Friday, December 29, 2017

GREEN GOLD  Sicily is the only Italian region where the pistachio ("pistacia vera") can be cultivated and produced.  Bronte, with nearly three thousand hectares of land dedicated and specialized for this purpose, expresses principal area of cultivation (80% of the regional surface), with a production that has peculiar characteristics.  Bronte is the Italian capital of the pistachio.  Unlike the  product coming from America or Asia, whose kernel is nearly always yellowish, the bronte's  pistachio is a fruit of high value, much appreciated in much appreciated in the European and Japanese markets, for its intense green coloration.  It is a precious fruit from ancient and noble origins, always a protagonist in the more refined kitchens, sought-after for its aromatic and pleasant taste.  In particular, today, is utilized in the sphere  of sweets and salami factories (confectionery, salami), but also in chemistry and cosmetics (well known the active principles of its oil, to beautify the skin).  The oil extracted from the fruit, particularly delicate, finds application in dermatology for its high emollient and softening quality.  Every year in some small streets and squares of Bronte's inner cen­ter, in the period September-October, goes on, since several years, the feast of the Sagra del Pistacchio, (the Pistachio feast).  It is the occasion that the city offers to its many visitors to let them know the refined "gold of Bronte".  The highlight of the Feast is the tasting of the fruit and of the pista­chio related products that go from sausages to pistachio pastry, from sweets to ice cream, and lots of other delicious things.

Anouk Markovits never intended to write about the Satmar Hasidic community in which she grew up, but then came 9/11, and Markovits thought, “I’ve had personal experience with fundamentalist environments.”  Still, writing about that world didn’t come easily.  Whether fiction or memoir, most books set in these environments are written by and about those who, like Markovits, have left, and that wasn’t the story she wanted to tell.  Which raised the question:  “Could I possibly write a book about the people who stayed?”  Markovits’s English-language debut, the novel I Am Forbidden (Hogarth Press), in which the outside world remains always outside, a place of temptation, opportunity, or of no interest whatsoever, is that book.  Though compact (it started out “humongous” Markovits says, “but the longer I worked on it, the shorter it got”), the story spans 70 years—from the start of WWII to the present—and three locations:  Transylvania, Paris, and Williamsburg, Brooklyn.  Martha Schulman

In 1912 Henry Flagler arrived aboard the first train into Key West, marking the completion of the Florida East Coast (FEC) Railway's Over-Sea Railroad to Key West.  With the completion of the Over-Sea Railroad the entire east coast of Florida, from Jacksonville to Key West, was linked by a single railroad system.  The FEC was the product of Flagler's resources and imagination.  Flagler's construction of hotels at points along the railroad and his development of the agricultural industry through the Model Land Company established tourism and agriculture as Florida's major industries, which remain so even now more than a century later.  In essence, Henry Flagler invented modern Florida.  Amazingly, Flagler accomplished these feats after retiring from his first career and having reached an age equal to the average life expediency for an American male of the time.  Flagler had co-founded Standard Oil with partners John D. Rockefeller and Samuel Andrews, long before becoming interested in Florida.  When Flagler first visited Florida in 1878, he recognized the state's potential for growth but noticed a lack of hotel facilities.  Flagler returned to Florida and in 1885 with an eye toward developing the area around St. Augustine and began building a grand hotel, the Hotel Ponce de Leon.  Flagler realized that the key to developing Florida was a solid transportation system and consequently purchased the Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Halifax Railroad.  He also noticed that a major problem facing the existing Florida railway systems was that each operated on different gauge systems, making interconnection impossible.  Shortly after purchasing the Jacksonville, St. Augustine & Halifax Railroad, he converted the line to standard gauge.  In September 1895, Flagler's system was incorporated as the Florida East Coast Railway Company and by 1896, it reached Biscayne Bay, the largest and most accessible harbor on Florida's east coast.  To further develop the area surrounding the Fort Dallas railroad station, Flagler dredged a channel, built streets, instituted the first water and power systems, and financed the town's first newspaper, the Metropolis.  When the town incorporated in 1896, its citizens wanted to honor the man responsible for the city's development by naming it, "Flagler."  He declined the honor, persuading them to use instead the native american name for the river running through the settlement, "Miama" or “Miami.”  When the United States announced in 1905 its intention to build the Panama Canal, Flagler embarked on perhaps his greatest challenge:  the extension of the Florida East Coast Railway to Key West, a city of almost 20,000 inhabitants located 128 miles beyond the end of the Florida peninsula.  A train depot in Key West, the United States' closest deepwater port to the Canal, could not only take advantage of Cuban and Latin America trade, but significant trade possibilities with the west via the new Canal.

There will be two full moons, both supermoons, in January 2018.  A supermoon occurs when a full moon is at its closest point in its monthly orbit around earth.  The next one, due to occur on Jan. 2, will be a super-close supermoon.  The full moon that takes place on Jan. 31 will take place during a total lunar eclipse.  January and March will each have two full moons.  The second full moon in a season is commonly called a blue moon, which is how we got the saying “once in a blue moon.”  Now if you’re an expert on the night sky, you’ll know the actual blue moon of 2018 won’t occur until Dec. 22.  But for the rest of us, the colloquial definition is just fine to use.  February will have no full moon.  Jamie Drake

10 Films In Which Actors Play Multiple Roles  Kind Hearts & Coronets” (1949)  Alec Guinness; Coming To America”(1988)  Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall; “The Incredible Shrinking Woman” (1981)  Lily Tomlin; Cloud Atlas” (2012)  Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess and Hugh Grant all feature in all six of the film’s storylines as different characters in each, while Jim Broadbent, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Zhou Xun, Keith David, David Gyasi and Susan Sarandon play at least three each; “Joe Versus The Volcano” (1990)  Meg Ryan; "The Life And Death Of Colonel Blimp” (1943)  Deborah Kerr; The Nutty Professor” (1996)  Eddie Murphy; “The Mouse That Roared” (1959)  Peter Sellers;  Back to the Future II” (1989)  Michael J Fox; “Dr. Strangelove” (1964)  Peter Sellers.  See pictures, descriptions, and names of characters played in the ten films.  Also find other films mentioned at

