The Thing About Today – September 19

September 19, 2020
Day 263 of 366


September 19th is the 263rd day of the year. It is Independence Day for Saint Kitts and Nevis, commemorating its separation from the United Kingdom in 1983.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Butterscotch Pudding Day, Talk Like A Pirate Day, and a whole slew of things that are typically observed on the third Saturday of September: National Dance Day; National Gymnastics Day; Boys’ and Girls’ Club Day for Kids; Puppy Mill Awareness Day; Responsible Dog Ownership Day; and National CleanUp Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1796, George Washington’s Farewell Address, formally The Address of Gen. Washington to the People of America on His Declining the Presidency of the United States, was printed across America as an open letter to the public. You can read it here via The American Presidency Project at UC Santa Barbara.
  • In 1846, two French shepherd children, Mélanie Calvat and Maximin Giraud, experienced a Marian apparition on a mountaintop near La Salette, France. It is now known as Our Lady of La Salette.
  • In 1881, United States President James A. Garfield died of wounds suffered in a July 2nd shooting. Vice President Chester A. Arthur assumed the office upon Garfield’s death.
  • In 1908, Japanese martial artist Tatsuo Shimabuku was born. He was the founder of Isshin-ryū.
  • In 1911, British novelist, playwright, poet, and Nobel Prize laureate William Golding was born.
  • In 1927, actress Rosemary Harris was born.
  • In 1928, actor, businessman, and 1960s Caped Crusader Adam West was born.
  • In 1933, actor David McCallum was born.
  • In 1944, the Battle of Hürtgen Forest began near the Belgian-German border during World War II. It would become the longest individual battle that the United States Army has ever fought.
  • In 1948, actor Jeremy Irons was born.
  • In 1949, English model, actress, and singer Twiggy was born.
  • In 1950, American television journalist, anchor, and author Joan Lunden was born.
  • In 1952, The Adventures of Superman premiered on television.
  • In 1957, Plumbbob Rainier became the first nuclear explosion to be entirely contained underground, producing no fallout.
  • In 1966, journalist and producer Soledad O’Brien was born.
  • In 1972, writer N. K. Jemisin was born.
  • In 1974, comedian and talk show host Jimmy Fallon was born.
  • In 1975, Fawlty Towers premiered.
  • In 1982, Scott Fahlman posted the first documented emoticons on the Carnegie Mellon University bulletin board system. They were 🙂 and 😦 .
  • In 1987, actress Danielle Panabaker was born.
  • In 1989, Doogie Howser, M.D. premiered.
  • In 1994, ER premiered.
  • In 1995, The Washington Post and The New York Times published the Unabomber’s manifesto.


September 19th is International Talk Like a Pirate Day.

It is a parody holiday created in 1995 by John “Ol’ Chumbucket” Baur and Mark “Cap’n Slappy” Summers of Albany, Oregon.

According to Summers, the day is the only known holiday to come into being as a result of a sports injury. During a racquetball game between Summers and Baur, one of them reacted to the pain with an outburst of “Aaarrr!”, and the idea was born. They chose Summers’ ex-wife’s birthday since the date would be easy for him to remember.

The holiday gained exposure when Baur and Summers sent a letter about it to the American syndicated humor columnist Dave Barry in 2002. The holiday, and its observance, springs from a romanticized view of the Golden Age of Piracy (1650s-1730s).

Ahoy, me hearties!


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 – September 18

September 18, 2020
Day 262 of 366


September 18th is the 262nd day of the year. It is National HIV/AIDS and Aging Awareness Day in the United States.

It is also National POW/MIA Recognition Day in the United States. Congress established the National POW/MIA Recognition Day with the passage of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act.  Typically observed on the third Friday in September, it is one of the six days that Federal Law requires government facilities to fly the POW/MIA Flag. It serves to remember and honor the members of the Armed Forces who remain missing in action or are prisoners of war.

