BOB'S BITS

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 18 Sep 2017, 14:00

Now is the accepted time, not tomorrow, not some more convenient season. W E B Dubois.

On 18th September, 1895, Booker T. Washington delivered his famous (or to some, infamous) "Atlanta Compromise" speech at the Atlanta International Exhibition. Washington, the founder of the Tuskegee Institute, was weary of the violent racism and lynchings which increasingly dominated southern race relations. The most famous portion of the speech urged southern African Americans to be “patient”:
"To those of my race who depend on bettering their condition in a
foreign land, or who underestimate the importance of cultivating
friendly relations with the Southern white man, I would say: "Cast
down your bucket where you are--cast it down in making friends in
every manly way of the people of all races by whom we are surrounded.”

Other black leaders dissented strongly, none more so than W. E. B. DuBois, who argued that it was wrong both morally and tactically to invite delay in securing the civil rights that should have gone with freedom. DuBois would go on to found the “Niagara Movement” which would, in course, become the NAACP, from its birth considered radical and immediatist. At the time Washington’s strategy won more support from amongst white moderates (and donors). White racists, probably in the majority, were not listening to either Washington or Dubois, but were using both law and terror to keep black people in their place. Whether Dubois or Washington was “right” is an interesting, difficult question, on both tactical and ethical grounds, but the Stockley decision in St. Louis suggests that patience of any sort may be, and perhaps should be, running very short. ©

[ For the Stockley decision Bob mentions, see THIS]
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 19 Sep 2017, 09:58

Like the sun-dial, my paint-box counts no hours but the sunny ones. Arthur Rackham.

In the 19th-century US, Francis Parkman and Teddy Roosevelt (among quite a few others) went west to leave behind them their sickly childhoods. For frail English youths, at least those of a certain class, the cure was often a sea voyage to Australia, and this was Arthur Rackham’s route. Born on September 19, 1867, into the very large family of an admiralty clerk, Rackham had already made himself known as a boy who could draw and paint (especially watercolors), and so he took his paint box—his “modest silent convenient companion”—with him. Returning to England in about 1885, he quickly became known as an illustrator, adept at fitting his medium to the message of the text, and showing a particular bent towards fantasy. He did special English editions of Grimm’s Fairy Tales and Rip Van Winkle, illustrated Peter Pan and a 1907 edition of Alice (she of the Wonderland), and by the end of the First World War was at the top of his professional tree, sought after for special editions of all sorts. In his age, Rackham grew bitter at the thought that his easy talent for book illustration had frustrated deeper ambitions to be a “real” artist, beauty as it were sacrificed on the altar of lucrative commissions, but for those legions of readers who find his book art exquisitely matched to their favorite text—whatever it might be—he made the right choice. Rackham’s particular masterwork of illustration, indeed a work of real genius, was undertaken just before his death, as he executed work he had long wished to do, the classic children’s book, The Wind in the Willows. For most readers today, Ratty, Mole, the vainglorious Mr. Toad, and the magnificent Badger—not to mention the wondrous River and the terrifying Wild Wood—are as much Arthur Rackham’s as they were Kenneth Graham’s. The ‘Rackham edition’ (the one you want your children to treasure) appeared in 1940, just a year after the artist’s death. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 20 Sep 2017, 09:53

My friendships, they are a very strong part of my life, they are as light as gossamer but also they are as strong as steel. Stevie Smith, Novel on Yellow Paper, 1936.

Most poets need that ‘day job’ to be assured of the needfuls, proteins, carbs, and the shelter and clothing that help to keep the creative juices flowing. And the day job seems often to have been one of Stevie Smith’s problems. The problem was made worse because Stevie was a “she” and because she was afflicted, if that’s the right word, with a stubborn, eccentric streak that (she often mused) made her unfit for marriage, motherhood, or very much else in the way of remunerative existences. Stevie Smith was born Florence Margaret Smith, in Hull, on September 20, 1902. She acquired the ‘Stevie’ because a friend thought she looked like a famous jockey, and indeed she was slight of stature. She was also a bit of an orphan, her father having run away when she was a toddler (probably not from her, but she took it personally and much later preferred not to attend his funeral), and then her mother died, painfully, when she was but 16. She was taken in by a long-suffering auntie who loved her but had no time for poetry, and all this (plus tuberculosis, contracted at age 5) gave Stevie a somewhat sardonic outlook on life and (for that matter) death. She also developed an odd relationship with religion (she was a “lapsed atheist” of the Anglican variety), an agnostic who more than occasionally worried that she might be falling into belief. Stevie published quite a few poems, nine times in her own volumes, and her verse seems to me to remain fresh, surprising, quirkily rather than constitutionally pessimistic, and well worth spending quality time with. She also published three novels, the first of which (1936) proved that like her indulgent auntie Stevie Smith had no time at all for Hitler. She may have fallen in love with George Orwell, though she kept that connection quietly shrouded until later in her life. But Stevie Smith certainly loved her auntie and the brave “house of female habitation” that auntie supplied her with, in lieu of the day job. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 21 Sep 2017, 09:55

We believed in the existence . . . of a vast reading public for intelligent books at a low price and staked everything on it. Allen Lane.

