BOB'S BITS

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tripps » 05 Mar 2019, 10:49

Stanley wrote:
05 Mar 2019, 03:36
I think we get the drift of his political thinking
Easily qualifies as understatement of the year. :laugh5:
Born to be mild. . .

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 05 Mar 2019, 13:28

:biggrin2: :good:

Numbers and power. Remembering John Collins, FRS, 1626-1683.

Whatever the designs of its divine right monarchs, early modern England was ill equipped for absolutism. There was no standing army, nor a significant bureaucracy. England governed its trade, even its taxes, by contract with private individuals or groups, for instance the Farmers of the Customs, the East India Company, or the Governor and Company of Massachusetts Bay. But modernizing forces were at work, including the idea that the “mysteries of trade” were measurable. Neither the state, nor its ruling classes (royals, aristocrats, landed gentry) needed to dirty their hands with trade. They might squabble over who should run the show, but if they took the trouble to count and tally their state could both set and execute economic and fiscal policy. Thus statistics (if only in the limited sense of keeping track through numbers) could become an engine of state power. Among the advocates of this view was a man of very humble origins, John Collins, born outside of Oxford on March 5, 1626, the son of an itinerant (and thus an illegal) “nonconformist” minister. Pretty much on his own initiatives, on land and at sea (the latter in the service of the Venetian navy) John Collins became not only literate but exceedingly numerate. At the Restoration, Collins traded on his sometime connections with the royal court to gain employment in the Excise Office but traded on his skills to spread his gospel of counting and calculating. He even wrote to Charles II and to Lord Ashley (then the Chancellor of the Exchequer) outlining his ideas about how, through numbers, the state could master (and wax powerful from) the “mysteries of trade.” Thus John Collins became secretary to the Lords of Trade & Plantations, and even more gratifyingly (in 1667) a Fellow (and secretary) of the new Royal Society. Centuries later Collins’s papers would make it possible for historians to chronicle the rise of the English state—and to trace how Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz discovered the calculus. ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 07 Mar 2019, 03:10

'I belong to a family of West Indian slaveholders, and if I believed in curses, I should be afraid'. Elizabeth Barrett Browning to John Ruskin, 1855.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s early life was a vigorous one physically and intellectually. As a little girl she walked and rode her parents’ Herefordshire estate, and just as she was daring on horseback she early began her literary adventures by reading Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindications of the Rights of Women. That book was written well before Elizabeth’s birth (March 6, 1806) and she read it before she was 15. But Elizabeth’s feminism was not of the modern variety; for it was often expressed in the wish that she’d been born a man. Then, in the decade following, she fell prey to two mysterious illnesses, one arising from a riding accident, illnesses which, taken together, left her frail, pale, and interesting, in that sense the picture of upper-class Victorian womanhood. But it would be the wrong picture, for to stop with her physical frailty would be to obscure the radical assertiveness of her intellect and the compelling strength of her literary aesthetic. Those qualities conquered the affections of her husband and lover, Robert Browning (they married in 1846), and they also brought her a host of other disciples: Dante and Christina Rossetti, George Eliot, George Sand, and on the American side Margaret Fuller, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and James Russell Lowell. Such a mixed troupe suggests much complexity in Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s appeal, but it would include her belief, strongly expressed in her letters and in her literature, that she was doubly cursed, not only in her bodily ills but also because she was born to a fortune tainted by the blood of Jamaican slaves. This helps us to understand why yet another of her American admirers, himself a tower of physical and intellectual vigor, Frederick Douglass, would alter his Italian travel plans in order to visit Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s grave in Florence’s Protestant cemetery, and to stand silently before it in tribute to a woman of strongly held opinions. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 07 Mar 2019, 13:43

In circumstances where the uninformed and uninquiring eye perceives neither novelty nor beauty, [the natural philosopher] walks in the midst of wonders. Sir John Herschel, 1831.

Those who understand mathematics view ‘new’ mathematical systems as always out there. Like “new” worlds, native elements of the universe’s higher realities, they wait to be “discovered” rather than invented. So debate still rages over whether calculus was “discovered” by Newton or by Leibniz. But whoever made first landfall, Leibniz’s version was easier to use, and in about 1810 three precocious Cambridge undergrads, John Herschel, Charles Babbage, and George Peacock, formed an “Analytical Society” dedicated to importing Leibniz’s notations into English mathematics. They succeeded. Babbage went on to invent the first ‘computer’ (with the help of Lord Byron’s daughter, Ada Lovelace). Peacock became a noted theologian. And as befit the son of William Herschel and the nephew of Caroline Herschel, John Herschel became an astronomer, albeit “among other things.” John (later Sir John) Herschel was born on March 7, 1792. He was home-trained by his father, the Astronomer Royal, and his aunt, but educated at Charterhouse and Cambridge. After a stab at lawyering, Herschel returned to Cambridge as a mathematician (one important enough to make him a fellow, aged only 29, of the Royal Society), but he soon turned to the family trades of making telescopes and watching stars. One of the last true polymaths, Herschel also made significant contributions to chemistry, photography, linguistics, and physics, popularized astronomy through easy-to-use handbooks, produced a new translation of Homer’s Iliad, became Master of the Royal Mint, and was the one who—famously—stated that evolution (not only of species but of language itself) was the “mystery of mysteries.” This was in a letter to his geologist friend Charles Lyell, who would later share the letter, or at least the quotation, with Charles Darwin. A true hero of mid-Victorian scientific culture, Sir John Herschel was buried in Westminster Abbey in May 1871. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 08 Mar 2019, 13:20

"Those who have entered upon this undertaking have done so, not although, but because they are lawyers." Ludlow, Christian Socialism and Its Opponents, 1851.

