Thursday, August 30, 2012

August 30 is Hotline Day

American Greetings says today is National Geek Day but the weight of Internet authority is against it: Most sites suggest Geek Day is really May 25. There may be areas in which the Internet is not yet authoritative, but surely it must be considered so when it comes to all things geeky.

Today is National Toasted Marshmallow Day. Have a campfire tonight and try to toast a marshmallow without it catching fire. You will discover that there is some skill involved.

Carter Era Red Phone, displayed at the Carter
Library and Museum. Photo from Wikipedia by Pistorius.
But today is also Hotline Day, the anniversary of the date, in 1963, when the "hotline" from Washington to Moscow was first placed in service.

The second link in the preceding sentence is to a Wikipedia entry on the subject. According to that article, the first acknowledged use of the Hotline did not take place until 1967, during the Israeli-Egyptian Six Day War, when American and Soviet leaders used the Hotline to inform "each other of military moves which might have been provocative or ambiguous."

But, however frequently or infrequently it has been used in real life (there still is a hotline to Moscow), the "Red Phone" has been a vital prop in political thrillers ever since it was established. And the fact that the Hotline long reduced the chances that American and Soviet leaders would start World War III by mistake is surely worth celebrating today.

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