Good News in History, March 8

1,013 years ago today, the Persian language’s most famous epic poem, the Shahnameh, was completed by poet Abdul-Qasem Ferdowsi. The work is of central importance in Persian culture and language, regarded as a literary masterpiece, and definitive of the ethnonational cultural identity of Iran going back thousands of years. Consisting of some 50,000 “distichs” or couplets (two-line verses), the Shahnameh is one of the world’s longest epic poems. It tells mainly the mythical, and to some extent the historical, past of the Persian Empire from the creation of the world. READ a small section… (1010)

Page from the Shahnameh of King Tahmasp at the Aga Khan Museum – pub domain (Copy)

It took more than 30 years for Ferdowsi to finish the epic, which in English translates to the “Book of Kings”.

After an opening in praise of God and Wisdom, the Shahnameh gives an account of the creation of the world and of man as believed by the Sassanians. This introduction is followed by the story of the first man, Keyumars, who also became the first king after a period of mountain-dwelling. Later passages refer to the Greek Heroic Age, and of Alexander.

In the following passage, Ferdowsi essentially beautifies the idea that no good deed goes unpunished.

“I turn to right and left, in all the earthI see no signs of justice, sense or worth:A man does evil deeds, and all his daysAre filled with luck and universal praise;Another’s good in all he does – he diesA wretched, broken man whom all despise.”

MORE Good News on this Date:

An anonymous writer, thought by some to be Thomas Paine, published “African Slavery in America”, the first article in the American colonies calling for the emancipation of slaves and the abolition of slavery (1775)
Susan B. Anthony testified before the US House Judiciary Committee arguing for a Constitutional amendment granting women the right to vote (1884)
French aviatrix Raymonde de Laroche became the first woman to receive a pilot’s license (1910)
The US Supreme Court agreed that promoting one religion through religious instruction in public schools violated the Constitution (1948)
Bob Dylan’s single Subterranean Homesick Blues was released in the US, which gave Dylan his first top 40 hit and pioneered the use of an innovative film clip using cue cards (1965)
The Philips electronics company demonstrated the first CD, unveiling the single-sided compact disc that was impervious to scratches, dust, and vibrations, leading to CD players becoming a huge success—until LPs came back into fashion during a vinyl revival, thanks to their visual appeal and nostalgia for fine audio (1979)
The first festival of rock music ever held in the Soviet Union kicked off, featuring 8 days of Russian rock music (1980)
Fargo, the film directed and written by Joel and Ethan Coen, starring Frances McDormand, William H. Macy, and Steve Buscemi was released—and went on to win multiple Academy Awards (1996)
Iraq‘s Governing Council signed a new constitution (2004)

196 years ago today, the New York Stock & Exchange Board (NYSE) was formally founded, having started out as merely 24 individual stockbrokers meeting under a buttonwood tree in lower Manhattan 25 years before. It is now the largest stock trading organization in the world, with $30 trillion in market capitalization, and 2,800 stocks listed on the exchange. It has become a landmark institution in New York City life, deeply affecting city newspapers, the real estate around Wall Street and Broad Street, and giving the city its famous “ticker tape parades” after the material that transmitted stock prices over telegraph lines.

The floor of the New York Stock Exchange. CC 2.0. Kevin Hutchinson

The opening of the Erie Canal and the arrival of the railways in America from the 1830s onwards brought a surge in business to the exchange. By 1835, an average of 8,500 shares were being traded daily a 50-fold increase in the space of just seven years. Since then, the New York Stock Exchange has moved home several times, becoming the world’s biggest and, arguably, most important stock exchange.

The NYSE has provided untold millions of average people from America and abroad with the ability to invest in their future and grow their personal fortunes, protect the value of their money against government inflations in the supply of money and credit, and buffer themselves against retirement with holdings in companies that pay dividends. Furthermore, it has funneled tens of trillions into companies that have created the most exciting technologies and the most useful products, enriching western society.

More than ever these days, the NYSE allows startups and growth-stage companies to not only access the investing public’s money, but their beliefs and imaginations as well. Medical cannabis stocks, access to carbon markets, space exploration, renewable energy companies, and other noble goals are providing real market options and returns for investors who believe finance should work towards a better century. WATCH a whacky trader give a tour of the floor… (1817)

Today is International Women’s Day. Coming in the midst of March, which has been designated Women’s History Month in the U.S., today is also Mother’s Day in Albania, Romania and Bulgaria.

Mark Fischer, CC license

Today is also Check your Battery Day in the U.S… Don’t forget that smoke detectors can warn of life-threatening situations and give you vital time to get to safety—but they can’t do their job if batteries are dead. Push and hold in the button on your detectors today, and listen for a beep to ensure they’re still working for you and your family. (2020)

405 years ago today, Johannes Kepler conceived of his ‘Third Law of planetary motion’, which came to him in a vision. Later, he described that moment, and the many calculations that followed: They “stormed the darkness” of his mind—and “so strong was the support” on paper… that at first he believed he “was dreaming”.

The German mathematician and astronomer wrote the book ‘Harmony of the World’ which laid the fundamentals of his three scientific laws describing the motion of planets around the Sun. His work corrected Copernicus by revealing that the planets’ speeds actually varied, and their orbits were elliptical rather than circular. Kepler’s laws of planetary motion were also foundational for Isaac Newton’s theory of universal gravitation. (1618)

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