This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
February 8 is the 39th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 326 days remaining until the end of the year (327 in leap years).
On this day in 1828, Jules Gabriel Verne is born in Nantes, Brittany in France. He was a French author who pioneered the science-fiction genre. He is best known for novels such as Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870), A Journey to the Center of the Earth (1864), and Around the World in Eighty Days (1873). Verne wrote about space, air, and underwater travel before air travel and practical submarines were invented, and before practical means of space travel had been devised. He is the third most translated individual author in the world, according to Index Translationum. Some of his books have been made into films. Verne, along with Hugo Gernsback and H. G. Wells, is often popularly referred to as the “Father of Science Fiction”.
After completing his studies at the lycée, Verne went to Paris to study for the bar. About 1848, in conjunction with Michel Carré, he began writing libretti for operettas. For some years his attentions were divided between the theatre and work, but some travellers’ stories which he wrote for the Musée des Familles revealed to him his true talent: the telling of delightfully extravagant voyages and adventures to which cleverly prepared scientific and geographical details lent an air of verisimilitude.
When Verne’s father discovered that his son was writing rather than studying law, he promptly withdrew his financial support. Verne was forced to support himself as a stockbroker, which he hated despite being somewhat successful at it. During this period, he met Victor Hugo and Alexandre Dumas, pére, who offered him writing advice.
Verne also met Honorine de Viane Morel, a widow with two daughters. They were married on January 10 1857. With her encouragement, he continued to write and actively looked for a publisher.
Verne’s situation improved when he met Pierre-Jules Hetzel, one of the most important French publishers of the 19th century, who also published Victor Hugo, Georges Sand, and Erckmann-Chatrian, among others. They formed an excellent writer-publisher team until Hetzel’s death. Hetzel helped improve Verne’s writings, which until then had been repeatedly rejected by other publishers. Hetzel read a draft of Verne’s story about the balloon exploration of Africa, which had been rejected by other publishers for being “too scientific”. With Hetzel’s help, Verne rewrote the story, which was published in 1863 in book form as Cinq semaines en balloon (Five_Weeks_in_a_Balloon Five Weeks in a Baloon). Acting on Hetzel’s advice, Verne added comical accents to his novels, changed sad endings into happy ones, and toned down various political messages.
From that point, Hetzel published two or more volumes a year. The most successful of these include: Voyage au centre de la terre (Journey to the Center of the Earth, 1864); De la terre à la lune (From the Earth to the Moon, 1865); Vingt mille lieues sous les mers (Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, 1869); and Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (Around the World in Eighty Days), which first appeared in Le Temps in 1872. The series is collectively known as “Voyages Extraordinaires” (“extraordinary voyages”). Verne could now live on his writings. But most of his wealth came from the stage adaptations of Le tour du monde en quatre-vingts jours (1874) and Michel Strogoff (1876), which he wrote with Adolphe d’Ennery. In 1867 Verne bought a small ship, the Saint-Michel, which he successively replaced with the Saint-Michel II and the Saint-Michel III as his financial situation improved. On board the Saint-Michel III, he sailed around Europe. In 1870, he was appointed as “Chevalier” (Knight) of the Légion d’honneur. After his first novel, most of his stories were first serialised in the Magazine d’Éducation et de Récréation, a Hetzel biweekly publication, before being published in the form of books.
In his last years, Jules Verne wrote a novel called Paris in the 20th Century about a young man who lives in a world of glass skyscrapers, high-speed trains, gas-powered automobiles, calculators, and a worldwide communications network, yet cannot find happiness and comes to a tragic end. Hetzel thought the novel’s pessimism would damage Verne’s then booming career, and suggested he wait 20 years to publish it. Verne put the manuscript in a safe, where it was discovered by his great-grandson in 1989. It was published in 1994.
In 1905, while ill with diabetes, Verne died at his home, 44 Boulevard Longueville (now Boulevard Jules-Verne).
421 – Constantius III becomes co-Emperor of the Western Roman Empire.
1238 – The Mongols burn the Russian city of Vladimir.
1575 – Universiteit Leiden is founded, and given the motto Praesidium Libertatis.
1587 – Mary, Queen of Scots, is executed on suspicion of having been involved in the Babington Plot to murder her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I.
1601 – Robert Devereux, 2nd Earl of Essex, rebels against Queen Elizabeth I – the revolt is quickly crushed.
1693 – The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia is granted a charter by King William III and Queen Mary II.
