BOB'S BITS

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 06 Jun 2019, 12:32

"I longed for the power to help me crush those who had robbed me of my personal rights." Sarah Parker Remond.

In Massachusetts slavery ended in 1783, when Quock Walker successfully sued his ‘master’ for “wrongful imprisonment!” After all, the state’s revolutionary Declaration of Rights said that “all men are born free and equal” so, the court concluded, slavery became something of an oxymoron. Racism still imposed limitations, but freedom itself worked out well for the Remond family of Salem, John Remond (from Curaçao), his wife Nancy, born free in Massachusetts, and their eight children. All worked together to make the family businesses (personal services, a hair salon, catering) prosper, and the Remond kids learned to value their freedom. Elder brother Charles (1810-1873) became a leading abolitionist and rights campaigner, and on an international stage. But Charles’s sisters were not far behind, notably Sarah Parker Remond, born on June 6, 1826. Aged 9, she felt the sting of racism when, having passed the Salem schools exam at an unusually early age, she was denied entry to the high school. The family had sufficient resources to send her to private school in Newport, RI. In 1853 Sarah won a suit (including $500 damages: $17,000 in 2019 $$$) against the Howard Athenaeum for injuries suffered when she’d refused to accept segregated seating at a performance of Donizetti’s Don Pasquale (an opera that turns on a disinheritance, incidentally). But Sarah’s real fame came in Europe. In Britain from 1859 to 1865 Sarah not only furthered her education (at Bedford College, London) but also wrote and gave public lectures in support of the Union cause. Then, perhaps much closer to home for Britons, she agitated in support for the Morant Bay rebellion in Jamaica (1865-66) and then wrote and spoke in anger at its brutal suppression and the savage “judicial” punishments meted out by imperial authorities. Leaving Britain, Sarah Parker Remond moved to Florence, Italy. where she qualified as a physician and for more than two decades practiced medicine, both privately and at the Santa Maria Nuovo hospital. She died in Rome in 1894, and is buried there at the Protestant Cemetery. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 07 Jun 2019, 11:51

I'm not one of those people who say, 'They don't know how to dance these days' - because they do know, and they're much better than we ever were. Ninette de Valois, in interview, May 1998.

Before Ninette de Valois (1898-2001) there was ballet in England, but by the time she retired (1963) there was “English ballet,” embodied in institutions (the Sadler’s Wells Ballet and the Royal Ballet) and in a a distinctive style and expression that is recognized (by scholars and aficionados) as ‘English.’ And it would be only a stretch to say that she did it all herself. And although she was a dancer, her great accomplishments owed as much—probably more—to other elements of her portfolio: teacher, choreographer, entrepreneur and, be it said, badgerer. She was the sort of person who could (and did, during the German invasion of Holland) badger the British army into providing her whole company (on tour in a bad time) with military transport and then a rotting merchant ship to get them all on a 16-hour voyage to safety. And she wasn’t French at all. Her stage name derived from a claimed family connection with an old (way before the Bourbons) French ruling house, and the name worked well, but Ninette de Valois was born (on June 7, 1898) as Edris Stannus, into an Anglo-Irish gentry family down on its luck. One of her very first public performances (as a little girl in Dublin) was “an authentic Irish jig” taught her by a family servant. There followed a long, complicated tutelage that included performances in a blackface revue (called “Jazzaganza”) and as principal dancer in Christmas pantomimes: and serious instruction. She became Ninette de Valois just in time to impress Diaghilev and perform with him in Paris, in 1921, but then it was back to London and the hard work and crucial friendships (notably with impresario Lilian Bayliss, dancer Lydia Lopokova, and composer Arthur Bliss) through which Ninette de Valois would first conceive and then create “English ballet.” For a frail little Irish girl, “intensely reserved and obstinate as a mule,” it was quite a life. Her autobiography is, appropriately, an invitation to Come Dance with Me. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 08 Jun 2019, 12:08

"Seat thyself sultanically among the moons of Saturn." Herman Melville, Moby-Dick, 1851.

NASA has become a word in itself and thus an ex post facto acronym; and as a thoroughly modern agency with a thoroughly modern remit, it has given most of its missions modern names, including some decidedly awkward acronyms. Of these perhaps my favorite is GRACE, or the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment. (There’s also GRACE-FO, for “Follow-On.”) But somewhere in NASA there lurks an historian, or even an historical consciousness, for among the moderns we have NASA missions christened Galileo and Magellan, Herschel and Kepler. And we have a hyphenated name, Cassini-Huygens, given to the hugely successful Saturn probe of 1997-2017. It was named after two early modern astronomers, the Dutchman Christiaan Huygens (1629-1695) and the Italian Giovanni Domenico Cassini, born in the Liguria region on June 8, 1625. This particular hyphenation, though, did not represent a marriage of minds, rather a scientific burying of the hatchet, for during their lifetimes these two had a spat, over the composition and nature of Saturn’s rings. Cassini, for much of his life in the service of the “Sun King,” Louis XIV of France, believed that the ring consisted of particles. Huygens (who first identified the ring as, indeed, a ring) thought it a solid thing, a kind of disk. The telescopes of their day were not quite good enough to settle the matter, but the argument did include reference to observed data (Cassini saw a gap in the ring, for instance, today called the Cassini Division) as well as much rationalizing. That particular matter had been pretty much settled by 1997, when Cassini-Huygens was (or were) launched. Cassini was right, albeit for some of the wrong reasons. But off their satellite(s) went. It, or they, reached Saturn in in June 2004, and sent back wondrous pictures. Then in January 2005 Cassini and Huygens split again, Huygens hurtling into Titan (the moon Christiaan had discovered in 1655), while Cassini, left alone and at leisure, continued to survey Saturn, its particulate rings, and its 60+ moons. It was crashed, deliberately, in 2017, thus ending the argument. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 09 Jun 2019, 12:22

"Tilting against the Wind" Title of an appreciation of Phyllis Ann Wallace in the American Economic Review, 1994.

