Tuesday, March 31, 2009

I think . . .

Today is the birthday of René Descartes (March 31, 1596 – February 11, 1650), philosopher, mathematician, scientist, and writer. René Descartes has been referred to as one of the most influential thinkers in human history, and is sometimes called the founder of modern philosophy.

René Descartes, is another author whose writings have been banned. In 1663, the Pope placed his works on the Index of Prohibited Books - the list was abolished in 1966.

“When I consider this carefully, I find not a single property which with certainty separates the waking state from the dream. How can you be certain that your whole life is not a dream?” - René Descartes

"It is not enough to have a good mind. The main thing is to use it well." - René Descartes

"Conquer yourself not the world". - René Descartes

"If you would be a real seeker after truth, you must at least once in your life doubt, as far as possible, all things." - René Descartes

"Doubt is the origin of wisdom." - René Descartes

"I think, therefore I am." - René Descartes

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Monday, March 30, 2009

I am perplexed . . .

Today is the birthday of Moses Maimonides, also known as Rabbi Moses ben Maimon, the Rambam, and Mūsā ibn Maymūn, (March 30, 1135** - December 13, 1204), Talmudist, philosopher, astronomer, and physician. He was physician of the Grand Vizier Alfadhil and Sultan Saladin of Egypt, and also treated Richard the Lionheart. He was considered to be the greatest physician of his time, being influenced by renowned Islamic thinkers such as Ibn Rushd (Averroes) and Al-Ghazali.

The Rambam, is another author whose writings have been banned and his books burned.

"Accept the truth from whatever source it comes." - Moses Maimonides

“Anticipate charity by preventing poverty; assist the reduced fellow man, either by a considerable gift or a sum of money or by teaching him a trade or by putting him in the way of business so that he may earn an honest livelihood and not be forced to the dreadful alternative of holding out his hand for charity. This is the highest step and summit of charity's golden ladder.” - Moses Maimonides

“Do not consider it proof just because it is written in books, for a liar who will deceive with his tongue will not hesitate to do the same with his pen” - Moses Maimondes

“Teach thy tongue to say 'I do not know,' and thou shalt progress.” - Moses Maimonides

**Rambam was born on the fourteenth day of Nissan – the day before Passover – in the year 1135, in Cordova, Spain.**

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Meandering on . . .

Today is the birthday of James E. Casey (March 29, 1888 - June 6, 1983), founder of the American Messenger Company.

In 1907, James "Jim" Casey borrowed $100 from a friend and started a messenger service in Seattle, Washington, that developed into the world's largest package delivery company, the United Parcel Service (UPS).

"One measure of your success will be the degree to which you build up others who work with you. While building up others, you will build up yourself. " - James E. Casey

"The basic principle which I believe has contributed more than any other to the building of our business as it is today, is the ownership of our company by the people employed in it. " - James E. Casey

"Within each of us there is a mysterious innate force that drives us onward. It wants us to do better and be better. Call that force conscience, ambition, determination, power of will, or whatever you choose, it constantly whispers in our ears words of advice, stimulation and encouragement. If you will but heed the voice and utilize that inner power to the limit of its potentialities, nothing on earth can stop your progress." - James E. Casey

Casey image source (1)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

It is a matter of threes . . .

Happy Birthday to Jerome Isaac Friedman (born March 28, 1930), physicist.

"A professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Jerome I. Friedman won the 1990 Nobel Prize in Physics with Richard E. Taylor and Henry W. Kendall for a series of experiments (1967-73) that showed that protons and neutrons are not fundamental particles of matter but are composed of smaller particles known as quarks." direct quote source (1)

"Creativity is the basis of all innovation, and although it is doubtful that it can be taught, creativity should be nurtured in those who have it." - Jerome I. Friedman

"Innovation is the key to the future, but basic research is the key to future innovation." - Jerome I. Friedman

Friedman image source (1)

Friday, March 27, 2009

sur les méandres de . . .

Today is the birthday of Georges-Eugène Haussmann (March 27, 1809 – January 11, 1891), better known as Baron Haussmann. He was an urban planner who left an indelible imprint on Paris, France.

Baron Haussman's work destroyed much of the medieval city of Paris. He began a wide-reaching program of municipal improvements, including the creation of wide avenues through Paris's mass of small streets, a new water supply and sewage system. During his administration, 71 miles of new roads, 400 miles of pavement, and 320 miles of sewers were added to Paris; 100, 000 trees were planted, and housing, bridges, and public buildings were constructed.

