Philip II of Macedonia
On this day in 338 BCE, Philip II, of Macedonia, a conqueror you really ought to know, not to be confused with Philip the First, leading the Macedonian army, pounds to flinders, on this day, the combined military forces of Athens and Thebes to secure dominance, hegemony and consolidation of those city-states, which is, of course, what a self-respecting conqueror endeavors to achieve. Hitherto — that is, before the decisive battle of Chaeronia, Macedonia is an ancient kingdom on the outskirts of Archaic and Classical Greece. After, though, Philip’s got the world by the short hairs, and he’s much beloved by decree until after a particularly gruesome sex scandal, Philip assassinated at age of 46, height of his power, it happens, pride goeth, by one of his otherwise loyal bodyguards, Pausanias of Orestis, at instigation of Philip’s son, Alexander — later Alexander the Great — or perhaps Philip’s lovely wife, Olympias. Rumor has it Philip and Pausanias had once been lovers. Another story.
Ian Vair, Granville, New York
Pausanias, of Orestis, not to be confused with Pausanias, the beloved of Attalus, another fella entirely, murders Philip during the wedding of Philip’s nubile daughter Cleopatra, not to be confused with the Egyptian queen — Theda Bara, Fox Film Corp., 1917, Claudette Colbert, Paramount, 1934, Elizabeth Taylor, 20th Century-Fox, 1963 — who isn’t even born until centuries later, to Alexander of Epirus, not the Great one, that’s her brother. It’s the ancient world. There’s a shortage of names to go around and everybody has to share what few there are.
Kerri Simon, Granville, New York
Funny story: Pausanias flees after shivving the king, almost gets away, too, but running in sandals not particularly recommended. He trips, falls on a vine root and is speared to death by his fellow loyal bodyguards in pursuit, jockeying for court favor. There are conspiracy theories. Horses are found waiting nearby. Guy who throws the actual fatal spear that kills Pausanias, Leonnatus, fellow loyal bodyguard, ends up demoted, suspected of offing Pausanias to prevent being implicated in the king’s murder during the otherwise inevitable torture and interrogation.
August 2, 1939. A letter, drafted by Hungarian physicist Leo Szilard, who in 1933 comes up with the idea for nuclear chain reaction, then in 1934, with Enrico Fermi in Chicago patents the idea of a nuclear reactor. The letter’s signed by his friend, colleague, fellow theoretical physicist, Albert Einstein — Einstein’s more famous, a celebrity, letter delivered to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Letter explains that sufficiently enriched uranium can be used to create weapons that can explode with enormous energy sufficient to kill hundreds of thousands of people with a single shot, a massive air burst to lay waste to any city anywhere in the world, a relatively economical urban renewal program. Letter explains the Nazis, who the following month, September 1, 1939, invade Poland and begin what comes to be known as World War II, might already have begun to develop such a weapon, which would give them an enormous advantage in the mucho mass murder department on a hitherto unimaginable scale. Einstein and Szilard know each other in Berlin in the early 1920s. In 1926, the two invent the Einstein-Szilard refrigerator, with no moving parts, less dangerous, which is an improvement over a similar fridge built in 1922 by a pair of Swedish inventors you’ve never heard of, have you, because Einstein and his former student, Szilard, swan in, take their work, tart it up, run with it. The Einstein-Szilard refrigerator, sometimes called the Einstein refrigerator, he’s more famous, no moving parts, I mean to say, safety first! don’tcha know, is patented in the United States Nov. 11, 1930 (U.S. Patent Number 1,781,541). The Swedes? SOL! Back to the drawing board! Roosevelt reads the letter, he’s impressed! He calls in his aide, General Edwin “Pa” Watson: “Pa!” FDR exclaims, “This requires action!”
Helvi Abatiell, Mendon
Cost of the Manhattan Project according to the Brookings Institute:
Expenditures through August 1945:*
*Includes costs from 1940-42 for the National Defense Research Council and the Office of Scientific Research and Development. Excludes $76 million spent by the Army Air Forces on Project SILVERPLATE from September 1943 through September 1945.
(Project SILVERPLATE covers the modification of 46 B-29 bombers in support of the Manhattan Project, training of the personnel of the 509th composite bombing group, and logistical support provision for units based at Tinian Island, launching point for the attacks on Japan).
