Between Christmas and New Year’s Day, here at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub we celebrate a variety of historically holy days. December 31, by tradition, is Bright Idea Day, the anniversary of the day Thomas Edison demonstrated for the public a working light bulb, in 1879.
100,000 people gather in Times Square, New York City (surely not the 2 million predicted by NBC!) tonight, and millions more around the world, in festivities for the new year made possible by the work of Thomas Alva Edison.
Here it is, the invention that stole sleep from our grasp, made clubbing possible, and launched 50,000 cartoons about ideas:
The light bulb Thomas Edison demonstrated on December 31, 1879, at Menlo Park, New Jersey – Wikimedia image (GFDL)
The light bulb. It’s an incandescent bulb.
It wasn’t the first bulb. Edison a few months earlier devised a bulb that worked with a platinum filament. Platinum was too expensive for mass production, though — and Edison wanted mass production. So, with the cadre of great assistants at his Menlo Park laboratories, he struggled to find a good, inexpensive filament that would provide adequate life for the bulb. By late December 1879 they had settled on carbon filament.
Edison invited investors and the public to see the bulb demonstrated, on December 31, 1879.
Thomas Edison in 1878, the year before he demonstrated a workable electric light bulb. CREDIT: Thomas Edison, head-and-shoulders portrait, facing left, 1880. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Reproduction number LC-USZ62-98067
Edison’s successful bulb indicated changes in science, technology, invention, intellectual property and finance well beyond its use of electricity. For example:
Edison’s Menlo Park, New Jersey, offices and laboratory were financed with earlier successful inventions. It was a hive of inventive activity aimed to make practical inventions from advances in science. Edison was all about selling inventions and rights to manufacture devices. He always had an eye on the profit potential. His improvements on the telegraph would found his laboratory he thought, and he expected to sell the device to Western Union for $5,000 to $7,000. Instead of offering it to them at a price, however, he asked Western Union to bid on it. They bid $10,000, which Edison gratefully accepted, along with the lesson that he might do better letting the marketplace establish the price for his inventions. Other inventive labs followed Edison’s example, such as the famous Bell Labs, but few equalled his success, or had as much fun doing it. (Economics teachers: Need an example of the marketplace in action?)
Edison didn’t invent the light bulb — but his improvements on it made it commercial. “In addressing the question ‘Who invented the incandescent lamp?’ historians Robert Friedel and Paul Israel list 22 inventors of incandescent lamps prior to Joseph Wilson Swan and Thomas Edison. They conclude that Edison’s version was able to outstrip the others because of a combination of three factors: an effective incandescent material, a higher vacuum than others were able to achieve (by use of the Sprengel pump) and a high resistance lamp that made power distribution from a centralized source economically viable.”
Look around yourself this evening, and you can find a score of ways that Edison’s invention and its descendants affect your life. One of the more amusing effects is in cartooning, however. Today a glowing lightbulb is universally accepted as a nonverbal symbol for ideas and inventions. (See Mark Parisi’s series of lightbulb cartoons, “Off the Mark.”)
Even with modern, electricity-saving bulbs, the cartoon shorthand hangs on, as in this Mitra Farmand cartoon.
Brilliant cartoon from Mitra Farmand, Fluffernutter (regrettably, we note this site is no longer there; but with some hope, we find a new site here)
Or see this wonderful animation, a video advertisement for United Airlines, by Joanna Quinn for Fallon — almost every frame has the symbolic lightbulb in it.
Electrification of America, and the consequent spread of electric lighting and electrical machines to make domestic and industrial life more productive, and the spread of great public works to enable these and other inventions to spread, were made possible by a people roughly united in advancing progress, what historians now call “the progressive agenda” and the great advances of the Progressive Era.
Could we get such agreement among workers, corporate bosses and many levels of government today? When we celebrate anniversaries, like the demonstration of the light bulb, we celebrate the united polity that made such things possible, too.
Thomas Edison’s electric lamp patent drawing and claim for the incandescent light bulb CREDIT: “New Jersey–The Wizard of Electricity–Thomas A. Edison’s System of Electric Illumination,” 1880. Prints and Photographs Division, Library of Congress. Reproduction Number LC-USZ62-97960.
No standing still with malaria, fighting the disease must continue or progress can be quickly lost. Still from WHO film on World Malaria Report 2018 call to action.
World Health Organization’s (WHO) World Malaria Report 2018 dropped on November 19, a month earlier than usual (but about the same time as 2017). With an additional few weeks to plug it, it still sank without big ripples in world media.
This is prelude to a tragedy if industrialized and wealthy nations of the world pay no heed, and continue to cut budgets to fight malaria for whatever bad reason some crabby, brown Earth policy maker invents.
Ever optimistic, WHO gives a plan for action to continue to reduce malaria deaths and infections, even with reduced funding. None of the proposed actions involves more DDT to poison poor people in poor countries, however, so it is unlikely to find favor with the crabby policy people now in charge of fixing world problems in the increasingly isolationist West (including the U.S.).
