May 1, 2017

May First is perhaps the most holiday-rich day in the calendar. It is a cross-quarter day along with November 11 falling between the March and September equinoxes and is associated with northern European pagan and neo-pagan celebrations, notably the May Pole, which is variously and inconclusively considered to be an axis mundi and a phallic image.

In many parts of the world, including China where I live, it is International Labor Day and is a mandatory day off. During the Cold War, the United States and other countries sought to take the focus off the labor movement and have made it Law Day, Loyalty Day, Child Health Day, and at least once in recent history, it was International Day of Prayer.

It is also Lei Day in Hawaii, Maharashtra Day in India, Constitution Day in Argentina, Latvia, and the Marshall Islands (coincidence, as far as I can tell.)

But my personal favorite is International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day. In case you’ve never heard of guerrilla gardening, it is the act, sometimes surreptitiously, of planting flowers or vegetables in abandoned sites, areas that are not being cared for, and/or private (other than their own) property.

This image of guerrilla gardening was taken by Umberto Brayj and is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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April 30, 2017

April 30 has long been celebrated in Mexico as El día de los niños (Children’s Day.) Since 1997 it has been celebrated in the US and other places as El día de los niños/El día de los libros (Children’s Day/Book Day) shortened to simply Día.

It is a day to bring together children, books, languages, and cultures. It is both a daily commitment and an annual celebration to focus on the joys and wonders of childhood and the importance of literacy.

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April 28, 2017

April 28 is variously called Workers’ Memorial Day, International Workers’ Memorial Day, International Commemoration Day (ICD) for the Dead and Injured, or Day of Mourning. It is an international day of remembrance and action for workers killed, disabled, injured or made unwell by their work.

It is also World Day for Safety and Health at Work, a UN International Day concerned about safe working conditions and to place occupational safety and health on the international and national agendas.

According to the International Labour Organization, one worker dies every 15 seconds worldwide. 6,000 workers die every day. More people die at work than in fighting wars.

This image was created by the US Department of Labor and is in the public domain.

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April 27, 2017

On April 27, 1667 the blind and impoverished John Milton sold the copyright for Paradise Lost for £ 10. The poem concerns the Biblical story of the Fall of Man by the fallen angel Satan. The first edition of Paradise Lost was published in ten books with over 10,000 lines of verse.

The first illustrations to accompany the text of Paradise Lost were added in the fourth edition of 1688. By this time, the poem had been divided into 12 books rather than ten with one engraving prefacing each book.

Eight of the 12 engravings were executed by John Baptist Medina. This image is his depiction of The War in Heaven, Book Six. It is a faithful photographic representation of a two-dimensional public domain work of art and is therefore public domain.

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April 26, 2017

April 26 is Old Permic Alphabet Day. The Permic Alphabet, also called Abur or Anbur, was the writing system used by the medieval Komi people in eastern Russian.

The alphabet was introduced by a Russian missionary, Stepan Khrap, also known as Saint Stephen of Perm (Степан Храп, св. Стефан Пермский) in 1372. The name Abur is derived from the names of the first two characters: An and Bur.

Stephen first came to the Komi in 1376. Rather than imposing Latin on the indigenous populace, as all contemporary missionaries did, Stephen learned their language and traditions and worked out a distinct writing system for their use, creating the second oldest writing system for an Uralic language, the oldest being Hungarian.

The alphabet was in use until the 17th century, when it was superseded by the Cyrillic script. Abur was also used as cryptographic writing for the Russian language.

April 26 is the saint’s day of Stephen of Perm and is celebrated as Old Permic Alphabet Day.

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April 25, 2017

DNA Day is a holiday celebrated on April 25 commemorating the day in 1953 when James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin (all Brits except Watson who is from the US) and colleagues published papers in the journal Nature on the structure of DNA.

Additionally, on that day in 2003 it was declared that the Human Genome Project was very close to complete, and “the remaining tiny gaps [we]re considered too costly to fill.”

This diagram is was created by Madeleine Price Ball as part of her work for or with the United States government and is in the public domain. The image is widely distributed but wrong (says Wikimedia.)

DNA is synthesized only in 5′->3′ direction. Therefore only the leading strand is synthesized continuously. The other one, the lagging strand, is synthesized in several Okazaki-Fragments but not continuously as shown here. That’s the trouble with a good image; It over-simplifies the truth.

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April 23, 2017

April 24, 2017 is the third annual International Sculpture Day to raise awareness, appreciation and enjoyment of sculpture in communities across the globe. The International Sculpture Center also publishes Sculpture Magazine and awards an annual life-time achievement award. This year’s winners are  Tony Cragg and Lynda Benglis.  

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Tony Cragg, Paradosso, 2010. White marble. Photo by Michael Richter, Milano 2015.

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Lynda Benglis, HILLS AND CLOUDS, 2014. Cast polyurethane with phosphorescence and stainless steel. 11 x 19 x 19 feet. Image credit: Courtesy Cheim & Read, New York.

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