Tag: History

For Want of Wild Beasts: Meet Me at the Corner of Auburn and Prescott

 

“Botany is 98% burnouts and potheads.”

The registrar, a kindly, aging woman with a sharp Boston accent, had said that to him on the first day of orientation, handing over his class schedule. Strictly speaking, a medical doctor shouldn’t have been teaching botany at all, but there had been a blank space in his teaching schedule, and the matter of various athletes and sons (and daughters) of privilege who needed science credits. Mix in a few naive humanities majors, frightened of the harder sciences and without any older friends to warn them against it, and that about made up one of his classes. If nothing else, it made his litany of pre-med modules more bearable. 

The Computer Age Turns 75

 

In February 1946, the first general-purpose electronic computer, the ENIA, was introduced to the public. Nothing like ENIAC had been seen before, and the unveiling of the computer, a room-filling machine with lots of flashing lights and switches–made quite an impact.

ENIAC (the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer) was created primarily to help with the trajectory-calculation problems for artillery shells and bombs, a problem that was requiring increasing numbers of people for manual computations. John Mauchly, a physics professor attending a summer session at the University of Pennsylvania, and J Presper Eckert, a 24-year-old grad student, proposed the machine after observing the work of the women (including Mauchly’s wife Mary) who had been hired to assist the Army with these calculations. The proposal made its way to the Army’s liason with Penn, and that officer, Lieutenant Herman Goldstine, took up the project’s cause. (Goldstine apparently heard about the proposal not via formal university channels but via a mutual friend, which is an interesting point in our present era of remote work.) Electronics had not previously been used for digital computing, and a lot of authorities thought an electromechanical machine would be a better and safer bet.

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I discovered and read through the spy novels by Daniel Silva that included the Gabriel Allon Series. What I enjoyed the most was his continuation of the same group of characters in each novel. You got to know their personalities, quirks, weaknesses and strengths, so it was appealing because you became invested on a more […]

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7 Inspiring Baseball Players Who Overcame Adversity

 

Mordecai Brown, Chicago Cubs

It’s tough to make it to the major leagues and it’s even tougher to stay there. It takes a not-insignificant amount of natural physical ability, a lot of hard work, and plenty of self-confidence to get there and stay there. It’s a battle that plays out every day through competition from the amateur level through the minor leagues and at the major league level. It’s even tougher for some who have an additional opponent they have to conquer along the way. That’s the purpose of this post – to briefly tell the stories of a few of those who had an additional obstacle on their way to the majors. I think I’ll proceed in chronological order.

Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown

A Multi-Level Treasure Hunt

 

In 1764 Tsarina Catherine the Great of Russia started a major war in Europe. It was a culture war. She collected fine art as aggressively as she fought on the battlefield. It spurred Europe’s crowned heads, especially Louis XVI of France and Frederick the Great of Prussia, to compete at obtaining and displaying art, especially fine paintings.

“The Tsarina’s Lost Treasure: Catherine the Great, a Golden Age Masterpiece, and a Legendary Shipwreck,” by Gerald Easter and Mara Vorhees, records a casualty of that culture war Dutch Master paintings purchased at auction for Catherine the Great were sent from Holland to St Petersburg aboard the Dutch merchantman Vrouw Maria. Caught in a storm, the ship sank off the Finnish coast.

The book uses the shipwreck, to frame the story. Among the paintings lost was Gerrit Dou’s triptych The Nursery. Largely forgotten today, Dou was then the most admired Golden Age Dutch Master. (One of Dou’s paintings hung in the Louvre next to the Mona Lisa.) The Nursery was considered Dou’s finest work.

Black History the Way It Should Be Done

 

I just wanted to take the opportunity to share a podcast I started recording last year. Instead of woke historical revisionism, there are fascinating stories in black history that are worth telling. If there are any creative film production companies, they might even see some potential for great films that are different from the endless sequels and prequels.

If You Can Stand the Heat, Get in the Kitchen: Theory and Practice of Szechuan Cuisine

 

Generally, I only inflict my culinary exploits on the PiT. (Before you start to feel too bad for them, you can rest assured that they are not passive victims in this endeavour). As with so much else in my life, my gastronomic tastes tend to veer a little bit outside of the mainstream, especially for a college student that lives alone. Mostly traditional Chinese, Taiwanese, and Japanese food, as well as some Middle Eastern, and not quite any burgers, spaghetti, and donuts. My parents don’t exactly love it when I come home, and the next day they have a fridge fully stocked with tofu, preserved bamboo shoots, century eggs, kimchi, and the like. (Mom draws the line at congealed blood and chicken feet). With England in lockdown yet again, I’ve had more time than normal to cook for myself, and, like an old and familiar friend, I often gravitate towards Szechuanese and Xi’an food. 

Chinese food encompasses a vast array of regional dishes, ingredients, and methods, but there are, in modern times, the 八大菜系: Eight Great Cuisines of China. Szechuan cuisine is one and is renowned in the country and around the world for its characteristic pungency and spiciness. Commonly available ingredients, like garlic, ginger, sesame paste, and green onion, play a role in this, but so do two ingredients grown almost exclusively in the region. The Szechuan peppercorn, which creates a unique kind of numbing and tongue-tingling spice when consumed, and the heaven facing pepper, oftentimes too hot to be consumed raw but a staple in dried and cooked form. If you’ve ever had Szechuan food, you’ll be familiar with that pepper, and also with the chili oil that is almost ubiquitous in it. 

