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  1. An interesting historical sidebar: in 1873 Karl Marx sent Charles Darwin a personally inscribed copy of the recently published second edition of Das Kapital. The father of natural selection responded: Dear Sir:I thank you for the honour which you have done me by sending me your great work on Capital; & I heartily wish that I was more worthy to receive it, by understanding more of the deep and important subject of political Economy. Though our studies have been so different, I believe that we both earnestly desire the extension of Knowledge, & that this is in the long run sure to add to the happiness of Mankind.I remain, Dear Sir. Yours faithfully, Charles Darwin Marx was thrilled by the attention from the Great Man; he took it as an endorsement. But Darwin merely skimmed the beginning of the book; out of the existing 700 pages only 100 had been uncut. The gentlemanly Darwin, who had little knowledge of German, was likely merely being polite.
  2. Last year marked the 200th birthday of Karl Marx who was born on the 5th of May 1818. The occasion was celebrated by the Financial Times, the Economist and the NY Times which published an article headlined 'Happy Birthday Karl Marx, you were right'. (1) The Chinese government financed a statue of the philosopher in his hometown of Trier, Germany. Will the originator of ‘scientific socialism’ continue to be a world-altering figure? Who was Karl Marx? Will his legacy endure? THE MAN The father of Marx was a lawyer and a man of the Enlightenment who idolized Kant and Voltaire. But, as a Jew descended from a long line of Rabbis, calculating that his faith would hinder his legal career he converted the family to Christianity. Karl was baptized into the German Evangelical Church at the age of 6. Young Marx was a hell raiser. During his student days in Bonn he seemed to spend most of his spare time getting drunk and fighting. In addition to an argumentative streak, he never shook off a lisp and that combined with a thick Trier accent made him a target. He eventually joined the radical Trier Tavern Club and habitually carried a pistol after club members were attacked by reactionary supporters of the monarchy. History records that he once fought a duel. But Marx was an excellent student and financed by his father he matriculated from the University of Berlin with a Ph.D. in philosophy. After graduation he turned to journalism becoming the editor of the liberal Cologne Rheinische Zeitung. However his radical political views (perhaps influenced by his father) attracted the attention of the government and he fled to Paris where he met the polyglot Friedrich Engels (he spoke twenty languages). The friendship would endure for the rest of their lives; their collaboration was so intimate that their combined output has often been considered a single joint achievement. However, by all accounts Marx was the dominant partner. Jenny (wearing a cross) and Karl While he may have been on the side of the proletariat in word, in love Marx stuck by capital. In 1842 he married Jenny von Westphalen, the daughter of a high ranking noble and together they would have six children (three survived to adulthood). Loyal to the core, she travelled around Europe as her husband was evicted from one country after another. It appears Marx was a loving, gentle and indulgent father; his children remembered him as playful. But he was chronically unfaithful to Jenny; among other conquests he made an illegitimate child with their- erratically paid and overworked- housekeeper. He threatened her with silence. If only Karl made capital instead of just writing about it. -A comment attributed to Marx’s mother Marx was soon ousted from France and moving to Brussels he published his first significant work, The Poverty of Philosophy followed a year later by The Communist Manifesto, both co-authored with Engels. He then moved to Cologne and, expelled yet again, spent the rest of his life in London as a stateless individual; the British government refused him citizenship. Despite generous- if unpredictable- assistance from Engels, Marx and his large, sprawling family often found themselves in dire poverty, Marx was notoriously incapable of keeping accounts, and Jenny was a regular customer of the London pawnbrokers. At one point Jenny pawned his single pair of trousers preventing the philosopher from leaving their apartment. Marx died penniless in 1883, only eleven people attended his funeral. His influence had been waning for a considerable time and it seemed his works were destined to the forgotten, dusty shelves of philosophy. But seven years later a young revolutionary named Vladimir Lenin read Das Kapital and declared himself a Marxist. Once Lenin and his cohorts seized power in Russia in 1917 the legend of Marx, the world-shaking philosopher, took off. THE PHILOSOPHY The writings of Marx form the theoretical basis of Communism, as well as many other forms of socialism. At the time of his death in 1883 none of his theories had been put into practice. However, in the following century several Marx-inspired governments were established; most significantly China and Russia- among others- based on his teachings. The actual conduct of the Soviets, Chinese, or other Marxist regimes was never rigidly controlled by the works of Marx which spoke of Hegelian dialectic and the surplus value of labor. Such abstractions seem to have had little effect on the day-to-day policies of their governments. Once in power these regimes kept the world in turmoil; their wars and bloody purges have caused an estimated 100 million deaths. Communism has, to date, provided neither peace nor freedom nor prosperity. Following the resignation of Mikhail Gorbachev in 1991, the Soviet Union was dissolved followed by the renunciation of Communism by Russia and in its client states; with the exception of China, an economic hybrid, the role of Marxism in the world began declining precipitously. Critics have found the Marxist theory of economics badly in error, many of his predictions failed to materialize. He expected that working people in capitalist countries would, over time, be reduced to penury. This has not happened. He predicted that most of the middle class would be absorbed into the proletariat. Wrong again. Marx also expected that increased mechanization would diminish the profits of the capitalists, a prediction that was not only wrong but quite foolish. But … the rise of the information revolution that began in the last half of the 20th century may finally furnish grist to his mill. At first it appeared that the effect would result in decentralization, power to the people, and the end user with a laptop. But the last few decades have seen the rise of mighty, multinational technology companies, among them Apple, Microsoft, Google and others. Are they becoming our rulers? So far these quasi-monopolies have been immune to 'trust breaking' an urge that was common in earlier eras. (2) World statistics suggest that the ratio of the middle-classes in several countries have begun to shrink; globally, wealth inequality is on the rise and AI has already begun imperiling some professions. Of course, Marx never predicted this turn of events but he may, at last, get his ‘proletariat’ back. Ultimately the atheist Marx created an ersatz religion complete with its dogmas, Holy Scriptures, foot soldiers, and martyrs. (And heretics). As a founder, he may be roughly equivalent to Mohammed or Zoroaster. However, a philosopher’s importance does not lie in the nobility of his character or the correctness of his views but rather that his ideas move people to action. Judged on that basis, Marx was unquestionably of enormous importance. (This essay was published last year on the History Community site) 1- https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/30/opinion/karl-marx-at-200-influence.html 2- 2- The federal government sued Microsoft in the 1990s for violating anti-monopoly laws and eventually reached a settlement. But nothing since. https://medium.com/@teamwarren/heres-how-we-can-break-up-big-tech-9ad9e0da324c
