FYI February 28 & 29, 2020

On This Day

202 BC – Liu Bang is enthroned as the Emperor of China, beginning four centuries of rule by the Han dynasty.
Emperor Gaozu of Han (Chinese: 漢高祖; 256 BCE – 1 June 195 BCE), born Liu Bang (劉邦), was the founder and first emperor of the Han dynasty, reigning from 202 – 195 BCE. His temple name was “Taizu” (太祖) while his posthumous name was “Emperor Gao” (高皇帝); “Gaozu of Han”, derived from the Records of the Grand Historian, is the common way of referring to this sovereign even though he was not accorded the temple name “Gaozu”. Liu Bang was one of the few dynasty founders in Chinese history who was born in a peasant family.[6]

Prior to coming to power, Liu Bang initially served for the Qin dynasty as a law enforcement officer in his home town Pei County, within the conquered state of Chu. With the First Emperor’s death and the Qin Empire’s subsequent political chaos, Liu Bang renounced his civil service position and became an anti-Qin rebel leader. He won the race against fellow rebel leader Xiang Yu to invade the Qin heartland and forced the surrender of the last Qin ruler in 206 BCE.

After the fall of the Qin, Xiang Yu, as the de facto chief of the rebel forces, divided the former Qin Empire into the Eighteen Kingdoms, and Liu Bang was forced to accept the poor and remote Bashu region (parts of present-day Sichuan and Chongqing) with the title “King of Han” (Chinese: 漢王; pinyin: Hàn Wáng). Within the year, Liu Bang broke out with his army and conquered the Three Qins, starting a civil war known as the Chu–Han Contention as various forces battled for supremacy over China.

In 202 BCE, Liu Bang emerged victorious following the Battle of Gaixia, unified most of China under his control, and established the Han dynasty with himself as the founding emperor. During his reign, Liu Bang reduced taxes and corvée, promoted Confucianism, and suppressed revolts by the lords of non-Liu vassal states, among many other actions. He also initiated the policy of heqin to maintain a de jure peace between the Han Empire and the Xiongnu after losing the Battle of Baideng in 200 BCE. He died in 195 BCE and was succeeded by his son, Liu Ying.



February 29, also known as leap day or leap year day, is a date added to most years that are divisible by 4, such as 2016, 2020, and 2024. A leap day is added in various solar calendars (calendars based on the Earth’s revolution around the Sun), including the Gregorian calendar standard in most of the world. Lunisolar calendars (whose months are based on the phases of the Moon) instead add a leap or intercalary month.[1]

In the Gregorian calendar, years that are divisible by 100, but not by 400, do not contain a leap day. Thus, 1700, 1800, and 1900 did not contain a leap day; neither will 2100, 2200, and 2300. Conversely, 1600 and 2000 did and 2400 will. Years containing a leap day are called leap years. Years not containing a leap day are called common years. February 29 is the 60th day of the Gregorian calendar in such a year, with 306 days remaining until the end of the year. In the Chinese calendar, this day will only occur in years of the monkey, dragon, and rat.

A leap day is observed because the Earth’s period of orbital revolution around the Sun takes approximately six hours longer than 365 whole days. A leap day compensates for this lag, realigning the calendar with the Earth’s position in the Solar System; otherwise, seasons would occur later than intended in the calendar year. The Julian calendar used in Christendom until the 16th century added a leap day every four years; but this rule adds too many days (roughly three every 400 years), making the equinoxes and solstices shift gradually to earlier dates. By the 16th century the vernal equinox had drifted to March 11, and the Gregorian calendar was introduced both to shift it back by omitting several days, and to reduce the number of leap years via the aforementioned century rule to keep the equinoxes more or less fixed and the date of Easter consistently close to the vernal equinox.[1][2]

Leap days can present a particular problem in computing known as the leap year bug when February 29 is not handled correctly in logic that accepts or manipulates dates, for example in ATMs[3] or Microsoft’s cloud system Azure.[4]


Born On This Day

1878 – Pierre Fatou, French mathematician and astronomer (d. 1929)
Pierre Joseph Louis Fatou (28 February 1878 – 09 August 1929[1]) was a French mathematician and astronomer. He is known for major contributions to several branches of analysis. The Fatou lemma and the Fatou set are named after him.



