“Where is human nature so weak as in the bookstore?”
―Henry Ward Beecher
Happy Monday. Today is Awkward Moments Day. We all have those moments, whether or not we try to play it off cool or end up looking like a deer in the headlights, we all get embarrassed. Today we are reminded to just laugh at those unavoidable moments of awkwardness.
Today is National Biodiesel Day. Rudolph Diesel, the inventor of the Diesel engine, said in 1912, “the use of vegetable oils for engine fuels may seem insignificant today, but such oils may become, in the course of time, as important as petroleum and the coal tar products of the present time.” That first Diesel engine ran on peanut oil, and looking back it seems that Rudolph Diesel may have been quite the visionary. In 2011, the U.S. biodiesel industry produced more than one billion gallons of biodiesel fuel. To honor Rudolph Diesel and commemorate his vision, we celebrate “Biodiesel Day” on his birthday, March 18. Biodiesel is a renewable fuel that can be produced from algae, vegetable oils, animal fats or recycled restaurant greases. A byproduct of the biodiesel production process is glycerin, which is used in soaps and personal care products. Biodiesel is biodegradable and non-toxic, and produces about 60 percent less carbon dioxide emissions than fossil fuels.
Today is Supreme Sacrifice Day, a day to recognize the ultimate sacrifice made by some for the good of others. History is filled with examples of people who offered the supreme sacrifice for other people. Take a moment today to give thanks to those who gave their lives to protect and make better lives for others.
March 18th is Goddess of Fertility Day. It celebrates Aphrodite and other gods and goddesses of fertility. When seeking to create a family, people would pray and make offerings to Aphrodite when seeking to create a family. If you are looking to procreate, today would be a good day to spend some extra time with your partner, but if you are not prepared for the pitter-patter of little feet in the near future, perhaps today is a good day for abstinence.
The third week of March is American Chocolate Week.
This is World Folktales & Fables week. The purpose of this week is to encourage children and adults to explore the cultural background and lessons learned from folk tales, fables, myths and legends around the world.
March 18 through twenty-second is Flood Awareness Week. Flooding is a coast to coast threat to the United States and its territories in all months of the year. National Flood Safety Awareness Week is intended to highlight some of the many ways floods can occur, the hazards associated with floods, and what you can do to save life and property.
It is National Wildlife Week. This year National Wildlife Week is “Branching Out for Wildlife”—celebrating trees and their importance to wildlife and people. National Wildlife Week is National Wildlife Federation’s longest-running education program designed around teaching and connecting kids to the awesome wonders of wildlife. They pick a theme each year and provide fun and educational materials. Be sure and check out their website.
Some of the writers born on March 18th include:
Manuel de Faria e Sousa (1590), Marie-Madeleine Pioche de la Vergne, comtesse de la Fayette (1634), Christoph Friedrich Nicolai (1733), Christian Friedrich Hebbel (1813), William Cosmo Monkhouse (1840), Stéphane Mallarmé (1842), Nikolai Berdyaev (1874), Bernard Cronin (1884), Henri Decoin (1890), Wilfred Owen (1893), Srečko Kosovel (1904), John Zachary Young (1907), Smiley Burnette (1911), René Clément (1913), Richard Condon (1915), Bob Broeg (1918), Seymour Martin Lipset (1922), James Pickles (1925), John Kander (1927), George Plimpton (1927), Samuel Pisar (1929), John Updike (1932), Carl Gottlieb (1938), Kenny Lynch (1938), József Tóth (1940), Dennis Linde (1943), Joy Fielding (1945), Hiroh Kikai (1945), Patrick Barlow (1947), Luc Besson (1959), James McMurtry (1962), J. David Shapiro (1969), Max Barry (1973), and Stuart Zender (1974).
