BOB'S BITS

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 16 Jul 2017, 11:41

A funny-looking farmer with a funny-sounding name. Orville Redenbacher, speaking about Orville Redenbacher.

An obscure (to me) legend has it that popcorn featured at the first thanksgiving, at Plymouth, in 1621. If so, it was very much the same popcorn that began to be cultivated by the Aztecs, about 5000 years ago, and pretty much the same popcorn that, for its cheapness and then in lieu of rationed sweets, become absurdly popular in the USA during the Depression and in WWII. Then along came Orville Redenbacher, born on the family farm in Brazil, Indiana, on July 16, 1907. His family grew popcorn, but at first he wasn’t really interested in it. He graduated from Purdue with a degree in agronomy and became, first, a county extension agent, and then a fertilizer salesman. But along the way he and a friend (Charlie Bowman) started to experiment with popcorn genetics and in the early 1950s came up with an improved popcorn (fewer Old Maids, bigger “pop,” better taste), called it “RedBow,” and found it had a market. They used the name “RedBow” out of modesty, they said, but having established exclusive regional outlets (e.g. in Chicago at Marshall Fields!!!!), they waxed ambitious and hired a marketing firm to see if they might go national, and for a cool $13,000 fee they were advised to use the name Orville Redenbacher, that seemed to those clever marketeers to have a sort of down-home, popcorny flavor to it. By degrees, modest Orville grew into the job of being a living trademark, wavy hair, horn-rimmed glasses, outsized bow-tie, winning smile, a host of clever taglines, and Orville Redenbacher popcorn took off. In 1976 Orville and Charlie sold out, to Esmark, and then Esmark sold to Beatrice Foods, and then Beatrice sold to Kohlberg Kravis Roberts and then ConAgra bought everyone out, but through all this conglomeration they still used Orville, his name and his actual sunny persona, to convince us that Orville Redenbacher had, indeed, made the best corn that ever you popped. Orville himself ran out of pop in 1995, but his name lingers on. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 17 Jul 2017, 10:40

My circus train pulls through the night// Full of lions and trapeze artists// I'm done with elephants and clowns// I want to run away and join the office. Mike Doughty.

With the possible exceptions of those trades involved in running and robbing banks, it’s in the circus where you are most likely to find long family traditions. Britain’s Chipperfield’s Circus is one of those family affairs, begun (according to both history and legend) by James Chipperfield who presented his menagerie “on ice” in London the year the Thames froze over (1684). So it shouldn’t surprise that James Seaton Methuen Chipperfield was born (on July 17, 1912) in a mahogany circus wagon and that he would become expert in several circus trades (notably the big top trapeze and lion taming), nor that he would marry Rosie, the daughter of a lion tamer who’d been eaten by his lions, nor that James and Rosie in due course would own and run their own edition of Chipperfield’s Circus. Nor, indeed, that several of their children and grandchildren would carry on the tradition. But Jimmy Chipperfield’s life would hold some surprises, nevertheless, notably that despite zero formal education, he became an RAF pilot in WWII. (Come the war, Jimmy put himself in school with children to learn sufficient math to qualify. He flew Mosquito fighter bombers with 85 Squadron). The other main surprise is that he (and Rosie) retired from the circus early, in 1955, first to train animals for Walt Disney and other film productions and then, in 1966, the world’s first safari park, at Longleat, the Wiltshire country estate of the Marquess of Bath. Once started, he couldn’t stop; he was involved also in (inter alia) the Windsor Safari Park, the Woburn Safari Park, the Blair Drummond Safari Park, the Lambton Castle Safari Park, and the Knowsley Safari Park. Those familiar with Britain’s social geography will recognize aristocratic connections in all those names, and indeed in a sense Jimmy had come home. For as one of his middle names announces, Jimmy was born (albeit in that circus wagon) on the Wiltshire estate of the Earl of Methuen. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 18 Jul 2017, 11:17

This story doesn't really involve us. Harriet Nelson, in dialogue, The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet, 1963.

In 1998, while the nation’s first family was embroiled in its own mess, the writer Peter Jones decided it would be a perfect time to tear the covers off the nation’s first family of the 1950s. No, not Dwight and Mamie (who had their own secret sorrows) but “Ozzie and Harriet.” And so A&E put on a documentary, “Ozzie and Harriet: The Adventures of America’s Favorite Family.” Ozzie and Harriet Nelson and their family ruled the American airwaves from 1944 to 1966, a remarkable span (on radio and then, from 1952, TV). It turned out that the family was not as happy as it appeared, but what is intriguing is how the sit-com family became, in damaging ways, the theatre where the real family tried to work out some of its inner tensions. In all this, Eric (Rick) Nelson was the chief sufferer, but Harriet steamed through it like the trooper she was, enjoying her drinks, her ciggies, her friends gay and straight (among them, Ginger Rogers), and her risqué humor. And she would, wouldn’t she? After all, Harriet Nelson was born (on July 18, 1909) in Des Moines, a sensible sort of place, as Peggy Lou Snyder, a pretty kid with a performing streak. She started very early, learned also to be a rebel, smoking and hanging out at the Cotton Club (NOT in Des Moines) while she was still in her teens, calling herself Harriet Hilliard, and developing a good, sexy singing voice and stage presence that caught the eye of band leader Ozzie Nelson. They married, had a couple of boys (David in ’36 and Eric in ’40), and then in 1944 settled down to their odd double life as both an imaginary and real family. Come the TV era, even their stage-set house was a virtual replica of their “real” family home in Hollywood. It is fair to add that when the A&E documentary showed, the only survivor (David Nelson) didn’t like it. “Why not,” he asked, “accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative?” Thus, oddly, David reprised his sitcom role. Or was it his real one? ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 19 Jul 2017, 11:45

Fascism is not simply National Socialism, and this is music about terror, slavery, and the oppression of the spirit. Shostakovich's retrospective on his 7th Symphony.

