It's the day Texas elected its first President
On this day in 1836, Sam Houston - sound familiar? - became the first elected president of the Republic of Texas, a nation that would exist for only a decade longer.
Yes, sirree. If you thought Texans were different, there's a reason for that. It is one of very few US states once to have been an independent country. The Republic of Texas sprang from a revolution in the Mexican state of Coahuila y Tejas, where citizens objected (among other things) to having to adopt Catholicism.
The war of independence lasted for a year, officially, but sea battles would continue for another decade or so - pretty much until Texas gave up its independence and joined the United States. We'll be raising a glass to Texas, and Texans, with a Texsun cocktail, a mercifully Tex-Mex-free blend we discovered in Esquire's Handbook for Hosts.
Near-miss at World War III
This day in 1962, John F. Kennedy addressed America on radio, announcing that Soviet forces had placed missiles on Cuba. He explained, "The purposes of these bases can be none other than to provide a nuclear strike capability against the Western Hemisphere. Scary stuff.
The drama, known today as the Cuban Missile Crisis, remains the closest the world has yet come to all-out nuclear war. Provoked by US attempts at invading Communist Cuba, the crisis was finally resolved by a deal in which the US publicly promised never to invade Cuba, and secretly agreed to remove nuclear missiles from Turkey and Italy. The Soviets packed up their missiles and sailed for home.
It is a terrifying thought that today there are more nuclear-armed states than ever. We are soothing our souls with a Cuban Liberal, a classic from the Floridita bar book.
Britain's First Robot Heart Surgeon
This time in 2012, Britain became the third country in Europe to offer robotic heart surgery, using the Da Vinci surgical robot.
Well, technically, Da Vinci isn't a true robot. It's a slave system that mimics the movements of a surgeon operating a console, although on a smaller scale than the actual hand movements (and with wobbles taken out). What this means, though, is that heart patients don't have to have their entire chest sliced open. Instead, the robot can go in through incisions between two ribs, meaning smaller scars, less operational stress and a faster recovery time.