Freethought Almanac

Lighting a candle in toxic air.
2011-08-11
August 11: Pope Alexander VI

Alexander VI (1492) It was on this date, August 11, 1492, that Rodrigo Borgia was elected Pope Alexander VI. That he lived lavishly, showered gifts and offices on his relatives, kept mistresses and fathered children while occupying the chair of Peter, and was indifferent to his church duties – all documented in detail by contemporary […]

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2011-08-10
August 10: Churches v. Astronomy

Royal Observatory Opens (1675): Churches v. Astronomy It was on this date, August 10, 1675, that, by order of King Charles II, the foundation stone of the Royal Observatory at Greenwich, south London, was laid. The rationale was chiefly commercial: to improve knowledge of the positions of stars in order to aid navigation. The first […]

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2011-08-09
August 9: Marvin Minsky

Marvin Minsky (1927) It was on this date, August 9, 1927, that the MIT professor Marvin Minsky, known in computer science as the father of artificial intelligence, was born into a Jewish family in New York City. After serving in the US Navy from 1944 to 1945, Minsky earned a BA in Mathematics from Harvard […]

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2011-08-09
August 9: The Terrible Sixtus

Sixtus IV (1471) It was on this date, August 9, 1471, that Franciscan Friar-turned-Cardinal Francesco della Rovere was elevated to the Papacy as Sixtus IV. A pious man, Sixtus also loved his family – he had a brother, three sisters, and fourteen nephews and nieces (two of those nephews may have been his own sons!) […]

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2011-08-07
August 7: James Randi

James "The Amazing" Randi (1928) It was on this date, August 7, 1928, that magician, author and paranormal debunker James Randi was born Randall Zwinge in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Educated in Canada, he was naturalized a U.S. citizen in 1987. From the 1950s he toured the world as a magician, stage mentalist and escape artist, […]

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2011-08-07
August 7: Religion and Virginity

The Virgin Mary (1555) Religion and Virginity It was on this date, August 7, 1555, that Pope Paul IV, newly elected and nearly 80, issued an Ecclesiastical Constitution called "Cum quorundam," making it an article of faith that Mary, the mother of Jesus, "was a virgin before, during, and after the conception and birth of […]

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2011-08-06
August 6: Asia Carrera

Asia Carrera (1973) It was on this date, August 6, 1973, that the erotic actress and self-styled computer geek known as Asia Carrera was born Jessica Andrea Steinhauser in New York City to a Japanese father and a German mother. Eurasian genes and some later cosmetic surgery contributed to her stunning good looks, but the […]

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2011-08-06
August 6: Alfred Tennyson

Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809) It was on this date, August 6,* 1809, that Victorian English poet Alfred, first Baron Tennyson, was born at Somersby, Lincolnshire, the fourth of twelve children fathered by a clergyman. Commonly known as Alfred, Lord Tennyson, he wasn't a Lord until he at length accepted a baronetcy from Queen Victoria in […]

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2011-08-05
August 5: Guy de Maupassant

Guy de Maupassant (1850) It was on this date, August 5, 1850, that French naturalistic writer Henri René Albert Guy de Maupassant was born, probably in Château de Miromesniel, Dieppe. His maternal grandfather was Gustave Flaubert's godfather, and Guy de Maupassant became friends with Flaubert, as well as with Émile Zola, sharing their religious skepticism. […]

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2011-08-04
August 4: The Necessity of Shelley

Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792) It was on this date, August 4, 1792, that the third-greatest British poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, was born at Field Place near Horsham, the son of a Member of Parliament. Along with developing a strong dislike for political tyranny, after reading the radical writings of Thomas Paine, William Godwin and Baron […]

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Ronald Bruce Meyer

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Daily Almanac

November 11: Joseph McCabe

Joseph McCabe (1867) It was on this date, November 11, 1867, that Freethought writer Joseph Martin McCabe was born in Manchester, the product of Protestant East Anglians and Irish Catholic stock. He was named Joseph, after the saint, because he was, from infancy, promised to the priesthood. He entered the priesthood at age 16 and […]



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