Sunday Reads: A o.k. for oll korrect.

033Good Morning

Can you believe it is already May?  Whoosh, this year is going by fast!

I realize this post is a little late this morning, but I wanted to give Boston Boomer’s late night thread a while to “stew” since it seemed like big news…

Well…because it is Sunday, I have a mix of special interest links, historical long-reads and a dash of Etymology quickies for you to sink your teeth into.

For starters, here is an explanation of the post’s title.

What’s the Real Origin of “OK”? | Mental Floss

OK, here’s the story. On Saturday, March 23, 1839, the editor of the Boston Morning Post published a humorous article about a satirical organization called the “Anti-Bell Ringing Society ” in which he wrote:

The “Chairman of the Committee on Charity Lecture Bells,” is one of the deputation, and perhaps if he should return to Boston, via Providence, he of the Journal, and his train-band, would have his “contribution box,” et ceteras, o.k.—all correct—and cause the corks to fly, like sparks, upward.

It wasn’t as strange as it might seem for the author to coin OK as an abbreviation for “all correct.” There was a fashion then for playful abbreviations like i.s.b.d (it shall be done), r.t.b.s (remains to be seen), and s.p. (small potatoes). They were the early ancestors of OMG, LOL, and tl;dr. A twist on the trend was to base the abbreviations on alternate spellings or misspellings, so “no go” was k.g. (know go) and “all right” was o.w. (oll write). So it wasn’t so surprising for someone come up with o.k. for oll korrect. What is surprising is that it ended up sticking around for so long while the other abbreviations faded away.

Go figure? I don’t know why, but I always spell o.k. like “okay.”

Anyway, I thought that was a fun bit of trivial nonsense that might come in handy one day. You never know.

Okay…I saved a few links over the past week, you may have missed some of them…

From Bloomberg: Barack Obama, Gun Salesman of the Year

President Barack Obama is arguably the nation’s top gun salesman. The “Obama surge,” as the Wall Street Journal calls it (others call it the “Obama bubble“), appears to have increased gun sales in the U.S. by millions of units over his presidency.

The gun lobby/makers must be happy about that!

What the chart doesn’t provide is a reason for the increase. We can probably rule out a couple possibilities. A surge in hunting? Not likely. As Bloomberg News has reported, hunting has been in decline for years. Only about 13.7 million people hunted in 2011, a new low.

How about a crime wave? Nope. Violent crime began declining long before Obama took office and kept on declining through Obama’s first term, right into the teeth of the Great Recession. Preliminary numbers for the first half of 2012 do show a slight uptick of 1.2 percent, but it’s hardly the stuff of national panic. Even if the increase holds, crime in 2012 will be lower than it was in 2008.

So if hunting and crime are both declining, what is rising? Politics, for one.

Crazy talk has not been in short supply since Obama’s first presidential campaign took flight. Talk-radio jocks, the gun lobby and others who invest long in hysteria may preach to the choir, but the choir appears to be increasingly well-armed. Despite survey data indicating a steady decline in the number of households owning guns, the overall quantity of guns keeps rising. (Either a smaller number of people are buying a whole lot more guns, or a large number of gun owners are lying to pollsters, or both.)

There was a story in the New York Times last week that caught my eye: Trinity Church in Manhattan Is Split on How to Spend Its Wealth

There has never been any doubt that Trinity Church is wealthy. But the extent of its wealth has long been a mystery; guessed at by many, known by few.

Now, however, after a lawsuit filed by a disenchanted parishioner, the church has offered an estimate of the value of its assets: more than $2 billion.

The Episcopal parish, known as Trinity Wall Street, traces its holdings to a gift of 215 acres of prime Manhattan farmland donated in 1705 by Queen Anne of England. Since then, the church has parlayed that gift into a rich portfolio of office buildings, stock investments and, soon, mixed-use residential development.

[…]

Over the years, the church has sold or given away much of the original 215 acres from Queen Anne, but it has 14 acres, including 5.5 million square feet of commercial real estate.