1908 – Dee Brown, American historian and author (d. 2002)
Dorris Alexander “Dee” Brown (February 29, 1908 – December 12, 2002) was an American novelist, historian, and librarian. His most famous work, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1970), details the history of American expansionism from the point of view of the Native Americans.[1]



By Katyanna Quach, The Register: RIP Freeman Dyson: The super-boffin who applied his mathematical brain to nuclear magic, quantum physics, space travel, and more Science’s civil rebel dies aged 96
Freeman John Dyson FRS (15 December 1923 – 28 February 2020) was an English-born American theoretical physicist and mathematician known for his work in quantum electrodynamics, solid-state physics, astronomy and nuclear engineering.[7][8] He was professor emeritus in the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, a member of the Board of Visitors of Ralston College[9] and a member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.[10]

Dyson originated several concepts that bear his name, such as Dyson’s transform, a fundamental technique in additive number theory,[11] which he developed as part of his proof of Mann’s theorem;[12] the Dyson tree, a hypothetical genetically-engineered plant capable of growing in a comet; the Dyson series, a perturbative series where each term is represented by Feynman diagrams; the Dyson sphere, a thought experiment that attempts to explain how a space-faring civilization would meet its energy requirements with a hypothetical megastructure that completely encompasses a star and captures a large percentage of its power output; and Dyson’s eternal intelligence, a means by which an immortal society of intelligent beings in an open universe could escape the prospect of the heat death of the universe by extending subjective time to infinity while expending only a finite amount of energy.

Dyson believed global warming is caused by increased carbon dioxide through burning fossil fuels but that some of the effects of this are favourable and not taken into account by climate scientists, such as increased agricultural yield. He was skeptical about the simulation models used to predict climate change, arguing that political efforts to reduce causes of climate change distract from other global problems that should take priority.


By Neil Genzlinger, The New York Times: Joe Coulombe, Who Founded Trader Joe’s, Dies at 89 “Equal parts gourmet shop, discount warehouse and Tiki trading post,” his stores caught on in Southern California and, eventually, beyond.
Joseph Hardin Coulombe (June 3, 1930 – February 28, 2020)[1] was an American entrepreneur. He founded the grocery store chain Trader Joe’s in 1967.[2]

The Rural Blog: Federal officials work to reverse Education Dept.’s new formula for rural-school program, which would cut budgets; USDA develops test strip for the type of toxin that causes 90% of sickness and deaths from eating wild mushrooms; Study: Rural women with ovarian cancer more likely to be diagnosed at Stage IV, but not because of distance to doctor; USDA will let hemp farmers destroy ‘hot’ crops themselves, but stands by 15-day rule; DEA allows more labs to do tests and more ->
By Jay Peters, The Verge: The Internet Archive’s VHS Vault will send you on a 90s nostalgia trip 3 comments There are more than 20,000 recordings archived
By Jefferson Graham, USA Today: PayPal, passwords and Wi-Fi: 11 tips for better digital security
Open Culture: The Documentary Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool Is Streaming Free for a Limited Time; The Story of Physics Animated in 4 Minutes: From Galileo and Newton, to Einstein and more ->
The Passive Voice: To tag or not to tag—when author feedback gets personal; Taylor Swift Shakes Off ‘Playas’ Infringement Claim; ‘Franklin & Washington’ – Friends at the Founding and more ->


My Recipe Treasures: Sausage Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole
Little House Big Alaska: Potato Focaccia Bread Recipe
A Taste of Alaska: Wonder Bread Chaffle
The Frayed Apron: Traditional Irish Soda Bread
By Jesse Szewczyk, the Kitchen: These 3-Ingredient Sauces Are Chicken Dinner Heroes
Betty Crocker Kitchens: It’s All Gravy: 15 Saucy Dinners Your Family Will Love
Perfectly DeStressed: Cheesy Chip Tuna Noodle Casserole