BOB'S BITS

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 16 Nov 2019, 13:12

"The refuge from pessimism is the good men and women at any time existing in the world--they keep faith and happiness alive." Charles Eliot Norton.

The American system of “General Education,” a broadly outlined ‘core curriculum’ required of all college students, has many parents. I suppose we could start with Cicero, but the idea that it should be institutionalized and made a graduation requirement for all sorts, a democracy of knowledge, so to speak, is more recent and, appropriately, more American. Chief credit goes to Charles Eliot Norton, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on November 16, 1827. The ‘Eliot’ and the ‘Norton’ hint that he was born to the Puritan Purple, and so he was; both family names date from leaders of the 17th-century migrations. Norton’s father was Professor of Sacred Literature at Harvard, and his mother’s cousin, Charles Eliot, was President. Charles graduated from Harvard in 1846, and although he did well enough academically his first aim was to augment his family’s fortune. Thus he joined other Nortons (and, I suppose, Eliots) in the export-import trade, among other things shipping Walden Pond ice to India to cool the brow of the British Raj. But on a business trip to Europe, young Norton was converted to high culture (the time he spent with John Ruskin in England was critical). He returned to Harvard to teach art history, to translate Dante’s major works, to place himself at the head of an expanding tribe of what we now call ‘public intellectuals’ and, in the end, to revolutionize American higher education. His ideas (like Cicero’s) were frankly elitist, but his was a ‘talented tenth’ argument, that the American elite needed to be generally educated and thus better fitted for life in a democracy. It was rather like W. E. B. Dubois’s prescriptions for an African-American elite, and indeed Norton’s view was that Harvard College needed to recruit new blood into American society’s leadership: the immigrants and native poor, not from Boston’s Back Bay but from its back streets: Irish, Italians, and Africans—and women, too. We have a ways to go, yet, but before he died (in 1908) Charles Eliot Norton, and Harvard, had made some headway. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 17 Nov 2019, 14:11

"No one I knew was ever nicer to me." Ernest Hemingway on Sylvia Beach

Having last week noted the importance to Aaron Copland of his years in Paris, it seems only right to celebrate today the place where (1921-1924) he strengthened his determination to make music relevant. It was the Left Bank bookshop known as Shakespeare & Company, and it first opened its doors on November 17, 1919, 100 years ago today. Its founder (and until the German occupation its proprietor) was Sylvia Beach (1887-1962), descended from a very long line of Presbyterian ministers and indeed nicknamed after her father, the Reverend Sylvester Beach (she was christened Nancy but it didn’t stick). Sylvia’s love affair with Paris began in 1901 when Sylvester was installed associate pastor of the American Church. Sylvia was only 18 when Sylvester took the pulpit at Princeton, NJ’s First Presbyterian Church, but she did return to Paris to study and renew her affair with Paris. She also fell quite in love with Adrienne Monnier, who ran a lending library cum bookshop in the Rue de l’Odéon. The two became lovers, and Sylvia (who’d toyed with the notion of setting up a Monnier-style bookshop in New York), stayed in Paris to open Shakespeare & Company and then, in 1921, to move it to premises just across from Monnier’s. Due to its friends it quickly became famous, not just for book retail and rental, but as a meeting place and as a venue for literary events. There young Copland met Picasso, Valéry, and a passel of (mostly) young American expatriates on their way to fame. There Beach would (famously) publish James Joyce’s Ulysses, and there during the Great Depression she and Monnier would fall on hard times, the bookshop kept alive by subscriptions organized by André Gide and by bigger subventions from Annie Ellerman (who wrote as “Bryher” but also was an English shipping company heiress). Despite her bookshop being symbolically liberated by Ernest Hemingway in 1944, Beach never reopened, although she did pen a memoir, Shakespeare & Company, in 1956, published in the year of Adrienne Monnier’s suicide. Today a “new” Shakespeare & Company can be found nearby in Rue de la Bûcherie. Its founder (George Whitman, in 1964) was an admirer of Beach, and he did more than to name his bookshop in her honor. So today the place is owned and operated by Sylvia Beach Whitman (b. 1961). It’s enough like the old place to make one feel like being there. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 18 Nov 2019, 13:58

"Stylists such as you have in America are ashamed of a car and are preoccupied with making it look like something else, like a submarine or an airship...As an engineer, I revolt against this". Alexander Issigonis.

