Good evening. Today is Monday, the 24th day of January. It's the 24th day of the year. This is not a leap year, so there are 341 days remaining in 2022. On the Jewish calendar, today is the 22nd day of Shevat in the year 5782. On this day in 1656, the first Jewish doctor in North American colonies, Jacob Lumbrozo, arrived in Maryland.
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Today in History
On this day in 1848, James W. Marshall was building a sawmill for Captain John Sutter, using water from the South Fork of the American River, when he noticed several flakes of metal in the water and recognized them to be gold. Though he tried to keep it a secret, the word spread quickly, and triggered the California gold rush of 1849.
At the time, California was technically a part of Mexico. Coincidentally, just a little more than a week later, the United States and Mexico signed a treaty that led to the United States' purchase of the land that became California, as well as the other southwestern states. If Mexico had known about the discovery of gold on this day, they might never have sold all that land for just $15 million.
The reason the gold rush caused such a huge migration of people across the United States was that gold was a particularly easy mineral for ordinary people to mine. Gold has chemical properties that make it unlikely to combine with other minerals, so it is usually found relatively pure in nature. And because of its density, it would often get washed out of mountainsides in rivers, and then settle at the bottom of the river wherever the water was calm. So instead of having to build a huge mining operation, with lots of fancy machinery, ordinary people could just sift through the pebbles at the bottom of a stream, and if they were lucky, they'd find gold. The price of gold was about $20 an ounce at the time. If a riverbed contained gold, it was possible to pan out 10 ounces a day, earning more in a week than the average worker could earn in a year.
In the 10 years prior to 1848, only 2,700 people had settled in California. By the end of 1850, almost 200,000 people had moved there, and they did so even though California was 1,000 miles from the nearest state, Texas, and there were no major roads to get there.
By 1860, more than $600 million in gold had been mined out of California, but very few ordinary people actually made it rich. The riverbeds were panned out pretty quickly, and then the only way to get the gold was by using machines. But even though it didn't help many of the miners, the gold rush greatly increased government revenues, and helped build the American West. Some historians have argued that the gold from California even helped the North win the Civil War, since it was those gold revenues that helped fund the war effort. (Source: The Writer's Almanac)
Today's Birthday Boys and Girls
Today is the birthday of Publius A. Hadrianus, 14th Roman Emperor (76), Georg F. Schmidt (1712), Pierre de Baumarchais (1732), E.T.A. Hoffmann (1776), Karl von Staudt (1798), Edith Wharton (1862), Ernst Heinrich Heinkel (1888), Humphrey Bogart (1899), Mark Goodson (1913), Ernest Borgnine (1917), Oral Roberts (1918), Ernie Kovacs (1919), Maria Tallchief (1925), Neil Diamond (1941), Aaron Neville (1941), Sharon Tate (1943), Warren Zevon (1947), Elliott Abrams (1948), John Belushi (1949), Richard Dean Anderson (1950), Yakov Smirnoff (1951), Jools Holland (1958), Nastassia Kinski (1960), Mary Lou Retton (1968), Tatyana Ali (1979), and Mischa Barton (1986).
On Wall Street
About the stock numbers: There's no current stock market reporting at the moment because of a snag in the link that retrieves the data and gets it to the screen. The stock market stuff is on the work bench until it's working again.
The New York Stock Exchange is currently closed. At closing today, the NASDAQ was up by to . The S&P500 index closed at , up by .
Note: During trading hours all data is in real time. The data is preserved at the end of the trading day. It remains until the next opening bell. The process of retrieving stock info involves many links between the sources and what you're reading on the screen. At the moment, there's a technical issue up the line with the DJ average. Occasionally, the data appears as random characters. If there's numerical data on the screen, it's accurate. The other indicies are working and accurate.
Earth and All Spheres
The current weather conditions and forecast usually appear in this section. However, there have been technical issues the last few days with the NOAA system, so the data is not always available. Reloading the page will sometimes bring up the info.
We are under a last quarter moon. At the time you accessed this page, its exact age was 22 days, 7 hours, and 58 minutes. We will be under a new moon again on Tuesday, February 1st at 3:05 AM CST. The moon will reach full luminescence on Tuesday, February 15th at 9:27 PM. For now, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter are visible in the night sky. Mars, seen in the southern sky, is clearly visible and its red glow clearly identifies it. It can be seen beginning at nightfall; it moves slowly in a westerly fashion before disappearing. Mercury can be seen in the eastern sky just before dawn.
We are under the sign of Aquarius in the 399th day of winter, which arrived in the Northern Hemisphere on December 21st at 4:02 AM CST with the occurrence of the Winter Equinox. On the date of the Equinox, the sunrise and sunset times were 5:12 AM CDT and 7:23 PM CDT. For today, our sunrise and sunset times (at -96.852/32.847) are 7:15 AM and 5:46 PM, giving us 10 hours and 31 minutes of daylight. For now, we're on Standard Time. We will switch to Daylight Saving Time on Sunday, March 14th at 2:00 AM, following the NIST standard.
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Today's "Say what?" quote:
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America's debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the US Government cannot pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government's reckless fiscal policies... Increasing America's debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that "the buck stops here." Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better... I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America's debt limit.
Senator Barack H. Obama
16 March 2006
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