In 1966, the Johnson government began its landmark case against AT&T (then our largest civilian employer), placing Phyllis Wallace at the head of the team. It was a good choice. Wallace was the director of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s research department, had a respected Yale PhD (in economics) and her team followed the data. Of course Nixon had her replaced in 1969 but the data was there, and in 1973 the case went against AT&T, chiefly because of its pattern of discrimination against women—not only in matters of “equal pay for equal work” but also by ruling whole employment categories as “women’s work.” The company paid up (millions in back wages and fines), but was surprised because, in the beginning, it had expected Dr. Wallace to concentrate on racial discrimination, for after all, Dr. Wallace was black. Phyllis Wallace was born on June 9, 1921, and (of course) attended segregated schools, including Frederick Douglass High School, one which was making every effort to be “separate but equal.” Phyllis did well enough there to get into NYU, and well enough there to get into Yale, and well enough there to be the first woman (of any skin shade) to get Yale economics PhD. For a while after, her main work was in government service, where she compiled a string of firsts (first woman to do this, first black person to do that) before becoming the first “etc.” to head up EEOC’s technical department. After the AT&T surprise, Phyllis was a hot property, and when MIT decided it needed to do something about female and minority employment, it took her on in 1972, first as visiting professor and then, speedily (1974) as the first tenured woman (of any color in any field) at the august institution. She retired in 1986 amidst a shower of honors and awards, and running through her colleagues’ remarks one thing stands out. She followed the data. But also, as a former student put it, Phyllis Wallace “offered a pillow to people whose heads were too close to the rock.” ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 10 Jun 2019, 12:39

"I was pitching against kids 13 and 14 years old. All of a sudden, I look up and there's Stan Musial. It was a scary situation." Joe Nuxhall.

Opening up employment opportunities for those previously excluded from this or that workplace or industry would be a lousy reason to have a war, but it was a ‘silver lining’ for the USA in the two World Wars, especially World War II. Labor demands intensified a great migration, northwards and westwards, for African Americans, and ‘Rosie the Riveter’ is an easily recalled icon of women moving into places where, before, it was thought they shouldn’t—or couldn’t—be. Although professional baseball didn’t integrate itself until Branch Rickey snapped up Jackie Robinson (1947), the movie A League of their Own provided a fictional, funny, and romantic reminder that there was, for one brief shining moment, a ladies’ league, and those ladies played hardball. But there’s no doubt that professional baseball felt the pinch, which if not yet painful enough to bring integration had the majors beating the bush leagues for old and young players. So it was that on June 10, 1944, at Crosley Field, trailing the St. Louis Cardinals by 13-0 in the 9th, and with nothing to lose, the Cincinnati Reds brought in pitcher Joseph Henry Nuxhall to close off the rout. Joe was only 15 years old, at the time, and it’s been settled that he was then (and still is) the youngest player ever to play in a regular season major league game. Even at 15 Joe was impressive, a gangling southpaw, 6’2” in altitude, 190 lbs. in heft, and he’d been ripping up the competition in junior high and senior high games in Hamilton, Ohio. And he retired the first batter, but then the Cards added five more runs and young Joe was yanked. Joe then went to the minors, but came back to a long, successful career with the Reds, wherein he chalked up 16 seasons in the National League with a couple of All-Star appearances, and then forty (count ‘em, 40) seasons broadcasting Reds’ games on radio. So the beanpole kid became an institution and, into the bargain, a better kind of war story. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 11 Jun 2019, 12:14

Reflections on a Silver Spoon. The title of Paul Mellon's autobiography, published in 1992.

