The Thing About Today – June 30

June 30, 2020
Day 182 of 366


June 30th is the 182nd day of the year. It is Teachers’ Day in the Dominican Republic.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as Social Media Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1688, the Immortal Seven issued the Invitation to William, which would culminate in the Glorious Revolution.
  • In 1864, United States President Abraham Lincoln granted Yosemite Valley to California for “public use, resort, and recreation”.
  • In 1905, Albert Einstein sent the article On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, in which he introduced special relativity, for publication in Annalen der Physik.
  • In 1917, actress Susan Hayward was born.
  • In 1922, United States Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes and Dominican Ambassador Francisco J. Peynado signed the Hughes–Peynado agreement, which ended the United States occupation of the Dominican Republic.
  • In 1925, Charles Jenkins was granted the United States patent for Transmitting Pictures over Wireless. Basically, it’s the early television.
  • In 1934, the Night of the Long Knives, Adolf Hitler’s violent purge of his political rivals in Germany, took place.
  • In 1937, the world’s first emergency telephone number, 999, was introduced in London.
  • In 1942, naval officer and oceanographer Robert Ballard was born.
  • In 1956, actor, singer, and comedian David Alan Grier was born.
  • In 1959, actor Vincent D’Onofrio was born.
  • In 1966, the National Organization for Women, the United States’ largest feminist organization, was founded.
  • In 1971, the crew of the Soviet Soyuz 11 spacecraft was killed when their air supply escaped through a faulty valve.
  • In 1972, the first leap second was added to the UTC time system.
  • In 1982, actress Lizzy Caplan was born.
  • In 1997, the United Kingdom transferred sovereignty over Hong Kong to China.


In 1908, the Tunguska Event occurred.

It was the largest impact event on Earth in human recorded history, resulting in a massive explosion over Eastern Siberia. The event occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Yeniseysk Governorate (now Krasnoyarsk Krai) in Russia. The explosion over the sparsely populated Eastern Siberian Taiga flattened an estimated 80 million trees over an area of 830 square miles of forest, and eyewitness reports suggest that at least three people may have died in the event.

The explosion is generally attributed to the airburst of a meteoroid of about 328 feet in size. There was no impact crater since the object is thought to have disintegrated at an altitude of 3 to 6 miles above the surface.

In commemoration of the event, June 30th is observed as International Asteroid Day, a day that aims to raise awareness about asteroids and what can be done to protect the Earth, its families, communities, and future generations from a catastrophic event.

Asteroid Day was co-founded by Stephen Hawking, filmmaker Grigorij Richters, B612 Foundation President, Danica Remy, Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart and Brian May, Queen guitarist and astrophysicist. The declaration was co-signed by over 200 astronauts, scientists, technologists and artists, including Richard Dawkins, Bill Nye, Peter Gabriel, Jim Lovell, Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, Alexei Leonov, Bill Anders, Kip Thorne, Lord Martin Rees, Chris Hadfield, Rusty Schweickart, and Brian Cox.


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 – June 29

June 29, 2020
Day 181 of 366


June 29th is the 181st day of the year. It is Engineer’s Day in Ecuador and Veterans’ Day in the Netherlands.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Camera Day, National Waffle Iron Day, and National Almond Buttercrunch Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1613, the Globe Theatre in London burned to the ground. A second Globe Theatre was built on the same site by June 1614 and closed by an Ordinance issued on September 6, 1642. A modern reconstruction of the Globe, named “Shakespeare’s Globe”, opened in 1997 approximately 750 feet from the site of the original.
  • In 1786, Alexander Macdonell and over five hundred Roman Catholic highlanders left Scotland to settle in Glengarry County, Ontario.
  • In 1888, George Edward Gouraud recorded Handel’s Israel in Egypt onto a phonograph cylinder, thought for many years to be the oldest known recording of music.
  • In 1889, Hyde Park and several other Illinois townships voted to be annexed by Chicago, forming the largest United States city in area and second largest in population at the time.
  • In 1919, actor and rodeo performer Slim Pickens was born.
  • In 1920, animator and producer Ray Harryhausen was born.
  • In 1927, the Bird of Paradise, a United States Army Air Corps Fokker tri-motor, completes the first transpacific flight, from the mainland United States to Hawaii.
  • In 1940, in the Batman comic series, mobsters murdered a circus highwire team known as the Flying Graysons. The lone survivor, an orphan named Dick Grayson, would later become Batman’s sidekick Robin.
  • In 1956, the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 was signed by United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower, officially creating the United States Interstate Highway System.
  • In 1961, actress, singer, and dancer Sharon Lawrence was born.
  • In 1964, the first Star Trek pilot, “The Cage”, premiered.
  • In 1968, actress and educator Judith Hoag was born.
  • In 1974, Vice President Isabel Perón assumed powers and duties as Acting President of Argentina, while her husband President Juan Perón was terminally ill.
  • Also in 1974, Mikhail Baryshnikov defected from the Soviet Union to Canada while on tour with the Kirov Ballet.
  • In 1995, Space Shuttle Atlantis docked with Russian space station Mir during Mission STS-71, marking the first time the docking was completed.
  • In 2001, A.I. Artificial Intelligence was released.
  • In 2006, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that President George W. Bush’s plan to try Guantanamo Bay detainees in military tribunals violated American and international law.
  • In 2007, Apple Inc. released its first mobile phone, the iPhone.