The Victorian upper middle class was a fascinating social sector, spawning many gentlemen (and not a few ladies) who rejected the idle hours their wealth allowed to work like beavers to remediate the industrial poverty that seemed to have been spawned by William Blake’s “black, satanic mills.” One early reformer, a pre-Victorian devotee of Blake, the barrister Charles Bellenden Ker, kept comfortable through conveyancing, but set his sights on the reform of criminal law. In both pursuits he attracted young lawyers of similar views and values. In 1843 he took into his Lincoln’s Inn chambers the young (born on March 8, 1821) John Malcolm Forbes Ludlow. For Ludlow, conveyancing promised profit enough to provide personal comfort and also a platform for reform. Born in India and educated in France, he’d imbibed radical principles that inclined him to socialism (the word itself is a French coinage), and then a personal religious conversion in 1839 made him into a Christian Socialist. In a long life, Ludlow embraced many reforms and improvements, first becoming one of the few barrister-Chartists (Politics for the People was edited out of his chambers) and then going public with his own journal, The Christian Socialist. Believing as strongly as Bellenden Ker in the educability of the working poor, Ludlow was a founder of London’s Working Men’s College, where he taught law, history, and literature (apparently in his spare time). Because his Christian socialism seemed safer than Marx’s variety, he also served on several parliamentary ‘reform’ commissions, advocated cooperative banks for the working class, and if that were not enough (as an active layman) he upset the Church of England by insisting that a woman’s ministry was both biblically justified and historically necessary. Ludlow retired from conveyancing in the 1880s but continued reforming many other things until his death in 1911. ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 09 Mar 2019, 12:24

"Dieu le ward." (God, the protector). The motto of Ampleforth School, Yorkshire.

In studying the origins of religious freedom one must remember that there are crucial differences between tolerance (an attitude) and toleration (a policy). Even so the English Act of Toleration (1689) was misnamed. It didn’t extend real “tolerance” even to those Protestant dissenters one might judge ‘orthodox’ (e.g. Baptists, Presbyterians) and entirely excluded from its ‘tolerations’ were Jews, anti-trinitarians, atheists of all stripes, and, of course, Catholics. In the course of the 18th century, it became somewhat safer for Catholics to “be” Catholics in public, to have known places of worship and known priests (even if they were, of necessity, usually itinerants). One of the most notable of these was John Brewer, born into a Catholic family, in Lancashire, on March 9, 1742. In that year it was still safer to “be” Catholic elsewhere, and so John was sent to an English monastery in northern France, where (1758) he took Benedictine vows. Then he went to the Sorbonne and (1774) a brilliant doctorate in theology. Then it was back to England and a mission he’d intended from the day he took the monkish name of the “Venerable” Bede. He led worship (in several places) and published lasting theological and devotional tracts. But he’s probably most famous for his role in founding (and partially endowing, with his own inheritance) the great Catholic school at Ampleforth, Yorkshire. He also gave the ‘other’ eminent Catholic school, Downside, a needed boost in 1814. But his life had not been free of hazard. During the anti-Catholic riots of 1780, he’d had to flee for his life from the chapel he’d built in Bath, Somerset. On the other hand, it was a measure of England’s creeping “toleration” (if not its “tolerance”) that the priest Bede (aka John Brewer) was able to sue the local authorities for dereliction of duty. He put his damages (£3,735, a significant sum) to rebuilding the chapel, which the mob had burned to the ground. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 10 Mar 2019, 13:21

In a well-regulated asylum, every means ought to be invented for calling into exercise as many of the mental facilities as remain capable. William Charles Ellis, 1818.

Among others, Shakespeare and Richard Burton (in The Anatomy of Melancholy, 1628) expressed ‘modern’ senses of insanity as something caused. Implicitly, then, madness might be cured. Imbalances can be righted, causes identified. Unfortunately, over the next several centuries, ‘madness’ was treated badly if not worse, with punishment rather than cure (or, as with my grandfather Simms in 1930s Iowa, with cures that looked and felt like punishment). Among the pioneers of humane therapies was William Charles Ellis, born on March 10, 1780. For him, the whole matter began with religion, but not the established faith of his father. Rather, Ellis embraced Methodism (possibly owing to the influence of his wife Mildred, who would assist him in his humanitarian endeavors). Already trained as a surgeon, Ellis took his conviction that all people were brothers and sisters in Christ into treatment of the insane and troubled. For this work, Ellis found a model in a Quaker asylum in York and a motive in a parliamentary report on the scandalous treatment of the insane in Yorkshire’s semi-public Lunatic Asylum. Ellis’s response moved Yorkshire magistrates to appoint him director of the West Riding Asylum, where he and Mildred (as Matron) put their therapeutic program into practice. The Ellises’ successes, and the burgeoning humanitarian spirit of their age, brought them an even bigger asylum, one for the pauper insane. This was at Hanwell, then a village just west of London. Their methods were noticed by the good, including Harriet Martineau, and the great, including King William IV. Thus William Charles Ellis became Sir William. But a dispute with the Middlesex magistrates (who wanted to save money) brought about his protest, then his resignation. He and Mildred set up a private facility in Southall Park, where William died in 1839. Lady Mildred kept on her work, both at the asylum and in the Evangelical Alliance, until at least 1851. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 11 Mar 2019, 13:43

"There will always be plenty of things to compute in the detailed affairs of millions of people doing complicated things." Vannevar Bush, "As We May Think," 1945.