  3. The second half of 1802 found Thomas Jefferson's ship of state on cruise control; the president's navy was getting the better of the Barbary pirates, a peace treaty between France and England opened Caribbean ports to US commerce, and West Point was established. Aside from the ominous federal debt, a strong case for optimism could be made; the bitterly contested election of 1800 with John Adams was receding from memory. In the September 1 issue of the Richmond Recorder James Callender, a Scottish immigrant and notorious scandalmonger reported that the president of the United States owned a black slave mistress who had borne him several children. He began: It is well known that the man, whom it delighteth the public to honor, keeps, and for many years has kept, as his concubine, one of his slaves. Her name is SALLY. The name of her eldest son is TOM. His features are said to bear a striking although sable resemblance to the president himself. … By this wench, Sally, our president has had several children. … THE AFRICAN VENUS is said to officiate, as housekeeper, at Monticello Callender’s hit piece rocked the fledgling nation. Federalist newspapers rushed to report the alleged scandal, often in banner headlines; wits published scurrilous poems, mocking the president and ‘Dusky Sally’. Jefferson’s Republican allies were flummoxed by the president’s failure to address (and scarcely mention in private) the assault on his honor but as the months passed Jefferson’s avoidance strategy proved to be the right one. By the time Jefferson died in 1826, the rumored mesalliance was more or less forgotten although Northern abolitionists revived the scandal during the Civil War era. There the story would lie until Fawn Brodie’s explosive 1974 psychobiography, Thomas Jefferson: An Intimate History, in it, she alleged that the American icon maintained a 28-year-old affair with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings. SLAVERY AND MONTICELLO While still a British subject, the 26-year-old Jefferson inherited 30 slaves from his father a provincial surveyor and tobacco planter in 1764. At this time he began building the Renaissance-inspired Monticello, his ‘little mountain’, that was to become the nerve center of what later became a sprawling plantation empire. Ten years later Jefferson married up financially. Martha Wayles Skelton was the daughter of a wealthy slave trader; miscegenation was rampant- and unremarkable- among the Southern grandees and Martha was the half-sister of Sally Hemings. She was also a diabetic. While Martha lay dying in 1782 and fearful that their seven children would be subjected to a stepfather she made Jefferson swear that he would never remarry. Grief-stricken, he would honor her request. Jefferson was 39 at the time, Sally Hemings was nine. During his lifetime Jefferson would own 607 slaves on his various estates, over 500 of which were either inherited or the result of natural increase. At any one time, a hundred or so lived at Monticello. Jefferson appeared every day at first light on Monticello’s long terrace, walking alone with his thoughts. From his terrace, Jefferson looked out upon an industrious, well-organized enterprise of black coopers, smiths, nailmakers, a brewer, cooks professionally trained in French cuisine, a glazier, painters, millers, and weavers. Black managers, slaves themselves, oversaw other slaves. A team of highly skilled artisans constructed Jefferson’s coach. The household staff ran what was essentially a mid-sized hotel, where some 16 slaves waited upon the needs of a daily horde of guests. -The Smithsonian It appears a considerable amount of consanguinity existed among the slaves at Monticello. ‘A peculiar fact about his house servants was that we were all related to one another,’ a former slave recalled. Some of their duties were more onerous than others, mostly laborers and field workers, and a certain amount of resentment must have been present toward the few lucky (and lighter skinned) slaves who comprised the household staff. These were rewarded with better food and clothes as well as a modest monthly stipend. Sally belonged to that privileged class. THOMAS AND SALLY Sally Hemings' mother Betty was a bright mulatto woman, and Sally mighty near white....Sally was very handsome, long straight hair down her back. - Isaac Jefferson, former Monticello slave Sally came to Monticello as a toddler in 1773. She was one-quarter black like her siblings and all were eventually assigned to the most desirable occupations on the estate; skilled artisans and domestic servants. In 1787 Jefferson, while acting as the US envoy in France, summoned his daughter Polly to join him in Paris and Sally accompanied her as chaperon. She brought along her older brother, Madison, who was to be trained in French cuisine, both studied the French language. According to Madison, Sally became pregnant for the first time during her stay in Paris. Sally spent 26 months in France a country that had recently abolished slavery and under the law, she was entitled to petition for her freedom. Bargaining from a position of strength, she demanded that Jefferson emancipate any children of hers when they came of age if he wished to return with her to the states. He agreed and followed through. Sally’s first child died shortly after returning to the US but between 1795 and 1808 she delivered five others; another died in infancy but the rest were, as adults, perceived as white and entered seamlessly into white society. We have no images of Sally nor do know if she was literate. Upon Jefferson’s death, she and her two youngest sons moved to Charlottesville, Virginia where she died in 1835. Just prior to the Civil War a Jefferson descendant claimed that Peter Carr, a nephew of the president, had fathered the five children of Sally Hemings. That became the conventional wisdom among historians until the late 1990s when science arrived armed with DNA analysis. The findings failed to find a link with Carr but using Y-chromosomal DNA samples from Jefferson’s male-line descendants geneticists discovered a match: Field Jefferson, a living descendant of Eston Hemings, Sally’s last child. The revelation unleashed rancorous controversy among historians and Jefferson-related foundations but the weight of evidence has gradually been tending to favor the ‘pro’ side. But DNA only shows that "a Jefferson" family member, one of 24 Jeffersons related by blood, could have been the father. The most plausible culprit appears to be Randolph, Jefferson’s younger brother, a rather dissolute fellow who was said to enjoy hanging out in the slave quarters. But his four recorded visits to Monticello from 1802 to 1814 never coincided with Heming’s conceptions. POSTSCRIPT: JEFFERSON CONFLICTED Never did a man achieve more fame for what he did not do. - Virginia abolitionist Moncure Conway -The slave quarters at Monticello In an early draft of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson denounced the slave trade as this ‘execrable commerce ...this assemblage of horrors,’ a ‘cruel war against human nature itself, violating its most sacred rights of life & liberties’. But later his personal interests intervened; sometime during the 1790s he ceased mentioning abolition, he would live a life of cognitive dissonance. Jefferson’s father-in-law had, along with slaves and extensive properties, saddled him with enormous debts. A high liver and addicted to extravagant projects, Jefferson struggled with money for most of his life and freeing his slaves became financially unthinkable. His creditors refrained from pressing the Architect of the Republic but would they be as gentle with his children? Aging and desperate to sell his properties Jefferson resorted to a lottery scheme. It failed. Prominent financiers in New York organized a fundraising campaign that would allow him to keep his lands but that brought in only 16,000 dollars. The third American president died bankrupt. Jefferson emancipated only five of his slaves in his will, all males from the extended Hemings family. HIs daughter Martha inherited his estate- and his debts. She would sell off Monticello and the 130 remaining slaves. (This essay was first published on the History Community site) <i>Presumed Hemings descendants at Monticello</i> https://www.monticello.org/... https://www.smithsonianmag.... https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pa... https://en.wikipedia.org/wi...
