Do we need more holidays? Absolutely! Especially if they're for good reasons to keep at that heart of them. Some of these ideas may be better than others, but hey, let's give them a try.
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January 30 - Vasili Arkhipov’s Birthday
February 4 - High-Five A Random Stranger Day
March 14 - Observance Observance
April 29 - Frontier Day
May 15 - Stupid Decisions Commemoration
June 23 - Alan Turing’s Birthday
July 1 - Re-Resolution Day
August 8 - Babel Day
September 13 - Little Victories Celebration
October 1 - October Sages’ Day
November 17 - Bullcrap Observance
December 28 - December Entropy Fest
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- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -The New Holidays were inspired by this comic from Surviving the World by Dante Shepherd.
Alan Turing would have turned 100 years old today. At the beginning of the year, I said that we should recognize today each year as a holiday, to remind us of both the heights that man can achieve and of the depths that man can commit. And today’s the day we should raise our glasses in memory, in celebration, and in contemplation.
There may be other figures throughout history who would also be good representations of both sides of man, but Turing is particularly strong - he was the father of computer science and artifical intelligence, provided significant intital direction towards the development of the computer, helped decypher and break Nazi codes during World War II, and was generally a mathematical genius. What he could envision served as major guidance to future work as the material and processing capabilities would eventually catch up to his intellect.
And then when he was discovered to be gay, he was convicted of indecency, was forced to undergo chemical castration, and was dead of suicide just two years later at the age of 41. The man was a hero, and this is how society treated him because he was different.
There is an excellent Radiolab piece on Alan Turing that was aired recently. I strongly recommend you listen to it if you have not already.
I don’t think it’s right to view his birthday in solely a celebratory or somber tone. I do think Alan Turing is a truly inspirational figure, reminding us that mankind is capable of such greatness, that we should not allow our intellectual creativity to be limited by the capabilities of our time, that what we envision may someday be of such significance that what are only our dreams were extraordinary guides for the future. And I do think Turing should inspire us to greater respect and acceptance of all, to step up and stop travesties before they can occur.
So here’s to you, Dr. Turing. And here’s to us.
May 15th – Stupid Decisions Commemoration is tomorrow!
Time to party in recognition of the fact you’ve been an idiot many times over. And so has everyone else.
Why you should celebrate:We’ve all made a number of dumb choices in our lives – so celebrate this one day with friends to share the moments of your stupid decisions and hopefully laugh at them – moving you beyond them and helping others not to make the same terrible choices. A month and a half after April Fools’ Day seems like an appropriate time for such a holiday.
How you should celebrate: Well, as long as you don’t add to the stupid decisions you’ve already accumulated, the sky’s the limit. On the other hand, considering what you’re celebrating, it’s more likely to become an anniversary for the stupid decisions you made the previous year. Either way, hey, let’s party!
Today, March 14th, is Observance Observance!
Time for you to celebrate the laws you’ve worked hard for, and to renew your resolve to remove the ones you feel are wrong/immoral. After all, if you don’t refresh your commitment against the bad ones, they only strengthen as you wane. Raise your glass in angry recognition that they still exist, and offer a toast in vengeance to ensure their correction or repeal.
An interesting concept to note as part of today: in the Scout Law in Boy Scouts, there is the idea that a Boy Scout should be “obedient”. However, when going into the greater meaning behind this point of the Law, “obedient” is meant to represent both dutiful following of laws and rules as they exist, but also the resolve to work towards changing those laws and rules that are wrong and should not continue. Which, honestly, is a pretty awesome expansion of the concept of obedience when you think about it.
So whatever side of whatever you’re for/against, renew your commitment for/against it today!
Hope you had a wonderful February 4th.
From a reader:
Robert Ingersoll is almost forgotten today, but at the height of his career, he was one of the most influential orators and freethinkers in America. He was a great student of liberalism and an emancipator of minds. He anticipated many 20th-century struggles, such as that of women for the right to vote, and the failed attempts in the 1920s to break the cycles of racism in America.Ingersoll championed the separation of church and state, the advancement of and investment in the sciences, and was a proponent of free and quality education for the public. His belief in the inherent dignity and equality of humanity strengthened the foundations of what grew into the American humanist movement.
Ingersoll was an example of what one person can achieve when they free themselves from dogma and lockstep-prejudice with their culture. His quotes survive to this day in great number, but of the man himself there are few statues and far less commemorations than there damn well ought to be.
All working up to celebrating unsung heroes on January 30th. Feel free to share yours.
From a reader:
The unsung hero of my life would be my adoptive family, the Brynestads. These people took me in when I was running away from my abusive home and without making a big deal about it made me one of their own. I was a terrified 18 year old, who had no clue what to do with a family that loved him and cared and they taught me how. They tolerated my bullshit then and three years later they do now. They saved me from not only a terrible situation but also from a life of cynicism about family life. And they don’t get near enough credit for this, even though I’m not the first person they’ve done this for. It’s because of them I’ve made the choice to adopt when I’m settled and it’s because of them I went to college instead of spending the rest of my days wage slaving in a grocery store.
