Sunday, April 24, 2016

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR APRIL 24


On this day in 1479 BC, upon the death of his father Thutmoses II, and at the tender age of three years old, Thutmose III begins co-ruling Egypt with his stepmother, Hatshepsut. The two co-rule Egypt for twenty-two years, until Hatshepsut’s death, after which he would go on to reign, alone, as the sixth Pharaoh of the Eighteenth Dynasty, for another thirty-two years. Generally considered to be one of the greatest rulers of the Ancient World, Thutmoses III led numerous highly successful military operations to expand Egypt’s territory and influence, as well as its art and monumental architecture.

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On this day in 1184 BC, the simultaneously historical/mythological city of Troy falls to an invasion led by the revenge-driven – and also quasi-mythical – King Agamemnon. So, just to put things in perspective, the head in the photograph at the top of today’s column dates from nearly half a millennium before the events described in the Greek Epic Cycle, or more specifically, in Homer’s Iliad. Sometimes, history can be pretty fucking cool.

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On this day in 1915, two hundred and fifty Armenian intellectuals and community leaders are arrested in Istanbul, marking the opening salvo of what would eventually degenerate into one of the worst genocides of a century pretty much jam-fucking-packed with genocides. Sometimes, history isn’t very cool at all.

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On this day in 1955, representatives from twenty-nine African, Asian and Middle Eastern nations get together for the final day of the Bandung Conference, held in Bandung, Indonesia. At the time, the nations represented – Egypt, China, Indonesia, India, Iraq and others – all had yet to take sides in the Cold War, and for the most part they wanted to keep it that way, believing the struggle between the United States and the Soviet Union had little to do with them. Instead, they hoped to focus on economic development, improving health care, and ensuring better crop yields for their farmers. They also called for an end to South African apartheid and the nuclear arms race, which was gathering steam at the time. American reaction was not encouraging, to say the least. They refused to send an observer to the meetings, despite being invited to do so. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles reiterated the government's Dubya-esque policy of equating neutrality with aggression. The end result? Economic, political and even covert military retaliation, all of which caused increases in nationalism, anti-Americanism and/or radical Muslim fundamentalism in almost every nation represented at the conference. Many of these nations have yet to recover.

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On this day in 1990, during the thirty-fifth Space Shuttle mission, the Hubble Space Telescope is packed aboard the Discovery, then launched into outer space and successfully positioned into its current low-Earth orbit, from whence it has been providing us with mind-blowing deep-space porn ever since. Sadly, the Hubble is scheduled to go out of commission this year some time, and its replacement, the James Webb Space Telescope, won’t be launched until 2018, at the earliest. Considering the economic state of the world, and without a working Space Shuttle to ferry it up there, your humble correspondent is starting to worry that the Hubble might not ever be replaced. All you science-lovers out there keep your metatarsals and metacarpals crossed.

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On this day in 2005, for the first time ever, a cloned dog is born in South Korea. It's creator, the controversial Korean scientist Hwang Woo-Suk, names it Snuppy. This might not seem like such a big deal, considering Dolly the sheep was cloned almost nine years earlier. However, according to Wikipedia, despite scientists being able to clone everything from cats, cows, horses, mice, mules, pigs, rabbits and rats, they were having trouble cloning dogs “due to the problematic task of maturing a canine ovum in an artificial environment.” Who knew?

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