BOB'S BITS

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 28 Mar 2019, 10:52

"Where there is great Variety of Dishes . . . it matters not whether they be called French, Dutch, or English, so they are good . . ." Hannah Glasse, 1747.

Ask a knowledgeable person to name a ‘progenitor’ cookbook, and you’ll get Isabella Beeton’s 1861 masterpiece, famous enough to be still available. But it’s loved today for its Victorian moralisms, and it was originally a book of “household management.” For the Ur cookbook, plain and pure, one must go further back, and a good candidate would be Hannah Glasse’s The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Easy, first printed in 1747 (and still being reissued when Mrs. Beeton’s came out). It’s not without its moralistic asides, e.g. comments about the French way of overdoing things with ‘good, plain food.’ But Hannah Glasse turned right round to recommend several French dishes, and some of her English recipes are refined enough. Fittingly, for Hannah Glasse was ‘to the manor born,’ albeit illegitimately, on March 28, 1708. She was christened Hannah Allgood, her father Isaac Allgood, a prominent Northumberland landowner (and coalmine owner). Her mother was his London mistress. Nevertheless, Isaac acknowledged Hannah as his daughter and took her home, to Nunwick Hall. Later, he settled an annuity on her. Interesting stuff, but the cookbook lasted longer. It was written after Hannah married an Irish army officer and estate steward, John Glasse. It went through a great many editions, some pirated, and was popular throughout the empire. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and George Washington each owned a copy, and back in London, so did Dr. Samuel Johnson, who thought the book so good that it must have been written by a man. It’s notable for several things, its claim to be written for poor households needing to exercise economies in time and money, its French recipes (and her remarks on their extravagance) and its recipe for curry (the very first, it is believed, in English). For me, it’s more than enough to know Hannah Glasse was the first author to name that crowning glory of English cuisine, the Yorkshire pudding. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 29 Mar 2019, 13:30

"A Good Time Coming for Whales," 1859 headline in the New York Evening Post.

The Evening Post was one of the great New York newspapers of the 19th century. One of its early editors was William Cullen Bryant, poet and propagandist for most things American, but he gave it up in 1832. Much more prosaically, the Post in late 1859 reported on the oil boom in Titusville, PA, dwelling enthusiastically if not rhapsodically on the riches already flowing out of the ground and the usefulness of the dark brown “crude.” Never once did the article mention oil’s potential as a fuel, but as a lubricant, a medicine, and for lighting lamps it was superb (and would thus, the article announced in its headline, be very good news for whales). But according to the Evening Post oil as an engine for new fortunes had no equal—and this was only ten years after the discovery of gold at Sutter’s Mill. This last should have been good news for the man whose technical innovations made it all possible and who’d exhausted his own estate (and those of his friends) in establishing the first successful well. This was Edwin Drake, born of Connecticut Yankee stock in Greenville, NY, on March 29, 1819. He’d led a pretty hum-drum life before, in 1858, taking up with the Pennsylvania Rock Oil Company. Surveying the situation (oil was being “harvested” by skimming up surface seepage), he decided to drill, and he solved the problem of bringing the oil up by drilling down through a cast iron pipe. He made other technical innovations, and on August 27, 1859 Drake’s well “came in,” as oilmen would later call it, at a depth of 69 feet. Drake died in 1880, subsisting by then on a small state pension. His magnificent monument in the Titusville Cemetery was erected in 1901 by John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Company. Whatever Rockefeller knew about drilling for oil he knew way, way more than Edwin Laurentine Drake about how to turn oil into cash. Drake never patented his inventions and died impoverished. Sadly, the whales didn’t do much better. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 30 Mar 2019, 13:13

One finds in even very young children a capacity for insight which is often far greater than that of adults. Melanie Klein.

Freudian psychoanalysis has been a mystery to me, and its dependence on analyses of one’s life history (as exposed in dream states, as elicited by interview) have exposed it to criticism, even ridicule, from the brain chemists who now dominate psychology. Yet it has had huge cultural impact, in literature, in art, and in its therapeutic methods. Not least among these latter influences has been the use of play to interpret the psychology of very small children. This can be credited in part to the insights of Melanie Klein. Born Melanie Reizes in Vienna on March 30, 1882, Klein herself experienced conflict in early childhood. Her Orthodox father bent her one way, her Reformed mother another, and the death of her older sister; such ordeals made Melanie Klein more interested than most in her own childhood. Depressed by her unhappy marriage and the stresses of motherhood, Klein came upon psychoanalysis through reading Freud’s On Dreams (in 1914). She responded so intelligently to therapy that her analyst suggested that she take up the work herself, and that she concentrate on young children. And that is just what she did. Very soon she’d published (on child development), and shortly thereafter she decided to treat children, a task undertaken by few if any Freudians. Frustrated by toddlers’ inability to respond properly to ‘interview’ therapy, Klein decided on observation instead, and in particular the observation of the child at play. In a long career (made possible by her moving to Britain in the 1930s) Melanie Klein became the leader of an important psychoanalytic school of thought, and ironically an opponent of Anna Freud. Their feud subsided in a ‘gentlewoman’s agreement’: to disagree amicably and to offer two streams of training, one Freudian (a term already in use) and the other “Kleinian,” a new coinage. Melanie Klein died in 1960. Her monument exists across the world in play observation, play therapy, and play research. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 31 Mar 2019, 12:28

"So it goes." Billy Pilgrim's oft-repeated editorial comment, usually on a death, in Slaughterhouse-Five, by Kurt Vonnegut.

