Thursday, April 30, 2009

How did I get here . . .

Today is the birthday of Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss (April 30, 1777 – February 23, 1855), mathematician and scientist. He is oft referred to as "the Prince of Mathematicians" and was known to be as eccentric as he was brilliant.

"It is not knowledge, but the act of learning, not possession but the act of getting there, which grants the greatest enjoyment. When I have clarified and exhausted a subject, then I turn away from it, in order to go into darkness again. The never-satisfied man is so strange; if he has completed a structure, then it is not in order to dwell in it peacefully, but in order to begin another. I imagine the world conqueror must feel thus, who, after one kingdom is scarcely conquered, stretches out his arms for others." - Carl Friedrich Gauss

"We must admit with humility that, while number is purely a product of our minds, space has a reality outside our minds, so that we cannot completely prescribe its properties a priori. " - Carl Friedrich Gauss

"It is always noteworthy that all those who seriously study this science [the theory of numbers] conceive a sort of passion for it." - Carl Friedrich Gauss

"I have had my results for a long time: but I do not yet know how I am to arrive at them." - Carl Friedrich Gauss

Gauss stamp image source (1)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Meandering to and fro . . .

Today is the birthday of Jules Henri Poincaré (April 29, 1854 – July 17, 1912), physicist and a philosopher of science, oft referred to as a polymath.

"The scientist does not study nature because it is useful to do so. He studies it because he takes pleasure in it, and he takes pleasure in it because it is beautiful. If nature were not beautiful it would not be worth knowing, and life would not be worth living. I am not speaking, of course, of the beauty which strikes the senses, of the beauty of qualities and appearances. I am far from despising this, but it has nothing to do with science. What I mean is that more intimate beauty which comes from the harmonious order of its parts, and which a pure intelligence can grasp." - Henri Poincaré

"Science is built up with facts, as a house is with stones. But a collection of facts is no more a science than a heap of stones is a house." - Henri Poincaré

"Time and Space... It is not nature which imposes them upon us, it is we who impose them upon nature because we find them convenient." - Henri Poincaré

"To doubt everything or to believe everything are two equally convenient solutions; both dispense with the necessity of reflection." - Henri Poincaré

"It is by logic that we prove, but by intuition that we discover. To know how to criticize is good, to know how to create is better." - Henri Poincaré

Trivia bits: Henri Poincaré was one of many that took a stance for Alfred Dreyfus in the Dreyfus Affair. The crater Poincaré on the Moon and Asteroid 2021 Poincaré were named in his honor. Henri Poincaré was ambidextrous.

Poincaré stamp image source (1)

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Meandering about . . .

Today is the birthday of Erich Salomon (April 28, 1886 – July 7, 1944), photographer and one of the pioneers of modern photojournalism. During his lifetime, Erich Salomon was considered an inventor of a new photographic genre, the candid camera.

Erich Salomon specialized in photographing international conferences and social gatherings of heads of state with the intention of showing the human qualities of world leaders. He especially enjoyed catching the leaders’ unguarded moments of fatigue, delight, or disgust and his uncanny ability to capture private moments earned him the moniker of “the king of indiscretion".

Trivia bit: Erich Solomon is one of only two known persons to have photographed a session of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Salomon image source (1)

Monday, April 27, 2009

Perpetually meandering . . .

Today is the birthday of Herbert Spencer (April 27, 1820 – December 8, 1903), biologist and philosopher. 

He is best known for coining the phrase "survival of the fittest" and is oft referred to as the father of Social Darwinism. In 1864, Herbert Spencer used the phrase in his  work Principles of Biology,  after he had read Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

"No one can be perfectly free till all are free; no one can be perfectly moral till all are moral; no one can be perfectly happy till all are happy." - Herbert Spencer

"We too often forget that not only is there "a soul of goodness in things evil," but very generally also, a soul of truth in things erroneous." - Herbert Spencer

"Evil perpetually tends to disappear." - Herbert Spencer

"How often misused words generate misleading thoughts!" - Herbert Spencer

Spencer image source (1)

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Meandering about . . .

A Happy Birthday salute to Frederick Law Olmsted and Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein.

Frederick Law Olmsted (April 26/27*, 1822 – August 28, 1903) was a journalist and landscape designer. He has been called the father of American landscape architecture. Frederick Law Olmsted is famous for designing many well-known urban parks/landscapes, including Central Park in New York, the Niagara Reservation in Niagara Falls, New York and George Washington Vanderbilt II's Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

"If we analyze the operations of scenes of beauty upon the mind, and consider the intimate relation of the mind upon the nervous system and the whole physical economy, the action and reaction which constantly occur between bodily and mental conditions, the reinvigoration which results from such scenes is readily comprehended. . . . The enjoyment of scenery employs the mind without fatigue and yet exercises it; tranquilizes it and yet enlivens it; and thus, through the influence of the mind over the body gives the effect of refreshing rest and reinvigoration to the whole system." - Frederick Law Olmstead

Trivia bit: In 1865, Frederick Law Olmsted cofounded the magazine The Nation.


Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (April 26, 1889 – April 29, 1951) was a philosopher and has been referred to as the greatest philosopher of the 20th century.

"To believe in God means to see that the facts of the world are not the end of the matter. . . . To believe in God means to see that life has a meaning." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

"It seems to me that, in every culture, I come across a chapter headed Wisdom. And then I know exactly what is going to follow: Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

"A man will be imprisoned in a room with a door that's unlocked and opens inwards; as long as it does not occur to him to pull rather than push it." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

"Death is not an event in life: we do not live to experience death. If we take eternity to mean not infinite temporal duration but timelessness, then eternal life belongs to those who live in the present. Our life has no end in just the way in which our visual field has no limits." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

"There are, indeed, things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest. They are what is mystical." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

"If people did not sometimes do silly things, nothing intelligent would ever get done." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

"A philosopher who is not taking part in discussions is like a boxer who never goes into the ring." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

"Someone who knows too much finds it hard not to lie." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

"The difficulty in philosophy is to say no more than we know." - Ludwig Wittgenstein

* sources vary on date
Olmsted image source (1)
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Saturday, April 25, 2009

It is, it is not . . .

A Happy Birthday salute to Wolfgang Ernst Pauli (April 25, 1900 – December 15, 1958), physicist, oft referred to as “the conscience of physics” and fondly remembered for the Pauli effect.

Wolfgang Ernst Pauli is known for his work on spin theory and winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1945 for his discovery in 1925 of the Pauli exclusion principle. It basically states that in an atom no two electrons can occupy the same quantum state simultaneously. This principle clearly relates the quantum theory to the observed properties of atoms.

"What really matters for me is … the more active role of the observer in quantum physics … According to quantum physics the observer has indeed a new relation to the physical events around him in comparison with the classical observer, who is merely a spectator." - Wolfgang Pauli

"I confess, that very different from you, I do find sometimes scientific inspiration in mysticism … but this is counterbalanced by an immediate sense for mathematics." - Wolfgang Pauli

"This isn't right. This isn't even wrong." - Wolfang Pauli

Pauli stamp image source (1)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Something is going to happen . . .

A Happy Birthday salute to Robert Penn Warren (April 24, 1905 – September 15, 1989), poet, novelist, and literary critic, who became the first poet laureate of the United States in 1986. He is credited as one of the founders of New Criticism.

Robert Penn Warren is best-known by his novel All the King's Men, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1947. It was the first of three Pulitzer Prizes he received in his lifetime. He received subsequent Pulitzer Prizes for two volumes of poetry, Promises in 1958 and Now and Then in 1979.

“There is nothing more alone than being in a car at night in the rain. I was in the car. And I was glad of it. Between one point on the map and another point on the map, there was the being alone in the car in the rain. They say you are not you except in terms of relation to other people. If there weren't any other people there wouldn't be any you because what you do which is what you are, only has meaning in relation to other people. That is a very comforting thought when you are in the car in the rain at night alone, for then you aren't you, and not being you or anything, you can really lie back and get some rest. It is a vacation from being you. There is only the flow of the motor under your foot spinning that frail thread of sound out of its metal guy like a spider, that filament, that nexus, which isn't really there, between the you which you have just left in one place and the you which you will be where you get to the other place.” - Robert Penn Warren

“This is not remarkable, for, as we know, reality is not a function of the event as event, but of the relationship of that event to past, and future, events. We seem here to have a paradox: that the reality of an event, which is not real in itself, arises from the other events which, likewise, in themselves are not real. But this only affirms what we must affirm: that direction is all. And only as we realize this do we live, for our own identity is dependent upon this principal.” - Robert Penn Warren

“The end of man is knowledge, but [man] can't know whether knowledge will save him or kill him; whether he is killed because of the knowledge which he has got or because of the knowledge which he hasn't got and which if he had it would save him.” - Robert Penn Warren

"Here is the shadow of truth, for only the shadow is true." - Robert Penn Warren

“Something is going to happen...” - Robert Penn Warren

Trivia bit: Robert Penn Warren is the only person to have won Pulitzer Prizes for both fiction and poetry.

Warren image source (1)
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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Whence come I and whither go I . . .

