If You Read This Story We Will Have to Kill You

First posted here nine years ago today. All true.

A CIA manager once told me about life under cover. He went by his regular name, lived in a regular neighborhood, etc., but as far as anyone knew he worked for the Navy. In fact, he told me, one time his car broke down and his neighbor insisted on giving him a ride to work at the Washington Navy Yard (in southeast Washington, D.C.). The neighbor kept insisting and he finally had to accept.

After being left off at the Navy Yard the CIA employee had to figure how to get back across the Potomac to Virginia to his “real” office. He was further away than when he started.

In other instances we were often amused when we held a meeting that included CIA or other “under cover” agency personnel. The sign-in sheet consisted of names like Cindy D., Bob L., Frank C., etc.

Lastly, my particular favorite under cover story. After visiting a “secret” location for business and being well treated, I composed a short thank you note to the man in charge. I addressed it to him by name. I ran the draft past my staff member who was liaison with that agency. The staff member came back, saying the note was great except that the man’s name was classified because he worked undercover. So we sent the thank you without the name.

His actual name was John Smith.

The 12th of July

Today is the birthday

… of Bill Cosby. He’s 77.

… of Christine McVie of Fleetwood Mac. She’s 71.

… of Gaius Julius Caesar, born on July 12th around 100 BCE (some say July 13th). Caesar was named for his father, Gaius Julius Caesar III, and he had two sisters, both named Julia. If Caesar was named for a caesarean section, it was an ancestor’s birth, not his. The explanation for the name that Julius Caesar himself seemed to favor was that it came from the Moorish word caesai for elephant.

Caesar, of course, died on March 15, 44 BCE. Caesar never said “Et tu, Brute?” That’s Shakespeare (though not original with him). Some contemporaries said Caesar did say “καὶ σύ, τέκνον,” Greek for “You too, child.” If he said it, it may have been intended as a curse (this will happen to you) as much as a feeling of abandonment by Brutus.

It was Julius Caesar who fixed the calendar at 365 days with a leap day every fourth year. His formula had to be tweaked in 1582 with three less leap years every 400 years, but it stands pretty much as Caesar established it, the Julian Calendar, in 46 BCE.

Henry David Thoreau was born on this date in 1817; George Eastman, the inventor of roll film, in 1854; George Washington Carver in 1864; Jean Hersholt in 1886 and Buckminster Fuller in 1895. Hersholt was in 140 films, most famously as Heidi’s grandfather with Shirley Temple. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences named its service award for Hersholt, who was president of the Academy and longtime president of the Motion Picture Relief Fund.

Oscar Hammerstein II was born on July 12th, 1895. Hammerstein won eight Tonys and two Oscars — for “The Last Time I Saw Paris,” and “It Might as Well Be Spring.”

In Search of America’s Best Burrito

Nate Silver: “… We’re launching a national, 64-restaurant Burrito Bracket. We’ve convened a Burrito Selection Committee. We’ve hired an award-winning journalist, Anna Maria Barry-Jester, to be our burrito correspondent. She’s already out traveling the country and sampling burritos from every establishment that made the bracket.

It’s a little crazy, but we think it needs to be done. …”

Reports so far [UPDATED Monday, June 9]

In Search of America’s Best Burrito

The Search For America’s Best Burrito Starts in California

Western States Are a New Frontier in the Search For America’s Best Burrito

The Search For America’s Best Burrito Turns to the Northeast

The Search For America’s Best Burrito Heads to the Land of Sweet Tea

Our Mexican-Food Expert Says: ‘The Diversity of Burritos Is Mind-Blowing’

Our Cultural Historian Explains Why Arizona Is ‘Ground Zero of Burritoness’

Chef David Chang Explains Why Yelp Probably Won’t Lead You to Your Favorite Burrito

Our Food Writer Says the South Has Burrito Variety, But Perhaps Not Burrito Greatness

Free and Independent States

It was on June 7 in 1776 that the idea of independence was first officially proposed in the Continental Congress. Richard Henry Lee of Virginia introduced and John Adams seconded the following:

Resolved, That these United Colonies are, and of right ought to be, free and independent States, that they are absolved from all allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain is, and ought to be, totally dissolved.

That it is expedient forthwith to take the most effectual measures for forming foreign Alliances.

That a plan of confederation be prepared and transmitted to the respective Colonies for their consideration and approbation.

The vote on the resolution was set aside until July 1st — it actually occurred on July 2nd. On June 11th Congress appointed the Committee of Five to draft a formal declaration of independence — John Adams of Massachusetts, Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania, Thomas Jefferson of Virginia, Robert R. Livingston of New York, and Roger Sherman of Connecticut.

June 7: Resolution introduced
July 2: Resolution approved (12 colonies for; New York abstained, later voted for)
July 4: Declaration of Independence approved

On the Fourth of July we celebrate the birth announcement, not the birth.

Lee Resolution

Daniel Boone

… first looked west from Cumberland Gap into what is now Kentucky on this date in 1769. The Kentucky Historical Society celebrates June 7 as “Boone Day.”

Cumberland Gap

Boone was not the first person through Cumberland Gap; he wasn’t even the first European-American. He was, however, instrumental in blazing a trail, which became known as the Wilderness Road.

Cumberland Gap Trail

According to the National Park Service:

Immigration through the Gap began immediately, and by the end of the Revolutionary War some 12,000 persons had crossed into the new territory. By 1792 the population was over 100,000 and Kentucky was admitted to the Union.

During the 1790s traffic on the Wilderness Road increased. By 1800 almost 300,000 people had crossed the Gap going west. And each year as many head of livestock were driven east. As it had always been, the Gap was an important route of commerce and transportation.

NewMexiKen photos 2006.