Saturday, February 14, 2009

Remember, remember February 14th!

Holiday. tells us what that word actually means:

1. a day fixed by law or custom on which ordinary business is suspended in commemoration of some event or in honor of some person.
2. any day of exemption from work (distinguished from working day).
3. a religious feast day; a holy day.
Blah, blah, blah, skip a few…
7. an unintentional gap left on a plated, coated, or painted surface.

Awesome. I love holidays. The term “holiday” encompasses a huge range of celebrations. First Level holidays actually get you out of work, maybe require purchasing things or home decoration. Second Level holidays will not get your out of work, but may still require dressing up or eating particular types of food. Third Level holidays are the ones that are not recognized by all groups and institutions, even within a single country. Yes, there’s a difference between religious, national and international holidays, but the holiday level system works much better for me.

Frankly, I’d like to see Thanksgiving become the mother-of-all holidays. The jolly holiday. Aren’t all other holidays celebrating something that we could be thankful for? I propose that all holidays be re-named in the form “Thanksgiving: Edition.” For example: Thanksgiving: Christmas Edition, Thanksgiving: Veterans Edition, Thanksgiving: Valentines Edition. I don’t know how this might be received, but I can’t think of anyone who would say “No, I’m not grateful for Christ, Veterans, or my sweet, sweet Valentine.”

And while we’re on the subject, today is Valentine’s Day. What the heck is that all about? I could have done some Wikipedia research and told you all about Saint Valentinus of Terni in Italy, who was executed in 270 AD…but you already knew all about that. Celebrating today is done in a variety of ways. At my school we have "Smashy Smashy"-- a tradition of the Chemistry Dept. that involves freezing whatever you want with liquid nitrogen and smashing it with a sledgehammer or bat or other implement of contusion. I shattered a couple flowers, half a banana and a few tennis balls. What’s MORE important is that today is February 14th! The anniversary of…. a lot of stuff! (I deleted a few. I’ve marked my annotations with {} brackets) Check it out:

* 842 - Charles the Bald and Louis the German swear the Oaths of Strasbourg in the French and German languages. {Bald people and Germans didn’t need last names back then.}
* 1076 - Pope Gregory VII excommunicates Henry IV, Holy Roman Emperor.
* 1349 - Approximately 2,000 Jews are burned to death by mobs or forcibly removed from the city of Strasbourg.

* 1556 - Thomas Cranmer is declared a heretic. {It happens.}
* 1743 - Henry Pelham becomes British Prime M
* 1778 - The United States Flag is formally recognized by a foreign naval vessel for the first time, when French Admiral Toussaint-Guillaume Picquet de la Motte rendered a nine gun salute to USS Ranger, commanded by John Paul Jones. {Pictured at the left here. Total baller. Betta reckinize!}
* 1779 - James Cook is killed by Native Hawaiians near Kealakekua on the Island of Hawaii. {And I thought my vacations were bad….}
* 1803 - Chief Justi
ce John Marshall declares that any act of U.S. Congress that conflicts with the Constitution is void. {Judicial review for the win!}
* 1804 - Karadjordje leads the First Serbian
Uprising against the Ottoman Empire.
* 1831 - Ras Marye of Yejju marches into Tigray and defeats and kills Dejazmach Sabagadis in the Battle of Debre Abbay. {Oh the memories
* 1835 - The original Quorum of the Twelve
Apostles, of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, is formed in Kirtland, Ohio. {Now this day is starting to mean something.}
* 1849 - In New York City, James Knox Polk becomes the first serving President of the United States to have his photograph taken. {Shake it like a Presidential Polaroid picture….}
* 1855 - Texas is linked by telegraph to the rest of the United States, with the com
pletion of a connection between New Orleans and Marshall, Texas. {I was wondering when they were gonna call…}
* 1859 - Oregon is admitted as the 33rd U.S. state. {Lucky 33!}
* 1876 - Alexander Graham Bell applies for a
patent for the telephone, as does Elisha Gray.
* 1879 - The War of the Pacific breaks out when Chilean armed forces occupy the Bolivian port city of Antofagasta..
* 1903 - The United States Department of Commerce and Labor is established (later split into Department of Commerce and Department of Labor).
* 1912 - Arizona is admitted as the 48th U.S
. state. {What are the odds? Oregon and Arizona on the same day, 53 years apart!}
* 1912 - In Groton, Connecticut, the first diesel-powered submarine is commissioned. {Yes. Put Groton on the map, baby!}
* 1919 - The Polish-Soviet War begins.
* 1920 - The League of Women Voters is founded in Chicago, Illinois. {The League… why does that sound so funny?}
* 1924 - The International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) is founded.
* 1929 - St. Valentine's Day Massacre: Seven people, six of them gangster rivals of Al Capone's gang, are murdered in Chicago, Illinois. {Gosh, Al! Why you gotta be such a party pooper? I like my parties poop-free.}
* 1943 - World War II: Rostov-on-Don, Russia is liberated.
* 1945 - World War II: On the second day of the bombing of Dresden , the British Royal Air Force and the United States Army Air Forces begin fire-bombing Dresden, the capital of the German state of Saxony.

