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Archive for February, 2011

06 February

This weeks New York Times Non-Fiction Bestsellers


Looking for something to read?  We’ve got you covered.  I love reading.  I thought it would be nice and easy to let you all know that bestseller’s this week.  I have unfortunately only read one of the books on the list below.  Outliers was an amazing book and I highly recommend it.  I’ve read all (I think) of Gladwell’s books, and I must say he is a talented writer!  Have you read any of these?  Let us know in the comments.

1. Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

2. Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother

3. Decision Points

4. Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1

5. Cleopatra: A Life

6. Life

7. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

8. Decoded

9. The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict between America and Al-Qaeda

10. Outliers: The Story of Success

04 February

Feb 4, 1974 Patty Hearst Kidnapped


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Patty Hearst, the granddaughter of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst was kidnapped on February 4, 1974 by a neo-revolutionary group called the Symbionese Liberation Army (SLA). She was taken from her Berkley, California apartment that she shared with her fiance Steven Weed. By her account, she was kept for 2 months and brain washed. In April 1974 the now famous picture of her holding a gun was photographed.

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On April 15, 1974 she officially became an outlaw.  She was photographed helping a group of SLA members commit a bank robbery.  In September 1974, Patty Hearst was arrested with other members of the SLA in a San Francisco apartment.  On March 20, 1976 she was convicted of the bank robbery and sentenced to 35 years in prison.  After serving 22 months of her sentence Hearst was released in February 1979, when Jimmy Carter commuted her sentence.  President Bill Clinton granter her a full pardon January 20, 2001.  After her release Patty married her former bodyguard, Bernard Shaw. She now lives with her husband and two children, Gillian and Lydia in Garrison, New York.

Patty eventually wrote a autobiography of her ordeal called Patty Hearst Her Story.  Patty also wrote, Every Secret Thing. The book Patty’s Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in 1970s America is also a popular biography about Patty Hearst.  Movies have also been made about Patty’s kidnapping and include, Guerrilla – The Taking of Patty Hearst and Patty Hearst.  Patty her self is an actress and has been in several films and appears in television series as well.

Below you can watch a Patty Hearst interview from Larry King Live.  It has several parts.

Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

Text Sources:,

02 February

Feb 2, 1887 First Groundhog Day


Groundhog Day may be one of may favorite all time movies, but it is also a pretty big deal everyday for Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, the same town depicted in the movie. The movie was actually filmed in Woodstock and they are so proud of being the location of the movie that they’ve erected a plaque at the corner with the troublesome puddle and named it “Ned’s Corner.” They also have their own groundhog now, Woodstock Willie, and the local movie theater shows the movie for free every Groundhog’s Day weekend. Despite the terrible weather the midwest and east are getting it all seems to be moving forward.

Here is a great overview of the history of the day. I was going to paraphrase all this, but I liked exactly how it was written:

Groundhog Day, February 2nd, is a popular tradition in the United States. It is also a legend that traverses centuries, its origins clouded in the mists of time with ethnic cultures and animals awakening on specific dates. Myths such as this tie our present to the distant past when nature did, indeed, influence our lives. It is the day that the Groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow.

If he sees it, he regards it as an omen of six more weeks of bad weather and returns to his hole.

If the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.

The groundhog tradition stems from similar beliefs associated with Candlemas Day and the days of early Christians in Europe, and for centuries the custom was to have the clergy bless candles and distribute them to the people. Even then, it marked a milestone in the winter and the weather that day was important.


Watched this on Monday. I’ve seen this many times and still love it. One of my all-time favorites.

Groundhog Day (15th Anniversary Special Edition) [Blu-ray]

Some of the best parts of the movie:

01 February

The New Look of History on Air


If you are reading this in your favorite RSS reader, head on over to real quick and check out the new look.  Please leave a comment and let me know what you think of the new design.  I want to update the podcast and blog and these are the first steps.  The website needed a new look.  Hope you all like it.

01 February

Feb 1, 1884 – Oxford Dictionary debuts


In 1857 the members of the Philological Society of London decided that the available english language dictionary were terrible.  They thought they could do better.  They new it was a huge project, but they didn’t know just how bad it was going to get.

The project proceeded at a snails pace.  It wasn’t until 1879 that the Society made a deal with the Oxford University Press and James A.H. Murray to begin on a new English Dictionary.

It was to be a 4 volume work, 6,400 pages in all.  It would include English language vocabulary from Early Middle English Period (1150 AD) to present.  It was estimated that the project would take about 10 years.  But 5 years later, they had only reached ‘ant’.  By Feb 1, 1884 they had published the first part of the dictionary.

In April 1928 the last volume was published.  It was no longer a 4 volume, 6,400 page work.  The project had ballooned into a 10 volume 400,000 page work.

Further Reading:

Reading the OED: One Man, One Year, 21,730 Pages – This book is about a man who spends a year reading the OED.  This is on my list of books to read and I’m looking forward to it.  From the book description: “Shea shares his year inside the OED, delivering a hair-pulling, eye-crossing account of reading every word.”

Concise Oxford English Dictionary: 11th Edition Revised 2008 – Take a go of it yourself and read the OED cover to cover.  If you do please let me know what you thought of the project.

In this video is the Yale University Library and Oxford University Press sponsored a panel lecture on October 1, 2008 to celebrate the 80th birthday of the Oxford English Dictionary, the comprehensive dictionary of the English language. The speakers were Fred Shapiro, Simon Winchester, Jesse Sheidlower, and Ammon Shea, and each brought unique and engaging insights to this discussion of the history, function, and future of the dictionary.