Friday, April 12, 2013

I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” 
― Jorge Luis Borges

Happy D.E.A.R Day! D.E.A.R. stands for “Drop Everything and Read,” a national month-long celebration of reading designed to remind folks of all ages to make reading a priority activity in their lives. Because, what’s more fun(damental) than reading, really? D.E.A.R. programs have been held nationwide on April 12th in honor of Beverly Cleary’s birthday, since she first wrote about D.E.A.R. in Romona Quimby, Age 8.Inspired by letters from readers sharing their enthusiasm for the D.E.A.R. activities implemented in their schools, Mrs. Cleary decided to give the same experience to Ramona and her classmates. As D.E.A.R. has grown in popularity and scope, the program has expanded to span the entire month of April . . . offering classrooms and communities additional time to celebrate!

The General Assembly of the United Nations declared April 12th as International Day of Human Space Flight “to celebrate each year at the international level the beginning of the space era for mankind, reaffirming the important contribution of space science and technology in achieving sustainable development goals and increasing the well-being of States and peoples, as well as ensuring the realization of their aspiration to maintain outer space for peaceful purposes.” April 12, 1961 was the date of the first human space flight, carried out by Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet citizen. This historic event opened the way for space exploration for the benefit of all humanity. This day is also known as Russian Cosmonaut Day.

You won’t find this holiday on the calendar, but for licorice lovers throughout the United States, April 12th marks an important holiday . . . National Licorice Day. Celebrate today by learning about the history and benefits of licorice, savor a cup of licorice tea or licorice coffee, chew on a licorice root, host a licorice-tasting party, surprise your friends with a licorice gift, or treat yourself to some licorice candies.

Today is Big Wind Day, which commemorates the highest wind speed ever recorded on the planet. On April 12, 1934, the staff of the Mount Washington Observatory recorded the highest surface wind ever measured, anywhere on earth. This big wind was officially recorded at 231 miles per hour. Imagine the difficulties of even making a recording under those conditions back then!

You can stop playing it safe on April 12. Forget thinking outside the box; there isn’t even a box on Walk on Your Wild Side Day. Do something out of the ordinary, or extraordinary. It can be something small, as long as it’s outside of your comfort zone. Be unpredictable or do “something ‘they‘ said you’d never” suggests Wellcat, the holiday’s creators.

Some of the writers born April 12th include:

Guillaume Thomas François Raynal (1713), Charles Burney (1726), Alexander Ostrovsky (1823), José Gautier Benítez (1848), Hardie Gramatky (1907), Ida Crowe Pollock (1908), Beverly Cleary (1916), Mukhran Machavariani (1929), Leonid Derbenyov (1931), Alan Ayckbourn (1939), Georgios Balanos (1944), Tom Clancy (1947), Scott Turow (1949), Ralph Wiley (1952), Jon Krakauer (1954), Lydia Cacho Ribeiro (1963), Shannen Doherty (1971), and J. Scott Campbell (1973).

Lyman Hall was born April 12, 1724. He was a physician, clergyman, and statesman, and was a signer of the United States Declaration of Independence as a representative of Georgia. Hall County, Georgia is named after him. Though Georgia was not initially represented in the First Continental Congress, through Hall’s influence, the parish was persuaded to send a delegate – Hall himself – to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to the Second Continental Congress. He was admitted to a seat in Congress in 1775, a seat that he held until 1780. He was one of the three Georgians to sign the Declaration of Independence. In January 1783, he was elected an early governor of the state – a position that he held for one year. While governor, Hall advocated the chartering of a state university, believing that education, particularly religious education, would result in a more virtuous citizenry. His efforts led to the chartering of the University of Georgia in 1785.

Today we remember Alan Stewart Paton who passed away twenty-five years ago today. He was a South African author and anti-apartheid activist. After graduation, Paton worked as a teacher. After the publishing of multiple books in 1950, Paton was moved from lower class life to middle/upper class off the wealth of his books. During his time in Norway, he began work on his seminal novel Cry, The Beloved Country, which he completed over the course of his journey, finishing it on Christmas Eve in San Francisco in 1946. There, he met Aubrey and Marigold Burns, who read his manuscript and found a publisher: the editor Maxwell Perkins, noted for editing novels of Ernest Hemingway and Thomas Wolfe, guided Paton’s first novel through publication with Scribner‘s. In 1953 Paton founded the Liberal Party of South Africa, which fought against the apartheid legislation introduced by the National Party. He remained the president of the SALP until its forced dissolution by the apartheid regime in the late 1960s, officially because its membership comprised both blacks and whites. Paton was a prolific essay writer on race and politics in South Africa.

