Sunday, February 16, 2020

Book Review: 'Natural: How Faith in Nature's Goodness Leads to Harmful Fads, Unjust Laws, and Flawed Science' by Alan Levinovitz

Person of the Day: John Jacob Astor IV


ASTOR, John Jacob, American capitalist and inventor, fourth of the name, nephew of John Jacob the third, and son of William: b. Rhinebeck, N. Y., 13 July 1864; d. at sea (Titanic wreck) 15 April 1912. He was graduated from Harvard in 1888. He was the manager of the Astor properties in America; a director in many banking, insurance and railroad companies, and member of various clubs and social organizations. He built in 1897 a very costly hotel, the Astoria (named after the famous fur settlement of 1811), on Fifth avenue, New York, adjoining the Waldorf built by his cousin, William Waldorf, the two being now joined as the Waldorf-Astoria. Besides his business activities, he had strong individual faculties. 
He was an expert in marine mechanics, inventor of a bicycle brake, and a pneumatic road improver; and was a member of scientific and other intellectual societies. He wrote ‘A Journey in Other Worlds: a Romance of the Future’ (1894). He was on Governor Morton's staff 1894-96, and in the Spanish-American War of 1896 was commissioned lieutenant-colonel of United States Volunteers, and served in the Santiago campaign.
Encyclopedia Americana, 1920 

Thursday, February 13, 2020

Book Review: 'Brilliance' by Marcus Sakey

Review by Susan Grigsby
What if there was an alternate America? One in which the state openly spied on its citizens, testing children for special aptitudes and sending those who posses them to special academies?
The cities look like ours, the streets have the same names, although with a few more cameras. People go to work every morning and take the train home at night. They use their cell phones and they access the internet and the government watches every move they make.

Person of the Day: Maximilien Robespierre

ROBESPIERRE, MAXIMILIEN FRANÇOIS MARIE ISIDORE DE (1758-1794), French revolutionist, was born at Arras on the 6th of May 1758. His family, according to tradition, was of Irish descent, having emigrated from Ireland at the time of the Reformation on account of religion, and his direct ancestors in the male line had been notaries at the little village of Carvin near Arras from the beginning of the 17th century. His grandfather, being more ambitious, established himself at Arras as an advocate; and his father followed the same profession, marrying Jacqueline Marguerite Carraut, daughter of a brewer in the same city, in 1757. Of this marriage four children were born, two sons, and two daughters, of whom Maximilien was the eldest; but in 1767 Madame Derobespierre, as the name was then spelt, died, and the disconsolate widower at once left Arras and wandered about Europe until his death at Munich in 1769. The children were taken charge of by their maternal grandfather and aunts, and Maximilien was sent to the college of Arras, whence he was nominated in 1770 through the bishop of his native town to a bursarship at the college of Louis-le-Grand at Paris. Here he had for fellow-pupils Camille Desmoulins and Stanislas Fréron.