As a college undergraduate (at Tufts University), Vannevar Bush he played the role that would in the 1930s and 1940s become a B-movie theme, the big man on campus. A minister’s son (born on March 11, 1890), he proved capable of being the life of the party, frat man, manager of the football team, three times class president. But also at Tufts he developed his persona as scientist and inventor. His first patent came in his senior year, a device for easing the task of land surveyors, and then (at GE, MIT, and Harvard) the patents kept coming, one of which led to the formation of the Raytheon Company and considerable wealth for Vannevar Bush. But wealth didn’t stop Bush; his later inventions included the analog computer (and theories showing that digital was the way to go in computing). His administrative resumé kept pace, both in company boardrooms and at MIT (dean of engineering and then vice president). In the process, Bush came to view himself as an apostle of science, hard science, and when in 1938 he became head of the Carnegie Institution he purged Carnegie of its humanities and social sciences work. Come the war, Bush was as responsible as anyone for the creation of what Eisenhower would later call the military-industrial complex, and that is how he is remembered today—as long as we make it the “military-industrial-science” complex, the brain behind (and often the head of) national advisory committees for defense, aeronautics, the Office of Research and Development, the Manhattan project, the Atomic Energy Commission, and others, including the National Science Foundation. While he was organizing us, he took time off to invent the proximity fuse, which may have had as much to do with victory as the A-bomb. If that were not enough, his 1945 Atlantic article, “As We May Think,” is now credited as a chief inspiration of ‘the information age.’ Like him or not, Vannevar Bush was as much as anyone the architect of our modernity, like it or not. ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 13 Mar 2019, 06:23

A Memoir of Mary Lloyd of Wednesbury. Title of a book published (1921) by Mary Lloyd's daughter Sara.

Samuel Lloyd (1795-1862) took his Quaker family’s banking expertise into collieries and iron foundries, and he prospered. He also married a Quaker orphan girl. At birth (March 12, 1795) she was Mary Honeychurch, and as Mary Lloyd she would bring 8 children through to adulthood, run the Lloyd household with the help of only three servants and like her mother serve as a minister in the Society of Friends. Accustomed therefore to speak as the Spirit moved her in the Meeting House, she took to speaking in public more easily than respectable womanhood was supposed to, and thus Mary Lloyd became a leading light in reform movements, local, national, and international. Most notably, she founded (1825) and led the Ladies’ Society for the Relief of Negro Slaves, “relief” meaning freedom, of course. Locally she organized charity drives, boycotts of slave-produced products, and petitioning campaigns, all of which involved not only polite morning teas (unsweetened, of course) in sedate drawing rooms but also street-walking and door-knocking. Quickly Lloyd made alliances with other women’s abolitionist groups and then, in the early 1830s, went international, forming alliances with American anti-slavery activists like the Grimké sisters. It is increasingly appreciated that in all her reform activities Mary Lloyd acted not as an auxiliary to her husband but as a force in her own right and in the right of women like her, women who “went public” because they could not be comfortable in their own domesticity while other women faced only perils and privations. Lloyd and her allies made female slaves an effective focus for all their causes, women whose very bodies were owned and exploited by others, women who could not even be mothers to their offspring. After British emancipation (1832), Mary Lloyd’s work went on, now for the education and uplift of the Empire’s freed people, but also for her sisters still in chains in the United States of America. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 13 Mar 2019, 13:27

"The customs of a people . . . help them to meet the demands of progress along lines most beneficial to their well-being." Salote, Queen of Tonga.

Probably we don’t think much about Tonga. Its 69 islands comprise a land area half the size of St. Louis city and county, and even if it does have a Texas-sized seascape its 100,000 people don’t weigh in much on the world’s biomass scale. But it has its points, not least that it is still, in this day and age, a constitutional monarchy and that it has avoided several of the ravages of colonialism. Those two facts are related, and both in turn owe much to Queen Salote Mafile’o Pilolevu Topou III, who was born on the big island (Tongatapu) on March 13, 1900, in the same year that Tonga became—not a colony—a British protectorate. It had some years before been conquered by Methodist missionaries. They first landed in 1797, and by 1845 they’d convinced one of their aristocratic converts to proclaim himself king. He was Queen Salote’s grandpa, and like her he was a progressive monarch. He curbed the power of the tribal chiefs, liberated their serfs, and enacted a law code that applied equally to all Tongans. At her birth, Salote was not intended to be a queen, but since her father never produced an heir male she became queen in 1918, shortly after her marriage. Immediately she confounded expectations that her husband would be king (cleverly, by making him prime minister). During her long reign she laid the groundwork for her son’s proclamation of constitutional monarchy (in 1970) by spreading free public education, beginning a universal health service, and consolidating control over both her tribal chiefs and her western (mainly British expats) traders and merchants. She also studied and promoted Tongan history and culture, both to protect Tongan identity and to limit western influence. (Her prohibition of westerners buying Tongan land still operates). Queen Salote Tupuo III, Dame Grand Cross in the Order of St. Michael and St. George, died in December 1965. Her funeral ceremony was both Tongan and Methodist, as befit her life. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 14 Mar 2019, 13:40

"The London Young Women’s Institute Union and Christian Association". Original name of the YWCA, circa 1877.

