The Thing About Today – August 31

August 31, 2020
Day 244 of 366


August 31st is the 244th day of the year. It is Independence Day in multiple countries today, including Kyrgyzstan (from the Soviet Union in 1991), Malaya (from the United Kingdom in 1957), and Trinidad and Tobago (from the United Kingdom in 1962).


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National South Carolina Day, National Matchmaker Day, National Diatomaceous Earth Day, and National Trail Mix Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1888, Mary Ann Nichols was murdered. She was the first of Jack the Ripper’s confirmed victims.
  • In 1895, German Count Ferdinand von Zeppelin patented his “navigable balloon”.
  • In 1897, Thomas Edison patented the Kinetoscope, the first movie projector.
  • In 1928, actor James Coburn was born.
  • In 1935, in an attempt to stay out of the growing tensions concerning Germany and Japan, the United States passed the first of its Neutrality Acts.
  • In 1936, Radio Prague, now the official international broadcasting station of the Czech Republic, went on the air.
  • In 1939, Nazi Germany mounted a false flag attack on the Gleiwitz radio station, creating an excuse to attack Poland the following day, thus starting World War II in Europe.
  • In 1943, USS Harmon (DE-678) was commissioned. It was the first United States Navy ship to be named after a black person.
  • In 1949, actor and producer Richard Gere was born.
  • In 1962, voice actor Dee Bradley Baker was born.
  • In 1971, actor and comedian Chris Tucker was born.
  • In 1997, Diana, Princess of Wales, her companion Dodi Fayed, and driver Henri Paul died in a car crash in Paris.


August 31st is National Language Day in Moldova. Locally, it is known as Limba noastră, which literally translates to “Our Language”.

On August 27, 1989, the Popular Front of Moldova organized a mass demonstration in Chişinău, that became known as the Great National Assembly. It pressured the authorities of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic to adopt a language law on August 31, 1989, which proclaimed the Moldovan language written in the Latin script to be the state language of the MSSR. Its identity with the Romanian language was also established.

On June 23, 1990, the Moldovan Parliament established August 31st as a national language day. During the celebration, the main square of Chişinău holds a concert featuring performances of various national entertainers, and since the country’s Independence Day celebrations take place just days before, they keep the stage up from August 27th through this observance.


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 30

August 30, 2020
Day 243 of 366


August 30th is the 243rd day of the year. It is Independence Day in Tartarstan, Russia. The Republic of Tartarstan is a federal subject of the Russian Federation, and its independence is not officially recognized.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Toasted Marshmallow Day, National Grief Awareness Day, and National Beach Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1797, English novelist and playwright Mary Shelley was born. She wrote the Gothic novel Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus in 1818, which is cited as the first science fiction novel.
  • In 1835, Melbourne, Victoria was founded in Australia.
  • In 1871, New Zealand-English physicist and chemist Ernest Rutherford was born. The father of nuclear physics, his discovery of radioactive half-lives, the discovery of the element radon, and the distinction of alpha and beta particles were the basis for his Nobel Prize in 1908.
  • In 1908, actor Fred MacMurray was born.
  • In 1916, Ernest Shackleton completed the rescue of all of his men stranded on Elephant Island in Antarctica.
  • In 1931, astronaut Jack Swigert was born.
  • In 1936, the RMS Queen Mary won the Blue Riband by setting the fastest transatlantic crossing.
  • In 1956, actor, producer, and screenwriter Frank Conniff was born. “Push the button, Frank.”
  • In 1963, actor, director, and producer Michael Chiklis was born.
  • In 1967, Thurgood Marshall was confirmed as the first African American Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • In 1972, model, actress, and producer Cameron Diaz was born.
  • In 1984, the Space Shuttle Discovery launched on Mission STS-41-D, which was its maiden voyage.
  • In 1992, actress Jessica Henwick was born.


In 1963, the Moscow-Washington hotline between the leaders of the United States and the Soviet Union went into operation.