It reported $158 million in real estate revenue for 2011, the majority of which went toward maintaining and supporting its real estate operations, the financial statement indicates. Of the $38 million left for the church’s operating budget, some $4 million was spent on communications, $3 million on philanthropic grant spending and $2.5 million on the church’s music program, church officials said. Nearly $6 million went to maintain Trinity’s historic properties, including the main church building, which was built in 1846; St. Paul’s Chapel; and several cemeteries, where luminaries including Alexander Hamilton and Edward I. Koch are buried. The remainder went into the church’s equity investment portfolio.

Of course, with all that wealth comes infighting between the church members and leaders.

Differences over the parish’s mission and direction last year led nearly half the 22-member vestry — an august collection of corporate executives and philanthropists — to resign or be pushed out, after at least seven of them asked, unsuccessfully, that the rector himself step down.

It really is something to read about all the money involved, then to read the comments…when salaries are mention. Damn, these “one of the largest landowners in Manhattan” Episcopals are giving the “Red Prada Slippered” Catholics a run for their money.

Salon had this article last week as well: 6 ways Big Pharma manipulates consumers

The blockbuster pill profit party is over for Big Pharma. Bestselling pills like Lipitor, Seroquel, Zyprexa, Singular and Concerta have gone off patent and sites which their ads sustained are withering on the vine. WebMD, for example, the voice of Pharma on the Web, with a former Pfizer exec serving as CEO, announced it would cut 250 positions in December.

But don’t worry, Wall Street. Pharma isn’t going to deliver disappointing earnings just because it has little or no new drugs coming online and has failed at the very reason for its existence. Here are six new Pharma marketing initiatives that are guaranteed to keep investor expectations high along with our insurance premiums. The secret? Recycling old and discredited drugs and marketing diseases to sell the few new ones.

Read about the six ways at the link.

When I read this next story, I felt sad…but it also made me laugh in a sadistic kind of way….maybe because the whole thing was caught on tape?

‘World’s largest jigsaw’ collapses into 40,000 pieces days before it was due to go on show at Sandringham

A 40 thousand piece jigsaw commemorating the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee crashed to the floor and broke leaving its assembler, who had spent more than 200 hours putting it together, heartbroken just days before it was due to go on display at Sandringham.

The jigsaw was put together by craftsman Dave Evans from Weymouth. He spent five weeks creating the 19.5ft by 8ft creation and believes it will enter the Guinness World records as the world’s largest jigsaw once it has been formally accredited.

Speaking to local press about the puzzle’s completion prior to its collapse from the wall of his studio, Mr Evans said: “I’m literally over the moon that I’ve finally reached the last piece. My fingers are sore, my eyes are tired but my heart is full of pride and I honestly couldn’t have done this without the backing of a superb team. I feel like I’ve reached my own moon landing and the eagle has landed.”

He is putting it all back together again. If it collapses a second time…I think someone is trying to tell the man something.

This next link is more recent, from yesterday via the Guardian Hollywood conservative unmasked as notorious Holocaust revisionist

To those who knew him, or thought they knew him, he was a cerebral, fun-loving gadfly who hosted boozy gatherings for Hollywood’s political conservatives. David Stein brought right-wing congressmen, celebrities, writers and entertainment industry figures together for shindigs, closed to outsiders, where they could scorn liberals and proclaim their true beliefs.

Over the past five years Stein’s organisation, Republican Party Animals, drew hundreds to regular events in and around Los Angeles, making him a darling of conservative blogs and talkshows. That he made respected documentaries on the Holocaust added intellectual cachet and Jewish support to Stein’s cocktail of politics, irreverence and rock and roll.

There was just one problem. Stein was not who he claimed. His real name can be revealed for the first time publicly – a close circle of confidants only found out the truth recently – as David Cole. And under that name he was once a reviled Holocaust revisionist who questioned the existence of Nazi gas chambers. He changed identities in January 1998.

