Timestamp #SJA15: The Mad Woman in the Attic

Sarah Jane Adventures: The Mad Woman in the Attic
(2 episodes, s03e02, 2009)

 

When wishes go haywire.

In 2059, the Bannerman Road house is in disrepair. The attic is abandoned, Mr. Smith is broken down, and an old woman lives alone in the attic. A boy named Adam finds the woman, and we discover that she is Rani Chandra. She is unkempt like the house, spending her time lingering over photographs and memories.

She begins to tell him her story…

In 2009, Rani brings a story about strange lights to Sarah Jane, but she and Mr. Smith have already decided that it was merely lightning. She’s annoyed because the group is talking about Maria Jackson, who she considers to be “the girl before her” and is now hiding aliens in America.

Hurt by the dismissive attitude, she leaves and finds an e-mail from an old friend. She meets up with Sam Lloyd and they end up at a deserted pleasure park. Sam knows about the Bannerman Road Gang and wants Rani to investigate the mystery of a demon at the park.

Of course, Sam deserts her, so she looks around on her own and soon finds Harry the caretaker. She works her way into his office. After they talk for a bit, she brings up the haunting, but Harry dismisses her with fear. A voice says, “Playtime is beginning,” and Rani witnesses people who had previously disappeared on the rides. Their eyes are red and they’re grinning maniacally. The voices says, “Playtime is over,” and the rides stop. Rani takes her investigation to the haunted house even as Harry protests.

Sarah Jane, Luke, and Clyde find the e-mail from Sam. Even though Sarah Jane is upset that Rani has told someone about their secrets, she decides to investigate. When they arrive, Sam is cold toward the trio but tells them where to find Rani. Luke stays with Sam while Sarah Jane and Clyde head for the park.

As Rani makes her way to the heart of the haunted house, she finds a red-skinned alien named Eve. Harry locks Rani in the room and the two talk, though Eve does so telepathically. Eve is able to manipulate time, seeing pasts and futures, and is presumably the last of her kind. She came to Earth in a spaceship as her people destroyed each other in a massive war. Harry found her and kept her safe.

Eve says that the people in the carnival are her friends, but she cannot go outside because of her appearance. She assures Rani that she needs the Bannerman Road Gang and asks if Rani wants to see her future, but that future is of a mad, lonely woman. Rani wants nothing to do with that future, so she offers to help Eve escape.

Eve also shows Luke and Sarah Jane their timelines. Luke’s past contains memories of this very show while his future includes a graduation. Sarah Jane’s involves memories of her parents, The Five DoctorsThe Hand of Fear, The Time Warrior, and The Stolen Earth.

Her future somehow involves the TARDIS and the Tenth Doctor.

Sarah Jane and Clyde go in search of Eve. Simultaneously, Rani and Eve decide to go outside. The two teams eventually come together, but Rani’s feelings of rejection come to the surface. Back at the orphanage, Sam has departed with only a note to spare. It says that it wasn’t Eve who wanted Rani.

Once outside, Eve starts up the rides again, forcing them to spin wildly. When Rani gets upset, Eve possesses her as well. The mirror that showed Sarah Jane her future laments that Eve is outside, revealing that it is the artificial intelligence from the spaceship and needs Eve to return its control. Eve cannot control her power and is dying.

Sarah Jane returns to Eve, telling her that she must let everyone go, but Eve doesn’t know how to free them. After Sam arrives, he joins Sarah Jane and Clyde as they escort Eve back to the ship. The ship absorbs Eve’s excess energy, which frees her captives and saves her life. Rani runs for the beach with Harry in tow and rejoins her family.

Eve invites Sam and Harry to travel with her but needs the energy of a black hole to fuel the ship. Sarah Jane connects with K9 and they coordinate efforts to transfer the Switzerland singularity‘s energy to the ship. With that, K9’s mission is finished and he returns to the attic.

Unfortunately, as the ship departs, it grants Rani one wish. It chooses the wish she made earlier, that her friends would leave her alone, and erases the Bannerman Road Gang from existence. Rani protests but the ship takes off regardless.

Back in 2059, Adam reveals his true identity. He is the son of Sam and Eve, and he has come to reverse the wish because the ship was damaged and misinterpreted the wish. Given the opportunity, Rani wishes her family back into existence, deleting the timeline. Sam and Eve head into space and the Bannerman Road Gang heads home.

The adventure ends as Sarah Jane takes a photo of Rani, Luke, Clyde, and K9. K9 even says “Cheese!”

In a coda, we see the new future of 2059. Rani lives in the house at Bannerman Road, but it is well-kept and happy with three grandchildren and her son. Rani works with Luke and Maria, and the photo has a place of honor on the shelf nearby.

 

This one starts out as a tear-jerker in an era when Elisabeth Sladen is no longer with us. The part of Rani’s story about how magnificent Sarah Jane was, how much she meant to Rani and the Bannerman Road Gang, pulls at the heartstrings because Sarah Jane and Elisabeth Sladen were really one and the same.

What follows from there, however, is a paint-by-the-numbers alternate timeline tale with a misunderstood alien menace… who honestly isn’t that menacing. The story has a sweet aspect to it since the alien is innocent, acting out purely in loneliness and fear, but the mystery and menace are both pretty thin.

