Culture on My Mind – Quarantine Con Special Edition

Culture on My Mind
July 31, 2020


This week’s “can’t let it go” comes on what should have been the opening day of Atlanta Comic Con, so it makes sense to cover a couple more classic sci-fi discussion panels broadcast from COVID quarantine bunkers.

At the end of June, Gary and Joe from the Dragon Con American Science Fiction Classics Track were joined by long-time friends Rick Klaw and Mark Finn for one of their patent-pending Roll-a-Panels. This classic roulette covers movies from 1990, 1995, and 2000, including Battlefield Earth, Tremors, Exorcist 3, Mortal Kombat, and 16 more things!


This topic was repeated for AtHomeCon (now CosmicHomeFest) 2020, rotating through a veritable plethora of pals including Michael Williams, Michael Nipp, Beverly Goldborg, and a cool lady named Erika.


One more panel for your consideration is Classic Sci-Fi Court, CosmicHomeFest Edition. When some stick in the mud tells you that a movie you like is bad, don’t take the law into your own hands. You take them to court! Join Gary and Joe with guest attorneys Rick Tetrault, Scott Matteson, and Branden K. Ushio.


Gary and Joe 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 – July 31

July 31, 2020
Day 213 of 366


July 31st is the 213th day of the year. It is Warriors’ Day (Hari Pahlawan) in Malaysia, a day that commemorates the servicemen killed during the two World Wars and the Malayan Emergency (a guerrilla war fought in the Federation of Malaya between 1948 and 1960).


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Avocado Day, National Raspberry Cake Day, National Mutt Day, National Talk in an Elevator Day, National System Administrator Appreciation Day, and National Get Gnarly Day. The last three are typically observed on the last Friday in July.


Historical items of note:

  • In 781, the oldest recorded eruption of Mount Fuji occurred. On the traditional Japanese calendar, this happened on the sixth day of the seventh month of the first year of the Ten’o (天応) era.
  • In 1703, Daniel Defoe was placed in a pillory for the crime of seditious libel after publishing a politically satirical pamphlet. The public pelted him with flowers.
  • In 1715, seven days after a Spanish treasure fleet of twelve ships left Havana, Cuba for Spain, eleven of them sank in a storm off the coast of Florida. A few centuries later, the treasure was salvaged from those wrecks.
  • In 1777, The United States Second Continental Congress passed a resolution that the services of Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette “be accepted, and that, in consideration of his zeal, illustrious family and connexions, he have the rank and commission of major-general of the United States.”
  • In 1790, the first United States patent was issued. It was to inventor Samuel Hopkins for a potash process.
  • In 1856, Christchurch, New Zealand was chartered as a city.
  • In 1865, the first narrow-gauge mainline railway in the world opened at Grandchester, Queensland, Australia.
  • In 1932, actor and screenwriter Ted Cassidy was born. Among other offbeat characters, he was Lurch in The Addams Family.
  • In 1941, the Nazi plan for the genocide of Jews during World War II was formally initiated. Under instructions from Adolf Hitler, Nazi official Hermann Göring ordered SS General Reinhard Heydrich to “submit to me as soon as possible a general plan of the administrative material and financial measures necessary for carrying out the desired Final Solution of the Jewish question.”
  • In 1948, New York International Airport was dedicated at Idlewild Field. It was later renamed John F. Kennedy International Airport.
  • In 1958, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Michael Biehn was born.


July 31st is Ka Hae Hawaii Day, the Hawaiian Flag Day. Established in 1990, it commemorates the ensign – adopted on December 29, 1845 – that has been used by the kingdom, protectorate, republic, and territory of Hawaii. It is the only US state flag to include a foreign country’s national flag, the Union Jack of the United Kingdom, which represents the British Empire’s historical relations with the Hawaiian Kingdom, particularly with King Kamehameha I.