In 1975, Steve Wozniak tested his first prototype of Apple I computer.

The Apple I was Apple’s first product, and to finance its creation, Steve Jobs sold his only motorized means of transportation, a VW Microbus, for a few hundred dollars, and Wozniak sold his HP-65 calculator for $500.

It was initially released on April 11, 1976, for an introductory price of $666.66. It was discontinued on September 30, 1977, after the June 10, 1977 introduction of its successor, the Apple II. The Apple I’s built-in computer terminal circuitry was distinctive, and all that was needed was a keyboard and a television set. Competing machines such as the Altair 8800 generally were programmed with front-mounted toggle switches and used indicator lights for output, and had to be extended with separate hardware to allow connection to a computer terminal or a teletypewriter machine.

The computer housed a 1 MHz processor with 4 kilobytes of onboard memory. The memory could be expanded to 8 kilobytes, or up to 48 kilobytes with expansion cards. The computer is now a collectors’ item, with sixty-three in confirmed existence and only six verified to be in working order. The machines have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.


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 – June 28

June 28, 2020
Day 180 of 366


June 28th is the 180th day of the year. Today marks the fifty-first anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

The Stonewall riots, also known as the Stonewall uprising or the Stonewall rebellion, were a series of spontaneous and violent demonstrations by members of the LGBT community in response to a police raid that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. The LGBT community faced a severely oppressive legal system in that era, and police raids on gay bars were routine and often very aggressive. The raid at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City was no exception. Patrons of the Stonewall, other Village lesbian and gay bars, and neighborhood street people fought back when the police became violent. Tensions between New York City police and gay residents of Greenwich Village erupted into more protests the next evening, and again several nights later.

Within weeks, Village residents quickly organized into activist groups to concentrate efforts on establishing places for gay men and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation without fear of being arrested. Within six months, two gay activist organizations were formed in New York, concentrating on confrontational tactics, and three newspapers were established to promote rights for gay men and lesbians. A year after the uprising, to mark the anniversary on June 28, 1970, the first gay pride marches took place in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Within a few years, gay rights organizations were founded across the U.S. and the world. The Stonewall National Monument was established at the site in 2016.

The riots are widely considered to be one of the most important events leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States. While we have a long, long way to go in this country toward acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community, Stonewall marked the start of the Gay Rights Movement.

Never forget that the first Pride march was a demonstration against injustice and police brutality. 


June 28th is also Tau Day in certain circles. If you recall, Pi Day is March 14th (3/14, since π is approximately 3.14), so Tau Day is June 28th (6/28, since τ=2π).


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Logistics Day, National Paul Bunyan Day, National Insurance Awareness Day, and National Alaska Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1776, the Battle of Sullivan’s Island ended with an American victory, leading to the commemoration of Carolina Day.
  • In 1838, the Coronation of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom took place.
  • In 1841, the Paris Opera Ballet premiered Giselle in the Salle Le Peletier.
  • In 1846, Adolphe Sax patented the saxophone.
  • In 1894, Labor Day became an official United States holiday. It is celebrated on the first Monday of September, so chosen since the date lies midway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving.
  • In 1922, voice actor Erik Bauersfeld was born. In Return of the Jedi, he said one of the most famous lines in Star Wars history: “It’s a trap!”
  • In 1926, Mercedes-Benz was formed by Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz merging their two companies.
  • Also in 1926, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Mel Brooks was born.
  • n 1932, actor Pat Morita was born.
  • In 1948, actress Kathy Bates was born.
  • In 1951, actress and author Lalla Ward was born. She portrayed the second Romana on Doctor Who.
  • In 1954, actress Alice Krige was born.
  • In 1964, Malcolm X formed the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
  • In 1966, actress Mary Stuart Masterson was born.


