A date which will live in infamy

Published 11:39 pm Tuesday, November 30, 2010

“Work spares us from three evils: boredom, vice and need.”

— Voltaire

If you can remember the day, then you are probably one of the few people who can.

It was that boring.

A Cambridge, England computer programmer collected more than 300 million newsworthy facts about people, places and events since 1900. Using that information and a program called True Knowledge, a computer calculated that April 11, 1954 is the most boring day, meaning that no significant events took place on that day.

OK, there were a few: a Belgium election took place, a Turkish academic was born and a footballer (probably a soccer player, considering this was a British study) died. But those were not enough for April 11, 1954 to be less boring than the other 110 years’ worth of days.

It was so boring, according to a report by MSNBC.com, that the next day’s New York Times front page’s headlines screamed old news: “Palm Sunday throngs feel pre-Easter tinge of spring;” “Anti-semitism found in Germany; Survey hails efforts to combat it;” and “World’s religions survive stresses of clashing ideas.”

A “Most Exciting Day Ever” report was apparently not produced by the True Knowledge program.

I have no idea why someone would take the time to develop this program, which makes an identification based on a calculation of algorithms. But you know someone paid that guy to do it, and no useful knowledge will come of it.

It is interesting that although that date was determined by a computer to be the most boring day since 1900, it means nothing to people who were living during that day.

How can one determine how one day is more boring than another? Does one factor in weather or crime or death? The number of births or the number of car accidents? How many people went to school or work or drove somewhere or bought something?

If we each chose our own most boring day, that would be pretty difficult because boring days are, of course, forgettable.

The word “boring” is one that was considered almost a curse word in my house growing up if used in the context that you yourself were bored. My parents believe that being bored means a person has no imagination or ambition, traits they consider valuable and essential to a person’s character. Places, people or events could be boring — but as a person, you should never be bored.

I do not know if this theory is used by parents much anymore or not. My parents were admittedly “old-school” with their parenting methods, but I do believe that boredom is a feeling expressed too often among all ages of people. Significant feelings of boredom — with work, parenting, marriages or life in general — are major problems. Not having anything to do on a Saturday is not really a problem.

One of my goals for next year (I don’t like the term “resolution”) is to tackle things I used to like to do or want to do — not because I am bored but because my job dictates so much of what I do with my time and I would like to reclaim some of  my interests.

So here’s to less boredom for everyone for the remainder of this decade and for the new year.

Katie Rohman is the managing editor of the Niles Daily Star, Off the Water, Cassopolis Vigilant and Edwardsburg Argus. She can be reached at (269) 687-7713 or at katie.rohman@leaderpub.com.