At the New Inn, in the charming Lancashire village of Yealand Redmayne, I once enjoyed two pints of Hartley’s ale thanks to the generosity of the American millionaire Paul Mellon. But it’s Mellon’s birth anniversary, so let’s talk about him first. Paul Mellon was born on June 11, 1907, in Pittsburgh, PA, the seat of his father Andrew’s vast wealth (which owed mainly to finance). Paul grew up to privilege and power, and also to a reputation for philanthropy, albeit one somewhat tarnished by Andrew Mellon’s disastrous response (as Treasury Secretary) to the Great Depression. But Andrew recovered from that to donate to the nation the National Gallery of Art and to Pittsburgh the Carnegie Mellon University. Coming into his own in the 1930s and 1940s, Paul Mellon wore the mantle well, if you like that sort of thing, and after war service continued the family tradition of donations to the National Gallery (including the whole East Wing, designed by I. M. Pei, and much of the art it holds). He also made major gifts (of art, of books, and the buildings to house them) to the state of Virginia and the universities of Yale, Cambridge, and Oxford. That listing of its high points does not begin to cover his philanthropy’s scope, but it’s also worth noting that he looked after the family fortune (and his English and American racing stables) with considerable success. Throughout his long life Paul Mellon suffered seriously from the fever of Anglophilism, nurtured first by his English mother, Nora McMullen Mellon, and then especially by his English second wife (his first wife having died, in 1946, of acute asthma) Rachel Lloyd, ‘Bunny’ to her friends, a horticulturalist and an art collector in her own right. And those draughts of Hartley’s ale? Paul and ‘Bunny’ had flown over for a week’s hunting on Lord Peel’s Lancashire (pheasants) and Yorkshire (grouse) estates, and at its end had given a very generous tip to Peel’s gamekeeper, who rolled into the New Inn one Sunday evening in August 1973 and bought drinks all around—and then a second pint for me when he discovered I was a Yank. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tripps » 11 Jun 2019, 12:26

And - he was the owner of Mill Reef :smile:
Born to be mild. . .

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 12 Jun 2019, 02:58

Trust you to know that.....
I got this from B ob this morning:-

Erratum on Mellon

A loyal reader (and a native St. Louisan) tells me that ‘Bunny’ Mellon, Paul Mellon’s second wife, was not English at all, but a very American Lambert, a name with lively St. Louis connections. Though Bunny was born in Princeton, NJ, her paternal grandpa, Jordan Lambert, was a St. Louis businessman, chemist, and inventor who gave us first Listerine and then Lambert Field. Her dad made a mint (not really a pun as mint is not a major component of original Listerine) selling the concoction, but then made another fortune on razor blades.
Her first marriage ended in divorce and she married Mellon in 1948. Despite or possibly because of her cute nickname Bunny Mellon was, it is said, a very private person, a gifted gardener, and might be worth an anniversary note of her own sometime. Meanwhile I will just apologize for making her into an English woman. It was the ‘Bunny’ that led me astray!! On the other hand, my St Louis friend tells me, her first fortune, the one made by her grandfather, came from Listerine, named in honor Joseph Lister, an English physician who thought cleanliness a good idea for hospitals and had himself invented a similar concoction. So there was a grain of virtue in my mistake.
Have a good day. Bob Bliss
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 12 Jun 2019, 12:32

"Spirituality is the capacity to not do to others what you don’t want other people to do to you." Margherita Hack.

For a person of ambition—which, as her life would prove, she certainly was—Margherita Hack had a bad start. She was born in Florence, Italy, on June 12, 1922. Not only was Italy a man’s world, but she was further set aside by parents whose religions (father a Protestant, mother a Catholic) had merged and drifted, if that’s the right word, into theosophy. Margherita moved further away from what seemed like the mainstream of her culture by excelling in athletics (long jump and high jump), adopting her parents’ vegetarianism but in religion moving on to a kind of cheerful, devil-may-care atheism. She went to church in 1944 “for the first and last time,” she said, in order to get married and to please her devout mother-in-law. If, she said, after she died she met God she would apologize for the hypocrisy. On top of all that, Margherita Hack dropped out of literary studies at the University of Florence, switched to Physics, and became a leading astronomer, expert in the formation and composition of stars and from 1964 Director of the national observatory at Trieste. In the process she became too ornery to die, but that caught up with her in 2013—when she was survived by that 1944 husband of hers and their eight cats. With that record one might think she’d be marked by her unpopularity, and there’s no doubt that in certain quarters Margherita Hack was not a favored person. Silvio Berlusconi didn’t like her much, for instance, and most popes were not her pals, but in Italy (in a nice turn of phrase) she was known as the Lady of the Stars (not, sadly, “Our Lady of the Stars”), for she was not only a good scientist but a gifted popularizer of science and an effective campaigner for women’s rights. At her death she left behind not only those cats but a crop of affectionate obituaries. So if you’re ever worried about the ill effects of standing out from the crowd, consider life in Italy as a scientist, a vegetarian, an athlete, an atheist, and a very vocal woman. Margherita Hack was all those things, yet she survived and prospered. ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 13 Jun 2019, 11:48

"Credulity is the sister of innocence." Frances Burney.

Before Jane Austen, there was Fanny Burney, from whose life Austen drew inspiration and from whose fiction Austen derived models. For these and other reasons, Burney was later christened (by Virginia Woolf) as “the Mother of English Literature.” During her long lifetime, Burney enjoyed great success in her fiction and as a memoirist, but what is equally fascinating about her is that she knew almost everybody worth knowing in Georgian England, and what is better she jotted them down. So her copious (I believe it’s 17 volumes and counting) journals and letters offer us a portrait of an era and of some of its more interesting characters. Frances Burney, much later Madame D’Arblay, was born on June 13, 1752, into a family made happier by her father’s success as a musician and music scholar. Her family did not remain so very happy, but its ups and its downs occupied Fanny and formed her sensibilities. It also provided her with a reference library—books plus a wide social circle—through which she educated herself and about which she learned to express herself. Once Fanny taught herself how to read and write she couldn’t stop. By the time she was 15, Fanny had written enough to make a bonfire of it, but after that conflagration most of her “scribblings” survived, providing entertainment for her contemporaries and productive labor for modern scholars. Through Frances Burney we learn much about Dr. Samuel Johnson, Edmund Burke, Samuel Crisp, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Hester Thrale (and her daughter Queeney), David Garrick, and even Queen Charlotte, for Fanny Burney’s least productive period as a writer was her five-year drudge (1786-91) as ‘second keeper to the robes’ at the Queen’s court, Windsor. Escape from court not only gave Fanny a useful pension (£100 p.a.) but also brought her into contact with a flock of French émigrés, and her future husband Alexandre d’Arblay, but that is another of Fanny Burnley’s many stories, and like them sometimes happy, sometimes sadly ironic, and always instructive. Madame d’Arblay continued to scribble them, right up to her death in 1840. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 15 Jun 2019, 04:10

