The Thing About Today – August 9

August 9, 2020
Day 222 of 366


August 9th is the 222nd day of the year. It is National Women’s Day in South Africa, a public holiday that commemorates the 1956 march of approximately 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to petition against the country’s pass laws. Such laws required South Africans defined as “black” under The Population Registration Act to carry an internal passport, known as a pass, that served to maintain population segregation, control urbanization, and managed migrant labor during the apartheid era. The first National Women’s Day was celebrated on August 9, 1995.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Rice Pudding Day, National Veep Day, National Book Lovers Day, and National Spirit of ’45 Day (typically observed on the second Sunday in August).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1173, construction began on the campanile of the Cathedral of Pisa. Now known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, construction would take two centuries to complete.
  • In 1757, American humanitarian Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton was born.
  • In 1814, during the Indian Wars, the Creek people signed the Treaty of Fort Jackson, giving up huge parts of Alabama and Georgia.
  • In 1842, the Webster-Ashburton Treaty was signed, establishing the United States-Canada border east of the Rocky Mountains.
  • In 1854, Henry David Thoreau published Walden.
  • In 1892, Thomas Edison received a patent for a two-way telegraph.
  • In 1899, Australian-English author and actress P. L. Travers was born. She is best known for the Mary Poppins series of children’s books.
  • In 1927, English actor and screenwriter Robert Shaw was born. “Cage goes in the water, you go in the water. Shark’s in the water. Our shark. Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain. For we’ve received orders for to sail back to Boston. And so nevermore shall we see you again.”
  • In 1930, Betty Boop made her cartoon debut in Dizzy Dishes.
  • In 1944, the United States Forest Service and the Wartime Advertising Council released posters featuring Smokey Bear for the first time.
  • Also in 1944, actor and producer Sam Elliott was born.
  • In 1945, Nagasaki was devastated when an atomic bomb, Fat Man, was dropped by the United States B-29 Bockscar. Thirty-five thousand people were killed outright.
  • In 1957, actress and producer Melanie Griffith was born.
  • In 1968, American-British actress, activist and writer Gillian Anderson was born.
  • In 1969, followers of Charles Manson murdered pregnant actress Sharon Tate (wife of Roman Polanski), coffee heiress Abigail Folger, Polish actor Wojciech Frykowski, men’s hairstylist Jay Sebring, and recent high-school graduate Steven Parent.
  • In 1973, Scottish actor and director Kevin McKidd was born.
  • In 1974, as a direct result of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon became the first (and only, so far) President of the United States to resign from office. His Vice President, Gerald Ford, became president.
  • In 1976, French actress Audrey Tautou was born.
  • In 1983, actress Ashley Johnson was born.
  • In 1985, actress and singer Anna Kendrick was born.
  • In 2014, Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer. The 18-year-old African American allegedly assaulted the officer and attempted to steal his weapon, but the officer ended up shooting Brown twelve times during the altercation. The shooting sparked protests and unrest in the city over excessive use of force and racial profiling by police.


August 9th is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, a day to raise awareness and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population.

The observance also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection. It was first pronounced by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1994, marking the day of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in 1982.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.



