Monday, October 30, 2017

Teppanyaki is a style of Japanese cuisine that uses an iron griddle to cook food.  The word teppanyaki is derived from teppan which means iron plate, and yaki, which means grilled, broiled or pan-fried.  In Japan, teppanyaki refers to dishes cooked using an iron plate, including steakshrimpokonomiyakiyakisoba, and monjayaki.  Modern teppanyaki grills are typically propane-heated flat surface grills, and are widely used to cook food in front of guests at restaurants.  Teppanyaki grills are commonly confused with  the hibachi barbecue grill, which has a charcoal or gas flame and is made with an open grate design.  With a solid griddle type cook surface, the teppanyaki is more suitable for smaller ingredients, such as rice, egg, and finely chopped vegetables.  The originator of the teppanyaki-style steakhouse is the Japanese restaurant chain Misono, which introduced the concept of cooking Western-influenced food on a teppan in Japan in 1945.  They soon found the cuisine was less popular with the Japanese than it was with foreigners, who enjoyed both watching the skilled maneuvers of the chefs preparing the food as well as the cuisine itself, which is somewhat more familiar than more traditional Japanese dishes.  As the restaurants became popular at tourist spots with non-Japanese, the chain increased the performance aspect of the chef’s preparation, such as stacking onion slices to produce a flaming onion volcano.  Another piece of equipment in the same family is a flattop grill, consisting of a flat piece of steel over circular burners and typically smaller and round like a Mongolian barbecue.  The form of teppanyaki most familiar to North Americans consists of steak and other meats, along with vegetable accompaniments, and is often known by the name of hibachi, with the establishments often referred to as “Japanese steakhouses.”  In the United Statesteppanyaki was made famous by the Benihana restaurant chain, which opened its first restaurant in New York in 1964.

In civil and property lawhotchpot (sometimes referred to as hotchpotch or the hotchpotch rule) refers to the blending, combining or offsetting of property (typically gifts) to ensure equality of a later division of property.  The name hotch-pot is taken from a kind of pudding.  The term is derived from the French word hocher, or "shake."  It was used as early as 1292 as a legal term, and from the 15th century in cooking for a sort of broth with many ingredients (see Hodge-Podge soup) and so it is used figuratively for any heterogeneous mixture.  Hotch Potch recipe

PARAPHRASES from Nickel City Blues, a Gideon Rimes Mystery, Book 1 by Gary Earl Ross:    "teacher's disease"—the need to share everything as if retaining it would lead to a cerebral explosion  *  don't want to play trivia games with somebody whose brain is like a lint trap  *  Gary Earl Ross is Professor Emeritus, University at Buffalo Educational Opportunity Center (UB/EOC).  Playwright, Novelist, Short Story Writer, Poet, Public Radio Essayist, Popular Culture Scholar, Speaker, Writing Workshop Leader, Editor and Manuscript Consultant, Occasional Actor.

1900-1910:  THE BAUM OZ YEARS  1900:  Jan. 18 – L. Frank Baum and W.W. Denslow apply for joint copyright on a manuscript they tentatively call The Land of Oz.  May 15 – Baum’s renamed fairy tale, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, is scheduled for publication by George M. Hill, Chicago, and printing begins.  1902:   June 16 – The Wizard of Oz opens on stage at the Grand Opera House in Chicago starring Fred Stone as the Scarecrow and Dave Montgomery as the Tin Woodman.  See also William Wallace Denslow and Frank Baum in the Land of Oz at and The Great and Powerful Baum and Denslow at

Wizard of Oz silent film from 1910  13:12 

Wizard of Oz silent film from 1925  1:33:20

The laurels that are being referred to when someone is said to 'rest on his laurels' are the aromatically scented Laurus Nobilis trees or, more specifically, their leaves.  The trees are known colloquially as Sweet Bay and are commonly grown as culinary or ornamental plants.  The origins of the phrase lie in ancient Greece, where laurel wreaths were symbols of victory and status.  Of course, ancient Greece is where history and mythology were frequently mixed, so we need to tread carefully.  The pre-Christian Greeks associated their god Apollo with laurel--that much is historical fact.  The reason for that association takes us into the myth of Apollo's love for the nymph Daphne, who turned into a bay tree just as Apollo approached her.  Undeterred, Apollo embraced the tree, cut off a branch to wear as a wreath and declared the plant sacred.  Their belief in the myth caused the Greeks to present laurel wreaths to winners in the Pythian Games, which were held at Delphi in honour of Apollo every four years from the 6th century BC.  Following the decline of the Greek and Roman empires, the use of wreaths of laurel as emblems of  victory seems to have taken a long holiday and didn't re-emerge until the Middle Ages.  A 'laureate' was originally a person crowned with a laurel wreath.  We continue to call those who are especially honoured laureates although the laurel leaves are usually kept for the kitchen these days.  Nevertheless, laureates benefit in other ways; Nobel Laureates get a nice medal and 10 million Swedish Krona and Poets Laureate (in the UK at least) get a useful salary and a butt of sack (barrel of sherry).  As to the phrase's meaning, to 'rest on one's laurels' isn't considered at all a praiseworthy strategy--it suggests a decline into laziness and lack of application.  That's not the original meaning.  When 'rest on one's laurels' or, as it was initially, 'repose on one's laurels' was coined it was invariably part of a valedictory speech for some old soldier or retiring official.  As soon as we move into the energetic 19th century, the meaning changes and the phrase is used with a distinctly disapproving tone.

