Sunday, May 31, 2009

Meandering to and fro . . .

A Birthday salute to Walter Whitman and Norman Vincent Peale.

Today is the birthday of Walter Whitman (May 31, 1819 – March 26, 1892), poet, essayist, journalist, and humanist. He is best known as Walt Whitman and is oft referred to as the father of free verse (although he did not invent it).

“Not I - not anyone else, can travel that road for you, / You must travel it for yourself.” - Walt Whitman

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.” - Walt Whitman

“A morning-glory at my window satisfies me more than the metaphysics of books.” - Walt Whitman

"I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good as belongs to you."
- Walt Whitman

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars.” - Walt Whitman

"Every moment of light and dark is a miracle." - Walt Whitman

"Be curious, not judgmental." - Walt Whitman

"The habit of giving only enhances the desire to give." - Walt Whitman

"Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes." - Walt Whitman


Today is the birthday of Norman Vincent Peale (May 31, 1898 – December 24, 1993), minister and author. He is best known for his book The Power of Positive Thinking and his belief in "positive thinking".

"Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all." - Norman Vincent Peale

“Our happiness depends on the habit of mind we cultivate. So practice happy thinking every day. Cultivate the merry heart, develop the happiness habit, and life will become a continual feast.” - Norman Vincent Peale

"When life hands you a lemon, make lemonade." - Norman Vincent Peale

"We tend to get what we expect.” - Norman Vincent Peale

“Change your thoughts, and you change your world” - Norman Vincent Peale

“If you have zest and enthusiasm you attract zest and enthusiasm. Life does give back in kind.” - Norman Vincent Peale

Trivia bit: "Norman Vincent Peale wrote 46 books. 'The Power of Positive Thinking' published in 1952, remains his best work. Its record is staggering...20 million copies sold, New York Times bestseller list for 186 consecutive weeks and translated into 41 languages." direct quote source (1)

Whitman image source (1)
Whitman stamp image source (
Peale image source (1)

Saturday, May 30, 2009

Meandering about . . .

A Happy Birthday salute to Bruno Gröning (May 30/31, 1906 — January 26, 1959), mystic and faith healer.

"Bruno Gröning compared a person with a battery. He believed that everyone burns up vital energy. However, new energy to replace it is often insufficiently absorbed. In the same way that an empty battery is incapable of functioning, a body without energy is also unable to fulfill its tasks. He believed the consequences to be the cause of fatigue, exhaustion, nervousness, anxieties and finally, illness." direct quote source (1)

"It is so important which thoughts a person absorbs, for thoughts are energy." - Bruno Gröning

"There is much that cannot be explained, but nothing that cannot occur." - Bruno Gröning

Trivia bit: The Phenomenon Bruno Gröning - On the tracks of the "Miracle Healer" is a documentary film on Bruno Gröning. Trailer Bruno Gröning documentary film (direct download-link)


Today is the birthday of Joseph Stein (born May 30, 1912), playwright. He best known for writing the books for such musicals as Fiddler on the Roof and Zorba.

"Joseph Stein's book for Fiddler on the Roof represents the author's best known and most successful work in musical comedy. It was one of the last big successes in an era of great musicals on Broadway. Following its debut on September 22, 1964, at the Imperial Theatre, Fiddler ran for 3242 performances, achieving the longest run for a musical up to that time. This success was ironic considering the play's producers' initial fears that, due to the ethnically based story, the musical might not appeal to a broad audience." direct quote source (1)

Trivia bit: Joseph Stein began his career as a social worker, writing comedy on the side.

Gröning film image source (1)
Stein image source (1)

Friday, May 29, 2009

Meandering on and on . . .

Today is the birthday of Ebenezer Butterick (May 29, 1826 - March 31, 1903), tailor and inventor, best known for Butterick Patterns. Ebenezer Butterick with his wife Ellen developed printed dress patterns that could be cut for different dress sizes. They are the inventors of the tissue paper dress pattern.

In 1867 Butterick began publishing the Ladies Quarterly of Broadway Fashions, a magazine to promote their patterns and in 1868, a monthly magazine, Metropolitan. Both magazines offered fashion news and advice, as well as mail order services for Butterick's designs.

In 1873, E. Butterick & Co. began publishing the women's magazine The Delineator (subtitled A Journal of Fashion, Culture, and Fine Arts) which, by the turn of the century was a premiere women's fashion magazine in America.

Butterick image source (1)

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Meandering about . . .

Today is the birthday of Walker Percy (May 28, 1916 – May 10, 1990), novelist and essay writer, whose interests included philosophy and semiotics.