"Between the Revolution of 1789 and Haussmann's renovation of Paris in the 1860s ideals changed from those of a politically motivated city to those of an economically and socially centered city. Modern technology such as railroads and gas lamps were conveniences which the rising bourgeoisie could enjoy in their leisurely lifestyle. New spaces that were created during the renovation encouraged the bourgeoisie to flaunt their new wealth, creating a booming economy. All of these examples of the changes occurring in Paris during this time period can be seen in representations of the city. There are two views of Baron Haussmann: One depicts him as the man who destroyed Old Paris, and the other as the man who created New Paris." direct quote source (1)

Elected a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts in 1867, the year of the International Exhibition in Paris, Baron Haussmann stated, "My qualification? I was chosen as demolition artist" (Memoires, 3 vols., 1890-1893).

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Oh, the ink drips . . .

A March 26th Happy Birthday salute to a chosen few who have successfully put pen to paper: Edward Bellamy, Alfred Edward Housman, Robet Frost, Joseph Campbell, Betty MacDonald, Tennessee Williams, Gregory Nunzio Corso, Richard Dawkins, Erica Jong and Bob Woodward.

Edward Bellamy (March 26, 1850 – May 22, 1898), author, famous for his utopian novel set in the year 2000, Looking Backward, published in 1888. His feeling of injustice in the economic system lead him to write Looking Backward: 2000–1887, which influenced many intellectuals and “Bellamy Clubs” sprang up all over the US to discuss the book’s ideas. He died at the age of 48 from tuberculosis.

Alfred Edward Housman (March 26, 1859 – April 30, 1936), poet and scholar, better known as A. E. Housman.

A. E. Housman published his first collection of poetry, A Shropshire Lad, at his own expense in 1896. Despite Alfred Housman's acclaim as a scholar and a poet in his lifetime, he lived as a recluse, rejecting honors and avoiding the public eye.

"The house of delusions is cheap to build but drafty to live in, and ready at any instant to fall." - A. E. Housman

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard a wise man say,
"Give crowns and pounds and guineas
But not your heart away;
Give pearls away and rubies
But keep your fancy free."
But I was one-and-twenty,
No use to talk to me.

When I was one-and-twenty
I heard him say again,
"The heart out of the bosom
Was never given in vain;
'Tis paid with sighs a plenty
And sold for endless rue."
And I am two-and-twenty,
And oh, 'tis true, 'tis true.
- A. E. Housman
(When I Was One-and-Twenty)

Robert Lee Frost (March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963), poet.

Robert Frost's poems are popular and often-quoted. He was honored frequently during his lifetime and received four Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry.

"Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words." - Robert Frost

"In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: it goes on." - Robert Frost

Trivia: His epitaph reads, "I had a lover's quarrel with the world."

Some say the world will end in fire,
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice,
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
- Robert Frost (Fire and Ice)

"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."
- Robert Frost (The Road Not Taken)

Joseph John Campbell (March 26, 1904 – October 30, 1987), mythologist, writer, and lecturer.

"Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors where there were only walls."- Joseph Campbell

"We're so engaged in doing things to achieve purposes of outer value that we forget the inner value, the rapture that is associated with being alive, is what it is all about." - Joseph Campbell

"People say that what we're seeking is a meaning for life. I don't think that's what we're really seeking. I think that what we're seeking is an experience of being alive, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive." - Joseph Campbell

Anne Elizabeth Campbell Bard, better known as Betty MacDonald (March 26, 1908 - February 7, 1958), author. Her first book, The Egg and I, rocketed to the top of the national bestseller list in 1945. The book was translated into more than 30 languages and made into a series of popular movies. Betty MacDonald is best known for her book The Egg and I and the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle series of children's books.

Thomas Lanier Williams, better known as Tennessee Williams (March 26, 1911 – February 25, 1983), playwright. Tennessee Williams was awarded four Drama Critic Circle Awards, two Pulitzer Prizes and the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

He won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for A Streetcar Named Desire (1948) and for Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (1955). In addition, The Glass Menagerie (1945) and The Night of the Iguana (1961) received New York Drama Critics' Circle Awards. His 1952 play The Rose Tattoo received the Tony Award for best play.

Gregory Nunzio Corso (March 26, 1930 – January 17, 2001), poet. He was the youngest of the inner circle of Beat Generation writers.

"If you have a choice of two things and can't decide, take both." - Gregory Corso

"If you believe you're a poet, then you're saved."- Gregory Corso

"They, that unnamed "they," they've knocked me down but I got up. I always get up -- and I swear when I went down quite often I took the fall; nothing moves a mountain but itself. They, I've long ago named them me." - Gregory Corso

Clinton Richard Dawkins (born 26 March 1941), ethologist, evolutionary biologist and popular science author.
"By all means let's be open-minded, but not so open-minded that our brains drop out." - Richard Dawkins

"The world and the universe is an extremely beautiful place, and the more we understand about it the more beautiful does it appear." - Richard Dawkins

“Isn't it sad to go to your grave without ever wondering why you were born? Who, with such a thought, would not spring from bed, eager to resume discovering the world and rejoicing to be part of it?” - Richard Dawkins

Erica Jong (born on March 26, 1942), author. She is best known for her first novel, Fear of Flying (1973). The novel created a sensation with its frank treatment of a woman's sexual desires.

"Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't." - Erica Jong

"Everyone has talent. What is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads." - Erica Jong

Robert Upshur Woodward (born March 26, 1943), better known as Bob Woodward, investigative reporter and non-fiction author.

"I think that everyone is kind of confused about the information they get from the media and rightly so. I'm confused about the information I get from the media." - Bob Woodward

"The central dilemma in journalism is that you don't know what you don't know." - Bob Woodward

PS: One more Happy Birthday salute to the publisher Condé Montrose Nast (March 26, 1873 – September 19, 1942), founder of Condé Nast Publications.

Bellamy image (1), Housman image (1), Frost image (1), Campbell image (1), MacDonald image (1); Williams image (1), Corso image (1), Dawkins (1), Jong image (1), Woodward image(1)

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A little to the left now . . .

Today is the birthday of Rudolf Rocker (March 25, 1873 - September 19, 1958), historian, writer and prominent social activist.

"Rudolf Rocker is best remembered as perhaps one of the best educated, most erudite and articulate anarcho-syndicalist writers and union activists of the Twentieth century. His writings contain countless penetrating insights into the nature of power and its effects on the human character and the social environment. They ring of a deep desire for complete liberty of action and equality of situation, and as such are quite unique." direct quote source (1)

"We have come more and more under the dominance of mechanics and sacrificed living humanity to the dead rhythm of the machine without most of us even being conscious of the monstrosity of the procedure. Hence we frequently deal with such matters with indifference and in cold blood as if we handled dead things and not the destinies of men." - Rudolf Rocker

"Power operates only destructively, bent always on forcing every manifestation of life into the straitjacket of its laws. Its intellectual form of expression is dead dogma, its physical form brute force. And this unintelligence of its objectives sets its stamp on its supporters also and renders them stupid and brutal, even when they were originally endowed with the best of talents. One who is constantly striving to force everything into a mechanical order at last becomes a machine himself and loses all human feeling." - Rudolf Rocker

"A truly free man does not like to play the part of either the ruler or the ruled. He is, above all, concerned with making his inner values and personal powers effective in a way as to permit him to use his own judgment in all affairs and to be independent in action." - Rudolf Rocker

"I am an Anarchist not because I believe Anarchism is the final goal, but because there is no such thing as a final goal." - Rudolf Rocker

Trivia: In 2007 the Rudolf Rocker Cultural Centre was founded in Winnipeg, Canada.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Set me free . . .

Today is the birthday of Harry Houdini (March 24, 1874 – October 31, 1926), actor, film producer, investigator of spiritualists, stunt performer, escapologist, and magician. He was born Weisz Erik and he used the name Ehrich Weiss until legally changing his name to "Harry Houdini" in 1913.

Harry Houdini is known as the World's Most Famous Magician and his name remains synonymous with escape under the most dire circumstances.

"Surprising as it may seem, Houdini was not an instant success. For the first five years, he tried every type of magic, from card manipulations (billed as the "King of Cards") to illusions and run-of-the-mill box escapes. In 1896, ready to give up, he actually ran a newspaper ad offering to sell all of his magic and secrets for $20. There were no takers." direct quote source (1)

"My professional life has been a constant record of disillusion, and many things that seem wonderful to most men are the every-day commonplaces of my business." - Harry Houdini

"What the eye see and the ears hear, the mind believes." - Harry Houdini

"My brain is the key that sets me free." - Harry Houdini

Monday, March 23, 2009

To have or to be . . .

Today is the birthday of Erich Seligmann Fromm (March 23, 1900 – March 18, 1980), social psychologist, psychoanalyst, and humanistic philosopher.

"A sincere and profound humanism permeates all of Fromm's writings. He was genuinely concerned with the reality of human existence and the full unfolding of man's potentialities. He searched for the essence of man, the meaning of life, and the nature of individual alienation in the modern technological world. Deeply moved by the destruction and the suffering caused by two world wars, Fromm wrote extensively on the threats of technology and the insanity of the arms race. Faith in the future of man and the unity of humanity was the base of his humanistic vision." direct quote source (1)

"The danger of the past was that men became slaves. The danger of the future is that men may become robots. True enough, robots do not rebel. But given man’s nature, robots cannot live and remain sane, they become "Golems”; they will destroy their world and themselves because they cannot stand any longer the boredom of a meaningless life." - Erich Fromm

"Immature love says: I love you because I need you. Mature love says: I need you because I love you." - Erich Fromm

"Uncertainty is the very condition to impel man to unfold his powers." - Erich Fromm

"Both dreams and myths are important communications from ourselves to ourselves." - Erich Fromm

"I believe that love is the main key to open the doors to the "growth" of man. Love and union with someone or something outside of oneself, union that allows one to put oneself into relationship with others, to feel one with others, without limiting the sense of integrity and independence. Love is a productive orientation for which it is essential that there be present at the same time: concern, responsibility, and respect for and knowledge of the object of the union." - Erich Fromm

"Man is the only animal for whom his own existence is a problem which he has to solve and from which he cannot escape." - Erich Fromm

"To die is poignantly bitter, but the idea of having to die without having lived is unbearable." - Erich Fromm

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Shall we begin . . .

