This Day In History – August 17th
‘FANTASMAGORIE’, FIRST ANIMATED CARTOON EVER – AUGUST 17, 1908
Inspired Artwork by Tumblehead Animation Studios
Fantasmagorie is a 1908 French animated film by Émile Cohl. It is one of the earliest examples of traditional (hand-drawn) animation, and considered by film historians to be the first animated cartoon
The film, in all of its wild transformations, is a direct tribute to the by-then forgotten Incoherent movement. The title is a reference to the “fantasmograph”, a mid-Nineteenth Century variant of the magic lantern that projected ghostly images that floated across the walls.
The film was created by drawing each frame on paper and then shooting each frame onto negative film, which gave the picture a blackboard look.
It was made up of 700 drawings, each of which was double-exposed (animated “on twos”), leading to a running time of almost two minutes. It borrowed from J. Stuart Blackton, the “chalk-line effect”; filming black lines on white paper, then reversing the negative to make it look like white chalk on a black chalkboard. Blackton and Cohl also borrowed some technics from Georges Méliès, such as the ‘stop trick’. [Source: Wikipedia]
RADCLIFFE LINE CREATES INDIA/PAKISTAN BORDER – AUGUST 17, 1947
Artwork via Wikimedia Commons
The Radcliffe Line became the border between India and Pakistan on 17 August 1947 after the Partition of India. The line was decided by the Border Commissions chaired by Sir Cyril Radcliffe, who was to divide equitably 175,000 square miles (450,000 km2) of territory with 88 million people.
On July 15, 1947, the Indian Independence Act 1947 of the British Parliament stipulated that the British Raj of India would end in just one month’s time on August 15, 1947. It also stipulated the partition of India into two sovereign dominions: the Union of India and the Dominion of Pakistan as a homeland for the Muslims in British India.
Pakistan was intended as a Muslim homeland while India was secular with a Hindu majority.
After arriving in India on 8 July, Radcliffe was given just 5 weeks to decide on a border. All lawyers by trade, Radcliffe and the other commissioners had all of the polish and none of the specialized knowledge needed for the task. They had no advisers to inform them of the well-established procedures and information needed to draw a boundary. Nor was there time to gather the survey and regional information. The absence of some experts and advisers, such as the United Nations, was deliberate, to avoid delay. Britain’s new Labour government “deep in wartime debt, simply couldn’t afford to hold on to its increasingly unstable empire.”
Before his appointment, Radcliffe had never visited India and knew no one there. Had the Commission been more careful, gaffes in the division could have been avoided. For example, there were instances where the border was drawn leaving some parts of a village in India and some in Pakistan. Since he had just a month, Radcliffe saw little point in being careful to skirt villages. His border was drawn right through thickly populated areas instead of between them. There were even instances where the dividing line passed through a single house with some rooms in one country and others in the other. After the partition, the fledgling governments of India and Pakistan were left with all responsibility to implement the border. [Source: Wikipedia]
MILES DAVIS RELEASES ‘KIND OF BLUE’ – AUGUST 17, 1959
Kind of Blue is a studio album by American jazz musician Miles Davis, released August 17, 1959, on Columbia Records in the United States. Recording sessions for the album took place at Columbia’s 30th Street Studio in New York City on March 2 and April 22, 1959. The sessions featured Davis’s ensemble sextet, which consisted of pianists Bill Evans and Wynton Kelly, drummer Jimmy Cobb, bassist Paul Chambers, and saxophonists John Coltrane and Julian “Cannonball” Adderley.
Though precise figures have been disputed, Kind of Blue has been cited by many music writers not only as Davis’s best-selling album, but as the best-selling jazz record of all time. On October 7, 2008, it was certified quadruple platinum. It has been regarded by many critics as the greatest jazz album of all time and Davis’s masterpiece. The album’s influence on music, including jazz, rock, and classical music, has led music writers to acknowledge it as one of the most influential albums of all time. In 2002, it was one of fifty recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry. In 2003, the album was ranked number 12 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
As was Miles Davis’s penchant, he called for almost no rehearsal and the musicians had little idea what they were to record. As described in the original liner notes by pianist Bill Evans, Davis had only given the band sketches of scales and melody lines on which to improvise. Once the musicians were assembled, Davis gave brief instructions for each piece and then set to taping the sextet in studio. While the results were impressive with so little preparation, the persistent legend that the entire album was recorded in one pass is untrue. [Source: Wikipedia]
FIRST BALLOON TO CROSS ATLANTIC OCEAN – AUGUST 17, 1978
Photograph via Wired
Double Eagle II, piloted by Ben Abruzzo, Maxie Anderson, and Larry Newman, became the first balloon to cross the Atlantic Ocean when it landed 17 August 1978 in Miserey near Paris, 137 hours 6 minutes after leaving Presque Isle, Maine.
