The Thing About Today – May 31

May 31, 2020
Day 152 of 366

 

May 31st is the 152nd day of the year. It is World No Tobacco Day, an event that informs the public on the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies, what WHO is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic, and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as Autonomous Vehicle Day, National Save Your Hearing Day, National Speak in Sentences Day, National Macaroon Day, National Utah Day, National Smile Day, and Necrotizing Fasciitis Awareness Day.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1790, the United States enacted its first copyright statute, the Copyright Act of 1790.
  • In 1819, poet, essayist, and journalist Walt Whitman was born.
  • In 1852, Julius Richard Petri was born. He was the German microbiologist who invented the Petri dish.
  • In 1909, the National Negro Committee, the forerunner to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), convened for the first time.
  • In 1911, the RMS Titanic was launched in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  • In 1922, actor Denholm Elliott was born.
  • In 1930, actor, director, musician, and producer Clint Eastwood was born. He likes to have televised conversations with empty chairs.
  • In 1943, actress Sharon Gless was born.
  • In 1950, director, producer, and screenwriter Jean Chalopin was born. He was the founder of DIC Entertainment.
  • In 1961, actress, director, and producer Lea Thompson was born.
  • In 1965, model, actress, and producer Brooke Shields was born.
  • In 1971, in accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed by the United States Congress in 1968, observation of Memorial Day occurred on the last Monday in May for the first time. This was rather than on the traditional Memorial Day of May 30.
  • In 1976, actor Colin Farrell was born.
  • In 2005, Vanity Fair revealed that Mark Felt was “Deep Throat”.
  • In 2013, the asteroid 1998 QE2 and its moon made their closest approach to Earth for the next two centuries.

 

In 1859, the clock tower at the Houses of Parliament, which houses Big Ben, started keeping time.

Big Ben is usually extended to refer to both the clock and the clock tower, however, the tower’s original name was the Clock Tower. It was renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom.

The tower was designed by Augustus Pugin, and when it was completed in 1859, the clock was the largest and most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock in the world. The tower measures 315 feet in height, with a climb of 334 steps from ground to belfry. The square base is 39 feet on each side and the dials of the clock are 23 feet in diameter.

Big Ben is the largest of the tower’s five bells, weighing in at 13.5 long tons. It was the largest bell in the United Kingdom for 23 years. The origin of the bell’s nickname is up for debate, owning to either Sir Benjamin Hall, who oversaw its installation, or to heavyweight boxing champion Benjamin Caunt.

Four quarter bells chime at 15, 30, and 45 minutes past the hour, as well as just before Big Ben tolls on the hour. The clock uses its original Victorian mechanism with an electric motor as a backup.

The tower is a British cultural icon that is recognized worldwide, representing the United Kingdom and parliamentary democracy. The clock tower has been part of a Grade I listed building since 1970 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.

 

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 – May 30

May 30, 2020
Day 151 of 366

 

May 30th is the 151st day of the year. It is the Day of the Canary Islands, celebrating the anniversary of the first session of the Parliament of the Canary Islands, which was held on May 30, 1983.

It is also World Multiple Sclerosis Day, which is used to bring awareness to Multiple Sclerosis and those who suffer from the disease.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Creativity Day, National Water a Flower Day, National Hole In My Bucket Day, National Mint Julep Day, and Loomis Day.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1431, the 19-year-old Joan of Arc was burned at the stake by an English-dominated tribunal in Rouen, France. The Roman Catholic Church remembers this day as the celebration of Saint Joan of Arc.
  • In 1842, John Francis attempted to murder Queen Victoria as she drove down Constitution Hill in London with Prince Albert.
  • In 1868, Decoration Day was observed in the United States for the first time. The predecessor of the modern Memorial Day, it was ordered by “Commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic” John A. Logan’s proclamation on May 5th.
  • In 1883, a stampede on the recently opened Brooklyn Bridge in New York City killed twelve people.
  • In 1908, voice actor Mel Blanc was born.
  • In 1922, the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C.
  • In 1936, actor Keir Dullea was born.
  • In 1953, actor Colm Meaney was born.
  • In 1958, the remains of two unidentified American servicemen, killed in action during World War II and the Korean War respectively, were buried at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day.
  • In 1962, author, illustrator, and co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Kevin Eastman was born.
  • In 1971, Mariner 9 was launched. It mapped 70% of the surface of Mars and studied temporal changes in the atmosphere and on the surface of the planet.
  • Also in 1971, singer-songwriter and actress Idina Menzel was born.
  • In 1975, the European Space Agency was established.