We drove two Minis, very different, and yet very similar. The first (1969-70) was a Mini van, lent to us by friends to help us travel from a very leafy suburb to Oxford’s bustling town center. The second, in St. Louis, was a BMW Mini (2003-2015), purchased as ‘my’ car. The second one had air conditioning, heated seats, and here and there (small but vital) additions of space. But they were enough alike to feed my nostalgia and to remind me of the genius of their originator, Alexander Arnold Constantine Issigonis, whose unlikely but brilliant life story began on November 18, 1902, in Smyrna, Turkey. His Bavarian mother sprang from a family that owned Smyrna’s brewery; his Greek father was a marine engineer. In the national and ethnic upsets that followed the Great War, the family lost everything, became refugees, and Issigonis’s father died in Malta. But his father’s British citizenship (now an idea much reviled in some quarters) proved heritable, and Alexander and his mother, Hulda Issigonis, arrived in Britain in 1923. After a not-too-successful course in mechanical engineering, Issigonis landed auto industry jobs first in London, then in Coventry, then in Oxford at the Morris works. His talents and his drive began to be noticed (for instance an independent front suspension and a semi-automatic clutch), but his great triumphs were the Morris Minor (1948: a cheap, durable family car that was in production for 24 years) and then the Mini (1959: still in production) with its transverse engine, its front wheel drive, its sporty feel, and its durably modern look that still charms and, ever-so-slightly expanded under the BMW marque, still sells like hotcakes. Issigonis was knighted, made a fellow of the Royal Society, and became a friend of the better sort among the rich and famous; but all his life he lived modestly (with his mother until her death in 1972) in a Birmingham bungalow where his chief indulgences were his model railways and his Meccano sets. Alex Issigonis, a great tinkerer, built cars for the people, folks’ cars, and he built them well. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tripps » 18 Nov 2019, 14:19

Stanley wrote:
18 Nov 2019, 13:58
But his father’s British citizenship (now an idea much reviled in some quarters)
... and much coveted in others. . :smile:
Born to be mild. . .

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tizer » 19 Nov 2019, 10:31

Having owned an early split-screen Morris Minor and later several Minis I enjoyed Bob's Issigonis story. And it was a pleasure to read that Issigonis shared an interest with Rod Stewart in model railways! :smile:

By the way, the inbox at The Times was filled last week complaining about their article on Rod Stewart's model railway. The complaint was that the article six times referred to it as his `train set'! :smile:

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by PanBiker » 19 Nov 2019, 10:52

First cars I drove if you excuse the Land Rover and Tractor when I was a lad and helping at Bill Craddocks were the Morris 1000 vans we had at work, green for the use of, leatherette seats, freezing in winter and boiling in summer, lot of room in the back though. :smile:
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 19 Nov 2019, 12:59

". . . altogether fitting and proper . . ." Abraham Lincoln, November 19, 1863.

In the land of the twitterer, let’s recall a short, eloquent, and effective presidential utterance. It’s a good day for it; it was on November 19, 1863, that Abraham Lincoln delivered what soon became known as The Gettysburg Address. He spoke at the dedication of the ‘National’ Cemetery, then not yet finished. There were too many bodies, and the cemetery’s designers wanted to get it just right. The war’s climacteric battle had occurred there in July, won by the Union (some say) when Joshua Chamberlain’s 20th Maine held the far left flank at Little Round Top. Colonel Chamberlain, a Bowdoin College professor by trade, survived his wounds and in April 1865 was chosen to receive General Lee’s sword at Appomattox Courthouse. But November 19, 1863 was Lincoln’s day. His astonishingly short speech was a hum-dinger. The New England orator Edward Everett, who was to have been the star attraction at the Gettysburg consecration, spoke well and without notes for two hours, but he immediately understood that he’d been upstaged by the president’s brief “remarks,” and Lincoln’s young secretaries, John Nicolay and John Hay, also recognized that they had heard an historic oration from the man they (affectionately) called “The Tycoon.” They made haste to save their notes and later recalled that Lincoln did not write the thing on the back of an envelope. It was, Hay said, “carefully considered.” And the president wrought well. Lincoln’s address has been compared to Pericles’ “funeral oration” and characterized (by Garry Wills, in Lincoln at Gettysburg) as “the words that remade America,” reconstituting the nation as one “conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.” Lincoln’s 275 words made that idea supreme over the states just as the Gettysburg National Cemetery’s arc erased the states from which the dead came and made of each death an individual’s sacrifice to liberty and equality. Perhaps a rededication is in order, in these tweeting days. ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 20 Nov 2019, 12:32

"Censure strikes hard at women, while men, the true agents of trouble, hear no reproach." Euripides, Electra, circa 413 BCE.

Like most historical clichés, the “Victorian double standard” is not quite right, as can be demonstrated by revisiting the notorious divorce case (in London, in 1885) of Crawford v. Crawford and Dilke. Donald Crawford was a Liberal MP, as was (more eminently) Sir Charles Dilke. The second Crawford was Mrs. Virginia Mary Crawford (née Smith, on November 20, 1862). She certainly fell foul of some kind of double standard (she was, in effect, found guilty of adultery while Dilke was found guilty of nothing at all). But a second case revealed something more than, or different from, a double standard. London found out that Virginia Crawford indeed had a lover, but it was not Dilke. Dilke, on the other hand, was revealed as (probably) the lover of Virginia’s vivacious mother, Martha Mary Smith. The two cases together ruined Dilke’s chances of succeeding Gladstone as Liberal Party leader, and made him, much later, the subject of Roy Jenkins’s sympathetic Dilke: A Victorian Tragedy (1958). That was perhaps the real double standard, for Mrs. Crawford was ‘ruined,’ too, and yet her story is as full of interest and fuller of virtue; and whatever else you can call it, it was not a tragedy. Cast into the outer darkness by the legal cases, she worked her way to the light first by becoming a crusading journalist (for the legendary editor W. T. Stead), then (after Stead introduced her to Cardinal Henry Edward Manning) as a Catholic convert. With Stead’s encouragement, Virginia became a leading scholar of art history; with Manning’s, she returned to charity work, morphing what had been her Victorian avocation of ‘lady bountiful’ into a political career as a poor relief reformer and a leading London Labour councilor (Marylebone). She wrote copiously and effectively about all of it, books and articles about art, social reform, and religion, and then (with the rise of fascism in Italy) turned to writing anti-Mussolini pamphlets for the Friends of Italian Freedom. Virginia Crawford kept going strong until 1948. She outlived everyone associated with the divorce cases of 1885. And, we might say, she set standards of her own. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 21 Nov 2019, 13:46

