Thursday, May 29, 2014

International Languages, A New One Every Day

Some people just can't agree on a common language
When I started to learn Esperanto, I was unaware that it was one of a large number of international languages that had been proposed over the years. There are hundreds of known artificial languages, some of which are assumed to have not gained any adherents beyond their originators. More than a year before Zamenhof published the first book on Esperanto, the Daily Yellowstone Journal of Miles City, Montana, in their May 28, 1886 edition, carried a short piece from the Chicago Times which poked some fun at the international language schemes recently announced. 

Two of the languages (according to some perfunctory research) were recent inventions, both released in 1885 or 1886. Neither of these were familiar names to me. One was Pasilingua, and the other was Nal Bino. Both were creations of former advocates of the third international language mentioned in the article, Volapük.

Volapük had been introduced about five years before, and it was already spawning reformist factions, although these might have been factions of one. Neither of these two managed to topple Volapük, which was looking quite successful in 1886, though within a few years many of the Volapük clubs would turn to Esperanto instead.
Three Developed "Universal Languages"
Another universal language has been invented. There are now three well-developed systems, "Volapuk," "Pasilingua," and the last, "Nal Bino," and if philologists continue their inventions there will be more trouble in learning all the "universal languages" than in acquiring acquaintance with the languages now existing which do not profess so much.
It's not quite fair to pin this one on philologists, although I suspect the term is used to mean "amateur linguists," though I suspect a few linguists might object to that.

You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

If You're Not Dead, It's Not Really an Autopsy

The coroners were
certain he was dead at
the end of the autopsy
Washington Irving Bishop was a nineteenth-century mind reader, now largely forgotten, who came to a sorry end. He was performing in New York in May, 1889, when he collapsed on stage. An autopsy was performed to determine the cause of death, but that was followed by an inquest as to whether Mr. Bishop was dead before the autopsy started or just comatose. The New-York Tribune reported on this on May 29, 1889.

At the inquest, things got off to a less than encouraging start.
Deputy-Coroner Jenkins was the first witness called. He testified that on examining the body he found that portions of the brain had been removed for microscopical examination. From the condition of the body at the time he saw it he could not say whether death had taken place before the autopsy was made by Drs. Ferguson and Irwin.
Dr. Jenkins later "declined to express any positive opinion as to whether Bishop was dead when the autopsy was performed." Oh dear.

Dr. Irwin, one of the coroners who actually performed the autopsy,
described the death, and ascribed its cause to coma, and placed the actual time of death as shortly after midnight.
We can only hope that they waited until morning to begin their work. Dr. Irwin said that "the body had been on ice for some time before he saw it," which would have been before the autopsy, though Dr. Irwin would only go so far as to say that "he believed Bishop was dead before the autopsy was made." After, there was probably no doubt, what with them removing a chunk of his brain.

Another medical expert, Dr. Fitch, "testified as to the several methods of detecting death." We can presume that not objecting to an autopsy would be one of them, though the article does not specify what any of these are, or if they were actually used on Mr. Bishop.

After the doctors testified, Mr. Bishop's wife was supposed to as well, but was described as "too ill to testify," so the inquest adjourned until the morning of May 29.

Although here I'm writing about Mr. Bishop at his death, I think I'll be returning to him soon.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Accused Did Not Murder Under Hypnotic Influence, Say Experts

You are under my power.
When you awake, you
will know nothing of what
you have done!
The New York police had a rather nasty crime to solve in 1889, and they decided to bring in hypnosis experts in order to help unravel it, according to an article on the Evening World of March 27, 1889. One William Krulisch, described as a "Bohemian boy" (likely, then, an Hungarian immigrant) was was 17-year-old employed by a apothecary. He was accused of murdering clerk in the same establishment with a hatchet. The victim, Gunther Wechsung, managed to describe the attack before expiring:
In a broken, incoherent way he murmured: "I was sitting on the sofa—tying—shoestring. Somebody hit me—chopped me—lots of times."
The man who sold the hatchet used in the attack described the purchaser of the hatchet and "the description tallied sufficiently with the appearance of the boy Krulisch." But Krulisch denied buying the hatchet, although he "also liked in two or three other points, where his lies were detected beyond a doubt."

But if he bought the hatchet and (presumably) murdered Mr. Wechsuing, how could he say that he hadn't?
It is a belief of several who have carefully followed the case, that if this boy is the murderer of Wechsung, he acted under the hypnotic influence which some other unknown person exercised on him. Under this influence he would have bought the hatchet, and again under this terrible possession of another's will would have used it on Gustave Wechsung.
Okay, so the task for the NYPD was easy: they just needed to find someone who wished to see Gustave Wechsung dead and was able to effect a hypnotic influence on someone in order to have this third party carry out the murder. Certainly, Mr. Krulisch's lawyer, Ambrose Purdy, would have been happy to see the police search for this madman who was mesmerizing innocents into carrying out his evil bidding.

The World describes our potential hypnotized murderer:
Krulisch is a delicate-featured, slender boy. He is a delicate-featured slender boy, whose physique is slight for his seventeen years. He is not ill-looking. His dark eyes have a sort of veiled look, such as linters in the gaze of the mystic, the metaphysician, or, it may be added without prejudice, that one whose cerebration is not wholly clouded.
Could this innocent-seeming lad been turned into a killer though hypnosis? Well, the article did say that
A common error in regard to hypnotism is the belief that the hypnotizer can throw a subject into a trance state when a subject positively sets his will in opposition to they hypnotization.
Damn. There go my hopes of turning people around me into my unwilling and unwitting slaves to my will. (You are getting sleepy. You will share this blog post with your friends. You will visit my blog several times a day to check for updates. You will comment on the posts. When you awake, you will remember none of this, but you will comply.)

In any case, the World had "this slight, modest-spoken boy" examined by an expert in hypnosis. Dr. Graeme Hammond concluded
that the boy has not been subjected to the hypnotic influences before.
So, no mad hypnotist turned the boy into a killing machine, carrying out his cruel designs against Wechsung. I suppose that still leaves unclear the question of why Krulisch killed his coworker.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

How Do You Say "Stop or I'll Shoot" in Esperanto?

There's no indication who distributed the pamphlet, but in its May 27, 1902 edition, The Evening Times of Washington DC dutifully reported on a pamphlet distributed at an international meeting of police chiefs which advocated the use of Esperanto in international law enforcement. I suspect that even in 1902 no fugitive could count on the German police being unable to communicate with the French authorities. "I'm wanted in Berlin, so I'll just slip off to Paris." But that is what the pamphlet alleged is the case.
It was pointed out in a circular which was placed in the hands of all the delegates that one of the greatest obstacles to the police of the world acting as a unit in the detection and surveillance of criminals has always been, and is still the diversity of languages. These lawbreakers, it stated, profit by these difficulties and often escape because of the impossibility of promptly advising officers in all foreign countries to be on the lookout for them, and such would not be the case were there a common language.
No surprise, really, that the document advocated the use of Esperanto. Alas, this seems to be a case of a solution desperately seeking a problem. Not that there aren't problems with language barriers that Esperanto would easily solve, just that this isn't one of them.

The pamphlet set forth the qualifications needed for this international language for police, which of course Esperanto easily fulfilled.
The petitioners stated in the communication that it would be impossible to give in detail the advantages of Esperanto (a language composed by Dr. L. Samenhof, of Warsaw, Russia), but it fulfilled all the conditions required.
We all know that Esperanto did not become the international language of policing, and it was not a matter that the convention took up, no matter how positive a spin the article tried to put on it.
The convention took on action on the proposition on account of pressure of other business, but it is understood that the suggestion met with general approval.
At the time of the convention, Esperanto was not yet 15 years old, and its own convention was still three years in the future.

Oh, and it's "haltu aŭ mi pafos!"