The USA’s quick adoption of scouting, the YMCA, and the YWCA merits a chapter in a book about the rise of Anglophilism in certain sectors of American society, for they were all British in origin. The YWCA’s leading spirit was Lady Mary Jane Kinnaird, who was for several years president of the association, even though at its founding in 1877 she took a back seat to her husband Arthur, Lord Kinnaird (in the Scottish peerage), and the Earl of Shaftesbury (the YWCA’s first president). Turning public leadership over to the menfolk was very much part of Lady Kinnaird’s modus operandi (she opposed female suffrage), but it should not conceal the astonishing energy and ambition that ruled her life. Mary Jane Hoare was born into a high church family on March 14, 1816. Early orphaned, she was brought up by a succession of uncles, and in her early 20s became deeply involved in poor relief in her uncle Baptist’s London parish. At 27 she married Lord Kinnaird, quickly adopted his low church evangelicalism and his aim to reform rather than just relieve the poor. Nor were their objectives restricted to helping London’s poor. When she died, she said, India would be written on her heart, and she took part, too, in British anti-slavery agitation. The YWCA notion took root from Mary Jane Kinnaird’s work (from the late 1850s) with Florence Nightingale, first in connection with providing secure homes for young women who’d come to London to learn nursing. Lady Kinnaird kept stirring it up until her death in 1888, and then her three unmarried daughters, Louisa (1848-1926), Gertrude (1853-1921), and Emily (1855-1947), continued Mary Jane’s work with the YWCA and other organizations and several times carried her spirit of reform to British India. They were also—signs of their times—much more active than their mother in public and in politics, especially Emily (a Labour Party supporter who was also a life-long enthusiast for cycling). ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 15 Mar 2019, 13:18

"[After Waterloo] his Grace rode up, and on getting off his horse Copenhagen he said 'Is that you? Get dinner.'" From the Memoirs of James Thornton, chef.

Charles Elmé Francatelli was only Queen Victoria’s cook for two years (1840-42), although he did “chef” for Bertie in the 1860s when the Prince set up his (very) separate household. In the PBS series “Victoria” Francatelli makes more of a splash, not only cook but an honest man and, into the bargain, a minor love interest. He’s also well-cast, for he’s played by Ferdinand Kingsley, whose own Anglo-Indian heritage gives the TV Francatelli the appropriate spice of foreign-ness. The real Francatelli’s years with Victoria and Prince Bertie, and his fame as cookbook author, remind us that to be head cook in a palatial establishment was a sought-after berth. The aristocracy (and its imitators) wished to eat well, and they paid for it (salaries of £500 were common, and one’s share of the household budget was also substantial). Take for instance the career of James Thornton, born to a prosperous London tradesman on March 15, 1787. As a younger son he was apprenticed off (in succession) to two moderately famous French chefs (emigrés from the Revolution), and then struck pay dirt (or perhaps pay chops) by being appointed field chef to the scourge of the French, the Duke of Wellington. After a holiday from battle bakery (as chef for a rich and eminent Scotsman) Thornton returned to cook for Wellington at Waterloo, then joined the Wellington ménage (at Apsley House) in 1820. He didn’t last long, a casualty of battles with the Duchess of Wellington over household thrift (given the duchess’s extravagances it was a case of the pot calling the kettle black); he lived out his life as seigneur de la cuisine for a succession of noble households, including a long spell at Lowther Castle, palatial home of the Earls of Lonsdale. James Thornton was also famed for his cookbooks, and for his own dynasty of high society cooks (both his children and four of his grandchildren also cooked for the quality). Thornton’s memoirs, recently found, were published in 1985. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 16 Mar 2019, 13:19

"Here, in New England . . . had been her sin; here, her sorrow; and here was yet to be her penitence." Hester Prynne's life sentence, pronounced at the end of The Scarlet Letter.

Long ago, in the great Henry Pochmann’s English PhD seminar, I presented a research paper arguing that in The Marble Faun (1860), Nathaniel Hawthorne finally brought his obsession with New England Puritanism into a context—Catholic Rome—where he could judge it in a world-historical setting. The paper itself is long gone (indeed thrown away) but its argument was that The Marble Faun, his last, was also Hawthorne’s greatest novel. Pochmann gave it an ‘A’ grade, although for most critics, then and now, that prize belongs to The Scarlet Letter, in which New England’s sins are laid out in their very own parochial context, the town of Salem. The novel was published on March 16, 1850. It may have been America’s first mass-produced book, and it sold very well even in Salem, where it was, however, unkindly received. Much of the rest of the country loved what Salemites didn’t. It made Hester Prynne, its chief sinner, its heroine; presented her love-child Pearl as a pure wilderness sprite, a symbol of unruly and unruled innocence; and the town’s Puritan inhabitants into loveless, persecuting hypocrites—the worst of whom was the Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. You will have to read it yourself to discover what was Dimmesdale’s fatal sin. Was it adultery? Was it cowardice? Was it hypocrisy? As for the child Pearl, she anticipates Huck Finn by lighting out for the territories—parts unknown, albeit with a small fortune bequeathed to her by her legal father. Hester herself, the living symbol of her sin now grown and gone away, still defiantly wears its sign, the eponymous “A”. But Hester’s quiet courage, her dignity, “her power to do, and power to sympathize” translated “the scarlet letter” from “Adultery” into “Able.” Still affixed to her breast, it was now a symbol of her “woman’s strength.” Now that I think about it, in retrospect, perhaps Hester’s “A” really does outshine that old marble statue, unclothed and un-innocent, in Rome. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 17 Mar 2019, 13:43