June 28th is Poznań Remembrance Day in Poland, a commemoration of the Poznań protests of 1956. These were the first of several massive protests against the communist government of the Polish People’s Republic. Demonstrations by workers demanding better working conditions at Poznań’s Cegielski Factories were met with violent repression. Approximately 100,000 people gathered in the city center and were met by about 400 tanks and 10,000 soldiers of the Polish People’s Army and the Internal Security Corps under the command of the Polish-Soviet general Stanislav Poplavsky. They suppressed the demonstrations by firing on the protesting civilians, resulting in over a hundred deaths including a 13-year-old boy, Romek Strzałkowski.


June 28th is also Vidovdan – Видовдан, also known as St. Vitus Day – a Serbian national and religious holiday used by the Serbian Orthodox Church to venerate St. Vitus, the patron saint of the Kindom of Serbia. It serves as a memorial day to Saint Prince Lazar and the Serbian holy martyrs who fell during the Battle of Kosovo against the Ottoman Empire on June 15, 1389 on the Julian calendar, and is an important part of Serb ethnic and Serbian national identity.

The day is part of the Kosovo Myth, a traditional belief that the Battle of Kosovo symbolizes a martyrdom of the Serbian nation in defense of their honor and Christendom against the Turks. The essence of the myth is that during the battle, Serbs, headed by Prince Lazar, lost because they consciously sacrificed the earthly kingdom of the Serbian Empire in order to gain the Kingdom of Heaven.

Vidovdan is so important to the national identity that several landmark events have taken place on the date or are credited by the Serbian people to the Kosovo Myth.

  • In 1389, the Ottoman army fought the Serbian army in the Battle of Kosovo on the Kosovo field. Both Sultan Murad and Prince Lazar were slain in battle.
  • In 1876, the Serbian government declared war against the Ottoman Empire, sparking the Serbian-Ottoman War that spanned 1876 to 1878.
  • In 1914, Austro-Hungarian crown prince Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip, an event that triggered the First World War. It was a coincidence that the archduke visited Sarajevo on that day, but the assassination falling on Vidovdan added nationalist symbolism to the event.
  • In 1916, Radomir Vešović and other notable Montenegrin officers planned an uprising in Montenegro against the Austro-Hungarian occupying forces.
  • In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, ending World War I.
  • In 1921, Serbian King Alexander I proclaimed the new Constitution of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, known thereafter as the Vidovdan Constitution (Vidovdanski ustav).
  • In 1948, the Cominform – the Information Bureau of the Communist and Workers’ Parties, which was the official central organization of the International Communist Movement from 1947 to 1956 – published in a “Resolution on the State of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia” their condemnation of the Yugoslavian communist leaders. This date was chosen carefully by Soviet leaders and delegates Zhdanov, Malenkov, and Suslov, and is seen as the turning point that marks the final split between Stalin’s Soviet Union and Tito’s Yugoslavia.
  • In 1989, on the 600th anniversary of the battle of Kosovo, Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević delivered the Gazimestan speech on the site of the historic battle.
  • In 1990, an amendment was brought to the Constitution of Croatia that changed the status of Serbs from constituent people (konstitutivni narod) of the Croatian nation to national minority.
  • In 2001, Slobodan Milošević was deported to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to stand trial for war crimes in connection to the wars in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo.
  • In 2006, Montenegro was announced as the 192nd member state of the United Nations.
  • In 2008, the inaugural meeting of the Community Assembly of Kosovo and Metohija took place.
  • In 2018, the formal reopening of the National Museum of Serbia in Belgrade took place after 15 years of renovation.

The veneration of St. Vitus is so popular that his name (Sveti Vid) may have also replaced the old cult of the god of light Svetovid, a Slavic deity of war, fertility, and abundance primarily venerated on the island of Rügen into the 12th century.


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 – June 27

June 27, 2020
Day 179 of 366


June 27th is the 179th day of the year. It is National PTSD Day in the United States, which is dedicated to raising awareness regarding Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. The day was officially designated in 2010, but the United States Senate expanded the observance to the entire month of June in 2014, creating PTSD Awareness Month.