  4. Gandhi's tactics can only work within the framework of a shaken culture, for example, the crisis of confidence in the United States's that followed the evident failure in Vietnam. Any British viceroy would have made quick work of Gandhi in the 19th Century. What did you make off the other three subjects? This essay probably doesn't belong here, but what the hey.
  5. (This essay was originally published on the History Community site) We're all aware of great achievers in the past who were celebrated during their lifetimes and beyond; many of their accomplishments resonate today. But fame doesn’t invariably equal influence; the impact of a man’s (or woman’s) life’s work may prove ephemeral, failing the test of time, or judged somewhat overblown by succeeding generations. This essay proposes that each of the four well-known individuals presented here were, in the long term, not as consequential as their contemporaries anticipated. Of course, these things can be damned hard to predict. CHEOPS, CIRCA 26TH CENTURY BC The Egyptian ruler, Cheops, is most remembered for his construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza. We learned that his capital was at Memphis and that he had a long reign; little is known of his life. Even in ancient times, the Pyramid was considered one of the Wonders of the World. The perfection of its construction, that included internal chambers and passages, as well as its sheer size, still inspires awe. Roughly 2 million precisely cut blocks of stone, averaging two and a half tons, were used in its construction. A whole fleet of boats must have needed to transport the blocks as well as to feed a vast army of workers. In sum, Cheops’ achievement was a triumph of sheer will and organization; he truly left his mark on the world. Will Napoleon or Michelangelo be remembered 5,000 years from now? The Great Pyramid has already endured for 4,500 years and will likely still be standing after buildings constructed by modern engineers have crumbled to dust; a direct nuclear strike wouldn’t obliterate it. At the present rate of erosion, it will last for a million years. However, as proposed, fame is distinct from influence. Cheops had, no doubt, a great effect upon the lives of his contemporaries but he doesn’t appear to have had much impact either upon foreign nations or succeeding generations. His influence was only local; he's become famous for being famous. FERDINAND MAGELLAN, 1480-1521 <I >The church says the earth is flat; but I have seen its shadow on the moon, and I have more confidence even in a shadow than in the church.</I> The Portuguese captain Magellan is celebrated as the leader of the first expedition to circumnavigate the earth; his expedition was likely the most outstanding- and fearless- voyage of exploration in history. His leadership and iron determination were the keys to success; facing mutinies, disease, and starvation, he prevailed. Of the 265 sailors, only eighteen returned; Magellan perished as well, but only after leading the expedition over the most challenging part of the trip. The tiny fleet of five leaky vessels took three years to complete the trip, only one survived to limp into a Portuguese port in 1522. The actual influence of Magellan’s exploit was negligible. Contrary to the quote above, educated Europeans- including the higher echelons of the Church- knew quite well that the earth was round. His accomplishment, however heroic, shrinks in historical resonance when compared to his contemporary, Hernan Cortés the world-changing conqueror of Mexico. Or earlier, Columbus. Unlike Vasco da Gama’s previous expedition to India, no part of Magellan’s globe-traveling developed into a significant trade route. Magellan's feat brought him undying fame but his voyage failed to make a major impact on Europe or the East. MARIE CURIE, 1867-1934 <i>A scientist in his laboratory is not a mere technician: he is also a child confronting natural phenomena that impress him as though they were fairy tales.</i> Marie Curie (originally Maria Slodowska) continues to be more famous than many other celebrated scientists. She was Polish and married Pierre Curie; an outstandingly talented scientist. Many have the impression that Marie discovered radioactivity however that was discovered by Antoine Becquerel; his priority is not debatable. The Curies began investigating his theory and, in the process, discovered and isolated the element radium which she called ‘polonium’, after her native land. In 1903, the Curies and Becquerel were jointly awarded a Nobel Prize. Marie was accorded an additional Nobel Prize in 1911, this one in chemistry, becoming the first to win two Nobels. Marie had two young children and the daughter, Irene, was also an accomplished scientist (and world-class pianist). Irene, in turn, married another scientist, and discovering <i>artificial</i> radioactivity, earned yet another Nobel. Quite a family! Marie died of leukemia 1934, likely the result of radiation exposure. Marie Curie’s career demonstrated beyond doubt that a female was capable of high-quality scientific research. However, a majority of scientists these days believe that her great fame was derived not so much from the importance of her scientific work but the fact that a woman did it. They also weigh in the balance that her husband and partner, Pierre, was equally important. MOHANDAS GANDHI, 1869-1948 <i> I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent</i> Gandhi was the principal leader of the movement for the independence of British-owned India. Although still nominally loyal to the British Empire, he began to organize nonviolent protests when it cracked down on civil liberties after World War I. Following the 1919 Amritsar Massacre, in which hundreds were gunned down by British soldiers, Gandhi began forming large scale campaigns of civil disobedience that paralyzed the administration. He became a national symbol and his career took off. Gandhi’s concepts weren’t entirely original; they included a potpourri of Thoreau, Tolstoy, the New Testament, and various Hindu writings. He was also an extreme eccentric. In his ‘ashram’ he would frequently bathe and sleep naked alongside young women (he was married) allegedly a deliberate trial to resist the temptations of the flesh. In 1921 Mahatma ('great soul') renounced Western clothing; his loincloth and cane would make him immediately recognizable, in retrospect, a triumph of merchandising. In the late 30s, Gandhi sent several naive letters to Hitler, ‘my friend’, urging him to abjure violence and to join him in his peaceful crusade of brotherhood. https://www.mkgandhi.org/letters/hitler_ltr1.htm British intelligence intercepted the letters before reaching Hitler. Gandhi’s technique of non-violence was ultimately successful in persuading the British to leave India. However, India might have gained independence with more forceful methods; it’s hard to determine whether his activities speeded up or delayed it. If universally adopted, Gandhi’s policies would change the world but they were not even generally accepted in India. In 1954, his techniques were used in an attempt to persuade the Portuguese to relinquish control of Goa. It failed and the Indian government launched a successful invasion. Since then India has fought three major wars with Pakistan. As a provocateur, Gandhi was fortunate in his time and place; the forbearance of the British Raj ensured his survival. Given the historical forces tending toward independence, it seems likely that Indian independence would have been achieved if he never lived; imperialism was already losing steam. Clearly, Gandhi's message of peace and comradeship has not, to the present day, been followed; neither in India nor in the world. Was he a failure? Perhaps, perhaps not. It’s worth remembering that decades after Jesus died, a well-informed Roman would have considered him a failure- if, indeed, he had ever heard of Jesus at all. However, at this juncture in history, Gandhi's career appears to be an example of fame over influence.
