Saturday, August 27, 2011

Today -100: August 27, 1911: Of real fires, fake fires, and non-existent canals


William Van Schaick, captain of the paddle steamer General Slocum when it caught fire in the East River in 1904, killing over 1,000 people on their way to a church picnic, is paroled after serving 2½ years for criminal negligence.

It really is a bad idea to shout fire in a crowded theatre. Some drunk does so in a movie theatre in Canonsburg, PA, and 28 people die in the stampede. There was no fire.

Interplanetary News of the Day -100: “Martians Build Two Immense Canals in Two Years.” According to astronomer Percival Lowell, who should know. Each of the canals is 1,000 miles long and 20 miles wide. Which certainly puts the Panama Canal into perspective.

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