Couple that with Rani’s sense of rejection, which feels unfounded given her history in this show, and that leaves the story pretty average overall.

One note extends deep into the classic era: Sarah Jane mentions the Zodin, which were first brought up by the Second Doctor in The Five Doctors and blurted out in delirium by the Sixth Doctor in Attack of the Cybermen. It’s a running gag of sorts in the Doctor Who universe.

 

 

Rating: 3/5 – “Reverse the polarity of the neutron flow.”

 

 

 

UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: The Wedding of Sarah Jane Smith

 

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 – September 30

September 30, 2020
Day 274 of 366

 

September 30th is the 274th day of the year. It is Orange Shirt Day in Canada, an event designed to educate people and promote awareness in Canada about the Indian residential school system and the impact it has had on Indigenous communities for over a century as children were taken from their homes, separate from their parents and culture, and eventually merged and lost within the nation. The impact is recognized as cultural genocide and is one that continues today.

 

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Love People Day, National Chewing Gum Day, National Mud Pack Day, National Hot Mulled Cider Day, and National Women’s Health & Fitness Day (typically observed on the last Wednesday in September).

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1791, the first performance of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute took place two months before his death.
  • In 1861, businessman William Wrigley, Jr. was born. He founded the Wrigley Company.
  • In 1882, Thomas Edison’s first commercial hydroelectric power plant, later known as Appleton Edison Light Company, began operation.
  • In 1909, the Cunard Line’s RMS Mauretania completed a record-breaking westbound crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. The record would not be broken for 20 years.
  • In 1921, Scottish-English actress Deborah Kerr was born.
  • In 1928, Romanian-American author, academic, activist, Nobel Prize laureate, and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel was born.
  • In 1935, the Hoover Dam, astride the border between the U.S. states of Arizona and Nevada, was dedicated.
  • In 1943, the United States Merchant Marine Academy was dedicated by President Roosevelt. I served with a guy who graduated from that academy. He’s one of the best people I know.
  • In 1950, English actress and dancer Victoria Tennant was born.
  • In 1954, The United States Navy submarine USS Nautilus (SSN-571) was commissioned as the world’s first nuclear-powered vessel.
  • In 1955, American actor and cultural icon James Dean was killed in a car crash. He was 24 years old.
  • In 1957, actress, producer, and screenwriter Fran Drescher was born.
  • In 1960, The Flintstones premiered on television. It was the first animated sitcom created by Hanna-Barbera.
  • In 1961, actor, director, and producer Eric Stoltz was born.
  • In 1964, Italian actress and fashion model Monica Bellucci was born.
  • In 1967, the BBC Light Programme, Third Programme, and Home Service were replaced with BBC Radio 2, 3, and 4, respectively. BBC Radio 1 was also launched.
  • In 1975, French-American actress and singer Marion Cotillard was born.
  • In 1977, because of NASA budget cuts and dwindling power reserves, the Apollo program’s ALSEP experiment packages left on the Moon were shut down.
  • In 1982, actress Lacey Chabert was born.
  • In 1984, Murder, She Wrote premiered on television.
  • In 1992, actor and singer Ezra Miller was born.
  • In 1999, the Tokaimura nuclear accident caused the deaths of two technicians in Japan’s second-worst nuclear accident.

 

September 30th is International Translation Day, an international observance celebrated every year on the feast of St. Jerome, the Bible translator who is considered the patron saint of translators.

The celebrations have been promoted by the International Federation of Translators (FIT) since it was established in 1953. In 1991, FIT launched the idea of an officially recognized International Translation Day to show solidarity of the worldwide translation community. It was an effort to promote the translation profession in different countries, and not necessarily only in Christian ones. It is a profession that is becoming increasingly essential in the era of progressing globalization.

 

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 – September 29

September 29, 2020
Day 273 of 366

 

September 29th is the 273rd day of the year. It is Inventors’ Day in Argentina.

 