  6. View from Chartwell, Winston Churchill Not too many 'heads' in his artwork, either. Comparing the Paintings of Churchill and Hitler: https://militaryhistorynow.com/2016/09/16/battle-of-the-brushes-comparing-the-paintings-of-churchill-and-hitler/
  7. Judging by the links above, Hitler wins on precise composition but Churchill's oils surpass his in warmth. Anyone notice in the painting above the linebacker-size of Mary's hand? Also the red-headed Jesus.
  8. If he had more formal education would he have been so successful at first and, in the end, so catastrophic.? I don't claim to know. He, like Stalin, did possess a shrewd grasp of human nature an asset that got him as far as he did. Both dictators were brutalized by alcoholic fathers at a tender age. From a previous essay of mine (don't have the links for the quotes at hand): Stalin's mother's (Keke) memoirs, were released from a secret Soviet archive, in it, she detailed how a series of illnesses and accidents left "Soso" - her nickname for Josef - partially crippled, and how he coped with a violent alcoholic father. My Soso was a very sensitive child, As soon as he heard the sound of his father singing balaam-balaam from the street [a bad sign], he'd immediately run to me asking if he could go to our neighbors' until his father fell asleep. Keke recounted how she used her child's love of flowers to encourage him to walk. Holding out a chamomile, she would entice him to move towards her. Young Soso dreaded that he'd become a cobbler like his father. I kissed him and wiped away his tears. Nobody will stop you studying, nobody is going to take you away from me. Very tender reminiscences. But she also kicked the s*** out of him. The two remained estranged throughout most of Stalin's career.
  9. All my life I have wanted to be a great painter in oils. ... As soon as I have carried out my program for Germany, I shall take up painting. I feel that I have it in my soul to become one of the great artists of the age and that future historians will remember me not for what I have done for Germany, but for my art. History has littered us with failed artists turned successful demagogues and tyrants; Stalin was a frustrated poet, Napoleon and Mussolini frustrated novelists. It appears creating art, great art requires all-consuming devotion; its practitioners aspire to leave an indelible mark on the world. Recognition, not money, drives the ambitious artist; he (or she) wishes to win the hearts and minds of his generation and beyond or, at the very least, the admiration of his peers. The drive amounts to a species of power seeking but, like a raging stream, it will find new channels if blocked. The Courtyard of the Old Residency in Munich, by Adolf Hitler Prior to WW1 young Adolf Hitler, living down and out in Vienna discovered he could earn a meager living selling pictures and postcards of the city’s famous landmarks. Another resident in his boardinghouse hawked his works of art to various shops where they were mostly used to fill empty picture frames. ‘I owe it to that period that I grew hard and am still capable of being hard,’ Hitler stated in <i>Mein Kampf</i>. But Viennese eyewitnesses remembered that Hitler's dealings with Jews had been quite natural; Jakob Altenberg, a Jewish frame maker, was a business partner for several years. His friend, Reinhold Hanisch later wrote: 'Adolf often said that it was only with the Jews that one could do business because only they were willing to take chances.' Did the Anti-Semitism blossom later? A Hitler postcard Hitler confessed in his Table Talk that had he succeeded as a painter he never would have become a politician, if true his rejection by the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna brought dire consequences for Germany and the world. Hitler's traditionalist canvases display technical bravura but, we're told, a certain coldness in depicting human subjects detracts from the overall effect. (perhaps explaining the preference for landscapes, flower arrangements, and prominent buildings) The board acknowledged his compositional skills but complained that his works contained ‘too few heads’. An exception from 1913: Mary and Jesus Hitler’s difficulties with the human form, his inability to emotionally connect with his subjects, may have been the result of the severe physical abuse he suffered as a young boy. Had he been denatured? The Viennese board suggested that his talents were better applied to architecture but young Hitler, proud, considered that a demotion. Additionally, as one living the life of a vagabond he lacked the requisite academic credentials. Rejection by the board further poisoned Hitler's already toxic existence yet he would consider himself a great artist right up until his suicide in the Berlin bunker. He was not completely untalented- according to experts he displays a draftman's skill and mastery of watercolor - but there's nothing more soul-crushing for a would-be artist than 'almost' succeeding (as he would feel it). Nearing the end, Hitler allegedly ordered the collection and destruction of his artworks, but several hundred are known to still exist. After the war the US Army seized Hitler’s paintings, some remain held by the government, others in private hands. Appraisals on his work continue to be harsh, but: One modern art critic was asked to review some of his paintings without being told who painted them and judged them "quite good". The different style in which he drew human figures, however, the critic said, represented a profound disinterest in people. -Frederick Spotts Prices for Hitler’s paintings, mostly watercolors, range from 50,000 to 100,000US in auctions. Replicas of the paintings can be found on eBay: https://i.ebayimg.com/thumbs/images/g/GK8AAOSwRQxaUQnq/s-l225.jpg
  10. It's good for you, sburke, like spinach or push-ups. Keeps your mind off Area Fire, the limitations of US mortars and the tragic absence of 8.8 cm Raketenwerfers in CMRT. Just trying to diversify the content here.
