The Thing About Today – July 7

July 7, 2020
Day 189 of 366


July 7th is the 189th day of the year. It is World Chocolate Day.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Dive Bar Day, National Father-Daughter Take a Walk Day, National Strawberry Sundae Day, and National Macaroni Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1456, a retrial verdict acquitted Joan of Arc of heresy 25 years after her death.
  • In 1863, the United States began its first military draft. Exemptions cost $300.
  • In 1865, Four conspirators in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln were hanged.
  • In 1907, science fiction writer and screenwriter Robert A. Heinlein was born.
  • In 1911, the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, and Russia signed the North Pacific Fur Seal Convention of 1911. It banned open-water seal hunting and was the first international treaty to address wildlife preservation issues.
  • In 1915, Colombo Town Guard officer Henry Pedris was executed in British Ceylon for allegedly inciting the persecution of Muslims.
  • In 1919, actor Jon Pertwee was born. He portrayed the Third Doctor on Doctor Who.
  • In 1928, sliced bread was sold for the first time (on the inventor’s 48th birthday) by the Chillicothe Baking Company of Chillicothe, Missouri. It is still unknown what was the best thing before sliced bread.
  • In 1930, industrialist Henry J. Kaiser began construction of Boulder Dam, which is now known as Hoover Dam.
  • In 1940, singer-songwriter, drummer, and actor Ringo Starr was born.
  • In 1949, actress, writer, and producer Shelley Duvall was born.
  • Also in 1949, Dragnet premiered on NBC radio. It would later become a television series in 1951 and 1967.
  • In 1958, United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed the Alaska Statehood Act into law.
  • In 1981, United States President Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor to become the first female member of the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • In 1992, the New York Court of Appeals ruled that women have the same right as men to go topless in public.


July 7th is Saba Saba Day.

Saba Saba Day means many things, including the 1954 founding of the Tanzanian political party, the Tanganyika African National Union (TANU). It means “seven seven” in Swahili, the national language of Tanzania, as well as Tanganyika and Zanzibar, the two countries whose union created the United Republic of Tanzania in 1964.

In Kenya, Saba Saba is remembered as the day when nationwide protests took place in 1990 to demand free elections. The politicians who had called for the protests, Kenneth Matiba and Charles Rubia, were beaten and detained by the then tyrannical dictator President Moi.

In present-day Kenya, Saba Saba has taken on a new meaning, with civil societies and Social Justice Working Groups asking for respect of the constitution, an end to police brutality and killings.


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 – July 6

July 6, 2020
Day 188 of 366


July 6th is the 188th day of the year. It is International Kissing Day, a practice that originated in the United Kingdom and was adopted worldwide in the 2000s. Who knew that they loved kissing so much?


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Hand Roll Day and National Fried Chicken Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1348, Pope Clement VI issued a papal bull protecting the Jews accused of having caused the Black Death.
  • In 1560, the Treaty of Edinburgh was signed by Scotland and England.
  • In 1885, Louis Pasteur successfully tested his vaccine against rabies on Joseph Meister, a boy who was bitten by a rabid dog.
  • In 1887, David Kalākaua, monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii, was forced to sign the Bayonet Constitution. This act transferred much of the king’s authority to the Legislature of the Kingdom of Hawaii.
  • In 1892, three thousand eight hundred striking steelworkers engaged in a day-long battle with Pinkerton agents during the Homestead Strike, leaving ten dead and dozens wounded.
  • In 1919, the British dirigible R34 landed in New York, completing the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by an airship.
  • In 1925, actor, singer, and producer Merv Griffin was born. He created Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy!.
  • In 1927, actress and author Janet Leigh was born.
  • In 1937, actor Ned Beatty was born.
  • In 1944, Jackie Robinson refused to move to the back of a bus, eventually leading to a court-martial. It was one of several racist attacks levied against him during his time in the Army. He was acquitted and later honorably discharged.
  • In 1945, actor Burt Ward was born. He portrayed Robin in the 1960s Batman series.
  • In 1951, actor and producer Geoffrey Rush was born.
  • In 1957, John Lennon and Paul McCartney met for the first time, as teenagers at Woolton Fete, three years before forming the Beatles.
  • In 1978, actresses, producers, and twins Tia and Tamera Mowry were born.
  • In 1979, actor and comedian Kevin Hart was born.
  • In 1980, actress Eva Green was born.
  • In 1990, the Electronic Frontier Foundation was founded.
  • In 1994, Forrest Gump premiered.


July 6th is Kupala Night, a traditional eastern Slavic holiday that is celebrated in Ukraine, Poland, Belarus, and Russia.

