The Thing About Today – August 13

August 13, 2020
Day 226 of 366


August 13th is the 226th day of the year. It is Independence Day in the Central African Republic as they celebrate their separation from France in 1960.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Prosecco Day and National Filet Mignon Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1532, the Duchy of Brittany was absorbed into the Kingdom of France.
  • In 1650, Colonel George Monck of the English Army formed Monck’s Regiment of Foot, which would later become the Coldstream Guards.
  • In 1860, sharpshooter Annie Oakley was born.
  • In 1898, Carl Gustav Witt discovered 433 Eros, the first near-Earth asteroid to be found.
  • In 1899, English-American director and producer Alfred Hitchcock was born.
  • In 1906, the all-black infantrymen of the United States Army’s 25th Infantry Regiment were accused of killing a white bartender and wounding a white police officer in Brownsville, Texas. Despite exculpatory evidence, all of them were later dishonorably discharged. Their records were later restored to reflect honorable discharges but there were no financial settlements.
  • In 1918, women enlisted in the United States Marine Corps for the first time. Opha May Johnson was the first woman to enlist.
  • Also in 1918, Bayerische Motoren Werke AG was established as a public company in Germany. It’s better known as BMW.
  • In 1930, singer and ukulele player Don Ho was born.
  • In 1942, Major General Eugene Reybold of the United States Army Corps of Engineers authorized the construction of facilities that would house the “Development of Substitute Materials” project, better known as the Manhattan Project.
  • In 1954, Radio Pakistan broadcasted the “Qaumī Tarāna”, the national anthem of Pakistan, for the first time.
  • In 1961, East Germany closed the border between the eastern and western sectors of Berlin to thwart its inhabitants’ attempts to escape to the West. Construction of the Berlin Wall was started.
  • Also in 1961, Japanese composer and sound director Koji Kondo was born.
  • In 1969, the Apollo 11 astronauts enjoyed a ticker-tape parade in New York City. That evening, at a state dinner in Los Angeles, they were awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by United States President Richard Nixon.
  • In 1983, actor Sebastian Stan was born. So, I’m also older than the Winter Soldier…


August 13th is International Left-Handers Day, a day that (as it says on the tin) celebrates the uniqueness and differences of the left-handers.

The day was first observed in 1976 by Dean R. Campbell, founder of the Lefthanders International, Inc. International Left Hander’s Day was created to celebrate sinistrality and raise awareness of the advantages and disadvantages of being left-handed in a predominantly right-handed world.

It celebrates left-handed people’s uniqueness and differences, a subset of humanity estimated at seven to ten percent of the world’s population. The day also spread awareness on issues faced by left-handers, such as the importance of the special needs for left-handed children, and the likelihood for left-handers to develop schizophrenia. Left-handers also used to be persecuted since the direction of the left is associated with evil by some people.

There are approximately 708 million left-handed people in the world, and men are more likely to be left-handed than women.


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 #TW27: Children of Earth – Day One

Torchwood: Children of Earth – Day One
(1 episode, s03e01, 2009)


The Home Office gets explosive results.

Scotland, 1965: A bus full of children stops at an undisclosed location. When they stop, the children disembark and are walked toward a bright light. All of them but one walk into the light. The lone child flees as the light flares.

Cardiff, 2009: Gwen is withdrawing money from an ATM when she notices that the children around her have frozen in place, totally catatonic. The same is happening all around the area. As suddenly as it began, the phenomenon ends and the children start moving again as if nothing happened.

Gwen heads to Torchwood and begins to investigate the oddity. We’re reminded that Jack, Ianto, and Gwen are all that remains of Torchwood Three.

In a nearby hospital, a patient dies on the table. The doctor, Rupesh Patanjali, informs Ianto and Jack, believing that they are the patient’s neighbors. Jack and Ianto ask for a moment with the body, which they then open with a laser saw and withdraw an alien organ. They’re discovered by the doctor and leave with the organ, but before they leave Patanjali informs them of several more missing bodies. Jack and Ianto refuse to help due to all of the red tape involved in the investigation.

We are next introduced to a new set of players. Lois Habiba is starting a job working for Bridget Spears, who is the assistant to the Permanent Secretary to the Home Office, John Frobisher. Secretary Frobisher (who looks very familiar) is visited by UNIT Colonel Oduya who informs him that the phenomenon with the children happened all around the world.

Torchwood discovers this at the same time. They’re naturally concerned, and so is UNIT, the latter going to yellow alert while they investigate if the incident was extraterrestrial or not. Obviously, everyone wants to keep it quiet.

Jack is perturbed that Martha Jones chose now to go on her honeymoon – to whom, we do not yet know – but luckily Dr. Patanjali arrives at Roald Dahl Plass just as Torchwood needs a doctor. Jack and Ianto lured him in just like they did with Gwen. Naturally, Gwen goes above to serve as a recruitment officer and review the files that Patanjali brought. While they talk, the children all stop again.

