June 30 – Social Media Day

Posted on June 30, 2017

Once upon a time, there was no such thing as "social media." There was media - newspapers and magazines, and eventually radio and television, and finally the Internet. These forms of mass communication - communication to loads and loads of people at one time - were very important especially in democracies, since citizens could become and stay informed of current events and important issues.

But the Internet was capable of so much more than just blasting out written words and audio-visual news. People could interact with each other in regards to issues and news, and they could build networks. They could share personal photos and news, and digital creations like memes and gifs, and they could "publish" such items easily and for free.

It was the 1990s and early 2000s when computer wunderkinds were building the first sorts of social media, and at that time, one or more people coined the term.

The most used social media platforms of today are (in order, with most used being #1):

1. Facebook
2. Twitter
3. Linked In
4. Google +
5. YouTube
6. Instagram
7. Pinterest
8. Tumblr
9. Snapchat
10. Reddit

Mashable is a news blog that focuses on social media and technology. It created Social Media Day in 2010. 

The idea of the day is to recognize and celebrate social media and its contributions to education, journalism, entertainment, and citizenship.

I want to point out that social media has some really bad effects as well as many really good ones. Going forward, we should try to recognize and further the good effects, but we also need to recognize the bad effects. We need to brainstorm ways to lessen the bad effects, or eliminate them altogether if possible. 

Naturally, I'm not talking about censorship. I'm talking about education and consciousness raising and possibly some technological advances to make social media better.

Check out this debate on social media.

Also on this date:

Anniversary of a Ballet First

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June 29 – Independence Day in the Seychelles

Posted on June 29, 2017

Today is the anniversary of the Seychelles' independence from Britain in 1976. Apparently, back in '76 the people of this African island nation had a three-month-long party!

Nowadays, the Seychelles celebrate three holidays in June: Liberation Day on June 5, National Day on June 18, and of course today's Independence Day (also known as Republic Day).

So I'm wondering - is it pretty much a month-long party?

Perhaps parades, cultural events, fireworks?

The Seychelles have one of my favorite flags!

I'm sure you've seen this flag, which symbolizes LGBT pride and the fight for LGBT rights:

Well, the Seychelles have a rainbow-ish flag of their own: 

Here is the meaning of each color:

blue - the sky and the sea, which surrounds this island nation

yellow - the sun, which gives both light and life

red - the people, and their work towards unity and love

white - social justice and harmony

green - the environment, including the land and its resources

Also on this date:

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June 28 – King Alboin Meets His End

                                                                                         Posted on June 28, 2017

For about 1,000 years, Western Europe was (mostly) ruled by the Roman Empire, and lives were relatively peaceful and orderly. The Pax Romana (Roman peace) existed because Roman soldiers enforced law and order between the various peoples in the empire.

But then the Roman Empire fell. In 476 C.E., the last of the Roman emperors was overthrown by a Germanic man named Odoacer. He became the first “Barbarian” to rule in Rome - but apparently he ruled only parts of Italy, not the far-flung reaches of what had once been part of the Roman Empire.

Almost a century later, Alboin, King of the Lombards (a Germanic tribe), gathered together a large group of soldiers representing a varied group of peoples. Alboin led the soldiers across the Julian Alps (the mountain range in the northern part of Italy that is named for Roman emperor Julius Caesar) and found Italy almost undefended. Alboin swiftly took over several cities, including northern Italy’s largest city, Milan, before he began to run into vigorous defense.

When I read about the long-ago past, I am always reminded that back then humans inflicted on one another WAY more violence, even, than we do now. Live by the sword, die by the sword, people say, and Alboin definitely used force (“the sword”) to get and keep more power and land and even his wife. So of course he met his end by violence. On this date in 572 he was assassinated by his foster brother, who was working with his wife in an attempt to grab power for themselves. Although the two managed the regicide (which means killing of a king), they failed in their attempted coup, and they had to flee the country. 

The Lombards remained rulers of the northern part of Italy, although they had to choose a new king. They remained rulers of large parts of Italy for two centuries, and today Lombardy is the name of one of the administrative regions of Italy.

Also on this date:

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June 27 – Around the World - All Alone!

Posted on June 27, 2017

On this date in 1898, writer 
and adventurer Joshua 
Slocum finished the first 
solo circumnavigation of 
the world. 

In other words, he sailed all 
the way around the world - 

He did it aboard a sloop 
oyster boat named Spray
which was about 36 feet and 
9 inches (11.2 m) long. He 
sailed more than 48,000 
miles (74,000 km). 

And it took more than three 

One reason it took as long 
as it did - and why he 
traveled so many miles - is because, when Slocum first set sail from 
Boston, Massachusetts, in April of 1895, he sailed north to visit his 
boyhood home of Nova Scotia. He only left North America in July of that 
year, sailing eastward across the Atlantic. He intended to sail through the 
Mediterranean Sea, through the Suez Canal, and then eastward through 
the Indian and Pacific Oceans. 

But when he reached Gibraltar, he learned that there was so much piracy 
in the Southern Mediterranean, it was too unsafe - so Slocum went 
BACK across the Atlantic to South America, and then through the Straits 
of Magellan to the Pacific. That's a pretty big double-back!!

When Slocum landed in Newport, Rhode Island, his amazing feat drew 
little notice. While he was busy staying alive alone on "the seven seas," 
Spain and the United States had embarked on a war, and the 
newspapers were full of battle headlines. 

Luckily for all of us, Slocum took the 
time to write about his adventure: 
Sailing Alone Around the World

And he THEN got the attention he 
deserved - his book was very well 
received, and he was invited to 
give lectures and to be a part of the 
Pan-American Expo in 1901. 

Slocum was even invited to talk 
at a dinner honoring Mark Twain!

Would it surprise you 
to learn that this 

famous seaman met 
his death, at age 65, 
by being lost at sea? 
He went out on one of 
his usual winter 
voyages on November 
14, 1909, and he was 
never heard from again. 
In 1924, he was finally 
declared legally dead, 
although his wife was sure he had drowned by July of 1910. 

She probably knew that, despite the fact that Slocum spent so much 
time on the water, he'd never learned to swim. Actually, he considered 
knowing how to swim to be useless - which strikes me as entirely weird, 
but I gather that lots of people back then didn't know how to swim...

Also on this date:

Mathematician Augustus 
DeMorgan's birthday

National Sunglasses Day

Djibouti's Independence 

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