Today is the birthday of William Shakespeare, Elijah (Eliyahu) ben Shlomo Zalman Kremer, and Karl Ernst Ludwig Marx Planck.

William Shakespeare (April 23, 1564, baptised April 26, 1564 – April 23, 1616), writer. The actual date of William Shakespeare's birth is not known, but, traditionally, April 23, St George's Day, has been Shakespeare's accepted birthday.

William Shakespeare is considered by many as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is known as England's national poet and the Bard of Avon. His surviving works consist of 38 plays, 154 sonnets, two long narrative poems, and several other poems. William Shakespeare's plays are performed more often than those of any other playwright and have been translated into every major living language.

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.” - William Shakespeare

"Being born is like being kidnapped. And then sold into slavery." - William Shakespeare

"To be, or not to be: that is the question" - William Shakespeare

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages." - William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is another writer whose works has been banned.


Elijah (Eliyahu) ben Shlomo Zalman Kremer also known as Rabbi Elijah ben Shlomo Zalman (April 23, 1720 - October 9, 1797), best known as the Vilna Gaon was an exceptional Talmudist, Halachist, Kabbalist. He is commonly referred to in Hebrew as ha'Gaon ha'Chasid mi'Vilna, "the saintly genius from Vilnius."

Vilna Gaon is considered as one of the most influential Rabbinic authorities since the Middle Ages.

"As young as three years old he had committed the Bible to memory. At the age of seven he was taught Talmud by Moses Margalit, rabbi of Kaidan and the author of a commentary to the Jerusalem Talmud, and was supposed to know several of the tractates by heart. The Vilna Gaon is well known for having possessed a photographic memory. By eight, he was studying astronomy during his lunch time. From the age of ten he continued his studies without the aid of a teacher, and by the age of eleven he had committed the entire Talmud to memory." direct quote source (1)

Vilna Gaon was also a diligent student of history, geography, mathematics, astronomy and anatomy and insisted that it was necessary to study secular sciences, because the Torah and science were linked together.


Karl Ernst Ludwig Marx Planck, better known as Max Planck (April 23, 1858 – October 4, 1947), physicist, oft referred to as one of the most important physicists of the twentieth century. Max Planck received the Nobel Prize in Physics 1918 (awarded 1919) and is considered to be the founder of the quantum theory.

"As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter." - Max Planck

"Anybody who has been seriously engaged in scientific work of any kind realizes that over the entrance to the gates of the temple of science are written the words: Ye must have faith. It is a quality which the scientist cannot dispense with." - Max Planck

"Both Religion and Science require a belief in God. For believers, God is in the beginning, and for physicists He is at the end of all considerations… To the former He is the foundation, to the latter, the crown of the edifice of every generalized world view." - Max Planck

“Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are a part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.” - Max Planck

“Whence come I and whither go I? That is the great unfathomable question, the same for every one of us. Science has no answer to it.” - Max Planck


Shakespeare stamp image source (1)
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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

What can we know . . .

Today is the birthday of Immanuel Kant, philosopher, and J. Robert Oppenheimer, physicist.

Immanuel Kant (April 22, 1724 – February 12, 1804), is considered by many as one of the most influential philosophers in the history of Western philosophy. A great portion of his writings address the question "What can we know?" and The Critique of Pure Reason is oft cited as his most important work, his masterpiece.

"He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." - Immanuel Kant

"If man makes himself a worm he must not complain when he is trodden on." - Immanuel Kant

"Always recognize that human individuals are ends, and do not use them as means to your end." - Immanuel Kant

"There can be no doubt that all our knowledge begins with experience." - Immanuel Kant

"All human knowledge begins with intuitions, proceeds from thence to concepts, and ends with ideas." - Immanuel Kant

"All the interests of my reason, speculative as well as practical, combine in the three following questions: 1. What can I know? 2. What ought I to do? 3. What may I hope?" - Immanuel Kant

"Morality is not properly the doctrine of how we may make ourselves happy, but how we may make ourselves worthy of happiness." - Immanuel Kant

"Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me." - Immanuel Kant

"To be is to do." - Immanuel Kant


Julius Robert Oppenheimer (April 22, 1904 – February 18, 1967), physicist, best known as the scientific director of the Manhattan Project.