Please watch the video. What is your country doing to eradicate malaria? How can you prod politicians to do more? 2,616
In 1823, the poem “Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas” was published anonymously in the Troy (N.Y.) Sentinel; the verse, more popularly known as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas,” was later attributed to Clement C. Moore.
Regardless who wrote the poem first published 195 years ago, how did the poem influence America’s view of St. Nicholas, or Santa Claus? And how much of the Santa Claus story really was invented in America?
The murky waters of history from Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub soak even our most cherished ideas and traditions.
Isn’t that part of the fun of history?
In Janaury 1863, Thomas Nast portrayed Santa Claus as he delivered gifts to Union troops a few days earlier in Washington, D.C., wearing a blue, star-spangled coat.
Yes, Virginia (and California, too)! Thomas Nast created the image of Santa Claus most of us in the U.S. know today. Perhaps even more significant than his campaign against the graft of Boss Tweed, Nast’s popularization of a fat, jolly elf who delivers good things to people for Christmas makes one of the great stories in commercial illustration. Nast’s cartoons, mostly for the popular news publication Harper’s Weekly, created many of the conventions of modern political cartooning and modeled the way in which an illustrator could campaign for good, with his campaign against the graft of Tammany Hall and Tweed. But Nast’s popular vision of Santa Claus can be said to be the foundation for the modern mercantile flurry around Christmas.
Nast’s drawings probably drew some inspiration from the poem, “Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” traditionally attributed to Clement C. Moore, a New York City lawyer, published in 1822. The poem is among the earliest to describe the elf dressed in fur, and magically coming down a chimney to leave toys for children; the poem invented the reindeer-pulled sleigh.
Moore is thought to have composed the tale, now popularly known as “The Night Before Christmas,” on December 24, 1822, while traveling home from Greenwich Village, where he had bought a turkey for his family’s Christmas dinner.
Inspired by the plump, bearded Dutchman who took him by sleigh on his errand through the snow-covered streets of New York City, Moore penned A Visit from St. Nicholas for the amusement of his six children, with whom he shared the poem that evening. His vision of St. Nicholas draws upon Dutch-American and Norwegian traditions of a magical, gift-giving figure who appears at Christmas time, as well as the German legend of a visitor who enters homes through chimneys.
Again from the Library of Congress, we get information that suggests that Moore was a minor celebrity from a well-known family with historical ties that would make a good “connections” exercise in a high school history class, perhaps (”the link from Aaron Burr’s treason to Santa Claus?”): (read more, below the fold)
Clement Moore was born in 1779 into a prominent New York family. His father, Benjamin Moore, president of Columbia University, in his role as Episcopal Bishop of New York participated in the inauguration of George Washington as the nation’s first president. The elder Moore also administered last rites to Alexander Hamilton after he was mortally wounded in a tragic duel with Aaron Burr.
Tonight, American children will be tucked in under their blankets and quilts and read this beloved poem as a last “sugarplum” before slipping into dreamland. Before they drift off, treat them to a message from Santa, recorded by the Thomas Edison Company in 1922.
But Henry Livingston was no less noble or historic. He hailed from the Livingstons of the Hudson Valley (one of whose farms is now occupied by Camp Rising Sun of the Louis August Jonas Foundation, a place where I spent four amazing summers teaching swimming and lifesaving). Livingston’s biography at the University of Toronto site offers another path for a connections exercise (”What connects the Declaration of Independence, the American invasion of Canada, the famous poem about a visit from St. Nick, and George W. Bush?”):
Henry Livingston Jr. was born in Poughkeepsie, New York, on Oct. 13, 1748. The Livingston family was one of the important colonial and revolutionary families of New York. The Poughkeepsie branch, descended from Gilbert, the youngest son of Robert Livingston, 1st Lord of Livingston Manor, was not as well off as the more well-known branches, descended from sons Robert and Philip. Two other descendants of Gilbert Livingston, President George Walker Herbert Bush and his son, President-Elect George W. Bush, though, have done their share to bring attention to this line. Henry’s brother, Rev. John Henry Livingston, entered Yale at the age of 12, and was able to unite the Dutch and American branches of the Dutch Reformed Church. At the time of his death, Rev. Livingston was president of Rutgers University. Henry’s father and brother Gilbert were involved in New York politics, and Henry’s granduncle was New York’s first Lt. Governor. But the law was the natural home for many of Henry’s family. His brother-in-law, Judge Jonas Platt, was an unsuccessful candidate for governor, as was his daughter Elizabeth’s husband, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Smith Thompson. Henry’s grandson, Sidney Breese, was Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court.