The Thing About Today – August 8

August 8, 2020
Day 221 of 366


August 8th is the 221st day of the year. It is Ceasefire Day in Iraqi Kurdistan, commemorating the end of the Iran-Iraq War. The war has many names: The First Gulf War (جنگ ایران و عراق‎ in Persian, حرب الخليج الأولى‎ in Arabic), the Imposed War, and the Holy Defense or Sacred Defense (دفاع مقدس in Persian) in Iran. It started on September 22, 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran, and it lasted for eight years.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as Global Sleep Under The Stars Night, National CBD Day, National Happiness Happens Day, National Frozen Custard Day, National Sneak Some Zucchini Into Your Neighbor’s Porch Day, National Dollar Day, National Bowling Day, and National Garage Sale Day. The last two are typically observed on the second Saturday in August.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1576, the cornerstone for Tycho Brahe’s Uraniborg observatory was laid on the island of Hven.
  • In 1709, Bartolomeu de Gusmão demonstrated the lifting power of hot air in an audience before the king of Portugal in Lisbon, Portugal.
  • In 1786, Mont Blanc on the French-Italian border was climbed for the first time by Jacques Balmat and Dr. Michel-Gabriel Paccard.
  • In 1876, Thomas Edison received a patent for his mimeograph.
  • In 1901, Nobel Prize laureate Ernest Lawrence was born. The American physicist and academic won the prize for the invention of the cyclotron. He is also known for his work on uranium-isotope separation for the Manhattan Project, and for founding the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
  • In 1902, Nobel Prize laureate Paul Dirac was born. The English-American physicist and academic was one of the most significant physicists of the 20th century. Dirac made fundamental contributions to the early development of both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics, along with significant contributions to the reconciliation of general relativity with quantum mechanics. He formulated the Dirac equation which describes the behavior of fermions and predicted the existence of antimatter. He shared the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics with Erwin Schrödinger “for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory”.
  • In 1908, Wilbur Wright made his first flight at a racecourse at Le Mans, France. It was the Wright Brothers’ first public flight.
  • In 1919, Italian actor and producer Dino De Laurentiis was born.
  • In 1926, actor Richard Anderson was born. He played Oscar Goldman in The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman.
  • In 1930, Welsh-American author and screenwriter Terry Nation was born. Especially known for his work in British television science fiction, he created the Daleks and Davros for Doctor Who, as well as the series Survivors and Blake’s 7.
  • In 1935, director, producer, and screenwriter Donald P. Bellisario was born. He is known for Magnum, P.I.Tales of the Gold MonkeyAirwolfQuantum LeapJAG, and NCIS.
  • In 1937, actor and director Dustin Hoffman was born.
  • In 1945, the London Charter was signed by France, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and the United States, establishing the laws and procedures for the Nuremberg trials.
  • In 1963, the Great Train Robbery occurred in England. A gang of 15 train robbers stole £2.6 million in banknotes from a Royal Mail train. The stolen money was equivalent to £55 million ($72 million USD) in 2019.
  • In 1969, photographer Iain Macmillan took a picture at a zebra crossing in London. This photo became the iconic cover image of the Beatles’ album Abbey Road.
  • In 1974, President Richard Nixon, in a nationwide television address, announced his resignation from the office of the President of the United States effective noon the next day.
  • In 1990, Iraq occupied Kuwait and the state was annexed to Iraq. This would lead to the Gulf War shortly afterward.


August 8th is International Cat Day.

It was created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare as a day to raise awareness for cats and learn about ways to help and protect them. It is also referred to as World Cat Day, and while most countries now observe this unofficial holiday on August 8th, Russia celebrates National Cat Day on March 1st. The United States celebrates both International Cat Day and their own National Cat Day on October 29th.

In 2020, ownership of the observance passed to International Cat Care, a non-profit organization that has been striving to improve the health and welfare of domestic cats worldwide since 1958.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.



Culture on My Mind – Clone Stories After the Republic?

Culture on My Mind
August 7, 2020


This “can’t let it go” deals with Star Wars storytelling potential.

On July 13th, a new animated series was announced on the official Star Wars website. Following a group of clone troopers that debuted in the final season of The Clone Wars, the new series – Star Wars: The Bad Batch – will follow “the elite and experimental clones of the Bad Batch as they find their way in a rapidly changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War.” The squad is comprised of a unique squad of clones who vary genetically from their brothers in the regular clone army, but these unique skills make them formidable in combat. The series will highlight daring mercenary missions as they try to survive in the smoldering remains of the Republic and the rise of the Galactic Empire.

It sounds exciting, and the team of Lucasfilm animation veterans Dave Filoni, Athena Portillo, Brad Rau, Jennifer Corbett, Carrie Beck, and Josh Rimes tells me that the series has both a great pedigree and chance of success. I’ll be watching when it premieres.

But the announcement also made me think about the possibilities for storytelling surrounding the clone army and the rise of the Empire. For seven seasons and twelve years, we’ve been companions to these soldiers as they waged war across the galaxy. We’ve grown to love members of a clone army, each of which was given individual personalities and character through the artistry of Dee Bradley Baker and the show’s writing staff.

We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve loved, and we’ve lost. The clones were built with a singular purpose – to be cannon fodder that won a war by sheer numbers – but they became individuals along the way, and they’re in a unique position as the Republic that they dedicated their short lives to falls around them.

The clones were built to be disposable. They just murdered the Jedi under pre-programmed orders from Emperor Palpatine. How does that make them feel? Where do they go from there?

From Star Wars: Rebels, we know that Rex, Wolffe, and Gregor felt remorse about their actions in service of the nascent Empire and joined the growing rebellion as a result. But those three had their control chips removed and had full knowledge of how the Emperor manipulated their actions.

We got a better look at the emotional aftermath with Grey, a clone who was troubled by his thoughtless execution of Order 66. As told in the Kanan: The Last Padawan comic series, Grey tried to atone for his actions in the Jedi Purge by sacrificing himself to save Caleb Dume, padawan to Depa Billaba, the Jedi Master that Grey murdered under the influence of Order 66. Caleb Dume would later become Kanan Jarrus in Star Wars: Rebels.

Millions of clones were birthed in the Kaminoan pods for the war, and we only have one story of remorse from a trooper that didn’t have his chip removed. Meanwhile, according to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, anywhere between 10 to 30 percent of veterans have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since the Vietnam War.