The 1960s decade is now generally viewed with nostalgia, even by right-wingers, for it helps them to conceptualize what’s wrong with the country. I like it more positively. During those years I began to take seriously knowing things and stringing them together, moved to the left in politics, married the woman who is still my wife, and (thanks to a low grade in a PhD seminar on ‘the hero in the modern American novel’) won an Oxford fellowship and sailed away to England. But to understand the 1960s best you should read (or re-read) two novels that bracketed the decade and were, as they say, talked about by everyone and read by many: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller (1961), and Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, published as the decade ended, on March 31, 1969. Both novels were ostensibly about World War II (in which both authors served); but most younger readers took them to be really about the then contemporary USA. For Heller (who took eight years to write Catch-22) that was the America of the Cold War, McCarthyism, and the hypocrisies of post-war patriotism. Vonnegut’s book was a rush job (and bears marks of it) and in a real sense a self-therapy for a man driven crazy, suicidal, by his POW experience of the 1945 fire-bombing that left Dresden (and thousands of its citizens) in ashes. In validating a Michigan school’s banning of the book, a circuit judge called Slaughterhouse-Five "depraved, immoral, psychotic, vulgar and anti-Christian.” This was why we liked it, and Catch-22, too. Both novels made sharp use of irony and satire, and despite their horrors (Snowden’s death, in Catch-22, still haunts my memory), were quite funny. At its 50th birthday, Slaughterhouse-Five is ranked high in most lists of ‘best novels of the 20th century,’ but usually lower than Catch-22, which is technically and artistically the better fiction. Both tell important truths about WWII and about the decade in which they were published. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 01 Apr 2019, 13:14

"Better a witty fool than a foolish wit." Feste, in Shakespeare's Twelfth Night.

“Of the various forms of government which have prevailed in the world, an hereditary monarchy seems to present the fairest scope for ridicule.” Thus Edward Gibbon, in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. That was in volume I, published in 1776. In that year the Americans were at the point of saying the same thing, but as they knew it was still an unsafe sentiment. It was so much more unsafe during the reign of the irascible Henry VIII, whose pleasure could make men rich and powerful and whose pain could cause the same men to lose their heads. The closer one was to Henry, it often seemed, the closer one was to death. And on April Fool’s Day, who better to remember—and admire—than the man who was so close to Henry VIII as to be his Court Fool. Not only that but he went on to serve, in the same capacity, King Edward VI, then Queen Mary I. This was William Somer (or perhaps Sommers) and we must admire him for keeping all three of these monarchs amused, and for surviving into the reign of Elizabeth I, whose coronation he attended. Whether he also played her Fool is not known; he died in the same year, of natural causes. Other than that, he’s a bit of a mystery. Two paintings survive in which he appears (not, of course, as the principal subject). He had well-muscled legs (jesters often performed acrobatics for the court’s amusement), a beard, close-cropped hair; in one he stands next the king with a monkey on his shoulder, in another with a worried look on his face. There’s one bit of evidence suggesting that Sommers might have been really a fool, that is, feeble minded, and thus the butt of jokes rather than their author. But that is too sad a thought for April 1. Since we don’t know very much, let’s make him instead a man who tumbled through three of the bloodiest decades in English court history, and lived to joke about them. A wise fool indeed. Happy April Fools’ Day!!! ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 02 Apr 2019, 12:30

"His infirmities diminished neither his benevolence nor his cheerfulness; his good works continued unabated to the last." From the British Medical Journal, November 1, 1890.

Historically, the blind were considered (when considered humanely) as objects of charity. There were exceptions. The ancient Greek poet Homer, legendarily blind, collected quite an audience, and anthropologists tell us that tribal cultures sometimes regarded the blind with awe. But in in general the best the blind could hope for was charity. The kindness was commendable, but the condescension left something to be desired. Progress in treating the blind as equals with ‘special needs’ came from varied sources, but in Anglophone cultures much is owed to an English physician, Thomas Rhodes Armitage, born (sighted) on April 2, 1824 into a family whose wealth arose from their iron foundries. Thomas was educated to be a gentleman, mainly in Germany and France, returning to take a medical degree (1852) at London. As a doctor he was successful, further enhancing his fortunes by marrying well. When in the 1860s he began to lose his own sight he could have dealt with it himself and for himself. Instead, he used his whirlwind energy, a great deal of money, and what might be called a Victorian ethic to improve blind care and treatment and, more especially, to create conditions in which the blind could be themselves and also productive members of society. He worked through existing institutions, including government, but also in 1868 founded his own, the British and Foreign Blind Association. He wrote books advocating for the blind as people who could profit themselves and their society through education (he was a crusader for the introduction of Braille print) and work-related training. He maintained a vigorous private life, too, managing his wife’s Irish estates and continuing to enjoy travel. But now, as he traipsed across Europe and as far further abroad as the USA and Egypt, he traveled as a missionary in the cause of the self-reliant blind. Thomas Armitage died as the result of a riding accident, in Tipperary, in 1890. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 03 Apr 2019, 11:50

"A sharp tongue is the only edged tool that grows keener with constant use." Washington Irving, in Rip Van Winkle.