"We believe that African and Oriental wrongs have but to be made manifest in order that they may be righted." Duse Mohamed Ali, in the 'manifesto' of the African Times and Orient Review, 1912.

The issue of race in writing and casting drama (plays, movies, TV) has been near or at center stage since the 1960s. It is too complex to be treated here, but do note that the best-known ‘black’ role in Anglophone theater, Shakespeare’s Othello, was probably not played by a person of African descent until 1886, in Hull, England. The actor’s stage name was Dusé Mohamed; he’d been born (of an Egyptian father and a Sudanese mother) Mohamed Ali in Alexandria, Egypt, on November 21, 1866. He’s known to history as Dusé Mohamed Ali. His father was a senior officer in the Egyptian army, and there was enough family money to send him to England to study medicine and, withal, to lead the life of a young gentleman. But he sidetracked all that, first as actor, playwright, and producer, and then (from about 1910) even more dramatically as a journalist and activist. By then completely Anglophone (he’d lost command of Arabic) Dusé Mohamed was no Anglophile. For his writings and his activism were devoted to the Pan-African cause and to racial justice on an international scale as well as domestically in the ‘white’ nations of the West. In London he also became an energetic supporter of Asian nationalism. In London, Dusé’s activism and multifarious energies brought him into contact with a young Jamaican, Marcus Garvey, and contributed to the growth and intensities of Garvey’s black nationalism; and in 1921 Mohamed moved to the USA where, besides marrying an American actress, Gertrude La Page, he invested energy and money in Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association. Mohamed had long been interested in setting up trade with Africa, and in 1932 his ambitions and his Pan-Africanism took him to Nigeria and yet another furious round of activities, commercial, theatrical, literary, and political. He died in Lagos 1945, leaving behind his wife, Gertrude, a long trail of political friends stretching back from Lagos to New York and Detroit, London and Hull, and an impressive list of plays, polemics, and novels. His amazing life warrants an academic biography, but that (I think) has yet to appear. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 22 Nov 2019, 12:48

"Knowledge is a great thing, and mother Eve thought so, but she smarted so severely for hers that most of her daughters have been afraid of it since." Abigail Adams to her sister Elizabeth, March 20, 1791.

When John Adams and his friend Richard Cranch called at the house of the Rev’d William Smith, in 1759, he found the three Smith sisters neither “fond, nor frank, nor candid.” He would later change his mind about at least one of them, Abigail, then just 15. The two would marry in 1764, and we know Abigail as one of the fondest, frankest, and most candid of US presidents’ wives. Abigail Smith Adams was born on November 22, 1744. Her father was then already on his way to becoming a Unitarian (and taking his congregation with him), and it’s probably Abigail who imparted to John his reasonable, tolerant, skeptical faith. Abigail’s mother Elizabeth was a Quincy, and that family alliance gave John the financial cushion he needed to devote so much of his life to public service. But the 1200 surviving letters between the two demonstrate, often eloquently, that Abigail gave John a good deal more, not least a taste for theater, for in the enlightened Smith household their courtship (and that of Richard Cranch and Abigail’s older sister Mary) included dramatic readings from Shakespeare’s plays. Whether Abigail’s mother approved of the Shakespeare is not known, but she didn’t approve of John, thinking him too common (he smelled of his father’s farm); but a long courtship finally satisfied Elizabeth, and in history Abigail’s and John’s long marriage has satisfied almost everyone who has read of it. Abigail’s intelligence, no doubt native, her erudition, acquired by herself, and her judgment (sharp, then often forgiving) matched John’s virtues and counterweighed his vices. Perhaps it’s best to say that she augmented his great talents while she tamed his overactive ego. She’s remembered today for her advocacy of women’s rights and the profound disgust she had for slavery, but her “dearest friend” undoubtedly remembered her (she died in 1818, he in 1826) as his own “dearest friend,” and so she was. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 23 Nov 2019, 13:07

"What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?" C. L. R. James, Beyond a Boundary, 1963.

