TECH 5 for April 1, 2014

Good afternoon and welcome to another Tech 5 program and a five minute trip into the amazing world of technology. This is Ben Harrison.

This five minute daily program, Tech 5, by its very name infers technology. Technology is one of those words that that means different things to different folks. Technology can be the latest gizmo that communicates by voice, video or text; takes and sends pictures around the world in mili- seconds. Technology can be the foundation of some of the world’s greatest inventions and so on. We are surrounded by technology; we depend on technology. Each afternoon during the week, we try to present an eclectic view of technology, from the development of high level aerospace technology to low level tech home remedies for the sick, to gourmet recipes for the hungry, to humorous incidents that are rooted in technology, to games and the fun we are able to enjoy because technology by any other name created them. Sometimes we even go off beat entirely and talk about something that has very little to do with technology: Today is one of those days. It is April Fools Day isn’t it?

April Fools’ Day,is one of the most light-hearted days of the year. Its origins are uncertain. Some see it as a celebration related to the turn of the seasons, while others believe it stems from the adoption of a new calendar.

Ancient cultures, including those of the Romans and Hindus, celebrated New Year’s Day on or around April 1. It closely follows the vernal equinox (March 20th or March 21st.) In medieval times, much of Europe celebrated March 25, the Feast of Annunciation, as the beginning of the new year.

In 1582, Pope Gregory XIII ordered a new calendar (the Gregorian Calendar) to replace the old Julian Calendar. The new calendar called for New Year’s Day to be celebrated Jan. 1. That year, France adopted the reformed calendar and shifted New Year’s day to Jan. 1. According to a popular explanation, many people either refused to accept the new date, or did not learn about it, and continued to celebrate New Year’s Day on April 1. Other people began to make fun of these traditionalists, sending them on “fool’s errands” or trying to trick them into believing something false. Eventually, the practice spread throughout Europe.

It should be known that history has no direct historical evidence for this explanation, only conjecture.

Another explanation of the origins of April Fools’ Day was provided by Dr. Joseph Boskin a professor of history at Boston University in the US, who said that the practice began during the reign of Constantine, when a group of court jesters and fools told the Roman emperor that they could do a better job of running the empire. Constantine was amused and allowed a jester named Kugel to be king for one day. Kugel passed an edict calling for absurdity on that day, and the custom became an annual event.

This explanation was brought to the public’s attention in an Associated Press article printed by many newspapers in 1983. There was only one catch: Boskin made the whole thing up. It took a couple of weeks for the Associated Press to realize that they’d been victims of an April Fools’ joke themselves.

It is worth noting that many different cultures have had days of foolishness around the start of April, give or take a couple of weeks. India celebrates Holi, a spring festival in which people play jokes and throw colorful dyes at each other. And in Iran, the holiday of Sizdahbedar, which typically coincides with April 1, is observed by playing pranks.
It’s also been proposed that April Fools’ Day is tied to the vernal equinox, when Mother Nature fools people with unpredictable weather.
April Fools’ Day is observed throughout the Western world. Practices include sending someone on a “fool’s errand,” looking for things that don’t exist; playing pranks; and trying to get people to believe ridiculous things.
The French call April 1 Poisson d’Avril, or “April Fish.” French children sometimes tape a picture of a fish on the back of their schoolmates, crying “Poisson d’Avril” when the prank is discovered. April Fools’ Day celebrates foolishness.

One of the most famous pranks occurred in 1957 when the BBC broadcast a story about the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest.
A fake video showed Swiss farmers picking fresh spaghetti from spaghetti plants and the network was flooded with calls from people interested in purchasing spaghetti plants.

Whatever you do today to celebrate April Fools Day, I hope you had fun thinking up the prank or whatever it was you did, and that the victim of your April Fools humor will forgive you.

Our April Fools prank on you was in presenting a technology message that you were expecting and hopefully looking forward to that had absolutely nothing to do with technology. Happy April Fools Day.