Daily Update: Thursday, April 23rd, 2015

George and Adalbert of Prague and 04-23 - World Book and Copyright Day

Today is the Optional Memorial of Saint George, Martyr (died about 304) and the Optional Memorial of Saint Adalbert of Prague, Bishop and Martyr (died 997). Today is also World Book and Copyright Day.

All that is known for sure of Saint George is that he was a soldier and a martyr, who died about 304; the rest is legend. The best known story of him is from the Golden Legend (1260), which relates that a dragon lived in a lake near Silena, Libya. Whole armies had gone up against this fierce creature, and had gone down in painful defeat. The monster ate two sheep each day; when mutton was scarce, lots were drawn in local villages, and maidens were substituted for sheep. Into this country came Saint George. Hearing the story on a day when a princess was to be eaten, he crossed himself, rode to battle against the serpent, and killed it with a single blow with his lance. George then held forth with a magnificent sermon, and converted the locals. Given a large reward by the king, George distributed it to the poor, then rode away. Due to his chivalrous behavior (protecting women, fighting evil, dependence on faith and might of arms, largesse to the poor, and not being eaten by dragons), devotion to Saint George became popular in Europe after the 10th century. In the 15th century his feast day was as popular and important as Christmas. He is the Patron Saint of England; the celebrated Knights of the Garter are actually Knights of the Order of Saint George. The shrine built for his relics at Lydda, Palestine was a popular point of pilgrimage for centuries. We also honor Saint Adalbert of Prague, Bishop and Martyr (died 997). Born about 957 in Libice nad Cidlinou, Bohemia (part of modern Czech Republic) with the name of Vojtěch, he was of the Bohemian nobility. Going into religion, he took the name of Saint Adalbert of Magdeburg, the archbishop who had educated and converted him, after his mentor’s death. He was made Bishop of Prague (in the modern Czech Republic in 982. A friend of Emperor Otto III, the new bishop encouraged the evangelization of the Magyars. Opposed by the nobility in Prague and unpopular in the area, he withdrew to Rome, Italy and became a Benedictine monk, making his vows in 990; Pope John XV sent him back to Prague, where he met more opposition from the nobility, and returned to Rome. There being no hope of his working in Prague, he was allowed to (unsuccessfully) evangelize in Pomerania, Poland, Prussia, Hungary, and Russia. He and his fellow missionaries were martyred by Prussians near Koenigsberg (Danzig) at the instigation of a pagan priest. He is the Patron Saint of Bohemia, Hungary, Poland, and Prussia. Today is also World Book and Copyright Day, a yearly event organized by UNESCO to promote reading, publishing and copyright. The date had been used by Catalonian booksellers since 1923 to celebrate the works of the author Miguel de Cervantes, who died on this date in 1616 according to the Gregorian Calender (the one we now use). In 1995 UNESCO decided that World Book and Copyright Day would be celebrated on this date because of the Catalonian festival and because the date is also the anniversary of the birth and death of William Shakespeare. (However, because during the lifetime of Shakespeare England was still using the Julian calendar, he actually died 10 days after Cervantes.)

Richard gathered up the trash and put the trash can out on the curb. I woke up at 10:00 am, started my laundry, did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and read the Thursday papers. I then got on the computer and did my Internet Devotional Reading.

I left the house on my own at 1:15 pm. My first stop was to get Chinese for lunch at Peking; while eating I continued reading A Book of Scientific Curiosities: Everything You Need To Know About Science – But Never Had Time To Ask by Cyril Aydon. I then went to Wal-Mart, where I purchased my salad supplies and some groceries and household items. My last stop was the Hit-n-Run, where I purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for Saturday night’s drawing.

Returning home at 2:30 pm, I got on the computer and started my Daily Update for today. I then finished my laundry, burned a photo CD of my March 2015 photos for Liz Ellen, burned a photo CD of my March 2015 photos for myself, ironed my casino pants, apron, and shirts, gathered up the aluminum cans and tossed the bag of cans in the garage, and made my lunch salads for tomorrow and Sunday. I then watched Jeopardy! at 4:30 pm, and I am now back at the computer finishing today’s Daily Update. Tonight our #1 ranked LSU Baseball team will play the first game of a three-game home series with #2 ranked Texas A&M, and our New Orleans Pelicans will play a home game with the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals (our Pelicans are behind in the series 0 – 2 thus far).

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Fidelis of Sigmaringen, Priest and Martyr. Tomorrow is also Arbor Day, National Tax Freedom Day 2015, the 33rd Anniversary of when Richard and I first met, and the first day of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Richard and I will return to the casino for the start of our work week, and on my breaks I will continue reading A Book of Scientific Curiosities: Everything You Need To Know About Science – But Never Had Time To Ask by Cyril Aydon. I do not have anything scheduled for the afternoon after lunch; in the evening our #1 Ranked LSU Baseball team will play the second game of a three-game home series against #2 ranked Texas A&M.