There are 35 blood-group systems, organized according to the genes that carry the information to produce the antigens within each system.  The majority of the 342 blood-group antigens belong to one of these systems.  The Rh system (formerly known as “Rhesus”) is the largest, containing 61 antigens.  The most important of these Rh antigens, the D antigen, is quite often missing in Caucasians, of whom around 15 percent are Rh D-negative (more commonly, though inaccurately, known as Rh-negative blood).  Rhnull blood was first described in 1961, in an Aboriginal Australian woman.  Until then, doctors had assumed that an embryo missing all Rh blood-cell antigens would not survive, let alone grow into a normal, thriving adult.  By 2010, nearly five decades later, some 43 people with Rhnull blood had been reported worldwide.  Read extensive article, The Most Precious Blood on Earth, by Penny Bailey  at

Rose Marie 1924-2017:  The Music Beyond The Comedy by Rich Kienzle   Before Sally Rogers and The Dick Van Dyke Show, Rose Marie, who died December 28, 2017 at 94, had been through stardom that began in childhood, in part because of her skills as a singer that began very early.  Link to videos of some of the high points through her musical side starting with her child star beginnings as "Baby Rose Marie" including the Van Dyke show and beyond at  Issue 1818  December 29, 2017  On this date in 1916, Concerto for Two Pianos and Orchestra by Max Bruch, commissioned by an American duo piano team, Ottilie and Rose Suttro, gave the work’s premiere performance with Leopold Stokowski and the Philadelphia Orchestra.  The Suttro Duo drastically revised and even rewrote parts of Bruch’s score for their 1916 performance, unbeknownst to the composer.  It wouldn’t be until 1971 that the Concerto was performed as he had actually written it.  Composers Datebook  Thought for Today  Here is my first principle of foreign policy:  good government at home. - William Ewart Gladstone, British prime minister (29 Dec 1809-1898)  

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Adduce is one of a plethora of familiar words that trace to the Latin root ducere, which means "to lead."  Perhaps we can induce you to deduce a few other ducere offspring if we offer a few hints about them.   One is a synonym of kidnap, one's a title for a British royal, and one's another word for decrease.  Give up?  They are abduct, duke, and reduce, respectively.  There are also many others, including induce, which means "to persuade" or "to bring about."

Lithography (from Ancient Greek λίθος, lithos, meaning "stone", and γράφειν, graphein, meaning "to write") is a method of printing originally based on the immiscibility of oil and water.  The printing is from a stone (lithographic limestone) or a metal plate with a ball grained surface.  It was invented in 1796 by German author and actor Alois Senefelder as a cheap method of publishing theatrical works.  Lithography can be used to print text or artwork onto paper or other suitable material.  Lithography originally used an image drawn with oil, fat, or wax onto the surface of a smooth, level lithographic limestone plate.  The stone was treated with a mixture of acid and gum arabic, "etching" the grease content of the drawing material into the pores of the stone and chemically creating grease reservoirs.  The open stone (without drawing) was affected by the gum arabic creating a thin gum layer that would then attract water.  When the stone was subsequently moistened, these gummed areas retained water; an oil-based ink could then be applied with a roller sticking only to the original drawing.  The ink would finally be transferred to a cotton fine art paper sheet, producing a printed page.  This traditional technique is still used as a fine art medium today.  Today, most types of high-volume books and magazines, especially when illustrated in colour, are printed with offset lithography, which has become the most common form of printing technology since the 1960s.  The related term "photolithography" refers to when photographic images are used in lithographic printing, whether these images are printed directly from a stone or from a metal plate, as in offset printing.  "Photolithography" is used synonymously with "offset printing".  Read more and see graphics at  See also COLOR PRINTING IN THE NINETEENTH CENTURY:  Lithography at  prints the words of books on posters, t-shirts, totes and scarves.  "Litographs is committed to promoting literacy, both at home and abroad.  Since 2012, we have donated over 200,000 books to communities in need through the International Book Bank."   Learn more about Litographs, a company based in Cambridge, MA, and link to blog and newsletter at  The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library Classics Gift Shop sells socks, scarves, and T-shirts for book lovers.

The expression cold feet may have come from Italian, with cold feet being a euphemism for penniless, no shoes and all that.  Thing is, it’s not known if that actually has any link to the modern meaning.  The first time it’s attested with the modern meaning is in Fritz Reuter’s Olle Kamellen, back in the 1860s, in which a gambler gets cold feet.   He may have implied that he was unable to gamble further, which may have implied that he was penniless in the old sense . . . but with a centuries-long gap, it’s hard to tell.  What isn’t hard to tell is that after this reference more and more sources were using “cold feet” to mean chickening out.  There are cites of books, newspapers, and other stories following toward the end of the 19th century, taking on the modern meaning, and since then it’s been largely unchanged.  Joshua Bowman  See also

Did you know that Kansas City, Missouri is also known as “The City of Fountains”?  The 132 miles of boulevards and parkways in Kansas City are home to well over 100 fountains.  The downtown area alone contains 32 fountains in a 6.25 square mile radius.  A short distance from downtown Kansas City is the Country Club Plaza.  Designed by the architect J.C. Nichols in 1922, it is notable for being the first shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile.  It contains a number of fountains as well as excellent shopping and dining opportunities.  The Kansas City metro area also has large and historic parks.  Swope Park is the city’s largest park (more than twice the size of New York’s Central Park) and contains many wonderful attractions including a wonderful zoo, two lakes, and the Starlight Theatre.  Hodge Park contains the Shoal Creek Living History Museum, a village of more than 20 historical buildings dating from the first half of the 19th century.

bardo noun  (Tibetan Buddhism)  The state of existence between death and subsequent reincarnation.
The novel Lincoln in the Bardo  by American author George Saunders (born 1958) won the 2017 Man Booker Prize.  Wiktionary

PARAPHRASES from The Lobster Kings, a novel by Alexi Zentner  *  Lack of ambition is a thing that can only come with a safety net  *  I've never seen anyone keep gloves in a glove compartment before  * 