The term jack- o’-lantern was first applied not to pumpkins, but people.  As far back as 1663, the term meant a man with a lantern, or a night watchman. 

The practice of decorating “jack-o’-lanterns”—the name comes from an Irish folktale about a man named Stingy Jack—originated in Ireland, where large turnips and potatoes served as an early canvas.  Irish immigrants brought the tradition to America, home of the pumpkin, and it became an integral part of Halloween festivities.  See also

"We of the North," Amy Beach wrote to the Boston Herald, "should be more likely to be influenced by old English, Scotch, or Irish songs, inherited with our literature from our ancestors."  And so, on October 30, 1896, Amy Beach put her ideas into practice, when her "Gaelic" Symphony had its first public performance by the Boston Symphony.  As themes for her symphony, Beach used actual folk tunes found in an old collection of Irish melodies.  Composers Datebook

Dave Gallaher (born David Gallagher, 30 October 1873–4 October 1917) was an Irish-born New Zealand rugby union footballer best remembered as the captain of the "Original All Blacks"—the 1905–06 New Zealand national team, the first representative New Zealand side to tour the British Isles.  Under Gallaher's leadership the Originals won 34 out of 35 matches over the course of tour, including legs in France and North America; the New Zealanders scored 976 points and conceded only 59.  Before returning home he co-wrote the classic rugby text The Complete Rugby Footballer with his vice-captain Billy Stead  Issue 1791  October 30, 2017  On this date in 1938Orson Welles broadcast his radio play of H. G. Wells's The War of the Worlds, causing anxiety in some of the audience in the United States.  On this date in 1945Jackie Robinson of the Kansas City Monarchs signed a contract for the Brooklyn Dodgers to break the baseball color line.

Friday, October 27, 2017

During his time in Samoa, Robert Louis Stevenson was on friendly terms with some of the colonial leaders and their families.  At one point, he formally donated, by deed of gift, his birthday to the daughter of the American Land Commissioner Henry Clay Ide since she was born on Christmas Day and had no birthday celebration separate from the family's Christmas celebrations.  This led to a strong bond between the Stevenson and Ide families.  Source:  Wikipedia  Thank you, Muse reader!  Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson (1850-1894) was a Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer.  His most famous works are Treasure IslandKidnappedStrange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and A Child's Garden of Verses.

Effectiveness of Commercial and Homemade Washing Agents in Removing Pesticide Residues on and in Apples  Lili He, a chemist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, and researchers set out to test three different washing styles.  They sprayed organic Gala apples with the fungicide thiabendazole and the insecticide phosmet—both of which are EPA-approved for use on apples—and let the fruit sit for 24 hours.  They then washed each apple with plain water, a bleach solution typically used by US fruit purveyors, and a solution of water with 1% baking soda.  For each of the three options, they tested both a two- and an eight-minute wash before rinsing each apple again with water.  After two minutes, baking soda had removed more pesticides than the other two methods.  (In fact, plain water was more effective than the bleach solution.)  The baking soda solution cleared off all of the thiabendazole from the apple skins after 12 and all of the phosmet after 15 minutes.  That said, by that point, small amounts of pesticide had seeped through the apple skin and into the flesh, so even washing fruit thoroughly won’t prevent you from low levels of chemical exposure.  Though thiabendazole and phosmet might be toxic in very large quantities, they are safe for human consumption at the levels they’re typically used at for apple farming, according to the EPA.  But if you really want to minimize your exposure, the study suggests, wash them in a mixture of one teaspoon of baking soda for every two cups of water.  Peeling them also works, though trace levels of chemicals will have gone into the fruit itself, and, the researchers note, you’ll be missing out on some of the fiber and vitamins in the skin.

The University of Utah (also referred to as the UU of U, or Utah) is a public coeducational space-grant research university in Salt Lake City.  As the state's flagship university, the university offers more than 100 undergraduate majors and more than 92 graduate degree programs.  Graduate studies include the S.J. Quinney College of Lawand the School of Medicine, Utah's only medical school.  The university was established in 1850 as the University of Deseret by the General Assembly of the provisional State of Deseret, making it Utah's oldest institution of higher education.  It received its current name in 1892, four years before Utah attained statehood, and moved to its current location in 1900.  The University of Utah was one of the original four nodes of ARPANET, the world's first packet-switching computer network and embryo of the current worldwide Internet.  The School of Computing produced many of the early pioneers in computer science and graphics, including Turing Award winner Alan KayPixar founder Ed CatmullAtari founder Nolan Bushnell, and Adobe founder John Warnock

Tahini and Halva Brownies by Yotam Ottolenghi & Helen Goh

The New York Times was founded as the New-York Daily Times on September 18, 1851, published by Raymond, Jones & Company (raising about $70,000); by journalist and politician Henry Jarvis Raymond (1820–69), then a Whig Party member and later second chairman of the newly organized Republican Party National Committee, and former banker George Jones.  Other early investors of the company were Edwin B. MorganChristopher Morgan, and Edward B. Wesley.  Sold for a penny (equivalent to 29 cents today), the inaugural edition attempted to address various speculations on its purpose and positions that preceded its release.

