Tuesday, March 31, 2015

WOODINp | Appendix B. Descendants (Updated Oct. 28, 2016)

This post has been transferred to a private blog in anticipation of publication of a book on the life of Will Woodin. To obtain access to this appendix, email the author at

Monday, March 30, 2015

BIRTH | Mar. 30–Vincent van Gogh

Vincent van Gogh 1853-1890
This day was born in 1853, in Zundert, the Netherlands, Vincent Van Gogh.

His work was beginning to be acknowledged by art critics in Holland when he committed suicide at the age of 37.

His brother Theo was an art dealer, and for years sent money to Vincent in return for the paintings that Vincent gave him.

Garrison Keillor quotes from one of Vincent's letters:
How much sadness there is in life. The right thing is to work.
In another letter, two days before he died, Vincent wrote:
I feel a failure. That's it as far as I'm concerned - I feel that this is the destiny that I accept, that will never change.
I have posted previously challenging the assertion that Vincent van Gogh sold only one painting in his life. His financial arrangement with his brother was not just charity – it was in large measure a professional one. Vincent painted because he was encouraged to do so by his brother, who was an expert at judging paintings.

Sometimes all it takes is one good patron to sustain the creativity of an artist.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

PORTSMOUTH | Rev. Dom Leo van Winkle, Headmaster

Rev. Dom Leo van Winkle, who became Headmaster
of Portsmouth Abbey (then Priory) School in 1957,
the fall of my senior year.
A Portsmouth lunch in Vero Beach last week made me think about the headmaster who took over at Portsmouth in 1957, the beginning of my senior year.

He came in to his Physics 2 class–I think there were four of us in a single row–in the first week and announced that he had been made headmaster and was quite clear about not being happy about it.

He replaced Dom Aelred ("Barney") Wall, who was worn out by his years as headmaster and was given leave to pursue a more contemplative life, first at the Mt Savior Monastery in Pine City, near Elmira, N.Y and then at the Benedictine monastery of Christ in the Desert in California.

Rev. Dom Thomas Leo van Winkle, or "Father Leo" as I knew him, was the son of Professor Cortlandt van Winkle, a Princeton graduate (AB, MA, Ph.D.) who with his wife converted to Roman Catholicism during the interwar years when Ronald Knox and others were showing the way. Knox, of course, was Anglican Chaplain of Trinity College, Oxford (where I was in 1962-64) during the Great War, and gave up the Chaplaincy when he converted to Catholicism in 1917.

Born in New Haven, Thomas van Winkle–as he was called until he became a monk–attended Portsmouth (Class of 1939) and received his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in chemical engineering at Yale. He then went to work on the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos, N.M. He told his students in his Physics 2 class that in the early tests of the atomic bomb the scientists were not sure how destructive the chain reaction they were setting up would be, and that some feared it would be even more destructive than in the first tests and in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

After the war, Thomas joined the Brookhaven National Lab to focus on disposal of radioactive waste, continuing the development of an air-scrubber at the University of Pennsylvania. The system he worked on was used to control pollution on the subsequently developed nuclear submarines. So a cousin of mine who commanded a nuclear submarine was a beneficiary of his work.

In 1949, now by legend suffering from angst at the destructiveness of the bomb he had helped unleash on the world, Thomas entered the Portsmouth Monastery, then a Priory, taking the name Leo. Seven years later he was ordained a priest. The students at Portsmouth were in awe of the stresses that Father Leo must have been subjected to in putting together the bomb and then seeing what it did in Japan.

The Portsmouth Abbey Cemetery
where Fr. Leo is buried.
Fr. Leo believed the nuclear arms race was ''the great moral dilemma of the closing years of the 20th century.''

In 1973, after 16 years presiding over a major expansion of Portsmouth Abbey, Dom Leo van Winkle returned to Yale as visiting lecturer in engineering and applied sciences. His successor as Headmaster was Dom Gregory Floyd '57, who served for 10 years.

In 1975, Fr. Leo joined the faculty at Catholic University in Washington, teaching chemical engineering and chairing the department in 1981. He returned to Portsmouth Abbey in 1983 and was reappointed headmaster in 1986. He died two years later of cancer of the lymphatic system, at Jane Brown Hospital in Providence, at 65 years old. He is buried in the Portsmouth Abbey Cemetery, No. PO030 in the online listing of grave sites in Portsmouth, R.I.

Gravestone of Fr. Leo's niece, who died at
15. His brother Cortlandt van Winkle 
is buried with her.
Fr. Leo was survived by two siblings - a brother, Cortlandt van Winkle of Salem, Ore., and a sister, Mother Teresa, Prioress of the Carmel of Mary Immaculate in Flemington, N.J.

Cortlandt, a Pacific Theater veteran of World War II, died in 2010 and was buried in the Holyrood Cemetery in Seattle, Wash. with his daughter Carolyn, who died at 15, predeceasing him by 36 years. There seems to be only one tombstone for both father and daughter.

Fr. Leo's obituary by Glenn Fowler was published in The New York Times on May 3, 1988. A thoughtful article about Fr. Leo was published in the Portsmouth Bulletin in 2012 by Fr. Damian Kearney '45, who prepared for the priesthood at the same time as Fr. Leo and taught me English. Fr. Damian's brother (to close the loop) was at the Portsmouth luncheon on Monday.