The clone troopers were also programmed with an accelerated lifespan, entering the war at what seems to be the equivalent of 18-20 years old but aging to their 50s or 60s in the span of a couple of decades. The clones would often talk about retirement after the war, but such speculation was cut short by commanders as “idle chatter”.

The potential here is amazing, and it would serve as a touching coda to the Clone War. It would also serve as a vital touchstone to our own global reality, which great science fiction often does as a metaphor for the human condition.

For example:

  • What happened to the clones who stayed on as stormtroopers?
  • What happened when they were forced to retire from Imperial service?
  • What happened when they were replaced by non-clone soldiers? Was there a conflict?
  • Did any clones feel anger about their pre-programmed lives or role as disposable assets?
  • Did any clones feel anger about the years that were stolen by nature of their genetics?
  • Did other clones feel remorse from Order 66?
  • Did any clones try to make amends for the slaughter of the Jedi? Maybe even running a galactic underground railroad for any survivors?
  • Did any clones try to secret away Jedi artifacts, lightsabers, or kyber crystals to preserve that history?
  • Did any clones try to make amends for the oppression spreading throughout the galaxy, such as freeing slaves?
  • Did any clones experience PTSD? How was that managed in the Empire?
  • Did any clones actually retire directly after the war? Were there benefits, or were they abandoned?
  • Did any clones try to leverage their skills as mercenaries, bounty hunters, or bodyguards?
  • Did any clones try to make the most of their remaining years, such as running for political office, opening a shipping company, or even becoming an entertainer?
  • Did any clones try to tell their stories for posterity?
  • Did any clones try to start families, biological or otherwise?
  • Did any clones return to Kamino to try to rescue, save, or adopt any remaining clone children before the facilities were shut down (as mentioned in Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith)?
  • Were any clones (or their offspring) Force-sensitive? How did they manage that? On the run? As part of the Imperial Security Bureau to hunt down Force-sensitive children? As a Guardian of the Whills?
  • Did any clones, aside from Rex’s crew, join the rebellion or fight against the Empire?

That list is just scratching the surface.

We have millions of individual voices (thanks again, Dee Bradley Baker!) with the same face in a galactic pool of trillions upon trillions of citizens swamped in the uncertainty of political upheaval.

Lucasfilm, let’s tell their stories. Let’s do it in an anthology of some sort, be it prose or comics or even television. Let’s do in it a series of anthologies. Let’s do it with shares of the profits going to veteran support groups around the world.

Let us not forget this generation of our favorite animated heroes.


Star Wars: The Bad Batch will premiere on Disney+ in 2021.


Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

The Thing About Today – August 7

August 7, 2020
Day 220 of 366


August 7th is the 220th day of the year. It is Youth Day in Kiribati, a state comprised of 32 atolls and one raised coral island in the central Pacific.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Lighthouse Day, National Raspberries N’ Cream Day, International Beer Day, and National Water Balloon Day. The last two are typically observed on the first Friday in August.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1786, the first federal Indian Reservation was created by the United States.
  • In 1858, the first Australian rules football match was played between Melbourne Grammar and Scotch College.
  • In 1909, Alice Huyler Ramsey and three friends became the first women to complete a transcontinental automobile trip, taking 59 days to travel from New York, New York to San Francisco, California.
  • In 1928, author and academic Betsy Byars was born.
  • In 1942, humorist, novelist, short story writer, and radio host Garrison Keillor was born.
  • In 1944, IBM dedicated the first program-controlled calculator. It was called the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, but is better known as the Harvard Mark I.
  • Also in 1944, actor John Glover was born.
  • In 1955, actor, comedian and voice actor Wayne Knight was born.
  • In 1960, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter David Duchovny was born.
  • In 1962, Canadian-born American pharmacologist Frances Oldham Kelsey was awarded the United States President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service for her refusal to authorize thalidomide, a drug known to cause severe birth defects.
  • In 1975, actress Charlize Theron was born.
  • In 1978, actor Cirroc Lofton was born.
  • In 1987, Lynne Cox became the first person to swim from the United States to the Soviet Union, crossing the Bering Strait from Little Diomede Island in Alaska to Big Diomede in the Soviet Union.
  • In 1997, Garth Brooks performed a free live concert in New York City’s Central Park. It was later released as Garth: Live from Central Park.


In 1782, President George Washington ordered the creation of the Badge of Military Merit to honor soldiers wounded in battle.

Designed by Washington in the form of a purple heart, it was intended as a military order for soldiers who exhibited, “not only instances of unusual gallantry in battle, but also extraordinary fidelity and essential service in any way.” The award was only given to non-commissioned officers and privates. It is largely considered the first United States military decoration, and the second oldest in the world after the Cross of St. George.

After the Revolutionary War, the Badge of Military Merit fell into disuse although it was never officially abolished. In fact, the award of the badge was not proposed again officially until after World War I. In 1932, the United States War Department authorized the new Purple Heart Medal for soldiers who had previously received either a Wound Chevron or the Army Wound Ribbon. The Purple Heart became the official “successor decoration” to the Badge of Military Merit.

