BOB'S BITS

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 08 Jan 2018, 15:26

Let war once be disbelieved in, and its force melts into nothing. Emily Greene Balch, in Women at the Hague: The International Congress of Women, 1915.

The settlement house movement originated in Britain, but it struck a chord in the USA. By 1890 there were 70; by 1910 there were over 400. They included Jane Addams’ famous Hull-House (Chicago), and they attracted young college graduates, mainly (75%) women, offering them an intensive post-graduate course in economics, sociology, education, and not least politics. Among them were many who would graduate to serve FDR’s New Deal, for instance Frances Perkins and Edith Abbott. One of the older recruits—who then outlived almost all of her comrades—was Emily Greene Balch. Born into the Boston Brahmin class on January 8, 1867, she got her undergraduate studies at Bryn Mawr College and in Paris, writing it all up in Public Assistance of the Poor in France. Then Balch met Jane Addams and moved from academic to activist. In the midst of her graduate work (at Chicago and Berlin) Balch founded Boston’s Denison House and took up an appointment at Wellesley College, where she offered courses in the basics but also in “social pathology,” wherein Wellesley’s young ladies did field work in the Boston slums. Emily Balch continued to publish, too, for instance Our Slavic Fellow Citizens (1910), its very title forming a vital part of her argument. Come World War I, Balch took the pacifist route, which got her fired from Wellesley, but gave her a new lease on life, moving her settlement house sights to an international stage (including, for instance, Haiti) and founding the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Hitler and Mussolini jarred her loose from her pacifism, but nevertheless Miss Balch won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946. She gave her prize money ($250,000 in today’s $$$) to charity and went on working for the poor and for peace. Emily Greene Balch, veteran of the Settlement House wars and the international peace movement, died much mourned and much honored (even by Wellesley College) at the tender age of 94, in 1961.©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 09 Jan 2018, 13:27

You know, a lot of people are saying that, and a lot of people are saying that bad things are happening out there. Donald J. Trump, campaigning in New Hampshire.

I had had enough of conspiracy theorists even before we elected one as president. This is not to say that, in history, conspiracies don’t exist, but usually they were inventions, false from the start, conceived nefariously for nefarious ends. If they had any effect, it was because they fed on humanity’s inexhaustible credulity. On the other hand . . . Take the case of Edward Bancroft, born in Massachusetts on January 9, 1744. Soon he moved with his widowed mother into a Connecticut family wealthy enough to hire young Silas Deane as Edward’s tutor. Silas Deane, an impecunious Yale graduate and Enlightenment skeptic who did not want to become a clergyman, was clever enough to marry two wealthy widows (in succession), set himself up as a merchant and then insinuate himself into the American Revolutionary movement. Deane was appointed secret agent to France and charged to with the conspiratorial responsibility of provoking the French to ally with the Americans, at which point Edward Bancroft (by now a leading London physician, chemist and member of the Royal Society), who had done some amateur spying for the Americans, reattached himself to Deane and then to old Ben Franklin, also in Paris for conspiratorial purposes. At various points Bancroft served as secretary to the American legation in Paris, and even as Franklin’s valet, but what Franklin and Deane didn’t know is that Bancroft was actually (no, really!!) a British double agent, one who lodged special reports on the Americans’ plotting in Paris with the British government. He even used invisible ink, which he might have invented himself, for he was a gifted chemist and derived most of his income from a fabric dye he had concocted. His nefarious conspiracy did not come to light until the release of British diplomatic records in 1891, at which point consipiracy theorists got busy with him. That story eventually involved the alleged murder of Silas Deane in 1789. It’s false. Probably. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 10 Jan 2018, 13:11

I built her a tower when I was young// sometime she will die //. . . Old but still strong I climb the stone// . . . climb the steep rough steps alone// And weep in the sky. Robinson Jeffers, "For Una."

