Two Anniversaries Yesterday


Unfortunately I was slow to realize that there were two events of interest from yesterday (January 23) that happened on that date in the past. One of them is happier than the other.

First, it was, to my surprise, the 200th anniversary of the publication of Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austin. I had only read the book a couple of months ago, so I just made it in under the wire. Well, the wire that I just artificially set, but I made it under nonetheless. One must pride themselves in some things. Anyhow, even though many of the things and situations in the book have become out of common knowledge, the book was very readable, and I found the dialog in particular very entertaining and witty. (And no, I didn’t have English teachers pulling on my ears until I thought that of 19th century classics.) As for the best adaptation I have seen, I only have two in my experience, the 2005 film with Keira Knightley, and the 1995 BBC six-part version with Colin Firth that I only watched this winter break. The latter is the better, but you will need six hours to get through it all and all the details of the original story. Oh, and with the additional wet t-shirt part. If you haven’t seen it, perhaps I just excited you to do so.

But on a more somber note, it was the 27th anniversary of the Challenger explosion that killed its seven crew members. Caused by a failed o-ring in the frigid morning of its launch, the disaster was a major blow to the American space program, as was the 2003 Columbia disaster which also took seven lives. Challenger also took up a non-professional astronaut, a social studies teacher, Christa McAuliffe, who was the first (and only) participate in the Teachers in Space Project. Phil Plait has more on this and related space disasters here.

In looking this up, I also came across a bit of the life story of one of the astronauts that was  killed in Challenger, Ronald McNair. With library runs and Star Trek, he was inspired to go beyond this world, overcoming not just gravity of significant racial bias.

An inspirational story. Those more us the most, be it in novels or our own lives, it seems.

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