Monday, September 29, 2014

outlier  noun
1.  a person whose residence and place of business are at a distance
2.  something (as a geological feature) that is situated away from or classed differently from a main or related body
3.  a statistical observation that is markedly different in value from the others of the sample
first known use:  1676  Find use of outlier in mathematics at

Véraison is a viticulture (grape-growing) term meaning "the onset of ripening".  It is originally French, but has been adopted into English use.  The official definition of veraison is "change of color of the grape berries."  Fête de la Véraison is a medieval festival held in the famous winemaking village of Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  See pictures at

READER FEEDBACK  I'm catching up on my Muses this morning.  I noticed your link for U.S. Presidents and Vice Presidents.  I'm surprised to notice how many Presidents served without a VP:  Madison, Jackson, Filmore, Johnson (Andrew and Lyndon), Pierce, Arthur, Cleveland, McKinley, Teddy Roosevelt, Taft, Coolidge, Truman, Nixon, and Ford.  
Do you know the rules for VP succession?  It seems that the VP could only be appointed by election.  For example, McKinley's first VP, Garret Hobart, died two years into the term.  Teddy Roosevelt didn't become VP until McKinley's 1901 reelection.  The VP oversees the Senate and breaks ties.  Who would do that if there's no VP?  The Muser finds that The office of president pro tempore is created by Article I, Section 3 of the Constitution:  The Senate shall choose their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore, in the absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of President of the United States.

As President of the Senate, the Vice President has two primary duties:  to cast a vote in the event of a Senate deadlock and to preside over and certify the official vote count of the U.S. Electoral College.  In modern times, the Vice President rarely presides over day-to-day matters in the Senate; in his place, the Senate chooses a President pro tempore (or "president for a time") to preside in the Vice President's absence; the Senate normally selects the longest-serving senator in the majority party.  The President pro tempore has the power to appoint any other senator to preside and in practice, junior senators from the majority party are assigned the task of presiding over the Senate at most times.  Prior to ratification of the Twenty-fifth Amendment in 1967, no provision existed for filling a vacancy in the office of Vice President.  Since the adoption of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, the office has been vacant twice while awaiting confirmation of the new Vice President by both houses of Congress.  The first such instance occurred in 1973 following the resignation of Spiro Agnew as Richard Nixon's Vice President.  Gerald Ford was subsequently nominated by President Nixon and confirmed by Congress. The  second occurred 10 months later when Nixon resigned following the Watergate scandal and Ford assumed the Presidency.  The resulting Vice Presidential vacancy was filled by Nelson Rockefeller.  Ford and Rockefeller are the only two people to have served as Vice President without having been elected to the office, and Ford remains the only person to have served as both Vice President and President without being elected to either office.  The Twenty-Fifth Amendment also made provisions for a replacement in the event that the Vice President died in office, resigned, or succeeded to the presidency. The original Constitution had no provision for selecting such a replacement, so the office of Vice President would remain vacant until the beginning of the next Presidential and Vice Presidential terms.  This issue had arisen most recently with the John F. Kennedy assassination from November 22, 1963, until January 20, 1965, and was rectified by Section 2 of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment.  

Presidential succession refers to the procedure for replacing the president (or vice president) in the event of death or some other form of removal.  The Constitution (text) (Article II, Section 1, Clause 6) stipulates that the Vice President is to replace the President, but grants to Congress the power to determine further succession.  A Presidential Succession Act of 1792 provided that after the Vice president, the next officials in line would be the President Pro Tempore (presiding officer) of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.  The contest for dominance was complicated by the emergence of a newly empowered force in the 1880s — the American businessman. In this age, the Rockefellers and Carnegies were regarded by many as the elite. They were seen as superior to mere politicians who supped at the public trough.  This reverence for executives played a part in the passage of the Presidential Succession Act of 1886, which dropped the politicians (President Pro tempore and Speaker) from the line of succession and installed the Cabinet secretaries in the order in which their departments were created. 

Following World War II , a new Presidential Succession Act of 1947 was passed, which placed the Speaker of the House and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate behind the Vice President.  The line of succession then extended to the executive department heads in the order in which their agencies were created.  No constitutional (narrative) provision existed for filling a vice presidential vacancy until the ratification of the 25th Amendment in 1967.