It’s said that humans are naturally self-centered. One hopes that is mistaken, is constantly disappointed and then “gets down to work,” proving the point. Robinson Jeffers, an underrated modern poet, decided to rail against it, poetically and in practice. Our human self-ness, he thought, led to conflict, whether with our next-door neighbor or with a distant nation, and so he developed a philosophy called “inhumanism,” which was not as bad as it sounds. Instead of ourselves, we should Buddha-like focus on the wider wonder of the cosmos. Failing that he recommended a devotion to nature, and indeed acted that out on a smallholding near Carmel, CA, now a museum and garden (most of the land has been sold off). Somehow, then, it comes as no surprise that Robinson Jeffers was born the son of a Presbyterian clergyman, in a middle-class Pittsburgh suburb (on January 10, 1887). Where it all began is an interesting question, possibly in his intensive, classical education that made him fluent in several languages (including modern ones), but more likely when, a medical student at USC in 1906, he met a married graduate student older than he, fell madly for her, and precipitated a divorce action that made even Los Angeles wake up and take notice. After a long wait, Jeffers married Una Call Kuster in 1913, and they proceeded to use her money (and his) to build her a Celtic castle at Carmel. Tor House still stands (thanks to Ansel Adams it’s on the National Register of Historic Places). It has a fantastic castle keep (“Hawk’s Tower”), a secret staircase, and “Una’s Room” on the second floor, and is a monument to her love of things Irish, his veneration for William Butler Yeats, and (especially if its surrounding land was still intact) their common devotion to nature. Nearby, Mr. Kuster built his own stone castle folly, for his new wife (and maybe for Una, too). There the four of them lived, next-door neighbors, in what seems to have been unself-centered amity. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 11 Jan 2018, 13:32

What strange creatures brothers are! Jane Austen.

History throws together strange bedfellows, but so do families: as in the case of Jeremy Bentham, philosopher and reformer, and his younger brother Samuel, eventually Sir Samuel, born on January 11, 1757, knighted for his services to naval warfare, notably his invention of exploding artillery shells. Here were two siblings who had several other siblings, but all of the others died in childhood. This made them precious to their barrister father, whose inclinations towards indulgence were further strengthened by the boys’ precocities, Jeremy’s academical and Samuel’s of a more practical sort. So Jeremy went off to Westminster School and Oxford while Samuel was apprenticed at the Woolwich Docks and completed his education at the Naval Academy, Portsmouth. Possibly the family’s radical Toryism (then not an oxymoron) kept Samuel out of the American war. At any rate he went to Russia and revolutionized the Tsarina’s navy, first its production side (with Count Potemkin) and then its tactics. Besides exploding shells, he pioneered interchangeable parts and new industrial processes, including a “Panopticon”, a circular factory wherein a single supervisor kept his eye on a battalion of workmen, which all begins to look like Bro Jeremy’s utilitarianism. Exploding shells killed more people with less effort, and his Panopticon (and the machines within it) made possible the profitable regimentation of cheap(er) laborers, which he also advocated. Oddly enough, a similar construction would later be used for prison reform, in which Jeremy was quite interested (and for which he’s often credited without mentioning brother Sam). Close enough in childhood, the brothers became even closer as adults. These family coincidences (and collaborations) make me think that J. Bentham’s ethical measure (“the greatest good for the greatest number”) was not, perhaps, as humane as I hoped when, in 1962-3, I first encountered him, without his Sam so to speak, in the academic study of ethics. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 12 Jan 2018, 13:40

Susanna, the muse of Cumberland.

Among the women authors who’ve been rediscovered in recent decades, give a thought today to Susanna Blamire, born in Dalston, Cumberland, on January 12, 1747. With her, “rediscovery” has been a longer labor. During her time she published almost nothing. She wrote for friends and family, and often left poems pinned to trees. Nevertheless, her poetry and songs were well known, if not she. Dickens quoted her “The Nun’s Return to the World” (in The Old Curiosity Shop) without knowing who wrote it, for the first collection of her poetry was not published until 1842, nearly 50 years after her death (The Poetical Works of Miss Susanna Blamire, The Muse of Cumberland). Susanna never married, and suffered—sometimes terribly—throughout her short life from recurrent bouts of rheumatic fever, but she loved her poetry, and neighbors often saw her in her garden composing her verse and testing its musicality by singing it (softly, I am sure). Her life was remarkable in other ways. Her father was a yeoman farmer, but her education, her brothers’ successes in London (one a doctor, the other a publisher), and their widening yet concentric circles of friends remind us that some yeoman farmers were quite substantial men. In her 20s Susanna herself had an affair with a neighboring noble (Lord Ossulston). He later settled down with a properly aristocratic wife, and Susanna moved (for a while) to Scaleby Castle where she lived (and wrote songs) with Catherine Gilpin. But for her last years she lived alone, comfortably, with her guitar, her flageolet, and her muse. It was a country muse, and some of her poems (in their use of dialects and in their politics) remind one of Robert Burns across the border, but it was also a Romantic muse. Indeed, Jonathan Wordsworth (William’s grand-nephew and a literary scholar) has seen Susanna Blamire lurking in William’s work and that of Coleridge and Byron. Well worth a read, she remains: Miss Susanna Blamire, 1747-1794. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 13 Jan 2018, 14:19

I've been rich and I've been poor. Rich is better. Sophie Tucker.