Among the things English I enjoyed was cricket, usually as spectator. However, I did play, including several times as captain of the Grizedale College Principal’s Eleven. And there, in the late 1970s, I bowled (for a ‘duck’!!) a recognized international batsman called Gower. He wasn’t David Gower, soon to be England’s captain, but rather a youth international from (then) Rhodesia, and ‘Gower’ was his given name, not his surname. Still, it was my moment of cricketing fame. Of course I never played at Lord’s, the home ground of the Marylebone Cricket Club and the place where the game’s rules are laid down. Lord’s is named after Thomas Lord, born in Yorkshire on November 23, 1755, into a family fallen on hard times because of its Catholicism. The family moved to Norfolk, where Thomas was educated and where, probably, he learned to play the noble game. He then (1776) turned up in Islington, London, where he was employed as an attendant, and a bowler, at the White Conduit Cricket Club. So he must have been a ‘player,’ not a ‘gentleman’ (cricket’s once-famed social strata). Whether Lord ever became a gentleman is not clear, but things must have improved for him, economically as a builder and socially as a cricketer, for in 1786, two young gentlemen—indeed, aristocrats—of the White Conduit asked Lord to find the club a better place to play, closer to ‘society.’ He found them three, first at Dorset Fields, Marylebone, second (1810) near Regent’s Park, and finally (1814) where it still stands, near St. John’s Wood church. In 1825 Thomas Lord sold out, for the considerable sum of £5,000, to William Ward, MP, a club member who was also Governor of the Bank of England and presumably a gentleman and not a player. Thomas Lord retired to rural peace, in West Meon, Hants., where you can still sup at the Thomas Lord Public House. Or, in Marylebone, you can buy a gentleperson’s ticket and sit in some comfort at the Tavern End at Lord’s Cricket Ground, and not at “Ward’s.” In cricket, sometimes, the player wins out. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 24 Nov 2019, 12:14

"Mistress Mary, quite contrary/ How does your garden grow?/ With Silver Bells, and Cockle Shells,/ And Marigolds all in a row." Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911.

I can no longer remember which elderly relation it was (or more than one?) who warned me against acting like “little Lord Fauntleroy,” but it echoed through my head long and loudly enough to put me off ever reading that children’s novel (Little Lord Fauntleroy, 1886), or indeed anything else by Frances Hodgson Burnett. That appears to have been a mistake, for I’ve since learned that her children’s books, especially Little Lord Fauntleroy and The Secret Garden (1911), are ‘classics,’ and that the author herself had an interesting life. Frances Burnett (née Hodgson) was born in Manchester, UK, on November 24, 1849. In 1865 her widowed mother emigrated to Tennessee and into poverty, trying to make a small business support two families. Frances Hodgson helped make ends meet by writing short fiction, her first pieces appearing in Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1868. By the time of her marriage (1873, to a Tennessee eye doctor) she was an accomplished author, and as Frances Hodgson Burnett she kept at it, and pursued her version of a writer’s life. This did not include any marked devotion to domesticity, and although she remained devoted to her two sons (Fauntleroy is said to have been based on one of them, Vivian) she became better known as a literary traveler, correspondent and friend of the famous (including Henry James) and a writer of OK adult fiction, quite a bit of it and enough to support her in the style to which she’d become accustomed. There followed an inevitable divorce (1898), a very brief marriage to a much younger man (1900-1901), and as she aged the continued to write great stuff for children and OK stuff for adults (20+ novels and “innumerable” short storied). No one’s fool, Ms. Hodgson Burnett was also famed for her legal triumph in international copyright and intellectual property, successfully suing (in 1888) to secure author’s rights and financial benefit from a (pirated) London staging of Little Lord Fauntleroy. As for the little Fauntleroy, he is said to have worn his riches well, a sturdy, intelligent, likeable lad who should not be blamed for the foppish clothes his first illustrator created for him. His virtues made him “the Harry Potter of his time,” and I should get to know him better. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 25 Nov 2019, 14:11

"Democracy cannot long survive when the people allow their lives to be dominated--economically or politically--by a powerful few." Helen Gahagan Douglas.