The name of the holiday was originally Kupala, a pagan fertility rite later adapted into the Orthodox Christian calendar by connecting it with St. John’s Day. The Ukrainian, Belarusian and Russian name of this holiday combines “Ivan” (John, which in this case is John the Baptist) and Kupala which was thought to be derived from the Slavic word for bathing.

The tradition of Kupala predates Christianity. The pagan celebration was adapted and reestablished as one of the native Christian traditions intertwined with local folklore.

The holiday is still enthusiastically celebrated by the younger people of Eastern Europe. The night preceding the holiday (Tvorila night) is considered the night for “good humor” mischiefs (which sometimes would raise the concern of law enforcement agencies). On Ivan Kupala day itself, children engage in water fights and perform pranks, mostly involving pouring water over 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.



The Thing About Today – July 5

July 5, 2020
Day 187 of 366


July 5th is the 187th day of the year. It is Independence Day in Algeria (which separated from France in 1962), Cape Verde (which broke from Portugal in 1975), and Venezuela (which left Spain in 1811).


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Apple Turnover Day, National Graham Cracker Day, National Hawaii Day, National Workaholics Day, and National Bikini Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1687, Isaac Newton published Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica.
  • In 1841, Thomas Cook organized the first package excursion, traveling from Leicester to Loughborough.
  • In 1915, the Liberty Bell left Philadelphia by special train on its way to the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. This is the last trip outside Philadelphia that the custodians of the bell intend to permit.
  • In 1935, the National Labor Relations Act, which governs labor relations in the United States, was signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • In 1937, the luncheon meat Spam was introduced into the market by the Hormel Foods Corporation.
  • In 1946, the bikini first went on sale after debuting during an outdoor fashion show at the Molitor Pool in Paris, France.
  • In 1954, the BBC broadcasted its first television news bulletin.
  • In 1958, author and illustrator Bill Watterson was born.
  • In 1964, screenwriter and producer Ronald D. Moore was born.
  • In 1996, Dolly the sheep became the first mammal cloned from an adult cell.
  • In 2016, the Juno space probe arrived at Jupiter and began a 20-month survey of the planet.


In 1934, “Bloody Thursday” occurred as police opened fire on striking longshoremen in San Francisco.

The 1934 West Coast Waterfront Strike started on May 9, 1934, and lasted eighty-three days as longshoremen in every US West Coast port walked out from their jobs. The longshoremen had either been unorganized or represented by company unions since the years immediately after World War I, when the shipping companies and stevedoring firms had imposed the open shop after a series of failed strikes. Attempts had been made to organize and unionize longshoremen but had made little progress.

Communists had infiltrated the community, but the group that published The Waterfront Worker, a newspaper that focused on longshoremen’s most pressing demands – more men on each gang, lighter loads, and an independent union – operated independently from the party. Tensions rose until the strike began in May 1934, sparking daily clashes as employers hired strikebreakers who operated under police protection, leading to further altercations as strikers struck back.

“Bloody Thursday” was an attempt to reopen San Francisco. As spectators watched from Rincon Hill, the police shot tear gas canisters into the crowd, then followed with a charge by mounted police. Picketers threw the canisters and rocks back at the police, who charged again, sending the picketers into retreat. Tensions rose until policemen fired a shotgun into the crowd, striking three men in the intersection of Steuart and Mission streets. Two of them later died from their wounds.

The result of the strike was the unionization of all of the West Coast ports of the United States. The San Francisco General Strike of 1934, along with the Toledo Auto-Lite Strike of 1934 led by the American Workers Party and the Minneapolis Teamsters Strike of 1934 led by the Communist League of America, were catalysts for the rise of industrial unionism in the 1930s, much of which was organized through the Congress of Industrial Organizations.

The “Bloody Thursday” anniversary is marked by shutting down the West Coast ports every July 5th in honor of those who were killed by police during the lengthy strike.


