Tuesday, July 17, 2018

The Gettysburg Address

I love reading these words of The Gettysburg Address, written by Lincoln (though not on the back of an envelope) to commemorate the important battle that had been fought there:
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate . . . we can not consecrate . . . we can not hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom and that government: of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Abraham Lincoln presented this address on the 19th of November 1863, four and a half months after the armies of the Confederacy were defeated by Union armies at the Battle of Gettysburg.

Note how, in the very first line, Lincoln reminds his listeners that their own fathers had brought forth this nation. This is only a slight exaggeration. Lincoln was born in 1809. His father was born during the Revolutionary War. Older men would even have fathers who fought in that war. That past was only yesterday for them. Lincoln reminds them that the Revolutionary War was fought for liberty and equality, two terms that would resonate with his listeners, whose thoughts would naturally gravitate toward the war over slavery, the ongoing Civil War. Lincoln draws their thoughts along with his own . . .


Monday, July 16, 2018

Sort of like the Hadith?

I found the following interesting materials here.

"Abraham Lincoln Quotations and Sayings. Spurious"

Spurious, Hearsay, and Obscure Quotations

Compilation and Commentary

Excerpts from newspapers and other sources

From the files of the Lincoln Financial Foundation Collection

Bulletin of the Lincoln National Life Foundation ------ Dr. Louis A. Warren, Editor,

Published each week by The Lincoln National Life Insurance Company, Fort Wayne, Indiana . . . .

Number 750

Fort Wayne, Indiana

August 23, 1943

Did Lincoln say it?
One of the most certain proofs of the immortality of a man is the tendency to emphasize the importance of the epigrams he used. The anthology of Lincoln's pointed sayings, approaches in wisdom, the proverbs of Solomon, and they have contributed immeasurably to the fame of the prairie philosopher. It is not known, generally, that the writings and printed speeches of Abraham Lincoln, in total wordage exceed the complete works of Shakespeare.
Lincoln wrote more than Shakespeare! I did not know that. But even more interesting is the following:
Another element which confirms the eternal fame of a man is the tendency to put in his month, as it were, words presenting some certain philosophy of life which the ghost writer desires to advance. We are now in that stage of the Lincoln apotheosis when a great mass of spurious quotations are being credited to Lincoln which he never recited.
The hadith - 'wise' things that Muhammad said and did - can be shown to have expanded in a very similar manner. Muslims themselves have noted this and have tried to identify the false attributions.


Sunday, July 15, 2018

Erudite Lincoln?

Looking round about the internet, I stumbled upon this book, Wit and Humor Of Abraham Lincoln, Gathered from Authentic Sources, by Carleton B. Case (Chicago: Shrewesbury Publishing Co., 1916; pp. 7-50), and I found this statement on Lincoln's early reading:
The books which Abraham had the early privilege of reading were the Bible, much of which he could repeat, "Æsop's Fables," all of which he could repeat, "Pilgrim's Progress," Weem's "Life of Washington," and a "Life of Henry Clay," which his mother had managed to purchase for him. Subsequently he read the "Life of Franklin" and Ramsay's "Life of Washington." In these books, read and re-read, he found meat for his hungry mind. The Holy Bible, Æsop and John Bunyan — could three better books have been chosen for him from the richest library?
The writer of this book tends toward hero worship, so this source might not be as authentic as proclaimed. I notice that Lincoln read Life of Franklin. What a coincidence!


Saturday, July 14, 2018

Lincoln and Paradise Lost?

Abraham Lincoln

In Robert Bray's article on Lincoln's reading list, "What Abraham Lincoln Read — An Evaluative and Annotated List" (Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Volume 28, Issue 2, Summer 2007, pp. 28-81), we find the following in note 136:
[There] "is a story recounted in the diary of George Templeton Strong (March 29, 1863): "Story of Senator [James] Dixon calling on the President and suggesting a parallel between secession and that first rebellion of which Milton sang. Very funny interview. Abe Lincoln didn't know much about Paradise Lost and sent out for a copy, looked through its first books under the Senator's guidance, and was struck by the coincidences between the utterances of Satan and those of Jefferson Davis, whom by-the-by he generally designates as 'that t'other fellow.' Dixon mentioned the old joke about the Scotch professor who was asked what his views were about the fall of the Angels and replied, 'Aweel, there's much to be said on both sides.' 'Yes,' said Uncle Abraham, 'I always thought the Devil was some to blame!' (Allan Nevins and Milton Halsey Thomas, eds., The Diary of George Templeton Strong [New York: Macmillan, 1952], 3:308).
Some to blame! That's hilarious! But did Lincoln ever actually read all of Paradise Lost? He seems not to have read it before March 29, 1863, and since he had only about two years until his death on April 15, 1865, he wouldn't have had much time for reading the whole thing.

