The Thing About Today – June 2

June 2, 2020
Day 154 of 366

 

June 2nd is the 154th day of the year. It is International Sex Workers Day, which honors sex workers and recognizes their often exploited working conditions. The event commemorates the occupation of Église Saint-Nizier in Lyon by more than a hundred sex workers on June 2, 1975, an event that drew attention to their inhumane working conditions. It has been celebrated annually since 1976.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Rotisserie Chicken Day, National Rocky Road Day, National Bubba Day, and National Leave The Office Early Day. That last one is typically observed on June 2nd unless the date falls on a weekend, in which case it is observed on the closest working day.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 455, vandals entered Rome and plundered the city for two weeks.
  • In 1740, French philosopher and politician Marquis de Sade was born.
  • In 1774, the Quartering Act was enacted. It allowed a governor in colonial America to house British soldiers in uninhabited houses, outhouses, barns, or other buildings if suitable quarters are not provided.
  • In 1840, English novelist and poet Thomas Hardy was born.
  • In 1857, English composer and educator Edward Elgar was born.
  • In 1896, Guglielmo Marconi applied for a patent for his wireless telegraph.
  • In 1907, journalist and author Dorothy West was born.
  • In 1910, Charles Rolls, co-founder of Rolls-Royce Limited, became the first man to make a non-stop double crossing of the English Channel by plane.
  • In 1924, United States President Calvin Coolidge signed the Indian Citizenship Act into law. It granted citizenship to all Native Americans born within the territorial limits of the United States.
  • In 1930, astronaut Pete Conrad was born.
  • In 1936, actress Sally Kellerman was born.
  • In 1944, composer and conductor Marvin Hamlisch was born.
  • In 1951, artist, gay rights activist, and designer of the rainbow flag Gilbert Baker was born.
  • In 1953, the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II occurred. She was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and Her Other Realms and Territories & Head of the Commonwealth, and the coronation was the first major international event to be televised.
  • In 1954, actor and producer Dennis Haysbert was born.
  • In 1966, Surveyor 1 landed in Oceanus Procellarum on the Moon, becoming the first United States spacecraft to soft-land on another world.
  • In 1977, actor and producer Zachary Quinto was born.
  • In 1978, actress Nikki Cox was born.
  • In 1979, actress Morena Baccarin was born.
  • In 1982, actress Jewel Staite was born.
  • In 2003, Europe launched its first voyage to another planet. The European Space Agency’s Mars Express probe launched from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan.

 

June 2nd is Decoration Day in Canada.

Decoration Day recognizes veterans of Canada’s military. It began on June 2, 1890, and was originally a form of protest for veterans of the Battle of Ridgeway. They felt that their contributions to the protection of Canada during the Fenian Raids were being overlooked by the government, and they protested by placing decorations at the Canadian Volunteers Monument near Queen’s Park in Toronto on the anniversary of the battle.

It became an annual event and accumulated more participants as the ranks of Canadian veterans grew, including veterans of the Fenian Raids, the North-West Rebellion, the Second Boer War, and the First World War.

This all resulted in Great Britain creating service medals recognizing participants in the pre-First World War Canadian conflicts. Commemoration of Decoration Day became less prominent in the early 1900s, although it returned to some prominence when the First World War began. A Ridgeway monument was created in 1916 and made a National Historic Battlefield in 1921.

In 1931, the Armistice Remembrance Day Act established November 11th, Remembrance Day, as the official day commemorating military service in Canada. Despite that, some recognition of Decoration Day continues each year.

 

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.

 

 

Culture on My Mind – Quarantine Con, Episode VI

Culture on My Mind
June 1, 2020

 

This week’s “can’t let it go” is yet another panel from the Classic Track Irregulars!

Broadcasting from their socially distant quarantine bunkers, the Dragon Con American Sci-Fi Classics Track panelist have returned to speculate about who’s beating who.

Classics Track co-directors Joe Crowe and Gary Mitchel are joined by Deanna Toxopeus and Darin Bush in a short rounds version of Sci-Fighters! We’ve all played this game as geeks: Who would win in a battle of the Enterprise vs. the Millennium Falcon?