  11. -Pasteur’s microscope Gentlemen, it is the microbes who will have the last word. The French chemist and biologist Louis Pasteur is generally acknowledged to be the most important single figure in the history of medicine. Pasteur revolutionized chemistry and biology with his discovery of mirror-image organic molecules then founded microbiology with his work on fermentation. The process he invented to stop foodstuffs going bad, Pasteurization, is still in use worldwide. He made many other contributions to science, but he is most renowned for his advocacy of the germ theory of disease and his development of the technique of preventive inoculation. However, the publication of Pasteur’s private journals, one hundred years after his death, clouds his legacy. EARLY LIFE Louis Pasteur was born in Dole, France in 1822. His ancestors had been serfs. Louis and his three sisters were the children of a tanner and former sergeant major in Napoleon’s army. The father, a hard-working upright man who idolized the Emperor, stressed the value of education to his son. He dreamed of Louis becoming a respected high school teacher. Little did he know… In his teenage years, Louis received free tutoring from his father’s friend, a scholar. With this extra help, Louis began to show academic ability – he started winning prizes at school – and it increasingly looked like a college education would be suitable for him. In addition to his growing academic prowess, young Louis also showed considerable artistic talent. Pastel portrait of his father, by Louis Pasteur, aged 15. As a college student in Paris, Pasteur studied science. His genius was not evident; one of his professors graded him as ‘mediocre’ in chemistry. However, after receiving his doctorate in 1847, he showed that judgment to be in error. His research on the mirror-images of tartaric acid made Pasteur a renowned chemist at the age of 26. In 1852 Pasteur became chairman of the chemistry department at the University of Strasbourg, in Strasbourg, France. Here he began studying fermentation, a type of chemical process in which sugars are turned into alcohol. His work resulted in tremendous improvements in the brewing of beer and the making of wine. He married at this time. THE BENEFACTOR Life comes only from life. -Pasteur Devoting himself to the study of microbes, the world of the unseen, Pasteur benefited by advances in microscopy. It was his experiments which demonstrated that microorganisms do not arise from spontaneous generation (biogenesis), a dogma current in his day and which formed the cornerstone of the recent theory of evolution. Pasteur incurred the wrath of the Darwinists but, in the end, he prevailed. Though not the first person to suggest the germ theory of disease, Pasteur’s numerous and well-publicized demonstrations were the principal factors in convincing the scientific community that the theory was correct. He therefore stressed the importance of antiseptic methods for physicians, a major influence on Joseph Lister who introduced his methods in surgery. Pasteur became so obsessive over microbes that he refused to shake the hand of Napoleon III during an awards ceremony in his honour. A painting of Pasteur in his laboratory, circa 1880 In mid-life Pasteur turned his attention to the study of anthrax, a serious infectious disease that attacks cattle and many other animals, including humans. Showing that a bacterium was responsible for the disease he developed a technique for producing a weakened strain of the anthrax bacillus. Injected into cattle it produced a mild form of the disease-producing immunity. It was soon realized that this method could be applied to countless other communicable diseases. Using Pasteur’s basic ideas other scientists have developed vaccines against many other diseases, including polio, tuberculosis, cholera, smallpox and typhus. Pasteur also discovered the phenomenon of anaerobiosis that is certain microorganisms can live in the absence of any air or oxygen. Pasteur, in his most celebrated achievement, developed a technique for inoculating people against the frightful disease of rabies. On July 6, 1885, in front of a crowd, he administered his vaccine to Joseph Meister*, a 9-year-old boy who had been attacked by a rabid dog. The boy survived and avoided contracting rabies, which one assumes, would have almost certainly proved fatal. Good thing it worked: Pasteur was not a licensed physician and could have been prosecuted had the vaccine failed. The legalities were forgotten and Pasteur instead became a national hero. Pasteur, the ultimate drudge, committed himself to a twelve hour day, seven-day work week. Absorbed in his experiments, he had to be summoned to church on his wedding day; apparently, he forgot. Three of his five children died prematurely, tragedies that darkened his life. World famous and showered with honours Pasteur died in 1895. The extent of his religious beliefs has been debated but his lifeless hand was found gripping rosary beads. THE COMPETITOR Pasteur had a rather difficult personality: he could be aloof, gruff, authoritarian, secretive, and, above all, intensely competitive. He and the German Robert Koch, the second most influential figure of the era in medical microbiology, engaged in a long-running feud over pre-eminence fueled by nationalism and duelling egos. Most modern biologists have declared Pasteur the winner. In 1995, the centenary of his death, Pasteur’s name was posthumously disgraced on an international stage. He had ordered his family members to hold on to his private journals and never disclose them to anyone but his last surviving descendant donated the papers to the French National Library. It appears that Pasteur not only oversold some if his findings; he had unabashedly lied about the results of his several of his experiments and even stole credit from rival scientists. Concerning his rabies trials, it was revealed that only a fraction of the diseased mutts had been examined and half of them died from their illnesses. Even more distressing was the ‘foolproof’ vaccine which he had injected into the dogs was used on Joseph Meister. He had exposed the boy to an untested treatment. Jean-Joseph Toussaint Jean-Joseph Toussaint, a local veterinarian, was conducting similar research at the same time, but using a personally designed chemical formula. Thrilled by the progress he was making, Toussaint visited Pasteur and made the mistake of confiding in him the recipe for his proprietary cocktail. Before he knew it, the Great Man appropriated his formula and began using it- without attribution- in his public experiments. Toussaint never found his happy ending; the rage and the inability to change his fate supposedly drove him to such a deep depression that he suffered nervous breakdowns for what was left of his abruptly short life. IN RETROSPECT Since the 19th-century life expectancies have roughly doubled, In effect modern science has gifted us with virtually a second lifetime. Louis Pasteur’s uncountable contributions are so fundamental that there is little question that he deserves the largest share of the credit for the decline in death rates that began a century and a half ago. Despite the controversies, many- or most- scientists and historians rank Pasteur among the most significant individuals who ever lived. Can we agree? *- Joseph Meister https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joseph_Meister Excerpt: As an adult, Meister served as a caretaker at the Pasteur Institute until his death in 1940 at age 64. On 24 June 1940, ten days after the German army invaded Paris during World War II, Meister committed suicide with his gas furnace.
