Sunday, January 4, 2015

Holidays and Observances for Jan 4 2015

Dimpled Chad Day

January 4th is to commemorate "dimpled chads, left over from various and sundry contested elections." A paper chad is that small piece of paper removed from a ticket stub or a punch card election ballot. The dimpled, pregnant or hanging chad from the "butterfly ballots" was only one of the issues that contributed to the chaos following the 2000 presidential election.

The presidential election of 2000 hinged on the outcome in Florida. First, the television networks said that Vice President Al Gore had carried the state. Then, the state’s election was considered “too close to call.” Then, the networks declared Texas Governor George W. Bush the winner. The presidential election was so close that it took five weeks to determine the winner. Vice President Al Gore carried the East and West Coasts and inland industrial cities, while Texas Governor George W. Bush won much of the Midwest and Plains, as well as the South. Gore gained a half-million more votes than Bush, but Gore lost the Electoral College when he lost Florida. Bush's official margin in Florida was by 537 votes.

With the presidency hanging on a few hundred votes in a single state, there were lawsuits and requests for recounts. Bitter disputes centered on confusing ballots, missing names from voting rolls, and subjecting minority voters to multiple requests for identification. The punch card ballots posed a major problem--they were vulnerable to voter error. Many ballots were called into question because voters failed to punch a hole all the way through the ballot. In an extraordinary late-night decision, the U.S. Supreme Court halted a recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court. A narrow majority of the Justices said that the recount ordered by the Florida Supreme Court violated the principle that “all votes must be treated equally.” It also ruled that there was not enough time to conduct a new count that would meet constitutional muster.

The 2000 presidential election was the first in 112 years in which a president lost the popular vote but captured enough states to win the electoral vote.

Earth at Perihelion

Tonight, or before dawn tomorrow, our planet Earth will reach perihelion – its closest point to the sun for the year. This annual event will take place on January 4, 2015 at 6:36 UTC (01:36 EST). The word perihelion is from Greek roots peri meaning near, and helios meaning sun.

Earth is closest to the sun every year in early January, when it’s winter for the Northern Hemisphere. We're farthest away from the sun in early July, during our Northern Hemisphere summer.

Earth is about 5 million kilometers – or 3 million miles – closer to the sun in early January then it will be in early July. That’s not a huge change in distance. It’s not enough of a change to cause the seasons on Earth.

Despite what many may think, Earth’s distance from the sun isn’t what causes the seasons. On Earth, because our orbit is so close to being circular, it’s mostly the tilt of our world’s axis that creates winter and summer. In winter, your part of Earth is tilted away from the sun. In summer, your part of Earth is tilted toward the sun. The day of maximum tilt toward or away from the sun is the December or June solstice.

Though not responsible for the seasons, Earth’s closest and farthest points to the sun do affect seasonal lengths. When the Earth comes closest to the sun for the year, as around now, our world is moving fastest in orbit around the sun. Earth is rushing along now at 30.3 kilometers per second (almost 19 miles per second) – moving about a kilometer per second faster than when Earth is farthest from the sun in early July. Thus the Northern Hemisphere winter (Southern Hemisphere summer) is the shortest season as Earth rushes from the solstice in December to the equinox in March.

In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer season (June solstice to September equinox) lasts nearly 5 days longer than our winter season. And, of course, the corresponding seasons in the Southern Hemisphere are opposite. Southern Hemisphere winter is nearly 5 days longer than Southern Hemisphere summer.

It’s all due to the shape of Earth’s orbit. The shape is an ellipse, like a circle someone sat down on and squashed. The elliptical shape of Earth’s orbit causes the variation in the length of the seasons – and brings us closest to the sun in January.

Euro Day

On this day in 1999, for the first time since Charlemagne's reign in the ninth century, Europe is united with a common currency when the "euro" debuts as a financial unit in corporate and investment markets. Eleven European Union (EU) nations (Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain), representing some 290 million people, launched the currency in the hopes of increasing European integration and economic growth. Closing at a robust 1.17 U.S. dollars on its first day, the euro promised to give the dollar a run for its money in the new global economy. Euro cash, decorated with architectural images, symbols of European unity and member-state motifs, went into circulation on January 1, 2002, replacing the Austrian schilling, Belgian franc, Finnish markka, French franc, German mark, Italian lira, Irish punt, Luxembourg franc, Netherlands guilder, Portugal escudo and Spanish peseta. A number of territories and non-EU nations including Monaco and Vatican City also adopted the euro.

Conversion to the euro wasn't without controversy. Despite the practical benefits of a common currency that would make it easier to do business and travel throughout Europe, there were concerns that the changeover process would be costly and chaotic, encourage counterfeiting, lead to inflation and cause individual nations to loose control over their economic policies. Great Britain, Sweden and Demark opted not to use the euro. Greece, after initially being excluded for failing to meet all the required conditions, adopted the euro in January 2001, becoming the 12th member of the so-called eurozone.

