The second generation of American leaders: Clay, Calhoun, and Webster

August 2, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, journalism, writers, writing.

Here is something odd and overlooked about the history of the American republic. The second generation of leaders―with one notable exception―is completely devoid of any close relatives, mainly sons, of the people we consider the Founding Fathers. None of the relatives of George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, or almost any others that • Read More »

The generation after independence, the Irish, and the memories of Midnight Cowboy: newsletter, July 30, 2021

August 2, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,301) on Friday, July 30, 2021. July could rightly be called Independence Month. Not only do Americans and the French celebrate their nations’ birthdays during this time, but the Irish, too, have reason to celebrate ―although few of them do. It was on July 21, • Read More »

Celebrating the French – for their revolution and ours: newsletter, July 23, 2021

July 24, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,302) on Friday, July 23, 2021. Americans, possibly because they are exhausted from their own July the Fourth celebrations, pay relatively little attention to Bastille Day, July 14. They should give it more recognition than they do if for no other reason than to honor • Read More »

Edward Gibbon: giving voice to the Enlightenment view of history (part 1)

July 22, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, journalism, writers, writing.

As a 27-year-old with scholarly ambitions and wondering what to do with his life, Edward Gibbon visited Rome on his grand tour of Europe and was struck by what he saw. The magnificent ruins seared an image and an idea into his brain. Rome had once been the most powerful political entity on earth. Now • Read More »

The ‘Specials’ at Gettysburg, more from Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, and a little learning wherever we can: newsletter, July 16, 2021

July 18, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, Civil War, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,303) on Friday, July 16, 2021.   This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,313) on Friday, July 16, 2021. More and more, the sentiment showing in mainstream news outlets is that online learning during our year of Covid was a bust • Read More »

The voice of Enlightenment history, the Manhattan swap, and more from the Devil’s Dictionary: newsletter, July 9, 2021

July 11, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,313) on Friday, July 9, 2021. Within the small number of television shows that I watch (many of them from Great Britain, Australia, or New Zealand), I have become increasingly annoyed and disturbed by a prejudice that seems to have gone undetected by the rest • Read More »

Malcolm, Vermeer, Key, and the Fourth of July: newsletter, July 2, 2021

July 5, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,332) on Friday, July 2, 2021. Americans celebrate themselves this weekend, as they should. America has no shortage of problems, faults, and flaws. It also has no shortage of critics, many of whom are Americans themselves. So it should be. But one thing that Americans prove • Read More »

Mary Somerville, the first person to be called a ‘scientist’ (part 1)

June 28, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

William Whewell had a problem. In 1834, he was reviewing a newly-published book titled On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences. It was an extraordinary work, something that he had never encountered before. It was a book that took on incomplete and fragmented knowledge of the fields of astronomy, mathematics, physics, geology, and chemistry and brought • Read More »

Conquering geography: technology’s most profound victory during Covid

June 27, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

Three decades ago Marc Andreessen co-created the Mosaic internet browser, one of the first of its kind, and later he cofounded Netscape. His website, Future, takes on some of the big issues internet technology. Andreessen has written a brief and perceptive review of how technology helped us survive – even thrive – during the Covid • Read More »

Cicadas, postcards, and geography – plus more from the Devil’s Dictionary: newsletter, June 25, 2021

June 27, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,313) on Friday, June 25, 2021. The fact the college scholarship athletes are woefully compensated based on the revenue they generate is obvious and indisputable. I spent the vast majority of my teaching career at big-time state universities whose athletic programs overshadowed almost everything else • Read More »

More than 150 years of the postcard

June 26, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

Before there was Twitter, there was . . . the postcard. Most of us have postcards lying about here and there, and my guess is that all of us at one time or another have sent a postcard. But we have done so with little or no knowledge about how postcards came into being. That • Read More »

Benjamin Banneker, 18th century American naturalist

June 25, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

Before the noise of the recent cicada uprising dies away completely, we should take note of one person who, notable as he was, has been thoroughly ignored by American history. His name is Benjamin Banneker, and in 1749, he was the first American to note the 17-year cycle of the noisy insect. Had that been • Read More »

The best-selling textbook of all time, the motivations of an art forger, and the remarkable Mary Somerville:newsletter, June 18, 2021

June 20, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,332) on Friday, June 18, 2021. The latest controversy to hit Major League Baseball revolves around the “sticky stuff” many pitchers apply to a baseball before they throw it. Applying any foreign substance to a baseball is against the rules. The controversy has been sparked • Read More »

Mary Somerville, the woman who became the first scientist (part 2)

June 19, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

By the time Mary Somerville was 47 years old in 1827, she had lived what might have seemed like to many a full life for a nineteenth-century female. Actually, more than a full life. She had grown up the daughter of a British Naval captain, and as a child the circumstances of her family were • Read More »

The first ‘scientist,’ Forsyth’s enjoyment of silence, and the Irish gun plot: newsletter, June 11, 2021

June 13, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, newsletter, podcasting, reporters, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,332) on Friday, June 11, 2021. Periodically, a few people, and a few members of the news media — and then a few government officials and agencies — will stir themselves up over an identified flying objects, UFOs. As I write this, we are awaiting • Read More »