Monday, June 27, 2016

Betcha didn't know this.

Lena Jones Wade Springs was the first woman placed in nomination
for the office of Vice President of the United States,
at the 1924 Democratic National Convention, on this date.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

If you want a vision of the future,

... imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever.

Eric Arthur Blair was born on this day in 1903, in the Indian village of Motihari near the Nepalese border. His British father was an agent in the Opium Department of the Indian Civil Service (why is this job no longer available - I checked.) The family returned to England in 1907 so that young Eric could struggle and drop out of school. By 1921 he had returned to the subcontinent and joined the police in Burma (now known as Myanmar but for our purposes and to annoy the generals there, we'll continue to refer to it as Burma.)  He spent five years with the Burmese police before returning to England to quit and struggle. He stayed in England for a year, then went to France to be poor.

Finally he returned to England and wrote a book about being poor in Paris but no one wanted to publish it. He told his mother to burn the book (she did not), then wrote a new one about being a policeman in Burma. It too was rejected by several publishers. Meanwhile, however, his mother had been sneaking around with the book she hadn't burned and had found a publisher for her son.

Upon submitting the final manuscript to the publisher, Blair decided that a book about being poor in Paris written by a middle-class servant of the British Empire might not look good, so he decided to write under a pen-name. The name he chose was George Orwell.

Later he wrote a book about the poor voting habits of farm animals and another one about a future involving apple computer that sucked (he later acknowledged that it would have been a cheerier book if he hadn't been dying of tuberculosis).

Finally he became a Famous Author and even a Great Writer, but by then he was dead, whatever his name was.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Words you did not know that you needed:

Ranarium n. -  (pl. -ia) place for rearing frogs.

Get those humping frogs to a ranarium before we have little tadpoles all over the place.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Like a circle in a circle

June 19, 1968  -
The Thomas Crown Affair

what adults used to watch at the movies

Thursday, June 16, 2016

I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls

Happy Bloomsday!

June 16, 1904 -
If you notice English majors greeting one another joyously saying, "Yes - yes - yes!" They'll titter. It will all be terrific fun for them. And here's the reason why -

Today is the date on which all the events depicted in James Joyce's famous novel Ulysses takes place, even though the book itself was published in 1922 and therefore cannot celebrate a real centennial until my daughters have graduated college. There is probably also a lot of excitement in all sorts of intellectual circles.

And now, you can truly impress your friends by telling them the plot -

Leopold Bloom, the main character of Ulysses, does not have much work to do, so he spends most of his day wandering around Dublin doing some errands. He leaves his house on Eccles Street, walks south across the River Liffey, picks up a letter, buys a bar of soap, and goes to the funeral of a man he didn't know very well.

In the afternoon, he has a cheese sandwich, he feeds the gulls in the river, helps a blind man cross the street, and visits a couple of pubs. He thinks about his job, his wife, his daughter, his stillborn son. He muses about life and death and reincarnation. He knows that his wife is going to cheat on him that afternoon at his house.

In the evening, he wanders around the red light district of Dublin and meets up with a young writer named Stephen Dedalus, who is drunk. Leopold Bloom takes him home with him and offers to let him spend the night. And they stand outside, looking at the stars for a while. And then Bloom goes inside and climbs into bed with his wife.

They'll feel smart and proud and better than the rest of us (and you again can feel morally superior for knowing it), and now you know why.

And so it goes (...yes I said yes I will Yes.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

June 14, 1846 -

William L. Todd, nephew of Mrs. Abraham Lincoln designed a flag for the Bear Flag Revolt with the words California Republic. With rusty nails and blackberry juice he painted a grizzly and a star on white cloth. The lower red border was said to come from the flannel petticoat of Nancy Kelsey, who sewed the flag. The Bear Flag Revolt got its name from the presence of a grizzly bear on the standard proposed for the independent California.

This is a photograph of the flag.  The original flag was destroyed in the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Monday, June 6, 2016

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Who knew?

Many sailors used to wear gold earrings so that 
they could afford a proper burial after they died.