Today is the birthday of Louis Dearborn LaMoore (March 22, 1908 – June 10, 1988), better known as the western fiction writer Louis L'Amour.

At the age of 15, he left school because of the difficult financial times at home caused by the Great Depression. He was largely a self-taught man who never stopped learning. A voracious reader, his personal library held over 17,000 volumes. Louis L'Amour became one of the most prolific western writers in history.

He wrote over 400 short stories and 100 novels, as well as numerous television scripts and screenplays. His books have been translated into 10 languages. At the time of his death in 1988, there were over 200 million copies of his books in print.

Louis Dearborn LaMoore also wrote under the pen names Tex Burns and Jim Mayo. He received the Congressional Gold Medal in 1983 and was awarded the Medal of Freedom by President Reagan in 1984.

"Nobody got anywhere in the world by simply being content." - Louis L'Amour

"A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner, so if one's life is cold and bare he can blame none but himself." - Louis L'Amour

"A wise man fights to win, but he is twice a fool who has no plan for possible defeat. " - Louis L'Amour

"Knowledge is like money: to be of value it must circulate, and in circulating it can increase in quantity and, hopefully, in value. " - Louis L'Amour

"There will come a time when you believe everything is finished. Yet that will be the beginning." - Louis L'Amour

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Come ride with me . . .

Today is the birthday of Max Aronson (March 21, 1880 – January 20, 1971), American actor, writer, director, and producer. He is best known by his stage name, Gilbert "Broncho Billy" Anderson and as the first star of the Western film genre.

n 1907, Anderson and George Kirke Spoor founded, Essanay Studios, one of the predominant early movie studios. He directed and starred in over 300 Broncho Billy films over a seven year period for the studio. Essanay Studios is best known for its series of Charlie Chaplin comedies in 1915. Gilbert "Broncho Billy" Anderson was a key figure in the development of American films as entertainment.

Max Aronson/Gilbert Anderson "Broncho Billy" was presented with an Academy Honorary Award in 1958 as a "motion picture pioneer, for his contributions to the development of motion pictures as entertainment."

Gilbert "Broncho Billy" Anderson was honored in 1998 with his image on a U.S. postage stamp. In 2002, he was inducted into the Western Performers Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. For the past nine years, Niles (now part of Fremont), California, site of the western Essanay Studios, has held an annual "Broncho Billy Silent Film Festival." Gilbert "Broncho Billy" Anderson has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1651 Vine Street in Hollywood.

Trivia bit: When he showed up at the Oscars in 1958 to accept a special Academy award for his early work in silent films, everybody was surprised to discover he was still alive.
P.S. He was a "cowboy" that could not ride a horse.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

To the contrary . . .

Today is the birthday of Henrik Johan Ibsen (March 20, 1828 – May 23, 1906), playwright and poet.

Henrik Johan Ibsen has been called Norway's greatest playwright. He is often referred to as the "father of modern drama" and is one of the founders of modernism in the theatre. He wrote about the problems of society and of individual men and women. It is said that Ibsen is the most frequently performed dramatist in the world after Shakespeare.

“Money may be the husk of many things, but not the kernel. It brings you food, but not appetite; medicine, but not health; acquaintances, but not friends; servants, but not faithfulness; days of joy, but not peace and happiness.” - Henrik Ibsen

"There are two kinds of spiritual law, two kinds of conscience, one in man and another, altogether different, in woman. They do not understand each other; but in practical life the woman is judged by man's law, as though she were not a woman but a man." - Henrik Ibsen

"Castles in the air - they are so easy to take refuge in. And so easy to build too." - Henrik Ibsen

"A thousand words can't make the mark a single deed will leave." - Henrik Ibsen

"When we dead awaken. ... We see that we have never lived." - Henrik Ibsen

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Seek, but shall thou find . . .

Today is the birthday of Richard Francis Burton (March 19, 1821 – October 20, 1890), explorer, translator, writer, soldier, orientalist, ethnologist, linguist, poet, hypnotist, fencer and diplomat.

Sir Richard Francis Burton is well known for his translation of the Kama Sutra, plus his extraordinary knowledge of languages and cultures. He spoke 29 European, Asian, and African languages. He was the author of 43 volumes on his explorations and almost 30 volumes of translations, including a 16-volume translation of The Arabian Nights. Sir Richard Francis Burton is a controversial figure and while some considered him a hero, others considered him a scoundrel.