The Purple Heart was designed by Elizabeth Will, an Army heraldic specialist in the Office of the Quartermaster General. In general, the medal is awarded to any servicemember who is wounded or killed while in an official capacity with the Armed Forces against enemy combatants.

It is estimated that 321,000 awards were issued for actions in World War I. In World War II, over one million medals were awarded.

In honor of those awarded and the creation of the medal, August 7th is known as Purple Heart Day.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.



The Thing About Today – August 6

August 6, 2020
Day 219 of 366


August 6th is the 219th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Bolivia, which separated from Spain in 1825, and Jamaica, which separated from the United Kingdom in 1962.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Root Beer Float Day, National Fresh Breath Day, National Wiggle Your Toes Day, and National IPA Day (typically observed on the first Thursday in August).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1661, the Treaty of The Hague was signed by Portugal and the Dutch Republic. Based on the terms of the treaty, the Dutch Republic recognized Portuguese imperial sovereignty over New Holland (Dutch Brazil) in exchange for an indemnity of 4 million reis, conversion from 2 million Caroli Guilders, over the span of 16 years.
  • In 1787, sixty proof sheets of the Constitution of the United States were delivered to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • In 1809, English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson was born.
  • In 1819, Norwich University was founded in Vermont as the first private military school in the United States.
  • In 1848, American writer and first black Army nurse Susie Taylor was born.
  • In 1881, Scottish biologist, pharmacologist, and botanist Alexander Fleming was born. He was a Nobel Prize laureate for his discovery of the world’s first broadly effective antibiotic substance, benzylpenicillin (Penicillin G), from the mold Penicillium rubens in 1928.
  • In 1890, at Auburn Prison in New York, murderer William Kemmler became the first person to be executed by electric chair.
  • In 1911, actress, television producer, and businesswoman Lucille Ball was born.
  • In 1926, Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim across the English Channel.
  • Also in 1926, in New York City, the Warner Bros.’ Vitaphone system premiered with the movie Don Juan starring John Barrymore.
  • In 1928, painter and photographer Andy Warhol was born.
  • In 1942, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands became the first reigning queen to address a joint session of the United States Congress.
  • In 1951, actress Catherine Hicks was born.
  • In 1960, Chubby Checker performed his version of “The Twist” on The Dick Clark Show. It started a worldwide dance craze.
  • In 1962, Malaysian-Hong Kong actress and producer Michelle Yeoh was born.
  • In 1965, United States President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.
  • In 1972, English singer-songwriter, dancer, and actress Geri Halliwell was born.
  • In 1976, actress and producer Soleil Moon Frye was born.
  • In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee released files describing his idea for the World Wide Web. WWW debuted as a publicly available service on the Internet.
  • Also in 1991, Takako Doi, chair of the Social Democratic Party, became Japan’s first female speaker of the House of Representatives.
  • In 1996, NASA announced that the ALH 84001 meteorite, thought to originate from Mars, contained evidence of primitive life-forms.
  • In 2012, NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on the surface of Mars. Only planned as a two-year mission, Curiosity is still operational, living for 2844 Martian sols (2921 total days).
  • In 2015, comedian Jon Stewart hosted The Daily Show for the last time.


In 1945, during World War II, Hiroshima, Japan was devastated when the atomic bomb “Little Boy” was dropped by the United States B-29 Enola Gay. Approximately 70,000 people were killed instantly, and tens of thousands died in subsequent years from burns and radiation poisoning. This event and the similar bombing of Nagasaki, Japan were part of the Allied response to Japan’s refusal to surrender unconditionally.

The anniversary is marked by a Japanese vigil. The city of Hiroshima holds the Peace Memorial Ceremony to console the victims of the atomic bombs and to pray for the realization of lasting world peace. The ceremony is held in front of the Memorial Cenotaph in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

Participants include the families of the deceased and people from all over the world. The first ceremony was held in 1947 by the then Hiroshima Mayor Shinzo Hamai.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.



Timestamp #206: Planet of the Dead

Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead
(Easter Special, 2009)


When stingrays attack!

At the International Gallery, a group of armed guards is hard at work protecting a golden goblet. They fire up a fancy security system as they lock up for the night, but the lasers around the perimeter don’t account for an assault from above. A masked figure Mission: Impossibles her way down, exchanges the artifact for a waving Maneki Neko, and runs out. Her accomplice is captured, so she boards a double-decker bus and bribes the driver to help her get away. The Doctor boards right after, sits beside her, and wishes her a happy Easter.

The Doctor muses about various Easters throughout time, including the original event, before a device that detects rhondium particles chirps in his pocket. As the bus traverses a tunnel and a passenger hears screaming voices, the bus leaves Earth and arrives in a vast desert.

