BOB'S BITS

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 02 Jul 2018, 10:57

I prefer the term "autonomy" to "equality." Strictly speaking, who can be, or wants to be, "equal" to anyone else? Eleanor Leacock, on women's status in egalitarian societies.

On July 2, 1964, Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act. It was in historical context primarily about race, a response to the modern Civil Rights movement, but equality was in the air, and among the many inequalities the act sought to address was gender inequality. Specifically, in Title VII, the act prohibited gender discrimination in the workplace. It was a nice irony, then, that on July 2, 1964, her 42nd birthday, Eleanor Burke Leacock was still struggling to find a tenured faculty position in her field, Anthropology, despite her already impressive list of professional achievements. She was then a “research associate” at a polytechnic institute, moonlighting as adjunct faculty several New York City universities. This anomaly was corrected in 1972 when the newly-minted Professor Leacock vaulted into the chair of the Anthropology Department at the City University of New York. Eleanor Burke Leacock was born on July 2, 1922, in suburban New Jersey, but spent most of her youth in New York City where her father, Kenneth Burke, was making a name for himself as an essayist, philosopher, and public intellectual. Eleanor married at 19, but was nevertheless able to finish her education (BA, MA, PhD) at Barnard College and Columbia University. Her work in native American anthropology, and her reading, convinced her that the subjugation of women was an historical construct rather than a legislation of human nature, and she found an explanation for that partly in her reading of Marxism, but partly also in reflecting on her own life and the challenges she had faced, as a young wife and mother (of four), in establishing a professional status commensurate with her professional achievements. When she did suddenly emerge as a full professor, Eleanor Leacock credited neither that 1964 act nor her own accomplishments, but the modern women’s movement and its call for diversity in faculty appointments at the nation’s universities. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 03 Jul 2018, 13:44

What is this life if, full of care,// We have no time to stand and stare. William Henry Davies, "Leisure."

One of the more interesting of our “rediscovered” poets is William Henry Davies, born into the skilled working class of South Wales on July 3, 1871. Somehow young Davies—an unruly child, he tells us—picked up wanderlust, so wander he did. His tramp’s life took him to North America, riding the rails, begging, taking odd jobs, returning home occasionally to pick up his accumulating inheritance (a weekly allowance of 10 shillings, left him by his grandma). A hobo’s life has its hazards, and Davies fell victim to one of them, severing his right calf trying to board a moving freight at Renfrew, Ontario. That didn’t stop his wandering but it brought him back to Britain, where (between itinerant peddling and street-corner preaching) he lived in London boarding houses (on his allowance). And, yes, somewhere along the line he’d caught another bug, writing, both poetry and prose, and in 1905 the first of many volumes, The Soul’s Destroyer and other Poems, issued out of a respectable London house. Davies sent copies, gratis, to leading lights of the day, including George Bernard Shaw, and the harvest was patronage. It came variously but most helpfully as an entrée to further publishing. This included not only poetry but (eventually) three volumes of memoirs and two semi-autobiographical novels. In these, apparently, Davies pulled no punches. The first (1908) was called The Autobiography of a Super-Tramp; in another, (Young Emma, published posthumously in 1980) Davies recounted his odd search for a wife among London’s poor girls. On February 5, 1923, he found Helen Matilda Payne, abandoned, alone, and pregnant, aged 23, at a bus stop. They lived happily ever after, at least until Davies’s death in 1940. Ever the writer, Davies told the tale first in poetry,The Lovers’ Song-Book (1933), and then in his very last publication, in prose, Young Emma. The very title afforded Helen the cloak of anonymity, but she had died, as old as her century, in 1973. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 04 Jul 2018, 13:54

Racism can not exist in the Puerto Rican family, given its origins and its history. Pilar Barbosa de Rosario, in the biography of her father.