Monday, March 23, 2015

WELLESLEY '66 | Get-Together in Vero Beach

Wellesley '66 mini-reunion, Vero Beach, Fla. L to R: Alice Tepper Marlin,
Anne Liggett (Cinnamon) Rinzler, Karen Ahern Boeschenstein. Matching
 nightgowns feature a flamingo, the class mascot. Photos by JTMarlin.
VERO BEACH, Fla., March 22, 2015 - Alice co-hosted with Joan Hass a formal Wellesley '66 Mini-Reunion last summer in East Hampton, N.Y.

It was part of a build-up to the class's 50th Reunion next year.

I posted photos of the Mini-Reunion visits to two of East Hampton's top three attractions (according to TripAdvisor):
1. The LongHouse Reserve.
2. The Jackson-Pollock House.
Don't expect to meet "Captain Hiram". He was a U.S.
Army Sergeant who died in the Normandy Landing.
His mother got this letter and her son's Purple Heart.
(The third of the top three is Main Beach.)

Here in Vero we have had an informal get-together with two of Alice's dearest Wellesley friends–Karen Ahern Boeschenstein from Charlottesville, Va. and Anne Liggett (Cinnamon) and Curry Rinzler from Woodstock, N.Y. (Cinnamon and Alice also both attended The Baldwin School.)

I have posted above a photo of the three ladies in their matching flamingo-dotted nightgowns. The flamingo is the Wellesley '66 class mascot.

Someone in the class of 1966 had cancer at an early age and in sympathy–and support of her recovery–her neighbors posted a flock of plastic flamingos on her lawn, in (I'm guessing) about 1975. Her classmates joined in with the support by adopting the flamingo as mascot (Fiona Flamingo?).

Photo of "Captain Hiram" - Sgt. Hiram H. Collins of
Crisfield, Md.

Kate Spade may know someone in the class because she has designed a "Wellesley Quinn Leather Pink Flamingo Bag" as part of her Wellesley Collection. Since Wellesley is lending "gilt by association" to Kate Spade's bags, it was appropriate that we earlier visited LongHouse Reserve, owned by famed textile designer Jack Lenor Larsen.

Yesterday afternoon we all (including Curry Rinzler) went on a boat tour with "Captain Hiram's River King" around Pelican Island.

"Captain Hiram" is named after someone who died nearly 71 years ago - Sergeant Hiram H. Collins, who was awarded a Purple Heart and like my uncle Willem van Stockum was killed in France during the time of the Normandy Landing.

Blue heron looking our way.
It took the U.S. Army five years to confirm in a letter to his mother that her son was incinerated in his landing craft. The letter is posted above at right.
Three blue heron, independently engaged.

"Captain Hiram" offers three boat-tour options - dolphins, Pelican Island or the Sebastian River.

We were on the Pelican Island tour, which promises birds returning to the island at sunset. Our trip was back in the dock before sunset, but we saw a lot of blue heron, white pelicans and wood storks.
Wood storks have a dark grey head and a lot of their wing is black, not visible at rest. They are also
messier than the fastidious white pelicans. At upper right, two long-necked anhingas.

White Pelicans skim over the water with amazing steadiness.
Pelican Island is the nation's very first National Wildlife Preserve, created in 1903 by Teddy Roosevelt, just north of Vero Beach north of the Wabasso Bridge (Route 510), on the Indian River.

This was something like the trip we took from the Riverside Cafe, farther south.

But that trip was more about dolphins and this one was more about birds. Both tours were on the Indian River Lagoon, the largest lagoon in the United States.

Our two guides and navigators, Jay and Scott, explained how Pelican Island has been eroded by hurricanes, but when friends of the pelicans try to help out, the results are not always beneficial.

Daffy Duck. Is that
him in the photo
The best plan, currently in force, has been to forbid anyone from going on the island without  clearance from Washington. Violators of this rule are subject to jail time and fines.

Jay explained that Pelican Island is naturally partitioned among the various birds that live there. They create areas where they nest and congregate. So birds of a feather really do flock together.

The various species get along amicably, evidence of the natural agreement among groups over territorial sovereignty that Elinor Ostrom studied and for which she received a Nobel Prize.

American White Pelicans at rest, or at least busy checking themselves for bugs. Looks like an Audubon
engraving, except for Daffy Duck, 2nd from right. Was he inserted by a Warner Bros. animator? Photo by JTM.
We saw a lot of white pelicans, black-headed wood storks (the only kind of storks in Florida, said our guide), blue heron and anhingas. White pelicans are an interesting, majestic species. They have a huge wing span - six to nine feet. They have distinctive white heads, orange beaks and balck wing tips that are not visible when they are at rest. See Pelican Dreams (All About Birds blog, November 5, 2014).
Here we all are at the end of the trip. Better than the slush up north.
L to R: Cinnamon, me (John), Alice, Curry, Karen. Photo by Scott.

The boat's schedule is geared to Standard Time. Because of Daylight Saving Time we were not there for the sunset scene, when all the birds come back to the island.