Cole’s brazen reinvention as a social networker and political pundit deceived a roll-call of conservative politicians, filmmakers, journalists and broadcasters who had no clue about his past. A falling out with a friend led to his unmasking in his social circle two weeks ago, when a group of former supporters was shown YouTube clips of Cole’s incendiary – and until then forgotten – television appearances in the early 1990s.

As a combative twentysomething with tousled black hair, he was a vilified guest on chat shows hosted by Phil Donahue, Montel Williams and Morton Downey, among others, and was depicted as a neo-Nazi on news shows such as 60 Minutes and 48 Hours.

Read the rest of the exclusive interview at that link above…more stories after the jump.

This next story has to deal with a joke about Hollywood, 40 People With More Hollywood Connections Than Kevin Bacon

Everyone in Hollywood can be connected to Kevin Bacon by six degrees or fewer — or at least that’s the conceit behind the Kevin Bacon game. According to an analysis of IMDB data though, Kevin Bacon is only the 444th most connected person in Hollywood.

Here are the 40 most connected people in Hollywood, along with the average number of degrees it would take to link them to anyone else in Hollywood, according to Oracle of Bacon, a computer program developed by graduate students at the University of Virginia. You’ll note they are mostly white male actors of a certain age — and Patrick Reynolds, the man behind the website, told BuzzFeed why.

My man Samuel L Jackson is number 21 on the list…with 2.856922 degrees separation. Be sure to check out the list and see where some of your favorite actors and actresses stack up.

Now, let’s spend a little time on a “word” study.  This year is the 200th anniversary of the publication of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice…so check this out… Historical use of the word “hoyden” as in the book Pride and Prejudice. World Wide Words Newsletter: 4 May 2013

…P D James wrote of Lydia Bennet that “Seen through the eyes of her sister, Elizabeth, she appears to be a vulgar, lusty hoyden.”

Though it’s still to be found, hoyden is a word that feels better suited to Austen’s time than the modern world. These days, we do not regard boisterous or tomboyish girls as a disgrace to their sex, though if we are forced into close association we may wish for a quieter life. Jane Austen would have been much less kind, because for her hoyden had a stronger sense of being ill-bred and rude. She doesn’t call the frivolous and headstrong Lydia a hoyden — she never uses the word in any of her writings — but she does say that Lydia has “high animal spirits”, which closely matches the modern sense.

Hoyden is a curiosity because it once referred to men. We may now look indulgently on hoydenish young women but male hoydens were considered to be rude, ignorant, awkward or boorish. In 1593, Thomas Nashe (on record as its first user) wrote of the hoydens of Trinity Hall at the University of Cambridge. Its members were exclusively male at the time, as they continued to be until 1977, when the college admitted its first female undergraduates. Why hoyden should have shifted to describe women instead of men is unclear, though boorishness and awkwardness are hardly male preserves.

The other oddity is that hoyden is a close relative of heathen, which is much older. Its roots lie in very early Germanic dialects and is related to heath. Heathens were literally heath-dwellers, inhabitants of open country, uncivilised and in particular unacquainted with Christianity. Hoyden is thought to have been borrowed from heiden, the Dutch equivalent of heathen from the same ancient Germanic source.

This serves as a nice segue to the “history” portion of our post…here are a few links to articles that focus on history.

When flappers ruled the Earth: how dance helped women’s liberation

Josephine Baker at the Casino of Paris in 1939

‘The Nefertiti of now’ … Josephine Baker at the Casino of Paris in 1939. Photograph: Lipnitzki/Roger Viollet/Getty.

In 1908, wearing little more than a jewelled breastplate and a transparent skirt, the Canadian dancer Maud Allan stormed the fortress of British proprieties with her solo work, The Vision of Salomé. Allan danced an audacious choreography of desire, her body “swaying like a witch, twisting like a snake, and panting with [a hypnotic] passion”, according to one dazed viewer. But while several theatres outside London barred Allan’s performance as indecent, to her legions of women admirers, she was an inspiration. Margot Asquith, wife of the Liberal PM, was among those who saw Allan’s dancing as a liberating expression of female sexuality.

Moving backwards in time…Could Body Armor Have Saved Millions in World War I?

