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Archive for the ‘personalities’ Category

For those who have read the news of Boris Johnson and winced to be informed of the ridiculous levels British politics have descended along with him, I offer a rehash of anecdotes posted in 2010. There were those who spoke their mind and said it in such inimitable manner.

Henry Cust (1861-1917)

He was irreverent and he also dabbled in poetry. But journalism is what made him famous. His brilliance made the rich and famous take note of him and during one night in 1892 William Waldorf Astor walked over and offered the editorship of his latest acquisition The Pall Mall Gazette to him. True to form his editorials sparkled and irreverence also was very much in evidence. A leading article on the Eastern Question was entitled,’The Voice of Turkey.’

When the fate of the Chinese statesman Li Hung Chung was in the news the headlines carried-‘Li Chung- Hung? A school board controversy concerning a Mr. Dingle was presented to the public as follows:’To Dingle I am not able, to Beggle I am ashamed.’

 

 

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TIMUR LANE

Timur (1336-1405) was a 14th Century Turko-Mongol military leader who conquered most of the Muslim world, central Asia, and parts of India. His Timurid Empire rivaled the size and power of the Mongolian domain forged by Genghis Khan a century earlier.

He is known as Timur, from the Turkic word for “iron” and he claims his ancestry to Genghis Khan, which has not been proved. A man of contrasts his name has continued to inspire as well as fascinate us to this day. Was he the vicious conqueror, who made a mound of skulls and put some 80,000 to sword during his foray into Delhi? It is estimated that his armies killed 17 million people, which was about 5% of the global population at the time.

On the other hand, he is also known as a great patron of the arts, literature, and architecture. One of his signal achievements is his capital at the beautiful city of Samarkand, in modern-day Uzbekistan.

Known by his nickname, Tamerlane, began as the leader of petty thieves. They stole livestock from farmers, and property from travelers and merchants.

In his twenties, Tamerlane fought under the rule of various Khans and Sultans. His leadership skills led to him being given command of a thousand soldiers for an invasion of Khorasan (in north-east Iran).

When his leader, Kurgan, died, the subsequent struggle for power was eventually halted by the invasion of Tughlugh Khan from the Mongol Chagatai Khanate. The head of the Barlas tribe fled the invasion, and Timur was chosen by the Mongols as his replacement.

When Tughlugh Khan died and entrusted Transoxiania to his son Ilyas, Timur and his brother-in-law, Amir Husayn, sensed their opportunity and took the region by force.

Tamerlane’s descendents include Babur, founder of the Indian Mughal Empire.

Tamerlane’s ambition was to rebuild the empire of Genghis Khan, who had died a century earlier.

His military conquests saw him conquer land that comprises the modern day countries of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, large parts of Turkey and Syria, and the north-western portion of India (Delhi).

He referred to himself as the `Sword of Islam’ and converted much of his empire to the religion.

He was a highly intelligent politician who spoke Turkish, Mongolian and Persian.

The Timurid Empire lasted until 1507. The Persian Safavid dynasty took most of Iran in 1501, while a contingent of Uzbek tribes invaded from the north to take Herat in 1507.

Trivia:

Timur’s tomb was allegedly inscribed with the words “When I rise from the dead, the world shall tremble”.

His coffin supposedly read: “Whoever opens my tomb shall unleash an invader more terrible than I”. Hitler invaded the USSR within two days of the exhumation, and when Timur was finally reburied, the Soviet victory at Stalingrad shortly followed.(Owlcation.com)

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(1883-1924) Czech

writer

Kafka was born into a middle-class, German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, the capital of the Kingdom of Bohemia, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He trained as a lawyer, and after completing his legal education he was employed with an insurance company, forcing him to relegate writing to his spare time. Over the course of his life, Kafka wrote hundreds of letters to family and close friends, including his father, with whom he had a strained and formal relationship. He died in 1924 at the age of 40 from tuberculosis.

In order to understand Kafka I shall do well to include a quote from his diary and an anecdote. The significant diary entry from August 1916: “My penchant for portraying my dreamlike inner life has rendered everything else inconsequential; my life has atrophied terribly, and does not stop atrophying.”

