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Friday Fun: History Trivia & Comment (10/05/2007)

October 5, 2007

On this day in…

– 1905, “Wilbur Wright pilots Wright Flyer III in a flight of 24 miles in 39 minutes, a world record that stood until 1908.” … Lean back from you computer screen for a moment, hold up your right hand, and press your index finger and thumb together between your eye and this picture on the right. Then slowly pull your two fingers apart so that you can see the plane, then push them together again—repeatedly—saying, “Messrs. Orville and Wilbur Wright, I’m am crushing your little toy plane!”

– 1914, “World War I first aerial combat resulting in a kill.” … Are we not a great species? Only 11 short years after the first Wright Brothers flight in 1903, we are able to kill with the technology. This, in a microcosm, seems to represent the primary arc of technology in the 20th century.

– 1921, “The World Series was broadcast on radio for the first time.” … Ah, another baseball milestone excluding my beloved Chicago Cubs. … Man, last night’s game stunk. I’m praying for one win over the weekend so that we’re not swept.

– 1937, “President Franklin D. Roosevelt called for a ‘quarantine’ of aggressor nations.” … I wonder what he’d do with the U.S. today, say, if he were the president of another country?

– 1945, “Hollywood Black Friday: A six month strike by Hollywood set decorators turns into a bloody riot at the gates of Warner Brothers’ studios.” … And who knew that set decorators, of all people, had it in them!? Did they have it out with non-striking flower arrangers and quilters?

– 1947, “President Harry S Truman delivered the first televised address from the White House.” … Ah, the man from my home state. I love the sense of rudimentary technology—as well as technology-induced distortion—conveyed by the picture below.

– 1988, “Democrat Lloyd Bentsen lambasted Republican Dan Quayle during their vice-presidential debate, telling Quayle, ‘Senator, you’re no Jack Kennedy.’ ” … This came from the New York Times. Many times over the last year I’ve noticed that NYT does not miss a chance to play politics with their “On This Day…” page. It’s decidedly not the case that I want to defend the former Senator Quayle: I never admired the guy. It’s just that before monitoring “trivia” over past year I never noticed how The Historian’s Perspective dominates even our seemingly harmless memories. It would be a great teaching exercise, even for low-level survey courses, to have students monitor these for subjective content. Students could compare two types of “on this day” publications for critical analysis.

– 1991, “The first official version of the Linux kernel, version 0.02, is released.” … They’ve really gone overboard with these genetically modified crops! 😉

[Sources: NYT, Wikipedia]

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