Possibly the first American author to make a good living from writing, Washington Irving was born in New York on April 3, 1783, the last of a large brood (8 of whom survived into adulthood). He arrived when New York City learned of the cease fire ending the Revolutionary War, so was named after George Washington. The author grew up to be much like the hero, certainly in his conservatism, but unlike him in his ready wit, his approachability, and the gifts of repartee that made Irving a much sought dinner guest. Irving was well-educated but resistant to school regimen, preferring the “now” theatre to the “then” nature of much education. In 1802 he began publishing in newspapers as “Jonathan Oldstyle,” a telling pen-name in a new, revolutionary republic; but he did not care much for its newness, its parochialism, its celebration of egotism, nor—after the election of Thomas Jefferson—its democratic expressions. His ability to poke fun at the whole American circus was especially apparent in his Knickerbocker History of New York (1809). The ‘history’ satirized American politics and the shortness of the country’s memory). Better yet, the ‘author,’ Diedrich Knickerbocker, was a brilliant hoax-identity created to help the book sell. At the end of his life, Irving made it full circle with a not-at-all-bad biography—mainly factual—of George Washington (5 vols., 1855-59). But his most famed characters were complete fictions, Ichabod Crane and Rip Van Winkle, both of them victims rather than heroes of the American revolution. Their creator lies (fittingly) in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery. It overlooks the Pocantico River and may be the most wonderful (in its ‘table of contents’) of American skull orchards. Besides Irving’s grave (and among others) you can find those of Andrew Carnegie, Walter Chrysler, a passel of Astors and Rockefellers, and—for satire’s sake—Leona Helmsley, who left $12 million to her dog but spent only $7.5 million on her mausoleum. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 04 Apr 2019, 12:34

Oh East is East and West is West and never the twain shall meet, Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat. Kipling, The Ballad of East and West, 1889.

Were you anxious to decide whether Rudyard Kipling was a blood and iron imperialist, his poem “The Ballad of East and West” would at least convince you that the question is an interesting one. In the poem a Muslim prince’s only son is directed by his father to “eat the White Queen’s meat,” but it’s part of a bargain that arose because “two strong men [stood] face to face.” Another Indian Muslim, Abdullah Yosuf Ali, a Gujarati, made quite a meal of the white queen’s meat, indeed celebrated the imperial connection. Abdullah Yusuf Ali was born in Gujarat on April 4, 1872. He was well-schooled in India, won a scholarship to Cambridge, was called to the English bar in 1896, and passed with distinction the Indian Civil Service exam. He returned to India, served the empire with distinction, retired in 1914, and (making use of his imperial pension, his family’s wealth, and his considerable abilities as a writer) devoted the rest of his life to demonstrating that if (in Kipling’s words) “East is East and West is West,” their meeting could—and should—be of great benefit to both. In all this, Ali not only retained his Muslim faith but evangelized for it as a progressive religion in his writing and in his life. He was a major benefactor of Islam in England, contributing time and money to the purchase and beautification of the building that became the East London Mosque. In India he served as president of the Islamia College and on the board of Punjab University. He had married an English woman in 1900, and when that marriage broke down, married another in 1920, and he served as a loyal propagandist for empire in both World Wars. But in the end history let Ali down. His second marriage failed, the British abandoned him when they abandoned the sub-continent, India fell apart in sectarian bloodshed, and in 1953 his London death certificate would read that Abdullah Yusuf Ali was a poor man “of no fixed address.” Indeed. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 05 Apr 2019, 11:55

"I have always felt that James Bond is bigger than all of us." Albert 'Cubby' Broccoli.

In between bouts of nation-building, Thomas Jefferson preached scientific agriculture to anyone who would listen: manuring, crop rotation, diversification. He practiced it, too, and among his experiments was broccoli, using seeds imported from Calabria. It didn’t take hold, and so broccoli waited for the pulse in Italian immigration that came in the early 20th century. Among the many who might have carried broccoli seeds through Ellis Island and then to a truck garden on Long Island was Giovanni Broccoli (1870-1932). At least that’s the story put out by his son Albert in Hollywood, CA, while learning how to produce a very different crop, celluloid. Albert Romolo “Cubby” Broccoli was born on Long Island on April 5, 1909, and his stars may have been cast by his mother, Christina Vence, sometime cook for the founder of Biograph, the film company that gave us D. W. Griffith, but Albert started up growing veggies for his father (including broccoli?), then farmed in central Florida. However, he’d had an education (journalism), so in 1934 he forsook Florida to join his cousin Pat De Cicco in Hollywood. After a spell as a shampoo salesman he became a production assistant at 20th-Century Fox. PAs are a dime a dozen, but this one married well (in the first of several places to Joan Blondell’s sister), made good friends (Howard Hughes “cast” Cubby as Jane Russell’s minder), and climbed quickly up the ladder. He then moved into film production in Britain (where he co-produced three Alan Ladd vehicles). It was in Britain, in the mid-1950s, that Cubby Broccoli conceived the James Bond 007 idea, and starting with Dr. No (1962) was co-producer or sole producer of most of the Bond series. Broccoli had other successes, too, notably Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), but he carried (and was carried by) the Bondmobile right through to Pierce Brosnan and Timothy Dalton. A combative character himself, he finally gave it all up and was planted in Forest Lawn in 1996. ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tripps » 05 Apr 2019, 12:16

