strange, bizarre and kooky holidays in January

January 13 is International Skeptics Day (or is it?)

Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, still exists.
Philip K. Dick

I’m not sure how he’d feel about International Skeptics Day since there’s no evidence that it’s an official holiday anywhere. If you consider the number of skeptical organizations worldwide, almost 100 according to one source, maybe it should be.

international skeptics day

The sticklers among us might point out that Skeptics Day is also listed in some quarters as occurring on October 13.

Others might say the dearth of critical thinking calls for as many reminders of the need for skeptical inquiry as possible.

Perhaps the weirdest thing about this holiday is that we seem to need it at all.

*****

To learn more:

  • Watch the Youtube channel of the James Randi Foundation. Many tried and failed to win Randi’s years-long Million Dollar Challenge, which promised the prize to anyone who could show proof of the paranormal. The challenge ended recently, the money unclaimed.
  • Plumb the resources of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.
  • Find like-minded skeptics in your neighborhood at meetup.com.
  • Consult Snopes.com, the Web’s Google search for hoaxes and misinformation, before you forward that chain email about how the government is poisoning us all with cheese.
  • Watch an old episode of Mythbusters, a show that made testing urban legends entertaining. (After the series wrapped, it became clear that the biggest myth was that the two hosts got along.)
  • Read A Practical Guide to Critical Thinking, which is sure to help you resist that midnight infomercial, win an argument, and separate fact from fiction in almost any situation.

No matter how or when you choose to celebrate International Skeptics Day, have fun!

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays

January 12 is Kiss a Ginger Day

international kiss a ginger day

Today is Kiss A Ginger Day, celebrated by kissing a redhead. (We advise you to ask permission first, especially if it’s Prince Harry; his security detail might misinterpret your enthusiasm.)

Derek Forgie created Kiss A Ginger Day on Facebook in 2009 as a “karmic counter-event” to the Kick a Ginger Facebook campaign originated in November 2008. The latter resulted in numerous assaults on redheaded kids at school.

Derek responded by declaring January 12th a holiday dedicated to showing affection  to redheads. Visit his Facebook group, pucker up (after receiving proper consent) and have a happy Kiss a Ginger Day!

If you happen to be in London, head over to the White Bear pub to celebrate with an evening of music, games, goodies and free food. The event’s only dress code requirement is “Not naked.” Drinks are discounted for all redheads including, we assume, bewigged revelers who go ginger for the evening. We’ll never tell!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

January 11 is Cigarettes are Hazardous to Your Health Day

Today is Cigarettes are Hazardous to Your Health Day. Today, this may elicit a resounding,” Duh!” But on January 11, 1964, when Surgeon General Luther L. Terry, M.D. released his report linking smoking to cancer, it was far from accepted wisdom and vehemently disputed by tobacco companies.

The report came after a year-long, comprehensive review by a committee of experts of 7,000 scientific articles about the effects of smoking. Terry chose to release it on a Saturday to minimize any effect on the stock market and maximize coverage in the Sunday papers.

Twenty years later, Terry recalled that the report “hit the country like a bombshell. It was front page news and a lead story on every radio and television station in the United States and many abroad.” Later it was ranked among the top news stories of 1964.

Smoking and Health: Report of the Advisory Committee to the Surgeon General revealed cigarette smoking was responsible for a 70 percent increase in the mortality rate of smokers versus non-smokers. It estimated that average smokers had a nine- to ten-fold risk of developing lung cancer compared to non-smokers; heavy smokers, more than twenty-fold. The risk rose with the duration of smoking and diminished after cessation.

The report also named smoking as the most important cause of chronic bronchitis and pointed to a correlation between smoking and emphysema, and smoking and coronary heart disease. It noted that smoking during pregnancy reduced the average weight of newborns.

On one issue the committee balked: nicotine addiction. It insisted that the “tobacco habit should be characterized as an habituation rather than an addiction,” in part because the addictive properties of nicotine were not yet fully understood.

While the 1964 report lacked concrete recommendations, it had an impact on public attitudes and policy. A Gallup poll conducted in 1958 found that only 44 percent of Americans believed smoking caused cancer, while 78 percent believed so by 1968. In the course of a decade, it had become common knowledge that smoking damaged health, and mounting evidence of health risks gave Terry’s 1964 report public resonance.

Here is a brief, incomplete chronology of events and efforts made to combat tobacco and the companies that peddle it.