 

May 30th is Indian Arrival Day in Trinidad and Tobago. 

Indian Arrival Day is a holiday celebrated on various days in the nations of the Caribbean, Fiji, and Mauritius. It commemorates the arrival of people from the Indian subcontinent to their respective nations as indentured labor brought by European authorities and colonizers.

Trinidad and Tobago was the first country to start this holiday. It was first celebrated in Skinner Park as the East Indian Centenary on May 30, 1945, the one hundredth anniversary of the coming of Indians to Trinidad. The Acting Governor representing the Government of the United Kingdom attended, which indicated the significance of the observance, and other local dignitaries addressed the large crowd. Greetings were also read from Mahatma Gandhi, Lord Wavell, and Colonel Stanley, the Secretary of State for the Colonies.

By the 1970s, the observance began to dwindle, but the Indian Revival and Reform Association (IRRA) revived the memory of the event through their concern about racism directed toward the Indian people.

 

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 – The Cautionary Tale of Eaglemoss Publications Pre-Orders

Culture on My Mind
May 29, 2020

 

This week’s “can’t let it go” is a cautionary tale about pre-orders.

Eaglemoss Collections is a British publishing company that produces licensed magazines and collectibles based on popular franchises. They have small resin and die-cast handpainted models from Marvel, DC Comics, Doctor Who, Star Trek, and more. In fact, inspired by the rave reviews among people I trust regarding the Star Trek starships collection, I decided to invest in the lineup of Doctors from Doctor Who.

By the time I got involved, many of the classic Doctors were out of stock and no longer being produced. But, in October 2017, I spotted a post from The Doctor Who Site with big news: Eaglemoss was going to republish the figurines starting in November 2017 with multipack sets.

Image via The Doctor Who Site

The first set was a set with the revival-era Doctors (Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth), which I sought out from Entertainment Earth. They had that set and the “mid-era” set (Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and War Doctors) available for pre-order, so I snagged both of them.

As always, Entertainment Earth’s customer service was pretty good. I placed my order in November 2017 and received the revival-era set shortly thereafter. The release date for the mid-era set was pushed back a couple of times, but I finally received that shipment in March 2018.

Despite seeing an advertisement on The Doctor Who Site, I saw no pre-orders for the remaining box set from any of the typical merchants. Finally, the “First 4 Doctors” came up on the official Eaglemoss site in October 2018 along with a pre-order for the Thirteenth Doctor figurine. Knowing that this purchase would complete my set, I put in my pre-order for both.

Image via The Doctor Who Site

The box set eventually graced my doorstep as promised. The Thirteenth Doctor figurine, which was slated for a December 2018 release, never shipped.

My order was processed on October 8, 2018. On December 31, 2018, I noticed that the figurine was gone out of stock on the website, so I wrote to check on the status of my order. I was promised that when the stock was replenished, it would be shipped. Knowing how the release dates kept sliding to the right for the combination sets, I was patient with Eaglemoss, even when I saw other online retailers around the world repeatedly getting the collectible in stock and selling out again in short order.

That patience started to fray by October 2019, one year after the initial pre-order. Various other retailers had been out of stock for a while, and the Eaglemoss website had actually dropped their price. I wrote again to check on the status and to ask about the price difference. They replied ten days later that there was no estimated arrival time for the item and that there was no pre-order price guarantee. But, because I’d been waiting so long, they would adjust my purchase price when the figure shipped.

December came and went, marking the one-year anniversary of the supposed release date. By February, I was out of patience and started a serious effort to find out where I could finish off this collection. I was frustrated by both the TARDIS and Sarah Jane Smith offerings that were poorly painted and produced, but what irritated me more was the fact that Eaglemoss was releasing a different Thirteenth Doctor sculpt, this time with the character’s three companions.

