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Title text: June 21st, 365, the date of the big Mediterranean earthquake and tsunami, lived in infamy for a few centuries before fading. Maybe the trick is a catchy rhyme; the '5th of November' thing is still going strong over 400 years later.
The United States Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was attacked in 1941, and is credited with starting the United States' involvement in World War II. The then US president, Franklin D. Roosevelt (FDR), issued a speech to the American people which begins with the line "Yesterday, December 7th, 1941, a date which will live in infamy...". Whenever Randall writes "December" he feels compelled to complete the line, a mistake which is visible in this comic.
This may be a parody of a more common type of error in which people writing dates during January (particularly early in the month) accidentally write the previous year instead of the current one because the previous year number is an established pattern while the new one is a recent change.
The title text further confuses the date of the northern hemisphere summer solstice (June 21st) with the date of the 365 Crete earthquake that happened on July 21st 365AD. The earthquake had a magnitude of at least 8.0 which caused widespread destruction across the Eastern Mediterranean. Then it further confuses Guy Fawkes Night, the anniversary of the famous failed attempt to bomb Parliament on the night of November 5th, 1605. The latter event is immortalized in the rhyme "remember remember, the fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason, and plot", the former event less so.
Randall also may be suggesting that Roosevelt implied the degree of "infamy" of an event can be measured by how long its date is remembered. Pearl Harbor resulted in 2,458 deaths and obviously extensive damage to a military base and fleet. It has been remembered 77 years, thus far. The earth quake of 346AD resulted in an estimated 230,000 killed and numerous cities severely damaged or destroyed. Randall states it was remembered for a few centuries. The Gunpowder Plot resulted in the death of a couple of conspirators and no notable damage. It has been remembered, at least in song, for "over 400 years".
- [Close-up of a form. Each field has a label (the first is assumed) and a handwritten entry. The name and country are each half visible. The numeral "4" has been only partially written before being scratched out.]
- Randall Munroe
7, 194 12, 2018
- United States
- [Caption below the frame:]
- FDR was so good at speeches that I spend a whole month each year writing the date wrong.
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