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 – July 4

July 4, 2020
Day 186 of 366


July 4th is the 186th day of the year. It is the first evening of Dree Festival, celebrated until July 7th by the Apatani people in Arunachal Pradesh, India.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Barbecued Spareribs Day, National Caesar Salad Day, and Hop-a-Park Day (which is typically observed on the first Saturday in July).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1054, a supernova called SN 1054 was seen by the Chinese Song dynasty, Arabian, and possibly Amerindian observers near the star Zeta Tauri. For several months it remained bright enough to be seen during the day. Its remnants formed the Crab Nebula.
  • In 1744, the Treaty of Lancaster, in which the Iroquois ceded lands between the Allegheny Mountains and the Ohio River to the British colonies, was signed in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
  • In 1802, at West Point, New York, the United States Military Academy opened.
  • In 1803, the Louisiana Purchase was announced to the people of the United States.
  • In 1817, in Rome, New York, construction began on the Erie Canal.
  • In 1826, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, respectively the second and third presidents of the United States, died on the same day. Coincidentally, it was the fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the United States Declaration of Independence. Adams’ last words were, “Thomas Jefferson survives.”
  • In 1827, slavery was abolished in the State of New York.
  • In 1831, Samuel Francis Smith wrote “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee” for the Boston, Massachusetts July 4th festivities.
  • In 1837, Grand Junction Railway, the world’s first long-distance railway, opened between Birmingham and Liverpool.
  • In 1845, Henry David Thoreau moved into a small cabin on Walden Pond in Concord, Massachusetts. His account of his two years there, titled Walden, would become a touchstone of the environmental movement.
  • In 1855, the first edition of Walt Whitman’s book of poems, Leaves of Grass, was published in Brooklyn.
  • In 1862, Lewis Carroll told Alice Liddell a story. It would grow into Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and its sequels.
  • In 1863, the Army of Northern Virginia withdrew after losing the Battle of Gettysburg. This signaled an end to the Confederate invasion of United States territory.
  • In 1872, thirtieth President of the United States Calvin Coolidge was born.
  • In 1881, the Tuskegee Institute opened in Alabama.
  • In 1892, the first double-decked streetcar service was inaugurated in San Diego, California.
  • In 1903, the Philippine-American War was officially concluded.
  • In 1910, African-American boxer Jack Johnson knocked out white boxer Jim Jeffries in a heavyweight boxing match, sparking race riots across the United States. Johnson’s victory over Jeffries had dashed white dreams of finding a “great white hope” to defeat him.
  • In 1924, actress Eva Marie Saint was born.
  • In 1927, playwright and screenwriter Neil Simon was born.
  • In 1939, Lou Gehrig, recently diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), informed a crowd at Yankee Stadium that he considered himself “The luckiest man on the face of the earth”. He then announced his retirement from major league baseball.
  • In 1943, the Battle of Kursk, the largest full-scale battle in history and the world’s largest tank battle, began in the village of Prokhorovka.
  • In 1946, after 381 years of near-continuous colonial rule by various powers, the Philippines attained full independence from the United States.
  • In 1950, Radio Free Europe first broadcast.
  • In 1951, William Shockley announced the invention of the junction transistor.
  • In 1960, due to the post-Independence Day admission of Hawaii as the 50th U.S. state on August 21, 1959, the 50-star flag of the United States debuted in Philadelphia.
  • In 1966, United States President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Freedom of Information Act into law. The act went into effect the next year.
  • In 1976, the United States celebrated its Bicentennial.
  • In 1997, NASA’s Pathfinder space probe landed on the surface of Mars.
  • In 2005, the Deep Impact collider hit the comet Tempel 1.
  • In 2006, Space Shuttle Discovery launched mission STS-121 to the International Space Station. It was the only shuttle launch in the program’s history to occur on the United States’ Independence Day.
  • In 2012, the discovery of particles consistent with the Higgs boson at the Large Hadron Collider was announced at CERN.


In 1776, the United States Declaration of Independence was adopted by the Second Continental Congress.

The Lee Resolution for independence was passed on July 2 with no opposing votes. The Committee of Five – John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston – had drafted the Declaration to be ready when Congress voted on independence. John Adams, a leader in pushing for independence, had persuaded the committee to select Thomas Jefferson to compose the original draft of the document, which Congress edited to produce the final version.

The Declaration explained why the Thirteen Colonies at war with the Kingdom of Great Britain regarded themselves as thirteen independent sovereign states, no longer under British rule. With the Declaration, these new states took a collective first step toward forming the United States of America.

In CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.—That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,—That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.

Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their Public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness of his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected, whereby the Legislative Powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the meantime exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary Powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince, whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our British brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these united Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

The first and most famous signature on the engrossed copy was that of John Hancock, President of the Continental Congress. Two future presidents (Thomas Jefferson and John Adams) and a father and great-grandfather of two other presidents (Benjamin Harrison V) were among the signatories. Edward Rutledge (at age 26) was the youngest signer, and Benjamin Franklin (at age 70) was the oldest signer. The fifty-six signers of the Declaration represented the new states.