Does anyone know for sure?

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Friday, July 13, 2018

Abraham Lincoln didn't say half the things he said!


I wanted to quote the following statement by Abraham Lincoln:
"Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man's character, give him power."
But I've read he never said these words, so I'll have to do something else for today . . .


Thursday, July 12, 2018

E = mcc

E = mcc

I mentioned Einstein's famous equation in class yesterday, inspired by some reference, and none of them knew what the equation meant, so I explained each part of the equation.

I then asked the students what the equation meant.

They informed me that they'd just learned its meaning. From me.

I then explained that I now wanted practical implications, e.g., the military implication that a small amount of mass could release enormous amounts of energy . . . and blow up a large city!


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Lincoln on the right to pursue "happiness"

In debate with Judge Douglas in the latter 1850s, Lincoln said that "there is no reason in the world why the negro is not entitled to all the rights enumerated in the Declaration of Independence,—the right of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."

But what did "happiness" mean back in 1776? Was it linked to the concepts of "chance" and "luck"?

Let's check the OED:
The quality or condition of being happy.
a. Good fortune or good luck in life generally or in a particular affair; success, prosperity. Now rare.

In later use chiefly in to have the happiness to: to be fortunate enough or have the privilege to (do something).
b. An instance or cause of good fortune. Frequently in plural (in later use often as part of a stylized formula for wishing good fortune).
This would show that the meaning of "happiness" as "chance" or "good luck" still obtained in 1776.

But one cannot pursue  "chance" or "good luck"! Or can one?


Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Gave it Away?


I bought a couple of Snickers bars on my way home yesterday and ate one of them while waiting at Wangsimni Station for the train to Mangu Station.

I was thinking of eating the second one when I noticed a nearby damsel in distress who seemed to be upset about the train schedule, for she kept checking her phone and muttering her annoyance in a foreign language, probably Korean (if that's foreign), though I couldn't hear her well enough to be sure.

After some minutes observing this distress, I reached over and offered my Snickers. "You'll feel better," I told her, "after you've eaten one of these."

She smiled, accepted the candy bar, and said, "Thank you."

My knightly good deed for the day . . .


Monday, July 09, 2018

Lincoln: "No man has a good enough memory to be a successful liar."

Mr. Lincoln,

Meet Mr. Clinton.

Let us never forget what a good liar Mr. Clinton was.

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Sunday, July 08, 2018

Major Plot Spoiler for Ant Man and the Wasp

Ant Man and the Wasp

I just saw the film, and I know what happened in the final scene, and I also therefore know the connection to the recent beep-beep-beep-beep-beep . . .


Saturday, July 07, 2018

The World Turned Upside Down?


Upside down?

This settles it . . .


Friday, July 06, 2018

The Leader as Timepiece

Lincoln reportedly said:
"The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time."
But why is this the BEST thing about the future?

Couldn't one fortnight at a time be better for facing the future? Or a month? Or a year? Or a decade?

Or conversely an hour? Or a minute. Or a moment? Or a second?

How long is a moment, anyway?

Homework: Would Franklin have agreed with Lincoln?


Thursday, July 05, 2018

Rhyme, Reason, Rhythm, and Rectitude

Benjamin Franklin
Riven, but Unafraid

At a time when the two words likely rhymed better,

Benjamin Franklin said:
"Wars bring scars."
But I say:
"Wares bring scares."
And these two words yet rhyme!


Wednesday, July 04, 2018

The Wisest Thing Franklin Ever Said!

Franklin wrote:
"Some are weatherwise, some are otherwise."
Wise about the other, and about the other beyond that other.


Tuesday, July 03, 2018

A Real Man?

Benjamin Franklin

Ben "Frank" Franklin said:
"Reading makes a full man, meditation a profound man, discourse a clear man."
But what, pray tell, makes a real man?


Monday, July 02, 2018

Comma, comma, down . . .

Ridicule this

Benjamin Franklin said:
"Poverty, poetry, and new titles of honor, make men ridiculous."

That British comma after "honor" that separates the subject of the sentence from its verb, that's ridiculous.