Although in popular culture it is known as the “red telephone”, the hotline was never a telephone line, and no red phones were used. The first implementation used Teletype equipment, using two full-time duplex telegraph circuits. The primary circuit was routed from Washington, D.C. via London, Copenhagen, Stockholm, and Helsinki to Moscow. TAT-1, the first submarine transatlantic telephone cable carried messages from Washington to London. A secondary radio line for back-up and service messages linked Washington and Moscow via Tangier.

Allegedly, the first message transmitted over the hotline was from Washington to Moscow, consisting of “The quick brown fox jumped over the lazy dog’s back 1234567890”. This included all the Latin alphabet, as well as all Arabic numerals and the apostrophe, to test that the keyboard and printer were working correctly.

In September 1971, Moscow and Washington decided to upgrade the system and came to an agreement (for the first time) when the line should be used. They agreed to notify each other immediately in the event of an accidental, unauthorized, or unexplained incident involving a nuclear weapon that could increase the risk of nuclear war. Two new satellite communication lines supplemented the terrestrial circuits using two U.S. Intelsat satellites, and two Soviet Molniya II satellites. This arrangement lasted until 1978 and subsequently made the radio link via Tangier redundant.

In May 1983, President Ronald Reagan proposed to upgrade the hotline by the addition of high-speed facsimile capability. The Soviet Union and the United States agreed formally to do this on July 17, 1984, and upgrades were to take place through the use of Intelsat satellites and modems, fax machines, and computers. The facsimile terminals were operational by 1986, followed by the teletype circuits two years later after the fax links were deemed reliable. The Soviets transferred the hotline link to the newer, geostationary Gorizont-class satellites of the Stationar system.

Since 2008, the Moscow-Washington hotline has been a secure computer link over which messages are exchanged by a secure form of e-mail. It continues to use the two satellite links but a fiber optic cable replaced the old back-up cable. Commercial software is used for both chat and email. The chat side coordinates operations while e-mail handles the actual messages. Transmission is nearly instantaneous, given the speed of light and the importance of the communications system.

The primary link was accidentally cut several times, but regular testing of both the primary and backup links took place daily. During the even hours, the United States sent test messages to the Soviet Union. In the odd hours, the Soviet Union sent test messages back.


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 29

August 29, 2020
Day 242 of 366


August 29th is the 242nd day of the year. It is Telugu Language Day in India, commemorating the birthday in 1863 of Gidugu Venkata Ramamurthy. He was a Telugu writer and one of the earliest modern Telugu linguists and social visionaries during the British rule. He championed the cause of using a language comprehensible to the common man (‘Vyavaharika Bhasha’) as opposed to the scholastic language (‘Grandhika Bhasha’).


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Chop Suey Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 708, copper coins were minted in Japan for the first time. The traditional Japanese date for this event is August 10, 708.
  • In 1632, English physician and philosopher John Locke was born. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the “Father of Liberalism”.
  • In 1786, Shays’ Rebellion, an armed uprising of Massachusetts farmers, began in response to high debt and tax burdens.
  • In 1831, Michael Faraday discovered electromagnetic induction.
  • In 1898, the Goodyear tire company was founded.
  • In 1915, United States Navy salvage divers raised F-4 (SS-23), the first United States submarine sunk in an accident.
  • In 1923, English actor, director, and producer Richard Attenborough was born.
  • In 1938, actor and producer Elliott Gould was born.
  • In 1939, director, producer, and screenwriter Joel Schumacher was born.
  • In 1958, the United States Air Force Academy opened in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
  • In 1959, actress Rebecca De Mornay was born.
  • Also in 1959, astronaut Chris Hadfield was born.
  • In 1965, the Gemini V spacecraft returned to Earth and landed in the Atlantic Ocean.
  • In 1971, actress Carla Gugino was born.
  • In 1982, the synthetic chemical element Meitnerium (atomic number 109) was first synthesized at the Gesellschaft für Schwerionenforschung in Darmstadt, Germany.
  • In 1997, Netflix was launched as an internet DVD rental service.


