A Record of Records

When he retired from playing professional hockey in 1999, Wayne Gretzky held (or shared) sixty-one records. Today, twenty years later, he holds (or shares) sixty.

The Soviet Union's Leadership Kept Changing Its Mind on Abortion

The Soviet Union was the first country to have widespread, legalized abortion when the Commissariat of Health legalized abortions in November 1920. In its announcement, the Commissariat noted that the number of abortions occurring each year had continued to grow both in the Soviet Union and in European countries. They added in their decree that “legislation of all countries combats this evil [of abortion] by punishing the woman who chooses to have an abortion and the doctor who makes it” which drove many operations into underground markets where “up to 50 per cent of such woman are infected in the course of operation, and up to 4 per cent of them die.”

The Commissariat wanted the legalization of abortion in the Soviet Union to directly address this problem, stating women who have abortions are “victim[s] of mercenary and often ignorant quacks who make a profession of secret operations” and that the new law was to protect women, not punish them. Doctors were therefore allowed to perform abortions, free of charge, in public hospitals. However, midwives, nurses, and private physicians operating out of private practices were not allowed to perform abortions. This was again becase of the Commissariat's health and safety reasoning.

Stalin reversed the legalization of abortion, except in cases where there was a serious threat to the pregnant woman's health. This was part of his emphasis on the family unit. Then in 1955, the Soviet government lifted the ban on abortion. But they continued to emphasize prevention of abortion, whether legal or illegal, and coupled legalization with a pro-natal campaign and sexual health education. While elective abortions became legal again, the operations were still stigmatized. The state wanted to prevent most abortions, as part of its continued push for strong family units as the center of social stability.

During the silent film era in Japan, movie theaters would have narrators called "benshi." They would provide an introductory mini-lecture on the film's setting, read on-screen titles, and voice all the characters while the film was playing on the screen. Some even provided their own commentary on what was happening, for instance reciting a poem during an emotionally moving visual. Benshi cold be women or men, and were very important for the movie-goers' experience. Of course some were better than others. In fact, particularly good benshi became famous in their own right, and would be advertised on movie posters!

A map of the entire internet, as it was in May 1973. Back then, the World Wide Web was known as the ARPANET, and consisted of just 42 computer hosts connected to 36 nodes spread across the US. Lightning bolts indicate satellite connections. How many of the locations can you recognize? Ames, for instance, was the NASA Ames Research Center.

Russia’s Historical Gender Disparity

You probably know that the Soviet Union was particularly badly hit -- numerically -- by World War II. It lost about 24 million people, compared to the next-highest Germany's 6.6 to 8.8 million dead. This being wartime, many more Soviet men died compared to Soviet women. And did you know that the gender disparity has never corrected? For the past seventy-five years, the Soviet Union and now Russia has always had more women than men. And by a large margin. Today, there are 1,159 women for every 1,000 men in Russia.

The modern Republic of Korea (aka South Korea) has never postponed an election. This includes during the Korean War, and now, covid-19!

The first minimum wage law in the United States was passed under Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1938, setting the wage at 25 cents per hour. That's about $4.45 in 2019 money.

This made me smile, but I could not find much about the photograph. If anyone has information about the date, or these ladies, please get in touch!

Has Your Country Been Led By A Woman?

Has Your Country Been Led By A Woman? The map is for each country’s most modern incarnation, e.g. it does not count the USSR for Russia. ​

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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