July 30, 2014

Wednesday Open Line

The national government’s broad involvement in individual health insurance goes back to this date in 1965 when President Lyndon Johnson signed the Social Security Amendments, which established Medicare and Medicaid. The legislation was introduced in Congress in March 1965 and went through more than 500 amendments before being passed by large majorities in both the […]

Tuesday Open Line

Long before there were automobiles in the U.S., good roads were badly needed to get farm produce to market and to allow people to go visiting and shopping without battling mud. An American professor who had emigrated from Belgium — Edward de Smedt — invented an asphalt mix, which could be applied in sheets to […]

Monday Open Line

The nation’s love affair with automobiles is generations old, and our devotion can be traced down through the decades by looking at advertising, as cars progressed from romantic if noisy new playthings to a daily necessity. The first known national ad about a car appeared at the end of July 1898 in the Scientific American […]

Friday / Weekend Open Lines

The past few decades have seen a mounting number and frequency of public opinion polls, whether from the traditional Gallup and Harris firms to those commissioned by newspapers or political campaigns. The first such poll in U.S. history appeared this month in 1824 in the Harrisburg Pennsylvanian, finding that Andrew Jackson was favored over John […]

Thursday Open Line

This is National Drive-Thru Day — noting the popularity of restaurants that take orders by intercom and then pass the food out a window to the customers wanting to keep on the move. The first such service was the idea of Robert Peterson at a Jack in the Box restaurant in San Diego in 1951, […]

Wednesday Open Line

The home front during World War II had to cope with some irritating limitations and scarcities, notably gas rationing and a lack of new cars and tires. But what for many was a real wartime crisis was coffee rationing. Imposed in 1942 because of hoarding and supply concerns, it proved very unpopular. Late this month […]

Tuesday Open Line

On these scorching hot summer days, with the nation’s average warmest day of the year coming up shortly, most of us welcome ducking in from the heat into a cool office, business, or home. For this relief, we can thank Willis Carrier, who in the depths of winter in 1906 received a patent for what […]

Monday Open Line

A substantial and recurring feature of national media reporting — on TV, in newspapers and on the Web — is devoted to nutrition and health. There, doctors and public health officials express concerns about obesity, diabetes, and the quality of the diet of many Americans. However, junk food shows no sign of waning in popularity. […]

Friday / Weekend Open Lines

On this date in 1955 in West Milton, New York, a species of turning swords into plowshares was realized. That was when the Atomic Energy Commission sold electric power from a General Electric nuclear reactor to the Niagara-Mohawk Power Corporation for civilian distribution. Some 10,000 kilowatts were supplied from the reactor, which was a prototype […]

Thursday Open Line

Harvard University, founded in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1636, is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States. Thus, it was already a bit long in the tooth when on this date in 1867 when it opened the first dental school associated with a medical school. It was also the first to be permanently […]

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