The driver declares the bus immobile. True enough, because it’s a wreck. The thief, Christina de Souza, gets to know the Doctor as he analyzes the sand and doesn’t like what he tastes. The passengers blame him for their predicament, but he shows them the wormhole that they passed through. Unfortunately, the wormhole doesn’t allow them to pass through without the bus surrounding them. The driver tries to rush through, but he’s immediately reduced to a skeleton on the other side. The police on Earth immediately call for UNIT to assist.

Christina takes charge of the situation and facilitates introductions all around – Nathan, a young adult with slicked up hair; Barclay, about the same age and the one who confronted the Doctor about their situation; Angela Whittaker, an older blond woman; Louis, who goes by the nickname “Lou”; and his wife, Carmen – before handing the science bits to the Doctor. Carmen has low-level psychic abilities and can hear voices all around them. She also feels death coming.

The Doctor calms the passengers in order to focus them on surviving. He promises to get them all home. They set to work on preparing the bus, including the tools in Christina’s amazing backpack. She’s prepared for everything. While the passengers work on the bus, the Doctor and Christina scout the area. They verbally spar and spot a storm on the horizon. The Doctor borrows a mobile and rigs it to contact UNIT.

UNIT arrives and officer-in-charge Captain Erisa Magambo takes command of the tunnel. She takes the call from the Doctor and makes contact with UNIT’s scientific advisor, one Malcolm Taylor, who completely fanboys out before setting to analyzing the disturbance. The Doctor sends a picture of the storm back to Earth, which Christina says contains sparkling like metal. She also spots an insectile creature that takes them to its crashed ship by gunpoint.

The beings onboard identify themselves as the Tritovores and blame them for crashing their ship. When the Doctor explains that they’re in the same predicament, the Tritovores decide to trust him. In return, the Doctor restores their shipboard power and launches a probe. The sand planet is San Helios, located in the Scorpion Nebula, and the aliens had been on their way to trade with the inhabitants. Unfortunately, the city has been destroyed. All of it, including the 100 billion inhabitants, have been reduced to sand, and Carmen keeps hearing them die over and again.

Malcolm Taylor calls again with news that the wormhole is expanding. The Doctor also gets bad news from Nathan: The bus is out of fuel. Capping the unfortunate circumstances, the probe relays images of the storm. It is full of stingray-like creatures that stripped San Helios and have set their appetites on Earth.

The Doctor deduces that the stingrays, which are made of metal, travel fast enough to rip open the wormhole and travel from place to place. Christina, who is enamored by the Doctor and his alien nature, points the Time Lord to the Tritovores and their ship. The Doctor develops a plan to use the ship to move the bus. While the Doctor tries patching wires throughout the ship, Christina uses her rogue’s rig to dive into the shaft after a much-needed crystal.

While Christina retrieves the crystal, the Doctor muses about her nature (and similarities to Donna Noble) and the stolen goblet (the Cup of Athelstan) in her pack. The Doctor doesn’t approve of her thievery at first but admits that he stole his ship, the TARDIS, to begin his travels. As Christina retrieves the crystal, she awakens a stingray living in the ship’s ventilation system. She successfully evades it, but the rest start tearing apart the ship.

The Doctor and Christina run back to the bus with the storm in pursuit. When they get back, the Doctor orders everybody back to their seats as he discards the crystal and attaches the clamps surrounding it to the bus. He calls Malcolm, requesting a means to close the wormhole, but is stymied by the interface of the bus and crystal systems. They use the goblet, worth 18 million pounds, to bridge the technology. Destructively, to Christina’s chagrin.

On Earth, Captain Magambo orders Malcolm to close the wormhole to save Earth. In the desert, the Doctor gets the bus airborne with the anti-gravity clamps and rockets away from the stingrays. The bus returns home followed by three of the stingrays. Magambo orders her troops to open fire as Malcolm (with the Dcotor’s help) closes the portal.

The UNIT troops and their explosive solutions make short work of the three stingrays. Meanwhile, the Doctor sets the bus down at the tunnel’s exit and gets a kiss from Christina for his efforts. Malcolm meets the Doctor and fanboys all over the place while Christina is taken away. The Doctor recommends Nathan and Barclay for UNIT service and Magambo shows his the TARDIS, retrieved from the gardens at Buckingham Palace.

Christina asks the Doctor if she can travel with him, but he rejects her. She has to face the consequences of her actions and he’s not ready to lose another companion. Never again, in fact. While Christina is taken away, Carmen leaves him with some parting words: His song is ending, it is returning through the dark, and he will knock four times.

Carmen takes her leave and the Doctor uses his sonic screwdriver to free Christina. While she runs for the bus and flies away, the Doctor departs in the TARDIS.


