The Thing About Today – November 27

November 27, 2020
Day 332 of 366

November 27th is the 332nd day of the year. It is Teacher’s Day in Spain.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Bavarian Cream Pie Day, and National Craft Jerky Day. It is also recognized as a slew of events set on the day after Thanksgiving: National Day of Listening, National Native American Heritage Day, Black Friday, Buy Nothing Day, Flossing DayMaize Day, and You’re Welcomegiving Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1835, James Pratt and John Smith were hanged in London. They were the last two people to be executed for sodomy in England.
  • In 1895, at the Swedish-Norwegian Club in Paris, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament. It set aside his estate to establish the Nobel Prize after he died.
  • In 1896, Also sprach Zarathustra by Richard Strauss was first performed.
  • In 1911, vegetables were thrown at actors by an audience for the first time in recorded American history.
  • In 1924, in New York City, the first Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade was held.
  • In 1935, English television and film producer Verity Lambert was born. She began her career as a producer at the BBC by becoming the founding producer of the science-fiction series Doctor Who from 1963 until 1965.
  • In 1940, American-Chinese actor, martial artist, and screenwriter Bruce Lee was born.
  • In 1945, actor James Avery was born.
  • In 1951, director, producer, and screenwriter Kathryn Bigelow was born.
  • In 1952, astronaut Jim Wetherbee was born.
  • In 1955, engineer, educator, and television host Bill Nye was born.
  • In 1956, actor William Fichtner was born.
  • In 1957, game designer and author Michael A. Stackpole was born.
  • In 1961, English actress Samantha Bond was born.
  • In 1963, actor, director, and producer Fisher Stevens was born.
  • In 1968, Penny Ann Early became the first woman to play major professional basketball for the Kentucky Colonels in an ABA game against the Los Angeles Stars.
  • In 1971, the Soviet space program’s Mars 2 orbiter released a descent module. It malfunctioned and crashed, but it was the first man-made object to reach the surface of Mars.
  • In 1976, actor and screenwriter Jaleel White was born.
  • In 1978, San Francisco city mayor George Moscone and openly gay city supervisor Harvey Milk were assassinated by former supervisor Dan White.
  • In 1985, Canadian actress Alison Pill was born.
  • In 2001, a hydrogen atmosphere was discovered on the extrasolar planet Osiris by the Hubble Space Telescope. It was the first atmosphere detected on an extrasolar planet.
  • In 2013, Disney’s Frozen was released. It became the highest-grossing animated film of all time.

November 27th is Lancashire Day, a county day for historic Lancashire in England.

It commemorates the day in 1295 when Lancashire first sent representatives to Parliament. This was to attend the Model Parliament of King Edward I. Lancashire Day was first held in 1996.

Curated by the Friends of Real Lancashire, it is observed with the loyal toast to “The Queen, Duke of Lancaster”, and is celebrated from everywhere within the county palatine. The day is marked throughout the historic county by town criers announcing the Lancashire Day proclamation which declares the historic regions boundaries of the county, and finishes with “God bless Lancashire, and God save the Queen, Duke of Lancaster”.

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 – November 26

November 26, 2020
Day 331 of 366

November 26th is the 331st day of the year. It is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, typically observed on the fourth Thursday of November.

In the United States, today is also observed as National Day of Mourning. This day was organized by the United American Indians of New England (UAINE) since they consider Thanksgiving Day as a continued reminder of the democide and suffering of Native American people. Since 1970, participants in the National Day of Mourning have honored Native ancestors and their struggles to survive today. Part of the mission behind the event is to educate Americans about the history of Thanksgiving, and the event has brought about revisions in the depiction of United States history and government and settler relationships with Native American peoples as well as a renewed appreciation for their culture.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1842, the University of Notre Dame was founded.
  • In 1863, United States President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed November 26 as a national Thanksgiving Day, to be celebrated annually on the final Thursday of November. Following the Franksgiving controversy from 1939 to 1941, it has been observed on the fourth Thursday in 1942 and subsequent years.
  • In 1917, the National Hockey League was formed, with the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Wanderers, Ottawa Senators, Quebec Bulldogs, and Toronto Arenas as its first teams.
  • In 1922, Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon became the first people to enter the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun in over 3000 years.
  • Also in 1922, The Toll of the Sea debuted as the first general release film to use two-tone Technicolor. The Gulf Between was the first film to do so, but it was not widely distributed.
  • In 1939, American-Swiss singer-songwriter, dancer, and actress Tina Turner was born.
  • In 1942, Casablanca, starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman, premiered in New York City.
  • In 1956, The Price is Right debuted on NBC.
  • In 1965, France launched Astérix, becoming the third nation to put an object in orbit using its own booster.
  • In 1981, English singer-songwriter and producer Natasha Bedingfield was born.
  • In 2003, the Concorde made its final flight, flying over Bristol, England.
  • In 2011, the Mars Science Laboratory launched to Mars with the Curiosity Rover.
  • In 2018, the robotic probe Insight landed on Elysium Planitia, Mars.