You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Next Thing You Know, They'll Try to Ban Drinking

Clipping on the WCTU
Don't drink, smoke, or read!
A short item in the May 23, 1907 Princeton Union tells of the latest activities of the Women's Christian Temperance Union:
The W. C. T. U. now proposes to eliminate from the public libraries of the country all novels wherein the heroes or heroines smoke or drink. The old girls will have even a harder proposition than the fellow who runs for president on the democratic ticket.
Twenty-six years before Prohibition, the WCTU was already trying to get all references to smoking and drinking stamped out.

Clipping on germicidal effects of cigarette smoke
It's not like cigarette makers will
ever claim their product is good
for you
Above, on the same page of short items, we get:
One of those scientist chaps has now discovered that cigarette smoke is a germicide. He should also have added that the person who applies it to his system in sufficient doses eventually becomes a suicide.
It seems that in 1907 someone was trying to be an apologist for tobacco. I don't know if the research was influenced or supported by the tobacco industry though.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Just Like Oscar Wilde, Except that Gay Stuff

Clipping of article on Reverend Kadir Davis
Not like Wilde
that way!
Just over 119 years ago, the Los Angeles Herald that Reverend Kadir Edwards Davis was getting new advertising materials printed up, since his old ones described him as "the American Oscar Wilde." According to the article, Reverend Davis matched the popular view of Wilde, in that he had flowing locks and wore a sunflower in his hair. Another news item identified Davis as the pastor of the Central Christian church of Oakland, California.

In additional to his duties at Central Christian (where, according to news reports, he once danced through a sermon to show the harmlessness of the waltz), Reverend Davis gave lectures on aesthetic principles, dressed up to fit the part. Reverend Davis may have mistaken the Gilbert and Sullivan parody in Patience, where the aesthetic poet (who is a sham) says,
If you walk down Piccadilly with a poppy or a lily in your medieval hand.
But Wilde had said that anyone could walk down Piccadilly with a poppy or a lily, it was much harder to not do it and leave everyone certain you had. Davis might have taken further warning from W.S. Gilbert, as Patience was based on an earlier poem by Gilbert, "The Rival Curates."

It's not clear how long Davis had been styling himself "the American Oscar Wilde." Wilde had toured the United States thirteen years before in 1882. It was only after his American tour that Wilde did the things that gave him lasting fame, The Picture of Dorian Gray, his plays, including The Importance of Being Earnest, and losing a sodomy trial.



You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Blaming the Messenger - Faerie Queene, Book 1, Canto 12

The dragon is killed! Bring on the dancing girls!

No joke. The kingdom of Eden holds a big celebration over been freed from the dragon. And there are dancing girls.
Soone after them, all dauncing on a row.
The comely virgins came, with girlands dight.
As fresh as flowres in medow ne doe grow
When morning deaw upon their leaves doth light;  
And in their handes sweet Timbrels all upheld on hight.
I was expecting something more restrained. The people of Eden are curious about the knight, but wary of the dragon, even though it is dead, assuming it is still dangerous. Then off to the feast, though it probably isn't as good as the one catered by Gluttony, back in Canto 4. It's not too shabby though:
What needes me tell their feast and goodly guize,
In which was nothing riotous nor vaine?
and there are
meates and drinkes of every kinde.
So it's doubtless a wonderful feast, and the food isn't that overly rich stuff that leaves you queasy the next day.

The Ancient Rules are in full sway: Kill the dragon, get the princess. However, the knight has already pledged six years of service to the Faerie Queene after slaying the dragon. Hell of a thing to bring up right before the wedding. Since I'm aware that this is an unfinished poem, with only six books out of a projected twelve finished, I'm going to hazard a guess that miss out on a triumphant final canto in which the Faerie Queene reunites the Redcross Knight with Una (I'll go a step further and assume this pattern of rescue and marry the maiden then return to the court of the Faerie Queen is going to repeat itself).

Then there's another wrinkle. A messenger shows up with a note from Fidessa, claiming that she's the Redcrosse Knight's wife. We didn't really think Duessa was going to give up, did we? Falsehood has actually proven the most persistent of the allegorical personages the Redcross Knight has faced, although she doesn't appear personally this time.

The king and queen are certainly eager to believe the knight. We know that Duessa is lying, but they only have the knight's word. "Oh, no! I never betrothed myself to Duessa," although I suppose we might give some extra credence to someone we know to have been purged of evil and who slew the dragon of sin. He admits to knowing Duessa, just not in that way.
'Of this false woman that Fidessa hight,
Fidessa hight the falsest Dame on grownd,  
Most false Duessa, royall richly dight;
That easy was t' inveigle weaker sight:
Who by her wicked arts and wylic skill,
Too false and strong for earthly skill or might,
Unwares me wrought unto her wicked will,
And to my foe betrayd when least I feared ill.’
Una actually figures out who the messenger is.
Of this false footman, clokt with simplenesse,
Whome if ye please for to discover plaine,
Ye shall him Archimago find, I ghesse,  
The falsest man alive: who tries, shall had no lesse.’
It's ironic that the Archimago (the Enchanter, earlier) gets punished not for his own deceptions, but for participating in one of Duessa's. Is this an allegory of those who make themselves servants of falsehood? I'm sure she told him they would reward him handsomely for letter. You just can't trust her.

Although, it's been established that the Enchanter is protean and can assume or cause something to assume another's shape, they don't actually confirm this before throwing the guy in the dungeon. Medieval justice, I guess. Still, when you have the allegorical personification of Truth making a claim, I guess you have to believe her. Una's probably incapable of telling a lie.  One of the recurrent antagonists has been dealt with, although this does leave Duesssa still running around, presumably in her natural and hideous shape.

Yet we don't end with a happily ever after. The knight is steadfast to his oath to return to the court of the Faerie Queene. Una's not happy about this, as she is described as being "left to mourne."
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Blogging Slowdown

Over the next few days, I'll be posting more intermittently. Don't worry; blog activity will resume. I've got plenty of posts lined up on Esperant, more things to cook, and lots of the Faerie Queen left to read.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Inevitable Dragon - Faerie Queene, Book 1, Canto 11

Statue of St. George and the Dragon
Now we get a dragon.
Now that the Redcrosse Knight has been identified with Saint George, I suppose we must have a dragon. When I finished reading canto 10, I didn't think we were going to see a dragon fight, even though I did include a photo of a statue of St. George fighting a dragon. Now we get the fight.

The. Obvious. Allegory.
There was a moment at stanza 30 where I actually groaned. Oh, Spenser, you're usually more subtle than this. In stanza 29, the knight reaches a "springing well," which is "full of great vertues, and for med'cine good." But there's more:
For unto life the dead it could restore,
And guilt of sinfull crimes clenne wash away;
Those that with sicknesse were infected sore
It could recure; and aged long decay
Renew as one were borne that very day.
And just in case you didn't get it, Spenser notes that "both Silo this, and Jordan, did excel." Hmm… better than the waters of the Jordan. Really?

The knight is having a tough time against this dragon before the "springing well." The dragon is a pretty formidable opponent, described over the course of 8 stanzas, each one making him seem more unstoppable. While both knight and dragon are wounded in the battle, once the dragon has driven the knight into the well, the dragon assumes victory.
When that infemall Monster, having kest
His wearie foe into that living well,
Gan high advaunce his broad discoloured brest
Above his wonted pitch, with countenance fell,
And clapt his yron wings as victor he did dwell.
Not so fast, dragon.