This tale does wonders for the Doctor’s character development while providing an entertaining and riveting story. The revelation that he stole the TARDIS appears in the revival era for the first time – it had been previously mentioned in The War GamesFrontier in Space, and Logopolis – and does him well on the road to accepting Lady Christina. Of course, he still isn’t over Donna’s tragic departure, so there’s no way that she’s joining him on the TARDIS. Just like Mr. Copper in Voyage of the Damned, the Doctor rejected her.

Christina is a character that I wouldn’t mind returning to the show, particularly given her chemistry with the Doctor. A criminal and a member of the British aristocracy, she would be a fun addition to the show.

The revival era continues linking back to its heritage, this time with the K1 Robot, Quatermass, and UNIT’s general lack of luck with bullets against aliens.

This episode was a major milestone in the franchise, marking not only the 200th storyline but the first to be filmed for high definition. It was also the first to film in a Middle Eastern country.

Finally, the path is laid at the Doctor’s feet for his own demise. The end is coming.


Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


Keeping in mind that the Timestamps Project is following the franchise chronologically at this point…


UP NEXT – Torchwood: Children of Earth – Day One


The Timestamps Project is an adventure through the televised universe of Doctor Who, story by story, from the beginning of the franchise. For more reviews like this one, please visit the project’s page at Creative Criticality.



The Thing About Today – August 5

August 5, 2020
Day 218 of 366


August 5th is the 218th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Burkina Faso. It was founded as the Republic of Upper Volta on December 11, 1958, as a self-governing colony within the French Community. It gained full independence in 1960 and was officially renamed on August 4, 1984.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Underwear Day, National Work Like A Dog Day, and National Oyster Day. If I worked like my dogs for a day, I’d lay around and only take breaks to beg for food and bark at random things. But I’d be adorable.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1305, William Wallace was captured by the English near Glasgow. He led the Scottish resistance against England, and after he was transported to London, he was put on trial and executed.
  • In 1583, Sir Humphrey Gilbert established the first English colony in North America. It was founded at what is now St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador.
  • In 1816, the British Admiralty dismissed Francis Ronalds’s new invention of the first working electric telegraph as “wholly unnecessary”, preferring to continue using the semaphore.
  • In 1858, Cyrus West Field and others completed the first transatlantic telegraph cable after several unsuccessful attempts. Unfortunately, it would operate for less than a month.
  • In 1861, in order to help pay for the civil war effort, the United States government levied the first income tax as part of the Revenue Act of 1861. The tax of three percent on all incomes over $800 was rescinded in 1872.
  • In 1874, Japan launched its postal savings system, modeled after a similar system in the United Kingdom.
  • In 1884, the cornerstone for the Statue of Liberty was laid on Bedloe’s Island (now Liberty Island) in New York Harbor.
  • In 1914, the first electric traffic light was installed. Cleveland, Ohio had the honors.
  • In 1930, astronaut and first man on the moon Neil Armstrong was born.
  • In 1945, actress Loni Anderson was born.
  • In 1957, American Bandstand, a show dedicated to the teenage “baby-boomers” by playing the songs and showing popular dances of the time, debuted on the ABC television network.
  • In 1962, actress Marilyn Monroe was found dead at her home from an apparent drug overdose.
  • In 1970, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter James Gunn was born.


August 5th is Victory and Homeland Thanksgiving Day and the Day of Croatian Defenders (Dan pobjede i domovinske zahvalnosti i Dan hrvatskih branitelja in Croatian).

This public holiday commemorates the Croatian War of Independence, was fought from 1991 to 1995 between Croat forces loyal to the government of Croatia – which had declared independence from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) – and the Serb-controlled Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) and local Serb forces.

On August 5, 1995, the Croatian Army took the city of Knin during Operation Storm, which effectively brought an end to Republic of Serbian Krajina proto-state. The main celebration is centered in that city, beginning with a mass and laying of wreaths in honor of those who died in the war and continuing with parades and concerts.

In 2008, the Croatian Parliament also assigned the name Day of Croatian Defenders to the holiday, thereby honoring current service members and veterans of the Republic of Croatia Armed Forces.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.