The euro was established by the 1992 Maastricht Treaty on European Union, which spelled out specific economic requirements, including high degree of price stability and low inflation, which countries must meet before they can begin using the new money. The euro consists of 8 coins and 7 paper bills. The Frankfurt-based European Central Bank (ECB) manages the euro and sets interest rates and other monetary policies. In 2004, 10 more countries joined the EU—-Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. Several of these countries plan to start using the euro in 2007, with the rest to follow in coming years.

National Spaghetti Day

Italian beauty Sophia Loren once famously said, “Everything you see, I owe to spaghetti.” If it’s good enough for her, it's certainly good enough for us to celebrate - January 4 is National Spaghetti Day!

Is there anything more satisfying than a huge bowl of freshly sauced pasta at the end of a long day? Few meals can be as pleasurable. But the stories behind your basic carbonara, puttanesca and bolognese sauces are anything but simple. Italian pasta sauces have a rich history that can be traced back centuries, all the way to ancient Rome. And the decision to make your carbonara with cream, use multiple types of meat in your ragu or put cheese in the seafood pasta can create just as much excited dinner conversation among Italian families as the latest political hubbub.

Food historians believe that lasagna is one of the world’s oldest pastas, and was likely eaten by ancient Greeks and Romans. These long, flat noodles would have been easy to roll out and dry in the sun or bake in rudimentary ovens, and cheese was a mainstay in lasagna recipes even in these early days. A 14th century recipe book calls for lasagna noodles to be layered in a baking dish with grated cheese and pulverized spices: not oregano and garlic like we might see now, but more likely cinnamon, nutmeg and black pepper.

Although we think of spaghetti with tomato sauce as the quintessential Italian dish, tomatoes didn’t become part of the Italian diet until the 1800s. And the first recipe for pasta with tomato sauce actually appeared in a French cookbook from 1797. So the tomato-based pasta sauces we tend to think of as typically Italian – bolognese, pomodoro, puttanesca – are actually more recent developments.

Of these, puttanesca has the most colorful history. A spicy spaghetti dish of tomatoes, capers, anchovies and garlic, the name literally translates to “whore’s spaghetti.” According to popular legend, this dish was what prostitutes would cook while waiting on their next appointment. In actuality, a restaurant owner made up the dish after a group of late arriving customers instructed him to make pasta “facci una puttanata qualsiasi”, roughly translated as “make any kind of garbage.” The slang term for garbage is derived from the word puttana, which also means prostitute, giving the sauce its famous name.

Carbonara is a delicious sauce of fresh egg yolks, crisp cured pork (usually bacon or pancetta), grated cheese and plenty of black pepper. The name of the sauce is derived from the word “carbonaro,” or “charcoal burner,” which may refer to the type of stoves the dish was first cooked on, the workers who first ate it or even the Carbonari, a revolutionary secret society that played a key role in early attempts aimed at securing Italian unification. Another creamy concoction made its debut in 1914 when restaurateur Alfred Di Lelio created a mixture of rich butter, grated Parmesan and black pepper to restore his wife’s strength after she gave birth to their son—also giving birth to the popular alfredo sauce.

Pasta primavera is a relatively new addition to the sauce pantheon and it was created in New York City, not Italy. In 1977 Sirio Maccioni, owner of the famous Le Cirque restaurant, whipped up a new dish featuring cream sauce, garlic and fresh spring vegetables. Primavera quickly became one of the most talked about dishes in town, but Maccioni hadn't set out to scale new culinary heights—he had simply improvised when a lack of ingredients left him with nothing but vegetables to garnish the pasta with.vely.

National Trivia Day

Do you know that you burn more calories sleeping than watching television? How can that be? Simple! When you watch television, you are exposed to various commercials, mostly food. This subconsciously creates a craving for finger food and soda which are usually fattening.

Trivia has an unknown beginning. In ancient times, the word means something very new. The adjective trivial, though, was introduced to English in the 15 century, refers to unimportant matters. In February 5, 1965, trivia quizzes emerged. The singular form of the word is trivium, referring to a matter of interest only to an undergraduate. Tri means three and via means way, representing the topics of basic education: grammar, logic and rhetoric. Trivia now means vague and obscure bits of dry facts. It is also an ambiguous remembrance of modern culture.

Trivia had slowly evolved from quizzes to games, jokes, puzzles, news and history, over the years. The National Trivia Day is observed in schools in contests of any form. At home, the day is spent playing trivial pursuit or game of knowledge. It is also a perfect day to share quick little known facts to friends and family through emails or phone. The National Trivia Day honors anyone who knows a lot of facts. As this day also celebrates the National Spaghetti Day, this day can be more fun with activities involving trivia and spaghetti.

