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N O V E M B E R 1 9 9 7
November 1: Starting today Californians may file requests to opt out of
the service provided by their local electric companies and sign up with any of
a host of providers coming on the scene, many from out of state. This is the
first of several steps in California's plan to deregulate its electric
utilities and end the state-granted monopolies. Service from the new providers
will start no sooner than January 1. California was the first state to
legislate a system that permits retail competition in its electricity market;
13 other states have since either passed bills or supported rules that call for
opening their electricity markets in a similar fashion. 10: The first
White House conference ever held on hate crimes takes place today, bringing
together victims, legislators, religious leaders, and police officers to
discuss existing laws against hate crimes and ways to improve enforcement. The
conference has been billed as part of President Bill Clinton's yearlong
initiative on race relations, although crimes directed against a person's
religion, nationality, sex, or sexual orientation will also be considered.
Arts & Letters
This could be a record month for art sales, with the rival auction houses
Christie's and Sotheby's both holding significant auctions in New York. During
the course of the month Christie's will offer 115 twentieth-century paintings,
drawings, and prints from the estate of the art collectors Victor and Sally
Ganz. The collection is valued at more than $125 million -- the highest total
ever estimated for the sale of a single collection. The sale will include works
by Picasso, Jasper Johns, and Frank Stella. On the 12th Sotheby's will
auction 45 paintings and sculptures from the estate of the philanthropist and
hotel owner Evelyn Sharp. This collection, which is expected to bring some $60
million, includes works by Matisse, Modigliani, and Picasso. Some experts worry
that these auctions, along with those regularly scheduled for the fall, are
more than the market can bear.
Deer-hunting season is in full swing in many states this month. Deer are not
the only ones who should be wary: according to a study conducted recently at
the William Beaumont Hospital, in Royal Oak, Michigan, poorly conditioned
hunters are at risk for cardiac complications, including heart attacks, sparked
by "buck fever," or the excitement felt while hunting. The study found that
heart rates increased drastically when subjects killed or simply sighted a
deer; they were also elevated while hunters dragged their kills to their
vehicles or camps. For example, one hunter's heart rate rose from 78 to 168
beats per minute after a buck came into view. Even after hunters are literally
out of the woods, their health may still be in peril: arterial plaque dislodged
by the rigors of hunting may cause blockage, and a heart attack, up to several
days later. In response to these findings, doctors in Sioux Falls, South
Dakota, have set up screening centers outside sporting-goods stores to try to
identify hunters particularly at risk.
November 28: The holiday mailing season begins today, the day after
Thanksgiving; some 5 billion cards and letters will be delivered in the U.S.
between now and Christmas. Expediting the process this year will be "remote
computer readers" -- electronic devices designed to read hand-addressed mail.
RCRs have been installed in some 250 postal centers, and are expected to be
able to read at least a quarter of the hand-addressed mail. They will put a bar
code on each piece, so that the mail can be sorted automatically. For those
hand-addressed pieces on which the penmanship defies electronic deciphering,
the Postal Service will use another new system, whereby computer images of
addresses are sent electronically to regional encoding centers, whose employees
will look at the images and enter the information needed to assign a bar code.
November is the peak month for cranberry sales, owing, of course, to
Thanksgiving. Demand for cranberries has been growing: for example, cranberry
juice now ranks third in U.S. juice sales, behind apple and orange juice. The
number of cranberry farmers is increasing, along with the number and size of
cranberry bogs. However, creating new bogs is a slow, expensive process that is
often thwarted by environmental regulations designed to protect wetlands.
Farmers worry that the regulations could drive the industry abroad, even though
cranberries are a North American taste: the vast majority of all cranberries
are not only grown but consumed in the U.S. and Canada.
The Skywatcher's Diary
Daily information on the skies posted by Michigan State University's Abrams Planetarium.
November 4: Mars and Venus lie close together, near the crescent Moon,
low on the southwestern horizon after sunset. 7: The waxing Moon passes
above Jupiter in the southern sky. 11: After sunset in the southeastern
and Gulf Coast states, southern New Jersey, and Cape Cod, Saturn will be
occulted -- hidden from view -- by the Moon. 14: Full Moon, also known this
month as the Frosty or Beaver Moon.
Budd Schulberg, writing in the November, 1947, issue of The Atlantic
Monthly: "To most Hollywood executives, the safest stories still seem to be
those which do the people's dreaming for them.... Away from your troubles,
away from your responsibilities and your punch-in-punch-out monotony, you sit
there in the enveloping darkness and let DeMille or some other genius of
mediocrity spin out for you a million-dollar dream. The homely secretary takes
off her glasses and blossoms into a beautiful woman and the ideal mate for the
boss. The rich and spoiled but beautiful heiress meets her match in an even
more headstrong man of the people.The efficient and successful career woman
who has forgotten that she is a woman is reminded of the fact by a forceful
gent who puts her back in the home, where, it turns out, she wanted to be all
along. Just in the nick of time, the villain is caught, the game is won, the
show goes on."