The Thing About Today – November 24

November 24, 2020
Day 329 of 366

November 24th is the 329th day of the year. It is Lachit Divas in Assam, a state in northeastern India. Lachit Day commemorates the heroism of Lachit Borphukan and the victory of the Assamese army at the Battle of Saraighat, an event that thwarted a drawn-out attempt by Mughal forces under the command of Ramsingh I to take over the Ahom kingdom.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Sardines Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1835, the Texas Provincial Government authorized the creation of a horse-mounted police force called the Texas Rangers. The force is now the Texas Ranger Division of the Texas Department of Public Safety.
  • In 1868, pianist and composer Scott Joplin was born.
  • In 1877, Anna Sewell’s animal welfare novel Black Beauty was published.
  • In 1925, Dutch-Swiss particle accelerator physicist and engineer Simon van der Meer was born. A Nobel Prize laureate, he shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1984 with Carlo Rubbia for contributions to the CERN project which led to the discovery of the W and Z particles, two of the most fundamental constituents of matter.
  • In 1926, Chinese-American physicist and academic Tsung-Dao Lee was born. A Nobel Prize laureate, he is known for his work on parity violation, the Lee Model, particle physics, relativistic heavy ion (RHIC) physics, nontopological solitons, and soliton stars.
  • In 1947, actor Dwight Schultz was born.
  • Also in 1947, the United States House of Representatives Committee on Un-American Activities found the “Hollywood Ten” in contempt because of their refusal to reveal whether they were communists. The group of screenwriters and directors included Alvah Bessie, Herbert Biberman, Lester Cole, Edward Dmytryk, Ring Lardner Jr., John Howard Lawson, Albert Maltz, Samuel Ornitz, Robert Adrian Scott, and Dalton Trumbo.
  • In 1957, actress and producer Denise Crosby was born.
  • In 1962, the influential British satirical television program That Was the Week That Was was first broadcast.
  • In 1965, Scottish actress Shirley Henderson was born.
  • In 1966, English tenor and actor Russell Watson was born.
  • In 1971, during a severe thunderstorm over Washington state, a hijacker calling himself Dan Cooper (also known as D. B. Cooper) parachuted from a Northwest Orient Airlines plane with $200,000 in ransom money. He has never been found.
  • In 1974, Donald Johanson and Tom Gray discovered the 40% complete Australopithecus afarensis skeleton, nicknamed “Lucy” (after The Beatles song “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds”), in the Awash Valley of Ethiopia’s Afar Depression.
  • In 1977, actor Colin Hanks was born.
  • In 1978, actress and producer Katherine Heigl was born.

November 24th is Evolution Day, commemorating the anniversary of the initial publication of On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin in 1859.

Such celebrations have been held for over a century, but the specific term “Evolution Day” is a neologism which was coined prior to 1997. By highlighting Darwin’s contributions to science, the day’s events are used to educate about evolutionary biology.

It is similar to the better-known Darwin Day, the commemoration of his birth on February 12, 1809. It is unrelated to the secularization campaign by the Giordano Bruno Foundation to have the German public holiday of Ascension Day renamed to “Evolutionstag” (Evolution 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.


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