On this day in history . . . [updated]
To supplement Home Paddock’s usual “this day in history” series, here’s a few of the more unusual events that have happened today in history . . .
- On this day in 1957 the BBC announced that “as the result of a mild winter and the virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil,” Swiss farmers enjoying what is still a record crop of spaghetti.”
- In 1962 Kjell Stenson, Swedish television's technical expert, told Swedes that, “thanks to a new technology, it would be possible for viewers to convert their TV sets for colour reception. All they need do was pull a nylon stocking over the screen…” Amazing.
- In 1995 negotiations between Disney and the Russian government concluded in the purchase of the embalmed body of Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, which had been on display in Red Square since his death, and its removal to Euro Disney, it said, where it was given the "full Disney treatment", including stroboscopic lights to tone up his pallid face, Lenin T-shirts for sale and excerpts from Ronald Reagan's "evil empire" speech played in quadrophonic sound. Liberal groups lobbied thereafter to keep the mausoleum empty "to symbolise the emptiness of the Communist system."
- In 1992 Belgium was split in half, with the north, Dutch-speaking part joining the Netherlands and the French-speaking south joining France.
- In 1996, the Taco Bell Corporation announced it had bought the Liberty Bell and was renaming it the Taco Liberty Bell. And the White House announced that the Lincoln Memorial had also been sold and would now be known as the Ford Lincoln Mercury Memorial.
- In 1977 the colon-shaped islands of San Serriffe, in the Indian Ocean, launched as a holiday destination.
- In 1993 the Chinese government announced its decision to make PhD holders exempt from the country's policy of allowing only one child per couple, “the better to create a brainy population.”
- In a surprise move in 1992, Richard Nixon announced he was running for President again. His new campaign slogan was, "I didn't do anything wrong, and I won't do it again.”
- In 1973 the London School of Pathological and Environmental Medicine discovered that exposure to Dutch elm disease immunised people against the common cold. Unfortunately there was also a side effect: it made the hair of gingas turn yellow and fall out…
- In 1993 the Alabama state legislature voted to change the value of the mathematical constant pi from 3.14159 to the 'Biblical value' of 3.0.
- In 1998 Burger King introduced the revolutionary "Left-Handed Whopper" specially designed for the 32 million left-handed Americans. The whopper included the same ingredients as the original Whopper (lettuce, tomato, hamburger patty, etc.), but all the condiments were rotated 180 degrees for the benefit of their left-handed customers.
- In 2007 it was discovered that global warming had been caused by the decline of New Zealand's sheep population. “Sheep are white, you see, and collectively they increase the planet's albedo, which is the amount of sunlight reflected back into space.”
- In 1976 “a once-in-a-lifetime astronomical event” occurred in Britain when the planet Pluto passed behind Jupiter, temporarily causing a gravitational alignment that counteracted and lessened the Earth's own gravity.
- In 1965 the Danish government passed a new law requiring all dogs to be painted white to “increase road safety by allowing dogs to be seen more easily.”
UPDATE: And in related news today,
- Jeanette Fitzsimons has been appointed to the role of Secretary General of the United Nations, making her Helen Clark’s boss.
- The Green Party today called for horse lanes to be introduced in New Zealand towns and cities. “We need to look for carbon neutral transport options to fight climate change…”
- David Farrar is introducing a new pay-to-comment system at his blog. For each comment there will be a small “micro-charge.”
- Home Paddock blogs on “Baaccoli, a new breed of sheep which combines the nutritional properties of broccoli with those of meat.” Apparently it will help encourage children who don’t like vegetables …
- Tim Watkin points out there’s nothing like 300,000 New Zealanders on welfare. It’s all a myth.
- In Australia, Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has announced “a Pauline conversion,” admitting that “the Government had strayed too far from a sensible economic course, and has no business in our bedrooms”—and promising to “embrace libertarian economic principles in the formulation of future economic policy.”
- “Announcing a change in direction by the Government, the Prime Minister said that the size and reach of government had grown too far and must be reduced. He committed to returning the Budget to balance by 2012 through a mixture of substantial cuts in public spending and promised further income tax cuts. He promised to cut the size of the public service by 25 per cent within three years and abolish several departments with immediate effect, including the Department of Climate Change.
- And here at home the National Party has finally announced plans to privatise TVNZ, NZ Post, the four electricity generators and to abolish the Ministries of Women’s and Maori Affairs. And Rodney Hide has revealed plans to sell off the Ports of Auckland . . .
NB: Some of these things are true. Or not.