My parents’ long, painful divorce from the Republican Party (the decree absolute came with the election of Ronald Reagan and what became known, in family lore, as the ketchup incident) lay deep in the sands of time, for their forbears were “radical” Republicans in the late 19th century and “progressive” Republicans in the 20th (now extinct species), but their disaffection deepened in lockstep with the rise of Richard Nixon. In this, an important episode was Nixon’s victory, in the 1950 California senate race, over Helen Gahagan Douglas, in which Nixon tarred his opponent as the “pink lady” right down to her underwear. As in “pinko-commie.” Douglas, by then a Democratic congressperson, was the sort of person my parents liked, a labor sympathizer, a campaigner for migrant workers’ rights, a woman who called Joe McCarthy a “pip-squeak,” and upset by the “Cold War” mentalities of post-WWII American diplomacy. But, to be fair, they probably knew her best and liked her first as a Hollywood actress. Helen Douglas (née Gahagan) was born in comfortable circumstances, in New Jersey, on November 25, 1900. The family moved to a posh part of Brooklyn, and the privately-educated Helen entered Barnard College in 1918. To her father’s disgust, she abandoned education for the theater, then opera, then Hollywood films, and married a fellow actor, Melvyn Douglas, in 1931. Among her more famous roles was that of “she who must be obeyed,” Hash-a-Motep, in the H. Rider Haggard adventure flic She (1935), but by this time both Helen and Melvyn were committed progressives, appalled by the rise of fascism in Europe and by the plight of the poor in Depression America. Very much a crusader, Helen Gahagan Douglas won a friend in Eleanor Roosevelt and quite a few enemies among conservatives in both parties (including, be it remembered, John F. Kennedy), so her candidacy in 1950 was probably doomed anyway, even without Tricky Dick’s dirty tricks. She lost handily, anyway, and devoted the rest of her life (she died in 1980) to liberal causes. She even forgave John Kennedy. Or, perhaps (like my parents), Helen Gahagan Douglas regarded him as very much the lesser of two evils in his 1960 presidential campaign against Richard Nixon. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 26 Nov 2019, 12:49

"A bright, active little man with vigor enough for 10 giants." Helen Mary Allen, 1897, describing Aurel Stein in a letter to her mother.

The long, remarkable life of Aurel Stein began in Budapest on November 26, 1862. By 1943, when it ended in Kabul, Afghanistan, he was Sir Marc Aurel Stein, adventurer, explorer, and scholar. He was in Kabul as the distinguished guest of the American embassy, 80 years old, a very short, even tiny man, still vigorous and eager for exploration and discovery. But he suddenly fell ill, died, and was buried with some ceremony in Kabul’s Christian cemetery. It was an appropriate place, for he sprang from an assimilationist Jewish family and had followed the paths of his (much) elder siblings into the Lutheran communion and the best education that his brilliance could absorb and his family money could buy. Already as a child he had become fascinated by Alexander the Great and begun an acquaintance with ancient languages, including Sanskrit. He carried through to study at several universities, including Vienna and Leipzig, and then to the British Museum and its antiquities. There followed a series of appointments, academic and bureaucratic, in British India. He acquired there a largeish group of devoted friends, notably the scholars P. S. and Mary Allen, and made his reputation as an explorer, translator, and archeologist. His day jobs, so to speak, gave him a base and a ticket of entry, and his friends and admirers covered for his long absences from his paid work. But Stein’s archeological discoveries in India, Kashmir, Persia, and Chinese Turkestan and his translations (notably in Sanskrit and Persian) were the ruling passions of his life. His meticulous scholarship (and, no doubt, his zest for life) made his expeditions more successful than most, even though they tended to be small, lightly financed affairs: Stein and his devoted assistants (mainly Kashmiris, recruited at his mountain ‘camp’ where he rested between expeditions). Stein’s exploits won him many honors (and UK citizenship, and a knighthood). His artifacts and manuscripts are in the most important British museums and libraries, where many of them continue to cause some diplomatic trouble, notably with the Chinese government. He left no family behind but his estate continues to fund the sorts of scholarship and field work that made him famous. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 27 Nov 2019, 12:28

"We have time. There's no big rush." Jimi Hendrix

In London, not far from the American embassy, one can visit a musical coincidence that spans centuries and cultures, or maybe not, for Nos. 23 and 25 Brook Street both bear those famous blue plaques, commemorating (in these cases) Georg Frederick Handel, who lived for 40 years at No. 25, and Jimi Hendrix, who lived for just 2 years—the last two years of a short life—at No. 23. It’s pointless to speculate on what Handel might have thought about it, but Hendrix’s pleasure at the happenstance is a matter of fact. He thought of himself as a gifted musician, innovative in performance and composition, and he liked to live next door from where another one had wowed London. Jimi Hendrix was born Johnny Allen Hendrix in Seattle, WA, on November 27, 1942. By inheritance, he was a mixed-up kid (x% African, y% Mexican, z% Cherokee) but until in 1961 he enlisted in the 101st Airborne he thought of himself as 100% American. There he discovered racism, and by the time he was medically discharged (he broke his ankle in a parachute jump) he’d acquired some anger. In Seattle he’d already acquired music, and was skillful enough at the electric guitar to tour as a backing musician with the Turners, Little Richard, and Sam Cooke, among others. He was ‘discovered’ in New York, and then in the mid-1960s came into his own in England, where he produced (with various groups) ground-breaking albums. He was known, too, for provocative stage performances, perhaps culminating in his ‘Star Spangled Banner’ at Woodstock, 1968. Along the way he gained the devoted following of many fans and the friendship of other performers, not least Paul McCartney. But Hendrix lived loose and he lived poor. In 1968 he took up residence in an attic flat at 23 Brook Street with his girlfriend, Kathy Etchingham. They paid £30 weekly for their attic flat at 23 Brook Street, the “first real home of my own” he wrote, sentimentally. Next door, two centuries before, Handel paid £60 annually for the whole house. For Hendrix, it all ended badly in 1970. Kathy Etchingham became a writer, and at the unveiling of the Brook Street plaque in 1997 (which itself was very much her work) she remembered Hendrix as an artist who was “grumpy” and “moody” at times: “but he was fun, he was charming. I want people to remember the man I knew.” ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 28 Nov 2019, 13:17

"To find yourself in the infinite// You must distinguish and then combine// Therefore my winged song thanks// The man who distinguished cloud from cloud." Goethe's poetic tribute to Luke Howard.