Stanley wrote:
05 Apr 2019, 11:55
It was in Britain, in the mid-1950s, that Cubby Broccoli conceived the James Bond 007 idea,
I think Ian Fleming may have had some input as well, and with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang . :smile:
Born to be mild. . .

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 06 Apr 2019, 13:44

We wish to discuss a structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid. (D.N.A.). The modest opening sentence of the 1953 Watson-Crick article in Nature.

The pioneering biologist James Watson has rendered himself toxic with his recent obiter dicta on the genetics of race and gender (Africans and women) and obesity. His former company, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, has cut all ties with him, and lecture tours have been canceled. But before we send him to Coventry—or to perdition—we might remember that his verbal gymnastics have included eloquent attacks on the idea that the human genome (and genomes of other natural species) could become patented property of big biotechnology corporations. Indeed, he had his own genome mapped and made available to anyone who might be able to use it. And if he was roundly attacked for selling his Nobel medal, for $4.1 million, do remember that he devoted most of the proceeds to conservation projects on Long Island—which needs them. James Watson, co-discoverer (with Francis Crick) of DNA, was born in Chicago on April 6, 1928. He was educated in Chicago public schools, then at the universities of Chicago (BS and MS) and Indiana (Ph.D.) before taking a post-doc at Cambridge’s Cavendish Laboratory. The Cavendish, already seen as a Nobel factory, was an exciting place that encouraged conversation, cooperation, and competition, and it was out of that heady mix that in 1950 he met Crick and moved sideways with him into research on “the genetic material.” It’s a phrase, if you’ll excuse the pun, pregnant with meaning, and by discovering its chemical composition and its molecular structure Watson and Crick could be excused for saying that they had discovered “the secret of life.” It was “with a little help from their friends,” notably Maurice Wilkins and Rosalind Franklin at London University, and in 1962 (Franklin died in 1958) the Nobel was shared by Watson, Crick, and Wilkins. Watson’s difficulty with this was predictive of his later behavior, but his vices need to be taken along with his virtues. Chances are, they went together. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 07 Apr 2019, 12:01

"Rest? There's no time for that." Martha May Eliot, 1960.

“If I come to St. Louis,” wrote William Greenleaf Eliot from the ‘hub’ of New England, “I come to remain, and to lay my ashes in the Valley of the Mississippi.” His ashes lie in Bellefontaine Cemetery. He also left us Washington University, a brace of Unitarian churches, and a public service legend. But he did not commit his whole brood to stay. T. S. Eliot (a grandson) left to become a great modernist poet (and an Englishman). T. S.’s uncle Christopher decamped sooner to become a Unitarian minister back in New England. There he fathered T. S.’s cousin Martha. Martha May Eliot was born in Dorchester, MA, on April 7, 1891. At Bryn Mawr College, she met the love of her life, Ethel Dunham (1883-1969), and the two of them went together to the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. There they studied pediatrics, brilliantly, and left for professional lives of great distinction. Their accomplishments at Yale, in government from the New Deal through the Eisenhower administration, at Harvard, and with the United Nations, would be enough for four or five biographies; that they managed them as women was remarkable, and as lesbians much out of the closet mildly miraculous. Moreover, each received great public honor and acknowledgement: and all this despite—or because—they always made their career decisions so they could stay together. Both I and my wife were once under Martha Eliot’s care, albeit remotely, for during WWII she administered the Emergency Maternity and Infant Care Program for servicemen’s wives, women who in their hundreds of thousands (including our mothers) gave birth, and raised infants, on their own. Martha outlived Ethel by nine years. By the time she died, in 1978, she’d left the Eliot name in more places than her poet cousin, certainly in their ancestral New England, where the landscape is peppered with Martha May Eliot hospitals, clinics, scholarship and research programs, and endowed chairs. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 08 Apr 2019, 12:43

"As simple Helen Joseph who fought for her freedom, too." Helen Joseph, when asked in late 1992 how she would like to be remembered.