It is also National HIV Testing Day in the United States. If you’re at risk of contracting HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, please get tested.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Onion Day, National Ice Cream Cake Day, National Sunglasses Day, National Orange Blossom Day, and Summersgiving (which is typically observed on the Saturday after the Summer Solstice).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1760, Cherokee warriors defeated British forces at the Battle of Echoee near present-day Otto, North Carolina. This was during the Anglo-Cherokee War.
  • In 1880, author, academic, and activist Helen Keller was born.
  • In 1895, the inaugural run of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad’s Royal Blue was conducted from Washington, D.C., to New York City. It was the first U.S. passenger train to use electric locomotives.
  • In 1898, the first solo circumnavigation of the globe was completed by Joshua Slocum from Briar Island, Nova Scotia.
  • In 1941, Romanian authorities launched one of the most violent pogroms in Jewish history in the city of Iași, resulting in the murder of at least 13,266 Jews.
  • In 1950, the United States decided to send troops to fight in the Korean War.
  • In 1954, the Obninsk Nuclear Power Plant, the Soviet Union’s first nuclear power station, opened in Obninsk, near Moscow.
  • In 1966, director, producer, and screenwriter J.J. Abrams was born. (Brilliant idea man, but he loves the “mystery box” to a fault and really has trouble sticking the landing.)
  • Also in 1966, the American Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows premiered.
  • In 1975, actor Tobey Maguire was born.
  • In 1982, Space Shuttle Columbia was launched from the Kennedy Space Center on STS-4, the final research and development flight mission.
  • In 1989, actor Matthew Lewis was born. Was Neville Longbottom really the Chosen One?
  • In 1999, actor Chandler Riggs was born. We all know him best as Carl (or Corrrrrrral) from The Walking Dead.


June 27th is Seven Sleepers’ Day – Siebenschläfertag in German – the feast day commemorating the legend of the Seven Sleepers as well as one of the best-known bits of traditional weather lore (expressed as a proverb) remaining in German-speaking Europe.

Basically, the atmospheric conditions on that day are supposed to determine or predict the average summer weather of the next seven weeks.

In Christian and Islamic tradition, the Seven Sleepers – اصحاب الکهف‎, literally People of the Cave – is the story of a group of youths who hid inside a cave outside the city of Ephesus around 250 CE to escape religious persecution and emerged some 300 years later.

The earliest version of this story comes from the Syrian bishop Jacob of Serugh around 500 AD, which was derived from an earlier (now lost) Greek source. It was later popularized by Gregory of Tours and in Paul the Deacon’s History of the Lombards. The best-known Western version of the story appears in Jacobus da Varagine’s Golden Legend, circa 1260.

The cult became common during the Crusades of the High and Late Middle Ages, and June 27th was declared a commemoration day in most of the Catholic dioceses.  The story appears in the Qur’an (Surah al-Kahf 18:9-26), including more details such as the mention of a dog who accompanied the youths into the cave and appears to keep watch. The Quran version mentions that these people slept for approximately 300 years.

Oh, and contrary to popular belief, the name of the day does not refer to the edible dormouse, a rodent known as Siebenschläfer in German for its seven-months hibernation.


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 – Quarantine Con, Episodes IX and X

Culture on My Mind
June 26, 2020


This week’s “can’t let it go” is yet another panel from the Classic Track Irregulars!

Well, really, two panels. And a bonus feature.

Still broadcasting from their respective socially distant quarantine bunkers, the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track panelists have returned. First, the panelists put their suits back on and swear under oath that Krull, Lost in Space, Doom, and Starship Troopers are okay to watch and enjoy. This week’s avocados at law are Sherman Burris, Kevin Eldridge, and Darin Bush.

As an added bonus feature, Classics Track co-directors Joe Crowe and Gary Mitchel offer a blooper reel of sorts with the lost thirteen minutes from a crossed wire. This is what happens when you think you’re streaming live to Facebook, but the panel is broadcasting to YouTube instead.

Here are thirteen minutes of fun that were had when the panel thought everyone was watching.

The tenth entry in Quarantine Con is a celebration. It was Joe Crowe’s birthday, so Gary Mitchel and Dr. Scott Viguie arranged an Ask Me Anything party where the Classics Track’s fans could ask Joe… well… anything.

There’s even a surprise phone call from Joe’s mom! “Lord have mercy,” she says.

That’s a lot of content for a week, but if there’s one thing that a track dedicated to the entirety of science fiction media greater than ten years old understands, it’s an embarrassment of riches.

They have a lot more fun discussions planned in the coming weeks, so stay tuned to the YouTube channel and the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook.


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 – June 26

June 26, 2020
Day 178 of 366


June 26th is the 178th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Madagascar and Somalia, both of whom declared their independence in 1960 (from France and Britain, respectively).

