Notes from around the Human Experience…
ON YOUR MARK…GET SET…RETIRE: One of sport’s greatest careers – Usain Bolt running the 100 meters – came to a close this past weekend, with Bolt coming in third place in that event at the World Track and Field Championships in London.
The blemish on Bolt’s legacy will barely be noticeable. Bolt retires from the 100 meters holding both the current and previous two world records and as a six-time Olympic and World Championship gold medalist.
Oh Yeah: Bolt is also the world record holder in the 200-meters, having held the record since 2008, the only person to hold both records simultaneously. He is also on the current world record 4×100 meter relay team.
Some Philosophy Crap: Bolt retires, his life’s work done. He was put on the planet to be the world’s fastest human and he identified, accepted and met the challenge. He is 30-years-old. This is both good and bad. On the plus side, he did what he was put on this planet to do, which is all any of us can do. On the downside, he now has, more or less, 60 years to kill.
Back To The Future: It’s not surprising a 30-year-old finished third in a race he used to dominate. 30 is not young by sprinter standards. What is surprising is the gold medal was won by a 35-year-old, American Justin Gaitlin.
For whatever reason, this was not a fast race. This is not a knock on Gaitlin. He was the first one across the finish line. Hard earned and well done, as we like to say. Seven other men, including the best ever, had their shot and couldn’t get it done.
But boy, you could’ve timed the 2017 100 meter world championship race with a sundial. Gaitlin’s winning time of 9.92 seconds was almost two-tenths of a second off his own personal best and was .34 seconds – almost an eternity in sprinting – off of Bolt’s world record of 9.58 seconds.
Dry, Technical Matter: In fact, 9.92 seconds is so slow it hasn’t been the world record since 1998.
USA! USA!: Bolt not only lost to sprinting’s past, he lost to its future, too, as America’s Christian Coleman, 21, beat Bolt by a couple of inches for the silver medal.
“THE ROAD TO GLORY IN A PATRIOT ARMY AND A FREE COUNTRY IS OPEN TO ALL”: George Washington authorizes what would eventually become the Purple Heart on this date in 1782.
Known then as the Badge of Military Merit, it was awarded to soldiers who exhibited “unusual gallantry, extraordinary fidelity and essential service”. While never abolished, it was not awarded all that often after the Revolution, and the current Purple Heart was established in 1932 and was designated the successor to the Badge of Military Merit.
FunFact: The first American military award was the Fidelity Medallion, established in 1780 and awarded only three times, to the soldiers who captured British spy John Andre, who was complicit in Benedict Arnold’s attempt to turn an American fort over to the British.
Washington, not for the first time, was blazing new trails, the Badge of Military Merit being the first military decoration in modern history to be awarded to common soldiers. In the past, only high ranking, victorious officers had been awarded medals.
Great Moments In Redesigning The Penny: The Lincoln Memorial design of the US penny goes into circulation on this date in 1959, with the Memorial replacing some wheat sheaves on the reverse side. In 2009, the bicentennial of Lincoln’s birth, the mint produced four designs featuring Lincoln and in 2010 the current Union shield began appearing on the penny’s reverse side.
Some Places Have Interns For This: It costs about 1.5 cents to make a penny, meaning the government loses about $44 million a year producing them. The government also loses money on the nickel, thought the dime and quarter are produced for less than their value.
Thanks For The Memories: The Washington Star, a Washington, DC afternoon paper, publishes its final edition after 128 years on this date in 1981. It’s first edition had run on December, 16, 1852.
Extra, Extra, Read All About It: The Star’s lead story that day was the Washington Star ceasing operations.
That’ll Show Those Evil American Bastards: Two coordinated attacks result in truck bombs exploding outside of US embassies in Tanzania and Kenya on this date in 1998. 224 people die, though only twelve are American.
Hi Boys!: The attacks are credited with bring Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist group al-Qaeda into the American consciousness.
Way To Go UN, Way To Go!: The United Nations passed a resolution condemning the attacks, which were so strongly worded Bin laden immediately and for good ceased all terrorist activities.
Going…Going…Gone: Barry Bonds of the San Francisco Giants becomes major league baseball career home run leader on this date in 2007, hitting his 756th home run against the Washington Nationals. Bonds broke Henry Aaron’s record, which had stood since 1974 and he would retire after the 2007 season with 762 home runs.
Quote Book: For every person who sees, thousands may think. And for the thousands who think, millions may act. – Donald T. Phillips, The Founding Fathers on Leadership
Answer To The Last Trivia Question: The electric chair was last used in the United States on January 16, 2013 when Virginia executed Robert Gleason, Jr., who had selected electrocution over lethal injection.
Today’s Stumper: How many US presidents have won the Purple Heart? – Answer next time!