  12. Thanks, JK, long time no see. This was one of my non-political articles submitted on Channel Z. Don't know what happened to the font here. I felt that a mere list of famous people lacked a certain je ne sais quoi; the Tragic Element was mandatory.
  13. THE PAPER MAKER Cai Lun, the inventor of paper, is little known outside of China his name rarely appears in standard Western history textbooks. Until recently, many scholars believed he was an apocryphal figure. However, research makes it clear that Cai Lun was a real man, an official in the Chinese imperial court who, at the dawn of the 2nd century, presented the Emperor with samples of paper. Cai Lun’s name appears in the official history of the Han dynasty and the relevant entry documenting his invention is unambiguous. We’re told he was a eunuch. -In 105AD Cai Lun submitted to the emperor a process for making paper out of the inner bark of mulberry trees, bamboo, and remnants of hemp, rags of cloth, and fishing nets. He mixed them with water, pounded them with a wooden tool, and then poured this mixture onto a flat piece of coarsely woven cloth, letting the water drain through, and leaving only a thin, matted sheet of fibers on the cloth.- -New World Encyclopedia Prior to the introduction of paper in China, most books were made of bamboo or silk. In the West, books were written on parchment processed from animal skins replacing papyrus used by the ancients. All four media were cumbersome to use and expensive to manufacture. The paper revolution enabled China, which had been less advanced in comparison to Western Europe, to leap ahead culturally and scientifically. During the succeeding centuries, as Europe dithered in the Dark Ages, the Chinese brought forth the compass, gunpowder and block printing. Muslims learned Cai Lun’s technique in the 700s by capturing a Chinese paper trader following a winning battle on the frontier. Once the West finally acquired the secret of papermaking five hundred years later it narrowed the technology gap. However, as late as the 13th century, Marco Polo reported that China was far more prosperous than Europe. Cai Lun’s invention made him wealthy and the grateful emperor awarded him an aristocratic title. That promotion proved fatal; following the latter’s demise, he joined the losing side in the ensuing dynastic struggle. Chinese records tell us that upon reading the writing on the wall Cai Lun took a bath then dressed in his finest silk robes and drank poison. THE PRINTER Johann Gutenberg is credited with the invention of printing by combining moveable type and an efficient press in such a way that a large variety of written material could be printed with speed and accuracy. Moveable type had been invented centuries before in China and Korea but Gutenberg vastly improved the entire process marrying all the components including suitable ink, a durable metal alloy for the type, and an efficient press. Above all, he developed all the elements of printing into an effective and reliable system of mass production, a complete manufacturing process. The crucial ingredient, paper, had spread to the West by Gutenberg’s day. However moveable type was rarely used in the Orient and Gutenberg developed his proprietary technique independently. -The Gutenberg Bible The so-called Gutenberg Bible, printed in Mainz, appeared in 1454. We know it came from Gutenberg’s atelier based on the typeface but his name never figures on his work, in retrospect a careless omission on his part. Some idea of Gutenberg’s impact on history can be gained by comparing the subsequent development of China and Europe. At the time of his birth, the two lands were about equally developed technologically. But after Gutenberg’s invention, Europe progressed rapidly spreading knowledge while China, where block printing continued, remained comparatively sterile. Though a mechanical genius Gutenberg was never much of a businessman; it appears he was chronically short of money. Struggling to keep his project alive he partnered with a feisty goldsmith and lawyer named Johann Fust who loaned Gutenberg the funds he needed to continue. However, Fust began losing patience; he pestered Gutenberg claiming that he was doing nothing but blowing money. At last, Fust brought suit against him in court, and the judge ruled in his favour. Everything in the world that Gutenberg possessed, even his tools, came into Fust's possession- including the original, unsigned Gutenberg Bible. Johann Gutenberg died in Mainz, Germany. Pathetically the creator of the (arguably) most important invention in human history lived out most of his later years in dire poverty until the Archbishop of Mainz granted the printer a meagre pension just before his death in 1468. Gutenberg was buried in a Franciscan church, which was demolished and replaced with another church, which was also subsequently demolished. The location of his final resting place remains unknown. While Gutenberg went without financial reward for creating the process that revolutionized the world, history recognizes him as holding this honour. Without his printing press, the Protestant Reformation would likely never to have had occurred. THE CHEMIST -Antoine Lavoisier and his wife, Marie-Anne The French scientist, Antoine Lavoisier, is generally considered the most significant figure in the development of chemistry. Born into a prosperous bourgeois family in 1743, young Antoine completed a law degree in accordance with his family wishes. But he never practised; his true calling was in science. On the basis of his early researches, he was elected- at the tender age of 25- to the Academy of Sciences, France’s most prestigious scientific society. During his era, water and air were wrongly believed to be elementary substances and that combustible materials contained a substance called ‘phlogiston’. It was Lavoisier that managed to put the pieces of the puzzle together correctly and get chemical theory started on the correct path. Denying the existence of phlogiston, he proved that the process of combustion consisted of the chemical combination of the burning substance with oxygen. Also, air was not an elementary substance either but a chemical compound of oxygen and nitrogen. Many leading scientists refused to accept Lavoisier’s theories but his book, The Elements of Chemistry, silenced most of the doubters. It was published in 1789, a significant year. -Lavoisier’s laboratory Having shown that water and air were not chemical elements Lavoisier included in his book a list of those substances that he believed to be elementary. Our modern periodic table is essentially