When Kafka was reading aloud the opening pages of The Trial before a group of Prague friends but laughed so much that he had to stop at intervals, while his listeners also laughed “uncontrollably,” despite what his friend Max Brod described as “the terrible gravity of this chapter.”

He complained often of being a martyr to his art, a self -realization that speaks of his sharp intellect but his irony in the face of the tragic fate of his protagonist, to burst out into laughter, sets the relevance of literature in his case as a nervous twitch set off by inanity of his times and his ideals. Literature has thus served her votaries each after its fashion. Everyday life about Kafka was giving way

as the father-figure you revered sliding into senescence and certainties about the hearth sounding false as the unfortunate masses of migrants you see on your screen daily shuffling about in the streets. Europe coming to terms with itself in a post-world war was all too real and as it were hell itself.

‘His conception of himself as tormented artist is allied closely to his view of his predicament as a man struggling to maintain his health and sanity in the face of an unrelentingly inhospitable world. In the annals of lamentation, from Job and Jeremiah to Beckett’s Unnamable, surely no one has devoted himself to the sustained moan with such dedication, energy, and exquisite finesse as the author of the “The Judgment” and the “Letter to His Father,” of the diaries, and of the correspondence with Felice Bauer and his lover Milena Jesenská, as well as his friend Max Brod’.1

Consider the prose fragment “The Great Wall of China.” The piece focuses not on the emperor on whose orders the wall was constructed, but on the construction itself, which was built “not as a single entity but rather in individual sections far apart from one another,” No one apart from those in the top command can say with any certainty how far the construction has progressed; it is not even clear whether the wall will really have all the gaps filled in when the work is done. It is never completed, and remains a fragment made up of fragments.

His journey into the self was a fragment made up of fragments and when a cry breaks out, no one shall know whether out of helplessness or of joy it assails us and prepares for similar surprises to come if the reader only persists enough. That fragmentary aspect, a student in literature in retrospect may accept or be dismissive about, but has despite of Kafka’s irony become a literary term –Kafkesque.

Quote: : “I am made of literature; I am nothing else and cannot be anything else.”

1. Brod, though mistaken in some things—his representation of Kafka as a religious writer, for instance—was ever commonsensical. He largely had the measure of his friend, and even after Kafka had been diagnosed with tuberculosis did not hesitate to write to him with a flat rebuke: “You are happy in your unhappiness.”

(A Different Kafka- John Banville/NYT Oct.23,2013)

 

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EMILIANO ZAPATA (1879- 1919) Mexico

Revolutionary

 Emiliano Zapata was a Mexican revolutionary and advocate of agrarianism who fought in guerrilla actions during the Mexican Revolution. He formed and commanded the Liberation Army of the South, an important revolutionary brigade, and his followers were known as Zapatistas.

When General Victoriano Huerta deposed and assassinated Madero in February 1913, Zapata and his men arrived at the outskirts of Mexico City and rejected Huerta’s offer to unite with him. This prevented Huerta from sending all his troops against the guerrillas of the north, who, under the direction of a moderate politician, Venustiano Carranza, had organized the Constitutionalist Army to defeat the new dictator. Huerta was forced to abandon the country in July 1914.

Zapata knew that Carranza’s Constitutionalists feared him. He attracted some intellectuals from Mexico City, among them Antonio Díaz Soto y Gama, who became his theorist and later established an agrarian party. When Huerta fell, Zapata invited the Constitutionalists to accept his Plan of Ayala and warned them that he would continue fighting independently until the plan was put to practical use.

In October 1914 Carranza called an assembly of all the revolutionary forces. Pancho Villa, who commanded the most important part of the army of the north, refused to attend the meeting because he considered Mexico City as enemy ground. The assembly was moved to Aguascalientes, where both the Villistas and the Zapatistas attended. These two groups constituted a majority, and the convention agreed to appoint General Eulalio Gutiérrez as provisional president. Carranza rejected this decision and marched with his government to Veracruz.

War broke out between the moderates (Carrancistas) and the revolutionaries (Conventionists). On November 24 Zapata ordered his army (now called the Liberation Army of the South and numbering 25,000 men) to occupy Mexico City.

Two weeks later Zapata and Villa met on the outskirts of the capital and then visited the National Palace. The two leaders promised to fight together until they put a civilian president in the palace, and Villa accepted the Plan of Ayala.

