Thursday, November 01, 2012

It's NaBloPoMo, and I'm playing...and today I'm playing with history

Today is the first day of NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month. The idea is, to write a blog post a day every single day in November. I figure, I wrote over 50,000 words last year in November for NaNoWriMo; this should be easy.

Which is to say, I'm sure it will not be easy at all.

I've got a lot of willpower and determination. On the other hand, some days I just can't find anything to write about that isn't whiny or self-absorbed or just plain boring.

I'm going to give it my best shot, though. We'll see how it turns out.

Anyway, I was thinking that since it is the first day of the competition (even though I'm really only competing with myself), I'd go see if there were any really notable firsts on November 1. Because, if you've been reading this blog for long, you know that among my geekdoms is history.

So I went merrily off to Wikipedia (yeah, I know), to see what they have to say about the date. Because Wikipedia has something to say about almost everything, I found several interesting events that happened on the first of November.

On November 1, 1512, Michelangelo's paintings on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel were first exhibited to the public. This is especially interesting since this is one of those notable anniversaries that end in a zero, the 500th anniversary of the unveiling. There have been rumors recently that at some point, the Vatican might limit the number of people allowed to see the ceiling each day because the crowds that show up to see it each day - sometimes as many as 20,000 per day during the peak summer tourist season, according to one article - are causing the painting to deteriorate.

In another artistic first, William Shakespeare's "Othello" was first known to have been presented on November 1, 1604, at Whitehall Palace in London. I have to confess that "Othello" is not one of my favorite of Shakespeare's plays. There is just too much meanness and nastiness in it for my taste. Iago is completely irredeemable, Othello is too gullible for words, and Desdemona is just too stupid for her own good. I'll admit that none of these opinions were popular in discussion when I had to read "Othello" for a literature class in college, but I can't think of any other way to describe those characters.

Moving on from the art world to the world of international conflict...The first bomb ever dropped from an airplane in combat was dropped on Turkish troops in Libya on November 1, 1911, during the Italo-Turkish War, with the two countries fighting over Italy's claim to Libya. It was the start of a long and nasty tradition, as our species once again furthered its quest to kill more people, more efficiently.

So, it is probably appropriate that November 1 is also the date when, in 1952, the first full-scale detonation of a thermonuclear device - a hydrogen bomb - took place at Eniwetok Atoll in the Marshall Islands, in 1952. A small, non-weaponized device nicknamed "George" was detonated the year before, but "Mike" was the first time a full-scale device that used fusion as part of its nuclear yield was exploded. The fireball from "Mike" was three and a quarter miles wide, and the mushroom cloud it created rose to 50,000 feet in a minute and a half and was 108,000 feet high a minute after that. At its greatest extent, according to Wikipedia (yes, I KNOW), the cloud was 100 miles in diameter and its stem was 20 miles wide. The device, which was housed in an aluminium building on one of the islands in the atoll, left a crater 6,240 feet in diameter and 164 feet deep, essentially obliterating the island. A seismometer in Berkeley, California, was able to detect the shock wave created by the detonation.

On a different sort of scientific note, Arecibo Observatory, Puerto Rico, the site of the largest radio telescope ever built, was officially opened on November 1, 1963.

And, on a completely different subject, the Motion Picture Association of America officially introduced its new film rating system, consisting of G, M, R, and X ratings, on November 1, 1968. It has been a point of contention ever since. If you haven't ever seen the documentary, "This Film Is Not Yet Rated," and if you like movies, you really should try to see it. It is a fascinating examination of how movies get their ratings and who actually rates them.

So, anyway, all this is a long way to say that I will be here every day in November - and hopefully I'll be able to keep up that pace of posting even after the month-long blogging event is over. But I'm sure that one thing will be proved: It is very difficult to find something to write about every day of the week.


April Danielle said...

It will be difficult, I'm thinking I'll be running into the same problem with topics. Your idea about using Wikipedia is a great one!

littlemissattitude said...

I have this sort of ambivlent relationship with Wikipedia. I think it is a great place to start out researching something I don't know much about, or to find information on a "quick reference" basis. I use it in sort of the same way I used the World Book Encyclopedia when I was in elementary school, junior high, and high school.

However, their philosophy there, which seems to be that if it was written in a book, it is fair game to present as truth, or something like that, bothers me a lot. So, I try to fact-check anything I use from there in a blog post on forum post, even if it is only by looking up the same subject from a different perspective in a different article within Wikipedia to see if two or three different articles agree on the detail in question. And if I am writing anything more serious than that, I conform with outside sources, preferably in-pring sources if I can.

Anyway, thanks for dropping by and reading and or commenting.