  • New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, William Whipple, Matthew Thornton
  • Massachusetts: Samuel Adams, John Adams, John Hancock, Robert Treat Paine, Elbridge Gerry
  • Rhode Island: Stephen Hopkins, William Ellery
  • Connecticut: Roger Sherman, Samuel Huntington, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
  • New York: William Floyd, Philip Livingston, Francis Lewis, Lewis Morris
  • New Jersey: Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon, Francis Hopkinson, John Hart, Abraham Clark
  • Pennsylvania: Robert Morris, Benjamin Rush, Benjamin Franklin, John Morton, George Clymer, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson, George Ross
  • Delaware: George Read, Caesar Rodney, Thomas McKean
  • Maryland: Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone, Charles Carroll of Carrollton
  • Virginia: George Wythe, Richard Henry Lee, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Nelson Jr., Francis Lightfoot Lee, Carter Braxton
  • North Carolina: William Hooper, Joseph Hewes, John Penn
  • South Carolina: Edward Rutledge, Thomas Heyward Jr., Thomas Lynch Jr., Arthur Middleton
  • Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton


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 – July 3

July 3, 2020
Day 185 of 366


July 3rd is the 185th day of the year. It is Emancipation Day in the United States Virgin Islands. It commemorates the Danish Governor Peter von Scholten’s 1848 proclamation that “all unfree in the Danish West Indies are from today emancipated,” following a slave rebellion led by John Gottlieb (General Buddhoe) in Frederiksted, Saint Croix.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Fried Clam Day, National Eat Your Beans Day, and National Chocolate Wafer Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1608, Québec City was founded by Samuel de Champlain.
  • In 1738, painter John Singleton Copley was born.
  • In 1844, the last pair of great auks were killed.
  • In 1852, the United States Congress established the country’s second mint in San Francisco.
  • In 1884, Dow Jones & Company published its first stock average.
  • In 1927, actor Tim O’Connor was born. You know him as that guy in ’70s and ’80s television.
  • In 1928, John Logie Baird demonstrated the first color television transmission in London.
  • In 1938, United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt dedicated the Eternal Light Peace Memorial and lit the eternal flame at Gettysburg Battlefield.
  • In 1941, lawyer and activist Gloria Allred was born.
  • In 1943, actor Kurtwood Smith was born.
  • In 1947, journalist and author Dave Barry was born. I was introduced to his work through Harry Anderson and Dave’s World in the mid-1990s.
  • In 1952, the Constitution of Puerto Rico was approved by the United States Congress.
  • In 1962, actor and producer Tom Cruise was born.
  • In 1964, actress, voice actress, comedian, and writer Yeardley Smith was born.
  • In 1965, actress Connie Nielsen was born.
  • In 1969, the biggest explosion in the history of rocketry occurred when the Soviet N-1 rocket exploded and subsequently destroyed its launchpad.
  • In 1976, actress Andrea Barber was born.
  • In 1980, actress Olivia Munn was born.
  • In 1985, Back to the Future premiered. Great Scott!
  • In 1996, British Prime Minister John Major announced the Stone of Scone would be returned to Scotland.


In 1944, Minsk, the capital of Belarus, was liberated from the Wehrmacht during the Minsk Offensive in World War II.

The offensive was part of the second phase of the Belorussian Strategic Offensive of the Red Army in the summer of 1944, commonly known as Operation Bagration. The Red Army encircled the German Fourth Army in Minsk, and Hitler ordered his troops to hold fast and declared the city to be a fortified place. The Soviet army attacked from the north-east, the east, and the south, killing 40,000 of the 100,000 Axis soldiers in Minsk. The result was a complete victory for the Red Army, the liberation of Minsk, and the rapid destruction of much of the German Army Group Centre.

As a result, the day is celebrated as Independence Day in Belarus, also known as Republic Day or Liberation 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 – July 2

July 2, 2020
Day 184 of 366


July 2nd is the 184th day of the year. Today begins the second half of the year.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Anisette Day. Basically, if you like alcohol and the flavors of black licorice or black jelly beans, this is your day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1698, Thomas Savery patented the first steam engine.
  • In 1776, the Continental Congress adopted a resolution severing ties with the Kingdom of Great Britain, although the wording of the formal Declaration of Independence was not published until July 4th.
  • In 1839, twenty miles off the coast of Cuba, 53 kidnapped Africans led by Joseph Cinqué mutinied and took over the slave ship Amistad.
  • In 1853, the Russian Army crossed the Pruth river into the Danubian Principalities, Moldavia and Wallachia. This provided the spark that set off the Crimean War.
  • In 1881, Charles J. Guiteau shot and fatally wounded United States President James Garfield. The president would die of complications from his wounds on September 19th.
  • In 1908, lawyer and jurist Thurgood Marshall was born. He was the 32nd Solicitor General of the United States and the first African-American justice of the United States Supreme Court.
  • In 1927, actor and singer Brock Peters was born.
  • In 1934, the Night of the Long Knives ended with the death of Ernst Röhm.
  • In 1937, Amelia Earhart and navigator Fred Noonan were last heard from over the Pacific Ocean while attempting to make the first equatorial round-the-world flight.
  • In 1948, actor Saul Rubinek was born.
  • In 1962, the first Walmart store, then known as Wal-Mart, opened for business in Rogers, Arkansas.
  • In 1964, United States President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which was meant to prohibit segregation in public places.
  • In 1983, singer-songwriter and guitarist Michelle Branch was born.
  • In 1985, actress and singer Ashley Tisdale was born.
  • In 1986, actress and singer Lindsay Lohan was born.
  • In 1990, actress and producer Margot Robbie was born.
  • In 2013, the International Astronomical Union named Pluto’s fourth and fifth moons, Kerberos and Styx.