But this time, they scream. Then they chant, in unison, “We are coming.”

It happened worldwide. It also happened with one adult, Timothy White, a patient in a mental institution in East Grinstead.

Patanjali is paged back to the hospital as the Home Office is flooded with calls. Frobisher gets a visit from Mr. Dekker, the head of MI5’s technology division and alien monitoring, who tells him that “the 456” have re-established contact for the first time since 1965. At the same time, Lois takes a call from Torchwood, which the system flags as classified. Using her supervisor’s credentials, she learns more than she bargained for.

Frobisher meets with Prime Minister Brian Green, a man who is a bit overwhelmed with the various alien threats looming over them. Frobisher suggests keeping certain historical events off the record, and Green wants to keep his name out of it. Frobisher gets the privilege of a “blank page”.

Gwen discovers that every child worldwide was speaking English, and Jack and Ianto agree that they need to interview one of them. Gwen drives to meet Timothy while Jack visits his daughter, Alice Carter, and her son Steven, his grandson.

Wait… what?

They catch up for a few minutes and muse about Jack’s immortality, but in the end, Alice refuses to let Jack use Steven for Torchwood experimentation. So, Jack turns to Patanjali instead.

Ianto visits his sister, Rhiannon Davies, but she also refuses to let him take one of the kids out. She’s also nervous about Ianto’s relationship with Jack. Her husband Johnny is quite a bit more homophobic about it. Ianto is humiliated but tries to save face. The moment is interrupted by someone stealing the Torchwood SUV. Ianto is exasperated.

Gwen’s interview with Timothy reveals that he was the child who ran away in 1965. His real name is Clement McDonald, and he’s developed an unusually heightened sense of smell. He’s been smelling the aliens coming back for months, and he also can tell that Gwen is three weeks pregnant.

Surprise! Although, it works out well with Rhys shopping for a house.

Gwen calls Ianto, who has made it back to the Hub, and asks him to search for information about MacDonald, missing children, and Scotland. Unbeknownst to him, Ianto triggers an alarm at an unidentified military monitoring station.

At Home Office, Frobisher orders the blank page, which is code for a kill order. There are four targets on the list: Captain Jack Harkness, retired Colonel Michael Sanders, Ellen Hunt, and Captain Andrew Staines. Lois sees Bridget is distressed, and when she looks at Bridget’s e-mail, she recognizes Jack’s name from the earlier call.

Jack arrives at the hospital and receives word that another man has died. When Jack examines the body, Patanjali shoots him. As Jack dies, a military force arrives as a woman named Johnson waits until Jack revives. Johnson also discovers the link between Clement and Timothy. She sends officers to retrieve him, so he runs.

Patanjali reveals that he was a spy for this group, attempting to infiltrate Torchwood. Jack revives and Johnson kills him again, issuing orders for her men to implant a bomb in his body. Johnson covers her operation by killing Patanjali, stopping him from revealing the truth to Jack.

Jack, meanwhile, revives after the soldiers depart. He returns to the Hub.

At the Hub, Gwen verifies Clement’s claim with a scanner. Jack congratulates her and inadvertently uses the scanner, thus discovering the bomb. He orders Gwen and Ianto to evacuate. He kisses Ianto, watches him rise on the elevator, and promises that he’ll come back. He always does.

The bomb has a blast radius of one mile. The Hub is completely destroyed in a massive explosion that knocks Gwen to the ground.

Meanwhile, the children chant: “We are coming, we are coming, we are coming… back.”


Day One is tense and engaging, leading us into the first season-long arc in the Doctor Who universe since The Trial of a Time Lord. The show picks up the pieces left behind from the previous season and lays down several threads to pursue in the process. We meet Jack’s family and Ianto’s family – two families that we had not previously met – and learn that Gwen and Rhys are expecting a baby.

Torchwood has apparently lost its secrecy, including the general location of Torchwood Three’s headquarters. It’s no wonder since the world has been time and again been exposed to aliens, but perhaps the destruction of the Hub will reset that norm. At this point, half the world knows of or believes in alien life, and the other half is in denial.

Unfortunately, this brings into question the fate of the various beings and relics housed in the Hub, including the Weevils, Gray, and Myfanwy.

We get a nod to Martha Jones, which is a bit meta since she was expected to appear in this set of stories until Law & Order: UK picked up Freema Agyeman. We also meet the fourth Prime Minister in the revival era – Brian Green picks up where Harold Saxon, Harriet Jones, and the unknown politician in Aliens of London left off – which is something that the classic era didn’t play with much.

Finally, after reading Children of Time from kOZMIC Press, I can’t help but think of a penguin when I hear the name Frobisher.



Rating: 5/5 – “Fantastic!”


