Thursday, September 30, 2004

Presidential Assassins

John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln on April 14, 1865. Booth's last play was The Apostate, performed a month prior on March 18.

Charles Julius Guiteau shot James Garfield on July 2, 1881. Guiteau was a disturbed individual who started a fraudulant law company -- he flunked out of law school and failed the bar -- joined the Oneida Commune, and finally convinced himself that God wanted him to shoot Garfield.

Leon Frank Czolgosz shot William McKinley on September 6, 1901. Czolgosz was reportedly inspired by Gaetano Bresci's assassination of Italy's King Umberto I in 1900.

Lee Harvey Oswald shot John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963. Oswald also tried to assassinate General Walker, a right-wing, failed gubernatorial candidate.

Lynnette "Squeaky" Fromme, a devotee of Charles Manson, tried to assassinate Gerald Ford on September 5, 1975. Not three weeks later, on September 22, Sara Jane Moore tried to shoot Ford. Both attempts were made in California -- first Sacremento, then San Francisco.

John Warnock Hinckley Jr. shot Ronald Reagan on March 30, 1981. Hinckley was motivated by an obsession for Jodie Foster whom he saw in repeated viewings of Taxi Driver.

Saturday, September 25, 2004

US State Facts

States That Were Never Territories
  • 13 colonies were overseas provinces of Great Britain, then independent states until ratification of U.S. Constitution.
  • Vermont, unrecognized Vermont Republic, then separated from New York in 1791
  • Kentucky, separated from state of Virginia in 1792
  • Maine, separated from state of Massachusetts in 1820
  • Texas, independent Republic of Texas from 1836 to 1845
  • California, unrecognized Bear Flag Republic, then ambiguous status under U.S. military rule from 1846 to quasi-territorial status to admission as state in 1850
  • West Virginia, pro-Union counties separated from Virginia in 1863
Densest States (people per square kilometer)
  1. New Jersey - 438.00
  2. Rhode Island - 387.35
  3. Massachusetts - 312.68
  4. Connecticut - 271.40
  5. Maryland - 209.23
Sparsest States (people per square kilometer)
  1. Alaska - 0.42
  2. Wyoming - 1.96
  3. Montana - 2.39
  4. North Dakota - 3.59
  5. South Dakota - 3.84
    Largest States (by area)
    1. Alaska - 1,717,854 km² (663,267 miles²)
    2. Texas - 695,621 km² (268,581 miles²)
    3. California - 423,970 km² (163,696 miles²)
    4. Montana - 380,838 km² (147,042 miles²)
    5. New Mexico - 314,915 km² (121,589 miles²)
    Extremal Points ( in the 50 states) More information

    Wednesday, September 22, 2004

    Oscar Ties

    If a nominee is three or less votes behind the winner, a tie is declared and the Academy will award two Oscars, one to each nominee. This has happened only two times in the history of the Academy Awards.

    1968: Barbara Steisand (Funny Girl) and Katherine Hepburn (The Lion in Winter) tied for Best Actress. This is the only exact tie in Academy history.

    1931/32: Fredric March (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde) and Wallace Beery (The Champ) tied for Best Actor. They differed by one vote.

    Saturday, September 18, 2004

    Metropolitan Areas

    "A conurbation is an urban area comprising a number of cities or towns whose built-up zones of influence have merged physically through population growth and expansion to form one contiguous urban cluster. It is thus a polycentric form of agglomeration. Mumbai is the world's largest conurbation.

    "An agglomeration is an extended city or town area comprising the built-up area of a central place (usually a municipality) and any suburbs or adjacent satellite towns." -- Wikipedia

    The largest agglomeration in the world is the Tokyo-Yokohama-Kawasaki-Chiba megalopolis, followed by Mexico City-Nezahualcóyotl-Ecatepec-Naucalpan. The largest city proper in the world is Tokyo (28 million) followed by Mexico City (18 million).

    Due to the varied definition of city around the world, it is imprecise to define a densest city in the world. The densest countries/territories are:
    The densest large country is Bangledesh.


    Popular Ditty Turns 40

    The most popular song at US sporting events, the theme to the Addams Family, turns 40 this year along with the TV debut of the show itself. The show, based on the macabre New Yorker cartoons by Charles Addams, first aired in 1964. Its catchy and well-known theme was composed and performed by Vic Mizzy. According to Mizzy, the now-famous snapping was improvised when he first performed it for the studio as they didn't have any instruments.

    Mizzy is also responsible for the theme song found in Sam Raimi's Spiderman. The score to the movie, of course, is done by Danny Elfman. Elfman himself is no stranger to the spotlight. He was the frontman for Oingo Boingo (who did "Weird Science" for the movie of the same name) and has composed, in addition to Spiderman I and II, the themes to: The Simpsons, The Hulk, Dick Tracy, Men in Black, and almost every Tim Burton movie.