Walker Percy's works explore "the notion that human beings are out of place in the cosmos, that they have become alienated to the world they inhabit, and that they are searching for ways to bring significance into their lives. In short, as the title of one of his works of non-fiction implies, they are looking for "the message in the bottle" that will bring a salvation of sorts." direct quote source (1)

"Why is it that one can look at a lion or a planet or an owl or at someone’s finger as long as one pleases, but looking into the eyes of another person is, if prolonged past a second, a perilous affair?" - Walker Percy

"I have discovered that most people have no one to talk to, no one, that is, who really wants to listen. When it does at last dawn on a man that you really want to hear about his business, the look that comes over his face is something to see. " - Walker Percy

"You live in a deranged age, more deranged that usual, because in spite of great scientific and technological advances, man has not the faintest idea of who he is or what he is doing. " - Walker Percy

"Why it is that of all the billions and billions of strange objects in the Cosmos -- novas, quasars, pulsars, black holes -- you are beyond doubt the strangest?" - Walker Percy

"If I had the choice of knowing the truth or searching for the truth, I'd take the search." - Walker Percy

Percy image source (1)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Meandering on . . .

Today is the birthday of Herman Wouk (born May 27, 1915), author. He received a Pulitzer Prize for his 1951 novel, The Caine Mutiny.

"The imaginative artist willy-nilly influences his time. If he understands his responsibility and acts on it—taking the art seriously always, himself never quite—he can make a contribution equal to, if different from, that of the scientist, the politician, and the jurist. The anarchic artist so much in vogue now—asserting with vehemence and violence that he writes only for himself, grubbing in the worst seams of life—can do damage. But he can also be so useful in breaking up obsolete molds, exposing shams, and crying out the truth, that the broadest freedom of art seems to me necessary to a country worth living in." - Herman Wouk

"Illusion is an anodyne, bred by the gap between wish and reality." - Herman Wouk

"Some people think that all the equipment you need to discuss religion is a mouth." - Herman Wouk

"Write a page a day. It will add up." - Herman Wouk

Wouk image source (1)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Meandering . . .

Today is the birthday of Maxwell Bodenheim (May 26, 1892 – February 6, 1954), poet and novelist who was known as the King of Greenwich Village Bohemians. His writing brought him international fame during the Jazz Age of the 1920s.

During the first third of the 20th century, Maxwell Bodenheim enjoyed a reputation as both a poet ranking with Ezra Pound and a infamous Great Lover, complete with forlorn lovers' suicides.

In 1918, Maxwell Bodenheim's first book of poetry, Minna and Myself, was praised by Carl Sandburg, William Carlos Williams, and Conrad Aiken.

His 1925 novel, Replenishing Jessica was the subject of a famous obscenity trial that helped loosen censorship restrictions in the United States.

"For me, poetry is an impish attempt to paint the colour of the wind." - Maxwell Bodenheim

"Time is but a phantom dagger that motion lifts to slay itself." - Maxwell Bodenheim

"Words are soldiers of fortune, hired by different ideas." - Maxwell Bodenheim

"Reality is a formless lure,
And only when we know this
Do we dare to be unreal."
- Maxwell Bodenheim

Bodenheim image source (1)

Monday, May 25, 2009

Meandering around . . .

A Happy Birthday salute to Edward Bulwer-Lytton and Ralph Waldo Emerson, both prolific writers and both born May 25, 1803.

Edward George Earle Lytton Bulwer-Lytton (May 25, 1803– January 18, 1873), novelist, poet, playwright, and politician. He is best known as Lord Lytton, the 1st Baron Lytton PC.

Lord Lytton was a florid, popular writer of his day, who coined such phrases as "the great unwashed", "pursuit of the almighty dollar", "the pen is mightier than the sword", "time is money", and "It was a dark and stormy night."

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." - Lord Lytton

"Every street has two sides, the shady side and the sunny. When two men shake hands and part, mark which of the two takes the sunny side; he will be the younger man of the two. " - Lord Lytton


Ralph Waldo Emerson (May 25, 1803 – April 27, 1882), essayist, philosopher and poet. He is best remembered for leading the Transcendentalist movement of the early 19th century.

"To different minds, the same world is a hell, and a heaven." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Sometimes a scream is better than a thesis." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Can anybody remember when the times were not hard and money not scarce?" - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"There are many things of which a wise man might wish to be ignorant." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Lord Lytton image source (1)
Emerson image source (1)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Still meandering . . .

A Happy Birthday salute to Robert Allen Zimmerman (born on May 24, 1941), singer, songwriter, author, poet and painter, better known as Bob Dylan.