U.S. Creates Largest Protected Area in the World, 3X Larger Than California by Brian Clark Howard
What has happened is extraordinary.  It is history making.  There is a lot of reason we should be celebrating right now," said Elliott Norse, founder and chief scientist of the Seattle-based Marine Conservation Institute.  Enric Sala, an ocean scientist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence, called the newly expanded monument "a great example of marine protection."  During the past several years, Sala and National Geographic's Pristine Seas project—which aims to explore, survey, and protect several of the last wild places in the world's oceans—have been key players in expeditions to the region that helped to put a spotlight on its biodiversity.  Sala also met with White House officials to make the scientific case for expanding the Pacific Remote Islands monument. (The monument's Kingman Reef was featured in the July 2008 issue of National Geographic magazine.)  In June, when he first announced his intent to expand the monument, Obama said, "I'm using my authority as president to protect some of our nation's most pristine marine monuments, just like we do on land."  The June announcement was followed by a public comment period and further analysis by the White House, officials said. Thousands of people submitted comments, with many conservation groups and scientists offering their support.  Some fishing and cannery groups, as well as a few members of the U.S. Congress opposed the expansion, citing the potential a loss of commercial fishing grounds.  (See "Conservationists Spar With Fishermen Over World's Largest Marine Monument.")  Norse said that the newly protected areas will safeguard endangered seabirds and other key species, including five endangered sea turtle species (such as loggerheads and leatherbacks), sooty terns and other terns, silky sharks and oceanic whitetip sharks, beaked whales, manta rays, red-tailed tropic birds, and deep-sea corals.  Obama's Democratic administration is building on a national monument that was first created by his predecessor, Republican President George W. Bush, suggesting that "ocean protection may be one of the last bipartisan issues" in the politically divided United States, says David Helvarg, the author of several books on the ocean and the founder of the advocacy group Blue Frontier Campaign.  Democratic and Republican presidents going all the way back to Teddy Roosevelt, a Republican who served from 1901 to 1909, have used the 1906 Antiquities Act to designate national monuments.  The law requires simply that an area be unique and considered worthy of protection for future generations.  This is the 12th time Obama has used his authority under the Antiquities Act to protect environmental areas.  The area being protected by the administration will expand the protected areas from 50 miles offshore to 200 miles offshore around three areas—Wake Island, Johnston Atoll, and Jarvis Island—the maximum reach of the United States’ exclusive economic zone.  "Although 71 percent of our planet is covered with saltwater, we have protected much more of the land than the ocean," Helvarg said.  Issue 1197  September 29, 2014  On this date in 1789, the 1st United States Congress adjourned.  On this date in 1951, the first live sporting event seen coast-to-coast in the United States, a college football game between Duke and the University of Pittsburgh, was televised on NBC.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Bestlaw for Chrome Adds the Features Westlaw Forgot by Sam Glover  Joe Mornin, a 3L at UC Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall), built Bestlaw, a free browser extension for Google Chrome that adds a bunch of useful features to WestlawNext.  See a list of the features at  
Thank you, Muse reader.

The root of the word "passion" is found in the Latin word "passio" which means "suffering.”  The word is more often used for romantic feelings today.

Paraphrase from The Shadow Box by John R. Maxim (b. 1937)
Notoriety is one thing--popularity is another.

What is your favorite season of the year?  Find results of one poll and reasons for liking certain seasons at  

Ancient civilizations are known to have engaged in a practice similar to modern Daylight Saving Time where they would adjust their daily schedules in accordance to the Sun.  For example, the Roman water clocks used different scales for different months of the year. 
Benjamin Franklin is often credited with being the inventor of DST.  In his 1784 essay “An Economical Project for Diminishing the Cost of Light” he proposed to economize the use of candles by rising earlier in the morning to make use of the morning sunlight.  Another major contributor to the invention of DST was New Zealand entomologist George Vernon Hudson.  In 1895, Hudson presented a paper to the Wellington Philosophical Society that proposed a two-hour shift forward in October and a two-hour shift back in March.  He followed up his proposal with an article in 1898, and although there was interest in the idea, it was never followed through.  Independently from Hudson, British builder William Willett proposed the introduction of DST in 1905.  He suggested moving the clocks forward by 20 minutes on each of the four Sundays in April, and switching them back by the same amount on each of four Sundays in September, a total of eight DST switches per year.  Willett’s Daylight Saving plan caught the attention of Robert Pearce who introduced a bill to the House of Commons in February 1908.   The first Daylight Saving Bill was drafted in 1909, presented to Parliament several times and examined by a select committee.  However, the idea was opposed by many, especially farmers, and thus the bill was never made into a law.  Willett died in 1915 without getting the chance to see his idea come to life.  Germany was the first country to implement DST.  Clocks there were first turned forward at 11:00 p.m. (23:00) on April 30, 1916.  The rationale was to minimize the use of artificial lighting in order to save fuel for the war effort during World War I.  The idea was quickly followed by Britain and many other countries, including the United States.  Many countries reverted back to standard time post-World War I. It wasn’t until the next World War that DST made its return in many countries in order to save vital energy resources for the war.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt instituted year-round DST in the United States, called “War Time” during World War II from February 9, 1942 to September 30, 1945.  The law was enforced 40 days after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and during this time, the U.S. time zones were called “Eastern War Time”, “Central War Time”, and “Pacific War Time”.  After the surrender of Japan in mid-August 1945, the time zones were relabeled “Peace Time”.  Britain applied “Double Summer Time” during World War II by moving the clocks two hours ahead of GMT during the summer and one hour ahead of GMT during the winter.  In the United States, DST caused widespread confusion from 1945 to 1966 for trains, buses and the broadcasting industry because states and localities were free to choose when and if they would observe DST.  Congress decided to end the confusion and establish the Uniform Time Act of 1966 that stated DST would begin on the last Sunday of April and end on the last Sunday of October.  However, states still had the ability to be exempt from DST by passing a local ordinance.  The U.S. Congress extended DST to a period of ten months in 1974 and eight months in 1975, in hopes to save energy following the 1973 oil embargo.  The trial period showed that DST saved the energy equivalent of 10,000 barrels of oil each day, but DST still proved to be controversial. Many complained that the dark winter mornings endangered the lives of children going to school.  After the energy crisis was over in 1976, the U.S. changed their DST schedule again to begin on the last Sunday in April.  DST was amended again to begin on the first Sunday in April in 1987.  Further changes were made after the introduction of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.  Daylight saving time is now implemented in over seventy countries worldwide and affects over a billion people each year.  The beginning and end dates vary from one country to another.  The European Union adopted the “Summer Time” period that was used in the United Kingdom for many years, where DST begins on the last Sunday in March and ends on the last Sunday in October.  The DST schedule in the U.S. was revised several times throughout the years.  From 1987 to 2006, the country observed DST for about seven months each year.  The current schedule was introduced in 2007 and follows the Energy Policy Act of 2005, which extended the period by about one month.  Today, DST starts on the second Sunday in March and ends on the first Sunday in November.  Currently, most of the United States observes DST except for Hawaii and most of Arizona, as well as the U.S. insular areas of Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa, and Guam.

