The Almanac

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The June Almanac


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Food

The price of imported pasta is likely to rise this month, as the U.S. Commerce Department designates and enacts final tariffs on Italian and Turkish pasta. The action comes in response to complaints from domestic manufacturers, who allege that much of the dry pasta imported from Italy and Turkey is subsidized by the governments of those countries and "dumped," or sold below cost, in the United States. The foreign share of the market for pasta has been rising in recent years: in 1994 Italian and Turkish imports accounted for 13 percent of the pasta sold in the United States, up from 9 percent two years before. Some domestic manufacturers have found that the cost of their raw materials alone exceeds the price of the cheapest imported pasta.

Arts & Letters

Conventional ideas about African art will come under scrutiny this month, as New York's Guggenheim Museum hosts the first exhibition ever to survey the art of all of Africa. Africa: The Art of a Continent will run from June 7 to September 29. It will consist of more than 500 items, including sculpture, murals, ceramics, jewelry, and textiles, organized into seven geographically based sections. The exhibit originated last year at the Royal Academy of Arts, in London, where it was hailed as a watershed in the Western treatment of African art but also prompted debate about whether objects designed by African craftsmen for practical use should be considered art or simply handicraft. Curators at the Guggenheim expect that the exhibit will spark discussion about wider issues of African culture and identity; it will be accompanied by showings of African photographs and films at the museum and by citywide symposia on the continent's art, history, and culture.

The Skies

June 1, Full Moon, also known this month as the Rose, Strawberry, or Flower Moon, or, among the Lakota Sioux, the Moon of Making Fat. 4, the waning Moon lies just north of Jupiter, which shines brilliantly in the evening sky all month. 20, at 10:24 P.M. EDT the Summer Solstice occurs. Daylight hours are at a maximum, and summer begins. 30, the second Full Moon of the month --hence a Blue Moon.

Government

June 1, today caller ID --a telephone service that displays the number of the party calling--comes to California, the last state to make it available. Telephone companies had withheld the service from California while lobbying the Federal Communications Commission to reduce privacy protections demanded by the state's Public Utilities Commission. Their efforts met with some success: as in all other states, unlisted numbers will be protected from display only if customers file a request or dial a blocking code before each call. Nearly half of all residential telephone numbers in California--the highest proportion in the country--are unlisted.

Health & Safety

June 1, the largest private organization ever aimed at reducing smoking among children opens its doors today in Washington, D.C. The National Center for Tobacco-Free Kids will serve as an umbrella for more than 90 groups that seek to curb smoking among juveniles. Among other things, it will work for passage of rules recently proposed by the Food and Drug Administration to sharply restrict the marketing and sale of tobacco products to the young. The FDA rules would require retailers to verify that cigarette buyers are at least 18 years old; limit sales to face-to-face contact (eliminating vending machines, for example); ban outdoor advertising within 1,000 feet of schools and playgrounds; restrict the outdoor advertising that remains to black and white, text only; and prohibit the distribution by tobacco companies of promotional items such as caps and T-shirts. Every day some 3,000 children start smoking; it is estimated that a third of them will eventually die of tobacco-related illnesses.

Q&A

Whenever two different metals are separated by a conducting liquid--such as saliva--voltage is created. Because a filling is grounded in a tooth, the current flows into the tooth, stimulating the nerve. The more dissimilar the metals in terms of electrical activity, the more pronounced the effect: those with gold fillings will feel more pain in this situation than those with silver-based fillings, because silver is closer to aluminum than gold is. If the mouth were completely dry, there would be no conducting liquid, and this painful reaction would not occur. The phenomenon of an electrical current stimulating a nerve was first demonstrated (though not fully understood) by the eighteenth-century physician Luigi Galvani, who made frogs twitch by using brass hooks to connect them to an iron railing.

75 Years Ago

Bertrand Russell, writing in the June, 1921, issue of The Atlantic Monthly: "The aesthetic indictment of industrialism is perhaps the least serious. A much more serious feature is the way in which it forces men, women, and children to live a life against instinct, unnatural, unspontaneous, artificial. Where industry is thoroughly developed, men are deprived of the sight of green fields and the smell of earth after rain; they are cooped together in irksome proximity, surrounded by noise and dirt, compelled to spend many hours a day performing some utterly uninteresting and monotonous mechanical task. Women are, for the most part, obliged to work in factories, and to leave to others the care of their children. The children themselves, if they are preserved from work in the factories, are kept at work in school, with an intensity that is especially damaging to the best brains. The result of this life against instinct is that industrial populations tend to be listless and trivial, in constant search of excitement, delighted by a murder, and still more delighted by a war."

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