The flight, the fourteenth known attempt, was the culmination of more than a century of previous attempts to cross the Atlantic Ocean by balloon. Some of the people who had attempted it were never found.
The Double Eagle II Airport is named for the balloon. The gondola is displayed at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum annex at Washington Dulles International Airport in the Chantilly area of Fairfax County, Virginia, United States. A monument, containing a model of the balloon, was built to commemorate the Double Eagle II and its Atlantic crossing at the field from where the balloon lifted off (46°37?36.54?N 68°1?16.66?W). [Source: Wikipedia]
THE AZARIA CHAMBERLAIN DISAPPEARANCE – AUGUST 17, 1980
Photograph via The Telegraph
Azaria Chantel Loren Chamberlain (born 11 June 1980 in Mount Isa, Queensland) was a nine-week-old Australian baby girl, who disappeared on the night of 17 August 1980 on a camping trip to Ayers Rock (also called Uluru) with her family. Her body was never found. Her parents, Lindy and Michael Chamberlain, reported that she had been taken from their tent by a dingo. An initial inquest, highly critical of the police investigation, supported this assertion. The findings of the inquest were broadcast live on television—a first in Australia.
Subsequently, after a further investigation and second inquest, Azaria’s mother, Lindy Chamberlain, was tried for murder. Lindy was convicted of murder on 29 October 1982 and sentenced to life imprisonment. Azaria’s father, Michael Chamberlain, was convicted as an accessory after the fact and given a suspended sentence. The media focus for the trial was extraordinarily intense and sensational. The Chamberlains made several unsuccessful appeals, including the final High Court appeal. After all legal options had been exhausted, the chance discovery of a piece of Azaria’s clothing in an area full of dingo lairs led to Lindy Chamberlain’s release from prison, on “compassionate grounds.” She was later exonerated of all charges.
While the case is officially unsolved, the report of a dingo attack is generally accepted. Recent deadly dingo attacks in other areas of Australia have strengthened the case for the dingo theory. The story has been made into a TV movie, a feature film, a TV miniseries, a play by Brooke Pierce, a concept album by Australian band The Paradise Motel and an opera by Moya Henderson. There have also been numerous books written about the case.
The final resolution of the case was triggered by a chance discovery. In early 1986, English tourist David Brett fell to his death from Ayers Rock during an evening climb. Because of the vast size of the rock and the scrubby nature of the surrounding terrain, it was eight days before Brett’s remains were discovered, lying below the bluff where he had lost his footing, in an area full of dingo lairs. As police searched the area, looking for missing bones that might have been carried off by dingoes, they discovered a small item of clothing. It was quickly identified as the crucial missing piece of evidence from the Chamberlain case—Azaria’s missing matinée jacket.
Two years after they were exonerated, the Chamberlains were awarded A$1.3 million in compensation for wrongful imprisonment, a sum that covered only approximately one quarter of their legal expenses. The Chamberlain trial was the most publicised in Australian history. Given that most of the evidence presented in the case against Lindy Chamberlain was later rejected, the case is now used as an example of how media and bias can adversely affect a trial. [Source: Wikipedia]
Photograph via The Telegraph
PAKISTAN PRESIDENT ZIA-UL-HAQ DIES IN PLANE CRASH – AUG 17, 1988
General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq (August 1924 – 17 August 1988) was the sixth President of Pakistan from July 1977 to his death in August 1988. Distinguished by his role in the Black September in Jordan military operation in 1970, he was appointed Chief of Army Staff in 1976. After widespread civil disorder, he overthrew ruling Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in a bloodless coup d’état on 5 July 1977 and became the state’s third ruler to impose martial law. He initially ruled as Chief Martial Law Administrator, but later installed himself as the President of Pakistan in September 1978.
Zia’s major domestic initiatives included the consolidation of the fledgling nuclear program, which was initiated by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, denationalization and deregulation and the state’s Islamization. He is most remembered for his foreign policy; the subsidizing of the Mujahideen movement during the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan which led to the Soviet Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan. He was described by some as a “fundamentalist Sunni dictator”. Zia died along with several of his top generals and then-United States Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Lewis Raphel in a suspicious aircraft crash near Bahawalpur (Punjab) on 17, August 1988.
After witnessing a US M1 Abrams tank demonstration in Bahawalpur, Zia had left the small town in the Punjab province by C-130 Hercules aircraft. Shortly after a smooth takeoff, the control tower lost contact with the aircraft. Witnesses who saw the plane in the air afterward claim it was flying erratically, then nosedived and exploded on impact. In addition to Zia, 31 others died in the plane crash, including Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Akhtar Abdur Rahman, close associate of General Zia, Brigadier Siddique Salik, the American Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold Lewis Raphel and General Herbert M. Wassom, the head of the U.S. Military aid mission to Pakistan. Ghulam Ishaq Khan, the Senate Chairman announced Zia’s death on radio and TV.