The siege of Leningrad began in September 1941 and was finally lifted in January 1944. There were well over 500,000 civilian deaths, from the constant bombardment but mainly from malnutrition and disease. But there was heroism, there was grandeur in the ruins, and there was no surrender. There was also music, for as the siege started Dmitri Shostakovich began, between artillery attacks, to rewrite what would become his Symphony No. 7, “The Leningrad.” The composer, serving the while in the civilian militia, played the first two movements—at the piano—during a bombardment. Legend has it that the audience refused to take cover. He was then evacuated (with his family) in December 1941. The symphony, a great patriotic work for the Great Patriotic War, had several premieres, the first one in Kuybyshev on the Volga, March 5, 1942, then in London on June 22, and in Leningrad itself on August 9 (the day that Hitler had planned to celebrate the conquest of the city!!!), and it is as far as I know still played regularly at the Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) cemetery that contains the largest mass graves of siege victims. It’s appropriate, for the first movement contains within it a moving requiem. Its American premiere took place in New York City on July 19, 1942. Broadcast nationally on NBC, heralded by a cover story in that week’s Time magazine (the cover showing Shostakovich in uniform, in the siege-scarred city), it was played by the NBC Symphony Orchestra conducted by its old maestro, Arturo Toscanini, who came out of retirement to take the baton from Leopold Stokowski and celebrate his own long opposition to fascism. Popular—perhaps excessively so—in wartime, the symphony itself has since been subjected to a good deal of negative criticism, both political and aesthetic. Today, politically, it is accepted as a subtler composition. It will be played today on NPR, and listeners may judge for themselves. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 20 Jul 2017, 14:21

I never felt so fervently thankful, so soothed, so tranquil, so filled with a blessed peace, as I did yesterday when I learned that Michael Angelo was dead. Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad.

In his long lifetime (as long in years, he often said, as the ellipse of Halley’s Comet), Sam Clemens squandered an inheritance (from his father-in-law), lose another fortune (his own), and bury his wife and two of his three daughters. Those trials and tragedies would embitter him, while the low tone of American public life in what he called “great barbecue” provided him with his favorite targets, corruption and cruel hypocrisy in places high and low. One only imagines what he would say of the Trumps. But as a young man, slightly soiled, vibrant with life, he came out of the west like a comet on the back of a jumping frog. Already enjoying a reputation as “Mark Twain,” his second book made him famous (and would be Twain’s all-time best seller in his lifetime). It was The Innocents Abroad, and it was loosed on the public—by subscription only—on July 20, 1869. Sub-titled The New Pilgrim’s Progress, it amply proves that its young author (he was 34) was already possessed of a wicked sense of humor and a pen sharp enough to wield it. Its pilgrims were a company of wealthy Americans, mostly pious, and the object of their pilgrimage was to see for themselves the venerated antiquities of Europe and, above all else, the Holy Land. But veneration was not in Twain’s nature, which was made up of equal parts of satire, irony, irreverence, realism, and exaggeration, and the book remains an enjoyable and amusing one, as only a self-proclaimed barbarian could make it. But he also met some truly civilized folk on board, including Mrs. Fairbanks of Cleveland (who would become, for decades, his ‘mother confessor’) and young Charley Langdon of Elmira, New York, who one day aboard ship (the Quaker City) showed Twain a miniature of his sister, Olivia (Livy), a frail, pretty woman of means and substance who would change Twain’s life, expunge (with the help of her half-sister Susan) his Missouri racism, and strengthen and deepen his creative streak. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 21 Jul 2017, 10:36

Oh Jake, Brett said, we could have had such a damned good time together. . . . Yes, I said, isn't it pretty to think so? The Sun Also Rises, 1926.

One of the best literary histories of the 20th century covers only a decade, but what a decade!! It was Malcolm Cowley’s Exile’s Return: A Literary Odyssey of the 1920s (1934, revised edition 1951). Despite the singular “exile’s” it was about the lot of them, the expatriates, the lost generation, the middle class orphans washed up by the Great War on the warm shores provided in Paris by Gertrude Stein and Sylvia Beach. The book’s truth is that these writers (and Cowley, poet and editor, was one of them) were playing themselves, acting out their lives, as if they were in search of a character. Among the most typical of them was Ernest Hemingway, born into comfort in very comfortably middle America (Oak Park, IL) on July 21, 1899, who then spent his life seeking discomfort and, whether as journalist or novelist, chronicling lives of other discomforted seekers. After his ambulance driver role (on the Italian front), Hemingway lost himself (along with others) in Paris, where the exchange rate enabled a reckless, sometimes merely hedonistic style of living, writing for money (as a piece-rate journalist) and for truth. His truth about the lost generation is found in his first and greatest novel, The Sun Also Rises (1926: in Britain it is Fiesta). I first read it as a sophomore in Phyllis Rackin’s American Fiction class, and found it utterly absorbing. Arguably (as Dr. Rackin warned us) it’s a book that is bad for sophomores, but now, 55 years on, I find it still quite magical, revolutionary in its bare-boned, monosyllabic prose, its curt conversations, revelatory in its treatment of character. It is aggressively descriptive, not analytical, without authorial obiter dicta, and it forces readers to draw their own conclusions about Jake (Hemingway), Brett (Lady Duff Twysden), and their fellow stalkers of love and life in the lost generation. It is (among other things) the perfect counterpoint to Malcolm Cowley’s fine narrative. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 22 Jul 2017, 10:21

The Lord is a shoving leopard. (Attributed to] William Spooner.

In several ways William Archibald Spooner broke tradition at Oxford and then became one himself, for he is the (alleged) origin of the ‘spoonerism,’ a sort of verbal dyslexia that issues in such amusing confusions as “you have hissed my mystery lectures” or “you have tasted a whole worm.” Spooner was born on July 22, 1844, into a well-connected family (his godfather became Archbishop of Canterbury) and comfortable circumstances. He was educated at Oswestry and in 1862 broke his first tradition by being the first non-Winchester boy to be admitted to New College and then, having imbibed his tutor’s “spirit of abominable restlessness” (and performed brilliantly at final examinations) Spooner in 1867 became a New College don himself, rising through the ranks to become dean in 1876 and then, in 1903, warden (head) of the college. As dean and warden, he was a reformer, participating most notably in the invention of Oxford’s lecturing system, which opened the faculty resources of each college to every student in every college, and in the increasing presence of women’s colleges. He was immensely popular with students and faculty, bringing his wife and their seven children into the (radically remodeled) warden’s lodgings which immediately became the social heart of New College. An albino, Spooner even in his age (he did not retire as warden until he was 80) looked a bit like a surprised innocent, and may have cultivated that physical eccentricity. At any rate, New College students affectionately christened him as “The Child” (an exceedingly odd nickname for a dean) and when he married Frances Goodwin, a bishop’s daughter, she inevitably became “The Madonna.” And the ‘spoonerism’? Well, like many legends, it’s not as clear as all that. At his retirement dinner, replying to a celebratory toast from the undergraduates, Spooner said “You want me to say one of those things, but I shan’t.” And then he sat down. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 23 Jul 2017, 10:28

I'm sorry I know so little. I'm sorry we all know so little. But that is kind of the fun, isn't it? Vera Rubin, 2009.

Vera Cooper Rubin was born in Philadelphia on July 23, 1928. Her professional life began when, at Vassar College, she rejected advice to major in art because astronomy was no field for a woman and became the only astronomy major in her graduating class (1948). Brilliant and brash, she applied for the PhD program at Princeton, but Princeton’s astronomy program would not accept women until 1975. So she went to Cornell, found a husband-physicist, got her Master’s degree, had a child, became pregnant with another (eventually her four children would all earn science PhDs), taking up her PhD studies again at Georgetown where she couldn’t see her advisor in his office as women were barred from that part of the building. She earned her PhD in 1954. In her career Rubin would compile many firsts as a woman astronomer, but one of her proudest achievements was that in 1996 she became only the second woman (after Caroline Herschel, in 1828!!) to receive the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. A minor first was (in 1965) to cobble together the first woman’s restroom at the Palomar Observatory, where she was also the first woman to hold a fellowship. But her fame rests not on her toilet or her gender but on her observations of the movement of whole galaxies and on her theorizing about the causes of its irregularities. Vera Rubin led us into the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy and the uncomfortable notion that the universe we can see is not the universe we inhabit. Her discovery, hinted at in her PhD thesis and then proclaimed to the world in 1976, was at first dismissed (indeed ridiculed) by her colleagues but is now known as the Rubin-Ford Effect. Who’s Ford? Well, he’s a he, Rubin’s colleague and friend, also an astronomer at the Carnegie Institution, and he perfected the spectrometer that enabled Rubin to detect the oddest thing that we know (so far) about our odd universe. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 24 Jul 2017, 14:07

We worked together marvelously well!! We created together. Jessie Matthews on Buddy Bradley, circa 1971.

Sources disagree on Buddy Bradley’s birth name and date but we’ll go with Robert (Buddy) Bradley Epps, born in Harrisburg, PA, on July 24, 1905. After graduating from high school he was apprenticed as a sign writer but his first love was dance and at the tender age of 21 (by then clearly known as “Buddy Bradley”) he debuted in New York City at the Lincoln Square Theatre. Quickly he became known also as a superb teacher and a gifted choreographer. His list of students included Fred and Adele Astaire, Lucille Ball, Ruby Keeler, even Mae West, and he assisted Flo Ziegfeld and Busby Berkeley in choreographing their Broadway productions. But he was never credited in any publicity for any mainline production, for Buddy Bradley was very black, and in the 1920s crediting a black man for dancing with a white woman, or teaching her to dance, was a no-no, even in New York. Fred Astaire sympathized and suggested that the young man (Bradley was then only 24!!) go to London where the pickings might be thicker. And they were. Astaire arranged for Bradley’s first credited production, Evergreen, with Jessie Matthews starring, in 1930 at the Adelphi Theatre, and suddenly Bradley (and his name and his face and his talent) were in demand. During the 1930s he choreographed London shows for English producers and writers, but also (inter alia) for Rodgers & Hart and Cole Porter, for I guess it was OK for Americans to have a black man oversee their foreign work. He even choreographed (in 1932) a Frederick Ashton jazz ballet for the famed prima Alicia Markova. Bradley became especially well known for working with Jessie Matthews on her films, got married (not to Matthews), and settled down to paid, credited work on stage and in films, and by 1950 London’s Buddy Bradley Dance School had over 500 students. He retired from all that in 1968 and, oddly, moved back “home.” Buddy Bradley died in America in 1972. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 25 Jul 2017, 10:18

It would be better to know less than to lose the true pleasure that lies in communication. Theodore Haak to Marin Mersenne, circa 1647.