Zapata created agrarian commissions to distribute the land. He established a Rural Loan Bank, the country’s first agricultural credit organization; he also tried to reorganize the sugar industry of Morelos into cooperatives. In April 1915 U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s personal representative in Mexico met with Zapata; Zapata asked that Wilson receive his delegation, but Wilson had recognized the Carranza government (the convention’s government under Gutiérrez had dispersed).

Meanwhile, the war continued. Zapata occupied the city of Puebla and won various battles, advised by some professional soldiers who had joined his side. In 1917 Carranza’s generals defeated Villa and isolated Zapata. Carranza then called together a constitutional convention but did not invite Zapata; the convention approved and passed a constitution and elected *Carranza as president of the republic.

Soon afterward General Pablo González, who directed the government operations against Zapata, had Colonel Jesús Guajardo pretend to want to join the agrarians and contrive a secret meeting with Zapata at the hacienda of Chinameca in Morelos. There Zapata was ambushed and shot to death by Carrancista soldiers. His body was carried to Cuautla and buried there.

*Venustiano Carranza(1859-1920) whose term as president was due to end in December 1920, he attempted to force the election of his chosen successor, Ignacio Bonillas, despite opposition from his more radical generals. Obregón led an armed rebellion in April 1920, and Carranza fled the capital. When he headed for Veracruz with government records and treasure, his train was attacked. With a few followers, he fled on horseback into the mountains. On the night of May 20/21 he was betrayed and murdered.

(victor alba/brittanica.com)

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Harry Lloyd Hopkins (1890=1946) US

Social Worker, Architect of Lend Lease

Born in Iowa in 1890, after graduating from Grinnell College (1912), where he studied social work, Hopkins left for New York City and a career in the same field, rising rapidly to the administrative ranks of his profession. From 1915 to 1930 he held a wide variety of difficult high-level positions in social work, always initiating new, creative, and useful programs.

Hopkins was one of the founders of the American Association of Social Workers, the first national professional organization for social workers.

His reputation as a fine administrator reached the ear of New York‘s governor Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who brought Hopkins into his administration.

The historian, William E. Leuchtenburg, recalls: “Harry Hopkins… directed relief operations under Roosevelt in Albany. For a social worker, he was an odd sort. He belonged to no church, had been divorced and analyzed, liked race horses and women, was given to profanity and wisecracking, and had little patience with moralists… A small-town Iowan, he had the sallow complexion of a boy who had been reared in a big-city pool hall… He talked to reporters – often out of the side of his mouth – through thick curls of cigarette smoke, his tall, lean body sprawled over his chair, his face wry and twisted, his eyes darting and suspicious, his manner brusque, iconoclastic, almost deliberately rude and outspoken.”

When Roosevelt became president he recruited Hopkins to implement his various social welfare programs. As John C. Lee has pointed out: “On the whole, it is apparent that the mission of the Civil Works Administrator had been accomplished by 15th February 1934. His program had put over four million persons to work, thereby directly benefiting probably twelve million people otherwise dependent upon direct relief.

Frances Perkins later recalled: “Hopkins became not only Roosevelt’s relief administrator but his general assistant as no one had been able to be. There was a temperamental sympathy between the men, which made their relationship extremely easy as well as faithful and productive. Roosevelt was greatly enriched by Hopkins knowledge, ability, and humane attitude toward all facets of life.”

Hopkins also worked as Secretary of Commerce (1938-40). During the early stages of the Second World War he was Roosevelt’s personal envoy to Britain. Raymond Gram Swing has pointed out: “It was his position as President Roosevelt’s chief assistant in World War II that, in particular, needs to be better appreciated and valued.…In the innumerable conferences Harry Hopkins attended abroad as the President’s emissary, he was blunt of speech, adroit of mind, and dedicated to the requirements of victory.” On the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt Hopkins helped arrange the Potsdam Conference for Harry S. Truman but retired from public life soon afterwards. Harry Lloyd Hopkins died of cancer in New York City on 29th January, 1946.

(Ack: Spartacus educational.com, encyclopaedia.com)

 

 

 

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Sir Edward V Appleton (1892-1965) British,

Physicist

Appleton was an English physicist and Nobel prize winner (1947) who discovered the ionosphere.