UP NEXT – Torchwood: Children of Earth – Day Two


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 – August 12

August 12, 2020
Day 225 of 366


August 12th is the 225th day of the year. It is International Youth Day, a United Nations awareness day to draw attention to a given set of cultural and legal issues surrounding youth. It’s also World Elephant Day, which is dedicated to the preservation and protection of the world’s elephants.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Julienne Fries Day, National Vinyl Record Day, National Middle Child Day, and Congressional Startup Day (which changes annually).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1323, the Treaty of Nöteborg was signed between Sweden and the Novgorod Republic. It regulated the border between the two countries for the first time.
  • In 1851, Isaac Singer was granted a patent for his sewing machine.
  • In 1865, British surgeon and scientist Joseph Lister performed the first antiseptic surgery.
  • In 1881, director and producer Cecil B. DeMille was born.
  • In 1887, Austrian physicist and academic Erwin Schrödinger was born. The Nobel Prize-winning scientist developed a number of fundamental results in quantum theory. The Schrödinger equation provides a way to calculate the wave function of a system and how it changes dynamically in time. He was the author of many works on various aspects of physics, including statistical mechanics and thermodynamics, physics of dielectrics, color theory, electrodynamics, general relativity, and cosmology. He made several attempts to construct a unified field theory and is also known for his “Schrödinger’s cat” thought-experiment
  • In 1898, the Hawaiian flag was lowered from ʻIolani Palace in an elaborate annexation ceremony and replaced with the flag of the United States to signify .transfer of sovereignty from the Republic of Hawaii to the United States.
  • In 1910, actress Jane Wyatt was born.
  • In 1927, Wings was released. It was one of only two silent films, with the other being The Artist in 2011, to win an Academy Award for Best Picture.
  • In 1947, English author and television director, producer, and writer John Nathan-Turner was born. He was the final producer in the classic era of Doctor Who.
  • In 1956, actor and producer Bruce Greenwood was born.
  • In 1960, Echo 1A, NASA’s first successful communications satellite, was launched.
  • In 1977, the first free flight of the Space Shuttle Enterprise occurred.
  • In 1981, the IBM Personal Computer was released.
  • In 1990, Sue, the largest and most complete Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton found to date, was discovered by Sue Hendrickson in South Dakota.


August 12th is known as the Glorious Twelfth in Great Britain and Northern Ireland, marking the start of the shooting season for red grouse and the ptarmigan.

It is one of the busiest days in the shooting season, with large amounts of game being shot. The date itself is traditional, enshrined in English and Welsh law by the Game Act 1831, and in Northern Ireland by the Wildlife (Northern Ireland) Order of 1985. Since English law prohibits game bird shooting on Sundays, the start date is postponed to the 13th when the 12th is a Sunday.

Grouse are, in effect, farmed for shooting, so their population density is unnaturally high. This, combined with the fact that they are particularly liable to outbreaks of diseases such as sheep tick, heather beetle, and a gut parasite, means that their numbers fluctuate considerably from year to year. The event also has seen hunting saboteurs, a foot and mouth crisis, and severe weather.


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 – August 11

August 11, 2020
Day 224 of 366


August 11th is the 224th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Chad, celebrating their separation from France in 1960. It’s also Flag Day in Pakistan.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as Global Kinetic Sand Day, National Son’s and Daughter’s Day, National Presidential Joke Day, and National Raspberry Bombe Day.

More on Kinetic Sand™ in a minute.


Historical items of note:

  • In 3114 BC, the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar began. It was used by several pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations, most notably the Maya.
  • In 1673, English physician and astrologer Richard Mead was born. His 1720 work, A Short Discourse concerning Pestilential Contagion, and the Method to be used to prevent it, was of historic importance in the understanding of transmissible diseases.
  • In 1921, historian and author Alex Haley was born. He was the author of the 1976 book Roots: The Saga of an American Family, which was adapted by ABC as the television miniseries of the same name which aired to a record-breaking audience of 130 million viewers. The book and miniseries raised public awareness of black American history and inspired a broad interest in genealogy and family history.
  • In 1929, Babe Ruth became the first baseball player to hit 500 home runs in his career with a home run at League Park in Cleveland, Ohio.
  • In 1942, actress Hedy Lamarr and composer George Antheil received a patent for a Frequency-hopping spread spectrum communication system that later became the basis for modern technologies in wireless telephones and Wi-Fi.
  • In 1944, Scottish actor Ian McDiarmid was born. He portrayed Palpatine in the Star Wars movies.
  • In 1950, computer scientist and programmer Steve Wozniak was born. He co-founded Apple Inc.
  • In 1953, wrestler and actor Hulk Hogan was born.
  • In 1959, Sheremetyevo International Airport opened. It is the second-largest airport in Russia.
  • In 1965, actress Viola Davis was born.
  • In 1968, actress Sophie Okonedo was born.
  • In 1983, actor Chris Hemsworth was born. Wait a minute… I’m older than Thor!?
  • In 1984, President Ronald Reagan made a joke while preparing his weekly radio address. Unfortunately, it was about outlawing and bombing the Soviet Union during the Cold War. The “We begin bombing in five minutes” joke was not aired live, but was recorded and leaked to the public. The Soviet Union denounced the joke, as did Reagan’s opponent in the 1984 election, Walter Mondale.


