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.




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