My family got the first TV on the block in 1950, a 16” Magnavox with a “color converter” attachment that never functioned (except occasionally in electrical storms). Among the more colorful performers headlined on the “variety” hours (Ed Sullivan, Arthur Godfrey, etc.) that populated early schedules was Sophie Tucker, “the last of the red-hot mamas.” At seven, I wasn’t sure what that meant but I could see that she was an aged lady who was big, buxom, bouncy, and brassy. She was born Sonya Kalish, on January 13, 1887, while en route to America with her Ukrainian Jewish family. The family adopted a new name, “Abuza,” and opened a café in Hartford, CT, where as soon as she could Sonya waitressed and, occasionally, sang. At 16, she eloped with a beer truck driver, got a baby (Albert), and started singing for money as Sophie Tucker. The beer drayman, Louis Tuck, soon disappeared, but Sophie Tucker kept on belting out songs. She did vaudeville, often in blackface and thus learned to use a black accent before she knew anything of jazz (at which she later became proficient), and then graduated to stardom via the Ziegfeld Follies and the William Morris agency. By the 1920s Sophie was big time, touring America and Europe, famous too for her recordings, notably “My Yiddishe Momme” and “Some of These Days.” With the decline of vaudeville and the rise of talkies, she successfully transitioned to movies and with the decline of radio to television. Sophie cleaned up her act some for TV, but she was indeed a “red-hot mamma” and her appetites, sexual and dietary, were frequently part of her act, good clean fun, but fun anyway. In 1962, she performed again for royalty in London (for Elizabeth II, as she had in 1926 for Elizabeth’s grandfather), and her last TV appearance, appropriately enough in color, came in October 1965, Sophie Tucker lived long enough to have her songs banned by Hitler and then to hear the Beatles refer to her as “our favorite American group.” ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 14 Jan 2018, 13:03

I am often with you in thought, dear Berthe. I'm in your studio and I like to slip away, if only for a quarter hour, to breathe that atmosphere that we shared for many years. Edma Pontillon to Berthe Morisot.

In 1870, young Katherine O’Flaherty (she was just 20) married Oscar Chopin, moved with him to New Orleans, and within eleven years produced six children. It was not a strange society to Kate (her mother was a St. Louis créole, a Charleville), but in between births Kate established an unladylike independence, encouraged (or allowed) by her Oscar. Among the social friends she made (in 1872-3) was Edgar Degas, who was visiting his brother. She was interested in Degas as a painter and for the stories he told of Paris, itself on the cusp of the Impressionist revolt, and of two painterly sisters, Berthe and Edma Morisot. They’d both learned to paint because it was appropriate for young ladies to do so, but Berthe Morisot (born on January 14, 1841) took it seriously, was already selling her work in the 1860s, and although she married (Eugène Manet, Édouard’s brother), Berthe continued to paint, and sell, and buy, in her own name. She would join the Impressionists, and while her works found a ready sale (readier than her husband’s) during her life they have recently become still more desirable as the art market awakens to women’s work. A Morisot recently sold for nearly $11 million, at Christie’s. Edma Morisot married a naval officer and, as Edma Pontillon, lost touch with her art (though never with Berthe). Meanwhile, Kate Chopin kept on making her rounds in New Orleans. There was no physical affair (with Degas or anyone else) until after Oscar died in 1882. Kate took over his business and his debts but longed for something better, and (back in St. Louis) began to write, stories and sketches and then novels. Her The Awakening (1899) tells of the liberation (and death) of Edna Pontellier, part of which has to do with Edna’s painting. Kate’s biographers now think that Edna Pontellier’s name, and elements of her story, came from Kate Chopin’s conversations with Edgar Degas about the Morisot sisters. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 15 Jan 2018, 14:24

Don't be frightened. If in doubt, if in depression, if in anxiety, say so without fear. We have invented language, and refined it. Then should we not use it, and dissolve difficulties by articulating them? Hugh Trevor-Roper, advice to his steps...

