I was going to make a joke about a new study that found Americans in general are dumber than most other human beings. Unfortunately, the partial shutdown just proves this.
It's Evacuation Day in Tunisia. I felt I had to know more. It turns out that Evacuation Day recognizes the important contributions made to the world of science by Tunisian proctologists .
Which leads us to the fact that today is Global Handwashing Day. It is a campaign to motivate and mobilize millions around the world to wash their hands with soap, the campaign is dedicated to raising awareness of handwashing with soap as a key approach to disease prevention.
Children suffer disproportionately from diarrheal diseases – with more than 3.5 million children under five dying every year from diarrhea and pneumonia-related diseases. The simple act of washing hands with soap can reduce the incidence of diarrhea rates among children under five by almost 50 per cent, and respiratory infections by nearly 25 percent. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends washing for at least 20 seconds and suggests singing “Happy Birthday” twice to allow enough time to remove and rinse off germs.
Remind me not to shake hands with any children (or people from Tunisia, for that matter.)
October 15, 1940 -
Two of the most famous men in the world, not only had superficially similar looks, most famously their mustaches, but were born only four days apart in April of 1889 and both grew up in relative poverty. One of them decides to take a huge risk and release a film taking advantage of this freakish similarity, The Great Dictator, on this date.
Adolf Hitler banned the film in Germany and in all countries occupied by the Nazis. Curiosity got the best of him, and he had a print brought in through Portugal. History records that he screened it twice, in private, but history did not record his reaction to the film. Charles Chaplin said, "I'd give anything to know what he thought of it." For political reasons in Germany, the ban stayed after the end of WWII until 1958.
October 15, 1951 -
A former starlet convinced the alcoholic, womanizing head of a television network to run the TV version of her somewhat successful radio program.
I Love Lucy, the television situation comedy, starring Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, also featuring Vivian Vance and William Frawley, goes on to run on CBS for 181 episodes (including the "lost" Christmas episode and original pilot).
Then, the show introduced three more seasons, running from 1957 to 1960, known as The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour (while Ball and Arnez go through an acrimonious divorce). I Love Lucy won five Emmy Awards and received numerous nominations. In 2002, it was ranked #2 on TV Guide's top 50 greatest shows of all time, behind Seinfeld and ahead of The Honeymooners. In 2007, it was placed on Time Magazine's (unranked) list of "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME".
I Love Lucy was the most-watched show in the United States in four of its six seasons, and was the first to end its run at the top of the ratings (to be matched only by The Andy Griffith Show and Seinfeld), although it did not have a formal series finale episode. Episodes of I Love Lucy are still syndicated in dozens of languages across the world.
October 15, 1959 -
The TV show The Untouchables with Robert Stack as Eliot Ness, premiered on ABC-TV on this date.
According to testimony from Jimmy 'The Weasel' Fratianno, a Mafia boss turned FBI informant, the Chicago family of the Mafia ordered the assassination of the show's producer Desi Arnaz because they didn't like, (a) the fact that the success of the show was focusing attention on the Mafia, and (b) the show's portrayal of Italians.
Today in History:
It's the Feast Day of one of my favorite saints - Saint Teresa of Avila (I've mentioned her at least twice this year)
She died in the arms of her close friend Anne of Saint Bartholomew, allegedly from Transverberation ("the crossing of verbs"). Her pierced heart is on display at Alba de Tormes, so if you're the kind of person that's interested in 400-year-old pierced human hearts you'll probably want to pay a visit. (You'll probably find it in the "Pierced Internal Organ Room" of the "Three-to-Five Hundred Estactic Orgasm Wing.")
Saint Teresa famously said , "There are more tears shed over answered prayers than over unanswered prayers", (Truman Capote took this quote very seriously.) "God," she famously prayed, "deliver me from sullen saints!"
Friedrich Nietzsche, who was born on this day in 1844, apparently shared her sentiments if not her tactics.
October 15, 1582 -
Finally, with the formal implementation of the Gregorian calendar by Pope Gregory XIII, this day actually exists in Italy, Poland, Portugal and Spain. The calendar jumped from October 4 directly to October 15. People are generally relieved but never quite get over the feeling that they missed something during those 11 days.
October 15, 1917 -
The German spy Mata Hari, a Dutchwoman named Margaretha Geertruida Zelle, was executed by the French on this date. There wasn't much actual evidence of espionage, but she had been seen naked with German officers and the French considered this distasteful enough to kill her.
(I think I've killed her off on various dates this year. Sorry about that, Margaretha.)
October 15, 1924 -
President Calvin Coolidge declared the Statue of Liberty to be a national monument on this date.
October 15, 1964 -
Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was too busy pounding his shoe at every official meeting to realize that he was ousted
and replaced by Alexei N. Kosygin as premier and by Leonid I. Brezhnev as Communist Party secretary.
October 15, 1990 -
Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev gives up the practice of shoe banging practices of the Soviet Premier all together
and was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on this date.
October 15, 1991 -
Despite sexual harassment allegations by Anita Hill, The Senate confirmed Judge Clarence Thomas as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by a vote of 52-48, the closest confirmation vote in court history.
October 15, 2002 -
Former ImClone Chief Executive Officer Samuel Waksal pleaded guilty to insider trading as part of an ongoing investigation into the trading of shares from his biotech company on this date.
And so it goes