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    Good News in History, February 19

    75 years ago today, the first Bollingen Prize for Poetry was awarded by Yale University to Ezra Pound. The University of Virginia describes the award as “among the most prestigious prizes given to American writers.” Established by Paul Mellon in 1949, it is awarded biennially by the Yale University Library to an American poet for the best book of verse published during the previous two years or for lifetime achievement in poetry. The prize includes a cash award of $150,000. READ the works of previous winners… (1948)


    Ezra Pound in Venice

    In first 1949 prize was awarded to Ezra Pound, which caused controversy as he was under investigation at the time for fascist sympathy. He won it for The River Merchant’s Daughter from the year before…

    While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
    I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
    You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
    You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
    And we went on living in the village of Chōkan:
    Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.


    In 1955, the Bollingen Prize was given to Conrad Aiken for his work The Dance of Life… 

    A smile that for a second space
    Brooded wistfully on her face,
    Opening soft her spirit’s door,
    Disclosing depths undreamed before:
    Passionate depths of half-seen flame,
    Young loveliness despising shame,
    Desire that trembled to meet desire,
    And fire that yearned to fuse with fire…


    MORE Good News on this Date:

    • The phonograph was patented by Thomas Edison *Footnote: Did you know Thomas Jefferson believed all of society should benefit from technology, so he never patented any of his numerous inventions? (1878)
    • Britain, Turkey and Greece agreed to grant Cyprus its independence (1959)
    • Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was published, relaunching the Feminist Movement in the United States and causing women’s organizations and consciousness-raising groups to spread (1963)
    • Paul Simon wrote The Sounds of Silence, the song that catapulted Simon and Garfunkel to stardom 18 months later (1964)
    • The Rolling Stones played for 1.3 million people, the largest public performance ever, in Copacabana Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2006)

    21 years ago today, the Odyssey Orbiter began its mapping of the Martian surface using thermal emissions imaging. The 2001 Mars Odyssey mission, taking its name from the famous 2001 A Space Odyssey, is NASA’s longest-lasting spacecraft at Mars. Along with determining the distribution of minerals, particularly those that can only form in the presence of water, Odyssey acts as a communication relay for the robots that have reached such a number as to be described as a “fleet.” It successfully completed its primary science mission from February 2002 through August 2004, and the orbiter’s extended operations continue today, as scientists apply for time to use it for their own research.

    Particularly amazing among its thermal imaging photographs are those containing ice. Mars has plenty of dry ice, or ice formed from CO2 rather than H20. Also amazing are the images of Mars’ dust devils as shown below. The entire catalogue of “Mars as Art” is found on the NASA website.



    Odyssey has done such a thorough job of studying the Martian surface that scientists have started turning its THEMIS camera to capture unique views of Mars’ moons Phobos and Deimos. As with the Martian surface, studying each moon’s thermophysics helps scientists determine the properties of materials on their surfaces. Such information can offer glimpses into their past: It’s unclear whether the moons are captured asteroids or chunks of Mars, blasted off the surface by an ancient impact.

    Future missions, like the Japanese Space Agency’s Martian Moons eXploration (MMX) spacecraft, will seek to land on these moons. In the distant future, missions might even create bases on them for astronauts. And if they do, they’ll rely on data from an orbiter that began its odyssey at the start of the millennium. (2002)



    And, 38 years ago today, William J. Schroeder became the first artificial heart recipient to be discharged from a hospital. He was a hero to medical science for his willingness to be the second patient to get the Jarvik-7, after the first one died. Today, the modern version of the device has been implanted in more than 1,350 people as a bridge to transplantation. (1985)

    And 37 years ago today, the Soviets launched the space station Mir, and with it, a new phase in space exploration. Mir, which means both peace and world in Russian, would provide the home base for a permanently manned international complex orbiting the Earth– and was occupied for 10 years of its 15 in orbit.Mir space station in orbit

    Launched on this day was the first part of the orbiting laboratory–the main module that included the crew quarters, with airlocks for docking and more. In later years, new modules would be added to expand the Mir space station, including a US-built space shuttle docking port in the mid-1990s.Mir space station

    Astronauts and cosmonauts from a dozen different countries lived aboard and did research on Mir. In 2001, its duties were done and it was burned in a controlled deorbit in the atmosphere, making way for the new International Space Station, built cooperatively by a host of advanced countries around the world. (1986)

    And, 55 years ago today, the children’s show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood debuted on public television. Created by Fred Rogers, a Presbyterian minister who was displeased with the way television addressed children, the show was produced at WQED-TV in Pittsburgh with new episodes every weekday on PBS for 33 years.

    Mr. Rogers, who projected a kind-hearted, grandfatherly personality, not only hosted and wrote the show, but as a musician composed the music. Rogers (1928-2003) was the recipient of 2 Peabody Awards, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and 4 Emmy Awards, including the Lifetime Achievement Award.

    Even today, a number of PBS stations in America choose to continue airing the syndicated reruns, many of which taught children that feelings are ‘mentionable and manageable’. Full episodes can be viewed on YouTube, you can read books written by Rogers… and you can see Tom Hanks playing Fred Rogers in the film A Beautiful Day in the NeighborhoodWATCH a great highlight reel… (1968)


    Happy 83rd Birthday to the “King of Motown”, Smokey Robinson. The legendary singer-songwriter and record producer helped establish Motown Records in his hometown of Detroit.

    A prolific songwriter still in high school, Robinson met Berry Gordy—who wanted to start a record company—and impressed him with his songs. At age 20, along with his band The Miracles, Smokey recorded his first hit single, Shop Around, which became Motown’s first million-selling record.

    2018 Photo by Gage Skidmore, CC license

    In just one decade, Smokey produced twenty-six Top 40 hits as the lead singer, songwriter, and producer of the Miracles, including Top 10 singles such as You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me, I Second That Emotionand The Tears of a Clown. Other hits like Ooo Baby Baby, and The Tracks of My Tears reached the Top 20. He also wrote blockbusters for other Motown artists, like The Temptations hit My Girl.

    With deep roots in religious faith, Robinson practices Transcendental Meditation and is still entertaining today, doing live concerts throughout the U.S. He lives with his wife near Pittsburgh where he runs a winery selling varietals under the name Smokey Robinson Wines. WATCH a tribute… (1940)

    MORE READ: Good News in History, February 20

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