"No calling can be found which offers so happy a life, or where labour brings so quick and inevitable a reward, or which, in spite of many undeniable anxieties, secures such absolute peace of mind." Alice Fisher, on nursing.

Alice Fisher was born in Greenwich, England, on June 14, 1839. Like many unmarried women of her era, she began her adult life caring for her aging parents, and her father didn’t die until Alice was 34. She herself didn’t live long after that, dying (in 1888, in Philadelphia, PA) just short of her 49th birthday, but in a career spanning only 13 years the resolute Miss Fisher had a significant impact on nursing and nursing education in two countries. Nursing dad was not her career inspiration; he remained active as an astronomer at the Royal Observatory, as headmaster of the Greenwich Hospital School, and as an Anglican cleric, and Alice found time two write two novels during this period, one of them a 3-vol. blockbuster. But Alice knew Florence Nightingale, and as soon as her father was buried she was off to Nightingale’s pioneering school of nursing at St. Thomas’s Hospital, London. There she was a star student (she co-wrote a book Hints for Nurses), and with Nightingale behind her Alice enjoyed a whirlwind career in Britain, as superintendent of nursing no less, at Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Cambridge, the Radcliffe Infirmary, Oxford, and at Birmingham General Hospital, 1877-84. At every post, she found ways to professionalize nursing, not only through schooling and on-the-job training, but pay also, often raising the money herself for her schools and her board-and-room scholarships. Her reputation spread abroad, and in 1884 the wealthy trustees of Philadelphia’s Blockley Almshouse brought Alice (and her Birmingham assistant Edith Horner) over to run its nursing operation and establish a training facility for nurses. It was a task for a hero, and in it Alice Fisher began the process that turned the almshouse (and its foundling hospital) into Philadelphia General Hospital. But she didn’t live to see that fulfillment. Her work wore her out, rendering her prey to rheumatic fever, and for her gravestone she chose an inscription from the Book of Job (7:2): “As a servant earnestly desireth the shadow.” ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 15 Jun 2019, 12:29

"Little engines can do BIG things." The Rev'd Wilbert Vere Awdry.

When our children were very small, and for quite a while after, we read them stories. They were discerning listeners (and soon become discerning readers), and among the more popular of their books were those from “the Railway Series,” Thomas the Tank Engine and, as they say, others. I don’t think we bought all 27 but we made an effort. I soon decided that they and their author must have been eminently Victorian, or perhaps Edwardian, a notion based on the story lines and characters, including not only Thomas and a host of other puffers-billy, but human characters too, like the Fat Controller—pompously impotent, as, for children, all adults should be. I can’t remember when I was disabused of this ‘Victoriana’ notion, but it was well before 1996, when Wilbert Vere Awdry was made OBE in the New Year’s Honours List. In fact, however Victorian he and his inventions may have been, Wilbert Vere Awdry was born June 15, 1911, the product of his clergyman father’s second marriage. His childhood was marred by death (of all his step-siblings and one brother, and something of his father’s mentality may be derived from the name he gave his last house, “Journey’s End.” Awdry himself was afflicted by depression (ill, aging, and unhappy, he was unable to travel to London to receive his honor from the queen), but out of all that he constructed (initially for his son Christopher) a world of wonder, ‘peopled’ by steam engines (not all of them nice, although most of them before story’s end learned that nice worked better than nasty) like Thomas and Gordon, but by human figures too, most of whom did their best to be helpful. Thomas himself was not a character in Awdry’s very first story, told to Christopher when the boy was 2½. But when Christopher asked his father to build him a model of Gordon the Big Engine, it proved too complex a challenge, and so (with part of a broom handle and other odds and ends) the Rev’d Mr. Wilbert Vere Awdry made a little tank engine, colored it blue, and named it Thomas. But that’s another story. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 16 Jun 2019, 12:23

"Come what might she would be wild, untrammelled, free." James Joyce, Ulysses (on Gerty)