Today we celebrate the birth anniversary of a publishing pioneer, Allen Lane Williams, who was born in Bristol, England, on September 21, 1902. Allen Lane (as he would become, so to speak, by inheritance) never went to university, but attended Bristol Grammar School whence he joined his uncle John Lane's publishing firm (The Bodley Head) as an apprentice. John Lane, childless, died in 1925 and Allen (who had by then changed his name) became chairman of the firm. He was determined to carry on Bodley's pathbreaking innovations, and indeed it was after a dispute with his Board of Directors (over publishing James Joyce's Ulysses) that Allen Lane left Bodley Head to found his own firm. Another story is that after visiting detective novelist Agatha Christie, Lane found himself with nothing to read, and nothing good to buy, at the Exeter railway station, and hit upon the notion of good quality, cheap paperbacks. Yet another story is that he borrowed the idea from the German publisher Albatross. Whatever, Penguin Books started up in 1936 (with a booth at London's Charing Cross Station), Puffin Books (mainly for children) in 1940, and Penguin Classics in 1946. Each and every one of them was a commercial success, but it’s arguable that Allen Lane never let money go to his head. He continued to pioneer in artistic terms, too. Perhaps his most famous triumph was to publish Lady Chatterley's Lover. This got him into a certain amount of trouble, but it also enabled him to (successfully) defy the Obscene Publications Act in 1959. Lane was knighted in 1962 and died in 1970.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 22 Sep 2017, 09:50

This'll cover the High Street from Timothy Whites to the Novelty Rock Emporium. Captain Mainwaring on a Lewis gun emplacement in Walmington-on-Sea, circa 1941.

In BBC sitcom annals, several shows stand out as classic, and for my money the very definition of “classic” was Dad’s Army, set in WWII, about the trials and tribulations of a Home Guard platoon, one ever willing but never ready to face the invading Germans. Already running (it began in 1968) when we arrived in England, new series kept coming, miraculously, through 1977. And then there were the reruns. Holding the platoon together was Captain Mainwaring, bank manager to his very fingertips but tragicomically determined to “be” an officer and a gentleman. But these roles were beyond him, by a good long ways, and the distance between Mainwaring and his Home Guard ambitions was the core of the comedy, really a comedy of manners transported into the television age. The man who played being too petit a bourgeois, and played it to perfection, was Arthur Lowe, born on September 22, 1915, already perfectly cast, so to speak, as the son of a bookings clerk. Young Arthur put his skill at mimicry to good use wherever he worked, and when the war came the British army, with unaccustomed genius, moved him into a field entertainment group. Lowe became much more than a passable actor, stage, movies, radio, and then TV, before another genius, Jimmy Perry, nabbed Lowe for Dad’s Army. The platoon’s characters became bywords, from Corporal Jones the Butcher to Private Pike the bank teller (a “silly boy” forever) to Walker the black marketer (who kept Mrs. Mainwaring in lamb chops). But Mrs. M never appeared on screen, and Captain Mainwaring-Lowe’s real alter ego was John Le Mesurier’s Arthur Wilson, his well-born and well-spoken Sergeant (and assistant bank manager) whose polish and politesse continually reproached Mainwaring’s painful attempts to be someone he wasn’t. Arthur Lowe died at work, aged only 66, playing in the Birmingham rep. He was, after all, a trooper to the very end. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 23 Sep 2017, 02:45

Brief hiatus in Anniversary Notes

My apologies to regular and irregular readers, but owing to a comedy of (unforced, I believe) errors, our flight home to St. Louis was dropped (figuratively) by Delta, and we languish in a LaGuardia hotel, room rate allegedly $699 per night. I was so stunned by the tariff that I lost my taste for celebrating anniversaries. I will wait until I am back in a low-rent situation in St. Louis. Delta is paying, but not (I imagine) anything like $699.
The Queen Mary 2 is a fine ship. For seven days we had the smoothest crossing in recorded history, but on the 8th day the tail end of Jose gave us a taste of heavy weather, storm force (Beaufort 11) winds and high seas sweeping across the bow from the port side. The ship’s report admitted that the sea was “very rough.” But we eased under the Verrazano Bridge and into the Brooklyn cruise terminal on time, having had a wonderful holiday. And then put ourselves in Delta’s hands.
The anniversary note will come tomorrow, but it will be late.

Bob Bliss
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 25 Sep 2017, 14:03

Socialism is the economic expression of Christianity. Katharine Conway Glasier.

While it was pleasant surprise, circa 1986, to have as a houseguest (twice) the venerable socialist Fenner Brockway, it was no surprise that on both occasions Brockway came to Lancaster to speak at commemorations at the Quaker meeting house. For the connections between socialism and Protestant dissent are deeply embedded in British history. Indeed, one of Brockway’s allies in the labor movement, Katharine Glasier, was the daughter of a London Congregationalist pastor, born Katharine St. John Conway in the Stoke Newington manse on September 25, 1867, so was experienced in pioneer socialism (‘the grandmother of British socialism’) before Brockway was even in long trousers. Well versed in classics (by her elder brother and mother), Katharine attended Cambridge before women were able to take degrees, did well there, and was sacked (for her socialism) as classics mistress at Bristol Redland High School before moving on to teach (classics again) at a working class high school organized by Dan Irving, another Labour pioneer with evangelical Protestant roots. Meanwhile she married (Bruce Glasier), had three children, and published three novels (1894, 1896, and 1903), before finding her more or less permanent niche in Labour, as a speaker for the Fabian Society, writer and editor. It was at this point, in the formative years of the Independent Labour Party, that she met Fenner Brockway (yet another Christian Socialist, born in India of missionary parents), whose talents (writing and speaking) ran in similar directions to hers. They worked together for a time on The Labour Leader, Brockway as editor, until Katharine replaced him in 1916. It may be that their dissenting roots nurtured their separatist tendencies, for they fell out over WWI and conscription, Brockway going to jail rather than serving. Katharine went on writing for socialism from her ‘retirement’ home near Colne, in Lancashire, until her death in 1950. So she lived nearly as long as Fenner Brockway, who was “97 not out” when he stayed with us in Lancaster. ©

Candy is dandy, but liquor is quicker. Ogden Nash.

