Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Holidays and Observances for July 21 2015

Invite an Alien to Live with You Day


Did you Know....... that today is invite an Alien to Live with You Day? On the birthday of Robin Williams, the alien Mork of "Mork and Mindy," invite an alien to live with your or, at the very least, invite a stranger to lunch!

Mork & Mindy is an American sitcom broadcast from 1978 to 1982 on ABC. It stars Robin Williams as Mork, an extraterrestrial who comes to Earth from the planet Ork in a small, one-man egg-shaped spaceship. Pam Dawber co-stars as Mindy McConnell, his human friend and roommate.

The series is a spin-off from the sitcom Happy Days. The character of Mork is played by a then-unknown Robin Williams, who impressed producer Garry Marshallwith his quirky comedic ability as soon as they met. When Williams was asked to take a seat at the audition, Williams immediately sat on his head on the chair and Marshall cast him on the spot, and later wryly commented that Williams was the only alien who auditioned for the role.

Mork appears in the Happy Days Season 5 episode, "My Favorite Orkan", which first aired in February 1978 and is a take on the 1960s sitcom My Favorite Martian. Williams's character, Mork, attempts to take Richie Cunningham back to his planet of Ork as a human specimen, but his plan is foiled by Fonzie. In the initial broadcast of this episode, it all turned out to be a dream that Richie had, but when Mork proved so popular, the ending was re-edited to show Mork erasing the experience from everyone's minds, thus meaning the event had actually happened and wasn't a dream.

In Mork & Mindy, Mork resides in a Boulder, Colorado setting of the late 1970s and early 1980s (as compared to the Happy Days setting of Milwaukee in the late-1950s).

Mork arrives on Earth in an egg-shaped spacecraft. He has been assigned to observe human behavior, by Orson, his mostly unseen and long-suffering superior (voiced by Ralph James). Orson has sent Mork, in order to get him off Ork, where humor is not permitted. Attempting to fit in, Mork dresses in an Earth suit, but wears it backward. He encounters 21-year-old Mindy (Pam Dawber) who is upset after an argument with her boyfriend, and offers assistance. Because of his odd garb, she mistakes him for a priest and is taken in by his willingness to listen (in fact, simply observing her behavior). When Mindy notices his backward suit and unconventional behavior, she asks who he really is, and he innocently tells her the truth. She promises to keep his identity a secret and allows him to move into her attic. Mindy's father Fred (Conrad Janis) objects to his daughter living with a man (particularly one as bizarre as Mork), but Fred's mother-in-law Cora (Elizabeth Kerr) approves of Mork and the living arrangement. Mindy and Cora work at Fred's music store, where Cora gives lessons to Eugene Jeffrey Jacquet, a child who becomes Mork's friend. Also seen occasionally are Mindy's snooty old high school friend Susan (Morgan Fairchild) and the possibly insane Exidor (Robert Donner).

Storylines usually center on Mork's attempts to understand human behavior and American culture as Mindy helps him to adjust to life on Earth. It usually ends up frustrating Mindy, as Mork can only do things according to Orkan customs. For example, lying to someone or not informing them it will rain, is considered a practical joke (called "splinking") on Ork. At the end of each episode, Mork reports back to Orson on what he has learned about Earth. These end-of-show summaries allow Mork to humorously comment on social norms.

Mork's greeting is "Na-Nu Na-Nu" (pronounced /ˈnɑːnuː ˈnɑːnuː/) along with a hand gesture similar to Mr. Spock's Vulcan salute from Star Trek combined with a handshake. It became a popular catchphrase at the time, as did "Shazbot" (/ˈʃɑːzbɒt/), an Orkan profanity that Mork uses. Mork says "KO" in place of "OK".

This series is Robin Williams's first major acting role and became famous for Williams's use of his manic improvisational comedic talent. Williams would make up so many jokes during filming, eventually scripts had specific gaps where Williams was allowed to freely perform. In many scenes, Dawber had to bite her lip to avoid laughing and ruining the take.