Academics don’t usually expect public honors, but as Professor Pilar Barbosa de Rosario approached death, she directed that her funeral rites should be private. She feared too much might be made of her death and of her long life. Pilar Barbosa de Rosario was born in a San Juan on July 4, 1898, in the midst of the war that made Puerto Rico into an American protectorate. Her Afro-Puerto Rican father, José Barbosa, quickly became a leader of the statehood movement, and Pilar followed in his footsteps. Like him, she found her higher education in the USA. Like him, she performed brilliantly, winning her history PhD in very short order (dad had been first in his class at the U of Michigan medical school), and like him she became the conscience of her political party, always striving to secure American statehood and end the island’s anomalous existence as a “free associated state” (an odd phrase that, as Donald Trump has proven, means nothing much at all). But Pilar had a life of her own, too; she was the first woman to hold a faculty appointment at the University of Puerto Rico (1921), the founder of its Department of History (1929), and for many years its director. There, before and after her marriage (to an economics professor at the university), she established an informal seminar—a salon of advice and counsel—for students with political ambition, and thus became the éminence grise of the New Progressive Party, when it was founded in 1967, the year of her retirement from the university. No doubt that would have been her father’s party, but he died in 1921, and she did see to it that its goals included “social justice” as well as statehood. Pilar continued her salon until just before her death, at 99. Her request for a private funeral was only partly honored, and on January 22, 1997, as she died, the island legislature proclaimed that three days of official mourning would follow on from her church funeral. Her father’s birthdate (July 27) was already an official Puerto Rican holiday. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 05 Jul 2018, 13:06

After all it must be confessed that silence is the most flattering applause an Actor can receive. Sarah Siddons.

When Sarah Siddons retired, on June 29, 1812, just short of her 57th birthday, she chose to exit as Lady Macbeth. It was a role she had become identified with in the popular mind, and for Siddons—who had remade the character in her career—the identification was personal, a psychological thing. Once again, in the sleepwalking scene (Act 5, scene 1, Lady Macbeth’s last appearance on stage), Siddons’ portrayal—her heart “sorely charged” and her hands so drenched in blood they could not be cleansed—transfixed the house, and the audience would not allow the play to continue. After a time, Siddons took the stage and, in her own character, dressed spotlessly in white satin, she spoke her sad farewell and took her leave. Sarah Siddons’ acting career had begun almost with her birth, in an upstairs room in the Shoulder of Mutton Inn, Brecon, Wales, on July 5, 1755. Her parents, Roger Kemble and Sarah Ward, were actors themselves, and on tour, and in time seven of her siblings would also take to the stage. Her brother John Kemble, indeed, may have been her best Lord Macbeth, several times, notably in their first run at the ‘Scottish play’ in March 1785 and then again in a remade Drury Lane Theatre in 1794. Besides creating the modern Lady Macbeth we all fear, and secretly admire, Sarah Kemble Siddons is best known for her role—on stage and off—in making acting respectable. Though her own life was certainly not without scandal, her acting (in both tragedies and comedies) established a powerful vogue, made theatre-going the thing to do. Siddons moved audiences to tears and laughter (even gentlemen found it acceptable to weep at a Siddons show), and moved herself in the highest circles (in 1783, George III’s queen, Charlotte, appointed Sarah as “reader” to the royal princesses). To be sure, the Kemble family continued in its ‘trade,’ but as Sarah’s niece Fanny Kemble would prove, it was a trade that now could be deemed decent. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 06 Jul 2018, 13:44

The Dutch East India Company . . . employed all the machinery of despotism to squeeze from the people their utmost mite, the last dregs of their labor. Thomas Stamford Raffles, The History of Java.