Today is ‘Bloomsday,’ celebrated around the world in likely places and unlikely ones, and it’s several things. In the first place, Bloomsday celebrates the most momentous day in modernist fiction, for it’s the day in which, in James Joyce’s novel Ulysses, all the conscious action (and stream of consciousness thinking) takes place. So that would be June 16, 1904, and in that sense Ulysses is literally a journal, making one fairly humdrum day into an odyssey in which a large cast of characters, most of them fictional, do what they do, say what they say, and think what they think. The main fictional characters are Stephen Dedalus, a schoolteacher and (would-be?) intellectual, Leopold Bloom, an advertiser’s agent who is also, not accidentally, a Jew, and Leopold’s wife, Molly Bloom. They are said to be mirrors, so to speak, of three major characters in classical Greek mythology, Ulysses himself (Bloom), his miraculously chaste wife, Penelope (Molly, of course), and their son Telemachus (Dedalus). In Homer’s telling, Ulysses is away on his Odyssey, Telemachus goes looking for him, while back home Penelope, thinking Ulysses maybe dead, still resists her many suitors. Father and son reunite and kill all the suitors. The parallels are a bit difficult to see and sort, and they don’t explain at all why all the novel’s action takes place on June 16, 1904 (with Leopold’s telling Molly all about it in the early hours of June 17). Joyce may have chosen the day whimsically, but probably not, for it was the day of his first outing, and sexual encounter, with Nora Barnacle, a working class Irish lass who would be for the rest of his life Joyce’s muse, his companion, his lover, and mother of their two children. She was a pretty enough girl (compared to Joyce himself she was a stunner), and theirs was not an easy relationship, but it was a vital one and it helps us to make some better sense of what Joyce himself (in 1924) called “Bloomsday.” So read a page of Ulysses today and think on Nora Joyce, née Barnacle. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 17 Jun 2019, 11:41

"You see, unfortunately, I am not black." Langston Hughes.

The infamous “separate but equal” rule gave the color of law to American apartheid, but it raised a question that had, even in the slavery period, bedeviled the southern states. Who is “black”? The question arose because of a long history of sexual liaison between the ‘races,’ most famously in the case of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemmings. The answer was a tragicomic cocktail of state laws—and not just in the states of the Old South—known collectively as the “one-drop rule.” Under these you were defined as “Negro” if, in Florida, you had one “black” great-grandparent. But Virginia’s “Racial Integrity Act” (1924) made it one great-great-great grandparent. Sane people (including not a few racists) opposed these absurdities, but they went ahead anyway. The saving irony was that many people who looked “white” chose to identify as “black.” Among them was Thomas Ezekiel Miller, born in South Carolina on June 17, 1849. He was the grandson of a signer of the Declaration of Independence (Thomas Heyward) and the son of a wealthy planter who wanted the boy to be “white”; but Thomas Ezekiel’s mother and grandmother were visually “mulattoes” and legally slaves and so it was decided that the little boy was—must be—“black.” But to all appearances he was “white,” so the solution was to have him adopted by a free “black” family. The family moved north where Thomas became a lawyer. But he self-identified as “black” and, during Reconstruction, returned to South Carolina where he upset the emerging apartheid applecart by being successful in law, education, and politics. And there he became, in 1889-91, the last “black” person (until our own time) to serve the state as one of its congressional representatives. His election was (of course) disputed. South Carolina claimed the victor was a “white” person; however, the House majority (among them my great-grandfather, a “white” congressman from Iowa) voted to seat the Hon. Thomas Ezekiel Miller. And that’s another story. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 18 Jun 2019, 11:59

"Anyone knows an ant, can’t//Move a rubber tree plant.// But he’s got high hopes, he’s got high hopes// He’s got high apple pie, in the sky hopes." Sammy Cahn, 1959.

“All the Way,” “Be My Love,” “Come Fly with Me,” “Hey! Jealous Lover,” “High Hopes,” “Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow,” “My Kind of Town,” “Time After Time,” etc. ad infinitum (almost); these are all song titles, pretty well known to people of my generation, and what they have in common is NOT Frank Sinatra, who didn’t sing all of them (many were written for him), but Sammy Cahn, who wrote all of them. Or more precisely, Cahn wrote all the lyrics. He did some composing, and was to begin with a musician (a fiddler, first for Bar Mitzvah bands and then in burlesque houses ‘in the pit’), but he rode to fame and fortune with three composers, first Saul Chaplin, then Jules Styne, and finally Jimmy van Heusen. Sammy Cahn began life as Samuel Cohen, in a Lower East Side family of immigrants from Polish Galicia, on June 18, 1913. His breakthrough came in the mid 1930s with three songs, including “Bei Mir Bist Du Shon” (which also helped the Andrews Sisters on their way to the top). Then (in 1940) Cahn went to Hollywood and film songs and a new partner (Styne). Towards the end of his Styne period he won his first (of four) Oscars for “Three Coins in the Fountain” (title song for the 1954 film). Then an association with Frank Sinatra bore more fruit and much more fortune after Cahn teamed up with the composer Jimmy van Heusen. That partnership produced three Oscars, for “All the Way” (1957), “High Hopes” (1959), and “The Second Time Around” (1960). They were all Sinatra songs, and “High Hopes” won an additional distinction when (suitably amended) it became Jack Kennedy’s 1960 campaign song. Cahn’s career included many hits, and many prizes. He died in 1993, and his last hit was to establish the High Hopes Fund for children with diabetes (it’s held at the Boston hospital that treated Sammy Cahn for diabetes). ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tripps » 18 Jun 2019, 12:56

I thought I had Bei mir bist du schon by the Andrews Sisters on my phone, but can't find it. I've got it somewhere. I found Rum and Coca Cola by them though. I find that I hear every word and largely understand them. Can't be said for more modern songs. :smile:
Born to be mild. . .