 

As before, Joe and Gary will be hosting more of these, so stay tuned to the YouTube channel and the group on Facebook. If you join in live, you can also leave comments and participate in the discussion using StreamYard connected through Facebook.

 

Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

The Thing About Today – June 1

June 1, 2020
Day 153 of 366

 

June 1st is the 153rd day of the year. It is World Milk Day, an international day established by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations to recognize the importance of milk as a global food.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Olive Day, National Heimlich Maneuver Day, National Go Barefoot Day, National Nail Polish Day, National Say Something Nice Day, National Penpal Day, and National Hazelnut Cake Day.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1495, monk John Cor recorded the first known batch of Scotch whisky.
  • In 1779, Benedict Arnold, a general in the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, was court-martialed for malfeasance. He would conspire and change allegiances to Great Britain soon thereafter.
  • In 1890, the United States Census Bureau began using Herman Hollerith’s tabulating machine to count census returns.
  • In 1916, Louis Brandeis became the first Jew appointed to the United States Supreme Court.
  • In 1926, actor, singer, producer, and screenwriter Andy Griffith was born.
  • Also in 1926, model and actress Marilyn Monroe was born.
  • In 1937, actor and producer Morgan Freeman was born.
  • In 1940, actor René Auberjonois was born.
  • Also in 1940, physicist, astronomer, and academic Kip Thorne was born.
  • In 1946, actor Brian Cox was born.
  • In 1947, actor Jonathan Pryce was born.
  • In 1969, actress Teri Polo was born.
  • In 1974, the Heimlich maneuver for rescuing choking victims was published in the journal Emergency Medicine.
  • Also in 1974, singer-songwriter, guitarist, producer, and actress Alanis Morissette was born.
  • In 1977, actress Sarah Wayne Callies was born.
  • In 1978, the first international applications under the Patent Cooperation Treaty were filed.
  • In 1980, Cable News Network (CNN) began broadcasting.
  • In 1988, the European Central Bank was founded in Brussels.
  • In 1996, actor Tom Holland was born.
  • In 2011, Space Shuttle Endeavour made its final landing after 25 flights.

 

June 1st is World Reef Awareness Day.

The event acts as a call to action for consumers, businesses, and organizations to reflect on the delicate ecosystem of our ocean’s coral reefs by bringing together the general public, influencers, and opinion leaders to create active change through education and engagement.

Coral reefs are living communities of individual polyps that excrete a bone-like skeleton. This skeleton forms large rock-like structures that are homes for thousands of other organisms.

In recent years, our most productive reefs have been in decline due to coral bleaching. Death of reefs stems from rising sea temperatures, industrial and plastic pollution, chemical, and unmanaged tourism.

Healthy reefs are essential to plant and fish life, building a lively fishing industry while protecting beaches and coastlines from erosion. Fish and other oceanic animals rely on the protection of the healthy, living reef for spawning season. The reefs also contribute to the viability of the ocean life cycle.

Healthy coral reefs are important for the prosperity of the entire planet.

 

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 – May 31

May 31, 2020
Day 152 of 366

 

May 31st is the 152nd day of the year. It is World No Tobacco Day, an event that informs the public on the dangers of using tobacco, the business practices of tobacco companies, what WHO is doing to fight the tobacco epidemic, and what people around the world can do to claim their right to health and healthy living and to protect future generations.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as Autonomous Vehicle Day, National Save Your Hearing Day, National Speak in Sentences Day, National Macaroon Day, National Utah Day, National Smile Day, and Necrotizing Fasciitis Awareness Day.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1790, the United States enacted its first copyright statute, the Copyright Act of 1790.
  • In 1819, poet, essayist, and journalist Walt Whitman was born.
  • In 1852, Julius Richard Petri was born. He was the German microbiologist who invented the Petri dish.
  • In 1909, the National Negro Committee, the forerunner to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), convened for the first time.
  • In 1911, the RMS Titanic was launched in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
  • In 1922, actor Denholm Elliott was born.
  • In 1930, actor, director, musician, and producer Clint Eastwood was born. He likes to have televised conversations with empty chairs.
  • In 1943, actress Sharon Gless was born.
  • In 1950, director, producer, and screenwriter Jean Chalopin was born. He was the founder of DIC Entertainment.
  • In 1961, actress, director, and producer Lea Thompson was born.
  • In 1965, model, actress, and producer Brooke Shields was born.
  • In 1971, in accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act passed by the United States Congress in 1968, observation of Memorial Day occurred on the last Monday in May for the first time. This was rather than on the traditional Memorial Day of May 30.
  • In 1976, actor Colin Farrell was born.
  • In 2005, Vanity Fair revealed that Mark Felt was “Deep Throat”.
  • In 2013, the asteroid 1998 QE2 and its moon made their closest approach to Earth for the next two centuries.

