Guest Blog

Week in Review – Once upon a time…

Guest Blog #17 – Anand C

One of my favorite professors had an interesting ability to combine many things in one story / train of thought – often starting from something fairly random. Left one with the feeling that everything was connected. For instance his compilation of some of the week’s interesting news items might sound like this (Click on the links to go into the news items):

This post, passed on birthday wishes…
to late Prof. Richard Feynman,
who worked at Los Alamos,
on what became the A-bomb…
Built on physics principles of Einstein…
who in his writings mentioned Gandhi,
as the greatest that walked the face of the earth.
And urged people to ‘Think Different’, and was used,
in a campaign by a company named after a fruit
Called Apple, whose boss has a side project,
Pixar, which recently stopped negotiating with Disney…
that stopped distribution of a controversial film
on recent events and George W Bush.
Who was in Normandy to speak,
at the 60th anniversary of D-Day (June 6)
where 9,500 soldiers sacrificed their lives.
And need to be remembered!

7 thoughts on “Week in Review – Once upon a time…

  1. How abt this from book of essays called “circles” by James Burke. Got it thru a friend

    James Burke in Washington DC outside the White House sees the “Star and Stripes” being hoisted – starts thinking about the American War of Independence – and the French help that the Yanks got just becoz of this dazzling French propensity to cock a snook at the Poms at every conceivable opportunity – and how a gentleman named Caron de Beaumarchais masterminded the whole French involvement in the aforementioned Yank affair- and never mind the fact this Beau also found time to write the “Barber of Seville” and “The marriage of Figaro” ( Rossini and Mozart, “borrowed” :)) in between attending to his official duties as the chief watchmaker to Madame de Pompadour!- and how in the process of aiding the Yanks the French themselves went kaput financially – but not before this guy named Jaques Necker tried to salvage the situation by cooking up the French balance-sheet to prove the situation otherwise- This very same Necker( when he was running the Dept of Health and not the finance ministry under Louis XVI)in 1776 was approached by a swiss inventor named Aime Argand one of whose claims to fame was that he invented the eponymous lamp – a lamp that was the equivalent of 8 candles in a pre-Edison world – this very same Argand lamp would also go on to revolutionize London’s Drury Lane theatre by providing the basic technology behind footlights- From Drury Lane to David Garrick is a short step and from him to his austrian,painter gal-friend Angela Kauffman, a proponent of nouveau neoclassicism an even shorter one- whose other claim to fame( apart from fornicating with Garrick and painting mushy stuff) was that in 1773 she applied for a commission to decorate St Pauls Cathedral which was bluntly declined becoz of her foreign origins – and then onto the creator of the cathedral – Sir Christopher Wren – who apart from building cathedrals also found time to invent pens that wrote in duplicate and odometers for carriages as well as to produce an algebraic work relating to the Julian period- The julian period was basis for the works of a peripatetic protestant exile named Joseph Justus Scaliger in which he multiplied the 28 year solar cycle with the 19 year lunar cycle with the 15 year indiction cycle based on Diocletian’s tax census period to finally arrive at the stupendous conclusion that Jan 1, 4713 BC was the first day of the Julian Calendar!- On prodding deep into the multiplication skills of this Scaliger we stumble upon the fact that he had learnt his tables at the Calvinist Academy in Geneva and while there struck up an epistolary friendship with one Isaac Casaubon- whose father in law was Henri Estienne- whose greatest claim to fame was that he discovered, translated and printed the works of a sixth century Greek bloke named Anacreon who dealt mainly with erotic poetry and drunken revelry. The Anacreon craze spread like wildfire in Europe so much so that it led to the formation of the “Anacreon Society” in London in 1776. When this august gathering decided that they needed a signature tune to beautify themselves, a long forgotten composer named John Smith whistled up this tune called ” Anacreon in Heaven “. Soon this tune was on everybody’s lips, including that of a young baltimore lawyer, who inspired by certain happenings on the night of Sept 13th, 1814, dashed off a few lines on the back of a handy envelope and set the words to the tune of “Anacreon in Heaven”. That lawyer was Francis Scott Key and those words became “The Star Spangled Banner” – the very same song that Burke and everybody else hears whenever the “Star and Stripes” goes up.


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