The Washington Post is an American daily newspaper.  Published in Washington, D.C., it was founded on December 6, 1877.  Located in the capital city of the United States, the newspaper has a particular emphasis on national politics.  Daily editions are printed for the District of ColumbiaMaryland, and Virginia.  The newspaper has won 47 Pulitzer Prizes.  This includes six separate Pulitzers awarded in 2008, the second-highest number ever awarded to a single newspaper in one year, second only to The New York Times' seven awards in 2002Post journalists have also received 18 Nieman Fellowships and 368 White House News Photographers Association awards.  In the early 1970s, in the best-known episode in the newspaper's history, reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein led the American press' investigation into what became known as the Watergate scandal; reporting in the newspaper greatly contributed to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.  In 2013, its longtime controlling family, the Graham family, sold the newspaper to billionaire entrepreneur and founder Jeff Bezos for $250 million in cash.  The newspaper is owned by Nash Holdings LLC, a holding company Bezos created for the acquisition.

USA Today is an internationally distributed American daily middle-market newspaper that serves as the flagship publication of its owner, the Gannett Company.  Founded by Al Neuharth on September 15, 1982, it operates from Gannett's corporate headquarters on Jones Branch Drive in McLean, Virginia.  It is printed at 37 sites across the United States and at five additional sites internationally.  Its dynamic design influenced the style of local, regional and national newspapers worldwide, through its use of concise reports, colorized images, informational graphics, and its inclusion of popular culture stories, among other distinct features.  With a weekly circulation of 1,021,638 and an approximate daily reach of seven million readers as of 2016, USA Today shares the position of having the widest circulation of any newspaper in the United States with The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.  USA Today is distributed in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, with an international edition distributed in CanadaAsia and the Pacific Islands, and Europe.  Read about  the "butterfly" edition of USA Today  as an insert in newspapers at

On October 27, 1994, Dennis Russell Davies conducted the Chicago Symphony in the premiere performance of a 23-minute orchestral work by the American composer Steven Mackey.  The new piece was titled "Eating Greens," after a painting of the same name that the composer purchased at an African art store in the French Quarter of New Orleans.  Mackey's "Eating Greens" is a colorful orchestral suite of seven movements.  The fourth movement is only 46 seconds long, and is playfully labeled "The Title is Almost as Long as The Piece Itself."  Other movements' titles acknowledge the influence of the colorful and playful visual artist, Henri Matisse, and the quirky but brilliant jazz composer and pianist, Thelonious Monk.  Composers Datebook  Issue 1790  October 27, 2017  On this date in 1682Philadelphia was established in the Colonial American Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  On this date in 1810, United States annexed the former Spanish colony of West Florida.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Are coriander and cilantro the same or two totally different things?  The short answer is:  It depends on where you are.  They mean the same things in some countries, while others treat them as two completely different components.  The Latin name for the herb in question is Coriandrum sativum.  So, as you can easily see, this is where the word "coriander" is derived from.  In turn, the word "cilantro" is the Spanish translation of this word (coriander).  In the United Kingdom,  the leaves and stalks of the plant are called  "coriander" while the the seeds are called "coriander seeds."  Basically, the word "cilantro" does not exist in the UK.  In the US, the leaves and stalks of the plant are referred to as "cilantro," while the seeds are referred to as "coriander."  In India, the herb is extremely popular in cooking, it is referred to as something different-sounding altogether—"dhania".  Gordon N. Hamilton  Read more and see pictures at

Cilantro/Coriander Leaf Substitute  Replace the coriander called for in the recipe with an equal amount of fresh parsley, tarragon, dill or a combination of the three.  For maximum flavor, add your herbs to the dish just before serving.  Cooking diminishes their flavor significantly.  These substitutes work best when the cilantro is being used as a garnish.  If the recipe you're working on calls for a large amount of cilantro, consider making something else.  Replacing the cilantro that's supposed to be sprinkled on top of a finished dish is very different than replacing the cilantro in a recipe like Chimichurri, where the finished product is almost 50% cilantro.  Dried coriander isn't a good substitute for fresh coriander.  It loses much of its flavor when it's dried, and incorporates into the dish quite differently.  If you don't have any of the suggested fresh herbs on hand, just leave the cilantro out.  Your recipe should still taste great without it.  Coriander Seed/Ground Coriander Substitute  Replace the coriander called for in the recipe with an equal amount of caraway seeds, cumin, fennel or a combination of the three.  Erin Huffstetler   Read more at

Charles Kay Ogden (1889-1957) was a British writer and linguist who originated Basic English, a simplified system of the English language intended as a uniform, standardized means of international communication.  In 1912 Ogden founded an intellectual weekly, The Cambridge Magazine, to which Thomas HardyGeorge Bernard Shaw, H.G. Wells, and other noted literary figures contributed.  In 1919 he turned it into a quarterly and, with the literary scholar I.A. Richards, began publishing preliminary sketches for a book on the theory of languageThe Meaning of Meaning (1923).  In this work he attempted to draw insights from modern psychological research to bear on the linguistic problem of word meaning.  The chapter on definition contained the germ of Basic (short for British, American, scientific, international, commercial) English, which took its final form in 1928.  His Basic Vocabulary (1930) and Basic English (1930) were followed by The System of Basic English (1934). General interest in Basic English did not develop until after 1943, however, when Winston Churchill, with the support of Franklin D. Roosevelt, appointed a committee to study the extension of its use.  See OGDEN's BASIC ENGLISH Word List - Alphabetic 850 at