German trenches for article.jpg

German trenches on Aisne River, in northeastern France. (Wikimedia Commons)

Unlike ancient bloodlettings lost to memory, World War I lingers in our collective DNA. The image of the trenches is our icon of hell on earth. Ten million soldiers died in mud-ditches and no-mans-land during the Great War, and we remember this dark narrative because they died for nothing. After reaching pinnacles of human achievement, civilization set about to destroy itself out of pride over imagined slights and disrespect.

We let 5,000 of our young men die after 1941 because we did not want them to look like Germans.

In total contrast, the early 1900s’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Arms and Armor Collection was a magicalplace. Boys steeped in Howard Pyle’s Champions of the Round Table or Arthur Conan Doyle’s The White Company (and N.C. Wyeth’s illustrations!), would have come here to see the armor … and dream.

But what does the Met armor collection have to do with World War I? We know from war poets like Rupert Brooke that so many of those boys would as men lead their soldiers and themselves to muddy death, still idealizing the knights they once dreamed to be.

But there is another irony, sadder still, now forgotten: Medieval armorers and men-at-arms knew a secret that would have spared perhaps 30 percent of those who died in battle. We have the evidence right at the Metropolitan Museum itself.

And yet…back further still…to another war: ‘Stonewall’ Jackson Death Linked To Moon Position, Phase During Civil War Battle

Union Major General Daniel E. Sickles' Midnight Attack

Union Major General Daniel E. Sickles’ Midnight AttackCredit: From the collection of Donald Olson

By the light of a bright full moon, Union Major General Daniel E. Sickles’s corps launched a midnight attack on May 2-3, 1863. According to a New York Times war correspondent, “This night attack was the most grand and terrific thing of the war. The moon shone bright, and an enemy could be seen at good musket range.” This woodcut appeared in the Official and Illustrated War Record (1898).

Lieutenant General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson was a major figure in the Civil War, second in command to Confederate general Robert E. Lee, when he was shot by friendly fire during the Battle of Chancellorsville on May 2, 1863. Shortly after that battle in northeastern Virginia, Jackson died of his wounds, leaving the Confederate army without one of its boldest military strategists just two months before the pivotal Battle of Gettysburg.

But exactly how Jackson’s own troops could have mistaken him for the enemy has been unexplained until now.

I know that you will find those stories interesting, I just gave you a little taste, please be sure to read them in full. Now I have one last thing to share with you today.

Delphyne sent this video trailer to me the other day. It is a new documentary called “Rebel” which will hopefully air on PBS soon.

Rebel: Loreta Velasquez Civil War soldier and spy // New Orleans Film Society

Rebel is a feature documetary about Loreta Velazquez, a Cuban raised in New Orleans, who disguised herself as a man to fight in the American Civil War. She fought at Bull Run, was wounded at Shiloh, and served as a spy for the Confederacy until becoming a double agent for the Union.
For over a century, critics have dismissed Velazquez as a hoax. But there is plenty of evidence about her. Who was she? Why did she fight? And what made her so dangerous she was erased from history?
Based on Loreta’s 600-page memoir, actors and historians bring her story to life in a documentary weaving drama, animation, historical and recreated archival material to unravel the mystery of Loreta Velazquez. Rebel is a detective story about a woman, a myth, and the politics of national memory.

Writer/Producer/Director: María Agui Carter

You can see more information about the documentary here at the Smithsonian National History Museum Website:

Part I: “Rebel:” Loreta Janeta Velazquez, Civil War soldier and spy – O Say Can You See?

Part II: “Rebel:” Loreta Janeta Velazquez, Civil War soldier and spy – O Say Can You See?

I had not heard of Loreta Velazquez, but when I saw her pictures I did recognize her. The pictures below are from the History Department at the University of North Carolina.  The information is from The Civil War Trust website: Loreta Janeta Velazquez

velazfp

…was born in Cuba on June 26, 1842 to a wealthy family. In 1849, she was sent to school in New Orleans, where she resided with her aunt. At the age of 14, she eloped with an officer in the Texas army. When Texas seceded from the Union in 1861, her husband joined the Confederate army and Velazquez pleaded with him to allow her to join him. Undeterred by her husband’s refusal, Velazquez had a uniform made and disguised herself as a man, taking the name Harry T. Buford.