In the morning, the battle begins afresh. But the knight,
So new this new-borne knight to battell new 'd rise.
A bit of a surprise for the dragon.
No wonder if he wondred at the sight,
And doubted whether his late enimy
It were, or other new supplied knight. 
The battle rages on, but the knight still isn't successful. As chance would have it, the (baptized) knight and Sin (that dragon, that is) end up at the Tree of Life from the Garden of Eden. Like I said, this time, the allegory is pretty obvious.
There grew a goodly tree him faire beside,
Loaden with fruit and apples rosy redd,
As they in pure vermilion had been dide,
Whereof great vertues over-all were redd;
For happy life to all which thereon fedd,
And life eke everlasting did befall:
Great God it planted in that blessed stedd
With his Almighty hand. and did it call
The tree of life, the crime of our first fathers fall.
The tree is important because,
From that first tree forth flowd, as from a wel ,
A trickling streams of Balme.
First we had baptism, now we have the anointing with holy oil. Our knight, though an Elf, is also a Christian. Once anointed (by Una), the knight is
All healed of his hurts and woundes wide,
And did himselfe to battaile ready dight ; 
And quite able to kill the dragon in two more stanzas on the third day.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

More on the Button Snatcher

Antonio Volpe
The dreaded button snatcher!
I stopped my research too early. Sure, I stumble on a cool piece on a guy who was slicing buttons off women's coats in 1895, do a little more research, and then write it up. It wasn't the last article on Mr. Volpe. New York, by the way was home to several men of the name Antonio (or Anthony) Volpe at the time, some of whom clearly aren't our button snatcher. Should the tailor I mentioned in my earlier post not have been our Antonio Volpe, I apologize for the misunderstanding.

The Bryan Daily Eagle of Bryan, Texas no doubt convinced their readers that the time, expense, and difficulty of a trip to New York in 1896 simply wasn't worth it. Mr. Volpe had been arrested four months before, but he was the first item in an article on those who terrorize women in New York. The piece is probably something that was published in a variety of newspapers, just as there are syndicated pieces in newspapers still.

In my earlier piece, I raised the question of the cost of buttons in 1895. The Daily Eagle answers the question. Buttons were pricey.
Fancy buttons in pearl and oxidized metals vary in price from 50 cents to $5.
Okay, let's do the math here. The treasury has only been tracking this since 1913, eighteen years after Mr. Volpe was cutting buttons off coats. It'll have to do. Those 50¢ buttons? Like walking around with a bunch of $10 bills pinned to your coat. A $5 button in 1895? Look at you Miss Manybucks! Mr. Volpe's crime seems fairly serious.

The later piece also offers something of a motive. When I told my husband about this article, he jokingly said that the guy must have been a button fetishist. We had our little laugh. What does the article say?
He confessed to having clipped them from the clothes of ladies on the street, and that he did not have the power to resist temptation when he saw a nice, large, round button. While out foraging for buttons, the "Snatcher" carried a small, sharp-bladed knife in his right hand. A larger instrument would have needlessly frightened the victims, whom Mr. Volpe did not wish to harm. All he cared for was to amputate the buttons and jingle them in his pockets.
Okay, that's kinda pervy.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Nineteen Solid - No Appeal of Pennsylvania Ruling

This is what I miss when I'm busy writing:

Governor Tom Corbett of Pennsylvania has announced that he will not be appealing yesterday's ruling that found the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Governor Corbett said the appeal would be "extremely unlikely to succeed."

Okay, now I'm ready for state #20!

You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Improvising French Cooking - Chicken with spring vegetables

Chicken with spring vegetables
Poulet aux légumes printaniers
The nice part about a familiar recipe is that you can walk into a grocery store, see the main ingredient, check if the others are available, and have a dish all planned out. If you want to do that with an unfamiliar recipe, you have to bring notes. I'm not good at that part.

A few days ago, looking at a chicken in a grocery store, I decided to try Françoise Bernard's recipe for pot-roasted chicken with spring vegetables (poulet aux légumes printaniers). I remembered some of the recipe. It's not like a can lug my copy of La Cuisine to the grocery store. When I set out to make it, I realized I had only dimly remembered the details. I only missed a couple of ingredients. What to do next was clear: improvise.


You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

They're Not Banning Marriage for Straight People, Rod

Over at The American Conservative, Rod Dreher goes predictably around the bend on the recent win for marriage equality in Pennsylvania.

Just as conservatives are averse to the term "ban same-sex marriage," because admitting what you're doing makes it sound terrible and loses you support in polls, permitting same-sex people to marry is framed as an attack on marriage. Dreher describes the recent ruling in Pennsylvania as "another federal judge throws out traditional marriage."

Really? Does the ruling prevent anyone from marrying someone of the opposite sex? I hadn't heard.

I've been reading his blog for a while, and his views on gay people are somewhat mixed. He doesn't want to see them oppressed, but they shouldn't have full civil rights. He has said that they should not see themselves as equal to straight people. Dreher supports the vague of civil unions, but only if they are inferior, and he has no interest in spelling out just how inferior. He does see a distinction between what is sinful and what should be illegal, but somehow this concept of sinfulness should lead to political disadvantages for gay people. (I'm summarized this from much reading of his blog; I would generally characterize his views about gay people as "vague, inconsistent, and probably contradictory.")

 In nineteen states, same-sex couples are able to obtain marriages that are the legal equivalent of Rod Dreher's. A growing number of religious groups see them as spiritually equivalent as well. I don't think Dreher likes that.

He writes:
Does Judge Jones really think that the sexual complementarity of marriage, which has been the basis of marriage in all places and in all times, until only two decades ago, is fit for history’s garbage dump?
Of course he's historically wrong. "Sexual complementarity" is the current weasel term used by opponents of same-sex marriage to make it sound like they're not making a circular argument. He's not providing an argument that marriage must be kept opposite-sex only, just making the observation that it typically has been.

As for the rest of the history, the Roman Empire, after it become Christian, banned marriage between men and nullified all existing ones. Montaigne wrote about his encounter with a Portuguese sect that allowed marriage between men. Shall I continue with other places and times, or are two sufficient? In other words, "all places and in all times" is just bunk.

When asked, Dreher responds in his comment thread that he has answered before what he sees as the negative effect of same-sex marriage. I think he avoids spelling it out each time he's asked not for a fear of repetition (since there are many statements about same-sex marriage he's made over and over again) but because it's so intellectually weak. It's that whole fear that if same-sex marriage is allowed, those sinful, sinful gay people, might just think they're equal.

I certainly hope so.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Esperanto: A Last and Desperate Attempt for Volapuk?

Newspaper clipping on Esperanto, San Francisco Call
"That well-worn fad"
In 1897, The San Francisco Call ran a short article on Esperanto, just about ten years after that language was introduced. The item describes Esperanto as "an improved form of Volapuk." It's funny to see that ideas for international language were already being derided as a "well-worn fad" in 1897.

Although this is one of the earliest articles in the American press on Esperanto, it disagrees with a slightly earlier piece that continued to run in newspapers later. The other piece, originally from the New York World, correctly identified Esperanto as a rival to Volapuk, although it does place Zamenhof in Warsaw, although he was living in Grodno in 1897.


You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

In the House of Holiness - Faerie Queene, Book 1, Canto 10

Speranza's poems
Oscar Wilde's mother was born Jane Frances Elgee, though she later morphed her middle name into Francesca. As a poet, before her marriage, she adopted the pen name "Speranza." More than just some vague personification of Hope, I suspect the future Lady Wilde was thinking of The Faerie Queene when she took her pseudonym.

In canto 9, Spenser lays on the allegorical personages thickly. There's never a doubt about who an individual might be. Una takes the knight to the house of Cælia, with her daughters the Graces, Fidelia, Speranza, and Charissa (Faith, Hope, and Charity).

Then we meet the various servants who attend on Heaven: Humilitá, Zele, Reverence (Humility, Zeal, Reverence). But the real journey in this part of the poem, where—finally—no one is in peril, is the education of the Redcrosse Knight, who (though our allegory of the soul seeking holiness) needs to be prepared. In a way, this is the didactic poem I feared.


You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Snatches Buttons, Motive Unclear

Newspaper clipping from December 1895
The police were able to
button this case up. Sorry.
Were buttons valuable in 1895? A New York policeman apprehended a young man on December 7, 1895, on the suspicion that he was engaging in pickpocketing. Officer Klan found that Antonio Volpe had been snatching buttons off women's coats. The policeman thought he was dealing with a pickpocket, then he saw Volpe pull a button off a woman's coat.

He had been industrious, since he had forty buttons (not stolen, according to Volpe) on his person after throwing a "handful" of buttons into the street.

He might be the same Anthony Volpe who shows up in the 1905 New York Census. This seems likely, because in 1895 he's living on Prince Street. The Anthony Volpe on the census lives only a few blocks away on a street that crosses Prince Street.