Occasionally in these notes I run across someone whom I should have met before in my historical research. Years ago I did some work on Samuel Hartlib and John Dury, a Pole and a Scot, who met at Oxford on the eve of England’s civil wars (circa 1640) and found common interests in colonization, educational reform, and “new” knowledge (empirical information, observed fact, careful experiment). They were a genial pair (they believed education should be enjoyable) and their quest for new knowledge through their “Office of Information” made them known to many across Europe. This morning I discovered that one of their faithful correspondents was Theodore Haak, born in the Palatinate (near Worms) on July 25, 1605, a nearly perfect exemplar of the intellectual temper of the “scientific revolution” of the 17th century. He was deeply religious, his mother a Huguenot exile and he himself, soon enough, a refugee from the ravages of the Thirty Years’ War, and so understood the harm that religion could do. While studying in England (first at Cambridge in the late 1620s) he became an enthused disciple of Bacon’s new knowledge and soon enough (for Haak stayed in England most of the rest of his long life) of Hartlib and Dury. Haak himself churned out a remarkable correspondence to scientific and philosophical friends, including in Catholic Europe, and advanced new knowledge on several fronts, not least theology, in which he translated Dutch and German tracts for English edification. In due course he translated much of Milton’s Paradise Lost into German. But he was more interested in matters scientific and technical (a wide range, including magnetism and fishing), was a charter member of England’s Royal Society, and was such a cheerful soul that he remained a chess-playing friend of the irascible and super-sensitive Robert Hooke, the bane of Isaac Newton’s life. Theodore Haak died in London in 1690, and is buried at St. Andrews, Holborn. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 26 Jul 2017, 10:04

Some people are amazed at my brain, but really it's nothing. Gracie Allen.

Gracie Allen was born in San Francisco before 1906. The record of her birth was destroyed in the earthquake and fire, and this enabled her to play around with her birth year, although she admitted to July 26 as her birthday. Even George Burns (who survived her and lived almost forever), did not know exactly how old she was. However, opinion has it that Grace Ethel Cecile Rosalie Allen was born on July 26, 1895. As you might guess from that string of names, Gracie was born Irish Catholic and remained that way inclined, although whether her parents intended her for a career that began in vaudeville and ended on television may be doubted. At any rate Gracie was educated at the Star of the Sea Convent before, at 14, she joined her sisters in an Irish singing act, “The Four Colleens.” She was on the road for much of the time after that, and while traveling and working met Nathan Birnbaum, aka George Burns. They formed a “courtship comedy” act and then, life imitating art, they married, in Cleveland, in 1926. That act became popular, moving them into radio, apparently at the behest of Eddie Cantor, but as they aged their courtship routines became, so to speak, dated, and by the early 1940s they had settled down to the “Goodnight, Gracie” format of the TV show I remember, “The Burns and Allen Show.” The show went on for longer than it should have, not for matters of quality but because of Gracie’s heart disease. She finally retired in 1958 and, although George and his friends tried to carry on the show quickly fizzled, demonstrating the importance of Gracie’s role and of her ditzy presence. She died in 1964. For the record, “Burns and Allen” was a popular show among the cognoscenti at Greenwood and Callanan schools in Des Moines, IA, where it became a common article of faith that Gracie Allen was the brains behind the operation. We thought that, too, of Lucille Ball. Perhaps we were right. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 27 Jul 2017, 14:12

I killed one man to save one hundred thousand. Charlotte Corday, 1793.

In Des Moines high schools, in 10th grade, everyone read Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities. Arrogant youth that I was (I had already read several Steinbecks), I found it hard going, drowning in words, and I classed Sydney Carton’s heroism as merely eccentric or wholly unbelievable. I have repented, but at that first reading one thing stuck, Madame Therese Defarge and her sister tricoteuses, terrifying women who in some senses presided (in Dickens) over the “Terror” in the French Revolution. But these fictional knitters cannot match—for “transgressive behavior”—the dramatic, real life act of Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d’Armont who, aka Charlotte Corday, murdered the Jacobin leader Jean-Paul Marat by stabbing him (just once, apparently) in his bath. Charlotte Corday was born into the minor nobility in Normandy, on July 27, 1768. After her mother died, she was sent to a convent in Caen (for her education) and, while there, imbibed some modern thinking (even Voltaire) and may thus have been inclined to favor the French Revolution. Indeed Charlotte did favor it, even as it took a more radical course, for she identified with the Girondin faction, but opposed the yet more radical “Montagnards.” Their loss meant death for many Girondin leaders, for they were among the first victims of the Terror. Among the architects of the Montagnard victory was Jean-Paul Marat. Very deliberately, carrying with her a copy of Plutarch’s Lives, Charlotte went to Paris, bought a knife, gained admission to Marat’s house by posing as an informer, and stabbed him. The result is marvelously captured in David’s painting, The Death of Marat. As for Charlotte, she was cool enough to insist on having her own portrait done, hours before her own death, executed by guillotine, on July 17, 1793. She does not look like Madame Defarge. She looks like the Angel of Assassination, l’ange de l’assassinat, which is what Lamartine called her, a half-century later. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 28 Jul 2017, 11:26

'Military medicine is suffrage work-or women's work-in another form' Elizabeth Garrett Anderson the younger.

They say that liberation is contagious and so it would seem in the cases of Elizabeth Garrett Anderson (b. 1836), already mentioned in these notes as the first woman licensed to practice medicine in the UK, and her eldest child, also Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, who was born in London on July 28, 1873. When this second Elizabeth was three, the Medical Act of 1876 finally made it legal for a woman to be a doctor (her mom had managed it by subterfuge), but the daughter found various avenues blocked and did not qualify until 1898. Elizabeth then left for the USA to take up residencies, and returned to London in 1902 to a position in her mother’s New Hospital for Women. There she starred in surgery but, having been bitten by that bug she also became deeply involved with the suffragettes, first joining her Aunt Millicent’s National Union (the bug runs in families) and then, growing impatient with moderation, Elizabeth Garrett Anderson joined the Pankhursts in the Women’s Social and Political Union, and like many of them, went to jail. When the war came, she saw an opportunity to make further headway politically and medically, and she and her friend Dr. Fiona Murray (who had already founded a new women’s hospital in London) went to Paris and badgered the authorities for a women’s hospital (staffed by women) for wounded soldiers. The British turned them down, but the French Red Cross gave them Claridge’s Hotel, on the Champs Elysées. There they were so successful that the Brits invited them into the Royal Army Medical Corps, gave them a 573-bed surgical hospital in London, and Murray and Anderson, acting as uncommissioned COs but paid as a colonel and a major, saw to it that the London operation was also staffed entirely by females and was outstanding in both cure and care. After all that, the vote (which came to them in 1918) seemed anti-climactic for Elizabeth, whose pioneering mother (also, of course, a suffragette) had died only a year before. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 29 Jul 2017, 10:22

