The Thing About Today – October 18

October 18, 2020
Day 292 of 366

October 18th is the 292nd day of the year. It is the Independence Day in Azerbaijan as they celebrate their separation from the Soviet Union in 1991.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Exascale Day, International Legging Day, National Chocolate Cupcake Day, and National No Beard Day.

National Exascale Day celebrates the scientists and researchers who make breakthrough discoveries in medicine, materials sciences, energy, and beyond with the help of some of the fastest supercomputers in the world. Exascale means one quintillion computations per second, written as 1018. Hence, October 18th as the day for the celebration.

Historical items of note:

  • In 320, Greek philosopher Pappus of Alexandria observed an eclipse of the Sun and wrote a commentary on The Great Astronomer (Almagest).
  • In 1648, Boston Shoemakers formed the first American labor organization.
  • In 1851, Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick was first published as The Whale by Richard Bentley of London.
  • In 1867, the United States took possession of Alaska after purchasing it from Russia for $7.2 million. The day is celebrated annually in the state as Alaska Day.
  • In 1922, The British Broadcasting Company (later the British Broadcasting Corporation) was founded by a consortium in an effort to establish a nationwide network of radio transmitters to provide a national broadcasting service.
  • In 1926, singer-songwriter and guitarist Chuck Berry was born.
  • In 1929, the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council overruled the Supreme Court of Canada in Edwards v. Canada when it declared that women are considered “Persons” under Canadian law. The anniversary is known as Persons Day.
  • In 1938, actress Dawn Wells was born.
  • In 1946, Canadian composer, conductor, and producer Howard Shore was born.
  • In 1947, actor Joe Morton was born.
  • In 1951, actress and producer Pam Dawber was born.
  • In 1952, director, producer, and screenwriter Chuck Lorre was born.
  • In 1954, Texas Instruments announced the first transistor radio.
  • In 1960, Belgian martial artist, actor, and producer, and screenwriter Jean-Claude Van Damme was born.
  • In 1961, the film adaptation of West Side Story premiered.
  • In 1963, Félicette, a black and white female Parisian stray cat became the first cat launched into space. Félicette survived the flight.
  • In 1967, the Soviet probe Venera 4 reached Venus and became the first spacecraft to measure the atmosphere of another planet.
  • Also in 1967, Walt Disney’s The Jungle Book premiered.
  • In 1979, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began allowing people to have home satellite earth stations without a federal government license.
  • In 1987, actor and singer Zac Efron was born. His first role was as young Simon Tam on Firefly.
  • In 2019, NASA astronauts Jessica Meir and Christina Koch took part in the first all-women spacewalk when they ventured out of the International Space Station to replace a power controller.

October 18th is Necktie Day in Croatia.

The version of the necktie that spread from Europe traces its roots to Croatian mercenaries serving in France during the Thirty Years’ War which happened between 1618 and 1648. These mercenaries wore their traditional small, knotted neckerchiefs which interested Parisians. Because of the difference between the Croatian word for Croats, Hrvati, and the French word, Croates, the garment became known as the cravat (or cravate in French).

The boy-king Louis XIV began wearing a lace cravat around 1646, when he was seven, and set the fashion for French nobility. This sparked a fashion craze in Europe, inspiring both men and women to wear pieces of fabric around their necks, and the lace cravat became known as the jabot. They took a large amount of time and effort to arrange and were tied in place by cravat strings, arranged neatly and tied in a bow.

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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