December 7th, 2009


Schott's Miscellany 4 December 2009

President George H.W. Bush ordered 28,000 U.S. troops to Somalia (1992)


On 25 March 1957, the Treaty of Rome was signed, creating the European Economic Community (now the European Union). To celebrate 50 years of this treaty, all 27 member states were asked to bake two cakes traditional to their country for a party in Berlin. Below is a brief description of some of these European birthday cakes:

pastry made with sweet pumpkin
cake rin soaked in rum and filled with cream
Frankfurter KranzGermany
crown-shape cake filled with buttercream
Porter cakeIreland
fruit cake with Guinness
Ciambellone tradizionaleItaly
ring-shape butter cake
Tarta de SantiagoSpain
almond cake
Pehtranova poticaSlovenia
cake falvorerd with tarragon and nuts
Hot cross bunUK
traditional Easter spiced bun

Most usually our virtues are only vices in disguise.
Duc de la Rochefoucauld (1613-80)
  • Current Music
    "The Sound of Silence" by Paul Simon

Schott's Miscellany 5 December 2009

After 13 "dry" years, America officially repealed Prohibition (1933)


During a visit to China in March 2007, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Peter Pace announced that Washington and Beijing were considering installing an emergency hotline between the leaders of the two countries. Such hotlines tend to be known as "red phones," after the U.S.-Russia link established in 1963, following the potentially disastrous failures of communication during the Cuban missile crisis. (For example, it reportedly took the U.S. c.12 hours to receive and decode Khruschev's first settlement message, and the Soviet ambassador later disclosed that he handed messages to a bicycle courier, who in turn sent them via Western Union.) The "red phone" was actually used for the first time in 1967, when it helped prevent the Six Day War from escalating into a global conflict.

Initially, the "red phone" consisted of a set of teleprinters connected via transatlantic cable. In the 1970s, the teleprinters were replaced with actual phones and, later, satellite communications and facsimile transmission. Why the phone is "red" is the subject of some speculation. Moscow apparently called their side of the connection "the red telephone"--though whether this was because of its actual color, the urgency of its function, or a humorous allusion to political ideology, is unclear.

A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot!
Thomas Edward Brown (1830-97)
  • Current Music
    "Sympathy for the Devil" by the Rolling Stones

Schott's Miscellany 6 December 2009

Thomas Edison made the first known sound recording by reciting Mary had a little lamg into a phonograph (1877)


George Washington$1
Thomas Jefferson$2
Abraham Lincoln$5
Alexander Hamilton$10
Andrew Jackson$20
Ulysses S. Grant$50
Benjamin Franklin$100
* William McKinley$500
* Grover Cleveland$1,000
* James Madison$5,000
* Salmon P. Chase$10,000
*+ Woodrow Wilson$100,000

* These notes are no longer in production.
+ Wilson $100,000 bills were produced 1934-35 and were issued by the Treasury to Federal Banks based upon held gold bullion stocks; they were used only for official transactions.

A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.
Virginia Woolf (1882-1941)
  • Current Music
    "Gimme Shelter" by Patti Smith