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Soup of This Day #273: Subsequently And Furthermore

December 7, 2012

Apollo 17 launch
The December 7, 1972 launch of Apollo 17, the last manned mission to the surface of the Moon. It was the 1st and only night-time launch of an Apollo mission and was the last crewed launch of the mighty Saturn V rocket. This behemoth had 5 Rocketdyne F-1 engines delivering 34,020,000 N of thrust at launch. Kapow – Photo: NASA, 1972. NASA is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

This is a community service announcement.

Deacon White was born on this day in 1847, 165 years ago, in Caton, New York.

Which isn’t really much of a community service announcement if I’m honest. Unless Deacon is a rabid zombie who is pacified and subdued by a rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’ on his special day. This would admittedly seem unlikely based on my knowledge of the undead, sourced from a couple of zombie apocalypse flicks.

Zombies tend not to be pacified or subdued by much less than a serious smack to their heads, if they are the George A. Romero type, or the reading of the right words from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis if they are the Sam Raimi type. And no, the requisite words in the Necronomicon are not ‘Happy birthday to you…’.

None of that information is a part of the community service announcement bit either, although the intel may come in handy if the US falls off the fiscal cliff, leading to a zombie apocalypse. Or a zombie paradise – It depends on your lurchpoint.

Until such time I think we can safely assume that Deacon White is no longer with us.

Which is a shame because he deserves to be. Deacon was around in the early days of baseball. So early that he is credited with the 1st hit in baseball’s 1st fully-pro league – A double for the Cleveland Forest Citys in the National Association. He also made the 1st catch -playing as a catcher in an era when gloves were for riding horses on the range and working tough, not for protecting a man’s hands from a ball.

He topped the batting averages for a season on 2 occasions and repeated he dose in RBIs 3 times. It would take until 1953 for another catcher to manage to lead a major league in RBIs.

Deacon was good at baseball.

He was also just good. He took his given name so seriously that he was in fact an honest-to-God deacon.

This is not why he deserves to have lived for 165 years though – Instead it is because in July of next year he will be finally inducted into the baseball Hall of Fame. He had died in 1939, apparently not happy that he hadn’t been invited to the dedication of the brand new Hall of Fame in Cooperstown just a month earlier.

Harsh.

But not as harsh as the bad luck that befell Italian Fiorenzo Magni in cycling’s 1956 Giro d’Italia. Magni, who gets a ride in this post by virtue of sharing a birthday with Deacon White, albeit 73 years later, was riding the Giro in his last year as a professional cyclist. He’d already won that grand tour 3 times, as recently as the year before, and was in good shape to claim another when he broke his clavicle in a crash on stage 12. He refused a cast and got back into the race with nothing but a stretchy bandage for support. This obviously is a problem – You can’t apply much in the way of force to 1 half of your steering when your clavicle is broken and so the brave Italian attached some inner-tubing to the handlebars and then gripped it between his teeth.

1 man’s coraggioso is another’s pazzo.

This latter was borne out in Stage 16, when unable to brake with his left hand, Magni crashed again. He landed on the same broken clavicle and added a broken humerus to the mix. He subsequently passed out with the pain and was loaded into an ambulance. He awoke on the way to hospital, screamed at the driver and returned to the race.

The race that featured snow and ice over mountain passes in Stage 20 so severe that 60 riders dropped out on that day alone.

Not Fiorenzo Magni.

The winged rider carried on and, despite Charly Gaul securing a stunning stage win and overall victory, managed to limit the losses such that he finished in 2nd overall, a scant 3:27 and a couple of bones off the pace. It’s lucky he was retiring – There’s only so much steering you can do with your teeth on an icy mountain descent.

Although you can defy such predictions for a career if you really try. Hermann Maier is a classic example.

15 years after he was born, December 7th, 1965, the Austrian was sent home from ski academy as it was felt that he was too slight to ever make it as a competitive racer.

He took up a part time gig as a bricklayer and got less slight. And he kept skiing.

In 1996 he was used as a forerunner at a World Cup giant slalom event – Forerunners break in the track and aren’t part of the competition. Maier’s run though was timed and it was good enough for 12th overall. That got him noticed and he was selected for the Austrian national team for the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998.

There things didn’t start so well. Racing in the downhill event Maier did this:

Keen downhill watchers will have picked up that he zigged when he should have zagged. Or zagged when he should have zigged.

That’s not the most economical way to get down the hill. I’d go so far as to say that it’s almost the Forenzo Magni method of descent.

Only ‘almost’ though – Maier didn’t break his clavicle. Or his humerus. Herman Maier didn’t actually break any bones – He fetched up on the other side of 2 safety fences with no injuries of any note.

And then won 2 Olympic golds, in the Super G and giant slalom, just a couple of days later.

This is why he’s called The Herminator – He’s a cyborg assassin who skis. Proof of this came in August of 2001 when he was involved in a serious motorcycle vs car accident. It looked like his leg would need to be amputated but upon closer inspection surgeons discovered that it just needed a spot of welding and maybe a healthy knob of grease.

It was lightning grease – By January of 2003 The Herminator was back and winning races. By 2004 he’d reclaimed the Super G and overall World Cup titles – It was his 4th overall and to that he added 10 discipline crowns (2 downhill, 5 Super-G and 3 giant slalom). All told he won 54 World Cup races across a 13 year career, before retiring in 2009 at the age of 36.

Which brings us to the real community service announcement bit…

Almost all of the facts above were derived from 1 source – Wikipedia, the free, collaborative, online encyclopaedia. The three sporting stars referenced all share a birthday, today, the 7th of December (White – 1847, Magni – 1920 and Maier – 1965). It’s also the day that the title image was snapped, as Apollo 17 rocketed towards the Moon (1972). And it’s the birthday of Tom Waits, whose lyric graces the title of this post.

I got all of that, the bones that gave me the structure of this post and the trivia that fleshed it out, from Wikipedia, the brains of the operation.

That extraordinary undertaking currently has around 77,000 active contributors and a staggering 22,000,000 articles in 285 languages. To put that into perspective the Encyclopaedia Britannica has around 4,400 contributors and approximately 500,000 topics.

There’s another key difference too – The Brittanica typically had a new addition every 25 or so years – The last print edition was in 2010 and contained 32 volumes so was rather expensive to re-write. Wikipedia though is cross-pollinated daily, in an ever-continuing exercise of expanding knowledge.

Simply Wikipedia is wonderful and all the more so because it is free.

Which isn’t the same as saying that it costs nothing to operate. It costs a bit, for servers and the skeleton staff who keep the online zombie (It feeds off brains) rumbling along with barely a trace of a lurch. Or advertising.

Yep, Wikipedia is the #5 site on the web and it doesn’t advertise. All of it’s income comes from fundraising, the non-profit foundation surviving on donations from pretty ordinary folk like me.

And hopefully you.

I don’t mean to press or be pushy so feel free to ignore me on this 1 – But if you like this blog and get a kick out of the information that gets sifted through my off-kilter sense of humour then please consider helping these folks to keep dropping knowledge – There is a donation link in the left-hand menu on their main page.

Wikipedia – The encyclopaedia that catches like Deacon White, rides like Forenzo Magni and glides along like Hermann Maier.

Subsequently And Furthermore

2 Comments
  1. “That’s not the most economical way to get down the hill.” Laugh out loud funny combined with my trying to eat and drink at the same time I was reading the post. Needless to say, it was not the most economical way to keep my computer area clean and free of debris. Great line…and thoughts.

    • Glad to hear I got the line right – I hope the computer is ok. Thanks as always for reading and taking the time to comment – Much appreciated.

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