The series was extremely popular in its first season. The Nielsen ratings were very high, ranking at 3, behind Laverne & Shirley (at 1) and Three's Company (at 2), both on ABC, which was the highest rated network in the U.S. in 1978. The show gained higher ratings than the Happy Days series that had spawned it, at 4.However, the network management sought to improve the show in several ways. This was done in conjunction with what is known in the industry as counter programming, a technique in which a successful show is moved opposite a ratings hit on another network. The show was moved from Thursdays, where it out rated CBS' The Waltons, to Sundays where it replaced the canceled sci-fi series Battlestar Galactica. The show then aired against two highly rated shows: NBC's anthology series titled The Sunday Big Event and CBS' revamped continuation of All in the Family titled Archie Bunker's Place.

Legal Drinking Age Day


On July 17, 1984, President Ronald Reagan signed into law the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, which withheld a percentage of highway funds from any state that didn't raise the minimum drinking age to 21.

The week before, Reagan had declared ice cream a "nutritious" food.

Perhaps that's a hint that politicians don't always know what's best for your health.

Thirty years later, there is a group of people with Ph.Ds and MDs who take issue with the drinking age. They say, from a scientific standpoint, that the law may target the wrong teen behavior.

Solving one public health crisis
The law came into being to solve a serious public health problem.

Before the minimum drinking age law, 16- to 20-years-old were the most common drunken drivers.

When the drinking age was raised, the number of fatal crashes involving a young driver dropped significantly, from 61% in 1982 to 31% in 1995. It went down more for that age group than any older age group.

But while the law did have a significant impact on drinking and driving, it did not stop kids from drinking. In fact, it may have made drinking even more appealing to teens, whose brains naturally seek out risk more than adult brains do -- without considering what the consequences might be.

A survey of students at 56 colleges across the country just a couple years after the legislation passed found that "significantly more under-age students drank compared to those of legal age." This study concluded that "the increase in purchase age appears to have been not only ineffective but actually counter-productive, at least in the short run."

The definition of adulthood is not clear-cut when it comes to science.

"There's no magic that happens physically to someone when they are 21 as compared to age 18," said Dr. William Graf, a professor of pediatric neurology at Yale.

The American Psychological Association says that drawing a single line between adolescence and adulthood under the law is at odds with developmental science. They say adolescence usually begins at about age 10 and ends around 19, but really it depends; maturity is based on an individual's experiences.

Developing brains - Current data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health and Monitoring the Future, the two official surveys that monitor such topics, suggest that roughly 65% of college students (generally aged 18 to 22) drink alcohol in any given month.

Most of the college students who choose to drink are binge drinking, according to a study out of Harvard. Seven out of 10 are consuming five or more drinks in a row.

Binge drinking can have a damaging impact on a developing brain. Evidence suggests that heavy exposure to alcohol can cause irreversible brain damage and cognitive deficits, including memory problems.

Scientists say the teenage years are one of the most important times for brain development, next to infancy. Neurons in the brain are growing and strengthening, connections are developing to allow the brain to transmit information faster and allow the brain to process more complex thoughts, and the brain goes through a kind of pruning process to eliminates synapses that are infrequently used.

All this brain development has a huge impact on a person's development and mental well-being. It also means that young people have lapses in judgment during this time period as they try to figure out how to be adults.

The limbic system, the part of your brain that is involved in processing social and emotional information, develops early in adolescents. But the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that involves judgment, impulse control and abstract thought and the ability to anticipate the consequences of your actions, isn't fully shaped until your late 20s.

Mimicking behavior - Abigail A. Baird, associate professor of psychology at Vassar College, has spent her career trying to understand what happens with the typical adolescent brain.

Baird argues that if anything, in terms of biology, the age limits on driving and drinking should be flipped.

"If I were queen for the day, I would move the drinking age to 18 and maybe not let them drive until they were 21, at least not with other people besides your parents in the car," Baird said.

She likes the idea of graduated driver's license laws that slowly let young drivers have more responsibility as they get more practice in the car. This is based on the theory that they will learn how to avoid accidents as they gain experience.

The statistics back her up. Before states introduced graduated licensing systems during the first six months of solo driving, newly licensed drivers were about eight times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than more experienced drivers.