Tom Sharpe’s Porterhouse Blue (1974) is an entertaining rant about English academic conservatism (and, to be fair, subversion), set in Porterhouse College, Cambridge, an imagined place bearing the imprint of an author who was a Cambridge graduate. In 1987 it was made into a TV series (4 episodes) by Malcolm Bradbury. The timing made it natural for watchers to think that Porterhouse might be Peterhouse, a real Cambridge college (the oldest one) that was home to a donnish tribe so reactionary as to invite parody. Their motivations were diverse, but part of their plot was to make Hugh Trevor-Roper the Master of Peterhouse. Born on January 15, 1914, Trevor-Roper (whom Thatcher had ennobled as Baron Dacre of Glanton), seemed to the plotters to be the man to keep Peterhouse sailing to a reactionary wind. And indeed Trevor-Roper had about him a whiff of reaction. He’d endured a lifetime’s battle with materialist and Marxist historians of England’s revolutionary century (the 17th). He’d voiced opinions about African history that seemed to the Peterhouse primitives to be reassuringly racist. And he was a founding father of the Congress for Cultural Freedom, a think-tank financed by (inter alia) the CIA. Conservative he certainly was, but Trevor-Roper disappointed the plotters. Touchingly, he wanted to make Peterhouse a pleasant place, thought their fuhrer (Maurice Cowling) “a strong mind trapped in its own glutinous frustrations,” and much to Cowling’s fury he made Peterhouse co-ed (in 1983) and instituted other reforms. And so the Cowling group turned guerilla, and set about making the Master’s life a misery. Trevor-Roper quit in disgust in the very year that Bradbury’s version of Porterhouse Blue hit their airwaves. In 1987, then, both Porterhouse and Peterhouse seemed to be lunatic asylums, and one hardly knew which one was the fiction. But was it art imitating life, or life imitating art, or just a comic coincidence? ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 16 Jan 2018, 11:43

Anybody who's worth her salt has to fight for her rights once in a while or get shoved around. Ethel Merman.

In our record and cd collection, itself rather dated, Ella Fitzgerald is the singer most closely identified with the music of George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, and Cole Porter, but the woman for whom many of those classics were actually written was Ethel Merman. Ethel was born Ethel Zimmerman on January 16, 1908, the daughter of strict parents who, though they had fallen away from the Dutch Reformed Church (Ethel was baptized an Episcopalian), were not thrilled when she threw up her secretarial job (and ditched her surname) to take a stage role. That came in 1930, when Gershwin chose her—more or less out of the blue—to star in Girl Crazy. She’d been singing in church and for private parties for some time, but still it must have been a bit of a gamble. If so it paid off, big time. When Ethel was on stage she belted them out flawlessly, tunefully, on the beat, and living the lyric. Berlin said you could hear her perfectly, even singing the most complicated song, from the back row of the second balcony. At 21, she was a sensation, and in that decade would sing—in roles made for her—“I Got Rhythm,” “It’s De-lovely,” “I Get a Kick out of You,” and (later, in the early 50s) the one that became her own signature song, “There’s No Business Like Show Business.” Merman’s home was the Broadway stage, but she went into movies, too. I first saw her in It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963) a non-singing role where she played a stout, loud, and obnoxious mother-in-law, so later – on late-night TV—it was nice to see Ethel Merman as a kid, really, in some old 30s movies (e.g. Alexander’s Rag-Time Band, 1930) in one of which she (in 1936, aged 27) actually played herself, opposite the likes of Bing Crosby. She was never a little girl, far less an ingénue, but in the 1930s Ethel Merman was svelte enough and young enough to make that really big voice a really pleasant surprise. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 17 Jan 2018, 14:25

The theatre that never closed. (Windmill Theatre motto, altered by some wits to "never clothed.")