Now displaying the self-awarded rank of lieutenant, Velazquez moved to Arkansas, where she proceeded to raise a regiment of volunteers. Locating her husband in Florida, Velazquez brought the regiment to him, presenting herself as their commanding officer. Her husband’s reaction is not recorded in history, as just a few days later he was killed in a shooting accident.

Velazquez headed north, acting as an “independent soldier,” she joined up with a regiment just in time to fight at the Battle of First Manassas (Bull Run) and the Battle of Ball’s Bluff. Shortly afterwards, she once again donned female attire and went to Washington, DC, where she was able to gather intelligence for the Confederacy. Upon her return to the South, Velazquez was made an official member of the detective corps.velaz61

Apparently espionage did not hold enough excitement for Velazquez, and she once again sought action on the battlefield. Resuming her disguise as Lieutenant Buford, she traveled to Tennessee, joining up with another regiment to fight at the Battle of Fort Donelson on February 11, 1862. Velazquez was wounded in the foot, and fearing that her true gender would be revealed if she sought medical treatment in camp, she fled back to her home in New Orleans.

Still in her male disguise, Velazquez was arrested in New Orleans for being a possible Union spy. She was cleared of the charges, but was fined for impersonating a man, and released. She immediately headed back to Tennessee, in search of another regiment to join. As luck would have it, she found the regiment she had originally recruited in Arkansas, and fought with them at the Battle of Shiloh on April 6-7, 1862. While on burial detail, she was wounded in the side by an exploding shell, and an army doctor discovered her true gender. Velazquez decided at this point to end her career as a soldier, and she returned to New Orleans.

She did not stay in New Orleans, Velazquez went to Richmond and worked as a Confederate spy, going back and forth between the lines in both women and men’s disguises. She marries again, and becomes a widow again. Then after the war, marries once more and moves to Venezuela. When this third husband dies she comes back to the states and travels throughout the West. At some point she has a child and then to support herself and her son, she writes her memoirs, which were…

…dedicated to her Confederate comrades “who, although they fought in a losing cause, succeeded by their valor in winning the admiration of the world.” The public reaction to the book at the time was mixed—Confederate General Jubal Early denounced it as pure fiction—but modern scholars have found some of it to be quite accurate.

With the release of her book, Velazquez may have married for a fourth time and is last documented as living in Nevada. The date of her death is thought to be 1897, but there is no supporting evidence for this. In response to those who criticized the account of her life, she said that she hoped she would be judged with impartiality, as she only did what she thought to be right.

What a life…I could see her being a character in a Quentin Tarantino movie.

Damn, I didn’t realize just how long this post had gotten. Y’all have a great Sunday…and if you have time, let us know what you are thinking and reading about today!


23 Comments on “Sunday Reads: A o.k. for oll korrect.”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Great stuff! It will take me awhile to get to all these fascinating links.

    Something I’ve been meaning to mention–the recent death of another old-time movie star Deanna Durbin at 91. She was famous starlet and wonderful singer, but left Hollywood when she was only 26.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2013/may/02/local/la-me-deanna-durbin-20130502

    • I saw her Remembrance film on TCM the other night…btw bb, how you liking that channel? The beginning of Summer is usually a blah time for them but it gets good after that string of 60’s beach movies.

      • Beata says:

        This is a fascinating post, JJ. So much to read and learn. Thanks!

        Btw, Deanna Durbin was one of my mother’s favorite stars. She was so lovely and talented; it was like she had a ray of light shining through her. R.I.P., Deanna.