In 2013, the International Astronomical Union named Pluto’s fourth and fifth moons, Kerberos and Styx. This happened after Pluto was redesignated as a dwarf planet in 2006.

Kerberos was discovered on June 28, 2011, by researchers of the Pluto Companion Search Team using the Hubble Space Telescope. It has a double-lobed shape and is approximately 12 miles across its longest dimension and 5.6 miles across its shortest dimension. It was named after Cerberus, the mythical dog that guards Pluto’s underworld, but since an asteroid was already named 1865 Cerberus, the moon was named Kerberos, using the Greek form of the name.

Styx was discovered at about the same time as Kerberos. It is thought to have formed from the debris lofted by a collision and has measurements ranging from 5 to 10 miles across. Following the convention for naming Plutonian moons with association with the mythological god Pluto, it was named after the goddess of the river of the same name in the underworld.


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 – July 1

July 1, 2020
Day 183 of 366


July 1st is the 183rd day of the year. It is Independence Day in Burundi, Rwanda, and Somalia. The first two left Belgian control in 1962, and Somalia’s independence came from the unification of the Trust Territory of Somalia (the former Italian Somalia) and the State of Somaliland (the former British Somaliland) in 1960.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Postal Worker Day, National U.S. Postage Stamp Day, National Creative Ice Cream Flavors Day, and National Gingersnap Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1766, young French nobleman François-Jean de la Barre was tortured and beheaded. Before his body was burnt on a pyre, a copy of Voltaire’s Dictionnaire philosophique was nailed to his torso. His crime was not saluting a Roman Catholic religious procession in Abbeville, France.
  • In 1858, a joint reading of Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace’s papers on evolution was conducted before the Linnean Society of London.
  • In 1870, the United States Department of Justice formally came into existence.
  • In 1878, Canada joined the Universal Postal Union.
  • In 1881, the world’s first international telephone call was made between St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada, and Calais, Maine, United States.
  • In 1890, Canada and Bermuda were linked by telegraph cable.
  • In 1908, SOS was adopted as the international distress signal.
  • In 1916, actress Olivia de Havilland was born.
  • In 1932, Australia’s national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, was formed.
  • In 1934, actor Jamie Farr was born.
  • In 1935, actor David Prowse was born.
  • In 1942, actress Geneviève Bujold was born.
  • In 1945, singer-songwriter and actress Debbie Harry was born.
  • In 1952, Canadian actor, producer, and screenwriter Dan Aykroyd was born.
  • In 1956, actor Alan Ruck was born.
  • In 1961, Diana, Princess of Wales was born.
  • In 1962, actor and producer Andre Braugher was born.
  • In 1963, ZIP codes were introduced for the United States mail service.
  • In 1966, the first color television transmission in Canada took place from Toronto.
  • In 1968, the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons was signed in Washington, D.C., London, and Moscow by sixty-two countries.
  • In 1972, the first Pride march in England took place.
  • In 1977, actress Liv Tyler was born.
  • In 1979, Sony introduced the Walkman.
  • In 1980, “O Canada” officially became the national anthem of Canada.
  • In 1984, the PG-13 rating was introduced by the Motion Picture Association of America.
  • In 1990, East Germany accepted the Deutsche Mark as its currency, thus uniting the economies of East and West Germany.
  • In 1991, the Warsaw Pact was officially dissolved at a meeting in Prague.
  • Also in 1991, Terminator 2: Judgement Day opened.
  • In 1997, China resumed sovereignty over the city-state of Hong Kong, ending 156 years of British colonial rule.
  • In 1999, the Scottish Parliament was officially opened by Elizabeth II on the day that legislative powers were officially transferred from the old Scottish Office in London to the new devolved Scottish Executive in Edinburgh. In Wales, the powers of the Welsh Secretary were transferred to the National Assembly.
  • In 2007, smoking in England was banned in all public indoor spaces.


July 1st is Canada Day.

A federal statutory holiday, it celebrates the anniversary of the Constitution Act, 1867 (then called the British North America Act, 1867), which united the three separate colonies of the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick into a single Dominion within the British Empire called Canada.