Soho’s Windmill Theatre, now fully closed, had a seedy afterlife, thanks to porn king Paul Raymond and an even more dubious character who claimed to be called Oscar Owide, but its heyday got a new treatment in 2005 in Mrs. Henderson Presents, highlighting its WWII nude tableau vivants and starring Judi Dench, who played the fully clothed and delightfully obtuse Laura Henderson. A subplot is that Mrs. H hired and slowly learned to like a Jewish theatre manager, Vivian Van Damm (played with brio by Bob Hoskins), to whom the real Mrs. Henderson willed the theatre in 1944. What’s less appreciated is that Van Damm, before and after Henderson’s death, also ran comedy acts of some distinction (e.g. Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers) and what’s even less well known is that he produced a famous daughter, Sheila Van Damm, really quite unlike the girls in those nude tableaus. Quite apart from anything else, constrained by England’s rather odd decency laws, the theatre girls could not (once unclothed) move their bodies. But Sheila Van Damm moved like the wind, for she became a race- and rally-driver, mostly of motorcycles. She was born on January 17, 1922, and had nothing to do with motorcycles until, in 1950, needing some publicity for his theatre, Vivian Van Damm suggested she enter a road rally driving a car (a Sunbeam Talbot, if you need to know) emblazoned with the legend “Windmill Girl.” Of course everyone knew what that meant, but what no one could have known is that Sheila Van Damm turned out to be a crack driver, mostly of motorcycles, competing in Europe and North America. She only raced for seven years, but won enough (and was ebullient enough about it) to be in demand as a charity fundraiser and general all-around personality. Vivian’s death unsaddled Sheila and took her back to the Windmill, where she battled against Soho strip clubs until finally abandoning the Windmill (to its fates) and retiring to run a horse farm in rural Sussex. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 18 Jan 2018, 14:23

It is hard to be brave, when you're only a Very Small Animal. A. A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh.

There are a few dissenters, but most would regard January 18, 1882, as a very good day for children’s literature, for on that day a North London headmaster (and, of course, his schoolteacher wife) brought forth Alan Alexander Milne, A. A. Milne as loved by millions. The boy studied math in school and at Cambridge, but in both places his passion was writing, and by the time Lieutenant Milne was wounded at the Somme (July 1916) he was a writer. Invalided out, he found time to write a play (Mr. Pim Passes By, 1919) which made enough £££ that he could call himself a professional writer. His war experiences also produced a passionate pacifist tract, Peace with Honour (1934), Meanwhile, (A. A. had married Daphne de Sélincourt in 1913), there was a son, Christopher Robin Milne, and it was as Christopher Robin’s story teller that we remember A. A. Milne. First came the children’s poetry of When We Were Very Young (1924), then Christopher’s bear (‘Edward’) was rechristened as Winnie-the-Pooh (1926). These enabled Milne to buy Cotchford Farm, in the Sussex countryside, where he duly produced Now We Are Six (1927), and The House at Pooh Corner (1928). My childhood favorite was the last one, and (later) we bought a complete set to read and show to our children (illustrated wonderfully by E. H. Shepard), but they weighed on A. A. Milne, who wanted so much to be regarded a writer for adults, and critically-minded adults at that. Meanwhile, Christopher Robin also became alienated from those books, and (by marrying a cousin sprung from one of the family’s black sheep) from his parents as well. And (hardest for me to accept) not everyone loved Pooh and his friends Piglet, Tigger, and Eeyore. Dorothy Parker, the New Yorker’s “Constant Reader,” famously wrote “ . . . and it is that word ‘hummy,’ my darlings, that marks the first place in The House at Pooh Corner at which Tonstant Weader fwowed up.” ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 19 Jan 2018, 14:12

I believe that living in and through your fear is the summit of life. John H. Johnson.

If Arkansas City, AR, has a Robert E. Lee statue, they should replace it with one of John Harold Johnson. Johnson was born on January 19, 1918, the 111th anniversary of Lee’s birth. Better yet, he was born in Arkansas City. Best of all, he was the grandson of slaves. But that didn’t seem “best” in 1918. Lynching was on the decline from its peak in the 1890s, but the “Elaine Massacre” (of over 100 black people) in a nearby county occurred when John was just a baby. To make matters worse (if “worse” was possible) John’s father died in a sawmill accident, and although John did well in school there was no school for black kids beyond eighth grade. So John’s mom and stepfather sought a better life in Chicago. There John Johnson attended an all-black high school, he excelled, he won a college scholarship, and then a job (with a black-owned insurance company). For John Harold Johnson, success piled on success. First he got the idea of publishing (for policy holders) stories of black successes. It soon became a publication of its own (the Negro Digest), , and then came the most successful African-American publication of the 20th century, Johnson’s Ebony magazine. Ebony’s first issue, in 1945, sold out, and it prospers still (read every issue on Google!!!). It was followed by Tan and Jet and other publications. John H. Johnson himself was (in 1951) the US Chamber of Commerce’s “Young Man of the Year,” and many awards followed in a long, productive life. Perhaps the most satisfying of all was a University of Arkansas honorary doctorate to the man who, as a boy, had been unable to obtain a high school education. But Ebony’s most famous moment came early on, in 1955, with Johnson’s decision to publish a full-page photograph of Emmet Till’s open casket. Perhaps, coming from where he did, when he did, John Johnson thought “this could have been me.” ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 20 Jan 2018, 14:58