One of the minor difficulties of adjusting to life in Britain, circa 1969, was that Snickers ® were called “Marathons,” Milky Ways ® were “Mars Bars,” and Mars Bars ® didn’t exist at all. This led to serious confusion over where these delights had originated, or perhaps over the philosophical principle of nominalism. Today is a good time to clear up either or both these confusions, for not only have we just returned from a visit to Britain (where, by the way, “Snickers” are now “Snickers”) but September 24 is the birth anniversary (1882) of Franklin Clarence Mars, in Hancock, Michigan. He was a sickly youth (a ‘mild’ case of polio), and for therapy his mother taught him to hand-dip chocolate. This proved catching, and after successive moves (to Minneapolis and then Tacoma, then back to Minneapolis) and two marriages (both to women called Ethel) Frank formed the Mars Candy Factory, Inc., in 1923. It was about then that the popular fountain drink, the chocolate malted, became the Milky Way (the American Mars Bar came much later). The Snickers bar, named after “Snickers” the family’s favorite riding horse, came in 1930, by which time Franklin Mars was as rich as Croesus and thinking of taking up horse racing for pleasure and profit, though perhaps not with Snickers the horse. So he moved his company to Chicago and his family to Tennessee, to a large estate which, with singular lack of imagination, Frank called “Milky Way Farm.” There’s some reason to think that the second Ethel didn’t like Tennessee all that well, for some years after Frank’s death (which came in 1940) she moved his remains back to Minneapolis where, with hers, they now reside. Even so, a Mars horse won the Kentucky Derby just once month after Franklin Mars died. The horse, more imaginatively, was named Gallahadion (after his sire Sir Galahad III). ©

The dog. The dog ran. Lesson 1 in McGuffey's First Reader.

My great-grandmother, Mary Ellen Day Bliss, pretty much ran both the household and farmstead (her Horace claiming that his Civil War malaria kept him from hard work of any kind), and among her duties was to act as tutor to her children, all of whom (girls and boys both) eventually graduated from college. So she did OK (my grandfather Ralph, her youngest, thought she was a saint), and when the children were young her chief weapon was the McGuffey Reader (or, rather, McGuffey Readers, for there were several). She used other texts for math (mainly geometry) and botany, but McGuffey was her mainstay when it came to reading and writing. The readers’ author, or some would say perpetrator, was William Holmes McGuffey, born in the Pennsylvania mountains on September 23, 1800. Scotch-Irish to the core, he was educated a Presbyterian, and remained one all his life, finishing as professor of philosophy at the University of Virginia. But it was during the 1830s, while he was on the faculty of Miami (Ohio), that McGuffey conceived of the reader and produced its earliest versions. Aimed progressively at various age groups, the McGuffey Readers were in print until 1921 and sold in their tens of millions. Mary Ellen Day Bliss had six Readers, and her children were thus, Reader by Reader, brought along from the basics to encounter also Shakespeare and Milton, Dryden and Jonson, and American authors too (Emerson, Bryant, and Hawthorne although not, I think, Melville). They also imbibed some distorting pieties about the nation’s past, and of late these have inspired some to urge us to bring back McGuffey, and the readers are once again in print and in use. But then we live in strange times, and his modern avatars sometimes forget that William McGuffey was also a fierce advocate of free public education as an essential element of a democratic republic. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 26 Sep 2017, 10:21

I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the appleseed. Thanksgiving song, attributed to Johnny Appleseed.

In 1851, Mary Kerr (then a schoolgirl in the Alton, IL, Female Academy) penned ‘The Autobiography of an Apple Tree.’ It’s a nice story, if too sweetly sentimental, so doubtless she was delighted when her father ordered 15 apple trees (in five varieties) from Ellwanger & Barry, a nursery in Buffalo, NY, to be shipped by rail to Madison County, Illinois. Paid for COD (the charge for the trees was $5.25), they were duly planted at the family farm, “Liberty Prairie,” near Edwardsville. Possibly the Buffalo nursery was one of the many begun by John Chapman, better known in American myth as Johnny Appleseed. Chapman-Appleseed was born on September 26, 1774, in Leominster, MA, and moved west, probably with his father, stepmother, and numerous siblings, in the 1790s. Along the way he picked up a facility with planting and grafting apple seedlings which became legendary even in his lifetime. Indeed there was apple evangelism in the man, and the legend was strengthened by his other eccentricities, going barefoot and “almost naked” in the worst weathers, being kind to animals and Indians (a bit of Abe Lincoln here), and explaining it all by saying that the more he suffered in this life the greater his heavenly rewards might be. Thus he preached (in addition to the apple tree gospel) the mystical messages of Emmanuel Swedenborg, and much of Chapman-Appleseed’s ceaseless, frenetic activity had to do with planting religion rather than apples. When he died (probably in Indiana, probably in 1845), rumors swirled about that he was really quite comfortably off—despite his carefully cultivated legend and poverty-stricken appearance—and this may reflect the fact that Johnny Appleseed not only gave apple seedlings away but also started up nurseries for rural entrepreneurs and then charged commissions on their sales. Just possibly, then, Ellwanger & Barry (and Miss Mary Kerr’s orchard) got their start on contract with Johnny Appleseed. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 27 Sep 2017, 10:38

I don't care a straw for your newspaper articles; my constituents don't know how to read, but they can't help seeing them damned pictures. Boss William Tweed on Thomas Nast's cartoons.