Tonight also begins the celebration of Rosh Hashana (רֹאשׁ הַשָּׁנָה‎), the Jewish New Year. Rosh Hashanah is a two-day celebration that begins on the first day of Tishrei, which is the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year. It marks the beginning of the civil year, according to the teachings of Judaism. It is the traditional anniversary of the creation of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman according to the Hebrew Bible, and the inauguration of humanity’s role in God’s world.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Cheeseburger Day, National Tradesmen Day (typically observed on the third Friday in September), and National Hug Your Boss Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1793, the first cornerstone of the United States Capitol was laid by George Washington.
  • In 1809, the Royal Opera House in London opened.
  • In 1819, French physicist and academic Léon Foucault was born. H demonstrated the effect of the Earth’s rotation using the Foucault pendulum, made an early measurement of the speed of light, discovered eddy currents, and is credited with naming the gyroscope.
  • In 1837, Tiffany & Co. was founded by Charles Lewis Tiffany and Teddy Young in New York City. Originally named Tiffany & Young, the store was called a “stationery and fancy goods emporium”.
  • In 1851, The New-York Daily Times was first published. It later became The New York Times.
  • In 1870, the Old Faithful Geyser was observed and named by Henry D. Washburn.
  • In 1895, the Atlanta Exposition Speech on race relations was delivered by Booker T. Washington.
  • In 1917, voice actress June Foray was born.
  • In 1919, the Netherlands gave women the right to vote.
  • In 1927, the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) went on the air.
  • In 1947, the National Security Council and the Central Intelligence Agency were established in the United States by the National Security Act. It also established the Air Force as an equal partner of the Army and Navy.
  • In 1948, Margaret Chase Smith of Maine became the first woman elected to the United States Senate without completing another senator’s term.
  • In 1963, English-Canadian composer and conductor John Powell was born.
  • In 1964, The Addams Family premiered.
  • In 1965, Get Smart premiered.
  • Also in 1965, I Dream of Jeannie premiered.
  • In 1971, actress Jada Pinkett Smith was born.
  • In 1973, actor James Marsden was born.
  • In 1977, Voyager I took the first distant photograph of the Earth and the Moon together.
  • In 1983, Hardcastle and McCormick premiered.
  • In 1985, The Equalizer premiered.
  • In 2009, Guiding Light came to an end after 72 years on the air. It holds the Guinness World Record of the longest-running drama in television in American history, broadcast on CBS for 57 years from June 30, 1952, until September 18, 2009. That run overlapped a 19-year broadcast on radio from 1937 to 1956, giving Guiding Light the records of the longest-running soap opera and the fifth-longest running program in all of broadcast history.
  • In 2014, Emma Watson delivered an address to a standing ovation at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. The address helped launch the UN women’s campaign HeForShe, which calls for men to advocate for gender equality.


September 18th is National Music Day in Azerbaijan.

The event celebrates the 1885 birthday of Uzeyir Hajibeyov, an Azerbaijani composer, conductor, publicist, playwright, and social figure. He is recognized as the father of Azerbaijani-composed classical music and opera, and was the first composer of opera in the Islamic world.

Hajibeyov composed the music of the national anthem of the Azerbaijan Democratic Republic, which was re-adopted after Azerbaijan regained its independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, and the anthem used by Azerbaijan during the Soviet period.

The tradition of Uzeyir Hajibeyov’s birthday as a celebration was founded by composer and conductor Niyazi who commemorated this day very year after Uzeyir Hajibeyov’s death. In 1995, on the 110th birthday of the genius composer, President Haydar Aliyev decreed that September 18th would be National Music 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 – September 17

September 17, 2020
Day 261 of 366


September 17th is the 261st day of the year. It is Batman Day, an annual observance begun by DC Comics in 2014 to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the first appearance of Batman in Detective Comics in 1939. The day was chosen to coincide with San Diego Comic-Con, and subsequent observances have been on the third Saturday in September.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Professional House Cleaners Day, National Apple Dumpling Day, National Monte Cristo Day, and National Pawpaw Day (typically observed on the third Thursday in September).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1630, the city of Boston, Massachusetts was founded by Puritan settlers. It was named after the city of the same name in Lincolnshire, England.
  • In 1776, the Presidio of San Francisco was founded in New Spain.
  • In 1849, American abolitionist Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery.
  • In 1900, businessman J. Willard Marriott was born. He founded the Marriott Corporation.
  • In 1908, the Wright Flyer, flown by Orville Wright with Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge as a passenger, crashed. Selfridge died, becoming the first airplane fatality.
  • In 1928, actor Roddy McDowall was born.
  • In 1945, actor Bruce Spence was born.
  • In 1949, Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote made their Looney Tunes debut in a short named “Fast and Furry-ous”.
  • In 1951, actress Cassandra Peterson was born. She is better known as Elvira, Mistress of the Dark.
  • In 1954, the novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding was first published.
  • In 1964, Bewitched premiered on television.
  • In 1965, actor Kyle Chandler was born.
  • In 1966, Mission: Impossible premiered on television.
  • In 1972, the television version of M*A*S*H premiered.
  • In 1976, the Space Shuttle Enterprise was unveiled by NASA.
  • In 1983, Vanessa Williams became the first black Miss America.
  • In 1991, the first version of the Linux kernel was released to the Internet.


In 1787, the United States Constitution was signed in Philadelphia.