It is far easier to see that one deserves a whole loaf than that it is one's duty to give it away. Anne Jemima Clough on women's desire for university education and on the university's reluctance to give way on the issue.

The Clough family of Liverpool produced two of Victorian England’s outstanding personalities. The poet and seeker Arthur Hugh Clough, born in 1819, was quickly joined by his sister Anne Jemima Clough, born on January 20, 1820. Arthur, bosom friend of Matthew Arnold and Alfred Tennyson, became virtually a disciple of the American philosopher Emerson. He was also a promising poet, but that promise was stilled by his death in 1861. That death transformed Anne Jemima Clough’s life. She’d made herself into a pioneer of female education, but in the remote reaches of the Lake District. Now Anne joined Arthur’s widow, not just to mourn Arthur but to educate his children. She was hugely successful in this task, but as importantly her move south brought her into contact with a progressive circle of friends and family in London, including the Bonham Carters and the Nightingales (Florence’s family). This led to first to Anne’s founding of the Council for Promoting the Education of Women and then to a Cambridge connection with the philosopher Henry Sidgwick, who believed that Cambridge should ‘do something’ for women, and found in Anne Jemima Clough the woman who could do it. In 1873, fortified by her friends’ money (and a small legacy of her own), Anne Clough rented property in Cambridge to house five women who could then “attend” lectures. By 1880 she was principal of a new college, Newnham, and although women could not yet actually take Cambridge degrees, Anne’s niece would also become Principal of Newnham, and Blanche Athena Clough stuck around long enough (she lived to be 101) to see that, and much else, happen in women’s education. Through Blanche Athena—home schooled by her aunt—we see that beginnings, however small, can be worth making. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tizer » 20 Jan 2018, 16:51

Bob would probably be interested to know about Jane Marcet and her book `Conversations in Chemistry', first published in 1805.
Gutenberg version
Wikipedia

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 21 Jan 2018, 03:35

I've passed the message on Peter....
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tizer » 21 Jan 2018, 10:55

Thanks. You might have heard about her on Philip Ball's Radio 4 `Science Stories' recently. She's the one who got Michael Faraday interested in science, so we've a lot to thank her for. Anyone who missed the broadcast can listen to it here: LINK

If you look at this Google Books page and scroll up and down you can see some of the original discussions on The Steam Engine from the Conversations. LINK

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 21 Jan 2018, 15:32

Bob says thanks for the link.

Lt. Willa Brown, Aviatrix, Maker of Pilots. Title of an advertising broadside put out by the US government's Office of Emergency Management, circa 1943.

Today in Black History, one of my favorite websites, has today as the birth anniversary of “William Brown-Chappell, pioneer aviator.” But there is no such person. Instead there is Willa Brown, who broke two barriers (gender and race) to become, indeed, a “pioneer aviator”—and much else. Willa Beatrice Brown was born in Kentucky on January 21, 1906. The family moved to Indiana, where Willa attended Wiley High School. The school boasts many distinguished black graduates (including Willa), and was perhaps segregated, but it had a special relationship with Indiana Normal (now Indiana State U.), and in due course Willa Brown graduated there, moving on to Northwestern for an MBA. She began working life as a schoolteacher (in Gary, IN, at another school boasting many distinguished black graduates), then moved to social work in Chicago. And then Willa Beatrice Brown decided to fly, earning her license (and, on the side, a “Master Mechanic” certificate from the Curtiss-Wright Aeronautical University). Willa married her instructor, Cornelius Coffey, and together they founded (in 1937) the Cornelius Coffey School of Aeronautics. The school—and Willa herself—won many awards, and quickly set up agencies and school programs to encourage young people (black and white, for their courses were integrated) to look to the skies, but its proudest accomplishment was to train many of the Tuskegee airmen for their gallant service in WWII. Willa, in 1941, was commissioned the first African-American officer (a lieutenant) in the Civil Air Patrol, and she won her commercial pilot’s license in 1943, the first black woman to do so. Willa Coffey then ran for Congress (as a Republican, which made sense in 1945) and for several years (from 1972) served on the women’s advisory board of the FAA. And, oh yes, she divorced Mr. Coffey and in 1955 married a minister, becoming Willa Brown-Chappell. But never “William.” ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tripps » 21 Jan 2018, 20:59