November 26th is unofficially known as National Cake Day in the United States. While cakes have origins from both Greek and Norse cultures, the day itself is rather inconsequential.

Add a cake of some sort to your day, whether it be Thanksgiving related or not. If you plan on celebrating today, I hope you have a good and safe holiday.

If you’re not celebrating today, enjoy your Thursday. I’ll see you again tomorrow.

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 – November 25

November 25, 2020
Day 330 of 366

November 25th is the 330th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Suriname, celebrating their separation from the Netherlands in 1975.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Play Day with Dad, National Parfait Day, Blasé Day, Shopping Reminder Day, Tie One On Day, and National Jukebox Day. Those last two are typically observed on the day before Thanksgiving.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1487, Elizabeth of York was crowned Queen of England.
  • In 1491, the siege of Granada, the last Moorish stronghold in Spain, ended with the Treaty of Granada.
  • In 1783, the last British troops left New York City, commonly known as Evacuation Day, three months after the signing of the Treaty of Paris.
  • In 1844, German engineer and businessman Karl Benz was born. He founded Mercedes-Benz.
  • In 1914, baseball player and coach Joe DiMaggio was born.
  • In 1915, Albert Einstein presented the field equations of general relativity to the Prussian Academy of Sciences. These equations relate the geometry of spacetime to the distribution of matter within it.
  • In 1920, Mexican actor Ricardo Montalbán was born.
  • In 1926, actor and producer Jeffrey Hunter was born. He was the first Captain Christopher Pike on Star Trek.
  • This day in 1940 marked the first flights of both the de Havilland Mosquito and Martin B-26 Marauder.
  • In 1947, the “Hollywood Ten” were formally blacklisted by Hollywood movie studios for defying Congress.
  • Also in 1947, actor John Larroquette was born.
  • In 1950, English-American author Chris Claremont was born.
  • In 1952, Agatha Christie’s murder-mystery play The Mousetrap opened at the Ambassadors Theatre in London. It would become the longest continuously-running play in history.
  • In 1965, Scottish television and film actor Dougray Scott was born.
  • In 1968, twin sisters Jacqueline and Jill Hennessy were born. Both are Canadian actresses. Jacqueline is also a journalist and Jill is also a singer.
  • In 1971, actress Christina Applegate was born.
  • In 1984, thirty-six top musicians gathered in a Notting Hill studio and recorded Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” in order to raise money for famine relief in Ethiopia.
  • In 1986, actress Katie Cassidy was born.
  • In 1996, the Disneyland Main Street Electrical Parade closed after twenty-four years of operation.

November 25th is the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.

This United Nations day is designed to raise awareness of the fact that women around the world are subject to rape, domestic violence, and other forms of violence, and that the scale and true nature of the issue is often hidden.

The event is related to the 1960 murder of the Mirabal sisters. Patria, Minerva, María Teresa, and Dedé Mirabal were Dominican women who opposed the dictatorship of Rafael Trujillo (known as El Jefe) and were involved in clandestine activities against his regime. Patria, Minerva, and María Teresa were assassinated on this date in 1960. The last sister, Dedé, died of natural causes on February 1, 2014.

The assassinations turned the Mirabal sisters into symbols of both popular and feminist resistance, and the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women was designated in 1999 in their honor.

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 – 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.