"We knew the world would not be the same. A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. I remembered the line from the Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad-Gita... "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." I suppose we all thought that, one way or another." - J. Robert Oppenheimer

"If atomic bombs are to be added as new weapons to the arsenals of a warring world, or to the arsenals of the nations preparing for war, then the time will come when mankind will curse the names of Los Alamos and Hiroshima. The people of this world must unite or they will perish." - J. Robert Oppenheimer

"The open society, the unrestricted access to knowledge, the unplanned and uninhibited association of men for its furtherance - these are what may make a vast, complex, ever growing, ever changing, ever more specialized and expert technological world, nevertheless a world of human community." - J. Robert Oppenheimer

"No man should escape our universities without knowing how little he knows." - J. Robert Oppenheimer

"The foolish man seeks happiness in the distance; The wise grows it under his feet." - J. Robert Oppenheimer

"Both the man of science and the man of action live always at the edge of mystery, surrounded by it." - J. Robert Oppenheimer


Kant image source (1)
Oppenheimer image source (1)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

I looked twice . . .

A Happy Birthday salute to Charlotte Brontë (April 21, 1816 – March 31, 1855), writer, best known for her novel, Jane Eyre.

"No mockery in this world ever sounds to me so hollow as that of being told to cultivate happiness. What does such advice mean? Happiness is not a potato." - Charlotte Brontë

"Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones." - Charlotte Brontë

“Give him enough rope and he will hang himself.” - Charlotte Brontë

“Look twice before you leap.” - Charlotte Brontë

“Cheerfulness, it would appear, is a matter which depends fully as much on the state of things within, as on the state of things without and around us.” - Charlotte Brontë

“Who has words at the right moment?” - Charlotte Brontë

Trivia bit: Charlotte Brontë used the pen name Currer Bell.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

Beau Paris . . .

Today is the birthday of Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte (April 20, 1808 – January 9, 1873), politician, best known as Napoléon III.

Napoléon III wanted to make his reign one of scientific and social progress in both industry and art.

"An important legacy of Napoléon III's reign was the rebuilding of Paris. Part of the design decisions were taken in order to reduce the ability of future revolutionaries to challenge the government by capitalizing on the small, medieval streets of Paris to form barricades. However, this should not overshadow the fact that the main reason for the complete transformation of Paris was Napoléon III's desire to modernize Paris based on what he had seen of the modernizations of London during his exile there in the 1840s. With his characteristic social approach to politics, Napoléon III desired to improve health standards and living conditions in Paris with the following goals: build a modern sewage system to improve health, develop new housing with larger apartments for the masses, create green parks all across the city to try to keep working classes away from the pubs on Sunday, etc. Large sections of the city were thus flattened down and the old winding streets were replaced with large thoroughfares and broad avenues. The rebuilding of Paris was directed by Baron Haussmann (1809–1891; Prefect of the Seine département 1853–1870). It was this rebuilding that turned Paris into the city of broad tree-lined boulevards and parks so beloved of tourists today." direct quote source (1)

Trivia bit: Charles Louis Napoléon Bonaparte was the first titular president and the last monarch of France.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Meandering on and on . . .

Today is the birthday of Glenn Theodore Seaborg (born Glenn Teodor Sjöberg April 19, 1912 – February 25, 1999), scientist.

Glenn T. Seaborg was a US nuclear chemist. He shared the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1951 with his co-worker Edwin McMillan for the discovery of plutonium and research on the transuranic elements.

"There is a beauty in discovery. There is mathematics in music, a kinship of science and poetry in the description of nature, and exquisite form in a molecule. Attempts to place different disciplines in different camps are revealed as artificial in the face of the unity of knowledge. All literate men are sustained by the philosopher, the historian, the political analyst, the economist, the scientist, the poet, the artisan and the musician." - Glenn T. Seaborg

Trivia bits: Element 106, seaborgium (1974), was named in his honour. Glenn T. Seaborg received so many awards and honors that at one time the Guinness Book of World Records listed him as the person with the longest entry in Who's Who in America.

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Meandering to and fro . . .

Today is the birthday of Clarence Seward Darrow (April 18, 1857 – March 13, 1938), lawyer and a leading member of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). He is oft remembered as the epitome of the "sophisticated country lawyer" and one of the great civil libertarians produced by America.

“As long as the world shall last there will be wrongs, and if no man objected and no man rebelled, those wrongs would last forever.” - Clarence Darrow

“You can protect your liberties in this world only by protecting the other man's freedom. You can be free only if I am free.” - Clarence Darrow

“No other offense has ever been visited with such severe penalties as seeking to help the oppressed.” - Clarence Darrow

"Lost causes are the only ones worth fighting for." - Clarence Darrow

"Someday I hope to write a book where the royalties will pay for the copies I give away." - Clarence Darrow

"The pursuit of truth will set you free; even if you never catch up with it." - Clarence Darrow

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Friday, April 17, 2009

As far as I can see . . .

A Happy Birthday salute to John Pierpont Morgan (April 17, 1837 – March 31, 1913), financier, banker and art collector, considered by many the greatest financier in the history of United States business.