It was originally called Dominion Day – Le Jour de la Confédération in French – but was renamed in 1982, the same year in which the Canadian Constitution was patriated by the Canada Act 1982.

Most communities in Canada celebrate with parades, festivals, fireworks, concerts, and citizenship ceremonies. Given the federal nature of the anniversary, celebrating Canada Day can be a cause of friction in the province of Quebec, where the holiday is overshadowed by Quebec’s National Holiday on June 24th. Canada Day also coincides with Quebec’s Moving Day, when many fixed-lease apartment rental terms expire.


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 – June 30

June 30, 2020
Day 182 of 366


June 30th is the 182nd day of the year. It is Teachers’ Day in the Dominican Republic.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as Social Media Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1688, the Immortal Seven issued the Invitation to William, which would culminate in the Glorious Revolution.
  • In 1864, United States President Abraham Lincoln granted Yosemite Valley to California for “public use, resort, and recreation”.
  • In 1905, Albert Einstein sent the article On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies, in which he introduced special relativity, for publication in Annalen der Physik.
  • In 1917, actress Susan Hayward was born.
  • In 1922, United States Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes and Dominican Ambassador Francisco J. Peynado signed the Hughes–Peynado agreement, which ended the United States occupation of the Dominican Republic.
  • In 1925, Charles Jenkins was granted the United States patent for Transmitting Pictures over Wireless. Basically, it’s the early television.
  • In 1934, the Night of the Long Knives, Adolf Hitler’s violent purge of his political rivals in Germany, took place.
  • In 1937, the world’s first emergency telephone number, 999, was introduced in London.
  • In 1942, naval officer and oceanographer Robert Ballard was born.
  • In 1956, actor, singer, and comedian David Alan Grier was born.
  • In 1959, actor Vincent D’Onofrio was born.
  • In 1966, the National Organization for Women, the United States’ largest feminist organization, was founded.
  • In 1971, the crew of the Soviet Soyuz 11 spacecraft was killed when their air supply escaped through a faulty valve.
  • In 1972, the first leap second was added to the UTC time system.
  • In 1982, actress Lizzy Caplan was born.
  • In 1997, the United Kingdom transferred sovereignty over Hong Kong to China.


In 1908, the Tunguska Event occurred.

It was the largest impact event on Earth in human recorded history, resulting in a massive explosion over Eastern Siberia. The event occurred near the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in Yeniseysk Governorate (now Krasnoyarsk Krai) in Russia. The explosion over the sparsely populated Eastern Siberian Taiga flattened an estimated 80 million trees over an area of 830 square miles of forest, and eyewitness reports suggest that at least three people may have died in the event.

The explosion is generally attributed to the airburst of a meteoroid of about 328 feet in size. There was no impact crater since the object is thought to have disintegrated at an altitude of 3 to 6 miles above the surface.

In commemoration of the event, June 30th is observed as International Asteroid Day, a day that aims to raise awareness about asteroids and what can be done to protect the Earth, its families, communities, and future generations from a catastrophic event.

Asteroid Day was co-founded by Stephen Hawking, filmmaker Grigorij Richters, B612 Foundation President, Danica Remy, Apollo 9 astronaut Rusty Schweickart and Brian May, Queen guitarist and astrophysicist. The declaration was co-signed by over 200 astronauts, scientists, technologists and artists, including Richard Dawkins, Bill Nye, Peter Gabriel, Jim Lovell, Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins, Alexei Leonov, Bill Anders, Kip Thorne, Lord Martin Rees, Chris Hadfield, Rusty Schweickart, and Brian Cox.