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by PanBiker » 18 Jun 2019, 14:18

I have a lot of Andrews Sisters, Mills Brothers, Ink Spots, Platters etc along with the Big Band stuff. I have just loaded around 3000 tunes ranging from 1920's jazz, through 30's and 40's swing, R & B, 50's R&R. In fact a selection of more or less every genre from 1920 up to date. All the lot are on an 8Gb USB flash drive that I can plug into the car. That's the holiday music sorted. :biggrin2:
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 20 Jun 2019, 05:57

"Jesus Christ . . . very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance with the Father" From the Nicene Creed, both versions (325CE and 381CE).

Looking around on a Sabbath (which, remember, could be Saturday or Sunday), or on your TV, you could be forgiven for thinking that “Christian orthodoxy” is an oxymoron. Disunity has indeed been a constant concern, and the main creedal statements of Christianity have come at times of schism. They were efforts to find agreement in the midst of conflict, ‘comings together,’ an historical fact underlined by the Greek word for creed, symbolon, an object broken or torn apart, its pieces then used as a fail-safe way to identify one’s confederates (and, by the way, a staple of modern spy fiction). Today is the birth anniversary of the Nicene Creed, adopted (as nearly as we can tell) on June 19, 325CE, at the city of Nicaea, in Asia Minor (the modern Turkish city of Iznik). It had earlier iterations, was confirmed and somewhat modified in 381 at the First Council of Constantinople, and today is probably the most universally accepted of the Christian creeds (although not the one most universally used). Among the disputes that roiled early Christianity, one of the most difficult involved the idea of the Trinity, not even a tripartite but a three-in-one godhead. It was difficult evidentially, for it doesn’t exactly jump off the pages of the Christian Testament, and it was difficult philosophically, perhaps especially in Greek and Jewish thought. And in this era, the issue was raised by Arius (256-336), a churchman of Alexandria, who raised doubts about the coeval (from time out of mind) Godhead. Arius was no “unitarian,” but the seeds of doubt he planted (or harvested) were enough to call forth, at Nicaea, a statement of the essential, eternal, and “consubstantial” unity of God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In this explicitly trinitarian sense, the (earlier) Apostle’s Creed doesn’t come close, but in Western Christianity it’s the Apostle’s Creed that is most often used in worship. And then there is the Unitarian communion, but that’s a modern invention (18th century and after) and a different story. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 20 Jun 2019, 14:35

"Anyway, as they say, where there's life, there's hope. So let us eat." Catherine Cookson, The Black Candle (1989).

There are books one sees at airport stalls and other unlikely places that one instinctively hesitates to call ‘literature.’ Others, less polite, call them ‘potboilers,’ ‘bodice-rippers,’ and (pejoratively) ‘romances.’ Some of them (in Britain, lots of them) are by Catherine Cookson, and now the cry is heard, including from critics, that one should, really, read some Cooksons. There is lots to choose from, including about 100 novels. Her five autobiographies tell a story, generally confirmed by scholars, of purpose born out of poverty, indeed misery. At age 34 (1940) Catherine Cookson married a mathematics teacher, Tom Cookson, who “gave his life” to her (he died of “undisclosed” causes 17 days after she did, in 1998), but before that her life was, well, a story. Catherine Cookson was born Kitty McMullen on June 20, 1906, in a working-class slum in County Durham, England. Her older sister turned out to be her mother, and an abusive one. The man she thought was her father (actually her mother’s father) also abused her. From her biological father (she later figured out) she inherited a rare disorder which, from time to time, caused spontaneous bleeding. And yet Kitty, Catherine, struggled, worked at menial jobs, took self-improvement classes at night in just about everything, including writing. She found solace with a friend, Nan Smyth, and then married Tom Cookson, first following him around the country (in the war, he was an RAF instructor), and then, in 1950, selling her first novel. It wasn’t a great success, but she kept at it, and as success came (sales now stand at more than 100 million copies) so did wealth. Catherine and Tom moved back to the Northeast, a region which—despite everything, one might say—she loved, and became guardian angels to all sorts of good causes, including the medical school at the University of Newcastle. Today, if you buy a Cookson, the royalties go to a charitable trust set up by Catherine and Tom, and to which they left the bulk of their considerable estate. ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 21 Jun 2019, 12:27

"If we could but capture children's transparent honesty and sincerities! They still have much to teach us, if we observe closely enough." Arnold Gesell.

Dr. Benjamin Spock was already under fire, mainly from conservatives, for his indulgent, child-centered views on parenting, then further blotted his political copy-book with his opposition to the Vietnam War. Another and more scholarly patron saint of indulgence (parental and institutional) was Arnold Lucius Gesell, the Yale psychologist who was born in rural (and very German) Alma, Wisconsin, on June 21, 1880. His father was a photographer, his mother a schoolteacher, but he became interested in developmental psychology simply by being the oldest of five kids and watching his younger siblings learn how to cope with existence. One of his earliest publications reflected that experience, a short magazine piece (1913) entitled “A Village of a Thousand Souls.” One thinks of the modern slogan “it takes a village,” and his surname recalls the “gemeinschaft-gesellschaft” dichotomy; but Gesell did himself grow up and study in an intellectual climate which favored eugenics, not community or society, and his early work is tainted by what one might call racism, but in the end his fascination for the child trumped it all. He moved quickly, first, to study ‘abnormal’ developmental patterns, but soon enough was troubled by the problems of defining the “not-normal” when the “normal” itself was so ill-understood. This is the task Gesell set himself first at UCLA and then (after 1915) at Yale, where he developed an important theory of child development as a ‘staged’ process that could be helped—improved—by early interventions, for instance in a nationwide system of nursery schools. I first encountered his work in my developmental psychology course at Penn, and I found Gesell more congenial than most, perhaps partly because his work seemed so thoroughly observational. On the other hand, honesty compels me to recall that I spent almost the whole of the final exam explaining why I did not understand the questions. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 22 Jun 2019, 12:11