Known for his encyclopedic knowledge and his love of literature, Henry Livingston was a farmer, surveyor and Justice of the Peace, a judicial position dealing with financially limited criminal and civil cases. One of the first New Yorkers to enlist in the Revolutionary Army in 1775, Major Henry Livingston accompanied his cousin’s husband, General Montgomery, in his campaign up the Hudson River to invade Canada, leaving behind his new wife, Sarah Welles, and their week-old baby, on his Poughkeepsie property, Locust Grove. Baby Catherine was the subject of the first poem currently known by Major Livingston. Following this campaign, Livingston was involved in the War as a Commissioner of Sequestration, appropriating lands owned by British loyalists and selling them for the revolutionary cause. It was in the period following Sarah’s early death in 1783, that Major Livingston published most of his poems and prose, anonymously or under the pseudonym of R. Ten years after the death of Sarah, Henry married Jane Patterson, the daughter of a Dutchess County politician and sister of his next-door neighbor. Between both wives, Henry fathered twelve children. He published his good-natured, often occasional verse from 1787 in many journals, including Political Barometer, Poughkeepsie Journal, and New-York Magazine. His most famous poem, “Account of a Visit from St. Nicholas,” was until 2000 thought to have been the work of Clement Clarke Moore (1779-1863), who published it with his collected poems in 1844. Livingston died Feb. 29, 1828.
Thomas Nast’s full realization of Santa Claus, “Merry Old Santa Claus,” January 1, 1881. Harper’s Weekly, from Wikimedia.
Our views of Santa Claus owe a great deal also to Coca-Cola advertising campaigns. Coca-Cola first noted Santa’s use of the drink in a 1922 campaign to suggest Coke was a year-round drink (100 years after the publication of Livingston’s poem). The company’s on-line archives gives details:
In 1930, artist Fred Mizen painted a department store Santa in a crowd drinking a bottle of Coke. The ad featured the world’s largest soda fountain, which was located in the department store of Famous Barr Co. in St. Louis, Mo. Mizen’s painting was used in print ads that Christmas season, appearing in The Saturday Evening Post in December 1930.
1936 Coca-Cola Santa cardboard store display
1942 original oil painting – ‘They Remembered Me’
Archie Lee, the D’Arcy Advertising Agency executive working with The Coca-Cola Company, wanted the next campaign to show a wholesome Santa as both realistic and symbolic. In 1931, The Coca-Cola Company commissioned Michigan-born illustrator Haddon Sundblom to develop advertising images using Santa Claus — showing Santa himself, not a man dressed as Santa, as Mizen’s work had portrayed him.
For inspiration, Sundblom turned to Clement Clark Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit From St. Nicholas” (commonly called “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”). Moore’s description of St. Nick led to an image of Santa that was warm, friendly, pleasantly plump and human. For the next 33 years, Sundblom painted portraits of Santa that helped to create the modern image of Santa — an interpretation that today lives on in the minds of people of all ages, all over the world.
Santa Claus is a controversial figure. Debates still rage among parents about the wisdom of allowing the elf into the family’s home, and under what conditions. Theologians worry that the celebration of Christmas is diluted by the imagery. Other faiths worry that the secular, cultural impact of Santa Claus damages their own faiths (few other faiths have such a popular figure, and even atheists generally give gifts and participate in Christmas rituals such as putting up a decorated tree).
For over 100 years, Santa Claus has been a popular part of commercial, cultural and religious life in America. Has any other icon endured so long, or so well?
Coca-Cola’s film, “The Legend of Coca-Cola and Santa Claus”:
Someencores from last year. Here’s one in a spasmodic series of posts on Christmas songs you probably haven’t heard a thousand times already, and may actually enjoy hearing. Got a song you’d like to suggest? Suggest it in comments.
Cover sleeve for Macy Gray’s “All I Want for Christmas.” Amazon image
This one speaks for itself, I think. From experience, I can tell you that playing this song can weed out the Trump supporters in your party attendance rather quickly.
Oddly, I think, it also brings out the dangerous elements of American society to complain about it, judging by comments at the site (go see; there are a lot more):
Grotesque comments at YouTube on Macy Gray’s Christmas wishes.
Those thought zombies walk among us. Our cross to bear.
[This is mostly an encore post, written two years ago, marking an anniversary for December 18]
Spent a day with my aging father-in-law last week. Conversation is difficult, but memories always flow. We watched the movie version of “Guys and Dolls,” with Sinatra and Brando, and Stubby Kaye’s get-up-and-sing version of “Sit Down! You’re Rockin’ the Boat.”
He was happy to see the thing again, though in the first few minutes he said he didn’t think he’d ever seen the film. My fondness for the piece, and for Damon Runyon’s stories, goes back (too many) decades to a production of the play by the Utah Valley Opera Society. They hired our high school drama director, David Larson, to direct. On a lark I auditioned, telling them I couldn’t really sing or dance, and ended up with a lot of lines in a couple of supporting roles, and singing and dancing both in the chorus.
When my father-in-law joined in the movie chorus of “Fugue for Tinhorns,” I knew we had a good couple of hours. We laughed, watched, reminisced, and sang along.