And so it was that later// As the miller told his tale// That her face, at first just ghostly,//Turned a whiter shade of pale. Procol Harum, 1967.

In 1971 Paulette and I attended a Procol Harum concert at the Royal Festival Hall. We had enjoyed their “A Whiter Shade of Pale,” but by the intermission we’d had enough. The music was too (painfully) loud, and although we’d figured out that “loud” was integral, we decided we’d enjoy the music where we could control the volume. The man we should have blamed for stretching our eardrums was James Marshall, born in humble circumstances (his dad had a fish and chip shop) in a posh place (Kensington, London) on July 29, 1923. Jim Marshall contracted TB of the bones while quite young and spent much time encased in plaster (a charity patient, I think, before the National Health Service) at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital. He grew out of it, but ill-educated, and taught himself just about everything he did, which included frying fish, selling shoes, baking, finally graduating to skilled machinist (tool-maker) at a wartime aircraft factory. Along the way he became a drummer of note for prominent dance bands, and also taught percussion. He saved enough money from these avocations to open a music shop, selling drums of course and also making custom speaker cabinets. Then he taught himself about sound and circuitry, became friends with the likes of Pete Townshend, and began to make powerful amplifiers that would serve for rock the way Fender served for jazz. What he was looking for was “harmonic distortion” (you can say that again!!), and by the day he figured it out (in 1962) he had 23 orders. Within two years he had a factory producing 23 each week, known as the JTM45s, along with speakers and cabinets that could stand the vibration. Marshall, who died in 2012, was a larger than life figure notoriously friendly to all who darkened his door. He made millions, but gave much of it away to National Health Service hospitals, including the Orthopaedic Hospital where, in his youth, he had spent so many months immobilized and silent in plaster casts. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 30 Jul 2017, 11:26

You could only do that once. You can’t find anything bigger than that, at least on this planet. Marie Tharp, 1997.

At age 77 (in 1997) Marie Tharp was at the Library of Congress to be honored as “one of the four greatest cartographers of the modern era” and as a recent recipient of her home university’s highest academic honor. When she saw her most famous map, of the Atlantic Ocean floor, hanging in the place of honor, Marie Tharp broke down and wept. As well she might, because for much of her working life her gender had kept her in the shadows, working as a “draftsman” in Columbia’s geology lab, unable to do field work because, of course, in field work women were inconvenient distractions at best. Born in Michigan on July 30, 1920, Marie Tharp had wanted to be a geologist like her father, but had taken advice about careers open to women and majored in English instead. Then came the war, and geology opened just enough for her to get her master’s degree and then go to work for an oil company. Thence her skill at crunching data into map form took her to Columbia and an odd (possibly not platonic but certainly durable) relationship with her supervisor, Professor Bruce Heezen. He was using sonar to chart the oceans, and Marie’s scientific skills (and her artistry) fit that perfectly. In 1952, as she worked through Heezen’s data she became convinced that there was a mid-ocean rift valley, most obvious in the Atlantic but circling the globe, 40,000 miles of it. But that could not be (“just girl talk” was Heezen’s first and possibly infuriating response), for if it did exist it would confirm Alfred Wegener’s discredited (indeed ridiculed) theory of continental drift. But Marie kept working at the map and on Heezen, and in the 1960s his scientific papers helped to make continental drift the new geological orthodoxy. And well before his death (in 1977), Heezen had invited Marie Tharp to join him in field work and acknowledged both her genius and her stubbornness. Twenty years on, and the Library of Congress did the same. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 31 Jul 2017, 13:27

I cannot think of anyone else with the same combination of warm affection for the individual scholars and iron toughness in the face of officialdom. Nobel Laureate Max Perutz, tribute to Esther Simpson, 1992.

At a time of apparently deep hostility to immigrants, including refugees, in the US and Britain, it’s good to remember Tess Simpson, the patron saint of thousands of them, privately or through agencies she led. The daughter of refugees herself, she was born Esther Sinovitch, in Leeds, on July 31, 1903, and graduated first class (in French and German) from Leeds University in 1924. At about this time she was converted to Quakerism by her elder brother, a CO in WWI, and so it was as Esther (“Tess”) Simpson that she set out, in 1933, on her rescue mission, taking a 66% cut in salary to become secretary and soon the leading light of the new Academic Assistance Council. The Council, and Tess, concentrated on academic persons and their families and at first on German intellectuals who were Jewish or had had the bad judgment to marry a Jew. Later she branched out to help fleeing Norwegians, then refugees from Communist eastern Europe, from apartheid South Africa and Ian Smith’s Rhodesia, from Ba’athist Iraq, wherever authoritarian governments persecuted free inquiry and the inquirers. And she became adept at securing refugees’ livelihoods as well as their lives, placing them in universities, at schools, and in offices in Britain and (later) in the US. Austere in her private life (save for her violin, on which she lavished much attention), she warmly welcomed thousands (literally) and then raised holy hell (starting with Winston Churchill’s internment order of 1940) if they were mistreated in their new homes. Among the more famous were sixteen future Nobel Laureates, all in science, but she also helped the likes of Karl Popper, Geoffrey Elton, Marie Jahoda, Ernst Gombrich, and Nikolaus Pevsner. In her old age she was honored by various governments (and by her “children”), but Tess Simpson didn’t lay down her cudgels until she died, aged 93, having (as a last act) willed her body to science. Perhaps today we can find us another Tess. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 02 Aug 2017, 04:59

If you want the best idea of Cape Horn, get my friend Dana's unmatchable Two Years Before the Mast. His chapters describing Cape Horn must have been written with an icicle. Herman Melville, 1850.