"I had ambitions to set out and find, like an odyssey or going home somewhere… set out to find… this home that I’d left a while back and couldn’t remember exactly where it was, but I was on my way there. And encountering what I encountered on the way was how I envisioned it all. I didn’t really have any ambition at all. I was born very far from where I’m supposed to be, and so, I’m on my way home, you know?" - Bob Dylan

"I think of a hero as someone who understands the degree of responsibility that comes with his freedom." - Bob Dylan

"How many roads must a man walk down before you call him a man?
How many seas must a white dove sail before she sleeps in the sand?
Yes, and how many years can a mountain exist before it is washed to the sea?
How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky?
Yes, and how many deaths will it take till he knows that too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin' in the wind."
- Bob Dylan

"I'll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours. " - Bob Dylan

"All I can do is be me, whoever that is." - Bob Dylan

"Chaos is a friend of mine." - Bob Dylan

Dylan image source (1)

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Pondering on insignificance . . .

Today is the birthday of Edward Norton Lorenz (May 23, 1917 - April 16, 2008), meteorologist and mathematician, best known as a pioneer in the field of chaos theory.

"In a talk he gave to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 1972 entitled: Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set off a Tornado in Texas? he coined the brilliant term 'butterfly effect' to describe elegantly how a very small disturbance, such as the movement of a butterfly’s wings, in one place can give rise to a series of events that induce enormous consequences in another, far distant, place. Put simply, small deviations in a system can result in large and often unsuspected results." direct quote source (1)

Trivia note: "The origin of the now popular phrase 'butterfly effect' is unclear; the contenders include a 1952 story by Ray Bradbury in which the death of a prehistoric butterfly leads to a very different modern world, as well as the butterfly-like shape of the strange attractor – an odd mathematical object which reveals more and more structure when examined closely – now known as the "Lorenz attractor". For Edward Lorenz himself, the move from seagull to butterfly came about when his friend Philip Meriless, unable to reach him as a meeting deadline passed, submitted the title 'Predictability: does the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil set off a tornado in Texas?' for a talk Lorenz was to give in 1972." direct quote source (1)

Lorenz image source (1)

Friday, May 22, 2009

Meandering around . . .

Today is the birthday of Arthur Ignatius Conan Doyle (May 22, 1859 – July 7, 1930), physician and author. He is best known as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the detective Sherlock Holmes.

"Arthur Conan Doyle (ACD) was a prolific writer. His large body of work includes poetry, plays, historical fiction, commentary on social and legal reform, war and military chronicles, enthusiastic articles on various sport, and finally writings on behalf of Spiritualism. He went to the Arctic as a ship's doctor, he solved real-life crimes, he was asked to serve on the 1916 Olympic Committee, and he travelled widely around the world giving lectures on everything from African oppression to magic." direct quote source (1)

"I should dearly love that the world should be ever so little better for my presence. Even on this small stage we have our two sides, and something might be done by throwing all one's weight on the scale of breadth, tolerance, charity, temperance, peace, and kindliness to man and beast. We can't all strike very big blows, and even the little ones count for something." - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?" - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"It has long been an axiom of mine that the little things are infinitely the most important." - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

"You see, but you do not observe." - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Here is another author whose books were banned. His short story collections, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, was banned in the Soviet Union in 1929 for supposed occultism.

Doyle image source (1)

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Meandering on and on . . .

Today is the birthday of Alexander Pope (May 21, 1688 – May 30, 1744), essayist, critic, satirist, and poet. He is best known for his satirical verse and for his translation of Homer.

Alexander Pope was a master of the heroic couplet and is generally regarded as the greatest English poet of the eighteenth century.

"A man should never be ashamed to own he has been in the wrong, which is but saying, in other words, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday." - Alexander Pope

"And, after all, what is a lie? 'Tis but the truth in a masquerade." - Alexander Pope

"Many men have been capable of doing a wise thing, more a cunning thing, but very few a generous thing." - Alexander Pope

"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread." - Alexander Pope

"A little learning is a dangerous thing." - Alexander Pope

"Thus let me live, unseen, unknown;
Thus unlamented let me die;
Steal from the world, and not a stone
Tell where I lie."
- Alexander Pope

"The mouse that always trusts to one poor hole
Can never be a mouse of any soul."
- Alexander Pope

Pope image source (1)

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Meandering about . . .

Today is the birthday of John Stuart Mill (May 20, 1806 – May 8, 1873), philosopher. He was a radical empiricist who held that all human knowledge, including even mathematics and logic, is derived by generalization from sensory experience. 

The overall aim of his philosophy was to develop a positive view of the universe and the place of humans in it, a view which would contribute to the progress of human knowledge, individual freedom and human well-being. John Stuart Mill was a strong believer in freedom, especially of speech and of thought.