"Friends of my youth, a last adieu! haply some day we meet again;
Yet ne'er the self-same men shall meet; the years shall make us other men." - Sir Richard Francis Burton

Conquer thyself, till thou has done this, thou art but a slave; for it is almost as well to be subjected to another's appetite as to thine own. - Sir Richard Francis Burton

"All Faith is false, all Faith is true:
Truth is the shattered mirror strown
In myriad bits; while each believes
His little bit the whole to own."
- Sir Richard Francis Burton

"Yes Truth may be, but 'tis not Here;
mankind must seek and find it There,
But Where nor I nor you can tell,
nor aught earth-mother ever bare.
Enough to think that Truth can be:
come sit we where the roses glow,
Indeed he knows not how to know
who knows not also how to unknow."
- Sir Richard Burton

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Meandering we go . . .

A birthday salute to John Hoyer Updike (March 18, 1932 – January 27, 2009), novelist, poet, short story writer, art critic, and literary critic. He was oft referred to as the "Lyrical Writer of the Middle-Class Man". He wrote more than fifty books, including collections of short stories, poems, essays, and criticism. His novels have won the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the American Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Rosenthal Award, and the Howells Medal.

"The essential self is innocent, and when it tastes its own innocence knows that it lives for ever." - John Updike

“What art offers is space - a certain breathing room for the spirit.” - John Updike

"Dreams come true; without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them." - John Updike

"Suspect each moment, for it is a thief, tiptoeing away with more than it brings." - John Updike

"We are most alive when we're in love." - John Updike

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Keep on meandering . . .

Today is the birthday of Rudolf Khametovich Nureyev (March 17, 1938 – January 6, 1993), artist, primarily known for his work in ballet as a dancer and choreographer. Rudolf Nureyev was a professional performer from the age of 15 and is perhaps most famous for his dance partnership with Margot Fonteyn.

"If you read Rudolf Nureyev's life story in a novel, you simply wouldn't believe it. Imagine the synopsis: "A Tatar boy, born on a train, starts ballet far too late, fights his way to prizes and stardom in Russia, escapes from the KGB in a 'dash to freedom' in Paris..." You'd have thrown the book across the room by now, even before you got to the bit where the greatest ballerina in the world, who's twenty years older than him, chooses him as her partner. But it's all true - surely the most extraordinary tale in twentieth century ballet." direct quote source (1)

“Technique is what you fall back on when you run out of inspiration” - Rudolf Nureyev

“A pas de deux is a dialogue of love. How can there be conversation if one partner is dumb?” - Rudolf Nureyev

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Still meandering on . . .

Today is the birthday of René-François-Armand Prudhomme (March 16, 1839 - September 6, 1907), French poet and essayist, winner of the first Nobel Prize in literature in 1901. He is better known by his pen name, Sully Prudhomme.

Sully Prudhomme is associated with the Parnassians. Inspired by a love affair gone poorly, he began to write poetry and his early poetry, including Stances et poèmes (1865), Les Épreuves (1866), Les Solitudes (1869), and Les Vaines Tendresses (1875), was subjective and melancholy. His major works are two long philosophical poems, La Justice (1878) and Le Bonheur [Happiness] (1888), which treat abstract, humanitarian themes. His prose, also philosophical, includes Que sais-je? [what do I know?] (1896).

"In my soul rages a battle without victor. Between faith without proof and reason without charm. " - Sully Prudhomme

Trivia bit: "Sully Prudhomme was once an important figure in French literature and hailed as the successor of Victor Hugo, but he is largely ignored and little read or written about today, in English or in French. He has utterly vanished from the canon. Even at the turn of the century, the choice of Sully Prudhomme for the Nobel caused some debate, as he had not published much poetry after 1888." direct quote source (1)

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Meandering on . . .

Today is the birthday of Joseph Jenkins Roberts (March 15, 1809 – February 24, 1876) was the first (1848–1856) and seventh (1872–1876) President of Liberia.

Joseph Jenkins Roberts was born a free man during a time of slavery in America and was raised in Norfolk, Virginia, (USA). He attended the Norfolk Academy and Maury High School. As a boy he worked in his family business on a flatboat that transported goods from Petersburg, Virginia to Norfolk, Virginia on the James River. After the death of his father, his family moved to Petersburg, Virginia, where he continued to work in his family's boating business and serve as an apprentice in a barber shop. In 1829, his family moved to Liberia and established a trading store in Monrovia.

Joseph Jenkins Roberts became the first non-white colonist governor of Liberia in 1842. The legislature of Liberia declared itself an independent state, with Joseph Jenkins Roberts elected as its first President in 1847, and July 26th is still celebrated as Liberia’s Independents Day and a National Holiday. His major accomplishments include gaining the recognition of Liberia from most European nations and halting the slave trade on Liberia's borders.