At Nelson Mandela’s first treason trial, a marathon that started in 1958, one might have found among the other 159 defendants a white woman, Helen Joseph. 34 years later, on Christmas Day 1992, Helen Joseph died. Soon to be President of the new Republic, Nelson Mandela led the mourners, and eulogized Joseph as “a South African revolutionary” and a “lady of the British Empire.” Thousands of ANC mourners, a rainbow coalition in themselves, followed her cortège to Soweto, where she was buried in Avalon Cemetery, in a grave next to Lillian Ngoyi, with whom, years before, Helen had founded the South African Women’s Federation. Helen Beatrice May Fennell (Joseph) was born in England on April 8, 1905. In 1927, Helen graduated (English) at London University, and took a job teaching in India. A riding accident took her to Durban, South Africa, where (besides recuperating) she married Billie Joseph, a local dentist, and became involved in social work, a commitment that continued throughout her life (later, Helen often served as “Auntie” to the children of ANC activists in prison or in hiding). After her marriage drifted into divorce, she took up with the trade unionist Solly Sachs (as companion and as secretary to his union), and her social work became increasingly political, tied to the anti-apartheid campaign. But while Helen Joseph accepted the priority of that campaign of liberation, she never forgot the women’s rights issue—for women of all skin shades. The pro-regime press in South Africa, in its effort to diminish Helen by mansplaining her away, called her “Treason Trixie,” but that proved to be a misjudgment. Through bannings, prison, house arrests, and assassination attempts, “Trixie” kept at it to become “the grandmother of the struggle.” As Mandela said 1992, being both a lady of the empire and an ANC revolutionary was “a contradiction in the eyes of many but to Helen her own reality.” ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 09 Apr 2019, 12:29

"Get on the bus, sit anyplace, 'Cause Irene Morgan won her case." Civil Rights song, circa 1947.

Everyone who knows about Rosa Parks should know about Irene Morgan, who in July 1944 was arrested in Virginia for refusing to give up her seat on a bus. She also kicked the arresting officer in the groin (“a very bad place,” she later said, primly). “He turned all colors. I started to bite him, but he looked dirty, so I couldn’t bite him.” It took another officer, perhaps a cleaner one, to subdue Irene and get her into a cell. She pleaded guilty to resisting arrest (after all, she had resisted), but not to the charge of breaking Virginia’s segregation laws, for Morgan’s color was “black” (she’d paid $5 for her ticket at the “colored” window) and the people who demanded her seat were “white.” Irene Morgan was born Irene Amos, granddaughter of slaves, in Baltimore, on April 9, 1917. She dropped out of school during the Depression, married Sherwood Morgan, and at the time of her arrest was building bombers for the war effort. She’d also just had a miscarriage and was in no mood to be accosted by a dirty white sheriff. Thurgood Marshall, at the NAACP, thought Irene’s a perfect case, and so he fought it all the way to the Supreme Court, which in Irene Morgan v. the Commonwealth of Virginia (1946) declared segregation—on interstate buses—to be unconstitutional. Meanwhile, Irene and Sherwood moved to New York City, where Sherwood died. Irene married Stanley Kirkcaldy, and the couple ran Stanley’s dry-cleaning business and Irene’s child care facility. They did well enough that on the fourth Thursday of every November they opened their home to serve Thanksgiving dinners to the poor. Later, Irene went back to school to earn a bachelor’s degree (communication) and a master’s (urban studies). But, as they say at Farmer's Mutual, she already knew a thing or two; and because she’d done a thing or two she won the Presidential Citizen’s Medal, along with Hank Aaron and Muhammed Ali, in 2001. Irene Amos Morgan Kirkcaldy died in 2007. ©.

Erratum
My favorite Hungarian editor tells me I got Liberty Mutual wrong—it was Farmer’s Mutual that knew a thing or two.
While I’m at it, Irene and Stanley opened their house to give Thanksgiving dinners to the poor of their parish (Queens, New York, by the way) on the fourth Thursday in November, not the third, for they were NOT behind their times. That went on until Stanley fell victim to an illness that left him a quadriplegic. After that, and until he passed, Irene had her hands too full to serve at Thanksgiving. Next thing you know, I’ll be forgetting my own birthday. Bob
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 10 Apr 2019, 12:37

"Our Republic, and its press, will rise or fall together." Joseph Pulitzer, 1907.

Joseph Pulitzer was born a rich Jew in Hungary (on April 10, 1847) and died a rich Episcopalian in the USA, and in between he experienced the rich variety of modern life. His father’s assimilationist aims insured a good education and fluency in four languages, but not in English. In 1864, the family business bankrupted, poverty drove Joseph to accept the enlistment bounty of the Union Army. He ended up in a New York cavalry unit (mainly German), and after the peace found a place where speaking German wasn’t necessarily a handicap, St. Louis. Here he knocked about, teaching himself English on the streets and in the Mercantile Library, before (in 1868) being hired (by the great Carl Schurz) at the German language Westliche Post. That came about because Joe had written up his experiences as victim of a labor recruiting fraud. By 1872 he was part owner, in 1878 he bought the struggling St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and the rest is essential reading in the history of American journalism, leading him to ownership of the New York World, the ‘inventions’ of yellow journalism and the circulation war, and (at his death, aged 64), a benefaction that produced the Columbia University School of Journalism and the Pulitzer Prizes—for journalistic excellence, of course. For it’s evident that, even in the worst, feverish excesses of his circulation battle with William Randolph Hearst’s Journal (1896-98) Joseph Pulitzer never forgot the power of the press to inform, to expose, and to reform. His other task was to continue the assimilationist trajectory of his father, but in the very American guise of the penniless immigrant made good. Among his accomplishments in that line was his success in raising money to create a suitable emplacement, in New York harbor, for Lady Liberty and her magic lamp. Without “Joey the Jew,” as he was derisively nicknamed on his own arrival, that immigrant lady might never have crossed the Atlantic, nor have shone the way for others. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 11 Apr 2019, 11:50

"‘in Oxford one never gets any credit for one’s labours unless one perpetually thumps a big drum + makes oneself generally unpleasant by blaring away on a trumpet." Henry Balfour, 1920.