August 29th is the International Day against Nuclear Tests, established on December 2, 2009, by the United Nations.

The resolution called for increasing awareness “about the effects of nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions and the need for their cessation as one of the means of achieving the goal of a nuclear-weapon-free world”. The resolution was initiated by Kazakhstan together with several sponsors and cosponsors to commemorate the closure of the Semipalatinsk Nuclear Test Site on August 29, 1991.

Following the establishment of the International Day against Nuclear Tests, in May 2010 all state parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons committed themselves to “achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons”.


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 – DC FanDome and Justice League

Culture on My Mind
August 28, 2020


Last weekend saw teases of the future for DC Entertainment at DC FanDome. Effectively like Comic Con, but centered strictly on the worlds of DC Comics, FanDome covered the spectrum of comic books, movies, television, and video games. Another event is scheduled for September 12th.

Of course, this event came on the heels of mass layoffs at DC, including one-third of the company’s editorial staff and the majority of the crew at the DC Universe streaming service. The future of DC Entertainment seems to be the recently launched HBO Max service.

In particular, I am interested in the future of DC Entertainment on film, so the majority of the trailers I took in this weekend were from that front.


Wonder Woman 1984

The trailer that I enjoyed the most was the Wonder Woman 1984 preview. It is no secret that I absolutely loved the first Wonder Woman film starring Gal Gadot, including how it balanced the realities of war with the title character’s message of compassion and acceptance. This sequel was hit hard by the pandemic and has been rescheduled to October 2nd. I’m looking forward to seeing it in theaters if possible.


The Suicide Squad

I was also intrigued by the “roll call” teaser for The Suicide Squad. The first film with Amanda Waller’s team was overly encumbered by its own darkness. There were a lot of interesting moments, and I did love Margot Robbie’s interpretation of Harley Quinn, but the rest really felt like a slog through the swamp.

Enter James Gunn. His work on the Guardians of the Galaxy films for Marvel has stoked my excitement to see this one, as has the lineup of actors. Peter Capaldi had me interested when he mentioned having to lose his iconic hair for this role, and that’s going to be a hard one for me to process on screen.

I’m also reminded that I still need to see Birds of Prey (and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn).


The Batman

The next adventure of the Caped Crusader appears to be inspired by Batman: Year One. When this was announced, I was not particularly excited because I feel like Batman is done too often. Quite often, he’s done with too much emphasis on the vigilantism and fear, and not nearly enough on his technical and detective skills.

This version seems to be getting back to basics. I’m eager to see what comes of future previews when the movie is closer to completion.


Justice League: The Snyder Cut

The last big trailer is for a project that I’m not excited about.

I was not very familiar with Zack Snyder’s work prior to Man of Steel. The only film of his that I had seen was 300, and I despised it. While Man of Steel‘s vision of Superman was not what I expected from a Superman film, I still enjoyed it for the most part. It did not have a lot of humor, which is something that I expect from a Superman story, but it was also a “Superman Begins” tale. From his rise as a hero to the lessons learned from killing Zod, destroying massive amounts of real estate, and endangering the people he typically has sworn to protect to a fault, Man of Steel paved a good path forward for a vision of Superman in a post-9/11 world.

Unfortunately, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice did not capitalize on that. In fact, Dawn of Justice was a mess. It played with the dichotomy of how the modern public might see superheroes, ranging from gods to fear-inspiring menaces. It introduced a seasoned and jaded Batman who found a mission in putting Superman in his place by fencing in the Kryptonian’s scope. It introduced the meddling machinations of Lex Luthor who wreaked havoc by playing with forces that he didn’t understand. It also provided us a first look at Wonder Woman in this universe.