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

E = mc²

A Happy Birthday salute to Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879 – April 18, 1955), physicist. He published over 300 scientific works and over 150 non-scientific works. When one refers to Einstein, one immediately equates the name to genius.

"Albert Einstein is undoubtedly one of the most fascinating and influential figures of the modern era. As a preeminent physicist, he radically transformed our understanding of the universe. As an ardent humanist, he took an active and outspoken stance on the significant political and social issues of his time . . ." quote source (1)

"I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world." - Albert Einstein

"A human being is a part of the whole, called by us "Universe", a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security." - Albert Einstein

"I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious." -Albert Einstein

"Now he has departed from this strange world a little ahead of me. That means nothing. People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present, and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion." - Albert Einstein

"The important thing is not to stop questioning; curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when contemplating the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of the mystery every day." - Albert Einstein

"The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it." - Albert Einstein
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Friday, March 13, 2009

The joy of creating

Today is the birthday of Lafayette Ronald Hubbard (March 13, 1911 – January 24, 1986), science fiction author. He is better known as L. Ron Hubbard, the creator of Dianetics and Scientology.

L. Ron Hubbard was/is a controversial public figure and a master storyteller. His literary output of more than 260 published novels, novelletes, short stories and screenplays continues to fascinate, thrill, frighten and inspire people.

"Never regret yesterday. Life is in you today, and you make your tomorrow." - L. Ron Hubbard

"Happiness and strength endure only in the absence of hate. To hate alone is the road to disaster. To love is the road to strength. To love in spite of all is the secret of greatness. And may very well be the greatest secret in this universe." - L. Ron Hubbard

"To be happy, one only must be able to confront, which is to say, experience, those things that are. Unhappiness is only this: the inability to confront that which is." - L. Ron Hubbard

"Ideas and not battles mark the forward progress of mankind." - L. Ron Hubbard

"On the day when we can fully trust each other, there will be peace on Earth." - L. Ron Hubbard

"A culture is only as great as its dreams, and its dreams are dreamed by artists." - L. Ron Hubbard


Force yourself to smile and you’ll soon stop frowning.
Force yourself to laugh and you’ll soon find
something to laugh about.
Wax enthusiastic and you’ll very soon feel so.
A being causes his own feelings.
The greatest joy there is in life is creating.
Splurge on it!

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

On the road . . .

Today is the birthday of Jean-Louis Lebris Kerouac (March 12, 1922 – October 21, 1969), author, poet and painter. Most people know him as Jack Kerouac, one of the major figures among Beat Generation writers. He is the author that introduced the phrase "Beat Generation" in 1948.

“I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till i drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion.” - Jack Kerouac

"The one thing that we yearn for in our living days, that makes us sigh and groan and undergo sweet nauseas of all kinds, is the remembrance of some lost bliss that was probably experienced in the womb and can only be reproduced (though we hate to admit it) in death." - Jack Kerouac

"I saw that my life was a vast glowing empty page and I could do anything I wanted." - Jack Kerouac

"My witness is the empty sky." - Jack Kerouac

"All human beings are also dream beings. Dreaming ties all mankind together." - Jack Kerouac

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

One cube or two . . .

Today is the birthday of Henry Tate (March 11, 1819 – December 5, 1899), sugar merchant, noted for establishing the Tate Gallery in London. In 1872, he purchased the patent from Eugen Langen on a method for making sugar cubes and built a sugar refinery in Liverpool. At an early age, Henry Tate rapidly became a millionaire and throughout his long life, he devoted large sums of money to philanthropic and educational purposes.

Henry Tate was a modest rather retiring man, well known for his concern with workers’ conditions. Henry Tate made many donations, often anonymously, and always discreetly. He used his wealth to endow colleges, hospitals and libraries, including that at Harris-Manchester College, Oxford, and, in 1893, free libraries for the London boroughs of Battersea, Brixton, and Streatham. He also contributed substantially, in 1881-2, to University College, Liverpool, the forerunner of Liverpool University. The National Gallery of British Art, popularly known as the Tate Gallery, was built at his expense on the site of the old Millbank prison, and was opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales on July 21. 1897.

Henry Tate was made a baronet in 1898. He had twice declined this honour, but was eventually persuaded to accept by Lord Salisbury, who told him that a refusal would be a snub to the royal family.

Trivia bit: "Sir Henry Tate wasn't born until 1819 and he did not start his sugar refining business until 1859, many years after the abolition of slavery and his fortune did not come from sugar production – it came instead from his embrace, as a refiner, of new technology which allowed him to modernise the distribution and commercial marketing of cane sugar in competition with sugar beet refiners in Europe. Sir Henry was merely a bulk purchaser of cane sugar and there is no evidence that his business came any closer than that to the post slavery Caribbean plantations." direct quote source (1)

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

To all the Bix fans . . .