Sunday, July 01, 2018

Doggone Wisdom!

But No Bark

Benjamin Franklin said:
No wood without bark.
Odd wisdom, but keep a dog handy, just in case you run out of charcoal, and bark is needed - and maybe something wood will come of it.


Saturday, June 30, 2018

Fools Walk Where Wise Men Fear to Tread

Ben Franklin observes:
"It is ill-manners to silence a fool, and cruelty to let him go on."
Hah! You're not going to silence me that easily, Mr. Franklin! I'll talk where I want! Hell, I'll even walk where I want!


Friday, June 29, 2018

One Thing of Free Counsel: Useless Information

Ben Franklin says:
"If you'd know the value of money, go and borrow some."
And I add, if you'd want to know how much more it's worth than that, just try stealing some.


Thursday, June 28, 2018

Ah, you were lucky!

Lucky he didn't get himself killed!

Ben Franklin says:
"Diligence is the mother of good luck."
Gasp! You mean luck's not a super power?


Wednesday, June 27, 2018

An idle thought

Benjamin Franklin says:
"Be always ashamed to catch thyself idle."
Nay. Be always proud that one is attentive enough to catch oneself idle!


Tuesday, June 26, 2018

Sound Notion?

Benjamin Franklin said:
As we must account for every idle word,
so we must for every idle silence.
Hmpf! There's just no pleasing some folk! And then we go and treat them like an idol! Now that's an idle sound of silence, even if not a neon light!


Monday, June 25, 2018

The first American soft drink?

Franklin Orders
Another Sprite

Benjamin Franklin was first to use the name of America's truly first soft drink:
A house without woman and firelight,
is like a body without soul or sprite.
He neglected to capitalize the name (and to capitalize on the name), but we see to our surprise that "Sprite" - not "Coke" - was our first soft drink!


Sunday, June 24, 2018

Sigh . . . misheard lyrics

Linda Ronstadt

I liked Linda Ronstadt's singing, way back when, but I now find that I was an inattentive listener to "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow":
Is this a lasting treasure
Or just a moment's pleasure
Can I believe the magic of your size
Will you still love me tomorrow?
I listened to that stanza in "Will You Still Love Me Tomorow" countless times and never heard it right. But in looking up the lyrics, I find the reference was to the innocuous word "sighs" rather than to the more racy, salacious "size."
Is this a lasting treasure
Or just a moment's pleasure
Can I believe the magic of your sighs
Will you still love me tomorrow?
How tame. And how wrong of me to mishear so well.


Saturday, June 23, 2018

Be Not Procrastinacious!

Benjamin Franklin offers some sage advice:
"Have you somewhat to do tomorrow; do it today."
I agree with the bourgeois advice from the frank Franklin, and offer my own, similar advice:
 "Have you somewhat to do today; do it yesterday."
See? I have learned from the man!


Friday, June 22, 2018

Franklinly Speaking, You are my everything . . .

Ben in Love?
Yes, at times . . .

Benjamin Franklin offers an unusual gradient of values:
"Poverty wants some things, Luxury many things, Avarice all things."
Franklin may be using "wants" in the sense of "lacks."

Let me add a detail to Franklin's words:
"Love wants but one thing . . . because it is everything."
I've heard-tell that Franklin would agree . . .


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Blazing a Trail of Glory!

Benjamin Franklin wrote another maxim:
"The Sun never repents of the good he does, nor does he ever demand a recompence."
Am I alone on this point, namely, that even to think of repenting for having done good suggests a moral flaw?


Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Franklin on: Let's Forget about Tomorrow!

Benjamin Franklin wrote words that he didn't always follow:
"To-morrow, every fault is to be amended;
but that To-morrow never comes, thank God,
for there'd be no end to amending."
Actually, that is not all from the hand of Mr. Franklin,
for I added my bit, a couple of copper coins
that I also call "my two cents."


Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Benjamin the Orator

Benjamin Franklin once orated:
"Fear to do ill, and you need fear naught else."
Okay, yeah, but there's always danger . . .

and let's not forget the 'naughty' else,

which might not rise to the status of ill,

but which might ought be avoided, anyway.


Monday, June 18, 2018

Not Doggerel, but Caterwaul!

He beat me to it . . .

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Sunday, June 17, 2018

In Part, I am 'Write'

I meant partly, for Benjamin Franklin almost wrote:
Be neither silly, nor cunning, but wise, in the use of the comma, economize!
(And shun to exclamationize!)