Friday, May 26, 2017

A half-century ago, a girl and brother ran away to New York City from their suburban Connecticut home.   And the Metropolitan Museum of Art hasn’t been the same since.  If visions of Claudia and Jamie bathing—and collecting lunch money—in the Met’s Fountain of Muses bring up fond childhood memories of your own, you’re among the legions of readers who grew up loving E.L. Konigsburg’s From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  The classic children’s book turns 50 in 2017, and the tale of the Kincaid siblings spending their days wandering about the paintings, sculptures and antiquities, and their nights sleeping in antique beds handcrafted for royalty, is as popular as ever.  The 1968 Newbery Medal winner has never been out of print.  (The same year, her debut novel Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley, and Me, Elizabeth received the Newbery runner-up honor; Konigsburg is the only author to ever achieve the dual literary feat.)   Elaine Lobl (E.L.) was born in Manhattan in 1930, but grew up in small-town Pennsylvania. She earned a degree in chemistry from the Carnegie Institute of Technology in Pittsburgh, and married industrial psychologist David Konigsburg in 1952.  Elaine became a stay-at-home mother of three, and while living in Port Chester, New York, decided to start writing.  “When we were in grade school, Mom would write in the morning.  When the three of us kids would come home for lunch, she would read what she wrote,” says Paul Konigsburg, 62. “If we laughed she kept it in.  If not, she rewrote it.”  The Konigsburgs never lived in New York City, but the metropolis always provided a cultural respite.  One institution in particular served as both babysitter and source of inspiration.  “Mom took art lessons in [the city] on Saturdays, so she would drop all three of us kids off at the Metropolitan,” says Paul.  “I was the oldest, so I was in charge, and I had three rules:  One, we had to see the mummy.  Two, we had to see the knights in armor.  And three, I didn’t care what we saw."  Konigsburg’s most famous work—she wrote 18 additional kid’s books—had multiple inspirations.  In an “Author’s Message” published in a 2001 “Mixed-Up Files” issue of the Met’s Museum Kids magazine, Konigsburg recalled seeing a single piece of popcorn on a blue silk chair behind a velvet rope at the museum and musing that someone snuck in at night for a fancy snack.  In October 1965, Konigsburg found a more specific inspiration—one that set the mystery at the heart of the book in motion.  At the time, the New York art world was obsessed with the question of whether a sculpture purchased by the Met for $225 was actually a work by Leonardo da Vinci. (It is now believed to be a da Vinci from 1475.) Konigsburg reimagined the statue as “Angel,” the could-be-a-Michelangelo that captures Claudia’s imagination and leads her to the mansion of the titular Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  As in real life, the fictional heiress purchased the statue for a few hundred bucks.  And though Frankweiler—and her exchange of the truth about the statue for an account of the kids’ adventure in the museum—isn’t based on a real person, her desire for mystery and excitement rings true for anyone in search of an adventure of their own.  Patrick Sauer  Read more and see graphics at

Three Sentences that Cost Your Business Time, Money, and Grief, book review by Jennifer Miller  January 30, 2017  “You can’t change horses in mid-stream.”  “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.”  “This time is different.”  How many times have you heard these (or similar) sayings tossed out at the conference table when you’re making an important business decision?  These sentences are short-hand for cautionary tales when it comes to decision-making.  Rather than hash out the many reasons why we don’t want to change direction, instead, to save time, we trot out an aphorism that quickly sums up the logic of staying the course.  Tried-and-true adages can save us time when making decisions.  But when the sentences are merely clichés uttered without fully considering the ramifications, they can quickly become very expensive sentences.  These sentences, if not carefully examined, have the potential to cost business people a great deal of time, money and grief.  That’s the main premise of a new book by Jack Quarles, called Expensive Sentences: Debunking the Common Myths that Derail Decisions and Sabotage Success.  Quarles, who spent decades in the business world as a procurement professional, used to make his living helping companies save money.  As he worked with his internal partners, Quarles noticed that certain phrases (like “It’s too late to turn back now”) were often accepted at face value.  There wasn’t any investigation into if, in fact, these statements were true.  Often, they ended up being false, but the damage had already been done.  Over the years, Quarles started to notice themes to the many statements people made.  He started to think of these statements as “expensive” sentences that fall into one of three categories:  We are stuck in our current situation (we believe in false constraints).  Someone or something is special (and that uniqueness prevents us from making a different choice).  Something is scarce (there is not enough of something we want or need).  Read more at

What is the difference between stork and crane?  There are 19 species of storks, while cranes include 15 species.  Storks are carnivores, but cranes are more adaptive with omnivorous feeding habits.  Storks build up large platform nests on the trees and rock ledges, but cranes build their nests on shallow waters.  Female stork lays three to six eggs in one breeding season, while female crane lays only two eggs in one season.  Storks prefer more dry areas, whereas cranes like to inhabit wet lands.  Storks are mute, but cranes are highly vocal.  Most of the storks are migratory and travel long distances, while cranes could be either migratory or non-migratory.