READER FEEDBACK about the Oval Office being in a room formerly used as a presidential library.  I beg to differ with Mr. Granger:   Q:  Did George Washington design the Oval Office?  A:  Architect Nathan C. Wyeth designed it by order of President William Howard Taft in 1909.  From the Muser:  I find no mention of George Washington in The November Man, a novel by Bill Granger.  George Washington never occupied the White House.  Architect James Hoban was named winner of the design competition for The White House in 1792.  The "elliptic salon" at the center of the White House was the outstanding feature of Hoban's original plan.  In November 1800, John Adams became the first President to occupy the White House. 
I believe the Oval Office was the idea of Theodore Roosevelt, and there have been at least two locations of the Oval Office. 

When the West Wing caught fire in 1929, the original Oval Office was gutted along with most of the rest of the building.  It was rebuilt by Hoover to the same design.  Franklin Roosevelt chose to renovate and further expand the West Wing to accommodate additional staff in 1933.  He moved the Oval Office to the southeast corner in place of the laundry drying yard.  The new location had better light and provided easier travel back and forth to the Residence.

READER FEEDBACK to November Man Quotes shows an illustration of the couple from American Gothic with the words  "Trite is often true and banal doesn't mean wrong"  Issue 1196  September 26, 2014  On this date in 1580, Sir Francis Drake finished his circumnavigation of the Earth.  On this date in 1789, Thomas Jefferson was appointed the first United States Secretary of State, John Jay was appointed the first Chief Justice of the United States, Samuel Osgood was appointed the first United States Postmaster General, and Edmund Randolph was appointed the first United States Attorney General.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Whole Grains A (Amaranth) to Z (Zizania)  Thumbnail descriptions of some of the many whole grain varieties from the Whole Grains Council

Long white cloud is lifting by Rowan Collick  The top income tax rate in New Zealand is 33 per cent, compared with 45 per cent in Australia; the corporate rate 28 per cent against 30 per cent.  Read an extensive article showing why the wave of New Zealanders shifting to Australia has become a trickle, and threatens to become a steady stream moving in the ­reverse direction at

Aotearoa, originally used in reference to the North Island of New Zealand, is now the most widely known and accepted Māori name for the entire country.  The original derivation of Aotearoa is not known for certain.  The word can be broken up as:  ao = cloud, dawn, daytime or world, tea = white, clear or bright and roa = long.  It can also be broken up as Aotea = the name of one of the migratory waka that travelled to New Zealand, or the Large Magellanic Cloud, and roa = long.  The common translation is "the land of the long white cloud".  Alternative translations are ‘long bright world’ or ‘land of abiding day’ referring to the length and quality of the New Zealand daylight (when compared to the shorter days found further north in Polynesia).  Aotearoa can also be broken up as:  aotea-roa. Aotea is the name of one of the Māori migration canoes. The first land sighted was accordingly named Aotea (Cloud), now Great Barrier Island.  When a much larger landmass was found beyond Aotea, it was called Aotea-roa (Long Aotea).  Find titles of seven pieces of music using the words Aotearoa, Land of the Long White Cloud or both  at

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
loblolly  (LOB-lol-ee)  noun
1.  A thick gruel.
2.  Mire; mudhole.
3.  An assistant to a ship's surgeon.
4.  A pine tree with long needles and strong wood (Pinus taeda).
5.  An evergreen, loblolly-bay (Gordonia lasianthus).
Apparently from lob (an onomatopoeic word representing the sound of bubbling while boiling) + lolly (an English dialectal word for broth, soup, etc.).  The use of the word for mire or a mudhole is from the porridge-like consistency of the contents of mire or mudhole.  The word came to be used for a medical assistant because he fed the patients.  The trees received this name from their prevalence in swamp lands.  Earliest documented use:  1597.