Palindromes are words or sentences that read the same forward as backward.  Examples of palindromic words are:  kayak, racecar, deified, madam.  Rotavator, redivider and Malayalam at 9 letters each are generally agreed to be the longest single word palindromes.  Malayalam is a language used predominantly in the state of Kerala in India.  The Romans used palindromes and one of the most celebrated was found on a wall in the doomed city of Herculaneum.  It reads Sator Arepo Tenet Opera Rotas and can be translated as ‘The sower, Arepo, makes the wheel work.’  This is unusual in that it works if the words are read vertically or horizontally in a square.

Semordnilaps (the word palindromes in reverse) are words that spell other words when spelled backwards (for example, star/rats, drawer/reward).

The "Black Hole of Calcutta" was a tiny prison cell in Fort William, in the Indian city of Calcutta.  According to John Zephaniah Holwell of the British East India Company, on June 20, 1756, the Nawab of Bengal imprisoned 146 British captives inside the airless room overnight—when the chamber was opened the next morning, only 23 men (including Holwell) were still alive.  This story inflamed public opinion in Great Britain, and led to the characterization of the Nawab, Siraj-ud-daulah, and by extension all Indians as cruel savages.  However, there is much controversy surrounding this story—though the prison was very much a real location that was later used by British troops as a storage warehouse.  As a matter of fact, no contemporary sources ever corroborated Holwell's story—and Holwell has since been caught fabricating other incidents of similar controversial natures.  Many historians question the accuracy, positing that perhaps his account may have been a mere exaggeration or entirely a figment of his imagination.  Some posit that given the dimensions of the room at 24 feet by 18 feet, it would not have been possible to cram more than about 65 prisoners into the space.  Others say that if several had died, all of them inevitably would have at the same time as limited oxygen would have killed everyone simultaneously, not depriving them individually, unless Howell and his surviving crew had strangled the others to save air.  The story of the "Black Hole of Calcutta" actually could be one of history's great scams, along with the "bombing" of the battleship Maine in Havana Harbor, the Gulf of Tonkin Incident, and Saddam Hussein's putative weapons of mass destruction. 

Battling a swarm of fruit flies in your kitchen or bathroom?  Get rid of them quickly with this simple, homemade trap.  1.  Toss out any overripe fruit.  Then, pour a cup of apple cider vinegar into a jar or small bowl.  2.  Add a couple drops of dish soap to the jar.  3. Place the trap in the area where you've seen the fruit flies, and wait for it to do its job.  Fruit flies are attracted to the smell of the vinegar, and will attempt to land on its surface.  Since the dish soap breaks the surface tension of the vinegar, the fruit flies fall in and drown.  Erin Huffstetler  See also

Nancy Jean Cartwright (born October 25, 1957) is an American voice actress and comedian.  She is known for her long-running role as Bart Simpson on the animated television series The Simpsons.  Cartwright also voices other characters for the show, including Nelson MuntzRalph WiggumTodd FlandersKearney, and Database.  Cartwright was born in Dayton, Ohio.  Cartwright moved to Hollywood in 1978 and trained alongside voice actor Daws Butler.  Her first professional role was voicing Gloria in the animated series Richie Rich, which she followed with a starring role in the television movie Marian Rose White (1982) and her first feature film, Twilight Zone:  The Movie (1983).  After continuing to search for acting work, in 1987, Cartwright auditioned for a role in a series of animated shorts about a dysfunctional family that was to appear on The Tracey Ullman Show.  Cartwright intended to audition for the role of Lisa Simpson, the middle child; when she arrived at the audition, she found the role of Bart—Lisa's brother—to be more interesting.  Matt Groening, the series' creator, allowed her to audition for Bart and offered her the role on the spot.  She voiced Bart for three seasons on The Tracey Ullman Show, and in 1989, the shorts were spun off into a half-hour show called The Simpsons.  For her subsequent work as Bart, Cartwright received a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance in 1992 and an Annie Award for Best Voice Acting in the Field of Animation in 1995.  Besides The Simpsons, Cartwright has also voiced numerous other animated characters, including Daffney Gillfin in The SnorksRufus in Kim PossibleMindy in Animaniacs, Pistol in Goof Troop, Margo Sherman in The Critic, Todd Daring in The Replacements, and Charles "Chuckie" Finster, Jr. in Rugrats and All Grown Up! (a role she assumed in 2002, following the retirement of Christine Cavanaugh).  In 2000, she published her autobiography, My Life as a 10-Year-Old Boy, and four years later, adapted it into a one-woman play.  She also co-produced the one-woman play In Search of Fellini (2016).  Issue 1789  October 25, 2017  On today's date in 1970, a new chamber work by the American composer John Corigliano received its premiere performance at a concert given by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, the group that had commissioned it.  The new piece, titled "Poem in October," was scored for tenor voice and eight instruments and was a setting of poetry by Dylan Thomas, the great Welsh poet who died in 1953.  Composers Datebook