"Whatever crushes individuality is despotism, by whatever name it may be called." - John Stuart Mill

"The amount of eccentricity in a society has generally been proportional to the amount of genius, mental vigor, and moral courage it contained. That so few now dare to be eccentric marks the chief danger of the time." - John Stuart Mill

"A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he is justly accountable to them for the injury." - John Stuart Mill

"No great improvements in the lot of mankind are possible until a great change takes place in the fundamental constitution of their modes of thought." - John Stuart Mill

"That which seems the height of absurdity in one generation often becomes the height of wisdom in the next." - John Stuart Mill

"One person with a belief is equal to a force of 99 who have only interests." - John Stuart Mill

"Over one's mind and over one's body the individual is sovereign." - John Stuart Mill

Mill image source (1)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Meandering on . . .

Today is the birthday of Max Ferdinand Perutz, (May 19, 1914 – February 6, 2002), molecular biologist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1962, which he shared with John Kendrew for their studies of the structures of hemoglobin and globular proteins.

Max Perutz is oft referred to as the father of molecular biology. He founded the small research group in which Francis Crick and James Watson discovered the structure of DNA and under his leadership it became the world-famous Laboratory for Molecular Biology.

"Science is part of culture. Culture isn't only art and music and literature, it's also understanding what the world is made of and how it functions. People should know something about stars, matter and chemistry. People often say that they don't like chemistry but we deal with chemistry all the time. People don't know what heat is, they hardly know what water is. I'm always surprised how little people know about anything. I'm puzzled by it." — Max Perutz

‘"There is a real world independent of our senses: the laws of nature were not invented by man, but forced upon him by that natural world. They are the expression of a rational order." - Max Perutz

"True science thrives best in glass houses where everyone can look in. When the windows are blacked out, as in war, the weeds take over; when secrecy muffles criticism, charlatans and cranks flourish." - Max Perutz

"In Science Truth Always Wins" — Max Perutz

Perutz image source (1)

Monday, May 18, 2009

How and why do we know what we know?

Today is the birthday of Bertrand Arthur William Russell (May 18, 1872 –February 2, 1970), philosopher, logician, mathematician, historian, social reformist, and pacifist. He was devoted to the philosophy of knowledge and is regarded as one of the founders of analytic philosophy.

In 1950, Bertrand Russell was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature.

"There lies before us, if we choose, continual progress in happiness, knowledge, and wisdom. Shall we, instead, choose death, because we cannot forget our quarrels? We appeal as human beings to human beings: Remember your humanity, and forget the rest. If you can do so, the way lies open to a new Paradise; if you cannot, there lies before you the risk of universal death." - Bertrand Russell

"Unless a man has been taught what to do with success after getting it, the achievement of it must inevitably leave him a prey to boredom." - Bertrand Russell

"In all affairs it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted." - Bertrand Russell

"Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom." - Bertrand Russell

"Humankind has become so much one family that we cannot ensure our own prosperity except by ensuring that of everyone else. If you wish to be happy yourself, you must resign yourself to seeing others also happy." - Bertrand Russell

"To save the world requires faith and courage: faith in reason, and courage to proclaim what reason shows to be true." - Bertrand Russell

"What hunger is in relation to food, zest is in relation to life." - Bertrand Russell

"It is preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly." - Bertrand Russell

"The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time." - Bertrand Russell

Russell image source (1)
Russell stamp image source (1)

Sunday, May 17, 2009

To eight glasses a day . . .

Today is the birthday of Sebastian Kneipp (May 17, 1821 – June 17, 1897), priest and one of the founders of the Naturopathic medicine movement. He is oft referred to as the Father of Hydrotherapy. He believed that disease could be cured by using water to eliminate waste from the body.

A naturopath, Sebastian Kneipp developed water cures and massage with essential oils. In 1886, he published My Water Cure, which was translated into several languages and became popular throughout Europe. His health products are still in use in the world market today.

"... for the healthy individual it is an excellent means to maintain his health and energy, but also in times of illness it is the prime remedy; it is the most natural, the simplest and, when used properly, the safest means. Water is my best friend and will remain so until I die." - Sebastian Kneipp

"Nature has provided us generously with everything we need to remain in good health."- Sebastian Kneipp

"There is hardly any other circumstance that is more damaging to our health than the way we live our days. A equilibrium must be found to strengthen overstrained nerves, to maintain their strength: we must create a balance." - Sebastian Kneipp

Kneipp stamp image source (1)

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Let's talk . . .

Today is the birthday of Louis "Studs" Terkel (May 16, 1912 – October 31, 2008), author, historian, actor, and broadcaster. In 1985, he won a Pulitzer Prize for his book, The Good War: An Oral History of World War II (1984).