It marked the end of the Constitutional Convention, which started on May 25th. During that time, the 55 delegates debated the duties of the government, checks, and balances, and the rights and freedoms of the people. They divided the government into three branches – legislative to make the laws, executive to execute the laws, and the judicial to interpret the laws – and established a Bill of Rights, which comprises the first ten amendments to the document and enumerated the rights and freedoms of the people.

On December 7, 1787, Delaware became the first state to ratify the Constitution. The process of obtaining each state’s approval began, and since Rhode Island didn’t send any delegates to the Constitutional Convention because they wanted to hold on to their independence as long as they could, they were the last state to ratify the Constitution on May 29, 1790.

September 17th commemorates the end of the Constitutional Convention, recognizing the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become American citizens, in an observance called Constitution Day and Citizenship Day. Citizenship Day was formerly observed on the third Sunday in May.


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 – September 16

September 16, 2020
Day 260 of 366


September 16th is the 260th day of the year. It is the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer, a United Nations day commemorating the day in 1987 on which nations signed the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Play-Doh Day, National Cinnamon Raisin Bread Day, National Guacamole Day, National Step Family Day, National Working Parents Day, and Mayflower Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 1620, the Pilgrims set sail from England on the Mayflower. The Pilgrims arrived in North America on November 9, 1620, and established the Plymouth Colony in what is today Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was named after the final departure port of Plymouth, Devon. Their leadership came from the religious congregations of Brownists, or Separatist Puritans, who had fled religious persecution in England for the tolerance of 17th-century Holland in the Netherlands.
  • In 1863, Robert College was founded in Istanbul. It was the first American educational institution outside the United States and was founded by Christopher Robert, an American philanthropist.
  • In 1875, businessman and philanthropist James Cash Penney was born. He founded J. C. Penney.
  • In 1877, American-Canadian inventor and businessman Jacob Schick was born. He founded Schick Razors.
  • In 1880, The Cornell Daily Sun printed its first issue in Ithaca, New York. The Sun is the United States’ oldest, continuously-independent college daily.
  • In 1898, author and illustrator H. A. Rey was born. He and his wife Margret created Curious George.
  • In 1908, the General Motors Corporation was founded.
  • In 1922, French-English director and screenwriter Guy Hamilton was born. He directed four James Bond films.
  • In 1924, actress Lauren Bacall was born.
  • In 1925, singer-songwriter, guitarist, and producer B.B. King was born.
  • In 1927, actor Peter Falk was born.
  • In 1955, a Soviet Zulu-class submarine became the first to launch a ballistic missile.
  • In 1956, TCN-9 Sydney became the first Australian television station to commence regular broadcasts.
  • In 1958, actress Jennifer Tilly was born.
  • In 1959, the first successful photocopier, the Xerox 914, was introduced in a demonstration on live television from New York City.
  • In 1963, The Outer Limits premiered.
  • In 1964, actress, comedian and producer Molly Shannon was born.
  • In 1966, the Metropolitan Opera House opened at Lincoln Center in New York City with the world premiere of Samuel Barber’s opera Antony and Cleopatra.
  • In 1971, actress and comedian Amy Poehler was born.
  • In 1972, Bridget Loves Bernie premiered. It was the first television series featuring a mixed marriage, which in this case was an interfaith marriage between a Catholic woman and a Jewish man. Loosley based on the premise of the 1920s Broadway play and 1940s radio show Abie’s Irish Rose, the series was quite controversial and was canceled after one season. Stars Meredith Baxter and David Birney married in real life after the series ended.
  • In 1975, Cape Verde, Mozambique, and São Tomé and Príncipe joined the United Nations.
  • In 1976, Armenian champion swimmer Shavarsh Karapetyan saved 20 people from a trolleybus that had fallen into a Yerevan reservoir.
  • In 1979, eight people escaped from East Germany to the west in a homemade hot air balloon.
  • Also in 1979, The Sugarhill Gang released Rapper’s Delight was released. The song is credited for introducing hip hop music to a wide audience, as it reached the top 40 in the United States, the top 3 in the UK, and number one in Canada. The song was recorded in a single take, and there are five versions of the song: A 3:55 single, a 4:55 album version, a 6:30 12″ short version, a 7:07 long single version, and a 14:35 12″ long version.
  • In 1981, actress Alexis Bledel was born.
  • In 1984, Miami Vice premiered.
  • In 1992, the trial of the deposed Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega ended in the United States with a 40-year sentence for drug trafficking and money laundering.
  • In 1993, Frasier premiered.


In 1810, with the Grito de Dolores, Father Miguel Hidalgo began Mexico’s fight for independence from Spain.