Steve King’s “Today in Literature” (I recommend that you subscribe) informs me that two of America’s most famed sea salts were born on this day, Richard Henry Dana (in Cambridge, MA, August 1, 1815) and Herman Melville (in New York City, August 1, 1819). Both went to sea as young men, Dana out on the brig Pilgrim in 1834 and back on the Alert the next year, Melville on a merchantman in 1839, then changing to a whaler the next year. Neither of them stayed afloat for very long (Melville sailed much longer in both time and distance), but their seafaring experiences made men of them in the most literal way. It shaped their lives. Dana, born to the Puritan purple, could have lived a life of some comfort, and indeed he did become a prominent lawyer, but his midship experiences gave him a lively sympathy for the underdog, the downtrodden, which issued in his becoming, in court and in print, an expert in maritime law and both defender of and advocate for the rights of common seamen, a generally despised and exploited group. Dana also became (in the courts and elsewhere) a leading force in the abolition movement. Melville also sailed as a common salt, but it was because of his family’s new-found poverty, and while afloat he discovered himself and worlds of wonder, character (from demonic to noble) in his shipmates and awe at the sea’s majesty and its monsters. And then of course they both wrote about the sea. As a neophyte teenager (13) I devoured Dana’s Two Years before the Mast, which he published in 1840 (The Seaman’s Friend, so to speak Dana’s legal brief, came out in 1841). And Melville gave us much more, fantasies like Typee (1846) and Mardi (1849), and his seafaring masterworks Moby-Dick; or, The Whale (1851), and Billy Budd (1924), not published until the Melville revival of the 20th century, when readers and critics finally realized that a genius had landed on our shores in 1844, the first new-born of the whaler Acushnet. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 02 Aug 2017, 12:58

It is as fatal as it is cowardly to blink facts because they are not to our taste. John Tyndall, Fragments of Science for Unscientific Minds, 1879.

Recently I helped plan (and this semester will again teach in) an UMSL course on science literacy. My small part has to do with the history of science, its main intellectual currents and its economic effects. With only three lectures I dash quickly through the centuries, but linger over the 19th century’s amazing accomplishments, notably the pure brain work involved in isolating so many elements and the physicists whose mighty thoughts about heat, light, and energy laid the foundations for Einstein’s discourse. Another 19th-century discovery was surely poetical rather than scientific, the explanation for why, on a sunlit day, the sky is blue. But the discoverer was in real life a scientist, a good one who dabbled at almost everything and spent much energy evangelizing for science. He was John Tyndall, born in Ireland on August 2, 1820 of Anglo-Protestant stock. He was interested in science, and taught math at an English school, but learning about science in early 19th-century England was difficult, and so he played hooky for several years, at Marburg, Germany, learning chemistry from Bunsen (think Bunsen burners) and physics from Knoblauch. There Tyndall did very well and returned to England where, in 1853 with the help of Michael Faraday, he became Professor of Natural Philosophy (Physics) at the Royal Institution. His explanation for our blue skies was a byproduct of much deeper work on how heat and motion are generated in (and work on) our atmosphere. Some of his experimental findings could be cited as the origin of the idea of the Greenhouse Effect and the mechanisms of global warming. And he took very seriously the educational mission of the Royal Institution, telling everyone who could listen or read that it is vitally important (as well as poetically exciting) to know all that we can about how the universe and our earth work. John Tyndall thought our survival might depend on it, and I think, today, that we can depend on that. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 03 Aug 2017, 13:34

All fiction is largely autobiographical and much autobiography is, of course, fiction. P. D. James.

Although Phyllis Dorothy (aka P. D.) James was born in Oxford (on August 3, 1920), and got a good schooling, she never went on to university. Her father thought girls should get married instead. Hers was an unhappy home, and her unhappiness was later compounded when her husband came home from the war suffering severely a mental illness that never left him. It also required James to turn breadwinner, which she did with some success as a hospital administrator and then in a police lab. Throughout, or certainly from early on, she was sustained in her struggles by a deep religious faith and an abiding loyalty to the Church of England (two traits that do not necessarily go together). So it’s not surprising that her crime fiction, when it came, often deals with—sometimes turns on—dark doings among families and skullduggery in closed institutions (seminaries, hospitals, etc.) that should not fall prey to skullduggery. And perhaps not surprising, either, that her favorite hero, the poet-police detective Adam Dalgleish, was a vicar’s son who (when solving one of James’s quite impenetrable murders) often reflects doubtingly on his upbringing and his faith. Dalgleish also (after or indeed during his work day) dabbles in writing (in his case, poetry), which more or less mirrored James’s life until, circa 1960, she thought she’d do better to write for money. So P. D. James pitched on a detective novel (Cover Her Face, 1962) as a way to get started on a serious writing career. After her husband died (1964) she turned increasingly to writing as a paid profession, and found that she liked the crime genre and was comfortable with the developing persona of that vicar’s son. There were in the end 14 Adam Dalgleish novels and, oh yes, honorary degrees from eight universities and honorary fellowships from five Oxbridge colleges. P. D. James died in 2014 as Baroness James, in Oxford, and in the arms of the Church of England. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 04 Aug 2017, 13:47

I don't have to answer questions from Helen Thomas. Fidel Castro, answering a reporter's question "what is the difference between Cuban democracy and American democracy?