Global Kinetic Sand Day is a new day to 2020, founded by Spin Master, Ltd, the company that owns Kinetic Sand™.

Now, if a non-corporately sponsored celebration were to commemorate the generic version of this product, they’d want to talk about magic sand. Also known as hydrophobic sand, it is a combination of (you guessed it) sand and a hydrophobic compound.

Hydrophobic compounds, in the most simple terms, repel water. The hydrophobic compound forces the grains of sand to bond together and form cylinders in the presence of water. When the water is removed, the sand returns to a dry and free-flowing state.

Magic sand was originally developed to trap ocean oil spills near the shore. The sand was sprinkled on floating petroleum, which then mixed with the oil and forced it to sink. Unfortunately, it’s too expensive to produce for this purpose. Since it never freezes, it has been tested by utility companies in Arctic regions as a foundation for junction boxes. It’s also used as an aerating medium for potted plants.

Hydrophobia is achieved with ordinary beach sand, comprised of tiny bits of silica, exposed to vapors of trimethylsilanol (CH3)3SiOH, which is an organosilicon compound. The trimethylsilane compound bonds to the silica particles while forming water and the exteriors of the sand grains end up coated with hydrophobic groups.

The earliest reference to waterproof sand is in the 1915 book The Boy Mechanic Book 2, published by Popular Mechanics. The book claims that waterproof sand was invented by East Indian magicians by mixing heated sand with melted wax. The wax would repel water when the sand was exposed to water.


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 – August 10

August 10, 2020
Day 223 of 366


August 10th is the 223rd day of the year. It is the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence of Quito. Ecuador proclaimed independence from Spain on August 10, 1809, but independence finally occurred on May 24, 1822, at the Battle of Pichincha.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Shapewear Day, National Connecticut Day, National Lazy Day, and National S’mores Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1519, Ferdinand Magellan’s five ships set sail from Seville to circumnavigate the globe. The Basque second-in-command Juan Sebastián Elcano would complete the expedition after Magellan’s death in the Philippines.
  • In 1675, the foundation stone of the Royal Greenwich Observatory in London, England was laid.
  • In 1793, the Musée du Louvre was officially opened in Paris, France.
  • In 1846, the Smithsonian Institution was chartered by the United States Congress after James Smithson donated $500,000.
  • In 1897, German chemist Felix Hoffmann discovered an improved way of synthesizing acetylsalicylic acid (better known as aspirin).
  • In 1948, Candid Camera made its television debut after being on radio for a year as Candid Microphone.
  • In 1949, United States President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act Amendment, streamlining the defense agencies of the United States government, and replacing the Department of War with the United States Department of Defense.
  • In 1960, actor and producer Antonio Banderas was born.
  • Also in 1960, Psycho premiered in Los Angeles, California.
  • In 1965, actress, singer, writer, and director Claudia Christian was born.
  • In 1972, actress Angie Harmon was born.
  • In 1988, United States President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, providing $20,000 payments to Japanese Americans who were either interned in or relocated by the United States during World War II.


In 1962, author Suzanne Collins was born.

Born in Hartford, Connecticut, she was the daughter of a military officer, so she spent her childhood moving from place to place. She graduated from the Alabama School of Fine Arts in Birmingham as a Theater Arts major, completed her bachelor of arts degree from Indiana University Bloomington with a double major in theater and telecommunications, and earned her Master of Fine Arts in dramatic writing from the New York University Tisch School of the Arts.

Collins started her career in 1991 as a writer for children’s television shows, including Clarissa Explains It AllThe Mystery Files of Shelby WooLittle Bear, and Oswald. She was also the head writer for Scholastic Entertainment’s Clifford’s Puppy Days. She received a Writers Guild of America nomination in animation for co-writing the critically acclaimed Christmas special, Santa, Baby!

After meeting children’s author James Proimos while working on the Kids’ WB show Generation O!, she was inspired to write children’s books herself. Her inspiration for Gregor the Overlander, the first book of The New York Times best-selling series The Underland Chronicles, came from Alice in Wonderland, when she was thinking about how one was more likely to fall down a manhole than a rabbit hole, and would find something other than a tea party. The series spanned five books between 2003 and 2007.

In September 2008, Scholastic Press released The Hunger Games, the first book of a trilogy by Collins. Partly inspired by the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur, the series was also inspired by her father’s career in the Air Force, which gave her insight into poverty, starvation, and the effects of war. The series was adapted into a series of four movies by Lions Gate Entertainment.

