“Nothing Great Is Easy”

Have you ever wondered when the first swim across the English Channel was?

Captain Matthew Webb swam the English Channel on August 25, 1875

On August 25, 1875 an Englishman did it. It took Matthew Webb, an officer in the British merchant marine, 22 hours to swim from Dover to Calais.

Webb’s feat of courage and endurance has since been repeated by many hundreds. Nonetheless, today’s swimmers wear high tech neoprene suits that allow them to withstand the cold waters of the channel.

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Alaska settled on this day

On August 14, 1784, a group of hardy pioneers founded Three Saints Bay, Alaska’s first settlement, on Kodiak Island. The settlers did not come across the Atlantic, but across the Bering Strait. They were Russian fur traders led by Grigory Shelikhov.

Alaska's first settlement on Kodiak Island

Shelikhov’s settlement on Kodiak Island

The settlement had a short life. It was destroyed by an earthquake and its attendant tsunami in 1792. There was no turning back, however, as more fur traders and even orthodox monks sought to arrive at the new land.

Russians moved along the entire Pacific coast all the way to California, but British and American pressure limited the territory controlled by the tsars to what we know today as Alaska. [Read more…]


Hiroshima Remembered and Technology of Killing Noted

The electric chair was first tested on August 6

The electric chair

August the 6th, despite its unassuming sounding stop on the calendar at the height of the lazy days of summer, belies great turning points in killing, scientifically.

Humanity transformed the world when it aspired to move from humble inhabitants to masters of their universe through the discovery of its physical laws.

People were sent to the moon and unmanned space probes were sent beyond the limits of our solar system. Man, however, did not change. [Read more…]


A Manifesto Does Not The Man Make

On July 25, 1792, the Prussian, Charles William Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, issued an ill-timed and uninspired warning to Revolutionary France. Known as ‘Brunswick Manifesto’, it threatened the Parisians with reprisals if the French King was harmed.

Unfortunately for spunky ol’ Charlie Brunswick, the French of the 18th century had not yet fully acquired the fear of the Germans.


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Nadia Comaneci breaks Russia’s monopoly on medals

As London’s turn at hosting the 2012 Summer Olympics is set to begin, we remember one of the greatest of sport’s inspirational stories-a time when “1” meant “10”.

Romanian gymnast Nadia Comaneci in a practice session for an appearance at the Hartford Civic Center. Photo credit: Dave Gilbert/image originally posted to Flickr by eye2eye.

It all happened on July 18, 1976, in Montreal, Canada.

A shy 14-year old girl from Romania had just completed her uneven bar exercise. Her flawless performance revealed the limits of the day’s electronic scoreboards when the judges awarded her “the first perfect 10.00” in the history of gymnastics. [Read more…]


Happy Birthday District of Columbia

DC Seal


On July 16, 1790, George Washington signed into law the Residence Act, effectively laying the foundations of our nation’s capital. The Founding Fathers inserted a provision into the Constitution granting Congress the power to establish a federal district “not exceeding ten miles square” in order to house the Government of the United States.

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Portugal Slays Dragons for Dominance

Vasco_da_Gama as elder and Viceroy of India

Vasco da Gama sailed into history on July 8, 1497.

With a fleet of four caravels, he became the first European to reach India by sea. He made use of the prevailing winds by sailing south in a zigzag pattern away from the African coast then veering off to the east past the Cape.

The Portuguese navigator reached the Indian coast, at Calicut in May 1498.
This voyage established one of the most lucrative trade routes at the time, controlled entirely by the tiny nation of Portugal. [Read more…]


4th of July Celebrates America

The iconic 4th of July represents dreams, hopes and possibilities, all founded on American  ideals for many around the globe. Even when experienced only from afar through movies, books, song and poetry they are vivid and enticing. For Americans,  the date celebrates the constitutional change that created the national country and identity. [Read more…]


“Bird of Paradise” Pilots Make Aviation History


Five weeks after the much celebrated Charles Lindbergh flight from New York to Paris, two plucky American pilots took a two ton Atlantic-Fokker C-2 trimotor airplane on a 2500 mile transpacific flight from California to Hawaii.

On June 29, 1927, they landed in the Pacific archipelago. The achievement was impressive and they received the Mackay Trophy. [Read more…]


Finding Forever on the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal Purchase Act enacted on June 28, 1902, authorized United States Government to purchase the rights, privileges, franchises, concessions, grants of land, right of way, unfinished work, plants, and other property, real, personal, and mixed, of every name and nature in a Panama project.

All this “from the French New Panama Canal Company at a cost not exceeding $40 million.”

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