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Coffee Day and VFW Day. The coordination is superb.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1829, the Metropolitan Police of London, later also known as the Met, was founded. Their iconic police boxes were introduced by Met surveyor and architect Gilbert MacKenzie Trench that same year.
  • In 1901, Italian-American physicist and academic Enrico Fermi was born. He was the creator of the world’s first nuclear reactor, the Chicago Pile-1. He has been called the “architect of the nuclear age” and the “architect of the atomic bomb”. He was one of very few physicists to excel in both theoretical physics and experimental physics, and was awarded the 1938 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on induced radioactivity by neutron bombardment and for the discovery of transuranium elements. He made significant contributions to the development of statistical mechanics, quantum theory, and nuclear and particle physics.
  • In 1904, actress Greer Garson was born.
  • In 1907, the cornerstone was laid at the Cathedral Church of Saint Peter and Saint Paul in Washington, D.C. It would be better known as the Washington National Cathedral. Construction was completed on this same day in 1990.
  • In 1913, actor Trevor Howard was born.
  • In 1935, singer-songwriter and pianist Jerry Lee Lewis was born.
  • In 1939, actor Larry Linville was born. He was Major Frank Burns on M*A*S*H.
  • In 1942, actress and singer Madeline Khan was born.
  • Also in 1942, actor Ian McShane was born.
  • In 1944, composer and producer Mike Post was born. If you watched television in the 1980s and 1990s, you know his work.
  • In 1948, Hamlet premiered at the Park Avenue Cinema. It starred and was directed by Sir Laurence Olivier.
  • In 1954, the convention establishing CERN (the European Organization for Nuclear Research) was signed.
  • Also in 1954, actress Cindy Morgan was born.
  • Also in 1954, A Star is Born starring Judy Garland and James Mason premiered.
  • In 1957, the Kyshtym disaster occurred, becoming the third-worst nuclear accident ever recorded. The explosion spread hot particles over more than 20,000 square miles in the Soviet Union.
  • In 1969, actress and model Erika Eleniak was born. Most know her from Baywatch, but I know her as the girl that Elliott kissed in E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.
  • In 1975, WGPR of Detroit, Michigan became the first black-owned-and-operated television station in the United States.
  • Also in 1975, Sharon Dahlonega Bush became American television’s first African American weathercaster.
  • In 1980, actor and singer Zachary Levi was born.
  • In 1985, MacGyver premiered on television.
  • In 1988, NASA launched the Space Shuttle Discovery on STS-26, the first mission since the Challenger disaster.
  • In 2004, the asteroid 4179 Toutatis passed within four lunar distances of Earth.
  • In 2007, Calder Hall, the world’s first commercial nuclear power station, was demolished in a controlled explosion. It was opened in 1956 and was closed in 2003 after 47 years of operation.

 

September 29th is World Heart Day, an observance started by the World Heart Federation in 2000 to inform people around the globe that heart disease and stroke are the world’s leading causes of death.

The World Heart Federation (WHF) is a nongovernmental organization based in Geneva, Switzerland. In 1978 the International Society of Cardiology merged with the International Cardiology Federation (which had been founded in 1970) to form the International Society and Federation of Cardiology. This body changed its name in 1998 to the World Heart Federation. The Federation hosts the World Congress of Cardiology.

 

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 – September 28

September 28, 2020
Day 272 of 366

 

September 28th is the 272nd day of the year. It is Freedom from Hunger Day, an event started in 2006 to increase awareness about global hunger and promote Freedom from Hunger’s empowerment of women around the world.

 

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Drink Beer Day, National Good Neighbor Day, National Strawberry Cream Pie Day, National North Carolina Day, and National Family Day (typically observed on the fourth Monday in September).

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1836, English plumber Thomas Crapper was born. While he didn’t invent the modern toilet, he did hold nine patents, three of them for water closet improvements such as the floating ballcock. He also improved the S-bend plumbing trap in 1880 by inventing the U-bend.

Of note, it has often been claimed in popular culture that crap, a slang term for human feces, originated with Thomas Crapper because of his association with lavatories. One common version is that American servicemen stationed in England during World War I saw his name on cisterns and used it as army slang.

The word crap is actually of Middle English origin and predates any application to bodily waste. Most likely, it comes from the combination of two older words: the Dutch krappen (to pluck off, cut off, or separate) and the Old French crappe (siftings, waste or rejected matter, from the medieval Latin crappa).

In English, it was used to refer to chaff and also to weeds or other rubbish. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the first recorded application to bodily waste was in 1846, 10 years after Crapper was born, referencing a crapping ken. That was a term for a privy, where ken meant a house.

Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming… 

  • In 1868, English writer Evelyn Beatrice Hall was born. She was best known for her biography of Voltaire and wrote under the pseudonym S. G. Tallentyre.
  • In 1889, the General Conference on Weights and Measures (CGPM) defined the length of a meter.
  • In 1912, Corporal Frank S. Scott of the United States Army became the first enlisted man to die in an airplane crash.
  • In 1925, computer scientist Seymour Cray was born. The “Father of Supercomputing”, he founded the CRAY Computer Company.
  • In 1928, Alexander Fleming noticed a bacteria-killing mold growing in his laboratory, discovering what later became known as penicillin.
  • In 1934, French actress Brigitte Bardot was born.
  • In 1951, CBS made the first color televisions available for sale to the general public, but the product was discontinued less than a month later.
  • In 1968, English-Australian actress and producer Naomi Watts was born.
  • In 1987, Star Trek: The Next Generation premiered on television.
  • In 1991, the Strategic Air Command stood down from alert all ICBMs scheduled for deactivation under START I, as well as its strategic bomber force.
  • In 2008, Falcon 1 became the first privately developed liquid-fuel ground-launched vehicle to put a payload into orbit.
  • In 2018, on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, the international project Tree of Peace was established. One of the trees was planted personally by Zuzana Čaputová, President of the Slovak Republic.

 

September 28th is the International Day for Universal Access to Information. Initially known as Access to Information Day, it was designated by the UNESCO General Conference. It was inaugurated in November 2015 and was first held in 2016.

The day had been recognized as International Right to Know Day since 2002, and it was developed by international civil society advocates beginning in 2012. The UNESCO resolution that created the day was heavily driven by African civil society groups seeking greater information transparency.

