Thursday, August 29, 2013

Friday: 50th Anniversary of the "Hotline"

Carter Era Red Phone, displayed at the Carter
Library and Museum. Photo from Wikipedia by Pistorius.
Friday, August 30 is 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, Wikipedia says, but now it's a dedicated computer network that can be used for chat and email), the "Red Phone" has been a vital prop in political thrillers ever since it was established. And the fact that the Hotline helped reduce the chances that American and Soviet leaders would accidentally start World War III is surely worth celebrating.

However, the illustration here notwithstanding, Wikipedia insists that there never was a red phone: "Although in popular culture known as the 'red telephone', the hotline was never a telephone line, and no red phones were used."

Usual Suspect American Greetings says Friday 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.

Friday is also National Toasted Marshmallow Day, College Colors Day, and International Whale Shark Day. It will also be the 83rd birthday of gazillionaire Warren Buffett and the 41st birthday of actress Cameron Diaz.

Hmmmm. Warren Buffett or Cameron Diaz.... It was difficult trying to decide whose picture to run with this post. But we eventually were able to make a decision.

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