But Superman didn’t grow. He was just as aloof and dispassionate in this film as he was in his introductory piece, only gaining a sense of passion and duty toward the human race in the moments before his death (by an overpowered enemy that felt like a last-minute thought more than a natural progression). Meanwhile, Batman’s character was reduced to one of single-minded paranoia-driven reprisals. He did some detective work, which was nice, but that was offset by him becoming that which he swore to defeat by committing theft and murdering so many people in the course of two and a half hours.

Add in the convoluted political plot and the disjointed flashes of DC Comics lore that excited die-hards but confused general audiences – Batman’s visions of a post-apocalyptic world where a vengeful Superman reigns, a time-traveling Flash, and Lex’s remote-learning session with Steppenwolf about the Mother Boxes were true head-scratchers for my non-comics-versed family and friends – and you end up with a muddled experience. There was just too much to cover in the time allotted.

When Justice League came along, Joss Whedon (despite all of his recently-revealed faults) was a welcome addition. His impact on the screenplay was evident with the lighter mood and tone, leaving the story equipped to deal with heavy matters like conflicts within the fledgling team, resurrecting Superman, and saving the world from certain destruction. Barry Allen cracked wise, Bruce Wayne was a detective, and Superman was a caring and emotional paladin again. One of my favorite moments was Aquaman’s heartfelt lasso-induced testimonial.

It was a superhero film that I could cheer with again.

While the circumstances surrounding Snyder’s departure were tragic, Joss Whedon saved this film for me, with the minor sin of using the John Williams and Danny Elfman themes too much in hope of smashing the nostalgia button for fans.

Joss Whedon’s Justice League is why Zack Snyder’s four-hour-long version of this story is not compelling.

But don’t let Zack Snyder hear you talking that way about his magnum opus…

First, while I’m not a fan of Scott Mendelson, this shot was not necessary: Learn to take some criticism, bro.

Second, I definitely disagree with Snyder on his vision of “grownup” cinema. The difference between movies for kids and adults isn’t simply the injection of violence and nihilism. Adults understand humor and hope leagues more than Zack Snyder gives them credit.


Other FanDome DC film news

The Flash: Barry Allen has a new costume, the Flash will be time-traveling, and there is the promise of multiverse meddling with a tease of Michael Keaton’s 1989 Batman.

Black Adam: I’m glad to see that this is still on the radar. I’m also glad to see (along with the portrayal in Stargirl) that the Justice Society of America is getting more love.

Aquaman 2: Director James Wan mentioned that this flick will be “a little bit more serious, a little bit more relevant to the world that we’re living in today”, which is good considering how superficial the first one was. Fun, but superficial.

Shazam: Fury of the Gods: I’m looking forward to this sequel. The first one was down-to-Earth wholesome comic book fun.


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 28

August 28, 2020
Day 241 of 366


August 28th is the 241st day of the year. It is (unofficially) National Power Rangers Day, celebrating the anniversary of the 1993 debut of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers on the Fox Kids programming block.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Thoughtful Day, National Red Wine Day, National Bow Tie Day, National Cherry Turnovers Day, and Rainbow Bridge Remembrance Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1565, Pedro Menéndez de Avilés sighted land near St. Augustine, Florida, and founded the oldest continuously occupied European-established city in the continental United States.
  • In 1749, German novelist, poet, playwright, and diplomat Johann Wolfgang von Goethe was born.
  • In 1789, William Herschel discovered Enceladus, a new moon of Saturn.
  • In 1845, the first issue of Scientific American magazine was published.
  • In 1859, the Carrington event struck the Earth. It was the strongest geomagnetic storm on record and widely disrupted electrical telegraph service.
  • In 1898, Caleb Bradham’s beverage “Brad’s Drink” was renamed “Pepsi-Cola”.
  • In 1917, author and illustrator Jack Kirby was born. He was one of the fathers of the modern comic book industry.
  • In 1948, author Vonda N. McIntyre was born.
  • In 1955, Black teenager Emmett Till was brutally murdered in Mississippi, thereby galvanizing the nascent civil rights movement.
  • In 1963, the Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his I Have a Dream speech.
  • In 1965, Japanese video game developer and creator of Pokémon Satoshi Tajiri was born.
  • Also in 1965, singer-songwriter Shania Twain was born.
  • In 1968, singer and actor Billy Boyd was born.
  • In 1973, actor J. August Richards was born.
  • In 1993, the Galileo spacecraft discovered a moon, later named Dactyl, around asteroid 243 Ida. This marked the first known asteroid moon.
  • In 2003, actress Quvenzhané Wallis was born.


