Jul. 30, 1998

Dog's Death

by John Updike


Today's Reading: "Dog's Death" by John Updike from COLLECTED POEMS OF JOHN UPDIKE, published by Alfred A. Knopf.

It was on this day in 1935 that Penguin published its first POCKET BOOK, starting the mass-production of paperbacks. The book was a biography on the poet Percy Bysshe Shelly, titled Ariel, and the idea was that the book should be produced at a price to suit all pockets.

It's the birthday in Durham, England, 1909, of author, historian and journalist, C. NORTHCOTE PARKINSON, best known for his book Parkinson's Law, where he stated that work expands to fill the time available for its completion. He based the idea on his experiences as an Air Force worker in WWII, and said, "I observed somewhat to my surprise that work which could be done by one man in peacetime, was being given to about six in wartime. I think this was mainly because there wasn't the same opportunity for other people to criticize. You could always reply, 'Don't you know there's a war on?'" He also argued that administrators and executives exist mainly to make work for each other.

It's the birthday of the English sculptor HENRY MOORE, born 100 years ago today in the coal-mining town of Castleford, Yorkshire. Moore worked in stone, concrete and wood, but is best known for his large bronzes, most of them in human-like forms, often reclining.

HENRY FORD, the man who brought out the Model T car and developed the assembly line production system to make one every 90 seconds, was born on this day in Dearborn Township, Michigan, 1863. The Model T, available only in black, rolled off the line in 1908, and nearly 16 million Americans over the next 20 years snapped them up.

It's the birthday in 1857, on a farm in Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, of the economist and sociologist THORSTEIN VEBLEN (TOR-stin VAY-blen). He was one of nine children born to Norwegian immigrant parents, who moved the family to a Minnesota farm where Veblen grew up. The boy only learned to speak English at school, and throughout his life had a fairly heavy Norwegian accent. He taught economics at the University of Chicago and wrote his two best-known books, The Theory of the Business Enterprise (1904) and The Theory of the Leisure Class (1899).

The English novelist EMILY BRONTE, author of Wuthering Heights, was born on this day in 1818, in Yorkshire. She died of tuberculosis when she was only 30 years old, and historians haven't been able to place exactly when she wrote the book; but the story of Heathcliff and his love, Cathy Earnshaw, was Bronte's only novel and became one of England's best-sellers in the 19th century. Wuthering Heights was written under the name Ellis Bell and published in 1847.

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