The manner of his death has given rise to many conspiracy theories. There is speculation that America, India, the Soviet Union (as retaliation for US-Pakistani supported attacks in Afghanistan) or an alliance of them and internal groups within Zia’s military were behind the attack. A board of inquiry was set up to investigate the crash. It concluded the most probable cause of the crash was a criminal act of sabotage perpetrated in the aircraft. It also suggested that poisonous gases were released which incapacitated the passengers and crew, which would explain why no Mayday signal was given. [Source: Wikipedia]
THE MONICA LEWINSKY SCANDAL – AUGUST 17, 1998
The Lewinsky scandal was a political sex scandal emerging from a sexual relationship between United States President Bill Clinton and a 22-year-old White House intern, Monica Lewinsky. The news of this extra-marital affair and the resulting investigation eventually led to the impeachment of President Clinton in 1998 by the U.S. House of Representatives and his subsequent acquittal on all impeachment charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in a 21-day Senate trial.
In 1995, Monica Lewinsky, a graduate of Lewis & Clark College, was hired to work as an intern at the White House during Clinton’s first term, and began a personal relationship with him, the details of which she later confided to her friend and Defense department co-worker Linda Tripp, who secretly recorded their telephone conversations. When Tripp discovered in January 1998 that Lewinsky had signed an affidavit in the Paula Jones case denying a relationship with Clinton, she delivered the tapes to Kenneth Starr, the Independent Counsel who was investigating Clinton on other matters, including the Whitewater scandal, the White House FBI files controversy, and the White House travel office controversy. During the grand jury testimony Clinton’s responses were guarded, and he argued, “It depends on what the meaning of the word is is”.
Clinton admitted in taped grand jury testimony on August 17, 1998, that he had had an “improper physical relationship” with Lewinsky. That evening he gave a nationally televised statement admitting his relationship with Lewinsky which was “not appropriate”. [Source: Wikipedia]
DEADLY IZMIT EARTHQUAKE IN TURKEY – AUGUST 17, 1999
Photograph via Carnegie Science Center
The 1999 Izmit earthquake (also known as the Kocaeli or Golcuk earthquake) was a 7.6 magnitude earthquake that struck northwestern Turkey on August 17, 1999, at about 3:02am local time. The event lasted for 37 seconds, killing around 17,000 people and leaving approximately half a million people homeless. Even though official sources consideres casualties 17,000 people, non official sources considers the casualties 35,000 people. The nearby city of Izmit was very badly damaged. [Source: Wikipedia]
MICHAEL PHELPS WINS 8TH GOLD MEDAL IN BEIJING – AUGUST 17, 2008
Michael Fred Phelps (born June 30, 1985) is an American swimmer who has, overall, won 16 Olympic medals—six gold and two bronze at Athens in 2004, and eight gold at Beijing in 2008, becoming the most successful athlete at both of these Olympic Games editions. In doing so he has twice equaled the record eight medals of any type at a single Olympics achieved by Soviet gymnast Alexander Dityatin at the 1980 Moscow Summer Games. His five golds in individual events tied the single Games record set by compatriot Eric Heiden in the 1980 Winter Olympics and equaled by Vitaly Scherbo at the 1992 Summer Games. Phelps holds the record for the most gold medals won in a single Olympics; his eight at the 2008 Beijing Games surpassed American swimmer Mark Spitz’s seven-gold performance at Munich in 1972. Phelps’ Olympic medal total is second only to the 18 Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina won over three Olympics, including nine gold. Furthermore, he holds the all-time record for most individual gold Olympic medals, at nine.
Phelps’s international titles and record breaking performances have earned him the World Swimmer of the Year Award six times and American Swimmer of the Year Award eight times. He has won a total of sixty-six medals in major international competition, fifty-four gold, nine silver, and three bronze spanning the Olympics, the World, and the Pan Pacific Championships. His unprecedented Olympic success in 2008 earned Phelps Sports Illustrated magazine’s Sportsman of the Year award.
On August 17, Phelps won his eighth gold medal in the men’s 4×100 m medley relay, breaking Mark Spitz’s record of seven gold medals won in a single Olympic Games, which had stood since 1972. Phelps, along with teammates Brendan Hansen, Aaron Peirsol, and Jason Lezak, set a new world record in the event with a time of 3 minutes and 29.34 seconds, 0.7 seconds ahead of second-place Australia and 1.34 seconds faster than the previous record set by the United States at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens. When Phelps dived in to swim the 100 m butterfly leg, the third leg of the 400-meter medley, the United States had been trailing Australia and Japan.
Phelps completed his split in 50.1 seconds, the fastest butterfly split ever for the event, giving teammate Jason Lezak a more than half-second lead for the final leg, which he would hold onto to clinch the event in world record time. Said Phelps, upon completing the event that awarded him his eighth gold medal and eighth Olympic record in as many events, “Records are always made to be broken no matter what they are … Anybody can do anything that they set their mind to.” [Source: Wikipedia]