Here are some sample trivia:
  • Which state is the largest consumer of Jell-O? California!
  • No piece of paper can be folded more than seven times. Try doing it!
  • The King of Hearts is the only king without a mustache. Check a deck of cards!

Pop Music Chart Day

On January 4, 1936, Billboard magazine published its first music hit parade. The first Music Popularity Chart was calculated in July 1940. A variety of song charts followed, which were eventually consolidated into the Hot 100 by mid-1958. The Hot 100 currently combines single sales, radio airplay and digital downloads.

All of Billboard's charts use this basic formula. What separates the charts is which stations and stores are used – each musical genre having a core audience or retail group. Each genre's department at Billboard is headed up by a chart manager, who makes these determinations.

Here are some of the Top Pop Music Charts:

  1. Johnny B. Goode - Chuck Berry
  2. Jailhouse Rock - Elvis Presley
  3. Rock Around The Clock - Bill Haley & His Comets
  4. Tutti-Frutti - Little Richard
  5. Whole Lot of Shakin' Going On - Jerry Lee Lewis
  6. What'd I Say - Ray Charles
  7. Summertime Blues - Eddie Cochran
  8. Hound Dog - Elvis Presley
  9. Long Tall Sally - Little Richard
  10. That'll Be The Day - Buddy Holly & the Crickets
  1. Respect - Aretha Franklin
  2. Louie Louie - Kingsmen
  3. Heard It Through The Grapevine - Marvin Gaye
  4. (I Can't Get No) Satisfaction - Rolling Stones
  5. Like A Rolling Stone - Bob Dylan
  6. Hey Jude - Beatles
  7. Good Vibrations - Beach Boys
  8. You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' - Righteous Brothers
  9. My Girl - Temptations
  10. Light My Fire - Doors
  1. Stairway to Heaven - Led Zeppelin
  2. Hotel California - The Eagles
  3. Imagine - John Lennon
  4. What's Going On - Marvin Gaye
  5. Born to Run - Bruce Springsteen
  6. Superstition - Stevie Wonder
  7. Layla - Derek and the Dominos
  8. Bohemian Rhapsody - Queen
  9. Bridge Over Troubled Water - Simon and Garfunkel
  10. Let's Stay Together - Al Green
  1. Billie Jean - Michael Jackson
  2. Every Breath You Take - Police
  3. When Doves Cry - Prince
  4. The Message - Grandmaster Flash & The Furious 5
  5. Sexual Healing - Marvin Gaye
  6. Like a Virgin - Madonna
  7. Walk This Way - Run-D.M.C.
  8. Sweet Child O' Mine - Guns N' Roses
  9. Don't You Want Me? - Human League
  10. Born in the U.S.A. - Bruce Springsteen
  1. Hold On - Wilson Phillips
  2. It Must Have Been Love - Roxette
  3. Nothing Compares 2 U - Sinead O'Connor
  4. Poison - Bell Biv Devoe
  5. Vogue - Madonna
  6. Vision of Love - Mariah Carey
  7. Another Day In Paradise - Phil Collins
  8. Hold On - En Vogue
  9. Cradle of Love - Billy Idol
  10. Blaze of Glory - Jon Bon Jovi
  1. Crazy in Love - Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z
  2. Hey Ya! - OutKast
  3. Poker Face - Lady Gaga
  4. Lose Yourself - Eminem
  5. Since U Been Gone - Kelly Clarkson
  6. Gold Digger - Kanye West featuring Jamie Foxx
  7. Sexy Back- Justin Timberlake featuring Timbaland
  8. Empire State of Mind - Jay-Z featuring Alicia Keys
  9. We Belong Together - Mariah Carey
  10. In Da Club - 50 Cent
Tom Thumb Day

General Tom Thumb was the stage name of Charles Sherwood Stratton (January 4, 1838 – July 15, 1883), a little person who achieved great fame under circus pioneer P.T. Barnum.

Stratton was a son of a Bridgeport, Connecticut, carpenter named Sherwood Edward Stratton. Sherwood was the son of Seth Sherwood Stratton and Amy Sharpe. Sherwood married his first cousin Cynthia Thompson, daughter of Joseph Thompson and Mary Ann Sharpe. Charles Stratton's maternal and paternal grandmothers, Amy and Mary Ann Sharpe, were allegedly small twin girls born on 11 July 1781/83 in Oxford, New Haven, Connecticut.