QUOTES from The November Man, previously published as There Are No Spies by Bill Granger (1941-2012) who also wrote under the pseudonyms Joe Gash and Bill Griffith.
"A cliché is only something well said in the first place.”
"Clichés fell by the bushelful in this administration.  Jargon clogged the corridors of power."
"The Oval Office--which had begun life as the presidential library--is a gigantic room in image; in reality, it is very much of the eighteenth century, small cozy and able to be heated by a single fireplace."

Eleanor Roosevelt, former First Lady of the United States, used radio to communicate on a wide variety of issues that she felt the American public, and women in particular, should know or think about.  She had been a radio pioneer, broadcasting from the 1920s onward and starting with her own radio show in 1932.  By the 1950s, radio as a technology began facing increasing competition from television.  Yet, as a medium to reach mass audiences and women in particular, radio continued to play a vital role.   Read more at  Thank you, Muse reader.

Apple's shiny iPhone 6 Plus has been talked up by buyers for, among other things, its thin case and the toughness of its 5.5-inch multi touchscreen.  But Apple didn't mention that it also appears to be the company's most flexible handset – whether you want it to be or not. 
A handful of early adopters have reported that after carrying the phablet around in a pocket, their iPhone 6 Plus has become slightly bent.  The pictures were posted to the MacRumors forums and later joined by images from other blogs.  The condition was then replicated in a video test.  The phones do not break or become unusable, but do have a noticeable bend.  Shaun Nichols

A phablet is a class of mobile device designed to combine or straddle the functions of a smartphone and tablet.  The word Phablet is a portmanteau of the words phone and tablet.  Phablets typically have screens that measure (diagonally) between 5.3 to 6.9 inches (135 to 180 mm), which complement screen-intensive activity such as mobile web browsing and multimedia viewing.  Phablets may also include software optimized for an integral self-storing stylus to facilitate sketching, note-taking and annotation.  Reuters called 2013 the "Year of the Phablet."  In 2014, noting that phablets had overtaken laptops and desktops in global sales, the New York Times said "phablets could become the dominant computing device of the future — the most popular kind of phone on the market, and perhaps the only computer many of us need."  In 2014, Business Insider predicted phablets would outsell smartphones by 2017.

The -Ize Have It Contest  For an American Scholar tote bag, convert a noun into a verb ending in “ize.”  (New coinages only, please.)  The three most annoying examples will win.  Find entry form at  Issue 1195  September 24, 2014  On this date in 1789, Congress passed the Judiciary Act which created the office of the United States Attorney General and the federal judiciary system, and ordered the composition of the Supreme Court of the United States.  On this date in 1852, the first airship powered by (a steam) engine, created by Henri Giffard, traveled 17 miles (27 km) from Paris to Trappes.

Monday, September 22, 2014

In an unprecedented bout of internationalism, five of the world’s major ballet companies will participate in a 20-hour-long live streaming event that will give ballet fans worldwide an intensive behind-the-scenes look at company classes, rehearsals and coaching.  The event, called “World Ballet Day,” will take place on Oct. 1, and features the Australian Ballet, the Bolshoi Ballet, the National Ballet of Canada, the Royal Ballet and the San Francisco Ballet in successive four-hour slots, beginning at 12 p.m. local time in Melbourne, and moving across continents and time zones to Moscow, London, Toronto and San Francisco.  The live stream will be available on YouTube and on each ballet company’s website.  Viewers will be able to ask questions and interact with each company via a live forum throughout the day, and are invited to film themselves doing a pirouette and submit it for later inclusion in a short film.  And in case anyone can’t stay awake to fully compare and contrast, the full streaming will be available afterward on YouTube.  Roslyn Sulkas

I bet you didn't know that the New York Public Library is celebrating the 10th anniversary of Library Way this month.  You may have no idea where it's even located.  Library Way extends from Park to Fifth avenues along 41st Street.  And it's distinguished by 44 bronze sidewalk plaques featuring quotes from the likes of Ernest Hemingway, Emily Dickinson, Julia Alvarez, Mark Twain and Tom Stoppard.  There are actually 98 plaques, according to library spokeswoman Amy Geduldig—an equal number on both sides of 41st Street that are identical to each other.  The quotes were selected during the 1990s by a panel that included representatives from the library; the Grand Central Partnership, which manages the Grand Central Business Improvement District; and the New Yorker magazine.  And the plaques, which are graphically intriguing in their own right, were designed by Gregg LeFevre.  Ralph Gardner, Jr.