"Every way of seeing is also a way of not seeing." Helen Lynd.

Helen Merrell Lynd was most famed for her two books (written with her husband Robert) about an American small town. The first (and more significant) came out in 1929, Middletown: A Study in American Contemporary Culture. ‘Middletown’ was Muncie, Indiana, and the Lynds applied modern techniques of social science research to narrate how and explain why Muncie’s people married, raised families, worked, prayed, and politicked. Born in LaGrange, Illinois on March 17, 1896, Helen Merrell (Lynd) graduated Phi Beta Kappa at Wellesley in 1919, met Robert (on hiking tour in New Hampshire’s White Mountains), married him in 1921, taught school to finance his divinity studies, and then undertook her own Columbia research degree (in history and philosophy). Middletown, their joint project, was also Robert’s PhD thesis, for he had abandoned divinity. Some think that Helen was the real brains behind the whole operation, and their best evidence may lie in what Helen should also be famous for, her later role in curricular reform at Sarah Lawrence College, then a women’s college. Her work there (1929-1964) might be best summarized as applying her research to the problems of teaching: student learning, assessment, and advising. And her research included much more than the Middletown projects, notably a history of England in the 1880s subtitled Towards a Social Basis for Freedom and her philosophical-historical study On Shame and the Search for Identity. Inspired by her own life and learning, and also (I am sure) by the work of Thorstein Veblen, Helen Lynd aimed to make undergraduate education a collegial affair, an apprenticeship in which grades and rankings were replaced by in-depth critical analyses of students’ work and progress (or their idleness and decline). Helen Lynd’s work was not popular with everyone (including the House Un-American Activities Committee), but it made its mark, and it survives. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 18 Mar 2019, 12:50

"Who's fretting to begin// Who's going out to win?// And who wants to save his skin?" Jessie Pope, "The Call," 1915.

The statistical “Birthday Paradox” tells us that you only need 33 people to have a 50/50 chance that two of them will have the same birthday. Given that I’ve done about 5,000 of these ‘anniversary notes,’ I have anecdotal evidence that these unreasonable coincidences also turn up quite a few ironies. Among my birthday-sharers are Wilfred Owen and Jessie Pope, both of them “war poets” (the war was World War I), both born on March 18s. I’ve done Owen already. His elegant, profound verse, musing on the war’s horror, contrasts almost comically with Jessie Pope’s jingoistic pro-war doggerel. But it didn’t sell as well, for Pope caught better the popular temper with her four (annual) wartime collections such as Simple Rhymes for Stirring Times (1916). Jessie Pope was of an older generation (born March 18, 1868), and she’d had her own battles to fight. An unmarried woman with a yen to write and publish in what was still a man’s world, she’d found her niche with light stuff. She did rescue, edit, and publish Robert Noonan’s working-class novel The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist (1914), but she also bowdlerized it. Her prolific output of humorous verse found a ready market, not only in Punch and a raft of daily newspapers and women’s mags, also in annual collections with titles like Paper Pellets and Airy Nothings. Pope also wrote children’s stories, mostly in verse, such as Babes and Beasts (1907), and Frolicsome Friends (1915). Come the war, what else could she do? Her publisher made much of her bucking up the “boys” at the front, and maybe she did. Owen thought otherwise; he toyed with the notion of dedicating “Dulce et decorum est” to “Jessie Pope, etc.”: ironically, of course. In yet another irony, Owen was killed in battle, in the last week of the war. Jessie Pope continued on to write lightly, to marry a retired banker, and to live happily ever after, or at least into another war. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Tripps » 19 Mar 2019, 10:32

Stanley wrote:
18 Mar 2019, 12:50
The statistical “Birthday Paradox” tells us that you only need 33 people to have a 50/50 chance that two of them will have the same birthday.
On a a point of information - it's even less intuitive than that - actually the number is just 23.

Birthday paradox :smile:
Born to be mild. . .

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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 19 Mar 2019, 12:56

Bob did mail me this morning saying that one of his readers had made the same point but I decided not to load you with it.....

"Scheherezade . . . was pleasant and polite, wise and witty, well read and well bred." From Burton's translation of The Book of a Thousand Nights, 1887.