The holiday uses the same date as Lā Hoʻihoʻi Ea, Sovereignty Restoration Day, a holiday of the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi that is celebrated by proponents of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement. The former national holiday commemorated the restoration of sovereignty to the former Hawaiian Kingdom following the occupation of Hawaiʻi by Great Britain during the 1843 Paulet Affair. The day remembered the restoration of Hawaiian sovereignty by British Rear-Admiral Richard Darton Thomas and when King Kamehameha III uttered the phrase: Ua Mau ke Ea o ka ʻĀina i ka Pono (“The life of the land is preserved in the righteousness of the people”).

The holiday was dropped by King Kamehameha V, who deemed the holiday inappropriate, in 1870 and replaced it with Kamehameha Day. It was briefly revived starting in 1891 until the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893.

The holiday continued to be observed privately by loyalists of the monarchy as a form of opposition and resistance and is still celebrated today by proponents of the Hawaiian sovereignty movement as resistance against what they consider sovereignty advocates consider an ongoing American occupation of Hawaiʻi.


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 – July 30

July 30, 2020
Day 212 of 366


July 30th is the 212th day of the year. Today, Vanuatu commemorates its independence from the United Kingdom and France in 1980.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Cheesecake Day, National Father-in-Law Day, National Whistleblower Day, National Chili Dog Day, and National Intern Day. The last two are typically observed on the last Thursday in July.


Historical items of note:

  • In 762, Baghdad was founded.
  • In 1729, Baltimore, Maryland was founded.
  • In 1818, English novelist and poet Emily Brontë was born.
  • In 1863, representatives of the United States and tribal leaders including Chief Pocatello (of the Shoshone) signed the Treaty of Box Elder. The treaty called for peaceable relations between the two groups and contained a promise by the United States to pay the Shoshone $5,000 yearly as compensation for the “utter destitution” inflicted by war. It also recognizes the claim of Chief Pocatello and his people to the land “bounded on the west by the Raft River and on the east by the Porteneuf Mountains”. An amendment introduced at ratification counteracted the land claim, leaving the Native Americans high and dry as they were forcefully ejected from areas they attempted to settle within their supposed territory.
  • In 1929, Canadian-American puppeteer and producer Sid Krofft was born.
  • In 1932, Walt Disney’s Flowers and Trees premiered. It was the first cartoon short to use Technicolor and the first Academy Award-winning cartoon short.
  • In 1947, actor and producer William Atherton was born. He was the much-despised Walter Peck in Ghostbusters.
  • Also in 1947, Austrian-American bodybuilder, actor, and politician Arnold Schwarzenegger was born. He was the 38th Governor of California.
  • In 1956, a joint resolution of the United States Congress was signed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, authorizing In God We Trust as the U.S. national motto. It replaced E pluribus unum as the motto, and was an attempt to distinguish the country from its Cold War adversary, the Soviet Union.
  • Also in 1956, actress Delta Burke was born.
  • In 1961, actor and producer Laurence Fishburne was born.
  • In 1962, the Trans-Canada Highway, the longest national highway in the world, was officially opened.
  • In 1963, actress and producer Lisa Kudrow was born.
  • In 1964, actress Vivica A. Fox was born.
  • In 1965, United States President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Social Security Act of 1965 into law, establishing Medicare and Medicaid.
  • In 1970, director, producer, and screenwriter Christopher Nolan was born.
  • In 1971, Apollo 15 astronauts David Scott and James Irwin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Falcon on the Moon with the first Lunar Rover.
  • In 1974, actress and producer Hilary Swank was born. I recently saw her in a tearjerker called You’re Not You.
  • In 1982, Australian actress Yvonne Strahovski was born.
  • In 2003, the last ‘old style’ Volkswagen Beetle rolled off the assembly line in Mexico.
  • In 2006, the world’s longest-running music show, Top of the Pops, was broadcast for the last time on BBC Two. The show had aired for 42 years.


July 30th is International Friendship Day.

It was first proposed in 1958 in Paraguay as the “International Friendship Day”, and was initially promoted by the greeting card industry. With the advent of social networking, interest grew as the internet spread the concept worldwide. India, Bangladesh, and Malaysia are particular examples of countries that embrace the custom.