1726 – The Supreme Privy Council is established in Russia.
1807 – Battle of Eylau – Napoleon defeats Russians under General Benigssen.
1817 – Las Heras crosses the Andes with an army to join San Martín and liberate Chile from Spain.
1837 – Richard Johnson becomes the first Vice President of the United States chosen by the United States Senate.
1865 – In the United States, Delaware voters reject the Thirteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and vote to continue the practice of slavery. (Delaware finally ratifies the amendment on February 12, 1901.)
1879 – Sandford Fleming first proposes adoption of Universal Standard Time at a meeting of the Royal Canadian Institute.
1879 – The England cricket team led by Lord Harris is attacked during a riot during a match in Sydney.
1887 – The Dawes Act authorizes the President of the United States to survey Native American tribal land and divide it into individual allotments.
1904 – Battle of Port Arthur: A surprise torpedo attack by the Japanese at Port Arthur, China starts the Russo-Japanese War.
1910 – The Boy Scouts of America is incorporated by William D. Boyce.
1915 – D.W. Griffith’s controversial film The Birth of a Nation premieres in Los Angeles.
1922 – President Warren G. Harding introduces the first radio in the White House.
1924 – Capital punishment: The first state execution in the United States by gas chamber takes place in Nevada.
1942 – World War II: Japan invades Singapore.
1945 – World War II: The United Kingdom and Canada commence Operation Veritable to occupy the west bank of the Rhine.
1948 – The formal creation of the Korean People’s Army of North Korea is announced.
1949 – Cardinal Mindszenty of Hungary is sentenced for treason.
1952 – Elizabeth II is proclaimed Queen of the United Kingdom.
1955 – The Government of Sindh abolished Jagirdari system in the province. One million acres (4000 km²) of land thus acquired is to be distributed among the landless peasants.
1960 – Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom issues an Order-in-Council, stating that she and her family would be known as the House of Windsor, and that her descendants will take the name “Mountbatten-Windsor”.
1960 – The first eight brass star plaques are installed in the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
1962 – Charonne massacre. Nine trade unionists are killed by French police at the instigation of Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon, then chief of the Paris Prefecture of Police.
1963 – Travel, financial and commercial transactions by United States citizens to Cuba are made illegal by the John F. Kennedy administration.
1963 – The regime of Prime Minister of Iraq, Brigadier General Abdul-Karim Qassem is overthrown by the Ba’ath Party.
1966 – The National Hockey League awards Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania a second NHL franchise, the Pittsburgh Penguins.
1968 – American civil rights movement: The Orangeburg massacre, an attack, that left three or four dead in Orangeburg, South Carolina, on black students from South Carolina State University who were protesting racial segregation at the town’s only bowling alley.
1969 – Allende meteorite falls near Pueblito de Allende, Chihuahua, Mexico.
1971 – The NASDAQ stock market index opens for the first time.
1971 – South Vietnamese ground troops launches an incursion into Laos to try and cut off the Ho Chi Minh trail and stop communist infiltration.
1974 – After 84 days in space, the crew of the first American space station Skylab returns to Earth.
1974 – Military coup in Upper Volta.
1978 – Proceedings of the United States Senate are broadcast on radio for the first time.
1979 – Denis Sassou-Nguesso becomes the President of the Republic of the Congo for the first time.
1983 – The Melbourne dust storm hits Australia’s second largest city. The result of the worst drought on record and a day of severe weather conditions, a 320 metres (1,050 ft) deep dust cloud envelops the city, turning day to night.
1989 – An Independent Air Boeing 707 crashes into Santa Maria mountain in Azores Islands off the coast of Portugal, killing 144.
1993 – General Motors sues NBC after Dateline NBC allegedly rigs two crashes intended to demonstrate that some GM pickups can easily catch fire if hit in certain places. NBC settles the lawsuit the next day.
1996 – The U.S. Congress passes the Communications Decency Act.
1996 – The massive Internet collaboration “24 Hours in Cyberspace” takes place.
2010 – A freak storm in the Hindukush mountains of Afghanistan triggers a series of at least 36 avalanches, burying over two miles of road, killing at least 172 people and trapping over 2,000 travellers.
* Christian Feast Day:
* Earliest day on which Feast of Orthodoxy can fall, while March 14 is the latest; celebrated 42 days before Easter. (Orthodoxy)
* Nirvana Day (Mahayana Buddhism)
* Preseren Day (Slovenia)