Daily Update: Friday, June 26th, 2015

06-26 - Universal Product Code

We have no Saints this day to honor, but on this date in 1974 the Universal Product Code was used for the first time. Today is also the birthday of my Internet friend Lori in Wisconsin (1954).

At 8:01 am on June 26, 1974 at the Marsh Supermarket in Troy, Ohio, the Universal Product Code was scanned for the first time to sell a 10-pack (50 sticks) of Wrigley’s Juicy Fruit chewing gum for 67¢. The shopping cart had other barcoded items in it, but the gum was merely the first item picked up and scanned. This item is currently on display at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. Although by 1974 various companies had UPC Scanning systems in the back of stores, the first commercial location was chosen to be in Troy because it was near Dayton, home of NCR, which designed the checkout counter. The entire check-out counter cost $10,000, and the scanner itself cost $4,000. While the Universal Product Code does has bit patterns at the beginning, middle and end of the barcode called “guard bars”, each of which resemble the number 6 (rendering 666; cue the Antichrist music), the designer of the UPC, George Joseph Laurer, states, ”There is nothing sinister about this nor does it have anything to do with the Bible’s “mark of the beast” (The New Testament, Revelation, Chapter 13, paragraph 18). It is simply a coincidence like the fact that my first, middle, and last name all have 6 letters. There is no connection with an international money code either.” And, although she has no connection with the Mark of the Beast (so far as I know, but one can’t be sure), today is the birthday of my Internet friend Lori (1954).

Last night when I got into bed I starter having light lower back spasms.

I did my Bathroom Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. I then requested As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust by Alan Bradley and The Handsome Man’s De Luxe Cafe by Alexander McCall Smith from the Lafayette Public Library. Once we clocked in at the casino, Richard was on Three Card Poker, and gave out the progressive hand of Ace, King, and Queen of Spades, worth $3,600 to the lucky player. I was on the shoe Blackjack game in High Stakes, then I was moved to Mississippi Stud. On my breaks I finished organizing our photos from our trip to Connecticut, and continued reading Forty Whacks: New Evidence in the Life and Legend of Lizzie Borden by David Kent. As the day processed my light lower back spasms slowly eased up. After we clocked out Deborah returned the cat carrier to us, as she had finally taken her mama cat to the shelter.

Once we were home I read the morning paper, then took a nap for the rest of the day. I thus did not do my Daily Update.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor. Tomorrow is also Lottery Day, according to Shirley Jackson’s 1948 short story “The Lottery”, and it was on tomorrow’s date in 1957 when Hurricane Audrey made landfall in Eastern Texas and Western Louisiana. We will return to the casino, and on my breaks I will do my Daily Update for yesterday via WordPress for Android and continue entering the National Parks I have been to into my National Parks Passport application. (I sent an Email to the application developers concerning backups, but I have not heard from them.) After lunch I will go to the Adoration Chapel to do my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration. When I get home I will take a nap, then I will get up to do my Daily Update.

Our Parting Quote this Friday afternoon comes to us from Howard Baker, American politician. Born in 1925 in Huntsville, Tennessee, his father later served as a Republican member of the United States House of Representatives from 1951 until 1964, representing a traditionally Republican district in East Tennessee. After high school Baker attended Tulane University in New Orleans. During World War II he trained at a U.S. Navy facility on the campus of the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee in the V-12 Navy College Training Program. He served in the United States Navy from 1943 to 1946 and graduated from the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1949. That same year, he was admitted to the Tennessee bar and began his law practice. He married Joy Dirksen, the daughter of Senator Everett Dirksen. Baker began his political career in 1964, when he lost to the liberal Democrat Ross Bass in a U.S. Senate election to fill the unexpired term of the late Senator Estes Kefauver. In the 1966 U.S. Senate election for Tennessee, Bass lost the Democratic primary to former Governor Frank G. Clement, while Baker handily won his Republican primary race over Kenneth Roberts, 112,617 (75.7 percent) to 36,043 (24.2 percent). Baker won the general election, capitalizing on Clement’s failure to energize the Democratic base, including specifically organized labor. Baker thus became the first elected Republican senator from Tennessee since Reconstruction. In 1969 he was already a candidate for the Minority Leadership position that opened up with the death of his father-in-law, Everett Dirksen, but Baker was defeated 19-24 by Hugh Scott. At the beginning of the following Congress in 1971, Baker ran again, losing to Scott this time 20-24. Also in 1971 President Richard Nixon asked Baker to fill one of two empty seats on the U.S. Supreme Court. When Baker took too long to decide whether he wanted the appointment, Nixon changed his mind and nominated William Rehnquist instead. Baker was re-elected to his Senate seat in 1972. In 1973 and 1974, Baker was also the influential ranking minority member of the Senate committee, chaired by Senator Sam Ervin, that investigated the Watergate scandal. Baker is famous for having asked aloud, “What did the President know and when did he know it?”, a question given him by his counsel and former campaign manager, future U.S. Senator Fred Thompson. When Hugh Scott retired, Baker was elected senate minority leader in 1977 by his GOP colleagues, defeating Robert Griffin 19-18. Re-elected again in 1978, he served two terms as Senate Minority Leader (1977 – 1981) and two terms as Senate Majority Leader (1981 – 1985). Baker ran for President in 1980, dropping out of the race for the GOP nomination after losing the Iowa caucuses to George H.W. Bush and the New Hampshire primary to Ronald Reagan, even though a Gallup poll had him in second place in the presidential race at eighteen percent behind Reagan at 41 percent as late as November 1979. In 1981 he received the U.S. Senator John Heinz Award for Greatest Public Service by an Elected or Appointed Official, an award given out annually by Jefferson Awards. Baker did not seek re-election in 1984. He received the Presidential Medal of Freedom the same year. However, as a testament to Baker’s skill as a negotiator and honest and amiable broker, Reagan tapped him to serve as Chief of Staff during part of Reagan’s second term (1987 – 1988). Many saw this as a move by Reagan to mend relations with the Senate, which had deteriorated somewhat under the previous chief of staff, Donald Regan. (Baker had complained that Regan had become a too-powerful “Prime Minister” inside an increasingly complex imperial presidency.) In accepting this appointment, Baker chose to skip another bid for the White House in 1988. His first wife had died of cancer; in 1996 he married former Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum, the daughter of the late Kansas Governor Alfred M. Landon, who was the Republican nominee for President in 1936. In 2003 the Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy was set up at the University of Tennessee in honor of the former senator. Vice President Dick Cheney gave a speech at the 2005 ground-breaking ceremony for the center’s new building. In 2007 Baker joined fellow former Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole, Tom Daschle, and George Mitchell to found the Bipartisan Policy Center, a non-profit think tank that works to develop policies suitable for bipartisan support. The rotunda at the University of Tennessee College of Law is now named for Baker. While delivering a commencement speech during his grandson’s graduation at East Tennessee State University (Johnson City) on May 5, 2007, Baker was awarded an honorary doctorate degree. Upon the completion of the Howard H. Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy in 2008, Sandra Day O’Connor assisted in the facility’s dedication. In his later years Baker served as Senior Counsel to the law firm of Baker, Donelson, Bearman, Caldwell & Berkowitz. He was also an Advisory Board member for the Partnership for a Secure America, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to recreating the bipartisan center in American national security and foreign policy. Baker also held a seat on the board of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, a non-profit which provides international election support (died 2014): “The most difficult thing in any negotiation, almost, is making sure that you strip it of the emotion and deal with the facts.”

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