The Thing About Today – July 17

July 17, 2020
Day 199 of 366


July 17th is the 199th day of the year. It is World Emoji Day, created by Jeremy Burge based on the way that the calendar emoji looks on the iPhone.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Lottery Day, National Peach Ice Cream Day, National Tattoo Day, Wrong Way Corrigan Day, and National Yellow Pig Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1717, King George I of Great Britain sailed down the River Thames with a barge of 50 musicians, where George Frideric Handel’s Water Music was premiered.
  • In 1867, the Harvard School of Dental Medicine was established in Boston, Massachusetts. It was the first dental school in the United States that was affiliated with a university.
  • In 1899, actor and dancer James Cagney was born.
  • In 1912, Canadian-American radio and television host Art Linkletter was born.
  • In 1917, actress, comedian, and voice artist Phyllis Diller was born.
  • In 1918, the RMS Carpathia, the ship that rescued the 705 survivors from the RMS Titanic, was sunk off Ireland by the German SM U-55. Five lives were lost.
  • In 1935, actor and producer Donald Sutherland was born.
  • In 1952, actor, singer, and producer David Hasselhoff was born.
  • In 1954, author, screenwriter, and producer J. Michael Straczynski was born.
  • In 1955, Disneyland was dedicated and opened by Walt Disney in Anaheim, California.
  • In 1964, actress Heather Langenkamp was born.
  • In 1975, an American Apollo and a Soviet Soyuz spacecraft docked with each other in orbit, marking the first such link-up between spacecraft from the two nations.
  • In 1984, the national drinking age in the United States was changed from 18 to 21.
  • In 1989, the first flight of the B-2 Spirit Stealth Bomber occurred.
  • In 2018, twelve new moons were discovered orbiting Jupiter.


July 17th is International Firgun Day, a holiday where people share compliments or express genuine pride in the accomplishment of others on social media.

Firgun (פירגון in Hebrew) is an informal modern Hebrew term and concept in Israeli culture. It describes genuine, unselfish delight or pride in the accomplishment of the other person. It also describes a generosity of spirit, or an unselfish, empathetic joy that something good has happened, or might happen, to another person.

The concept does not have a one-word equivalent in English. The word can be traced back to the Yiddish word farginen (a cognate of the German word vergönnen). As a relatively modern addition to Hebrew, the word was initially used in the 1970s and gained momentum in subsequent decades.

Tamar Katriel, a professor of communications at the University of Haifa, has stated that firgun differs from giving compliments since it is “about an affinity that is authentic and without agenda”. The absence of negativity is an integral part of the concept of firgun, and the concept can be found in Talmudic Hebrew as ayin tova or ayin yafa – “a good eye”.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.



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