FYI August 21-24, 2019

On This Day

1944 – Dumbarton Oaks Conference, prelude to the United Nations, begins.

The Dumbarton Oaks Conference or, more formally, the Washington Conversations on International Peace and Security Organization was an international conference at which the United Nations was formulated and negotiated among international leaders. The conference was held at Dumbarton Oaks, in Washington, D.C., from August 21, 1944, to October 7, 1944.

1711 – Britain’s Quebec Expedition loses eight ships and almost nine hundred soldiers, sailors and women to rocks at Pointe-aux-Anglais.
The approximate site of the disaster is marked in red on this 1733 map detail.

On 30 July, the fleet set sail from Boston. It consisted of a mix of British and colonial ships, including nine ships of war, two bomb vessels, and 60 transports and tenders. It carried 7,500 troops and about 6,000 sailors.[21] By 3 August the fleet reached the coast of Nova Scotia, and Samuel Vetch piloted the fleet around Cape Breton and Cape North and into the Gulf of Saint Lawrence.[22]

On the morning of the 18 August, just as the expedition was about to enter the Saint Lawrence River, the wind began to blow hard from the northwest, and Walker was forced to seek shelter in Gaspé Bay. On the morning of the 20th, the wind veered to the southeast, and he was able to advance slowly past the western extremity of Anticosti Island before it died down and thick fog blanketed both shore and fleet. By the 22nd, the wind had freshened from the southeast, and there were intermittent breaks in the fog, but not sufficient to give sight of land. At this point the fleet was west of Anticosti at a point where the Saint Lawrence was about 70 miles (110 km) wide, but it narrowed noticeably at a point where the river’s North Shore made a sharp turn, running nearly north-south.[23] This area, near what is now called Pointe-aux-Anglais, includes a number of small islands, including Île-aux-Oeufs (Egg Island), and numerous rocky shallows. After consulting his pilots, Walker gave the signal to head the fleet roughly southwest at about 8:00 pm.[24]

Walker had thought he was in mid-stream when he issued the order. In fact, he was about seven leagues (about 20 miles (32 km)) north of his proper course, and in the grasp of strong currents which steered his ships towards the northwest. Propelled by an easterly wind, the fleet was gradually closing on the north-south shore near Île-aux-Oeufs.[25] When Captain Paddon reported to Walker that land had been sighted around 10:30 pm, presumably dead ahead, Walker assumed that the fleet was approaching the south shore, and ordered the fleet to wear, and bring-to on the other tack, before he went to bed. This manoeuvre put the fleet onto a more northerly heading.[26] Some minutes later, an army captain named Goddard roused Walker, claiming to see breakers ahead.[25] Walker dismissed the advice and the man, but Goddard returned, insisting that the admiral “come upon deck myself, or we should certainly be lost”.[27]

Walker came on deck in his dressing gown, and saw that the ship was being driven toward the western lee shore by the east wind. When the French navigator came on deck, he explained to Walker where he was; Walker immediately ordered the anchor cables cut, and beat against the wind to escape the danger.[28] Two of the warships, Montague and Windsor, had more difficulty, and ended up anchored for the night in a precarious situation, surrounded by breakers. Throughout the night, Walker heard sounds of distress, and at times when the fog lifted, ships could be seen in the distance being ground against the rocks.[27] One New Englander wrote that he could “hear the shrieks of the sinking, drowning, departing souls.”[29] Around 2:00 am the wind subsided, and then shifted to the northwest, and most of the fleet managed to stand away from the shore.[27]

It took three days to discover the full extent of the disaster, during which the fleet searched for survivors.[30] Seven transports and one supply ship were lost.[27] Walker’s initial report was that 884 soldiers perished; later reports revised this number down to 740, including women attached to some of the units.[31] Historian Gerald Graham estimates that about 150 sailors also perished in the disaster.[1] After rescuing all he could, Walker and Hill held a war council on 25 August. After interviewing a number of the pilots, including Samuel Vetch, the council decided “that by reason of the Ignorance of the Pilots abord the Men of War”, the expedition should be aborted.[30] Vetch openly blamed Walker for the disaster: “The late disaster cannot, in my humble opinion, be anyways imputed to the difficulty of navigation, but to the wrong course we steered, which most unavoidably carried us upon the north shore.”[32]

The fleet sailed down the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and came to anchor at Spanish River (now the harbour of Sydney, Nova Scotia) on 4 September, where a council was held to discuss whether or not to attack the French at Plaisance. Given the lateness of the season, insufficient supplies to overwinter in the area, and rumours of strong defences at Plaisance, the council decided against making the attack, and sailed for England.[33][34]

AD 79 – Mount Vesuvius begins stirring, on the feast day of Vulcan, the Roman god of fire.
Eruption of AD 79
Main article: Eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79

In AD 79 Vesuvius erupted in one of the most catastrophic and famous eruptions of all time. Historians have learned about the eruption from the eyewitness account of Pliny the Younger, a Roman administrator and poet[35] who dated the eruption to August 24. New evidence, however, suggests that this eruption may have occurred on October 24.[36]