As a result of the trilogy’s popularity, Collins was named one of Time magazine’s most influential people of 2010. She also released a prequel in 2020 called The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes.


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 – August 9

August 9, 2020
Day 222 of 366


August 9th is the 222nd day of the year. It is National Women’s Day in South Africa, a public holiday that commemorates the 1956 march of approximately 20,000 women to the Union Buildings in Pretoria to petition against the country’s pass laws. Such laws required South Africans defined as “black” under The Population Registration Act to carry an internal passport, known as a pass, that served to maintain population segregation, control urbanization, and managed migrant labor during the apartheid era. The first National Women’s Day was celebrated on August 9, 1995.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Rice Pudding Day, National Veep Day, National Book Lovers Day, and National Spirit of ’45 Day (typically observed on the second Sunday in August).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1173, construction began on the campanile of the Cathedral of Pisa. Now known as the Leaning Tower of Pisa, construction would take two centuries to complete.
  • In 1757, American humanitarian Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton was born.
  • In 1814, during the Indian Wars, the Creek people signed the Treaty of Fort Jackson, giving up huge parts of Alabama and Georgia.
  • In 1842, the Webster-Ashburton Treaty was signed, establishing the United States-Canada border east of the Rocky Mountains.
  • In 1854, Henry David Thoreau published Walden.
  • In 1892, Thomas Edison received a patent for a two-way telegraph.
  • In 1899, Australian-English author and actress P. L. Travers was born. She is best known for the Mary Poppins series of children’s books.
  • In 1927, English actor and screenwriter Robert Shaw was born. “Cage goes in the water, you go in the water. Shark’s in the water. Our shark. Farewell and adieu to you, fair Spanish ladies. Farewell and adieu, you ladies of Spain. For we’ve received orders for to sail back to Boston. And so nevermore shall we see you again.”
  • In 1930, Betty Boop made her cartoon debut in Dizzy Dishes.
  • In 1944, the United States Forest Service and the Wartime Advertising Council released posters featuring Smokey Bear for the first time.
  • Also in 1944, actor and producer Sam Elliott was born.
  • In 1945, Nagasaki was devastated when an atomic bomb, Fat Man, was dropped by the United States B-29 Bockscar. Thirty-five thousand people were killed outright.
  • In 1957, actress and producer Melanie Griffith was born.
  • In 1968, American-British actress, activist and writer Gillian Anderson was born.
  • In 1969, followers of Charles Manson murdered pregnant actress Sharon Tate (wife of Roman Polanski), coffee heiress Abigail Folger, Polish actor Wojciech Frykowski, men’s hairstylist Jay Sebring, and recent high-school graduate Steven Parent.
  • In 1973, Scottish actor and director Kevin McKidd was born.
  • In 1974, as a direct result of the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon became the first (and only, so far) President of the United States to resign from office. His Vice President, Gerald Ford, became president.
  • In 1976, French actress Audrey Tautou was born.
  • In 1983, actress Ashley Johnson was born.
  • In 1985, actress and singer Anna Kendrick was born.
  • In 2014, Michael Brown was shot and killed by a Ferguson, Missouri police officer. The 18-year-old African American allegedly assaulted the officer and attempted to steal his weapon, but the officer ended up shooting Brown twelve times during the altercation. The shooting sparked protests and unrest in the city over excessive use of force and racial profiling by police.


August 9th is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples, a day to raise awareness and protect the rights of the world’s indigenous population.

The observance also recognizes the achievements and contributions that indigenous people make to improve world issues such as environmental protection. It was first pronounced by the United Nations General Assembly in December 1994, marking the day of the first meeting of the UN Working Group on Indigenous Populations of the Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights in 1982.