Oxford’s reputation for sheltering eccentrics and giving them something useful to do was already secure when Henry Balfour arrived there, an undergraduate in natural sciences, in the early 1880s. So he fit right in, though not in natural sciences. Rather, chance led him into the orbit of Augustus Pitt Rivers, a retired army officer whose vast inheritance (in 1880) allowed him to make an obsession of what had been a hobby, collecting human artifacts. So at about the same time that Pitt Rivers donated his collection to Oxford, ca. 1883, Henry Balfour volunteered to help put it in order. And so he did, at least until his death in 1939. Henry Balfour was born in London on April 11, 1863, into considerable comfort. His marriage added to his comfort, and his wife Edith helped him in his eccentricities. They spent their honeymoon in Lapland, where Balfour was collecting everything that had anything to do with the anthropology of whale hunting. Back in Oxford, from 1911, they lived in the great Victorian pile of Langley Lodge, whence Balfour would travel (in his chauffeured Rolls) to the Pitt Rivers Museum, of which he was the curator, chief scholar, and (it seems) cook and bottle washer. Not only did he continue Pitt Rivers’s collecting, but from 1909 Balfour also taught in Oxford’s new diploma course in Anthropology. There his enthusiasm for using artifacts to demonstrate how other people lived led to one of the more unusual Oxford University statutes, prohibiting the use of boomerangs in the university parks. One thrown by Balfour had intersected with a nanny wheeling her pram on what had been, for her and her infant charge, a pleasant, sunny day. Balfour’s collecting mania never weakened his conviction that the collection of archeological artifacts should be done scientifically, to educate and inform. He made the Pitt Rivers Museum into one of the world’s finest, and it remains so, a fitting monument to human (and Oxonian) oddities. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 12 Apr 2019, 12:12

"Miss Maitland was eager, and sometimes even vehement." Margery Fry, alumna and librarian of Somerville College.

When Hall and Maitland (twin buildings at the heart of Somerville College) were being built, circa 1908-11, difficulties were encountered. It was later discovered that this was because the outer wall of Oxford’s medieval fortifications ran under the site. So Somerville breached Oxford’s defenses in more ways than one, for it was only the second women’s college in the university. It was also non-denominational. The Hall holds Somerville’s elegant dining room, the walls still adorned with portraits of women only although the college went co-ed in 1992. “Maitland” is named after Agnes Catherine Maitland, born on April 12, 1849, who saw Somerville through its earliest years as a college (it had begun as a ‘hall’). Having thus breached Oxford’s defenses in at least two ways, Miss Maitland then stood at the ramparts to defend the women’s colleges’ right to be in Oxford at all when she (successfully) led the opposition to a proposal to create a “Queen Victoria University.” This sneaky effort to bring “separate but equal” thinking into English higher education was led by an Anglican bishop, and it may be relevant that Miss Maitland was a stout Presbyterian, and certainly relevant that she was one of those middle-class Liberals whose quirky radicalism so enlivened late Victorian and Edwardian politics. Little wonder that one of her students later wrote (of this battle) that “Miss Maitland was sometimes even vehement.” It was somehow fitting that she also brought electricity and John Stuart Mill’s whole library into Somerville. Tall and strong herself, older by a decade than anyone else in Somerville, Maitland built a gymnasium, and oversaw hockey matches (faculty joining in). Mens sana in corpore sano. On the other hand, Miss Maitland had always insisted that the ladies of the college, students and faculty, should each evening walk arm in arm together into dinner. Somerville historians believe that the “Hall,” not “Maitland,” is really her memorial. ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 13 Apr 2019, 11:29

"The piano is capable of reflecting every mood, every feeling; all pathos, joy, sorrow—the good and the evil too—all there is in life." Ethel Leginska, 1915.

Wikipedia constantly improves (it may be in its genes) but students should know that it remains undependable, and not only as to facts. Its article on “Women in Classical Music” (by definition about pioneers) fails even to mention Ethel Leginska, who broke barriers everywhere, not only in performance but also as composer and conductor. Along the way Leginska also innovated in marketing and used new technologies in recording (from piano rolls to wax cylinders to disks). In 1925 she performed (before 30,000, who demanded 9 curtain calls) at the Hollywood Bowl, and in 1927 she conducted the Boston Philharmonic in Beethoven’s 3rd Piano Concerto, Leginska also soloing, but on a piano roll. Ethel Leginska, a musical “Jacqueline of All Trades,” was born Ethel Annie Liggins in Hull, England, on April 13, 1886. Her mother Anne had been a governess, and she focused all her skills on home schooling Ethel, including piano. But Ethel’s talents quickly outgrew her mother’s and she moved on to more talented teachers—still women—made her début (in concert at Hull) in 1895, and secured a patroness with connections at the Prince of Wales’s court, Lady Maud Warrender. Ethel Liggins’s first London concert, a sensation, was in 1896, but then she moved on to Frankfurt, Vienna, and Berlin for further instruction, now from men (including Theodor Hermann Leschetizky), and in 1904 to a name change to Ethel Leginska, recommended by Lady Warrender. Lady Maud thought that to be somebody in music one needed to hail from elsewhere than Kingston-upon-Hull. Before Leginska expired (in Los Angeles, 1970) she’d performed as a pianist all over the world (including in St. Louis), conducted (often the first woman to do so) in Berlin, Boston, New York, Vienna, Paris, et cetera, and in the process made her new name her very own, and ours, too. Her difficult private life suggests that it was all quite a strain, but she bore it well, a real pioneer who should find her way into that Wikipedia article. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by PanBiker » 13 Apr 2019, 14:22

