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.

The Thing About Today – October 16

October 16, 2020
Day 290 of 366

October 16th is the 290th day of the year. It is World Food Day, an international day honoring the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1945. The day is celebrated widely by many other organizations concerned with food security, including the World Food Programme and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Sports Day, National Liqueur Day, National Dictionary Day, Global Cat Day, Department Store Day, and Boss’s Day (or National Boss’s Day, held annually on October 16th unless the date falls on a weekend. If so, it’s the closest workday.).

Historical items of note:

  • In 1793, Queen Marie Antoinette was executed.
  • In 1841, Queen’s University was founded in the Province of Canada.
  • In 1843, William Rowan Hamilton invented quaternions, a three-dimensional system of complex numbers.
  • In 1847, Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre was published in London.
  • In 1854, Irish playwright, novelist, and poet Oscar Wilde was born.
  • In 1869, Girton College, Cambridge was founded, becoming England’s first residential college for women.
  • In 1909, William Howard Taft and Porfirio Díaz held the first summit between presidents of the United States and Mexico. They narrowly escaped assassination.
  • In 1923, The Walt Disney Company was founded.
  • In 1925, English-American actress, singer, and producer Angela Lansbury was born. She is well-known for her portrayal of Jessica Fletcher, mystery writer (and, perhaps, the most successful fictional serial killer ever) on Murder, She Wrote.
  • In 1936, English actor and screenwriter Peter Bowles was born.
  • In 1940, actor and producer Barry Corbin was born.
  • In 1950, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis was published.
  • In 1962, President Kennedy was informed of photos taken on October 14 by a U-2 spy plane showing nuclear missiles. The crisis would last for the infamous thirteen days starting from this point.
  • In 1964, China detonated its first nuclear weapon.
  • In 1975, actress, director, and producer Kellie Martin was born.
  • In 1981, actress and writer Brea Grant was born.
  • In 2002, the Bibliotheca Alexandrina opened in Egypt, commemorating the ancient library of Alexandria.

October 16th is World Anesthesia Day (or World Anaesthesia Day or Ether Day), an annual event commemorating the first successful demonstration of diethyl ether anesthesia on October 16, 1846.

This event ranks as one of the most significant in the history of medicine. It took place in an operating theater (now known as the Ether Dome) at the Massachusetts General Hospital, home of the Harvard School of Medicine. The discovery made it possible for patients to obtain the benefits of surgical treatment without the pain associated with an operation.

Special events have been held to commemorate the date since at least 1903. Celebrations are driven by the World Federation of Societies of Anesthesiologists with over 134 societies representing anesthesiologists from over 150 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 – October 15

October 15, 2020
Day 289 of 366

October 15th is the 289th day of the year. It is Breast Health Day in Europe, a day of awareness of breast cancer and improvement of breast cancer services by promoting early detection, optimal treatment and research.

It is also White Cane Safety Day in the United States, a day to celebrate the achievements of people who are blind or visually impaired and the important symbol of blindness and tool of independence, the white cane. In 2011, White Cane Safety Day was also named Blind Americans Equality Day by President Barack Obama.

In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Shawarma Day, National Aesthetician Day, National Cheese Curd Day, National I Love Lucy Day, National Grouch Day, National Get Smart About Credit Day (typically observed on the third Thursday in October), and Get to Know Your Customers Day (typically observed on the third Thursday of Each Quarter).

It is also National Latino AIDS Awareness Day and National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day.

Historical items of note:

  • In 1582, adoption of the Gregorian calendar began, eventually leading to near-universal adoption.
  • In 1783, the Montgolfier brothers’ hot air balloon made the first human ascent, piloted by Jean-François Pilâtre de Rozier.
  • In 1863, the H. L. Hunley, the first submarine to sink a ship, sunk, killing its inventor.
  • In 1888, the “From Hell” letter allegedly sent by Jack the Ripper was received by investigators.
  • In 1917, Dutch dancer Mata Hari was executed by France for espionage.
  • In 1924, actor Mark Lenard was born.
  • In 1939, the New York Municipal Airport (later renamed LaGuardia Airport) was dedicated.
  • In 1940, The Great Dictator, a satiric social commentary film by and starring Charlie Chaplin, was released.
  • In 1943, actress, director, and producer Penny Marshall was born.
  • In 1951, I Love Lucy premiered.
  • In 1955, actress Tanya Roberts was born.
  • In 1956, FORTRAN, the first modern computer language, was first shared with the coding community.
  • In 1991, The “Oh-My-God particle”, an ultra-high-energy cosmic ray measured at 40,000,000 times that of the highest energy protons produced in a particle accelerator was observed at the University of Utah HiRes observatory in Dugway Proving Ground, Utah.
  • In 1997, the Cassini probe launched from Cape Canaveral on its way to Saturn.
  • In 2001, NASA’s Galileo spacecraft passed within 112 miles of Jupiter’s moon Io.

October 15th is Global Handwashing Day.

Global Handwashing Day is an international handwashing promotion campaign to motivate and mobilize people around the world to improve their handwashing habits. Washing hands at critical points during the day and washing with soap are both important.

The global campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of handwashing with soap as a key factor in disease prevention. Respiratory and intestinal diseases can be reduced by 25-50% through efficient and effective handwashing habits.

It’s vitally important, especially in the current pandemic, to prevent the spread of disease. The most I have been disgusted by handwashing habits was at Disney World when watching people from across the world walk right past the sinks after using the restroom.

At a minimum, twenty seconds with warm water and soap is the key.

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.