 

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 – September 27

September 27, 2020
Day 271 of 366

 

September 27th is the 271st day of the year. It is National Gay Men’s HIV/AIDS Awareness Day in the United States.

 

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Chocolate Milk Day, National Crush a Can Day, National Corned Beef Hash Day, National Scarf Day, and National Gold Star Mother’s Day (typically observed on the last Sunday in September).

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1822, Jean-François Champollion announced that he had deciphered the Rosetta Stone.
  • In 1825, the world’s first public railway to use steam locomotives, the Stockton and Darlington Railway, was ceremonially opened.
  • In 1908, production of the Model T automobile began at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit, Michigan.
  • In 1920, actor William Conrad was born.
  • In 1928, the Republic of China was recognized by the United States.
  • In 1932, actor Roger C. Carmel was born.
  • In 1934, actor and advertising spokesman Wilford Brimley was born.
  • In 1947, Scottish actor, director, and screenwriter Denis Lawson was born. He portrayed pilot Wedge Antilles in the Star Wars films.
  • In 1954, The Tonight Show premiered with host Steve Allen.
  • In 1956, United States Air Force Captain Milburn G. Apt became the first person to exceed Mach 3. Shortly thereafter, the Bell X-2 went out of control and Captain Apt was killed.
  • In 1962, Rachel Carson’s book Silent Spring was published, inspiring an environmental movement and the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency.
  • In 1970, actress Tamara Taylor was born.
  • In 1982, actress Anna Camp was born.
  • In 1998, the Google internet search engine was launched (based on a retroactive claim).
  • In 2007, NASA launched the Dawn probe to the asteroid belt.
  • In 2008, CNSA astronaut Zhai Zhigang became the first Chinese person to perform a spacewalk.

 

Since 1980, the United Nations World Tourism Organization has celebrated World Tourism Day.

The purpose of this day is to raise awareness surrounding the role of tourism within the international community and to demonstrate how it affects social, cultural, political, and economic values worldwide.

The date was chosen since the Statutes of the UNWTO were adopted on that day in 1970. Their adoption was considered a milestone in global tourism.

 

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 – September 26

September 26, 2020
Day 270 of 366

 

September 26th is the 270th day of the year. It is Dominion Day in New Zealand. It commemorates the granting of Dominion status – a constitutional term of art used to signify a semi-independent Commonwealth realm – but the holiday goes generally unobserved in the country.

 

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Compliance Officer Day, National Dumpling Day, National Johnny Appleseed Day, National Shamu the Whale Day, National Pancake Day, and National Situational Awareness Day.

A batch of events are commemorated on the last Saturday of September: National Public Lands Day, Save Your Photos Day, National Family Health and Fitness Day USA, and National Ghost Hunting Day. Two others are observed on the fourth Saturday of September: National Seat Check Saturday and National Hunting and Fishing Day. Finally, National Singles Day is typically observed on the Saturday of Singles Week.

It’s a busy day.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1580, Sir Francis Drake finished his circumnavigation of the Earth.
  • In 1774, gardener and environmentalist John Chapman was born. He was better known as Johnny Appleseed.
  • In 1789, George Washington appointed Thomas Jefferson as the first United States Secretary of State.
  • In 1849, Russian physiologist and physician Ivan Pavlov was born. A Nobel Prize laureate, he is primarily known for his working classical conditioning, particularly with ringing bells and salivating dogs.
  • In 1888, English poet, playwright, critic, and Nobel Prize laureate T. S. Eliot was born.
  • In 1898, pianist and composer George Gershwin was born.
  • In 1905, Albert Einstein published the third of his Annus Mirabilis papers, introducing the special theory of relativity.
  • In 1932, actor Richard Herd was born.
  • In 1933, as gangster Machine Gun Kelly surrendered to the FBI, he shouted out, “Don’t shoot, G-Men!” That later became a nickname for FBI agents.
  • In 1942, actor Kent McCord was born.
  • In 1944, English television host Anne Robinson was born. She has a talent for finding the weakest link.
  • In 1948, English-Australian singer-songwriter and actress Olivia Newton-John was born.
  • In 1949, a groundbreaking ceremony for the Hollywood sign was held in Hollywood, Los Angeles. The old Hollywoodland sign was torn down and replaced with the current sign which has become a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument.
  • In 1956, actress Linda Hamilton was born.
  • In 1962, The Beverly Hillbillies premiered.
  • In 1964, Gilligan’s Island premiered.
  • In 1968, Hawaii Five-O premiered.
  • In 1969, Abbey Road, the last recorded album by The Beatles, was released.
  • In 1973, Concorde made its first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic in record-breaking time.
  • In 1982, Knight Rider premiered.
  • In 2008, Swiss pilot and inventor Yves Rossy became the first person to fly a jet engine-powered wing across the English Channel.
  • In 2010, Downton Abbey premiered.

 

In 1983, the nuclear early-warning system of the Soviet Union reported the launch of 5 intercontinental ballistic missiles from bases in the United States.

Soviet Air Force officer Stanislav Petrov identified a report of an incoming nuclear missile as a computer error and not an American first strike. His decision is seen as having prevented a retaliatory nuclear attack against the United States and its NATO allies, which would have resulted in an immediate and irrevocable escalation to full-scale nuclear war.

