Monday, December 13, 2010

On this date in history

December 13, 1642: Dutch navigator Abel Tasman sighted what we now call New Zealand.

December 13, 1918: President Woodrow Wilson arrived in France, the first U.S. President to visit Europe while in office.

December 13, 2003: Saddam Husein was captured hiding in a hole under a farmhouse near Takrit in Iraq.


  1. That is absolutely incredible. So not credible that I'll have to see it as proof that spacemen built all those mayan cities, and live amongst us to this very day.
    Who'd have thought Abel Tasman, back in 1642, or as we say, 'a quarter to five', would have so thoroughly eschewed the fashion of his day, and worn so futuristic a clothing that he would have passed unremarked in the twentieth century!
    And that Abel had mastered time-travel and spoke contemporary american english!
    So much so that he could mingle with the people, and get himself elected to the highest rank of any american, President of the United States of America!

    Or maybe it was Woodrow, who, slipping through a secret door in the library of the White-house, entered his temporal displacement apparatus, and slipped back into the 17th century, time-travelling to become a dutch adventurer and navigator. I'll bet that map in his pocket helped. Of course, to allay suspicion, he'd have to adopt a dutch-ish name, like Tasman, otherwise there'd be a big island off the south east coast of Australia, called "Wilsonia".

  2. I suppose asking where Van Diemen fitted in would only serve to confuse the issue. So I won't.

  3. Van Diemens are the erratic, often demonic drivers of box-like vehicles our roads.
    They are all cloned, and raised in steaming vats in Van Diemen's land. Because their rude behaviour, filthy language, and rude gestures give the place a bad name, the residents, those who are not cloned, or involved in cloning, refer to the place as Tasmania, named in honour of the great navigator, Woodrow Wilson.
    Clear enough for you?
    Don't hesitate to ask questions, I always have far more answers than I ever get asked questions.

  4. @Soubriquet - What are you saying?

    @Sheila - You probably know that Sheila is a traditional Tasmanian name. What, exactly, did the Van damian guy do on December 13? Or are you branching out on your own from the post's premise? Well, that's ok. Shifting gears from "On this date in history" to "Lonely explorers of future prison colonies" is just fine. I'll go with the flow. Frankly I didn't know what he did until I saw Soubriquet's comment. I thought he was a Dutch kick boxing movie star or the governor of Ohio. I have an American education, you'll recall, and it idn't include Australia or NZ without an extra charge, and I was on the cut-rate plan which only included the 13 original colonies, 2 English counties and Tsar Nicholas' last hours. Goes to show. Thanks Soubriquet!

    @Obama - I am going to delete your comment because of the feelthy language and rude gestures. Consider yourself eschewed. Second president to visit France. Indeed.

  5. Minor countries at that. Rutland and Yorkshire.

  6. No, we weren't even taught the difference between a county and a country. Or how to type or any of that stuff.

  7. 1642 is nearer twenty to the hour than quarter to.....

  8. Van Diemen's Land

    Come all you gallant poachers,
    That ramble void of care,
    That walk out on a moonlight night
    With your dog, your gun and snare.
    The harmless hare and pheasant
    You have at your command,
    Not thinkin' of your last career
    Upon Van Dieman's land.

    Twas poor Jock Brown frae Glesca,
    Will Guthrie and Munro,
    We were four daring poachers,
    The country well did know;
    By the keepers of the land, my boys,
    One night we were trepanned,
    And for fourteen years transported
    Unto Van Dieman's land.

    There came a lass frae sweet Dundee,
    Bess Logan was her name,
    And she was given sentence
    For playing of the game;
    The captain bought her freedom
    And married her out of hand,
    And she gave us all good usage
    Going to Van Dieman's land.

    The very day we landed
    Upon that fateful shore,
    The planters came round us,
    Some forty score or more;
    They ranked us off like horses
    And sold us out of hand,
    And yoked us to the plough, brave boys,
    To plough Van Dieman's Land.

    God bless our wives and families,
    Likewise that happy shore,
    That isle of sweet contentment
    Which we shall see no more;
    As for the wretched females,
    See them we seldom can,
    There are fourteen men to every woman
    In Van Dieman's Land.

    Oh, if I had a thousand pounds
    All laid out in my hand,
    I'd give it all for liberty
    If that I could command;
    Once more to Ireland I'd return,
    And be a happy man,
    And bid adieu to poaching
    And to Van Dieman's Land.

    Although the poor of Ireland
    Do labour and do toil,
    They're robbed of every blessing
    And produce of the soil;
    Your proud, imperious landlords,
    If you break their commands,
    They'll send you on the British hulks
    To plough Van Dieman's land.

  9. Adullamite, it depends whether you're looking forward to something, or dragging your heels. "1700!" I say, "Bring it on!"

  10. Soubriquet, your comment is one of the all-time best comments ever. I literally laughed my butt off (ok, not literally, but I keep dreaming).


    And thanks for the poem. A new one on me.

  11. Stephanie. If your butt is loose, I'd suggest tightening your belly-button. Sometimes the adjustment may be obscured by fluff.

    The pome is not so much a pome as a song, there are quite a few in that vein,

    This version's full of the irish love of misery.

  12. I'd love to tighten my bellybutton, but, unfortunately, my bellybutton is metric and it's so hard to find tools here in the US.


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