Damon Runyon could tell stories, true stories about real people. Sometimes the names were changed to protect the innocent, or the guilty; sometimes the real names were more entertaining than the fictional names Runyon invented.
Some time ago I stumbled across the story of Runyon’s son, Damon Runyon, Jr., using an early airplane to spread the playwright’s ashes. It’s a story Runyon would have appreciated. It’s appropriate for the day after the anniversary of the Wrights’ first flight; December 18 is the anniversary of the event.
First flight of the Wright Flyer I, December 17, 1903, Orville piloting, Wilbur running at wingtip. Photo from Wikipedia
On December 18, Damon Runyon, Jr., got Eddie Rickenbacker to fly over Broadway to scatter the ashes of his father, Damon Runyon.
First Lieutenant E. V. [Eddie] Rickenbacker, 94th Aero Squadron, American ace, standing up in his Spad plane. Near Rembercourt, France. Photo from Wikipedia. This photo dates near World War I; Rickenbacker remained a hero for a couple of decades. In 1946, he flew a DC-3 over New York City, and illegally scattered the ashes of raconteur Damon Runyon over his beloved Broadwary.
Not exactly the next day. 43 years and one day apart. The Wrights first flew in 1903; Runyon died in 1946.
On this day in 1946 Damon Runyon’s ashes were scattered over Broadway by his son, in a plane flown by Eddie Rickenbacker. Runyon was born in Manhattan, Kansas; he arrived at the bigger apple at the age of thirty, to be a sportswriter and to try out at Mindy’s and the Stork Club and any betting window available his crap-shoot worldview: “All of life is six to five against.” Broadway became his special beat, and in story collections like Guys and Dolls he developed the colorful characters — Harry the Horse, the Lemon Drop Kid, Last Card Louie — and the gangster patois that would swept America throughout the thirties and forties.
A lot of history packed in there. Runyon’s early reportorial career included a lot of that history — he wrote the lead story for United Press on the inauguration of Franklin Roosevelt, for one example. Runyon found a uniquely American vein of literary ore on Broadway in New York City, and in the ne’er-do-wells, swells, tarts and reformers who flocked to the City that Never Sleeps to seek fame, or fortune, or swindle that fortune from someone else.
As a reporter and essayist, he smoked a lot. Throat cancer robbed him, first of his voice, then his life at 56.
Yes, of course, “Guys and Dolls.” Frank Loesser created it, but not of whole cloth, but from the stories of Damon Runyon; it is a masterpiece, perhaps in several realms. In homage to Runyon, Adam Gopnik wrote:
Just as Chandler fans must be grateful for Bogart, Runyon fans have to be perpetually happy that the pure idea of Runyon, almost independent of his actual writings, produced the best of all New York musicals: Frank Loesser’s “Guys and Dolls,” which made its début in 1950 and is just now reopening on Broadway in a lavish and energetic new production. But then “Guys and Dolls” is so good that it can triumph over amateur players and high-school longueurs and could probably be a hit put on by a company of trained dolphins in checked suits with a chorus of girl penguins.
Your author here, Dear Reader, was once one of those trained dolphins. It was magnificent.
“Silver Bells,” from “The Lemon Drop Kid,” with William Frawley, Virginia Maxwell and Bob Hope (1951 version):
New Jersey’s Capitol in Trenton, by Vagabond Voyage. Many complain it’s difficult to get a good, nice looking photo of this building due to development around it. This photo is alleged to be one of the better photos possible.
U.S. Flag Code encourages residents of each state to fly the U.S. flag on their state’s anniversary of statehood. New Jersey won consideration as the Third State, on December 18, 1787, by being the third colony to ratify the U.S. Constitution. Technically the U.S. did not come into existence until six more states ratified, but among the first 13 states, statehood dates are calculated traditionally as the day the colony ratified.
Does anyone in New Jersey celebrate it?
New Jersey’s state flag. Just try to find photos of the U.S. flag and New Jersey flag flying together.
New Jersey’s Capitol Building and surroundings in Trenton, from across the Delaware River. U.S. flag can be seen flying at the Capitol. Wikipedia image.
Next Fly Your Flag dates: December 28 in Iowa, for Iowa statehood; December 29 in Texas, for Texas statehood.
Flags still fly half staff in memory of President George H. W. Bush; tradition and regulations say flags fly half-staff for 30 days after the death of a president, which puts flags at half staff until at least January 2, 2019
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
==> Georges Santayana, The Life of Reason, vol. 1: Reason in Common Sense)
Those who don’t pay attention to history are condemned to repeat it? Then, gods forbid we should have leaders among the condemned, and heaven keep us from joining their folly.
Hey, I’ve been putting this post up for most of a decade. It’s time for everyone to join Mr. Gorbachev, and tear down that wall. Which wall? That one. THAT one. Robert Frost noted, “Something there is that does not like a wall.” That something is God. Humanity. You. Your children. Act now.
