Quote of the day :
Culture is acquainting ourselves with the best that has been known and said in the world, and thus with the history of the human spirit
~ Matthew Arnold (Poet, critic and Oxford professor, born this day in 1822)
He also said, which I like,
Resolve to be thyself: and know, that he who finds himself, loses his misery/
Picture of the day :
While North America is experiencing some severe ice storms and we’re getting rained on in the UK I thought I’d share a light snow from last year.
Youtube video of the day :
As it’s Christmas eve, here’s another seasonal song. Robbie Williams and "So This Is Christmas"
On this day…
Born today :
- TV presenter, Carol Vorderman
- King, John (Lackland) England (b.1166)
- Frontiersman, Kit Carson (b.1809)
- Bassist, Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead)
- Engineer, naturalist, writer, botanist and geologist, John Muir
(Also the founder of the Sierra Club)
- General, George Patton IV
- Author, Stephenie Meyer (Twilight)
- Author, screenwriter and director, Nicholas Meyer (Star Trek films)
- Author, Fritz Leiber (b. 1910)
Two-time Hugo winner, but I remember him best for his Fafhrd and Gray Mouser series.
- Author, Mary Higgins Clark
- Comicbook writer, Mark Millar
- Musician and songwriter, Darren Wharton
- Billionaire industrialist, Howard Hughes
- Actress, Carmen Moore
(Stargate, Andromeda, Smallville etc)
- Actress, Ava Gardner
- Actor and voice actor, Diedrich Bader
- MP, politician, Ed Miliband
Also on this day in history
1515 : Thomas Wolsey was appointed Lord Chancellor of England.
Kiritimati, also called Christmas Island, was visited by James Cook in 1777. It has two claims to fame, the first because it has the greatest land area of any coral atoll in the world. The second is because the UK and US nuked the atoll – and it’s inhabitants – about 200 years later. The MoD and USAF of course would reword that in gentler, more sensitive ways (especially around lawyers acting on behalf of the irradiated locals, servicemen and their relatives, but it amounts to the same. From the late 50’s in the case of Britain and in 1962 for America they used the area for testing nuclear bombs.
(Kiritimati is one of the Micronesian Line Islands in the Pacific Ocean, not to be confused with Christmas Island in the Indian Ocean).
In 1851 a fire swept through the Library of Congress and destroyed 35,000 books, leaving only 20,000 in the collection. It cost $168,700 to replace them, though I suspect some will have been either unique records or irreplaceable first editions and lost forever. The collection now houses over 150 million items, including nearly 23 millions books of which 5,600 are classed as incunabula*
* Incunabula (also incunable or incunabulum) refers to a book, pamphlet or other document that was printed before 1500. According to Abe Books:
" The first recorded usage of the term incunabula came in 1639 when the noted bibliophile Bernhard von Mallinckrodt issued a pamphlet to mark the bicentenary of the advent of printing by movable type titled De ortu et progressu artis typographicae (‘Of the rise and progress of the typographic art’)"
Not showing off with big, fancy words mind you, I didn’t know it myself. I had to bounce from wikipedia to Google to Abe’s to get good definitions on the term. The same word is now used in over 15 languages to describe these old books and pamphlets. What a great word though.
In 1936 the first radioactive isotope medicine administered, Berkeley, California.
Need to clarity this next or face a roasting from more knowledgeable trekkies! In 1964 shooting began "The Cage", the pilot for Star Trek.
1968 : The Apollo 8 spacecraft with its three man crew orbited around the Moon.
1979: The Europe Space Agency launched first rocket, the Ariane 1, which successfully deployed its tiny payload into orbit, an automatic tracking device.
Trending at this moment in 2013:
Besides all the ‘merry christmas’ hashes, the biggest trend of note is the queen pardoning Alan Turing, albeit 60 years too late and for a crime that isn’t really a crime, not any more at least and even then it wasn’t a crime, so much was hypocritical bigotry. I felt it deserved more than a mere footnote so I’ve covered it separately. War hero Alan Turning gets royal pardon for his crimes.
Receiving far less news space, at least on this side of the Atlantic, is a massive ice storm affecting north-eastern America and Canada, with Ontario and Michigan taking the brunt. The storm, which started on Sunday, is coating everything with ice and has left possibly up to a million people without power over the Christmas period and temperatures expected to drop to -15°C. According to the BBC report I’m reading Toronto’s major, Rob Ford, said it was one of the worst in their history. BBC : US and Canada storms spell cold, dark Christmas for many
I can remember a worse one, but it was some time ago. There were several documentaries done at the time of the ’98 one that caused a state of emergency there. Maclean’s have done a comparison of this storm and the big one of 1998, pointing out a few earlier ones too.
Bad ice storm? Yes. Great Ice Storm? Not even close.