The Thing About Today – October 17

October 17, 2020
Day 291 of 366

October 17th is the 291st day of the year. It is the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, an international observance to recognize the struggles of the impoverished and to make their voices heard by governments and citizens.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Edge Day, National Mulligan Day, National Pasta Day, Black Poetry Day, and National Sweetest Day (which is typically observed on the third Saturday in October).

Looking into National Edge Day, it is apparently a day about abstention from drugs, alcohol, and recreational drugs. It is linked to the Straight Edge movement, which is a subculture of the hardcore punk community. The movement started in the 1980s, but petered out around the turn of the century. When I was in high school, they had a negative reputation and were regarded as militant and violent. I don’t have a lot of information about the community as we enter the 2020s.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1604, Kepler’s Supernova was observed in the constellation of Ophiuchus. It is the most recent supernova in our galaxy to have been unquestionably observed by the naked eye, occurring no farther than 20,000 light-years (or 6 kiloparsecs) from Earth.
  • In 1771, the opera Ascanio in Alba premiered in Milan. It was composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at the age of 15. It is a pastoral opera in two parts to an Italian libretto by Giuseppe Parini, commissioned by the Empress Maria Theresa for the wedding of her son, Archduke Ferdinand Karl, to Maria Beatrice d’Este.
  • In 1827, Vincenzo Bellini’s third opera, Il pirata, premiered at Milan.
  • In 1888, Thomas Edison filed a patent for the Optical Phonograph.
  • In 1907, the Marconi Company began the first commercial transatlantic wireless service.
  • In 1914, author and illustrator Jerry Siegel was born. He was the co-creator of Superman.
  • In 1915, playwright and screenwriter Arthur Miller was born.
  • In 1918, actress, singer and dancer Rita Hayworth was born.
  • In 1919, RCA was incorporated as the Radio Corporation of America.
  • In 1931, Al Capone was convicted of income tax evasion.
  • In 1933, Albert Einstein fled Nazi Germany and moved to the United States.
  • In 1939, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington was released.
  • In 1947, singer-songwriter, actor, and director Michael McKean was born.
  • In 1948, American soldier and author Robert Jordan was born. He was the creator of The Wheel of Time fantasy series.
  • Also in 1948, Canadian-American actress Margot Kidder was born.
  • Also in 1948, actor and comedian George Wendt was born.
  • In 1956, the first commercial nuclear power station was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in Sellafield, England.
  • Also in 1956, physician, academic, and astronaut Mae Jemison was born. She was the first black woman to travel into space, doing so as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour during mission STS-47, which was the fiftieth mission of the Space Shuttle program.
  • In 1959, actor Dolph Lundgren was born.
  • In 1960, puppeteer Kevin Clash was born.
  • In 1966, English actor, screenwriter and novelist Mark Gatiss was born.
  • In 1968, the film Bullitt was released.
  • In 1969, the Caravaggio painting Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence was stolen from the Oratory of Saint Lawrence in Palermo.
  • In 1979, Mother Teresa is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. History having 20/20 hindsight, she really did not deserve it.
  • Also in 1979, the Department of Education Organization Act created the United States Department of Education.
  • In 1983, actress Felicity Jones was born.
  • In 2005, The Colbert Report, an American satirical news television program and talk show hosted by Stephen Colbert, premiered on Comedy Central.
  • In 2018, the recreational use of cannabis was legalized in Canada.
  • Also in 2018, Caroll Spinney retired from Sesame Street after 50 years of portraying characters like Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch.

October 17th is Digital Society Day in India.

On October 17, 2000, the Information Technology Act 2000 was notified. It was the first law of the digital society in India and gave, for the first time in the country, legal recognition for electronic documents. It also provided a legally recognized method of authentication of electronic documents by means of digital signatures.

Additionally, the act recognized cyber crimes and prescribed a fast track grievance redressal mechanism for them.

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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