The exchange of Friendship Day gifts like flowers, cards, and wrist bands is a popular tradition. Friendship Day celebrations occur on different dates in different countries, the first World Friendship Day was proposed this date in 1958 by the World Friendship Crusade. On April 27, 2011, the General Assembly of the United Nations declared July 30th as official International Friendship 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.



Timestamp: Sarah Jane Adventures Series Two Summary

Sarah Jane Adventures: Series Two Summary


Another solid run for the Bannerman Road Gang.

The series had its ups and downs, though. We met Rani, a new member of the family, after an emotional send-off for Maria. I was very pleased that Maria wasn’t killed off – it is a children’s show, after all – and that she got to return as a meaningful guest for a couple of adventures.

The negative was how repetitive the first four stories of the series were. All of them focused on mind control as a plot point, and it dragged down the performance of Secrets of the Stars and The Mark of the Berserker.

The series did spring back with the magnificent The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith and the loose-end tying Enemy of the Bane. I really liked the character development for Sarah Jane Smith, the fresh take on the predestination paradox, and the clean slate leading into the next series of this show.

Series Two comes in at an average of 4.1. That’s lower than the first series, and in comparison to Doctor Who, that’s on par with classic seasons Five and Eighteen and Series Two in the revival era, just inside the top ten. It still beats both the first and second series of Torchwood.


The Last Sontaran – 4
The Day of the Clown – 5
Secrets of the Stars – 3
The Mark of the Berserker – 4
The Temptation of Sarah Jane Smith – 5
Enemy of the Bane – 4
From Raxacoricofallapatorius with Love – 4

Sarah Jane Adventures Series Two Average Rating: 4.1/5


Since we’re still proceeding in airdate order through the material from 2009, the Timestamps Project lands next on Planet of the Dead before diving into Torchwood: Children of Earth. After that, we’ll swing back to the third series of Sarah Jane and the end of the Tennant era to wrap up the calendar year.


UP NEXT – Doctor Who: Planet of the Dead


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 – July 29

July 29, 2020
Day 211 of 366


July 29th is the 211th day of the year. It is International Tiger Day, also known as Global Tiger Day, an annual celebration to raise awareness for tiger conservation. The goal of the day is to promote a global system for protecting the natural habitats of tigers and to raise public awareness and support for tiger conservation issues.

And, no, I still haven’t (and never will) watch Tiger King.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Lasagna Day, National Lipstick Day, and National Chicken Wing Day.

Now I want wings for lunch.


Historical items of note:

  • In 615, Kʼinich Janaabʼ Pakal ascended the throne of Palenque (anciently known as Lakamha, literally “Big Water”) at the age of 12.
  • In 1775, the United States Army Judge Advocate General’s Corps was founded when General George Washington appointed William Tudor as Judge Advocate of the Continental Army.
  • In 1818, French physicist Augustin Fresnel submitted his prizewinning “Memoir on the Diffraction of Light”, precisely accounting for the limited extent to which light spreads into shadows, and thereby demolishing the oldest objection to the wave theory of light. Science!
  • In 1836, the Arc de Triomphe was inaugurated in Paris, France.
  • In 1907, Sir Robert Baden-Powell set up the Brownsea Island Scout camp in Poole Harbour on the south coast of England. The camp ran for eight days and is regarded as the foundation of the Scouting movement.
  • In 1938, journalist and author Peter Jennings was born.
  • In 1941, actor David Warner was born.
  • In 1945, the BBC Light Programme radio station was launched for mainstream light entertainment and music.
  • In 1948, after a hiatus of 12 years caused by World War II, the Games of the XIV Olympiad opened in London. It was the first Summer Olympics to be held since the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
  • In 1953, director and producer Ken Burns was born.
  • In 1954, The Fellowship of the Ring was first published, becoming the first volume of The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien.
  • In 1957, the International Atomic Energy Agency was established.
  • In 1958, United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed into law the National Aeronautics and Space Act, which creates the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
  • In 1963, actress and producer Alexandra Paul was born.
  • In 1972, actor, producer, and screenwriter Wil Wheaton was born.
  • In 1973, Greeks voted to abolish the monarchy, beginning the first period of the Metapolitefsi.
  • In 1981, a worldwide television audience of over 700 million people watched the wedding of Charles, Prince of Wales, and Lady Diana Spencer at St Paul’s Cathedral in London.
  • In 2005, astronomers announced their discovery of the dwarf planet Eris.