Has there ever been a good wall that actually worked to keep trouble away? Do we need to rebuild the Berlin Wall in the Americas?
Thomas Nast helped bring down the crooks at Tammany Hall with cartoons. Boss Tweed, the chief antagonist of Nast, crook and leader of the Tammany Gang, understood that Nast’s drawings could do him in better than just hard hitting reporting — the pictures were clear to people who couldn’t read.
But a cartoon has to get to an audience to have an effect.
Here’s a cartoon below, a comment on the security wall being built in Israel, that got very little circulation in the west at Christmas time. Can you imagine the impact had this drawing run in newspapers in Europe, the U.S., and Canada?
It’s a mashup of a famous oil painting* related to the Christian Nativity, from a London-based artist who goes by the name Banksy. (Warning: Banksy pulls no punches; views shown are quite strong, often very funny, always provocative, generally safe for work unless you work for an authoritarian like Dick Cheney who wants no counter opinions.)
[That paragraph is a decade old; is there anyone who doesn’t know who Banksy is, today? Anyone besides me who didn’t see the movie?]
Banksy’s modern nativity — does he ever bother to copyright his stuff, or would he rather you broadcast it?
Next flag-flying date is December 18 in New Jersey, celebrating New Jersey’s statehood
The stamp planned for Alabama’s Bicenntennial in 2019. Caption from LInn’s Stamp News: “Alabama Statehood. The 22nd state, Alabama, was admitted into the union on Dec. 14, 1819. The new stamp commemorating this bicentennial shows a photograph by Alabama photographer Joe Miller of sunset in Cheaha State Park, including a view of Talladega National Forest, which surrounds the park.”
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
U.S. flag flies from the front portico of the Pennsylvania Capitol Building in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The elaborate building was completed in 1906, and dedicated by President Theodore Roosevelt, who called it one of the “handsomest buildings I ever saw.” UncoveringPA.com
As the U.S. flag code suggests, flags fly in Pennsylvania today honoring Pennsylvania Statehood.
Pennsylvania’s convention ratified the U.S. Constitution on December 12, 1787, just days after Delaware. Pennsylvania’s ratification was the second of nine states’ required to put the Constitution into effect.
If there is any ceremony or formal celebration planned, I haven’t found it yet. Any Pennsylvanians know?
Drone operator Matthew Dressler took to the skies recently for PennLive to capture a spectacular, birds-eye view of the Pennsylvania Capitol dome and complex. The Capitol, dedicated in 1906, was built and furnished for a cost of $13 million dollars and features paintings, stained glass and furnishings by some of the best artisans of the day. The exterior is faced with Vermont granite and the roof is made up of green glazed terra cotta tile. The 272-foot, 52 million-pound dome was inspired by Michelangelo’s design for St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. The Capitol was the tallest building between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for 80 years.
Newly-renovated Pennsylvania Capitol dome and the U.S. flag. Image from Wohlsen Construction, who performed the renovations.
A giant, 50 X 80 foot flag flies from a 232 foot flagpole at Glenbrook Dodge Chrysler Jeep in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Is it the largest regularly flown in the U.S.? Photo by Christopher Crawford, who sells prints of this giant patriotic display, at ChrisCrawfordPhoto.com
Why are the biggest flags in most states flown at car dealerships? Asking for a friend, who notes the Flag Code says flags are not to be flown as advertising devices.
The large American flag flying high above our dealership is now an established landmark in the city of Fort Wayne.
We believe this to be one of the largest continuously flying flags in the United States. It was erected in 2001. The flag symbolizes our appreciation to our country and to the many customers we’ve had the pleasure to serve over the years.
This flag measures 50 feet by 80 feet. The flagpole is 43 inches in diameter. The pole weighs 35,600 pounds! The base contains 400,000 lbs of concrete. The flag is made of nylon and weighs 80 pounds. The flag can last anywhere from 2 days to 2 months before it has to be changed.
Indiana got a bicentennial stamp in 2016, from a stunning photograph from Indiana native Michael Matti.
Indiana’s bicentennial stamp, from a photography by Michael Matti.
Interesting factoid: Delegates to a convention to create Indiana’s state constitution found the summer of 1816 too hot to stay indoors. So they adjourned most activities outdoors, under a massive elm tree, the Constitution Elm. The mighty tree succumbed to Dutch elm disease in 1925, sadly.
“This photograph of the ‘Constitution Elm’ was taken between 1921 and 1925. Delegates to the June 1816 constitutional convention apparently often worked in the shade of this tree. Although specific reports of dimensions vary, it was enormous with branches that spanned over 100 feet. It died of Dutch Elm Disease in 1925.” Indiana Division, Indiana State Library.
Here’s a story of Indiana’s path to statehood, produced in 2016 for Indiana’s Bicentennial.
Happy statehood day, Hoosiers; fly your flags today.
A barn side flag in Spencer, Indiana. This flag was painted on a shipping pallet. BookCoverPics.
