Freethought Almanac

Lighting a candle in toxic air.
2011-12-23
December 23: Jean François Champollion (1790)

It was on this date, December 23, 1790, that the Frenchman who unlocked the Egyptian inscriptions, Jean-François Champollion, was born in Figeac. Because of the Revolutionary chaos in France, Champollion got his instruction, until he turned 10, from his oldest brother, who was also an archaeologist. By age 11 Champollion could read the Bible in […]

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2011-12-22
December 22: Pope Leo XIII Proclaims a Jubilee (1885): What Is a Jubilee?

It was on this date, December 22, 1885, that Pope Leo XIII proclaimed an extraordinary jubilee. To most of us moderns, a jubilee is a special anniversary, or the celebration of it, but in both the Jewish and Christian traditions a Jubilee Year is a year of celebration and forgiveness of sin. The word “jubilee” […]

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2011-12-21
December 21: Frank Zappa (1940)

It was on this date, December 21, 1940, that American musician and satirist Frank Vincent Zappa was born in Baltimore, Maryland, of French, Sicilian, Neapolitan, Greek and Arab ancestry. Before going into the rock music business, Frank Zappa earned his living as a greeting-card designer, window dresser, copywriter, and door-to-door salesman. He began to play […]

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2011-12-20
December 20: Sidney Hook (1902)

It was on this date, December 20, 1902, that American philosopher Sidney Hook was born in New York City. A protégé of John Dewey, Hook earned a doctorate at Columbia University in 1927 and taught at New York University from 1927-1972, including over 20 years as head of NYU’s philosophy department (1948-69). Perhaps his best-known […]

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2011-12-19
December 19: Richard Leakey (1944)

It was on this date, December 19, 1944, that Richard Erskine Leakey was born in Kenya to famous anthropologists, Louis and Mary Leakey. After developing an eye for wildlife photography, Leakey left high school and worked with a photographic safari company. As his half-dozen books demonstrate, Leakey is an evolutionist. Leakey wrote in his autobiography… […]

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2011-12-18
December 18: Pius XII, Optatissima Pax (1947) and the Powerlessness of Prayer

It was on this date, December 18, 1947, that Pope Pius XII, in the ninth year of his papacy, promulgated the encyclical Optatissima Pax, On Prescribing Prayers for Peace. This was timed well, for World War Two had ended just two years earlier. And Pius was the same pope, born Eugenio Pacelli, whose tepid and […]

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2011-12-17
December 17: Saturnalia and Christmas

It was on this date, December 17, that the ancient Roman version of the universal midwinter nature festival which they called Saturnalia began. The week-long festival was named in honor of Saturn, the Roman god of the sowing of the harvest, and in its earliest forms included a death ritual, commemorating winter. The holiday was […]

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2011-12-16
December 16: Ludwig van Beethoven (1770)

It was on this date, December 16, 1770, that we presume the German composer Ludwig van Beethoven was born in Bonn, although we have only the record of his baptism on 17 December. He was reared a Catholic and composed inspired sacred works such as Missa Solemnis and his immortal Choral Symphony (#9). Surely Beethoven […]

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2011-12-16
December 16: George Santayana (1863)

It was on this date, December 16, 1863, that American philosopher George Santayana was born in Madrid, Spain, to freethinking parents who, nonetheless, sent him to Catholic school. Perhaps best known today for his quote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it” ... To read more, go to THIS LINK. Originally […]

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2011-12-15
December 15: Penn Educates Lawyers (1790): Christianity and Law

It was on this date, December 15, 1790, that the first U.S. school of law was established at the University of Pennsylvania, after a series of lectures by James Wilson, a signer of the Declaration of Independence and a Justice of the first U.S. Supreme Court. The training and certification of legal service providers was […]

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Ronald Bruce Meyer

Our Fearless Leader.


Daily Almanac

November 11: Kurt Vonnegut Jr

Kurt Vonnegut Jr (1922) It was on this date, November 11, 1922, that science fiction and satire writer Kurt Vonnegut was born in Indianapolis, Indiana. Vonnegut enrolled at Cornell University as a biochemistry major, but left for the Air Force during World War Two. He was captured in May 1944 during the Battle of the […]



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