Monday, October 23, 2017

LAND'S END--THE SOUTHERN TIP OF INDIA  Three different seas meet in Kanyakumari:  the Bay of Bengal, the Indian Ocean and the Arabian Sea, each of them was bringing its own kind of sand.  There was of course yellow sand, but also black sand and even red sand.  The funny thing about different sands was that the grain sizes must have been different enough so that the sands would not really mix with each other and so every single wave was creating a new pattern at the beach . . .  See also

"What can't be cured must be endured."  "Americans have mastered the universe, but have no dominion over their mouths; whereas India is impotent, but her children tend to have excellent teeth."  Midnight's Children, a novel by Salman Rushdie

In his Booker-winning novel Midnight’s Children, Salman Rushdie spared neither Indira Gandhi nor the cow, subjecting them to his irreverent caricatures.  One of the most unforgettable mention in the novel is of a fictional film called “Gai-Walla”.  Rushdie wrote:  “The film was an eastern Western.  Its hero, Dev, who was not slim, rode the range alone.  It looked very like the Indo-Gangetic plain.  Gai-Wallah means cow-fellow and Dev played a sort of one-man vigilante force for the protection of cows.  SINGLE-HANDED!  And DOUBLE-BARRELLED!, he stalked the many herds of cattle which were being driven across the range to the slaughterhouse, vanquished the cattlemen and liberated the sacred beasts.  (The film was made for Hindu audiences; in Delhi it had caused riots.  Muslim Leaguers had driven cows past cinemas to the slaughter, and had been mobbed.)”  The first line of Rukun Advani’s 1994 novel Beethoven Among The Cows takes its inspiration from the opening line of Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children

In his 1994 novel, "Beethoven Among the Cows," Rukun Advani told the story of two Indian brothers, anglicized and urbane, who decide to take the train to Agra on a whim.  Their fictional journey was in the weeks after Hindu nationalists had razed a 16th-century mosque in Ayodhya, believing that it was built at the precise spot where the mythical Hindu god Rama was born.  In the riots that followed, hundreds died.  The brothers decided to see the Taj Mahal one last time, just in case the nationalists turned their wrath on the Taj next.  That fear isn't fanciful.  A Hindu conspiracy theorist called P.N. Oak has claimed that the Taj Mahal was originally a Hindu monument, called Tejo Mahalaya, which the invading Muslims appropriated.  Only a few of India's gifted writers have tackled the rise of Hindu militancy in their fiction.  Advani dealt with it in "Beethoven Among the Cows."  Book review in The Asian Wall Street Journal  December 2001  See also

Well before the Declaration of Independence, in 1743 Benjamin Franklin (1706-90) and his friend the Quaker botanist John Bartram (1699-1777) established the American Philosophical Society in Philadelphia as a declaration of scientific independence from Great Britain’s scientific domination.  The APS developed from a group of local intellectuals keen on expanding human knowledge to serve informally as the national academy of science and national library for a half century after 1790, when the United States capital moved to Philadelphia.  Over time, the APS expanded into a multidisciplinary society and prominent institution as members applied their expertise to endeavors ranging from charting unknown territories in the nineteenth century to examining the ethics of scientific advancement in the modern world.  Benjamin Franklin founded the American Philosophical Society with others in order to “promote useful knowledge.”  It was an extension of his earlier intellectual club, the Junto.  Franklin and Bartram designated Philadelphia as the most logical headquarters because of its location, its easy access by sea, and the vibrant bookish culture fostered by the Library Company of Philadelphia, the lending library Franklin founded in 1731.  Philadelphia also had the benefit of Bartram’s unparalleled botanical knowledge, as he collected and identified species of plants found only in North America.

The American Philosophical Society Library is a major national center for research in the history of the sciences, medicine, and technology.  It houses over 350,000 volumes and bound periodicals, thirteen million manuscripts, 250,000 images, and thousands of hours of audio tape.  Among the many extraordinary books in the collections of printed materials are first editions of Sir Isaac Newton's Principia, Charles Darwin's Origin of Species, a presentation copy of Thomas Jefferson's Notes on the State of Virginia, the elephant folio of Audubon's Birds of North America (for which the APS was an original subscriber), as well as a majority of Benjamin Franklin imprints and a significant portion of Franklin's personal library.  Manuscript collections range from eighteenth-century natural history, American Indian linguistics and culture, to nuclear physics, computer development, and medical science. The Library is among the premier institutions in the nation for documenting the history of genetics and eugenics, the study of natural history in the 18th and 19th centuries, quantum mechanics, and the development of cultural anthropology in America.

History of the idea of “inalienable rights.”  One key to understanding “inalienable” rights (as distinguished from ordinary, “alienable” rights) is found by turning to one of Thomas Jefferson’s rough drafts of the Declaration of Independence.  There, he originally wrote that “all men” are “endowed by their Creator with [inherent &] inalienable rights . . .  ”  
Jefferson's "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence

hegemony  noun  Leadership or dominance, especially by one state or social group over others.  Origin:  Mid 16th century--from Greek hēgemonia, from hēgemōn ‘leader’, from hēgeisthai ‘to lead’.