The Thing About Today – November 23

November 23, 2020
Day 328 of 366

November 23rd is the 328th day of the year. It is Labor Thanksgiving Day in Japan. Known locally as 勤労感謝の日 (Kinrō Kansha no Hi), it is an occasion to commemorate labor and production and give one another thanks.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Cashew Day, National Eat a Cranberry Day, and National Espresso Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 534 BC, Thespis of Icaria became the first recorded actor to portray a character on stage. Hence, one imagines, the term thespian.
  • In 1644, John Milton published Areopagitica, a pamphlet decrying censorship.
  • In 1887, English actor Boris Karloff was born.
  • In 1888, comedian and musician Harpo Marx was born.
  • In 1889, the first jukebox went into operation at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco.
  • In 1916, Malaysian-English actor Michael Gough was born.
  • In 1924, Edwin Hubble’s discovery that the Andromeda “nebula” is actually another island galaxy far outside of our own Milky Way was first published in The New York Times.
  • In 1925, composer and conductor Johnny Mandel was born.
  • In 1959, English-American actor Maxwell Caulfield was born.
  • In 1963, Doctor Who premiered on the BBC. The pilot episode, An Unearthly Child, began the first four-part serial of the franchise and started the world’s longest running science fiction drama.
  • In 1970, Israeli-American actor Oded Fehr was born.
  • In 1976, apneist Jacques Mayol became the first man to reach a depth of 100 meters undersea without breathing equipment.
  • In 1992, the first smartphone, the IBM Simon, was introduced at COMDEX in Las Vegas, Nevada.
  • In 2013, Doctor Who celebrated its 50th anniversary with multiple television events in the week surrounding the event. Paul McGann returned as the Eighth Doctor in The Night of the Doctor, the origins of the franchise were explored in An Adventure in Space and Time, and most of the surviving classic-era lead actors starred in the parody The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. The crown jewel of the celebration was the multi-Doctor episode The Day of the Doctor.
  • In 2015, Blue Origin’s New Shepard space vehicle became the first rocket to successfully fly to space and then return to Earth for a controlled, vertical landing.

November 23rd is the Repudiation Day in Frederick County, Maryland in the United States.

In 1765, the judges of Frederick County became the first to repudiate the British Stamp Act, a tax which was designed to cover the costs of keeping British troops in the American colonies. Frederick County judges decided that they were not going to charge the tax and refused to stamp the documents. Furthermore, the stamps had not arrived from Britain, and the colonists had not been properly notified. The late Judge Edward Delaplaine called the 12 Frederick County judges who repudiated the Stamp Act the “12 immortal judges.”

Each year, the Frederick Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) hosts a tea party to celebrate Repudiation Day. Tea and crumpets are served, and the Clerk of the Court reads the original proclamation passed by the judges and the Maryland Provincial Assembly in November 1765.

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 – November 22

November 22, 2020
Day 327 of 366

November 22nd is the 327th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Lebanon as they celebrate the nation’s independence from France in 1943.

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

Historical items of note:

  • In 1574, Spanish navigator Juan Fernández discovered islands now known as the Juan Fernández Islands off Chile.
  • In 1921, comedian, actor, rapper, and screenwriter Rodney Dangerfield was born.
  • In 1928, Ravel’s Boléro had its premier performance in Paris.
  • In 1932, actor and director Robert Vaughn was born.
  • In 1935, the China Clipper inaugurated the first commercial transpacific air service, connecting Alameda, California with Manila.
  • In 1940, actor, director, animator, and screenwriter Terry Gilliam was born.
  • In 1954, the Humane Society of the United States was founded.
  • In 1958, actress Jamie Lee Curtis was born.
  • In 1963, United States President John F. Kennedy was assassinated and Texas Governor John Connally was seriously wounded. Upon leaving the scene, alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald killed Dallas Police officer J. D. Tippit. Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn in as the 36th President of the United States afterwards.
  • In 1965, Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen was born.
  • In 1967, actor and activist Mark Ruffalo was born.
  • In 1968, Star Trek episode “Plato’s Stepchildren” was first aired. The episode features a passionate (but forced) kiss between James T. Kirk (William Shatner) and Lieutenant Uhura (Nichelle Nichols) which is usually described as the first scripted interracial kiss of that kind between a white man and a black woman on American television.
  • In 1977, British Airways inaugurated a regular London to New York City supersonic Concorde service.
  • In 1984, Fred Rogers of Mister Rogers Neighborhood presented one of his famous sweaters to the Smithsonian Institution.
  • Also in 1984, actress Scarlett Johansson was born.
  • In 1987, two Chicago television stations were hijacked by an unknown pirate dressed as Max Headroom. They interrupted Doctor Who, y’all.
  • In 1989, actor Alden Ehrenreich was born.
  • In 1990, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher withdrew from the Conservative Party leadership election, confirming the end of her Prime-Ministership.
  • In 1994, the Sega Saturn was released in Japan.
  • In 1995, Toy Story was released as the first feature-length film created completely using computer-generated imagery.
  • Also in 1995, actress Katherine McNamara was born.
  • In 2005, Angela Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany.

November 22nd is the Day of the Albanian Alphabet.