One other thing: at 18, Antonio Volpe is snatching the buttons off women's coats. Ten years later, Anthony Volpe is working a tailor. Maybe he was trying to drum up business. Or make sure that an employer had a ready supply of women's coat buttons. If both items reference the same person, let's hope he made amends. Maybe by not charging women whose buttons had been ripped off their coats.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Astonishing Fact: Sex Typically for Pleasure!

Dan Savage reviews a piece that points out that when children are told about sex, the pleasurable aspects are typically left out. Of course, teachers aren't really comfortable with talking about pleasure, as Alice Dreger, a professor of clinical medical humanities and bioethics at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine, wrote on her blog (which was later picked up on Pacific Standard).

Professor Dreger's piece is a must-read, but way of introduction, I want to quote Savage:
One day my then-eight-year-old son came into the kitchen and jumped up on the counter. He narrowed his eyes and gave me a strange look.

"Two men can't make a baby," D.J. finally said.
That's true, I told him, two men can't make a baby.

"Then you and daddy have sex for no reason," he said.
Dreger has a nine-year old son, whose class has just begun sex education. Some of it clearly isn't going very well.
So the morning of sex ed, I found myself wondering whether they were going to mention pleasure. Or would it be all about disease and pregnancy, all gloom and doom?

As it turned out, I’m not even sure they mentioned sex at all. Over bagels the Saturday morning following sex ed day, I started my inquiry by asking our son what he learned about HIV. “It’s an inherited disease,” he told me. “You get it from your mother.”
I'm a gay man without children, so maybe this is none of my business, but it seems we need some sex education for parents and teachers.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Marriage Equality - Now in Nineteen States

Utah, Arkansas, you guys blew it. After your brief glories of being the eighteenth state with marriage equality (before ceding that position to Oregon), now you might have lost the chance to be the nineteenth state.

A federal judge has struck down Pennsylvania's ban on same-sex marriage, stating that the ban violates the constitution.  Judge John Jones III wrote
that same sex marriage causes discomfort in some does not make its prohibition constitutional. Nor can past tradition trump the bedrock constitutional guarantees of due process and equal protection.
Ironically, on the Reuters article, the first comment is from someone who feels that same-sex marriage should remain banned, because it makes her uncomfortable. Maybe she should read the decision.

Although the judge did not issue a stay, and Kathleen Kane, the Attorney General for Pennsylvania, did not defend the case, it seems likely that Tom Corbett, Pennsylvania's governor, will seek an appeal.

We've got a nineteenth state, for now. The next few days we'll see if this fundamental liberty is preserved in the Keystone State.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Pasta — Going green

Spinach pasts
Spinach pasta. Yummy and easy to make.
In my house, quantities of egg pasta are measured by the egg, as in "how many eggs of pasta should I make?" I also roll out my pasta a half egg at a time. What is an egg of pasta? For me, it's the quantity of egg pasta made with one egg. Although I haven't been putting recipes into this blog, here is my recipe for egg pasta:
Egg pasta
2 eggs
200 grams of flour

For 2 eggs of pasta, I usually just do it on the board or in a bowl, since I don't want to mess up the food processor for a trivial amount of pasta. Four eggs? Food processor. Throw the flour into the bowl of the food processor. Add the eggs one at a time, until they are thoroughly mixed. Pulse the last one, and the mixture will form into a ball (or a bunch of big clumps.

Let the dough hydrate for about 10 minutes, then knead until it is smooth. Let the dough rest about 15 minutes, then roll and cut.  
While I do increment pasta up by the egg, I typically never make less than 1 egg's worth of pasta. And, conversely, I usually top off at 4 eggs. It gets tough to knead after that. Large eggs weigh about 50 grams each, so 2 eggs of pasta is about 300 grams (call it 10 ounces, a nice amount to make for 2 people).

You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Gawker Commenters Restore My Faith in Humanity. And Science.

Sulfer? WTF!
A high school senior in Georgia might be kept from attending graduation over her yearbook quote. Gawker picked up the story and it ended up on the Facebook page of one of my friends. The linked news article quotes that Paris Gray as having the text with her yearbook picture as
When the going gets tough just remember to Barium, Carbon, Potassium, Thorium, Astatine, Arsenic, Sulfur, Uranium, Phosphorus.
Except that's not what it said. Instead, Ms. Gray wrote:
When the going gets tough just remember to Barium, Carbon, Potassium, Thorium, Astatine, Arsenic, Sulfer, Utranium, Phosphoros.
Which, as I type this, now have squiggly red lines underneath, reminding me that they're not spelled correctly. Isn't Phosphoros one of those countries in The Game of Thrones? I must get around to reading that. This leapt out at me!

Ms. Gray's mother passes this off as her daughter being a "nerd," but wouldn't a so-called nerd get the names of the elements right?

Happily, many of the comments on Gawker point this out as well. Thank you commenters. And congratulations on graduating high school, Ms. Gray. During the summer, maybe you could learn how to spell the names of the chemical elements.

[I'm tagging this post with #chemistry. I've been waiting to do that.]

You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Monday, May 19, 2014

Despair! But the Lady Rescues - Faerie Queene, Book 1, Canto 9

In a way, canto 9 was somewhat appropriate for me today. I was feeling a depressed. Various things aren't going well in my life. My hopes of an increasing blog readership are being met with really sorry blog stats. In this canto, we meet Despair, who furnishes the means to kill yourself and then convinces you to do so.

Before we do so, Arthur (not yet king) tells his background, as much as he knows it, since Merlin would only tell him that he "was sonne and heire unto a king." What Una wants to know is
what adventure. or what high intent,
Hath brought you hither into Faery land,
We've been told a few times that the Redcrosse Knight is an elf, but despite the sorcerers, monsters, and allegorical personages that have been wandering about, I think this is our first confirmation that we are not in the everyday world. Moreover, it's clear that Arthur belongs to our world, not to Faery land, as comfortable as he may be in the world of the poem.


You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Julia, meet Françoise

Lamb stew, ready for cooking
Lamb stew, ready for cooking
While Mastering the Art of French Cooking is the great and celebrated masterpiece, the cookbook I really want to do more cooking from is La Cuisine by Françoise Bernard. For a start, her recipes are a lot simpler, and use a lot less butter. So, when I needed a dish I went for Bernard's lamb stew with white beans, haricots aux mouton. Also, I bought the book quite a while ago, and I haven't made a single recipe out of it. A shame to leave such a large book neglected on the shelf.

Then I watched another episode of The French Chef. Julia was working with chicken livers and made timbales. Oh, how I wanted to make those right now (which was quite impossible, as I was watching tv in bed, it was late, and I had no chicken livers in the house). An appetizer of timbales followed by the lamb. A lovely French meal.

I had, by the time I was watching Julia make timbales, already bought my lamb. Everything was ready. My beans were soaking. The lamb recipe contains only a few ingredients (one of which is butter). I did have some reservations about it. It is a stovetop meal, while I prefer to see my bean dishes cook slowly in the oven. There were other items too, but this time I was going to make it exactly as the recipe said. It it were a success, I could tweak it later.


You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Same-sex marriage — the 18th state at last?

A federal judge in Oregon has struck down Oregon's ban on same-sex marriage and this time it doesn't look like it will get held up on appeal. Previously, both Utah and Arkansas were denied stays when the courts found their bans unconstitutional, however, in each case a higher court issued a stay.

The Oregonian reports that Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has no intention of appealing the ruling; she asked Judge Michael McShane to strike down the law. She also opposed an attempt by the National Organization for Marriage to intervene in the case. That intervention was rejected by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge McShane wrote that
Because Oregon's marriage laws discriminate on the basis of sexual orientationwithout a rational relationship to any legitimate government interest the laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendmenfto the United States Constitution.
Without an appeal, the law will be invalidated and marriages will begin.

We are finally at 18 states with marriage equality, and this one looks like it's going to stick. Now we can start speculating on what state will be 19th. Utah and Arkansas, you missed your chance, but maybe one of you will get in before #20.

