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M A Y 1 9 9 7
May 1: New Federal Aviation Administration regulations aimed at reducing
noise pollution in the Grand Canyon go into effect today. Among them is a rule
that tour flights over the canyon may operate only between 8:00 A.M. and 6:00
P.M. from May through September, and between 9:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M. during the
rest of the year. The regulations are part of an ongoing effort to restore
quiet to the canyon. By next January some 80 percent of the canyon will be
designated a "no-fly" zone for tour flights; this is twice the area that is now
restricted. Further plans call for phasing out the "noisiest"
aircraft -- a
classification that includes most of the aircraft currently in use over the
canyon -- by 2008. 25: Today Strom Thurmond, Republican of South
becomes the longest-serving senator in U.S. history, as his tenure reaches 41
years and 10 months. The record was previously held by Carl Hayden, Democrat of
Arizona. Thurmond was first elected to the Senate in 1954 as a Democrat in a
Comet Hale-Bopp should
still be visible to the naked eye for observers in the
Northern Hemisphere at the beginning of the month, before dropping out of view
in this hemisphere for a couple thousand years; look west-northwest at
twilight. May 6: The Eta Aquarid meteor shower peaks. The Moon is new
and so will not interfere with viewing. 16: Mars lies just above the
waxing Moon. 22: Full Moon, also known this month as the Milk, Mother's,
or Planting Moon.
[For daily information on the skies, visit the Skywatcher's Diary of Michigan State University's Abrams
May is the peak breeding month for frogs. This year's frog eggs and population
will come under intense scrutiny, as researchers seek explanations for the
deformities that have recently been observed in disproportionate numbers of
frogs. The problem came to light two years ago, when a group of Minnesota
middle school students on a hike noticed that half the frogs they saw had
deformed legs. Since then scientists have discovered large numbers of deformed
frogs in at least eight other states across the country. The Environmental
Protection Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey will establish a nationwide
reporting center for studies to be conducted this summer, and they plan to hold
a meeting of experts in November to discuss research findings. Among the causes
postulated for the deformities are parasites, toxic chemicals, and increased
ultraviolet radiation resulting from damage to the earth's ozone layer.
May 2: Starting today, according to a new Food and Drug Administration
regulation, restaurants are accountable for all health and nutrition claims,
such as "low fat," "light," and "heart healthy," made on their menus. Although
restaurateurs, unlike the manufacturers of packaged foods, are not obligated to
supply complete nutritional information about their products, they must be able
to demonstrate a "reasonable basis" for any health and nutrition claims made
about them, consistent with the definitions in the FDA's Nutrition Labeling and
Education Act of 1990. In the case of a menu item labeled "low fat," a
restaurant could, for example, show that the recipe came from a low-fat
cookbook. The new rule was prompted by a class-action suit brought by consumer
groups against a number of restaurants alleged to be making unsubstantiated
health or nutrition claims about their food.
No. 4,203,457. Attachable Wearable Umbrella. "A collapsible umbrella which is
detachably mounted to a garment of a wearer so as to be supported . . . in the
opened position of the umbrella above the head of the wearer, comprising an
umbrella assembly [attached to] a pair of . . . brackets each adaptable for
mounting externally on the shoulder section of a coat."
Starting this month patients in Massachusetts who are curious about the
malpractice histories of their physicians should be able to find this
information on the Internet and on CD-ROMs at public and hospital libraries (an
800 number has been available since November). Last year Massachusetts enacted
a bill mandating public access to the malpractice awards, lawsuit settlements,
and felony and serious misdemeanor convictions of all its doctors; previously
records of court actions could be obtained only by scouring courthouse files,
and information on out-of-court settlements was not available at all.
Massachusetts is the first state to require that malpractice histories be made
available. Also this month researchers funded by the National Institute on
Aging and the National Institute of Nursing Research plan to begin a five-year,
six-state trial to investigate whether basic cognitive training can bolster
seniors' everyday skills such as balancing a checkbook and managing medication,
and ultimately lead to greater and longer independence in old age.
Robert M. Gay, writing in the May, 1922, issue of The Atlantic Monthly:
"General information is ... the salt of conversation, because, when the facts
exchanged are all useless, one is as good as another, there is no chilly
atmosphere of shop, and talk circulates freely; but special information is
always aristocratical and hierarchical. A mind that is full of the data of
ethics, for example, is supercilious toward one that is full of the data of
millinery; but, as general information, fashions in hats may be even more
significant than fashions in morals. It should be remembered, too, that a man
who is rich in general information is not at all the same as a 'well-informed
person.' The latter always fills us with alarm, outside the classroom or
lecture-hall, because he has never admitted anything to his mind without first
testing its validity and timeliness, and then connecting it with matters
already there.... He has attempted to carry over into general information
the rules that govern special. This will never do."
Illustrations by Chris Lensch
Copyright © 1997 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
The Atlantic Monthly; May 1997; The May Almanac; Volume 279, No. 5; page 16.