On This Day
497 BC – The first Saturnalia festival was celebrated in ancient Rome.
Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honour of the god Saturn, held on 17 December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to 23 December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves. A common custom was the election of a “King of the Saturnalia”, who would give orders to people and preside over the merrymaking. The gifts exchanged were usually gag gifts or small figurines made of wax or pottery known as sigillaria. The poet Catullus called it “the best of days”.
Saturnalia was the Roman equivalent to the earlier Greek holiday of Kronia, which was celebrated during the Attic month of Hekatombaion in late midsummer. It held theological importance for some Romans, who saw it as a restoration of the ancient Golden Age, when the world was ruled by Saturn. The Neoplatonist philosopher Porphyry interpreted the freedom associated with Saturnalia as symbolizing the “freeing of souls into immortality”. Saturnalia may have influenced some of the customs associated with later celebrations in western Europe occurring in midwinter, particularly traditions associated with Christmas, the Feast of the Holy Innocents, and Epiphany. In particular, the historical western European Christmas custom of electing a “Lord of Misrule” may have its roots in Saturnalia celebrations.
Born On This Day
1778 – Humphry Davy, English chemist and physicist (d. 1829)
Sir Humphry Davy, 1st Baronet PRS MRIA FGS FRS (17 December 1778 – 29 May 1829) was a Cornish chemist and inventor, who is best remembered today for isolating, using electricity, a series of elements for the first time: potassium and sodium in 1807 and calcium, strontium, barium, magnesium and boron the following year, as well as discovering the elemental nature of chlorine and iodine. He also studied the forces involved in these separations, inventing the new field of electrochemistry. In 1799 Davy experimented with nitrous oxide and became astonished that it made him laugh, so he nicknamed it “laughing gas”, and wrote about its potential anaesthetic properties in relieving pain during surgery.
Berzelius called Davy’s 1806 Bakerian Lecture On Some Chemical Agencies of Electricity “one of the best memoirs which has ever enriched the theory of chemistry.” Davy was a baronet, President of the Royal Society (PRS), Member of the Royal Irish Academy (MRIA), and Fellow of the Geological Society (FGS). He also invented the Davy lamp and a very early form of arc lamp.
He joked that his assistant Michael Faraday was his greatest discovery.
“Never Used to Plow” (NameIwillRegret)
Yeah okay, buddy. That’s totally not mounting hardware, right?
“Simple Fix” (skeffles)
If it was so simple, then the seller would have fixed it already!
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By Patrick Redford: Katie Compton Is An All-Time American Athlete
This is now Compton’s 15th consecutive cyclocross national championship. She started winning them when she was 25. Now, she’s 40 and she still hasn’t lost the streak. This has easily been the most difficult season of Compton’s career, as she’s struggled with severe allergies that have limited her breathing and a nasty stomach bug. None of it mattered on Saturday in Louisville. She was perfect.
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By David Barden: Camp Fire Cleanup Workers Fired After Posting Disgraceful Photos Bigge Crane and Rigging apologized for the “egregious insult” caused by its employees “during an already devastating time.”
Bigge Crane and Rigging apologized to the residents of Paradise and Butte County, describing the Facebook posts as “an egregious insult during an already devastating time.”
“We have identified three participants in this abhorrent event and their employment has been terminated,” the company wrote in a statement posted to Facebook Saturday. “Bigge expects its employees and contractors to work with the utmost integrity and professionalism.”
One of the photos in question included a deceased cat with a beer bottle placed in its mouth.
“Dude… I was just chilling with my homies, having a couple of cold ones, and BAM… damn fire breaks out,” the caption read.
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By Heather Chapman: Rural school principals have some of the hardest jobs, and some of the highest turnover rates, in education
For example, Matthew Snyder is the new principal of the elementary, middle and high schools in Cheraw, Colorado (pop. 252). He’s also the district superintendent, the maintenance director, a substitute teacher, and soon will be a fill-in bus driver. He grew up in a farming town in northern Colorado and told Preston that, although he was daunted at the prospect of filling so many roles in Cheraw, his brother encouraged him to try it. The job turned out to be very hard, but Snyder said he hopes that’s just because he’s new. “The light at the end of the tunnel for me is I’m hoping this is just adjusting,” he told Preston.
A nationwide initiative aims to help multitasking principals like Snyder. Mark Shellinger, a former dual superintendent-principal in rural Alaska, runs a group called the National SAM Innovation Project. It operates in Colorado and 22 other states “to help principals better plan their days and train colleagues to assume more of their schools’ management tasks,” Preston reports.
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By Minyvonne Burke: Officer makes heartfelt plea to speeders after catching teen driving 100 mph “They thought they were invincible too. They weren’t,” the officer posted.
An Ohio officer’s Facebook message to an 18-year-old he clocked going 100 mph on a highway is gaining speed on social media.
In an open letter posted on the North Ridgeville Police Department’s Facebook page, an officer wrote in a Facebook message intended for the teen that their reckless driving could have killed them or “some innocent person who was minding their own business doing nothing else wrong but being in front of you.”
“I’d like to believe that you were minutes away from creating an unspeakable Christmas tragedy when I stopped you,” the post read.
According to a photo of the ticket accompanying the open letter, the teen was traveling 100 mph in a 65 mph zone in the city of North Ridgeville.
The officer went on to write that they have witnessed dozens of car crashes related to speeding that left other teenagers dead or with “broken” bodies.
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Why you should care
Because old-school British comedy is still damned funny.
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