January 29, 2020
Day 29 of 366
January 29th is the twenty-ninth day of the year. It is locally celebrated as Kansas Day, commemorating the admission of the state to the country in 1861.
In the United States, it is “celebrated” as National Puzzle Day and National Corn Chip Day.
Historical items of note:
- In 1737, Thomas Paine was born. He was the author of Common Sense and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States.
- In 1834, President Andrew Jackson ordered the first use of federal soldiers to suppress a labor dispute.
- In 1845, “The Raven” was published in The Evening Mirror in New York. This marked the first publication with the name of the author, Edgar Allan Poe.
- In 1860, Anton Chekhov was born. The Russian playwright and short story writer is known for Chekhov’s Gun, the dramatic principle that requires that every element in a narrative be necessary and irreplaceable and that everything else be removed.
- In 1863, a detachment of California Volunteers led by Colonel Patrick Edward Connor engaged the Shoshone at Bear River, Washington Territory. The altercation resulted in the deaths of hundreds of men, women, and children. It would become known as the Bear River Massacre.
- In 1886, Karl Benz patented the first successful gasoline-driven automobile.
- In 1907, Charles Curtis of Kansas became the first Native American U.S. Senator.
- In 1940, actress and author Katharine Ross was born.
- In 1945, Tom Selleck was born.
- In 1959, Disney’s Sleeping Beauty premiered.
- In 1964, Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb premiered.
- In 2006, a 39-cent stamp is released in the United States featuring Hattie McDaniel. She was depicted in the dress she wore in 1940 when she became the first African-American actress to accept an Academy Award.
- In 2018, Black Panther premiered. Among several other accolades and records, it was the first superhero film to receive a Best Picture nomination and the first Marvel Cinematic Universe film to win an Academy Award.
In 1980, the Rubik’s Cube made its international debut at the Ideal Toy Company in Earl’s Court, London.
The cube was invented in 1974 by Hungarian sculptor and professor of architecture Ernő Rubik. After the 1980 sale to the Ideal Toy Company, it won the German Game of the Year special award for Best Puzzle.
The original cube had six faces, each covered by nine stickers. The stickers represented six solid colors – white, red, blue, orange, green, and yellow – and early cubes didn’t have an established pattern so the position of each color varied from cube to cube. Modern versions have a standardized pattern – white is opposite yellow, blue is opposite green, and orange is opposite red, with the red, white, and blue arranged in that order in a clockwise arrangement – and have evolved from stickers to colored plastic panels to prevent peeling and fading.
In order to solve the puzzle, each of the cube faces must be a solid color. There are competitions and world records for various methods of solving the Rubik’s Cube, including speed-solving.
The cube was a cultural icon of the 1980s and still is popular to this day. It is the world’s top-selling puzzle game and best-selling toy.
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.