If we can concede (to the likes of Niall Ferguson) that there was something good in British imperialism we must recall that there was also a good deal of bad. Looking for such ambiguities, one of the figures that springs to mind will be Sir Thomas “Stamford” Raffles, born on July 6, 1781. He was born to empire, not only at sea, near Port Moran, Jamaica, but in the service of empire, on his father’s ship Ann, in the captain’s cabin. He entered imperial service himself at age 24, as an assistant secretary to the East India Company’s governor at Penang, in Malaysia. There he began a career that left his imprint, and his name, on Britain’s Asian empire. In the process, he became a learned man, adept in several languages, expert on indigenous cultures and their histories, and not least a storehouse of scientific knowledge on local flora and fauna. Among other things, he offered protection and support to the researches of the American botanist Thomas Horsfield and saw to it that Sir Joseph Banks’ Royal Gardens (at Kew) was kept well supplied with plants and seeds (and the Regents Park Zoo with animals). He was a liberal in his time, and as he ascended in imperial responsibilities (in several East India company posts, at several places) he curbed the power of arbitrary princes and chiefdoms, introduced jury trial (and the idea of prison as rehabilitation), and abolished slavery, including freeing the company’s own slaves. He’s best known for founding Singapore (in 1819), where still a posh hotel (founded in 1857, well after Raffles’ death, in England, in 1826) bears his name. So, too, do several species of tropical plants. Stamford Raffles (as he liked to be called) admired local cultures and their peoples, and believed that they would benefit from western government, western enlightenment, and western trade. His was imperialism at its best, but it was still imperialism, and so his heritage is, inevitably and rightly, disputed ground. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 07 Jul 2018, 11:30

I am very sorry that I made no progress. Emperor Frederick III to Dr. Morell Mackenzie, June 11, 1888.

Kaiser Frederick III, who reigned for only 91 days, in 1888, is one of history’s more interesting might-have-beens. His liberal instincts and values, his close alliance with British royalty (he was Queen Victoria’s son-in-law), his political and intellectual allies in Germany, made him feared by conservatives. Just so, his early death (from throat cancer) gave them an opportunity to exercise their anti-British nationalism, not least because his lead physician was British, highly recommended (if not chosen) by Victoria herself. Indeed, Dr. Morell Mackenzie was knighted by the great queen for his care of Frederick while he was still Prussian Crown Prince, and to express her delight with Frederick’s apparent recovery. Mackenzie, born in Essex on July 7, 1837, had become Europe’s and perhaps the world’s leading laryngologist. Called in (in 1887) over the heads of Prussian doctors who had diagnosed the Crown Prince with cancer, Mackenzie executed a biopsy and announced that the growth was not cancerous. That was a medical diagnosis with profound political consequence (by Prussian law, a debilitating illness could exclude a prince from the succession), and it became more important when Frederick succeeded to the throne and then succumbed to his illness. The resulting feud not only ruined Mackenzie’s reputation (his published self-defense revealed much private information about Frederick, and thus contravened British medical ethics) but further poisoned the well of Anglo-German relations when he actually blamed Frederick’s German doctors for ‘provoking’ the cancer. Mackenzie’s The Fatal Illness of Frederick the Noble (1888), recently reissued as a classic in medical history, can thus also be read as a prelude to the bloodbath of 1914-1918. And Frederick’s death brought his son Wilhelm to the throne, a man of decidedly different views, who would make his own contribution to the coming—and to the duration—of the ‘Great War.’ ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 08 Jul 2018, 12:25

Competition is a sin. John D. Rockefeller.