It is also World Refrigeration Day, which is designed to awareness about the importance of refrigeration technologies in everyday life and to raise the profile of the refrigeration, air-conditioning and heat-pump sector. The day was chosen to celebrate the birth date of Lord Kelvin on June 26, 1824


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Coconut Day, National Beautician’s Day, National Chocolate Pudding Day, and Take Your Dog to Work Day (which is typically observed on the friday after Father’s Day).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1824, Irish-Scottish physicist and engineer William Thomson, 1st Baron Kelvin, was born. At the University of Glasgow, he did important work in the mathematical analysis of electricity and formulation of the first and second laws of thermodynamics, and did much to unify the emerging discipline of physics in its modern form. The absolute temperature scale is named in his honor.
  • In 1870, the Christian holiday of Christmas was declared a federal holiday in the United States. The holiday was not always widely accepted in the colonies, but gradually gained acceptance through the short stories of Washington Irving. In December 1999, the Western Division of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, in the case Ganulin vs. United States, denied the charge that Christmas Day’s federal status violated the Establishment Clause of the Constitution, ruling that “the Christmas holiday has become largely secularized”, and that “by giving federal employees a paid vacation day on Christmas, the government is doing no more than recognizing the cultural significance of the holiday”.
  • In 1886, Henri Moissan isolated elemental Fluorine for the first time.
  • In 1934, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Federal Credit Union Act, which established credit unions.
  • In 1936, the initial flight of the Focke-Wulf Fw 61 marked the debut of the practical helicopter.
  • In 1945, the United Nations Charter was signed by 50 Allied nations in San Francisco, California.
  • In 1948, Shirley Jackson’s short story The Lottery was published in The New Yorker magazine.
  • In 1970, director, producer, and screenwriter Paul Thomas Anderson was born.
  • Also in 1970, actor Chris O’Donnell was born.
  • In 1974, the Universal Product Code (UPC) was scanned for the first time to sell a package of Wrigley’s chewing gum at the Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio.
  • In 1993, singer-songwriter, dancer, and actress Ariana Grande was born.
  • In 2000, the Human Genome Project announced the completion of a “rough draft” sequence.
  • In 2003, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Lawrence v. Texas that gender-based sodomy laws were unconstitutional.
  • In 2013, the United States Supreme Court ruled in a 5-4 decision (United States v. Windsor) that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act was unconstitutional and in violation of the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
  • In 2015, The United States Supreme Court ruled in a 5–4 decision (Obergefell v. Hodges) that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marriage under the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

—Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy


June 26th is International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking, a United Nations International Day against drug abuse and the illegal drug trade. The date is to commemorate Lin Zexu’s dismantling of the opium trade in Humen, Guangdong just before the First Opium War in China.

June 26th is also the United Nations International Day in Support of Victims of Torture, a day to speak out against the crime of torture and to honor and support victims and survivors throughout the world.


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 – June 25

June 25, 2020
Day 177 of 366


June 25th is the 177th day of the year. It is Teacher’s Day in Guatemala, Arbor Day in the Philippines, and Independence Day in Mozambique.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Strawberry Parfait Day, National Catfish Day, National Leon Day, National Bomb Pop Day, and National Handshake Day. The last two are typically observed on the last Thursday in June.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1848, a photograph of the June Days uprising, a revolt staged by underpaid French workers, became the first known instance of photojournalism.
  • In 1876, the Battle of the Little Bighorn occurred. Known to the Lakota and other Plains Indians as the Battle of the Greasy Grass, and commonly referred to as Custer’s Last Stand, it was an armed engagement between combined forces of the Lakota, Northern Cheyenne, and Arapaho tribes and the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army. The battle was the most significant action of the Great Sioux War of 1876 and resulted in the death of Lieutenant Colonel George Armstrong Custer when the American forces were defeated.
  • In 1900, Taoist monk Wang Yuanlu discovered the Dunhuang manuscripts, a cache of ancient texts that are of great historical and religious significance, in the Mogao Caves of Dunhuang, China.
  • In 1903, British novelist, essayist, and critic George Orwell was born.
  • In 1910, the United States Congress passed the Mann Act, which prohibited interstate transport of women or girls for “immoral purposes”.  Its primary stated intent was to address prostitution, immorality, and human trafficking, particularly where trafficking was for the purposes of prostitution. It was one of several acts of protective legislation aimed at moral reform during the Progressive Era. In practice, its ambiguous language about “immorality” resulted in it being used to criminalize even consensual sexual behavior between adults. It was amended by Congress in 1978 and again in 1986 to limit its application to transport for the purpose of prostitution or other illegal sexual acts.
  • Also in 1910, Igor Stravinsky’s ballet The Firebird premiered in Paris. The performance brought him to prominence as a composer.
  • In 1913, American Civil War veterans arrived at the Great Reunion of 1913, commemorating the fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg. All honorably discharged veterans in the Grand Army of the Republic and the United Confederate Veterans were invited. 53,407 veterans attended, including approximately 8,750 Confederate soldiers. President Woodrow Wilson summarized the peaceful spirit of the reunion: “We have found one another again as brothers and comrades in arms, enemies no longer, generous friends rather, our battles long past, the quarrel forgotten—except that we shall not forget the splendid valor.”
  • In 1923, Captain Lowell H. Smith and Lieutenant John P. Richter performed the first-ever aerial refueling in a DH.4B biplane.
  • In 1925, actress June Lockhart was born.
  • In 1945, singer-songwriter Carly Simon was born.
  • In 1947, The Diary of a Young Girl (better known as The Diary of Anne Frank) was published.
  • In 1950, the Korean War began with the invasion of South Korea by North Korea.
  • In 1976, Missouri Governor Kit Bond issued an executive order rescinding the Extermination Order, formally apologizing on behalf of the state of Missouri for the suffering it had caused to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Missouri Executive Order 44 was issued on October 27, 1838, by Governor Lilburn Boggs in the aftermath of the Battle of Crooked River. The battle took place between Mormons and a unit of the Missouri State Militia in northern Ray County, Missouri, during the 1838 Mormon War, the first of the three Mormon Wars. Governor Boggs, claiming that the Mormons had committed open and avowed defiance of the law and had made war upon the people of Missouri, directed that “the Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the State if necessary for the public peace—their outrages are beyond all description”.
  • In 1978, the rainbow flag representing gay pride was flown for the first time during the San Francisco Gay Freedom Day Parade.
  • In 1982, Blade Runner was released.
  • In 1996, Independence Day premiered.
  • In 1997, an unmanned Progress spacecraft collided with the Russian space station Mir.


