A Colonial-era tome, auctioned last week in New York, easily set a new record as the world’s most expensive printed book.
A first-edition copy of the 1640 Bay Psalm Book was sold at Sotheby’s New York for $14.2 million, breaking the previous mark of $11.5 million, set in 2010, when a copy of John James Audubon’s “The Birds of America” was auctioned.
The Bay Psalm Book, one of 11 surviving examples, was sold by Boston’s famed Old South Church.
The Church sold the Bay Psalm Book from its collection to cover the cost of building repairs and to fund future endeavors after taking a vote of its congregants in 2012, according to a statement issued by its senior minister, Nancy Taylor.
The book is one of two copies owned by the church, which dates to 1669.
The Bay Psalm Book is one of the rarest books in the world and among the finest surviving copies of original 1,700 that were printed, according to Reuters.
The Bay Psalm Book was published in Cambridge, Mass., by the Puritan leaders of the Massachusetts Bay Colony.
Dumas’s father, Thomas-Alexandre Davy de la Pailleterie, was a French nobleman and his mother a black slave. Thomas-Alexandre joined the French army, served with distinction in the French Revolutionary Wars and was promoted to general by age 31.
However, he, like many, he fell out of favor and by 1800 sought a return to France. During his voyage back, Thomas-Alexandre’s ship put in at Taranto, in the Kingdom of Naples, and he and others were held as prisoners of war under trying circumstances, a situation that would continue for two years.
By the time Alexandre was born, his father’s health was broken and he was impoverished. Thomas-Alexandre died in 1806 when his son was just 4 years old.
His widowed mother could not provide her son with much of an education, but the young Dumas read everything he could and taught himself Spanish.
In addition, stories of his father’s bravery during the campaigns of the Revolutionary Wars inspired the boy’s imagination. Although poor, the family had their father’s distinguished reputation and aristocratic rank.
In 1822, after the restoration of the French monarchy, the 20-year old Alexandre moved to Paris and was able to obtain a position at the Palais Royal in the office of Louis-Philippe, Duke of Orléans.
History is replete with examples of animals serving as military mascots.
The fictional bear Winnie the Pooh is based on “Winnipeg,” or “Winnie,” a black bear that was the mascot for a Canadian cavalry regiment during the early part of World War I; “Tirpitz,” was a pig captured from the German Navy following the Battle of the Falkland Islands in 1914 and ended up as the mascot of the cruiser HMS Glasgow; and “Old Douglas” was a camel that served as part of the 43rd Mississippi Infantry Regiment during the War Between the States until he was killed by a Union sharpshooter at Vicksburg.
However all of the above take a back seat to Wojtek, a bear who was not only the mascot of a Polish artillery supply unit, but actually was given a rank and perform duties while in service during World War II.
Wojtek was happened upon by a group of Polish soldiers in the spring of 1942 after they had landed in Persia and began moving toward Egypt in an effort to re-group under the direction of the British Army, according to the website Today I Found Out.
The Poles had originally been taken prisoners by the Soviets following the invasion of Poland by German and Soviet forces in 1939.
When Germany turned on the Soviet Union in 1941, the Soviets, in dire need of troops, decided to release their Polish prisoners of war, who started re-forming into a fighting force.
As the Polish troops made their way through the mountains of Persia, the story goes that a group of soldiers happened upon an Iranian shepherd boy who had found an orphaned Syrian brown bear cub. With food scarce, the boy agreed to trade the cub to the soldiers for some canned meat.
The soldiers named the cub Wojtek, pronounced “Voytek,” meaning “he who enjoys war” or “smiling warrior,” according to Today I Found Out.
It would be a gross generalization to say that the average adult today spends much of his or her free time in a mind-numbed torpor, whether it be induced by watching television, surfing the Internet or yapping away on cell phones.
However, even those who regularly challenge themselves intellectually can’t help but be impressed by Tom Holland, a British popular historian.
Over the past decade Holland has produced acclaimed works of fiction and non-fiction about the classical world by adapting Homer, Virgil and Thucydides for the radio.