Alexi Zentner is the author of the novels The Lobster Kings and TouchThe Lobster Kings was named one of the must-read books of summer by The New York Post, The Minneapolis Star Tribune, and Boston Magazine.  His first novel, Touch, was published in a dozen countries, and shortlisted for the 2011 Governor General’s Literary Award, The Center for Fiction’s 2011 Flahery-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the 2012 VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, and the 2011 First Novel Award, and longlisted for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize, and the 2013 International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award.  The CBC has named Alexi as one of 12 Writers to Watch - "the future of this country's literature" - and one of six "fresh voices" for 2011.  Alexi’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Atlantic Monthly, Narrative Magazine, Tin House, Glimmer Train, The Southern Review, The Walrus, and many other publications.  He is the winner of both the O. Henry Prize (jury favorite) and the Narrative Prize, and has been shortlisted for the Best American Short Stories and the Pushcart Prize.  Alexi is an Assistant Professor at Binghamton University and a faculty member in the Sierra Nevada College low residency MFA program.  Alexi has also taught creative writing at Cornell University, where he received his MFA, in the Brooklyn College MFA program, and at the Rutgers-Camden Writers' Conference, and has been a teaching fellow at the Bread Loaf and Wesleyan University writing conferences.  Alexi Zentner was born and raised in Kitchener, Ontario, and currently lives in Ithaca, New York, with his wife and two daughters.  He holds both Canadian and American citizenship.

14 Pierogi Recipes That Put Other Dumplings To Shame by Alison Spiegel  In the battle of best dumpling on earth, the pierogi has a fighting chance for the championship.  These Polish dough pillows are usually filled with farmer’s cheese, potatoes, sauerkraut, mushrooms, meat or fruit.  They’re endlessly versatile and seriously comforting.  Pierogis, like all dumplings, can pretty much do no wrong.  They’re great as a side, as the main event or, wait for it . . . in a pierogi casserole.  A pierogi casserole consists of pre-made pierogies layered with cheese, bacon and onions, that are then baked.  Or it can be something even more amazing:  a lazy person’s pile of noodles, mashed potatoes, caramelized onions and cheese, that come together to taste like one giant baked pierogi.  You read that right:  a giant baked pierogi.  Making your own pierogis is easier than you might expect.  The fun part comes in when you start playing around with different filling combinations, the possibilities of which are endless.  Check out 14 pierogi recipes at  As far as we’re concerned, the pierogi knows no boundaries.  Issue 1817  December 27, 2017  On this date in 1831Charles Darwin embarked on his journey aboard the HMS Beagle, during which he will begin to formulate his theory of evolution.  On this date in 1927Show Boat, considered to be the first true American musical play, opened at the Ziegfeld Theatre on Broadway

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

SWEET POTATOES ARE THE PERFECT FOOD   Sweet potatoes rate high in the list of foods that can help us achieve optimum heath.  You might wonder why.  Wonder no more.  Find 8 reasons why at

Antoine-Augustin Parmentier (1737–1813) is remembered as a vocal promoter of the potato as a food source (for humans) in France and throughout Europe.  However, this was not his only contribution to nutrition and health; he was responsible for the first mandatory smallpox vaccination campaign (under Napoleon starting in 1805, when he was Inspector-General of the Health Service), he was a pioneer in the extraction of sugar from sugar beets, he founded a school of breadmaking, and he studied methods of conserving food, including refrigeration.  While serving as an army pharmacist for France in the Seven Years' War, he was captured by the Prussians, and in prison in Prussia was faced with eating potatoes, known to the French only as hog feed.  The potato had been introduced to Europe as early as 1640, but (outside of Ireland) was usually used for animal feed.  King Frederick II of Prussia had required peasants to cultivate the plants under severe penalties and had provided them cuttings.  In 1748 the French Parliament had actually forbidden the cultivation of the potato (on the ground that it was thought to cause leprosy among other things), and this law remained on the books in Parmentier's time.  From his return to Paris in 1763 he pursued his pioneering studies in nutritional chemistry.  His prison experience came to mind in 1772 when he proposed (in a contest sponsored by the Academy of Besançon) use of the potato as a source of nourishment for dysenteric patients.  He won the prize on behalf of the potato in 1773.  Thanks largely to Parmentier's efforts, the Paris Faculty of Medicine declared potatoes edible in 1772.  Still, resistance continued, and Parmentier was prevented from using his test garden at the Invalides hospital, where he was pharmacist, by the religious community that owned the land, whose complaints resulted in the suppression of Parmentier's post at the Invalides.  Parmentier therefore began a series of publicity stunts for which he remains notable today, hosting dinners at which potato dishes featured prominently and guests included luminaries such as Benjamin Franklin and Antoine Lavoisier, giving bouquets of potato blossoms to the King and Queen, and surrounding his potato patch at Sablons with armed guards to suggest valuable goods—then instructed them to accept any and all bribes from civilians and withdrawing them at night so the greedy crowd could "steal" the potatoes.

Recherches sur les vegetaux nourissants par Parmentier. 8 vo1815 Catalogue, page 33. no. 36, as above.  PARMENTIER, Antoine AugusteRecherches sur les Végétaux nourissans, qui, dans les temps de disette, peuvent remplacer les alimens ordinaires. Avec de nouvelles Observations sur la culture des Pommes de terre. Par M. Parmentier . . . A Paris: de l’Imprimerie Royale, 1781.  First Edition. 8vo. 309 leaves, folded engraved plate by Gaiette.  Quérard VI, page 605.  This book is on the list of agricultural books supplied by Jefferson to W. C. Nicholas on December 16, 1809, as being desirable for purchase for the Library of Congress.  Entered on Jefferson’s undated manuscript catalogue, with the price, 6 (livres).  Antoine Auguste Parmentier, 1737-1815.  Other works by this French chemist and agriculturalist occur in other chapters.  His researches on the potato were so beneficial to the French people that it was proposed by François (de Neufchateau) that the name should be changed from pomme de terre to parmentière.  For another work by Parmentier on the potato see no. 1199.

