October 21 - Armed Forces Day in Honduras

Posted October 21, 2017
Most nations have some sort of army, and probably a navy and air force as well. Honduras is no exception.

But Honduras has quite the history of the armed forces being very active in the government. Unlike the U.S. and other countries, there have been many military coups - which means that elements in the military took over the government, ousted the president, and put a general or other military leader into the leadership role of the whole country.

On this date in 1956, as a matter of fact, was one such military coup.
Honduras is located in Central America.

Honduras re-established a non-military government (aka civilian government) in 1979, although it continues to be fairly unstable. It's one of the poorest nations in the Americas.

Still, as with all countries, there are some wonderful things about Honduras:

Mayan ruins

Lovely scenery, including beautiful
beaches and waterfalls

Resorts and diving
Wildlife, including the endangered
Colorful culture and fruit

And of course, the people!


Also on this date:

October 20 – Revolution Day in Guatemala

Posted October 20, 2017

If you have to have a revolution in your nation - you want one like this:


A minimum of death and destruction.


For years, the Guatemalan people had endured the harsh rule of dictator Jorge Ubico y Castaneda. Finally, in June of 1944, there was a general strike. Dictators don't usually treat protestors very well, and Ubico ordered his police officers to disrupt the protests by firing on the crowd and declaring martial law.

But that only made the protestors more determined, and it also made even more Guatemalans angry. Finally, Ubico was forced to resign.

But the dictator's resignation didn't bring democracy.

Instead, the nation was now ruled by three generals appointed by Ubico - and their rule was even harsher.

By October 19, 1944, the progressive soldiers of the army were ready to join forces with university students and unionists, and in just one day they were able to capture the police and army forces that were loyal to the harsh government. 

The generals were forced to surrender and were allowed to leave the country safely.

A group of three revolutionaries led Guatemala briefly until democratic elections could be held. At that point, none of the three leaders ran for election, and a teacher (or professor?) named Juan José Arévalo Bermejo was elected president.

Unfortunately, the democracy ushered in by this relatively peaceful coup only lasted ten years. I'm embarrassed to report that the United States ended up engineering a coup against a democratically elected leader. Then-President Eisenhower signed off on the CIA operation. At the time, Americans were going through a kind of anti-communist witch-hunt-y sort of hysteria, within the U.S., and I guess American leaders were paranoid that Guatemala's government had been infiltrated by communists. But the biggest reason, probably, that the U.S. did such a non-democratic thing was to protect the profits of a big American company active in Guatemala, the United Fruit Company.


Still, even though the democracy set up by the Guatemalan
Revolution did not last, Guatemalans today are able to celebrate their special day. The main way they celebrate is by holding massive protests!!! Ten thousand or more people will typically mass in the streets to protest whatever needs protesting. The current - democratic - government of Guatemala allows these protests. Guatemalans also have special feasts and fireworks.

Check out some of beautiful and colorful scenes from Guatemala:

Also on this date:

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October 19 – Read for the Record

Posted October 19, 2017

Here's another special day meant to encourage reading. This one is brought to you by Pearson, a "learning company" that produces textbooks and provides other educational products and services, and Jumpstart, a volunteer program trying to make sure that every child entering kindergarten is ready with the skills needed to succeed.

The "record" part in Read for the Record is that the idea behind the day is trying to set a record for the world's largest shared reading experience. The idea is that you register to read, letting the organizers know how many people will be involved (little kids listening to a read-aloud book is the common scenario, I gather), and you either order the book chosen for the Read-Aloud or you download the free digital copy, and then you report online when you accomplished the read-aloud.

The book chosen for this year's Read for the Record is Quackers, by Liz Wong.

Use the Read for the Record website to register / download the free book / record the numbers.

Also on this date:

Anniversary of a Venus Fly-by

(Third Thursday of October)

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October 18 – Tops of Their Games

Posted October 18, 2017

The super famous people are few and far between. Almost everyone in the world recognizes their names - and sometimes just one name is necessary.

I'm thinking Einstein, Michael Jackson, Oprah, Marilyn Monroe, JFK, Usain Bolt, Beyoncé...

But there are a lot - lot - lot of people who reach ordinary levels of fame. Many of them have achieved TONS but are only known by a fraction of the general public. Plus, of course, they're known by people in their own field - or sport.

Today we celebrate the birthdays of three accomplished athletes:

Brittney Griner, a professional basketball player, was born on this date in 1990.

She is from Texas. She's crazy tall - 6 feet 9 inches (about 206 centimeters) - and she wears a men's U.S. size 17 shoe. Her arms outstretched to either side reach 86 inches!! (That's more than 7-foot arm span, or about 2.2 meters!)

Griner was ranked the #1 high school women's player in the entire U.S., she went on to be the only National College Athletic Association basketball player to score 2,000 points and block 500 shots, and she has played pro-ball for Russia and for the Phoenix Mercury.

Martina Navratilova was a professional tennis player and coach who was born on this date in 1956 in Prague, Czechoslovakia, and who later moved to and became a citizen of the United States.

She is one of the top women's tennis players of all time. She was #1 in singles for 332 weeks and #1 in doubles 237 weeks - the only player in the history of the world to hold the top spot in both singles and doubles for more than 200 weeks!

(Remember, as you digest that statistic: there are only 52 weeks in a year!)

Lindsey Vonn, born on this date in 1984, is an alpine ski racer. She was born in Minnesota, and she is on the U.S. Ski

Team for the World Cup - winning four World Cup overall championships! (She's one of just two women ever to win that many.) Vonn has won America's only Olympic gold medal in women's downhill skiing. She has won more World Cup races than any other woman in history, and she has won more World Cup crystal globe titles than any human in history. 

Vonn is good at all kinds of skiing. As a matter of fact, she is one of the few women to have won World Cup races in all five kinds of alpine skiing: downhill, slalom, super-G, giant slalom, and super combined. 

When you work really hard and reach the top of your game, you can often do all sorts of other things as well. Griner has an endorsement deal with Nike. Navratilova has had many endorsements and has done a lot of announcing and tennis analysis, but she has also written quite a few books (including a few murder mysteries!) and has appeared on TV shows such as Dancing with the Stars and Portlandia. Vonn has done ads for companies such as Rolex and Head, has written a book, and has worked as a correspondent for sports news, including covering the Olympics.

Also on this date:

(Third Wednesday in October)


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