On the Pelican Island trip we saw no dolphins. On neither trip did we see any manatee. Just to help manage expectations of those who take the tours.

Apart from Pelican Island, the birds were scarce, which suggests that the fish were scarce as well.

In the evening we repaired to Mo-Bay Grill, 1401 Indian River Drive, not far from Captain Hiram's. The Drive runs parallel to the Indian River between Route 1 and the river.

Mo-Bay Grill gets 4.5 stars on TripAdvisor and has a famed Jamaican chef, who came by our table twice. He makes great conch fritters and cooks fish to perfection. We had the grouper with pecan butter sauce, a shrimp-with-coconut-grits dish, and a whole crispy red snapper. The vegetables with it were ample and delicious. It was accompanied by the excellent sweet House Sangria. We shared a scrumptious banana-rum cheesecake and shredded coconut cream pie. The only disappointment was the she-crab soup, which all five of us tasted and none of us cared for. Mo-Bay Grill takes reservations for four or more people–otherwise you have to take your chances and wait in line.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

PORTSMOUTH | Abbey at Vero Beach

I had the pleasure of seeing again on Monday several fellow Portsmouth Abbey alumni at a lunch at the Moorings in Vero Beach, Fla.

They included, in the photo above, Jim Mulholland '79, former Portsmouth Headmaster Gregory Floyd '57 (a year before me) and the current Headmaster and math teacher, Daniel McDonough.

We had a good turnout of nearly 30 people for a small community where only 16,000 people live - i.e., just one in 20,000 U.S. residents. However, the intake to the lunch came from quite a wide swath of Florida.

The lunch made me think about the headmaster (and great teacher) who took over at Portsmouth in 1957, the beginning of my senior year. He came in to his Physics 2 class–I think there were four of us sitting in a row – in the first week and announced that he had been made headmaster and was quite clear about not being happy about it. I have posted about him here.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Boat Trip around Indian River Lagoon

Departing from Riverside Cafe - Pelicans taking a rest from fishing see
us off from the dock whence the Indian River Lagoon boat trip leaves.
Tip for Busy Readers: Scroll down to the highlight of this post - pictures of dolphins swimming alongside our boat (near the end).

The Indian River Lagoon boat tour, "River Explorer", leaves from the Riverside Cafe on the edge of Riverside Park, six days per week.

We bought our tickets next the Riverside Cafe, a restaurant and a place to have a drink while listening to live music.

Alice faces front as our well-informed pilot and guide tells us
what to watch for in dolphin territory. Hint: Pelicans and
dolphins look for the same thing - small fish.
Riverside Park on the east end of the Barber Bridge (Route 60) is home to two Vero Beach pillars - the Riverside Theater and Vero Beach Museum of Art. (Others are the Indian River Medical Center, St. Edward's School and the McKee Botanical Garden.)

Alice and I set off on a boat tour of the Indian River Lagoon - the largest lagoon in the United States and the second-largest estuary, after Chesapeake Bay.

Estuaries are special fun because as places where salt water and seawater mix they attack unique plants (like mangroves) and animals (especially fish-hunting birds) that thrive on brackish water.

A second staff member watches from
 the back. Snacks and drinks $1 each.
 (self-service). Rest room on board.
This two-hour tour goes from Riverside Park north to Johns Island, three times a day.

Dead pine trees - killed on purpose.
(See text.)
We plan to take another tour from Captain Hiram's marina in Sebastian that will take us to  Pelican Island, the nation's first national Wildlife Preservation Center, created by Theodore Roosevelt in 1903 (a commemorative stamp was issued in 2003) and celebrated recently by Theodore Roosevelt IV in a speech in Orlando.

Beautiful birds along the route. This a Great Blue Heron. Some you rarely
see except in estuaries like Indian River Lagoon.
The guide, who has been doing this tour for a year, pointed out the the dead trees on one of the islands and explained that the trees have been killed by cutting a switch around the bark, depriving the leaves of water. It was done on purpose, so these invasive pine trees will die and be replaced by native trees.

Birds of a feather flock together. So, as a matter of fact, do birds of different feathers.

The Indian River Lagoon is composed of the Mosquito Lagoon and the Banana River, and the Indian River, all on the Atlantic Coast of Florida.

The Lagoon was originally named Rio de Ais after the Ais Indian tribe, who lived along the east coast of Florida.

From 1913 to 2013, human activity has increased the watershed for the lagoon from 572,000 to 1.4 million acres, increasing runoff of fresh water and nutrients from farms.

Both have been detrimental to lagoon health. The wetlands are needed to cleanse the lagoon. About 40,000 acres of land were lost to mosquito control and as of 2013 have been incompletely restored.

Alice looks for dolphins. We are told
that pelicans will lead us to dolphins.
Mangroves are important to marine life. Between the 1940s and 2013, 85 per cent of them had been removed for housing development. From 1989 to 2013, the population along the lagoon increased 50 percent to 1.6 million people.

A pelican feeding. Can a dolphin
or two be far behind?
Seagrass is a critical component to the overall health of the lagoon. By 1990, it had surpassed levels reached in 1943. In 1990, the Florida Legislature passed the Indian River Lagoon Act, requiring most sewer plants to stop discharging into the lagoon by 1996.

