Sunday, November 20, 2016

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR NOVEMBER 20


On this day in 1820, an 80-ton sperm whale attacks the Essex, a whaling ship from Nantucket, Massachusetts, 2,000 miles from the western coast of South America. Herman Melville's 1851 novel Moby-Dick is in part inspired by this story.

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On this day in 1962, the Cuban Missile Crisis ends when, in response to the Soviet Union agreeing to remove its missiles from Cuba, U.S. President John F. Kennedy ends the quarantine of the Caribbean nation.

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By this day in 1963, several high-ranking politicians implore President John F. Kennedy to cancel his trip to Dallas. Governor Connally even flies in to Washington to plead cancellation. Senator William J. Fulbright and Ambassador Adlai Stevenson plead with Kennedy to bypass the seething hotbed of racism and anti-Catholic bigotry. Congressman Hale Boggs tells Kennedy: "Mister President, you're going into quite a hornets nest." Texas National Committeeman Byron Skelton has a premonition of violence and sends frantic telegrams to administration officials pleading that Kennedy stay away from Dallas on his Texas tour. Unfortunately (in hindsight), Kennedy remains resolute. He believes that the President should not be afraid of visiting any part of the nation. He flatly refuses to bypass Dallas, and the trip goes ahead as scheduled.

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On this day in 1969, the Cleveland Plain Dealer publishes explicit photographs of dead villagers from the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.

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On this day in 1980, Lake Peigneur drains into an underlying salt deposit. A misplaced Texaco oil probe had been drilled into the Diamond Crystal Salt Mine, causing water to flow down into the mine, eroding the edges of the hole. The resulting whirlpool sucked the drilling platform, several barges, houses and trees thousands of feet down to the bottom of the dissolving salt deposit.

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On this day in the year 1983, myself and 100 million other people hunker down in our living rooms to watch the ABC-TV movie of the week: The Day After. Many cultural theorists contend that this morbid nuclear war movie was vital in helping to shape the fractured, nihilistic nonchalance that defines the front-heavy first wave of Generation X. If you ever want to experience the pervasive dread that saturated American culture in the early 1980's - when many weren't convinced mankind would live to see another decade - rent this massive downer and re-live it for yourself.

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On this day in 1985, Microsoft Windows 1.0 is released.

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On this day in 1998, a court in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan declares accused terrorist Osama bin Laden "a man without a sin" in regard to the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania.

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 On this day in 1998, the first module of the International Space Station, Zarya, is launched.

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