Freethought Almanac

Lighting a candle in toxic air.
2011-12-07
December 7: Pietro Mascagni (1863)

It was on this date, December 7, 1863, that Italian composer Pietro Mascagni was born in Livorno. Today, he is chiefly remembered as composer of Cavalleria rusticana (Rustic Chivalry), his one-act opera written, as he put it, for the heart and not the head. Mascagni’s opera was not only popular in its day — it […]

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2011-12-07
No Apologies? When Were Apologies Offered?

A Message for Pearl Harbor Day December 7, 2011 By Ronald Bruce Meyer Occasionally, I’m treated to extended anecdotes via e-mail from my brother. He doesn’t write them, of course, but he agrees with them and passes them on, usually without looking any deeper into them (or even correcting the spelling and grammar). The following […]

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2011-12-07
December 7: End of the Great Schism (1965)

It was on this date, December 7, 1965, that Roman Catholic Pope Paul VI and Greek Orthodox Patriarch Athenagoras I (Αθηναγόρας Α’) simultaneously lifted the 900-year-old mutual excommunications that led to the split of their two churches in 1054. An excommunication in the Dark Ages actually meant something, whereas today it would be a laughing […]

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2011-12-06
December 6: Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac (1778) It was on this date, December 6, 1778, that French chemist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac was born in Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat. He studied at the École Polytechnique, then at the École des Ponts et Chausses, and apprenticed under the famous chemist Claude Louis Berthollet. Gay-Lussac returned to the École Polytechnique to became professor of […]

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2011-12-06
December 6: Thomas Edison's First Sound Recording (1877)

It was on this date, December 6, 1877, that inventor and Atheist Thomas Alva Edison demonstrated the first sound recording at West Orange, New Jersey. On that occasion he recited “Mary had a Little Lamb” into a recording device using a needle to scratch a sound track onto a cylinder wrapped in tinfoil. To read […]

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2011-12-05
December 5: Martin Van Buren (1782)

It was on this date, December 5, 1782, that the 8th President of the United States (4 March 1837 – 4 March 1841), and the first US President born in the United States, Martin Van Buren, was born in New York. Of Dutch ancestry, he attended the Dutch Reformed Church. A protégé of Aaron Burr […]

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2011-12-05
December 5: Monty Python’s Last Flying Circus (1974)

It was on this date, December 5, 1974, that the last episode of the ground-breaking BBC-TV comedy series, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus,” was shown on British television. The six-member writer/actor group included John Cleese, Graham Chapman (d. 1989), Terry Jones, Michael Palin, Eric Idle and Terry Gilliam. “Monty Python’s Flying Circus” was broadcast as 46 […]

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2011-12-04
December 4: Thomas Carlyle (1795)

It was on this date, December 4, 1795, that British historian Thomas Carlyle was born in Ecclefechan in Scotland. He was brought up in a strict Calvinist home and began his career as a teacher in 1813 while studying for the ministry. Carlyle abandoned his Christian beliefs in 1818 after reading Gibbon. After further study […]

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2011-12-04
December 4: Samuel Butler (1835)

It was on this date, December 4, 1835, that British writer Samuel Butler was born in Upton upon Severn in Langar Rectory, near Bingham, Nottinghamshire, England. Being the son and the grandson of clergymen, Butler began to study along the same lines, but in 1859 he refused to be ordained, traveled to New Zealand, and […]

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2011-12-03
December 3: Joseph Conrad (1857)

It was on this date, December 3, 1857, that English author Joseph Conrad was born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski in Berdichev (Berdyczów), Ukraine, a region that had been a part of Poland but was then under Russian rule. Nevertheless, Conrad is considered Polish-born. His father was a poet and translator of English and French literature, […]

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Ronald Bruce Meyer

Our Fearless Leader.


Daily Almanac

Week in Freethought History (July 8-14)

Here’s your Week in Freethought History: This is more than just a calendar of events or mini-biographies – it’s a reminder that, no matter how isolated and alone we may feel at times, we as freethinkers are neither unique nor alone in the world. Last Sunday, July 8, but in 1892, the American Psychological Association […]



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