“Perhaps it is this specter that most haunts working men and women: the planned obsolescence of people that is of a piece with the planned obsolescence of the things they make. Or sell. It is perhaps this fear of no longer being needed in a world of needless things that most clearly spells out the unnaturalness, the surreality of much that is called work today.” - "Studs" Terkel

"That`s what we`re missing. We`re missing argument. We`re missing debate. We`re missing colloquy. We`re missing all sorts of things. Instead, we`re accepting." - "Studs" Terkel

"I'm not up on the Internet, but I hear that is a democratic possibility. People can connect with each other. I think people are ready for something, but there is no leadership to offer it to them. People are ready to say, Yes, we are part of a world. " - "Studs" Terkel

"I want people to talk to one another no matter what their difference of opinion might be." - "Studs" Terkel

"But once you become active in something, something happens to you. You get excited and suddenly you realize you count. " - "Studs" Terkel

“Most of us have jobs that are too small for our spirits.” - "Studs" Terkel

Trivia bit: Louis "Studs" Terkel never learned to drive.

Terkel image source (1)

Friday, May 15, 2009

I'm off to see the Wizard . . .

Today is the birthday of Lyman Frank Baum (May 15, 1856 – May 6, 1919), author, poet, playwright, actor and independent filmmaker. He is best known as, L. Frank Baum,  the creator, along with illustrator William Wallace Denslow, of the popular children's tale, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

"I believe that dreams — day dreams, you know, with your eyes wide open and your brain machinery whizzing — are likely to lead to the betterment of the world. The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to create, to invent, and therefore to foster civilization." - L. Frank Baum

"It is a callous age; we have seen so many marvels that we are ashamed to marvel more; the seven wonders of the world have become seven thousand wonders." - L. Frank Baum

"I have learned to regard fame as a will-o-the-wisp which, when caught, is not worth the possession; but to please a child is a sweet and lovely thing that warms one's heart and brings its own reward." - L. Frank Baum

"Mortals seldom know how greatly they are influenced by fairies, knooks and ryls, who often put thoughts into their heads that only the wise little immortals could have conceived." - L. Frank Baum

Baum image source (1)

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Meandering to and fro . . .

Today is the birthday Herbert W. Franke (born May 14, 1927), author and scientist. He is active in the fields of future research, speleology, computer graphics, digital art and a highly respected science fiction author.

"I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain." - Herbert W. Franke

"No matter how exotic human civilization becomes, no matter the developments of life and society nor the complexity of the machine/human interface, there always comes interludes of lonely power when the course of humankind, the very future of humankind, depends upon the relatively simple actions of single individuals." - Herbert W. Franke

"Without change, something sleeps inside us, and seldom awakens. The sleeper must awaken." - Herbert W. Franke

"You should never be in the company of anyone with whom you would not want to die." - Herbert W. Franke

"Wealth is a tool of freedom, but the pursuit of wealth is the way to slavery." - Herbert W. Franke

"The beginning of knowledge is the discovery of something we do not understand. " - Herbert W. Franke

Trivia bit:  He received his doctorate in theoretical physics in 1950 by writing a dissertation about electron optics. 

Franke image source (1)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Meandering about . . .

Today is the birthday of Ole Worm (May 13, 1588 – August 31, 1655), also known as Olaus Wormius, physician  and polymath.

"Ole Worm's interests covered natural objects, human artifacts, mythical creatures, and ancient inscriptions. He had a special interest in runes, collected texts that were written in runic and wrote a number of treatises on runestones.

Ole Worm built one of the most well-known curiosity cabinets in Europe to house his collection.  After his death in 1655, his collection catalog, Museum Wormianum, or History of Rare Things was published. The catalog described one of the most well-known Wunderkammern or “wonder-rooms” of that period in Europe. 

He was the personal physician to King Christian IV of Denmark and remarkable for a physician of the time, he remained in the city of Copenhagen to tend the sick during an epidemic of the Black Death.

Trivia bit: The Wormian bones (small bones that fill gaps in the cranial sutures) are named after him.  He has been stated that he has as good a claim as anyone tothe title "The Father of Museums" due to his extensive collection and the cataloguing of it.

Ole Worm image source (1)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Today I go meandering . . .

A Happy Birthday salute to Edward Lear (May 12/13, 1812 – January 29, 1888), artist, illustrator and writer known for his nonsensical poetry and his limericks. He was a highly-regarded nature and landscape artist, but is best-known for his poem The Owl and the Pussycat and popularizing the limerick.

"How pleasant to know Mr. Lear,
Who has written such volumes of stuff.
Some think him ill-tempered and queer,
But a few find him pleasant enough."
- Edward Lear

The Owl and the Pussy Cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea-green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money
Wrapped up in a five-pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,
"O lovely Pussy, O Pussy, my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
You are!
What a beautiful Pussy you are!"
- Edward Lear

Trivia bit: "His birth certificate states that it was actually the 13th and Lear used the 13th May as his birthday in his diaries, however later in life he switched to the 12th." direct quote source (1)


Today is the birthday of Jiddu Krishnamurti (May 12, 1895 – February 17, 1986), philosopher and writer. He has been referred to as one of the greatest philosophical minds of the 20th century.