Ian

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 14 Apr 2019, 11:57

"I have collected . . . not to surprise anyone . . . but solely for the purposes of instruction." Augustus Pitt-Rivers, 1875.

Having just noted Henry Balfour (on April 11), the consequential curator of Oxford’s Pitt Rivers Museum, it seems right to note Balfour’s great patron, Augustus Pitt-Rivers, who was born on April 14, 1827. He was not Pitt-Rivers to begin with. He was Augustus Henry Lane-Fox, born into the Yorkshire aristocracy. His Lane-Fox uncles were Conservative politicians and owners of great Yorkshire estates; his mother was of nobler birth, daughter of the 16th earl of Morton. But as a younger son of a younger son Augustus found his fortune in the British army, rising through purchase to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel and retiring with the courtesy rank of Lieutenant General. He won battlefield honors in the Crimea, but there were indications that he was not an ideal officer. He married well, another earl’s daughter, and they had a passel of children. Besides supporting his children, Lane-Fox spent quite a bit of money (over £300 yearly) collecting artifacts, but in 1880 he inherited a 27,000 acre estate from a distant cousin, George, Baron Rivers. This made him a millionaire (in today’s ££s) several times over, and what had been a hobby became a profession. Not only had he the income to travel and collect, but the Cranborne Chase estate contained many significant archaeological sites. Luckily for anyone visiting the Pitt Rivers Museum today, Augustus Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers (he had to change his name) was a believer in the science of archaeological discovery, as well as the consumer thrills of collection, and so his excavations were (for the time) models of scientific procedure. His collections were vast, apparently not yet fully surveyed. But in 1883 he announced plans to give it all to Oxford, and a museum to house it, and in Henry Balfour he found the youngster who could make this monumental task into a life’s work. Pitt-Rivers died in 1900, but by then the job was well underway. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 14 Apr 2019, 12:02

That name Lane Fox rang a bell. In the 18th century the Lane Fox family owned the manor of Elslack by marriage and still held it in 1872.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 16 Apr 2019, 03:57

Bonar Law never led his Party. He was always looking over his shoulder to see if he was being followed. Violet Bonham Carter on a Conservative Prime Minister.

The ease with which my family attributes the stronger (or stranger?) of their character quirks to this or that ancestor, even a great-grandparent, has always seemed odd. Can there really be, for instance, a ‘stubborn’ gene? But in the case of Helena Bonham Carter and her grandmother Violet Bonham Carter, this genetic post-mortem might work. For although Helena was only 3 when Violet died, she could in her breakthrough role have been Violet Bonham Carter incarnate. That was at 19 (!!!), in 1985, playing Lucy Honeychurch in the Ivory-Merchant rendition of E. M. Forster’s A Room with a View. When Violet Bonham Carter was 19 she was Helen Violet Asquith. Born on April 15, 1887, in London, Violet was the fourth child (only daughter) of Herbert Henry Asquith, a leading Liberal politician who as prime minister (1908-1916) would take Britain into World War I. Like Lucy Honeychurch, the precocious Violet was brought up as an intellectual equal, “on even terms,” as she later put it, with the men in her family (four brothers as well as her father), and even though Asquith did not think women should vote he tutored his daughter in politics, at which she was a ready learner. Home schooled under her stepmother’s direction and then ‘finished’ in Paris, Violet Asquith enjoyed ‘coming out,’ courting (or being courted by) dashing young men, flying biplanes, and parleying with her father’s guests at 10 Downing Street. She lost some of those young men (and a brother) in the war, marrying instead (1915) her father’s private secretary, Maurice Bonham Carter. The two together, throughout a generally happy marriage that produced four adept children, would be leading figures in Liberal politics until their deaths (Maurice in 1960, Violet in 1969). Of the two, Violet Bonham Carter was much the more colorful and outspoken, just like Lucy Honeychurch: and in this strong trait (I must admit) not much different from her granddaughter Helena Bonham Carter. ©

[John Pudney once took me to visit an extremely bent RA portrait painter whose studio was in the London Rubber Company's old factory on the side of the Tames (Durex condoms....) He was just finishing a portrait of Helena Bonham Carter. What struck me was his red sombrero and purple opera cloak....... We may be poor but we have seen life....)
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 16 Apr 2019, 13:04

"Courage is a habit, a habitus; you get it by courageous acts. It's like you learn to swim by swimming." Mary Maynard Daly.

