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Friday Fun: Commentary On The Absurd, The Serious, And The Useless In History Trivia

January 11, 2008

On this day in…

1770, “Benjamin Franklin, in London, shipped the first rhubarb to America.” … I’ll bet that wouldn’t pass customs today! I can see it now: Statesman Indicted On Environmental Terrorism!

1902, “Popular Mechanics magazine is published for the first time.” … Considering that the mechanic mindset in American history began in the colonial era, with the so-called Yankee mechanic (references to them exist all through histories on, and literature from, the early Republic), I’m surprised this periodical didn’t exist well before 1902. A Yankee mechanic is in fact a key character in Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

1913, “Patrons of the National Automobile Show in New York City saw a new type of luxury car, the four-door sedan.” … Isn’t it great how even the earliest automobile producers, in capitalist societies, labeled common sense and practical innovations as either “luxury” or “extra” features?! … Of course this is assuming the “luxury” designation is a faithful reproduction, by the Chicago Tribune‘s Almanac writers, of the terminology used in 1913.

1943, “The United States and United Kingdom give up territorial rights in China.” … Wow. I had no idea this occurred as late as mid-century.

1962, “An avalanche buried an Andes village in Peru, killing an estimated 3,000 people.” … Isn’t it crazy how much pain, suffering, and anguish can be compacted in a thirteen-word statement?

1979, “The U.S. surgeon general said there was ‘overwhelming evidence’ that smoking causes even more death and disease than originally believed.” … And 29 years later, in a fast acting move, Chicago declares that people ought not smoke in restaurants. Isn’t it great to live in a deliberative, democratic society?! Of course it is, but I’m just saying. 😉 – TL

[Sources: Chicago Tribune, New York Times, Wikipedia]

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