Nineteen fifty-three, the year I was born, was a long time ago, and it seems longer today than it did yesterday, no thanks to the New Year. (And why is that? The ancient Romans thought the first of March was a more sensible date to begin the year, what with the impending arrival of spring and all, and surely February, the least desirable month, belongs at the tail end.) I know how I'm doing at the moment, which is "not wonderful but a long way from dead"; I decided to take a look back at 1953 and draw whatever conclusions, if any, make sense.

19 January: Desi Arnaz, Jr. is born, more or less simultaneous with the arrival of Little Ricky on I Love Lucy. By 1965, Desi Jr. (who technically was Desiderio Arnaz IV, and see if you can figure that one out) was in a pop-rock band, and a good one; he still plays now and then, but mostly he runs his theatre in Nevada. Verdict: Good shape.

5 March: Joseph Stalin dies, four days following a stroke. Verdict: Good riddance.

19 March: For the first time, the presentation of the Academy Awards is televised. Verdict: Should be finished any minute now.

13 April: The first James Bond novel, Casino Royale, is published in England. Ian Fleming would write eleven more, plus several short stories; the franchise would outlive him. Verdict: Shaky, but still stirring.

25 April: James D. Watson and Francis Crick publish their description of the DNA double helix. Verdict: Eventually we'll have to deal with CSI: Wichita.

30 June: Assembly of the Chevrolet Corvette begins in an old Flint, Michigan truck plant. Only 300 cars are built for the abbreviated 1953 model year; all have six-cylinder engines and two-speed automatics. Not auspicious for a sports car. Verdict: They got better.

27 July: The Korean War officially does not end, though an armistice is proclaimed. Sporadic attacks across the border continue to this day. Verdict: M*A*S*H was (occasionally) funnier than I.

5 September: The United Nations, following the advice of the United States, rejects a proposal by the Soviet Union to admit the People's Republic of China. Eighteen years later, Beijing was handed the seat previously occupied by the Republic of China (Taiwan), which was expelled. Verdict: The UN now apparently considers it bad juju to follow the advice of the United States.

21 November: The Piltdown Man is exposed as a hoax. Verdict: Faked evidence is now deemed "settled science."

25 November: Jeff Skilling is born in Pittsburgh; he eventually becomes president of Enron. Verdict: Presently under appeal.

December: Hugh Hefner publishes the first, undated, issue of Playboy magazine. Verdict: He's hardly been undated since.

I conclude from the above that I'm doing about average.

The Vent

#707
  1 January 2011

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