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
Typewriter of Nelly Sachs. It’s a Mercedes, if I have identified it correctly.
She fled Nazi Germany for Sweden in 1940. In Sweden, she adapted to a new culture. Then she wrote about the experiences of flight, and adaptation.
In 1966 the Nobel organization awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature to Nelly Sachs. Sachs was born December 10, 1891. Google’s Doodle honored her on December 10, 2018, with a short video and image of her typewriter. The animation shows Sachs’ typewriter in a suitcase, an homage
Google explained at YouTube:
December 10th, 2018: Google honors Nelly Sachs. She was a Jewish German-Swedish poet and playwright.
Nelly Sachs was born on 10 December 1891 in Berlin. In 1940 Nelly fled with her aged mother to Sweden. Nelly Sachs and her mother escaped on the last flight.
Her best-known play is: … “Eli – Ein Mysterienspiel vom Leiden Israels” (1950) 1957 she got the Nobel Prize in Literature. Sachs’ poetry is intensely lyrical and reflects some influence by German Romanticism. Happy birthday Nelly Sachs.
* * * * *
Music: “Trio for Piano Violin and Viola” by Kevin MacLeod
Nelly Sachs Biography (Wikipedia): Born Leonie Sachs in Berlin-Schöneberg, Germany, in 1891 to the wealthy natural rubber and gutta-percha manufacturer Georg William Sachs (1858–1930) and his wife Margarete, née Karger (1871–1950), she was educated at home because of frail health. She showed early signs of talent as a dancer, but her protective parents did not encourage her to pursue a profession. She grew up as a very sheltered, introverted young woman and never married. She pursued an extensive correspondence with, and was friends with, Selma Lagerlöf and Hilde Domin. As the Nazis took power, she became increasingly terrified, at one point losing the ability to speak, as she would remember in verse: “When the great terror came/I fell dumb.” Sachs fled with her aged mother to Sweden in 1940. It was her friendship with Lagerlöf that saved their lives: shortly before her own death Lagerlöf intervened with the Swedish royal family to secure their release from Germany. Sachs and her mother escaped on the last flight from Nazi Germany to Sweden, a week before Sachs was scheduled to report to a concentration camp. They settled in Sweden and Sachs became a Swedish citizen in 1952.
Living in a tiny two-room apartment in Stockholm, Sachs cared alone for her mother for many years, and supported their existence by translations between Swedish and German. After her mother’s death, Sachs suffered several nervous breakdowns characterized by hallucinations, paranoia, and delusions of persecution by Nazis, and she spent a number of years in a mental institution. She continued to write even while hospitalized. She eventually recovered sufficiently to live on her own, though her mental health would always be fragile. Her worst breakdown was ostensibly precipitated by hearing German speech during a trip to Switzerland to accept a literary prize. However, she maintained a forgiving attitude toward a younger generation of Germans, and corresponded with many German-speaking writers of the postwar period, including Hans Magnus Enzensberger and Ingeborg Bachmann. Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nelly_S…
Apartment of Nelly Sachs, with her typewriter, in Stockholm, Sweden. Gewerk.com image.
From Dayton Daily News: Jeff Duford, curator for the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, with a flag that flew on the U.S.S. St. Louis in Hawaii during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The same flag flew aboard the U.S.S. Iowa in Tokyo Bay on September 16, 1944, as Japan signed instruments of surrender aboard the U.S.S. Missouri. Photo by Ty Greenlees, Dayton Daily News [This flag was displayed for one day at the museum, on Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day 2016.]
December 7 is a two-fer flag-flying day.
By public law, December 7 is Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, and Americans fly the U.S. flag in memory of those who lost their lives at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. U.S. flags should be flown at half-staff.
In 1787 Delaware quickly and promptly elected delegates to the former colony’s convention to ratify the Constitution proposed at the Philadelphia convention just over three months earlier. The ratification of the Constitution won opposition from strong factions in almost every state. Pols anticipated tough fights in New York, Virginia, and other states with large populations. They also expected other states would wait to see what the bigger states did.
Delaware didn’t wait. On December 7 Delaware became the first of the former British colonies to ratify the Constitution. Perhaps by doing so, it guaranteed other states would act more favorably on ratification.
Because Delaware was first, it is traditionally granted first position in certain ceremonies, such as the parades honoring newly-inaugurated presidents. Delaware’s nickname is “The First State.”
In Delaware and the rest of the nation, fly your flags on December 7, 2016. If you can, fly your flag at half-staff to honor the dead at Pearl Harbor; if you have a flag on a pole that cannot be adjusted, just fly the flag normally.
Covers of the last four World Malaria Reports. World Health Organization (WHO)
It’s a common tale but true: In any period when nations collaborate to defeat or eradicate malaria, funders of the programs get board and cut funding.
Malaria roars back.
This cycle has nothing to do with pesticides or medicines, mostly. Especially it’s not a problem that can be fixed with more DDT.
