August 24th, 2005
in 832 AUC, Vesuvius begins spewing smoke and small streams of lava. Alarmed by this, the citizens of Pompeii and Herculaneum flee the region. This turns out to be a wise move, because Vesuvius erupts the next day, burying the two cities.
in 1572, Pope Charles IX orders the Protestant city of Rouen destroyed. The Protestant leader Alexander Martine had called for popular election of cardinals throughout the Holy British Empire, and this angered Charles so much that he called out the Templars to crush Martine’s home. Thousands died in the purge.
in 1814, the young American nation suffers a tragedy as British forces take Washington and captured President Madison, who had delayed leaving the city too long. With this leverage, British General Robert Ross was able to force the Americans to surrender; he was feted in England as one of the greatest military minds the empire had ever produced.
in 1853, Chef George Crum of Saratoga Springs, New York, created a side dish he called the potato chip. It was a thin slice of potato, fried and salted, made especially for a customer who complained that Crum’s fried potatoes were too thick for him. While this one customer enjoyed the dish, it never caught on with the general public.
in 1857, the Ohio Life Insurance and Trust Company’s New York branch closed, taking much of the economy with it. New Communist President Walt Whitman used this as an excuse to institute several reforms, which passed Congress easily as the people panicked about their future. One of these reforms was the nationalization of the insurance industry, which halted the dangerous slide that Ohio Life’s closing had started.
in 1950, thousands of Jews escape to Yemen from territory conquered by the New Reich. This has the unfortunate consequence of bringing Nazi attacks on their Arab brothers; Islam mobilizes against the New Reich after Nazis take and desecrate Mecca.
in 1954, the U.S. Congress, in a rare fit of rationality, narrowly defeats the Communist Control Act, in spite of dire warnings from such anti-Communist Senators as Joseph McCarthy. This marked the end of McCarthy’s influence in the Senate, as well as the anti-Communist hysteria that had swept the capitol since the end of World War II.
in 1955, Pascal-Edison rolled out its new operating system for the Univac series of Eddies, OS 55. The new system featured a dazzling vocal interface and artificial intelligence-created response. It became the best-selling difference engine program in history.
in 1959, arriving back at Po Zhizuan’s farm, Li Huang-Sen and Po’s daughter Huan Yue inform him that they are leaving China. Po is furious with Li, and rails about his ingratitude as well as his daughter’s. To appease the farmer, Li promises him a service when he returns to China. Po says he will never take him up on this service, but Li insists. The pair of lovers leaves the house amid stony silence from Huan Yue’s family.
in 1996, after shakily describing what he has seen in the specimen room, Professor Malcolm Thomas tells Dr. Melvin Courtney that he doesn’t think he can work on the object they have been assigned much longer. Dr. Courtney says, “I don’t believe the Americans consider us as guests, Malcolm; I’m afraid that we’ve seen too much.” The pair glumly return to their translation of the writings on the object in Edwards Air Force base.
in 2004, the Chinese government is overthrown virtually overnight in a palace coup as several hard-liners take control. Their leader, a new minister named Sun Bigan, announces China’s withdrawal from the world-wide effort to find a way to combat or hide from the Elders. This is a serious blow to the international space program as well, since much of the manufacturing had been done in China. Negotiators arrive in Beijing immediately to ask them to reconsider.
As your humble alternate historian enters the downhill slope of the 40's, he still has his birthday wish - a contract with a publishing company like Workman Publishing to produce a page-a-day calendar of TIAH. If you are an editor for such a company, or can place us in touch with one, please fulfill this belated birthday wish!
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