Saturday, August 20, 2011

Does anybody really know what time it is?

A very nice video essay about public clock in NYC

I'll post Part 2 tomorrow.

I'm out at the beach, celebrating a good friends' 50th Birthday. I've left Mr. Teeny in charge - look out, he's a mean drunk.

So here's an abbreviated Today in History:
August 20, 1865 -
In the great tradition of the American presidency, President Andrew Johnson rouses himself from an alcoholic stupor

and formally declared the Civil War over (months after Lee's surrender at Appomattox.)

Soviet Professional Leon Trotsky liked his job, but the strain was wearing on him—dictatorial burnout. In the summer of 1940 he finally used some of the vacation time he'd accumulated to head down to Mexico and think through his options.

On August 20, in Mexico City, Trotsky met with one of Stalin's human resources representatives, who suggested he take an early retirement.

The suggestion was accompanied by several persuasive blows to the head with an axe, which seriously impeded Trotsky's growth potential. Sadly, he died before he could sue for damages.

August 20, 1948 -
... My Shangri-La beneath the summer moon, I will return again ...

Robert Anthony Plant CBE, button phobia rock singer and songwriter, was born on this date.

August 20, 1977 -
NASA bizarrely decides to go into the record business. Scientists, not quite understanding the record industry, press only one record but make it out of gold, believing that the unaffordable price will boost profit. The record is nearly unlistenable except for the recoding of the Chuck Berry song, "Johnny B Good". NASA decides to hide this costly blunder by including the recoding in the payload of the space probe Voyager 1, launched on this date, on a mission to Mars..

The contents of the record were selected for NASA by a committee chaired by Carl Sagan of Cornell University. Dr. Sagan and his associates assembled 115 images and a variety of natural sounds, such as those made by surf, wind, and thunder, and animal sounds, including the songs of birds and whales. To this they added musical selections from different cultures and eras, and spoken greetings from Earthlings in fifty-five languages, and printed messages from President Jimmy Carter and U.N. Secretary-General (and ex-Nazi) Kurt Waldheim. Remember these facts when the aliens come to invade the planet. It reached Mars in the summer of 1976.

In a memorable Saturday Night Live segment, it was announced by Steve Martin that the first message from extraterrestrials was being received. Once decoded, the message stated, "Send more Chuck Berry."

On August 20, 1991, the Estonian parliament declared independence from the Soviet Union.

The next day, Latvia declared its independence from the Soviet Union and Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev declared he was back in full control after a 60-hour coup by old-school Communists finally crumbled.

Full control of what?

And so it goes.

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