April 23, 2017  Linguistic experts believe Icelandic language spoken by 400,000 may be at risk.  The language is being undermined by widespread use of English for tourism.  Experts also say many new computer devices are designed to recognize English but they do not understand Icelandic.  The people of the rugged North Atlantic island settled by Norsemen some 1,100 years ago have a unique dialect of Old Norse that has adapted to life at the edge of the Arctic.  Icelandic ranks among the weakest and least-supported language in terms of digital technology--along with Irish Gaelic, Latvian, Maltese and Lithuanian--according to a report by the Multilingual Europe Technology Alliance assessing 30 European languages.  See pictures including a law book penned on calf skin in 1363 at a museum in Iceland at

The US Supreme Court ruled on May 22, 2017 on how to interpret the patent venue laws, and the controversial business of "patent trolling" may never be the same.  In a unanimous decision, the justices held that the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles all patent appeals, has been using the wrong standard to decide where a patent lawsuit can be brought.  The 10-page Supreme Court ruling in TC Heartland v. Kraft Foods enforces a more strict standard for where cases can be filed.  It overturns a looser rule that the Federal Circuit has used since 1990.  The ruling may well signal the demise of the Eastern District of Texas as a favorite venue for patent lawsuits, especially those brought by "patent trolls," which have no business outside of licensing and litigating patents.  The TC Heartland case will affect the entire tech sector, but the parties here are battling over patents on "liquid water enhancers" used in flavored drink mixes.  TC Heartland, an Indiana-based food company, got sued by Kraft Foods in Delaware, then sought to move the case back to its home turf.  Neither the district court judge nor the Federal Circuit would allow such a transfer.  Congress last re-codified the patent venue law in 1948, and it updated the general venue laws at the same time.  In that year, the general venue law was liberalized to allow a lawsuit to be filed where a defendant corporation "resides or is doing business."  Several years later, the US Supreme Court considered whether a more liberalized venue rule should apply to patent cases.  In a 1956 decision called Transmirra Products v. Fourco Glass, the high court held that, in patent cases, the stricter rule, 28 U.S. Code § 1400, is the "sole and exclusive provision controlling venue" for patent infringement cases.  Such lawsuits can only be filed "where the defendant resides, or where the defendant has committed acts of infringement and has a regular and established place of business."  Joe Mullin  Read more at

A Google artificial intelligence program defeated a Chinese grand master at the ancient board game Go on May 23, 2017, a major feather in the cap for the firm's AI ambitions as it looks to woo Beijing to gain re-entry into the country.  In the first of three planned games in the eastern water town of Wuzhen, the AlphaGo program held off China's world number one Ke Jie in front of Chinese officials and Google parent Alphabet's (GOOGL.O) chief executive Eric Schmidt.  The victory over the world's top player--which many thought would take decades to achieve--underlines the potential of artificial intelligence to take on humans at complex tasks.  Wooing Beijing may be less simple.  The game streamed live on Google-owned YouTube, while executives from the DeepMind unit that developed the program sent out updates live on Twitter (TWTR.N).  Both are blocked by China, as is Google search.  Google pulled its search engine from China seven years ago after it  refused to self-censor internet searches, a requirement of Beijing.  Since then it has been inaccessible behind the country's nationwide firewall.  Cate Cadell  Read more and see picture at  Issue 1714  May 26, 2017  On this date in 1805, Napoléon Bonaparte assumed the title of King of Italy and was crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy in Milan Cathedral, the gothic cathedral in Milan.  On this date in 1830, the Indian Removal Act was passed by the U.S. Congress; it was signed into law by President Andrew Jackson two days later.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

May 19, 2017  For 152 years, the San Francisco Chronicle has reported on—and photographed—every aspect of the city, including, of course, the evolution of Silicon Valley into the center of the world’s tech industry.  This area, south of San Francisco, earned its moniker in the early 1970s, after silicon chip manufacturers proliferated there.  It’s since become synonymous with breakneck economic growth and youthful billionaires, and has some of the most expensive housing in the country.  The technology it created or helped create often generated eye-catching photo-ops and headlines:  a giant Macintosh at the 1985 MacWorld Expo, or the front page of the January 1, 2000, issue: “Y2-OK: New Year Rolls In Smoothly.”  From semiconductors to microprocessors, personal computers to phones, garages to sleek campuses‚ the industry has always been driven by ideas and long hours. Today, it is easy to forget just how quickly these changes have become part of daily life—but old photos from the Chronicle seem to put it all in perspective.  The newspaper also captured the standout personalities and products of these times of innovation and invention:  Steve Wozniak, beaming at the “Apple II Forever” conference in 1984, San Francisco’s first coin-operated library computer, and April Fool’s gags at Sun Microsystems.  The images, captured on film, often in black and white, are also being brought into the digital age, alongside the millions of others that comprise the Chronicle’s photo archive.  Negatives and prints are gradually being scanned, and some of the best are being featured in the Instagram account SF Chronicle Vault.  The physical photo archive resides in the basement of the historic Chronicle Building at Fifth and Mission streets in the heart of San Francisco.  There are about 3 million negatives, 1 million hard-copy photos, and 1.5 million digital photos.  The old photos and negatives have been organized over the decades by subject and year, and in other ways by archivists, including current head librarian, Bill Van Niekerken.  The archive is as old as the Chronicle:  152 years.  The use of photos, however, wasn’t common until after the turn of the 20th century.  Anika Burgess