Today is the birthday of Leon Bix Beiderbecke (March 10, 1903 – August 6, 1931), composer, jazz and classical musician. Bix Beiderbecke was one of the great jazz musicians of the 1920s.

"In his short life, Bix Beiderbecke left a legacy of recordings of his beautiful cornet sound, his impressionistic piano playing, and the most influential alternative to Louis Armstrong's approach to jazz cornet. His solo playing was supremely melodic, phrased slightly after the beat, and with such clarity of sound that one contemporary described it as 'like shooting bullets at a bell', while guitarist Eddie Condon likened his tone to 'a girl saying 'yes'. " quote source (1)

As a docent at the New Orleans Jazz Club Collection LSM under curator Donald Marquis, I had the opportunity to meet many Bix Beiderbecke fans. The museum has on display a cornet that Bix Beiderbecke used (probably as a student) and a piano that he used while living in Room 605, 44th Street hotel, New York City, in 1930-31. I was always pleasantly surprised by the enthusiasm of his fans and it was a pleasure escorting them thru the collection.

Happy Birthday Bix Beiderbecke!

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Monday, March 9, 2009

What is your sound . . .

Happy Birthday to Ornette Coleman (born March 9, 1930), American saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter and composer. Many jazz afficionados consider Ornette Coleman, one of the most important and controversial innovators of the jazz avant-garde style.

"It was when I found out I could make mistakes that I knew I was on to something." - Ornette Coleman

"Jazz is the only music in which the same note can be played night after night but differently each time." - Ornette Coleman

"That's what I was trying to say when we were talking about sound. I think that every person, whether they play music or don't play music, has a sound - their own sound . . ." - Ornette Coleman

Send your Happy Birthday wishes to Ornette Coleman via his website: www.ornettecoleman.com

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Let the music out . . .

Today is the birthday of Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. (March 8, 1841 – March 6, 1935), an American jurist that served on the U.S. Supreme Court from 1902 to 1932. He was often referred to in the Supreme Court as "The Great Dissenter" and he is considered one of the giants of American law.

"The right to swing my fist ends where the other man's nose begins." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

"Beware how you take away hope from another human being." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

"It's faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes life worth living." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

"Pretty much all the honest truth-telling there is in the world is done by children." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

"Have the courage to act instead of react." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

"He has half the deed done who has made a beginning." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

"Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

On that note a Happy Birthday to Dick Hyman (born March 8, 1927, New York City), a noted jazz pianist and composer (he has recorded well over one hundred albums). Send your birthday greetings to his official website: www.dickhyman.com. I had the pleasure of working with him at the Jazz Collections of the Louisiana State Museum and it was a delightful experience. Happy Birthday to you!

Holmes image source (1)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Two Photography Giants . . .

Today we celebrate the birthdays of two major contributors in the field of photography: Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (March 7, 1765 – July 5, 1833) and Henry Draper (March 7, 1837 – November 20, 1882).

Joseph Nicéphore Niépce was a French inventor, most noted as the inventor of photography and for taking some of the earliest photographs. In 1825, he took what is believed to be the world's first ever photographs, it was of a 17th century engraving of a man with a horse and of an engraving of a woman with a spinning wheel.
Niépce called his process heliography, which literally means "sun writing". Around 1829, he began collaborating on improved photographic processes with Louis Daguerre. Together they developed the physautotype, a photographic processes using Lavender oil. Their partnership lasted until Niépce’s death in 1833.

Trivia bit: The crater Niepce on the Moon is named after him.

Earliest known evidence of photographic activity
(heliograph process)
Joseph Nicéphore Niépce
Bibliothèque nationale de France

Henry Draper was an American doctor, astronomer, chemist, botanist and a pioneer of astrophotography. He was the first to photograph the moon through a telescope in the winter of 1839-1840.

He made the first photograph of the spectrum of a star (Vega), in 1872 and was also the first to photograph a nebula, the Orion Nebula, in 1880.

Henry Draper is credited with the invention of the slit spectrograph and pushing the art in photography, instrumental optics, and telescope clock drives.

Trivia bit: After his untimely early death at the age of 45, his widow funded the Henry Draper Medal for outstanding contributions to astrophysics.

Niépce image source (1)
Niépce Oldest Photograph source (1)
Draper image source (1)

Friday, March 6, 2009

I see the moon . . .

Today is the birthday of Cyrano Hercule Savinien de Bergerac (March 6, 1619 – July 28, 1655), a French dramatist, soldier, satirist, and visionary. His life has been the basis of many romantic tales - the best known of them is Edmond Rostand's drama Cyrano de Bergerac (1897).

He was fascinated with space travel and his novels tend to subtly criticize the anthropocentric view of man's place in creation (as well as the social injustices of the 17th century). His work was censored and banned, especially his novel The Other World.