In the 1810s, what would become Mexico was still New Spain, and therefore part of the Spanish crown. The independence movement began to take shape when José Bernardo Gutiérrez de Lara went to the small town of Dolores (now known as Dolores Hidalgo) and asked local Roman Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo to help to free New Spain from Spanish control.

Gutiérrez de Lara went to Washington, D.C. for military support while Hidalgo remained in Dolores. Fearing arrest, Hidalgo asked his brother Mauricio to convince the local sheriff to free the pro-independence inmates. Mauricio and armed men set 80 inmates free in the early morning of September 16th, and Hidalgo ordered the church bells to be rung as he gathered his congregation.

Flanked by Ignacio Allende and Juan Aldama, he addressed the people in front of his church, urging them to revolt. His speech became known as the “Cry of Dolores”.

The liberated country adopted Mexico as its official name, and their independence was achieved after a decade of war. Gutiérrez de Lara served as a commander during the war, and independence was achieved by the Declaration of Independence of the Mexican Empire on September 28, 1821.

Hidalgo is credited as being the “father of his country”. Every year on the eve of Independence Day, the President of Mexico re-enacts the cry from the balcony of the National Palace in Mexico City, while ringing the same bell Hidalgo used in 1810.


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 – September 15

September 15, 2020
Day 259 of 366


September 15th is the 259th day of the year. It is World Lymphoma Awareness Day, a day dedicated to raising awareness of lymphoma, an increasingly common form of cancer. Lymphoma is increasing in incidence and is a potentially life-threatening disease. One million people worldwide live with lymphoma and nearly 1,000 people are diagnosed with the disease every day.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Cheese Toast Day, National Linguine Day, National Felt Hat Day, National Double Cheeseburger Day, National Creme de Menthe Day, National Tackle Kids Cancer Day, National Neonatal Nurses Day, National Online Learning Day, Greenpeace Day, and National IT Professionals Day (typically observed on the third Tuesday in September).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1789, The United States “Department of Foreign Affairs”, established by law in July, was renamed the Department of State and given a variety of domestic duties.
  • In 1830, the Liverpool to Manchester railway line opened. British MP William Huskisson became the first widely reported railway passenger fatality when he was struck and killed by the locomotive Rocket.
  • In 1835, the HMS Beagle, with Charles Darwin aboard, reached the Galápagos Islands.
  • In 1890, English crime novelist, short story writer, and playwright Agatha Christie.
  • In 1907, Canadian-American actress Fay Wray was born.
  • In 1935, the Nuremberg Laws deprived German Jews of citizenship. On the same day, Nazi Germany adopted a new national flag bearing the swastika.
  • In 1940, the Battle of Britain came to its climax when the Royal Air Force shot down large numbers of Luftwaffe aircraft.
  • In 1946, actor, director, producer, and screenwriter Tommy Lee Jones was born.
  • In 1949, with a “Hi-yo, Silver! Away!”, The Lone Ranger premiered.
  • In 1962, the Soviet ship Poltava set a course for Cuba. It was one of the events that set the Cuban Missile Crisis into motion.
  • In 1967, United States President Lyndon B. Johnson, responding to a sniper attack at the University of Texas at Austin, wrote a letter to Congress urging the enactment of gun control legislation.
  • In 1968, the Soviet Zond 5 spaceship was launched, becoming the first spacecraft to fly around the Moon and re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere.
  • In 1971, Columbo premiered.
  • In 1977, actor Tom Hardy was born.
  • In 1981, the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously approved Sandra Day O’Connor to become the first female justice of the Supreme Court of the United States.
  • Also in 1981, the John Bull became the oldest operable steam locomotive in the world when the Smithsonian Institution operated it under its own power outside Washington, D.C.
  • In 1986, L.A. Law premiered.


September 15th is observed as the International Day of Democracy.

The United Nations observance has the purpose of promoting and upholding the principles of democracy, and it invites all member states and organizations to commemorate the day in an appropriate manner that contributes to raising public awareness.

The preamble of the resolution affirmed that “…while democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy and that democracy does not belong to any country or region… …democracy is a universal value based on the freely-expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems, and their full participation in all aspects of life.

The road to this declaration began in September 1997 when the Inter-Parliamentary Union adopted a Universal Declaration on Democracy. That Declaration affirms the principles of democracy, the elements and exercise of democratic government, and the international scope of democracy.

The international conferences on new and restored democracies process began in 1988 under the initiative of President Corazon C. Aquino of the Philippines after the so-called peaceful “People Power Revolution” overthrew the 20-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. The process developed into a three-part structure with the participation of governments, parliaments, and civil society.

After the sixth conference reinforced the tripartite nature of the process, concluding with a declaration and Plan of Action which reaffirmed the fundamental principles and values of democracy, an advisory board was established and promoted an International Day of Democracy.

