Saturday

Jun. 13, 1998

Photograph of My Mother as a Young Girl

by Dana Gioia

SATURDAY 6/13

Today's Reading: "Photograph of My Mother as a Young Girl" by Dana Gioia from DAILY HOROSCOPE, published by Graywolf Press (1986).

It's the FEAST DAY OF ST. ANTHONY OF PADUA, the patron of the illiterate and the poor.

It's the birthday in Montrouge, 1926, of the French geneticist JEROME LEJEUNE who when he was 33 years old discovered the abnormality behind Down syndrome. In 1956 scientists found that humans have 46 chromosomes in 23 pairs. Three years later Lejeune uncovered the abnormality on the 21st pair, specifically the presence of a third chromosome where there should only be two.

It's the birthday in San Francisco, 1911, of the physicist LUIS ALVAREZ, who won the 1968 Nobel Prize for discovering several subatomic particles. Alvarez was a kind of Renaissance man of science: during WWII he was a part of the Los Alamos team that built the first atomic bomb, and he flew in the squadron that dropped it on Hiroshima; he also built a hand-held radar device that allowed planes to land in fog; he dabbled in geology and was an early proponent of the theory that an asteroid-hit millions of years ago clouded Earth's skies and starved out the dinosaurs; and he developed something called the "liquid hydrogen bubble chamber" in which he discovered new subatomic particles.

The BOXER REBELLION began on this day in China, 1900 — the Chinese effort to drive foreigners out of their country. Several European countries in the 19th century began claiming exclusive trading rights with individual Chinese provinces, some even going so far as to lay claim to the province itself. The Chinese were fed up, and in 1899 a group known as the "Fists of Righteous Harmony" was formed, dedicated to ousting foreigners. Westerners called them "Boxers" because they practiced martial arts — which Boxers believed made them impervious to Western bullets. On June 13, 1900 they attacked Beijing where most of the foreign diplomats and businessmen lived, a few days later the Chinese Empress ordered all foreigners killed, but by August an international army arrived and put the Boxer Rebellion down, and in 1901 a treaty was signed.

Crime novelist DOROTHY L. SAYERS, creator of the dashing detective Lord Peter Wimsey and his servant Bunter, was born in Oxford, England, on this day, 1893. Sayers went to school in her hometown, specializing in medieval literature; and called herself "a scholar gone wrong" when she came out in 1923 with her first Lord Wimsey novel, Whose Body? She followed that up with one or two mysteries a year for the next 15 years, titles like The Unpleasantness of the Bellona Club, and Gaudy Night.

It's the birthday in Dublin, 1865, of WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS, the Irish poet, playwright, and nationalist. He grew up in London and Dublin and one of his first jobs was as the literary correspondent in London for a couple of American papers. When some of the older, fiery Irish patriots died around the turn of the century, Yeats felt that Irish political life had lost all its force, and that it might regain it through Irish poetry, drama and legends. Most of his greatest writing came after the age of fifty, collections like The Wild Swans at Coole, The Tower, and The Winding Stair.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









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