It is well known in Missouri that refugees from the failed German revolutions of 1848 were potent factors in keeping the state in the union (in 1860-61) and, later, important to progressive Republicanism (remember when?) throughout the midwest. But not all who fled the German reaction came so far. Joseph Thomas Nast, a socialist trombonist in a Bavarian army band, sent his wife and son to New York City and joined them there as soon as he safely could. His son, Thomas Nast, born in Landau on September 27, 1840, became the US’s most famous, if not its first, political cartoonist, the self-appointed scourge of the slaveowners, conservatives, machine politicians, and stock market swindlers who populated the most memorable of his cartoons. Thomas Nast’s difficulties at school moved him into graphic art, at which he quickly displayed a genius. His first published work, at age 19, accompanied a Harper’s article (on police corruption), and there quickly followed important commissions, including traveling to Europe to cover (illustrations and text) Italian unification. Nast returned to New York to take up cudgels (or, rather, pens and pencils) on behalf of Abe Lincoln, the Republican Party, and the Union. Lincoln recognized his importance (“our best recruiting sergeant”) in this, but Nast’s lasting fame owed to his post-civil war work, especially his cartoons that exposed and ridiculed the corruptions of New York’s infamous Boss Tweed and the Tweed machine. Nast’s caricatures, still funny and still savage, today liberally populate the pages of history texts on the period. Along the way, Nast invented the Republican Party elephant and the Tammany Hall tiger, but not the Democratic donkey, an image he eagerly appropriated. He is remembered today (for his wit and for his art) through the Thomas Nast Prize for editorial cartoons. We seem to have chosen, however, to forget his anti-Irish caricatures. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tripps » 27 Sep 2017, 10:59

Love the thought of a 'socialist trombonist' - Did his politics affect his playing? :smile:

Any connection with Conde Nast or is it just a common name in Bavaria?
Born to be mild. . .

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 28 Sep 2017, 10:14

A ballet company repetiteur is a cross between nurse, office boy, Mother Superior and butcher. Michael George Somes.

Despite its rigors, some ballet dancers seem to go on forever, and since the pas de deux is often a ballet’s climacteric these ‘forevers’ are enshrined in long partnerships. In that context, let’s remember that before Fonteyn-Nureyev, there was Fonteyn-Helpmann, and even before that there was the partnership between Margot Fonteyn and Michael Somes. That’s testimony to Fonteyn’s professional vitality, but Michael Somes proved that men could do it, too, for he joined the Vic-Wells company (soon the Royal Ballet) at about the same time as Fonteyn, the mid-30s, and after their partnership went on dancing until he “retired” in 1970 to become the principal repetiteur at the Royal Ballet, where he continued for another 15 years. That’s a dance career spanning five decades (omitting Somes’s war service). Michael George Somes was born in Gloucestershire 100 years ago today, on September 28, 1917. His father, a church organist, and his mother, a schoolteacher, spotted his dance talent early and encouraged its further development, and in 1934 Somes became the first boy to receive a scholarship to Ninette de Valois’ Vic-Wells School. He joined the professional company in 1936, and by 1938 his talents brought him into lead partnerships with Fonteyn in Frederic Ashton’s ‘Dante Sonata’ and with Pamela May in Ashton’s ‘The Wanderer.’ His career was then interrupted by a 3-year stint as a physical trainer in army boot camps and nearly terminated by a spleen injury in 1944, but he recovered well enough to resume the Fonteyn partnership in the 1950s and bring to it his physicality and his theatrical abilities to project emotion and eroticism through dance, attitude, and expression. Later, as repetiteur, Somes became known for his demanding, even cruel, teaching/rehearsal regime, but as he had proven through his long career and his recovery from injury, ballet dancing is a rough, tough way to make a living. ©

[an important, nay a vital, correction! In my anniversary note of September 22 (on the actor Arthur Lowe) I mistakenly rendered his (Captain Mainwaring’s) immortal and oft repeated comment on Private Pike (played by Ian Lavender) as “silly boy.”. It was, of course, “stupid boy.” I apologize to the shades of Lowe and the still vigorous Lavender, who both deserve better of me.
Thanks to Michael Heale for pointing this out. Bob.]
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 29 Sep 2017, 13:44

Does anyone here speak Spanish? Francisco Franco addressing his troops in a 1938 Giles cartoon.