Qatar took the lead in drafting the text of a United Nations General Assembly resolution and convened consultations with UN member states. The resolution was adopted by consensus on November 8, 2007.


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 – September 14

September 14, 2020
Day 258 of 366


September 14th is the 258th day of the year. It is Hindi Day (हिन्दी दिवसHindī Diwas), commemorating the adoption of Hindi as one of the two official languages of India.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Cream Filled Donut Day, National Eat a Hoagie Day, National Live Creative Day, National Sober Day, National Virginia Day, and National Boss/Employee Exchange Day (which is typically observed on the Monday after Labor Day).


Historical items of note:

  • In 786, the “Night of the three Caliphs” occurred. Harun al-Rashid (هَارُون الرَشِيد) became the fifth Abbasid Caliph upon the death of his brother al-Hadi (أبو محمد موسى بن المهدي الهادي). On the same day, Harun’s son al-Ma’mun (أبو العباس عبد الله بن هارون الرشيد‎), the seventh Caliph, was born.
  • In 1741, George Frideric Handel completed his oratorio Messiah.
  • In 1752, the British Empire adopted the Gregorian calendar. In doing so, they skipped eleven days, starting after September 2nd.
  • In 1901, United States President William McKinley died after being mortally wounded on September 6th by anarchist Leon Czolgosz. He was succeeded by Vice President Theodore Roosevelt.
  • In 1914, HMAS AE1, the Royal Australian Navy’s first submarine, was lost at sea with all hands near East New Britain, Papua New Guinea.
  • In 1936, actor Walter Koenig was born.
  • In 1947, Northern Irish-New Zealand actor and director Sam Neill was born.
  • In 1959, the Soviet probe Luna 2 crashed onto the Moon, becoming the first man-made object to reach it.
  • In 1960, English-Canadian actor and producer Callum Keith Rennie was born.
  • In 1964, Walt Disney was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
  • In 1973, English actor Andrew Lincoln was born.
  • In 1975, the first American saint, Elizabeth Ann Seton, was canonized by Pope Paul VI.
  • In 1984, Joe Kittinger became the first person to fly a gas balloon alone across the Atlantic Ocean.
  • In 1985, The Golden Girls premiered.
  • In 1989, English actress Jessica Brown Findlay was born.
  • In 1998, telecommunications companies MCI Communications and WorldCom completed their $37 billion merger to form MCI WorldCom.
  • In 1999, Kiribati, Nauru, and Tonga joined the United Nations.
  • In 2000, Microsoft released Windows Me (also known as Windows Millennium Edition). It was heavily panned by many users and critics, resulting in users staying with Windows 98, moving the enterprise-marketed Windows 2000, or waiting for one year until Windows XP was released.
  • In 2015, the first observation of gravitational waves was made, announced by the LIGO and Virgo collaborations on February 11, 2016.


In 1856, the Battle of San Jacinto took place in Hacienda San Jacinto, Managua, Nicaragua. The combatants were 160 soldiers of the Legitimist Septemtrion Army led by Colonel José Dolores Estrada and 300 Nicaraguan filibusters of William Walker led by Lieutenant Colonel Byron Cole. The filibusters were defeated by Estrada after four hours of combat in the morning.

The filibuster forces lost twenty-seven soldiers and the Nicaraguan forces lost twenty-eight.

The date of the battle is a national holiday in Nicaragua, observed on September 14th each year.


The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.