July 29 is National Anthem Day (Ziua Imnului național) in Romania.

The anthem is “Deșteaptă-te, române!”, which is variously translated as “Awaken thee, Romanian!”, “Awaken, Romanian!”, or “Wake up, Romanian!”. The lyrics were composed by Andrei Mureșanu and the music was chosen for the poem by Gheorghe Ucenescu, as the legend goes. It was written and published during the 1848 revolution, a liberal and nationalist uprising that sought to overturn the administration imposed by Imperial Russian authorities under the Regulamentul Organic regime.

The anthem’s first name was “Un răsunet”, which means “an echo” in English. After it was first sung in the city of Brașov, on the streets of Șchei quarter, it was immediately accepted as the revolutionary anthem and renamed “Deșteaptă-te, române!”

Since then, this song, which contains a message of liberty and patriotism, has been sung during all major Romanian conflicts, including during the 1989 anti-communist revolution. After the revolution, it became the national anthem on January 24, 1990, replacing the communist-era national anthem “Trei culori” (“Three colors”).


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 – July 28

July 28, 2020
Day 210 of 366


July 28th is the 210th day of the year. It is the eve of Ólavsøka, the biggest summer festival in the Faroe Islands. This national holiday is the day when the Faroese Parliament, Løgting, opens its session. Literally translated to “Saint Olaf’s Wake” (vigilia sancti Olavi in Latin), derived from Saint Olaf’s death at the Battle of Stiklestad in 1030, the festival is celebrated for several days.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Milk Chocolate Day, Buffalo Soldiers Day, and National Waterpark Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1571, La Laguna encomienda, known today as the Laguna province in the Philippines, was founded by the Spaniards as one of the oldest encomiendas (provinces) in the country.
  • In 1854, USS Constellation was commissioned. It was the last all-sail warship built by the United States Navy and is now a museum ship in Baltimore Harbor.
  • In 1866, at the age of 18, Lavinia “Vinnie” Ream became the first and youngest female artist to receive a commission from the United States government. Her commission was for a white marble statue of Abraham Lincoln that resides in the Capitol Rotunda.
  • Also in 1866, English children’s book writer and illustrator Beatrix Potter was born.
  • In 1868, the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was certified, establishing African American citizenship and guaranteeing due process of law.
  • In 1879, activist Lucy Burns was born. She co-founded the National Woman’s Party, an American women’s political organization formed to fight for women’s suffrage.
  • In 1922, Belgian-Swiss oceanographer and engineer Jacques Piccard was born.
  • In 1929, journalist, socialite, and 37th First Lady of the United States Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis was born.
  • In 1945, cartoonist Jim Davis was born. He created Garfield.
  • In 1996, the remains of a prehistoric man were discovered near Kennewick, Washington, thus known as the Kennewick Man.
  • In 2018, Australian Wendy Tuck became the first woman skipper to win the Clipper Round the World Yacht Race.


July 28th is the Day of Commemoration of the Great Upheaval.

The Expulsion of the Acadians, also known as the Great Upheaval, the Great Expulsion, the Great Deportation, and Le Grand Dérangement, was the forced removal of the Acadian people by the British from the present-day Canadian Maritime provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and northern Maine. These locations were parts of an area historically known as Acadia.

The Expulsion occurred over a decade during the French and Indian War as part of the British military campaign against New France (the area colonized by France in America, beginning with the exploration of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence by Jacques Cartier in 1534 and ending with the cession of New France to Great Britain and Spain in 1763 under the Treaty of Paris).

The British first deported Acadians to the Thirteen Colonies, and after 1758, transported additional Acadians to Britain and France. In the first wave, Acadians were deported to other British North American colonies. During the second wave, they were deported to Britain and France, and from there a significant number migrated to Spanish Louisiana, where “Acadians” eventually became “Cajuns”. Acadians fled initially to French-allied colonies such as Canada, the uncolonized northern part of Acadia, Île Saint-Jean (now Prince Edward Island), and Île Royale (now Cape Breton Island). During the second wave of the expulsion, these Acadians were either imprisoned or deported.