May 10, 2017  Books Recommended by This Year's TED Speakers:  the much-buzzed-about conference generated a gargantuan list of intriguing book recommendations by Jessica Stillman   TED is one of the world's premier cultural events, providing not just a chance for the thousand or so attendees to hear from some of the smartest people around, but also opening up this knowledge to millions of learners around the world through the event's wildly popular online videos.  The event's world-class speakers also regularly recommend books for further reading from the stage, and this year's event, held recently in Vancouver, British Columbia, was no exception.  Load up those shelves or e-readers with everything from history to poetry to sports memoirs and you're all set for summer.  Find a fraction of the list at

William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898) was arguably Britain's greatest statesman and the most significant Anglican layman of the last two centuries.  Four times Prime Minister, four times Chancellor of the Exchequer and a Parliamentarian for 63 years, few politicians have achieved as many lasting reforms as Gladstone.  He was a pragmatic political leader with an incessant concern with history, literature, the classical world and theological dispute and was a voracious reader.  Gladstone lived in the village of Hawarden in North Wales, a few miles from Chester.  He was eager to make his personal library accessible to others and with this in mind founded Gladstone’s Library in 1889, donating 32,000 of his own collection.  After his death the library became the national memorial to ‘the grand old man’.  Today it serves as residential library and meeting place dedicated to dialogue, debate and learning.  A hub of social interaction with 26 bedrooms, a varied programme of courses and events, conference rooms and free daily tours.  Gladstone’s annotated books are freely available on the library shelves, along with 200,000 books, journals and periodicals on a wide range of topics including Theology and Victorian Studies.  Some of the books here are 400 years old; some are original first editions; some are as recent as this month; all are here to be used.  Anyone can join the library (free of charge) as a Reader and can use the Library from 9am-5pm Monday to Saturday.  Tours of the Library are held at 12 noon, 2pm and 4pm Monday to Friday and at 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays.  The peaceful setting and relaxed atmosphere provide the ideal getaway.  Get away from the daily routine and put aside time to read, reflect or write.  Gladstone’s Library has 26 comfortable rooms, most en-suite and all are equipped with a work station and Roberts radio.  See pictures at

The easily accessible yet sufficiently remote location of residential Gladstone’s Library, which was bequeathed by former Prime Minister William Gladstone and offers guests the opportunity to 'sleep with books', is such that the switching off process for a Londoner begins upon stepping off the train at Chester station.  Once aboard the number four bus, mobile phone signal dwindles on the 40-minute journey across the Welsh border as a bustling town centre gives way to fields and eventually the pretty, quiet village of Hawarden.  The grand room with mezzanine level that houses them contains desks for working at, and squishy armchairs too, but the cosiest room for curling up in has to be the Gladstone Room, filled with big comfy sofas, Persian rugs, candlesticks, original windows, board games, puzzles, newspapers, an honesty bar, a roaring open fire in winter, and shelves of contemporary fiction if reading up on the Reformation of the church isn’t your bag.  It’s quirky and eccentric, with just a touch of the charmingly shabby—like hanging out in your favourite bookshop.  The small team of very friendly staff recognise repeat visitors, and guests are welcomed by name on arrival.  A ‘Glimpse’ tour—also open to members of the public—gives an overview of the library’s history, and well directed (silent) tour of its main room.  Amazingly, the library has been residential since it first opened in 1904, this having always been Gladstone’s intention, but gained far greater prominence as a retreat for writers in the last five years or so.  Since 2000, 590 books have been written or researched here, including by well-known authors such as Naomi Alderman.  Several annual festivals are held these days, and there’s a writer in residence.  Its popularity is international, with guests coming from across the globe to visit this unique escape from the fast pace and distractions of modern life.  If you want to venture out, the Gladstone family, still very much involved in their ancestor’s bequest to his community, also own a well-regarded pub in the village.  The library’s original ethos is remarkably progressive; Gladstone wished for his books to remain in North Wales and not be outsourced to Oxford or London, and, a great believer in the transformative power of education, for them to be publicly available.  Rachel Cranshaw  See stunning pictures at