Update: With no one asking for a stay who is able to, marriages have started in Oregon.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Anatomy of a tech-support scam

I remember years ago, some friends contacted me concerned about the "Teddy Bear virus." According to this hoax email that was going around, if your computer had the virus, there would be icon of teddy bear in your system folder. The file was Java Debug Manager used by Windows. I would respond to their e-mails an politely suggest that they forward my comments to everyone they had contacted.

If you're inexperienced with computers, the system folder can be a scary place. If you haven't seen the Windows Event Viewer before, it's kinda scary. If you've seen it a lot, you now that most of the "errors" it reports are trivial. The India-based computer support firm PCCare247 would remote in to customers'  computers and show them Event Viewer. They charged people large amounts of money for dealing with non-existent problems on their computer, until they were stopped by the FTC.

Ars Technica reports on the FTC investigation, in which their "customer" was an FTC investigator. Yakeen, a PCCare247 employee. told Sheryl Novick
“Your computer is hacked by someone,” he said. “They are using your name and your ID, your computer to do some cyber fraud and cyber terrorism.”
 This wasn't exactly true, or as Ars Technica's Nate Anderson put it, "a brazen lie." Although, if you think about it, when Yakeen told Novick
I’m 100 percent sure and I strongly believe that you have some hacking issue working in your computer
he may have been talking about himself. There he was, using remote access to gain control of Novick's computer as he attempted to scam her out of hundreds of dollars. The initial price he quoted for cleaning the computer and
remove all the hackers, remove all the errors and 509 virus from the computer and recover all the data, okay?
was $400, though Novick was about to negotiate this down to a special offer for only $300.

The FTC had received a number of complaints about the firm. From the evidence they obtained, the FTC was able to get a temporary restraining order against PCCare247.

Part of the problem here, of course, is as computers have become ubiquitous, you have more people who have little or no idea how they work using them. In a way, that's a good thing. It's not like I can make any meaningful repairs to my car. Why should you expect to be servicing your computer any more than you would service your own tv?

The tv repair equivalent of PCCare247 would be someone who tuned your tv to a nonexistent station ("you see static there, that's very, very bad") and then charged you a lot of money to put it back to an actual station.

The FTC is continuing its case against PCCare247, however, the firm's US lawyers have withdrawn because the they
have criticized counsels’ performance and disagree with counsels’ strategic and tactical advice in this litigation
and they've stopped paying their legal fees.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Ugly Falsehood - Faerie Queene, Book 1, Canto 8

Arthur to the rescue! There's a sort of comic element to the fight as Arthur vanquishes both Orgoglio and the monster that Duessa rides. First Arthur cuts the giant's arm off,
He smott off his left arme, which like a block
Did fall to gound, depriv'd of native might:
although that doesn't actually finish things. But before Arthur can finish the job, Duessa comes out of the castle on her monster. Arthur's squire intervenes, and is keeping the monster at bay, until
Then tooke the angrie witch her golden cup,
Which still she bore, replete with magick artes;
Death and despeyre did many therof sup,
And secrete poyson through their inner partes,
Th' eternall bale of heavie wounded harts:
Which after charmes and some enchauntments said,
She lightly sprinkled on his weaker partes:
Therewith his sturdie corage was soon quay'd,
And all his senses were with suddein dread dismayd.
Not just a good reminder that Duessa is a witch, but something that raises a question for which I have no answer. Just what exactly are the squire's "weaker parts"? The only potential answer that comes to my mind is that she has enchanted his genitals. In any case, this leaves him vulnerable to the beast, until Arthur appears and cuts one of the beast's heads off.

A brief allegorical digression.
I'm still puzzling over the beast the Falsehood rides. Gossip?
End of digression.

Back to the action. The giant shows up to help Duessa, but attacks Arthur by striking his shield.
And in his fall his shield, that covered was,
Did loose his vele by chaunce, and open flew:
The light whereof, that hevens light did pas,
Such blazing brightnesse thorugh the ayer threw,
They eye mote not the same enrure to vew.
Arthur's shiny shield save the day. If I could tell what, allegorically, Arthur is, I might have a chance at guessing what the light of his (formerly obscured) shield is. Holy wisdom? Pure love? No idea. In any case, Arthur chops the giant's right leg off (which I found reminiscent of the Black Knight scene in Monty Python and the Holy Grail). This isn't just a "flesh wound," but instead,
But soone as breath out of his brest did pas,
That huge great body , which the Gyaunt bore,
Was vanisht quite; and of that monstrous mas
Was nothing left, but like an emptie blader was.
So that last cut popped him like a balloon.

Meanwhile, in the castle, the Redcrosse Knight has been made a prisoner of Ignorance. While any humor I might have found in the fight with the giant was wholly personal, this seems like a deliberate joke. Ignaro, the giant's step father, has a name that "did his nature right aread," because his answer to every question is "I can not tell."
His answere likewise was, he could not tell.
Whose sencelesse speach, and doted ignorance
So Arthur just takes his keys, looks through the castle without any guidance, and determination overcomes ignorance. After rescuing the knight, who has suffered greatly while imprisoned by Ignorance, there's one last thing to do: strip Duessa.

Once stripped of her finery, the see "the face of falsehood." And it gets worse:
That her misshaped parts did them appall,
A loathly, wrinckled hag, ill favoured, old,
Whose secret filth good manners biddeth not be told.
Good manners may say that her further appearance shouldn't be described, but Spenser tells us anyway.
Her crafty head was altogether bald,
And as in hate of honorable eld,
Was overgrowne with scurfe and filthy scald;
Her teeth out of her rotten gummes were feld,
And her sowre breath abhominably smeld;
Her dried dugs, like bladders lacking wind,
Hong downe, and filthy matter from them weld;
Her wrizled skin as rough, as maple rind,
So scabby was, that would haue loathd all womankind.

Her neather parts, the shame of all her kind,
My chaster Muse for shame doth blush to write ;
But at her rompe she growing had behind
A foxes taile, with dong all fowly dight;
And eke her feete most monstrous were in sight;
For one of them was like an Eagles claw,
With griping talaunts armd to greedy fight,
The other like a Beares uneven paw:
More ugly shape yet neuer liuing creature saw.
No wonder Fradubio was so bothered.


You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Queering Cuisine?

Some years back, after watching Julie & Julia, I was disappointed to learn that Julia Child was a bit of a homophobe, though later in life she did moderate her aversion somewhat. This might be thought of as the scorched béchamel of Julia's life. Laura Shapiro, in an excerpt of her biography of Child in Boston Magazine, wrote that
Homophobia was a socially acceptable form of bigotry in midcentury America, and Julia and Paul participated without shame for many years. She often used the term pedal or pedalo—French slang for a homosexual—draping it with condescension, pity, and disapproval. “I had my hair permanented at E. Arden’s, using the same pedalo I had before (I wish all the men in OUR profession in the USA were not pedals!),” she wrote to Simca. Fashion designers were “that little bunch of Pansies,” a cooking school was “a nest of homovipers,” a Boston dinner party was “peopled by 3 fags in an expensive house…. We felt hopelessly square and left when decently possible,” and San Francisco was beautiful but full of pedals—“It appears that SF is their favorite city! I’m tired of them, talented though they are.”
Ouch.

And so it's an irony that three gay men were Child's comrades-in-arms in improving American cooking. And she knew all three. The writer John Birdsall has just won a James Beard Award for his essay, "America, Your Food Is So Gay." (Which I saw referenced on Andrew Sullivan's blog, which he saw on Daniel Fromson's blog at the New Yorker.)


You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Weddings are just weddings for same-sex couples and planners too

“Our society has gotten to a point where it’s time to move the gay out of the gay weddings,” she said. “It’s just a wedding. I don’t want it to be, ‘Oh look, it’s a lesbian couple.’ I want it to be, ‘That was a gorgeous wedding, their dresses were amazing, look at those floral designs.’ ”
Brittny Drye, of the site Loveincmag.com, is quoted in a New York Times article on how wedding planners are ceasing to see anything different about planning a same-sex wedding. Ms. Drye once edited a site about same-sex weddings, but that distinction has lost relevance.