Pochade is a French word meaning a small painted sketch, particularly one painted in oils, out of doors, and often in preparation for a larger, more finished work.  I think it’s one of those French words that’s actually used more commonly among non French speakers.  It’s derived from a 19th Century French verb, pocher, meaning to sketch.  A pochade box, then, is a portable painting box with a built in easel, meant to facilitate the creation of small alla prima paintings or sketches.  A pochade box shouldn’t be confused with a simple painting box, which holds painting supplies and a wooden palette, but has no provision for acting as an easel.  Modern pochade boxes are fitted with tripod mounts which allow them to be set up in an extremely flexible fashion, and carried to the painting site more easily than the traditional outdoor painting box/easel combination known as a French easel.  Charley Parker  Read more and see many graphics at
December 20, 2017  In 1923, Edwin Hubble discovered the universe—or rather, he discovered a star, and humans learned that the Milky Way wasn’t the whole of the cosmos.  Less than 100 years later, thanks to the telescope named after him, NASA scientists estimate the universe contains at least 100 billion galaxies, and who-knows-what beyond that.  The exponential growth of astronomical data collected since Hubble’s time is absolutely staggering, and it developed in tandem with the revolutionary increase in computing power over an even shorter span, which enabled the birth and mutant growth of the internet.  Modern “maps” of the internet can indeed look like sprawling clusters of star systems, pulsing with light and color.  But the “weird combination of physical and conceptual things," Betsy Mason remarks at Wired, results in such an abstract entity that it can be visually illustrated with an almost unlimited number of graphic techniques to represent its hundreds of millions of users.  When the internet began as ARPANET in the late sixties, it included a total of four locations, all within a few hundred miles of each other on the West Coast of the United States.  By 1973, the number of nodes had grown from U.C.L.A, the Stanford Research Institute, U.C. Santa Barbara, and the University of Utah to include locations all over the Midwest and East Coast, from Harvard to Case Western Reserve University to the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science in Pittsburgh, where David Newbury’s father worked (and still works).  Among his father’s papers, Newbury found the 1973 map showing what seemed like tremendous growth in only a few short years.

A blockchain is a digitized, decentralized, public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions.  Constantly growing as ‘completed’ blocks (the most recent transactions) are recorded and added to it in chronological order, it allows market participants to keep track of digital currency transactions without central recordkeeping.  Each node (a computer connected to the network) gets a copy of the blockchain, which is downloaded automatically.  Originally developed as the accounting method for the virtual currency Bitcoin, blockchains–which use what's known as distributed ledger technology (DLT)–are appearing in a variety of commercial applications today.  Currently, the technology is primarily used to verify transactions, within digital currencies though it is possible to digitize, code and insert practically any document into the blockchain.  Doing so creates an indelible record that cannot be changed; furthermore, the record’s authenticity can be verified by the entire community using the blockchain instead of a single centralized authority.  Read much more at

As the historian Stephen Nissenbaum has explained, the Puritans imposed fines on anyone caught celebrating and designated Christmas as a working day.  These strict rules were necessary since so many men and women engaged in the drunken carousing that accompanied winter solstice festivities, an ancient tradition that the church had failed to stamp out when it appropriated Dec. 25 as a Christian holiday.  In this setting, “Merry Christmas” was born.  The greeting was an act of revelry and religious rebellion, something the uncouth masses shouted as they traveled in drunken mobs.  Troubled by such behavior, the New Haven Gazette in 1786 decried the “common salutation” of “Merry Christmas.”  “So merry at Christmas are some,” the paper lamented, “they destroy their health by disease, and by trouble their joy.”  As retailers, authors and artists in the 19th century invented a holiday of conspicuous consumption and family-centered celebrations, “Merry Christmas” became the favored slogan to sell the day.  The first commercially produced Christmas card, created in 1843 in London, showed not the manger scene but a multi-generational family tossing back goblets of wine above a banner that read, “A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to You.”  But the secular carol, “We Wish You a Merry Christmas,” performed by roving packs that demanded figgy pudding, probably did the most to popularize “Merry Christmas.”  Given the seemingly irreversible prominence of Christmas, churches began to emphasize the day’s religious meaning to their congregants and incorporate “Merry Christmas” into their vernacular.  But observant Christians just as routinely wished each other “Happy holidays.”  “Holiday” is a religious word, after all, derived from the Old English word for “holy day.”  Plus, “Happy holidays” may indicate the entire Advent period, suggesting a more devout reverence for the season than “Merry Christmas.”  Neil J. Young  Issue 1816  December 26, 2017  On today’s date in 1734, the second cantata from the “Christmas Oratorio” of Johann Sebastian Bach had its first performance in Leipzig, Germany.  This cantata takes its inspiration from Luke’s Gospel describing the shepherds, and opens with a purely instrumental Sinfonia that sets the scene.  Four oboes take the role of the shepherds.  In Bach’s day, a famous builder of wind instruments lived in Leipzig.  His name was J. H. Eichentopf, and he is credited with inventing an “oboe da caccia”—that’s Italian for "hunting oboe."  This instrument was curved with a big brass horn bell at its end.  Bach calls for this instrument in his Christmas Oratorio, but after Bach’s time, it fell out of use, and knowledge of its exact sound and construction was lost.  Composers Datebook

