The band played on
Early this day in 1912, the RMS Titanic passenger liner sank beneath the sub-zero waters of the Atlantic and spiralled almost 4,000 metres (12,500 feet) down to the silty, pitch-black sea floor.
More than 1500 people would die, either sinking with the ship, or freezing to death in the icy waters around her. Of all the tales of heroism from that night - John Jacob Astor, who sent his pregnant young wife to the lifeboats but stayed behind himself, to the Captain who went down with his ship, to John Edward Hart, who went down into the depths of the ship to rescue Third Class passengers, it's the band that stands out. To prevent panic among the hundreds facing certain death, and a potentially lethal storming of the lifeboats, they stood on the deck and played calming, jaunty tunes. Their bravery and composure, despite knowing they would go down with the ship, most likely saved hundreds of lives.
What they played is disputed, with sources torn between Autumn and Nearer, My God, To Thee, but one crew member recalls them playing Autumn, so we are raising a glass to them and other brave folk, with an Autumn Leaves. We are also remembering the iceberg that started it all with an Iced Sake Martini, which includes icewine made from frozen grapes.
Leonardo Da Vinci's Birthday
Today we raise our glass to Leonardo di ser Piero Da Vinci, arguably the single most talented person ever to have lived. Artist, architect, scientist, mathematician, writer, inventor and mapmaker, Leonardo was the illegitimate son of a peasant woman, born in Vinci, Tuscany, on this day in 1452.
Many centuries before such things were achievable, Leonardo had the idea for a helicopter, a tank, a form of solar power and a submarine. He pioneered anatomy, researched physics and was one of the most talented painters and sculptors of his era.
He was also not only left-handed but a vegetarian, and almost certainly gay into the bargain. So, wherever you are today, think of this extraordinary man and drink to him with a Da Vinci Code.
Today is the Day Of The Sun
Today the hardworking folk of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea get a rare break from the battle against US supremacism, on a public holiday to celebrate the birthday of their Great Leader, AKA the Day of the Sun.
Kim Il-Sung was the grandfather of the current Great Leader, Kim Jong-Un. Still, lord knows, there's plenty to celebrate in a country where most live way below the global poverty line, all exist under constant supervision and many survive in prison camps of extreme brutality.
They have ballistic missiles! They have nuclear weapons! They've started a space agency, imaginatively named NADA. And they even have their very own North Korean internet browser, to browse their very own parallel North Korean internet.
In the hope that the Kim dynasty will ultimately be replaced with something a bit saner, we're drinking a Sundowner.