John Pierpont Morgan was a notable collector of books and art objects. He was president and a major force in the establishment of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to which he bequeathed much of his large art collection.

"No problem can be solved until it is reduced to some simple form. The changing of a vague difficulty into a specific, concrete form is a very essential element in thinking." - J. P. Morgan

“Anyone can be a millionaire, but to become a billionaire you need an astrologer.” - J. P. Morgan

“When you expect things to happen - strangely enough - they do happen.” - J. P. Morgan

"Go as far as you can see; when you get there, you'll be able to see farther." - J. P. Morgan

Morgan image source (1)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Meandering to and fro . . .

A Happy Birthday salute to Anatole France (born Jacques Anatole François Thibault, April 16, 1844 - October 12, 1924), poet, journalist, and novelist.

Anatole France spent most of his life around books. He was the son of a bookseller, worked with his father in the trade and In 1876 he was appointed a librarian for the French Senate. He was elected to the Académie Française in 1896.

Anatole France had the courage to stand up for the injustice to Alfred Dreyfuss and played an important part in the Dreyfus Affair. He was the first to signed Emile Zola's manifesto supporting Alfred Dreyfus and later wrote about the affair in his 1901 novel Monsieur Bergeret. Anatole France won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1921.

Once again we have a writer whose works were banned. In the 1920s, Anatole France's writings were placed on the Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Prohibited Books Index) of the Roman Catholic Church.

"Nine tenths of education is encouragement." - Anatole France

"To accomplish great things, we must not only act but also dream, not only dream but also believe." - Anatole France

"Until one has loved an animal, a part of one's soul remains unawakened"- Anatole France

"Wandering re-establishes the original harmony which once existed between man and the universe." - Anatole France

Trivia bit: The renown intellectual Anatole France had a small brain, it was just two-thirds the size of a "normal" brain. info source (1)(2)

France image source (1)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Meandering about . . .

Today is the birthday of (Koca Mi‘mār Sinān Āġā) Mimar Sinan (April 15, 1489 - April 09, 1588), architect. Mimar Sinan was the chief Ottoman architect and civil engineer for sultans Suleiman I, Selim II and Murad III.

"The son of Greek Orthodox Christian parents, Sinan entered his father’s trade as a stone mason and carpenter. . . He first revealed his talents as an architect in the 1530s by designing and building military bridges and fortifications. In 1539 he completed his first nonmilitary building, and for the remaining 40 years of his life he was to work as the chief architect of the Ottoman Empire at a time when it was at the zenith of its political power and cultural brilliance. The number of projects Sinan undertook is massive—79 mosques, 34 palaces, 33 public baths, 19 tombs, 55 schools, 16 poorhouses, 7 madrasahs (religious schools), and 12 caravansaries, in addition to granaries, fountains, aqueducts, and hospitals. His three most famous works are the Şehzade Mosque and the Mosque of Süleyman I the Magnificent, both of which are in Istanbul, and the Selim Mosque at Edirne." direct quote source (1)

Mimar Sinan died in 1588 and his body rests in a tomb outside the Sulemaniye Mosque. Ornate as his creations were, his own tomb is surprisingly a simple one, which lies across a street named after him.

Trivia bit: As crater in Mercury has also been named after him.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Be Happy . . .

Today is the birthday of Moritz Schlick ( born Friedrich Albert Moritz Schlick, April 14, 1882–June 22, 1936), philosopher, best known as the founding father of logical positivism and the Vienna Circle.

"As the founder and leader of the Vienna Circle — arguably the most important and influential philosophy study and discussion group in the history of Western philosophy after Plato's AcademySchlick occupies a position of importance in the history of Western philosophy that is considerably greater than he would otherwise have held based simply on his philosophical work alone, which was nevertheless of considerable importance in its own right." direct quote source (1)

Moritz Schlick emphasized experience as the means of establishing the truth of claims to knowledge.

In 1908, he published The Wisdom of Life, a slim volume about eudaemonism, the theory that happiness is the highest ethical pursuit.

Moritz Schlick was shot by a deranged former student while on his way to lecture at the University of Vienna on June 22, 1936.

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Monday, April 13, 2009

M-E-A-N-D-E-R-I-N-G . . .

Today is the birthday of Alfred Mosher Butts (April 13, 1899 - April 4, 1993), architect, artist and inventor, best known as the inventor of the game Scrabble.