In reality, that was the shining beacon that I was going to be kept out in the cold.

I tried the e-mail route with them through early February 2020 before finally hitting the phone lines. During this time, I started receiving e-mails that my shipping date was coming up. When February 7th came and went without a delivery, I called and found out that they were delayed until February 14th. It was pushed again to February 21st, seemingly giving the squeaky wheel some grease with nothing to back up the promises that they were making.

When I received the February 21st date, it was from an excellent customer service representative who dug into the system and noted that the package was due to ship, but they had no inventory on hand to actually process. She was honest with me: Despite my patience over the previous sixteen months, there was little to no hope of getting what I was promised.

This was despite the fact that the United Kingdom version of their store showed the figurine in stock, but they do not permit American customers to order on that site.

The customer service rep made some notes in my account and told me to call back after the 21st. I did, my order was canceled, and my account was settled.

I purchased the figure shortly thereafter from a collector in the United Kingdom on eBay for slightly more than I would have paid at Eaglemoss.

While that is a happy ending for me, the path to get there was a disappointment. Over the course of more than a year, I watched as both domestic and international sellers have received stock and sold out, but I stayed with the hope that Eaglemoss – the very source of the figure I’m trying to buy – would not leave me twisting in the wind.

This is a company that deals with specialized collectibles for geeks and genre fans. They advertise on podcasts and social media, and they constantly innovate to bring unique perspectives that other companies fail to provide. Those Star Trek starship models have piqued my interest since I uncovered my old Star Trek and Star Wars Micro Machine vehicle collections. I would happily add the TARDIS consoles to my Doctors collection because no one else makes something like that. Similarly, no other company puts out Battlestar Galactica ships.

But they abandoned a customer. A customer that pre-ordered one of their products, which I consider to be a promise from supply to demand. A customer that expected a bare minimum of communication over sixteen months but received very little with the exception of hollow promises.

Their customer service requires a significant overhaul. They prevent customers in the United States from ordering on their UK portal, despite the fact that the offerings are different. They apparently don’t transfer items within the company to fulfill promised pre-orders. There is no way to check an order’s status on their website, and there is no history of previous orders or client activity. In fact, the customer account functionality is virtually non-existent. Further, correspondence by e-mail takes several days – in one case, upwards of ten days – and each auto-reply from their system makes a point of stating that they “are experiencing a high volume at this time”.

High volume requires better customer relations and greater communication. In my experience, Eaglemoss provides neither.

Eaglemoss may produce good quality and unique products, but my experiences have soured me on their offerings and company. If I find something that I want from them in the future, I’ll wait for a good deal on eBay or at a convention dealer.

I won’t purchase directly through Eaglemoss again.

 

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 – May 29

May 29, 2020
Day 150 of 366

 

May 29th is the 150th day of the year. It is Statehood Day for both Rhode Island and Wisconsin. Rhode Island was the thirteenth state and was admitted to the Union on May 29, 1790. Wisconsin, the thirtieth state, was admitted on May 29, 1848.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Paperclip Day and National Coq Au Vin Day.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1790, Rhode Island became the last of North America’s original Thirteen Colonies to ratify the Constitution and become one of the United States.
  • In 1903, actor, singer, and producer Bob Hope was born.
  • In 1905, actor, director, playwright, and first Anakin Skywalker Sebastian Shaw was born.
  • In 1913, Igor Stravinsky’s ballet score The Rite of Spring premiered in Paris, France. It also provoked a riot.
  • In 1917, naval officer and thirty-fifth President of the United States John F. Kennedy was born.
  • In 1919, Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity was tested (and later confirmed) by Arthur Eddington and Andrew Claude de la Cherois Crommelin.
  • In 1953, Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest. It happened on Tenzing Norgay’s (adopted) 39th birthday.
  • Also in 1953, singer-songwriter, producer, and actor Danny Elfman was born.
  • In 1958, actress Annette Bening was born.
  • In 1973, Tom Bradley was elected the first black mayor of Los Angeles, California.
  • In 1999, Space Shuttle Discovery completed the first docking with the International Space Station during mission STS-96.
  • In 2004, the National World War II Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C.

 

May 29th is the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, an international day to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in United Nations peacekeeping operations.