Life Lessons from Tom Brady? Well…. Maybe

 

Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers just beat the mighty Green Bay Packers and are on their way to Super Bowl 55; coincidentally being played this year in Tampa Bay. The Buccaneers have won one Super Bowl. Tom Brady has taken his teams to the Super Bowl nine times and won six. We were New England Patriots fans for over twenty years while living in Boston. We’ve been in Florida since 2003 and never thought Tom Brady (or Gronkowski) would relocate their careers and homes to Florida. I asked my husband this evening: Is it because Tom Brady is such a good football player? He said he’s more than that, he’s an exceptional athlete, one of those rare people that is not only a team player but excels in leadership.

I thought about that comment because I had just gotten off the phone with my older cousin in Las Vegas, who asked me if I had watched the Biden Inauguration and the program after. I said no, and let her talk. She gushed about how she taped it and wept through the whole thing, “the young poet and her words and hand gestures reduced me to tears”, she said, “how Lady Gaga sang the National Anthem while gazing with so much love at our flag, then there was Jennifer Lopez and Tom Hanks.” She said they were cathartic tears after four years of hell. I knew my cousin and her husband were very liberal, and I thought she knew I was conservative, but I let her have her moment and stayed silent.

Member Post

 

Hello Ricochet, Barring any bombshells getting dropped in the next couple of days, we are about to close the history books on presidential administration number 45 (44 if you count Cleveland’s non-consecutive administrations as one. Thanks for making this complicated, Grover…). I don’t think it’s unreasonable to believe that the Trump administration will have a […]

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While I believe most people are shocked and upset by yesterday’s events at our Capitol, we have to keep our wits and move forward. We cannot control the behavior of others and events that come and go, beyond our control.  This includes yesterday’s breach of the Capitol in Washington, DC.  I’ll give my thoughts briefly, […]

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Tucker Carlson gave this powerful speech at Turning Point USA 2020 “Student Action Summit” this month. How do you get through to the youth who are getting so much mis-information through social media, through the educational system and so forth? A statue of Lincoln was pulled down in Boston this month. This is now not […]

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…but did it really happen? A case study in the difficulties of finding historical truth. On Christmas Eve of 1906, a few shipboard radio operators–listening through the static for signals in Morse code–heard something that they had never before heard on the radio, and that most had never expected to hear. A human voice. Preview […]

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The Greatness of America: Part I

 

In my lifetime, I have never experienced such deceptive, malevolent, and destructive actions and behaviors from the Progressive Left. Maybe I was just naïve. Maybe their willingness to speak openly about their own devious behavior is how I’ve become enlightened. As a result, I am making demands of the Left that my government representatives, Senators and Congressmen, have been unwilling to make up until now.

But I take these stands, not with malevolence, but firm determination. I will not let you harden me or make me bitter. I will not descend to your level.

You must stop doing the following:

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While history does not repeat, knowing more about history makes it easier to understand the present as well as the future. There is a reason that kings and philosophers alike have sought to understand both the events of the past and how they have historically been interpreted – because there is no better way to obtain […]

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Radar Wars: a Case Study in Expertise and Influence

 

In today’s WSJ, David Mamet writes about expertise and influence, pointing out that experts who get important things wrong, sometimes causing great harm to millions of people, often pay no personal price whatsoever. One example he mentions is the pre-WWII secret British debate on air defense technologies and especially the role played by Churchill’s scientific advisor, Professor Frederick Lindemann.

It is an interesting and important story, and is discussed by the scientist/novelist CP Snow in his 1960 book Science and Government…which, he says, was inspired by the following thought:

Bakelite: The Beginnings of the Plastics Era

 

About 110 years ago, the plastics era (as we understand that term) began with a material called Bakelite named by its creator and inventor Leo Baekeland.

Leo Hendrick Baekeland was born on November 14, 1863, in Ghent, Belgium, to Karel and Rosalia Baekeland. His father was a cobbler while his mother worked as a housemaid. He was a bright young man who, encouraged primarily by his mother, read anything he could get his hands on.

Leo Hendrick Baekeland.

Steve settles in with some Japanese whisky while “Lucretia” abandons her “whisky cougar” ways with a bona fide Glenlivet 18 so we can celebrate Amy Coney Barrett’s start turn driving Democrats to embarrass themselves last week. The hearings illustrate what’s wrong with the “side of history” liberals, as expressed in an especially lazy column from Nick Kristof in the New York Times, and a series of coordinated tweets from Democrats trying to assail constitutional originalism, but mostly succeeding only in exposing their own invincible ignorance.

The main event of this episode is reviewing our pick for Article of the Week, Bari Weiss’s essay “Stop Being Shocked” in The Tablet. It’s a great essay, with its bracing warning of the existential threat to Jews from the new illiberalism, but it has two problems: it get Trump wrong (though Lucretia proposes that this may be tactical cleverness), and its focus on the precariousness of Jews under the rising assault from the social justice left may not go far enough in forecasting the menace facing everyone. Guess who foresaw the problem of the Jews a decaying liberal democracy 60 years ago? Yup, that L– S—— guy again.