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



The Thing About Today – September 13

September 13, 2020
Day 257 of 366


September 13th is the 257th day of the year. It is Día de los Niños Héroes in Mexico, commemorating the young men killed at Cerro de Chapultepec on September 13, 1847, during the Mexican-American War. Chapultepec Castle served as a military academy that trained officers for the Mexican Army. When the American forces invaded, the staff and cadet volunteers of the academy contributed seventy of the approximately 1,000 defenders. The greatly outnumbered defenders battled General Winfield Scott’s troops for about two hours before General Bravo ordered a retreat, but six cadets refused to fall back and fought to the death. The Niños Héroes are a key part of Mexico’s patriotic lore.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Kids Take Over The Kitchen Day, National Peanut Day, Uncle Sam Day, National Celiac Disease Awareness Day, National Bald is Beautiful Day, National Pet Memorial Day (typically observed on the second Sunday in September), National Hug Your Hound Day (typically observed on the second Sunday in September), and National Grandparent’s Day (typically observed on the Sunday after Labor Day).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1501, Michelangelo began work on his statue of David.
  • In 1788, the Philadelphia Convention set the date for the first presidential election in the United States. It also established New York City as the country’s temporary capital.
  • In 1847, six teenage military cadets known as Niños Héroes died defending Chapultepec Castle in the Battle of Chapultepec. American troops under General Winfield Scott captured Mexico City in the Mexican-American War.
  • In 1848, Vermont railroad worker Phineas Gage survived an iron rod 1 14 inches in diameter being driven through his brain. The reported effects on his behavior and personality stimulated discussion of the nature of the brain and its functions.
  • In 1851, physician and biologist Walter Reed was born. While in the United States Army, Major Walter Reed led the team that confirmed the theory of the Cuban doctor Carlos Finlay that yellow fever is transmitted by a particular mosquito species, rather than by direct contact. This insight gave impetus to the new fields of epidemiology and biomedicine, and allowed the resumption and completion of work on the Panama Canal by the United States.
  • In 1857, businessman Milton S. Hershey was born. He founded The Hershey Company.
  • In 1898, Hannibal Goodwin patented celluloid photographic film.
  • In 1899, Henry Bliss became the first person in the United States to be killed in an automobile accident.
  • In 1924, French composer and conductor Maurice Jarre was born.
  • In 1925, singer-songwriter and actor Mel Tormé was born.
  • In 1931, actress Barbara Bain was born.
  • In 1933, Elizabeth McCombs became the first woman elected to the New Zealand Parliament.
  • In 1937, animator, director, and producer Don Bluth was born. He co-founded Sullivan Bluth Studios and Fox Animation Studios.
  • In 1939, actor and voice artist Richard Kiel was born. He played Jaws in the James Bond film franchise.
  • In 1944, actress and producer Jacqueline Bisset was born.
  • In 1946, director and producer Frank Marshall was born.
  • In 1948, Margaret Chase Smith was elected as a United States senator. She became the first woman to serve in both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate.
  • In 1951, actress Jean Smart was born.
  • In 1956, the IBM 305 RAMAC was introduced. It was the first commercial computer to use disk storage.
  • In 1962, an appeals court ordered the University of Mississippi to admit James Meredith, the first African-American student admitted to the segregated university.
  • In 1969, Scooby-Doo Where Are You? debuted.
  • In 1977, General Motors introduced the Diesel engine. The Oldsmobile Diesel engine was debuted in the Delta 88, Oldsmobile 98, and Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser models amongst others.
  • In 1985, Super Mario Bros. was released in Japan for the Nintendo Entertainment System, thus starting the Super Mario series of platforming games.
  • In 1987, the Goiânia accident occurred. A radioactive object was stolen from an abandoned hospital in Goiânia, Brazil. It contaminated many people in the following weeks and caused some to die from radiation poisoning.
  • In 1990, Law and Order premiered. The flagship series ran for twenty years, and it spawned seven spinoffs, one film, and five video game adaptations.
  • In 2005, Supernatural premiered. It is the longest-running North American fantasy series and will end this year after fifteen seasons.


In 1916, British novelist, short-story writer, poet, screenwriter, and wartime fighter pilot Roald Dahl was born.

He served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, becoming a fighter ace after scoring five confirmed victories. He became an intelligence officer, rising to the rank of acting wing commander. He rose to prominence as a writer in the 1940s with works for children and for adults.

His works for children include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr. Fox, The BFG, The Twits, and George’s Marvellous Medicine. His works have also been adapted for Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Tales of the Unexpected.

He wrote film screenplays for a brief period in the 1960s. Two of them – the James Bond film You Only Live Twice and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang –  were adaptations of novels by Ian Fleming. He also began adapting his novel Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but missed deadlines so it was completed and rewritten by David Seltzer. Dahl was disappointed in the resulting film, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, because “he thought it placed too much emphasis on Willy Wonka and not enough on Charlie”. Deviations in the plot between the film and the novel infuriated him, and he refused to allow any further adaptations in his lifetime.

Despite rumors of antisemitism, his life and legacy are continuously honored. He died on November 23, 1990, at the age of 74 from a rare cancer of the blood called myelodysplastic syndrome. His grave is constantly decorated by children with toys and flowers. The Roald Dahl Children’s Gallery at the Buckinghamshire County Museum uses his stories and works to stimulate interest in science and the arts. The Oval Basis plaza in Cardiff Bay has been renamed as Roald Dahl Plass, and is used in several modern productions including Torchwood.

Those memorials only scratch the surface. His books have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide, and he has been referred to as “one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th 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.