The 19th century was the era of “the self-made man.” It’s a misunderstood phrase, as scholars Thomas Augst and Daniel Howe have argued. Its first meaning was the idea that each of us has a moral duty to use our personal combination of skills, brains, and backbone to become a better person, and to shower that improvement on others. We owe our misunderstanding of it (as a rags-to-riches story) to the new plutocrats of our industrial age. These men generally did their bit to improve upon the theme, sometimes hiring journalists to write up their very own rags to riches story: poor boys heroically making good in tough times. The myth has been exploded, starting with a collective biography of industrial leaders in Cochrane’s and Miller’s The Age of Enterprise, which demonstrated that most of them were born rich, or at least comfortably well off. But there were exceptions, “real” self-made men. One such was John D. Rockefeller, born on July 8, 1839 to a devout Baptist mother and a ne’er do well confidence artist father and becoming, in due course, possibly the richest man in the world. He inherited some traits from each parent, prospering through hard work, moral certainty, sharp practice and political corruption. As to the latter, he was said to have done everything to the Pennsylvania state legislature except refine it, a nice joke given that the oil industry was the basis of his wealth. But his liberal Baptist element never died out. He tithed 10% of his income to the Northern Baptist Convention and gave even more to its mission to help freed slaves, and their children. Before he died he’d given away a third of his fortune, the bulk of it to the United Negro College Fund and the Rockefeller Foundation. J. D. Rockefeller was a grand designer of both monopoly capitalism and targeted philanthropy. Virtue being its own reward, old John D’s 69th birthday present was his grandson Nelson. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 09 Jul 2018, 12:59

When our dictator turns up you can depend on it that he will be one of the boys, and he will stand for everything traditionally American. Dorothy Thompson, 1935.

When Dorothy Thompson died in 1961, her long New York Times obit failed to note that she was the model for the Tess Harding character in the Katherine Hepburn-Spencer Tracy comedy Woman of the Year (1942). Like Kate’s Tess, Dorothy Thompson was indeed a prominent journalist, an international correspondent of great stature who enjoyed the distinction of being the first journalist expelled from Nazi Germany (in 1934). She never wrote that Hitler had little hands, but she did ridicule him as “formless. . . inconsequent . . . ill-poised and insecure . . . the very prototype of the little man.” This “blasphemy” (as she called it) seems to have got under Hitler’s skin. Dorothy Thompson, born on July 9, 1893, was the daughter of a Methodist minister. She majored in economics and politics at Syracuse, where she also was bitten by the suffragist bug. Determined to vote, she was also determined to fashion her own life as a journalist, and began writing for money, in Europe, in 1920. By 1925 she was chef de bureau in Europe for the Philadelphia Public Ledger, and had fashioned a unique network of sources in Germany and Austria—including Thomas Mann, Berthold Brecht, and Stefan Zweig. A woman with friends like that could scarcely be friends with Hitler, and she wasn’t. By the late 30s she had a large audience for her own column (“On the Record”) and for her current affairs essays in Ladies’ Home Journal. The column would eventually appear in 170 dailies, and the Ladies’ Home Journal’s circulation was 3 million. In 1939, Time magazine called her the most influential woman in America (after Eleanor Roosevelt). In 1961, her obit did mention that she was married to Sinclair Lewis (from 1928 to 1942), but only briefly and because Dorothy Thompson died in Lisbon where she had gone to visit her (and Lewis’s) daughter-in-law and grandson. “Miss Thompson” was, after all, her own woman, and ‘woman of the year’ for many years. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 10 Jul 2018, 13:52

Louis dixhuit// Got decidedly cold feet// When he heard that the Little Man// Had landed at Cannes. E. C. Bentley, "Louis XVIII".

Among the lesser reasons for wishing that our president were a[n even] greater writer, the “clerihew” is a very entertaining literary form admirably suited to his twitterverse. It has but four lines, rhyming AABB, and the fewer rules it follows as to line length and meter, the better. As for example:

George the Third

Ought never to have occurred

One can only wonder

At so grotesque a blunder

Admittedly, the Declaration of Independence reads better, but for brevity the clerihew has merit. The form was invented by an Englishman named Edmund Clerihew Bentley, born in London on July 10, 1875. His father was a rugby international (one of the very first), but Edmund turned out bookish, first at St. Paul’s School, then at Merton College, Oxford. As an adult, he published (as E. C. Bentley) some serious poetry, a few detective fictions (he was an enthusiast for the genre, and his Trent’s Last Case, 1913, is regarded as a classic), and columns in two or three papers (not all at once). I like it that he was a fan of Damon Runyon’s, and he edited a Runyon omnibus to introduce Runyon’s low-lifes (he called them “Broadway bandits”) to British readers. But the “clerihew”? Young Edmund coined his first one to amuse his St. Paul schoolmates, and perhaps to mock his history master, for his “clerihews” were mainly about historical figures. What began as an entertainment became almost a vice, and Bentley published three volumes of clerihews which, I think, you can find on Project Gutenberg. But the form, albeit quite simple, is perhaps too artful for Mr. Trump, and besides the best of Edmund Clerihew Bentley’s clerihews have at least the ring of truth about them. And that would make the clerihew difficult meat, indeed, for our deceptive Donald. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 11 Jul 2018, 13:52

For my part, I must say that science to me generally ceases to be interesting as it becomes useful. Sir Robert William Grove, Jubilee Address to the Royal Chemical Society, 1891.

Once the word “science” meant knowledge in general, or its pursuit. Just so, “scientist” is a modern coinage, and it was only during the 19th century that ‘science’ became a remunerative profession, the realm of the boffin, someone paid to be interested in why things (organisms, planets, and frictionless planes) actually work the way they do. But the 19th was still a century of amateurs, the most famed of whom was Charles Darwin. Another was William Robert Grove, born in Wales on July 11, 1811. His father was a lawyer, and after reading classics at Oxford that’s the profession William took up. He did well at it, becoming a Queen’s Counsel in 1853, and eventually a high court judge. Queen Victoria knighted him and, upon his retirement from the bench in 1887, elevated him to her Privy Council. But on the side William Robert Grove liked nothing better than messing about with “science.” After Oxford, he returned to Swansea to set up (with other messers about) a philosophical society. He also joined London’s Royal Institution, where he met his wife and worked with others, mostly amateurs, on current scientific puzzles. Grove made important discoveries in electricity (including what may have been the first incandescent electric light), invented the “Grove cell,” and involved himself (rather deeply) with astronomy and photography. He was one of the first to demonstrate, in the lab, the dissociation of molecules under thermal pressure, and his work in that area led him to an early statement of the theory of the conservation of energy. Elected to the Royal Society in 1840, Grove set about the task of modernizing that august institution, to the consternation of some, and he continued to lecture (entertainingly) and write about science. But from the 1840s he fed, clothed, and housed his family as a lawyer and judge. In science, Sir William Robert Grove was not the last of the amateurs, but he was one of the best of them. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 12 Jul 2018, 11:32

Dare to be naive. R. Buckminster Fuller.

In my college years, R. Buckminster Fuller was trendy and cool. It was an odd fate for a provincial professor (at Southern Illinois University) who was pushing 70. He was born in New England on July 12, 1895, and was made conscious of his ancestry, which included, collaterally, Margaret Fuller. That got him into Milton Academy, but he drank himself right out of Harvard and nearly into the gutter. At 30, in Chicago, he claims to have had a mystical experience which set him on a mission to improve, if not to save, humanity. For all practical purposes self-educated, he made friends in the arts, in the sciences, in business, impressing most with his intelligence and his ambition, filling temporary faculty positions here and there, and developing several theories about how the world worked, and about how it ought to work. While he was at Bennington College, already a fairly odd place in 1945, he designed the structure for which he became most famous, the geodesic dome. In many ways it was a parable of his life, a structure that really “should” have been quite frail, even evanescent, but by utilizing tension (between almost all of its parts) showing immense strength and, for some, a strange beauty. He had other obsessions, too, e.g. the “dymaxion” motor car, and a kind of Emersonian optimism that if people would just accept his genius (and discover their own ‘inner’ geniuses) mankind would set on a course of geometric improvement. In 1966, the New Yorker magazine (which featured Fuller several times during that lively decade) called him “a man interested in almost everything” (at that particular interview it was Maori chants). It was an apt characterization. Fuller now seems a great naïf; but in the age of Trump I have to say that I miss him. “Come back, ‘Bucky’ Fuller: all is forgiven.!!” But Bucky Fuller died, holding his dying wife’s hand, in 1983. They’d been married 66 years. Now they’re both resting in Mount Auburn cemetery, along with quite a few other Emersonian geniuses. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 13 Jul 2018, 12:41

You do not frighten me. I have survived worse than you. Simone Veil, responding to neo-Nazi thugs at a political rally in 1979.