October 19, 2017  A new type of archaeological site with has been discovered in the desert lava fields of western Saudi Arabia.  Nearly 400 structures dating back thousands of years have been found, with many clustered in Harrat Khaybar.  And it's partially thanks to the introduction and growing accessibility of aerial mapping technologies, which allow researchers to view areas they can't easily reach by land, or don't know are significant.  The monuments have been called "gates", and are described in an upcoming paper by David Kennedy of the University of Western Australia, who in 1978 founded the Aerial Photographic Archive for Archaeology in the Middle East.  In spite of the name, the structures are not gates.  They are low, with rough-built walls, the majority measuring between 50 and 150 metres (164 to 492 feet), but of the 389 total gates found, 36 are over 200 metres (656 feet) and the longest one measures 518 metres (1,699 feet) in length.  What they are and why they were built is yet unknown, but their presence suggests that the lava fields used to be much more habitable.  "The lava fields are often rich in archaeological remains, implying a moister past and more abundant vegetation, and recent fieldwork identifying larger settlement sites supports this notion," Kennedy wrote in the paper.  Michelle Starr  Read more and see graphics at  Issue 1788  October 23, 2017  On this date in 1850, the first National Women's Rights Convention began in Worcester, MassachusettsOn this date in 1915, in New York City, 25,000–33,000 women marched on Fifth Avenue to advocate their right to voteThought for Today  Remember, we all stumble, every one of us.  That's why it's a comfort to go hand in hand. - Emily Kimbrough, author and broadcaster (23 Oct 1899-1989)  The Emily Kimbrough Historic District was named for Hoosier author Emily Kimbrough who lived in a house at 715 East Washington Street.  Her writing reflects Muncie, Indiana's past, with reminiscences of the "East End", an early name for the area. 
Word of the Day  nocebo   noun  (pharmacology, also attributive)  A substance which a patient experiences as harmful due to a previous negative perception, but which is in fact pharmacologically (medicinallyinactive.  Wiktionary

Friday, October 20, 2017

American Painter and Printmaker Joan Mitchell (1925-1992) is known for the compositional rhythms, bold coloration, and sweeping gestural brushstrokes of her large and often multi-paneled paintings.  Inspired by landscape, nature, and poetry, her intent was not to create a recognizable image, but to convey emotions.  Mitchell's early success in the 1950s was striking at a time when few women artists were recognized.  She referred to herself as the "last Abstract Expressionist."   Inspired by the gestural painting of Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell's mature work comprised a highly abstract, richly colored, calligraphic manner, which balanced elements of structured composition with a mood of wild improvisation.  Mitchell rejected the emphasis on flatness and the "all-over" approach to composition that were prevalent among many of the leading Abstract Expressionists.  Instead, she preferred to retain a more traditional sense of figure and ground in her pictures, and she often composed them in ways that evoked impressions of landscape.  Read more at  See pictures of her works at

The Solanaceae, or nightshades, are an economically important family of flowering plants.  The family ranges from annual and perennial herbs to vines, lianas, epiphytes, shrubs, and trees, and includes a number of important agricultural crops, medicinal plants, spices, weeds, and ornamentals.  Many members of the family contain potent alkaloids, and some are highly toxic, but many, including tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant, bell/chili peppers, and tobacco are widely used.  The family belongs to the order Solanales, in the asterid group and class Magnoliopsida (dicotyledons).  The Solanaceae consists of about 98 genera and some 2,700 species, with a great diversity of habitatsmorphology and ecology.  The family has a worldwide distribution, being present on all continents except Antarctica.  The greatest diversity in species is found in South America and Central America

Donald Trump says that a painting he owns is Pierre-Auguste Renoir'1881 masterpiece Two Sisters (On the Terrace) worth $10 million.  Art historians say it’s counterfeit.  The Art Institute of Chicago, meanwhile, is pretty sure it’s got the real one.  Might this all be a high-stakes game of Parker Brothers’s “Masterpiece” being played out on the world stage?  “Masterpiece:  The Art Auction Game,” introduced in 1970, features characters like Dietrich von Oberlitzer (“a rogue, but a shrewd and highly successful one”) and V. Elton Whitehall, Esq. (“once London’s top criminal lawyer”), vying for iconic works of art priced as high as $1 million, with at least one unlucky player trying to pawn off a forgery, according to one gamer site’s description.  Brian Boucher  Read more and see pictures at

When writing about the novel that was turned into the classic 1947 movie Out of the Past, there’s just no way around commenting on the film.  Ask 100 film noir buffs to list their all-time top 10 examples from the genre, and my guess is at least 80 of them (if not more) would include Jacques Tourneur’s 1947 masterpiece on their tally.  Yet I wonder how many of those 80 or more have read the book--Build My Gallows High (1946), penned by Daniel Mainwaring under the pseudonym of Geoffrey Homes--that is the foundation of the big screen feature.  I’ve been an avid watcher/reader of both noir film and fiction for decades, first saw and was blown away by Out of the Past many years back, but I’ve only just now read the novel.  In both the book and film, the full tale is woven by alternating past events with the present.  In the novel, Mainwaring/Homes handles these alternating perspectives seamlessly, bringing the full tale together in a way that is more interesting and more suspenseful than it would have been if he’d simply told the New York part in full, then forwarded to the Bridgeport piece and then the San Francisco subplot.  Brian Greene  Build My Gallows High, the final published novel by onetime San Francisco newspaper reporter Daniel Mainwaring, is available electronically at  You may also find the book on the used book market and in libraries.

