10 Things We’re Supposed to Remember

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1. …the Alamo

A quick refresher on the basics of the Battle of the Alamo: fought from February 23-March 6, 1836, between Mexico and the Republic of Texas as a part of the Texas Revolution of 1835-1836. The first 12 days were a siege by Mexican General Santa Anna and his troops of the Alamo Mission and its small contingent of Texans including the commanders, William Travis and James Bowie and the “King of the Wild Frontier” himself, Davy Crockett. The siege came to a swift conclusion on the 13th day, March 6, with an all-out assault that killed most of the Texan soldiers. Commander Travis is said to have been the first killed, by a single gunshot wound to the forehead.

The phrase “Remember the Alamo,” then, was used as a rallying cry (often attributed to General Sam Houston) throughout the rest of the revolution and referring to the cruelty exhibited by Santa Anna. General Santa Anna had purportedly even executed those who had surrendered in the battle and burned the bodies of the Texans, including Travis, Bowie, and Crockett. As far as pep talks go, this one appears to have been quite successful. The Texans earned a quick and decisive victory over the Mexicans at San Jacinto on April 21 and Santa Anna was forced to sign a treaty giving Texas their independence the following day.

2. …the first of Octember

Please Try to Remember the First of Octember is a 1977 children’s book written by Theodore Geisel under the pen name Theo. LeSieg (Geisel, spelled backwards). You may recognize Mr. Geisel by his more well-known pseudonym, Dr. Seuss. In addition to all of his Seussian goodness, Geisel wrote, but did not illustrate, 13 books released under the LeSieg pen name and 1 under the name Rosetta Stone. So, if you want to have the complete Seuss canon in your library, you might have some shopping to do.

According to this particular Geisel book, one of the things that will occur on the first of Octember: “…you’ll stay up all night, drinking 66 six-packs of Doodle Delight.” And to think Geisel’s first children’s book, To Think That I Saw it on Mulberry Street, was turned down by 27 publishers.

3. …the Time

“Remember the Time” was a 1992 Michael Jackson single from Dangerous. Perhaps more notable than the song itself, which peaked at number three on the Billboard charts, is the randomly star-studded music video directed by John Singleton (of Boyz n the Hood, Higher Learning, and 2 Fast 2 Furious fame). The “short film” stars Eddie Murphy, Magic Johnson and Iman (the Somali-American model who is married to David Bowie) and features Jackson’s first on-screen kiss (with Mrs. Bowie).

4. …the Titans

Remember the Titans is a 2000 football movie from Disney Studios and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer. The movie stars Denzel Washington, so you can be assured of good acting, and it has one of those choreographed football pre-game, on-field team motivational dance scenes that are just all-too-rare in American cinema.

The real story of T.C. Williams High School is pretty cool to remember too, lack of choreography aside. The consolidation of three Alexandria, Virginia, public high schools into one and the resulting formation of an essential all-star football squad consisting of the best from each of the three schools.

Though dramatized for the purposes of the movie, there were certainly racial implications of the school consolidation. Even though integration had technically occurred years prior, the previous three schools had still been racially imbalanced prior to consolidation. Of course, there was some embellishment here-and-there for the purposes of the movie, in most cases to heighten the intensity of the situation’s racial tensions. One thing that was made slightly more mild, however, was the incident in which a brick was thrown through the window of African-American Coach Boone’s family home.

“There wasn’t a brick thrown through my window,” the coach explains during the DVD commentary, “it was something far more devastating to any human being than a brick could be. I guess Disney, being the family movie production company that it is, felt that to depict a toilet stool coming through your window was a bit much ... I've never gotten over that incident that particular night, because I could never understand how anybody could feel so bad about another human being as to throw a toilet commode through a window.”

5. …the Maine

The USS Maine was a U.S. Navy battleship that was stationed in Havana, Cuba during the Cuban revolt against Spain in the late 19th Century for the purpose of protecting U.S. interests there. On February 15, 1898, the Maine exploded in Havana Harbor and 261 sailors lost their lives. Just a couple months later, President William McKinley asked congress for permission to use force in Cuba and the U.S. was catapulted into the Spanish-American war, in part because of media and public pressure (thanks, Hearst and Pulitzer) for a U.S. reaction to the Maine incident.