Likewise, Bernadette Smith of the site 14Stories.com, who has specialized in planning weddings for same-sex couples, has been finding that she's getting competition from planners who don't specialize.
Now, I can’t just get away with being a gay wedding planner, I have to be an excellent wedding planner.
 If I were an opponent of same-sex marriage, an article like this would strike fear into my heart. Of course, many of the opponents of same-sex marriage have just about thrown in the towel, apparently seeing their role now to delay the inevitable. (I really do hope that marriage equality is inevitable, that we have reached a tipping point. I eagerly await the day on which same-sex couples can marry in all fifty states. Would that day please hurry the hell up?)

As a fervent supporter of same-sex marriage, I see this change as part of the process of marriage for same-sex couples becoming part of the background. We've seen opinion on this issue change at a pace that surprised the pundits and caught activists on both sides off guard. (I really do think that the opponents of same-sex marriage thought they had locked into a steady gig, something that would carry them through to retirement.)

Just as wedding planners are saying to same-sex couples, "we plan weddings, we'll plan yours," I suspect that soon unlike the Oregon baker or the New Mexico photographer who citied religious reasons for declining to provide services to commitment ceremonies, instead planners, bakers, photographers, and the like will all be saying, "congratulations on your wedding, how can I help to make it special and memorable?" Or in other words, "hire me."
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Horrid all with gold - Faerie Queene, Book 1, Canto 7

King Arthur shows up! It just took seven cantos to go from mere chivalric romance to Arthurian romance!

I'm going to hazard an allegorical reading here. As Duessa is the daughter of Deceit and Shame, I'm assuming that she's Duplicity. Certainly that fits in with her actions. And so Duplicity puts the soul into peril. Again.

Duessa leads the knight to a fountain that saps the strength. where he is attacked by
An hideous Geunt, horrible and hye,
That with his tallnesse seemd to threat the skye;
As he has drunk from the fountain, he's no match for the Giant, who the poem makes a pretty fierce opponent as it is. Luckily (I guess) for the Redcrosse Knight, Duessa pleads for his life suggesting tha that Orgoglio not kill the knight but,
But vanquisht thine eternall bondslave make
Which is a better than being
pouldred all as thin as flowre.


You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Marriage equality in the United State — Ten years on

Today is the tenth anniversary of marriages starting in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, after the ruling of the Supreme Judicial Court in Goodridge v. Department of Public Health. I remember the wait between the November 18, 2003 decision and its actual implementation in May as being interminable. The longest six months in history; it easily lasted several years. Is it May yet?

I remember poring over the decision of the court as soon as it was released. In May, I found myself wishing I had an excuse to be in Cambridge as the marriages started.

On this tenth anniversary, I made a point to took at the decision again. Chief Justice Marshall started it with the words:
Marriage is a vital social institution. The exclusive commitment of two individuals to each other nurtures love and mutual support; it brings stability to our society. For those who choose to marry, and for their children, marriage provides an abundance of legal, financial, and social benefits. In return it imposes weighty legal, financial, and social obligations. The question before us is whether, consistent with the Massachusetts Constitution, the Commonwealth may deny the protections, benefits, and obligations conferred by civil marriage to two individuals of the same sex who wish to marry. We conclude that it may not. The Massachusetts Constitution affirms the dignity and equality of all individuals. It forbids the creation of second-class citizens. In reaching our conclusion we have given full deference to the arguments made by the Commonwealth. But it has failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples.
In the ten years that follow, other states have "failed to identify any constitutionally adequate reason for denying civil marriage to same-sex couples," and several states have through electoral processes extended marriage rights to same-sex couples. Ten years ago, there was just one state where a same-sex couple could get married. Now there are seventeen. Ten years ago, marriage equality seemed distant in most states. Now the barriers for same-sex couples seem to be crumbling even in the states that most strongly oppose rights for gay and bisexual people.

I think by the fifteenth anniversary of the marriages starting in Massachusetts, we will see marriage equality throughout the land.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Blogging and now twittering!

So that's what that Twitter account is for!

I've been using a Twitter account for the last couple of years in order to follow a few streams. But wait! I can contribute too.

I've just tweeted most of my old blog posts (I skipped two), and I'll be updating my Twitter feed with the new ones. If you're on Twitter, you can follow me @impofthediverse.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

A fine glass of … English?

The New York Times has an article on a young whisky distillery, but not only is it not in Scotland, it's not even near the border. The English Whiskey Company isn't located in Northumberland at the border with Scotland, but far to the south in Norfolk, somewhat closer to Belgium than it is to Scotland.

Of course, the Scots don't have a monopoly on making whiskey. All you need is barley and water. The barley comes from a farm about 80 miles from the distillery, the water from a well on the property.

There are now four whisky distillers in England, compared to the more than 100 distillers in Scotland. And production is small, especially compared to the 1.23 billion bottles of Scotch whiskey that leave the British Isles annually. The English Whisky Company makes about 60,000 bottles per year. In the nineteenth century, there were also four distilleries in England, but their output was much higher.
In a book published in 1887, “The Whisky Distilleries of the United Kingdom,” Alfred Barnard noted that the Bristol Distillery, with its annual output of 637,068 gallons, even sent spirit to Scotland and Ireland for whisky making.
Given the newness of this distillery, they still haven't managed to age anything for 10 years. They haven't been making whisky long enough. Still, let us raise a glass to this new venture in whisky.

You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Everyone wants Una, or Bestial lust in the forest - Faerie Queene, Book 1, Canto 6

And with canto 6, we return to the trials and tribulations of Unu, our personification of Truth. But despite the attempts of Sansloy, Truth will not be swayed by Lawlessness (okay, that's an allegory). If I put on my allegorical reading glasses, is Spenser suggesting that pagans desire Truth, but they don't know how to treat her?

Because while Sanloy (the last of the Sans brothers) has "fawning words," through which
he countered her a while:
And, looking lovely and oft sighing sore,
Her contant hart did tempt with diverse guile:
His intentions are purely bad.
With beastly sin thought to have her defilde,
And made the vassal of his pleasures vilde.
Happily for Una, her noise draws the attention of a group of fauns and satyrs; they frighten Sansloy away. They become another group that wants truth. At least they're not trying to defile her. Instead, they
all prostate upon the lowly playne,
Doe kisse her feete, and fawne on her with count'nance fayne,
But though they have a "barbarous truth,"she is still wary of them. But they
Do worship her as Queene with olive girlond cround.
And worship her as Goddess of the wood:
So she warms up to them and
During which time her gentle wit shy plyes
To teach them truth, which worshipt her in vaine,
But then their bootless zeale she did restrayne
From her own worship, they her Asse would worship fayn.
The savages make a goddess out of Truth, and are just as happy to worship a donkey. Ouch.


You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Two (bad) ways to argue against marriage equality

It's been a big week for marriage equality (and I just haven't had time to write about it), but I saw two stories on Slate this morning that I really wanted to address. The first is piece by David S. Cohen, a law professor at Drexel University School of Law, called "The Worst Argument Ever Made Against Gay Marriage." Over the last twenty years, I have heard a lot of arguments against same-sex marriage. Not just unconvincing, but ones so devoid of any coherence that you wonder why a sane person would ever make one.

My favorite bad argument against same-sex marriage is the "bisexuals argument." I see it a lot in comment threads on the Internet. It goes something like this:
If gay men are allowed to marry other men, then bisexuals should be allowed to marry one person of each sex.
Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And by "a lot" I mean "not a single bit." Are we even assuming that straight men are incapable of finding more than one woman attractive at a time? Nah.


You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Ten Commandments not for women, said 1920s politician

The man's a prominent American political figure.
He must be right.
I've been burrowing into newspaper archives researching a topic I hope to write about soon. On one page, I was surprised to see the headline,
Col. Harvey Says Decalogue Does Not Apply to Women
But it's okay, he's got you covered. The subhead is:
New Ten Commandments Should be Devised to Save Their Souls, He Tells Author's Club in London
He gave this talk in October, 1922, since which I am not aware of a second set of commandments created for women. Any women reading this might take that in mind while planning out their weekend.