an enlarged version of his list. His creation of a uniform system of nomenclature enabled chemists throughout the world to clearly communicate their discoveries with each other. In the same year of his election to the Academy, in order to finance his scientific research, Lavoisier bought into the Ferme Générale the private corporation that collected taxes for the Crown. It was essentially a racket, there being no limit to the taxes collected except what the tax collectors could gouge from the populace. The Crown got its share, but everything above that was pure profit. Lavoisier grew rich but the Ferme was bitterly resented by the rising middle-class. Several years later he married Marie-Anne Paulze, the 14-year old daughter of another ‘tax farmer’. A brilliant woman, Madame Lavoisier learned English in order to translate the work of British chemists including Joseph Priestley and Henry Cavendish for her husband. Lavoisier though a political liberal who had worked for many reforms was, as a perceived aristocrat, vulnerable to the revolutionary fervour of the times and he made two mistakes that eventually sealed his fate. He performed a flashy public experiment in Paris demonstrating that a diamond is made from carbon by burning one in an atmosphere of pure oxygen. It didn’t go over well. Given the food scarcity that existed during the early days of the Revolution, it was taken as an unforgivable extravagance. -Jean-Paul Marat Still, he might have survived were it not for the fact that he had acquired a famous enemy, Jean-Paul Marat, a physically repulsive and frustrated scientist who rose to become one of the most prominent members on the increasingly sanguinary Revolutionary Tribunal. Years before, Marat applied for membership in the French Academy and was rejected, with Lavoisier being a major factor in his dismissal. It seems that Lavoisier had publicly ridiculed Marat’s ‘animal magnetism’ theory. Humiliated, the fiery demagogue never forgave him becoming an indefatigable force in the chemist’s destruction. -Lavoisier en route to the guillotine Flogged on by Marat, the Revolutionary government grew increasingly suspicious of Lavoisier. Eventually, he was arrested along with twenty-seven other members of the Ferme Générale. Revolutionary justice may not have been too accurate, but it was certainly speedy. On a single day (May 8, 1794) all of them were tried, convicted and guillotined. At the trial an appeal was made to spare Lavoisier, citing his services to country and science. The judge rejected the plea with the curt remark that, ‘The Republic has no need of geniuses’. Closer to the truth was the remark of the great mathematician Lagrange: ‘It took but a moment to sever that head, though a hundred years may not produce another like it’. GUILLOTINE SIDEBAR
  14. In contrast to Dr Bloch we have the example of Josef Mengele whose post-WW2 existence reveals how a man's super-ego can fail to monitor his id. Mengele once told his only son, Rolf, “The Jews ought to erect a statue to me! I saved hundreds of thousands of them from death in return for a few blood samples.” Bear in mind that Mengele said this to his son in 1977, when Rolf paid a visit to his father’s hideout in Brazil. Almost thirty years had passed since the end of the war and Mengele still felt that he had played a benign role during the Final Solution. According to those who knew him in Paraguay and Brazil, Mengele was actually a low-key man, unless the subject of Auschwitz was raised. Then he would fly into a rage and begin to shout about persecution and the lies that had spread about him throughout the world. Incidentally, unlike Eichmann, Mengele never hid his identity for long. He took out a West German passport under his own name in Argentina, and “Dr. Josef Mengele” was listed in the Buenos Aires telephone directory. Mengele traveled easily back and forth across the Paraguay-Brazil border and was photographed in Brazilian newspapers. He made one trip to Germany after the war, to wed his sister-in-law. In South America he confessed his real name to his hosts, first a Hungarian family and later an Austrian woman, and trusted them not inform the authorities. Not surprisingly, the West German government made little effort to bring him back home to stand trial. Julio Cesar Pino, Ph.D from University of California, Los Angeles
  15. The opium poppy (Papaver somniferum) has been used as in religious rituals, as a narcotic and medicine since the Sumerians named it Hul Gil (joy plant.) The Ancient Greek Gods Hypnos (Sleep), Nyx (Night), and Thanatos (Death) were shown with poppies. #1 By Roman times, Opium (from the Greek word for juice) could be easily bought on the drug and spice markets of Rome. It was known as a powerful pain reliever. #2 Dioscorides was a physician with the Roman Army. He described using poppy leaves of juice in capsules as a sleep aid, in throat lozenges as a pain-killer and as suppositories for bowel disorders. #3 Opium was used as an aphrodisiac but too much could send you into a sleep that ended in death. It was sometimes taken as a method of suicide when confronted with an incurable illness. But it’s life ending properties also meant that it could be used as a tool for murder. The Emperor Nero allegedly only came to power after his mother dosed his stepbrother with a lethal dose of opium. #4 Under Nero’s reign, the physician Galen wrote: “Opium is the strongest of the drugs which numb the senses and induce a deadening sleep, its effects are produced when it is soaked in boiling water, taken up on a flock of wool and used as a suppository.“ #5 He prescribed the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius a daily dose of opium. He mixed it with many other ingredients into a medicine he called ‘Theriac.’ Marcus took it pretty liberally: “During the day he took nothing but Theriac, not because he was afraid of poison, but to ease his stomach and chest”. [Dio Cassius] #6 Gale cut the dose according to the demands of the day, sometimes creating withdrawal symptoms for Marcus. “When he found himself getting drowsy at his duties, he had the poppy juice removed, but then he was unable to sleep at night, so he was obliged again to have recourse to the compound which contained poppy-juice, since this was now habitual for him.” [Galen XIV 4]. Despite his reliance on opium Marcus still attended to his duties and even found time to write one of the world’s most influential books on philosophy, the Meditations. Notable historical figures allegedly addicted to opium: http://listverse.com/2015/09/25/10-historical-figures-who-were-dependent-on-opium/