"He carefully analyzed how often each letter is used (that's how he decided how many of each letter to include and how many points each one would earn), then drew a board and glued letters on some balsa tiles. Originally called "Criss Cross" (1931), the game, which was based on the crossword puzzle and anagrams, was redesigned, renamed as "Scrabble", and marketed by James Brunot in 1948." direct quote source (1)

"I'm a terrible speller." - Alfred Butts

Trivia bit: Scrabble is one of the most popular games in history. An estimated 3 million Scrabble sets sell worldwide each year in 23 different languages.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Meandering on . . .

A Happy Birthday salute to Peter Safar (April 12, 1924 – August 2, 2003), physician and pioneer in emergency medicine, oft referred to as the "Father of CPR".

" . . . whose pioneering 'Kiss of Life' procedure of mouth-to-mouth resuscitations is credited with saving countless lives. In the 1960s the technique was combined with new chest compressions, producing what's known today as CPR, or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. He also helped create the organization that, in 1976, became the World Association for disaster and Emergency Medicine. Although there are ancient references to the apparent use of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in the Bible, the technique fell out of practice until rediscovered by Safar in the 1950s." direct quote source (1)

In 1958, he is credited with establishing America's (USA) first intensive care unit and in 1961, the world's first critical- care medicine program to train physicians in the skills of intensive care.

Trivia bit: He was nominated three times for the Nobel prize in medicine.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Just shlepping along . . .

Today is the birthday of Leo Calvin Rosten (April 11, 1908 - February 19, 1997), author. He is well-known for his encyclopedic work The Joys of Yiddish and his stories about the night-school "prodigy" Hyman Kaplan that first appeared in the New Yorker in the 1930s. He is also known by the pseudonym Leonard Q. Ross.

"A conservative is one who admires radicals centuries after they're dead." - Leo Calvin Rosten

"Truth is stranger than fiction; fiction has to make sense." - Leo Calvin Rosten

"We see things as we are, not as they are." - Leo Calvin Rosten

"Courage is the capacity to confirm what can be imagined." - Leo Calvin Rosten

Rosten image source (1)

Friday, April 10, 2009

Meandering on . . .

Today is the birthday of William Hazlitt (April 10, 1778 – September 18, 1830), literary critic, essayist and philosopher. He was considered one of the greatest critics and essayists in his time; however, his work is not as well known today.

"Man is the only animal that laughs and weeps; for he is the only animal that is struck with the difference between what things are, and what they ought to be." - William Hazlitt

"Perhaps the best cure for the fear of death is to reflect that life has a beginning as well as an end. There was a time when we were not: this gives us no concern — why then should it trouble us that a time will come when we shall cease to be?" - William Hazlitt

"Books let us into their souls and lay open to us the secrets of our own." - William Hazlitt

"If you think you can win, you can win. Faith is necessary to victory." - William Hazlitt

"Well, I've had a happy life." -
Last words (09/18/1830), quoted by his grandson, William Carew Hazlitt

Trivia bit: William Hazlitt is credited with creating the term ultracrepidarian to describe one who gives opinions on matters beyond one's knowledge.

Hazlitt image source (1)

Thursday, April 9, 2009

If we could stop time . . .

Today is the birthday of Edward James Muggeridge, better known as Eadweard J. Muybridge (April 9, 1830 – May 8, 1904), bookseller, photographer, and cinematographer.

Eadweard Muybridge showed an obsession with stopping time and freezing motion. He is known primarily for his early use of multiple cameras to capture motion, and his zoopraxiscope. The zoopraxiscope was a device for projecting motion pictures which pre-dated the celluloid film strip. He is considered a pioneer in visual studies of human and animal locomotion.

Eadweard James Muybridge is perhaps best known as the man who proved that a horse has all four hooves off the ground at the peak of a gallop.

Horse in Motion

Trivia bit: In October 1874, Eadweard Muybridge's personal life was shattered when he was arrested for the murder of his wife's lover, whom Eadweard Muybridge suspected was the father of the son born in April that year. Eadweard Muybridge was held in prison for several months, but after a lengthy trial he was acquitted in February 1875. His wife, who had unsuccessfully sued for divorce, died later that year, leaving him to support the child. (On a personal note, I cannot help but wonder if that was the germ of his obsession with stopping time - I am not the only one to wonder check out Tesseract)

Muybridge image source (1)

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Over the rainbow . . .

A Happy Birthday salute to Edgar Yipsel Harburg (April 8, 1896 – March 4, 1981), lyricist and poet, otherwise known as E.Y. Harburg or Yip Harburg.

Yip Harburg was a popular song lyricist who worked with many well-known composers. He wrote the lyrics to the standards, Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?, April in Paris, and It's Only a Paper Moon, as well as all of the songs in The Wizard of Oz, including Over the Rainbow.