The false alarms were caused by a rare alignment of sunlight on high-altitude clouds and the satellites’ Molniya orbits. The error was later corrected by cross-referencing a geostationary satellite. The system had indeed malfunctioned.

 

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 – September 25

September 25, 2020
Day 269 of 366

 

September 25th is the 269th day of the year. In France, it is the Day of National Recognition for the Harkis. Harki is the generic term for native Muslim Algerians who served as auxiliaries in the French Army during the Algerian War of Independence from 1954 to 1962. They are regarded as traitors in Algeria and thousands died after the war in reprisals despite the Évian Accords ceasefire and amnesty stipulations.

 

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Quesadilla Day (Dia de la Quesadilla), National One-Hit Wonder Day, National Comic Book Day, National Lobster Day, National Tune-Up Day, National Research Administrator Day, Math Storytelling Day, and National BRAVE DAY (typically observed on the fourth Friday in September).

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 275, the Roman Senate chose an emperor for the last time. They elected 75-year-old Marcus Claudius Tacitus.
  • In 1237, England and Scotland signed the Treaty of York, establishing the location of their common border.
  • In 1690, Publick Occurrences Both Forreign and Domestick, the first newspaper to appear in the Americas, was published for the first and only time.
  • In 1789, the United States Congress passed twelve constitutional amendments. Ten of them became the Bill of Rights. The eleventh, the Congressional Apportionment Amendment, was never ratified. The twelfth was the Congressional Compensation Amendment, and was largely forgotten until 1982, when Gregory Watson, a 19-year-old sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote a paper for a government class in which he claimed that the amendment could still be ratified. It became the Twenty-Seventh Amendment on May 5, 1992, completing a record-setting ratification period of 202 years, 7 months, and 10 days.
  • In 1890, the United States Congress established Sequoia National Park.
  • In 1897, novelist, short story writer, and Nobel Prize laureate William Faulkner was born. Despite the best efforts of people who have misspelled my name throughout my lifetime, we’re not related.
  • In 1929, broadcast journalist Barbara Walters was born. She was the first female nightly network news anchor.
  • In 1930, author, poet, illustrator, and songwriter Shel Silverstein was born.
  • In 1936, toy creator and author Ken Forsse was born. He created Teddy Ruxpin, a bear that speaks by way of an audio cassette.
  • In 1944, actor and producer Michael Douglas was born.
  • In 1951, actor, singer, and producer Mark Hamill was born. He really needs no introduction.
  • In 1952, actor, producer, and activist Christopher Reeve was born. He made us believe that a man could fly.
  • In 1956, TAT-1 was inaugurated. It was the first submarine transatlantic telephone cable system.
  • In 1961, actress Heather Locklear was born.
  • In 1964, Irish actress and singer Maria Doyle Kennedy was born.
  • In 1968, actor, producer, and rapper Will Smith was born.
  • In 1969, Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones was born.
  • In 1977, about 4,200 people took part in the first running of the Chicago Marathon.
  • In 1983, actor, rapper, producer, and screenwriter Donald Glover was born.
  • In 1992, NASA launched the Mars Observer. Eleven months later, the probe would fail while preparing for orbital insertion, likely due to a rupture of the fuel pressurization tank in the spacecraft’s propulsion system.
  • In 2018, Bill Cosby was sentenced to three to ten years in prison for aggravated sexual assault.

 

Since September 25th is Math Storytelling Day, I wanted to share a life lesson brought to you by mathematical proof. This is one that I remember seeing around 25 years ago, but it came up again recently thanks to Darin Bush.

But that’s not right, is it? How can 1 be equal to 2?

Where is the lie?

This is a story about the truth being in the details. Every mathematical operation that was conducted in the “proof” is legitimate, but the obscuring the simple details is what leads us to the wrong conclusion.

Specifically, since A = 1 and B = 1, (A – B) = 0. One fundamental truth in mathematics is that you can never divide by zero.

The reason for that is that the expression a/0 has no meaning. There is no number that, when multiplied by 0, will yield a (assuming that a ≠ 0). Additionally, since any number multiplied by zero is zero, the expression 0/0 is undefined.

So, in every case, division by zero is not permitted. While the operation of dividing by (A – B) is perfectly legal, once we assigned the value to those variables, it broke the proof.

In this case, the wrong conclusion is just tricking people with math. In the real world, misinterpreting or deliberately misleading people about simple facts can cause projects to fail or allow people to harm others.

The moral of the story is that we should always be ready to verify what people tell us. Don’t accept everything as reality just because it’s on the internet or comes from an authority. Just because someone says it’s true doesn’t mean that it really it.

Always remain skeptical, my friends, and always be ready to learn.

Happy Math Storytelling 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 – September 24

September 24, 2020
Day 268 of 366

 

September 24th is the 268th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Guinea-Bissau as they celebrate their separation from Portugal in 1973.

It is also Heritage Day in South Africa, Mahidol Day in Thailand, Republic Day in Trinidad and Tobago, and New Caledonia Day in (you guessed it) New Caledonia.

