Wednesday, February 15, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR FEBRUARY 15


On this day in 399 BC, seminal Greek philosopher Socrates is sentenced to death by a jury of citizens for having "corrupted the youth of Athens." His legendary but unsuccessful oratory in his own defense was recorded by his follower, Plato, and is known as The Apology, which remains one of the greatest portraits of courage,conviction and wit in the entire Western canon. Read it here. I feel I must warn you, however, that reading Socrates is much like smoking marijuana, in that it is a"gateway drug" that leads you on to ever stronger stuff.

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On this day in 1898, a huge explosion rips through the USS Maine while it's moored in Havana harbor, killing 258 sailors and Marines. Though subsequent investigations showed the blast was likely due to an accidental coal-fire, that didn't stop politicians of the day from using the incident as a pretext for sparking the Spanish-American War. "Remember the Maine!" was a popular rallying cry of the day.

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On this day in 1925, much-needed anti-diptheria serum arrives in Nome, Alaska, ending the 1925 serum run to Nome, with Balto being the lead dog of the last team.

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On this day in 1931, the first ever Dracula movie premieres. Goths ensue.

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On this day in 1933, disgruntled immigrant Giuseppe Zangara takes a shot at president-elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt in Florida. He misses, hitting Chicago mayor Anton Cermak, instead. Cermak fell out of the convertible, and the driver raced off, but Roosevelt ordered him to turn back. FDR then personally hauled Cermak into the car and the raced off to hospital. But it was too late. Cermak succumbed to his wounds. Zangara was executed just over a month later.

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On this day in 1942, following an assault by Japanese forces, the British General Arthur Percival surrenders. About 80,000 Indian, United Kingdom and Australian soldiers become prisoners of war, the largest surrender of British-led military personnel in history. The vast majority of those British POW horror stories you hear come from this single event.

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On this day in 1946, the first electronic general-purpose computer, ENIAC, is formally dedicated at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

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On this day in 1954, Canada and the United States agree to construct the Distant Early Warning Line, a system of radar stations in the far northern Arctic regions of Canada and Alaska.

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On this day in 1965, after flying the Union Jack for two-hundred-and-sixty years, followed by ninety-five years under the Red Ensign, Canada adopts the famous Maple Leaf flag design, to the delight of botanists and stoners the world over.

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On this day in 1982, the drilling rig Ocean Ranger sinks during a storm off the coast of Newfoundland, killing 84 workers.

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On this day in 2001, the first draft of the complete human genome is published in Nature.

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On this day in 2003, protests against the Iraq war take place in over 600 cities worldwide. It is estimated that between 8 million to 30 million people participate, making this the largest peace demonstration in history. It doesn't make a damn bit of difference. The brutal, bloodthirsty invasion of a disarmed and defenseless enemy goes ahead as planned.

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On this day in 2013, a meteor explodes over Russia, injuring 1,500 people as a shock wave blows out windows and rocks buildings. This happens unexpectedly only hours before the expected closest ever approach of the larger and unrelated asteroid 2012 DA14.


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