We call our clouds by Latin names: if they’re heaped up, cumulus; if layered, stratus; when fibrous, cirrus; and ‘stormy’ equals nimbus. As in people, variations bring hyphens, such as strato-cumulus or cumulo-nimbus. A general explanation is that when such classifications of natural systems were all the rage, Latin was the lingua franca of science. Thus Linnaeus (1707-1778) named his plants and Luke Howard his clouds, and thus we ourselves became homo sapiens. But in Howard’s case there was a peculiar reason: he would later explain that his brutal schoolmaster flogged so much Latin into him that he couldn’t forget it. Luke Howard was born in London on November 28, 1772, into a wealthy Quaker family of northern origin. His Quaker schooling (in Burford) may have been un-Quaker in its brutalities but was certainly un-Quaker in its neglect of mathematics and the sciences. Howard picked up his science expertise from his father, a tin-plate manufacturer, his apprenticeship and later prosperity in chemistry and pharmacology, and his adult associations with fellow Quakers and others, also in the main dissenters from the established church. His chemistry and medicines he kept to himself. They were his ‘arts’ and thus trade secrets. But in his science, he was like many natural philosophers of his time quite open and quite the polymath, too. He presented papers on pollens and plants, geology too. But his passion and his skills were focused on the weather, clouds of course but also weather in general. Today we’d classify his approach as historical-observational rather than analytical-scientific, but as we’ve found historical patterns and trends do have a role to play in making the case that meteorology is a science of truly vital importance. Luke Howard, a man of great energy, had many lives: Quaker polemicist, philanthropist, scientist, industrialist. He married well, too, and he and his wife (the author Mariabella Eliot Howard of The Boys’ Book fame), parented eight children and a tribe of activist descendants including prison reformer Margery Fry and Labour politician Richard Crossman. Luke Howard’s poetic rendition of our clouds, meanwhile, lives on. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 29 Nov 2019, 12:57

"I love looking at things on maps." Margaret Joy Gelling.

Among the rewarding eccentricities of my life has been a fascination with place names, not begun but deepened by our 28 years in England. For 11 of those years we lived in a village whose Old Norse name (Over Kellet) opened a book of meanings. It was first (circa 900 AD) a Viking settlement; it was located on sloping ground near a spring (which still ran into a horse trough on the green); and its “Over,” a later addition, placed it further away from the county town (Lancaster) than its southerly neighbor, Nether Kellet. And there was more than that to learn, starting from such simple evidence. My source for these encyclopedic possibilities is Eilert Ekwall’s The Place-Names of Lancashire (1923), which opens a whole series of county studies, most of them under the sponsorship of the English Place-Name Society. One of the society’s more prolific scholars was Margaret Joy Gelling (née Midgely), born in Manchester on November 29, 1924 and the first of her family to graduate from college (St. Hilda’s, Oxford). She imbibed from her Depression experiences a life-long commitment to radical politics (first the Communist Party and then Labour), and from her education a linguistic expertise and a professional fascination with place names—hills, rivers, forests, heaths, and towns. From her marriage to and partnership with the archeologist Peter Gelling she learned much of the ‘agricultural common sense’ of small, old places. All that together made her a giant in the place-name field. With her special 1923 typewriter (one with Anglo-Saxon characters) she wrote book after book, article after article, on place-names, their meanings, their histories linguistic and otherwise. She’s best known for her multi-volume works on Berkshire, Oxfordshire, and Shropshire, but also for being elected President of the English Place-Name Society during its celebratory 75th year (1985; she continued in office until 1998). It was a fitting reward. She’d worked for the society during her undergraduate years and just before her marriage, and she’d bought that old typewriter from the society for £5. She kept pounding away at its keyboard and uncovering the subtle mysteries and meanings of place-words until her death in 2009. A Festschrift in her honor, presented to her in 2008, was called A Commodity of Good Names. To which one can only say, yes, indeed; it is so. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tripps » 29 Nov 2019, 16:18

Spooky strikes again. Who'd have thought that Over Kellet would appear twice in my in tray in one day.

:laugh5:
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 30 Nov 2019, 04:38

:good:
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 30 Nov 2019, 14:16

"I know I chatter on far too much... but if you only knew how many things I want to say and don't. Give me SOME credit." Lucy Maud Montgomery.

When Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Journals began to appear (in 1985, 43 years after her death), many of her fans were shocked to discover that she was a woman of passion and sadness, light and deep shadow. For the darkest shadows she grieved deeply, and throughout her marriage (1911-1942, to a depressive Presbyterian minister, Ewen Macdonald) she’d found solace in (and recalled to her journal) the deep passions of her premarital affair with a farmer, Hermann Leard, with whose family she boarded in 1897-98. Those first journals, made up of “selected” passages, are now being replaced with full volumes that cover her life from her first jottings (in the 1880s) through 1929. It’s safe to say that the shock has worn off, and Lucy Maud Montgomery is now and will for a long time be remembered as the creator of Anne of Green Gables (1908), its wise-child heroine greeted by Mark Twain as “the dearest and most moving and delightful child since the immortal Alice.” Anne’s creator was born on November 30, 1874, on Prince Edward Island, effectively orphaned, and brought up by her grandparents. She early developed a fantasy life with fantasy friends (mostly girls), but also a burning ambition to be someone important. Her writings made her so, but before Anne there was a 20-year period of education, school teaching, unwelcome proposals from unwelcome men, that very passionate (but never consummated) affair with Leard, and a raft (about 100) of published short stories. After Anne, and her desperately unhappy but unflinchingly dutiful marriage, L. M. Montgomery (her chosen pen name) continued to write, partly for therapy but also for the money. There were Anne sequels, some adult fiction, and those short stories kept coming, too. In her very different journals, she wrote of her life’s hopes and disappointments, the deaths of two of her sons (one in infancy, the other in war), of her marriage, of her addiction to her husband’s little blue pills, and of her conviction that the world was but a stage for the battle between God’s goodness and the forces of Evil. She was always hopeful that God would triumph, but in 1939 the outbreak of another World War convinced her she would, herself, never see that day. Exhausted from her struggles, Lucy Montgomery died in 1942. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 01 Dec 2019, 13:01

"There is no branch of mathematics, however abstract, which may not some day be applied to phenomena of the real world." Nicolai Lobachevsky.

My acquaintance with higher mathematics is ‘nodding,’ although my freshman year professor, the brilliant and eccentric Smbat Abian, might use a different word. So my main connection with Nicolai Lobachevsky comes through the Tom Lehrer song of the same name, wherein “Lobachevsky” asserts that his success owed to his skill as a plagiarist. “Plagiarize . . . let no one else’s work evade your eyes,” and so on through a long and outstandingly funny lyric. Lehrer, a mathematician himself, later confessed that he used Lobachevsky only “for prosodic reasons.” Indeed. For despite Lehrer’s manic verse Nicolai Lobachevsky (born in the Volga district of Tsarist Russia on December 1, 1792) was in truth a brilliant mathematician who, working in isolation at the new Kazan University, upset the Euclidian applecart and put geometry on a new (“non-Euclidian”) path that would, one day, be validated by the experimental proof of Einstein’s theory of relativity. The good Professor Abian would not be surprised that I can’t quite explain the thing, but at base Lobachevsky offered a disproof of Euclid’s fifth postulate, which states that if you have one straight line (“A”) and a point off that line (“B”), you can only draw one (1) line through B that is parallel to A. If you are a pre-Einsteinian Euclidian (and most of us still are), that makes perfect sense. ‘Parallel lines can never meet, quod erat demonstrandum.’ Working pretty much by himself, and maybe only with his brain, chalk, and a blackboard (as, proverbially, mathematicians are wont to do), Nicolai Lobachevsky trashed this whole notion and stands today, for some, as the “Copernicus of geometry” and even as the “Copernicus of thought.” Sadly, Lobachevsky didn’t profit much from his genius. His main works, though known to other mathematicians, were not published during his lifetime, his personal finances were weighed down by his huge family, and in 1846 he was dismissed from his university post because of ill health; he died in poverty ten years later. Tom Lehrer should have picked another name out of his hat. As for Professor Abian, he with unparalleled generosity gave me two D grades for my too small pains. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tripps » 01 Dec 2019, 17:52

I am currently working my way through a stack of Minidiscs which I 'plagiarised' a long time ago from Spotify. Guess what's on track six of the last but two in the stack.

Of course 'Nicolai Ivanovich Lobachevsky is his name'. by Tom Lehrer.

These spooky events are becoming almost routine :laugh5:

I love the line 'the eternal triangle with Ingrid Bergman playing the hypotenuse'.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 02 Dec 2019, 12:52

Roger. Martha's husband, is a big fan of Tom Lehrer....

"I solicit you, Citizen Minister, for the patent of my invention, which ought to assure me my property and work for myself." From Citizen Robert's patent application, September 9, 1798.