 

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Cherries Jubilee Day, National Punctuation Day, and Schwenkfelder Thanksgiving.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1761, German composer and conductor Friedrich Ludwig Æmilius Kunzen (often shortened to F.L.Æ. Kunzen) was born.
  • In 1789, the United States Congress passed the Judiciary Act, creating the office of the Attorney General and federal judiciary system, as well as ordering the composition of the Supreme Court.
  • In 1883, businessman Franklin Clarence Mars was born. He founded Mars, Incorporated, home to Mars bars, Milky Way bars, M&M’s, Skittles, Snickers, and Twix (among various other products for humans and pets).
  • In 1890, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially renounced polygamy. The 1890 Manifesto (also known as the Woodruff Manifesto or the Anti-polygamy Manifesto), was a response to mounting anti-polygamy pressure from the United States Congress, which by 1890 had disincorporated the church, escheated its assets to the federal government, and imprisoned many prominent polygamist Mormons. The Manifesto was canonized as Official Declaration 1, which mainstream Mormons consider as being prompted by divine revelation, but was rejected by Mormon fundamentalists.
  • In 1896, novelist and short story writer F. Scott Fitzgerald was born.
  • In 1906, United States President Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Devils Tower in Wyoming as the nation’s first National Monument.
  • Also in 1906, racial tensions exacerbated by rumors lead to the Atlanta Race Riot. Armed white mobs attacked African Americans based on newspaper reports that four white women had been raped (in separate incidents) by African American men. Two African Americans were later indicted by a grand jury for raping Ethel Lawrence and her aunt. The violence did not end until the Georgia National Guard was called in, and the Atlanta Police Department and some Guardsmen were accused of further violence in quelling the riots. Local histories by whites ignored the riot for decades, but when the riots were publicly acknowledged on the 100th anniversary, the Atlanta riot was made part of the state’s curriculum for public schools.
  • In 1929, Jimmy Doolittle performed the first flight without a window, proving that full instrument flying from take off to landing was possible.
  • In 1930, astronaut John W. Young was born.
  • In 1936, puppeteer, director, producer, and screenwriter Jim Henson was born. He created The Muppets and countless childhood memories.

“Watch out for each other. Love everyone and forgive everyone, including yourself. Forgive your anger. Forgive your guilt. Your shame. Your sadness. Embrace and open up your love, your joy, your truth, and most especially your heart.”

  • In 1948, the Honda Motor Company was founded.
  • Also in 1948, Canadian-American actor and screenwriter Phil Hartman was born.
  • In 1957, President Eisenhower sent the 101st Airborne Division to Little Rock, Arkansas, to enforce desegregation surrounding the Little Rock Nine.
  • In 1959, puppeteer Steve Whitmire was born.
  • In 1960, USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was launched.
  • In 1968, 60 Minutes premiered on television.
  • In 1977, The Love Boat premiered.
  • In 2014, the Mars Orbiter Mission made India the first Asian nation to reach Mars orbit, and the first nation in the world to do so in its first attempt.
  • In 2019, an impeachment inquiry was initiated by the United States House of Representatives against President Donald Trump. He was formally impeached on December 18, 2019, but was acquitted in the subsequent Senate trial.

 

Since September 24th is National Punctuation Day, I thought it would be appropriate to take a moment for my favorite punctuation mark: The interrobang.

Also known as the interabang, which doesn’t sound nearly as cool as interrobang, the punctuation mark was first proposed by Martin K. Speckter in 1962. It’s an unconventional punctuation mark intended to combine the functions of the question mark and the exclamation point.

It is formally represented as ‽, but is often represented by the simple combinations of ?!, !?, ?!?, and !?!. The name comes from the combination of interrogatio (Latin for “rhetorical question” or “cross-examination”) and “bang” (printer and programmer jargon for the exclamation point).

As the head of an advertising agency, Martin Speckter believed that advertisements would look better if copywriters conveyed surprised rhetorical questions using a single mark, so he proposed the concept of a single punctuation mark in an article in the magazine TYPEtalks.

When he solicited potential names from the magazine’s readers, contenders included exclamaquestQuizDing, rhet, and exclarotive. Thankfully, interrobang won out.

In 1965, Richard Isbell created the Americana typeface for American Type Founders. He also included the interrobang as one of the characters, and by 1968, an interrobang key was available on some Remington typewriters. The interrobang was in vogue for much of the 1960s, appearing in dictionaries and magazine and newspaper articles.

Most modern fonts do not include the interrobang, but it has not disappeared. Lucida Grande, which is the default font for many UI elements of legacy versions of Apple’s OS X operating system, includes the interrobang. Similarly, Microsoft provides several versions of the interrobang in the Wingdings 2 character set. It is also included in Unicode and several related fonts like Lucida Sans Unicode, Arial Unicode MS, and Calibri. The latter is the default font in the Office 2007, 2010, and 2013 suites, making that beautiful glyph front and center for Office users.

There’s also a reverse and upside version for starting phrases in Spanish, Galician, and Asturian, which use inverted question and exclamation marks. The “inverted interrobang” – less frequently known as the gnaborrentni (spell it backward) – combines ¿ and ¡ into ⸘. In modern practice, however, it’s emphatic ambiguity in Hispanic languages is usually achieved by including both sets of punctuation marks one inside the other. For example, Really!?” translates to ¿¡De verdad!? or ¡¿De verdad?!. Older usage also recommends mixing the punctuation marks such as ¡Verdad? or ¿Verdad!

