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July 18 is Insurance Nerd Day

Insurance Nerd Day

July 18th is Insurance Nerd Day, created in 2016 to celebrate everyone employed in the insurance industry. It originated as a social media campaign to dispel the myth that insurance is a “boring” career path and to attract young people entering the workforce. Since then, the movement has been gaining momentum and, thanks to the efforts of a dedicated group of self-described insurance nerds, has become an annual holiday.

Insurance Nerd Day Worldwide Weird HolidaysWhat is an Insurance Nerd?

Insurance Nerd
\in-ˈshər-ən(t)s  \ˈnərd\
noun: A term of endearment for a person who is enthusiastic and passionate about working in insurance. Hobbies may include talking about insurance in his or her free time, convincing others to join the insurance industry, reading insurance publications for fun, collecting insurance company memorabilia and posting about insurance on social media to their non-insurance friends.

 

History of Insurance Nerd Day

Insurance Nerd Day Worldwide Weird HolidaysAccording to a recent study conducted by McKinsey and Co., 25 percent of insurance professionals will reach retirement age by 2018. Another study by Griffith Insurance Education Foundation found that only 5 percent of college students indicated they were “very interested” in pursuing a career in the insurance industry. As a result, the field is facing a critical talent gap.

To call attention to this issue, Pioneer State Mutual Insurance Company declared July 18, 2016, Insurance Nerd Day and took to social media to celebrate its employees and encourage other insurance professionals to get involved in breaking the stereotype that the industry is boring.

How to Observe Insurance Nerd Day

Dress up like an Insurance Nerd to show your pride and honor those who work in the insurance industry. Check out more photos on Pioneer’s Facebook page. Use #InsuranceNerdDay to join the fun on Twitter, snap and share pics on Instagram, and spread the word.

Have a happy and healthy Insurance Nerd Day and always remember to be as nerdy as you want to be, every day of the year!

 

Copyright © 2018 Worldwide Weird Holidays

September 9 is Tester’s Day

Today is Tester’s Day. This unofficial holiday for technicians everywhere is not without controversy.

The Story

On September 9, 1945, Grace Hopper, a computer scientist at Harvard University, was running tests on the Mark II Calculator (designed by Howard Aiken) when she found a moth that had landed between two solenoid contacts, shorting out an electromechanical relay.

Hopper removed the squashed bug—no one knows if she dispatched it herself—and taped it to the project’s logbook with the notation: “First actual case of bug being found.” Hopper had carried out the first “debugging” and coined the term that would become synonymous with the identification and elimination of the frustrating glitches that cause computers to malfunction.

Tester's Day

Flies in the Ointment

This story doesn’t pass muster for a few reasons.

1. The Mark II came online in 1947, two years later. That’s easy enough to explain: looking at the photo of the logbook, anyone can see that the time and date are included, but not the year. Fix that and the story’s hunky dory, right? Not really.

2. Hopper’s own description indicates that she didn’t invent the usage of “bug.” “First actual case of bug” [emphasis ours] implies that the term was already in use in a figurative sense. Nitpicky? Perhaps. The usage can be traced back at least as far as 1878, when Thomas Edison used the word in a letter to Theodore Puskas, a fellow inventor.

“‘Bugs’ — as such little faults and difficulties are called — show themselves and months of intense watching, study and labor are requisite before commercial success or failure is certainly reached.”

The meaning was also included in Webster’s Second International Dictionary, published in 1934. Okay, maybe Hopper wasn’t the first person to call a glitch a “bug.” But didn’t she find that moth, whether it was in 1945 or 1947? Probably not.

3. In 2007, the Smithsonian Institution honored the 50th anniversary of the discovery of the bug. Curator Peggy Kidwell, who included the logbook page in the exhibit, noticed that the notation wasn’t made in Hopper’s handwriting.

Ingrid Newkirk, director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), objected to the display, urging people not to use animals’ names as pejoratives, stating:

“We discourage people from saying things like ‘kill two birds with one stone.’ The manner in which we’ve been taught to think of animals is mostly negative. We need to be more respectful.”

PETA is concerned about the defamation of insects, an important part of our ecosystem. So Newkirk is essentially telling the Smithsonian, “You give bugs a bad name.” We imagine her leaving the museum to deliver a speech touting all the good things about, say, hookworms. They probably don’t get enough good press.

Amazing Grace

In our opinion, none of the nonsense above detracts from the accomplishments of Grace Hopper. In 1943, she left her job teaching mathematics at Vassar College to join the Navy. She was turned down but was admitted to the Naval Reserve after receiving special permission: She weighed 15 pounds less than the Navy’s 120-pound minimum.

After the war, she helped program the Mark I, predecessor to the Mark II of bug fame. She co-authored three papers about the computer, also known as the Automatic Sequence Controlled Calculator, with designer Howard Aiken.

She later joined the group building the UNIVAC I. In 1952, she invented the first compiler, for use with the A-O computer language, but had difficulty convincing anyone it would work. “I had a running compiler and nobody would touch it,” she said later.”They told me computers could only do arithmetic.” Ultimately she prevailed and was given her own team, which produced programming languages MATH-MATIC and FLOW-MATIC.