 

In 1859, the clock tower at the Houses of Parliament, which houses Big Ben, started keeping time.

Big Ben is usually extended to refer to both the clock and the clock tower, however, the tower’s original name was the Clock Tower. It was renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II, Queen of the United Kingdom.

The tower was designed by Augustus Pugin, and when it was completed in 1859, the clock was the largest and most accurate four-faced striking and chiming clock in the world. The tower measures 315 feet in height, with a climb of 334 steps from ground to belfry. The square base is 39 feet on each side and the dials of the clock are 23 feet in diameter.

Big Ben is the largest of the tower’s five bells, weighing in at 13.5 long tons. It was the largest bell in the United Kingdom for 23 years. The origin of the bell’s nickname is up for debate, owning to either Sir Benjamin Hall, who oversaw its installation, or to heavyweight boxing champion Benjamin Caunt.

Four quarter bells chime at 15, 30, and 45 minutes past the hour, as well as just before Big Ben tolls on the hour. The clock uses its original Victorian mechanism with an electric motor as a backup.

The tower is a British cultural icon that is recognized worldwide, representing the United Kingdom and parliamentary democracy. The clock tower has been part of a Grade I listed building since 1970 and a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987.

 

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 – May 30

May 30, 2020
Day 151 of 366

 

May 30th is the 151st day of the year. It is the Day of the Canary Islands, celebrating the anniversary of the first session of the Parliament of the Canary Islands, which was held on May 30, 1983.

It is also World Multiple Sclerosis Day, which is used to bring awareness to Multiple Sclerosis and those who suffer from the disease.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Creativity Day, National Water a Flower Day, National Hole In My Bucket Day, National Mint Julep Day, and Loomis Day.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1431, the 19-year-old Joan of Arc was burned at the stake by an English-dominated tribunal in Rouen, France. The Roman Catholic Church remembers this day as the celebration of Saint Joan of Arc.
  • In 1842, John Francis attempted to murder Queen Victoria as she drove down Constitution Hill in London with Prince Albert.
  • In 1868, Decoration Day was observed in the United States for the first time. The predecessor of the modern Memorial Day, it was ordered by “Commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic” John A. Logan’s proclamation on May 5th.
  • In 1883, a stampede on the recently opened Brooklyn Bridge in New York City killed twelve people.
  • In 1908, voice actor Mel Blanc was born.
  • In 1922, the Lincoln Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C.
  • In 1936, actor Keir Dullea was born.
  • In 1953, actor Colm Meaney was born.
  • In 1958, the remains of two unidentified American servicemen, killed in action during World War II and the Korean War respectively, were buried at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day.
  • In 1962, author, illustrator, and co-creator of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Kevin Eastman was born.
  • In 1971, Mariner 9 was launched. It mapped 70% of the surface of Mars and studied temporal changes in the atmosphere and on the surface of the planet.
  • Also in 1971, singer-songwriter and actress Idina Menzel was born.
  • In 1975, the European Space Agency was established.

 

May 30th is Indian Arrival Day in Trinidad and Tobago. 

Indian Arrival Day is a holiday celebrated on various days in the nations of the Caribbean, Fiji, and Mauritius. It commemorates the arrival of people from the Indian subcontinent to their respective nations as indentured labor brought by European authorities and colonizers.

Trinidad and Tobago was the first country to start this holiday. It was first celebrated in Skinner Park as the East Indian Centenary on May 30, 1945, the one hundredth anniversary of the coming of Indians to Trinidad. The Acting Governor representing the Government of the United Kingdom attended, which indicated the significance of the observance, and other local dignitaries addressed the large crowd. Greetings were also read from Mahatma Gandhi, Lord Wavell, and Colonel Stanley, the Secretary of State for the Colonies.