Before we know it, January 30th – Vasili Arkhipov’s Birthday - will be quickly upon us. And you certainly can’t be ready to party appropriately unless you work yourself into the right mood for it, right?
Remember, Vasili Arkhipov is an unsung hero - the man literally stopped a nuclear war. Now, surely many people may not exactly have pulled off such an astounding feat, or have their heroic achievements distilled into a singular moment. But that does not mean their achievements are certainly less heroic, whether viewed in terms of the entire world or from a single person’s perspective.
So over the course of the next few weeks, if you would be so kind, please share stories about people who you feel have not received the proper recognition for their positive effect on others. If they are your unsung hero that no one knows outside of your town, or someone more well-known that more may be familiar with but not properly, share something about them. Add a picture of him/her/them in there with it, if you can.
Twenty days until Vasili Arkhipov’s Birthday.
Here’s a summary of each new holiday and why you should be celebrating it!
January 30th – Vasili Arkhipov’s Birthday
Why this should be a new holiday and how you should celebrate: The man is an unsung hero who prevented nuclear war. Take this day to celebrate and recognize the unsung heroes who have influenced your life and appreciate peace in the world that Arkhipov deserves some credit for.
February 4th – High-Five A Random Stranger Day
Why this should be a new holiday and how you should celebrate: Depending where you live, at this point, you’re either suffering through the middle of winter – with all the seasonal affective disorder that brings – or you’re in the dog days of summer. Really, in either case, people could use some unexpected cheer – so go out of your way with a high-five. If necessary, fist-bump or whatever expression of sudden shared joy is appropriate.
March 14th – Observance Observance
Why this should be a new holiday and how you should celebrate: Here’s to the laws that are wrong and immoral! After all, if you don’t refresh your commitment against them, they only strengthen as you wane. Raise your glass in angry recognition that they still exist, and offer a toast in vengeance to ensure their correction or repeal.
April 29th – Frontier Day
Why this should be a new holiday and how you should celebrate: Are there really any frontiers left? Actually, yes – considering that most people can’t even find their way across their hometown without a GPS, exploring an area only three miles away can be like discovering entirely new territory. So adventure, get lost, and don’t catch dysentery or be lost fording a river. Celebrating on Aleksander Wolszczan’s birthday, he who discovered the first extrasolar planet, is a good time to go beyond your normal boundaries.
May 15th – Stupid Decisions Commemoration
Why this should be a new holiday and how you should celebrate: We’ve all made a number of dumb choices in our lives – so celebrate this one day with friends to share the moments of your stupid decisions and hopefully laugh at them – moving you beyond them and helping others not to make the same terrible choices. A month and a half after April Fools’ Day seems like an appropriate time for such a holiday.
June 23rd – Alan Turing’s Birthday
Why this should be a new holiday and how you should celebrate: Turing should be celebrated not only for his major contributions but also for the repercussions he suffered for being different. So gather this day to remember all that he accomplished – and all that we are able to do today because he did so – and pause to consider how we can treat even heroes when they differ from us.
July 1st – Re-Resolution Day
Why this should be a new holiday and how you should celebrate: Six months ago, you made a New Year’s Resolution. Five and a half months ago, you gave up on it. Time to get back on the horse or at least pick a new one that is a bit more appropriate.
August 8th – Babel Day
Why this should be a new holiday and how you should celebrate: People get hung up over language and the importance of their own dialect, but stupid words get invented and celebrated and absorbed into the vernacular every year. So show how stupid it is to be so tightly bound to language – invent new words and repeatedly toss them into conversation – and if one even starts to stick, make up an even dumber one and go with that. If nothing else, people usually take pride in their confusion – so you’ll help them celebrate that, if nothing else.
September 13th – Little Victories Celebration
Why this should be a new holiday and how you should celebrate: Even those tiny successes you’ve worked toward all year deserve a giant blowout of their own. No matter how small, celebrate everyone’s victories together at the same time allow for grand merriment.
October 1st – October Sages’ Day
Why this should be a new holiday and how you should celebrate: As explained in the STW comic above. Now, you’ll have more time to plan.
November 17th – Bullcrap Observance
Why this should be a new holiday and how you should celebrate: This day is to remember that you should always take into consideration what you see and hear, held on the anniversary of Nixon’s “I am not a crook” speech. In commemoration, contribute fake facts and stories in conversation, try to slip complete fiction past others – and take everything you receive with a hearty grain of salt.
December 28th – December Entropy Fest
Why this should be a new holiday and how you should celebrate: For those who assert the nature of the universe reigns supreme, a holiday to appreciate the lack of order that keeps us from controlling many things – and thus may drive us to better influence the things that we can control.