August 28th is National Grandparents’ Day (Día del Abuelo) in Mexico.

National Grandparents’ Day is a secular holiday celebrated in many countries around the world. It has origins in West Virginia where, in 1956, a mother named Marian McQuade was organizing a community celebration for those over 80. In her efforts, she became aware of the many nursing home residents who were forgotten by their families. She wanted a holiday to bring attention to these forgotten individuals and to honor all grandparents.

In 1973, West Virginia became the first state to have such a day, and it became a national holiday in the United States by 1978. Most of the similar observances around the world followed suit, though Poland is notable for having celebrated “Grandma’s Day” (Dzień Babci) and “Grandpa’s Day” (Dzień Dziadka) since 1964 when they were created by the Kobieta i Życie magazine.


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 27

August 27, 2020
Day 240 of 366


August 27th is the 240th day of the year. It is Independence Day in the Republic of Moldova as they commemorate their separation from the USSR in 1991.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Pots De Creme Day and National Just Because Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1832, Black Hawk, leader of the Sauk tribe of Native Americans, surrendered to United States authorities. This ended the Black Hawk War.
  • In 1845, Hungarian architect Ödön Lechner was born. He designed the Museum of Applied Arts (the third-oldest applied arts museum in the world) and the Church of St Elisabeth (the famous Blue Church in Bratislava).
  • In 1859, petroleum was discovered in Titusville, Pennsylvania. This led to the world’s first commercially successful oil well.
  • In 1899, English novelist C. S. Forester was born. He was the author of the 12-book Horatio Hornblower series depicting a Royal Navy officer during the Napoleonic wars.
  • In 1926, Norwegian computer scientist and academic Kristen Nygaard was born.
  • In 1927, the Famous Five women filed a petition to the Supreme Court of Canada, asking, “Does the word ‘Persons’ in Section 24 of the British North America Act, 1867, include female persons?”
  • In 1933, the first Afrikaans Bible was introduced during a Bible Festival in Bloemfontein.
  • In 1944, actor G W Bailey was born.
  • In 1947, actress Barbara Bach was born.
  • In 1952, actor and comedian Paul Reubens was born. You may know him better as Pee-Wee Herman.
  • In 1956, the nuclear power station at Calder Hall in the United Kingdom was connected to the national power grid, thus becoming the world’s first commercial nuclear power station to generate electricity on an industrial scale.
  • In 1962, the Mariner 2 unmanned space mission was launched to Venus by NASA.
  • In 1964, Disney’s Mary Poppins premiered.
  • In 1976, actress Sarah Chalke was born.


August 27th is the Day of Russian Cinema (День Российского Кино).

Similar to the rise of technological and scientific developments in the Western world at the dawn of the 20th century, Russia witnessed the birth of cinema. The first Russian film to be shown was named Понизовая вольница (Southern Freedom) or Стенька Разин (Stenka Razin). It was a 10-minute silent film based on the life of Stepan Razin, a Cossack leader who fought against the nobility in 1670.

On August 27, 1919, the Council of People’s of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (Совет Народных Комиссаров РСФСР) issued a decree that nationalized cinema and related activities, placing all photographic and cinematographic trades and industries under the umbrella of the National Education Committee. State authorities saw a powerful political tool in cinema.

