Oct. 28, 1999
Homage to the Word-Hoard
Poem: "Homage to the Word-Hoard" by Joseph Stroud from Below Cold Mountain published by Copper Canyon Press.
Today is the feast day of Saint Jude, patron saint of hopeless causes.
On this day in 1919, over the veto of President Woodrow Wilson, the Senate followed the House of Representatives and passed the Volstead Act, commencing the ‘great experiement' of Prohibition.
It's the birthday of medical researcher Jonas Salk, born in New York City (1914)who discovered the Salk Vaccine against polio. In the early 1950s there were 25,000 cases of paralytic polio every year in the United States, but within a few years of mass inoculations, which began in 1955, the annual number of cases dropped to a dozen. In 1969 not a single polio death was reported in America; the disease has been nearly wiped out worldwide.
It's the birthday of British epidemiologist [eh-pih-DEE-mee-OLL-uh-jist] Sir Richard Doll, born in Hampton, England (1912)the first scientist to show the link between cigarette-smoking and lung cancer. He showed that cigarette smoke, like tar and soot, contains the carcinogen benzoapyrene [ben-zoh-uh-PIE-reen]. Later he studied the connection between radiation and cancer, and the side effects of contraceptive pills.
It's the birthday of sardonic novelist Evelyn (Arthur St. John) Waugh, born in London (1903). At Oxford he led what he later called "an idle dissolute and extravagant life," much like his character Sebastian Marchmain in Brideshead Revisited (1945). For a while he studied art, then failed as a schoolmaster, then dedicated himself to travel and to writing short, trenchant novels that skewered the British aristocracy, lamented the passing of a more spiritual age, and have such titles as Vile Bodies (1930), Black Mischief (1932), and Scoop (1938). His most mordantly brilliant novel is The Loved One (1948), a satire on California morticians. He also wrote travel books, biographies, and a memoir called A Little Learning (1964), published two years before his death.
On this day in 1886, the Statue of Liberty was unveiled in New York Harbor, a gift from the French people, who wished to pay homage to the United Statesthe first modern republicon its 100th anniversary.
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