Much like “Remember the Alamo” became a rallying cry for the Texas Revolution, the more emphatic and, indeed, poetic “Remember the Maine, to hell with Spain!” became a similar cry during the Spanish-American War. Rally cries are always pretty fun, but the problem with this particular motivational rhyme is that there is, to this day, no conclusive evidence that the Maine disaster was the result of a Spanish attack. Alternate theories include that the explosion was the result of an accidental fire in one of the ship’s coal bunkers, that she was destroyed by a naval mine, and even that the United States was responsible for the ship’s sinking as a means to fuel public support for a war against Spain.

6. …Baker

OK—Remember Baker was a guy. I had never heard of him before, but maybe we just ought to remember him, after all. Aside from having a very memorable first name, he was Ethan Allen’s first cousin and a member of Allen’s Green Mountain Boys militia who, in the decade prior to the Revolutionary War, were crucial in resisting New York’s attempts to control the territory that is now Vermont.

But the Boys’ most remembered accomplishments occurred during the early part of the Revolutionary War when Ethan Allen, captured some strategically important military posts in New York, most notably Fort Ticonderoga in 1775. Remember was there.

A disturbing thing to remember about Remember is that, after leaving Ticonderoga on a scouting mission, he was shot and killed by Native Americans, who then cut off his head and stuck it right on a pole.

7. ...How You Got Where You Are

"Remember How You Got Where You Are" is the subtitle of the 1971 Temptations single "Superstar." Lyrics like, “No, you didn’t make it by yourself; You had help from somebody else” and “Remember beneath the glitter and gleam, like everyday people, you’re just a human being” were some verbal slaps from the Temptations to former band members David Ruffin and Eddie Kendricks, who had left the band in 1968 and 1971, respectively. Kendricks and Ruffin had been vocal about their negative feelings toward their former band mates in several 1971 interviews and the song served as a melodious means for the remaining and replacement Temptations to call out their old pals as sell outs. Some view the song as an early ancestor of today’s “diss tracks” that are sometimes released by artists as a part of musical rivalries most famously, perhaps, in the battle between East and West Coast rappers.

Apparently, people liked the way the superciliousness sounded – "Superstar" peaked at #18 on the Billboard charts. As the ultimate in-your-face comeback, David Ruffin recorded a cover of the song four years later. Also, incidentally, the Temptations version is featured on the soundtrack of the aforementioned movie, Remember the Titans.

8. ...the fifth of November

The fifth of November is to be remembered as Guy Fawkes Day in England and commemorates the day Mr. Fawkes was arrested while guarding 36 kegs of gunpowder that he and his Gunpowder Plot co-conspirators had placed below the House of Lords for the commencement of the Parliamentary session. They had high hopes of blowing up the Lords sending them a’leaping along with King James I, who they resented for not following through on a promise to relax England’s strict laws against Catholics.

Although Richard Catesby was the real mastermind behind the plot, Guy Fawkes’ is the name that most people remember. Either way, they were both killed for their role in the treasonous plot, Catesby by gunshot wound in a gunfight with the Sheriff of Worcester who was hunting down the conspirators and Fawkes by a good ol’ fashioned hanging, drawing and quartering. It is really a pretty interesting piece of history and, as the rhyme says, “…I see no reason why gunpowder treason should ever be forgot.” So, c’mon, join in the fun, light up those bonfires, chase each other through the streets with flaming barrels of tar, and set those Guy Fawkes effigies ablaze!

9. …me to Herald Square

“Remember me to Herald Square” is a lyric from George M. Cohan’s song “Give My Regards to Broadway.” The song is from Cohan’s first full-length musical Little Johnny Jones, which is based on the true story of American jockey Tod Sloan. Sloan went to England in 1903 to ride in the English Derby. The song is sung by the title character to a friend returning to America while Jones remains in England to clear his name in a scandal that erupts around the Derby. While the musical is extremely patriotic (it also features the song "Yankee Doodle Boy"), Cohan’s patriotism was even more apparent in real life. He was the first artist to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, which he was given by FDR for his contributions to the nation’s cause in World War I, primarily for the songs "Over There" and "You’re a Grand Old Flag."

As of 1959, you no longer have to give Cohan’s regards to Broadway—an 8-foot bronze statue of Cohan stands at Broadway and 46th Street and that seems to take care of all of the requisite regard-giving. But you really still ought to remember him to Herald Square (which is at the intersection of Broadway and Sixth).