Jiddu Krishnamurti was known for his passionate discourses on the various ways the human mind turns to self-delusion in its never-ending search for psychological fulfillment.

"The observer is the observed." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"I think it is fairly clear why none of us do experience something beyond the mere watching. There may be rare moments of an emotional state in which we see, as it were, the clarity of the sky between clouds, but I do not mean anything of that kind. All such experiences are temporary and have very little significance. The questioner wants to know why, after these many years of watching, he hasn't found the deep waters. Why should he find them? Do you understand? You think that by watching your own thoughts you are going to get a reward: if you do this, you will get that. You are really not watching at all, because your mind is concerned with gaining a reward. You think that by watching, by being aware, you will be more loving, you will suffer less, be less irritable, get something beyond; so your watching is a process of buying. With this coin you are buying that, which means that your watching is a process of choice; therefore it isn't watching, it isn't attention. To watch is to observe without choice, to see yourself as you are without any movement of desire to change, which is an extremely arduous thing to do; but that doesn't mean that you are going to remain in your present state. You do not know what will happen if you see yourself as you are without wishing to bring about a change in that which you see. Do you understand?" - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"Man has throughout the ages been seeking something beyond himself, beyond material welfare—something we call truth or God or reality, a timeless state—something that cannot be disturbed by circumstances, by thought or by human corruption. Man has always asked the question: what is it all about? Has life any meaning at all? He sees the enormous confusion of life, the brutalities, the revolt, the wars, the endless divisions of religion, ideology and nationality, and with a sense of deep abiding frustration he asks, what is one to do, what is this thing we call living, is there anything beyond it?" - Jiddu Krishnamurti

"Truth is a pathless land." - Jiddu Krishnamurti

Lear stamp image source (1)
Owl and Pussy Cat stamp source (
Kishnamurti image source (1)

Monday, May 11, 2009

Forever meandering . . .

A Happy Birthday salute to Richard Feynman  (May 11, 1918 – February 15, 1988), physicist, oft referred to as the The Great Explainer.  He received the nickname due to his skill at making complex subjects understandable to the layman.

Richard Feynman has been credited with pioneering the field of quantum computing and introducing the concept of nanotechnology.

To those who do not know mathematics it is difficult to get across a real feeling as to the beauty, the deepest beauty, of nature ... If you want to learn about nature, to appreciate nature, it is necessary to understand the language that she speaks in." - Richard Feynman

"Our imagination is stretched to the utmost, not, as in fiction, to imagine things which are not really there, but just to comprehend those things which are there." - Richard Feynman

"Work hard to find something that fascinates you." - Richard Feynman

"The worthwhile problems are the ones you can really solve or help solve, the ones you can really contribute something to. ... No problem is too small or too trivial if we can really do something about it." - Richard Feynman

"The first principle is that you must not fool yourself -- and you are the easiest person to fool." - Richard Feynman

"Richard Phillips Feynman's life and work signify the joy of discovery and the pleasure of exploring things. He demonstrated that doing science could be fun. He provided an 'image of science that cut right across the stereotype'. He loved people more than he loved physics. He believed that the highest forms of understanding one can achieve are laughter and human compassion." direct quote source (1)

Trivia bit: Richard Feynman was a joint recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965, together with Julian Schwinger and Sin-Itiro Tomonaga. He was also known as a prankster, juggler, a proud amateur painter, bongo player, an eccentric and a free spirit.

Feynman image source (1)
Feynman stamp image source (1)

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Here I go meandering . . .

Today is the birthday of Marcel Mauss (May 10, 1872 – February 10, 1950), sociologist and anthropologist. He is best known for his classic work The Gift, in which he states that gifts are never "free" and his other popular work, The General Theory of Magic.

He was fascinated with the nature of "the gift" and sought the answer to the question: "What power resides in the object given that causes its recipient to pay it back?"

"Work could be co-operatized, effective social security guaranteed and, gradually, a new ethos created whereby the only possible excuse for accumulating wealth was the ability to give it all away. The result: a society whose highest values would be "the joy of giving in public, the delight in generous artistic expenditure, the pleasure of hospitality in the public or private feast." - Marcel Mauss

“Any unusual interest in the sacred may bring about an accusation of magic” - Marcel Mauss

"Magic is a social phenomenon: public opinion creates the magician." - Marcel Mauss

"No gift is ever free." - Marcel Mauss

"In 'The Gift', Mauss (1924) explores gift-exchanges in various cultures and highlights the reciprocal nature of gifts and the obligation of the receiver to repay the debt. The object that is given carries the identity of the giver, and hence the recipient receives not only the gift but also the association of that object with the identity of the giver.

