Life Day 25049: Plimsoll?

February 10, 2016 at 12:01 am | Posted in Today's Reasons To Celebrate | Leave a comment

Good morning maritime law enthusiasts. Today is February 10th. The first “holiday” today is Plimsoll Day. I’m sure that most of you are asking right about now; “What the heck is a Plimsoll?” I’ll answer that shortly, but the real question you should be asking is; “Who is Plimsoll?” The answer to that question is Samuel Plimsoll, born on this date in 1824. He was a member of the British Parliament, who in 1876, was instrumental in the passing of the Unseaworthy Ships Amendment to the British Merchant Shipping Act (or Plimsoll Amendment). It had to do with the overloading of Merchant Ships, thus putting sailors lives at risk. Basically, he is the one responsible for the cargo line, or Plimsoll line that you see on Cargo Ships today. The law merely required that the line had to be painted on the boat. It did not say the line had to be an accurate representation of the safe waterline position for the ship’s cargo load, so merchants just painted a line on their vessels, thus complying with the “letter of the law”, but still endangering the safety of sailors. Politicians being, well for lack of a better word, politicians, took 18 years, until 1894, to rectify the situation and change the law to stipulate that the line had to be an accurate depiction of the safe load capacity of the ship. Today, the Plimsoll Line is universally recognized and is actually several lines – each one indicating the safe waterline mark in relation to both cargo type and water type (salinity, temperature, ocean region, and season).
Now, as for the “What is a Plimsoll” question. That answer to that question is; a type of shoe. More specifically, a Plimsoll is a shoe with a canvas upper and a rubber sole. Known originally as “sand shoes”, today they are known as deck shoes, or sneakers. But which came first: the sneaker or the man? The shoe in question was originally called a “sand shoe,” invented for beachwear by the Liverpool Rubber Company in the 1830’s. It wasn’t until sometime after the Plimsoll Line was created in 1876 that the distinctive footwear came to be known as a Plimsoll Shoe (since the rubber band between the upper part of the shoe and its sole resembled the Plimsoll Line on a ship’s hull). So you could logically conclude that the shoe came first. But, when you consider that Samuel Plimsoll was born in 1824, which predates both the shoe and the legislation, and you’re left with a chicken vs. egg conundrum. I’ll leave the solution to this mystery for you to decide.

Another “holiday” is Umbrella Day. Brolly, gamp, parasol, Bumbershoot, whatever you call it, umbrellas are made for one thing, protecting you from the elements. The umbrella is one of  the world’s most invaluable inventions. On a rainy, day, they protect our hair and clothing.  They are also used on sunny days to shade us from harmful UV radiation, and the heat of the sun. Umbrellas come in all sorts of sizes, colors, shapes, and, designs. The smallest umbrellas fit inside a purse or glove compartment. Golf umbrellas are popular sizes. Then, there are lawn and beach umbrellas. To celebrate today, make sure your umbrella is handy, just in case you decide to go outside. If you don’t own an umbrella, today is a good day to buy one.

The last “holiday” today is Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday occurs 46 days (40 fasting days, if the 6 Sundays, which are not days of fast, are excluded) before Easter and can fall as early as 4 February or as late as 10 March. Ash Wednesday is observed by many Western Christians, including Anglicans, Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, and Roman Catholics. It is traditionally a time of religious reflection and atonement. Ash Wednesday prepares Catholics for Easter Sunday, which celebrates the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. According to the canonical gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus Christ spent 40 days fasting in the desert, where he endured temptation by Satan. Lent originated as a mirroring of this, fasting 40 days as preparation for Easter. Every Sunday was seen as a commemoration of the Sunday of Christ’s resurrection and so as a feast day on which fasting was inappropriate. Accordingly, Christians fasted from Monday to Saturday (6 days) during 6 weeks and from Wednesday to Saturday (4 days) in the preceding week, thus making up the number of 40 days. Ash Wednesday derives its name from the practice of blessing ashes made from palm branches blessed on the previous year’s Palm Sunday, and placing them on the heads of participants to the accompaniment of the words “Repent, and believe in the Gospel” or “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return”.

The food-related “holiday” today is Cream Cheese Brownie Day. Who can resist the heavenly taste of a rich fudge brownie marbled with cream cheese? Its combination of sweet and tangy flavors will please almost everyone. The brownie is America’s favorite bar cookie. Although desserts called “brownies” have been around since the 1800’s, the cake-like confection we know and love today can be traced back to 1906. Culinary historians credit “The Boston Cooking-School Cook Book” with the first published recipe for the modern brownie, but this early recipe was far less chocolaty than what we’re accustomed to nowadays. It only called for two squares of baking chocolate. Sacrilege! Today there are hundreds of different brownie recipes. Many incorporate interesting add-ins like peanut butter, walnuts, caramel, peppermint, banana, or (of course) cream cheese.

On this date in 1962 – The Soviet Union exchanged captured American U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers for the Soviet spy Rudolph Ivanovich Abel being held by the U.S.

Other significant historic events which happened on this date are:

  • In 1763 – The Treaty of Paris ended the French and Indian War. In the treaty France ceded Canada to England.
  • In 1846 – Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began their exodus to the west from Illinois.
  • In 1863 -In New York City, two of the world’s most famous midgets, General Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren were married.
  • In 1863 – The fire extinguisher was patented by Alanson Crane.
  • In 1870 – The city of Anaheim was incorporated for the first time.
  • In 1870 – The YWCA was founded in New York City.
  • In 1879 – The electric arc light was used for the first time.
  • In 1897 – “The New York Times” began printing “All the news that’s fit to print” on their front page.
  • In 1920 – Major league baseball representatives outlawed pitches that involve tampering with the ball.
  • In 1923 – Ink paste was manufactured for the first time by the Standard Ink Company.
  • In 1933 – The singing telegram was introduced by the Postal Telegraph Company of New York City.
  • In 1933 – Primo Carnera knocked out Ernie Schaaf in round 13 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Schaaf died as a result of the knockout punch.
  • In 1934 – The first perforated, un-gummed sheets of postage stamps were issued by the U.S. Postal Service in New York City.
  • In 1935 – The Pennsylvania Railroad began passenger service with its electric locomotive. The engine was 79-1/2 feet long and weighed 230 tons
  • In 1967 – The 25th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. The amendment required the appointment of a vice-president when that office became vacant and instituted new measures in the event of presidential disability.
  • In 1981 – The Las Vegas Hilton hotel-casino caught fire. Eight people were killed and 198 were injured.
  • In 1989 –  Ron Brown became the first African American to head a major U.S. political party when he was elected chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
  • In 1992 – Mike Tyson was convicted in Indianapolis of raping Desiree Washington, a Miss Black American contestant
  • In 1998 – A man became the first to be convicted of committing a hate crime in cyberspace. The college dropout had e-mailed threats to Asian students.
  • In 1998 – Voters in Maine repealed a 1997 gay rights law. Maine was the first state to abandon such legislation.
  • And, in 2005 – North Korea publicly announced for the first time that it had nuclear arms. The country also rejected attempts to restart disarmament talks in the near future saying that it needed the weapons as protection against an increasingly hostile United States.

If you were born on this date, you share a birthday with the following notable people:


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