A bill empowering the president to appoint the next Register of Copyrights, which would effectively remove jurisdiction over the position from the Librarian of Congress, sailed through the House of Representatives 378–48 on April 26, 2017 and will now continue to the Senate.  The Register of Copyrights Selection and Accountability Act, also known as HR 1695, was introduced on March 23, 2017 and would make the Register—who has traditionally been appointed by the Librarian of Congress—a presidential appointment, with the advice and consent of the senate.  The Register would serve a ten-year term limit renewable by another presidential nomination and Senate confirmation, as the Librarian of Congress since the passage of the bipartisan “Librarian of Congress Succession Modernization Act of 2015.”  Recommendations for the position would be made by a panel consisting of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, the President pro tempore of the Senate, the majority and minority leaders of the House and Senate, and the Librarian of Congress.  The bill would also authorize the president to remove the Register of Copyrights with notification to both houses of Congress.  HR 1695 amends 17 U.S. Code § 701, which previously provided the Librarian of Congress the power to appoint and direct the Register of Copyrights, and did not set term limits for the position.  An earlier bill, the Copyright Office for the Digital Economy Act, or HR 890, was introduced in the House of Representatives on February 6, 2017.  HR 890, introduced by representatives Tom Marino (R-PA), Judy Chu (D-CA), and Barbara Comstock (R-VA), would establish the Copyright Office as a separate independent agency of the legislative branch, as well as incorporating the changes specified in HR 1695.  The Copyright Office has been located within LC since its creation in 1897.  On May 2, 2017 a bill containing language nearly identical to that of HR 1695, the Copyright Accountability Act (S 1010), was introduced in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The bill was sponsored by Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), and senators Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and has been championed by music industry professionals.  Lisa Peet  Read more at

Back in 2012, Twitter decided to honor Do Not Track, which is basically an honor system for web tracking.  When browser users had a Do Not Track setting enabled, any service that honored DNT wasn't supposed to track that person.  Twitter will no longer honor Do Not Track settings.  Twitter is dumping its support for Do Not Track (DNT), changing how it shares user data with third parties, and holding any web browsing data it collects for a longer duration—all to better aid in ad targeting, of course.  But at the same time, Twitter is giving users more control over what kind of user data can be used for targeted advertising, as well as more transparency about the information it collects about you.  The privacy features are active now, but the new privacy policies that dump DNT, change data sharing policies, and hold your data longer don't come into effect until June 18, 2017.  Ian Paul  See also  Issue 1713  May 24, 2017  On this date in 1595, Nomenclator of Leiden University Library appeared, the first printed catalog of an institutional library.  On this date in 1626,  Peter Minuit bought ManhattanWord of the Day  Mancunian noun  A person raised or living in the city of Manchester, England

Monday, May 22, 2017

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg  TOPONYMS, words derived from places
sybaritic  (sib-uh-RIT-ik)  adjective  Devoted to or relating to luxury and pleasure.  After Sybaris, an ancient Greek city in southern Italy noted for its wealth, and whose residents were notorious for their love of luxury.  Earliest documented use:  1619.
dalmatic  (dal-MAT-ik)  noun  A loose, wide-sleeved outer garment worn by some monarchs at their coronations and by deacons, bishops, etc. in some churches.  From Old French dalmatique, from Latin dalmatica vestis (Dalmatian garment) since these garments were originally made of Dalmatian wool.  Dalmatia is a region along the Adriatic coast of Croatia.  That’s also where Dalmatian dogs got their name from.  Earliest documented use:  1425.
sardine  (sahr-DEEN)  verb tr.  To pack tightly.  The verb form developed from the tight packing of the sardine in cans.  From French sardine, from Latin sardina, from Greek Sardo (Sardinia).  Earliest documented use:  1895.
frieze  (freez)  noun  1.  A decorative horizontal band, as on a building.  2.  A coarse woolen fabric.  For 1:  After Phrygia, an ancient country in Asia Minor, noted for embroidery.  Earliest documented use:  1563.  For 2:  From French frise, perhaps from Latin frisia (Frisian wool).  Earliest documented use:  1418.
pierian  (py-EER-ee-uhn)  adjective   Relating to learning or poetry.   After Pieria, a region in Greece.  In Greek mythology, Pieria was home to a spring that was sacred to the Muses and inspired anyone who drank from it.  Earliest documented use:  1591.
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From:  Andrew Pressburger   Subject:  Sybaritic  The first time I encountered this word was in my high school days in my native Hungary, studying a poem “To the Hungarians” by Daniel Berzsenyi (1776-1836), a poet of the Hungarian Enlightenment.  He was the first to successfully introduce classical metres and themes in Hungarian poetry.   His activity as a poet was discovered by chance, and he became known through the efforts of Ferenc Kazinczy, a leading advocate of Hungarian enlightenment that eventually culminated in the Revolution of 1848 and the resulting War of Independence.
From:  Alexander Nix   Subject:  sybaritic   "History is all explained by geography." - Robert Penn Warren, novelist and poet (24 Apr 1905-1989)  Your thought for the day is excellently and humourously illustrated by Tim Marshall in his book Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Tell You Everything You Need To Know About Global Politics.
From:  Alex McCrae   Subject:  frieze  To this very day a major issue of contention in the world of classical antiquities rightful ownership remains the British government’s purchase and subsequent removal of what are familiarly known as “The Elgin Marbles” many decades ago, long prominently displayed at The British Museum in London.  The “Marbles” in question represented a huge trove of Golden Age of Athens (circa 450 BCE) exquisitely carved marble figurative sculptures, many removed from the Parthenon (Temple of Athena) atop the Acropolis, including scores of free-standing sculptural works, plus a 92-panel high-relief white marble horizontal frieze depicting legendary battles between the Lapiths and the Centaurs. 
From:  Stefan Bucek   Subject:  Frieze  The iconic arches that lined the roof of the old Yankee Stadium were known as the frieze.  When the stadium was renovated in the 70s, the frieze was reproduced only on the outfield wall, but when the new stadium was built across the street just before 2010, the frieze was restored to its rightful place on the roof that surrounds the field.  I had a conversation a few years back with a sportswriter here in California, and when I used the word “frieze” in respect to Yankee Stadium, it was a sign to him that I was a genuine Yankees fan!