Mr. Harvey was in London because it was part of his job to be there. He was the Ambassador to the Court of St. James, the formal title of ambassadors to Great Britain. The Ambassador was worried that women might just discover that they are not actually forbidden from doing certain things.

You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Gnocchi di patate

Gnocchi!
I remember ordering gnocchi in Italy many years ago. I pronounced the word the way Americans typically do, "nok-ee," with the gn as in "gnu." The waiter corrected me. "In Italy, we say 'g-no-ki.'"

I've owned a gnocchi board for years (they're inexpensive), but it's sat unused. "I really need to make gnocchi one of these days," I said time and time again. And the gnocchi board would sit in the pantry, next to the pasta machine. (For the record, in Italian the item is called a tagliere riga.) Today, it was going to get used.

I probably should have consulted more than one cookbook, but I checked the Silver Spoon Cookbook and their recipe seemed like a good one. It's a practical and dependable Italian cookbook. And it's a simple recipe. 2 ½ pounds of potatoes. 1 ¾ cups of flour. A egg. A pinch of salt. All of the recipes in the Silver Spoon Cookbook are short; this is not a cookbook with detailed, step-by-step instructions.
Messy sheet pan
Messy sheet pan


You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Spenser's Inferno - Faerie Queene - Book 1, Canto 5

It was obvious at the end of the last canto who was going to win the joust. It's not much of a story if the evil Saracen Sansjoy wins. In this canto, we get another reminder of Dante. It makes me wonder if The Divine Comedy was known in Elizabethan England.

The Redcrosse Knight is seriously wounded in battle, but is accorded the winner when Sansjoy vanishes.
when lo! a darkesome clowd
Upon him fell: he no where doth appeare,
But vanisht is.
He's been saved by Duessa from being killed by the Redcrosse Knight. Is that cheating? Duessa actually cries over the wounds that the Redcrosse Knight received, though Spenser does tell us that she's faking it, comparing her to
a cruell craftie Crocodile,
Which, in false grief hyding his harmful guile,
Doth weep full sore, and sheddeth tender teares;
We also find that Duessa is herself an allegorical personification (well, because everyone in this poem is). Her parents are Deceit and Shame (probably not the best couple to invite to a party).

Duessa enlists Pride's help in getting to hell, as Pride is part of the local royalty there. Unlike Dante, of course, this is not going to be a voyage of moral development. The daughter of Deceit and Shame is not heading anywhere near Dante's Paradiso.

For that matter, this is pagan hell, not Dante's. While there are some correspondences, such as Cerebus and the Furies, if memory serves me, here they are both drawing from Virgil (I don't have my copy of the The Aneid at hand). Their goal is to find Aesculapius, who is reluctant but heals Sansjoy.

There's an allegory here; I can smell it. I'm doing this without looking at any notes or commentaries, though I realize that in trying to read naively, I'm somewhat handicapping myself. Spenser's original audience would have been much more attuned to puzzling out allegories. We just don't read them much anymore.

Yet other parts are less subtle. When Duessa returns to the House of Pride, she finds that the Redcrosse Knight has gone. The Knight has discovered the dungeons in which Pride makes prisoners out of those who fall fall prey to her snares. I'm going to try my hand at unravelling an allegory: the good soul is delivered from pride by the knowledge of its consequences.

You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

App review: Blogger

This was not written on the Blogger app. I don't see myself writing a lot of app reviews, but I thought I'd make an exception for Google's own Blogger app. Wait, this was made by Google? This app is kinda sad.

I downloaded it because I found that I couldn't use the web interface to write a post in Safari for iOS (maybe I should try Chrome). On the iPad, typing into the Blogger interface is slow, balky, and unpredictable. But compared to the app, it's not that bad.

First, something positive. When you type a post into the Blogger app, the characters appear without any delay. It is responsive. It needs more than that. How, may I ask, did someone create a text editor in an iOS app that does not seem to take advantage of the built-in spellchecking in iOS? Misspell a word and the Blogger app doesn't care.

My experiment with the app got off on a bad start. After making chicken roasted with tarragon, I typed up a few comments in the app, then put my iPad away. When I returned to the app, I got to see my entry vanish. Unlike expected iOS behavior where a suspended app keeps its state, this was more like quitting and relaunching a desktop app (except that even current MacOS apps typically return open documents to you). On my first attempt, it ate my post.

After that happened, I tried to carefully recreate some of my thoughts. I saved frequently. Later, I opened the post on the web interface. Some lines were in one typeface, others in another. It was a mess. I highlighted the whole thing, removed formatting, and fixed it up.

My next (and probably final) attempt was on another post. I was just going to type up something short and attach a picture or two. You can't format the pictures in iOS app. No setting their size, position, or adding a caption. You have to do that in the web interface. Nor can you add links. Clearly, Google is telling me that if I want to blog, I need to use the web interface.

With all these problems, there's also a surprising lack. Where's the Dashboard? Behind the scenes, I can see how many hits an article has received, what the referring URLs are (currently, Facebook), and a variety of other things (such as pending comments, which haven't been an issue for me). You get none of that in the app. For that you have to go (you know where) to the web interface.

Google ought to make an iOS app that is a significant improvement to working in a browser window. With Blogger for iOS, they haven't.

You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

A request to my readers: share and comment

I'm just past the two week mark of blogging and this blog is actually doing better than I anticipated. People are actually reading this. I'm getting more hits on posts than I anticipated.

But I want your help in bringing this blog to the next level. I want more! If you like a post, please share it with your friends. Let them know about my blog.

Second, I want to see some comments. Some friends have commented privately on Facebook, but I'd like to get more action happening here on the actual blog. And I'm hoping that my audience is wider than the people I know on Facebook (Google does tell me that a lot of the hits are being referred from Facebook, but on the other hand, I'm seeing hits from countries where I don't know anyone).

People are reading this so I'm going to keep writing. But I'd love some feedback. And more readers.

You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Why you shouldn't put red velvet cake anywhere near your mouth

The New York Times recently did an article on red velvet cake. I saw it this morning. Over dinner, James brought it up as he was reading the Dining section. "Where did it come from?" he asked. The article just confirmed all the negative feelings I have toward red velvet cake.

Because while Kim Severson describes the cake as "a classic, not a gimmick," I see it the other way around. No, it's a gimmick. Not at all for the strange pervasive mutations that she mentions, like
red velvet scented candle, red velvet protein powder, red velvet air fresheners and red velvet vodka
No, not at all. Ms. Severson gives the history of the cake as coming out of a tradition of velvet cakes, fine-textured cakes in which the wheat proteins were softened and regulations for food dyes. She writes that John A. Adams of the Adams Extract Company
figured he could sell a lot more extracts and dyes, and a red cake would be just the way to do it. Sometime in the 1940s, the company tricked out a mahogany cake recipe with food coloring, printed it on cards and began plans to merchandise it alongside bottles of vanilla, red dye and artificial butter flavoring, which was popular when butter was rationed during World War II.
Yum. So there's your food history. It was cooked up by a company so they could sell more food coloring. When I'm looking for authenticity in my cooking, I rarely look to the financial concerns of the industrial sector. Okay, I never look there. If your criteria for making a cake includes "it uses food coloring," your making a mistake, even if you're cooking for a four-year-old.

Which brings me to another bit of corporate food with vaguely Southern connections that no one should ever make, serve, or eat. Happily, we are in the wrong time of year for anyone to be thinking about green bean casserole, but maybe someone will read this and be dissuaded from fobbing this unappetizing glop off on someone.

I ate some once at a work Thanksgiving function. I was egged into it by someone who knew my disdain for the dish. I figured that by eating a forkful I could mitigate bad feelings in the office. It wasn't worth it. You know, it tastes worse than it looks. It's probably the worst part of a New England holiday becoming nationalized in the post-Civil War era.

