November 20th

Today is the birthday

… of Don DeLillo. The winner of the National Book Award for fiction is 79 today. He won for White Noise and was also nominated for Underworld.

… of comedian Dick Smothers. The straight man of the duo is 76. (Tom is 78.)

… of Vice President Joe Biden. He’s 73.

… of Joe Walsh of The Eagles. He’s 68. Life’s been good to him so far.

I have a mansion forget the price
Ain’t never been there they tell me it’s nice
I live in hotels tear out the walls
I have accountants pay for it all

They say I’m crazy but I have a good time
I’m just looking for clues at the scene of the crime
Life’s been good to me so far

Walsh joined The Eagles in 1976. The first album with Walsh in the band was Hotel California, which says all you ever need to know about both The Eagles and Joe Walsh.

… of Bo Derek. She’s now five 10s and a 9.

Robert F. Kennedy might have been 90 today. He was assassinated at age 42.

Astronomer Edwin Hubble was born on this date in 1889.

During the past 100 years, astronomers have discovered quasars, pulsars, black holes and planets orbiting distant suns. But all these pale next to the discoveries Edwin Hubble made in a few remarkable years in the 1920s. At the time, most of his colleagues believed the Milky Way galaxy, a swirling collection of stars a few hundred thousand light-years across, made up the entire cosmos. But peering deep into space from the chilly summit of Mount Wilson, in Southern California, Hubble realized that the Milky Way is just one of millions of galaxies that dot an incomparably larger setting.

Hubble went on to trump even that achievement by showing that this galaxy-studded cosmos is expanding — inflating majestically like an unimaginably gigantic balloon — a finding that prompted Albert Einstein to acknowledge and retract what he called “the greatest blunder of my life.” Hubble did nothing less, in short, than invent the idea of the universe and then provide the first evidence for the Big Bang theory, which describes the birth and evolution of the universe. He discovered the cosmos, and in doing so founded the science of cosmology.

Source: TIME 100: Edwin Hubble

Kenesaw Mountain Landis was born on this date in 1866. His name, misspelled, came from the place and battle in Georgia (Kennesaw Mountain) where his father fought and lost a leg for the Union. Landis was appointed Judge of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1905 — and continued to serve for the first few months after he became the first Commissioner of Baseball in 1920. He was commissioner for 24 years.

It was Landis that cleaned up the gambling that had led to the Black Sox scandal. It was also Landis who kept baseball segregated. That dam broke only after his death in November 1944. Like many, Landis held the job far too long — long enough to go from savior to obstacle.