The Writer's Almanac
Summary: The Writer's Almanac is a daily podcast of poetry and historical interest pieces, usually of literary significance, hosted by Garrison Keillor.
Today is the birthday of Gene Roddenberry, the creator of the original Star Trek series. Star Trek was the first sci-fi series to depict a generally peaceful future, and that came from Roddenberry's fundamental optimism about the human race.
On this day in 1958, Vladimir Nabokov's novel Lolita was published in the United States by G.P. Putnam's Sons. The book was a sensation, selling more than 100,000 copies in one week--the first novel to do so since Gone with the Wind.
On this date in 1982, the first compact discs for commercial release were manufactured in Germany. The first album sold in disc form on this date? ABBA's 1981 album The Visitors.
"The nine-to-five is one of the greatest atrocities sprung upon mankind. You give your life away to a function that doesn't interest you. This situation so repelled me that I was driven to drink, starvation, and mad females, simply as an alternative." –Charles Bukowski, born on this day in 1920
It's the birthday of Stieg Larsson, a muckracking journalist and anti-fascist who originally took up fiction writing in 2001 as a way to make some extra money. His psychological thriller The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was published posthumously in 2005 (along with the other two novels he'd finished in the Millenium series) and went on to become a global phenomenon.
It was on this day in 1935 that the original Social Security Act was passed. It was part of Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, and it was first intended to help keep senior citizens out of poverty, which it still does.
It's the birthday of director Alfred Hitchcock, who proposed that "the length of a film should be directly related to the endurance of the human bladder."
Today is the birthday of the person who wrote the lines: "O beautiful for spacious skies, / For amber waves of grain, / For purple mountain majesties / Above the fruited plain!" That's Katharine Lee Bates, born in Falmouth, Massachusetts on Cape Cod in 1859.
It's the birthday of Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, born Sunnyvale, CA in 1950. The Apple 1 computer came about when Wozniak got the idea to pair a typewriter keyboard with a television. Wozniak & Steve Jobs hoped to sell at least 50 of them. Seven years later, their company had a stock value of $985 million.
It's the birthday of Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen. Sutphen spent her childhood on a farm near St. Joseph, Minnesota. She said: "Like many of the people I had read about, I set out on a long journey to find truth and beauty. As usual, the road led straight back to the beginning: home, country roads, the sun setting through the woods."
On this day in 1974, Richard Nixon officially resigned from the presidency. Half an hour later, Gerald Ford gave his first speech as the president of the United States, saying, "My fellow Americans, our long national nightmare is over. Our Constitution works; our great republic is a government of laws and not of men."
It's the birthday of physicist Ernest O. Lawrence, who won the Nobel Prize in 1939 for inventing the particle accelerator known as the cyclotron--or as he originally dubbed it, a "proton merry-go-round."
At 7:15 A.M. on this day in 1974, Philippe Petit walked a tightrope between the Twin Towers a total of eight times. Petit's astonishing high-wire act made him an instant celebrity and garnered affection for the brand-new buildings, which had been criticized for a lack of character.
It was on this day in 1964 during a speech in Congress that Senator Ernest Gruening of Alaska said, "All Vietnam is not worth the life of a single American boy." But the next day, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, authorizing expanded military action in Vietnam.
The New York Daily News debuted the comic strip "Little Orphan Annie" on this day in 1924. It ran for 86 years and inspired a radio show, a Broadway musical, film adaptations, mass-marketed books, and merchandise including everything from lunchboxes to curly wigs.