Eight new pieces have been installed at The University of Toledo's 12th annual Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition.  See pictures at  Artists receive stipends for the sculptures which be on display for the next year.  Nearly 120 sculptures have rotated since the exhibit began, and 11 have become part of UT's art collection.  Toledo Blade  May 18, 2017

An artwork by Jean-Michel Basquiat has sold for a record $110.5m at auction in New York.  Sotheby’s said the sale of Untitled on May 18, 2017 in Manhattan was an auction record for the artist.  It also set a record price for an American artist at auction.  The 1982 painting depicts a face in the shape of a skull.  The piece was purchased by noted Japanese collector and entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa after a 10-minute bidding war.  He said he plans to display the painting in his museum in Chiba, Japan, after loaning it to institutions and exhibitions around the world.  See picture at

What do a teleprompter, thermos, hoover, aspirin, and videotape have in common?  They were once trademarked but lost their legally protected status because their names became too generic.  Google won't be joining that list any time soon.  Google defeated a "genericide" lawsuit May 16, 2017 that claimed Google should no longer be trademarked because the word "google" is synonymous to the public with the term "search the Internet."  A US federal appeals court sided with Google in a case brought by a man who bought 763 domains with the term "google" in them.  The court ruled that Google still retains its trademark even if the term "google" has become known for searching the Internet.  One reason is because Google is a search engine and a whole lot more.  "Even if we assume that the public uses the verb 'google' in a generic and indiscriminate sense, this tells us nothing about how the public primarily understands the word itself, irrespective of its grammatical function, with regard to Internet search engines," the San Francisco-based 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.  The court noted that trademark loss to genericide occurs when the name has become an "exclusive descriptor" that makes it difficult for competitors to compete unless they use that name.  The Google trademark dispute dates to 2012 when a man named Chris Gillespie registered 763 domain names that combined "google" with other words and phrases, including Google filed a cybersquatting complaint under the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy and claimed trademark infringement.  Google prevailed, and an arbitration panel ordered the forfeiture of the domains.  Gillespie then sued in a bid to invalidate the trademark.  David Kravets  See 23-page opinion DAVID ELLIOTT, an Individual; CHRIS GILLESPIE, an Individual, Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. GOOGLE, INC., a Delaware corporation, Defendant-Appellee, No. 15-15809 D.C. No. 2:12-cv-01072- SMM at

Not content with patenting the marvellous invention of a paper bag, Apple decided that ordinary pizza boxes simply weren’t up to the job in its white and shiny world.  Behold the circular, Apple-approved pizza box to end all pizza boxes.  Published in 2012--with one box apparently signed as a mark of respect on the death of the Apple founder, Steve Jobs--the patent says that the new and improved circular pizza receptacle’s invention is credited to Apple’s head of food services, Francesco Longoni.  It was intended for use in the company’s Caffè Macs and the new Apple Park cafe.  The patent describes a “container that is structurally stable enough for containing an item in a variety of applications and is also environmentally friendly”.  It has holes in the top to allow moisture to escape, apparently to keep pizzas from getting soggy so workers could take them back to their pods.  The concentric rings, the patent says, support the base of the pizza while providing an air gap between it and the base of the box.  The lid clips into the bottom, and the side wall integrity keeps the whole thing from getting crushed under the weight of hungry eyes as you trundle back to your desk.

Cloud Computing, who was unraced as a 2-year old and was making just his fourth career start, overtook Classic Empire with a strong closing kick to win the 142nd  Preakness Stakes by a head on May 20, 2017 at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Md.  Classic Empire placed second and Senior Investment finished 4 3/4-lengths back in third.  Cloud Computing, who was held out of the Kentucky Derby, covered the 1 3/16 mile distance in 1:55.98.  Keith Sargeant  Issue 1712  May 22, 2017  On this date in 1570, the first atlas, Theatrum Orbis Terrarum, was published with 70 maps.  On this date in 1804, the Lewis and Clark Expedition officially began as the Corps of Discovery departed from St. Charles, Missouri.  On this date in 1819, the SS Savannah left port at Savannah, Georgia  on a voyage to become the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean.  On this date in 1826,  HMS Beagle departed on its first voyage.