The Thing About Today – September 12

September 12, 2020
Day 256 of 366


September 12th is the 256th day of the year. It is Saragarhi Day in the Sikh community, commemorating the Battle of Saragarhi. It was a last-stand battle fought before the Tirah Campaign in 1897 between the British Raj and Afghan tribesmen. An estimated 24,000 Orakzai and Afridi tribesmen were seen near Gogra, at Samana Suk, and around Saragarhi, cutting off Fort Gulistan from Fort Lockhart. The Afghans attacked the outpost of Saragarhi, with thousands of them swarming the fort. The soldiers in the fort, all of whom were Sikhs, chose to fight to the death in what is considered by some military historians as one of the greatest last stands in history.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Video Games Day, National Chocolate Milkshake Day, National Day of Encouragement, National Report Medicare Fraud Day, and National Programmers Day (which is observed on the 256th day of the year).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1848, a new constitution marked the establishment of Switzerland as a federal state.
  • In 1910, the premiere performance of Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 occurred in Munich with a chorus of 852 singers and an orchestra of 171 players.
  • In 1914, Welsh-English soldier and actor Desmond Llewelyn was born. He portrayed Q in the James Bond film franchise.
  • In 1933, Leó Szilárd, waiting for a red light on Southampton Row in Bloomsbury, conceived the idea of the nuclear chain reaction.
  • In 1940, Wayne McLaren was born. He was the American stuntman, rodeo performer, model, and actor who was best known for playing the Marlboro Man. He died of lung cancer in 1992.
  • In 1957, German composer and producer Hans Zimmer was born.
  • In 1958, Jack Kilby demonstrated the first working integrated circuit while working at Texas Instruments.
  • In 1959, Bonanza premiered. It was the first regularly scheduled television program presented in color.
  • In 1962, United States President John F. Kennedy delivered his “We choose to go to the Moon” speech at Rice University.
  • In 1964, A Fistful of Dollars premiered. It was the film that started the Spaghetti Western genre and Clint Eastwood’s career.
  • In 1973, actor Paul Walker was born.
  • In 1978, actor Ben McKenzie was born.
  • In 1981, singer and actress Jennifer Hudson was born.
  • Also in 1981, The Smurfs premiered.
  • In 1986, singer and actress Emmy Rossum was born.
  • In 1992, NASA launched Space Shuttle Endeavour on STS-47, marking the 50th shuttle mission. The shuttle crew included Mae Carol Jemison (the first African-American woman in space), Mamoru Mohri (the first Japanese citizen to fly in a United States spacecraft), and Mark Lee and Jan Davis (the first married couple in space).


September 12th is Defenders Day in the State of Maryland, the city of Baltimore, and Baltimore County.

The day commemorates the successful defense of the city of Baltimore spanning September 12-14, 1814, from an invading British force during the War of 1812.

It was during this conflict, the Battle of Baltimore, that Fort McHenry was shelled by the British Royal Navy’s revolutionary newly-constructed bomb and mortar ketch warships. Although the attacking fleet stayed out of the shorter range of McHenry’s artillery, the Americans refused to surrender. They inspired Maryland lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key to compose a four stanza poem entitled “The Defence of Fort McHenry”.

That poem later became “The Star-Spangled Banner” when it was set a few days later to a musical tune popular with an old English gentlemen’s society from the 18th century. It gained increasing popularity over the next 117 years, eventually becoming the national anthem of the United States in 1931.


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 – September 11

September 11, 2020
Day 255 of 366


September 11th is the 255th day of the year.

Between the years of 1900 and 2099, September 11th on the Gregorian calendar is the leap day of the Coptic and Ethiopian calendars. These leap days occur in the years immediately before leap years in the Julian and Gregorian calendars, and in all common years of the Coptic and Ethiopian calendars, September 11th is New Year’s Day.

It is also the anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, that claimed nearly 3,000 lives and injured over 25,000 others. The attacks precipitated substantial long-term health consequences for responders and servicemembers. They also instigated the ongoing international War on Terror.

That’s all I intend to say about that.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Make Your Bed Day and National Hot Cross Bun Day.


Historical items of note:

  • In 9 AD, the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest ended. The Roman Empire suffered the greatest defeat of its history and the Rhine was established as the border between the Empire and the so-called barbarians for the next four hundred years.
  • In 1297, at the Battle of Stirling Bridge, Scots jointly led by William Wallace and Andrew Moray defeated the English.
  • In 1609, Henry Hudson discovered Manhattan Island and the indigenous people living there.
  • In 1776, the British-American peace conference on Staten Island failed to stop the nascent American Revolutionary War.
  • In 1789, Alexander Hamilton was appointed as the first United States Secretary of the Treasury.
  • In 1792, the Hope Diamond was stolen along with other French crown jewels when six men broke into the house where they were stored.
  • In 1816, German lens maker Carl Zeiss was born. He created the Optical instrument.
  • In 1826, Captain William Morgan, an ex-freemason, was arrested in Batavia, New York for debt. This was after declaring that he would publish The Mysteries of Free Masonry, a book against Freemasonry. This set into motion the events that led to his mysterious disappearance.
  • In 1857, the Mountain Meadows massacre came to a conclusion as Mormon militiamen and Paiutes murdered 120 pioneers at Mountain Meadows, Utah.
  • In 1940, director, producer, and screenwriter Brian De Palma was born.
  • In 1950, actress Amy Madigan was born.
  • In 1956, director, producer, and screenwriter Tony Gilroy was born.
  • In 1961, actress Virginia Madsen was born.
  • In 1970, actress Taraji P. Henson was born.
  • In 1972, the San Francisco Bay Area Rapid Transit system began passenger service.
  • In 1979, actress Ariana Richards was born.
  • In 1987, actor Tyler Hoechlin was born.
  • In 1997, NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor reached Mars.


September 11th is the National Day of Catalonia (Diada Nacional de Catalunya in Catalan), which is a day-long festival and one of its official national symbols. It commemorates the fall of Barcelona during the War of the Spanish Succession in 1714 and the subsequent loss of Catalan institutions and laws.

The Army of Catalonia that initially fought in support of the Habsburg dynasty’s claim to the Spanish throne was finally defeated at the Siege of Barcelona by the army of the Bourbon king Philip V of Spain. This happened on September 11, 1714, after 14 months of siege, and it resulted in the loss of the Catalan constitutions and the institutional system of the Principality of Catalonia under the aegis of the Nueva Planta decrees and the establishment of absolutism.

The holiday was first celebrated on September 11, 1886. As governments have come and gone over the years, the holiday has seen fluctuations in both popularity and demonstrations, but most recently (as of 1980) the Generalitat de Catalunya, upon its restoration after the Francoist State, restored the celebration with the first law approved by the restored Parliament of Catalonia.


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 – September 10

September 10, 2020
Day 254 of 366


September 10th is the 254th day of the year. It is Gibraltar National Day, the official national day of the British overseas territory of Gibraltar. The day commemorates Gibraltar’s first sovereignty referendum of 1967, in which Gibraltarian voters were asked whether they wished to either pass under Spanish sovereignty or remain under British sovereignty, with institutions of self-government.


In the United States, today is “celebrated” as National Swap Ideas Day, National TV Dinner Day, and National School Picture Day (which is typically observed on the second Thursday in September).


Historical items of note:

  • In 1846, Elias Howe was granted a patent for the sewing machine.
  • In 1858, George Mary Searle discovered the asteroid 55 Pandora.
  • In 1892, physicist and academic Arthur Compton was born. He won the Nobel Prize in 1927 for his discovery of the Compton effect, which demonstrated the particle nature of electromagnetic radiation. It was a sensational discovery at the time since the wave nature of light had been well-demonstrated, but the idea that light had both wave and particle properties was not easily accepted.
  • In 1918, famous canine actor Rin Tin Tin was born.
  • In 1932, the New York City Subway’s third competing subway system, the municipally-owned IND, was opened.
  • In 1941, paleontologist, biologist, and author Stephen Jay Gould was born.
  • Also in 1941, Japanese video game designer Gunpei Yokoi was born. He invented the Game Boy.
  • In 1958, director, producer, and screenwriter Chris Columbus was born.
  • Also in 1958, Irish singer-songwriter and producer Siobhan Fahey was born. She was a founding member of Bananarama.
  • In 1960, at the Summer Olympics in Rome, Abebe Bikila became the first sub-Saharan African to win a gold medal, winning the marathon in bare feet.
  • Also in 1960, actor and producer Colin Firth was born.
  • In 1993, The X-Files premiered.
  • In 2002, Switzerland, traditionally a neutral country, became a full member of the United Nations.
  • In 2008, the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, described as the biggest scientific experiment in history, was powered up in Geneva, Switzerland.


September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day, an awareness day to provide worldwide commitment and action to prevent suicides, with various activities around the world since 2003.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) collaborates with the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) to host World Suicide Prevention Day. According to WHO’s Mental Health Atlas released in 2014, no low-income country reported having a national suicide prevention strategy, while less than 10% of lower-middle income countries and almost a third of upper-middle and high-income countries had.

As of recent WHO releases, challenges represented by social stigma, the taboo to openly discuss suicide, and low availability of data are still to date obstacles leading to poor data quality for both suicide and suicide attempts.

Most importantly, though, if you are reading this and you need help, please don’t hesitate to reach out to suicide prevention professionals. In the United States, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day at 800-273-8255.

In other locations, please check on how to find help. The world needs you.


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.