The United Nations uses the day to celebrate the peacekeepers for their high level of professionalism, dedication, and courage, as well as to honor the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.

It was designated by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 57/129, on December 11, 2002. The date was chosen to mark the anniversary of the creation of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in 1948, which monitored the ceasefire after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and was the first-ever UN peacekeeping mission.

The day is commemorated at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City with the presentation of the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal, statements by the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General, and a press release regarding the state of UN Peacekeeping missions and the continued necessity of their work.

 

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 – May 28

May 28, 2020
Day 149 of 366

 

May 28th is the 149th day of the year. It is Flag Day in the Philippines and Republic Day in Nepal.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Brisket Day and National Hamburger Day. If you’re feeling frisky, try combining the two.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 585 BC, a solar eclipse occurred. This event was predicted by the Greek philosopher and scientist Thales, and it happened while Alyattes of Lydia was battling Cyaxares in the Battle of Halys. Not only did it lead to a truce, but it also became one of the cardinal dates from which other dates can be calculated.
  • In 1779, Irish poet and composer Thomas Moore was born.
  • In 1830, United States President Andrew Jackson signed the Indian Removal Act. This denied Native Americans their land rights and forcibly relocated them.
  • In 1892, John Muir organized the Sierra Club in San Francisco, California.
  • In 1908, English journalist and author Ian Fleming was born. He created James Bond.
  • In 1933, actress and activist Zelda Rubinstein was born.
  • In 1934, the Dionne quintuplets were born to Oliva and Elzire Dionne near Callander, Ontario, Canada. They would be the first quintuplets to survive infancy.
  • In 1936, Alan Turing submitted On Computable Numbers for publication.
  • In 1937, the German automobile manufacturer Volkswagen was founded.
  • In 1944, actress and singer-songwriter Gladys Knight was born.
  • In 1945, physician and author Patch Adams was born. He founded the Gesundheit! Institute.
  • In 1961, Peter Benenson’s article The Forgotten Prisoners was published in several internationally read newspapers. This would later be seen as the founding moment of the human rights organization Amnesty International.
  • In 1967, actress Kari Wuhrer was born.
  • In 1968, Australian singer-songwriter, producer, and actress Kylie Minogue was born.
  • In 1985, actress and signer Carey Mulligan was born.
  • In 2002, the last steel girder was removed from the original World Trade Center site. Cleanup duties officially ended with closing ceremonies at Ground Zero in Manhattan, New York City.

 

And now, a bit of the taboo, but one point of this particular observance is to break those taboos: May 28th is Menstrual Hygiene Day.

Menstrual Hygiene Day (MHD or MH Day, for short) is an annual awareness day used to highlight the importance of good menstrual hygiene management and break the taboos surrounding it. The observance was started by the German-based non-governmental organization (NGO) WASH United in 2014. The 28th was selected to acknowledge that 28 days is the average length of the menstrual cycle.

In low-income countries, girls’ and women’s choices of menstrual hygiene materials are often limited by the costs, availability, and social norms. Those societal norms often stem back to religious beliefs, which treat menstrual cycles as dirty and unspeakable topics, thus relegating women to second-class citizenship.

Adequate sanitation facilities and access to feminine hygiene products are one part of the solution. Creating a culture that welcomes open discussion and adequate education for women and girls is of equal importance. Research has found that not having access to menstrual hygiene management products can keep girls home from school during their period each month.

Since men have traditionally held decision-making roles in these cultures, and boys are still being raised to replace them, discussion and education must also jump the gender gap.

Menstrual Hygiene Day creates an occasion for public information campaigns, including via social media, which can help to engage decision-makers in policy dialogue. The day offers an opportunity to actively advocate for the integration of menstrual hygiene management into global, national, and local policies and programs, thus breaking the ignorance and taboos to make societies a better and more equal place to live.

 

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: Series Four Summary

Doctor Who: Series Four Summary

 

The Doctor-Donna adventures were molto bene.

The story of Donna Noble was an amazing and heartbreaking journey. Her first meeting with the Doctor displayed their beautiful chemistry, and their adventures together this season showed us just how magnificent they were together.