Friday, May 19, 2017

THREE GIGANTIC STATUES  June 13, 2011  President Alan Garcia of Peru said it was his dream to raise a statue on the Pacific coast similar to the one atop Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.  The 121-foot-tall “Christ of the Pacific” statue was unveiled on a hilltop overlooking the city of Lima, Peru on June 29, the Solemnity of Sts. Peter and Paul.
  January 5, 2016  A gargantuan gold-painted statue of Communist China's founding father Mao Zedong has been erected in open countryside at a cost of 3 million yuan ($460,000), reports said.  The statue towers some 37 metres (121 feet) over empty fields in the central province of Henan and shows the man who ruled China with an iron grip for nearly three decades seated in thoughtful repose, his hands crossed.
The Statue of Ahimsa is located at Mangi-Tungi, near Nashik in the Indian state of Maharashtra. It is the tallest Jain statue in the World. The statue depicts the first Jain Tirthankara, Rishabhanatha.  The statue is "108 feet tall(121 feet including pedestal)".  The statue has been carved out of the Mangi-Tungi hills, which are considered to be sacred by the Jains.  This statue holds the Guinness world record for the tallest Jain Idol.  The construction of the statue started in 2002 under guidance of Chief Secretary Dr. Pannalalji Papdiwal and was completed on 24 January 2016.

QUOTES from What You Break, Gus Murphy series #2, a novel by Reed Farrel Coleman  " . . . when presented with a preponderance of hard evidence that refuted a popular myth, people will almost always choose to continue believing the myth."  "There's a kind of perverse comfort in group blame."  "For a Long Islander, going to the mall was like going to Mass." 

Feb. 17, 2002  A new indoor shopping mall anywhere was still a big deal in 1969, and the Smith Haven Mall was one of the nation's biggest when it opened on a 102-acre former potato patch in this eastern Long Island village.  The developer was the N. K. Winston Corporation.  And an executive there, Leonard Holzer, happened to be married to one Jane Holzer--better known, then and forevermore, as Baby Jane Holzer, the socialite-acolyte of Andy Warhol, lion-maned star of his underground films, fixture at his Factory.  Ms. Holzer, whom Tom Wolfe had immortalized as the ''Girl of the Year'' in 1964, prevailed upon her husband to set aside $350,000 in the mall's budget to commission sculptures and paintings by eight artists, including Larry Rivers, Jim Dine and Robert Grosvenor.  The centerpiece was to be a standing mobile by Alexander Calder.  ''My grandfather wanted to make a fountain,'' said Alexander S. C. Rower, director of the Calder Foundation and grandson of the artist, who died in 1976.  ''But she had the idea of a classical, expected Calder mobile.  She didn't want a fountain, she wanted a Calder.  She became very frustrated.''  Baby Jane got her way. Ms. Holzer, on a visit to Calder's studio in France, pointed to a small piece and asked that it be the model for a much larger one.  Calder obliged.  And the resulting work--a tall, curved, pointed tripod base, at the tip of which balances an arm, from one end of which dangle triangles and disks--was installed in a pool in the central crossing of the X-shaped, one-story mall.  The brightly painted sheet-metal sculpture on three spindly legs soared nearly 26 feet toward the skylight.  Calder called it ''Janey Waney.''  Like one of Warhol's happenings, however, the mall-as-museum concept didn't last.  It is unclear where or when the rest of Ms. Holzer's commissions went, but the Calder was removed from the central pool in 1972, according to Newsday, its moving parts packed away and soon lost.  For years afterward, the base of the Calder sat outside in the parking lot, badly bent, its paint peeling.  Like the mall itself, the Calder deteriorated until 1986, when a new owner finally got around to renovating the property.  Some detective work turned up the plans for the sculpture.  Then, at a black-tie gala marking the mall's face-lift, a rebuilt Janey Waney was unveiled at the center of a spanking new food court.  The sculpture was auctioned off in 2002 by Sotheby's for $1,765,750.  David M. Halbfinger  

Nov. 20, 2104  After stays at two venues in the Netherlands, Alexander Calder’s 1969 monumental outdoor sculpture Janey Waney was reinstalled in Gramercy Park.  The 26-foot-tall standing mobile was previously on view at the Maastricht-based European Fine Arts Fair in March.  In June, it travelled to the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, where it was exhibited as part of a show of monumental Calder sculptures.

In Toledo, Ohio, Ascar, a colorful 20-foot Calder stabile stood inside the Franklin Park Mall for many years.  It was sold by Pace Auctioneers in 1995.  Find a list of Alexander Calder public works at

