On This Day
1959 – Nikita Khrushchev becomes the first Soviet leader to visit the United States.
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev[a] (15 April 1894 – 11 September 1971) was a Soviet statesman who led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War as the First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964. Khrushchev was responsible for the de-Stalinization of the Soviet Union, for backing the progress of the early Soviet space program, and for several relatively liberal reforms in areas of domestic policy. Khrushchev’s party colleagues removed him from power in 1964, replacing him with Leonid Brezhnev as First Secretary and Alexei Kosygin as Premier.
Khrushchev was born in 1894 in the village of Kalinovka, which is close to the present-day border between Russia and Ukraine. He was employed as a metal worker during his youth, and he was a political commissar during the Russian Civil War. With the help of Lazar Kaganovich, he worked his way up the Soviet hierarchy. He supported Joseph Stalin’s purges, and approved thousands of arrests. In 1938, Stalin sent him to govern the Ukrainian SSR, and he continued the purges there. During what was known in the Soviet Union as the Great Patriotic War (Eastern Front of World War II), Khrushchev was again a commissar, serving as an intermediary between Stalin and his generals. Khrushchev was present at the bloody defense of Stalingrad, a fact he took great pride in throughout his life. After the war, he returned to Ukraine before being recalled to Moscow as one of Stalin’s close advisers.
On 5 March 1953, the death of Stalin triggered a power struggle in which Khrushchev emerged victorious after consolidating his First Secretary with that of the Council of Ministers. On 25 February 1956, at the 20th Party Congress, he delivered the “Secret Speech”, which denounced Stalin’s purges and ushered in a less repressive era in the Soviet Union. His domestic policies, aimed at bettering the lives of ordinary citizens, were often ineffective, especially in agriculture. Hoping eventually to rely on missiles for national defense, Khrushchev ordered major cuts in conventional forces. Despite the cuts, Khrushchev’s rule saw the most tense years of the Cold War, culminating in the Cuban Missile Crisis.
Khrushchev’s popularity was eroded by flaws in his policies. This emboldened his potential opponents, who quietly rose in strength and deposed the Premier in October 1964. However, he did not suffer the deadly fate of previous Soviet power struggles, and was pensioned off with an apartment in Moscow and a dacha in the countryside. His lengthy memoirs were smuggled to the West and published in part in 1970. Khrushchev died in 1971 of a heart attack.
Born On This Day
1857 – Anna Winlock, American astronomer and academic (d. 1904)
Anna Winlock (1857–1904) was an American astronomer and human computer, one of the first members of female computer group known as “the Harvard Computers.” She made the most complete catalog of stars near the north and south poles of her era. She is also remembered for her calculations and studies of asteroids. In particular, she did calculations on 433 Eros and 475 Ocllo.
Winlock was born September 15, 1857, in Cambridge, Massachusetts, to astronomer Joseph Winlock and Isabella Lane. Winlock attended the Cambridge Schools as a child and began to develop an interest in both mathematics and the Greek language. Upon her graduation she received a letter from her principal expressing his appreciation for her Greek and of her character. Her father influenced her interest in astronomy. When she was twelve, she attended a solar eclipse expedition with her father in his home state of Kentucky. In June 1875, Joseph died shortly after Winlock had graduated from primary school. Winlock quickly followed in her father’s footsteps becoming one of the first female paid staff members of the Harvard College Observatory.
Harvard College Observatory
After the death of her father, it fell upon her to find financial support for her mother and four siblings, and soon she approached the Harvard College Observatory seeking a job in calculations. Specifically, she was capable of reducing volumes of unreduced observations, a decades worth of numbers in a useless state, that previously her father had left unfinished. The interim director of the observatory complained that he could not process the data, as “the condition of the funds is an objection to hiring anyone.”  Winlock presented herself to the observatory and offered to reduce the observations. Having been previously introduced to the principles of mathematical astronomy by her father she seemed like a capable asset to the observatory and could be paid less than half the prevailing rate for calculating at the time. Harvard was able to offer her twenty-five cents an hour to do the computations. Winlock found the conditions acceptable and took the position.
In less than a year, she was joined at the observatory by three other women who also served as computers; they became known as Pickering’s Harem, gaining notoriety for leaving an uncomfortable example on the government computing agencies because of the women’s low wages and arduous work, even though it was of high quality. Winlock found it important the work to be done in astronomy, especially for women. By her own development as a scientist and her lasting contributions to the stellar program of the observatory, she served as an example that women were equally capable as men of doing astronomical work.
Through her thirty-year career at the Harvard College Observatory, Winlock contributed to the many projects the observatory faced. Her most significant work involved the continuous and arduous work of reducing and computing meridian circle observations. Five years earlier under the direction of her father, the observatory collaborated with multiple foreign observatories in a project for preparing a comprehensive star catalog. The project was divided into sections or zones by circles parallel to the celestial equator. Winlock began to work on the section called the “Cambridge Zone” shortly after being hired on by the observatory. Working over twenty years on the project, the work done by her team on the Cambridge Zone contributed significantly to the Astronomische Gesellschaft Katalog, which contains information on more than one-hundred thousand stars and is used worldwide by many observatories and their researchers. Besides her work on the Cambridge Zone, she also contributed to many independent projects. She supervised in the creation of the Observatory Annals (a collection of tables that provide the positions of variable stars in clusters) into 38 volumes.
Winlock’s death was unexpected. On December 17, 1904 she visited the Harvard College Observatory for what would be the last time, and she continued working through the holiday season. The last entry in her notebook of reductions was on New Years Day 1904. Three days later she died suddenly at the age of 47 in Boston, Massachusetts. A funeral service was held at St. John’s Chapel in Cambridge.
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David Sherry: CC – Meet Jason Zook (This week’s podcast)
Continuing my series of introductions to interesting people I’m meeting from around the web…
This week, I recorded a conversation with Jason Zook.
Jason has one of the most unique career paths I’ve ever seen. He literally sold his last name (twice!) and has constantly done something unexpected in the creator space while still managing to make a solid income from it.
What I love and appreciate about Jason is how open is he is about sharing his ups and downs. His new book just hit the Amazon shelves and it’s called Own Your Weird.
If you want to work with Jason, you can get in touch or learn more through his co-owned site, Wandering Aimfully.
I had a blast talking with Jason about pairing weirdness and business in this week’s conversation…
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