Not everyone who worked for Lord Beaverbrook’s Express newspapers was an irascible, right-wing, tory twit, although irascibility seems to have been common. Take as number 1 example the irritable Ronald (“Carl”) Giles, cartoonist whose works graced the often unspeakable papers for over forty years and attracted the enthusiastic support of many otherwise admirable folk, including Spike Milligan. Giles’s politics might best be described as cranky, but the DNB calls him a conservative socialist, just like his most celebrated and lasting contribution to comic art, the Giles family. The Gileses, more like the American Simpsons than anything else, were led by the monstrous (in almost every way) “Grandma” and her favorite weapons, a rolled-up umbrella and a heavy handbag. Ronald “Carl” Giles was born in Islington, London, on September 29, 1916, and as a teenager showed off by affecting the looks (and the movie haircut) of Boris Karloff. That won Giles his nickname, Carl, and may have helped him land a job with a film studio. He joined Express Newspapers in 1943, and became (oddly enough) a war correspondent with a drawing pen. But he refused to draw Belsen and some of his other war drawings—notably of a Nazi “punishment camp” in Holland—were at his request not published until after his death. Express Papers paid him well, and he made enough extra from his book publications to live (his wife would say) about five lives, among them car collector, gun collector, and pig breeder, but he never sold a drawing (except maybe to Prince Charles), and at his death he gave the lot to favorite institutions, including the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (of which he was life president). The cars were sold, the guns destroyed, and I don’t think the pigs survived. Today a threatening bronze statue of Grandma, umbrella and all, glares at the building in Ipswich where Carl Giles so often drew her, and the newest Felixstowe lifeboat is “The Grandma.” ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 30 Sep 2017, 11:36

The 20th-century ulcer epidemic was a sign of good health in the American people--good diet, strong acidity, and a healthy immune response. Barry James Marshall.

As scientists began seriously to puzzle out what made things tick, their devotion to experiment led many to expose themselves to this or that substance through ingestion, inhalation, even rubbing it into their skin. It was a hazardous practice, with after-effects ranging from discomfort to death, and fell out of favor, but in 1984 an Australian doctor, Barry James Marshall, frustrated by the establishment’s unwillingness to accept his ideas and unable to justify sacrificing any other human in the service of science, made a stew of Helicobacter pylori and drank it. He was born a miner’s son (on September 30, 1951) in the rough and tumble of the outback, so may have been more fearless than most, but he puts it down to orneriness. Anyway, he became ill, the first symptom merely a fairly disgusting halitosis, but progressing to violent nausea and severe abdominal pain. Endoscopies and biopsies followed, and as he expected he was suffering from peptic ulcers. He treated himself with antibiotics and became well, and thus should have overturned centuries of medical orthodoxy by showing that H. pylori, not stress or overwork or poor diet or some frailty of character, was probably the cause of ulcers. He and his colleague Robin Warren then went on to show that stomach cancer, that relentless killer, also resulted from H. pylori infection. Marshall and Warren did get a Nobel Prize (in 2005) for their “pains,” but just as the medical establishment was slow to support his research it’s been slow to digest (so to speak) his findings. Today Marshall believes it’s all been because there is too much money to be made from the overeating-overstressing-pain syndrome, from gastric ulcer surgery, and from the advertised charms of Zantac, Pepcid, Rolaids, Nexium, Tums, Prilosec, Prevacid, Alka Seltzer et cetera ad nauseam. (He excepts Pepto-Bismol from this blanket charge because bismuth actually does attack H. pylori.) ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 01 Oct 2017, 14:36

I will build a car for the great multitude. Henry Ford.

Dates help us to calibrate change, but we usually need other information to calibrate accurately. Take for instance October 1, 1908, the day that Henry Ford first put the Model T on the market. (The first production model came out on September 27, but his “assembly line” was so fast Ford could offer it “on order” from October 1). At $825, any color you wanted as long as it was black, most people most people who had cars would say that the “T” was “the car that put us on the road,” and, famously, it was the first “affordable” automobile. Well, at today’s prices, $825 would be about $21,000, so perhaps it wasn’t that affordable. Nor, at a time when life expectancy was 47 years, could you easily buy a T on time, even if you made more than the average accountant (~$2,000) or dentist (~$2,500). If you couldn’t pay cash you would have to pledge something you owned to buy it, and most Americans didn’t own much. The largest class of urban workers were domestic servants. Skilled factory workers could not buy the Tin Lizzie, for their average yearly wage was $400 (although canny Ford soon offered terms to his workers). If you could afford to send for a doctor, who maybe could afford a Model T, HE (in 1908 there were precious few she-doctors) could not have traveled fast to make a house call, for 10mph was the prevailing speed limit—where there were suitable roads. And if it was one of your kids the doc had to be fast, as the 3rd leading killer in the country was diarrhea. Almost all its victims were children, and they died quick. In a country where just 14% of households had a bathtub, an $825 car was a luxury. My grandfather, in 1908 a young college professor (in Lincoln, NE), took the train to travel, walked to work and didn’t buy his first car until he could afford a wife, and just possibly it was Ethel who could afford the Ford “T”. So the Model T was “a car for (just part of) the great multitude.” ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 02 Oct 2017, 09:26

The noblest exercise of the mind within doors, and most befitting a person of quality, is study. William Ramsay.


Ancient Greek and I are very distant strangers, a truth that today brings to mind some Greek derivations: xenon (from ‘stranger’), argon (‘lazy’), krypton (‘hidden’), and neon (‘new’). What perfect names these are for the ‘inert’ gases!! These were also once called the ‘noble’ gases because it was thought they didn’t mix (at all or eagerly) with other, ‘commoner’ elements. They were ‘new’ because they weren’t found until quite late, almost the last of the astonishingly (indeed, spell-bindingly) clever discoveries of pioneer scientists, who between 1735 and 1900 added 73 known elements to what (in 1869) became known as the periodic table. The scientist who isolated and named these atomic snobs was Sir William Ramsay, in a rush, between 1894 and 1896. Ramsay, born into a scientific family in Glasgow on October 2, 1852, but by 1894 professor of chemistry at University College, London, noticed an infinitesimal discrepancy (in density) between nitrogen produced by chemical reaction and nitrogen produced by removing other elements from the air, set about to find out why, and came up first with the lazy one, argon. Ramsay went on to find the others, by similar means, and in 1895 became the first to find actual helium (of the sun god, Helios) on planet earth, and topped it all off in 1910 by discovering and naming radon. At which point he’d run out of linguistic invention: ‘radon’ is simply a (verbal) compound of ‘argon’ and ‘radium.’ For his pains he was awarded the 1904 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, and a knighthood. But messing around with new elements went to his head, and in his last years he fell victim to the old alchemical dream of cooking up gold (another element not known for its promiscuity), in his case from seawater. This not only did not work; it tarnished Ramsay’s noble reputation, a most unfortunate fate in view of the brilliance of his discoveries and the economic and scientific importance of those lazy elements. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 03 Oct 2017, 10:55

Cats are connoisseurs of comfort. James Herriot (James Alfred Wight).