Stephen Grover Cleveland was born March 18, 1837. He was the 22nd and the 24th President of the United States. Cleveland is the only president to serve two non-consecutive terms (1885–1889 and 1893–1897) and therefore is the only individual to be counted twice in the numbering of the presidents. He was the winner of the popular vote for president three times – in 1884, 1888, and 1892– and was the only Democrat elected to the presidency in the era of Republican political domination that lasted from 1861 to 1913. Cleveland was the leader of the pro-business Bourbon Democrats who opposed high tariffs, Free Silver, inflation, imperialism and subsidies to business, farmers or veterans. His battles for political reform and fiscal conservatism made him an icon for American conservatives of the era. Cleveland won praise for his honesty, independence, integrity, and commitment to the principles of classical liberalism. He relentlessly fought political corruption, patronage, and bossism. Disaster hit the nation as his second term began when the Panic of 1893 produced a severe national depression that Cleveland was unable to reverse. It ruined his Democratic party, opening the way for a Republican landslide in 1894 and for the agrarian and silverite seizure of his Democratic party in 1896. The result was a political realignment that ended the Third Party System and launched the Fourth Party System and the Progressive Era. Biographer Allan Nevins wrote: “in Grover Cleveland the greatness lies in typical rather than unusual qualities. He had no endowments that thousands of men do not have. He possessed honesty, courage, firmness, independence, and common sense. But he possessed them to a degree other men do not.”
Ben Cohen turns 62 today. He is an American businessman, activist, and philanthropist who is co-founder of the ice cream company Ben & Jerry’s. Cohen first met and befriended his future business partner, Jerry Greenfield, in a junior high school gym class in 1963. In his senior year, Cohen found work as an ice cream man before heading off to attend Colgate University upstate. As Ben & Jerry’s gradually grew into a nationwide business and one of the largest ice cream companies in the USA, Cohen turned his new-found wealth and prominence toward a variety of social causes, generally through the Ben & Jerry’s Foundation. The Foundation receives 7.5% of all Ben & Jerry’s pre-tax profits and distributes funds to organizations such as the Anti Displacement Project. Cohen also oversees TrueMajority and Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities. In 2012, he helped launch the Stamp Stampede campaign to stamp messages on the nation’s currency in support of passing a constitutional amendment to help overturn Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission and reduce the influence of politics.
The American media personality best known as host of the Discovery Channel series Dirty Jobs, Mike Rowe, celebrates his fifty-first birthday today. He can also be heard as narrator on a variety of series and has appeared in recurring commercials for Ford Motor Company among other credits.
Also celebrating a birthday today is Adam Levine. The American singer-songwriter, musician and occasional actor best known as the front man and lead singer of American pop rock band Maroon 5 turns 34 today. He is also a coach on the American talent show The Voice. In 2012, Levine appeared as Leo, a recurring character, in American Horror Story: Asylum, the second season of the anthology series. He stripped naked for testicular cancer awareness for a centerfold in Cosmopolitan UK’s February 2011 issue. In June 2012, Levine was cast in the John Carney film Can a Song Save Your Life? starring Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo. During Levine’s teenage years, he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. In 2011, he launched an educational campaign to raise awareness of ADHD, titled “Own It” in collaboration with with the Attention Deficit Disorder Association (ADDA), Children and Adults with Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (CHADD) and Shire. Levine, whose brother openly identifies as gay, is an outspoken supporter of same-sex marriage and LGBT rights. In 2011, he made a video on Maroon 5’s official YouTube account in support of the It Gets Better Project. This month The Hollywood Reporter reported that “sources familiar with his many business dealings” estimated that Levine would earn more than $35 million that year, with NBC paying him $10-12 million for each season of the The Voice.
Today we remember Laurence Sterne who passed away 245 years ago today. He was an Anglo-Irish novelist and an Angilican clergyman. He is best known for his novels The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, and A Sentimental Journey Through France and Italy; but he also published many sermons, wrote memoirs, and was involved in local politics. Sterne died in London after years of fighting consumption.
We also remember Leigh Bracket who passed away at the age of 62 from cancer forty-five years ago today. She was an American author, particularly of science fiction. She was also a screenwriter, known for her work on famous films such as The Big Sleep (1945), Rio Bravo (1959), The Long Goodbye (1973), and The Empire Strikes Back (1980). She grew up, lived, and passed away in the Los Angeles, California area.
Another author we lost on March 18th was Bernard Malamud who left us in 1986 when he was 71. He wrote novels and short stories. Along with Saul Bellow and Philip Roth, he was one of the great American Jewish authors of the 20th century. His baseball novel, The Natural, was adapted into a 1984 film staring Robert Redford. His 1966 novel The Fixer, about antisemitism in Tsarist Rusia, won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.
