July 20 – World Jump Day Anniversary

Posted on July 20, 2017

World Jump Day was scheduled to be on this date in 2006. At exactly 11:39.13 GMT (Greenwich Mean Time - or possibly UTC, Coordinated Universal Time - different sources say different things!), 600 million people living in the Western Hemisphere of the Earth were supposed to jump. 

At EXACTLY the same time.

The simultaneous jumping of so many people was supposed to move the Earth out of its orbit, into a new orbit, thus saving us all from global warming.

Hmmm...does that seem even remotely likely?

Of course not! The entire scheme was a joke. 

I mean, you could call World Jump Day a hoax - but we usually use that word to mean a malicious lie rather than a good-humored prank...and it seems to me that it was more good-humored than malicious.

The creator of the World Jump Day hoax was Torsten Lauschmann, a German artist who is living in the United Kingdom. He considered the Jump Day prank to be an art installation!

He created a website purporting that there was an entire organization coordinating the jump event and featuring a counter of registered jumpers. The counter went up and down in the most unlikely way, and by the time set for the jump, the counter indicated that there were 600,256,820 registered jumpers. And that is a really, really unlikely number, given that it is more than half of all people in the entire world who used the internet, at the time.

Of course, IF the everyone-in-the-west-jump-at-the-exact-same-time plan had been serious, and if 600 million people had really done the jump, it wouldn't have changed the Earth's orbit. At all.

According to Wikipedia, the science of the situation is that we cannot change the Earth's orbit using the planet's mass (and the planet's entire mass includes all of the plants and animals on the planet, and so that includes all of us!) - UNLESS the mass were thrown off of the Earth so quickly that it reached escape velocity. 

In other words, the jump stunt could've changed the orbit, a bit, if the 600 million people had all launched themselves into space and streaked out to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

But even if that happened, the Earth's orbit would only change a really little bit. Not a shift of a mile, or even a foot. Not a shift of an inch...but instead, the orbit would shift about the the radius of a single atom.

Um....yeah. Not going to solve global warming!

By the way, can you imagine the calculations of the new orbit that WOULD solve global warming? And then computing the amount of mass that would have to leave (or impact) the Earth to move it to that orbit? It would be a massive (pun intended) undertaking - something way more difficult, dangerous, and costly (not to mention impossible) than switching energy sources and other solutions people are working on right now. 

In honor of World Jump Day, I offer some cool jumps:

July 19 – Martyrs' Day in Myanmar / Burma

Posted on July 19, 2017

Today is a sad commemoration for the people of Myanmar - the remembrance of nine people who were assassinated on this date in 1947. 

The people who were killed included General Aung San, who led the interim government that was supposed to provide a transition from the British rule to full independence. The assassinated also included seven other interim government leaders and a bodyguard.

Aung San is considered the Father of the Nation. Can you imagine if, in U.S. history, someone assassinated George Washington just after the Revolutionary War but before the first election of the new nation?
As I explained in an earlier post, the nation that most of the world calls Myanmar is called Burma by the United Kingdom, the United States, and apparently most of the Burmese people themselves, when they are speaking and not writing for publication. 

A Teak Connection

Myanmar / Burma is the home to many teak forests. Teak is a kind of wood that is naturally resistant to water, so it is very desirable for many projects including furniture making and ship building.

Of course, locals have used teak wood forever, but the export of teak became an important thing for the British colony of Burma. After a few years of holding a monopoly over all Burmese teak, the British government bowed to pressure from wealthy teak merchants and opened up logging to private industry. But, with no regulations, the loggers ended up decimating the teak forests in only a little more than a decade. 

A more careful development of teak forests included what is called "shifting cultivation," planting crops for human use for a short time in a particular field, then allowing that field to go back to its native plant life while a nearby field is farmed. 

There were many arguments and strains between the Burmese people, their British rulers, and minority ethnic groups such as the Karens - and some of the strife was about teak.

Myanmar / Burma has the longest teak bridge in the world.
The U Bein Bridge is about 3/4 of a mile long!

After independence, the teak forests went back to being unregulated and over-harvested. But now, finally, Myanmar has started to reform the logging industry. Hopefully teak will continue to be a resource for the nation for generations to come...

Teak carvings have been a part of Burmese culture for centuries.

Also on this date:

July 18 – Actors' Birthdays (and, no, I don't mean "Actresses')

Posted on July 18, 2017

Today is the birthday of two of my favorite actors!

 Kristen Bell was born on this date in 1980 in Michigan. She is famous as the high-school-student-private-investigator Veronica Mars, as the voice of Princess Anna in Frozen, and as a woman experiencing a puzzling afterlife in The Good Place. Of course she's also done tons more acting projects as well and, in addition to being an actor, Bell is a singer.

Priyanka Chopra was born on this date in 1982 in Jamshedpur, India. 

She was considering studying aeronautical engineering or criminal psychology.

But after winning the Miss World beauty pageant in 2000, she got offers that involved stage and screen, and she ended up becoming an actor, singer, and film producer. 

Much of Chopra's work has been in India, in Bollywood, but since 2015 she has starred in an American network show - the first South Asian to do so.

Chopra is also known as a philanthropist - someone who does good things for others. She has worked with UNICEF and promotes causes about health, education, the environment, and women's rights. 

I hope you notice that I am not using the word actress. A lot of people, including Wikipedia and the Academy Awards, do still use the word actress, but we in English-speaking societies have been making language and job titles less and less sexist, and I think that we should continue to do so.

When I was a child, people used words like policeman and fireman, and nobody could imagine changing the terms to be less sexist. I mean, it was going to be so repetitive and long-winded to constantly say things like, "the policemen and policewomen of this great city"...right?

As you probably know, it wasn't actually that difficult. Once a few newspaper style guides and cities decided to take the plunge, it turned out that police officer and fire fighter were easy to say and accurate for males or females. Who knew?

Even stewardess has been replaced by flight attendant, from what I've seen. And most people use server instead of waiter or waitress.

SAG awards have category names
like "Outstanding Performance by
a Female Actor in a Leading Role."
Back in the day, people used to use comedienne for female comics and manageress for female managers. Even female authors were called authoresses, by many. Those days are long gone, and although many publication style guides dictate that writers and editors use actor for men and women unless writing about an award that still uses the word actress. I read that the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of TV and Radio Actors union uses actor for both male and female.

So, I am going to try to remember to do the same, from now on!