$23 billion in 21st-century dollars
The atomic bombs dropped over Japan on Aug. 6 and Aug. 9, 1945, immediately, completely devastate their targets. During the next two to four months, the acute effects of the atomic bombings kill between 90,000 and 146,000 people in Hiroshima and 39,000 and 80,000 people in Nagasaki; roughly half of the deaths in each city occur on the first day.
World War II, between Sept. 1, 1939, and August 15, 1945: An estimated total of 70-85 million souls swept away, about 3% of the 1940 world population (then an estimated 2.3 billion.
Bill Dudley, Shrewsbury
Clark Kent’s secret life
Childhood motivation for a career in journalism, No. 1: Clark Kent, Kansas farm boy, deeply conflicted because of lifelong suspicion he’s not like other kids. And he’s not. He’s not even human, although his feelings are deeply humanitarian, although not political, he tends to support liberal causes. He’s not a socialist by any means, although he’ll save anyone in trouble. He believes in the equality of all human beings, even though none of them have either his super powers nor his compassion. His ability to lift automobiles with one arm, to jump over tall city buildings “in a single bound,” to see through walls, sets him up for a life in law enforcement. He chooses newspaper reporting because of his nagging obsession to get to the bottom of things, f’rinstance, why is he “different,” what’s wrong with people in general, why are they always hocking you to be good and follow rules, sit down, don’t fidget, eat your spinach, don’t interrupt so much, wait your turn, when in reality they’re, as a species, unbelievably weak to temptation, and will screw the bejeezus out you without even blinking, for your money, for your stuff, for a date with your girlfriend, your wife. An early hometown girlfriend, classmate throughout Smalltown public schools, Lana Lang, also suspects he’s different. Young Kent is not her first boyfriend, if you know what I mean, and when they dance, his arms, chest and back are more muscular than the other boys, and he’s always rock hard. Also, the leaping. Nobody can jump that high, over buildings and so forth. No matter how obviously she flirts with him, he just doesn’t seem to get the message. He’s not gay, although he likes hanging out with the other guys. He likes girls, he’s aggressive enough on the ballfield, it’s just that he’s so doggone ambivalent with these senoritas who are drawn so darn cute, can’t seem to make up his mind, and unlike the other boys she goes out with, he never tries to fool around. He’s just such an annoying straight arrow as a teenager, he frustrates the hell out of her, which just makes her pursue him all the more. Maybe that’s his game after all. Maybe he’s just shy. Or maybe he’s an alien from another planet who somehow ended up in Kansas with powers and abilities “far beyond those of mortal men.”
Later in life, his friends are older men, like cigar-chomping short-tempered boss editor Perry White or the perspicacious chief police inspector Bill Henderson. They always seem to be meeting up at one or the other’s apartment for a nice bowl of corn flakes.
“Every time she falls off a skyscraper and Superman has to catch her and fly her to safety, she senses that something different, develops a thing for him and keeps Kent on the back burner even though the two guys have a startling similarity, looks- and scent-wise.”
Elle Ryan, Pittsford
For this performance only, the part of Elle Ryan is portrayed by Miss Myrna Loy.
As an adult newspaper reporter, he’s friends with another reporter, Lois Lane, who sees him as weak because he never makes passes at her and she doesn’t have time for that kind of nonsense. And he’s always hanging out with the annoying staff photographer, Jimmy Olsen. Everybody on the paper knows Kent and Olsen are pals. Lois Lane keeps getting herself into jams with criminals and weird creatures, like the time she got trapped in that warehouse with a thawed-out dinosaur. Every time she falls off a skyscraper and Superman has to catch her and fly her to safety, she senses that something different, develops a thing for him and keeps Kent on the back burner even though the two guys have a startling similarity, looks- and scent-wise.
Whenever there’s a breaking story, Kent rushes out of his office and into the storage closet, where he strips down into his red-and-blue skivvies and jumps out the window to get the scoop. It isn’t fair, it isn’t ethical, Kent becomes star reporter quickly. Nobody’s ever seen Kent and Superman in the same place together. So newspaper work seems like a great job, although we never really see Kent or Lane or even that punk ginger kid Olsen sweating over a typewriter to meet a deadline.