The Diary of a Nobody – February 12, 2018

The Daily Dose/February 12, 2018
By Gaylon Kent
America’s Funniest Guy

Notes from around the Human Experience…

HIGHER…STRONGER…HOCKEY: While all of us eagerly await the first doping scandal of Pyeongchang Games, an actual sports story is the fact players employed by the National Hockey League (NHL) are not competing in the men’ hockey tournament. The NHL had been in the habit of suspending its season every four years so its players could compete in the Olympics, but some boring insurance and marketing squabbles – both thankfully beyond the scope of this column – are keeping NHL players – and American Hockey League (AHL) players on two-way contracts – home this year.

That doesn’t mean all players are a bunch of scruffy amateurs playing for mom and flag. Most are professionals because leagues in Europe were again happy to shut down their season so their players could compete. Still, though, your casual hockey fan probably has not heard of too many of this year’s players. Most are professionals who play in European leagues, though Team USA has four players from the American Hockey League and four collegians, while Team Canada has three AHL players on their roster.

USA! USA!: This is hardly an indictment because few heard of anyone on the 1980 American squad until we beat the goddamned Ruskies, and then Finland for the gold medal, at the Lake Placid Games.

Fly In The Ointment: An exception to the European professional rule is the host South Koreans, which have been scrambling to build ice hockey teams since being awarded the Games in 2011. Most of their men’s team play in an Asian professional league, though six Canadians and an American accepted South Korean citizenship to play at Pyeongchang. Their women’s team needed ringers from North Korea – a noted chick hockey hotbed – in order to make their roster somewhat competitive.

Dry, Technical Matter: As they have since the 1992 Games, teams will compete in pool play before the top teams advance to an eight-team single-elimination tournament. Before that, the top pool play teams advanced to a final round robin stage where they played the teams they hadn’t already played, with the winner getting the gold medal.

The Bottom Line: We don’t think anybody is going to really miss the NHL the nextg couple of weeks. While there aren’t too many familiar names, the quality of play will still be high and it’s the Olympics with kids running around in USA, Canada and Slovakia on the front of their jerseys and it should still be compelling to watch.

ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE!: The Soviet Union launches its second spacecraft towards Venus on this date in 1961.

The Motherland Giveth, The Motherland Taketh Away: Throughout its history, the Soviet space program had its triumphs and issues and this mission was no exception. In May Venera 1 would become the first spacecraft to make it to Venus, however by the time it got there radio contact had already been lost, perhaps because a solar-direction sensor overheated though History is not entirely clear on this matter. This failure followed the Soviet’s February 4 launch of a sister craft also headed for Venus that failed to leave Earth’s orbit.

Couldn’t We Have Just Planted Some Trees?: Construction begins on the St Louis Gateway Arch on this date in 1963. The idea for a memorial in St Louis on the Mississippi River was first raised in 1935 and the idea for an arch first appeared in 1944. There were the usual delays and lawsuits enterprises like this generally have and the St Louis Arch was not fully opened until July 1967.

Great Moments In Getting Kicked Out Of The Soviet Union: Russian writer Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970, is arrested for saying what’s on his mind on this date in 1974. He was stripped of his Soviet citizenship and exiled from the Soviet Union and sent to West Germany the following day. Solzhenitsyn would make his way to Switzerland and then the United States, where he spent almost 20 years.

“The Human Soul Longs For Things Higher, Warmer, And Purer Than Those Offered By Today’s Mass Living Habits… By TV Stupor And By Intolerable Music.”: Solzhenitsyn was not a fan of American culture, though he did express admiration for western political liberty. His Soviet citizenship was restored in 1990 and in 1994 Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia with his family.

“Thanks For The Poor Security…” Four Norwegian thieves steal Norway’s version of Edvard Munch’s painting The Scream of Nature, commonly known as The Scream, from the National Gallery in Oslo on this date in 1994. Surveillance video shows two people breaking into the museum and walking out with the painting in less than a minute.

The painting would be recovered in May following a sting operation and the thieves arrested were later released on appeal when it was discovered the British agents who had participated in the sting had entered Norway under false IDs.

Not Guilty: President of the United States Bill Clinton is acquitted of one perjury charge and one obstruction of justice charge by the United States Senate on this date in 1999. Both votes fell well short of the 67 required for conviction.

FunFact: Clinton was the second president to be tried by the Senate following impeachment by the House of Representatives. In 1868 Andrew Johnson had been acquitted by the Senate.

Quotebook: If you lose this game, you’ll take it to your fucking graves. Your fucking gravesHerb Brooks, 1980 US Olympic hockey coach, some inspirational words before the third period of game vs. Finland, 2/24/80.

Answer To The Last Trivia Question: There are four amendments to the United States Constitution still awaiting ratification. None of these amendments had ratification periods included in the amendment, so they are technically still pending. Of these, the one concerning child labor has 28 of the 38 votes required for ratification.

Today’s Stumper: Which country has won the most combined men’s and women’s Olympic hockey medals?- Answer next time!

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