Today White House press conferences lurch from absurdity to farce, supplying more raw material for late night comics than “news,” so it’s good to recall a journalist who took them seriously and did much to keep them that way through eleven presidential administrations, from Kennedy to Obama. And she was a she, almost a trespasser on what had been pretty much a male preserve. She was Helen Thomas, born in Kentucky to illiterate immigrant parents (Lebanese) on August 4, 1920. She remained ever loyal to her parents, and their religion (Orthodox, of the Antiochan variety) was also hers for life. Determined not to be “hyphenated Americans,” the family did its best to educate its children, and Helen went the distance by majoring in English at Wayne State. She was already interested in journalism, got her first full-time job as a copygirl [sic] in DC, but within the year (1943) was hired by UPI to report on society news and women’s issues. Women were not yet thought appropriate for “newsroom” life. During the 50s Helen started to change all that, covering the Department of Justice at the beginning of the modern civil rights campaign. Then, in early 1960, UPI assigned her to report the Kennedy campaign, and when Kennedy won she moved into the White House, where her sharp questioning, her doggedness in sticking to the issues (rather than being misled by the spin), and yet her good manners (she restored the custom of closing presidential press conferences with “Thank You, Mr. President) soon rendered her quasi-institutional. And there Helen Thomas stayed, for nearly 50 years, breaking through several glass ceilings (and, of course, reporting the news) until she fell foul of the wrong end of the Israel lobby and was accused of anti-Semitism for stating publicly her views on Israeli policy. To which her answer was, “I am a Semite,” but, aged 90, she did find it expedient to resign. Few defended her. She died, unrepentant, in 2013. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 05 Aug 2017, 11:02

The image I have sought to evoke is of an entity, the land of Britain, in which past and present, nature, man and art appear all in one piece. Jacquetta Hawkes, "The Land," 1951

We still lived in England when (1996) Jacquetta Hawkes died. I then knew nothing about her, but her obituaries made that ignorance seem culpable, for she had been the sort of person that one should know about. She was born Jessie Jacquetta Hopkins on August 5, 1910. Her father was an eminent biochemist who would win a Nobel (medicine and physiology) in 1929, and Jacquetta was always drawn to science, but her first love was archaeology, partly because the family home, in Cambridge, was built on the route of a Roman road that overlay an Anglo-Saxon cemetery. Her second love was a brilliant archaeologist, Christopher Hawkes, whom she met at a Roman dig in Colchester when she was fresh out of college, and her third—and abiding—love was J. B. Priestley, the eminently approachable writer (essays, novels, plays, travel). But Jacquetta Hawkes should not be known by the men in her life. Nor, really, was it their interest in her (“What a woman,” Priestley said on meeting her in 1947, “Ice without, fire within!”). For Jacquetta was by the time she married Priestley (1953) already an eminent archaeologist, one who combined in her work a fascination for the science of it and the poetics in it (her 1951 geological/archaeological book on Britain, The Land, was illustrated by Henry Moore), and she was in the process of becoming a provocative, insightful author on many other subjects as well, very ready then to collaborate with Priestley in some of his work, notably two experimental plays that were well received in London and New York. Hawkes (she retained that surname) was also founding director of UNESCO in Britain, a leader in the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and the author of a remarkable (and autobiographical) novel, A Quest for Love (1981). In 1996, one obituary saluted her as “a mixture of Athena and Aphrodite:” Priestley’s ice and fire, the sort of person, of wisdom and passion, about whom one should know something. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 06 Aug 2017, 13:50

I sing to him that rests below,// And, since the grasses round me wave,//I take the grasses of the grave, // And make them pipes whereon to blow. Tennyson, In Memoriam, XXI.

I’ve prejudged 19th-century poetry as conventional stuff, but I’ve had to revise my Longfellow prejudices (see C. Irmscher’s Longfellow Redux, 2006). In discussing that revision with a colleague, I was advised to do the same with Tennyson, and to start with his famous In Memoriam and the circumstances of its creation, though “accretion” might be more fitting. So I’m changing my Tennyson, too. Alfred Tennyson spoke for his age (he was Victoria’s Poet Laureate and thus about as “Victorian” as they come), but he understood his age’s preoccupations with grief and memory and beauty, and he rendered them into great poetry. Tennyson was born on August 6, 1809, the 4th of 12 children, to a Church of England vicar made constantly unhappy by his loss of an inheritance, and Alfred early acquired some of the family’s “morbidity” (as he called it). In his father and in one of his siblings, it worked out as addiction, in others mere eccentricity; for young Alfred “moods of misery unutterable” were his inheritances. He dealt with it through fast friendships, through poetry, and through marriage to the incomparable Emily Sellwood. He met Emily (the younger sister of his brother’s wife) in 1830 and did not marry her until she was 37, in 1850. That was, truly, his annus mirabilis, for it was also the publication date of In Memoriam, first anonymously and then in acknowledged editions (although Tennyson’s name never did appear on a published edition during his lifetime, for it was, after all, a memorial). In Emily, Tennyson found “his friend, his servant, his guide, his critic,” and with In Memoriam he found his fame. His poetry had been noticed favorably before, but this long memorial of and to a dead friend (Henry Hallam, who was lost at sea in 1833) offered its readers both consolation and liberation, and it vouchsafed to them Tennyson’s faith in friendship as a most powerful anchor for a modern life—and for a modern poet. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 07 Aug 2017, 02:32

A very faithful reader pointed up an important error in this morning’s anniversary note. Arthur Henry Hallam, the friend immortalized by Tennyson’s In Memoriam, did not die at sea. I misread something this morning, and I think it was part of the poem. Hallam’s body was returned by sea to England, for burial. Hallam was not only a friend, but would have been a brother-in-law, and Tennyson started writing what became In Memoriam in 1833, when Hallam died. He kept adding to it, but would not publish any of it (he feared it would not adequately convey his love and admiration for Hallam, nor his grief) until finally, in the year of his marriage, he published it anonymously. But not for long. Within the year, Tennyson had accepted Prince Albert’s nomination to be Poet Laureate.
Thanks for the correction.
Bob
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 07 Aug 2017, 12:02

My circumstances allowing of nothing but a written monologue by that most interesting being, myself, may have its yet to be discovered consolations. Alice James.