    Celebrity Religions

    Madonna adopted the name Esther when she began to follow the Kaballah, a sect of Jewish mysticism. Reportedly, she has influenced Elizabeth Taylor, Britney Spears, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Winona Ryder, Roseanne Barr, Jerry Hall, Jeff Goldblum, Courtney Love and Paris Hilton to join the in vogue branch of the Jewish faith.

    The Kaballah is, of course, not the only fringe religion followed by entertainment nabobs; Scientology has long held strong in celebrity circles claiming as its own:
    For more groupings by belief, check out this list.

    Friday, September 17, 2004

    Rembrandt's Lazy Eye

    Based on self-portraits, doctors think Rembrandt had a lazy eye; indeed, it may have helped him as he could more easily portray the 2-D world he saw onto a 2-D canvas.

    Having a lazy eye is called extropia, when one of the eyes points outward away from the position normal for stereoscopic (3-D) vision. Extropia is just one of a family of conditions grouped under the disorder strabismus. Other manifestations of strabismus are esotropia (one eye pointing inwards) and hypertropia (one eye turning upwards).

    Thursday, September 16, 2004

    Best Picture, Director, Acting Oscars

    Of the 76 Academy Awards Ceremonies, 19 times the Best Director has been awarded to someone who didn't direct the Best Picture. It happened most at the beginning with 67% of the 20s ceremonies splitting Picture and Director and a split occurring 60% of the time in the 30s. In modern times, a split is likely 10-20% of the time.

    While the Director and Picture have been the same 57 times, the Picture, Director, and Leading Actor (Actress) have aligned only 22 times. Only 3 times have the Picture, Director, and both Leading Actor awards gone to the same movie (It Happened One Night, 1934; One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1975; and Silence of the Lambs, 1991).

    Bond Girls

    Bond films are legion, but there are even more Bond Girls. While his relationships are always short, Bond has been married twice (On Her Majesty's Secret Service to Diana Rigg and You Only Live Twice to Mie Hama). Ursula Andress and Maud Adams are the only actresses to appear twice. Kim Basinger and Halle Berry are the only Oscar winners to be Bond Girls.

    Dr. No (1962) Ursula Andress (Honey Ryder)
    From Russia With Love (1963) Daniela Bianchi (Tatiana Romanova)
    Goldfinger (1964) Shirley Eaton (Jill Masterson), Honor Blackman (Pussy Galore)
    Thunderball (1965) Claudine Auger (Dominique Derval)
    You Only Live Twice (1967) Akiko Wakabayashi (Aki) and Mie Hama (Kissy Suzuki)
    Casino Royale (1967) Ursula Andress (Vesper Lynd), Jacqueline Bisset (Miss Goodthighs), Deborah Kerr (Agent Mimi), Daliah Lavi (The Detainer), and Bond's girl Joanna Pettet (Mata Bond)
    Diamonds are Forever (1971) Jill St. John (Tiffany Case)
    On Her Majesty's Secret Service (1969) Diana Rigg (Teresa Di Vicenzo)
    Live and Let Die (1973) Jane Seymour (Solitaire)
    The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) Britt Ekland (Miss Mary Goodnight) and Maud Adams (Andrea Anders)
    The Spy Who Loved Me (1977) Barbara Bach (Major Anya Amasova)
    Moonraker (1979) Lois Chiles (Dr. Holly Goodhead)
    For Your Eyes Only (1981) Carole Bouquet (Melina Havelock)
    Octopussy (1983) Maud Adams (Octopussy)
    Never Say Never Again (1983) Kim Basinger (Domino Petachi)
    A View to a Kill (1985) Tanya Roberts (Stacet Sutton) and Grace Jones (May Day)
    The Living Daylights (1987) Maryam d'Abo (Kara Milovy)
    Licence to Kill (1989) Talisa Soto (Lupe Lamora) and Carey Lowell (Pam Bouvier)
    GoldenEye (1995) Izabella Scorupco (Natalya Simonova) and Famke Janssen (Xenia Onatopp)
    Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) Teri Hatcher (Paris Carver) and Michelle Yeoh (Wai Lin)
    The World Is Not Enough (1999) Sophie Marceau (Elektra King) and Denise Richards (Dr. Christmas Jones)
    Die Another Day (2002) Halle Berry (Giacinta "Jinx" Johnson) and Rosamund Pike (Miranda Frost)

    Tuesday, September 14, 2004

    Free Cars on Oprah

    Oprah gave away 276 Pontiac G6 sports sedans to her entire live audience. The audience was composed entirely of women who had been selected for their need of new cars. GM donated the cars, valued at 50 prime-time airspots or around $7 million.

    Class V Hurricanes

    Hurricanes are classified according to the Saffir-Simpson scale. A Class V hurricane has sustained winds over 155mph. The only Class V hurricanes to strike land in the US are: the Labor Day Storm/Hurricane of 1935, Camille (1969), and Andrew (1992).