Her humanity and his experience made a great pair, and they helped save one another in the course of their relationship: The Doctor needs a companion to counter his vast knowledge and challenge his limits, and Donna needed to see that there was a universe beyond her own self.

The fact that their relationship wasn’t romantic – countering the Rose Tyler arc and defusing the tension developed in the Martha Jones arc – was the icing on the cake.

The heartbreak, of course, is that Donna doesn’t remember her travels at the end of her time with the Doctor. The consolation is that the universe remembers her and every life she saved.

In that respect, she is indeed the most important person in the universe. A legend in her own right.

 

Series Three comes in at an average of 4.6. That’s second, only coming in behind the Ninth classic season. That is good company to keep.

 

Time Crash & Voyage of the Damned – 5
Partners in Crime – 5
The Fires of Pompeii – 5
Planet of the Ood – 4
The Sontaran Stratagem & The Poison Sky – 5
The Doctor’s Daughter – 4
The Unicorn and the Wasp – 4
Silence in the Library & Forest of the Dead – 5
Midnight – 5
Turn Left – 4
The Stolen Earth & Journey’s End – 5

Series Three (Revival Era) Average Rating: 4.6/5

 

The path forward takes a few twists and turns from here as David Tennant’s era comes to an end. Looking ahead from now to the end of the year, the Timestamps Project will proceed in airdate order and visit the second year of The Sarah Jane Adventures, the third year of Torchwood, and the third year of The Sarah Jane Adventures, with five remaining Tenth Doctor adventures interspersed throughout.

It is one great way to spend the back half of 2020.

Allons-y!

 

UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: The Last Sontaran

 

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 – May 27

May 27, 2020
Day 148 of 366

 

May 27th is the 148th day of the year. It is Slavery Abolition Day in Guadeloupe, Saint Barthélemy, and Saint Martin.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Cellophane Tape Day, National Grape Popsicle Day, and National Senior Health & Fitness Day (which is typically observed on the last Wednesday in May).

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1837, folk hero Wild Bill Hickok was born.
  • In 1911, actor Vincent Price was born.
  • In 1922, actor Christopher Lee was born.
  • In 1930, the 1,046 foot-tall Chrysler Building opened to the public in New York City. It was the tallest man-made structure at the time.
  • In 1933, the United States Federal Securities Act was signed into law, requiring the registration of securities with the Federal Trade Commission.
  • In 1934, author and screenwriter Harlan Ellison was born.
  • In 1935, actress and model Lee Meriwether was born. Coincidentally, today was the day that I learned that Catwoman was also Miss American in 1955.
  • In 1936, actor and producer Louis Gossett, Jr. was born.
  • In 1937, the Golden Gate Bridge opened to pedestrian traffic, creating a vital link between San Francisco and Marin County, California.
  • In 1955, actor, director, and producer Richard Schiff was born.
  • In 1958, the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II took its first flight.
  • In 1961, actress Peri Gilpin was born.
  • In 1967, the United States Navy aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) was launched by Jacqueline Kennedy and her daughter Caroline. It was the last conventionally powered aircraft carrier built for the fleet.
  • Also in 1967, actor Eddie McClintock was born.
  • In 1969, construction began at Walt Disney World near Bay Lake and Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
  • In 1970, actor Joseph Fiennes was born.
  • In 1971, actor Paul Bettany was born.
  • In 2016, Barack Obama became the first president of the United States to visit Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park and meet Hibakusha.

 

So, about that National Grape Popsicle Day.

The story goes that, in 1905, eleven-year-old Frank Epperson was trying to make soda and accidentally left a mix of water and powdered flavoring out overnight. The temperatures hit a record low overnight, and when young Frank found his drink the next morning, it was frozen solid to the mixing stick.

In 1922, he introduced his frozen treat, which he called an Epsicle, at a fireman’s ball. That success led to a patent and history after he renamed it as the famous Popsicle. Epperson sold the rights to the invention and the Popsicle brand to the Joe Lowe Company in New York City.

More generically known as ice pops, the confection has been around in one form or another since 1872, but the Popsicle was so popular that the name has stuck for genericized trademark.

The reason for the emphasis on grape popsicles? Apparently, it is one of the most popular flavors, though I tend to pass since it reminds me of the grape-flavored Children’s Dimetapp cough and cold medicine.