When a nation focuses on beating malaria, progress occurs. When nations lose their focus, malaria strikes back.
After great progress reducing malaria infections and malaria deaths between 1999 and 2017, nations including the U.S. lost focus. International donors failed to contribute enough money to keep the fight going.
World Malaria Report 2018 notes the striking back by malaria.
One other thing we can be quite sure of: Almost all mass media will ignore this report.
What will you do to change things?
You can help by donating $10 to a charity that delivers bednets to people who need them in Asia and Africa. You can help by writing letters to your local newspapers, to your Congressional representatives, and to the President. Every little bit helps.
Here’s the press release on World Malaria Report 2018, which was released by the World Health Organization (WHO) on November 19, 2018.
WHO and partners launch new country-led response to put stalled malaria control efforts back on track
19 November 2018
Reductions in malaria cases have stalled after several years of decline globally, according to the new World malaria report 2018. To get the reduction in malaria deaths and disease back on track, WHO and partners are joining a new country-led response, launched today, to scale up prevention and treatment, and increased investment, to protect vulnerable people from the deadly disease.
For the second consecutive year, the annual report produced by WHO reveals a plateauing in numbers of people affected by malaria: in 2017, there were an estimated 219 million cases of malaria, compared to 217 million the year before. But in the years prior, the number of people contracting malaria globally had been steadily falling, from 239 million in 2010 to 214 million in 2015.
“Nobody should die from malaria. But the world faces a new reality: as progress stagnates, we are at risk of squandering years of toil, investment and success in reducing the number of people suffering from the disease,” says Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. “We recognise we have to do something different – now. So today we are launching a country-focused and -led plan to take comprehensive action against malaria by making our work more effective where it counts most – at local level.”
Where malaria is hitting hardest
In 2017, approximately 70% of all malaria cases (151 million) and deaths (274 000) were concentrated in 11 countries: 10 in Africa (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana, Mali, Mozambique, Niger, Nigeria, Uganda and United Republic of Tanzania) and India. There were 3.5 million more malaria cases reported in these 10 African countries in 2017 compared to the previous year, while India, however, showed progress in reducing its disease burden.
Despite marginal increases in recent years in the distribution and use of insecticide-treated bed nets in sub-Saharan Africa – the primary tool for preventing malaria – the report highlights major coverage gaps. In 2017, an estimated half of at-risk people in Africa did not sleep under a treated net. Also, fewer homes are being protected by indoor residual spraying than before, and access to preventive therapies that protect pregnant women and children from malaria remains too low.
High impact response needed
In line with WHO’s strategic vision to scale up activities to protect people’s health, the new country-driven “High burden to high impact” response plan has been launched to support nations with most malaria cases and deaths. The response follows a call made by Dr Tedros at the World Health Assembly in May 2018 for an aggressive new approach to jump-start progress against malaria. It is based on four pillars:
Galvanizing national and global political attention to reduce malaria deaths;
Driving impact through the strategic use of information;
Establishing best global guidance, policies and strategies suitable for all malaria endemic countries; and
Implementing a coordinated country response.
Catalyzed by WHO and the RBM Partnership to End Malaria, “High burden to high impact” builds on the principle that no one should die from a disease that can be easily prevented and diagnosed, and that is entirely curable with available treatments.
“There is no standing still with malaria. The latest World malaria report shows that further progress is not inevitable and that business as usual is no longer an option,” said Dr Kesete Admasu, CEO of the RBM Partnership. “The new country-led response will jumpstart aggressive new malaria control efforts in the highest burden countries and will be crucial to get back on track with fighting one of the most pressing health challenges we face.”
Targets set by the WHO Global technical strategy for malaria 2016–2030 to reduce malaria case incidence and death rates by at least 40% by 2020 are not on track to being met.
Pockets of progress
The report highlights some positive progress. The number of countries nearing elimination continues to grow (46 in 2017 compared to 37 in 2010). Meanwhile in China and El Salvador, where malaria had long been endemic, no local transmission of malaria was reported in 2017, proof that intensive, country-led control efforts can succeed in reducing the risk people face from the disease.
In 2018, WHO certified Paraguay as malaria free, the first country in the Americas to receive this status in 45 years. Three other countries – Algeria, Argentina and Uzbekistan – have requested official malaria-free certification from WHO.
India – a country that represents 4% of the global malaria burden – recorded a 24% reduction in cases in 2017 compared to 2016. Also in Rwanda, 436 000 fewer cases were recorded in 2017 compared to 2016. Ethiopia and Pakistan both had estimated decreases of more than 240 000 in the same period.
“When countries prioritize action on malaria, we see the results in lives saved and cases reduced,” says Dr Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa. “WHO and global malaria control partners will continue striving to help governments, especially those with the highest burden, scale up the response to malaria.”