By the 1970s, the observance began to dwindle, but the Indian Revival and Reform Association (IRRA) revived the memory of the event through their concern about racism directed toward the Indian people.

 

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.

 

 

Culture on My Mind – The Cautionary Tale of Eaglemoss Publications Pre-Orders

Culture on My Mind
May 29, 2020

 

This week’s “can’t let it go” is a cautionary tale about pre-orders.

Eaglemoss Collections is a British publishing company that produces licensed magazines and collectibles based on popular franchises. They have small resin and die-cast handpainted models from Marvel, DC Comics, Doctor Who, Star Trek, and more. In fact, inspired by the rave reviews among people I trust regarding the Star Trek starships collection, I decided to invest in the lineup of Doctors from Doctor Who.

By the time I got involved, many of the classic Doctors were out of stock and no longer being produced. But, in October 2017, I spotted a post from The Doctor Who Site with big news: Eaglemoss was going to republish the figurines starting in November 2017 with multipack sets.

Image via The Doctor Who Site

The first set was a set with the revival-era Doctors (Ninth, Tenth, Eleventh, and Twelfth), which I sought out from Entertainment Earth. They had that set and the “mid-era” set (Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, and War Doctors) available for pre-order, so I snagged both of them.

As always, Entertainment Earth’s customer service was pretty good. I placed my order in November 2017 and received the revival-era set shortly thereafter. The release date for the mid-era set was pushed back a couple of times, but I finally received that shipment in March 2018.

Despite seeing an advertisement on The Doctor Who Site, I saw no pre-orders for the remaining box set from any of the typical merchants. Finally, the “First 4 Doctors” came up on the official Eaglemoss site in October 2018 along with a pre-order for the Thirteenth Doctor figurine. Knowing that this purchase would complete my set, I put in my pre-order for both.

Image via The Doctor Who Site

The box set eventually graced my doorstep as promised. The Thirteenth Doctor figurine, which was slated for a December 2018 release, never shipped.

My order was processed on October 8, 2018. On December 31, 2018, I noticed that the figurine was gone out of stock on the website, so I wrote to check on the status of my order. I was promised that when the stock was replenished, it would be shipped. Knowing how the release dates kept sliding to the right for the combination sets, I was patient with Eaglemoss, even when I saw other online retailers around the world repeatedly getting the collectible in stock and selling out again in short order.

That patience started to fray by October 2019, one year after the initial pre-order. Various other retailers had been out of stock for a while, and the Eaglemoss website had actually dropped their price. I wrote again to check on the status and to ask about the price difference. They replied ten days later that there was no estimated arrival time for the item and that there was no pre-order price guarantee. But, because I’d been waiting so long, they would adjust my purchase price when the figure shipped.

December came and went, marking the one-year anniversary of the supposed release date. By February, I was out of patience and started a serious effort to find out where I could finish off this collection. I was frustrated by both the TARDIS and Sarah Jane Smith offerings that were poorly painted and produced, but what irritated me more was the fact that Eaglemoss was releasing a different Thirteenth Doctor sculpt, this time with the character’s three companions.

In reality, that was the shining beacon that I was going to be kept out in the cold.

I tried the e-mail route with them through early February 2020 before finally hitting the phone lines. During this time, I started receiving e-mails that my shipping date was coming up. When February 7th came and went without a delivery, I called and found out that they were delayed until February 14th. It was pushed again to February 21st, seemingly giving the squeaky wheel some grease with nothing to back up the promises that they were making.

When I received the February 21st date, it was from an excellent customer service representative who dug into the system and noted that the package was due to ship, but they had no inventory on hand to actually process. She was honest with me: Despite my patience over the previous sixteen months, there was little to no hope of getting what I was promised.

This was despite the fact that the United Kingdom version of their store showed the figurine in stock, but they do not permit American customers to order on that site.

The customer service rep made some notes in my account and told me to call back after the 21st. I did, my order was canceled, and my account was settled.

I purchased the figure shortly thereafter from a collector in the United Kingdom on eBay for slightly more than I would have paid at Eaglemoss.