"We all know adolescents are obsessed with learning from their peers. ... Adolescents learn based on experience. They are not good at learning abstractly; that's what changes a lot between 18 and 21. When you get older, you can learn from reading stories about people and by really feeling for other people."

Baird believes that society could use the way young people learn, to help them learn how to drink responsibly at an earlier age. If drinking were less of a clandestine affair, perhaps a teen's peers could model more appropriate behavior for younger participants. She says it's important to learn how to behave around alcohol.

"Find me a business dinner that you will go to where you are not offered alcohol," Baird challenged. "In our society, you do need to know what do around it and how much you can handle."

National Junk Food Day


Everything is good in moderation. Pick up your favorite snacks and enjoy National Junk Food Day on July 21. Make family memories as you enjoy all of your favorite treats.

Whether your family eats healthy meals or just loves snack foods, National Junk Food Day is the day to plan a picnic or party. Even your picky eaters will enjoy snacks of every variety.

Grill up some burgers and hot dogs, add chips and dips and enjoy a picnic lunch in your own backyard. Spread a snack feast and picnic at the park, pool or beach.

Plan a block party and ask each family to bring their favorite snacks to enjoy together. Let the kids bring bikes or outdoor toys and enjoy an evening of fun.

Set out bowls of snacks and let the kids fill their plates with the snack foods you don't eat every day. After all, everything is good in moderation.

Take the kids out for ice cream sundaes or shaved ice treats to celebrate the day. Enjoy a movie night with popcorn and pizza as you make memories together.

Here are a few recipes to enjoy with your family on National Junk Food Day.
  • Rotel Cheese Dip - Cube one small block or half of a large block of any variety of Velveeta cheese food and place into small crock pot. Add one can of any variety of Rotel tomatoes and peppers. Heat on low for 2-3 hours or high for 1-2 hours until cheese is melted. Keep warm and serve with dipping tortilla chips.
  • Crockpot Meatballs - Mix one 12 ounce jar of chili sauce with 12 ounces of grape jelly or jam in pan over low heat until jelly is melted. Fill crockpot with a large bag of thawed or frozen meatballs. Pour sauce over meatballs. Cook on low heat for 3-4 hours for thawed or 6-8 hours for frozen meatballs or on high for 2-3 hours for thawed or 4-6 hours for frozen.
  • Mini Meatball Subs - Heat a bag of meatballs in a jar or can of spaghetti sauce until warmed through. Keep warm in a crockpot or chafing dish and serve with Parker House party rolls and grated cheddar cheese.
  • BBQ Cocktail Franks - Place two bags of cocktail franks in crockpot and add one jar of your favorite barbecue sauce. Heat on low for 4-5 hours or on high for 2-3 hours.
  • Pizza Croissant Rollups - Roll out canned croissant dough into triangles. Place one teaspoon canned pizza sauce on each triangle. Top with 1/3 of a mozzarella cheese stick. If desired, add a slice of pepperoni between sauce and cheese. Roll up triangles, starting at long end. Seal edges and bake 10-15 minutes at 350 until browned.
There's a time for everything. National Junk Food Day is the time to indulge your family's sweet or salty tooth and enjoy all the snack foods your family loves.

National Crème Brulee Day


National Crème Brulee Day is celebrated on July 21 each year in the United States. Those who enjoy the vanilla custard-like dessert with the burnt, caramelized crust have an excuse to indulge in a dish (or two) of the sweet, creamy treat known as creme brulee.

Creme Brulee literally translates to burnt cream in French, and is made from a custard base that is generally vanilla flavored but can also come in other flavors such as strawberry or chocolate. The crust is created by sprinkling the top of the custard with sugar, and then melting it with a blowtorch or in the broiler until it forms a hard caramel.

Like many of the more obscure food holidays, the precise origins of National Crème Brulee Day are difficult to pinpoint. In fact, creme brulee itself has a much-debated history. It is generally accepted that custard dates back to the middle ages, but more than one person has tried to take credit for the unique caramelization of creme brulee. Trinity College in Cambridge, England purports to have come up with it in the 1600's, while a similar dessert, crema catalana is said by some to have been invented in Spain in the 1800's.

