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The September Almanac

Arts & Letters

This month the UCLA Center for Communication Policy will release the first of three annual reports on violence in television entertainment programming. The reports were commissioned by the major networks, at a total cost of $1.5 million, in response to congressional pressure; as a result of their sponsorship, the networks will, presumably, be unable to distance themselves from any thorny conclusions or recommendations. Instead of simply counting the violent acts in a given show or time period--the approach historically taken by media-watchdog groups--the reports will evaluate qualitative issues such as the extent and nature of the violence, the motivation for and consequences of it, and the context and manner in which it is portrayed. Among the genres to be assessed are children's programs, prime-time shows, made-for-television and theatrical movies, PBS programs, home video rentals, and video games.

Health & Safety

September brings the opening of soccer season and a reminder that soccer injuries can be more serious than simply a kick on the shin. The chief cause of fatal injuries: falling goalposts, which have killed at least 21 people in the United States since 1979. Most of the accidents have involved unanchored homemade goals, including ones assembled by high school shop classes and community businesses; they have prompted the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to issue new guidelines for the design, use, storage, and setup of movable goals. September 1, a new Federal Aviation Administration rule establishing minimum combined experience levels for two pilots flying together takes effect. At least one crew member must have 75 or more hours of experience flying the type of plane at hand. In addition, if one pilot has fewer than 100 hours of flight time in that type of plane, the senior pilot must make all takeoffs and landings in hazardous weather and at particularly hazardous airports.

Environment

September 1, the largest wind-power plant in the United States outside California goes into operation today. The 35-megawatt Windplant, in Culberson County, Texas, is expected to provide 120,000 megawatt-hours annually to the Lower Colorado River Authority and the city of Austin --enough to power 19 Fenway Parks for a season. Most of the nation's approximately 16,000 wind turbines are in California, but in at least 14 other states across the country wind-power plants are now in operation, under construction, or planned. Recent technological advances have made the costs of operating wind farms comparable to those of running conventional fossil-fuel plants, and the industry predicts that the cost of wind power will continue to drop. This year the federal government allocated nearly $50 million to research and development on wind energy--an increase of 63 percent over 1994.

Government

September 1, a Texas ban on the "canned hunting" of exotic animals--in which hunters kill a caged or just-released animal--takes effect today. Texas is the center of this activity, which generally involves animals of breeds native to Africa and Asia but born and raised on Texas ranches or bought, usually indirectly, from zoos. Outfitters sell the opportunity to "hunt" these animals for as much as $10,000 each. 29, starting today the Riegle-Neal Interstate Banking and Branching Efficiency Act takes effect, allowing any adequately capitalized and managed bank holding company to acquire banks in other states. Ultimately the law will also allow banks to establish interstate branches. Proponents of the act cite the potential convenience for consumers who work or travel across state lines; they also argue that the act could help to forestall a repeat of the bank failures of the 1980s, if enough banks expand geographically and diversify their risks.

Food

September 14, starting today the term "ice cream" takes on new meaning, as revisions to the Food and Drug Administration's definition of it go into effect. Ice milk will now be labeled "reduced-fat," "low-fat," or "nonfat" ice cream; in addition, ice cream sweetened with anything other than nutritive carbohydrate sweeteners (honey, sugar, corn syrup, and the like) must include the sweetener in its name. The latter requirement will be in force for only three years, after which time consumers will presumably be savvy enough to check the ingredients list for artificial sweeteners. It applies to all types of ice cream, giving rise to complaints about pending "label litter": shoppers might well be confronted with "Reduced-fat goat-milk ice cream sweetened with NutraSweet and saccharin."

The Skies

September 1-2, just at midnight EDT the Moon passes near Jupiter overhead. 8-9, Full Moon, also known this month as the Fruit or Dying Grass Moon. Because this year it is slightly closer to the Autumnal Equinox than October's full Moon, it can also be called the Harvest Moon. 20, Jupiter lies north of Antares, the bright red star at the heart of the constellation Scorpius. 23, at 8:14 A.M. EDT, the Autumnal Equinox: summer ends.

75 Years Ago

Louis Bartlett, writing in the September, 1920, issue of The Atlantic Monthly: "It is being seen more and more clearly that the community as a whole is interested in the welfare of each individual, and that, as the condition of one class improves, the condition of the entire community is bettered. We have not gone very far along this road, but the dependence of all upon each is being more clearly recognized each day. We see that causes operating injuriously to one class will presently affect all. The world is in the situation of the man who, when his wife had indigestion, took a pill, on the sound theory that, having eaten the same thing, he would have the indigestion sooner or later."






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