Behind every championship team is a strategy that may sound strange to everyone else.  Auburn's happens to taste that way, too.  Beyond the usual explanations for Auburn's remarkable rise from 3-9 in 2012 to winning the Southeastern Conference last year is a secret that hadn't been revealed until now.  Over the last two seasons, the Tigers have been experimenting with an elixir-like potion.  "We were doing beet juice," says Auburn dietitian Scott Sehnert.  Before each game, between team warm-ups and the opening kickoff, Auburn's staff distributes small pouches of beetroot concentrate.  The players swirl the beetroot crystals around their water bottles and then slug the deep-purple concoction—which they don't exactly savor.  "The worst thing in the entire world," said Auburn tight end C.J. Uzomah.  "It is nasty."  But they aren't drinking it for the taste.  In recent years, sports scientists have seized on the discovery that beetroot juice is rich with nitrate.  That has led to multiple studies revealing possible performance benefits that range from increased muscle efficiency to decreases in fatigue levels.  Ben Cohen  Read much more and see pictures at

Montana-based poet and photographer Tyler Knott Gregson has written at least one new poem a day for his blog over the past five years.  Every morning, he posts a photo with a caption and a haiku.  Around lunchtime, he puts up a longer poem, composed on a typewriter and scanned into his computer.  He shares the works on Tumblr, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook—and he hasn't missed a day yet.  The Wall Street Journal  September 19, 2014

The Nebula Award for Best Novelette is given each year by Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) to a science fiction or fantasy novelette published in English or translated into English and released in the United States or on the internet during the previous calendar year.  A work of fiction is defined by the organization as a novelette if it is between 7,500 and 17,500 words; awards are also given out for pieces of longer lengths in the Novel and Novella categories, and for shorter lengths in the Short Story category.  The Nebula Award for Best Novelette has been awarded annually since 1966.  Find list of  winners from 1966-2014 at

Established in 1895, Stone Laboratory is the oldest freshwater biological field station in the United States and the center of Ohio State University’s teaching and research on Lake Erie.  The lab serves as a base for more than 65 researchers from 12 agencies and academic institutions, all working year-round to solve the most pressing problems facing the Great Lakes.  The Gem of Lake Erie.  Gib.  The Rock.  Gibraltar Island has many names and a long history.  Originally a territory of the state of Connecticut, it was purchased by New York banker Pierpont Edwards in 1807.  Soon after, it became a key in the War of 1812 when, on September 10, 1813, Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry used the island as a lookout point to spot the approaching British fleet before the Battle of Lake Erie.  Read more, see pictures, and link to resources at

The Scottish referendum on Sept. 18, 2014 was interesting not just for what it said about Britain, but also for what it said about the state of political forecasting.  The polls were volatile; they often gave conflicting signals; and it took them until the last few weeks to even start to suspect that this would be a close race. T he major polls in the past week ranged from a 6-point lead for the Yes vote to a 7-point lead for the No vote.  And this wide range wasn’t because of wild fluctuations in public opinion.  It was the result of two surveys that were taken within a day of each other.  The prediction markets, on the other hand, yielded much more reliable forecasts.  Despite the demise of Intrade, these markets remain extremely active, and over at Betfair, bettors rated the chances of a No vote at around 80 percent, an estimate that remained remarkably stable over the past week, fluctuating by only a few points.  British bookies were laying similar odds.  According to The Financial Times, a Ladbrokes spokesman argued earlier this week that the referendum would be the biggest political betting event in history, noting that his firm had taken more money in bets than the last British general election and American presidential election combined.  Betting on the likely winning margin also suggested that the No vote was most likely to win by around 4 points.  Yes, bettors underestimated the winning margin, but they were still closer than the election-week polling average.  My own research with Microsoft’s David Rothschild suggests that pollsters could do a better job if they learned from prediction markets.  Instead of focusing on whom people say they plan to vote for, ask them instead to focus on who they think will win. Typically, asking people who they think will win yields better forecasts, possibly because it leads them to also reflect on the opinions of those around them, and perhaps also because it may yield more honest answers.  It’s an idea with particular relevance to the case of the Scottish referendum.  As Stephen Fisher, an associate professor of political sociology at the University of Oxford, has noted, there is a historical tendency for polling to overstate the likelihood of success of referendums, possibly because we’re more willing to tell pollsters we will vote for change than to actually do so.   Such biases are less likely to distort polls that ask people who they think will win.  Justin Wolfers

If it hadn’t been for The New Yorker, A.R. Gurney’s 1988 play might have never made it to the Great White Way.  At the show’s Broadway opening on Sept. 18, 2014 at the Brooks Atkinson Theater the playwright explained that he submitted the script to the publication in the 1980s for consideration.  When he received a rejection note saying they “don’t publish plays” Gurney and his agent figured the editors were right and “Love Letters” was in fact a play.  A very low maintenance, cost-effective two-hander.  The two-actor cast — Mia Farrow and Brian Dennehy — required only a table and two chairs.  From there, with the text of the letters in front of them, the duo read the 90-minute epistolary tale of the lifelong correspondence between a man and a woman who may or may not be the love of each others’ lives.  Dennehy and Farrow are the first of a crop of big-name actors who will rotate in and out of the show in the coming months.  Among the actors on board for stints in the show are Alan Alda, Candice Bergen, Stacy Keach, Diana Rigg, Anjelica Huston and Martin Sheen.  Addie Morfoot  Issue 1194  September 22, 2014  On this date in 1789, the office of United States Postmaster General was established.  On this date in 1869, Richard Wagner's opera Das Rheingold premiered in Munich.