With the Halifax Resolves, the North Carolina Provincial Congress authorized its Congressional delegation to vote for independence from Britain on this day in 1776 as part of the American Revolution.

April 12th is an important anniversary date for the American Civil War. On this day in 1861 the war began with Confederate forces firing on Fort Sumter, in the harbor of Charleston, South Carolina. Exactly one year later the Andrews Raid (the Great Locomotive Chase) occurred, starting from Big Shanty, Georgia (now Kennesaw). On this day in 1864 the Fort Pillow massacre occurred. Confederate forces killed most of the African American soldiers that surrendered at Fort Pillow, Tennessee. One year after that Mobile, Alabama fell to the Union Army.

The U.S. AutoLite strike began on this day in 1934. It culminated in a five-day melee between Ohio National Guard troops and 6,000 strikers and picketers.

On April 12, 1937, Sir Frank Whittle ground-tested the first jet engine designed to power an aircraft, at Rugby, England.

U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt died April 12, 1945 while in office. The vice-president Harry Truman was sworn in as the 33rd President.

The polio vaccine that was developed by Dr. Jonas Salk was declared on April 12, 1955 to be safe and effective.

The Euro Disney Resort officially opened April 12, 1992 with its theme park Euro Disneyland. Its layout and attractions are similar to Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California and Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World in Bay Lake, Florida. At 140 acres it is the largest Disney park based on the original. As of 2011, it is the most-visited theme park in Europe, and the fifth-most visited theme park in the world. Like the original park in Anaheim, its centerpiece is Sleeping Beauty‘s castle. The park, as well as its surrounding complex, initially failed to meet financial expectations resulting in an image change in which the word “Euro” was phased out of several names, including Euro Disneyland. The park was known as Euro Disneyland until May 1994, Euro Disneyland Paris until September 1994, Disneyland Paris until February 2002, and Disneyland Park (English) and Parc Disneyland (French) since March 2002. As Michael Eisner noted, “As Americans, the word ‘Euro’ is believed to mean glamorous or exciting. For Europeans it turned out to be a term they associated with business, currency, and commerce. Renaming the park ‘Disneyland Paris’ was a way of identifying it with one of the most romantic and exciting cities in the world.” In order for the fourth park to be based on the original, modifications were made to the park’s concepts and designs. Among the changes was the change of Tomorrowland to Discoveryland, giving the area a retrofuturistic theme rather than futuristic. Other altered elements include the Haunted Mansion, which was redesigned as Phantom Manor, and Space Mountain. The park’s location brought forth its own challenges. Modifications to the park were made to protect against changes in weather in the Parisian climate. Covered walkways were added, though these are described as “Arcades” and not covered walkways, and Michael Eisner ordered the installation of 35 fireplaces in hotels and restaurants.

Laurence A. Canter and Martha S. Siegel were partners in a husband-and-wife firm of lawyers who, on April 12, 1994, posted the first massive commercial Usenet spam. To many people, this event, coming not long after the National Science Foundation lifted its unofficial ban on commercial speech on the Internet, marks the end of the Net’s early period, when the original netiquette could still be enforced. Canter and Siegel were not the first Usenet spammers. The “Green Card” spam was, however, the first commercial Usenet spam, and its unprentant authors are seen as having fired the starting gun for the legions of spammers that now occupy the Internet.

On April 12, 1999, U.S. President Bill Clinton was cited for contempt of court for giving “intentionaly false statements” in a sexual harassment civil lawsuit.

Planet Hunter

Today we bring you Planet Hunter, Geoff Marcy and the Search for Other Earths by Vicki Oransky Wittenstein.   We have New copies of this Hardcover book in stock for a low price. Amazon gives the following description:

He has discovered more planets than anyone in history. In this inspiring true story, Geoff Marcy’s love of space helped him overcome struggles in his studies until finally he became an astronomer. But he was not on track to make major discoveries. Eventually, he went back to the questions that thrilled him as a boy: Are we alone? Do Earth-like planets orbit the stars in the night sky? It would not be easy to find a planet outside our solar system. Others had tried and failed. But Marcy never gave up. Since 1995, he and his colleagues have discovered nearly half of the 380 known “extrasolar” planets. Stunning paintings transport the reader to the exotic worlds that he and others have found.


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.



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