The easiest and perhaps most obvious way to celebrate National Crème Brulee Day is to head to your favorite eatery that serves the dessert and order a serving or two. Some restaurants may even hold specials in honor of the occasion. You may also choose to make your own creme brulee at home (just use the broiler if you have no blowtorch), and invite friends over to join in the celebration.

National Tug-Of-War Tournament Day


Split into two teams, and the last one standing wins! July 21 is National Tug of War Tournament Day, and there’s only one way to celebrate: play tug of war!

Tug of war, also known as tug o' war, tug war, rope war, rope pulling, or tugging war, is a sport that directly pits two teams against each other in a test of strength.

The origins of tug of war are uncertain, but it is beyond dispute that this once royal sport was practiced in ancient Egypt, Greece and China, where it was held in legend that the Sun and Moon played Tug of War over the light and darkness. It is also widely believed the sport was made popular in Great Britain by Lord Elliott Simpson, in the 16th Century. Simpson was a keen tugger.

According to a Tang dynasty book, The Notes of Feng, tug of war, under the name "hook pulling", was used by the military commander of the State of Chu during the Spring and Autumn Period (8th century BC to 5th century BC) to train warriors. During the Tang dynasty, Emperor Xuanzong of Tang promoted large-scale tug of war games, using ropes of up to 167 meters or (547.9 feet) with shorter ropes attached and more than 500 people on each end of the rope. Each side also had its own team of drummers to encourage the participants.

In ancient Greece the sport was called helkustinda , which derives from dielkō, meaning amongst others "I pull through", all deriving from the verb helkō, "I draw, I pull". Helkustinda and efelkustinda seem to have been ordinary versions of tug of war, while dielkustinda had no rope, according to Julius Pollux. It is possible that the teams held hands when pulling, which would have increased difficulty, since handgrips are more difficult to sustain than a grip of a rope. Tug of war games in ancient Greece were among the most popular games used for strength and would help build strength needed for battle in full armor.

Archeological evidence shows that tug of war was also popular in India in 12th century AD:
There is no specific time and place in history to define the origin of the game of Tug of War. The contest of pulling on the rope originates from ancient ceremonies and rituals. Evidence is found in countries like Egypt, India, Myanmar, New Guinea... The origin of the game in India has strong archaeological roots going back at least to the 12th century AD in the area what is today the State of Orissa on the east coast. The famous Sun Temple of Konark has a stone relief on the west wing of the structure clearly showing the game of Tug of War in progress.
Tug of war stories about heroic champions from Scandinavia and Germany circulate Western Europe where Viking warriors pull animal skins over open pits of fire in tests of strength and endurance in preparation for battle and plunder.

1500 and 1600 – tug of war is popularised during tournaments in French châteaux gardens and later in Great Britain

1800 – tug of war begins a new tradition among seafaring men who were required to tug on lines to adjust sails while ships were under way and even in battle.

The Mohave Indians occasionally used tug-of-war matches as means of settling disputes.

The Oxford English Dictionary says that the phrase "tug of war" originally meant "the decisive contest; the real struggle or tussle; a severe contest for supremacy". Only in the 19th century was it used as a term for an athletic contest between two teams who haul at the opposite ends of a rope.

No Pet Store Puppies Day


On Tuesday, July 21, the ASPCA will be celebrating national No Pet Store Puppies Day, and we're asking for your help! This is a great chance to educate your friends and family about what happens in puppy mills and remind them not to buy puppies, or any pet supplies, from pet stores that sell puppies—and adopt from a shelter or rescue group instead!

Puppy mill cruelty is a national problem. Tens of thousands of breeding dogs spend their lives in puppy mills, large-scale commercial breeding operations where profit is given priority over the well-being of the dogs. Dogs in these facilities are typically housed in tiny, overcrowded cages in unsanitary conditions, without proper veterinary care of adequate access to food and water—and many live out their entire lives without ever experiencing human affection. Female breeding dogs are bred at every opportunity with little to no time between litters for their bodies to recover, in order to produce as many puppies as possible and generate more profit for the mills.