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg
exclosure (ik-SKLO-zuhr)  noun  A fenced area, especially in a wide open area, to keep unwanted animals out.  An enclosure keeps wanted animals in, an exclosure keeps unwanted animals out.  The word is modeled after the word enclosure, from ex- (out) + closure (barrier), from Latin claudere (to close).  Earliest documented use:  1920.
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From:  Robert Carleton  Subject:  exclosure  Exclosure!  Here in New Mexico, we are a “fence out” state.  Cattle are not required to be secured by fences.  Rangeland can be open.
From:  Reuben Kura Sanderson  Subject: exclosure  I live near a very large and very valuable exclosure, the predator fence surrounding the Karori bird sanctuary near central Wellington.  New Zealand has no native mammals apart from a rare and shy bat, and so its birdlife evolved into trusting, flightless forms.  Many species are already extinct, quite a few are heading that way, and keeping rodents, cats, etc., out of reach of the remainder is vital to their survival.
From:  Grant Agnew  Subject:  exclosure  In Australia we are very familiar with the idea of exclosure--we have twice tried to keep certain animals (rabbits and dingos = native dogs) out of certain areas by building fences running for thousands of kilometres.  We are therefore also very familiar with the fact that exclosure rarely works.  These fences were successful in greatly reducing numbers, but not in creating rabbit-free and dingo-free zones.
October 14, 2017  Three years ago, I wrote one of those anniversary pieces that columnists love so dearly.  It marked 50 years since two devastating wildfires raged through Sonoma County at the same time, threatening both Santa Rosa and the Sonoma Valley.  The Hanly fire and the Nunn’s Canyon fire of late September 1964 were tagged in our files as the most devastating in the county’s history.  The column revisited the Hanly fire, suggesting that there were lessons that week might have taught us.  But didn’t.  It all began early on September 19, 1964--a Saturday morning--when a deer hunter dropped a cigarette on a wooded slope below Highway 29 as it winds up Mt. St. Helena from the upper Napa Valley.  By 10:15 a.m., flames were seen behind Hanly’s tavern, an old, familiar stopping place on the right side of the narrow road.  The new fire was moving fast down the hill toward Calistoga, growing as it traveled.  Through the weekend into the Monday that followed, firefighters and volunteers armed with garden hoses and wet gunnysacks battled to save the up-valley town, holding the damage to about 40 homes on the northeastern edge.  When the winds died down on Monday morning, Calistoga gave a collective sigh of relief that echoed over the surrounding hills and valleys.  All too soon.  On Monday night, the winds returned and the fire moved west with breathtaking speed.  It created its own wind as it moved at 40 mph along Porter Creek and Mark West Springs roads into Sonoma County.  This is an old familiar story, which many of you have not only heard before but told often, particularly as we watched the changes to the burned-over acreage that was once among the more successful 19th century American Utopian communities, the domain of an enigmatic leader named Thomas Lake Harris, who had a thousand followers on two continents.  Long after Harris left and took the “Home Centre” of his Brotherhood of the New Life with him, Fountaingrove remained important as a destination for famous visitors and a gathering place for Santa Rosa’s elite.  Over prolonged protests from early environmentalists who saw great potential as public land with grassy hills, and exotic trees, ponds and lakes left from “Father” Harris’ elaborate estate, Fountaingrove Ranch was developed.  The first sale was to computer pioneer Hewlett-Packard for a state-of-the-art campus, a decision that most found acceptable—if the rest was considered for parkland.  It never was.  Through a series of owners, each with their own plans--Fountaingrove emerged in the new century, a high-end golf course around the lake, two hotels and high-end homes, dubbed McMansions by the flatlanders, growing more expansive and expensive as they moved upward and north and east into open land beyond the ranch boundaries, ultimately going all the way to Mark West Springs Road.  The parkway, also protested, connected the newly important north end of town with Rincon Valley.  It was, planners explained, the first leg of a proposed "beltway" circling the town.  Gaye LeBaron  Read more at  See also a biography of Thomas Lake Harris and find information on his society that became known as "Brotherhood of the New Life" at  Issue 1787  October 20, 2017  On this date in 1873YalePrincetonColumbia, and Rutgers universities drafted the first code of American football rules.  On this date in 1973, the Sydney Opera House was opened by Elizabeth II after 14 years of construction.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

"Curious that we spend more time congratulating people who have succeeded than encouraging people who have not."  "Science literacy is the artery through which the solutions of tomorrow's problems flow."  "Half of my library are old books because I like seeing how people thought about their world at their time.  So that I don't get bigheaded about something we just discovered and I can be humble about where we might go next.  Because you can see who got stuff right and most of the people who got stuff wrong."  Neil deGrasse Tyson, astrophysicist and author (b. 5 Oct 1958)