The volcano ejected a cloud of stones, ashes and volcanic gases to a height of 33 km (21 mi), spewing molten rock and pulverized pumice at the rate of 6×105 cubic metres (7.8×105 cu yd) per second, ultimately releasing a hundred thousand times the thermal energy released by the Hiroshima-Nagasaki bombings.[3] The cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum were destroyed by pyroclastic surges and the ruins buried under tens of metres of tephra.[3][35]

1662 – The Act of Uniformity requires England to accept the Book of Common Prayer.
The Act of Uniformity 1662 (14 Car 2 c 4) is an Act of the Parliament of England. (It was formerly cited as 13 & 14 Ch.2 c. 4, by reference to the regnal year when it was passed on 19 May 1662.) It prescribed the form of public prayers, administration of sacraments, and other rites of the Established Church of England, according to the rites and ceremonies prescribed in the Book of Common Prayer. Adherence to this was required in order to hold any office in government or the church, although the 1662 edition of the Book of Common Prayer prescribed by the Act was so new that most people had never even seen a copy. The Act also required that the Book of Common Prayer ‘be truly and exactly Translated into the Brittish or Welsh Tongue’. It also explicitly required episcopal ordination for all ministers, i.e. deacons, priests and bishops, which had to be reintroduced since the Puritans had abolished many features of the Church during the Civil War.

A few sections of this Act were still in force in the United Kingdom at the end of 2010.[3]



Born On This Day

1886 – Ruth Manning-Sanders, Welsh-English author and poet (d. 1988)
Ruth Manning-Sanders (21 August 1886 – 12 October 1988) was a Welsh-born English poet and author, well known for a series of children’s books in which she collected and related fairy tales from all over the world. All told, she published more than 90 books during her lifetime.

1918 – Mary McGrory, American journalist and author (d. 2004)
Mary McGrory (August 22, 1918 – April 20, 2004) was an American journalist and columnist. She specialized in American politics, and was noted for her detailed coverage of political maneuverings. She wrote over 8,000 columns, but no books, and made very few media or lecture appearances.[1] She was a fierce opponent of the Vietnam War and was on Richard Nixon’s enemies list. One reviewer said:

McGrory is what you get when proximity to power, keen observation skills, painstaking reporting, a judgmental streak and passionate liberalism coalesce in a singularly talented writer — one whose abilities are matched by the times.[2]

1847 – Sarah Frances Whiting, American physicist and astronomer (d. 1927)
Sarah Frances Whiting (August 23, 1847 – September 12, 1927), American physicist and astronomer, was the instructor to several astronomers, including Annie Jump Cannon.

1862 – Zonia Baber, American geographer and geologist (d. 1956)[11]
Zonia Baber (August 24, 1862 – January 10, 1956)[3], born Mary Arizona Baber in Clark County, Illinois, was an American geographer and geologist best known for developing methods for teaching geography.[4] Her teachings emphasized experiential learning through field work and experimentation.

Education and teaching career

As Baber’s hometown did not offer education beyond elementary school, she moved 130 miles to Paris, Illinois to attend high school where she lived with her uncle. After high school, she attended “Normal school” to train as a teacher.[5]

Baber started her career as a private school principal from 1886-1888. She then took a job teaching at Cook County Normal School (now Chicago State University), where she served as the head of the Geography Department from 1890-1899. She taught the interdependence of structural geography, history and the natural sciences. These courses focused on primarily geography, continental study, meteorology, and mathematical geography.[6] While teaching, Baber also took classes in geology, including the first class that accepted women. She earned her Bachelor of Science in 1904.[7]

From 1901-1921 Baber worked as an associate professor and head of geography and geology in the Department of Education at the University of Chicago. At the same time she was the principal of the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools.[7]

When it came to teaching, Baber preferred to focus on field work – enabling her students to act and discover rather than memorize facts. Baber’s teaching methods are still used today.[8]

“The student discovers too late that ordinary unrelated knowledge is not power; that only scientific knowledge — unified, related experiences — are valuable.”[9]

Baber promoted field trips and first-hand experience rather than the memorization of facts and definitions, but she also worked to improve conventional learning aids. During her time as chairwoman of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF), she created a committee to scrutinize textbooks in order to replace antiquated or inappropriate phrases and concepts with ones intended to stop the perpetuation of negative prejudices.[10]

In 1920, Baber published “A Proposal for Renaming the Solar Circles in the Journal of Geography”. The north and south solar tropics, traditionally referred to as the Tropic of Capricorn and the Tropic of Cancer, Baber proposed the name be changed to The Northern Tropic and The Southern Tropic. Today both terms are accepted in the world of geography, though no official change was made.[11]



By Kirk Fox, Celso Pina (1953 – 2019), legendary Mexican accordionist

Celso Piña Arvizu (April 6, 1953 – August 21, 2019) was a Mexican singer, composer, arranger, and accordionist,[1] mainly in the genre of Cumbia, being one of the most important musicians in the style of “Cumbia rebajada”.

Piña was a pioneer in the mixture and fusion of tropical sounds with many of his works having elements of cumbia, regional mexicano, cumbia sonidera, ska, reggae, rap/hip-hop, R&B, etc. Piña is also known as El Rebelde del acordeón or the Cacique de la Campana.


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