The Thing About Today – October 16

October 16, 2020
Day 290 of 366

October 16th is the 290th day of the year. It is World Food Day, an international day honoring the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945. The day is celebrated widely by many other organizations concerned with food security, including the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Sports Day, National Liqueur Day, National Dictionary Day, Global Cat Day, Department Store Day, and Boss’s Day (or National Boss’s Day, held annually on October 16th unless the date falls on a weekend. If so, it’s the closest workday.).

Historical items of note:

  • In 1793, Queen Marie Antoinette was executed.
  • In 1841, Queen’s University was founded in the Province of Canada.
  • In 1843, William Rowan Hamilton invented quaternions, a three-dimensional system of complex numbers.
  • In 1847, Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre was published in London.
  • In 1854, Irish playwright, novelist, and poet Oscar Wilde was born.
  • In 1869, Girton College, Cambridge was founded, becoming England’s first residential college for women.
  • In 1909, William Howard Taft and Porfirio Díaz held the first summit between presidents of the United States and Mexico. They narrowly escaped assassination.
  • In 1923, The Walt Disney Company was founded.
  • In 1925, English-American actress, singer, and producer Angela Lansbury was born. She is well-known for her portrayal of Jessica Fletcher, mystery writer (and, perhaps, the most successful fictional serial killer ever) on Murder, She Wrote.
  • In 1936, English actor and screenwriter Peter Bowles was born.
  • In 1940, actor and producer Barry Corbin was born.
  • In 1950, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis was published.
  • In 1962, President Kennedy was informed of photos taken on October 14 by a U-2 spy plane showing nuclear missiles. The crisis would last for the infamous thirteen days starting from this point.
  • In 1964, China detonated its first nuclear weapon.
  • In 1975, actress, director, and producer Kellie Martin was born.
  • In 1981, actress and writer Brea Grant was born.
  • In 2002, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina opened in Egypt, commemorating the ancient library of Alexandria.

October 16th is World Anesthesia Day (or World Anaesthesia Day or Ether Day), an annual event commemorating the first successful demonstration of diethyl ether anesthesia on October 16, 1846.

This event ranks as one of the most significant in the history of medicine. It took place in an operating theater (now known as the Ether Dome) at the Massachusetts General Hospital, home of the Harvard School of Medicine. The discovery made it possible for patients to obtain the benefits of surgical treatment without the pain associated with an operation.

Special events have been held to commemorate the date since at least 1903. Celebrations are driven by the World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiologists with over 134 societies representing anesthesiologists from over 150 countries.

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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