Born on March 21, 1821, Sir Richard Francis Burton has a claim to being Victorian England’s most astonishing person, a ‘jack’ of many trades and adept at each of them: soldier, poet, scholar, explorer, linguist, and diplomat. Sent down from Oxford after two years’ unruly behavior and rebellious study, Burton’s knack for languages and his yen for travel took him to India where he quickly mastered Gujarati and Hindustani. served General Sir Charles Napier (as aide-de-camp and spy) in the latter’s subjugation of the Sindh, then as undercover agent in Napier’s aggressive reform program. Burton’s behavior, including insolence, ended his Indian career. He returned to Britain to write about his exploits, a trilogy (1851-52) that made him famous and gave him his life’s calling: to do extraordinary things and then write them up. He undertook brave (or foolhardy) expeditions into the far corners of the British Empire (and beyond), and then wrote eloquently about them. Even odder, given the era, he also wrote perceptively about the peoples and cultures he found, aided again by his quick grasp of even the most difficult languages and his ability to assume different personas in different cultures. Burton’s most famous exploits were his ascent of the Nile, his “Muslim” pilgrimages to Mecca, Medina, and Arafat, and then of course came his books (and public lectures) about them. He also wrote the best ‘observation’ of the Mormons’ City of the Saints (1861) as a result of his trek across North America in 1860-61. In that same year, 1861, Burton met his match in his marriage to Isabel Arundell (1831-1896). She was a devout Catholic; he was aggressively agnostic. There’s some reason to think that each may have intended to reform the other. They failed at that. Instead, they fashioned a life-long love affair between two persons quite different in their beliefs but also quite settled in mutual admiration and devotion. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 20 Mar 2019, 13:00

“Omnia mutantur, nihil interit (everything changes, nothing perishes).” Ovid, from The Metamorphoses.

The recent but probably ongoing scandal about admissions to elite American colleges has to it a timeless quality. Parents seemingly rich enough to be secure but still lacking in poise (and perhaps morals) have attempted to gain prestige (for themselves?) through buying their children into a classy education. It was just so with the Roman elite. They had no Ivy League with which to polish images (their own or their children’s), but they did have Athens. Despite all Rome’s imperial power, Roman culture was considered arriviste and hopelessly provincial, and Greek rather than Latin remained the language of the finer literature and of the philosophical mind. And money paid for it. After all, as Cicero said, only the wealthy were truly capable of being liberally educated. It all had, and still has, the arrogant air of self-fulfilling prophesy. One of the more famous products of this schooling was Publius Ovidius Naso, born (on March 20, 43 BCE) into the knightly class in a provincial town about 100 miles east of Rome. Ovidius’s dad thought this would give his son a leg up in the imperial service; instead the boy Ovidius became the adult Ovid; whether he became the most famous or 2nd most famous Roman poet (behind Virgil) I am not qualified to say. Through such classics as the Ars amatoria, Ovid gained entry to Augustan Rome’s best literary circles and—on his third attempt—marriage to a remarkable wife whose name we don’t even know but was from an ancient and prestigious family. She had enough class of her own to serve as Ovid’s agent and protector when, in 8 CE, the poet was exiled to Tomis (on the Black Sea, quite a ways to the east of Athens). In isolation, in a frontier post where few enough spoke even Latin, our poet wasted away, wrote mainly of his despairs, and died in 17 CE. Exactly 2000 years later, the Rome city council revoked Augustus’s decree of banishment, just to prove what a good education can do for you. ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 21 Mar 2019, 12:38

"If we develop proportionately when adults as [we did] in childhood, we should all be geniuses." Goethe.

Great musicianship was often a family affair, which is one explanation for the child prodigies that infest music history. Amongst them, Charles Hallé gave his first public concert aged 4. Living in Paris, from a tender age, he married a New Orleans heiress (Desirée Smith de Relieu, who taught him English), and soon became “the most perfect conductor that I ever set eyes upon” (Berlioz). The 1848 Revolution sent Charles and Desirée to Britain. In 1858, he founded Manchester’s famed Hallé Orchestra. Desirée died in 1866, and a mere 22 years later he married another child prodigy, no longer young and herself a widow, Wilma Norman-Neruda. Born on March 21, 1838, Wilma (then Wilhelmina) Neruda was one of a whole nest of prodigies. Wilma took up the violin and performed her début aged 7. She knocked London dead in 1849 and went on to play in Manchester just before the advent of Hallé. She married, first, a Swedish conductor, performed with him and taught violin at the Stockholm Conservatory. They divorced in 1869, and Wilma took up a touring life, becoming famous as one of the greatest violinists of her time. She performed (almost annually) in Manchester, with the whole Hallé and in sonata recitals with Charles at the piano. She also endeared herself to the British royal family. By now fairly wealthy, Wilma acquired a 1709 Stradovari at about the same time (1888) that she married Charles (now Sir Charles) Hallé. The two continued to perform in Manchester and twice went on world tours. When Sir Charles died in 1896, the Prince of Wales became her patron, raised money for her (including an Italian villa), and made her violinist to the Princess Alexandra. Although she finally settled in Berlin, she continued to tour England, performing not only for the (now) Queen Alexandra, but also in Sir Henry Woods’ annual promenade concerts. She died in Berlin in 1911. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 22 Mar 2019, 12:57

Fullness of knowledge always means some understanding of the depths of our ignorance. Robert A. Millikan.