 

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 – May 26

May 26, 2020
Day 147 of 366

 

May 26th is the 147th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Guyana as they celebrate the anniversary of their separation from the United Kingdom in 1966.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Blueberry Cheesecake Day, and National Paper Airplane Day.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1783, a Great Jubilee Day was held at North Stratford, Connecticut to celebrate the end of fighting in the American Revolution.
  • In 1857, Dred Scott was emancipated by the Blow family, his original owners.
  • In 1868, the impeachment trial of United States President Andrew Johnson ended with his acquittal by one vote.
  • In 1896, Charles Dow published the first edition of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
  • In 1897, Dracula, the famous novel by Irish author Bram Stoker, was published.
  • In 1907, actor, singer, director, and producer John Wayne was born.
  • In 1913, actor Peter Cushing was born.
  • In 1922, businessman Troy Smith was born. He was the founder of Sonic Drive-In.
  • In 1923, actor James Arness was born.
  • In 1940, Operation Dynamo commenced as Allied forces began a massive evacuation from Dunkirk, France.
  • In 1948, the United States Congress passed Public Law 80-557. It permanently established the Civil Air Patrol as an auxiliary of the United States Air Force.
  • In 1951, astronaut and physicist Sally Ride was born. In 1983, she became the first woman in space.
  • In 1966, actress Helena Bonham Carter was born.
  • In 1998, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Ellis Island, the historic gateway for millions of immigrants, was mainly in the state of New Jersey, not New York.

 

In 1998, the first “National Sorry Day” was held in Australia. Reconciliation events were held nationally and attended by over a million people.

The purpose of the annual event is to remember and commemorate the mistreatment of the country’s Indigenous peoples, as part of an ongoing process of reconciliation between the Indigenous peoples and the settler population.

During the 20th century, Australian government policies caused children to be separated from their families, with the intention of assimilating them into White Australian culture. This resulted in what became known as the “Stolen Generations”, with the effects of these traumatic removals being felt by succeeding generations even today.

On May 26, 1997, the Bringing Them Home report was tabled in Parliament. It was the result of a government inquiry into the practice and made many recommendations, including that state and federal governments should issue formal apologies and that funding should be provided to help deal with the consequences of the policies. This date now carries great significance for the Stolen Generations and other Aboriginal Australians and Torres Strait Islanders, and is also commemorated by many non-Indigenous Australians.

The incumbent Prime Minister John Howard refused to apologize, but Kevin Rudd issued a formal apology on behalf of the government and people when he was prime minister, on February 13, 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.

 

 

Memorial Day 2020

Memorial Day
May 25, 2020

Photo by John Beniston (Palmiped), licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license

 

Memorial Day is a federal holiday for honoring and mourning the military personnel who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. The holiday is now observed on the last Monday of May, while previously observed on May 30th from 1868 to 1970.

Memorial Day is for honoring the fallen. Veterans Day, observed on November 11th, honors those who have served in the United States Armed Forces and correlates with Remembrance Day worldwide. Armed Forces Day, an unofficial holiday observed on the third Saturday in May, honors those currently serving in the armed forces.

 

Among the various parades, services, and the annual wreath-laying at Arlington National Cemetary, Memorial Day is commemorated with the poem In Flanders Fields. It was written during the First World War by Canadian physician Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae. He was inspired to write it on May 3, 1915, after presiding over the funeral of friend and fellow soldier Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, who died in the Second Battle of Ypres.

 

In Flanders Fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

 

 

The Thing About Today – May 25

May 25, 2020
Day 146 of 366

 