Friday, September 19, 2014

The largest ever Vancouver Writers Fest is happening this fall with authors ranging from the international — including Norway’s Karl Ove Knausgaard, Ireland’s Eimear McBride and Iceland’s Sjon — to the hyper local — such as Steven Galloway, Caroline Adderson and Ian Weir.  “For me, this is a very international festival,” said Hal Wake, festival artistic director.  This national and international lineup reaffirms our role at the Writers Fest to introduce some of the most significant writers in the world to readers who may only have had a passing knowledge of them.  We love to present authors who have achieved success alongside brilliant new writers who are about to become the buzz of the literary world.”  More than 100 authors will be in Vancouver participating in about 86 events Oct. 21 to 26, 2014 including panel discussions, readings, a literary cabaret and other events.  Other notable authors include Colm Toibin, who will appear in conversation in the event’s finale with author Jane Smiley.  Tracy Sherlock

The female name of Marion is a diminutive form for Mary--the word "marionette" means "little Mary".  Puppets have been traced back to 2000 BC Egypt, as well as dolls found in tombs dating back to Greek and Roman times.  Japan and India also have a history of early puppetry.  More modern locations famous for puppetry include the Czech Republic and Austria.

The curtain rises in a quaint theater in Prague's tourist hub to reveal a sly libertine nobleman, Don Giovanni, trying to carry off Donna Anna, the Commandant's daughter.  Anna resists, and Giovanni emerges from the Commandant's palace, pursued by Anna, who wants him punished.  Her father rushes to help and is killed by Giovanni.  This is the first of many dramatic and comical scenes in Mozart's opera Don Giovanni, composed as a gift to Prague.  When Mozart wrote the tale of the incorrigible lothario, chances are he envisioned a grandiose production filled with dramatic effects, impassioned scenes and larger-than-life characters.  He probably did not expect those larger-than-life characters to be a mere 2 feet tall and carved from wood — marionettes, to be exact.  I caught this absurdist and amusing production of Don Giovanni at the National Marionette Theater in Prague, which staged the city's first marionette version of the Mozart opera in 1991 and has since performed it 3,000 times.  Marionette operas and theater are a prominent part of Prague's contemporary arts and culture scene, but they are also rooted in a long tradition going back to the 12th century, when marionettes were used in religious ceremonies and folk customs.  Today they're part of the city's tourist industry too. You can barely wander down a street without encountering wooden stringed puppets beckoning you to watch them dance or take them home as a pricey souvenir.  These marionettes, waiting to be brought to life at nearly every corner, also add to the visitor's sense that Prague is a fairy tale come to life, with its castles, romantic bridges, cobblestoned streets and the sounds of Vivaldi ringing out from church courtyards.  "Puppets are to Prague what pizza is to Rome," says puppeteer Vlad Brodsky.  Apparently Rome, or rather Italy, played a part in forming Prague's puppetry history.  In the 16th century, traveling comedians from Germany and Austria began performing puppet shows at Czech markets and in houses of the nobility.  A century later, Italian string marionettes also migrated here and started appearing in theaters.  Charmaine Noronha

There is a National Marionette Theatre in the United States owned and operated by the Syrotiak family of Brattleboro, Vermont.  Read about it and see pictures at

Reader feedbackDon't know if you've ever covered "hyperpalatables."  "These foods are deliberately engineered in such a way that they surpass the reward properties of traditional foods, such as vegetables, fruits, and nuts.  Food chemists achieve this by suffusing products with increased levels of fat, sugar, flavors, and food additives."

Here are some foods deliberately designed to hook you at the first whiff or taste:  1. Soft drinks  2. Cured Meats  3. Microwave Popcorn  4. Salty, Roasted Snacks  5. All Fast Food  Extracted from article by Martha Rosenberg originally appearing on AlterNet  See also How the Food Makers Captured Our Brains at

Most Americans know nothing of Francis Scott Key, except for the story of how he came to write our national anthem.  Much of his prominence during his life, however, came from his work as a lawyer.  He served as U.S. Attorney for Washington, D.C. from 1833-1841, practiced in the federal courts, and argued cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.  He enjoyed the respect of peers and those in high public office.  President Andrew Jackson, for example, called upon him to travel to Alabama to negotiate a land dispute.  Francis Scott Key also had a sense of humor, and some of his poems contain humorous rhymes and puns, as illustrated in the lines below, from a poem addressed to a judge.
May it please your honor to hear the petition
Of a poor old mare in a miserable condition,
Who has come this cold night to beg that your honor
Will consider her ease and take pity upon her.
Her master has turned her out in the street,
And the stones are too hard to lie down on, or eat;
Entertainment for horses she sees every where,
But, alas! there is none, as it seems, for a mare.
She has wandered about, cold, hungry, and weary,
And can’t even get in the Penitentiary.”
from Petition for a Habeas Corpus
to the Honorable James Sewall Morsell…