Prior to the this date in 1908, the Albanian language was represented by a combination of six or more distinct alphabets, plus a number of sub-variants.

Between November 14th and 22nd of 1908, the Congress of Manastir (Kongresi i Manastirit in Albanian) was held as an academic conference in the city of Manastir (now known as Bitola). Their goal was standardizing the Albanian alphabet.

The day upon which the Congress was adjourned is now a commemorative day in Albania, Kosovo, and North Macedonia, as well as among the Albanian diaspora, known as Dita e Alfabetit.

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 – November 21

November 21, 2020
Day 326 of 366

November 21st is the 326th day of the year. It is General Framework Agreement Day in Republika Srpska, commemorating the final day of the peace conference at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base near Dayton, Ohio in 1995. During the conference, the General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina (also known as the Dayton Agreement or the Dayton Accords) was drafted to end the ​3 12-year-long Bosnian War. Upon signing on December 14, 1995, the warring parties agreed to peace and to a single sovereign state known as Bosnia and Herzegovina composed of two parts, the largely Serb-populated Republika Srpska and mainly Croat-Bosniak-populated Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Gingerbread Cookie Day, National Stuffing Day, National Red Mitten Day, and National Adoption Day (which is typically observed on the Saturday before Thanksgiving).

Historical items of note:

  • In 1620, Plymouth Colony settlers signed the Mayflower Compact. It was the first governing document of Plymouth Colony and was written by the male passengers of the Mayflower.
  • In 1676, Danish astronomer Ole Rømer presented the first quantitative measurements of the speed of light.
  • In 1694, French historian, playwright, and philosopher Voltaire was born. I didn’t know that Voltaire was a pen name, or that his real name was François-Marie Arouet.
  • In 1783, Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier and François Laurent d’Arlandes made the first untethered hot air balloon flight while in Paris.
  • In 1877, Thomas Edison announced his invention of the phonograph, a machine that can record and play sound.
  • In 1905, Albert Einstein’s paper that led to the mass–energy equivalence formula, E = mc², was published in the journal Annalen der Physik.
  • In 1918, the Parliament (Qualification of Women) Act 1918 was passed, allowing women to stand for Parliament in the United Kingdom.
  • In 1922, Rebecca Latimer Felton of Georgia took the oath of office, becoming the first female United States Senator.
  • In 1924, English author and academic Christopher Tolkien was born.
  • In 1934, actor, director, and playwright Laurence Luckinbill was born.
  • In 1944, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Harold Ramis was born.
  • In 1945, actress, singer, and producer Goldie Hawn was born.
  • In 1953, the Natural History Museum, London announced that the “Piltdown Man” skull, initially believed to be one of the most important fossilized hominid skulls ever found, was a hoax.
  • In 1961, the “La Ronde” opened in Honolulu, Hawaii. It was the first revolving restaurant in the United States.
  • In 1965, Alexander Siddig was born. He was previously known as Siddig El Fadil, and he played Julian Bashir on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  • In 1969, the first permanent ARPANET link was established between UCLA and SRI.
  • In 1976, Rocky premiered.
  • In 1984, actress and singer Jena Malone was born.

November 21st is World Television Day.

It sounds odd given attitudes about television as the “boob tube” or a time-waster, but the United Nations proclaimed this observance to commemorate the date on which the first World Television Forum was held in 1996.

The World Television Forum was convened to explore the power and potential of television in influencing decision-makers and promoting international understanding. It offered a unique opportunity for heads of the world’s major broadcasting corporations, non-governmental representatives, and journalists from different regions of the world to debate the role television can and must play in meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century.

There was some opposition to World Television Day, particularly from Germany. The opinions focused on how television was considered a “rich man’s” luxury in comparison to other media such as radio.