Flour should be stored, covered, in a cool and dry area.  This prevents the flour from absorbing moisture and odors and from attracting insects and rodents.  Freezing flour for 48 hours before it is stored will kill any weevil or insect eggs already in the flour.  It is better not to mix new flour with old if you are not using the flour regularly.  Do not store flour near soap powder, onions or other foods and products with strong odors.  Keep whole wheat flour in the refrigerator the year around.  Natural oils cause this flour to turn rancid quickly at room temperature.  Put a bay leaf in the flour canister to help protect against insect infections.  Bay leaves are natural insect repellents.  Bread Flour –  white flour made from hard, high-protein wheat.  It has more gluten strength and protein content than all-purpose flour.  It is unbleached and sometimes conditioned with ascorbic acid, which increases volume and creates better texture.  Bread flour has 12% to 14% protein (gluten).  This is the best choice for yeast products.  Cake Flour –  fine-textured, soft-wheat flour with a high starch content. It has the lowest protein content of any wheat flour, 8% to 10% protein (gluten).  It is chlorinated (a bleaching process which leaves the flour slightly acidic, sets a cake faster and distributes fat more evenly through the batter to improve texture.  When you’re making baked goods with a high ratio of sugar to flour, this flour will be better able to hold its rise and will be less liable to collapse.  This flour is excellent for baking fine-textured cakes with greater volume and is used in some quick breads, muffins and cookies.  If you cannot find cake flour, substitute bleached all-purpose flour, but subtract 2 tablespoons of flour for each cup used in the recipe (if using volume measuring).  Find description of many flours, including gluten-free such as almond, amaranth, barley and buckwheat, at

Dollar was the English spelling of the German talerIn 1792, the U.S. adpoted the dollar as its basic montary unit.  The cent meant one-hundredth of a dollar following a system first proposed by Gouverneur Morris (1752-1816).   Democrat Andrew Jackson first used the donkey as a symbol for his party after his opponents in the 1828 presidential election called him a "jackass".  Cartoonist and illustrator Thomas Nast (1840-1902) introduced the Republican elephant in an 1874 cartoon.  The Book of Answers:  The New York Public Library Telephone Reference Service's Most Unusual and Entertaining Questions

For 20 years, a Seattle computer scientist has been spreading his love of words through daily emails sent to more than half a million people . . .  and through best selling books.  His name is Anu Garg, and his "A Word A Day" emails allow him to explore words and their definitions for a living.  "Linguaphile.  It means a lover of language and words."  This is the word that perfectly describes Anu.  Anu says he started learning English in 6th grade as a second language.  He learned to love words from his father, a bibliotaph--meaning "one who hoards books."  He eventually moved to the U.S. and began sharing his favorite words through emails that he sent to his colleagues in the earliest days of the internet.  He said that was when he realized words have a universal appeal.  "The way I see it, having a large vocabulary is like an artist having a large palette of colors . . . you don't have to use all these colors in a single painting, but it helps to be able to find just the right shade when you need it."  Saint Bryant

In the 1300s Middle English adopted “affray” from Anglo-Norman, first as a verb and later as a noun.  In Anglo-Norman, affrayer meant to frighten or disturb, and an affray meant a fright or disturbance.  When the verb showed up in English, spelled “affraie,” it meant to frighten.  Although that sense is now archaic, the medieval past tense and past participle, “afreyd,” gave us the adjective “afraid.”  When the noun “fray” showed up at the end of the 1300s, it also referred to a fright, but that sense is now obsolete.  A few decades later, the shorter noun “fray” took on a similar sense that the OED describes as a “disturbance, esp. one caused by fighting; a noisy quarrel, a brawl; a fight, skirmish, conflict.”  The words “affray” and “fray” have had several other meanings over the years, but the one that sets them apart showed up in the 1400s, when “affray” became a legal term for a “breach of the peace caused by fighting or rioting in a public place,” or “the offence of taking part in such a disturbance,” according to the OEDRead more at  See also

Chocolate chip cookies.  Is there a more beloved treat?  Nope.  And is there a better recipe than this one?  Nope.  (And we say that with all humility.)  These are the cookies that appeared in the July 9, 2008 edition of the New York Times, the very same cookies that set off an explosion of baking across the Internet to see if, indeed, they are the perfect specimen.  The consensus is yes.  Originally published May 22, 2009.   David Leite  Find recipe at

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery" dates from the early 19th century, although versions of it that paraphrased the same thought existed well before then.  A nearer stab at the current version comes in a piece by the English writer Eustace Budgell in the newspaper The Spectator No. 605, October 1714:  Imitation is a kind of artless Flattery.   Charles Caleb Colton wrote, in Lacon: or, Many things in few words, 1820:  Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness."  Oscar Wilde

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders is named winner of the 2017 Man Booker Prize for Fiction.  Lincoln in the Bardo is the first full-length novel from George Saunders, internationally renowned short story writer.  The 58-year-old New York resident, born in Texas, is the second American author to win the prize in its 49-year history.  Issue 1786  October 18, 2017  On today's date in 1943, the British conductor Sir Thomas Beecham led the Seattle Symphony in the premiere performance of the Symphony No. 1 by a 30-year old composer named Jerome Moross.  The slow movement of the Moross symphony was inspired by the American hobo tune "The Midnight Special."  These days, Moross is better known for his film and TV work.  His 1958 score for "The Big Country" was nominated for an Academy Award, and he also wrote the music for the popular TV Western series "Wagon Train."  Three years after the Seattle premiere of the Moross First Symphony, Aaron Copland's Third Symphony had its premiere on the opposite coast.  Serge Koussevitzky conducted the Boston Symphony in the 1946 premiere of Copland's score, which includes as one of its themes Copland's enormously popular "Fanfare for the Common Man," a work the Cincinnati Symphony had premiered in 1943.  Composers Datebook