June 25th is World Vitiligo Day.

Vitiligo occurs in one to two percent of the population worldwide. It is a loss of color in the skin creating a variety of patterns on the skin from loss of pigment. Vitiligo is often called a disease instead of a disorder and that can have a significant negative social and/or psychological impact on patients, in part because of numerous misconceptions still present in large parts of the world.

The idea of a World Vitiligo Day was first nursed by Steve Haragadon, the founder of the Vitiligo Friends network, and then developed and finalized by Ogo Maduewesi, a Nigerian vitiligo patient who is the founder and Executive Director of the Vitiligo Support and Awareness Foundation (VITSAF).


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 #SJA10: The Mark of the Berserker

Sarah Jane Adventures: The Mark of the Berserker
(2 episodes, s02e04, 2008)


Clyde forgets everything he knew.

A teenager named Jacob West is in detention. He has an elaborate mark on his hand, ignores his teacher’s guidance, and tells a bully in the room to shut up. The bully loses his voice. Jacob demands that they all stay where they are and remain quiet, then runs from the room as he notices Rani watching the entire affair.

The mark climbs Jacob’s arms and face, turning his eyes gray as he screams.

Rani runs to find Jacob as the young man begs a pendant to stop before he casts it aside. The spell is broken and Jacob runs, leaving Rani to find the pendant on the restroom floor.

Sarah Jane drops Luke off at Clyde’s house as she prepares to leave town for the weekend, supposedly heading to Tarminster. They start by cooking dinner. Meanwhile, Rani discovers the power of the pendant as she compels her father to do silly tricks, but she stops when a slip of the tongue almost compels her father to die. She tells him to forget about what happened, and she notices the mark on her hand as Jacob stops by. He tells her that the mark fades when the bearer stops using the power. The power is addictive, however, and it is hard to stop before it consumes the user.

Rani tries to consult Mr. Smith, but Sarah Jane has shut him down during her absence. Following the advice of Sarah Jane’s Post-It Notes, Rani leaves the pendant hanging in the attic.

Luke and Clyde bond as they go to sleep, but Clyde’s good mood is broken the next morning as his estranged father Paul appears on his doorstep. After an emotionally-charged discussion that upsets Clyde and his mother, Clyde decides to fulfill his father’s request to spend time together.

Rani decides to investigate the pendant, calling in Luke to assist. Clyde and his father have a rather awkward and testy discussion, but when he brings up his adventures with the Bannerman Road Gang, Clyde takes his father to Sarah Jane’s attic to prove his story. In the attic, Paul (who knows in passing about Daleks) pockets the pendant before they leave.

Outside, they meet Rani’s father who demands to know why they were in Sarah Jane’s house. Paul accidentally discovers the power of the pendant, and Luke and Rani arrive and challenge Paul. Clyde is compelled to leave and forget about his friends.

Rani’s father is still doing push-ups, by the way.

Paul immediately starts digging a deep hole as he compels Clyde to sever all of his ties, including with his mother. As he plans to take Clyde away, Luke and Rani try to call Sarah Jane while she’s hunting a Travast Polong (an adorable three-eyed caterpillar alien) but have no luck.