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 – June 29

June 29, 2020
Day 181 of 366


June 29th is the 181st day of the year. It is Engineer’s Day in Ecuador and Veterans’ Day in the Netherlands.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Camera Day, National Waffle Iron Day, and National Almond Buttercrunch Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1613, the Globe Theatre in London burned to the ground. A second Globe Theatre was built on the same site by June 1614 and closed by an Ordinance issued on September 6, 1642. A modern reconstruction of the Globe, named “Shakespeare’s Globe”, opened in 1997 approximately 750 feet from the site of the original.
  • In 1786, Alexander Macdonell and over five hundred Roman Catholic highlanders left Scotland to settle in Glengarry County, Ontario.
  • In 1888, George Edward Gouraud recorded Handel’s Israel in Egypt onto a phonograph cylinder, thought for many years to be the oldest known recording of music.
  • In 1889, Hyde Park and several other Illinois townships voted to be annexed by Chicago, forming the largest United States city in area and second largest in population at the time.
  • In 1919, actor and rodeo performer Slim Pickens was born.
  • In 1920, animator and producer Ray Harryhausen was born.
  • In 1927, the Bird of Paradise, a United States Army Air Corps Fokker tri-motor, completes the first transpacific flight, from the mainland United States to Hawaii.
  • In 1940, in the Batman comic series, mobsters murdered a circus highwire team known as the Flying Graysons. The lone survivor, an orphan named Dick Grayson, would later become Batman’s sidekick Robin.
  • In 1956, the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 was signed by United States President Dwight D. Eisenhower, officially creating the United States Interstate Highway System.
  • In 1961, actress, singer, and dancer Sharon Lawrence was born.
  • In 1964, the first Star Trek pilot, “The Cage”, premiered.
  • In 1968, actress and educator Judith Hoag was born.
  • In 1974, Vice President Isabel Perón assumed powers and duties as Acting President of Argentina, while her husband President Juan Perón was terminally ill.
  • Also in 1974, Mikhail Baryshnikov defected from the Soviet Union to Canada while on tour with the Kirov Ballet.
  • In 1995, Space Shuttle Atlantis docked with Russian space station Mir during Mission STS-71, marking the first time the docking was completed.
  • In 2001, A.I. Artificial Intelligence was released.
  • In 2006, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld that President George W. Bush’s plan to try Guantanamo Bay detainees in military tribunals violated American and international law.
  • In 2007, Apple Inc. released its first mobile phone, the iPhone.


In 1975, Steve Wozniak tested his first prototype of Apple I computer.

The Apple I was Apple’s first product, and to finance its creation, Steve Jobs sold his only motorized means of transportation, a VW Microbus, for a few hundred dollars, and Wozniak sold his HP-65 calculator for $500.

It was initially released on April 11, 1976, for an introductory price of $666.66. It was discontinued on September 30, 1977, after the June 10, 1977 introduction of its successor, the Apple II. The Apple I’s built-in computer terminal circuitry was distinctive, and all that was needed was a keyboard and a television set. Competing machines such as the Altair 8800 generally were programmed with front-mounted toggle switches and used indicator lights for output, and had to be extended with separate hardware to allow connection to a computer terminal or a teletypewriter machine.

The computer housed a 1 MHz processor with 4 kilobytes of onboard memory. The memory could be expanded to 8 kilobytes, or up to 48 kilobytes with expansion cards. The computer is now a collectors’ item, with sixty-three in confirmed existence and only six verified to be in working order. The machines have sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.


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 – June 28

June 28, 2020
Day 180 of 366


June 28th is the 180th day of the year. Today marks the fifty-first anniversary of the Stonewall riots.

The Stonewall riots, also known as the Stonewall uprising or the Stonewall rebellion, were a series of spontaneous and violent demonstrations by members of the LGBT community in response to a police raid that began in the early morning hours of June 28, 1969. The LGBT community faced a severely oppressive legal system in that era, and police raids on gay bars were routine and often very aggressive. The raid at the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City was no exception. Patrons of the Stonewall, other Village lesbian and gay bars, and neighborhood street people fought back when the police became violent. Tensions between New York City police and gay residents of Greenwich Village erupted into more protests the next evening, and again several nights later.

Within weeks, Village residents quickly organized into activist groups to concentrate efforts on establishing places for gay men and lesbians to be open about their sexual orientation without fear of being arrested. Within six months, two gay activist organizations were formed in New York, concentrating on confrontational tactics, and three newspapers were established to promote rights for gay men and lesbians. A year after the uprising, to mark the anniversary on June 28, 1970, the first gay pride marches took place in New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Within a few years, gay rights organizations were founded across the U.S. and the world. The Stonewall National Monument was established at the site in 2016.

The riots are widely considered to be one of the most important events leading to the gay liberation movement and the modern fight for LGBT rights in the United States. While we have a long, long way to go in this country toward acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community, Stonewall marked the start of the Gay Rights Movement.

Never forget that the first Pride march was a demonstration against injustice and police brutality. 


June 28th is also Tau Day in certain circles. If you recall, Pi Day is March 14th (3/14, since π is approximately 3.14), so Tau Day is June 28th (6/28, since τ=2π).