"One of the nicest people I know." Benjamin Britten, shortly after meeting Peter Pears, circa 1938.

Last year, the opera Paul Bunyan had a ‘revival’ run, thanks to the English National Opera, and it got an affectionate review in The Guardian, headlined as a cross between a ‘cunning little vixen’ and a union meeting. So, ‘affectionate’—yes—but at the same time dismissive. I wasn’t at the performance, of course, but I do have a tape of the opera, now worn thin, and I love it. The opera arose from a partnership between Benjamin Britten (music) and W. H. Auden (libretto), which is interesting in its own right (two young British pacifists writing at the start of a World War), and my recording of it memorializes another partnership, between Britten and the tenor Peter Pears who, in my recording, sings the role of Johnny Inkslinger, camp gossip and in a way the opera’s other narrator, even its conscience (there is also a role called “Narrator.” ) Peter Neville Luard Pears (whose romantic and artistic partnership with Britten transformed British music) was born on June 22, 1910. He seems to have had a happy childhood, despite his parents’ long absences, and one that nurtured a performer’s instinct that might have expressed itself in professional cricket (a sport at which Pears excelled), but by the mid-1930s he had chosen music instead, and was a choral singer when he met Britten and they began their partnership, artistically and sexually. Paul Bunyan is not and was never the partnership’s supreme achievement (Pears didn’t sing Inkslinger until about 1970), nor even was opera in general (but try Peter Grimes, 1945, or Billy Budd, 1951), but rather a long list of collaborative performances (Britten at the piano, but by no means always of Britten’s compositions), the Aldeburgh Festival, and the Britten-Pears School for Advanced Musical Studies, also at Aldeburgh, the Suffolk town which was their home until Britten’s death in 1976. Sir Peter Pears went on teaching there, until he died (the morning after leading a seminar on Bach) on April 3, 1986. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 23 Jun 2019, 12:00

"How could you possibly hit a car when it was up on the grass reek?" Mary Livingstone, on NBC radio, first accidentally, then written in as a repeated gag.

What do you do if you’re a Jewish guy playing the vaudeville circuit in Vancouver, B. C., and it’s Passover, 1922? Well, if you are Jack Benny, your friend and fellow performer Zeppo Marx takes you to the home of a local Jewish family (nice place, prosperous family), and you ‘do’ your Seder there. And wouldn’t you know it, but the teen-age daughter of the house, Sadya Marks, takes a shine to you, but she’s only 13 and you don’t notice. It’s a long story after that, but little Sadya sets her cap for you, with not exactly single-mindedness, for as time would tell she wasn’t a single-minded sort of person, and after meeting again in LA, and then in a couple of other places, Jack and Sadie (her name now anglicized) got married in January, 1927, in an even more unlikely place than Vancouver, Waukegan, Illinois. And then a couple of longish stories later, when Jack’s normal ‘stage’ partner vanished, Sadie stepped in and became almost an instant hit, as Mary Livingstone. And so the hotel marriage in Waukegan became a comedy show, mainly on radio and then TV, and Mary Livingstone-Sadie Marks (born on June 23, 1908) became almost as famous as her friend Gracie Allen, not quite as zany as Gracie and sharper-tongued (always ready to lance Jack Benny’s legendary stinginess), but also lovingly malaprop-ridden. Mary’s “chiss sweeze” (Swiss cheese) and “grass reek” (grease rack), apparently accidents at first, became repeated gags. Sadly, when you think about it, Mary suffered throughout from chronic stage fright, which became acute when the Jack Benny Show moved over to TV, and so she gradually faded out of the show. After Jack died (in 1974), she devoted her life to the Benny Legend, including laying forever the myth that old Jack was as stingy as Scrooge. And all she got out of it was to have her stage name more often misspelled (“Livingston”) than not, even in her memorial plaque in Hollywood’s walk of fame. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 24 Jun 2019, 11:52

“The wheel turns and turns and turns: it never stops and stands still.” Anita Desai.