Stanley wrote:
21 Jan 2018, 15:32
She began working life as a schoolteacher (in Gary, IN,
I remember a Newsnight programme about Gary Indiana - presented by Paul Mason . I'm surprised to see that it was transmitted in 2010. I learned the meaning of the word 'dystopia ' afterwards, and decide it suited that place. I hope it has improved since.

Gary - Indiana. USA.

Not sure that people in the USA can watch BBC but it would be good to get Uncle Bob's take on it.
Born to be mild. . .

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 22 Jan 2018, 04:18

Lots of films have been made about Gary. Glad I wasn't living there....
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tizer » 22 Jan 2018, 10:09

I had to look up `Tuskegee airmen' - and got a very long, detailed Wikipedia page about them.

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 22 Jan 2018, 12:07

I should do the same..... Interesting!

Passed whole woods of withered pines—all withered—trunks stripped & barkless—branches lifeless—done by a single winter—their appearance reminded me of me & my family.. Lord Byron's Journal, Summer, 1816.

I’ve already noted Lord Byron’s daughter, the mathematician Ada Lovelace. Byron abandoned his wife Annabella when Ada was just a baby. Or been abandoned by: considered as one with responsibility for a young child Annabella was well shut of the mercurial, unbalanced, and occasionally violent poet. Of course Lord Byron was not without his finer points. In palmier days, he’d fondly called Annabella (also geometrically inclined) his “Princess of Parallelograms,” and noted that parallel lines were destined never to meet. Which, except for Ada, they never did. The marriage was fated to fail: if ever a life validated the old adage about twigs and trees, it was the life of George Gordon, Lord Byron. He was born on January 22, 1788, the offspring of his father’s (“Mad Jack” Byron’s) second attempt to recoup his fortunes by marrying an heiress. Mad Jack soon went off to die of consumption, leaving his 4-year old son with a fiercely loving mother and a dour Scots nursemaid. If Byron’s twig was not bent by the father, it was deformed by the mother’s bipolar swings from affection to fury and the nursemaid’s predilections for sexual abuse. Through it all, the bonnie boy (despite his crippled foot, Byron was a bonnie boy) gained friends, a good education, and when he came into his title (his father was disinherited, so the peerage passed to him) a chance to recoup the family’s fortunes (and to weave fanciful stories of its distinguished past). The rest is well known. When Byron wedded Annabella, he was already a rogue and a poet, brilliant at both, the lover of Caroline Lamb and the author of Childe Harold, and he left Annabella to continue his Romantic rebellion (and, sadly, die) in southern Europe. Byron also continued to write, and thus he achieved his goal of being “famous in my time”: and in ours, too. And he did leave Ada a good deal of money. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 23 Jan 2018, 11:55

To love the poore, persever in the same, live dy and rise with them was all the ayme of Mary Ward. Mary Ward's epitaph, 1645.

In my researches in early modern English religion I’ve studied the ‘Puritan strain,’ which ran from conservative Presbyterians through ‘orthodox’ Puritans (those who founded Massachusetts) to the radical sects whose names (Ranters, Adamites, Quakers) were originally terms of abuse. Mary Ward’s life suggests that I should have paid more attention to English Catholics. She was born on January 23, 1585 into a Yorkshire network of cousinage and clientage that was headed up by the Percy family, earls of Northumberland. Many remained Catholic in quiet defiance of the Reformation, but not always quiet: two of her uncles were killed resisting arrest in connection with the Guy Fawkes plot, and her father was detained and questioned. Mary was educated quietly and privately in the ancient faith, in Latin and in several modern languages, and at 21 left England to begin her novitiate at St. Omer. So far she was unusual but not unique (she joined an English order). But then began a spiritual quest that did make her unique, indeed troublesome. At 21, still a novice, she was moved into a missionary life that would bring her condemnation and danger, and not all of it from Protestants. First in London and then in several places on the continent, she founded a women’s order that rejected the cloistered life, that rivaled the Jesuits in its independence from local and national episcopates, and one that sought a priestly status (and certainly some priestly functions) for its members. For this they were called “galloping girls” and “chattering hussies” (by their fellow Catholics), and the series of visions—1607-1615—that called Mary Ward to action were strikingly “protestant” in nature (entirely in the mind, not visual or aural “miracles”) as well as in some of their content. Indeed it would not be until Pope Benedict XVI that the Mother Church decided that, in Mary Ward, it may have had a saint on its hands. I think of her as a Romish Anne Hutchinson. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 24 Jan 2018, 12:07

