corrupt Bargain (actually, it's the first of three things known as that). It remains the only presidential election in which the candidate with the most electoral votes did not win the election.

Andrew Jackson won 99 electoral votes, and Adams received 84. However, William Crawford got 41 electoral votes, and Henry Clay got 37. Since no one had a majority, the election went to the House. The top three candidates were considered, eliminating Clay, who happened to be speaker of the house and hated Jackson. After Adams was elected, Clay was then offered the job of secretary of state, which he accepted.

Complain about Barack Obama now. I dare you.

Adams lost to Jackson four years later in a rout. As I illustrated last week, don't mess with Andrew Jackson.

Something About Sports

Satchel Paige was the first Negro Leagues player to be voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Feb. 9, 1971. Paige could throw pork chop past a wolf (warning: extreme language). I wrote a book report on a biography of Paige in the seventh grade, and I don't remember that anecdote being in it.

Feb. 9, 1914, was the birthday of Bill Veeck, who was known for outrageous stunts such as a cow-milking contest, sending a 3-foot tall batter to the plate and, of course, the infamous Disco Demolition Night. He also hired Paige, but only well after his prime, and was the first owner to put players' names on the back of their jerseys.

Volleyball was invented Feb. 9, 1895. It was invented by William Morgan and was called mintonette. Under its original rules, volleyball was horrible. Any numbers of players could participate, and the ball could be contacted any number of times before being sent back over the net. Each game had nine innings, each consisting of three serves for each team. I know nothing about William Morgan, but I'm guessing he loved baseball, tennis and complete anarchy. Volleyball as we know it today came to be about 20 years later. I don't know when the tight shorts were introduced, but the game was originally popular among nudists, so let's all be glad they did.

The Week in Warfare

If you weren't already convinced we shouldn't be trusted with nuclear weapons, another one went missing Feb. 5, 1958. A B-47 carrying what is now known as the Tybee Bomb collided in midair with a fighter jet. The bomb was jettisoned to protect the crew, because why endanger a few Air Force pilots when you can endanger thousands of civilians? The bomb landed somewhere near Tybee Island off the coast of Savannah, GA. Nobody knows where it is or if salt water corrosion is causing radioactive material to leach into the water supply. Sleep well, people of Savannah.

Greece performed the first naval aerial mission Feb. 5, 1913, and the U.S. had its first aerial victory five years later. The Union garnered its first significant victory of the Civil War on Feb. 6, 1862, at Fort Henry, TN, and the first U.S. troops were sent to Vietnam on Feb. 9, 1965.

William Tecumseh Sherman was born Feb. 8, 1820. To forgo mentioning him in consecutive weeks, his death was Feb. 14, 1891. Sherman has been considered the first "modern" general and is most well known for saying "war is hell" and proving it by burning Georgia to the ground (and yet we still have Honey Boo Boo).

If it's acceptable for a Southern boy to admit liking a Union general, I'll admit I like Sherman because he looks the part, and despite being academically brilliant, didn't care about the discipline required at West Point. He had his final class standing reduced because of his large number of demerits, most for having a sloppy uniform and refusing to participate in religious services.

Holiday You Should Celebrate

Forget that stupid groundhog from over the weekend, Tuesday is National Weatherperson's Day. It is observed on the birthday of John Jeffries, who was one of the first people to take daily weather measurements, which he sometimes did in a balloon. In celebration, I urge you to go bask outside – in weather that wasn't predicted.

Preview of next week

A terrible teammate, an adventurous dog and a teacher you can't understand.

By the way, here's the real links for John Williams and the Beatles.

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