Also remember this: potentially the only thing cooler than George M. Cohan is James Cagney as George M. Cohan. In the movie Yankee Doodle Dandy, the classic actor typically known for his gangster roles, played the song and dance man to audience acclaim, superlative reviews, and the approval of the Academy who awarded him the 1942 Oscar.

10. ...Two Things

Remember Two Things is the name of Dave Matthew’s Band 1993 self-released album (reissued by RCA in 1997 when more people started jumping on the DMB bandwagon) that included three of their first major hits: "Ants Marching," "Tripping Billies," and "Satellite."

The cover of the album is one of those magic eye thingies that is supposed to show a person’s hand giving the peace sign. Unfortunately, and verrrrrry frustratingly, I cannot confirm this for you and never ever will be able to do so. Ever.

So, what are the two things that one is supposed to remember? Two theories out there: one is that it is referring to the two fingers on the alleged hand giving the peace sign on the album cover. The other is that the two things are to “love your mother” and to “leave only your footprints.”

Live Smarter
Nervous About Asking for a Job Referral? LinkedIn Can Now Do It for You

For most people, asking for a job referral can be daunting. What if the person being approached shoots you down? What if you ask the "wrong" way? LinkedIn, which has been aggressively establishing itself as a catch-all hub for employment opportunities, has a solution, as Mashable reports.

The company recently launched "Ask for a Referral," an option that will appear to those browsing job listings. When you click on a job listed by a business that also employs one of your LinkedIn first-degree connections, you'll have the opportunity to solicit a referral from that individual.

The default message that LinkedIn creates is somewhat generic, but it hits the main topics—namely, prompting you to explain how you and your connection know one another and why you'd be a good fit for the position. If you're the one being asked for a referral, the site will direct you to the job posting and offer three prompts for a response, ranging from "Sure…" to "Sorry…".

LinkedIn says the referral option may not be available for all posts or all users, as the feature is still being rolled out. If you do see the option, it will likely pay to take advantage of it: LinkedIn reports that recruiters who receive both a referral and a job application from a prospective hire are four times more likely to contact that individual.

[h/t Mashable]

Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Essential Science
What Is a Scientific Theory?
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images

In casual conversation, people often use the word theory to mean "hunch" or "guess": If you see the same man riding the northbound bus every morning, you might theorize that he has a job in the north end of the city; if you forget to put the bread in the breadbox and discover chunks have been taken out of it the next morning, you might theorize that you have mice in your kitchen.

In science, a theory is a stronger assertion. Typically, it's a claim about the relationship between various facts; a way of providing a concise explanation for what's been observed. The American Museum of Natural History puts it this way: "A theory is a well-substantiated explanation of an aspect of the natural world that can incorporate laws, hypotheses and facts."

For example, Newton's theory of gravity—also known as his law of universal gravitation—says that every object, anywhere in the universe, responds to the force of gravity in the same way. Observational data from the Moon's motion around the Earth, the motion of Jupiter's moons around Jupiter, and the downward fall of a dropped hammer are all consistent with Newton's theory. So Newton's theory provides a concise way of summarizing what we know about the motion of these objects—indeed, of any object responding to the force of gravity.

A scientific theory "organizes experience," James Robert Brown, a philosopher of science at the University of Toronto, tells Mental Floss. "It puts it into some kind of systematic form."


A theory's ability to account for already known facts lays a solid foundation for its acceptance. Let's take a closer look at Newton's theory of gravity as an example.

In the late 17th century, the planets were known to move in elliptical orbits around the Sun, but no one had a clear idea of why the orbits had to be shaped like ellipses. Similarly, the movement of falling objects had been well understood since the work of Galileo a half-century earlier; the Italian scientist had worked out a mathematical formula that describes how the speed of a falling object increases over time. Newton's great breakthrough was to tie all of this together. According to legend, his moment of insight came as he gazed upon a falling apple in his native Lincolnshire.

In Newton's theory, every object is attracted to every other object with a force that’s proportional to the masses of the objects, but inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them. This is known as an “inverse square” law. For example, if the distance between the Sun and the Earth were doubled, the gravitational attraction between the Earth and the Sun would be cut to one-quarter of its current strength. Newton, using his theories and a bit of calculus, was able to show that the gravitational force between the Sun and the planets as they move through space meant that orbits had to be elliptical.

