Transmission and Fake News


Guglielmo Marconi

On this day in 1901, Italian physicist and radio pioneer Guglielmo Marconi succeeds in sending the first radio transmission across the Atlantic Ocean, disproving detractors who told him then the curvature of Earth would limit transmission to 200 miles or less (they called it Fake News).  The message--simply the Morse code for s-- traveled more than 2,000 miles from Poldhu in Cornwall, England, to Newfoundland, Canada.  That successful endeavor aroused widespread interest in Marconi and his wireless company and won him worldwide fame.

Mae West
A few years after that on this day in 1937, sex symbol Mae West was invited to perform her usual shtick of purring enticements and double entendres on radio's Chase & Sanborn Hour, a weekly variety show broadcast on Sunday nights.  Playing a seductive Eve in one sketch, and flirting with ventriloquist Edgar Bergen's wooden sidekick, Charlie McCarthy, in another, the sultry actress delivered as bawdily as might be expected.  At one point, for example, she reminded the puppet that he had already kissed her in her apartment.  "I got marks to prove it," she said.  "An' splinters, too."

NBC had approved the script, but when a coordinated protest by the Legion of Decency and other morality Christian groups erupted, the network immediately disowned the star and declared her an "unfit radio personality."  n a spineless attempt to shift the blame, network executives claimed West took the script they had found acceptable to unexpected levels of indecency by the way she delivered her lines.  Subsequently, even the mention of her name was banned on NBC radio.  Fortunately, there were more reasonable observers, like the Chicago Daily News, which excoriated the network's cowardice in an editorial:

"NBC and the commercial sponsors of the program knew Mae West.  They knew her technique.  They'd heard her and seen her.  They coached her in rehearsals.  But when the public protests swamped them they pretended they had Mae all mixed up with Mary Pickford or Shirley Temple."

Author Note: After reading this Chicago news report calling them on their bull-shit, the NBC managers called it Fake News -- so I'm assuming.


12 December 1980 marks the date at which the US Congress adopted the Copyright Act of 1976 into public law.  Prior to this, it really wasn't -- without a shit-load of attorneys and really, really, good fake news reporters.

In 1988 on this day, in London, the first satellite pictures are beamed to some 2,200 betting shops to allow gamblers to watch several races from different locations live.

Clapham Junction
Also on that day in London, during the morning rush hour, 35 people are killed and more than 100 injured in a crash involving three trains near Clapham Junction, Europe's busiest railroad station.  It was later discovered that the collision was caused by a signal failure.


Long after giving birth to Jesus, the Virgin Mary traveled to Mexico on this day in 1531.

Virgin of Guadalupe
She arrived and introduced herself as the Virgin of Guadalupe.  By a fortunate coincidence her visit occurred precisely where Tonantzin, the Aztec mother god, had her temple and worshipers were flocking each day in praise.
In Mexico, as everywhere else, outlawed gods entered the Catholic divinities on currents of air and took up residence in their sacred spaces and the fact that they had already there is presently being considered Fake News.

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