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Test Tube Baby Day

test tube baby dayToday is Test Tube Baby Day. On July 25, 1978, in Oldham, England, Louise Joy Brown became the first person born after being conceived outside her mother’s body, in a revolutionary process now called in-vitro fertilization, or IVF.

In IVF, egg and sperm are placed together in a liquid with some smooth jazz and Bacardi 151; after the egg has been fertilized, it is transplanted into a woman’s uterus. (We’re kidding about some of that.)

The media’s description of Louise as a “test tube baby,” evocative of heretical work performed by mad scientists, was widely adopted but technically inaccurate. Her conception took place in a petri dish.

At the time, her parents knew the procedure was experimental but were unaware that it had never resulted in a baby. This called into question their ability to give informed consent and the ethics and motives of the doctors involved. Disciplinary action might have been taken had Louise not been born.

IVF has become an accepted treatment for infertility. By 2006, the World Health Organization reported that more than 1.5 million children had been conceived via the process. In 2010, Robert Edwards, one of its developers, received the Nobel Prize in Medicine.

Happy birthday, Louise!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

July 24 is Amelia Earhart Day

Amelia Earhart Day

image – history.com

Today is Amelia Earhart Day, celebrating the aviation pioneer’s birth on July 24, 1897.  In 1932, she became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic, for which she received the U.S. Distinguished Flying Cross. A member of the National Woman’s Party and an early proponent of the Equal Rights Amendment, Earhart’s self-confidence and spirit of adventure made her an inspiration to young women.

Earhart vanished without a trace on July 2, 1937, during her attempt to circumnavigate the globe. Despite the likelihood that the plane was never found because it crashed into the Pacific Ocean and sank, theories about her disappearance persist to this day, running the gamut from midair abduction by aliens to a secret move to New Jersey to live under an assumed name.

One popular hypothesis claims the Japanese captured Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan, torturing and executing them or holding them in secret for the rest of their lives. Some claim Earhart was a spy for the U.S. Others say she was one of many English-speaking women forced to make radio broadcasts as Tokyo Rose, although propagandists wishing to demoralize American servicemen surely would have seen the benefit in using her real name.

On July 9, 2017, the History Channel aired Amelia Earhart: The Lost Evidence, featuring a photograph that showed two Caucasian people on a dock at Jaluit Atoll and a vessel carrying something that looked like plane wreckage in the background.

A military history blogger scouring archival images son found that the photo had been taken in 1935, two years before the crash. This revelation called into question the veracity of the entire documentary. The cable channel canceled reruns and deleted streaming video of its program pending an investigation. Unfortunately, it called into question the veracity of the entire documentary

No matter the truth of her death, we can all celebrate the life and accomplishments of this extraordinary woman.

Happy Amelia Earhart Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

July 21 is Invite an Alien to Live with You Day

Today is Invite an Alien to Live with You Day. Relax! We aren’t talking about the aliens that a certain reality star turned politician has said are coming to murder us and steal our jobs—although, once we’re dead, they’d technically just be taking advantage of sudden employment opportunities.

invite an alien to live with you day

When “Ay” met “Nanu nanu”

This type of illegal alien comes from the planet Ork. Robin Williams was born on July 21, 1951; he was introduced to us as Mork on February 28, 1978, when his spaceship crashed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and he wandered onto the set of Happy Days.

On September 20, 1977, the show had aired an episode that would later inspire the term “jump the shark,” which connotes the moment when the quality of a particular program begins to decline. In it, Fonzie dons water skis—still wearing his signature leather jacket, of course—and proves his courage by jumping a shark tank.

When series creator Garry Marshall announced, less than five months later, that his eight-year-old son had suggested they put a spaceman on the show, everyone involved thought it was a horrible idea. Actors agreed: Dom DeLuise and Roger Rees backed out of playing Mork. Two days before the shoot, a staffer tracked down a comic she’d seen doing an alien bit and brought him in.

As writer Brian Levant told E!,  “It is 3:30, we have a run-through of this episode, which is considered to be the biggest piece of s–t in the history of the show and it was brilliant. The run-through lasted an hour and fifteen minutes of a 22-minute show. And it was Robin Williams’ literal birth as an entertainer.”

Marshall’s spinoff Mork & Mindy premiered on September 14, 1978, and ran for four seasons, seen by an average of 55 million to 60 million per week. Viewers were taken in by Williams’ frenetic, madcap style and impish charm. He was a walking verb orbited by exclamation points.

After he committed suicide on August 11, 2014, it was revealed that he’d been suffering from Lewy body dementia, a progressive brain disease that can cause visual hallucinations, memory loss, decreased mental focus, rigid body movements, sleep disorders, anxiety and depression. Today would have been his 65th birthday.

Perhaps the best way to celebrate today is to acknowledge our sadness and then remind ourselves of the gifts he gave us by watching Mork and Mindy, his comedy specials or a marathon of our favorites from his movie career. He once said, “The truth is, if anything, I’m probably addicted to laughter.” We certainly got hooked on him.

There are hundreds of Robin Williams quotes online. Many are scripted lines, which shouldn’t count, in our opinion. So we’ll say up front that he spoke the following words as Mork from Ork. We don’t know if he ad-libbed any of it, as he was famous for doing, but it sums up what we hope he knew:

“I don’t know how much value I have in this universe, but I do know that I’ve made a few people happier than they would have been without me, and as long as I know that, I’m as rich as I ever need to be.”

We miss you, Robin.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

July 11 is Cheer Up the Lonely Day

cheer up the lonely dayToday is Cheer Up the Lonely Day, created by Francis Pesek of Detroit, Michigan. His daughter L.J. Pesek described him as “a quiet, kind, wonderful man who had a heart of gold.”

“He got the idea as a way of promoting kindness toward others who were lonely or forgotten as shut-ins or in nursing homes with no relatives or friends to look in on them.” She said he chose July 11 because it was his birthday.

What is the definition of the word lonely?
ˈlōnlē/ adjective
  1. sad because one has no friends or company.
    “lonely old people whose families do not care for them”
    • without companions; solitary.
      “passing long lonely hours looking onto the street”
    • (of a place) unfrequented and remote.
      “a lonely stretch of country lane”

The elderly can become isolated as their circles of friends grow smaller due to the illness and death of their contemporaries. They may be relocated to facilities at the fringes of their communities. Loss of physical mobility makes it a struggle to visit others; losing autonomy after lives spent caring for themselves and others takes a psychological toll that can result in depression.

Mark Twain once said, “The best way to cheer yourself up is to try to cheer up somebody else.” There’s no denying that time spent face-to-face with loved ones, telling them how much they mean to us, does our hearts good. We also know what it’s like to be lonely. It can happen in the middle of a crowd. It only takes a moment to be kind to a stranger today.

Have a happy Cheer Up the Lonely Day and remember how good it feels. That way, we can keep it going tomorrow and every day after that.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays