Apr. 1, 2012
A whole new freshman class
of leaves has arrived
on the dark twisted branches
we call our woods, turning
green now—color of
anticipation. In my 76th year,
I know what time and weather
will do to every leaf.
But the camellia swells
to ivory at the window,
and the bleeding heart bleeds
Today is April Fools' Day, the day for pranks and hoaxes. One such famous April Fools' Day hoax was the so-called "Jupiter Effect" of 1976. During an interview on BBC Radio 2, British astronomer Patrick Moore announced that a very rare planetary event was about to take place—that Jupiter and Pluto would soon align in relation to Earth, and their combined gravitational pull would momentarily override Earth's own gravity and make people weigh less. He called it the Jovian-Plutonian Gravitational Effect, and said that if people jumped in the air at exactly 9:47 a.m., they would experience a floating sensation. Moore signaled, "Jump now!" over the airwaves, and within minutes the BBC switchboard was flooded with calls from people who claimed it had worked.
It's the birthday of Francine Prose (books by this author), born in Brooklyn, New York (1947). She's the author of Judah the Pious (1973), Hungry Hearts (1983), and Bigfoot Dreams (1987). She recently published a book of nonfiction, called Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife (2009).
Her most recent book, a novel, is My New American Life (2011). It's about a young Albanian immigrant named Lula, who's working as a nanny in New Jersey and trying to get her green card. She told the Paris Review that she is never going to write another nonfiction book as long as she lives, because you have to put in a bibliography. "I am working on a novel now that began as nonfiction," she said. "It takes place in France between 1924 and 1944, and a French person said to me, 'You know you are going to have to spend years in the Bibliothèque Nationale checking all the facts?' And I thought, 'No I'm not.' I decided to do it as a novel."
Apple was founded on this date in 1976. The company was formed by Steve Jobs, his friend Steve Wozniak, and a man named Ronald Wayne, who had worked with Jobs at Atari. The partners planned to produce and sell Apple personal computer kits, hand-assembled by Wozniak. They weren't personal computers as we think of them today, but were rather just motherboards.
The company was incorporated the following January, but this time without Wayne; he had lost his nerve after a couple of weeks, and sold his 10 percent share back to Jobs and Wozniak for a little over $2,000. Had he held onto it, that share would be worth around $22 billion USD today.
Wayne said later that he did not regret selling the stock—he said, "I made the best decision with the information available to me at the time." He went into the stamp and rare coin business, and didn't own an Apple computer until last year when he was given an iPad 2.
Today is the birthday of political commentator Rachel Maddow (books by this author). She was born in California's Castro Valley (1973), not far from San Francisco. She was the first openly gay American to be chosen a Rhodes scholar, and she went on to become the first openly gay American news anchor. When The Rachel Maddow Show, which she hosts on the cable news channel MSNBC, debuted in 2008, it was the network's most successful launch ever.
"I do worry if being a pundit is a worthwhile thing to be," she told New York Magazine in 2008. "Yeah, I'm the unlikely cable news host. But before that, I was the unlikely Rhodes scholar. And before that, I was the unlikely kid who got into Stanford. And then I was the unlikely lifeguard. You can always cast yourself as unlikely when you're fundamentally alienated in your worldview. It's a healthy approach for a commentator."
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®