Daily Update: Thursday, March 30th, 2017

03-30 - Alaska Purchase

This is yet another Saintless day, but on this date in 1867 the United States purchased the Alaska Territory from Russia.

The Russian government in the late 1850′s was in a difficult financial position and feared losing Russian America without compensation in some future conflict, especially to the British, whom they had fought in the Crimean War (1853 – 1856). While Alaska attracted little interest at the time, the population of nearby British Columbia had started to increase rapidly a few years after hostilities ended, with a large gold rush there prompting the creation of a crown colony on the mainland. The Russians therefore started to believe that in any future conflict with Britain, their hard-to-defend region might become a prime target and would be easily captured, so the Tsar decided to sell the territory. Perhaps in hopes of starting a bidding war, both the British and the Americans were approached, however the British expressed little interest in buying Alaska. The Russians in 1859 offered to sell the territory to the United States, hoping that its presence in the region would offset any dark designs of Great Britain. However, no deal was brokered due to the American Civil War. Following the Union victory in the Civil War in 1865, the Tsar then instructed the Russian minister to the United States, Eduard de Stoeckl, to re-enter into negotiations with United States Secretary of State William H. Seward, which de Stoeckl did in the beginning of March 1867. The negotiations concluded after an all-night session with the signing of the treaty at 4 am on March 30th, 1867, with the purchase price set at $7.2 million, or about 2 cents per acre. It was not until 1868 that the Congress finally appropriated money for the purchase, more out of hostility to President Andrew Johnson than for any other reason. The purchase gained 586,412 square miles of new United States territory but it was not until the great Klondike gold strike in 1896 that Alaska came to be seen generally as a valuable addition to American territory.

Last night our New Orleans Pelicans won their NBA game with the Dallas Mavericks by the score of 121 to 118.

I woke up at 8:15 am at Matthew and Callie’s house in South Carolina. I did my Book Devotional Reading, and ate toast for breakfast. When Callie and our granddaughter left for the YMCA, Richard and I left at 10:00 am for the local Wal-Mart to do grocery shopping. We also went to a convenience store, where I got the local paper. We returned home at 10:45 am, and after I read the local paper I did my Internet Devotional Reading. Callie and our granddaughter got home at 12:00 pm, and Richard went to the local delivery at 12:45 pm (he brought me back a bagel with cream cheese and lox, which is unobtainable back home). I finished reading the March / April issue of The Bible Today, and started reading Sights Unseen by Kaye Gibbons. After Matthew got home from the base at 7:00 pm, we watched TV. I had a couple of Caffeine Free Diet Cokes with Crown Royal, which is why I did not do my Daily Update before collapsing into bed.

Tomorrow we have no Saints to honor (although tomorrow, being a Friday in Lent, is a Day of Abstinence from Meat), but it will be César Chávez Day. I will do my Daily Update, and in sports, our #10 LSU Lady Tigers (28-7, 4-2) will be playing a home College Softball game with the Mississippi State Lady Bulldogs (25-9, 2-4, our #8 LSU Tigers (18-8, 4-2) will be playing a home College Baseball game with the Texas A&M Aggies (16-10, 3-3), and our New Orleans Pelicans (32-43, 6-10) will be playing a home NBA game with the Sacramento Kings (29-46, 6-7). 

Our Parting Quote on this Thursday even ining comes to us from Robert Z’Dar, American actor and film producer. Born as Robert Zdarsky in 1950 in Chicago, Illinois, he was of Lithuanian descent. He first started acting while attending Proviso West High School in Hillside, Illinois. After high school, Z’Dar attended Arizona State University where he received a BFA and played on the university football team. After graduation Z’Dar returned to Chicago where he was employed variously as a Chicago police officer, a member of the band Nova Express, commercial jingle writer and Chippendales dancer. Eventually Z’Dar moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in acting. His first feature film appearance was in the women in prison film Hellhole (1985). Due to his cherubism, a medical condition resulting in an enlarged jawline, Z’dar had a unique and easily recognizable look with a slightly sinister appearance, which aided his career as he usually portrayed villains. Z’Dar appeared in several films, including Hot Chili (1985), The Night Stalker (1987), Cherry 2000 (1987), The Killing Game (1988), and Grotesque (1988). Z’Dar’s name became recognizable when he played Matt Cordell in 1988’s Maniac Cop, a film about a back from the dead hero NYPD cop turned evil avenger who brutally murders people. Z’Dar reprised his role in the 1990 sequel Badge of Silence (1993). It was perhaps Z’Dar’s performance in Maniac Cop that landed him the role of Face in 1989’s Tango & Cash, alongside action stars Sylvester Stallone and Kurt Russell. He went on to appear in films such as The Final Sanction (1990), A Gnome Named Gnorm (1990), Killing American Style (1990), Beastmaster 2: Through the Portal of Time (1991), Mobsters (1991), Samurai Cop (1991), Return to Frogtown (1993), Marching Out of Time (1993), Death from Above (2011) and Easter Sunday (2015). Z’Dar appeared in more than 121 films and television episodes, with at least one film appearance per year in 27 of the last 29 years (missing only 1986 and 2001). He continued making at least one film every year despite a serious back injury he suffered in 2002 on a movie set. Two of Z’Dar’s films, Soultaker (1992) and Future War (1997) appeared in season 10 of Mystery Science Theater 3000, increasing his renown to a certain degree (died 2015): “It’s important for a villain to be as threatening as possible, whether physically, mentally or emotionally … however you want to do it. If you can combine all three, well that’s the ultimate villain.”

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