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 – November 20

November 20, 2020
Day 325 of 366

November 20th is the 325th day of the year. It is Teachers’ Day (also known as Ngày nhà giáo Việt Nam) in Vietnam.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Peanut Butter Fudge Day, National Absurdity Day, and National Child’s Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1789, New Jersey became the first U.S. state to ratify the Bill of Rights.
  • In 1805, Beethoven’s only opera, Fidelio, premiered in Vienna.
  • In 1820, an 80-ton sperm whale attacked and sank the Essex, a whaling ship from Nantucket, Massachusetts. The event happened 2,000 miles from the western coast of South America, and was a partial inspiration for Herman Melville’s 1851 novel Moby-Dick.
  • In 1889, astronomer and cosmologist Edwin Hubble was born.
  • In 1924, Polish-American mathematician and economist Benoit Mandelbrot was born. He coined the term fractal.
  • In 1932, actor and game show host Richard Dawson was born.
  • In 1942, Joe Biden, the forty-sixth President of the United States, was born.
  • In 1945, trials against 24 Nazi war criminals began at the Palace of Justice at Nuremberg.
  • In 1946, newscaster Judy Woodruff was born.
  • In 1947, The Princess Elizabeth married Lieutenant Philip Mountbatten, who became the Duke of Edinburgh, at Westminster Abbey in London.
  • In 1956, actress and producer Bo Derek was born.
  • In 1959, the Declaration of the Rights of the Child was adopted by the United Nations.
  • Also in 1959, actress Sean Young was born.
  • In 1962, in response to the Soviet Union agreeing to remove its missiles from Cuba, United States President John F. Kennedy ended the quarantine of the Caribbean nation.
  • In 1963, Chinese-American actress Ming-Na Wen was born.
  • In 1968, astronaut James Dutton was born.
  • In 1969, Native American activists seized control of Alcatraz Island until being ousted by the United States Government on June 11, 1971. The protest group chose the name Indians of All Tribes for their movement, and they that, under the Treaty of Fort Laramie between the United States and the Lakota tribe, all retired, abandoned, or out-of-use federal land was returned to the Indians who once occupied it. When Alcatraz was closed and declared as surplus federal property in 1964, the activists felt that the island qualified for reclamation.
  • In 1974, the United States Department of Justice filed its final anti-trust suit against AT&T Corporation. This suit later led to the breakup of AT&T and its Bell System.
  • In 1998, the first space station module component, Zarya, for the International Space Station was launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
  • In 2002, the twentieth James Bond film, Die Another Day, was released.

November 20th is International Transgender Day of Remembrance.

Also known as the Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDoR), the International Transgender Day of Remembrance has been observed annually, from its inception, on this date to memorialize those who have been murdered as a result of transphobia. It is a day to draw attention to the continued violence endured by transgender people.

Transgender Day of Remembrance was founded in 1999 by Gwendolyn Ann Smith, a transgender woman, to memorialize the murder of transgender woman Rita Hester in Allston, Massachusetts. It has slowly evolved from the web-based project started by Smith into an international day of action. In 2010, the day was observed in over 185 cities throughout more than 20 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.

The Thing About Today – November 19

November 19, 2020
Day 324 of 366

November 19th is the 324th day of the year. It is Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, a day on which the work of women entrepreneurs is observed and discussed. It was founded and implemented by Wendy Diamond after volunteering in Honduras with the Adelante Foundation, an organization that provides microcredit to low income women.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Carbonated Beverage With Caffeine Day, National Play Monopoly Day, Great American Smokeout (typically observed on the Thursday before Thanksgiving), and National Rural Health Day (typically observed on the Third Thursday in November).

Historical items of note:

  • In 1847, the second Canadian railway line, the Montreal and Lachine Railroad, was opened.
  • In 1863, United States President Abraham Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address at the dedication ceremony for the military cemetery at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Despite the prominent place of the speech in the history and popular culture of the United States, its exact wording is disputed. The five known manuscripts of the Gettysburg Address in Lincoln’s hand differ in a number of details, and also differ from contemporary newspaper reprints of the speech.

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

  • In 1877, Italian businessman and politician Giuseppe Volpi was born. He was the founder of the Venice Film Festival.
  • In 1916, Samuel Goldwyn and Edgar Selwyn established Goldwyn Pictures. It operated from 1916 to 1924 until it was merged with two other production companies to form the major studio, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, better known today as MGM.
  • In 1924, actor William Russell was born. He played companion Ian Chesterton on Doctor Who.
  • In 1933, radio and television host Larry King was born.
  • In 1950, United States General Dwight D. Eisenhower became Supreme Commander of NATO-Europe.
  • In 1953, actor Robert Beltran was born. He played Chakotay on Star Trek: Voyager.
  • In 1954, Télé Monte Carlo, Europe’s oldest private television channel, was launched by Prince Rainier III.
  • In 1959, the Ford Motor Company announced the discontinuation of the unpopular Edsel.
  • Also in 1959, actress Allison Janney was born.
  • In 1961, actress and producer Meg Ryan was born.
  • In 1962, actress, director, and producer Jodie Foster was born.
  • In 1963, actress Terry Farrell was born. She portrayed Jadzia Dax on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  • In 1969, Apollo 12 astronauts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean landed at Oceanus Procellarum (the “Ocean of Storms”) and became the third and fourth humans to walk on the Moon.
  • In 1983, actor Adam Driver was born.
  • In 1994, the United Kingdom held its first National Lottery drawing. A £1 ticket gave a one-in-14-million chance of correctly guessing the winning six out of 49 numbers.
  • In 1998, Vincent van Gogh’s Portrait of the Artist Without Beard sold at auction for $71.5 million (US).
  • In 1999, the People’s Republic of China launched its first Shenzhou spacecraft.
  • In 2006, Nintendo’s first video game console with motion control, the Wii, was released.