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Logistics Day, National Paul Bunyan Day, National Insurance Awareness Day, and National Alaska Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1776, the Battle of Sullivan’s Island ended with an American victory, leading to the commemoration of Carolina Day.
  • In 1838, the Coronation of Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom took place.
  • In 1841, the Paris Opera Ballet premiered Giselle in the Salle Le Peletier.
  • In 1846, Adolphe Sax patented the saxophone.
  • In 1894, Labor Day became an official United States holiday. It is celebrated on the first Monday of September, so chosen since the date lies midway between Independence Day and Thanksgiving.
  • In 1922, voice actor Erik Bauersfeld was born. In Return of the Jedi, he said one of the most famous lines in Star Wars history: “It’s a trap!”
  • In 1926, Mercedes-Benz was formed by Gottlieb Daimler and Karl Benz merging their two companies.
  • Also in 1926, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Mel Brooks was born.
  • n 1932, actor Pat Morita was born.
  • In 1948, actress Kathy Bates was born.
  • In 1951, actress and author Lalla Ward was born. She portrayed the second Romana on Doctor Who.
  • In 1954, actress Alice Krige was born.
  • In 1964, Malcolm X formed the Organization of Afro-American Unity.
  • In 1966, actress Mary Stuart Masterson was born.


June 28th is Poznań Remembrance Day in Poland, a commemoration of the Poznań protests of 1956. These were the first of several massive protests against the communist government of the Polish People’s Republic. Demonstrations by workers demanding better working conditions at Poznań’s Cegielski Factories were met with violent repression. Approximately 100,000 people gathered in the city center and were met by about 400 tanks and 10,000 soldiers of the Polish People’s Army and the Internal Security Corps under the command of the Polish-Soviet general Stanislav Poplavsky. They suppressed the demonstrations by firing on the protesting civilians, resulting in over a hundred deaths including a 13-year-old boy, Romek Strzałkowski.


June 28th is also Vidovdan – Видовдан, also known as St. Vitus Day – a Serbian national and religious holiday used by the Serbian Orthodox Church to venerate St. Vitus, the patron saint of the Kindom of Serbia. It serves as a memorial day to Saint Prince Lazar and the Serbian holy martyrs who fell during the Battle of Kosovo against the Ottoman Empire on June 15, 1389 on the Julian calendar, and is an important part of Serb ethnic and Serbian national identity.

The day is part of the Kosovo Myth, a traditional belief that the Battle of Kosovo symbolizes a martyrdom of the Serbian nation in defense of their honor and Christendom against the Turks. The essence of the myth is that during the battle, Serbs, headed by Prince Lazar, lost because they consciously sacrificed the earthly kingdom of the Serbian Empire in order to gain the Kingdom of Heaven.

Vidovdan is so important to the national identity that several landmark events have taken place on the date or are credited by the Serbian people to the Kosovo Myth.

  • In 1389, the Ottoman army fought the Serbian army in the Battle of Kosovo on the Kosovo field. Both Sultan Murad and Prince Lazar were slain in battle.
  • In 1876, the Serbian government declared war against the Ottoman Empire, sparking the Serbian-Ottoman War that spanned 1876 to 1878.
  • In 1914, Austro-Hungarian crown prince Franz Ferdinand was assassinated by Gavrilo Princip, an event that triggered the First World War. It was a coincidence that the archduke visited Sarajevo on that day, but the assassination falling on Vidovdan added nationalist symbolism to the event.
  • In 1916, Radomir Vešović and other notable Montenegrin officers planned an uprising in Montenegro against the Austro-Hungarian occupying forces.
  • In 1919, the Treaty of Versailles was signed, ending World War I.
  • In 1921, Serbian King Alexander I proclaimed the new Constitution of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, known thereafter as the Vidovdan Constitution (Vidovdanski ustav).
  • In 1948, the Cominform – the Information Bureau of the Communist and Workers’ Parties, which was the official central organization of the International Communist Movement from 1947 to 1956 – published in a “Resolution on the State of the Communist Party of Yugoslavia” their condemnation of the Yugoslavian communist leaders. This date was chosen carefully by Soviet leaders and delegates Zhdanov, Malenkov, and Suslov, and is seen as the turning point that marks the final split between Stalin’s Soviet Union and Tito’s Yugoslavia.
  • In 1989, on the 600th anniversary of the battle of Kosovo, Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević delivered the Gazimestan speech on the site of the historic battle.
  • In 1990, an amendment was brought to the Constitution of Croatia that changed the status of Serbs from constituent people (konstitutivni narod) of the Croatian nation to national minority.
  • In 2001, Slobodan Milošević was deported to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) to stand trial for war crimes in connection to the wars in Bosnia, Croatia, and Kosovo.
  • In 2006, Montenegro was announced as the 192nd member state of the United Nations.
  • In 2008, the inaugural meeting of the Community Assembly of Kosovo and Metohija took place.
  • In 2018, the formal reopening of the National Museum of Serbia in Belgrade took place after 15 years of renovation.

The veneration of St. Vitus is so popular that his name (Sveti Vid) may have also replaced the old cult of the god of light Svetovid, a Slavic deity of war, fertility, and abundance primarily venerated on the island of Rügen into the 12th century.


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.