The St Cuthbert Gospel, also known as the Stonyhurst Gospel or the St Cuthbert Gospel of St John, is an early 8th-century pocket gospel book, written in Latin.  Its finely decorated leather binding is the earliest known Western bookbinding to survive, and both the 94 vellum folios and the binding are in outstanding condition for a book of this age.  With a page size of only 138 by 92 millimetres (5.4 in × 3.6 in), the St Cuthbert Gospel is one of the smallest surviving Anglo-Saxon manuscripts.  The essentially undecorated text is the Gospel of John in Latin, written in a script that has been regarded as a model of elegant simplicity.  The book takes its name from Saint Cuthbert of Lindisfarne, North East England, in whose tomb it was placed, probably a few years after his death in 687.  It was probably a gift from Monkwearmouth–Jarrow Abbey, where it was written, intended to be placed in St Cuthbert's coffin in the few decades after this was placed behind the altar at Lindisfarne in 698.  It presumably remained in the coffin through its long travels after 875, forced by Viking invasions, ending at Durham Cathedral.  The book was found inside the coffin and removed in 1104 when the burial was once again moved within the cathedral.  It was kept there with other relics, and important visitors were able to wear the book in a leather bag around their necks.  It is thought that after the Dissolution of the Monasteries in England by Henry VIII between 1536 and 1541, the book passed to collectors.  It was eventually given to Stonyhurst College, the Jesuit school in Lancashire.  From 1979 it was on long-term loan from the British province of the Jesuit order to the British Library, catalogued as Loan 74.  On 14 July 2011 the British Library launched a fundraising campaign to buy the book for £9 million, and on 17 April 2012 announced that the purchase had been completed and the book was now British Library Additional MS 89000.  The library plans to display the Gospel for equal amounts of time in London and Durham.  They describe the manuscript as "the earliest surviving intact European book and one of the world's most significant books".  The Cuthbert Gospel returned to Durham to feature in exhibitions in 2013 and 2014.  In 2017 it was "resting" off display, but it will be in British Library's Anglo-Saxon exhibition in autumn 2018. Read much more and see pictures at

quotidian  adjective or noun  daily, customary, ordinary  Find origin of quotidian and link to synonyms at

Authors! Authors! presents Ron Chernow  May 31, 2017, 7:00-8:30 p.m.  Stranahan Theater   Ron Chernow's best-selling books include The House of Morgan, winner of the National Book Award; Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Washington: A Life, which received the Pulitzer Prize for Biography; and Alexander Hamilton, nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award--which inspired and was adapted into the cultural phenomenon and award-winning Broadway musical Hamilton.  Chernow has served as president of PEN American Center, has received six honorary doctoral degrees, and was awarded the 2015 National Humanities Medal.  Tickets are $10 for adults/$8 for students, and are available at any Toledo-Lucas County Public Library location or online by visiting the Library's website:  Issue 1711  May 19, 2017  On this date in 1795, Johns Hopkins, American businessman and philanthropist, was born.  On this date in 1861, Nellie Melba, Australian soprano and actress, was born.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Edmund Charles Tarbell (1862–1938) was an American Impressionist painter.  A member of the Ten American Painters, his work hangs in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, Metropolitan Museum of Art, National Gallery of Art, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Corcoran Gallery of Art, DeYoung Museum, National Academy Museum and School, New Britain Museum of American Art, Worcester Art Museum, and numerous other collections.  He was a leading member of a group of painters which came to be known as the Boston SchoolEdmund C. Tarbell was born in the Asa Tarbell House, which stands beside the Squannacook River in West Groton, Massachusetts.  His father, Edmund Whitney Tarbell, died in 1863 after contracting typhoid fever while serving in the Civil War. His mother, Mary Sophia (Fernald) Tarbell, remarried a shoemaking-machine manufacturer.  Young "Ned" (as he was nicknamed) and his older sister, Nellie Sophia, were left to be raised by their paternal grandparents in Groton, a frontier town during the French and Indian Wars that the early Tarbell family helped settle.  As a youth, Tarbell took evening art lessons from George H. Bartlett at the Massachusetts Normal Art School.  Between 1877 and 1880, he apprenticed at the Forbes Lithographic Company in Boston.  In 1879, he entered the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, studying under Otto Grundmann.  He matriculated in the same class with Robert Lewis Reid and Frank Weston Benson, two other future members of the Ten American Painters.  His 1891 plein air painting entitled In the Orchard established his reputation as an artist.  It depicts his wife with her siblings at leisure. Tarbell became famous for impressionistic, richly hued images of figures in landscapes. H is later work shows the influence of Johannes Vermeer, the 17th-century Dutch painter.  Tarbell painted portraits of many notable individuals, including industrialist Henry Clay Frick, Yale University President Timothy Dwight V, and U.S. presidents Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, and Herbert HooverSee pictures and a list of selected paintings at