In all, of the 14,100 Acadians in the region, approximately 11,500 Acadians were deported. The expulsion helped the British achieve their military goals of defeating Louisbourg and weakening the Miꞌkmaq and Acadian militias, but the larger effect was the devastation of both a primarily civilian population and the economy of the region. Thousands of Acadians died in the expulsions, mainly from diseases and drowning when ships were lost.

In 1847, American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow published a long, narrative poem about the expulsion of the Acadians called Evangeline, which depicted the plight of the fictional character Evangelin. The poem became popular and made the expulsion well known. The Evangeline Oak is a tourist attraction in Louisiana.

Several other cultural commemorations were made, including songs, novels, and living monuments such as Grand-Pré Park (a National Historic Site of Canada situated in Grand-Pré, Nova Scotia).

In December 2003, Governor General Adrienne Clarkson, representing Queen Elizabeth II as Canada’s head of state, acknowledged the expulsion but did not apologize for it. She designated July 28th as “A Day of Commemoration of the Great Upheaval.” The Royal Proclamation of 2003 closed one of the longest cases in the history of the British courts, initiated in 1760 when the Acadian representatives first presented their grievances of forced dispossession of land, property, and livestock.

Today the Acadians live primarily in eastern New Brunswick and in some regions of Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia, Quebec, and Northern Maine.


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 – July 27

July 27, 2020
Day 209 of 366


July 27th is the 209th day of the year. It is Remembrance Day in Vietnam, also known as Day for Martyrs and Wounded Soldiers.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Love is Kind Day, National Scotch Day, National Crème Brûlée Day, and National New Jersey Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1741, French-English violinist and composer François-Hippolyte Barthélémon was born.
  • In 1775, the United States Army Medical Department was founded by the Second Continental Congress. The legislation established “an hospital for an army consisting of 20,000 men.”
  • In 1789, the first United States federal government agency, the Department of Foreign Affairs, was established. It would later be renamed as the Department of State.
  • In 1866, the first permanent transatlantic telegraph cable was successfully completed, stretching from Valentia Island, Ireland, to Heart’s Content, Newfoundland.
  • In 1882, English pilot and engineer Geoffrey de Havilland was born. He founded the de Havilland Aircraft Company.
  • In 1890, Vincent van Gogh shots himself. He died two days later.
  • In 1919, the Chicago Race Riot erupted with the murder of Eugene Williams, an African-American 17-year-old who inadvertently drifted on a raft into a white swimming area at an informally segregated beach. The riots led to 38 fatalities and 537 injuries over a five-day period.
  • In 1921, researchers at the University of Toronto, led by biochemist Frederick Banting, proved that the hormone insulin regulates blood sugar.
  • In 1922, screenwriter and producer Norman Lear was born.
  • In 1938, game designer Gary Gygax was born. He co-created Dungeons & Dragons.
  • In 1940, the animated short A Wild Hare was released, introducing the character of Bugs Bunny.
  • In 1942, Allied forces successfully halted the final Axis advance into Egypt.
  • In 1949, the initial flight of the de Havilland Comet, the first jet-powered airliner, occurred at Hatfield Aerodrome. The flight lasted 31 minutes.
  • In 1963, Chinese-Hong Kong actor, director, producer, and martial artist Donnie Yen was born.
  • In 1970, Danish actor and producer Nikolaj Coster-Waldau was born.
  • In 1972, actress Maya Rudolph.
  • In 1974, the United States House of Representatives Judiciary Committee voted 27 to 11 to recommend the first article of impeachment (for obstruction of justice) against President Richard Nixon.
  • In 1977, actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers was born.
  • In 1996, a pipe bomb exploded at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta, Georgia during the 1996 Summer Olympics. Security guard Richard Jewell was initially investigated as a suspect and pursued by the press, but the bombing was later attributed as the first of four bombings committed by Eric Rudolph. The bomber pleaded guilty to numerous state and federal homicide charges and accepted four consecutive life sentences in exchange for avoiding a trial and a potential death sentence.