  2. RalphB says:

    So the only actor with both an Erdos and a Bacon number is Natalie Portman, That saved the whole story for me :-)

  3. This is hilarious: China Is Censoring Jokes About Its Propaganda Machine’s Penis-Shaped HQ – Alexander Abad-Santos – The Atlantic Wire

    The People’s Daily is the main state-owned newspaper of China’s communist party, and everyone was pretty psyched about the paper’s new Beijing headquarters. The building is massive, imposing, and, uh, currently shaped like a colossal penis. Now, as construction workers try to finish the engineering, the country’s censors are working overtime to stop Chinese people on social media from laughing at the expense of the very paper in charge of controlling the country’s message. According to The International Business Times, the nearly 500-foot tower won’t be finished until this time next year, but the war on mocking it has already begun.
    […]
    Of course, some clever Weibo users have snuck around the censors by way of the double entendre. “It seems the People’s Daily is going to rise up, there’s hope for the Chinese dream,” reads one message that got through filters, according to the AFP. Another: “Of course the national mouthpiece should be imposing.”

    And then you have papers like The Times of India, with (unintentionally funny?) introductions to their architecture stories: “The new 150-meter tall headquarters of the People’s Daily, the main organ of the Communist Party….”

    Look at the picture of the building, It does look like a huge:

  4. dakinikat says:

    Gawd … that Cole/Stein story is enquirer worthy … fascinating!!!

  5. This is upsetting: Utah soccer referee dies after attack by teenage player | Reuters

    A Utah soccer referee who suffered head injuries when he was punched in the face by a teenage player has died, authorities said.

    The 17-year-old player struck the referee, Ricardo Portillo, in the head on April 27 after Portillo penalized the teenager during a soccer game in a Salt Lake City suburb, according to the Unified Police of Greater Salt Lake.

    Portillo, 46, died late on Saturday at an area hospital, the police said in a statement posted on the department’s website.

    The player, whose name was withheld because he is a juvenile, was upset because Portillo had issued him a yellow card, police said. A yellow card is a caution for actions that range from a foul to unsportsmanlike conduct.

  6. dakinikat says:

    Jerkass bananarepublican governors

    Florida rejects Medicaid expansion, leaves 1.3 million uninsured http://wapo.st/12FCHJV

    • RalphB says:

      So Gov Bat Boy wants the expansion but the legislature won’t fund anything. Wow! Kasich is having the same issue with his Ohio legislature. They are huge assholes!

    • RalphB says:

      This isn’t a phenomenon reserved to Florida. In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich (R) is having trouble moving the Medicaid expansion he supported through the state’s Republican controlled-legislature. Similar fights are playing out in Arizona and Michigan, where Republican governors find themselves in the relatively odd position of trying to sell Obamacare to state legislators of their own party.

      Idiots!

    • ecocatwoman says:

      Medicare/Medicaid fraudster Scott was against it before he was for it. Gee, I wonder if this topic will have any influence on our next election? Probably not as long as those that already have theirs aren’t impacted, those losers who need Medicaid can just die. Hard to believe that our state legislature could be worse now that Prince Marco has moved on to bigger and better things. In addition to this they are close to degrading our water supply & not allowing either the water management agencies or local elected officials from setting standards for their area. Fertilizer runoff, leaking septic tanks, why would that be a problem?

      • RalphB says:

        What became of that Republican principle of local control? Hypocrites.

        • ecocatwoman says:

          I think we didn’t bother to listen to the whole rule: Local control is best………………….unless it isn’t because some Democrats are in charge of the rules.

        • dakinikat says:

          They want to control the locality between women’s pelvic bones … that’s their local control these days

  7. RalphB says:

    Cambridge man accused of lying to authorities after Boston Marathon bombings seeks release

    Advocates for a 19-year-old Cambridge man charged with lying to federal investigators after the Boston Marathon bombings are calling on a federal judge to release him from jail Monday, saying he had “nothing to do” with the deadly attack.

    In court documents filed Saturday, his lawyers and supporters said Robel Phillipos is a doting and civic-minded young man and that the authorities’ claims that he gave conflicting accounts to them is “refutable.” He has a detention hearing Monday in US District Court in Boston.

    This young man may have a very good defense