Newton's theory is powerful because it explains so much: the falling apple, the motion of the Moon around the Earth, and the motion of all of the planets—and even comets—around the Sun. All of it now made sense.


A theory gains even more support if it predicts new, observable phenomena. The English astronomer Edmond Halley used Newton's theory of gravity to calculate the orbit of the comet that now bears his name. Taking into account the gravitational pull of the Sun, Jupiter, and Saturn, in 1705, he predicted that the comet, which had last been seen in 1682, would return in 1758. Sure enough, it did, reappearing in December of that year. (Unfortunately, Halley didn't live to see it; he died in 1742.) The predicted return of Halley's Comet, Brown says, was "a spectacular triumph" of Newton's theory.

In the early 20th century, Newton's theory of gravity would itself be superseded—as physicists put it—by Einstein's, known as general relativity. (Where Newton envisioned gravity as a force acting between objects, Einstein described gravity as the result of a curving or warping of space itself.) General relativity was able to explain certain phenomena that Newton's theory couldn't account for, such as an anomaly in the orbit of Mercury, which slowly rotates—the technical term for this is "precession"—so that while each loop the planet takes around the Sun is an ellipse, over the years Mercury traces out a spiral path similar to one you may have made as a kid on a Spirograph.

Significantly, Einstein’s theory also made predictions that differed from Newton's. One was the idea that gravity can bend starlight, which was spectacularly confirmed during a solar eclipse in 1919 (and made Einstein an overnight celebrity). Nearly 100 years later, in 2016, the discovery of gravitational waves confirmed yet another prediction. In the century between, at least eight predictions of Einstein's theory have been confirmed.


And yet physicists believe that Einstein's theory will one day give way to a new, more complete theory. It already seems to conflict with quantum mechanics, the theory that provides our best description of the subatomic world. The way the two theories describe the world is very different. General relativity describes the universe as containing particles with definite positions and speeds, moving about in response to gravitational fields that permeate all of space. Quantum mechanics, in contrast, yields only the probability that each particle will be found in some particular location at some particular time.

What would a "unified theory of physics"—one that combines quantum mechanics and Einstein's theory of gravity—look like? Presumably it would combine the explanatory power of both theories, allowing scientists to make sense of both the very large and the very small in the universe.


Let's shift from physics to biology for a moment. It is precisely because of its vast explanatory power that biologists hold Darwin's theory of evolution—which allows scientists to make sense of data from genetics, physiology, biochemistry, paleontology, biogeography, and many other fields—in such high esteem. As the biologist Theodosius Dobzhansky put it in an influential essay in 1973, "Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution."

Interestingly, the word evolution can be used to refer to both a theory and a fact—something Darwin himself realized. "Darwin, when he was talking about evolution, distinguished between the fact of evolution and the theory of evolution," Brown says. "The fact of evolution was that species had, in fact, evolved [i.e. changed over time]—and he had all sorts of evidence for this. The theory of evolution is an attempt to explain this evolutionary process." The explanation that Darwin eventually came up with was the idea of natural selection—roughly, the idea that an organism's offspring will vary, and that those offspring with more favorable traits will be more likely to survive, thus passing those traits on to the next generation.


Many theories are rock-solid: Scientists have just as much confidence in the theories of relativity, quantum mechanics, evolution, plate tectonics, and thermodynamics as they do in the statement that the Earth revolves around the Sun.

Other theories, closer to the cutting-edge of current research, are more tentative, like string theory (the idea that everything in the universe is made up of tiny, vibrating strings or loops of pure energy) or the various multiverse theories (the idea that our entire universe is just one of many). String theory and multiverse theories remain controversial because of the lack of direct experimental evidence for them, and some critics claim that multiverse theories aren't even testable in principle. They argue that there's no conceivable experiment that one could perform that would reveal the existence of these other universes.

Sometimes more than one theory is put forward to explain observations of natural phenomena; these theories might be said to "compete," with scientists judging which one provides the best explanation for the observations.

"That's how it should ideally work," Brown says. "You put forward your theory, I put forward my theory; we accumulate a lot of evidence. Eventually, one of our theories might prove to obviously be better than the other, over some period of time. At that point, the losing theory sort of falls away. And the winning theory will probably fight battles in the future."


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