Good News on this Day in History

Happy Birthday to Talking Heads singer, songwriter, and musician David Byrne, who turns 70 today.

Before high school, Byrne had been diagnosed on the Asperger’s spectrum and now calls it his creative superpower for hyperfocusing his creativity. He taught himself to play guitar, accordion, and violin, but was rejected from his school’s choir because they claimed he was “off-key and too withdrawn”.

Since the Talking Heads disbanded in 1991, Byrne has worked in various media including filmmaking, ballet, photography, drawing, opera, fiction and non-fiction—and received an Oscar (for his original score of The Last Emperor), as well as Grammys, and Golden Globe awards.

The founder of world music record label Luaka Bop, Byrne is also known for promoting cycling in New York City and for having used a bike as his main means of transport throughout his life. He even designed a series of bicycle parking racks, like the one in the shape of a dollar sign on Wall Street.

In 2020, HBO released his Spike Lee-directed film featuring Byrne’s Broadway show American Utopia. WATCH the movie trailer, and a December interview about his career, personal growth, social change… (1952)

– Photo by Raph_PH, CC license, in 2018


MORE Good News on this Day:

  • Jamestown, Virginia became the first lasting English settlement, establishing the American Colonies (1607)
  • In Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, delegates first meet to write a new Constitution for the United States (1787)
  • The Lewis and Clark Expedition began their historic journey by traveling up the Missouri River (1804)
  • The first competitive game of rugby in New Zealand was played in the City of Nelson, after Nelson College alum, Charles Monro introduced the game to his fellow Kiwis, and helped organize the first match (1870)
  • The London Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children became a national organization in Great Britain and Ireland, founded by Liverpool businessman, Thomas Agnew, who wanted to mirror the group he admired in America—and they successfully passed the first UK law to protect children from abuse and neglect (1884)
  • The Rockefeller Foundation was launched with $100 million from John D. Rockefeller to invest in scientific research, public health, higher education and nurturing the leaders of the future (1913)
  • Israel declared itself to be an independent state and a provisional government was established (1948)
  • Skylab, the United States’ first space station, was launched (1973)
  • The final episode of Seinfeld aired after a 9-year run on NBC with an audience of 76 million viewers tuned in to see Jerry, Elaine, Kramer and George in court, put on trial and charged with criminal indifference for breaking the Good Samaritan Law in a small New England town (1998)
  • Diane Humetewa (a Hopi) became the first Native American woman confirmed as federal judge with a U.S. Senate vote of 96-0 (2014)
  • The European Union announced it will have cut its carbon emissions by 20 percent more than it pledged it would under the Kyoto climate change treaty (2014)
2009 Photo by Nicolas Genin, CC license

Happy Birthday to director-screenwriter George Lucas who turns 77. Receiving 5 Oscar nominations (including Best Picture) for his 1973 debut film American Graffiti proved that he could write and direct; and producing the groundbreaking science fiction franchise Star Wars proved he could create a cultural phenomenon worth billions of dollars. He also dreamed up Indiana Jones, played by Harrison Ford in the blockbuster 1980’s trilogy that opened with Raiders of the Lost Ark.

After studying anthropology at Modesto Junior College, he attempted to join the U.S. Air Force but they wouldn’t accept him because of multiple speeding tickets while driving, so he enrolled at USC as a graduate student in film production. One of Hollywood’s most successful filmmakers, Lucas has been nominated for four Academy Awards, and has an estimated net worth of over $5 billion. (1944)

And, 3 years ago today, San Francisco voted to ban facial recognition software, from being bought or used by city authorities including transportation and policing agencies, becoming the first U.S. city to pass such legislation. Voters and their representatives also requires any additional surveillance equipment to be approved by city administrators. The ordinance was passed 8-1.

“With this vote, San Francisco has declared that face surveillance technology is incompatible with a healthy democracy and that residents deserve a voice in decisions about high-tech surveillance,” the ACLU said. (2019)

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