45,000 Jews were deported from wartime France. Among the 2,500 who returned alive was Simone Annie Liline Jacob. Back in France, she resumed her education, married Antoine Veil, birthed three sons, and took up a life as a working mother until fate intervened and (almost by accident) made her into a politician. Simone Veil was born on July 13, 1927, in Nice. Her father, brother, and mother died in death camps. She and her younger sister survived. An older sister, Denise, fought in the Resistance and survived capture by concealing her Jewishness. In her political life, Veil served (in conservative, Gaullist governments) long terms as minister of justice and then of health, in the 1970s authoring the Lois Veil (France’s abortion statute) and easing access to contraceptives. She also was a defender of immigrants, notably of North African Muslims, and in all these guises attracted the hatred of the far right and neo-Nazis. Veil responded always with disdain or defiance, and became one of France’s and indeed one of Europe’s most popular politicians, one of the few who owed their popularity to their courage (“the only man in the government,” one of her socialist rivals once called her). In 1979, she became the first president of the first democratically elected European Parliament, in more ways than one a living symbol of reconciliation. In her later years, Simone Veil became the Grand Old Woman of French political culture. One of the few females ever elected to the Académie Française (the 6th, in 2008), Veil died only last year. She was first buried in Montmartre Cemetery, but earlier this month (on July 1st) she and Antoine were re-interred in the Panthéon, as President Macron had promised, in 2017, at her state funeral. Among her Panthéon relics is her Académie sword, inscribed with the mottoes of the French Republic and the European Union, and with her Auschwitz number, 78651. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 14 Jul 2018, 14:32

We decided long ago we weren't going anywhere. We were going to stay here. . . a commitment . . . a place . . . a direction. Muriel Snowden, quoted in the Boston Globe, 1988

Where you choose to live—if you have a choice—may say much about you as a person, and in that context we might say that Muriel Sutherland Snowden was an extraordinary individual. Born on July 14, 1916, into an affluent black family, she was raised in an almost wholly white community in suburban New Jersey, Glen Ridge. Aspirational to her core, she was valedictorian in her high school, and then did very well at Radcliffe College (she later served Harvard as trustee), graduating in 1938. Seven years later, she married Otis Snowden, son of one of the highest-ranking black officers in the US Army, and a graduate of Howard University (where his older brother Frank would become chair of the classics department). The couple settled in the Boston area, where (despite a good deal of residential segregation) black people of their background and resources had a pretty broad range of choice, and having a daughter they were concerned about her schooling. They chose Roxbury, one of the city’s poorest areas and the core of its black ghetto, and with the already-settled aim of improving the place. Otis was director of a settlement house in Roxbury, and Muriel decided to make Roxbury her job, resigning her salaried position to become a full-time volunteer. Working together, the Snowdens early (in 1949) established “Freedom House,” both a place and an organization, and made it into the wheel house of the Boston Civil Rights movement. They attracted enough support to buy a former Hebrew seminary and expand the functions of Freedom House to include careers guidance and skills classes, but always the focus was on making the city livable for people of color. Muriel Snowden’s lifetime of labor was recognized most notably by the award of a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1987, aged 71. Muriel and Otis are now long gone, but their daughter Gail, as president of Roxbury’s Freedom House Foundation, continues their work. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 16 Jul 2018, 04:15

Nothing received from Bob for yesterday. I have mailed him to ask if he is OK.......
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