Daily Update: Sunday, June 26th, 2016

06-26 - Universal Product Code

Today is the Thirteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time. 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).

I neglected to mention in yesterday’s Daily Update that I had ordered two books and a set of patriotic earrings from Amazon on one of my breaks at work.

I did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading. When we clocked in, Richard was on Pai Gow, which was dead for most of the day. I went to the regular Mini Baccarat table, which was in the process of being closed; once it did close I went to the Macau Mini Baccarat Table, and when the Macau players left we turned it into a Regular Mini Baccarat table, which was dead for most of the day.

On our way home I continued reading the June 20th – June 27th, 2016 issue of my Jesuit America magazine. Once home I ate my lunch salad and read the Sunday papers. I then got on the computer and worked on Ancestry.Com for an hour or so, and made myself a contributor to Find a Grave.com, while Richard weed-wacked (until the line ran out) and mowed the grass. He accidentally weed-wacked the ground wire to our air conditioner compressor, and called our guy to come over and look at the compressor.And I am now doing my Daily Update for today (with Richard outside talking to the guy looking at the air conditioner compressor), and when I am finished I will go to bed.

Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint Cyril of Alexandria, Bishop and Doctor (died 444). 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. Tomorrow begins the new two-week pay period at the casino. The Last Quarter Moon will arrive at 1:21 pm, and I will work on Ancestry.com stuff until time to watch Jeopardy! at 4:30 pm.

Our Parting Quote this Sunday 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 5th, 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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