May 25th is the 146th day of the year. It is Memorial Day in the United States, a day for honoring and mourning the military personnel who have died while serving in the United States Armed Forces. The day is typically observed on the last Monday in May.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Missing Children’s Day, National Tap Dance Day, National Brown-Bag It Day, and National Wine Day.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 240 BC, the first perihelion passage of Halley’s Comet was recorded.
  • In 1787, after a delay of 11 days, the United States Constitutional Convention formally convened in Philadelphia after a quorum of seven states was secured.
  • In 1803, poet and philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson was born.
  • In 1878, Gilbert and Sullivan’s comic opera H.M.S. Pinafore opened at the Opera Comique in London.
  • In 1889, Russian-American aircraft designer, and founder of Sikorsky Aircraft, Igor Sikorsky was born.
  • In 1895, playwright, poet, novelist, and aesthete Oscar Wilde was convicted of “committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons” and sentenced to serve two years in prison.
  • In 1925, John T. Scopes was indicted for teaching Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution in Tennessee. This led to the famous Scopes Trial.
  • In 1927, soldier and author Robert Ludlum was born. One of his best-known characters is Jason Bourne.
  • In 1931, director and producer Irwin Winkler was born.
  • In 1939, actor Ian McKellen was born.
  • Also in 1939, actress Dixie Carter was born.
  • In 1944, puppeteer, filmmaker, and actor Frank Oz was born.
  • In 1951. director, producer, and screenwriter Bob Gale was born.
  • In 1953, the United States conducted its first and only nuclear artillery test. The test was conducted at the Nevada Test Site.
  • In 1961, United States President John F. Kennedy announced, before a special joint session of Congress, his goal to initiate a project to put a “man on the Moon” before the end of the decade. The Apollo project would succeed at his vision eight years later.
  • In 1969, actress Anne Heche was born.
  • In 1972, actress and author Octavia Spencer was born.
  • In 1976, actor Cillian Murphy was born.
  • In 1977, Star Wars was released to theaters, changing the science fiction landscape forever. It would later be renamed as Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope as the franchise grew and thrived.
  • In 1979, Alien was released.
  • In 1983, Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi was released.
  • In 2008, NASA’s Phoenix spacecraft landed in the Green Valley region of Mars to search for environments suitable for water and microbial life.
  • In 2011, Oprah Winfrey aired her last show, ending her twenty-five-year run of The Oprah Winfrey Show.
  • In 2012, the SpaceX Dragon became the first commercial spacecraft to successfully rendezvous with the International Space Station.
  • In 2017, Wonder Woman premiered, becoming the first superhero film directed by a woman.

 

May 25th is Geek Pride Day and Towel Day.

Towel Day is a tribute to author Douglas Adams, created by his fans. To celebrate, fans openly carry a towel with them, as described in Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, to demonstrate their appreciation for the books and the author.

A towel, it says, is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. Partly it has great practical value. You can wrap it around you for warmth as you bound across the cold moons of Jaglan Beta; you can lie on it on the brilliant marble-sanded beaches of Santraginus V, inhaling the heady sea vapours; you can sleep under it beneath the stars which shine so redly on the desert world of Kakrafoon; use it to sail a miniraft down the slow heavy River Moth; wet it for use in hand-to-hand-combat; wrap it round your head to ward off noxious fumes or avoid the gaze of the Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal (such a mind-bogglingly stupid animal, it assumes that if you can’t see it, it can’t see you — daft as a brush, but very very ravenous); you can wave your towel in emergencies as a distress signal, and of course dry yourself off with it if it still seems to be clean enough.

More importantly, a towel has immense psychological value. For some reason, if a strag (strag: non-hitch hiker) discovers that a hitchhiker has his towel with him, he will automatically assume that he is also in possession of a toothbrush, face flannel, soap, tin of biscuits, flask, compass, map, ball of string, gnat spray, wet weather gear, space suit etc., etc. Furthermore, the strag will then happily lend the hitch hiker any of these or a dozen other items that the hitch hiker might accidentally have “lost.” What the strag will think is that any man who can hitch the length and breadth of the galaxy, rough it, slum it, struggle against terrible odds, win through, and still knows where his towel is, is clearly a man to be reckoned with.

Hence a phrase that has passed into hitchhiking slang, as in “Hey, you sass that hoopy Ford Prefect? There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.” (Sass: know, be aware of, meet, have sex with; hoopy: really together guy; frood: really amazingly together guy.)

The commemoration was first held on May 25, 2001, two weeks after Adams’ death on May 11th.

 

Geek Pride Day is designed to promote geek culture. Similar events have been celebrated since 1998, but the first official celebration was in 2008, and was heralded by numerous bloggers and the launch of the official website.

 

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.