Royal and Ancient Golf Club Votes to Admit Female Members by Karen Crouse  As evening descended here, on the same day Scots voted on whether to declare independence from the United Kingdom, Peter Dawson, the secretary of the club, announced the results of a postal balloting of the club’s 2,400 male members, many of whom were on site in matching blue jackets and patterned blue ties.  About three-quarters of the members participated in the voting, he said, with 85 percent of them opting to accept women.  The policy will take effect immediately, and the club said some women would be put on a fast track for membership to avoid languishing on the long waiting list.  The decision carries powerful symbolism.  The Royal and Ancient Golf Club is a 260-year-old institution that calls itself the spiritual home of golf.  The separate governing body it created in 2004, called the R & A, is entrusted with running the British Open and helping adjudicate the game’s rules, making it one of the sport’s primary seats of power.  But the male-only membership had increasingly become an anachronism that cast the club in an unfavorable light with fans, golfers and tournament sponsors.  It also undermined one of the main mandates of the R & A, which is to expand the game.  The R & A still has three male-only clubs in the Open rotation — Muirfield, Royal St. George’s and Royal Troon — meaning the debate over membership policy could continue in Britain despite the change in policy at the Royal and Ancient Golf Club.  From a pragmatic standpoint, the club’s gender bias had undercut the ability of Louise Richardson, the St. Andrews University principal, to conduct business. She could not take visiting donors for a meal at the clubhouse.  In an interview with The New York Times in May, Richardson discussed what she saw as the difference between socializing with like-minded individuals and discriminatory policies.  “What’s different is when people are excluded from access to something unique by a category to which they’re assigned or have no control,” she said.  “That’s access to a unique set of privileges, and that’s different than going for a drink with your buddies.”  Richardson said she had not been wholly excluded from the club.  “People have said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll take you to lunch,’ ” she said.  “But I’ve said, ‘I’m not eating in the clubhouse until women can enter.’ ”

Scottish voters rejected a heated bid for independence, providing a narrow escape for a British government that scrambled to dole out promises of new local powers for Edinburgh to head off the breakup of a 307-year-old union.  Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond said early Friday, Sept. 19, 2014 he had accepted that the majority of Scottish voters had decided not to become an independent country.  The tally at around 6:30 a.m. local time, which included results from 31 of the 32 districts in Scotland, showed 55% of voters rejecting the independence question and 45% favoring it.  About 3.5 million votes had been  counted. More than four million people were registered to vote in the election.  The Wall Street Journal  September 19, 2014  Issue 1193  September 19, 2014  On this date in 1879, the Blackpool Illuminations were switched on for the first time.  On this date in 1893, in New Zealand, the Electoral Act of 1893 gave all women in New Zealand the right to vote.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Edible Gardens Go to the Ballpark by Maria Finn  San Francisco is not the first place to do this.  Groundskeepers at the San Diego’s Padres Petco Park planted edibles in 2012 behind the home team’s bullpen and the head chef uses the peppers in salsa and some of the other veggies for garnish.  But the garden at the AT&T Park is making more of a splash.  It may not be the first, but it’s the most ambitious to date.   Leafy greens and spindly herbs grow on aeroponic towers, a lightweight, water-wise alternative to planters.  This collaboration between The San Francisco Giants and their food service partner, Bon Appétit Management Company,with designs by  Blasen Landscape Architecture and EDG, are helping fans get more roughage into their game-day diet.  The produce will be used in the restaurants on-site, and to power-up Giants’ players with kale salads and smoothies.  See pictures at

Emerson Burkhart (1905-1969) was an American artist based in Columbus, Ohio.  In 1934, Burkhart received a commission from the WPA Federal Art Project for a mural over the auditorium at Central High School in Columbus.  The Federal Art Project intended to give artists like Burkhart employment during the Great Depression and provide art for non-federal government buildings.  Burkhart created a 13’ by 70’ mural, known as Music, featuring young women and men dancing and playing musical instruments.  Just four years later, in 1938, the principal ordered that the mural be painted over as “it was too sexy.”  Starting in 1999, over the course of six years, 1,000 art students from the Fort Hayes Metropolitan Education Center, under the supervision of art conservators, worked to remove the paint that once covered the mural.  After its restoration, the mural was installed at Greater Columbus Convention Center.  In 1938, Burkhart received his second commission from the WPA for ten life size murals at Stillman Hall on the Ohio State University campus and he was paid $1,209 for 13 months of work.  Each mural featured important historical figures like Walt Whitman and David Thoreau. 

