The July Almanac
Arts & LettersJuly 4, "Rings: Five Passions in World Art"--an exhibit that forms the cornerstone of the Cultural Olympiad, held in conjunction with this summer's Olympic Games--opens today in Atlanta. It will contain 129 works from around the world, including Rodin's The Kiss and Munch's The Scream, which are related to five emotions common to art and athletics: love, anguish, triumph, awe, and joy. Previous Cultural Olympiads have been plagued by logistical problems and criticized as awkward add-ons; this year, in response, most of the activities (music and dance concerts, for example) will occur within a mile or two of the Olympic Stadium, and visitors can buy packages including tickets for both athletic and cultural events.
Health & SafetyIf past trends hold, nearly 10,000 people will be treated in emergency rooms this month for fireworks-related injuries--80 percent of the year's total. However, several efforts in progress could cut the number in coming years. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is in the midst of the first comprehensive review of fireworks safety in more than 20 years. Last spring it mandated new tests for multiple-tube mine and shell fireworks, which can tip over and fire horizontally, and which caused the two fireworks-related deaths of the past five years. It is reviewing standards for bottle rockets, which account for more than half of all eye injuries from fireworks. Two years ago the American Fireworks Standards Lab began a quality-improvement and testing program in China, which supplies 90 percent of the fireworks used in the United States. And representatives of more than a dozen nations have begun drafting an international standard for fireworks.
FoodJuly 1, after today beef, pork, and frozen foods exported to South Korea will carry expiration dates set by American manufacturers rather than by the South Korean authorities, whose protectionist-motivated conservatism in this matter has long made it impossible for some products to clear customs before "expiring." The change is the result of a settlement mediated by the World Trade Organization last year, after Korean officials confiscated a shipment of American sausages. Beef and pork sales to South Korea--already the third-largest overseas market for U.S. beef--are expected to jump by hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Also this month thousands of tons of surplus onions from the early summer harvest will be fed to sheep. Ranchers have until now feared "onion poisoning," which can cause anemia and death. A recent USDA study, however, indicates that mild onions--which are far cheaper than grain--can safely make up as much as half of a sheep's diet.
EnivronmentJuly 1, some Californians may find buying an electric vehicle more attractive financially after today, when state funds become available for discounts of $5,000 on EVs costing less than $32,000 in the southern portion of the state. The discounts are part of a $25 million two-year program designed to promote alternative-fuel vehicles in California, whose Air Resources Board has mandated that by 2003, ten percent of the passenger vehicles sold in the state must have zero emissions. In addition, California recently approved $1.6 million for the development of EV-charging stations in the Los Angeles area. Massachusetts, New York, and Vermont have also set goals for zero-emission vehicles, and Arizona will offer $2,000 tax credits to those buying EVs, along with license plates that will allow alternative-fuel vehicles to use high-occupancy-vehicle lanes. EVs are a federal priority as well: the Department of Energy is paying roughly half of the EV-development costs incurred by Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors.
The SkiesJuly 4, Jupiter reaches opposition: it is on the opposite side of Earth from the Sun. It lies overhead at midnight tonight, and will be in the sky all night long during most of the month, near the teapot-shaped constellation Sagittarius. 7, the waning Moon passes close to Saturn. 30, Full Moon, also known this month as the Thunder, Hay, or Giant Cactus Moon. This event falls a few hours after perigee (the time of the month when the Moon is closest to Earth), and the combination is expected to produce the highest and lowest tides of the year.
GovernmentJuly 1, clothing imports from Southeast Asia are likely to drop after today, when new U.S. rules for determining a garment's country of origin for quota purposes go into effect. For the past 12 years the country of origin has been considered to be that in which the fabric is cut. It will now be considered to be that in which the garment is assembled--a change that will especially affect imports from Hong Kong, Taiwan, and other countries that send cut fabric to China, where labor is less expensive, for assembly. (China's quota is usually filled.) Domestic apparel manufacturers may benefit (although consumers may see higher prices); also, assembly may increase in Latin American and Caribbean countries, many of which have inexpensive labor and high or nonexistent quotas.
50 Years AgoSir Richard Livingstone, writing in the July, 1946, issue of The Atlantic Monthly: "Any attempt to train character is dangerous and must be undertaken with full perception of its danger. Many notes must be harmonized if the full music of the human instrument is to sound: gentleness and courage, boldness and prudence, inquisitiveness and reverence, tolerance and firmness, confidence and humility, stability and freedom. It is a difficult and risky attempt to make a man, and it is tempting to turn aside from the task. But we have only to look round to see the disastrous results of declining it, as, for the most part, we have hitherto done."
Illustrations by Jennifer Herbert
Copyright © 1996 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; July 1996; Almanac; Volume 278, No. 1; page 14.