Paul de Kruif’s The Microbe Hunters (1926) was an old book when I read it, and though I found it fascinating, even exciting, it had a much more profound effect on a little black girl in Queens, New York, who read it when she, and the book, were both quite young. She was Marie Maynard Daly, born on April 16, 1921, and she was a voracious reader from an early age. This pleased her father Ivan, who had studied chemistry at Cornell but had dropped out for lack of funds. Inspired by Kruif’s book, and doubtless also by her dad, Marie steamed through Queens College, graduated magna cum laude, then went on to Columbia to do her PhD under Mary Caldwell. Daly was the first African-American woman to win a PhD in chemistry. Caldwell gave Daly her field—the science of digestion and nutrition—but Daly made it her own. She taught briefly at Howard before moving on to graduate education and a research career, first at the Rockefeller Institute and then at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Some of Daly’s work—on how muscle tissue absorbs creatinine—is still being used to treat me, but rather more significantly her research on protein synthesis was cited by Crick and Watson when they accepted their Nobel Prize for their discovery of DNA. Although in her life’s work Daly concentrated most on proteins, their structures and functions, she’s also credited with helping to establish a connection between hypertension and the development of arteriosclerosis. Daly retired in 1986, announcing that she had established the Ivan Daly Scholarship in honor of her dad, at Queens College, her alma mater. It’s designed to help promising minority students finish their science major studies. Of course! It’s also appropriate that in 2016, P.S. 360 in Queens was named “The Marie Maynard Daly Academy.” It’s a magnet school. What else could it be? Let’s hope The Microbe Hunters is in the Daly Academy’s library. It’s still in print. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 17 Apr 2019, 13:08

"autodidact". Noun. First appearance in English 1784. From the Greek auto-didaktos. A self-taught individual.

As a child I decided on a list of American pioneers of knowledge that included, for glaciation, Louis Agassiz, and for conservation Gifford Pinchot. I think this was because each had a biography in the old “Landmark” series to which, as a young reader, I was addicted. I should have included William John McGee (born on a farm near Farley, Iowa, on April 17, 1853), who not only published important surveys of glaciation (mainly in the upper Mississippi valley) and led the United States Geological Survey (1901-12) in a conservationist direction, but also traveled across the western US, and into Mexico, to trace the cultural and linguistic histories of several tribal groups, most notably the Siouans. It’s odd that McGee did not have a Landmark biography, for the series was fond of those who’d come up the hard way. A farmer’s son who didn’t like either farming or schooling, McGee’s large, lazy body housed an overactive brain, and he was taught mainly by his mother, by a German neighbor, and by a lawyer and a surveyor in Farley. From them he learned enough to master surveying, blacksmithing, to apprentice in the law, and to invent and patent an adjustable cultivator. But it was his early work reporting on his observations of midwestern geology that brought him to the attention of leading American scientists and from the mid 1870s shaped his career. Completely self-educated, WJ (as he wished to be called) became a jack-of-many-trades (geology, ethnology, archaeology, geography) and mastered them well enough that in 1901 Cornell College, in Iowa, in a special ceremony, conferred on McGee an honorary Doctor of Laws. But both my grandmothers, though students at Cornell in 1901, neglected to tell me about it, no doubt an oversight. Autodidact to the end, McGee, then already diagnosed with cancer, kept a journal on the progress of his disease and when he died from it in 1912 gave his body over to other scientists in hopes that they would figure it all out. ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 18 Apr 2019, 13:01

The serene priest who taught Becket how to be turbulent: Theobald of Bec, Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Church of England has two Archbishops, one at Canterbury and the other at York. This is an inheritance of a well-planned historical accident when, during King Stephen’s troubled reign (1135-54), Canterbury won primacy over York. The Archbishop of Canterbury who saw his way through it all was Theobald, a man whose resourcefulness, courage, and (occasional) ruthlessness have been obscured by the martyrdom of his saintly successor at Canterbury, that “turbulent priest” Thomas à Becket. Theobald was born in Normandy in about 1090. Before he died on April 18, 1161, he had moved up through the Norman church, translated to England as an abbot, and then through clever maneuvering (called a coup de théâtre by his modern biographer) was made Archbishop of Canterbury on Christmas eve 1138. This was the first time, but not the last, that Theobald frustrated the ecclesiastical ambitions of Henry, King Stephen’s brother, who had to be content (though only for a time) with the bishopric of Winchester. At Canterbury, Theobald secured his power (once at least at the head of his troops), founded a great library, and created a brilliantly successful cathedral school. He made his own monks and priests into a smoothly functioning hierarchy. Six of Theobald’s subordinates would become bishops or archbishops, including not only Becket himself but Roger de Pont L’Evêque whom Theobald (very cleverly) placed at York. He spent much time beyond the cathedral walls, too, and with almost mystical agility maneuvered himself through civil wars that saw King Stephen’s imprisonment, deposition, and reinstatement. Indeed it was Theobald who (re)-crowned Stephen at Westminster on Christmas Day 1141. Theobald survived further troubles, too, before his death in 1161, and it should have surprised no one that when his body was disinterred at Canterbury 15 years later, it was serenely intact and undisturbed. ©
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