The Thing About Today – August 4

August 4, 2020
Day 217 of 366


August 4th is the 217th day of the year. It is Constitution Day in the Cook Islands, commemorating their self-governance from 1965.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day and National Night Out Day (which is typically observed on the first Tuesday in August.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1693, Dom Perignon supposedly invented champagne. It’s not clear whether he actually invented champagne, however, he has been credited as an innovator who developed the techniques used to perfect sparkling wine.
  • In 1821, The Saturday Evening Post was published for the first time as a weekly newspaper.
  • In 1863, Matica slovenská was established in Martin. It is Slovakia’s public-law cultural and scientific institution focusing on topics around the Slovak nation.
  • In 1900, Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother of the United Kingdom, was born.
  • In 1901, trumpet player and singer Louis Armstrong was born.
  • In 1942, actor Don S. Davis was born.
  • In 1944, a tip from a Dutch informer led the Gestapo to a sealed-off area in an Amsterdam warehouse. It was there that the found and arrested Jewish diarist Anne Frank, her family, and four others.
  • In 1961, lawyer and politician, 44th President of the United States, and Nobel Prize laureate Barack Obama was born.
  • In 1968, South Korean-American actor Daniel Dae Kim was born.
  • In 1975, actor Andy Hallett was born.
  • In 1977, United States President Jimmy Carter signed legislation creating the United States Department of Energy.
  • In 1981, actress Abigail Spencer was born.
  • In 1983, actress, producer, and screenwriter Greta Gerwig was born.
  • In 1987, the Federal Communications Commission rescinded the Fairness Doctrine, which had required radio and television stations to present controversial issues “fairly”.
  • In 2007, NASA launched the Phoenix spacecraft, which researched the history of water on Mars.


In 1790, a newly passed tariff act created the Revenue Cutter Service, the forerunner of the United States Coast Guard.

The organization was founded by then-Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. The United States Congress, guided by Hamilton, authorized the building of a fleet of the first ten Revenue Service cutters. Immediately after the American Revolutionary War, the newly established United States was struggling to stay financially afloat and national income was desperately needed. A great deal of this income came from import tariffs, and because of rampant smuggling, the need was immediate for strong enforcement of tariff laws. Those ships represented the United States Government’s first official “armed force afloat” since the United States Navy wasn’t founded until 1798.

The United States Coast Guard received its present name through an act of Congress signed into law by President Woodrow Wilson on January 28, 1915. This act merged the Revenue Cutter Service with the U.S. Life-Saving Service, providing the nation with a single maritime service dedicated to saving life at sea and enforcing the nation’s maritime laws.

The Coast Guard began to maintain the country’s maritime aids to navigation, including operating lighthouses, when President Franklin Roosevelt announced plans to transfer the U.S. Lighthouse Service to the Coast Guard in May of 1939. Congress permanently transferred the Department of Commerce Bureau of Marine Inspection and Navigation to the Coast Guard in July 1946, thereby placing merchant marine licensing and merchant vessel safety under Coast Guard regulation.

After 177 years in the Treasury Department, the Coast Guard was transferred to the newly formed Department of Transportation effective April 1, 1967. As a result of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the U.S. Coast Guard was transferred to the new Department of Homeland Security in 2003.

August 4th is annually celebrated as Coast Guard Day to commemorate the birthday of the service.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.



The Thing About Today – August 3

August 3, 2020
Day 216 of 366


August 3rd is the 216th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Niger as they commemorate their 1960 separation from France.

We only have 150 days left in 2020.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Georgia Day, National Watermelon Day, and National Grab Some Nuts Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1527, the first known letter from North America was sent by John Rut while at St. John’s, Newfoundland.
  • In 1678, Robert LaSalle built the Le Griffon, the first known ship built on the Great Lakes.
  • In 1778, the theatre La Scala in Milan was inaugurated with the première of Antonio Salieri’s Europa riconosciuta.
  • In 1852, Harvard University won the first Boat Race between Yale University and Harvard. The race was also the first American intercollegiate athletic event.
  • In 1859, the American Dental Association was founded in Niagara Falls, New York.
  • In 1903, Macedonian rebels in Kruševo proclaimed the Kruševo Republic. It existed for only ten days before Ottoman Turks laid waste to the town.
  • In 1911, actor Alex McCrindle was born.
  • In 1940, actor and producer Martin Sheen was born.
  • In 1946, Santa Claus Land, the world’s first themed amusement park, opened in Santa Claus, Indiana.
  • In 1950, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter John Landis was born.
  • Also in 1950, actress Jo Marie Payton was born.
  • In 1955, voice actor Corey Burton was born.
  • In 1958, the world’s first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus (SSN-571), became the first vessel to complete a submerged transit of the geographical North Pole.
  • In 1959, actor and producer John C. McGinley was born.
  • In 1977, the Tandy Corporation announced the TRS-80, one of the world’s first mass-produced personal computers.
  • In 1979, actress Evangeline Lilly was born.
  • In 1997, the tallest free-standing structure in the Southern Hemisphere, Sky Tower in downtown Auckland, New Zealand, opened after two-and-a-half years of construction.
  • In 2001, The Princess Diaries was released.


In 1959, The Pidjiguiti (Pijiguiti) massacre took place in Bissau, Portuguese Guinea.

Dock workers at the Port of Bissau’s Pijiguiti docks went on strike while seeking higher pay, but the manager called the Portuguese state police (PIDE). Officers fired into the crowd and killed 25 people, and the government blamed the revolutionary group PAIGC, known as the African Party for the Independence of Guinea and Cape Verde, or in Portuguese, Partido Africano para a Independência da Guiné e Cabo Verde.