It was invented to sell canned mushroom soup. I actually like mushroom soup. The real kind, not the glop in cans. Green bean casserole takes it one step further by taking vile canned cream of mushroom soup (which I would bet no one who eats green bean casserole would eat under any other circumstances) and pouring it on top of canned green beans, which are themselves vile.

When I'm cooking for Thanksgiving, I'm not opening cans. You don't really think they had canned mushroom soup in 17th century Plymouth, do? No. That weren't that bad off.

The take home lesson is:
  • Don't make red velvet cake
  • Don't make green bean casserole.

You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Because you can't emulate Julia Child all the time

I really have to do this more often, and branch out as well. Making pasta from scratch is neither difficult nor time intensive (just the opposite of chicken roasted in a cassarole with tarragon). I poured out 200 grams of flour, beat two eggs, and mixed it all together.

I then tossed it into the fridge for about a half hour (it needs at least fifteen minutes, but I got distracted because I was writing). Then I kneaded it. Then it gets rolled out.

I haven't made my own pasta as much as I should I'm hoping this batch is a harbinger for more batches of pasta to come.

Tossed with the sauce, it made a wonderful dinner.



You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

The Knight in the Hellish Court - Faerie Queene, Book 1, Canto 4

The Seven Deadly Sins
The Redcrosse Knight is a bit of a sap. First he gets duped twice by the Enchanter, now in the fourth canto, we learn that he's being lead astray by Duessa. It's a good thing his armor is enchanted to protect him for harm or he'd be in real trouble.

Duessa takes him to the house of Pride. She is chief among the Seven Deadly Sins, the rest of whom are her courtiers. The classic list of the sins from Pope Gregory I runs in this order:

  • Lust
  • Gluttony
  • Avarice
  • Sloth
  • Wrath
  • Envy
  • Pride

But Spenser has his own sequence. He starts with Pride, who rides in a carriage drawn by peacocks. Each of the other six rides on a symbolic beast. Spenser puts them in this order:

  • Pride - carriage drawn by peacocks
  • Idleness - rides an ass
  • Gluttony - rides a pig
  • Lechery - rides a goat
  • Avarice - rides a camel
  • Envy - rides a wolf
  • Wrath - rides a lion

At the end of this little parade, comes Satan himself. For that matter, Pride is described as the daughter "of griesly Pluto" and "sad Proserpina, the Queene of hell," and gets the name "Lucifera." But with the exception of Pride, who is described as "wondrous faire, as any living wight," the rest of the court is described as being (not to overuse the word) monstrous.



You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Chicken roasted with tarragon - An adventure in the kitchen

The chicken, ready for roasting.
The chicken, browning before the roasting.
Julia Child said that a roast chicken was one of the standards by which a cook or restaruant can be judged. And usually when James brings home a chicken from the farmers' market, I roast it with some herbs. WWJCD? Roast it wth herbs. But I did that last week. And the week before. So this week, I decided to try making her recipe for poulet poêlé à l'estragon, chicken roasted in a cassarole with tarragon.

Further, I decided to make it a little more elaborate by stuffing the chicken. Now the French becomes poulet poêlé à l'estragon farci aux duxelles (I think I got that right). I can turn out a roast chicken with less than half an hour of prep work, followed by ninety minutes or so in the oven (depending on the size of the bird). I knew this would take more time. It's a much more complex dish. I started a little later than I planned and a lot later than I should have. I assumed that the recipe would take about three hours to make. I was in the kitchen for more than five hours.

Then there was the cream cheese. I'm aware that Child had to, on occasion, substitute ingredients where American grocery stores just wouldn't have the item that a market in France would have. How much less French are you going to get than cream cheese? It was only after I made the dish that I realized that she was substituting for either farmer cheese or Neufchatel. I can get those. Some future time. On the other hand, I'll probably divide the remaining cream cheese into appropriate portions for future iterations of this dish and then freeze them.
The reason I wanted to it stuffed was to have an excuse to make duxelles, the chopped mushroom paste. This alone took well over an hour, although none of it was difficult. Chop the mushrooms. Wring them out in a towel (it was amazing how much liquid they exuded) and then sauté them. Easy, but fairly labor-intensive. Not a quick item.


You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

The Lady and the Lion - Faerie Queene - Book 1, Canto 3

After I published my post on the second canto of The Faerie Queene, I realized I forgot to mention one other monstrosity. Poor Fradubio himself, the tree that cries and bleeds, has been turned into a monster by the wicket Duessa.

I found myself hoping that we weren't going for more monstrous women in the third canto. I got my wish. And, since Spenser had left the fate of Una up in the air, resolves some of that dramatic tension, by turning to the fair Lady who got largely ignored in canto 2.

Our synopsis:
Forsaken Truth long seeks her love,
and makes the Lyon mylde;
Marres blind Devotions mart, and falls
In hand of leach our vylde.
So Una is looking for the Redcrosse Knight when all of a sudden "out of thickest wood" comes "a ramping Lyon." Happily, instead of the expected great peril (I was wondering if someone noble would come up and rescue her), it turn out that the lion becomes her protector. She then sees a woman carrying water "on her shoulders sad." Spenser makes the woman carrying water deaf, mute, and lacking understanding ("she could not heare, nor speak, nor understand). I'm making note of this only because feels significant at the moment.

Una follows the woman, seeking lodging for the night, but theman carrying water deaf, mute, and lacking understanding ("she could not heare, nor speak, nor understand). But when you have a lion with you, a barred door isn't that much of a trouble. And there she finds Devotion, as promised in the quatrain.
Shee found them both in darksome corner pent;
Where that old woman day and night did pray
Upon her beads, devoutly penitent:
Nine hundred Pater noshers every day,
And thrise nine hundred Aves she was wont to say.
We recently watched the film Don Jon, in which Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays a man with a steady diet of online porn and casual sex. In his weekly confession, he tallies up each to the priest who gives him a few recitations "Our Father" and "Hail Mary." In one scene, he is irritated that a week of premarital sex without porn doesn't actually offer him much reduction in the prayers. Gorden-Levitt's character was given prayers in sets of ten, twenty, or so.

But Devotion says the "Our Father" nine hundred times a day and two thousand seven hundred times for "Hail Mary." I doubt she has time for much else. As her daughter is a deaf mute, Devotion is blind. But Spenser doesn't make Devotion a nice character. She is not to be confused with piety. Devotion and her daughter live off the earnings of the thief. Worse, he is
Wont to robbe churches of their ornaments.
And poore mens boxes of their due reliefe,
He robs churches, even taking the vestments from the priests and statutes of the saints. His name is the quite appropriate "Kirkrapine." He gives this plunder to the younger woman, now identified as Abesssa, so that he can have sex with her.
With whom he whoredome usd
Unfortunately for the thief, Devotion, and Abessa (undoubtably meant to slander Catholic nuns from Elizabeth's Protestant court), there is a lion outside the door, which kills the thief.  By that point, Una and the lion have left, and so the two women pursue her. When they catch her,
Shamefully at her railing all the way,
And accusing her of dishonesty,
Which is sort of ironic, given that they live off of stolen goods that have been transferred to them. And she is rescued, or she thinks, by the Redcrosse Knight, except it's really the Enchanter.

From our point of view, it's handy when Sans Loy shows up. We know it's him, because he has his name written on his shield "in bloody lines." He's quite angry with the Redcrosse Knight, even though he's now facing the counterfeit one.
Life from Sansfoy thou tookst, Sansloy shall from thee take.
Too late Sansloy sees who he has struck, and leaves the Enchanter with "the cloudes of death" in his eyes. That leaves the lion as the lady's last (and true) protector, but the beast is not able to withstand Sansloy who takes the lady off.

We have our break from the monstrous, in that our beast is quite gentle to the lady. She is, as a good heroine of a chivalric romance, dependably in peril as we close the canto.
You can follow my blog on Twitter (@impofthediverse) or on Facebook. If you like this post, share it with your friends. If you have a comment just for me, e-mail me at impofthediverse@gmail.com.
This blog runs solely on ego! Follow this blog! Comment on this post! Let me know that you want to read more of it!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...