Among the best-loved BBC television drama series was one about veterinarians, All Creatures Great and Small, starring Christopher Timothy as the vet James Herriot, Robert Hardy as his gruff senior, and a huge list of supporting cast that, before the 7th and last series ended in 1990, totaled more than 600—not counting the animals. Most of the 600 played Yorkshire folk, including a lot of farmers and farm families, and there’s no doubt that Yorkshire itself should be added to the cast list. The series was shot mainly in and around Wensleydale, in the Yorkshire Dales, and took full advantage of the region’s beauties. That was a slight distortion, for the original books on which the TV scripts were based were set further east, still in Yorkshire but around Thirsk, the broad Vale of York, and the North York Moors. The books themselves (which began to appear in 1970) were written by “James Herriot,” a pen-name that, as almost everyone soon came to know, hid the real author-cum-vet, James Alfred Wight. Wight, or if you prefer Herriot, was born on October 3, 1916, in the next county north of Yorkshire, County Durham, educated in Glasgow and then (after war service) returned to Thirsk where he practiced as a vet (large and small animal) from 1946 into the 1980s when advancing age and advancing royalties caused him to put his practice aside. He was a writer from early on, a diarist to begin with, and as frank about his youthful escapades (e.g. at the Glasgow Veterinary College) as one could wish. Later, as “James Herriot” (there were strictures against vets advertising themselves) Wight continued to write straight up, about things as he saw them from Thirsk. Given the landscape, the animals, and the people he wrote about, and his skill in rendering them in prose, his books found a market, even among Wight’s farmer-clients one of whom thought the stories so realistic as to be hardly worth purchasing: “It’s all about nowt,” he said. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 04 Oct 2017, 13:23

THE NEW ORLEANS TRIBUNE. Under the above title we publish a new newspaper devoted to the principles heretofore defended by the UNION. First editorial by Charles Roudenez, October 4, 1864.

One interesting topic in Civil War history has to do with those areas that came early under Union Army occupation. The war still raged, the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments were yet to be proposed, and ‘Radical Reconstruction’ was but a lively germ in Thad Stevens’ brain. Nor was it clear what effect the Emancipation Proclamation should have in areas that were no longer ‘in rebellion.’ New Orleans was one such place, liberated in early 1862 and first governed by General Ben Butler (“the Beast” in southern white mythology), then the milder rule of Nathaniel Banks. But neither had to govern without local support, for the city had a large community of free black men and women, literate and ambitious. Thus it was that October 4, 1864 saw the publication of the first black daily paper in the USA the New Orleans Tribune, nor that it was printed in both English and French. Its publisher-editor, Dr. Louis Charles Roudanez, was the son of a wealthy French planter and a free woman of color, Aimée Potens. To judge by his surviving photos, he could have passed white (his baptismal register showed him so), but he chose to be and be known as a black man. He was educated in Paris, and seems to have acquired a second medical degree from Dartmouth. He built a thriving medical practice (black and white patients) in the 1850s, and in 1864 had the capital and the connections necessary to publish a newspaper. The Tribune/La Tribune exercised great influence on Radical Reconstruction locally and nationally, but while Reconstruction ruled in the state until 1877, the Tribune itself perished in 1869, and Dr. Roudanez went back to building his family capital. The newspaper and its heritage were revived in 1985, by a new Tribune (no longer published in French), and in another part of the South Charles Roudanez’s great-great grandson, Matthew Roudané, is the editor of The South Atlantic Review, which ran a special Roudanez issue in 2008. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 05 Oct 2017, 10:08

There has been too much talking. It does not take many words to speak the truth. Chief Joseph.

On October 5, 1877, Chief Joseph of the Nez Percé surrendered to General Nelson A. Miles. The US Army called it the Nez Percé war, but it was really a retreat (“one of the greatest retreats in military history”) as Joseph and his band sought refuge in Canada with (among other native Americans) Sitting Bull and his Lakotas. Joseph (or his lieutenants) won several skirmishes, including one where they killed 34 soldiers and had themselves only three wounded, but they were too few who had too far to go with too little food in weather that was too cold. Their courage was first immortalized in Helen Hunt Jackson’s A Century of Dishonor (1881) but neither that nor other celebrations of their bravery brought them safe exile or a return to their homelands. Instead, they’ve become another chapter in the manifest destiny of the Euro-American west, wherein even noble foes must, in the end, surrender or die. It’s a story that began with a mistake that was never corrected. These people called themselves “the people” and their separate bands were named “the people of [whatever place they inhabited], and moreover they did not pierce their noses. A nearby tribe did, but early French traders lumped them all together and the name stuck (Joseph’s people later made a pidgin pun out of it, sometimes calling themselves “nasal passages of the canoe.”) And as EuroAmericans moved in, searching for fur, or gold, or land to take as if it was their own, the Nez Percé’s lands were whittled away until in early 1877 Chief Joseph (born as “Thunder Rolling Down the Mountains”) refused to accede to the latest cession (“A man who would not defend his father’s grave is worse than a wild beast”) and began his epic but doomed resistance. Several months and 1,170 miles later, just short of the Canadian border in Montana’s Bear Paw Mountains, Joseph surrendered. “From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more.” ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 06 Oct 2017, 13:23

Architecture is the masterly, correct and magnificent play of masses brought together in light. Le Corbusier.