Pearl Zane Gray was born on January 31, 1872, in Zanesville, Ohio, a town founded by his mother's ancestors.  (The spelling of the Gray family name was changed to "Grey" sometime during the late 1890s.)  As a youth in Ohio, he developed interests in fishing, baseball and writing.  All three pursuits would later bring him acclaim.  Grey's baseball prowess led to a scholarship to the University of Pennsylvania's Dental Department.  He graduated in 1896 with a degree in dentistry, but chose to play amateur baseball for several seasons, practicing dentistry intermittently.  He established his own dental practice in New York City in 1898.  While residing in New York, he continued to play baseball. He loved to get away from the city, and began visiting Lackawaxen, Pennsylvania.  There he fished and enjoyed the outdoors as in his youth.  On one of these outings in 1900, Zane ("Doc") met 17-year-old Lina Elise Roth, or "Dolly" as he called her, while canoeing near the Delaware House, a grand boarding house on the river.  Dolly was a positive influence in Grey's struggle to become a successful writer.  Her encouragement and belief in his abilities led him to continue writing despite rejection by publishers.  Grey's first published article was "A Day on the Delaware," in Recreation magazine, May 1902.  In 1903, Grey wrote, illustrated and published his first novel, Betty Zane, with money from Dolly.  In 1905, Dolly became Zane's wife.  He left dentistry to pursue writing full-time and the couple settled into a farmhouse overlooking the junction of the Lackawaxen and Delaware rivers.  In 1906, they took a honeymoon trip to the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and to California - Grey's first trip west.  In 1907, Grey met Western conservationist Colonel J. C. "Buffalo" Jones at a meeting of the Campfire Club in New York City.  Using the last of his wife's inheritance, Grey accompanied Jones, as a writer and photographer, on a hunting expedition to the Grand Canyon.  This trip marked a turning point in Grey's career as it opened up new vistas in subject matter for his writing.  He wrote an account of this adventure, The Last of the Plainsmen, published by Outing Press in 1908.  In 1910, Harper & Brothers published The Heritage of the Desert, Zane Grey's first western novel and his first real success.  Next came Grey's most noted work, Riders of the Purple Sage, published in 1912.  By 1915, Grey had 15 books in print (frontier/baseball/juvenile adventure/western) along with many fishing and outdoor adventure articles and serialized stories.   Grey's success and wealth enabled him to travel the world in pursuit of his favorite sport - fishing.  Grey held over ten world records for large game fish.  He was the first person to catch a fish over 1,000 pounds on rod and reel (1,040- pound blue marlin in 1930, Tahiti).  His last recognized world-record catch, for a 618-pound silver marlin, was not surpassed until 1953.  Zane Grey died October 23, 1939, at the age of 67.  When Dolly died in 1957, the ashes of both were interred in a cemetery near their home in Lackawaxen, fulfilling their wish to rest together beside the Delaware River.  In 1945, six years after Zane Grey's death, his wife Dolly sold their Lackawaxen house to Helen James, daughter of Zane's long-time friend Alvah James.  In 1948, Helen opened the Zane Grey Inn, which she operated for twenty- five years.  Over the years, she collected memorabilia associated with Grey and discovered original artwork and other items of interest in her new home.  From 1973 until 1989, Helen and her husband, artist Albert H. Davis, operated the Zane Grey Museum to display the Grey memorabilia, photographs, and books in the rooms that served as Grey's office and study.  The museum was sold in 1989 to the National Park Service.  It was included in the Upper Delaware Scenic and Recreational River because of Zane Grey's association with the Delaware River and its effect upon the budding writer.  Today the museum is self guided with National Park Service rangers and volunteers available to answer questions and provide for sale a variety of Zane Grey books currently in print.  The world of Zane Grey is also celebrated in Payson, Arizona and Norwich, Ohio

Arian is a suffix forming personal nouns corresponding to Latin adjectives ending in -ārius or English adjectives or nouns ending in - ary.  It forms nouns noting a person who supports, advocates, or practices a doctrine, theory, or set of principles associated with the base word.  Examples in long use:  librarian, veterinarian.  Examples of recent words:  cybrarian, flextarian.  Find words ending in arian at

Meet The 2014 Winners Of The MacArthur 'Genius Grants'  One is becoming as well-known for her autobiographical work as she is for her test for what movies meet a gender-balance baseline.  Another directed one of the best-reviewed and most surreal documentaries of the past decade and has a follow-up on this year's film-festival circuit.  Another has been leading the fight for gay-marriage rights since 2004 in Massachusetts.  Alongside cartoonist Alison Bechdel, The Act of Killing director Joshua Oppenheimer and attorney Mary Bonauto, other 2014 MacArthur Award winners are exploring the subtleties of race via psychology and poetry, using math to model the human brain or define the limits of prime numbers, or providing physical, home and job security to some of the country's most at-risk populations.  See pictures and stories at

This time of year there's little question Americans are pumped about pumpkin.  We gobble up about $300 million worth of pumpkin-flavored products annually, mostly from September through November.  Although few vegetables boast the same level of fandom, the craze doesn't always have nutrition experts smiling.  Starbucks recently was criticized because its famed Pumpkin Spice Latte doesn't contain actual pumpkin.  Nor do many of the other pumpkin-flavored products, including Nabisco's new Pumpkin Spice Oreos, set to hit shelves next week.  But, in most cases, the lack of pumpkin isn't the biggest health concern.  It's the sugar.  Nutrition expert Joyce Hanna, associate director of the Health Improvement Program at Stanford, points out that a 12-oz. Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte with nonfat milk and no whipped cream contains 37 grams of sugar.  That's a tad more than seven teaspoons.  Issue 1192  September 17, 2014  On this date in 1630, the city of Boston, Massachusetts was founded.  On this date in 1776, the Presidio of San Francisco was founded in New Spain.