Friday, December 22, 2017

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
laconic  (luh-KON-ik)  adjective  Sparing with words:  concise or terse.  From Latin Laconicus, from Greek Lakonikos, from Lakon, Laconian, a resident of Laconia, an ancient country in southern Greece (capital:  Sparta).  From the reputation of the Laconians for terseness.  Earliest documented use:  1601.
campanile  (kam-puh-NEE-lee, -neel)  noun  A bell tower, especially one detached from a main building such as a church.  From Italian campana (bell), from Latin campana (bell).  From the Campania region in Italy, known for the bronze that was used to cast bells.  Earliest documented use:  1640.
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From:  Derek Noonan  Subject:  laconic  I heard this word first when doing Classical Studies in secondary school in Ireland.  The context was Philip II of Macedon.  After invading southern Greece and receiving the submission of other major city-states, he turned his attention to Sparta and asked, with some malintent, whether he should come as friend or foe.  “Neither”, was the reply.  He then sent the message:  “You are advised to submit without further delay, for if I bring my army into your land, I will destroy your farms, slay your people, and raze your city”  The Spartans again replied with a single word:  “If.”
From:  Andrew Pressburger   Subject:  Laconic  Actually, the places you call countries of Ancient Greece were not countries but city-states or polises (poleis in Greek), a word which gave us politics, in the sense of “civic affairs”.  This is similar to the Latin “res publica” from which we derive the English republic and its cognates in other European languages.  (Cf. republique Fr., repubblica It., Republik Ger., Respublik Rus.)
From:  Johnson Flucker   Subject:  campanile  A great borrowed word that has begat another that might be of interest:  campanilismo--literally the sense of place that is defined by being born within the sound of the campanile’s bells.  Laurence Bergreen uses the word as a chapter title in his biography, “Capone:  The Man and the Era”.  He wrote:  Once they had passed through Ellis Island and arrived in New York, the Capone family, like other Italian immigrants, gravitated toward neighborhoods sheltering people who had fled the same region, if not the same town.  This powerful sense of place was known as campanilismo . . . More than religion, perhaps even more than language, campanilismo reinforced the Italian immigrant’s alienation from American life . . . the sameness buttressed the immigrants’ identity, but at the same time it cut off the immigrants from the world of American possibilities.

Lavandula (common name lavender) is a genus of 47 known species of flowering plants in the mint familyLamiaceae.  It is native to the Old World and is found from Cape Verde and the Canary Islands, Europe across to northern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean, southwest Asia to southeast India.  Many members of the genus are cultivated extensively in temperate climates as ornamental plants for garden and landscape use, for use as culinary herbs, and also commercially for the extraction of essential oils.  The most widely cultivated species, Lavandula angustifolia, is often referred to as lavender, and there is a color named for the shade of the flowers of this species.  For most cooking applications the dried buds, which are also referred to as flowers, are used.  Lavender greens have a more subtle flavour when compared to rosemary.  The potency of the lavender flowers increases with drying which makes their use more sparingly to avoid a heavy, soapy aftertaste.  Reduce by 2/3rds the dry amount in recipes which call for fresh lavender buds.  Lavender buds can amplify both sweet and savory flavors in dishes, and is sometimes paired with sheep's-milk and goat's-milk cheeses.  Lavender flowers are occasionally blended with blackgreen, or herbal teas.  Lavender flavours baked goods and desserts, pairing especially well with chocolate.  In the United States, both lavender syrup and dried lavender buds are used to make lavender scones and marshmallows.  Lavender buds are put into sugar for two weeks to allow the essential oils and fragrance to transfer; then the sugar itself is used in baking.  Lavender can be used in breads where recipes call for rosemary.  Lavender can be used decoratively in dishes or spirits, or as a decorative and aromatic in a glass of champagne.  Lavender is used in savory dishes, giving stews and reduced sauces aromatic flair.  It is also used to scent flans, custards, and sorbets.  

Rosmarinus officinalis, commonly known as rosemary, is a woody, perennial herb with fragrant, evergreen, needle-like leaves and white, pink, purple, or blue flowers, native to the Mediterranean region.  It is a member of the mint family Lamiaceae, which includes many other herbs.  The name "rosemary" derives from the Latin for "dew" (ros) and "sea" (marinus), or "dew of the sea".  The plant is also sometimes called anthos, from the ancient Greek word ἄνθος, meaning "flower".  Rosemary leaves are used as a flavoring in foods such as stuffings and roast lamb, pork, chicken and turkey.  Fresh or dried leaves are used in traditional Mediterranean cuisine.  They have a bitter, astringent taste and a characteristic aroma which complements many cooked foods.  Herbal tea can be made from the leaves.  When roasted with meats or vegetables, the leaves impart a mustard-like aroma with an additional fragrance of charred wood compatible with barbecued foods.

Charles-Édouard Jeanneret, known as Le Corbusier  (1887–1965), was a Swiss-French architect, designer, painter, urban planner, writer, and one of the pioneers of what is now called modern architecture.  He was born in Switzerland and became a French citizen in 1930.  His career spanned five decades and he designed buildings in Europe, Japan, India, and North and South America.  Dedicated to providing better living conditions for the residents of crowded cities, Le Corbusier was influential in urban planning, and was a founding member of the Congrès International d'Architecture Moderne (CIAM).  Le Corbusier prepared the master plan for the city of Chandigarh in India, and contributed specific designs for several buildings there.  On 17 July 2016, seventeen projects by Le Corbusier in seven countries were inscribed in the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites as "an Outstanding Contribution to the Modern Movement".  Le Corbusier defined the principles of his new architecture in Les cinq points de l'architecture moderne, published in 1927, and co-authored by his cousin, Pierre Jeanneret.  The five points are:  the Pilotis, or pylon.  The building is raised up on reinforced concrete pylons, which allows for free circulation on the ground level, and eliminates dark and damp parts of the house; the Roof Terrace.  The sloping roof is replaced by a flat roof; the roof can be used as a garden, for promenades, sports or a swimming pool; the Free Plan.  Load-bearing walls are replaced by a steel or reinforced concrete columns, so the interior can be freely designed, and interior walls can put anywhere, or left out entirely.  The structure of the building is not visible from the outside; the Ribbon Window.  Since the walls do not support the house, the windows can run the entire length of the house, so all rooms can get equal light; the Free Facade.  Since the building is supported by columns in the interior, the façade can be much lighter and more open, or made entirely of glass.  There is no need for lintels or other structure around the windows.  Read much more and see graphics at