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 – August 8

August 8, 2020
Day 221 of 366


August 8th is the 221st day of the year. It is Ceasefire Day in Iraqi Kurdistan, commemorating the end of the Iran-Iraq War. The war has many names: The First Gulf War (جنگ ایران و عراق‎ in Persian, حرب الخليج الأولى‎ in Arabic), the Imposed War, and the Holy Defense or Sacred Defense (دفاع مقدس in Persian) in Iran. It started on September 22, 1980, when Iraq invaded Iran, and it lasted for eight years.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as Global Sleep Under The Stars Night, National CBD Day, National Happiness Happens Day, National Frozen Custard Day, National Sneak Some Zucchini Into Your Neighbor’s Porch Day, National Dollar Day, National Bowling Day, and National Garage Sale Day. The last two are typically observed on the second Saturday in August.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1576, the cornerstone for Tycho Brahe’s Uraniborg observatory was laid on the island of Hven.
  • In 1709, Bartolomeu de Gusmão demonstrated the lifting power of hot air in an audience before the king of Portugal in Lisbon, Portugal.
  • In 1786, Mont Blanc on the French-Italian border was climbed for the first time by Jacques Balmat and Dr. Michel-Gabriel Paccard.
  • In 1876, Thomas Edison received a patent for his mimeograph.
  • In 1901, Nobel Prize laureate Ernest Lawrence was born. The American physicist and academic won the prize for the invention of the cyclotron. He is also known for his work on uranium-isotope separation for the Manhattan Project, and for founding the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory.
  • In 1902, Nobel Prize laureate Paul Dirac was born. The English-American physicist and academic was one of the most significant physicists of the 20th century. Dirac made fundamental contributions to the early development of both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics, along with significant contributions to the reconciliation of general relativity with quantum mechanics. He formulated the Dirac equation which describes the behavior of fermions and predicted the existence of antimatter. He shared the 1933 Nobel Prize in Physics with Erwin Schrödinger “for the discovery of new productive forms of atomic theory”.
  • In 1908, Wilbur Wright made his first flight at a racecourse at Le Mans, France. It was the Wright Brothers’ first public flight.
  • In 1919, Italian actor and producer Dino De Laurentiis was born.
  • In 1926, actor Richard Anderson was born. He played Oscar Goldman in The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman.
  • In 1930, Welsh-American author and screenwriter Terry Nation was born. Especially known for his work in British television science fiction, he created the Daleks and Davros for Doctor Who, as well as the series Survivors and Blake’s 7.
  • In 1935, director, producer, and screenwriter Donald P. Bellisario was born. He is known for Magnum, P.I.Tales of the Gold MonkeyAirwolfQuantum LeapJAG, and NCIS.
  • In 1937, actor and director Dustin Hoffman was born.
  • In 1945, the London Charter was signed by France, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, and the United States, establishing the laws and procedures for the Nuremberg trials.
  • In 1963, the Great Train Robbery occurred in England. A gang of 15 train robbers stole £2.6 million in banknotes from a Royal Mail train. The stolen money was equivalent to £55 million ($72 million USD) in 2019.
  • In 1969, photographer Iain Macmillan took a picture at a zebra crossing in London. This photo became the iconic cover image of the Beatles’ album Abbey Road.
  • In 1974, President Richard Nixon, in a nationwide television address, announced his resignation from the office of the President of the United States effective noon the next day.
  • In 1990, Iraq occupied Kuwait and the state was annexed to Iraq. This would lead to the Gulf War shortly afterward.


August 8th is International Cat Day.

It was created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare as a day to raise awareness for cats and learn about ways to help and protect them. It is also referred to as World Cat Day, and while most countries now observe this unofficial holiday on August 8th, Russia celebrates National Cat Day on March 1st. The United States celebrates both International Cat Day and their own National Cat Day on October 29th.

In 2020, ownership of the observance passed to International Cat Care, a non-profit organization that has been striving to improve the health and welfare of domestic cats worldwide since 1958.


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 – Clone Stories After the Republic?

Culture on My Mind
August 7, 2020


This “can’t let it go” deals with Star Wars storytelling potential.

On July 13th, a new animated series was announced on the official Star Wars website. Following a group of clone troopers that debuted in the final season of The Clone Wars, the new series – Star Wars: The Bad Batch – will follow “the elite and experimental clones of the Bad Batch as they find their way in a rapidly changing galaxy in the immediate aftermath of the Clone War.” The squad is comprised of a unique squad of clones who vary genetically from their brothers in the regular clone army, but these unique skills make them formidable in combat. The series will highlight daring mercenary missions as they try to survive in the smoldering remains of the Republic and the rise of the Galactic Empire.

It sounds exciting, and the team of Lucasfilm animation veterans Dave Filoni, Athena Portillo, Brad Rau, Jennifer Corbett, Carrie Beck, and Josh Rimes tells me that the series has both a great pedigree and chance of success. I’ll be watching when it premieres.

But the announcement also made me think about the possibilities for storytelling surrounding the clone army and the rise of the Empire. For seven seasons and twelve years, we’ve been companions to these soldiers as they waged war across the galaxy. We’ve grown to love members of a clone army, each of which was given individual personalities and character through the artistry of Dee Bradley Baker and the show’s writing staff.

We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve loved, and we’ve lost. The clones were built with a singular purpose – to be cannon fodder that won a war by sheer numbers – but they became individuals along the way, and they’re in a unique position as the Republic that they dedicated their short lives to falls around them.

The clones were built to be disposable. They just murdered the Jedi under pre-programmed orders from Emperor Palpatine. How does that make them feel? Where do they go from there?

From Star Wars: Rebels, we know that Rex, Wolffe, and Gregor felt remorse about their actions in service of the nascent Empire and joined the growing rebellion as a result. But those three had their control chips removed and had full knowledge of how the Emperor manipulated their actions.