On October 6, 1887, Charles Édouard Jeanneret was born in Neuchatel Canton, Switzerland, but he’s known to all you art historians as Le Corbusier, a man better qualified than almost anyone else to be known as the father of modern architecture. He developed his taste for design at his local art school, learned the new technique of reinforced concrete in Paris, worked in an architect’s studio in Berlin where he became fluent in German and probably met Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe and Walter Gropius. Anyway, architecturally, Berlin was then a lively place, architecturally, and in 1923 (already known as Le Corbu) he would publish his manifesto, immodestly titled Vers une architecture, His architectures (plural), domestic, commercial, and institutional, owed much to the Bauhaus group. His pseudonym derives from a teasing nickname he acquired in his youth. His influence on design (furniture and cities as well as buildings) is undeniable. Whether it was a good thing is as ambiguous a matter as his nickname has become, but I find much of his work still fresh, still ‘modern’ and still attractive. Often known as a “brutalist” in design, ‘Corbu’ was capable of great delicacy and pleasing symmetries. As for instance:

Villa Savoye, 1928

Image
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 07 Oct 2017, 14:26

Complexity excites the mind, and order rewards it. In the garden, one finds both. Diane Ackerman.

Science writing has become its own genre, and is not restricted to scholarly works intended only for other scientists and impenetrable to the curious layman. Widespread interest in evolution, medicine, climate change, even in the more abstruse areas of physics, has created a market, and many writers have rushed to meet demand. Quite a few of them trained as scientists and regard science as their day job (e.g. the neuroscientist David Linden or the physicist Stephen Hawking). Others came to science through their interests in writing, and among these Diane Ackerman excels. Born Diane Fink, in Waukegan, IL, on October 7, 1948, Ackerman now describes herself as “poet, essayist, and naturalist,” but she could add playwright, memoirist, and biographer and still not cover her prolific output. Her PhD was in English, at Cornell, but it was a writing PhD and her examining committee included Carl Sagan (another scientist who wrote), and since then, in both her poetry and her prose, she has made science—understanding the natural world—her main interest. Sometimes it’s a personal matter, as in Cultivating Delight (2002), a scientific tour of her garden, or in One Hundred Names for Love (2011) an account of her husband’s (the novelist Paul West’s) recovery from a stroke. Sometimes it’s an issue (endangered species make up much of her subject matter), but more often it’s been nothing more than a deep interest (and growing expertise) in explaining how things work or (especially in her poetry) to celebrate the wonders that come with scientific exploration and scientific discovery, for instance in her first published volume of poetry, The Planets: A Cosmic Pastoral (1976). Amongst Diane Ackerman’s proudest ‘possessions’ is a crocodilian sex pheromone, dianeackerone, a reward (so to speak) for her writings on crocodiles. As far as I know, she’s still well and still writing, so birthday greetings to her on her 69th. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 08 Oct 2017, 13:14

You wouldn't worry so much about what others think of you if you realized how seldom they do. Eleanor Roosevelt.

It’s likely that we will never find out as much about Eleanor Roosevelt’s sex life as we now know about Franklin’s. To be sure, there was sex. Eleanor conceived and birthed six children, for one thing. And for another, she enjoyed friendships with women who were in a ‘Boston marriage’ and with single women who were lesbians. Those six children must have involved sex, with Franklin, but there’s still doubt about Eleanor’s relationships with her lady friends. But what women they were!! And how they helped Eleanor, by temperament, upbringing, and unhappiness a private person, to become one of the most important public women of the century!!! Lorena Hickok was probably the most intimate friend, and the most important to Eleanor’s taking on a public role. But there were others, among them Esther Lape, born in Wilmington, DE, on October 8, 1881. Lape’s sexual identity was known to Eleanor, for her life partner was Elizabeth Read (Eleanor’s lawyer), with whom Lape established an idyllic home (“Salt Meadow”) on the Connecticut coast (which she managed and later gave to the nation as a nature preserve). Eleanor visited there often, sometimes weekly, from the White House, but she had known Lape for years, beginning with the women’s suffrage campaign in New York, and continuing through Lape’s role in founding the League of Women Voters and in leading the (failed) campaign to get the USA to accept the jurisdiction of and participate in the World Court. During her White House years, Eleanor rented a Manhattan apartment from Lape and Read where she could relax away from the public eye, and after Franklin’s death she visited Salt Meadow even more often. It was in every meaningful way an important relationship between two interesting and accomplished women. Esther Lape, social scientist, campaigner, philanthropist, and Eleanor Roosevelt’s good friend, died at age 99, at home in that New York City apartment. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 09 Oct 2017, 11:03

Time in itself, absolutely, does not exist. John Fowles, Aristos, 1964.