Some sports fish rebounded in population in the 1990s when gill nets were banned and pollution in the lagoon was reduced. In 1995 the seagrass covered more than 100,000 acres. But in 2011, a wide bloom of phytoplankton resulted in the loss of 32,000 acres of lagoon seagrass. In 2012, a brown-tide bloom fouled the northern lagoon.

Hurray. Two dolphins playing in sight of us.
Indian River County has approval for funds to investigate unusual blooms to see if they can be prevented.

Catches of blue crabs dropped unevenly from 4.3 million pounds in 1987 to 389,795 pounds in 2012. High catches alternated with low-catch years. The crabs require 2 percent salt content in the water to survive. A drought increases the salt content and heavy rainfall decreases it. Both conditions have recurred over the past decades and probably hurt the crab population.

In 2013, algae blooms and loss of sea grass destroyed all gains.
Pilot speeds up boat and dolphins come chasing behind. What a sight!

That year, four problems with lagoon water quality were identified:
  • Excess nitrogen and phos-phorus from fertilizer runoff, 
  • Septic tank failures, maybe 10 percent of the tens of thousands of septic tanks in the county.
  • Accumulated muck from construction, farming, erosion and dead plants.
  • Invasive aquatic species such as the Asian green mussel, South American charru mussel, and the Australian spotted jellyfish, all of which eat clams and fish larvae.
The Indian River Lagoon extends 156 miles from Ponce de León Inlet in Volusia County, Fla., to Jupiter Inlet in Palm Beach County, Fla. The Lagoon is connected to Lake Okeechobee by the Okeechobee Waterway and the St. Lucia River, meeting in Sewall's Point. Stops along the way include Mosquito Lagoon, Banana River, Eau Gallie River, Crane Creek (Melbourne), Turkey Creek Sanctuary, Palm Bay.

Best picture - Dolphin looks like he has wings as he chases the boat.

The Indian River Lagoon is North America’s most diverse estuary with more than 4,300 species of plants (2,100) and animals (2,200), including 35 listed as threatened or endangered.

The Lagoon varies in width from half a mile to 5 miles and averages 4 feet deep. It serves as a spawning and nursery ground for many different species of oceanic and lagoon fish and shellfish - and hosts an extraordinary range of birds. Nearly one-third of the nation’s manatee population lives here or migrates through the Lagoon seasonally. In addition, its ocean beaches provide one of the densest sea turtle nesting areas found in the Western Hemisphere.

Some 200-800 Bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) live in the Indian River Lagoon and that is a major attraction of the boat tour, especially since manatees are scarce.

Coming home. Great trip!
Red drum, spotted seatrout, common snook, and the tarpon are the main gamefish sought by anglers in the Titusville area of the lagoon system.

The Indian River Lagoon is worth $2 billion a year to the area economy, according to a 2008 study by Hazen and Sawyer. Visiting boaters,  fishermen and tourists spent about 3.2 million person-days in recreation on the lagoon. The report, “Indian River Lagoon Economic Assessment and Analysis Update”, was prepared for the Indian River Lagoon National Estuary Program of the St. Johns River Water Management District.

LBJ | Mar. 15–50 Years Since Voting-Rights Speech

The "We Shall Overcome" song has a long history.
This day in 1965 LBJ gave his famed 5-minute speech on voting rights to a joint session of Congress. It is usually called the "We Shall Overcome" speech.

Watch it here.

It is considered one of the Great American Documents. Read it here.

Eight days earlier, 600 people started to march from Selma, Alabama, to the state capital, Montgomery.

They followed activists John Lewis and Hosea Williams in protest against the murder of a civil-rights activist, Baptist deacon Jimmie Lee Jackson.

They marched six blocks to the Edmund Pettus Bridge.

Then Selma and state law enforcement officers attacked them with clubs and tear gas.

The response is remembered as "Bloody Sunday". It was televised nationally

Activists from all over the country immediately made plans to come to Selma, including Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.  On Tuesday, March 9, King led marchers back to the bridge, where they knelt and prayed.

That night, a visiting white minister from Boston who had come south to march was assaulted and died two days later.

Pressure became intense for Johnson to unveil his long-promised voting rights bill. On March 13, he condemned the violence in Selma and promised to deliver the bill by March 15.

On Sunday evening, March 14, LBJ was caught up in the rising level of national outrage. He decided on a public speech. The morning of March 15, he told his chief speechwriter, Richard Goodwin, to whip one up to be delivered that evening.

Goodwin produced the speech and Johnson delivered it to Congress and to 70 million Americans watching on television. He was interrupted by applause 36 times. He said: 
Their cause must be our cause, too, because it's not just Negroes, but really, it's all of us who must overcome the crippling legacy of bigotry and injustice. And we shall overcome... The command of the Constitution is plain. There is no moral issue. It is wrong - deadly wrong - to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is no issue of States' rights or National rights. There is only the struggle for human rights.
After the speech, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee approached LBJ to promise hearings on the bill "the following week". Johnson replied to the effect: "That's not good enough. Get those hearing started this week and work into the night."

The following Sunday, thousands of marchers again set off from Selma. This time after marching for five days they made it to Montgomery. Martin Luther King addressed the huge crowd and explained why the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was not enough.

Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act in August 1965.


Whatever the intent of the Selma police on Bloody Sunday, it is hard to think of any police action before or since that has done more to advance the cause it was meant to hinder.

On the other hand, the way the legislation played out was humiliating for many southerners. It looked like another defeat for the Confederacy. For traditional Roman Catholics in particular, the combination of Vatican II and aggressive civil rights enforcement was unsettling, creating an opening for GOP strategists to create a southern strategy.

On civil rights issues LBJ united the Democratic Party and, for a while, the nation, as only a southerner could do. But the Vietnam War came along and re-divided the Democratic Party, electing Richard Nixon.

(Thanks to Garrison Keillor whose post in today's Writer's Almanac inspired this one.)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

BIRTH | Mar. 14–Albert Einstein

This day was born in 1879 Albert Einstein, in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany.

Young Albert was a good student, but disrespectful of his teachers. He was also a  failure in his classics studies.

When he graduated from technical school in 1900, none of his instructors would write letters of recommendation for him to get a job in academia.

Consequently, he went to work for the Swiss Patent Office in Bern. He evaluated patent applications to determine if they were likely to produce useful inventions. He was efficient in his work, leaving him time to work on his own theories.

Just 110 years ago, in 1905 — a year that is called his annus mirabilis — he earned his doctorate and published four important papers:

1. June 9, "On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light", addressing the photoelectric effect and the nature of light, applying Planck's quantum theory, which had been proposed five years earlier and had been quietly forgotten. The paper proposed the idea of energy quanta. This paper won him the Nobel Prize in physics 16 years later.

2. July 18, "On the Motion of Small Particles Suspended in a Stationary Liquid, as Required by the Molecular Kinetic Theory of Heat", offering a stochastic model of Brownian motion.

3. September 26, “On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies”, which had the most profound effect on modern physics, containing Einstein's revolutionary Special Theory of Relativity. Einstein proposed that it was meaningless to speak of one body moving and another body being still. Bodies can only be thought of as moving in relationship to each other. All motion is relative to some frame of reference, and the laws of nature apply unchanged, whatever that frame of reference. In particular, this means that the speed of electromagnetic radiation (such as light) is always the same, no matter the frame of reference. In subsequent years, results predicted on the basis of his theory were confirmed repeatedly, and the Special Theory of Relativity changed how scientists viewed matter, space, time and all the things that interact with them.

4. November 21, in Annalen der Physik "Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?"), in which Einstein developed an argument for arguably the most famous equation in the field of physics: E=mc2.

His massive productivity was not enough at first to get him an academic job, although the patent office gave him a promotion. But four years later, in 1909, at 30, he was given a professorship of theoretical physics in Zürich. Five years after that, he moved to Berlin, and began work on his General Theory of Relativity, which he published in 1916. He was given a specially created post as director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Physical Institute in Berlin.

His General Theory recognizes that mass and energy are two sides of the same coin, leading to the famous formula E=mc2. The new theory made bold predictions about the interaction of light and gravity that had not yet been observed and which were at variance with Newtonian physics.

After the First World War ended in 1919, scientists used a total eclipse of the sun to confirm that light from distant stars was indeed deflected as it passed through the influence of the sun's gravity, exactly as General Relativity predicted. Einstein became internationally renowned.

When Hitler took over as Germany's Chancellor in 1933, Einstein was in California working as a visiting professor. Einstein's apartment in Berlin and his summer cottage in the country were raided by the Nazis, his papers confiscated, and his bank accounts closed.

Einstein got the message right away that he was unwelcome. He returned to Europe and handed in his German passport. He considered offers from universities like Paris, Istanbul and Oxford, eventually deciding on Princeton, which offered him an attractive package teaching at its Institute for Advanced Study. He had hesitations about Princeton. It had a secret quota system allowing only a small percentage of the incoming class to be Jewish. The Institute's director, Abraham Flexner, was worried that Einstein would be too directly involved in Jewish refugee causes, so he micromanaged Einstein's public appearances, trying to keep him out of the public eye. He even declined an invitation for Einstein to see FDR at the White House without telling the scientist.

When Einstein found out, he personally called Eleanor Roosevelt and arranged for a visit anyway, and then complained about the incident in a letter to a rabbi friend of his, giving the return address as "Concentration Camp, Princeton."

In 1938, incoming freshmen at Princeton ranked Einstein as the second-greatest living person. First place went to Adolf Hitler.

My uncle Willem van Stockum was the first person to spell out the implications for Time Travel of Einstein's equations. Robert Wack, in Time Bomber, tells of Willem's time at Princeton.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Magna Carta Exhibition Celebrates 800 Years - London at the British Library

A copy of the 1297 version of the
Magna Carta.
The "Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy" has just opened at the British Library in London. It is the largest-ever exhibition about Magna Carta, open until September 1.

Celebrate the 800th anniversary of the document sealed June 15, 1215 at Runnymede. Find out why this agreement between King John and 40 rebel barons - despite its failure as a peace-making document - has had such influence and how it is reinterpreted in today's global context.