Born in Bridgeport to parents who were of medium height, Charles was a relatively large baby, weighing 9 pounds 8 ounces (4.3 kg) at birth. He developed and grew normally for the first six months of his life, at which point he was 25 inches (64 cm) tall and weighed 15 pounds (6.8 kg). Then he stopped growing. His parents became concerned when, after his first birthday, they noticed he had not grown at all in the previous six months. They showed him to their doctor, who said there was little chance Charles would ever grow to, or reach normal height.

By late 1842, Stratton had not grown an inch in height or put on a pound in weight from when he was six months old. Apart from this, he was a totally normal, healthy child, with several siblings who were of average size.

World Braille Day

World Braille Day is celebrated every year on 4th January around the world to commemorate the birthday of Louis Braille. Louis Braille is credited with inventing the Braille language which helps blind people to read as well as write.

Louis Braille was born in France. At the age of 3, he accidentally became blind. However, he had a great yearning to be able to read and write properly, despite his disability. An attentive kid at school, at the age of 15, he developed a set of symbols by making raised dots on a piece of paper. The dots could be easily felt by hand, thus enabling even the blind to feel them and hence, read and write.

The language developed y Louis Braille is today known as the Braille language. Louis’s work was not only confined to alphabets. He was passionate about music too, and thus, in the latter part of his life, he even developed Braille language for music. While developing the language for music, he made a point to keep it flexible so that it could be adapted to almost any musical instrument around the world.

Although the system was very useful for those with visual impairment, it was only 2 years after Louis’s death in 1854 that the system was adopted by his school. Soon after its adoption, it grew very popular in the rest of France. The penetration of the system in other countries was quite slow.

The World Braille Day is celebrated every year to recognize the efforts of Louis Braille. His simple yet effective invention made it possible for blind people to read and write. The World Braille Day is relatively a little known occasion. However, for individuals working for the blind, it is a day of great significance.

There is no public holiday as such in any part of the world on this day. Various NGOs as well as other organizations come together on this day to raise awareness about the apathy towards blind people and to help them be equal with the rest of the people.

Various competitions are organized across cities specifically for the blind. Awareness is also raised about the new technologies coming in the field of Braille language on this day. For example, in the earlier days, a special type of typewriter had to be used in order to write Braille language. Now a days, computers are also equipped to do the job. The World Braille Day is taken as an opportunity by various organizations and philanthropic individuals around the world to help the blind out there.

The World Braille Day in 2009 marked the 200th birthday anniversary of Louis Braille. It was celebrated around the world, including that in France, where a special exhibition was organized in a museum dedicated to Louis Braille. In India, Belgium as well as Italy, special coins were released with the image of Louis Braille.

World Hypnotism Day

World Hypnotism Day, January 4th, was established to help educate the general public of the truth and benefits the timeless and natural process of hypnotism has to offer anyone. Movies and books of fiction have warped the perception of hypnosis, which is why World Hypnotism Day is a necessity in order for more people to understand the truth and use this natural, expedient and effective process for personal change.

On World Hypnotism Day, and days before and after January 4th, hypnotism professionals around the world combine their efforts presenting free and low cost events in their area to promote hypnotism and help the general public become more aware of hypnosis and the benefits it offers any individual desiring personal change.

Hypnosis has been defined as "...a special psychological state with certain physiological attributes, resembling sleep only superficially and marked by a functioning of the individual at a level of awareness other than the ordinary conscious state." This definition captures our common understanding of hypnosis; however, research has not only revealed that hypnosis is a much more complicated thing, but it has also given rise to a number of definitions. One suggestion is that hypnosis is a mental state, while another links it to imaginative role-enactment.

Persons under hypnosis are said to have heightened focus and concentration with the ability to concentrate intensely on a specific thought or memory, while blocking out sources of distraction. Hypnosis is usually induced by a procedure known as a hypnotic induction involving a series of preliminary instructions and suggestions. The hypnotic suggestions may be delivered by a hypnotist in the presence of the subject, or may be self-administered ("self-suggestion" or "autosuggestion"). The use of hypnotism for therapeutic purposes is referred to as "hypnotherapy", while its use as a form of entertainment for an audience is known as "stage hypnosis".

The term "hypnosis" comes from the Greek word hypnos which means sleep. The words "hypnosis" and "hypnotism" both derive from the term "neuro-hypnotism" (nervous sleep) coined by the Scottish surgeon James Braid around 1841. Braid based his practice on that developed by Franz Mesmer and his followers ("Mesmerism" or "animal magnetism"), but differed in his theory as to how the procedure worked.

There is a belief that hypnosis is a form of unconsciousness resembling sleep, but contemporary research suggests that hypnotic subjects are fully awake and are focusing attention, with a corresponding decrease in their peripheral awareness. Subjects also show an increased response to suggestions. In the first book on the subject, Neurypnology (1843), Braid described "hypnotism" as a state of physical relaxation accompanied and induced by mental concentration ("abstraction").