The Day of Russian Cinema has been observed since 1980, initiated by Leonid Brezhnev, Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, who was a fan of film. He even included American movies, which he spread across the Soviet Union.


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 #TW29: Children of Earth – Day Three

Torchwood: Children of Earth – Day Three
(1 episode, s03e03, 2009)


“We are here.”

Torchwood has gone to ground.

They’re hiding out in an old factory once used by Torchwood One. As the world reels in fear of its own children, Gwen uses her police knowledge to steal laptops, debit cards, and mobile phones while Jack swipes a car. The team secures supplies, including a new set of appropriate clothes for Jack. Ianto makes contact just long enough to tell his family that he’s okay, but Alice is still left wondering about her father.

Torchwood Three’s “Hub 2” is up and running.

The Prime Minister locks the country down to protect the children. Clem McDonald is doing the best he can under the circumstances but ends up in police custody after stealing a woman’s pocketbook. Meanwhile, Alice tries another route to find out about Jack and ends up flagged by the government.

Gwen makes contact with Lois Habiba and asks her to wear a pair of Torchwood contact lenses so they can see what’s going on. Lois is hesitant but Gwen asks her to take the lenses in case she reconsiders. Back at the Hub, Jack and Ianto dig into the kill order while they discuss Jack’s status as a fixed point in time and space. Ianto is shaken by Jack’s immortality but they promise to make the most of what time they have.

When they find out that Clem has been arrested, Ianto sends Gwen to the police station to bail him out. She calls PC Andy Davidson to secure Clem’s release. While Ianto digs into Clem’s history, Jack asks to see the history behind each of the blank page victims. What he finds sends him running.

Agent Johnson’s group makes the connection between Jack and Alice. Frobisher orders Johnson to bring her in while he (and a sneaky Lois) head to Thames House. Johnson’s team storms Alice’s house – the bastards kill the dog! – and pursues her. When they catch up to her, they find young Steven pointing into the distance.

The rest of the world’s children point skyward, tracking a pillar of fire descending into Thames House. The 456 have arrived. They fill the containment chamber as Frobisher meets with Mr. Dekker and makes contact. The aliens instruct the humans to call them 456, and Frobisher extracts a promise that they will not speak of the previous visit to Earth in 1965. The 456 wish to speak with the world but will settle for a diplomatic liaison.

Representatives from UNIT and the United States meet with Prime Minister Green and make their displeasure clear. Green hands control of the 456 situation to Frobisher, a non-elected official with no powers of state, to defuse the tension.

Jack sneaks into the Frobisher home and steals a mobile phone to make contact. Jack asks if the current events are linked to 1965, and Frobisher confirms that the kill order was designed to silence those who remained with knowledge of the event. Jack wants to talk to the 456 but Frobisher counters with the revelation that he has Alice and Steven.

Lois slips the contact lenses in before joining Frobisher and Bridget Spears at the containment chamber. The conference is also being transmitted to Prime Minister Green, UNIT, and the American representatives. In the end, Frobisher demands that the 456 cease using human children to communicate. In exchange, the 456 demand a gift: Ten percent of the children on Earth.

Gwen takes Clem to Hub 2 where he meets the team, learns a quick lesson on social acceptance, and has a bite to eat. The team watches the diplomatic conference with the 456, and as Jack returns to the new Hub, Clem says that he can smell the man who previously delivered the children to 456.

Jack is that man. Gwen protests that he is a good man who fights aliens, but Jack reveals that he did what was asked of him.

In 1965, he gave the 456 twelve children. He gave them the “gift.”


This episode provides a bridge and a moment to breathe as the team gets its feet back on the ground. Not a moment is wasted, however, as the 456 arrive and the story climaxes with their demand as Jack’s allegiance is brought to question.

In that sense, the team’s grounding is short-lived. They end the episode off balance just like they started, and that keeps the drama moving until next week.