The largest deposit of uranium in the U.S.A. is in Virginia at Coles Hill; however, the state's generous rainfall and occasional flooding (in contrast with typical American uranium mines in the dry and isolated desert southwest) have led to citizen concern about commercial-scale mining.  Lawmakers in the state enacted a de facto ban on uranium mining in 1982.  A 2015 federal court case involving the owners of Coles Hill might overturn the ban.  Marline Uranium Corp. announced in July 1982 that it had discovered 110 million pounds (50,000 metric tons) of uranium in the Swanson/Coles Hill deposit, on land that it had leased near Chatham in Pittsylvania County.  During the 1982 legislative session, the state of Virginia adopted laws to govern exploration for uranium in the Commonwealth.  At the same time, the legislature imposed a moratorium on uranium mining in the state until such time that regulations to govern uranium mining could be enacted into law.  Uranium mining in the United States produced 3,303,977 pounds (1,498,659 kg) of U3O8 (1271 tonnes of uranium) in 2015, 32% lower than 2014's production of 4,891,332 pounds (2,218,671 kg) of U3O8 (1881 tonnes of uranium) and the lowest US annual production since 2005.  The 2015 production represents 7% of the anticipated uranium market requirements of the USA's nuclear power reactors for the year.  Production came from one conventional uranium mill in Utah, and six in-situ leach operations: four in Wyoming, one in Texas and one in Nebraska.  While uranium is used primarily for nuclear power, uranium mining had its roots in the production of uranium-bearing ore in 1898 with the mining of carnotite-bearing sandstones of the Colorado Plateau.  The United States was the world's leading producer of uranium from 1953 until 1980.  In 1960 annual U.S. production peaked at 17,055 metric tons U3O8.  Until the early 1980s, there were active uranium mines in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.  Price declines in the late 1970s and early 1980s forced the closure of numerous mines.  Most uranium ore in the United States comes from deposits in sandstone, which tend to be of lower grade than those of Australia and Canada.  Because of the lower grade, many uranium deposits in the United States became uneconomic when the price of uranium declined sharply in the late 1970s.  By 2001, there were only three operating uranium mines (all in-situ leaching operations) in the United States.

The Scots word blether, pronounced to rhyme with tether, means a chat, often a long chat with a good deal of juicy gossip thrown in.  For example you might say that many people who join a book group do so to have a good blether over a glass or two of wine rather than to take part in a great literary debate.  When applied to a person the noun blether means someone who is given to talking at too great length.  Blether can also be used to refer to someone who is apt to talk a lot of foolish nonsense.  Often the two meanings meet together in one person.  The plural form of the noun, blethers, also takes up these themes of foolishness and long-windedness.  It means foolish, nonsensical talk or long-drawn-out rambling in which there can be an element of bragging.  Bletheration and bletherie are less well-known words for foolish talk.  As an exclamation blethers! means nonsense or rubbish.  Betty Kirkpatrick

Cutouts of press secretary Sean Spicer in bushes have quickly become a new Internet meme.  The joke began after a report from The Washington Post on May 9, 2017 following President Trump’s stunning decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.  Spicer did not make any on-camera appearances on May 9, but The Post reported that Spicer at one point spent several minutes “hidden in the darkness and among bushes” outside the White House while deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders and Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway made TV appearances.  People have responded by printing cardboard cutouts of Spicer and putting them in their garden hedges.

May 16, 2017  While sifting through artifacts recovered two years earlier from a Roman shipwreck, Greek archaeologist Valerios Stais noticed an intriguing lump of bronze among the statues, jewelry and coins retrieved by divers.  What at first appeared to be a gear or wheel turned out to be what is now widely referred to as the first known analog computer.  To highlight Stais' discovery, 115 years ago on May 17, Google dedicated its doodle to the Antikythera mechanism, a complex clockwork mechanism believed to have been designed and constructed by Greek scientists around 87 BC, or even earlier.  Housed in a wooden and bronze box the size of a shoe box, the corroded instrument's 30 bronze gears were used to track astronomical positions, predict solar and lunar eclipses, and signaled the timing of the Ancient Olympic Games.  The technical complexity and workmanship of the mechanism wouldn't be duplicated again until development of astronomical clocks in Europe during the 14th century, suggesting the knowledge used to create the device had been lost to antiquity.  Steven Musil  See pictures of the Google doodle and the actual mechanism, now kept at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens at

WE COULD HAVE BEEN CANADA  Was the American Revolution such a good idea?  (A Critic at Large)  May 15, 2017 issue of The New Yorker  The Revolution remains the last bulwark of national myth.  One new take insists that we misunderstand the Revolution if we make what was an intramural and fratricidal battle of ideas in the English-speaking Empire look like a modern colonial rebellion.  Another insists that the Revolution was a piece of great-power politics, fought in unimaginably brutal terms, and no more connected to ideas or principles than any other piece of great-power politics:  America was essentially a Third World country that became the battlefield for two First World powers.  Holger Hoock, in his new book, “Scars of Independence” (Crown), raises another, unexpected question:  why is it that, until now, the Civil War cast such a long, bitter shadow, while the Revolution was mostly reimagined as a tale of glory?  One reason, too easily overlooked, is that, while many of those who made the Civil War were killed during it, including the Union Commander-in-Chief, none of the makers of the Revolution died fighting in it.  The Founding Fathers had rolled the dice and put their heads on the line, but theirs was the experience of eluding the bullet, and, as Churchill said, there is nothing so exhilarating as being shot at without result.  Adam Gopnik  Read extensive article at  Issue 1710  May 17, 2017  On this date in 1792, the New York Stock Exchange was formed under the Buttonwood Agreement.  On this date in 1863, Rosalía de Castro published Cantares Gallegos, the first book in the Galician languageThought for Today  Most creativity is a transition from one context into another where things are more surprising.  There's an element of surprise, and especially in science, there is often laughter that goes along with the 'Aha'.  Art also has this element.  Our job is to remind us that there are more contexts than the one that we're in--the one that we think is reality. - Alan Kay, computer scientist (b. 17 May 1940)