In France, the industrial revolution came late, and one reason was the system of guilds and societies that defined economic relations in traditional, caste-like terms. This in turn led to a good deal of jurisdictional squabbling, not only between, say, bankers (who had money) and manufacturers (who needed it) but even within the same firm. Impatience with this state of affairs was a subtheme of France’s great political Revolution, and a motivating factor for the inventor of the first modern paper-making machine. That was Louis-Nicolas Robert, born in Paris on December 2, 1761. Robert early showed his modernizing temper by volunteering for duty in the American Revolution, but at 15 he was too young. Instead he went into the French army in 1780, where among other things he was a pioneer balloonist (one of his first flights was witnessed by Ben Franklin in 1783). Leaving the army in the midst of Revolution, in 1790, Robert took a clerical position in the Didot papermaking works, a royal monopoly in operation since the 14th century. There he became frustrated not only with traditional papermaking (one sheet at a time) but with the endless quarrels among the workers who, themselves, monopolized each separate stage of papermaking. A tinkerer right down to his fingertips, Louis-Nicolas set to work, and by 1797 created a machine process that produced paper in a continuous roll. France’s revolutionary government encouraged such innovations with a modern patent office, and “Citoyen Robert” duly received his patent (and his patent rights) in 1798. He was also paid a small sum to build a prototype machine, but as with many inventors before and after he lacked capital. So, by sale, his patent migrated first to the Didot family and then to the Fourdrinier brothers’ paper works in England. Broken in health, Louis-Nicolas Robert used his 25,000 franc patent price to found a school in Vermouillet, where he did his best to keep body and soul together until his death in 1828. Today, the basic principles of the Robert process still roll on, not much slowed by our “paperless” computer revolution. In Vermouillet, today, the local upper school bears Robert’s name, and his statue—revolutionary though he was—stands in the churchyard. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 03 Dec 2019, 12:41

"As theology is the science of our religious lives, and biology the science of physical life, so let Oekology be the science of our normal lives [and] the worthiest of all the applied sciences". Ellen Swallow Richards.

Ellen Swallow Richards has been remembered for many things, but in most of them she was a pioneer, the first woman to do this, that, and the other. She was born Ellen Henrietta Swallow on her family’s farm near Dunstable, MA, on December 3, 1842. Her moderately prosperous parents believed in educating all their children, and Ellen did well at the Westfield Academy. She then earned enough money as teacher to enroll at Vassar, aged 26; granted advanced credit she graduated in just over a year. Then it was on to MIT as its first woman student. Despite MIT’s grudging admission decision (she as a “she” was to be an exception, not a precedent), it was an association that continued for the rest of her life. Among other firsts, she was the first American woman to earn a degree in chemistry (a bachelor’s only, for MIT would not go so far as to award advanced degrees to a female), and she followed that up by marrying an MIT professor (of mining engineering) and at first serving at MIT as a ‘volunteer’ tutor and lab instructor. Her skills and indomitable energy soon made that designation an absurd one, and from 1884 she held a variety of official positions in MIT’s experimental laboratories. Already she’d hit upon her specialty, which today we’d call environmental chemistry, but it was as a scientist of sanitation that she made most of her many marks. Richards was particularly interested in the home, not only as the woman’s realm but also the natural environment of human beings, men, women and children. She called her interdisciplinary approach euthenia, a Greek coinage meaning ‘to be in a flourishing state.’ That didn’t stick for several reasons, so today Ellen Swallow Richards is celebrated as a founding mother of home economics, nutritional chemistry, public health, child studies, and of ecology which she (who had been a Greek scholar at Westfield) insisted on spelling as Oekology. Richards got her doctorate, honoris causa, in 1910. She died the next year. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 04 Dec 2019, 13:19

"The emancipation of science . . . may be likened to the overthrow of aristocratic traditions and monarchical supremacy." Benjamin Silliman, Jr., 1872, on the centenary of the discovery of oxygen.

Modern science was not part of traditional college curricula, excluded (though not ignored) for various reasons. Harvard kept it at arm’s length (in the Lawrence Institute) into the late 19th century). Other institutions were quicker, for instance Pennsylvania with its 1765 medical school. So when Yale appointed its first chemistry professor in 1802 (Benjamin Silliman, a Yale graduate in divinity and law) it had to send him to Philadelphia to learn some chemistry from Penn Med’s Professor Woodhouse. Woodhouse wrought well, for not only did Silliman become a leader in American science, but he brought his son along with him. Benjamin Silliman, Jr., born in New Haven on December 4, 1816, learned his science from his father and in due course succeeded to the Yale chair. Like his father, he was very conscious of being a science pioneer, and succeeded dad, too, as editor of the American Journal of Science. He also folowed parental paths to convince investors of science’s practical benefits. Given the state of industry and of science at the time, this meant taking nature apart and examining the bits for their profitable promise. In this art, or science, both Sillimans used fractional distillation, and so in the 1840s a group of New York City investors (most of them transplanted New Englanders) asked young Silliman to examine the dark, evil-smelling, sludgy stuff that seeped up in various places, notably in western Pennsylvania. It fouled well water and found use mainly as a quack remedy for varied ills (it was an age that loved quack remedies). Could it be something else? So it was that for a fee of $526.08 (~$17,000 in today’s $$), Silliman, Jr., may be said to have created the American petrochemical industry. Whether we should thank him for it has become (in these days of environmental consciousness) an interesting question. Silliman’s fees—and his many other scientific ‘investments’—also demonstrated why America’s academies had kept modern science out of their ivied halls and ivory towers, for back then money and truth were still thought to be uneasy partners. ©
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