In further reading about this beauty, I also learned about the Irony Mark, a glyph to indicate irony and sarcasm. Among the oldest and most frequently attested versions is the percontation point, proposed by English printer Henry Denham in the 1580s, and the irony mark, used by Marcellin Jobard and French poet Alcanter de Brahm during the 19th century.

Both of these versions are represented by the backward question mark: “⸮”.

I mean, it’s cool and all, but the percontation point is no interrobang.

 

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 #SJA14: Prisoner of the Judoon

Sarah Jane Adventures: Prisoner of the Judoon
(2 episodes, s03e01, 2009)

 

When law and order collides with body snatching.

Sarah Jane Smith provides a brief overview of her past, leading to how her life on Earth is just as exciting as traveling amongst the stars. She travels to Genetec Systems to interview Mr. Yorke about nanoform technology. She probes the threat they might pose if released into the environment and that the return on investment is not likely to appear. She gets tossed out and laughs about it.

When she returns home, the Bannerman Road Gang sees an orbital re-entry overhead and they ask Mr. Smith about it. He’s been tracking it for 45 minutes, which is who long it took to cross the solar system, and reveals that it is a Judoon craft. UNIT has dispatched to the crash site, but they haven’t found the lifepod that was ejected.

Enter Sarah Jane and the gang.

As they get ready to leave, Rani’s mother Gita asks if Sarah Jane can help her network to get her new flower shop moving. They eventually get to the pod crash site and find a Judoon chasing an escaped prisoner. Sarah Jane explains that the Shadow Proclamation barely acknowledges Earth and have authorized the Judoon to execute anyone who stands in the way of justice.

The Judoon is knocked out by his prisoner. The fugitive escapes as Sarah Jane and the teenagers arrive. They help the Judoon, one Captain Tybo, recover and join the investigation to help minimize the damage as he searches for Androvax the Annihilator, a “Destroyer of Worlds”.

Tybo really lacks in the humor department.

After hearing a young girl scream, Sarah Jane and Clyde try to comfort her while asking Luke and Rani to distract the captain. The girl claims that the “monster” took her mother, but Sarah Jane’s scanner betrays the Androvax. Unfortunately, the fugitive steps out of the girl’s body and into Sarah Jane’s before placing Clyde into a trance.

It seems like Clyde is always getting the whammy.

Captain Tybo figures out that Luke and Rani were distracting him, and he smashes their mobile phones to prevent any further “mistakes”. They track down Clyde, revive him with a spray bottle, and discover that Sarah Jane is now a hostage of a Veil lifeform.

Sarah Jane returns to Bannerman Road and surveys the attic before summoning Mr. Smith. Meanwhile, Tybo commandeers a police car with inadvertently humorous effect and pursues the intruder. While Sarah Jane tries to gauge the depths of Mr. Smith’s programming – we’re reminded that he’s a Xylok, the only remnant of his previous alien identity – the Judoon and our heroes enforce local noise ordinances and finally reach the attic.

The possessed Sarah Jane has moved on, setting her sights on Genetec Systems. Unfortunately, Mr. Smith has been set to self destruct. In sixty seconds, Bannerman Road will be nothing more than a crater.

Oh, and Rani’s parents? They’ve been busy using guerilla tactics to promote Bloomin’ Lovely, and they’ve targeted Genetec Systems.

Luke uses logic to disable the self-destruct, reasoning that the detonation would harm the Earth. Mr. Smith directs the team to Genetec System Labs after detailing the Roswell crash of 1947 and a base called Dreamland.

(More on that on this site in a couple of months.)

Androvax plans on using the nanoforms to build a spacecraft to escape Earth. The fugitive doesn’t care what happens after that, so the nanoforms will be unleashed on the planet. As the building enters a security lockdown, Gita and Haresh use the distraction to escape from the guard who detained them.

The Bannerman Road Gang arrives with Tybo, but decide to lock the Judoon in a shielded room to prevent him from harming Sarah Jane (or Rani’s parents) during his hunt for Androvax. Meanwhile, Mr. Yorke ends up getting entranced by the Androvax after he lifts the lockdown.

Oh, and then there’s the Judoon retrieval force that just arrived and transmitted reinforcements to Genetec. That complicates matters.

The team finds Sarah Jane and, in the process of sparring with the Androvax, Luke is captured. Androvax attacks Clyde and Rani with the nanoforms, but they stun the wee beasties with lowered temperatures via convenient fire extinguishers.

Captain Tybo is released by the Judoon reinforcements in a clever subversion of the lawful good personality trope, and it’s almost Clyde and Rani’s undoing when they are threatened with execution for violating several regulations. Luckily, they are fast runners.

Androvax takes Luke to the now-complete spacecraft. Sarah Jane takes advantage of a momentary distraction to fight for control of her body while Clyde and Rani run aboard. Luke steals the power core and bargains for his mother, insisting that he’ll let Androvax leave if Sarah Jane is set free. Androvax agrees, but is captured by the Judoon moments later.

