The More Things Change | Issue 14

The More Things Change | Issue 14

Welcome to the second semester of “The More Things Change” – now with more historic events to commemorate as you please. This week, there are some great successes and some even greater failures.

11 July, 1776: Captain Cook set off on his third voyage, an attempt by the Admiralty to find the Northwest Passage under the guise of taking a French Polynesian guy back home. They briefly visited New Zealand, but the most notable thing about the voyage was that it was remarkably ill-fated. It led to Cook’s unfortunate demise in Hawaii, to someone dying of tuberculosis, and ended without anyone finding the passage at all. This seems not unlike the fate of the Dunedin institution that was named for the very same Captain.

9 July, 1872: The doughnut cutter was patented by John Blondel, in a glorious day for stereotypes of North America. Apparently the modern shape of the doughnut, called a torus by mathematicians, was adopted after a teenage sailor punched a hole through an old-fashioned doughnut with a pepper container. For such humble beginnings the doughnut is doing quite well – there’s a Dunkin’ Donuts in Hamilton now.

9 July, 1893: American surgeon Daniel Hale Williams performed the first successful open-heart surgery, an accomplishment made all the more impressive by the fact that it was achieved with no penicillin, transfusions, or advanced anaesthetic. The patient, a stabbing victim, left the hospital a couple of months after the surgery and remained quite alive for 20 more years. Doubtless the stabber was quite disappointed.

10 July, 1923: There was a hailstorm in the west of Russia, which would have been unremarkable except that the hailstones weighed about one kilogram each. Given that it was Russia, the reaction may well have been something like the one observed when that meteor showed up early this year: nobody batted an eyelid. One can only assume that there were a few fairly extreme snowball fights.

9 July, 1997: Mike Tyson was banned from boxing for one of the more ridiculous incidents in the sport’s history, in which he bit off a one-inch piece of his opponent’s ear, and then bit his other ear after the fight resumed. There is no apparent record of Tyson’s reasoning for doing so. He was permanently banned from boxing (but his licence was restored a year later), ordered to do community service, and fined about US$3 million. The other guy forgave Tyson, and presumably now spends his time coming up with wild stories to explain why part of his ear is missing.
This article first appeared in Issue 14, 2013.
Posted 6:05pm Sunday 7th July 2013 by Jessica Bromell.