Monday, April 25, 2016

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR APRIL 25


On this day in 1983, mere months after President Ronald Reagan famously likened the USSR to an "evil empire," Soviet leader Yuri Andropov replies to a personal letter from American fifth-grader Samantha Smith. In response to Smith's question about nuclear war, Andropov wrote:
"Samantha, we in the Soviet Union are endeavoring and doing everything so that there will be no war between our two countries, so that there will be no war at all on earth. This is the wish of everyone in the Soviet Union. I vow that we will never, but never, be the first to use nuclear weapons against any country.” 
Andropov ended his letter by inviting Smith and her family to Moscow for a visit. She accepted, and for a while, Samantha Smith was getting O.J.-level media attention. They were calling her: "America's youngest ambassador!" They were talking about a sea change in American-Soviet relations.

Within the span of two years, both Yuri Andropov and Samantha Smith would be dead. The former was felled by a fierce kidney infection, and the latter was torn to shreds in a small plane crash. Two voices for peace, conveniently silenced, leaving the military industrial complex safe to go on churning out five hundred dollar hammers, thousand-dollar toilet seats and billion-dollar stealth bombers.

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On this day in 1933, the United States drops the gold standard. Ever since then, the economy has been built upon the illusion of fiat currency and the “promise” of future debt. Judging by the mortgaged house you live in, the leased vehicle you drive, the mass-manufactured food and the mass media stimulation devices you use to stuff your face and brain, thereby numbing your psychic agony, I suppose it all worked out for the best!

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On this day in the year 1792, the art of punishment collides head-on with the cutting edge of technology as the guillotine is first used in the execution of a criminal. The lucky footnote? Highway bandit Nicolas Pelletier.

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On this day in 1953, scientists first identify DNA, the words formed by the genetic alphabet of life. Kinda looks like one of the corridors from the Discovery in Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey, doesn't it?


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