Harvard physicist Daniel Davis had a spark of brilliance when he built his own lightning machine—and it sings.  An educator, fulminologist and craftsman by trade, Davis has been fascinated by electricity, particularly atmospheric discharges, for years.  He got his start at an early age, winning a science fair in his junior year of high school with a home-built Tesla coil.  “Back then, in 1988, it was tough to find good information on how to make one,” recalled Davis, who’s now part of the Natural Sciences Lecture Demonstrations team at Harvard.  “The only texts available were like ‘recipe books,’ with a rigid plan to follow.  If you wanted to come up with your own design, there wasn’t much guidance.”  He teamed up with his science teacher and his step-grandfather, the latter an electrical engineer, and repurposed a retired high-voltage capacitor.  When nearly completed, the process of fine-tuning the device was painstaking and tedious.  “I had spent hours moving the electrical contact along the coil to adjust the resonant frequency,” he told The Washington Post.  “It was like searching for a needle in a haystack.”  Only once he found the sweet spot could he bring life to the instrument.  “Suddenly, a spark jumped—it was a magical moment,” Davis recalled.  After some tweaks, big arcs of electricity were leaping from the metal surface.  From there, it was a short leap to making music.  “The sparks of electricity it produces are small enough that instead of thunder, we hear a pop,” he explained.  If there are enough pops in rapid succession, you instead hear a continuous tone.   controlling the frequency at which the bolts are emitted, he can string together enough electrical pulses to “sing” a note of constant pitch.  By hooking up his coil to a computer microchip, Davis was able to program the Tesla coil to sing Christmas music.  Matthew Cappucci

Farmingdale, NY -- Long Island Iced Tea Corp. (NasdaqCM: LTEA) (the "Company"), announced on December 21, 2017 that the parent company is shifting its primary corporate focus towards the exploration of and investment in opportunities that leverage the benefits of blockchain technology.  In connection with the shift in strategic direction, the Company has approved changing its name from "Long Island Iced Tea Corp." to "Long Blockchain Corp." and has reserved the web domain  The Company intends to request Nasdaq to change its trading symbol in connection with the name change.  Issue 1815  December 22, 2017  On this date in 1808Ludwig van Beethoven conducted and performed in concert at the Theater an der Wien, Vienna, with the premiere of his Fifth SymphonySixth SymphonyFourth Piano Concerto (performed by Beethoven himself) and Choral Fantasy (with Beethoven at the piano).  On this date in 1937, the Lincoln Tunnel opened to traffic in New York City.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

From Amy Dickinson  What I learned from my mother's life-lesson is that when you have a book, you are never alone.  Reading unlocks worlds of imagination and creativity.  Literacy imparts real power, and this is especially important for people who feel powerless.  The magic of literacy can happen at any time, but it is especially important in childhood.  Reading helps a young child's brain develop and mature.  Reading for pleasure is a lifelong gift of entertainment and learning. On Christmas morning (or whatever holiday you celebrate), make sure that each child in your household wakes up to a wrapped book at the foot of their bed.  The gift could be a new book or an old favorite from your own childhood.  If your family celebrates Hanukkah or Kwanzaa, imagine the possibilities for starting each celebratory morning with a story!  After the child unwraps the book, the most important aspect of this gift is unveiled, when the parent sits and shares it with the child.  Starting a celebration morning by reading together will forge an unforgettable intimacy for both the child and the parent.  This year I am partnering with Children's Reading Connection, a new national early literacy initiative founded in my hometown of Ithaca, N.Y.  Their advocacy focuses on the importance of helping families to share books with babies and children.  Even babies too young to talk with tune in, in a deep and abiding way, when they are held and read to.  This is an important prescription for health and success in growing brains--and sharing a book is a wonderful way for families to connect.  Every year I hear from teachers, librarians, parents and grandparents who tell me they have adopted the "book on every bed" tradition in their homes.  I can think of no nicer way to kick off a busy Christmas morning than by snuggling up with a book before opening other gifts.

A tropical tree found in the tropics, sea grape plant (Coccoloba uvifera) is often used in ocean-side landscaping.  Growing sea grapes can be found in sandy soil right on the beach and it produces clusters of fruit that resemble grapes.  The tree tends to branch off into multiple trunks, but can be trained (pruned) to form a single one and its size can be maintained to that of a shrub.  It can grow up to 25-30 feet high when left unchecked.  They are most often utilized to create a windbreak or hedge, although they make attractive specimen plants as well.  They do well in urban environments and have even been used as street trees along boulevards and freeways.  The plant blooms with flowers of ivory to white, which grow in clusters on short stalks.  The resulting fruit also grows in clusters and can be white or purple.  Since the fruit looks so much like grapes, one wonders are sea grapes edible?  Yes, animals enjoy sea grapes and humans can eat them as well, and they are used to make jam.  Read more and see picture at

Many of you already know about sea beans, which is the newest, trendiest name for salicornia; by most accounts, the “sea bean” moniker is an outgrowth of the restaurant trade.  Salicornia is in no way a bean, but it does have that nice snap like a good green bean.  Do not cook salicornia for more than a few minutes, or it will get flabby, and the crunch (as well as the salty hit) is really what this vegetable is all about.  Once you collect your sea beans, put them in a plastic bag in the fridge with a damp paper towel around them.  They will last more than a week that way.  Once blanched, they freeze well, too.  Hank Shaw  Find recipe for Sea Bean Salad at

William Sidney Mount (1807–1868) was an American painter.  William Mount was born in SetauketLong IslandNew York, on November 26, 1807 to Thomas Shepard Mount and his wife, Julia Ann Hawkins.  He trained at the National Academy of Design in New York City, and in 1832 was made a full Academician.  Although he started as a history painter, Mount moved to depicting scenes from everyday life.  The largest collection of his works is located in the Long Island Museum of American Art, History, and CarriagesHis home and studio, the William Sidney Mount House, is a National Historic Landmark.  One of the local elementary schools in The Three Village Central School District is named in his honor, as is PS 174 elementary school in Rego Park, Queens.  Read more and see many graphics at

Everybody loves a good #thread.  You know the type:  those long strings of related messages designed to tell a story or make a point that can't be expressed in a single tweet.  They used to be called tweetstorms; now they're just threads.  Threads have never been an official thing.  All you do is reply to your own tweet, and you've got a thread going.  But throw in a few replies from other people, and reading a thread becomes a mess.  So Twitter's making threads easier to create, easier to find, and easier to read.  The threading feature will roll out slowly, so it might not hit your phone immediately.  Once you get it, you'll notice a new plus-sign button when you go to compose a tweet.  Rather than just typing your 280 and hitting "tweet," you can tap the plus and compose another tweet right in the same window.  Once your story's complete, you tap "tweet all," and the entire thread goes out to the world at once.  On the other side, if someone sees your tweet in their timeline, they can hit "show this thread" and go find the whole thing.  Threads have become popular because they allow for more space, which allows for more context and thought than even a 280-character tweet.  Twitter as a service desperately needs ways to give users more space; it has reportedly discussed allowing tweets up to 10,000 characters and has removed many of its limits in order to let people more fully express themselves.  Threads are another means to the same end.  David Pierce