Mauss describes the Maori hau, which means the 'spirit of the gift'. The hau demands that the gift be returned to its owner. In Polynesia, failing to reciprocate means losing mana, the person's spiritual source of authority and wealth. Gift-giving is thus a critical mechanism for creating social bonds. Mauss describes three obligations:

Giving: the first step in building social relationships.
Receiving: accepting the social bond.
Reciprocating: demonstrating social integrity."

-direct quote source (1)

Trivia bit: Marcel Mauss stood up for the truth about Alfred Dreyfus and was very active in the events of the Dreyfus Affair.

Image source (1)

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Meandering to and fro . . .

Today is the birthday of James Matthew Barrie (May 9, 1860 – June 19, 1937), author and playwright. He is best known as J. M. Barrie, the creator of Peter Pan.

"Dreams do come true, if we only wish hard enough, You can have anything in life if you will sacrifice everything else for it." - J. M. Barrie

"If you have love you don't need to have anything else. If you don't have it it doesn't matter much what else you do have." - J. M. Barrie

"Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else." - J. M. Barrie

"Those who bring sunshine into the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves." - J. M. Barrie

"Shall we make a new rule of life from tonight: always to try to be a little kinder than is necessary?" - J. M. Barrie

“It is not in doing what you like, but in liking what you do that is the secret of happiness” - J. M. Barrie

"Do you believe in fairies? Say quick that you believe. If you believe, clap your hands! " - J. M. Barrie

"I'm not young enough to know everything." - J. M. Barrie

Trivia bit: J. M. Barrie generously donated the copyright title to Peter Pan to the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity.


Today is also the birthday of José Ortega y Gasset (May 9, 1883 - October 18, 1955), philosopher and essayist. He is best known for his influential work on social theory entitled, The Revolt of the Masses.

"We do not know what is happening to us, and this is precisely what is happening to us, not to know what is happening to us: the man of today is beginning to be disoriented with respect to himself, dépaysé, he is outside of his country, thrown into a new circumstance that is like a terra incognita." - Ortega y Gasset

“We live at a time when man believes himself fabulously capable of creation, but he does not know what to create.” - Ortega y Gasset

“The real magic wand is the child's own mind” - Ortega y Gasset

“Excellence means when a man or woman asks of himself more than others do.” - Ortega y Gasset

“We have need of history in its entirety, not to fall back into it, but to see if we can escape from it” - Ortega y Gasset

“We cannot put off living until we are ready.” - Ortega y Gasset

“Tell me to what you pay attention and I will tell you who you are” - Ortega y Gasset

“To be surprised, to wonder, is to begin to understand.” - Ortega y Gasset


Barrie image source (1)
Ortega y Gasset image source (1)

Friday, May 8, 2009

Meandering about . . .

Today is the birthday of Sloan Wilson (May 8, 1920 – May 25, 2003), author. He is best known for his best-sellers The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit (1955) and A Summer Place(1958), both books were adapted to major motion pictures.

"The definition of a beautiful woman is one who loves me." - Sloan Wilson

"The hardest part of raising a child is teaching them to ride bicycles. A shaky child on a bicycle for the first time needs both support and freedom. The realization that this is what the child will always need can hit hard." - Sloan Wilson

"It's not a question of who's going to throw the first stone; it's a question of who's going to start building with it." - Sloan Wilson

"A man who wants time to read and write must let the grass grow long." - Sloan Wilson

Trivia bit:  His son is David Sloan Wilson is a Huffington Post blogger and author of several books.

Wilson image source (1)

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Meandering in the stacks . . .

Today is the birthday of Archibald MacLeish (May 7, 1892 – April 20, 1982), poet, writer and the Librarian of Congress (USA). 

He was one of the US expatriates in Paris during the 1920s.  He was strongly influenced by the works of Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot. His epic poem Conquistador (1932) and Collected Poems (1952) both won Pulitzer Prizes, as did the verse play J.B. (1958).  He is associated with the modernist school of poetry.

"To see the earth as it truly is, small and blue in that eternal silence where it floats, is to see riders on the earth together, brothers on that bright loveliness in the eternal cold - brothers who know now they are truly brothers." - Archibald MacLeish

"There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience and that is not learning from experience." - Archibald MacLeish

"Once you permit those who are convinced of their own superior rightness to censor and silence and suppress those who hold contrary opinions, just at that moment the citadel has been surrendered." - Archibald MacLeish

"The dissenter is every human being at those moments of his life when he resigns momentarily from the herd and thinks for himself." - Archibald MacLeish

"We are as great as our belief in human liberty - no greater. And our belief in human liberty is only ours when it is larger than ourselves." - Archibald MacLeish

"What is more important in a library than anything else - than everything else - is the fact that it exists." - Archibald MacLeish

Image source (1)
LOC 33 stamp image source (1)
LOC 20 stamp image source (1)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I'm dreaming of my cat . . .

