Jan. 18, 2000

Night Sledding

by Dick Allen

Broadcast Date: TUESDAY: January 18, 2000

Poem: "Night Sledding" by Dick Allen from Ode to the Cold War published by Sarabande Books.

It's the birthday of American inventor and audio engineer Ray Dolby, born in Portland, Oregon (1933)—who created the famous Dolby sound system. Also, in 1956, with partner Charles P. Ginsburg, he developed the first practical videotape recorder, which revolutionized broadcasting by replacing most live television programming with recorded footage. Their invention also led to development of the home VHS player and the portable video camera.

It's the birthday of mathematician and writer A(lan) A(lexander) Milne, born in St. John's Wood, London (1882), author of the Winnie-the-Pooh books. He hated hearing the adjective whimsical applied to his writing, even though his reputation came to rest on that.

It's the birthday of poet Ruben Dario [roo-BEN dah-REE-oh]—the pen name of Felix Ruben Garcia Sarmiento—born in Metapa [meh-TAH-pah], Nicaragua (1867).

It's the birthday of English philologist and physician Peter (Mark) Roget [roh-JSHAY], born in West Malvern, Worcestershire, England (1779). After studying medicine in Scotland, he was a practicing doctor in London from 1808 to 1840—and pursued, in his spare time, passions for mathematics and language. He invented a calculating device called the "log-log" slide rule, then developed a system of classifying synonyms—he thought The Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases (1852) would be a good project for easing himself into retirement. He began compiling the huge concordance of synonyms and phrases-with-similar-meanings when he was 60, and didn't finish until he was 72.

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