  16. Or a film, better yet a TV series. 'Breaking Mutant'?
  17. One notices that, in his photo, the good doctor's face positively glows with humanity and compassion.
  18. De nada, John. BTW, any donation is appreciated. I accept all credit cards EXCEPT American Express.
  19. We're irredeemable. Maybe Science will come to the rescue. Mandatory gene therapy?
  20. Dr Eduard Bloch was a general physician, practicing on the main street of the poor neighborhood of Austria’s third largest city, Linz. A promise was given to this Jewish doctor by a grateful patient: “I shall be grateful to you forever, A.H.,” followed by a postcard sent from Vienna. Eduard Bloch was born in 1869 to a Jewish family in Frauenburg, a small southern Bohemian village. He studied medicine in Prague, enlisted in the army of the Habsburg Empire, and was sent to Linz. After his discharge from the army he decided to settle in Linz, where he practiced for 37 years, serving the underprivileged and earning the title of “the poor man’s doctor”. He charged patients according to their financial status; he often took nothing at all. In this capacity, in 1901, Dr Bloch came to look after the family of Alois Schicklgruber, later changed to Hitler. He cared for Alois’s first wife and two daughters and for his second wife Klara, the mother of Adolf and his sister Klara Jr. The illnesses treated were mainly children’s diseases, with four siblings succumbing to sickness—a statistic not uncommon for that time. He also published his memories about the encounter in which he painted a remarkably positive picture of young Hitler, saying that he was neither a ruffian nor untidy nor impolite: Adolf left school at the age of 16 and lived in Vienna. Twice he attempted to obtain acceptance in the Academy of Arts. He was rejected but was advised to study architecture, a topic more suitable for his talents. This advice was not heeded, and Adolf remained a wanderer in Vienna, surviving by painting postcards, and supported by a Jewish friend, the artist Joseph Neumann (later on called “a very decent man”). Adolf'a bohemian lifestyle was interrupted in early 1907 when he was summoned to Linz; his beloved mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer. The young son, always neatly dressed and quite courteous, was distraught over the suffering of his mother, and even more so later on following a clearly unsuccessful surgery. After protracted suffering, Klara died in December of 1907. A few days after the funeral Adolf and his three surviving sisters came to thank Dr Bloch for the help he had given to the family. Their gratitude was expressed repeatedly over the years. Indeed, back in Vienna, Adolf sent a congratulatory New Year’s postcard two years in a row. Years would pass until their life-paths would—figuratively—cross again. 1937, Berlin The Fuehrer received Nazi delegates from Austria. He inquired about Linz and about Dr Bloch— whether he was alive and, if so, if he was still practicing medicine. The Fuehrer stated that Dr Bloch was a noble Jew, (“Edeljude”), further stating that “if all Jews would be like Dr. Bloch, there would be no Jewish question” 1938, March, Linz The German Army entered the Eastern province (Österreich), recently annexed to the Third Empire. The Fuehrer was in an open car traversing the main street in Linz. Whilst looking up to the old building of Dr Bloch, he made eye contact with the old physician, who was observing the parade from an upper window. EPILOGUE Dr Bloch and his family were given special privileges that were probably not accorded to any other Jews in the Reich. Dr Bloch wrote (in his review dated 1941 in New York that two Gestapo officers came to his flat, requesting that he return several of the postcards that Adolf had sent to him in the past. The request was for “safekeeping the cards,” and a receipt was duly issued for them. The Blochs were allowed to keep their passports and their money; they were even finally able to withdraw their funds from the bank. Eventually, Dr Bloch was allowed to emigrate to the US with his family. In New York, Dr Bloch wrote in his review that during his entire career, he never saw a more distraught person than the young Adolf upon the death of his mother. He recalled asking himself “could this gentle boy be the Fuehrer?” He also asked: “What does a doctor think when he sees one of his patients grow into the persecutor of his race?” Dr Bloch lived in the Bronx until 1945. Before he succumbed to gastric carcinoma, he declared “I am 100% Jewish.” He was buried in the local Jewish cemetery. (Adapted from the Maimonides Medical Journal)
  21. Former Seattle running back, Marshawn Lynch: 'I'm here because I don't want to get fined'. Me, on this radioactive topic: 'I'm not replying to your post because I don't want to get banned'.
  22. Very poignant, Deadmarsh. I also agree that the sexual revolution was /is a disaster, particularly for men. Though having dipped my toe into the swamp, I consider myself a rank hypocrite. My summary on free- or, if you will, promiscuous- sex: 1- The more numerous one's sexual experiences the faster ennui sets in, and the greater turnover of partners. (See gays) 2- As far as marriage is concerned, the fewer prior experiences the better. This applies to men and women. 3- Since women crave sex less, they decide when intimacy takes place. They're in the driver's seat. 4- So status considerations loom larger with them. 5- This phenomenon marginalises average men. 6- Ready availability of porn, i.e., the internet, has proved a negative. 7- The best and most enduring sex is based on mutual innocence, if not ignorance. 8- We've been deceived by propaganda on the subject of sex since the 60s.
  23. Hehe. That's why this post garnered 140+ views instead of 12.
  24. Notice a trend? http://www.marketwatch.com/story/5-cities-where-you-can-make-a-decent-living-and-actually-save-money-2017-05-23?mod=MW_story_top_stories
  25. Fair or unfair, this vid is priceless.The previous link was removed.
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