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Harvesting honey: the hard work of beekeeping

The day we harvest honey always proves to be the most physically demanding day of the year. That day occurred last Friday (June 15).

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JRRTolkien

J.R.R. Tolkien, Seymour Hersh, courtroom sketch artists, a D-Day remembrance, and more: newsletter June 15, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (x) on June 8, 2018 This is the Week of the Bees in our household. After a slow-starting spring (I’ve complained about that previously), the blooms came in abundance, and the bees had plenty of reasons to forage outside the hives. That they did. I […]

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MrChurchill

Churchill: the man who loved to write

We know him as a great statesman, the man who led the fight against Nazi Germany, the one who provided the lion of Great Britain its roar (as he once put it). He gave voice to the grit and determination of the British Empire when it went through its darkest hour. But Winston Churchill, being […]

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JRRTolkien

Tolkien exhibit looks into a vast imagination

In 1930 J.R.R. Tolkien, a veteran of the trenches in World War I and by then a professor at Oxford University, was marking student papers when he noticed that one of the exam books had a blank page at the end. On that page he wrote: “In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.” […]

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The courtroom sketch artist: art in a pressure-cooker

Courtroom sketch artists are people who can draw (or paint) quickly, accurately depicting what they see and unafraid to allow others — maybe millions of others — to see what they have done. They work under seemingly impossible deadlines, sometimes only a few minutes, at best a few hours. There’s very little chance of editing or […]

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SeymourHersh

Spending his life as a ‘Reporter’: Seymour Hersh 

My Lai. If you know anything at all about the war in Vietnam, you know this word. It was the village where more than 100 unarmed civilians were killed by American soldiers during a 1968 offensive. The word has taken on literal and symbolic meaning. We might not know the word at all if it […]

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David Douglas Duncan, the photographer every photojournalist aspired to be

If you were a news photographer in the 20th century, you probably wanted to be like David Douglas Duncan — courageous, fearless, adventurous, and constantly seeing what others don’t see. Duncan died this past week at the age of 102. His legacy of photography — particularly combat photography — is unmatched. Here’s part of what […]

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Solon – an ancient sage and a synonym

If you read the quotations from the speeches of John F. Kennedy in my post about them or in last week’s newsletter, you might remember one of his references to someone named Solon, whom he identified as an Athenian lawmaker. Solon (638-558 BC) was more than that. He is listed as one of the Seven […]

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ClaudeChappe

A telegraph network 50 years before the telegraph – le systeme Chappe

A full half-century before Samuel Morse demonstrated his electric telegraph system in America, a long-distance and extremely effective communication network existed in France. The network was developed by Claude Chappe (1763-1805), a scientist who realized that the human eye was an excellent device for discerning angles, even at long distances. He took that idea and developed […]

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GenGrant

Ulysses S. Grant, D-Day, and the French telegraph system of the 1790s; plus Solon and a solon: newsletter, June 8, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,364) on June 8, 2018   The rains we had in East Tennessee last week worked their usual miracles on our garden. Everything we planted is growing, and I was able to get into the garden with a hoe and tiller early this week to […]

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The surprising source of the first news of D-Day

Every June 6 (which came and went this week) American news media faithfully observes the Normandy invasion by Allied forces during World War II. It’s an important anniversary because it marked an important point in the defeat of Nazi Germany. But how did America first learn of the Normandy landings? The first news came from […]

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Alliance of Independent Authors: 7 Errors Grammar Checkers Miss 

7 Errors Grammar Checkers Miss | Alliance of Independent Authors: Self-Publishing Advice Center If you use an electronic grammar checker to help you with your writing, this is a good list. The seven errors: cliches, homophones (words that sound alike but are spelled differently), redundancies, readability scores, repeated words and phrases, sentence length, and vague […]

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The life of Ulysses Grant: ending with a triumph

Ulysses S. Grant lived a life of devastating defeats and mind-boggling triumphs. As such, he gives biographers a rich mine of material to work with. The latest biographer, Ron Chernow, seems to have done fairly with the material of Grant’s life, according to the book’s critics. One such critic is David Blight, an American History […]

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Winston Churchill caricature

Reading notes: Churchill’s insight and the willful ignorance The Times of London

Author William Manchester called it “unfathomable.” Manchester’s magisterial three-volume biography of Winston Churchill (The Last Lion) contains an interesting description of the attitude of The Times of London toward the rise of Adolph Hitler in volume 2, Alone. While Churchill in the mid-1930s was the single voice among the upper reaches of the British ruling […]

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WilsonasSherlock-2

Louisa May Alcott, The Times of London, Dostoyevsky, and a few presidents here and there: newsletter, June 1, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,086) on June 1, 2018   America’s Memorial Day weekend had us looking back for many good reasons this week. Those memories were mixed with some rain here in East Tennessee that has the garden growing like crazy. Beans, potatoes, okra, peas, and buckwheat. Thanks […]

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The president and the detective novel – a continuing love story

The President Is Missing, by Bill Clinton and James Patterson. Coming to your physical and digital bookstore in June. Watch for it. Pre-order from Amazon if you like. This won’t be the first time that a president has ventured into the mystery/detective/thriller genre, as Clay Fehrman points out in an interesting and enlightening article in […]

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Dostoyevsky and the current ‘true-crime’ craze 

Interest in true-crime and the justice system is not a new thing. It dates back to Russian writer Fyodor Dostoyevsky, who was a victim of the judiciary system of his time. That’s the view of Jennifer Wilson, who has an interesting article in the New York Times: Dostoyevsky was obsessed with the judiciary. He spent […]

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John Kennedy’s words are still worth our attention

This week saw the passing of the birthday — almost without notice — of a recent American president: John F. Kennedy. Kennedy was born on May 29, 1917, and there was no special reason to note his birthday. He was in office for less than three years, and one could argue that his death — […]

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Louisa May Alcott, journalist

Louisa May Alcott, author of the classic of American literature Little Women, was for a brief time in her life Louisa May Alcott, journalist. Despite the picture presented in her famous novel, Alcott’s childhood and formative years were anything but idyllic. Her family was always on the edge of poverty, and her father, Bronson Alcott, […]

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Farewell, Philip Roth; Mencken on the language; how we got Sherlock, and more: newsletter, May 25, 2018

This newsletter was emailed to everyone on Jim’s email list (3,081) on May 25, 2018   Thanks to all who wrote or commented on Facebook about the dulcimer that I made and showed off in last week’s newsletter. I am going to start on another one before long. Sadly, for the second week in a […]

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