"The magic in song only happens when the words give destination and meaning to the music, and the music gives meaning to the words . . . together as a song they go places you've never been before." - Yip Harburg

"Words make you think a thought. Music makes you feel a feeling. A song makes you feel a thought." - Yip Harburg

"Somewhere over the rainbow
Skies are blue
And the dreams that you dare to dream
Really do come true."
Over the Rainbow (The Wizard of Oz)

"Look, look, look to the rainbow
Follow it over the hill and stream
Look, look, look to the rainbow
Follow the fellow who follows a dream."
Look to the Rainbow (Finian's Rainbow)

Issue Date: April 2005
Format: pane of 20

Trivia bit: Yip Harburg was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1972.

Harburg image source (1)
Harburg stamp source (1)

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Let the music play . . .

Happy Birthday salute to musical artists Percy Faith, Billie Holiday, Ravi Shankar, Mongo Santamaria, Babatunde Olatunji, Spencer Dryden, and Freddie Hubbard.

Percy Faith (April 7, 1908 – February 9, 1976), band-leader, orchestrator and composer. He was known for his arrangements of standard tunes with lush string sections and wordless female chorus. He made many recordings for Voice of America and his most famous compositions are "Delicado" (1952) and "Moulin Rouge." (1953) and Theme from 'A Summer Place' (1960).

"Percy Faith was one of the most popular easy listening recording artists of the '50s and '60s. Not only did he have a number of hit albums and singles under his own name, but Faith was responsible for arranging hits by Tony Bennett, Doris Day, Johnny Mathis, and Burl Ives, among others, as the musical director for Columbia Records in the '50s." direct quote source (1)

Trivia bit: He won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year in 1961 for Theme from 'A Summer Place' and received a second Grammy award in 1969 for his album Love Theme from 'Romeo and Juliet'.


Billie Holiday (born Eleanora Fagan Goughy; April 7, 1915 – July 17, 1959), jazz singer and songwriter, also known as Lady Day. She is considered one of the greatest jazz voices of all time.

"I never hurt nobody but myself and that's nobody's business but my own." - Billie Holiday

"I'm always making a comeback but nobody ever tells me where I've been." - Billie Holiday

“If I'm going to sing like someone else, then I don't need to sing at all.” - Billie Holiday

Trivia bit: Billie Holiday is inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on March 6, 2000.


Pandit Ravi Shankar (born Robindro Shankar April 7, 1920), sitar player and composer. He is well known for his pioneering work in bringing Indian music to the West. Ravi Shankar is the 20th century's most famous player of the complex stringed instrument known as the sitar.

“My secret ambition was always to provide music for animation films: something with an Indian theme, either a fairy tale or mythological tale or on the Krishna theme. I still have a very deep desire, but these sorts of chances don't always come.” - Ravi Shankar

“In our culture we have such respect for musical instruments, they are like part of God.” - Ravi Shankar

Trivia bit: He has received three Grammy Awards, an Academy Award nomination and in 1999, was awarded the Bharat Ratna award, India's highest civilian honor.


Ramón "Mongo" Santamaría (April 7, 1917 in Havana, Cuba – February 1, 2003) was an Afro-Cuban Latin jazz percussionist, known for his conga rhythms.

In the early 1950s, "Mongo" Santamaría toured with the Mambo Kings and performed with Tito Puente and Cal Tjader. In 1959, he wrote Afro Blue, which quickly became a jazz standard played for jazz luminaries such as Count Basie and Dizzy Gillespie. Most jazz aficonados remember "Mongo" Santamaría for his 1963 recording of Herbie Hancock's song Watermelon Man, which became his first Top 10 hit.

Trivia bit: "Mongo" Santamaría began his musical training on the violin, but switched to drums and percussion while still in his teens.


Babatunde Olatunji (April 7, 1927 – April 6, 2003), drummer, educator, social activist and recording artist.

"In 1959, Columbia Records released Olatunji's first album, Drums of Passion, which became an unprecedented, worldwide smash hit. It was the first album to bring genuine African music to Western ears, and it went on to sell over five million copies. Olatunji has traveled the world for forty years spreading his music and African culture. " direct quote source (1)

"I am that I am, I am beauty, I am peace, I am joy, I am one with Mother Earth. I am one with everyone within the reach of my voice. In this togetherness, we ask the divine intelligence to eradicate all negatives from our hearts, from our minds and from our actions. And so be it....ashe." - Babatunde Olatunji

"Rhythm is the soul of life. The whole universe revolves in rhythm. Everything and every human action revolves in rhythm." - Babatunde Olatunji

"The spirit of the drum is something that you feel
but cannot put your hands on,
It does something to you from the inside out . . .
It hits people in so many different ways.
But the feeling is one that is satisfying and joyful.
It is a feeling that makes you say to yourself,
I'm glad to be alive today! I'm glad to be part of this world!"
-Babatunde Olatunji


Spencer Dryden (April 7, 1938 – January 11, 2005), drummer for Jefferson Airplane, New Riders of the Purple Sage and The Dinosaurs.

