The Thing About Today – March 22

March 22, 2020
Day 82 of 366


March 22nd is the eighty-second day of the year. It is World Water Day, a United Nations observance that highlights the importance of freshwater and sustainable management of freshwater resources.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Bavarian Crepes Day, National Goof Off Day, and National West Virginia Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1630, the Massachusetts Bay Colony outlawed the possession of cards, dice, and gaming tables, even in private homes. Because… Puritan theology.
  • In 1638, Anne Hutchinson was expelled from Massachusetts Bay Colony for religious dissent. She was a Puritan spiritual advisor and religious reformer whose convictions – she believed that the local ministers were focusing too much on a “covenant of works” rather than a “covenant of grace” – placed her at odds with the establishment clergy.
  • In 1765, the British Parliament passed the Stamp Act that introduces a tax to be levied directly on its American colonies. This unpopular move gave rise to the slogan “No taxation without representation.”
  • In 1829, the United Kingdom, France, and Russia established the borders of Greece via the London Protocol.
  • In 1871, William Woods Holden became the first governor in the United States to be removed from office by impeachment. He was the governor of North Carolina.
  • In 1872, Illinois became the first state to require gender equality in employment.
  • In 1873, the Spanish National Assembly abolished slavery in Puerto Rico.
  • In 1908, novelist Louis L’Amour was born.
  • In 1930, composer and songwriter Stephen Sondheim was born.
  • In 1931, William Shatner was born.
  • In 1941, James Stewart was enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps, becoming the first major American movie star to wear a military uniform during World War II.
  • In 1948, composer and director Andrew Lloyd Webber was born.
  • In 1960, Arthur Leonard Schawlow and Charles Hard Townes received the first patent for a laser.
  • In 1972, the United States Congress sent the Equal Rights Amendment to the states for ratification. It still hasn’t been ratified.
  • Also in 1972, the United States Supreme Court decided in Eisenstadt v. Baird that unmarried persons have the right to possess contraceptives.
  • In 1976, Reese Witherspoon was born.
  • In 1993, the Intel Corporation shipped the first Pentium chips.
  • In 1995, Cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov returned to Earth after setting a record of 438 days in space.
  • In 1997, Tara Lipinski became becomes the youngest women’s World Figure Skating Champion. She was fourteen years old.
  • In 2019, Robert S. Mueller III delivers his report on the Russian government’s influence on the election of Donald Trump in the 2016 United States presidential election.


In 1975, a fire at the Browns Ferry Nuclear Power Plant in Decatur, Alabama caused a dangerous reduction in cooling water levels.

The fire started when a worker used a candle to search for air leaks, watching for the movement of smoke to determine airflow through seals. The candle’s flame was pulled into a temporary cable seal and ignited the foamed plastic that was covered on both sides with two coats of a flame retardant paint as a firestop. The fire spread and caused significant damage to the reactor control cabling in the station.

From the NRC bulletin concerning the event:

The fire started in the cable spreading room at a cable penetration through the wall between the cable spreading room and the reactor building for Unit 1. A slight differential pressure is maintained (by design) across this wall, with the higher pressure being on the cable spreading room side. The penetration seal originally present had been breached to install additional cables required by a design modification. Site personnel were resealing the penetration after cable installation and were checking the airflow through a temporary seal with a candle flame prior to installing the permanent sealing material. The temporary sealing material was highly combustible, and caught fire. Efforts were made by the workers to extinguish the fire at its origin, but they apparently did not recognize that the fire, under the influence of the draft through the penetration, was spreading on the reactor building side of the wall. The extent of the fire in the cable spreading room was limited to a few feet from the penetration; however, the presence of the fire on the other side of the wall from the point of ignition was not recognized until significant damage to cables related to the control of Units 1 and 2 had occurred.

This event later resulted in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission making significant additions to the standards for fire protection through the publication of 10CFR50.48 and Appendix R, and later the NFPA 805 fire protection standard. The event was pivotal in fire protection for the nuclear industry and beyond, including commercial and industrial construction.


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.




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