December 12, 2017  Television executives seek programs that can run for several seasons, yet 11 of the 50 longest running primetime shows of all time have appeared on the not-for-profit public television channel PBS.  PBS programs are different from shows on for-profit television channels because they are less subject to the uncertainty of the marketplace.  For one, they are allowed more time to develop an audience than shows on broadcast networks that are at the whim of ratings.  They also receive funding from foundations and individuals who believe in the content and mission of public service programs.  Many programs on broadcast and public television have an extended life because they are inexpensive.  Many also have simple formats, often with a charismatic host, or deal with a timeless topic such as gardening or renovating a house.  To determine the longest running primetime TV shows of all time, 24/7 Wall St. developed a list of primetime television shows using the Internet Movie Database and other sources.  Click here to see the full list of the longest running TV shows of all time.  Six PBS programs are among the 10 longest running shows, and together they have logged a total of 231 years on the air.  The science program “Nova” has been on television for 44 years and trails only “60 Minutes” (49 years) in terms of longevity.  Other long-running shows on PBS are “The Victory Garden” (43 years); “This Old House” (39 years); “Nature” (35 years); “Frontline” (35 years); and “Wall Street Week” (35 years).  Of those programs, only “Wall Street Week” is no longer on the air.  John Harrington

FROM A FAITHFUL MUSE READER   Here are my favorite books from 2017:  Augustus by John Williams, Love For Lydia by H.E. Bates, Confusion by Stefan Zweig, SPQR by Mary Beard, Some Tame Gazelle, Excellent Women, and Jane and Prudence all by Barbara Pym, Malcolm X:  A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable, An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser and The Russia House by John Le Carré.  Thank you for your reading list, good reader!  Issue 1814  December 20, 2017  On today’s date in 1738, the 56-year-old Jean-Joseph Mouret composer died.  Mouret would achieve belated fame in 20th century America when the "Rondeau" from his “Symphonies and Fanfares for the King's Supper” was chosen as the theme for the “Masterpiece Theater” TV series on PBS.  Christopher Sarson, the original executive producer of “Masterpiece Theatre,” recalls how this came about.  “In 1962 my future wife and I went to one of the Club Med villages in Italy.  We were in these little straw huts and every morning we were summoned to breakfast by that theme.  It was just magic . . .  I wanted to use it for Masterpiece Theatre but there was no way I could bear to put a FRENCH piece of music on something that was supposed to be English. I went through all kinds of English composers and nothing worked.  So, Mouret became the theme.  Composers Datebook  
Word of the Day  Shangri-La  noun  place of complete blissdelight, and peaceespecially one seen as an escape from ordinary life; a paradise.  British author James Hilton, who coined the word in his 1933 novel Lost Horizon, died on December 20, 1954.  Wiktionary

Monday, December 18, 2017

PARAPHRASES from the novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Díaz  *  He was the neighborhood B&E expert   *   I think I'm allergic to diligence--ha--you're allergic to trying  *  the libraries of Paterson were so underfunded that they kept a lot of the previous generation's nerdery in circulation  *  Jersey malaise--unquenchable longing for elsewhere  *  Why would anyone go anywhere when they have New Jersey  *  His favorite librarian said, Here, try this, and with one suggestion changed his life  *

SUMMARY of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (2007)  The book chronicles the life of Oscar de León, an overweight Dominican boy growing up in Paterson, New Jersey, who is obsessed with science fiction and fantasy novels and with falling in love, as well as with the curse that has plagued his family for generations.  The middle sections of the novel center on the lives of Oscar's runaway sister, Lola; his mother, Hypatia Belicia Cabral; and his grandfather, Abelard.  Rife with footnotes, science fiction and fantasy references, comic book analogies, and various Spanish dialects, the novel is also a meditation on story-telling, the Dominican diaspora and identity, masculinity, and oppression.  Most of the story is told by an apparently omniscient narrator who is eventually revealed to be Yunior de Las Casas, a college roommate of Oscar's who dated Lola.  Yunior also appears in many of Díaz's short stories and is often seen as an alter ego of the author. 

Junot Díaz (born December 31, 1968) is a Dominican American writer, creative writing professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and fiction editor at Boston Review.  He also serves on the board of advisers for Freedom University, a volunteer organization in Georgia that provides post-secondary instruction to undocumented immigrants.  Central to Díaz's work is the immigrant experience.  He received the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.  He is a 2012 MacArthur Fellow.  Born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Díaz immigrated with his family to New Jersey when he was six years old.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Rutgers University, and shortly after graduating created the character "Yunior", who served as narrator of several of his later books.  After obtaining his MFA from Cornell University, Díaz published his first book, the 1995 short story collection Drown.  Read more at

Maria Africa Gracia Vidal was born in Barahona, (Dominican Republic) on June 6th, 1912, daughter of Isidoro Gracia García, of Spanish descent, and Regla Teresa Maria Vidal, who was from Baní (Dominican Republic).  She was named Maria Africa in honor to her father’s native land, La Isla de La Palma, Spain (although it belongs to Spain, it is on the African continent).  Maria Gracia chose the name of Maria Montez in honor to the dancer Lola Montez whom Maria’s father admired a lot.  In 1942, she appeared in the first "escapist" movie, SOUTH OF TAHITI.  Maria played the role of the girl who lives in an enchanted island of an Asian continent.  Universal made this movie with the purpose of competing with Paramount Pictures, whose movies, with the legendary Dorothy Lamour, in the desert, in the jungle or in a tropical island filled the theaters with a public who wanted to escape the worries of World War II.  Maria Africa Gracia Vidal, died on September 7th, 1951, while she was taking a bath, in her house in Sureness, Paris.  Maria wrote 3 books, numerous poems, between them TWILIGHT, which won an award of the association The Manuscripters.  She also wrote the songs DOLIENTE and MIDNIGHT MEMORIES.  FOREVER IS A LONG TIME, HOLLYWOOD WOLVES I HAVE TAMED and REUNION IN LILITH are the titles of the books written by the actress.  But REUNION IN LILITH was never published.