So, they call Maria and ask her father to hack into UNIT and find anything he can about the pendant. While Alan searches, Luke tries to call Clyde and is rebuffed. Moments later, Paul effectively steals a sports car.

UNIT’s archive turns up a link between the pendant and Norse warriors called the Berserkers who were powered by the alien devices. Alan uses the UNIT satellite network to track Clyde’s mobile phone as the Langers wreak havoc on the stores of London.

Clyde asks his father why he left him and his mother, and after a heart-to-heart, Paul commands Clyde to forget about both his mother and Paul’s betrayal. The whirlwind tour continues.

Rani and Luke enlist Clyde’s mother to help them find her wayward son. Clyde ignores her attempts to call, but the Jacksons are able to rig her GPS to track Clyde’s phone. They finally find Clyde and Paul at the marina as the pendant takes control.

Sarah Jane arrives, and since Clyde still recognizes her, he begs for her help. She tells him that Paul needs to see who he really is underneath the Berserker exterior. Clyde and his mother remind Paul of the good memories as Sarah Jane shows him his reflection in a mirror. The Berserker recedes and Paul throws the pendant on the ground, breaking the spell over everyone that was touched by it.

Clyde remembers his family and friends, the car salesman stands aghast at his expensive loss, and Rani’s father finally stops his exercising.

Sarah Jane reveals that the Jacksons told her about the trouble and where to find them. As they walk away, Clyde offers to help restore his family with the power of the pendant, but he’s reminded that such a family would not be real. In fact, he has a real family with the Bannerman Road Gang.

Clyde’s father leaves to pay his penance while Clyde uses the pendant to ask his mother to forget about aliens and what happened. He tosses the pendant in the water and goes home. Later, he visits Sarah Jane and apologizes for showing his father around her attic. She understands, and he confides how much she and their family means to him.

After he leaves, Sarah Jane pulls a photo of her long-deceased parents out of a drawer and gazes upon them, deep in thought.


What we find here is a clever allegory about addiction and the nature of family. The addiction aspect is obvious, from the allure of material objects to the desire for companionship, love, and power. The pendant was all about using addiction to enable the holder to overpower a target’s will. In the wrong hands – such as Paul Langer, who is selfish and obviously has no problem ignoring consent –  it becomes a dangerous vector for world domination. In the right hands – such as Clyde Langer, who used it to help keep his mother safe from the dangers in his life – it becomes a borderline dangerous but useful tool.

Paul Langer is a bad person, and Clyde Langer is a better man than I am for forgiving his father for the abuses he perpetrated in this story. And this exploration of Clyde’s character is what makes this tale a good one.

I was also impressed with how the kids were able to do the heavy lifting instead of relying on Sarah Jane to push the plot along. She popped in at the climax to nudge the kids toward the resolution, but the Bannerman Road Gang did this pretty much on their own.

It’s not the first time that Clyde has been forced to forget his friends. I’m okay with that repetition since it’s been a while since we walked that particular path. The big strike against this one is how it is the fourth story in a row to use mind control as the plot. That repetition is getting old.



Rating: 4/5 – “Would you care for a jelly baby?”



UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith


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 – June 24

June 24, 2020
Day 176 of 366


June 24th is the 176th day of the year. It is Inti Raymi’rata, which is a traditional religious ceremony of the Inca Empire in honor of the god Inti (which is Quechua for “sun”), the most venerated deity in Inca religion. It correlates to the celebration of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year in terms of the time between sunrise and sunset, and the Inca New Year, when the hours of light would begin to lengthen again.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Pralines Day and National Parchment Day (which is typically observed on the last Wednesday in June).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1497, John Cabot landed in North America at Newfoundland, leading the first European exploration of the region since the Vikings.
  • In 1571, Miguel López de Legazpi founded Manila, the capital of the Philippines.
  • In 1604, Samuel de Champlain discovered the mouth of the Saint John River, site of the Reversing Falls and the present-day city of Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada.
  • In 1880, O Canada was first performed at the Congrès national des Canadiens-Français. The song would later become the national anthem of Canada.
  • In 1916, Mary Pickford became the first female film star to sign a million-dollar contract.
  • In 1939, Siam was renamed Thailand by Plaek Phibunsongkhram, the country’s third prime minister.
  • In 1946, economist and politician Robert Reich was born.
  • In 1947, Kenneth Arnold made the first widely reported UFO sighting near Mount Rainier, Washington.
  • Also in 1947, actor and director Peter Weller was born.
  • In 1948, the Berlin Blockade began as the Soviet Union made overland travel between West Germany and West Berlin impossible.
  • In 1950, actress Nancy Allen was born.
  • In 2010, Julia Gillard assumed office as the first female Prime Minister of Australia.
  • In 2012, Lonesome George died. He was the last known individual of Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii, a subspecies of the Galápagos tortoise.