We got a better look at the emotional aftermath with Grey, a clone who was troubled by his thoughtless execution of Order 66. As told in the Kanan: The Last Padawan comic series, Grey tried to atone for his actions in the Jedi Purge by sacrificing himself to save Caleb Dume, padawan to Depa Billaba, the Jedi Master that Grey murdered under the influence of Order 66. Caleb Dume would later become Kanan Jarrus in Star Wars: Rebels.

Millions of clones were birthed in the Kaminoan pods for the war, and we only have one story of remorse from a trooper that didn’t have his chip removed. Meanwhile, according to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs, anywhere between 10 to 30 percent of veterans have experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) since the Vietnam War.

The clone troopers were also programmed with an accelerated lifespan, entering the war at what seems to be the equivalent of 18-20 years old but aging to their 50s or 60s in the span of a couple of decades. The clones would often talk about retirement after the war, but such speculation was cut short by commanders as “idle chatter”.

The potential here is amazing, and it would serve as a touching coda to the Clone War. It would also serve as a vital touchstone to our own global reality, which great science fiction often does as a metaphor for the human condition.

For example:

  • What happened to the clones who stayed on as stormtroopers?
  • What happened when they were forced to retire from Imperial service?
  • What happened when they were replaced by non-clone soldiers? Was there a conflict?
  • Did any clones feel anger about their pre-programmed lives or role as disposable assets?
  • Did any clones feel anger about the years that were stolen by nature of their genetics?
  • Did other clones feel remorse from Order 66?
  • Did any clones try to make amends for the slaughter of the Jedi? Maybe even running a galactic underground railroad for any survivors?
  • Did any clones try to secret away Jedi artifacts, lightsabers, or kyber crystals to preserve that history?
  • Did any clones try to make amends for the oppression spreading throughout the galaxy, such as freeing slaves?
  • Did any clones experience PTSD? How was that managed in the Empire?
  • Did any clones actually retire directly after the war? Were there benefits, or were they abandoned?
  • Did any clones try to leverage their skills as mercenaries, bounty hunters, or bodyguards?
  • Did any clones try to make the most of their remaining years, such as running for political office, opening a shipping company, or even becoming an entertainer?
  • Did any clones try to tell their stories for posterity?
  • Did any clones try to start families, biological or otherwise?
  • Did any clones return to Kamino to try to rescue, save, or adopt any remaining clone children before the facilities were shut down (as mentioned in Darth Vader: Dark Lord of the Sith)?
  • Were any clones (or their offspring) Force-sensitive? How did they manage that? On the run? As part of the Imperial Security Bureau to hunt down Force-sensitive children? As a Guardian of the Whills?
  • Did any clones, aside from Rex’s crew, join the rebellion or fight against the Empire?

That list is just scratching the surface.

We have millions of individual voices (thanks again, Dee Bradley Baker!) with the same face in a galactic pool of trillions upon trillions of citizens swamped in the uncertainty of political upheaval.

Lucasfilm, let’s tell their stories. Let’s do it in an anthology of some sort, be it prose or comics or even television. Let’s do in it a series of anthologies. Let’s do it with shares of the profits going to veteran support groups around the world.

Let us not forget this generation of our favorite animated heroes.


Star Wars: The Bad Batch will premiere on Disney+ in 2021.


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 – August 7

August 7, 2020
Day 220 of 366


August 7th is the 220th day of the year. It is Youth Day in Kiribati, a state comprised of 32 atolls and one raised coral island in the central Pacific.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Lighthouse Day, National Raspberries N’ Cream Day, International Beer Day, and National Water Balloon Day. The last two are typically observed on the first Friday in August.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1786, the first federal Indian Reservation was created by the United States.
  • In 1858, the first Australian rules football match was played between Melbourne Grammar and Scotch College.
  • In 1909, Alice Huyler Ramsey and three friends became the first women to complete a transcontinental automobile trip, taking 59 days to travel from New York, New York to San Francisco, California.
  • In 1928, author and academic Betsy Byars was born.
  • In 1942, humorist, novelist, short story writer, and radio host Garrison Keillor was born.
  • In 1944, IBM dedicated the first program-controlled calculator. It was called the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, but is better known as the Harvard Mark I.
  • Also in 1944, actor John Glover was born.
  • In 1955, actor, comedian and voice actor Wayne Knight was born.
  • In 1960, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter David Duchovny was born.
  • In 1962, Canadian-born American pharmacologist Frances Oldham Kelsey was awarded the United States President’s Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service for her refusal to authorize thalidomide, a drug known to cause severe birth defects.
  • In 1975, actress Charlize Theron was born.
  • In 1978, actor Cirroc Lofton was born.
  • In 1987, Lynne Cox became the first person to swim from the United States to the Soviet Union, crossing the Bering Strait from Little Diomede Island in Alaska to Big Diomede in the Soviet Union.
  • In 1997, Garth Brooks performed a free live concert in New York City’s Central Park. It was later released as Garth: Live from Central Park.