She was so evidently the victim of the civilization which had produced her. . . Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth, 1905.

In the village of St.-Brice-sous-le-forêt, north of Paris, you can find the Rue Edith Wharton, and see Wharton’s house, too, where she died in 1937. From the street, “le Pavilion Colombe” seems just part of the street wall. To see its glories you’d view it from its south garden, and there were glories for Wharton was a noted designer. You then might visit “Land’s End,” the “cottage” she renovated at Newport, RI, or the lovely country house she built, “The Mount,” at Lenox, MA. Each is a monument to her taste, birth and breeding, for Edith Wharton was born Edith Newbold Jones on January 24, 1862, and her family was among New York’s oldest and richest. The phrase “keeping up with the Joneses” originates with them. She was educated properly, mainly in Europe and mostly by private tutors, trained up for an adult life as an ornament to her husband and grande dame of her family’s domestic and social life. Edith started down that path, marrying a Boston aristocrat, Edward Wharton, but she’d already kicked over the traces, reading novels to spite her mother’s prohibition and then writing one, in her teens. As Teddy Wharton sank into lunacy, Edith rose as a scholar (of art and architecture) but even more as a novelist of startling insights, at her best when (mercilessly, it seems to me) autopsying the lives of New York’s best, as in The House of Mirth (1905) and The Age of Innocence (1921). By the time the latter won the Pulitzer Prize she’d moved to France where during and after WWI Wharton established herself as a great war patriot and French imperialist. Her reputation suffered thereafter (and partly therefrom), but latterly Wharton has been recognized as one of our great novelists and (oddly but justly) as a piercing critic of the American “leisure class” on a par with Thorstein Veblen. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 25 Jan 2018, 12:26

Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution, title of 1973 essay by Theodosius Dobzhansky.

The great evolutionist J. B. S. Haldane may or may not have said that God was “inordinately fond of beetles,” but there are a lot of them (400,000 species, and still counting), and when Theodosius Dobzhansky—then 15 and still in school—decided to devote his life to biological research, he switched from butterflies to beetles. Theodosius Dobzhansky was born in Russia on January 25, 1900 and was educated at the Kiev State University in exciting political times, the communist revolution and the establishment of the Soviet state. As he often said, biology itself then needed a revolution, still largely concerned with the description, classification, and counting of species. Although it had a grand theory—Darwinian evolution—its mechanisms had proven difficult to nail down. Dobzhansky did more than almost anyone to provide Darwin’s insights with theoretical and experimental structure and to establish what’s now known as the “modern synthesis.” But first he had to move away from counting beetles to studying genetic variations, and for that the fruit fly was ideal. So promising was his work with Drosophila melanogaster that, in 1925, he won a fellowship to move to America to work with Thomas Hunt Morgan, the master of fruit fly studies, and then move with Morgan to Cal Tech. Fruit flies breed (far) faster than rabbits, and by studying their generational mechanisms Dobzhansky came up with his Genetics and the Origins of Species (1937), the foundation of the modern synthesis. In his later life, now at Columbia University, Dobzhansky the geneticist became more widely known as a crusader against racism, which he regarded as scientifically baseless and morally bankrupt, and against scientific creationism, which he (as a faithful Christian) regarded as oxymoronic. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tizer » 26 Jan 2018, 10:24

When Darwin went to Cambridge University in 1828 his cousin introduced him to the popular hobby of beetle collecting. Not content with poking around in gardens and fields looking for the little beasts Darwin hit on a quick and easy way to get very large numbers of beetles. Barges came down the River Cam carrying rushes and he found that once the cargo had been removed from the bottom of the barge the floor was covered in beetles that had dropped out of the rushes. Much better than wading through the fens! :smile:

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