In 1953, cessation of hostilities was achieved in the Korean War when the United States, China, and North Korea signed an armistice agreement. Syngman Rhee, President of South Korea, refused to sign but pledged to observe the armistice.

The Korean War began on June 25, 1950, when North Korea invaded South Korea. It lasted for just over three years.

At the end of World War II, the Soviet Union and the United States liberated Korea from imperial Japanese colonial control. After the war had ended, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel into two zones of occupation: The Soviets administered the northern half and the Americans administered the southern half.

With the border set at the 38th parallel in 1948, two sovereign states were established as a result of geopolitical tensions of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States. The north established a socialist state under the communist leadership of Kim Il-sung, and the south established a capitalist state in the south under the anti-communist leadership of Syngman Rhee. Both governments of the two new Korean states claimed to be the sole legitimate government of all of Korea, and neither accepted the border as permanent.

After the border was breached and the war began, the United Nations Security Council authorized the formation of the United Nations Command and the dispatch of forces to Korea to repel what was recognized as a North Korean invasion. Twenty-one countries of the United Nations eventually contributed to the UN force, with the United States providing around 90% of the military personnel.

When the Korean Armistice Agreement was signed, it created the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to separate North and South Korea, and allowed the return of prisoners. No peace treaty was ever signed, so the two Koreas are technically still at war, engaged in a frozen conflict.

In April 2018, the leaders of North and South Korea met at the DMZ and agreed to work towards a treaty to formally end the Korean War.

In 1995, the Korean War Veterans Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C. on National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, which is observed every year on this date in memory of those who died, were wounded, and were taken as prisoners of war during the conflict.


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 – July 26

July 26, 2020
Day 208 of 366


July 26th is the 208th day of the year. Today celebrates the independence of Liberia from the American Colonization Society in 1847 and the independence of Maldives from the United Kingdom in 1965.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Aunt and Uncle’s Day, National Bagelfest Day, National Coffee Milkshake Day, National All or Nothing Day, and National Parent’s Day (which is typically observed on the fourth Sunday in July).

It is also National Disability Independence Day, which celebrates the 1990 signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1745, the first recorded women’s cricket match took place near Guildford, England.
  • In 1775, the office that would later become the United States Post Office Department was established by the Second Continental Congress. Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania took office as Postmaster General.
  • In 1803, the Surrey Iron Railway, arguably the world’s first public railway, opened in south London, United Kingdom.
  • In 1856, Irish playwright, critic, and Nobel Prize laureate George Bernard Shaw was born.
  • In 1891, France annexed Tahiti. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it is a magical place.
  • In 1895, actress and comedian Gracie Allen was born.
  • In 1908, United States Attorney General Charles Joseph Bonaparte issued an order to immediately staff the Office of the Chief Examiner. That office was later renamed the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
  • In 1909, actress Vivian Vance was born.
  • In 1918, Emmy Noether’s paper, which became known as Noether’s theorem, was presented at Göttingen, Germany. From that theorem, conservation laws were deduced for symmetries of angular momentum, linear momentum, and energy.
  • In 1921, actor and writer Jean Shepherd was born. His book In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash was the basis for the movie A Christmas Story.
  • In 1928, director, producer, screenwriter, and cinematographer Stanley Kubrick was born.
  • In 1943, singer-songwriter, producer, and actor Mick Jagger was born.
  • In 1945, the Labour Party officially won the United Kingdom general election of July 5th by a landslide. Winston Churchill was removed from power.
  • Also in 1945, actress Helen Mirren was born.
  • In 1946, Aloha Airlines began service from Honolulu International Airport.
  • In 1947, United States President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947 into law. This created the Central Intelligence Agency, United States Department of Defense, United States Air Force, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the United States National Security Council.
  • In 1948, United States President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, desegregating the military of the United States.
  • In 1951, Walt Disney’s 13th animated film, Alice in Wonderland, premiered in London, England.
  • In 1953, Fidel Castro led an unsuccessful attack on the Moncada Barracks, thus beginning the Cuban Revolution. The movement took the name of the date: The 26th of July Movement.
  • In 1957, actress Nana Visitor was born.
  • In 1963, Syncom 2, the world’s first geosynchronous satellite, was launched from Cape Canaveral on a Delta B booster.
  • In 1964, actress and producer Sandra Bullock was born.
  • In 1971, Apollo 15 launched with astronauts David R. Scott, Alfred M. Worden, and James B. Irwin on board. It was the first Apollo “J-Mission”, which were designed for extensive scientific investigation of the Moon, both on the lunar surface and from lunar orbit. It was the first mission to use the Lunar Roving Vehicle.
  • In 1973, actress Kate Beckinsale was born.
  • In 1990, the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 was signed into law by President George H.W. Bush.
  • In 2005, Space Shuttle Discovery launched on mission STS-114, NASA’s first scheduled flight mission after the Columbia Disaster in 2003.
  • In 2016, Hillary Clinton became the first female nominee for President of the United States by a major political party at the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia. The distinction of “major political party” is important because former Secretary Clinton was not the first female nominee overall. That distinction belongs to Victoria Woodhull with the Equal Rights Party in 1872.