November 19th is World Toilet Day

World Toilet Day is an official United Nations international observance day designed to inspire action to tackle the global sanitation crisis. Worldwide, 4.2 billion people live without “safely managed sanitation” and around 673 million people practice open defecation. One of the sustainable development goals is to “Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”.

Toilets are important because access to a safe functioning toilet has a positive impact on public health, human dignity, and personal safety, especially for women. Sanitation systems that do not safely treat excreta allow the spread of disease, including serious soil-transmitted diseases and waterborne diseases such as cholera, diarrhea, typhoid, dysentery, and schistosomiasis.

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 – November 18

November 18, 2020
Day 323 of 366

November 18th is the 323rd day of the year. It is Independence Day in Morocco as they celebrate their separation from France and Spain in 1956. It’s also Proclamation Day of the Republic of Latvia as they celebrate their independence from Russia in 1918.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Princess Day, National Vichyssoise Day, Mickey Mouse’s Birthday, and National Educational Support Professionals Day (which is typically on the Wednesday of American Education Week).

Historical items of note:

  • In 1626, the new St Peter’s Basilica was consecrated.
  • In 1787, French physicist and photographer Louis Daguerre was born. He developed the daguerreotype, the first publicly available photographic process.
  • In 1810, botanist and academic Asa Gray was born. He is considered the most important American botanist of the 19th century.
  • In 1863, King Christian IX of Denmark signed the November constitution that declared Schleswig to be part of Denmark. This was seen by the German Confederation as a violation of the London Protocol and led to the German–Danish war of 1864.
  • In 1865, Mark Twain’s short story “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” was published in the New York Saturday Press.
  • In 1883, American and Canadian railroads instituted five standard continental time zones, ending the confusion of thousands of local times.
  • In 1923, astronaut Alan Shepard was born.
  • In 1928, the animated short Steamboat Willie was released. It was the first fully synchronized sound cartoon, directed by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks, and featured the third appearances of cartoon characters Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse. This is considered by the Disney corporation to be Mickey’s birthday.
  • In 1939, Canadian novelist, poet, and critic Margaret Atwood was born.
  • In 1942, actress Linda Evans was born.
  • In 1946, author Alan Dean Foster was born.
  • In 1953, English author and illustrator Alan Moore was born.
  • In 1955, composer and conductor Carter Burwell was born.
  • In 1960, actress Elizabeth Perkins was born.
  • In 1961, Scottish screenwriter and producer Steven Moffat was born.
  • In 1963, the first push-button telephone went into service.
  • In 1994, Star Trek: Generations premiered.
  • In 1996, Star Trek: First Contact premiered.
  • In 2003, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled 4-3 in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional and gave the state legislature 180 days to change the law making Massachusetts the first state in the United States to grant marriage rights to same-sex couples.
  • In 2013, NASA launched the MAVEN probe to Mars.

Since November 18th is National Vichyssoise Day, I wanted to find out what a Vichyssoise was.

Turns out that it’s a soup. Specifically, a thick soup made of boiled and puréed leeks, onions, potatoes, cream, and chicken stock. It is traditionally served cold but it can also be eaten hot.

Recipes were common by the 19th century in France, and the recipes are often named “Potage Parmentier” or “Potage à la Parmentier” after Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, the French nutritionist and scholar who popularized the use of potatoes in France in the 18th century.

The origins of the name Vichyssoise are a subject of debate among culinary historians. One version of the story is that Louis XV of France was afraid of being poisoned, so he had so many servants taste the potato leek soup that, by the time he tried it, the soup was cold, and since he enjoyed it that way it became a cold soup. Julia Child, on the other hand, called it “an American invention”. As such, the origin of the soup is questionable.

Louis Diat, a French chef at the Ritz-Carlton in New York City is most often credited with its reinvention. He grew up in Montmarault in the Allier department near the spa resort town of Vichy.

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.