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




UP NEXT – Torchwood: Children of Earth – Day Four


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 26

August 26, 2020
Day 239 of 366


August 26th is the 239th day of the year. It is Repentance Day in Papua New Guinea, which is a day of prayer ceremonies across the country.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National WebMistress Day, National Dog Day, and National Cherry Popsicle Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1789, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen was approved by the National Constituent Assembly of France.
  • In 1791, John Fitch was granted a United States patent for the steamboat.
  • In 1883, the eruption of Krakatoa entered its final, most violent stage.
  • In 1918, physicist and mathematician Katherine Johnson was born. Her calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to the success of the first and subsequent United States crewed spaceflights.
  • In 1952, actor Michael Jeter was born.
  • In 1970, actress, comedian, producer, and screenwriter Melissa McCarthy was born.
  • In 1976, actor Mike Colter was born.
  • In 1980, actor Macaulay Culkin was born.
  • Also in 1980, actor Chris Pine was born.


In 1920, the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution took effect, giving women the right (on paper) to vote.

Initially introduced to Congress in 1878, several attempts to pass a women’s suffrage amendment failed until passing the House of Representatives on May 21, 1919. Passage in the Senate followed June 4th of the same year, and it was then submitted to the states for ratification. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee was the last of the necessary 36 ratifying states to secure adoption. The Nineteenth Amendment’s adoption was certified on August 26, 1920.

Prior to 1776, women had the right to vote in several of the colonies in what would become the United States, but by 1807 every state constitution denied even limited suffrage. Organizations supporting women’s rights became more active in the mid-nineteenth century and, in 1848, the Seneca Falls convention adopted the Declaration of Sentiments, which called for equality between the sexes and included a resolution urging women to secure the vote.

Several legal arguments were struck down by the United States Supreme Court, so organizations with activists like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton called for a new constitutional amendment.

The problem with the Nineteenth Amendment is that it only guarantees its rights on paper. Disenfranchisement continues for women in minority and underprivileged communities, often coupled with gerrymandering by political parties. Additionally, heroes of the movement like Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were well-known for their views that bordered on white supremacy.

Stanton warned that white women would be degraded if “Negro” men preceded them into the franchise, and actively endorsed the myth of black rapists. Anthony supported similar views, vocally campaigning for women’s suffrage before that of minorities.

In historical context, some argue that their views were not racist, but such statements and endorsements emboldened the campaigns of hatred waged across the American South by the Ku Klux Klan.

On the 50th anniversary, in 1970, the nationwide Women’s Strike for Equality took place. About 50,000 women gathered for the protest in New York City and even more did so throughout the country. It was the largest gathering on behalf of women in the United States, and it had three primary goals: free abortion on demand, equal opportunity in the workforce, and free childcare. The strike also advocated for other second wave feminist goals more generally, such as political rights for women, and social equality in relationships such as marriage.

At the time of the protest, women still did not enjoy many of the same freedoms and rights as men. Despite the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963, which prohibited pay discrimination between two people who performed the same job, women comparatively earned 59 cents for every dollar a man made for similar work. Women were also restricted in terms of their access to higher education and were generally funneled into one of four occupational choices: secretarial, nursing, teaching, or motherhood.

In many states, women were also unable to obtain credit cards, make wills, or own property without a husband, and were limited in the number of hours they could work per week. Women are still fighting these battles on many fronts today.

Since 1972, and officially designated in 1973, Women’s Equality Day is celebrated on the anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment’s certification.