Magna Carta has evolved from a political peace treaty to an international symbol of individual freedoms. FDR in his Inaugural Address in the fateful year 1941 said:
The democratic aspiration is no mere recent phase in human history ... It was written in Magna Carta.
Although Magna Carta's nullification failed to resolve the conflict between King John and his barons, it was reissued several times after his death. It has come to symbolize democracy and human rights.

Lord Denning, an Oxford-educated lawyer who became Britain's best-known judge of the 20th century, has called Magna Carta
the greatest constitutional document of all times – the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot.
Its precedent has been used - and abused often.  Most famously, it has been invoked to assert the primacy of Parliament against the King and of colonies against British royal power.

The American Bill of Rights, added to the U.S. Constitution
 in the form of Amendments.
Charles I, in particular, was fearful of the Magna Carta's use in the questioning by Roundheads of his divine right to rule Britain.

However, Oliver Cromwell in fact professed not to care about Magna Carta - he called the document "Magna Farta".

He asserted instead the primacy of Parliament by creating a New Model Army, defeating the King's troops and cutting off Charles I's head.

Astonishingly, no British monarch since Charles I  has relied exclusively on the divine right to rule in responding to Parliamentary restraints on the Crown.

The exhibit includes two of the four 1297 versions of the Magna Carta (all four were displayed for one day, February 3 at the British Library).

The influence of Magna Carta on the American colonies in the creation of their Constitution is one of the ways that it can claim importance. The exhibition includes Jefferson’s copy of the Declaration of Independence and one of the original copies of the Bill of Rights, the Amendments to the Constitution added by the Congress sitting in New York City.

101 Years Ago - The Continuing Relevance of Magna Carta
The original Magna Carta, although drafted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, was nullified within three months by Pope Innocent III , whose papacy lasted from 1198 to 1216. He was the most powerful of the medieval popes.

The Pope's nullification of Magna Carta, which created the very civil war in England that it was created to avert, can be seen as of a piece with Innocent III's  disastrous crusades and inquisitions.

He was infatuated with his self-perceived role the middleman between God and all of the world's Christian monarchs.

His crusades were highlighted by the drunken slaughter by crusaders of their fellow Christians in Constantinople in 1204, making permanent the tragic schism between Eastern and Western Christian churches.

St. Francis of Assisi and St. Dominic gained adherents during Innocent III's papacy, advocating a different way. Note that Innocent III himself was never sainted and that the current Pope has taken the name of St. Francis, suggesting that history has not taken kindly to Innocent III.

The exhibition of the named documents is accompanied by relevant paintings, maps, statues and royal relics. Take part in the conversation at #MagnaCarta. Book here now to schedule a visit.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

HITLER | Mar. 5, 1933–Germany Elects Nazi Party

This post has been updated and superseded and replaced by this one:

This post is maintained to preserve links.

WASHINGTON | Lawrence, GW's G3-Grandfather

Rev. Lawrence Washington, who once
terrorized Puritan dons and Oxford
students. Under Cromwell, he lost
his parish and his wife sent two sons
to Virginia. One sired George
Washington's grandfather.
Lawrence Washington was born in 1602 and died in 1653–a short life, barely half a century, but a significant one.

Lawrence's wife and Oliver Cromwell played important roles in shaping the migration of his two sons to the United States of America, one of them being George Washington's great-grandfather.

Lawrence was the fifth son of a comfortably established family living in Sulgrave Manor near Banbury in Oxfordshire. Many members of his family studied at Oxford. At 17, in 1619, he was sent off to Brasenose College, Oxford too become a minister. He did well and upon graduation with his B.A. in 1623 he was elected a Fellow of the college.

In those days, a  fellow would typically spend a dozen teaching and then become a minister, living a bachelor's life. He received his M.A. in 1626 and the following year was appointed Lector, the chief disciplinarian of undergraduates in college.

In a crucial development for Oxford University, on August 22, 1631, with King Charles I personally presiding, Archbishop of Canterbury William Laud - who was also Chancellor of Oxford - denounced the principal officers of the University as heretics. A Brasenose don was forced to resign. Lawrence Washington was four days later elected by the Brasenose governing body as their nominee to replace his colleague.

Laud was the agent of Charles I in his quest to suppress Puritanism. In 1632, Laud formally appointed Lawrence Washington as an Oxford Proctor. Under the circumstances, the Proctor's job was not what it later became, a "bulldog" policing students. Lawrence became an agent of the Church of England, hunting down Puritans. Washington's job was in part to assist the Archbishop in purging heresy among the dons.

The good news is that Washington did his job well as an agent of the established church, earning a job as Rector of Purleigh, a wealthy church in Essex, starting in 1632.  On the strength of this appointment, Lawrence Washington married Amphilis Twigden, a well-educated young widow. The marriage dealt with the problem that Washington faced at Oxford of courting Amphilis and - it seems from the date of John Washington's birth in 1633 - siring a son out of wedlock. Oxford dons were required to live a bachelor life and Lawrence's job at BNC was therefore at risk. So far so good.