In 1959, Hopper served as a technical consultant to the committee that defined the new language COmmon Business-Oriented Language (COBOL). Her conviction that programs should be written in a language resembling English, rather than machine code, helped COBOL go on to be the most-used business language in history.

image of Grace Hopper

In 1967, she was named the director of the Navy Programming Languages Group, developing software and a compiler as part of the COBOL standardization program for the entire Navy.

She reached the rank of Rear Admiral in 1985. The following year, she was forced to retire after having remained on active duty many years beyond mandatory retirement age by special permission of Congress. At a ceremony held on the USS Constitution, Hopper received the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the highest non-combat-related honor awarded by the Department of Defense.

She also wrote several programming books and lectured until her death on January 1, 1992, at the age of 85. She was buried with full military honors at Arlington Cemetery. The Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG-70) is named for her, as is the Cray XE6 “Hopper” supercomputer at The National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center.

She once said:

“The most important thing I’ve accomplished, other than building the compiler, is training young people. They come to me, you know, and say, ‘Do you think we can do this?’ I say, ‘Try it.’ And I back ’em up. They need that. I keep track of them as they get older and I stir ’em up at intervals so they don’t forget to take chances.”

Thank you, Grace. We don’t give a hoot whether you found that silly—sorry, PETA, we mean noble—bug or not!

Update

In 1933, Yale University named a residential college after John C. Calhoun, an 1804 graduate who was an enthusiastic supporter of slavery. In 2017, after years of pressure, protests and vandalism of artwork depicting slaves,  the university changed the name from Calhoun to Grace Hopper College. (She earned her Ph.D. in mathematics at Yale in 1934.) Although it has nothing to do with Tester’s Day, we mention it because it brings attention to Hopper’s accomplishments.

Happy Tester’s Day!

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

 

September 6 is Fight Procrastination Day

fight procrastination day

It took us an hour to find this image.

Today is Fight Procrastination Day, created by an unknown person at an indeterminate point in human history. We’ve been unable to track down the source of this important, unofficial holiday.

Procrastination is no joke, according to two of the world’s leading experts: Joseph Ferrari, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at De Paul University in Chicago, Illinois, and Timothy Pychyl, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. (This comes from an August 2003 interview in Psychology Today, so we can’t say with absolute certainty that they’re still leading experts.) From the article:

Procrastinators tell lies to themselves. Such as, “I’ll feel more like doing this tomorrow.” Or “I work best under pressure.” But in fact they do not get the urge the next day or work best under pressure. In addition, they protect their sense of self by saying “this isn’t important.” Another big lie procrastinators indulge is that time pressure makes them more creative. Unfortunately they do not turn out to be more creative; they only feel that way. They squander their resources.

We need to confess something. We first wrote about Fight Procrastination Day on September 7, 2016, the day after the holiday. After realizing the dire implications of our inaction, we learned our lesson and—

Just kidding! We recycled this post, updating the words you’re reading now. In our defense, it’s called Fight Procrastination Day. It doesn’t say anything about winning.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays

July 30 is Jimmy Hoffa Day

Today is Jimmy Hoffa Day. On July 30, 1975,  James Riddle “Jimmy” Hoffa disappeared after leaving the Machus Red Fox Restaurant on the outskirts of Detroit, Michigan.

jimmy hoffa day

A labor leader and union activist with strong ties to the Mob, Hoffa presided over the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) from 1958 until 1971, when he was forced to resign in exchange for a pardon from President Richard Nixon.

He’d been in prison since 1967, convicted of attempting to bribe the jury on an extortion case he had ultimately won. To secure early release, Hoffa agreed to give up his position and refrain from taking part in any union-related activities until 1980, when his full prison sentence would have ended.

Once free, he refused to curb his ambitions and tried unsuccessfully to sue the government for abridging his rights. At the time of his disappearance, Hoffa was at work on an autobiography and fighting to regain the power he had ceded to his right-hand man, Frank Fitzsimmons.

On July 30, 1975, Hoffa went to the Red Fox Restaurant to allegedly meet with three men: a Detroit labor leader, a local mobster and a major player in New Jersey Teamster politics. Hoffa arrived at 2:00 pm. He called his wife from an outside payphone 30 minutes later to complain that no one had shown up and he would wait a few more minutes before giving up.jimmy hoffa day

Several sources report seeing him in the parking lot speaking with three men, then getting into a car. A truck driver claimed that a 1975 Mercury Marquis Brougham nearly hit him as he was pulling in, drawing his attention to a man he recognized as Hoffa and something that may have been a rifle or shotgun.

Traces of blood and hair were found in the 1975 Mercury Marquis Brougham owned by Chuckie O’Brien, Hoffa’s foster son. O’Brien’s father was killed on a picket line when the child was only three years old. Hoffa brought him home and raised him as a son.

At the time, DNA testing did not exist. In 2001, the FBI tested the evidence, matching it to hair taken from Hoffa’s hairbrush. O’Brien had previously denied that Hoffa had ever been in his car. He was questioned but no charges were filed.

Hoffa was declared legally dead in 1982. Theories abound but the case has never been solved.

Copyright © 2017 Worldwide Weird Holidays