11 March 12020 is Johnny Appleseed Day (U.S.). It is also Shushan Purim (Israel), Moshoeshoe Day (Lesotho), Decoration Day (Liberia), and Independence Day (Lithuania). Notable people born on this date include Douglas Adams and Shemp Howard. It’s JD 2458919, 15 Adar 5780, 2 Paremhat 1736, and 16 Rajab 1441. I learn from the news that Trump’s surrender to the Taliban would release 5000 terrorists—except that the government of Afghanistan has refused to honor our Idiot-in-chief’s commitment. I can’t help but wonder why. And conservatives are freaking out because somebody (AOC?) urged undocumented residents (a.k.a. “illegal aliens”) to fill out their census forms as the law requires—but this has always been the rule with the census. Every resident is counted—including enslaved persons (well, three-fifths of them), poor people, non-property owners, the homeless, felons—not just white property-owning law-abiding citizens. Maybe it is indeed time for a change, but if so, that’s something for Congress to decide, as per the Constitution. Republicans like the idea, because the states that would lose by this change are largely Democratic-leaning. For the same reason, Democrats hate it. If the shoe were on the other foot Republicans would want to keep our time-honored traditional count, while Democrats would want to change it. This is not a matter of principle, but of tactics.
On this day in history in 1958 Charles Van Doren lost on Twenty-One, a U.S. game show, after a long successful run that netted him close to $130,000. The winner was Vivienne Wax Nearing—but the catch in the whole thing was that the show was not in fact a genuine contest, but a piece of scripted entertainment. When the shit hit the fan not only did the various shows involved (including Tic-Tac-Dough and The $64,000 Question) get canceled, but the various contestants, Van Doren included, lost jobs and reputation over their participation. I remember distinctly as a kid seeing a show in which contestants were locked in isolation booths while their opponents were asked questions, and for all I know I could have seen this very show—but if I did it didn’t mean anything to me, or at any rate not enough to retain any memory of it.