In 1924 Appleton began research into the strength of the radio signals received at Cambridge from the BBC station in London. He soon discovered that the strength of the signal was constant during the day but varied during the night, rising and falling in an almost regular manner. He suggested that, at night, the Cambridge apparatus was receiving not one but two waves, one travelling directly and the other being reflected by the atmosphere. The existence of a reflecting layer had first been suggested around forty years earlier by Balfour Stewart. In 1902 Oliver Heaviside and A.E. Kennelly had independently postulated the theory of a conducting layer of the atmosphere: the Kennelly-Heaviside Layer. Following their lead Appleton began a series of experiments, which proved the existence of that layer in the upper atmosphere now called the ionosphere. Moreover, by a slight change of wavelength it was possible to measure the time taken by the waves to travel to the upper atmosphere and back. The position of the reflecting layer was thus identified and its height (60 miles above ground) determined. The method used was what is now called “frequency-modulation radar”. The ionosphere was thus the first “object” detected by radiolocation, and this led to a great development of radio research and to a military invention of the greatest importance in World War II

 

Further experiments which led to the possibility of round-the-world broadcasting were carried out and in 1926 he discovered a further atmospheric layer 150 miles above ground, higher than the Heaviside Layer and electrically stronger. This layer, named the Appleton Layer after him, reflects short waves round the earth. Three years later Appleton made an expedition to Northern Norway for radio research, studying the Aurora Borealis and in 1931 he published the results of further research on determining the height of reflecting layers of the ionosphere, including the use of a transmitter that sent out “spurts” of radio energy, and the photography of the received echo-signals by cathode ray oscillography.(Ack: Nobelprize.org, BBC.Co.UK-history)

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DL Moody (1837-1899)  USA

evangelist

In his time he was a well known evangelist whose indefatigable life mission to bring Christ to folks was a milestone in the American social history. While the Gilded Age burnished the materialism at end of a spectrum his fundamentalism was as plain as a hair-shirt. Moody often spoke to audiences of ten thousand to twenty thousand people. He presented the plan of Salvation, by voice or pen, to at least one hundred million people. One historian, obviously critical of both the excesses of the Gilded Age and evangelists like Moody, wrote: “There was revivalist Moody, bearded and reckless, with his two hundred and eighty pounds of Adam’s flesh, every ounce of which belonged to God.”

 

Moody was born in 1837, a few months before Queen Victoria began her reign, and he died in December, 1899, just nine days before the turn of the century.

Moody was not only a product of his age, but also a herald of a new one. He pioneered techniques of evangelism that remain largely unchanged today. He proclaimed a new eschatology of *pre-millennialism and fostered a new ecumenical spirit.

As one ponders Moody’s deprived, rural boyhood, his career as an evangelist and educator, and his role as a father, he was a man of the people for the people and it was their salvation was all that mattered.

Moody had no formal theological training and only the doubtful equivalent of a fourth- or fifth-grade education. Although he said he read the works of the great Baptist preacher Charles Haddon Spurgeon, Moody did not read widely. What he learned from others he learned in conversation. At age 18, when he attempted to join a Congregational Church, he failed a simple test of Bible knowledge administered by the deacons. Moody’s education was, by most standards, inadequate: he never went to college or seminary, nor was he ever ordained as a clergyman. He spelled phonetically, so his adult letters and sermon outlines abounded in spelling errors, as well as grammatical ones.

If Moody’s education was inadequate, other aspects of his childhood did equip him for his future career. His humble beginnings meant that as an adult he never lost touch with common folk; he disliked pretense or deference toward those of higher social position. From his mother’s heroic efforts to hold the family together, Moody learned the virtues of thrift, hard work, and close family ties. From her he also acquired tenderheartedness. As an adult he repeatedly broke into tears upon realizing that he had unwittingly hurt or offended someone. His public apologies to the offended person were profuse and sincere.

“I want to be frank with you, Mr. Moody,” one of his listeners once told him. “I want you to know that I do not believe in your theology.”

“My theology!” Moody exclaimed. “I didn’t know that I had any. I wish you would tell me what my theology is.” (Christianity Today, Stanley N. Gundry)

*pre-millennialism is the doctrine that the prophesied millennium of blessedness will begin with the imminent Second Coming of Christ.

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