Growing up in a bilingual household does not necessarily confer a facility with words, but it helps. In Anita Desai’s case, her ‘native’ languages were Hindi (thanks to her Bengali father, D. N. Mazumdar) and German (her mother was Toni Nime, a Berliner). They met in pre-war Berlin, not perhaps a congenial climate for a ‘mixed’ marriage, and the couple moved to India where Anita (the third of their four children) was born on June 24, 1937. Outside the home, Anita Mazumdar picked up at least two more languages, Urdu and English, and she graduated BA (English Literature) from the University of Delhi. Soon after graduation, she became Anita Desai, courtesy of her husband Ashvin, a computer engineer who turned out also to be a writer. Her own fiction (begun in earnest in 1963 with Cry, the Peacock) was marked by both a remarkable ability to evoke narrative and thematic substance out of visual imagery, and a concern with the special cultural perspective offered by looking in from the outside. In Baumgartner’s Bombay (1987), the cultural outsider theme is brought to an almost absurd pitch when Desai gives us a German Jew escaped from Naziism only to find himself again a ‘foreigner’ in India, and then an ‘enemy alien’ twice over when he is interned during the war with other Germans. Like Baumgartner, many of Desai’s ‘heroes’ find themselves swept along by the tides of time, but it is said that her writing in itself shows a way to master (or at the very least to understand) those historical forces. Certainly Desai, now professor emerita at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has won many prizes for her fiction, including the prestigious Guardian award for children’s literature. But she’s never won the Man Booker Prize, even though nominated for it three times (for Clear Light of Day, 1980; In Custody, 1983; and The Zig Zag Way, 1999). It may have provided some compensation for her when, in 2006, her daughter, Kiran Desai, won the Booker for The Inheritance of Loss. ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 25 Jun 2019, 11:59

"Great God! What a work of genius! This is true Russia!" Sergei Rachmaninoff, reacting to The Firebird, 1910.

According to Albus Dumbledore, Phoenixes make “highly faithful pets,” and (later on) Harry Potter makes good his escape from The Chamber of Secrets with the help of the faithful Fawkes (a Phoenix, of course). It’s not clear how much J. K. Rowling depended on the Slavic myth of the ‘firebird’ to create Fawkes, perhaps not at all for in Slavic mythology to be the apple of a Firebird’s eye is likely to be a mixed blessing. The Slavic Firebird is a wondrous but arbitrary being who giveth and taketh away: not faithful at all, but a piping hot creature who can save your bacon and then, in the very next moment, cook your goose. And it’s this ‘fickle finger of fate’ character that made the Slavic legend perfect for Igor Stravinsky’s ballet, The Firebird, which had its Paris première on June 25, 1910. The music is brilliant, but I have as yet to see the ballet, and that is more than half the story. Stravinsky was just starting out, an alienated law student who’d decided music was (for him) a better trade, when (in 1909) another Russian (oddly enough another ‘failed’ lawyer, Sergei Diaghilev) attended a St. Petersburg concert and heard a Stravinsky composition, entitled “Fireworks” (Feu d’artifice). Diaghilev had been looking for a truly modern piece (preferably by a Russian) to frame a truly modern ballet. Stravinsky, he thought, must be the man, and a mere sixteen months later Stravinsky had written the score, Alexandre Benois and Michel Fokine had concocted the story line and the choreography, and Diaghilev’s company, Ballets Russes, had staged the dance itself. It was a sensational success, not only with the critics (speaking of fickle fingers), but with the music world. Two years later, Diaghilev and Stravinsky would offend Paris with The Rite of Spring, but on the morning of June 26, 1910, these two young men (OK, Diaghilev was 38, maybe not ‘young’ by your standards, but Stravinsky was only 28) read the notices and felt the warm glow of a momentarily beneficent Firebird. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 26 Jun 2019, 12:37

"Strive for design simplicity. You never have to fix anything you leave out. " William Powell Lear.

Hannibal, Missouri, has several famous exiles, not least Mark Twain and his best biographer, Ron Powers, both of whom left the place before adulthood hit them and then, later, returned to bathe in memories. Powers vented his nostalgia in White Town Drowsing (1992), wherein he mused on his home town’s centrifugal force that shot Sam Clemens’ star out into the firmament. I don’t think Powers mentioned William Powell Lear, born in Hannibal on June 26, 1902, but Lear left Hannibal even sooner, aged only 8, when his mother (deserted by Lear’s father) took refuge first in Dubuque, then Chicago. There, at the Moody Tabernacle, Lear learned that he wasn’t religious, but formal schooling didn’t stick and he left school aged 14 (Lear tried high school again, in Tulsa, but was expelled for smart-talking his teachers). So he was self-taught, rhetoric at the Moody church, and things mechanical or electrical, at home, in part-time work, and—briefly—at the Great Lakes Naval Station. In the process he learned enough about radios to invent, first, a ‘battery eliminator’ that enabled people to plug their “wireless” into the mains, and then (with a colleague) a car radio that they called the “Motorola,” a slangy moniker that stuck. Later, Lear invented the 8-track tape cartridge, now defunct, that revolutionized sound quality on home (and car) stereos. But he’s most famous for his private business jets, “Learjets,” which took off in the 1960s, well before there was supposed to be a market for them. Less well-known were his previous (and more important) contributions to aviation, including an autopilot mechanism, radio beacon navigation, and auto-landing systems. So you can talk about Mark Twain and Ron Powers as long as you like; neither of them were memorialized in Hannibal’s regional airport, the “William P. Lear Field.” Still, just as Huckleberry Finn was made elsewhere (mainly in a gazebo just outside of Elmira, NY), Learjets weren’t manufactured in Hannibal. Lear, another Hannibal exile, chose Wichita for his home base. ©
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