Our Parting Quote on this Thursday afternoon comes to us from Boris Yeltsin, Russian politician. Born as Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin in 1931 in Butka, Sverdlovsk, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union, his father was convicted of anti-Soviet agitation in 1934 and sentenced to hard labour in a gulag for three years. He was fond of sports in high school (in particular skiing, gymnastics, volleyball, track and field, boxing and wrestling) despite losing the thumb and index finger of his left hand when he and some friends sneaked into a Red Army supply depot, stole several grenades, and tried to dissect them. He received his higher education at the Ural State Technical University in Sverdlovsk, majoring in construction and graduating in 1955. From 1955 to 1957 he worked as a foreman with the building trust Uraltyazhtrubstroy and from 1957 to 1963 he worked in Sverdlovsk and was promoted from construction site superintendent to chief of the Construction Directorate with the Yuzhgorstroy Trust. During that time he became a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU). In 1963 he became chief engineer, and in 1965 head of the Sverdlovsk House-Building Combine, responsible for sewerage and technical plumbing. He joined the ranks of the CPSU nomenklatura in 1968 when he was appointed head of construction with the Sverdlovsk Regional Party Committee. In 1975 he became secretary of the regional committee in charge of the region’s industrial development. In 1976 the Politburo of the CPSU promoted him to the post of the first secretary of the CPSU Committee of Sverdlovsk Oblast (effectively he became the head of one of the most important industrial regions in the USSR), and he remained in this position until 1985. In 1977 as party boss in Sverdlovsk, Yeltsin (on orders from Moscow) ordered the destruction of the Ipatiev House where the last Russian tsar had been killed by Bolshevik troops. He was appointed to the Politburo and was also First Secretary of the CPSU Moscow City Committee (effectively the Mayor of the city) from December 24, 1985 to 1987. He was promoted to these high rank positions by Mikhail Gorbachev and Yegor Ligachev, who presumed that Yeltsin would obediently follow their policies. He was also given a dacha (country house) previously occupied by Gorbachev. During this period Yeltsin portrayed himself as a reformer and populist (for example, he took a trolleybus to work), firing and reshuffling his staff several times. His initiatives became popular among Moscow residents. In 1987, after a confrontation with hardliners Ligachev and Gorbachev, Yeltsin was sacked from his high ranking party positions. He was fired from the post of first secretary of the Moscow City Committee, and demoted to the position of first deputy commissioner for the State Committee for Construction. After being fired he was hospitalized and later attempted suicide. He was perturbed and humiliated but began plotting his revenge. In March 1989 Yeltsin was elected to the Congress of People’s Deputies as the delegate from Moscow district and gained a seat on the Supreme Soviet of Russia. On May 29, 1990, he was elected chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the Russian SFSR (RSFSR), the post he held until July 10, 1991. He was supported by both democratic and conservative members of the Supreme Soviet, which sought power in the developing political situation in the country. A part of this power struggle was the opposition between power structures of the Soviet Union and the RSFSR. In an attempt to gain more power, on June 12, 1990, the Congress of People’s Deputies of the RSFSR adopted a declaration of sovereignty and Yeltsin quit the CPSU in July 1990. On June 12, 1991 he won 57% of the popular vote in the democratic presidential elections for the Russian republic, defeating Gorbachev’s preferred candidate, Nikolai Ryzhkov, who got just 16% of the vote. On August 18, 1991, a coup against Gorbachev was launched by the government members opposed to perestroika. Yeltsin was subsequently hailed by his supporters around the world for rallying mass opposition to the coup. On November 6, 1991, he issued a decree banning the Communist Party throughout the RSFSR. In early December 1991 Ukraine voted for independence from the Soviet Union. A week later, on December 8, Yeltsin met Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk and the leader of Belarus, Stanislav Shushkevich, in Belovezhskaya Pushcha, where the three presidents announced the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the establishment of a voluntary Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) in its place. On December 24, the Russian Federation took the Soviet Union’s seat in the United Nations. The next day President Gorbachev resigned and the Soviet Union ceased to exist, thereby ending the world’s largest and most influential socialist state. Economic relations between the former Soviet republics were severely compromised. Millions of ethnic Russians found themselves in the newly formed foreign countries. Just days after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, Yeltsin (now the President of the Russian Federation) resolved to embark on a program of radical economic reform, with the aim of restructuring Russia’s economic system—converting the world’s largest command economy into a free-market one. He also dealt with internal political problems and the invasion of Chechnya in 1994. In February 1996 he announced that he would seek a second term in the spring 1996 Russian presidential election. The announcement followed weeks of speculation that he was at the end of his political career because of his health problems and growing unpopularity in Russia. He rallied and won a second term, but was unable to follow through on most of his campaign promises, except for ending the Chechen war, which was halted for most of the period. Yeltsin’s personal and health problems received a great deal of attention in the global press. As the years went on, he was often viewed as an increasingly unstable leader, rather than as the inspiring figure he once was. The possibility that he might die in office was often discussed. On December 31, 1999, in a surprise announcement aired at 12:00 noon on Russian television and taped in the morning of the same day, Yeltsin said he had resigned and that Prime Minister Vladimir Putin had taken over as acting president, with elections due to take place on March 26, 2000. He asked for forgiveness for what he acknowledged were errors of his rule, and said Russia needed to enter the new century with new political leaders. He maintained a low profile after his resignation, making almost no public statements or appearances. Yeltsin used his retirement to pursue his considerable love of tennis. He was a frequent fixture at tournaments held in Russia, notably Russian Davis Cup and Federation Cup team events. Far from a passive supporter like many VIPs who attend sports events, he gained a reputation as an animated fan, cheering and jumping in support of the Russians. When the Russian men won the Davis Cup in 2002 and 2006 he descended the stands to celebrate with the players, group hugging the team (died 2007): “A man must live like a great brilliant flame and burn as brightly as he can. In the end he burns out. But this is far better than a mean little flame.”

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