What’s more, their offspring may suffer from behavior, congenital and hereditary problems as a result of irresponsible breeding practices. Puppies are typically sold to pet shops as young as eight weeks of age. Since most pet store puppies come from puppy mills, this cruelty is perpetuated every time a puppy is purchased from a pet store.

The ASPCA estimates that there are between 6,000 and 10,000 commercial breeding facilities in the United States—and we refuse to rest until every single mill dog is safe.

If you’re ready to stand with us against puppy mills, here are a few ways you can raise awareness and help puppy mill dogs right now.

Check out our revamped No Pet Store Puppies website. Visit NoPetStorePuppies.com to find out if your state regulates commercial breeders and how you can help end the cruelty. Sign the pledge that you won’t buy anything from pet stores that sell puppies—and tell everyone you know not to shop at those stores, either!

Spread the word. Watch the video below to meet Molly and her faithful pup, Joey, and learn why you shouldn’t shop at pet stores that sell puppies. Then share it with your friends and family on all your social media channels.

Take a Monkey to Lunch Day


Celebrated on the anniversary of the 1925 conviction of John Scopes for teaching evolution.

In Dayton, Tennessee, the so-called “Monkey Trial” begins with John Thomas Scopes, a young high school science teacher, accused of teaching evolution in violation of a Tennessee state law.

The law, which had been passed in March, made it a misdemeanor punishable by fine to “teach any theory that denies the story of the Divine Creation of man as taught in the Bible, and to teach instead that man has descended from a lower order of animals.” With local businessman George Rappalyea, Scopes had conspired to get charged with this violation, and after his arrest the pair enlisted the aid of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to organize a defense. Hearing of this coordinated attack on Christian fundamentalism, William Jennings Bryan, the three-time Democratic presidential candidate and a fundamentalist hero, volunteered to assist the prosecution. Soon after, the great attorney Clarence Darrow agreed to join the ACLU in the defense, and the stage was set for one of the most famous trials in U.S. history.

On July 10, the Monkey Trial got underway, and within a few days hordes of spectators and reporters had descended on Dayton as preachers set up revival tents along the city’s main street to keep the faithful stirred up. Inside the Rhea County Courthouse, the defense suffered early setbacks when Judge John Raulston ruled against their attempt to prove the law unconstitutional and then refused to end his practice of opening each day’s proceeding with prayer.

Outside, Dayton took on a carnival-like atmosphere as an exhibit featuring two chimpanzees and a supposed “missing link” opened in town, and vendors sold Bibles, toy monkeys, hot dogs, and lemonade. The missing link was in fact Jo Viens of Burlington, Vermont, a 51-year-old man who was of short stature and possessed a receding forehead and a protruding jaw. One of the chimpanzees–named Joe Mendi–wore a plaid suit, a brown fedora, and white spats, and entertained Dayton’s citizens by monkeying around on the courthouse lawn.

In the courtroom, Judge Raulston destroyed the defense’s strategy by ruling that expert scientific testimony on evolution was inadmissible–on the grounds that it was Scopes who was on trial, not the law he had violated. The next day, Raulston ordered the trial moved to the courthouse lawn, fearing that the weight of the crowd inside was in danger of collapsing the floor.

In front of several thousand spectators in the open air, Darrow changed his tactics and as his sole witness called Bryan in an attempt to discredit his literal interpretation of the Bible. In a searching examination, Bryan was subjected to severe ridicule and forced to make ignorant and contradictory statements to the amusement of the crowd. On July 21, in his closing speech, Darrow asked the jury to return a verdict of guilty in order that the case might be appealed. Under Tennessee law, Bryan was thereby denied the opportunity to deliver the closing speech he had been preparing for weeks. After eight minutes of deliberation, the jury returned with a guilty verdict, and Raulston ordered Scopes to pay a fine of $100, the minimum the law allowed. Although Bryan had won the case, he had been publicly humiliated and his fundamentalist beliefs had been disgraced. Five days later, on July 26, he lay down for a Sunday afternoon nap and never woke up.

In 1927, the Tennessee Supreme Court overturned the Monkey Trial verdict on a technicality but left the constitutional issues unresolved until 1968, when the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a similar Arkansas law on the grounds that it violated the First Amendment.