As the nanoforms begin to devour the building, Luke is able to use the spacecraft to send a shutdown command. Rani’s parents are safe and Androvax is in custody. Tybo takes the circumstances into account and commutes the sentence against Rani and Clyde. Instead, they are confined to the planet permanently.

Sarah Jane and the Bannerman Road Gang arrive home as the spacecraft rockets to the stars. Rani’s parents arrive moments later, promising to tell a story that the group will not want to miss.

 

The one thing that I really enjoyed in this story was the humor, particularly with the Judoon acting as an overexaggerated straight man. Which is something considering how much the Judoon really freak me out as villains.

When it comes to any other villain, be it the Daleks or the Cybermen or even (most times) the Master, the evil is obvious. These villains have a plan and it’s a fairly direct path for the forces of good to stop it. The Judoon, on the other hand, are lawful good characters to the extreme, and that’s what makes them dangerous.

Down to basics, the Judoon believe that justice is absolute. There’s good and there’s evil and there are no shades of gray. Anyone who stands in the way of justice – of the perceived good – is the enemy, and thus, disposable.

Since the rest of the universe (dare I say, the multiverse) operates in a spectrum between the light and dark, this absolute lawful good mentality makes the Judoon one of Doctor Who‘s scariest villains for me.

That’s what makes stories with them so good in my estimation.

There’s also a nice subversion of the lawful good when the reinforcements have to rescue Captain Tybo. I laughed out loud at that moment.

Other highlights include the main cast. First, the teenagers really carry this story from bow to stern. Second, evil Sarah Jane is cheeeesy as hell, and that is magnificent. I just hope she had plenty of lozenges because that voice had to hurt after a while.

The one downside I can see going forward is Clyde’s recap. If it’s attached to every episode going forward, it’s going to get tiresome.

 

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

 

 

 

UP NEXT – Sarah Jane Adventures: The Mad Woman in the Attic

 

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 – September 23

September 23, 2020
Day 267 of 366

 

September 23rd is the 267th day of the year. It is Kyrgyz Language Day in Kyrgyzstan

 

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Checkers/Dogs in Politics Day, National Great American Pot Pie Day, National Snack Stick Day, National Teal Talk Day, and Innergize Day (typically observed on the day after the Autumn Equinox).

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1642, the first commencement exercises occurred at Harvard College.
  • In 1846, astronomers Urbain Le Verrier, John Couch Adams, and Johann Gottfried Galle collaborated on the discovery of Neptune.
  • In 1889, Nintendo Koppai – later known as Nintendo Company, Limited – was founded by Fusajiro Yamauchi to produce and market the playing card game Hanafuda.
  • Also in 1889, journalist and publisher Walter Lippmann was born. He co-founded The New Republic.
  • In 1911, pilot Earle Ovington made the first official airmail delivery in America under the authority of the United States Post Office Department.
  • In 1913, Roland Garros of France became the first to fly in an airplane across the Mediterranean. His route was from St. Raphael, France to Bizerte, Tunisia.
  • In 1930, singer-songwriter, pianist, and actor Ray Charles was born.
  • In 1949, singer-songwriter and guitarist Bruce Springsteen was born.
  • In 1956, author, actor, and screenwriter Peter David was born.
  • In 1957, actress Rosalind Chao was born.
  • In 1959, actor, singer, and voice artist Jason Alexander was born.
  • In 1961, astronaut William C. McCool was born.
  • In 1962, the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts opened in New York City.
  • Also in 1962, The Jetsons premiered. It was ABC’s first color television series.
  • In 1977, Cheryl Ladd replaced Farrah Fawcett on Charlie’s Angels.
  • In 1978, actor Anthony Mackie was born.
  • In 1985, comedian Hasan Minhaj was born.
  • In 2002, the first public version of the web browser Mozilla Firefox was released. It was known as “Phoenix 0.1”.

 

September 23rd is Celebrate Bisexuality Day.

Also known as Bisexual Pride Day, Bi Visibility Day, CBD, Bisexual Pride and Bi Visibility Day, and Bisexuality+ Day, it is a call to recognize and celebrate bisexual history, bisexual community and culture, and all the bisexual people in our lives.

The idea was born when the oldest national bisexuality organization in the United States, BiNet USA, was founded in 1990. Originally called the North American Multicultural Bisexual Network (NAMBN), it had its first meeting at the first National Bisexual Conference in America in San Francisco in 1990. More than 450 people attended from 20 states and 5 countries, and the mayor of San Francisco sent a proclamation “commending the bisexual rights community for its leadership in the cause of social justice.” June 23, 1990, was declared Bisexual Pride Day.

Many individuals and organizations include the “+” sign in the celebration to include the broader bi+ community of people who prefer to use terms to describe their sexual orientation such as pansexual, polysexual, omnisexual, fluid, or queer.

On September 18, 2012, Berkeley, California became the first American city to officially proclaim a day recognizing bisexuals. In 2013, on Celebrate Bisexuality Day, the White House held a closed-door meeting with almost 30 bisexual advocates to discuss issues of specific importance to community. It was the first bi-specific event ever hosted by any Presidential administration.

 

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.