After the arrests of several PAIGC members, the incident caused PAIGC to abandon their campaign of nonviolent resistance, leading to the Guinea-Bissau War of Independence in 1963. Towards the end of the war, the party established a Marxist–Leninist one-party state, which remained intact until multi-party democracy was introduced in the early 1990s.

The anniversary of the massacre is a public day of remembrance in Guinea-Bissau. Near the docks, there is a large black fist known as the Hand of Timba which was erected as a memorial to those killed.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.



The Thing About Today – August 2

August 2, 2020
Day 215 of 366


August 2nd is the 215th day of the year. It is the Day of Azerbaijani Cinema in (where else?) Azerbaijan.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Coloring Book Day, National Ice Cream Sandwich Day, American Family Day, National Friendship Day, and National Sisters Day. The last three are typically observed on the first Sunday in August.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1776, the signing of the United States Declaration of Independence took place. Wait… what? The Declaration became official when Congress voted for it on July 4th, but signatures of the delegates were not needed to make it official. The handwritten copy of the Declaration of Independence that was signed by Congress is dated July 4, 1776, but some of the fifty-six delegates that signed it were not present on that date. Some were not even elected to Congress at that point. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams all wrote that the Declaration had been signed by Congress on July 4th, but signer Thomas McKean disputed that account in 1796. August 2nd is the signing date that most historians agree on.
  • In 1790, the first United States Census was conducted.
  • In 1820, Irish-English physicist and mountaineer John Tyndall was born. He studied diamagnetism, and made discoveries in the realms of infrared radiation and the physical properties of air, proving the connection between atmospheric CO2 and what is now known as the greenhouse effect in 1859.
  • In 1870, Tower Subway opened in London, England. It is the world’s first underground tube railway.
  • In 1873, the Clay Street Hill Railroad began operating the first cable car in San Francisco’s famous cable car system.
  • In 1892, production manager and producer Jack L. Warner was born. He co-founded Warner Bros.
  • In 1918, the first general strike in Canadian history took place in Vancouver.
  • In 1924, actor Carroll O’Connor was born.
  • In 1932, the positron (the antiparticle of the electron) was discovered by Carl D. Anderson.
  • Also in 1932, British-Irish actor and producer Peter O’Toole was born.
  • In 1939, Albert Einstein and Leo Szilard wrote a letter to Franklin D. Roosevelt, urging him to begin the Manhattan Project to develop a nuclear weapon.
  • Also in 1939, director, producer, and screenwriter Wes Craven was born.
  • In 1943, actor Max Wright was born.
  • In 1945, actor Joanna Cassidy was born.
  • In 1964, actress Mary-Louise Parker was born.
  • In 1967, the film version of In the Heat of the Night premiered.
  • In 1970, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Kevin Smith was born.
  • In 1973, American Graffiti premiered.
  • In 1976, English-Australian actor and producer Sam Worthington was born.
  • In 1999, The Sixth Sense premiered.


August 2nd is a day of several Romani genocide-related observances, including Roma Holocaust Memorial Day in Europe, Genocide Remembrance Day of the Roma and Sinti in Poland, and International Remembrance Day of the Holocaust of the Roma in Ukraine.

The Romani genocide – also known as the Romani Holocaust, the Porajmos (meaning “the Devouring”), the Pharrajimos (“the Cutting up”, “the Fragmentation”, “the Destruction”), and the Samudaripen (“the Mass Killing”) – was the effort spearheaded by Nazi Germany and the Axis forces to commit ethnic cleansing and eventually genocide against Europe’s Romani people.

Under Adolf Hitler, a supplementary decree to the Nuremberg Laws was issued on November 26, 1935, that classified the Romani as “enemies of the race-based state”. This placed them in the same category as the Jews and Poles. Historians estimate that between 220,000 and 500,000 Romani were killed by the Nazis and their collaborators, eradicating between 25% to 50% of the estimated population of Roma in Europe at the time. Later research increased the estimated death toll to approximately 1.5 million out of an estimated 2 million Roma.

Another aspect of the Romani Genocide was medical experimentation, particularly by the infamous Dr. Josef Mengele in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. His experiments included placing subjects in pressure chambers, testing drugs on them, freezing them, attempting to change their eye color by injecting chemicals into children’s eyes, and various amputations and other brutal surgeries. The extent of his brutalism is lost to time since his records were destroyed. Subjects who survived Mengele’s experiments were almost always killed and dissected shortly afterward.

The German government paid reparations to Jewish survivors of the Holocaust, but not to the Romani due to their status as anti-social criminals rather than victims of religious and racial persecution. West Germany finally recognized the genocide of the Roma in 1982, and since then the Porajmos has been increasingly recognized as a genocide committed simultaneously with the Shoah.

Regardless of official reparations, several acts of commemoration and memorials have spread across the European continent.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.