Daruma Doll:  History of Japanese Wishing Dolls  Usually red and round and made of a special type of Japanese paper, the bodiless head stares with fierce determination.  The eyes are left intentionally blank, so that it’s up to the user to draw in the pupils or irises.  The process of using a Daruma doll is simple:  Have a goal, wish, or promise to fulfill.  Paint in one eye.  Work for it everyday.  When the dream is achieved, paint in the other eye.  Daruma dolls are constant reminders of the what the Japanese call the ganbaru spirit.  Life is full of pitfalls and bumps on the road.  It’s inevitable that you’ll stumble sometimes.  But it’s up to you to get back up.  It’s in your own power and will to keep moving.  The doll embodies this popular Japanese proverb:  Nanakorobi yaoki.  "Fall down seven times, stand up eight."  So it’s always about the work.  No matter how tired, despite the circumstances, or even lack of rewards or motivation, the ganbaru spirit treads forward.  That’s why Daruma dolls have such determined expressions.  They never give up.  They are built to automatically bounce back when knocked over.  Like many religious figures, there is a historical person and the fanciful legend people spun from one generation to the next.  Daruma dolls are based on Bodhidharma (or known as Daruma-Daishi in Japan), a sage monk who lived in the 5th-6th century.  He is credited for introducing Zen Buddhism to China, Shaolin Kungfu, a type of meditation called Zazen, and green tea.  Read more and see graphics at

Having a hard time trying to decide what to get for the person who has everything?  How about giving the gift of knowledge to the community in honor of that special person in your life?  The Name-a-Book gift is a wonderful tribute that honors your loved ones.  The Toledo-Lucas County Public Library will place a label on the inside of a new book's cover, commemorating the person of your choosing.  The library will also send them a card, letting them know of your very special gift.  $25 - You may select a general subject area and staff will choose a new book to receive your recognition.  $100 - You may pick a specific book* to receive your recognition.  * book is subject to Library approval  Please visit to purchase your gift.  Questions?  Please reach out to Kathy Selking at 419.259.5123 or for more information. 

New Worlds was a British science fiction magazine that began in 1936 as a fanzine called Novae Terrae.  John Carnell, who became Novae Terrae's editor in 1939, renamed it New Worlds that year.  He was instrumental in turning it into a professional publication in 1946 and was the first editor of the new incarnation.  It became the leading UK science fiction magazine; the period to 1960 has been described by historian Mike Ashley as the magazine's "Golden Age".  Carnell joined the British Army in 1940 following the outbreak of the Second World War, and returned to civilian life in 1946.  He negotiated a publishing agreement for the magazine with Pendulum Publications, but only three issues of New Worlds were subsequently produced before Pendulum's bankruptcy in late 1947.  A group of science fiction fans formed a company called Nova Publications to revive the magazine; the first issue under their management appeared in mid-1949.  New Worlds continued to appear on a regular basis until issue 20, published in early 1953, following which a change of printers led to a hiatus in publication.  In early 1954, when Maclaren & Sons acquired control of Nova Publications, the magazine returned to a stable monthly schedule.  New Worlds was acquired by Roberts & Vinter in 1964, when Michael Moorcock became editor.  By the end of 1966 financial problems led Roberts & Vinter to abandon New Worlds, but with the aid of an Arts Council grant obtained by Brian Aldiss, Moorcock was able to publish the magazine independently.  He featured a good deal of experimental and avant-garde material, and New Worlds became the focus of the "New Wave" of science fiction.  Reaction among the science fiction community was mixed, with partisans and opponents of the New Wave debating the merits of New Worlds in the columns of fanzines such as Zenith-Speculation.  Several of the regular contributors during this period, including Brian Aldiss, J. G. Ballard and Thomas M. Disch, became major names in the field.  By 1970 Moorcock was too deeply in debt to be able to continue with the magazine, and it ceased publication with issue 200.  The title has been revived multiple times, with Moorcock's direct involvement or approval; by 2012, 22 additional issues had appeared in various formats, including several anthologies.

The Trump administration is prohibiting officials at the nation’s top public health agency from using a list of seven words or phrases—including “fetus” and “transgender”—in official documents being prepared for next year’s budget.  Policy analysts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta were told of the list of forbidden terms at a meeting December 15, 2017 with senior CDC officials who oversee the budget, according to an analyst who took part in the 90-minute briefing.  The forbidden terms are “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.”  In some instances, the analysts were given alternative phrases.  Instead of “science-based” or ­“evidence-based,” the suggested phrase is “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes,” the person said.  In other cases, no replacement words were immediately offered.  Lena H. Sun and Juliet Eilperin  Issue 1813  December 18, 2017  On this date in 1964, “Emblems”by Aaron Copland premiered in Tempe, Arizona performed by the USC Band, conducted by William Schaefer. In the section of his autobiography on the 1960s, Aaron Copland wrote:  “I have often called myself a ‘work-a-year’ man . . . and 1964 belonged to the band piece ‘Emblems.’  Among the invitations I received to compose new pieces was one from clarinetist Keith Wilson, who was president of the College Band Directors National Association, for a work to be played at the organization’s national convention.  Wilson wrote, ‘The purpose of this commission is to enrich the band repertory with music that is representative of the composer’s best work, and not one written with all sorts of technical or practical limitations.’”  Here’s how Copland explained the work’s title:  “An emblem stands for something . . .  I called this work ‘Emblems’ because it seemed to me to suggest musical states of being: noble or aspirational feelings, playful or spirited feelings.”  Close listeners may hear harmonic echoes of the spiritual “Amazing Grace” in the slow opening and close of “Emblems.”  Copland said, "Curiously, the harmonies had been conceived without reference to that tune.  It was only by chance that I realized a connection between my harmonies and "Amazing Grace!"  Composers Datebook  Aaron Copland, Emblems  9:59  Word of the Day  fit as a fiddle  adjective  (similecolloquialPerfectly fit; in excellent condition or health.  The Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari died December 18, 1737.  Wiktionary