Cigarettes in U.S. History

  • 1913 –R. J. Reynolds launches Camel, the first modern mass-produced cigarette made from blended tobacco.
  • 1917 –Free cigarettes are included in the field rations of many American soldiers in World War I.
  • 1928 –Doctors Herbert L. Lombard and Carl R. Doering offer the first detailed statistical data showing a higher proportion of heavy smokers among lung cancer patients than among controls.
  • 1938 –Raymond Pearl demonstrates statistically that smoking shortens life expectancy.
  • 1941-45 –Tobacco is again supplied to American servicemen in World War II.
  • 1946 –Doctors Alton Ochsner and Michael DeBakey publish an article in Archives of Surgery linking smoking to lung cancer and citing research articles from several countries.
  • 1950 –The Federal Trade Commission says cigarette ads that highlight health benefits are deceptive.
cigarettes are hazardous to your health day
  • 1964 –Surgeon General Luther L. Terry issues Smoking and Health.
  • 1965 –Congress mandates health warnings on cigarette packs.
  • 1969 –The Public Health Cigarette Smoking Act passes Congress, imposing a ban on cigarette advertising on television and radio after September 30, 1970.
  • 1973 –Arizona passes the first state law designating separate smoking areas in public places.
  • 1983 –Lung cancer surpasses breast cancer as the leading cause of death from cancer in women.

cigarettes are hazardous to your health day

  • 1987 –Congress bans smoking on all domestic flights of two hours or less; two years later smoking is banned on all domestic flights.
  • 1988 –Surgeon General C. Everett Koop’s report, The Health Consequences of Smoking: Nicotine Addiction, calls nicotine “a powerfully addicting drug.” In a 618-page summary of 2,000 studies, Koop declares, “It is now clear that… cigarettes and other forms of tobacco are addicting and that actions of nicotine provide the pharmacologic basis of tobacco addiction.”
  • 1992 –The Environmental Protection Agency places passive smoke on its list of major carcinogens, making it subject to federal workplace and other regulations.

*****

  • 1994 –Seven tobacco company executives testify before Congress that “nicotine is not addictive.”
    cigarettes are hazardous to your health day

The televised panel, led by Representative Henry Waxman, questions the executives for six hours.

One executive insists that cigarettes are no more addictive than coffee, tea or Twinkies.

The difference between cigarettes and Twinkies,” Waxman replies, “is death.

*****

  • 2006 –On August 17, 2006, U.S. District Judge Gladys Kessler issues a 1,683-page ruling holding tobacco companies liable for covering up health risks associated with smoking and for targeting children.
    cigarettes are hazardous to your health day
    The judgment orders the companies to issue “corrective” ads admitting to the deceptive use of terms such as “light” and “low-tar,” among other things.

    The ads must state that a “federal court has ruled that Altria, R.J. Reynolds Tobacco, Lorillard, and Philip Morris USA deliberately deceived the American public.”

  • 2017 –The companies are still appealing the decision. They claim the findings pertain to the alleged inaccuracy of the companies’ public statements about smoking and health, not to whether anyone in the public was actually deceived by the defendants.

    Perhaps the ad should simply say, “A lie is the responsibility of the person who believes it.” That’s as good a defense of callous (and profitable) disregard for human life as any we may ever hear.

*****

It’s clear that the work of Dr. Terry and many others had a great effect on health. Since 1964, smoking rates in the United States have dropped by more than half. It’s estimated that eight million lives have been saved by tobacco control efforts — yet up to 20 million more have been lost. Until the day we all kick the habit, every day will be Cigarettes are Hazardous to Your Health Day.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

January 10 is Peculiar People Day

peculiar people dayToday is Peculiar People Day. The day itself is peculiar and raises several questions. We’ll try to help you answer them with our handy-dandy Peculiar People Day Quiz.

How should you celebrate?

 

1. Do you consider yourself peculiar? Yes [ ] No [ ]

(If you answered No, proceed directly to Question # 2.)

a. If you answered Yes, are you proud of that fact? Yes [ ] No [ ]

If Yes, just be yourself and have fun.

If No, just be yourself–you really can’t help it–but don’t make a fuss about it.

2. Do you know someone else who is peculiar? Yes [ ] No [ ]

(If you answered No, go back and answer Yes to Question #1.)

a. If you answered Yes, are you sure the person is aware of being peculiar? Yes [ ] No [ ]

(If No, you might’ve been the kid who liked to tell other kids there’s no Santa Claus.)

b. If Yes, are you certain the person won’t mind being called peculiar by an allegedly non-peculiar person? Yes [ ] No [ ]

If Yes, say nothing.

If No, say nothing.

Perhaps the most peculiar facet of this day is that it will probably not be any fun for those it “celebrates.” So this is one holiday we feel should be ignored or observed in secrecy by being kind to those who are different from ourselves. Shouldn’t that be something we do every day?

Copyright 2016 Worldwide Weird Holidays