February 23, 2020
Day 54 of 366
February 23rd is the fifty-fourth day of the year. In Japan, today is The Emperor’s Birthday, a celebration of the reigning emperor’s birthday. Emperor Naruhito as born on this date in 1960.
In the United States, it is “celebrated” as National Banana Bread Day, National Dog Biscuit Day, and National Tile Day.
My favorite banana bread recipe is very simple.
- Start with 3 or 4 bananas. The best bananas for this recipe are overripe and soft. Peel them and mash them up in a mixing bowl.
- Add 1 teaspoon of baking soda and mix thoroughly.
- Mix in 3 eggs, 1/2 cup softened butter, and 2 cups of flour.
- Pour the mixture into a greased loaf pan.
- Bake at 350°F for 50-60 minutes.
The bread is good cold, but it’s even better warm with a pat of butter, a dab of honey, or (even better) homemade honey butter.
Historical items of note:
- In 1455, the Gutenberg Bible was reportedly first published. This was the first Western book printed with movable type.
- In 1820, a plot to murder all of the British cabinet ministers was exposed. It became known as the Cato Street Conspiracy.
- In 1836, the Siege of the Alamo began in San Antonio, Texas. After thirteen days of minor skirmishes, the siege would give way to the Battle of the Alamo.
- In 1886, Charles Martin Hall produced the first samples of aluminum from the electrolysis of aluminum oxide. He was assisted by his older sister, Julia Brainerd Hall. The element was named aluminium, based on the mineral alum, and the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry (IUPAC) adopted the name as the international standard in 1990. In 1993, they recognized aluminum as an acceptable variant.
- In 1889, Victor Fleming was born. He directed 1939 films The Wizard of Oz and Gone With the Wind.
- In 1903, Cuba leased Guantánamo Bay to the United States “in perpetuity”.
- In 1905, Chicago attorney Paul Harris and three other businessmen met for lunch. While there, they formed the Rotary Club, the world’s first service club.
- In 1927, President Calvin Coolidge signed the bill that established the Federal Radio Commission. Later replaced by the Federal Communications Commission, the organization was created to regulate the use of radio frequencies in the United States.
- Also in 1927, German theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg wrote to fellow physicist Wolfgang Pauli to describe his now-famous uncertainty principle for the first time. Related to quantum systems, the uncertainty principle states that the more precisely the position of some particle is determined, the less precisely its momentum can be predicted from initial conditions, and vice versa.
- In 1930, Gerry Davis was born. He was a script editor on Doctor Who, co-creator of the Cybermen with Kit Pedler, and reportedly originated the idea of the title character changing faces to accommodate replacement of the lead actor.
- In 1940, Walt Disney’s Pinocchio was released.
- In 1941, Plutonium was first produced and isolated by Dr. Glenn T. Seaborg.
- In 1945, during the Battle of Iwo Jima, a group of United States Marines and a U.S. Navy hospital corpsman from the 5th Marine Division reached the top of Mount Suribachi. Joe Rosenthal of the Associated Press captured the iconic Pulitzer Prize-winning image of the group raising the American flag.
- In 1954, the first mass inoculation of children against polio using the Salk vaccine began in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
- In 1981, actor, producer, and screenwriter Josh Gad was born.
- In 1983, actress Emily Blunt was born.
- In 1997, the NBC network aired an uncensored presentation of Schindler’s List. The film was watched by 65 million viewers.
- In 2008, a United States Air Force B-2 Spirit bomber crashed on Guam. This was the first operational loss of a B-2 since the aircraft’s maiden flight in 1989.
In 1932, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry was born.
Before she began her quintessential run in the Star Trek franchise, she had some success with stage, film, and television, including comedy training from Lucille Ball. She started with Star Trek with The Cage, the rejected first pilot in which she played first officer Number One. She was romantically involved with series creator Gene Roddenberry and made the transition to the series as Nurse Christine Chapel, a role that carried into the motion pictures as well.
She provided several voices for Star Trek: The Animated Series and breathed life into the outrageous and iconoclastic Lwaxana Troi. She was also the regular voice for computers on Federation starships for every live-action series through Star Trek: Enterprise and most of the films through 2009’s reboot, a role that inspired the Amazon Alexa.
She appeared in several other non-Trek acting roles, but her status as First Lady of Star Trek was the backbone of her legacy. After Gene Roddenberry’s death, she brought two of his ideas to life with Earth: Final Conflict and Andromeda. She was also the creative director for the Gene Roddenberry’s Lost Universe comic book series.
Her final role was as the Enterprise computer in 2009’s Star Trek. She died from leukemia at the age of 76 on December 18, 2008.
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.