In 1314, the Battle of Bannockburn concluded with a decisive victory by Scottish forces led by Robert the Bruce.

The King of Scots defeated the army of King Edward II of England in the First War of Scottish Independence, and though it did not bring overall victory in the war (which would go on for 14 more years) it was a landmark in Scottish history.

King Edward invaded Scotland after Bruce demanded in 1313 that all supporters still loyal to ousted Scottish king John Balliol acknowledge him as their king or lose their lands. Stirling Castle, a Scots royal fortress occupied by the English, was under siege by the Scottish army. King Edward assembled a formidable force of soldiers from England, Ireland and Wales to relieve it. This was the largest army ever to invade Scotland. This attempt failed when he found his path blocked by a smaller army commanded by Bruce.

After Robert Bruce killed Sir Henry de Bohun on the first day of the battle, the English were forced to withdraw for the night. Sir Alexander Seton, a Scottish noble serving in Edward’s army, defected to the Scottish side and informed them of the English camp’s position and low morale. Robert Bruce decided to launch a full-scale attack on the English forces and to use his division of schiltrons again as offensive units, a strategy his predecessor William Wallace had not used.

The English army was defeated in a pitched battle which resulted in the deaths of several prominent commanders, including the Earl of Gloucester and Sir Robert Clifford, as well as the capture of many others.

The victory against the English at Bannockburn is the most celebrated in Scottish history, and for centuries the battle has been commemorated in verse and art. The anniversary is known as Bannockburn 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 – June 23

June 23, 2020
Day 175 of 366


June 23rd is the 175th day of the year. In Canada, it is the National Day of Remembrance for Victims of Terrorism, which commemorates the anniversary of the bombing of Air India Flight 182 off the coast of Ireland. It is International Widows Day, a United Nations ratified day of action to address the “poverty and injustice faced by millions of widows and their dependents in many countries”.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Hydration Day, National Pink Day, and National Pecan Sandies Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1611, the mutinous crew of Henry Hudson’s fourth voyage set Henry, his son, and seven loyal crew members adrift in an open boat in what is now Hudson Bay. The Hudsons and their companions were never heard from again.
  • In 1794, Empress Catherine II of Russia granted Jews permission to settle in Kiev.
  • In 1868, Christopher Latham Sholes received a patent for an invention he called the “Type-Writer.”
  • In 1912, Alan Turing was born. The English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, cryptanalyst, philosopher, and theoretical biologist was the father of theoretical computer science and artificial intelligence.
  • In 1926, the College Board administered the first SAT exam.
  • In 1938, the Civil Aeronautics Act was signed into law, forming the Civil Aeronautics Authority in the United States.
  • In 1957, actress Frances McDormand was born.
  • In 1960, the United States Food and Drug Administration declared Enovid to be the first officially approved combined oral contraceptive pill in the world.
  • In 1961, the Antarctic Treaty, which set aside Antarctica as a scientific preserve and banned military activity on the continent, came into force 18 months after the window for signature was set.
  • In 1964, screenwriter, director, and producer Joss Whedon was born.
  • In 1969, IBM announced that it would price its software and services separately from hardware starting in January 1970. This created the modern software industry.
  • In 1972, Title IX of the United States Civil Rights Act of 1964 was amended to prohibit sexual discrimination to any educational program receiving federal funds.
  • In 1974, actor Joel Edgerton was born.
  • In 1975, Scottish singer-songwriter and musician KT Tunstall was born.
  • In 1989, Batman premiered.
  • In 1991, Sonic the Hedgehog was released to American audiences. It was released to the rest of the world a month later, thus kickstarting the successful Sonic franchise.
  • In 2013, Nik Wallenda became the first man to successfully walk across the Grand Canyon on a tightrope.


June 23rd is United Nations Public Service Day.

The UN Public Service Day was designated by the United Nations General Assembly’s resolution to “celebrate the value and virtue of public service to the community”. The United Nations Economic and Social Council established that the United Nations Public Service Awards be bestowed on Public Service Day for contributions made to the cause of enhancing the role, prestige, and visibility of public service.

The day also marks the anniversary of the date when the International Labour Organization adopted the Convention on Labour Relations (Public Service), 1978 (No. 151). This Convention is a framework for determining the working conditions of all civil servants across the world.


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.