"I think the Moon is a world like this one, and the Earth is its moon. . . My friends greeted this with a burst of laughter. "And maybe," I told them, "someone on the Moon is even now making fun of someone else who says that our globe is a world." - Cyrano de Bergerac

"Most men judge only by their senses and let themselves be persuaded by what they see. Just as the man whose boat sails from shore to shore thinks he is stationary and that the shore moves, men turn with the earth under the sky and have believed that the sky was turning above them. On top of that, insufferable vanity has convinced humans that nature has been made only for them, as though the sun, a huge body four hundred and thirty-four times as large as the earth, had been lit only to ripen our crab apples and cabbages." - Cyrano de Bergerac

Thursday, March 5, 2009

What are you doing now . . .

A birthday salute to Momofuku Ando (March 5, 1910 – January 5, 2007), inventor of the world's first instant noodles and cup noodles, many know him as Mr. Noodle, The Noodle Papa, and/or The Ramen King.

Momofuku Ando was inspired to develop the instant noodle after coming upon a long line of people on a cold night shortly after World War II waiting to buy freshly made ramen at a black market food stall, according to Nissin. The experience convinced him that "Peace will come to the world when the people have enough to eat".

He developed his first instant noodles, Chicken Ramen, in 1958. His most famous product, Cup Noodle, was released in 1971. In 1999, Mr Ando opened the Momofuku Ando Instant Ramen Museum in Osaka devoted to instant noodles - admission is free. The museum has an instant ramen workshop allowing visitors to make their own "fresh" instant noodles (fresh as in just made). There is also a noodle factory where visitors can assemble their own Cup Noodles from pre-made ingredients.

Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Wake me up . . .

"Happy Birthday To You" was published by Claydon Sunny on March 4, 1924. What did we sing before 1924?

Today is the birthday of Khaled Hosseini ( (born March 4, 1965), novelist and physician. He is best known for his novel, The Kite Runner, which sold more than ten million copies and was later made into a movie.

Khaled Hosseini is currently a Goodwill Envoy for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

I love libraries, so here is a direct request from Khaled Hosseini's website: "Illiteracy rates in Afghanistan are among the highest in the world and even those people who can read and write often lack books, supplies, and a place to develop their skills and deepen their knowledge. Relief International - one of the many organizations working with people in Afghanistan- has the Afghan Libraries Program, with a goal of creating libraries that children can access easily and safely, allowing them to learn important life skills. To learn more visit: www.ri.org".

Happy Birthday to You!

A Happy Birthday salute to Peter Dimianovich Ouspensky (March 4/5, 1878 - October 2, 1947), mathematician, author, journalist and student of G. I. Gurdjieff. He founded The Society for the Study of Normal Man. He was keenly interested in the fourth dimension and is often referred to as a mystical philosopher.

"In all living nature (and perhaps also in that which we consider as dead) love is the motive force which drives the creative activity in the most diverse directions." - P. D. Ouspensky

"Possibly the most interesting first impression of my life came from the world of dreams."- P. D. Ouspensky

"Man is a machine, but a very peculiar machine. He is a machine which, in right circumstances, and with right treatment, can know that he is a machine, and, having fully realized this, he may find the ways to cease being a machine." - P. D. Ouspensky

"It is only when we realize that life is taking us nowhere that it begins to have meaning." - P. D. Ouspensky

"The greatest barrier to consciousness is the belief that one is already conscious."- P. D. Ouspensky

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

I know it exists . . .

Today is the birthday of Alexander Graham Bell (March 3, 1847 - August 2, 1922), scientist, inventor and a founding member of the National Geographic Society.

"“When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened for us.” - Alexander Graham Bell

“What this power is I cannot say; all I know is that it exists and it becomes available only when a man is in that state of mind in which he knows exactly what he wants and is fully determined not to quit until he finds it.” - Alexander Graham Bell

"Leave the beaten track occasionally and dive into the woods. Every time you do so you will find something you have never seen before. Follow it up, explore around it, and before you know it, you will have something to think about to occupy your mind. All really big discoveries are the result of thought." - Alexander Graham Bell

"Before anything else, preparation is the key to success." - Alexander Graham Bell

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Monday, March 2, 2009

No matter how small . . .

Happy Birthday salute to Theodor Seuss Geisel (March 2, 1904 – September 24, 1991), an American writer and cartoonist. Most fondly remembered by his pen name, Dr. Seuss, and as the creator of The Cat in the Hat.

"Nonsense wakes up the brain cells. And it helps develop a sense of humor, which is awfully important in this day and age. " - Dr. Seuss

"You know you're in love when you can't fall asleep because reality is finally better than your dreams." - Dr. Seuss

“Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.” - Dr. Seuss

"From there to here, from here to there, funny things are everywhere." - Dr. Seuss

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It's not." - Dr. Seuss

"You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
You're on your own.
And you know what you know.
And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go."
- Dr. Seuss

"A person's a person, no matter how small." - Dr. Seuss