Domestic financing is key
As reductions in malaria cases and deaths slow, funding for the global response has also shown a levelling off, with US$ 3.1 billion made available for control and elimination programmes in 2017 including US$ 900 million (28%) from governments of malaria endemic countries. The United States of America remains the largest single international donor, contributing US$ 1.2 billion (39%) in 2017.
To meet the 2030 targets of the global malaria strategy, malaria investments should reach at least US$6.6 billion annually by 2020 – more than double the amount available today.
Actions convey messages. Actions communicate. How one acts in regarding the U.S. flag, at different times when action is required, tells something about character — whether one was even paying attention when respect for the flag, and the ideals it portrays, was explained.
President Ford’s casket lies in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol. New York Times photo by Todd Heisler.
Back in early 2007 I discussed some of the flag etiquette we saw at the funeral of President Gerald R. Ford. We see these things again at the funeral of President George H. W. Bush. Let’s repeat the observations.
Here are a few things you may have observed during the services for President Ford, which you may observe again at the funeral of George H. W. Bush, with minor edits:
1. On his coffin, the U.S. flag’s union will always be over President Bush’s left shoulder. This is a reversal from the usual display method for the flag; in display on a wall, the field should always be in the upper left as one observes it, the “northwest” corner (as if looking at a map); on a coffin, that would put the flag over the person’s right shoulder. Instead, on a coffin the flag is draped so the union is over the left shoulder, usually explained as being over the soldier’s heart. Also, note that a flag-draped casket should be carried foot first to the grave.
2. Since Bush is a military veteran, the flag should accompany the casket to the grave, but not into it (I believe this applies also to presidents if they did not serve, but in any case it applies to Bush). The flag will be folded in the traditional seafaring triangle fold, and presented to the Bush family before the casket is lowered into the grave.
3. When the flag is folded at the cemetery, watch how carefully the military people will work to get each fold just right. Their goal is a perfect fold, which will leave only the blue field of stars from the union showing, in a triangular fold. To get it right, the color guard (pall bearers, I presume in this case) will take its time. Occasionally the flag team will halt and unfold the flag, and refold, if the process is not proceeding just exactly right. But that is rare; the flag folding team sacrifices speed, for care. If the ceremony proceeds very quickly, I would be surprised.
4. It is unlikely that there will be any ceremonial reading during the folding of the flag. Any reading given, however, would be selected by the family. In the past couple of decades, presidential funerals have been planned out well in advance of the event. Differences between Bush’s funeral in 2018, Ford’s funeral in 2007 and Reagan’s funeral in 2004, are due to the different plans of the families, not due to any formal procedure required by U.S. law or tradition. We’re a democratic nation, and such ceremonies are not sacred writ. (I have written here before about the mistaken idea that there is an “official” flag folding ceremony with specific meaning given to each of the 13 foldings of the flag; there is no official ceremony. There is no official meaning ascribed to the folding of the flag; the triangular fold is a convenience at sea, where flags folded into the triangle will unfurl without fouling or snagging as they rise up the mast. We continue that tradition on land.)
In general, the flag will be treated respectfully. Do not expect to see a lot of flag waving during the service. When the flag is present, it will be treated soberly, with care, with special attention to getting official ceremonial details correct.
Students, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts should pay attention.
Associated Press photo by Lawrence Jackson. Telephoto showing some of the 50 flags surrounding the Washington Monument flying at half-mast in honor of the late President Gerald Ford, with the dome of the U.S. Capitol in the background. The Capitol is more than a mile away from the Washington Monument; compression of the images by the telephoto lens makes the dome appear much closer.
Flags fly at half staff in honor of former President Gerald Ford at the Washington Monument, with the U.S. Capitol in the background, on Dec. 27, 2006. Ford will lie in state in the Capitol before burial in Grand Rapids, Mich. Credit: AP Photo/Lawrence Jackson
2018 update:President George H. W. Bush’s casket lies in state, in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol, on the catafalk originally constructed to hold the casket of President Abraham Lincoln.
“Members of the public view the casket containing former President George H.W. Bush’s remains as he lies in state in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Monday night. Cameron Pollack/NPR.” Compare with the photo of President Ford’s casket, in the photo at the top of this post.
Spread the word; friends don't allow friends to repeat history.
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Retired teacher of law, economics, history, AP government, psychology and science. Former speechwriter, press guy and legislative aide in U.S. Senate. Former Department of Education. Former airline real estate, telecom towers, Big 6 (that old!) consultant. Lab and field research in air pollution control.
My blog, Millard Fillmore's Bathtub, is a continuing experiment to test how to use blogs to improve and speed up learning processes for students, perhaps by making some of the courses actually interesting. It is a blog for teachers, to see if we can use blogs. It is for people interested in social studies and social studies education, to see if we can learn to get it right. It's a blog for science fans, to promote good science and good science policy. It's a blog for people interested in good government and how to achieve it.
BS in Mass Communication, University of Utah
Graduate study in Rhetoric and Speech Communication, University of Arizona
JD from the National Law Center, George Washington University