When I have the time I will find which is the world’s oldest clock. For now, I am content to have seen in operation the world’s third oldest clock, the Prague Astronomical Clock. It’s not clear exactly how old it is, but on October 9, 1410, it was noted to be up and running. It hasn’t been ticking for 607 years, though. There was a long halt in the 16th century when it seized up, and in 1945 the departing Germans shot it up causing a three-year caesura. Finally, in 2005, it was mothballed to prepare for its 600th anniversary celebrations. If you’re ever in Prague, it’s worth seeing, especially on the hour when its several mechanical figures (including all 12 apostles but also the angel Death, a skeleton) do their bit. Among its fascinations is that it’s really an historical document, some of the mechanism and much of the notation being added since the 15th century. Indeed, the ‘orloj’ still tells Prague time, cutting the hours of sunlight into 12 equal slices (the slices had to be bigger in midsummer) and 24 being the hour of sunset (which also had to move to keep pace with the seasons, or as we now know with the earth’s tilting axis relative to the sun). And then at some point 24 golden Roman numerals were added, against a blue background, so that today the clock (also) keeps Central European Time. Most interesting of all, at its very core, the original clock and its astronomical mechanisms are pre-Copernicus, pre-Galileo. The universe as depicted by the original clock was—and still is—Ptolemaic, geocentric. So the original clock did (and still does) offer—along with Prague time—a fair representation of the universe of 1410. For although the clock and its various mechanisms were put together by a clockmaker (Mikulas of Kadan) the design was the work of Jan Sindel, professor of mathematics and astronomy at Prague’s Charles University and personal astrologer to King (of the Bohemians) Wenceslas IV. And Sindel got it right. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by PanBiker » 09 Oct 2017, 11:28

It truly is a wonder, large crowds gathered in front to see it perform (ourselves included) when we were there. I don't have my Prague pictures to hand but I have a few of the clock.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 10 Oct 2017, 13:14

One of these mornings// You're going to rise up singing// Then you'll spread your wings// And you'll take to the sky. Summertime, from Porgy and Bess, 1935.

After a private performance in Carnegie Hall and a week in Boston, slimming it down and testing the waters, Porgy and Bess opened in New York on October 10, 1935, at the Alvin Theatre. The Alvin (now the Neil Simon Theatre) was known for its musicals, and Porgy and Bess soon toured the country (Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and Washington) like a musical, but George Gershwin (music), Ira Gershwin (lyrics), and DuBose Heyward (libretto) thought of it as an opera. It was a folk tale, and Gershwin set it to the music of the folk, but he intended it as opera. After all, he’d had success with other classical forms (e.g. Concerto in F, 1925; An American in Paris, 1928). So it’s about a bunch of low-lifes in a Charleston, SC, slum: Porgy the beggar, Bess the loose woman who dreams of better things but takes drugs instead, Crown her violent man, and Sportin’ Life her ‘druggist.’ But then low-lifes were not strange subjects for opera (think Bizet’s Carmen). It’s very satisfying (musically and dramatically) if such can be transformed and transfigured, whether living happily ever after or dying tragically or, as with Porgy (“Oh, Lawd, I’m on my way”), setting out to find their particular grail. The story was complicated in America by the fact that Porgy is about black people, but Gershwin was adamant that it was “an American folk opera,” and the touring cast (all black but for four minor speaking parts (a lawyer, a cop, a detective, and a coroner!!!) was also in no doubt. In the nation’s capital, in 1936, the cast forced the management to put on its first-ever integrated production for its first-ever integrated audience. That was not so long ago, and occurred at about the same time that the US congress refused to pass a bill making lynching a crime. Porgy and Bess still raises some hackles as a ‘racist’ production, but (like Maya Angelou, who appeared in the 1952 revival) most have come to praise it for its noble virtues of music and meaning. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 11 Oct 2017, 10:06

I am as free as nature first made man// Ere the base laws of servitude began// When wild in woods the noble savage ran. John Dryden, The Conquest of Grenada, 1672

The child prodigy fascinated 18th-century Europe for several reasons, including the mere existence of Wolfgang and ‘Nannerl’ Mozart who were already on concert tours when he was 6 and she was 10. Enlightenment ideas about human capabilities was another, not only those of the child (born tabula rasa, according to Locke), but also the savage, uncivilized person, who—untutored and thus unspoiled—could have noble qualities. So much the better, then, when a little boy of African descent was discovered to have a precocious talent with the violin. Hieronimo de Augusto Bridgtower was baptized on October 11, 1778 (probably born the previous August). His father was a Barbadian slave (John Bridgetower) who had (somehow) become a page at the very musical court of Prince Nikolaus Esterhazy, and the Prince prided himself on his abilities to spot genius (he was, after all, Joseph Haydn’s patron). By the time he was 10, Hieronimo had changed his name to George Augustus Bridgetower and was performing for rapt salon audiences in Paris (where he impressed Thomas Jefferson) and London. In London, he came to the attention (and under the patronage) of the Prince Regent, and was employed—off and on—for many years, in the prince’s concert band. Bridgetower was a European sensation. In 1803 he traveled to Vienna to meet (and perform with) the great master, Beethoven, who was inspired to dedicate his 9th violin sonata to Bridgewater: “sonata per un mulattico lunatico.” It was probably meant humorously and affectionately although, later, the friendship cooled. Returning to England, Bridgetower continued to work for the Prince Regent and perform with the Royal Philharmonic. He got a musical degree from Cambridge in 1811, married Mary Leeke, raised a family and set himself up professionally as a virtuoso performer, teacher, and composer, and in the end (1860) left a considerable estate (£170,000 in today’s values). ©
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