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 25

August 25, 2020
Day 238 of 366


August 25th is the 238th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Uruguay as they celebrate their separation from Brazil in 1825.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Whiskey Sour Day, National Kiss and Make Up Day, National Secondhand Wardrobe Day, and National Banana Split Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1609, Galileo Galilei demonstrated his first telescope to Venetian lawmakers.
  • In 1814, on the second day of the Burning of Washington, British troops torched the Library of Congress, United States Treasury, Department of War, and other public buildings.
  • In 1835, the first Great Moon Hoax article was published in The New York Sun, announcing the discovery of life and civilization on the Moon.
  • In 1894, Kitasato Shibasaburō discovered the infectious agent of the bubonic plague and published his findings in The Lancet.
  • In 1909, actor Michael Rennie was born.
  • In 1916, the United States National Park Service was created.
  • In 1918, pianist, composer, and conductor Leonard Bernstein was born.
  • In 1921, Canadian-American television personality and game show host Monty Hall was born.
  • In 1930, Scottish actor and producer Sean Connery was born. He was the first official James Bond, an immortal Scottish-Egyptian Spaniard, a security officer in space, a Russian submarine captain, Indy’s dad, and so many more characters.
  • In 1933, actor Tom Skerritt was born.
  • In 1939, actor, director, and producer John Badham was born.
  • In 1958, director, producer, and screenwriter Tim Burton was born.
  • In 1961, actress Joanne Whalley was born.
  • In 1964, television writer and producer Marti Noxon was born.
  • In 1981, the Voyager 2 spacecraft made its closest approach to Saturn.
  • In 1989, the Voyager 2 spacecraft made its closest approach to Neptune. It was the last planet in the Solar System at the time due to Pluto being within Neptune’s orbit from 1979 to 1999.
  • In 1991, Linus Torvalds announced the first version of what would become Linux.
  • In 2012, the Voyager 1 spacecraft entered interstellar space, thus becoming the first man-made object to do so.


August 25th is Liberation Day in France.

The date commemorates the Liberation of Paris (Libération de Paris), a World War II military battle that started on August 19, 1944 and ended six days later when the Nazi garrison surrendered Paris.

The liberation began when the French Forces of the Interior, the military structure of the French Resistance, staged an uprising against the Nazis as General George Patton’s Third Army approached. On the night of August 24th, elements of General Philippe Leclerc’s 2nd French Armored Division made their way into Paris and arrived at the Hôtel de Ville. The next morning, the bulk of the 2nd Armored Division and American 4th Infantry Division entered the city. Military governor of Paris and garrison commander Dietrich von Choltitz surrendered at the Hôtel Meurice.

General Charles de Gaulle of the French Army arrived to assume control of the city, operating as head of the Provisional Government of the French Republic. The fighting continued across France, but the politically divided French Resistance, Gaullists, nationalists, communists, and anarchists were united.


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 XVI-XIX

Culture on My Mind
August 24, 2020


It’s been another busy set of weeks around these parts, including busy times at the day job and preparations for Dragon Con’s virtual panels. With some time simmering on the back burner, I’ve amassed another backlog of “can’t let it go” panels from the Classic Track Irregulars

On July 30th, the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics co-conspirators Gary and Joe opened their doors to the Ask Me Anything format.


Panel #17 made us wonder if, surely, they were joking as Gary and Joe invited the Earth Station One crew to talk about the 40th anniversary of the cult classic Airplane. Gary was joined by Mike Faber, Michael Gordon, Ashley Pauls, and Alex Autrey.


Panel #18 comes to us from the depths of the sea. On August 6th, Joe hosted Deanna Toxopeus, Alison Richards, Bobby Nash, and Jessa Phillips as they profess their love for SeaQuest DSV.


The nineteenth panel took a hard look at the reality of science fiction. In particular, how the genre has always been about politics and social issues. It’s not just a new theme.

This panel was Sue Kisenwether’s idea, and she gathered Bethany Kesler, James Palmer, Sherman Burris, Michael G. Williams, Joe, and Gary to discuss Star Trek, The Twilight Zone, Babylon 5, Deep Space Nine, and metric tons more about the genre that we love.


Gary and Joe have a lot more fun discussions planned in the coming weeks, especially over Dragon Con. 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.