Today is the birthday of Sigismund Schlomo Freud (May 6, 1856 – September 23,1939), neurologist and psychiatrist. He is better known as Sigmund Freud , the Father of Psychoanalysis. He was fascinated with the unconscious and dreams. Sigmund Freud founded the psychoanalytic school of psychology.

"Most people do not really want freedom, because freedom involves responsibility, and most people are frightened of responsibility. - Sigmund Freud

"One might compare the relation of the ego to the id with that between a rider and his horse. The horse provides the locomotor energy, and the rider has the prerogative of determining the goal and of guiding the movements of his powerful mount towards it. But all too often in the relations between the ego and the id we find a picture of the less ideal situation in which the rider is obliged to guide his horse in the direction in which it itself wants to go." - Sigmund Freud

"The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is What does a woman want?." - Sigmund Freud

"Being entirely honest with oneself is a good exercise." - Sigmund Freud

"The ego is not master in its own house." - Sigmund Freud

"Time spent with cats is never wasted." - Sigmund Freud

Freud image source (1)
Stamp image source (1)

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Am I talking to myself . . .

Today is the birthday of Søren Aabye Kierkegaard (May 5, 1813 – November 11, 1855), philosopher. Søren Kierkegaard, (along with Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche) is considered a father of Existentialism.

"One sticks one’s finger into the soil to tell by the smell in what land one is: I stick my finger in existence — it smells of nothing. Where am I? Who am I? How came I here? What is this thing called the world? What does this world mean? Who is it that has lured me into the world? Why was I not consulted, why not made acquainted with its manners and customs instead of throwing me into the ranks, as if I had been bought by a kidnapper, a dealer in souls? How did I obtain an interest in this big enterprise they call reality? Why should I have an interest in it? Is it not a voluntary concern? And if I am to be compelled to take part in it, where is the director? I should like to make a remark to him. Is there no director? Whither shall I turn with my complaint?" - Søren Kierkegaard

"To be a teacher does not mean simply to affirm that such a thing is so, or to deliver a lecture, etc. No, to be a teacher in the right sense is to be a learner. Instruction begins when you, the teacher, learn from the learner, put yourself in his place so that you may understand what he understands and the way he understands it." - Søren Kierkegaard

"The thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die." - Søren Kierkegaard

"There is nothing with which every man is so afraid as getting to know how enormously much he is capable of doing and becoming." - Søren Kierkegaard

Trivia bit: Søren Kierkegaard wrote under various pseudonyms to present various distinctive viewpoints, which sometimes ironically commented on each other's opinions. Was it a dialogue with himself?

Stamp image source (1)

Monday, May 4, 2009

e4 e5 . . .

Today is the birthday of Thomas Henry Huxley (May 4, 1825 – June 29, 1895), biologist and educator, best known for his strong support for Darwin's theory of evolution.

“The chess-board is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the laws of Nature. The player on the other side is hidden from us.” - Thomas Henry Huxley

“If a little knowledge is dangerous, where is the man who has so much as to be out of danger?” - Thomas Henry Huxley

“The only medicine for suffering, crime, and all other woes of mankind, is wisdom. Teach a man to read and write, and you have put into his hands the great keys of the wisdom box. But it is quite another thing to open the box.” - Thomas Henry Huxley

“I am too much of a skeptic to deny the possibility of anything.” - Thomas Henry Huxley

“Zeal without knowledge is fire without light.” - Thomas Henry Huxley

Trivia bit: The word "agnostic" was introduced by Thomas Henry Huxley in 1860.

"When I reached intellectual maturity and began to ask myself whether I was an atheist, a theist, or a pantheist; a materialist or an idealist; Christian or a freethinker; I found that the more I learned and reflected, the less ready was the answer; until, at last, I came to the conclusion that I had neither art nor part with any of these denominations, except the last. The one thing in which most of these good people were agreed was the one thing in which I differed from them. They were quite sure they had attained a certain "gnosis,"–had, more or less successfully, solved the problem of existence; while I was quite sure I had not, and had a pretty strong conviction that the problem was insoluble.

So I took thought, and invented what I conceived to be the appropriate title of "agnostic." It came into my head as suggestively antithetic to the "gnostic" of Church history, who professed to know so much about the very things of which I was ignorant. To my great satisfaction the term took." - Thomas Henry Huxley

Huxley image source(1)