The bad news is that after a few years the tide turned. Cambridge man Oliver Cromwell was elected Member of Parliament for Huntingdon in 1628 and then for Cambridge in the Short (1640) and Long (1640-49) Parliaments. The Puritan Long Parliament exercised its power in part by reviewing the incumbencies of Church of England livings. More than 100 English ministers had their livings withdrawn for alleged treason or immorality by order of Parliament. In 1643 Washington was censored for allegedly being "a common frequenter of ale-houses" and lost his job as Rector of Purleigh. As a consolation prize, he was given the miserable parish of Little Braxted, also in Essex.

The importance of this is how the Reverend's wife Amphilis reacted. They separated. She refused to accept the ignominy of being a parson's wife in Little Braxted. Instead, she and her children moved in with her wealthy uncle, Sir Edwin Sandys, whose family was well-connected with the Virginia Company. Amphilis decided that the embarrassment of Rev. Lawrence Washington's fall from grace would best be dealt with by sending the two sons John and Lawrence Jr. to the American colonies.

Lawrence's son John (1633-1677) became apprenticed to a London merchant where he learned the tobacco trade. John eventually emigrated along with his brother Lawrence Jr. (1635-1677) to the colony of Virginia. This made him in due course the great-grandfather of the first President of the United States. Rev. Lawrence Washington meanwhile died poor and relatively young. He is buried in All Saints Church at Maldon, Essex, where his grave site is visited primarily because of his illustrious great-great-grandson.

Washington's Ancestry and Coat of Arms

George Washington (1732-99), first U.S. President (1789-1797), was born at Bridges Creek, Va. His great-grandfather John Washington settled there in 1658 from Dillicar in Westmorland. The coat of arms of County Westmorland in northern England is the familiar red-and-white stripes of the Washington family, with a tree superimposed. Westmorland is just west of Yorkshire (where Shelby Abbey church has a window with the Washington stars-and-stripes coat of arms) and is also just west of Durham county to the north. The college at Oxford preceding Trinity College, and on the same location, was a foundation of Durham Abbey for its students, which is why a Durham family's coat of arms is still on display at Trinity College. A stained glass version of the Washington coat of arms from 1588 is in the Cornin, NY, Museum of Glass.

The ancestry of George Washington shows how the honors to the family accumulated. The names in bold face have already been mentioned.

1 Patric FitzDolfin de Offerton, c. 1145-1182. His son was...
2 (Sir) William FitzPatric de Hertburn, c. 1165-1194, a Norman knight. He procured the village of Wessyngton and adopted as his surname the new land, i.e., William de Wessyngton. His son or grandson changed the name of the village and the family to Washington. His status as a knight allowed him to adopt a coat of arms. He chose two silver/white (argent) bars on either side of a red (gules) bar, below three stars (mullets) of red (gules). A Durham County registry from the period shows Wessyngton with six-pointed mullets, pierced and unpierced - the number of points was later reduced to five, in a change that a French heraldry book says was vraiment revolutionnaire. At the crest, the Raven rested in the crown (corona), gold (or). William served the bishop of Durham, and in 1185 was granted the manor of Washington in return for the service of attending the episcopal hunt with four greyhounds. The family lived on the estate for 400 years, but in 1613 it was sold back to the church, as the branch of the family that produced George Washington settled at Sulgrave Manor. 
3 William de Washington, c. 1180-1239
4 Walter de Washington, c. 1212-1264
5 William de Washington, c. 1240-1288
6 Robert de Washington, 1265-1324
7 Robert de Washington, c. 1296-1348
8 John de Washington, c. 1346-1408
9 John de Washington, c. 1380-1423
10 Robert Washington, 1404-1483
11 Robert Washington, 1455-1528
12 John Washington, 1478-1528
13 G5-gfather Lawrence Washington, 1500-1583
14 G4-gfather Robert Washington, c. 1544-1623
15 G3-gfather Lawrence Washington, c. 1567-1616 - Sulgrave Manor
16 G2-gfather (Rev.) Lawrence Washington, Fellow of Brasenose, 1602-1653
17 Great-grandfather (Col.) John Washington, 1633-1677 (one source says he was born 1631)
18 Grandfather Lawrence Washington, 1659-1698
19 Father Augustine Washington, 1694-1743
20 (President) George Washington, 1732-1799.

The family coat of arms (as he confirmed in a response to a Mr. Heard) was brought to Virginia by John and Lawrence Washington. These two sons of Rev. Lawrence Washington of Brasenose, Oxford and grandsons of Lawrence of Sulgrave had their arms confirmed by Clarenceux King of Arms. The coats of arms of ancestors of George Washington as shown at Sulgrave Manor are usually shown as three stars (mullets ) above (in chief) two stripes (bars), red (gules) on a white/silver (argent) field.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Willem Jacob van Stockum - What Air Force Was He In? (Comment)

Dr. Robert Wack signing his book, Time Bomber
at a book fair in suburban Baltimore.
Dr. Robert Wack, author of Time Bomber - a Five Star book on Amazon based on five reviews - recently reported that he had received multiple inquiries from readers of his book.

The readers were curious about details of some aspects of the life of Willem van Stockum, the bomber pilot and time-travel thinker who is the subject of the book.

One question was the flag under which Willem van Stockum flew as a bomber pilot. His life story is accurately told by Dr. Wack except for some time-travel additions that are acknowledged in a note to the reader.