"He also came out of a background completely different from the rest of the band -- where the other members of the Airplane were all relatively new to the world of full-time professional music, Dryden had been making a decent living and working full-time as a drummer for years before he crossed paths with Marty Balin and company. And unlike the others, San Francisco wasn't where he made his home or planned on making a career, and he was never part of the folk scene like the other members. His way into music -- and his living for a good 10 years before joining the band -- came from jazz." direct quote source (1)

Trivia bit: Spencer Dryden was inducted in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, along with the rest of Jefferson Airplane.


Frederick Dewayne Hubbard (April 7, 1938 – December 29, 2008), jazz trumpeter, better known as Freddie Hubbard.

"Freddie Hubbard's jazz career began in earnest after moving to New York City in 1958. While there, he worked with Sonny Rollins, Slide Hampton, J. J. Johnson, Philly Joe Jones, Oliver Nelson, and Quincy Jones, among others. He gained attention while playing with the seminal hard bop ensemble Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, appearing on such albums as Mosaic, Buhaina's Delight, and Free For All. He left the Messengers in 1964 to lead his own groups . . ." direct quote source (1)

Trivia bit: In 2006, Freddie Hubbard received the NEA Jazz Masters Award, one of the highest honors in jazz.


Faith image source (1); Holiday image source (1); Ravi-Shankar image source (1); Mongo image source (1); Olatunji image source (1); Dryden image source (1); Hubbard image source (1)

Monday, April 6, 2009

A rose by any other name . . .

Today is the birthday of Stanislas de Guaita (April 6, 1861 - December 19, 1897), poet.

His poems were very widely celebrated and in 1883 were published as The Dark Muse and in 1885 as The Mystic Rose, both of which brought him acclaim and great popularity.

Stanislas de Guaita created the Cabalistic Order of the Rose Cross (Kabbalistique de la Rose Croix) in 1888, which brought together the most famous esoteric thinkers of France, and later all of Europe. (The Rosicrucian Order is a legendary and secretive Order that was first publicly documented in the early 1600s.) Stanislas de Guaita's Order of the Rose Cross provided training in the Kabbalah (Qabala(h) or Cabala), an esoteric form of Jewish mysticism, which attempts to reveal hidden mystical insights in the Hebrew Bible and divine nature. During his lifetime he collected the largest private library of writings on metaphysical subjects, magic, and hidden sciences that could be found in France.

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

A great leap in the dark . . .

Today is the birthday of Thomas Hobbes (April 5, 1588 – December 4, 1679), philosopher, best known for his book, Leviathan. He has been referred to as the founding father of modern political philosophy.

In 1651, Thomas Hobbes publishes Leviathan, which basically says that man's natural state is anarchic competition. He puts forth the idea that man, in his self-interest, forms peaceful societies via the social contract, without which life would be "nasty, brutish, and short", perpetually chaotic and at war.

Here is another author whose books were banned and burned. Four years after Thomas Hobbes’s death, the University of Oxford condemned his works The Citizen and Leviathan and burned them at the stake. (1)

"Such is the nature of men, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned; yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves." - Thomas Hobbes

"Curiosity is the lust of the mind." - Thomas Hobbes

Trivia bit: "I am about to take my last voyage, a great leap in the dark." attributed as Thomas Hobbes last words.

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Meandering with Tweel . . .

Today is the birthday of Stanley Grauman Weinbaum (April 4, 1902 - December 14, 1935), author. He is best known for his short story A Martian Odyssey and the alien character Tweel.

A Martian Odyssey, has been influencing Science Fiction since it was first published in 1934. The story presented Tweel, a sympathetic but definitely non-human alien. Stanley G. Weinbaum is considered the first writer to contrive an alien who thought as well as a human, but not like a human.

Stanley G. Weinbaum's first published story in 1934, A Martian Odyssey, changed science fiction forever. He died of throat cancer 15 months later, in 1935. He continued to exert influence on the field after his death, since works he had written but not published, were made available to the public after he died.

Robert Bloch: "In an era of rising racial, religious and nationalistic discord soon to culminate in a global war, Weinbaum somehow found the courage and creativity to present --- without plea or preachment --- the case for brotherhood. And not just the brotherhood of man, but the kinship common to all living things." direct quote source (1)

Trivia bit: A crater on Mars is named in his honor.

Image source (1)