Jan. 25, 2000

The Banks o' Doon

by Robert Burns

Broadcast Date: TUESDAY: January 25, 2000

Poem: "The Banks o’ Doon" by Robert Burns from the Oxford Book of English Verse published by Oxford University Press.

On this day in 1961, five days after being inaugurated the 35th President of the United States, John F. Kennedy held the first televised presidential press conference, broadcast live from the White House. He answered 31 questions in 38 minutes.

In 1959 on this date, an American Airlines Boeing 707 jet made the first scheduled transcontinental flight in the United States, flying nonstop from Los Angeles to New York.

It’s the birthday of novelist Gloria Naylor, born in New York City (1950). After graduating from Brooklyn College, she earned a Masters from Yale in 1983. By her early thirties, she had already published her first novel, The Women of Brewster Place (1982), which sprang from her wish to show the diversity of the black experience beyond what black or white critics had come to demand.

It’s the birthday of Virginia Woolf (Adeline Virginia Stephen) born in London (1882)—a major voice of ‘Modernism.’ After two fairly conventional novels, she began experimenting with time—first as a series of moments, then a flow of years, then a flow of centuries. Mrs. Dalloway (1925) and To the Lighthouse (1927) influenced many other novelists with their impressionistic style and stream-of-consciousness technique. As leaders of the Bloomsbury Group, she and her husband, Leonard Woolf, founded the Hogarth Press—partly as therapy for attacks of acute mental stress. She battled decades of depression before drowning herself, at 49, in the River Ouse, near her Sussex home in Rodmell, shortly after completing her novel Between the Acts (1941).

It’s the birthday of poet Robert Burns, born in Alloway, Scotland (1759)—the oldest of seven children. Called the ‘ploughman poet’ for his rustic origins and lack of schooling, in his 37 years Burns managed a fierce amount of both work and carousing.

It’s the birthday of physicist, chemist, and philosopher Rober t Boyle, born in Lismore, County Waterford, Ireland (1627)—who gave us ‘Boyle’s Law,’ stating that the volume of a gas varies inversely with pressure. He was one of the first to attack Aristotle’s theory of all matter being made up of four elements—earth, air, fire, and water—proposing, instead, a scheme of motion and organization of primary particles, which, by joining in different ways, produced what he called ‘corpuscles.’

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