11.30.2016 Day in History

storm city urban skyscraper crisisAround the world, global citizens celebrate Cities for Life Day; in the ancient Mediterranean five thousand three hundred and fifty-six years ago, human beings made the likely first record of having experienced an eclipse; more or less exactly five thousand seven years later, in 1667, the baby boy gave a wild cry who would mature as the wild writer and thinker and skewerer of ‘accepted opinion,’ Jonathan Swift; just four decades past that juncture, in 1707, British attempts to establish themselves in what is now the Florida panhandle failed a second time when the Spanish held out against British forces at Pensacola; two hundred thirty-four years past, representatives from the United States and Great Britain signed preliminary articles during the Treaty of Paris; four years subsequently, in 1786, the principality of Tuscany became the first modern polity to eliminate capital punishment; two hundred thirteen years before the here and now, authorities of Spain made good on their deal to transfer the Louisiana territory to the Napoleonic French in preparation for the sale of that vast expanse to the young United States; a mere year afterward, in 1804, the United States Senate which was at the time controleld by the Democratic-Republican party, began an impeachment trial of Federalist Supreme Court Justice Samuel Chase; fourteen years precisely closer to the current context, in 1817, a male child entered the world who would rise up as the thinker, editor, organizer, writer, and Nobel Literary Laureate, Theodor Mommsen; eighteen years beyond that pass, in 1835, a baby boy was born who would grow up to fall under Mommsen’s sway as Samuel Clemens, who of course wrote as Mark Twain;

CC BY by Boston Public Library
CC BY by Boston Public Library

exactly another eighteen years later, in 1853, a Russian fleet destroyed opposing ships of the Ottoman Turks at the Battle of Sinop; just a year nearer to now, in 1854, the baby girl first shouted out who would become a labor champion as Mary McDowell, organizing the first female meatpacker’s local; forty-six years later, in 1900, when he himself was only 46, the redoubtable thinker and writer Oscar Wilde lived out his final scene; just seven years thereafter, in 1907, the boy child came along whose fate was to live more than a century and produce the marvelous historical work of the iconic Jacques Barzun; three hundred sixty-six days onward, in 1908, predatory capital caused the loss of one hundred and fifty miner’s lives at an explosion in Marianna, Pennsylvania; four years further down the pike, in 1912, the gifted photographer Gordon Parks came into the world; two dozen years even further, in 1924, the infant bounced into the world on her way to becoming Shirley Chisolm, the iconic activist, educator, and politician; eighty-six years back, the iconic battler for the rights of labor and the working class whom we call Mother Jones, breathed her last; half a dozen years yet later on, in 1936, the male baby joined the race in standard fashion en route to a life as the wild radical and thinker and youth leader, Abbie Hoffman; seven hundred thirty days more proximate to the present, in 1938, a working class male infant first opened his eyes on his way to a life as a seer of film, Jean Eustache; two years still nearer to now, in 1940, another baby boy was born across the Atlantic who would become oscar wilde books literaturethe nuanced thinker of modern life, Kevin Phillips; three years further along the temporal arc, in 1943, another American baby male shouted out on his path to work as the popular creator of monumental films and scripts, Terrence Malick; four years henceforth, in 1947, the conflict began in Mandatory Palestine that soon culminated in the creation of modern Israel, and the baby boy gave an initial cry who would grow up as the critic, thinker, and dramatist, David Mamet; four year further along, across the Atlantic in 1951, twelve thousand agents of Prudential Insurance union went on strike to improve their conditions; four years closer to today’s light and air, in 1955, the iconic rocker Billy Idol was born; a decade later, in 1965, the baby boy destined to become famous comedic actor and screenwriter Ben Stiller first cried out; two years beyond that instant in time, in 1967, another British ‘possession’ launched itself on an ‘independent’ trajectory when Yemen gained its nominal nationhood, and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto headed up the formation of the Pakistan People’s Party, and the infant destined to become Indian author and activist Rajiv Dixit first opened his eyes; fourteen years past that conjunction, in 1981, the nuke nuclear explosion holocaustU.S. and the Soviet Union briefly sat down with each other in Geneva to consider limiting intermediate range nuclear weaponry; another year onward and upward, in 1982, Michael Jackson released what would become the largest-selling album in history, Thriller; twelve years later, in 1994, French theorist and philosopher Guy Debord died; four years subsequent to that point, in 1998, capital’s normal operations impelled the merger of Exxon and Mobil to form the world’s largest oil company; three hundred sixty-five days after that, in 1999, in Seattle, protesters and demonstrators turned out in droves to stand up against the globalization protocols of the World Trade organization;, and British Aesrospace and Marconi Electronic Systems merged to form BAE Systems, Europe’s largest defense contractor and the fourth largest aerospace firm in the world; half a decade farther along time’s road, in 2004, Ken Jennings finally lost, after a record of 74 wins on the game show, Jeopardy, the longest such streak in the game’s history, a year ago, the iconic Spanish director and screenwriter Pio Baroja wrote his last act.