The wealthy James family of New York produced five precocious children and then cultivated that precocity. If it’s actually true that “as the twig is bent, so grows the tree,” then the Jameses’ childrearing strategy worked 40% of the time, producing William James, the eminent (indeed foundational) philosopher/psychologist, and Henry James, “The Master,” an extraordinarily insightful novelist and essayist. The other three, Garth (“Wilkie”), Robertson (“Bob”), and Alice suffered from depression. Of the three, Alice’s was (for William and Henry) the James family’s most important case of melancholy, although Wilkie’s war wounds (mental and physical) ran her a close second. Alice James was born on August 7, 1848, the youngest James, and she early felt eclipsed by her faster, stronger, and smarter brothers. This was particularly galling as mom and dad thought that quite the right fate for a woman, whose proper place, after all, was domestic. So Alice became, in the sexist language of the time, neurasthenic, hysterical. She may have been sped on her way by a romantic, possibly (suppressed) erotic relationship with William, and her worst year (she later reflected) was 1878, when Will married and left her. But Alice’s brilliant letters and, latterly, her diary (1889-1892) meant that she never left William (or Henry), and remained an important presence in their lives, William providing therapies, psychologically and (in her last illness) medically, Henry fascinated (sympathetically) by her sharpness and her struggles. Alice’s insights, born of her character and her frustrations, have in our own time made her a feminist icon, the subject of excellent biographies and, most recently, the protagonist of Lynne Alexander’s novel, The Sister (2012). And yet her father, in 1882, facing death and looking back on his life, could say only that he had had “four remarkable boys, remarkable boys.” One hopes that Alice didn’t hear him, but she probably did not need to. ©
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

User avatar
Stanley
Global Moderator
Global Moderator
Posts: 38783
Joined: 23 Jan 2012, 12:01
Location: Barnoldswick. Nearer to Heaven than Gloria.

Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 08 Aug 2017, 03:09

Service interruptions, progress report

As many of you know, these anniversary notes started, in a desultory fashion, around about 2000 as occasional postings in the Honors College. From September 2012 they have been daily, without (as far as I can remember) any interruption. They also go out as birthday ‘cards’ to Honors College students whose birthday it might be (there were none today). I intend to continue that way, for it’s a hard thing to break even a bad habit, but please understand that Paulette and I will be traveling, and there may be delays, interruptions, even (horror of horrors) desperate recycling of old anniversary notes.
The excuse is travel. To celebrate my retirement, we are visiting old friends in England and Wales (many of whom are on this mailing list). We depart August 16 for four weeks’ worth of visiting (in order, Brighton, Sutton Coldfield, Lancaster of course, Shrewsbury, Cardiff, and Oxford), and then a long fifth week sailing back (Southampton to Brooklyn calling at Le Havre) on the Queen Mary 2, September 14-22. During the time on shore I will have daily access to the internet but even then my first on-line commitment will be to my MA seminar, 16 students who deserve priority treatment (and I have never taught ‘on-line’ before, so I will be learning as I go). Then, on the Queen Mary 2, I am warned that some days there may be no internet. Scarcely imaginable, I know, but there it is. I hope you will bear with me.
The anniversary notes are acquiring a history, and an audience. Since September 2012 I have sent out almost 3,000 “birthday notes” to PLHC students, and (counting the notes that survive from the desultory pre-2012 period) there are well over 3,500 separate ‘anniversary notes’ in the series. I know that several on this mailing list (now of 201 persons) send theirs on to friends and family, which is fine, and in England a former student puts them on his website where, he tells me, they have attracted going on for 130,000 page hits (whatever a page hit is). As a scholar whose prizewinning book was in the end remaindered by its publisher, I find that strangely satisfying.
But basically I keep doing it because it’s enjoyable. Quite apart from anything else, it has proved to be a good way of keeping in touch. You are, collectively, friends, family, colleagues, former students and you have, collectively, very often written back to say hello and comment on this or that infelicity in the notes. Several of you have suggested new subjects for treatment, and as far as I can remember I have adopted every suggestion. (The next one, next March, will be Elsie Tilney, like last Sunday’s Tess Simpson an unsung heroine of the Holocaust. Her information was sent to me by a Lancaster colleague after he read the Simpson note). As for the notes themselves, even when I write about a familiar subject or person I usually find out something new, and having to say something informative and conclusive in 300 words or fewer is, in itself, one of the reasons for those ‘discoveries.’ McLuhan was right. The way you package information does shape it.
Anyway, between August 17 and September 22, inclusive, please excuse any delays or interruptions or self-plagiarism. Also, American readers, please note that you will for a time be getting these notes mid-day. Normal service resumes on the morning of September 23.

Bob
Stanley Challenger Graham
Stanley's View
scg1936 at talktalk.net

"Beware of certitude" (Jimmy Reid)
The floggings will continue until morale improves!

Post Reply

Return to “General Miscellaneous Chat & Gossip”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users