Robert Millikan is remembered chiefly for his clever experiments which proved the theories of others, e.g. the electron theory of J. J. Thomson, the photoelectric equation of Albert Einstein, and Max Planck’s “constant.” Millikan thus qualifies as one of the great pioneers of quantum physics, a very mysterious realm apparently ruled by random uncertainty and statistical odds. For one of these experimental proofs (called the “oil drop experiment” because of its charming simplicity) Millikan was awarded the Nobel in 1923. Robert Andrews Millikan was born in Morrisonville, Illinois, on March 22, 1868, his family having moved westwards with the great New England migration. They’d moved further west by the time Robert graduated from high school, at Maquoketa, Iowa. At that point, Robert was sent back east to another New England nesting spot, Oberlin College, where he majored in classics. It was his great talent for Greek that led to his appointment—in 1889, in his sophomore year!!—to teach beginning physics at the Oberlin “prep” school. “Anyone,” his classics professor said, who can do well in my Greek can teach physics.” That may have been a true statement in 1889. If so, it was ironically rendered untrue by Millikan’s later work in quantum physics, which made the higher mathematics rather than Greek the key to understanding subatomic particles, their charge, their mass, and their function. Millikan learned his physics at Columbia, taught at Chicago during his most productive years (1900-1920), and then moved west to take an appointment at Throop College. It might have been an unpromising move except that, under Millikan’s leadership, Throop soon became the California Institute of Technology. There he was also responsible for experiments confirming the theory of ‘cosmic rays’ (he coined the name), and for his essays on the compatibility of science and religion. For Robert Millikan was, after all, a minister’s son. ©.
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 23 Mar 2019, 13:12

"His Lordshipp was in bed at past 10 a-clock: and Lord help us, so rude and dirty a family I never saw in my life." Samuel Pepys, diary entry for January 4, 1665.

Here’s an odd historical doppelganger involving two Hester Davenports, the first an actress and then mistress (and possibly wife) of an English aristocrat, Aubrey de Vere, 20th Earl of Oxford, whose odd life popped up in my research several times as he popped into and out of royal favor in the reigns of Charles II, James II, and William & Mary. This Hester Davenport was born on March 23, 1642, and turned up at the Restoration as an actress (a new creation of a looser age), and an accomplished one at that, appearing in varied roles, but most famously in 1661 as Roxalana in Sir William Davenant’s opera The Siege of Rhodes. She was known as Roxalana thereafter, and it was as Roxalana that she fascinated Aubrey de Vere, Earl of Oxford. His louche behavior and reputation fitted him perfectly for Charles II’s court, but not for Roxalana’s virtue, and she insisted on marriage before bed. There seems to have been a marriage ceremony, conducted by a man “in minister’s habit” who may have been Oxford’s groom. At any rate Hester and her noble ‘husband’ took up a residence near Covent Garden, produced a little boy they baptized as ‘Aubrey’ and lived together for a few years (according to Samuel Pepys) in great disarray. By 1673 the relationship (or marriage, if you take Roxalana’s side) had dissolved, and Oxford married a woman fitted to his class. Hester still called herself ‘Roxalana, Countess of Oxford,’ sued Oxford for breach of promise and won a pension from him, became a moral fable of the Restoration, and outlived the rascally scoundrel by a few years (he died in 1703, she in 1717). Now come the other Hester Davenport (1936-2013) museum keeper at Windsor and author of two biographies, one on the author Fanny Burney, famously jilted by a courtier of King George III, and the other book on Mary Robinson, aka “Perdita,” poet, actress, and mistress to King George IV when he was Prince of Wales. A mere coincidence, no doubt. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 25 Mar 2019, 05:58

I believe that Whittington's reconstruction of Opabinia in 1975 will stand as one of the great documents in the history of human knowledge. Stephen Jay Gould, 1989.

The Latinate names of species (living and extinct) can derive from their discoverer’s name, from comparisons with others of their genus, and sometimes simply for what they look like. Such was anomalocaris, the very large and fierce “abnormal shrimp” of the Cambrian era. It might better be called cerritulocaris (“weird shrimp”), because for generations after its discovery (in 1911, in the Burgess Shales, in British Columbia), it was thought to be three separate animals. The scientist who put them back together was Harry Blackmore Whittington, born on March 24, 1916 into a skilled working-class family in Birmingham. Whittington won a place in grammar school, then a bursary to Birmingham University, then a post-doc (as we would call it today) at Yale. There he found his wife Dorothy; and after their traumatic experiences in SE Asia fleeing the Japanese Imperial Army, Whittington returned to the USA to join the Harvard faculty. His great successes there owed mainly to his astonishing ability to transform flattened fossils into three-dimensional viability. He returned to England in 1966 to take up Cambridge’s prestigious Woodwardian chair of geology. There he and several of his brilliant graduate students began and completed their meticulous reconstructions of the Burgess animalia. The revolution they wrought was brilliantly reconstructed in 1989 in Stephen Jay Gould’s Wonderful Life: the Burgess Shale and the Nature of History. That’s where I ran across Whittington, pleased by the nice irony that (in 1989) Gould occupied Whittington’s office at Harvard. It’s another irony that Gould’s book has caused considerably more controversy than the wondrous discoveries (and re-discoveries) of Whittington and his graduate students, or as he would have called them, colleagues and friends. Harry Whittington was also remarkable for carrying his deep Christian faith into his work on evolution, which he himself never regarded as an irony. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 25 Mar 2019, 13:33

A physician without a knowledge of astrology has no right to call himself a physician. Hippocrates.

