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The July Almanac
Health & Safety

Although cold and flu season is months away, the transmission of another type of virus peaks during July and August: computer viruses. The chief vectors are teenagers and children, who have more time to spend on computers during summer vacation than during the school year. Infection rates have soared since 1995, owing to a new family of viruses called macro viruses (macros are small programs embedded in electronic documents), coupled with the burgeoning of E-mail communication. Although macro viruses account for only about 2,100 of the more than 16,000 known viruses, they are responsible for approximately 80 percent of new infections. As with human disease, prevention is the best medicine: experts recommend backing up files often, running anti-virus software at all times, and frequently updating protection programs. If these measures fail, take two aspirins and call the computer's doctor.

Government

July 14: Today the Federal Aviation Administration begins a redesign of air-traffic routes over the New York City area -- the first step in an unprecedented effort to overhaul air routes nationwide. Newark, La Guardia, and Kennedy Airports together handle nearly 5,000 flights a day and are ranked one, six, and 12, respectively, among airports with the worst delays. The nationwide effort, which is aimed at reducing both delays and noise, is expected to take several years and cost some $300 million. 17: Russia's last Czar, Nicholas II, and his family are scheduled to reach their final resting place today, the 80th anniversary of their murder by Bolshevik revolutionaries. The family's remains, which were discovered in 1991 in a pit north of Yekaterinburg, in the Ural Mountains, and authenticated by genetic testing, have been a source of contention among Yekaterinburg, Moscow, and St. Petersburg, all eager for a new tourist attraction. A government commission decided in favor of the last, where all Russian monarchs since Peter the Great have been buried.

Demographics

July is the busiest month of the year at cinema box offices. Many moviegoers will see more than they bargained for: on-screen advertising is expected to hit a record high this month, with nearly 70 million viewers -- half of the moviegoing audience -- seeing a television-style commercial before the feature film. Such advertising first appeared in U.S. cinemas more than a decade ago, but was greeted with hisses and boos. Audiences have since become more accepting, or at least resigned, perhaps because of the encroachment of advertising into seemingly every other public venue. Many of this summer's on-screen ads, for everything from automobiles to clothing to books, will run before films rated PG13 and R, and will thus reach an age group that marketers often find elusive: 15-to-25-year-olds. Advertisers can expect their captive audiences to grow: the number of teenagers, an audience increasingly valued by movie studios, is expected to rise by some 3.5 million by 2010.

The Skies
Related Link:

  • The Skywatcher's Diary
    Daily information on the skies posted by Michigan State University's Abrams Planetarium.


  • July 6: The waxing Moon lies just above the summer constellation Scorpius in the evening sky. 9: Full Moon, also known this month as the Thunder, Hay, or Buck Moon. The days ahead bring several notable conjunctions, in the hour before dawn, of the Moon and various planets: Jupiter on the 15th, Saturn on the 17th, and Mars and Venus on the 21st. July 28: the Delta Aquarid meteor shower peaks tonight. Although often less showy than August's Perseids, the Delta Aquarids this year, unlike the Perseids, will be free from the Moon's interference for most of the night.

    Environment

    July 1: As of today, management systems intended to prevent accidents and toxic spills must be in force on many ships weighing more than 500 gross tons, including passenger ships, high-speed craft, gas and bulk carriers, and oil and chemical tankers. Under the International Management Code for Safe Operation of Ships and for Pollution Prevention, signed in 1994, both shore and shipboard staff must be given training that clearly defines their responsibilities in emergencies. The code affects some 20,000 ships worldwide; those not in compliance risk losing insurance coverage, being denied access to international ports, or being detained in port. More than 200 vessels are lost at sea each year, in many cases causing considerable environmental damage; at least 45 million gallons of oil have been spilled in U.S. waters alone since 1986. The code is expected to reduce dramatically both the number and the impact of such accidents.

    Expiring Patent

    No. 4,277,224. Fan Attachment for Rocking Chairs. "A fan driven by the oscillatory motion of a rocking chair, comprising: a vertical rod hingedly connected to the [chair], an endless belt connected to the top of the vertical rod, ... the belt being free to move in response to oscillatory motion of the vertical rod, a horizontal shaft located near the upper end of the belt loop, a set of gears ... arranged to transform oscillatory motion of the belt into continuous rotation of the shaft, [and] fan blades mounted on the shaft."

    75 Years Ago

    Frances Lester Warner, writing in the July, 1923, issue of The Atlantic Monthly: "The magnetic human race needs slight provocation to arrange itself in groups. Take three old rowboats, and beach them high on the shore not far from the seaside post-office, and they will form the perfect gathering-place for a group that will camp there among the sandpipers when it is time for the mail.... Each cottage sends down its most serviceable or public-spirited or mercurial souls.... The weathered dories dry-docked on the sunset beach are all the forum that they need for wise and confidential speech. The punctual trusties who perch and talk there are fully provided with the three social elements that have held together all the famous clubs and coteries of the world: a reason for coming, a point of view, and a place to sit."


    Copyright © 1998 by The Atlantic Monthly Company. All rights reserved.
    The Atlantic Monthly; July 1998; The July Almanac; Volume 282, No. 1; page 12.

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