In 1782, President George Washington ordered the creation of the Badge of Military Merit to honor soldiers wounded in battle.

Designed by Washington in the form of a purple heart, it was intended as a military order for soldiers who exhibited, “not only instances of unusual gallantry in battle, but also extraordinary fidelity and essential service in any way.” The award was only given to non-commissioned officers and privates. It is largely considered the first United States military decoration, and the second oldest in the world after the Cross of St. George.

After the Revolutionary War, the Badge of Military Merit fell into disuse although it was never officially abolished. In fact, the award of the badge was not proposed again officially until after World War I. In 1932, the United States War Department authorized the new Purple Heart Medal for soldiers who had previously received either a Wound Chevron or the Army Wound Ribbon. The Purple Heart became the official “successor decoration” to the Badge of Military Merit.

The Purple Heart was designed by Elizabeth Will, an Army heraldic specialist in the Office of the Quartermaster General. In general, the medal is awarded to any servicemember who is wounded or killed while in an official capacity with the Armed Forces against enemy combatants.

It is estimated that 321,000 awards were issued for actions in World War I. In World War II, over one million medals were awarded.

In honor of those awarded and the creation of the medal, August 7th is known as Purple Heart 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 – August 6

August 6, 2020
Day 219 of 366


August 6th is the 219th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Bolivia, which separated from Spain in 1825, and Jamaica, which separated from the United Kingdom in 1962.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Root Beer Float Day, National Fresh Breath Day, National Wiggle Your Toes Day, and National IPA Day (typically observed on the first Thursday in August).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1661, the Treaty of The Hague was signed by Portugal and the Dutch Republic. Based on the terms of the treaty, the Dutch Republic recognized Portuguese imperial sovereignty over New Holland (Dutch Brazil) in exchange for an indemnity of 4 million reis, conversion from 2 million Caroli Guilders, over the span of 16 years.
  • In 1787, sixty proof sheets of the Constitution of the United States were delivered to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
  • In 1809, English poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson was born.
  • In 1819, Norwich University was founded in Vermont as the first private military school in the United States.
  • In 1848, American writer and first black Army nurse Susie Taylor was born.
  • In 1881, Scottish biologist, pharmacologist, and botanist Alexander Fleming was born. He was a Nobel Prize laureate for his discovery of the world’s first broadly effective antibiotic substance, benzylpenicillin (Penicillin G), from the mold Penicillium rubens in 1928.
  • In 1890, at Auburn Prison in New York, murderer William Kemmler became the first person to be executed by electric chair.
  • In 1911, actress, television producer, and businesswoman Lucille Ball was born.
  • In 1926, Gertrude Ederle became the first woman to swim across the English Channel.
  • Also in 1926, in New York City, the Warner Bros.’ Vitaphone system premiered with the movie Don Juan starring John Barrymore.
  • In 1928, painter and photographer Andy Warhol was born.
  • In 1942, Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands became the first reigning queen to address a joint session of the United States Congress.
  • In 1951, actress Catherine Hicks was born.
  • In 1960, Chubby Checker performed his version of “The Twist” on The Dick Clark Show. It started a worldwide dance craze.
  • In 1962, Malaysian-Hong Kong actress and producer Michelle Yeoh was born.
  • In 1965, United States President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act of 1965 into law.
  • In 1972, English singer-songwriter, dancer, and actress Geri Halliwell was born.
  • In 1976, actress and producer Soleil Moon Frye was born.
  • In 1991, Tim Berners-Lee released files describing his idea for the World Wide Web. WWW debuted as a publicly available service on the Internet.
  • Also in 1991, Takako Doi, chair of the Social Democratic Party, became Japan’s first female speaker of the House of Representatives.
  • In 1996, NASA announced that the ALH 84001 meteorite, thought to originate from Mars, contained evidence of primitive life-forms.
  • In 2012, NASA’s Curiosity rover landed on the surface of Mars. Only planned as a two-year mission, Curiosity is still operational, living for 2844 Martian sols (2921 total days).
  • In 2015, comedian Jon Stewart hosted The Daily Show for the last time.


In 1945, during World War II, Hiroshima, Japan was devastated when the atomic bomb “Little Boy” was dropped by the United States B-29 Enola Gay. Approximately 70,000 people were killed instantly, and tens of thousands died in subsequent years from burns and radiation poisoning. This event and the similar bombing of Nagasaki, Japan were part of the Allied response to Japan’s refusal to surrender unconditionally.

The anniversary is marked by a Japanese vigil. The city of Hiroshima holds the Peace Memorial Ceremony to console the victims of the atomic bombs and to pray for the realization of lasting world peace. The ceremony is held in front of the Memorial Cenotaph in the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

Participants include the families of the deceased and people from all over the world. The first ceremony was held in 1947 by the then Hiroshima Mayor Shinzo Hamai.


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.