17th-century book production methods often left, in bound copies, notices for other items the printer had for sale, so that while I pretty exclusively read tracts on theology and exploration, I was constantly made aware that they were in these adverts often (vastly) outnumbered by books on astrology. And these were not merely almanacs. They included many serious treatments of what was still regarded as an important branch of humane knowledge. Among the more prolific authors was Lancelot Coelson, born in Essex on March 27, 1627. Essex was Puritan country, and Coelson did his duties for Parliament’s and then Cromwell’s army, and may have been a radical, but he settled down in the mid-1650s, in the City of London, to practice medicine and astrology. He styled himself “gentleman,” a status he may have attained even though his first publication (1656) was The Poor-Mans Physician and Chyrurgian. A small etching dating from 1662 identifies Coelson as a “Student of Astrologie & Physick,” and besides his tracts on both subjects we can number among his friends and/or clients some members of parliament, a sheriff of London, and an eminent shipowner and merchant. He was a man of some weight in militia affairs and in the evolving profession of medicine, but was better known for his many almanacs. He also produced scholarly studies of astrology, the best known being Philosophia maturata (1668). Frightened by the political visions and violence of Fifth-Monarchy men and Venner’s uprising (1657), he drew away from Puritan radicalism, but he remained a “hot Protestant” all his life and used his almanacs not only to predict the years’ likely fates but also to give vent to his anti-Popery, especially in the almanacs he published during the Popish Plot crisis. I like to think of the 17th century as the one that witnessed the birth of modernity, but figures like Lancelot Coelson keep me from feeling wholly confident about that. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 26 Mar 2019, 12:33

"The emerging woman ... will be strong-minded, strong-hearted, strong-souled, and strong-bodied." Louisa May Alcott, in An Old-Fashioned Girl, 1869.

In my Honors College seminar, “The Problem of Equality in the Era of the American Revolution,” we look also at “inequality” in the same era, and in our own, too. Perspective is everything! And by most definitions of either word, women made but small progress towards ‘equality’ in our founding years, and there is yet much ground to be made up. Thus women who have been successful become figures of particular interest: take for instance Sandra Day O’Connor, first woman Associate Justice in the US Supreme Court (b. March 26, 1930) and Nancy D’Alesandro Pelosi, first woman Speaker of the US House of Representatives (b. March 26, 1940). They share a birthday and of course their gender. Have they anything else in common? One thing for sure, their youthful backgrounds fit them well for their adult environment. Sandra Day was a Texas (then an Arizona) rancher’s daughter who studied law, married a lawyer, and became an Arizona lawyer. Nancy d’Alesandro was born into an urban, Italian, political household, married another urban Italian, and moved with him into the urban political hothouse of San Francisco. Both were well educated and married soon after leaving college (Day became an O’Connor at 22, D’Alesdandro a Pelosi at 23). Each successfully negotiated motherhood (8 children between them), and perhaps because of that both found a political life a better fit than a strictly ‘professional’ one: O’Connor in the Arizona legislature and then its state courts, Pelosi in the California Democratic party. Little more linked them, other than remarkable courage, superior intelligence, and now and then a stroke of luck. But there was also what we now call ‘second wave’ feminism, emerging in the 1960s and demanding far more than just civil equality. It was a rising tide of ambition that floated at least two boats, one piloted by the conservative O’Connor the other by the liberal Pelosi. Their time had come; they both made harbor. ©
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Re: BOB'S BITS

Post by Stanley » 27 Mar 2019, 13:01

In thrice ten years his soul had run the round// Of human knowledge, simple or profound. From a memorial poem about John Henderson, circa 1788.

In Britain and in the British colonies the Enlightenment’s growing optimism about human nature strained the still-dominant Calvinist consensus at what may have been its weak point and turned many towards the idea that mere humans could contribute to, even effect, their own salvation. This idea loosed much energy and passion (on both sides of the argument), not all of it “religious,” as we can see in the short life of John Henderson, born in Ireland on March 27, 1757. His father Richard, a minister in the Protestant Church of Ireland, converted to Methodism, and came to England to become an itinerant preacher and an intimate of the Wesleys. John was sent to a Methodist school where he very quickly proved the bit about human capabilities, mastering Greek and Latin by his 9th birthday and becoming a voracious and omnivorous reader, imbibing much on science, religion, and various mysticisms. This last bothered some, but in an age that loved prodigies John Henderson became famous, master of eight languages (including Arabic) and an adept in several arts. A reading of a famous (and churchly) devotional tract settled him down sufficiently close to Anglican orthodoxy that he could enter Oxford. At about the same time, he started with his father at a truly revolutionary task. They extended their heterodox faith in human capabilities to the insane, and therefore thought it best to treat the mentally ill with kindness, compassion, and a fair amount of instruction. Under their care, the mad tended towards sanity. But at Pembroke College, Oxford, his brilliance (outshining all Oxford students and casting several faculty into the shadows), tempted John Henderson to play the precocity card too much, to glory in his fame and friendships (e.g. with Dr. Johnson and Joseph Priestley), and to study eccentricity. This might-have-been revolutionary young man instead drank and perhaps drugged himself to death, in 1788, still treating patients at his father’s asylum. ©
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