The reader asked whether Willem flew for the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) or the British RAF. Here is Dr. Wack's response:
The answer is, both. How could this be? Part of the answer lies in the circumstances of Willem’s enlistment, as well as the relationship between Canada and Britain as part of the Commonwealth, and lastly the specific needs of the war time Bomber Command. Willem initially enlisted with the Canadian RAF purely for logistical reasons: it was the closest place he could go to get into the war. 
In 1940 and early 1941 (before Pearl Harbor), there already were Americans frustrated with isolationism traveling north to enlist, and Willem took that path, leading him to the new recruit depot in Toronto. Canada had already been supplying England with food and weapons since the outbreak of the war in 1939. The relationship between Canada and England was still very close, despite the Statute of Westminster in 1931 granting autonomy to all the Dominions of the Commonwealth. The Canadian RAF assembled units and sent them to England as separate units under British command, and it was one of those that Willem wanted to join. 
However, his value as an instructor was of more interest to his Canadian military superiors, so they repeatedly denied his requests to be assigned to combat units. Eventually, he applied for transfer directly to the British RAF, which was finally granted, resulting in his transfer and assignment to No. 10 squadron at Melbourne Station, a few miles southeast of York. The British RAF took volunteers and assigned units from anywhere willing to send them. No. 10 Squadron was a particularly diverse group, with members from all the occupied countries, as well as other Commonwealth nations. Willem wrote home about other Dutch members of the squadron, as well as French, South African, Canadian, and even American flyers. It was a tumultuous time, with citizens of many countries all joining efforts to defeat the Nazis, regardless of nationality or native origins.

I would like to add two things to this admirably thorough response:

1. Willem's gravesite is the only one of the 14 gravesites with a non-RAF gravestone. There were other flyers from Australia and Canada - the RAF was desperate for experienced pilots and other airmen then because so many airmen were being shot down and the training period for a pilot is long. Although Willem was flying under RCAF and RAF colors, he was a Dutch citizen (he was in the process of getting American citizenship). My mother, sadly, arrived with her husband and children in 1954 to find there were 13 gravestones and only a wooden cross for her brother, because the Dutch hadn't gotten around to putting in a gravestone. (I have posted her diary entry for that day, December 26, and the next day.) Willem now has a proper gravestone, as well as a monument to him and his crew contributed by the French people who live in the area. To add to the confusion about Willem van Stockum's national identity, he received his undergraduate education at Trinity College, Dublin, and his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Edinburgh.

2. No. 10 Squadron has an illustrious history. In 2015 it celebrates the 100th anniversary of its creation.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

March 1 - Birthday of Robert Lowell

Robert Lowell at the Grolier Poetry
Bookshop, 1963. Photo by Elsa Dorfman.
This day was born in Boston in 1917 poet Robert [Traill Spence] Lowell [IV]. We share a birthday; he was born exactly a quarter-century earlier.

I met him when I was an undergraduate at Harvard and we were both at Quincy House (in my case, during the years 1959-1962). Although he had a tough-guy reputation as a young man, I found him as frank and diffident in person as he is in his poetry. He told me, as if I could do something about it, that he wanted a faculty position at Harvard. I told my senior tutor, Paul Sigmund, and maybe the message was carried somewhere else, but probably by more than one pigeon. Anyway, the message was received and he taught at Harvard from 1963 to 1970, commuting from his home in New York City.

He was from an old Boston family that produced a former President of Harvard, after whom a house at Harvard was named. His Wikipedia entry has two paragraphs about the lineage of both his parents.

He attended Harvard for only two years. While a student, he had a tough-guy dispute with his father and left home. At the suggestion of Robert Frost, to whom Lowell showed his poetry, he traveled south to the Tennessee home of poet Allen Tate. In a 1961 Paris Review interview with Frederick Seidel, posted on the Poetry Foundation site under Lowell's name, the young Lowell described his arrival as follows:
Mrs. Tate . . . had three guests and her own family, and was doing the cooking and writing a novel. And this young man arrived, quite ardent and eccentric. I think I suggested that maybe I'd stay with them. And they said, "We really haven't any room, you'd have to pitch a tent on the lawn." So I went to Sears Roebuck and got a tent and rigged it on their lawn. The Tates were too polite to tell me that what they'd said had been just a figure of speech. I stayed two months in my tent and ate with the Tates.
He married three distinguished women in turn, Jean Stafford, 1940-1948; Elizabeth Hardwick (1949-1972), and Lady Caroline Blackwood (1972-1977). The first two marriages ended in divorce, the third with his death.

He began his poetry career in classical poetry form, emulating John Milton, writing in the third person with tradition rhyme and meters. By 1959, however, with his collection Life Studies, he was writing free verse with personal references - what is called now confessional poetry, inspiring Lowell's one-time students Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), Anne Sexton (1928-1974) and W. D. Snodgrass (1926-2009). Snodgrass was an early practitioner of confessional poetry and influenced his mentor.  Sexton and Plath committed suicide, suggesting that confessional poetry can be a risky line of work.

Lowell suffered from what is today labeled bipolar disorder. He was for some time in the care of mental institutions.  His good friends and correspondents included Elizabeth Bishop. Their 30-year correspondence is published as Words in Air (Farrar Straus & Giroux).