While that is a happy ending for me, the path to get there was a disappointment. Over the course of more than a year, I watched as both domestic and international sellers have received stock and sold out, but I stayed with the hope that Eaglemoss – the very source of the figure I’m trying to buy – would not leave me twisting in the wind.

This is a company that deals with specialized collectibles for geeks and genre fans. They advertise on podcasts and social media, and they constantly innovate to bring unique perspectives that other companies fail to provide. Those Star Trek starship models have piqued my interest since I uncovered my old Star Trek and Star Wars Micro Machine vehicle collections. I would happily add the TARDIS consoles to my Doctors collection because no one else makes something like that. Similarly, no other company puts out Battlestar Galactica ships.

But they abandoned a customer. A customer that pre-ordered one of their products, which I consider to be a promise from supply to demand. A customer that expected a bare minimum of communication over sixteen months but received very little with the exception of hollow promises.

Their customer service requires a significant overhaul. They prevent customers in the United States from ordering on their UK portal, despite the fact that the offerings are different. They apparently don’t transfer items within the company to fulfill promised pre-orders. There is no way to check an order’s status on their website, and there is no history of previous orders or client activity. In fact, the customer account functionality is virtually non-existent. Further, correspondence by e-mail takes several days – in one case, upwards of ten days – and each auto-reply from their system makes a point of stating that they “are experiencing a high volume at this time”.

High volume requires better customer relations and greater communication. In my experience, Eaglemoss provides neither.

Eaglemoss may produce good quality and unique products, but my experiences have soured me on their offerings and company. If I find something that I want from them in the future, I’ll wait for a good deal on eBay or at a convention dealer.

I won’t purchase directly through Eaglemoss again.

 

Culture on My Mind is inspired by the weekly Can’t Let It Go segment on the NPR Politics Podcast where each host brings one thing to the table that they just can’t stop thinking about.

For more creativity with a critical eye, visit Creative Criticality.

The Thing About Today – May 29

May 29, 2020
Day 150 of 366

 

May 29th is the 150th day of the year. It is Statehood Day for both Rhode Island and Wisconsin. Rhode Island was the thirteenth state and was admitted to the Union on May 29, 1790. Wisconsin, the thirtieth state, was admitted on May 29, 1848.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Paperclip Day and National Coq Au Vin Day.

 

Historical items of note:

  • In 1790, Rhode Island became the last of North America’s original Thirteen Colonies to ratify the Constitution and become one of the United States.
  • In 1903, actor, singer, and producer Bob Hope was born.
  • In 1905, actor, director, playwright, and first Anakin Skywalker Sebastian Shaw was born.
  • In 1913, Igor Stravinsky’s ballet score The Rite of Spring premiered in Paris, France. It also provoked a riot.
  • In 1917, naval officer and thirty-fifth President of the United States John F. Kennedy was born.
  • In 1919, Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity was tested (and later confirmed) by Arthur Eddington and Andrew Claude de la Cherois Crommelin.
  • In 1953, Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest. It happened on Tenzing Norgay’s (adopted) 39th birthday.
  • Also in 1953, singer-songwriter, producer, and actor Danny Elfman was born.
  • In 1958, actress Annette Bening was born.
  • In 1973, Tom Bradley was elected the first black mayor of Los Angeles, California.
  • In 1999, Space Shuttle Discovery completed the first docking with the International Space Station during mission STS-96.
  • In 2004, the National World War II Memorial was dedicated in Washington, D.C.

 

May 29th is the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, an international day to pay tribute to all the men and women who have served and continue to serve in United Nations peacekeeping operations.

The United Nations uses the day to celebrate the peacekeepers for their high level of professionalism, dedication, and courage, as well as to honor the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace.

It was designated by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 57/129, on December 11, 2002. The date was chosen to mark the anniversary of the creation of the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO) in 1948, which monitored the ceasefire after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and was the first-ever UN peacekeeping mission.

The day is commemorated at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City with the presentation of the Dag Hammarskjöld Medal, statements by the President of the General Assembly and the Secretary-General, and a press release regarding the state of UN Peacekeeping missions and the continued necessity of their work.

 

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.