Five years ago today we lost Andrew Britton. Andrew Paul Vine-Britton (January 6, 1981 – March 18, 2008) was a British-born spy novelist who immigrated to the United States with his family at age seven. He published his first novel at age 23, his books were translated for international sales, and have been posted on the extended New York Times bestseller list. Britton wrote three published novels. He made a publishing deal for his first book The American when he was 23. He followed this with his novel The Assassin. In early 2007 Britton returned to Camlough, Northern Ireland to complete the third novel of the Ryan Kealy espionage series, The Invisible, which was released only three weeks before his early death. Britton, an avid researcher and writer, left behind many manuscripts and his work will continue to be published. On March 18, 2008, Britton died at the age of 27 of an undiagnosed heart condition in Durham, North Carolina.
As part of the American Revolution, the British Parliament repealed the Stamp Act on this day in 1766.
American Express was founded on this day in 1850 by Henry Wells and William Fargo.
On March 18, 1893, former Governor General Lord Stanley pledged to donate a silver challenge cup, later named after him, as an award for the best hockey team in Canada; originally presented to amateur champions, the Stanley Cup has been awarded to the top pro team since 1910, and since 1926, only to National Hockey League teams.
The Peace of Riga, also known as the Treaty of Riga, was signed in Riga on March 18, 1921, between Poland, Soviet Russia (acting also on behalf of Soviet Belarus) and Soviet Ukraine. The treaty ended the Polish-Soviet War. The Soviet-Polish borders established by the treaty remained in force until the Second World War. They were later redrawn during the Yalta Conference and Potsdam Conference.
On March 18, 1945, during World War II, 1,250 American bombers attacked Berlin.
The Evian Accords put an end to the Algerian War of Independence on March 18, 1962. It had began in 1954.
The Germans in the German Democratic Republic were called to the first democratic elections in this former communist dictatorship on this day in 1990. Also on March 18, 1990, twelve paintings, collectively worth about $300 million, were stolen from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, Massachusetts. This was the largest art theft in US history.
White South Africans voted overwhelmingly in favour, in a national referendum, to end the racist policy of Apartheid on March 18, 1992. Apartheid was a system of racial segregation enforced through legislation by the National Party governments, who were the ruling party form 1948 to 1994, of South Africa, under which the rights of the majority black inhabitants of South Africa were curtailed and white supremacy and Afrikaner minorty rule was maintained. It was developed after WWII by the Afrikaner-dominated National Party and Broederbond organizations and was practiced also in South West Africa, which was administered by South Africa under a League of Nations mandate, until it gained independence in 1990. Racial segregation in South Africa began in colonial times under Dutch and British rule. However, apartheid as an official policy was introduced following the general election of 1948. New legislation classified inhabitants into four racial groups (“native“, “white”, “coloured”, and “Asian“), and residential areas were segregated, sometimes by means of forced removals. Non-white political representation was completely abolished in 1970, and starting in that year black people were deprived of their citizenship, legally becoming citizens of one of ten tribally based self-governing homelands called bantustans, four of which became nominally independent states. The government segregated education, medical care, beaches, and other public services, and provided black people with services inferior to those of white people.
Bosnia’s Bosniaks and Croats signed the Washington Agreement on March 18, 1994, ending warring between the Croatian Republic of Herzeg-Bosnia and the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and established the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The tail of a Russian Antonov An-24 charter plane broke off on March 18, 1997 while on route to Turkey causing the plane to crash and killed all fifty on board, which led to the grounding of all An-24s.
Today’s highlighted title is a little different that what we usually highlight. Playback is a Graphic Novel by Raymond Chandler, Francois Ayroles, and Ted Benoit. We have new copies in stock of this hardcover book. Amazon gives the following brief description:
This graphic novel presents a heart-pounding tale of betrayal, blackmail, and murder that will take you to the edge of your seat on a ride through Raymond Chandler’s last thriller.
Disclaimer: Much of the information in this blog is taken directly from Wikipedia and Amazon. Images have been taken from various sources around the World Wide Web.