Valentine’s Day began with a beheading. Over the subsequent millennia, it has become a behemoth fueled by bland corporatism and depression. Feb. 14 remains a day like any other, though, and some entirely passionless events have happened while folks were out getting their romance on. For levity’s sake, we’ll skip over Strasbourg, the Firebombing of Dresden and the Salman Rushdie fatwa.
February 14, 1854: Texas was linked to the rest of the United States by telegraph. Telegraph may be the least intimate communication form of all-time. Even the tenderest messages sound cold and curt. Multiple third-parties are involved. Humans have not devised a way to turn it prurient.
February 14, 1924: Thomas Watson started the International Business Machines Corporation, better known as IBM. The name is as boring and utilitarian as the products. It’s hard to find an emblem of every day realism and drudgery more poignant than corporate data storage. IBM’s idea of whimsy? Adding a smidge of geometric flare to a giant black box.
February 14, 1929: Alexander Fleming unveiled his recently discovered antibiotic penicillin. Sure, this was one of the most revolutionary achievements in the history of medicine and an undoubted boon for mankind, but could there be a bigger cry for human intimacy than playing with bread mold alone in a basement laboratory?
February 14, 1971: Richard Nixon installed his secret taping system in the White House. Nothing gets that blood flowing like a little red wine and some hot Nixon chats.
February 14, 1977: The B-52’s played their first concert together at an Athens, Georgia house party. They are possibly the dorkiest band of all-time. Fred Schneider’s voice is the cold shower of pop music. Listening to a B-52’s album foments the urge to add articles of clothing.
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