In 1887, Unua Libro was published, founding the Esperanto movement.

The language was created by Polish ophthalmologist L. L. Zamenhof with the goal of developing an easy and flexible language that would serve as a universal second language to foster world peace and international understanding. He hoped it would build a “community of speakers”, as he believed that one could not have a language without such a community.

Esperanto grew throughout the 20th century, both as a language and as a linguistic community. Despite speakers facing persecution in regimes such as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union under Stalin, Esperanto speakers continued to organize and publish around specific regions and interests. In 1954, the United Nations granted official support to Esperanto as an international auxiliary language.

The advent of the internet has only helped the community to blossom through connectivity and learning apps like Duolingo. With over two million speakers worldwide, it is the most widely spoken constructed language in the world.

July 26th is commemorated as Esperanto 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 – July 25

July 25, 2020
Day 207 of 366


July 25th is the 207th day of the year. Today is the Día Nacional de Galicia (National Day of Galicia), which commemorates the autonomous community of Galicia in Spain.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Merry-Go-Round Day, National Hot Fudge Sundae Day, National Threading the Needle Day, National Hire a Veteran Day, National Wine and Cheese Day, and National Day of the Cowboy (which is typically observed on the fourth Saturday in July).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1467, the Battle of Molinella occurred. It was the first battle in Italy in which firearms and artillery were used extensively.
  • In 1783, the last action of the American Revolutionary War occurred at the Siege of Cuddalore. It was part of the Second Anglo–Mysore War, which pitted the Kingdom of Mysore against the British East India Company during 1780 to 1784. At the time, Mysore was a key French ally in India, and the conflict between Britain against the French and Dutch in the American Revolutionary War sparked Anglo–Mysorean hostilities in India. The siege ended when news arrived of a preliminary peace treaty between France and Britain.
  • In 1788, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart completed his Symphony No. 40 in G minor.
  • In 1857, naval officer and inventor Frank J. Sprague was born. He contributed to the development of the electric motor, electric railways, and electric elevators.
  • In 1861, the United States Congress passed the Crittenden–Johnson Resolution, stating that the Civil War was being fought to preserve the Union and not to end slavery. President Abraham Lincoln was concerned that the slave states of Missouri, Kentucky, and Maryland (part of the upper south) might leave the Union to join the Confederate States of America. If Maryland were lost, Washington, D.C. would be entirely surrounded by Confederate territory. The resolution intended that the Union Government would take no actions against the institution of slavery in an attempt to retain the loyalty of Unionists in the slave-holding border states. It implied the war would end when the seceding states returned to the Union, with slavery intact. By December 1861, public opinion of the war had shifted so dramatically that the resolution was repealed. Meanwhile, the Confederacy maintained that slavery was a divine right and the very cornerstone of their rebellion.
  • In 1866, the United States Congress passed legislation authorizing the rank of General of the Army. Lieutenant General Ulysses S. Grant became the first to be promoted to this rank.
  • In 1894, the First Sino-Japanese War began when the Japanese fired upon a Chinese warship.
  • In 1898, in the Puerto Rican Campaign, the United States seized Puerto Rico from Spain.
  • In 1909, Louis Blériot made the first flight across the English Channel in a heavier-than-air machine from Calais, France to Dover, England in 37 minutes.
  • In 1915, Royal Flying Corps Captain Lanoe Hawker became the first British pursuit aviator to earn the Victoria Cross.
  • In 1917, Sir Robert Borden introduced the first income tax in Canada as a “temporary” measure. It was not.
  • In 1920, biophysicist, chemist, and academic Rosalind Franklin was born. Her work was central to the understanding of the molecular structures of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid), RNA (ribonucleic acid), viruses, coal, and graphite.
  • In 1923, actress and golden girl Estelle Getty was born.
  • In 1955, Somalian-English model and actress Iman was born.
  • In 1965, Bob Dylan went “electric” at the Newport Folk Festival, signaling a major change in folk and rock music. It was quite the controversy.
  • In 1967, actor and producer Matt LeBlanc was born. He will always be Joey.
  • In 1976, Viking 1 took the famous Face on Mars photo.
  • In 1978, Louise Joy Brown was born. She was the first human to have been born after conception by in vitro fertilization (IVF), known in the media as a “test tube baby” despite being conceived in a Petri dish. Cardinal Albino Luciani (the future Pope John Paul I) expressed concerns that artificial insemination could lead to women being used as “baby factories”, but did not condemn the parents since they simply wanted to have a baby.
  • In 1984, Salyut 7 cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya became the first woman to perform a spacewalk.