* 1945 - World War II: Prague is bombed probably due to a mistake in the orientation of the pilots bombing Dresden. {Oops. Did I do that?} {Joking about bombings is inappropriate and wrong, by the way.}
* 1946 - The Bank of England is nationalized.

* 1946 - ENIAC, the first general-purpose electronic computer, is unveiled. {So much awesome! Just get a team of graduate students to plug in a couple hundred wires correctly and you can do a complicated math problem!}
* 1949 - The Knesset (Israeli parliament) convenes for the first time. {Democracy now! …then!}
* 1949 - The Asbestos Strike begins in Canada. The strike marks the beginni
ng of the Quiet Revolution in Quebec. {It’s funny that I’m just hearing about this now…}
* 1956 - The XX Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union begins in Moscow. On the last night of the meeting, Premier Nikita
Khrushchev condemns Joseph Stalin's crimes in a secret speech. {Good times.}
* 1961 - Discovery of the chemical elements: Element 103, Lawrencium, is first synthesized at the University of California. {WAHOO! 103 protons in honor of some dude name Lawrence?}
* 1962 - First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy takes television viewers on a tour of the White House. {Ah, the humble abode. Can you play baseball in the bathroom? Nickelback wants to know…}
* 1966 - Australian currency is decimalized. {Base ten is where it’s at.}
* 1979 - In Kabul, Muslims kidnap the American ambassador to Afghanistan, Adolph Dubs who is later killed during a gunfight between his kidnappers and police.
* 1981 - Stardust Disaster: A fire in a Dublin nightclub kills 48 people. {So many innocent drunks….}
* 1983 - United American Bank of Knoxville, Tennessee collapses. Its president, Jake Butcher is later convicted of fraud. {Not the same as Fort Knox, right?}
* 1989 - Union Carbide agrees to pay $470 million to the Indian government for damages it caused in the 1984 Bhopal Disaster. {”OK, fine… $470 million…who do I make the check out to?”}
* 1989 - The first of 24 satellites of the Global Positioning System are placed into orbit. {A glorious day in history for all fut
ure military operations, geocachers, and easily-lost people.}
* 1990 - 92 people are killed aboard Indian Airlines Flight 605 at Bangalore, India.
* 1994 - Andrei Chikatilo, a Russian serial killer is executed by shooting. {I feel better knowing this.}
* 1996 - China launches a Long March 3 rocket, carrying the Intelsat 708 satellite. The rocket flies off course 3 seconds after liftoff and crashes into a rural village. {Yikesburger.}
* 1998 - Authorities in the United States announce that Eric Robert Rudolph is a suspect in an Alabama abortion clinic bombing. {Wow. Never heard of that one.}
* 2000 - The spacecraft NEAR Shoemaker enters orbit around asteroid 433 Eros, the first spacecraft to orbit an asteroid. {Alright...who was in charge of the name for the spaceship?}
* 2004 - In a suburb of Moscow,
Russia, the roof of the Transvaal water park collapses, killing more than 25 people, and wounding more than 100 others.
* 2005 - Lebanon's former Prime Minister, Rafik Hariri, is assassinated, prompting the country to fall into chaos. {Shucks…they probably fell right into a sub-Prime Minister crisis.}
* 2005 - Seven people are killed and 151 wounded in a series of bombings by suspected Al-Qaeda-linked militants that hit the Philippines' Makati financial district in Metro Manila, Davao City, and General Santos City. {Terrorists are everywhere.}
* 2008 - Northern Illinois University shooting: a gunman opened fire in a lecture hall of the DeKalb County, Illinois university resulting in 24 casualties; 6 fatalities (including gunman) and 18 injured.

Happy Feburary 14th! Thanksgiving: Valentine's Edition.

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