July 25th is Puerto Rico Constitution Day. The holiday commemorates the day the Constitution of Puerto Rico, approved on July 3, 1952, was signed into law by Governor Luis Muñoz Marín later that month. Before then, July 25th had been known as Occupation Day, commemorating the arrival of United States military forces on July 25, 1898 in an area of the municipality of Yauco that in the early 20th century would become the separate municipality of Guánica.

The event is marked by a commemorative ceremony and was established by Law #1 on August 4, 1952.


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 XI-XIV

Culture on My Mind
July 24, 2020


It’s been a crazy couple of weeks on this end, so I have a backlog of “can’t let it go” panels from the Classic Track Irregulars!

At the end of June, the Irregulars tackled Russia. From Red Dawn to The Day After to Nikolai Volkoff, Russians were the go-to villain for everything in the ’80s, so Jonathan Williams, Darin Bush, Michael Williams, and Michael Bailey joined Joe and Gary to show that, in Soviet Russia, dystopian movies watch you.


Coming in at number twelve in the Quarantine Con lineup is a Mother’s Day celebration (only three months late) with a panel about cartoon moms! On this edition of American Sci-Fi Classic Track’s Quarantine Panels, they discussed mothers in animated series, from Hanna-Barbera to Disney and beyond. Because they didn’t want to have a whole panel of male idiots talking about motherhood, they recruited a real-life mother of one of the real-life Classic Track Irregulars with Bethany Kesler’s amazing mom Donya Kesler.

(Ms. Kesler is terrific and she should be on every podcast, forever.)

Gary and Joe are also joined by Kevin Eldridge.


Lucky number thirteen is a discussion of everyone’s favorite American redhead teenager: Archie Andrews. A group of hot dogs – Chris Cummins, Michael Bailey, Kevin Eldridge, Joe, and Gary – talks about Archie from the comics to cartoons to Jughead breakdancing to “Sugar Sugar.”


Last, but certainly not least, is Nancy Drew. Everyone’s favorite classic lady detective turns 90 this year, and Gary and Joe invited two fans to talk all about her. Join Jessica Nettles and Nadyne Neff as they discuss the books, the 1970s TV series, the movies, and the new show on The CW.


Yes, that is a lot of content for one week, but when you’re out of the loop for a couple of weeks, it kind of stacks up.

Gary and Joe 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.