Perhaps even more fascinating is the fact that he has translated Herodotus’ “Histories” at the rate of a paragraph a day; an endeavor termed a labor of love. The effort was released by Penguin Classics last month.
Anyone who has read or simply picked up Herodotus’ work knows this is no mean feat.
Called the Father of History, Herodotus is believed to have lived from 484 B.C. to 425 B.C. He is cited as the first individual to systematically collect material, attempt to test its accuracy and arrange it in a well-constructed and vivid narrative.
The “Histories” – Herodotus’ only known work – investigates the origins of the Greco-Persian wars and includes an array of geographical and ethnographical information.
For biting yet incisive political commentary, it’s difficult to top Waldo Lydecker’s Journal.
An equal-opportunity critic, Waldo is at his best when analyzing the words and actions of grandstanding politicos whose ultimate goal is self-aggrandizement rather than public service.
As such, the Republican Party, particularly in the Deep South, has been an easy mark in recent years.
From Waldo’s post:
Mark Harris, pastor of First Baptist Church of Charlotte, will officially toss his halo into the ring October 2.
Harris is the fourth candidate to seek a six-year free ride to draw a paycheck and oppose everything. Other candidates include NC House Speaker Thom Tillis, who tried to corner to cynical vote in 2012 with a marriage equality ban even he admitted would be history in a few years.
Harris’ entry into the race could heighten the odds of an intra-Teabagger squabble in the primary. Another hopeful, Cary medico Greg Brannon, plans to yard in demagogues like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz to keep the animal spirits animated on the Tinfoil Right.
Harris will, presumably, call on God, who is widely reputed in state GOP circles to be a Republican himself.
Historians estimate that as many as 70 million people were killed in World War II. The first, it would seem, was a 43-year-old Catholic farmer selected by the Nazis as part of a ruse intended to create the appearance of Polish aggression against Germany in order to justify the subsequent invasion of Poland.
Franciszek Honiok, a Silesian known for sympathizing with the Poles, was arrested by the notorious SS on Aug. 30, 1939, in the Silesian village of Polomia.
Early the following evening, seven SS officers posing as Polish partisans seized a radio station in the city of Gleiwitz, then just over the border from Poland in eastern Germany, and broadcast a short anti-German message in Polish.
Before the SS team left, they shot Honiok – who had been drugged prior to the raid – and left his body, dressed in a Polish army uniform draped across the entrance steps, according to The Telegraph.
The raid was part of Operation Himmler, a series of operations undertaken as propaganda measures to pave the way for Germany’s invasion of Poland.
Almost immediately after the “Gleiwitz incident,” every German radio station, in a carefully coordinated move, broadcast the words used by the “invaders,” and claimed that bodies of Polish regular soldiers who were killed in the incident remained at the scene, according to The Telegraph.
The next morning, Sept. 1, 1939, an enraged Adolf Hitler used the Gleiwitz ruse as his excuse to declare war on Poland, initiating World War II. Addressing the Reichstag, he claimed that the violation of German territory by “Polish Army hooligans had finally exhausted our patience.”
Questions for the poor souls who, having run through all the blogs that educate, illuminate and/or edify, are left with this site:
- Is the above caption offensive? If so, why?
It makes light of neither Jesus Christ nor Christianity, but of those individuals who go door to door proselytizing.
Having turned away many a Mormon, Jehovah’s Witness and Southern Baptist from my front door, I couldn’t help but find the meme funny, even though all the above Christians were without fail exceedingly polite and, I would imagine, well intentioned.
- If the evangelizing cat is not at least a little offensive, then why is it humorous?
Often, it’s the taboo that gets the biggest guffaw.
If the image of a cat sticking its paws and part of its head through a small door came with the caption: “Hello Sir – Can I interest you in an excellent deal on a Electromaflux 5000 Upright Vacuum?” it wouldn’t be quite the same, even though we’ve all had to deal with door-to-door salesmen peddling everything from appliances to insurance.
- Finally, what did people do for chuckles in the days before the invention of the camera allowed them to pass around pictures of animals?
This, I concede, is of less philosophical significance than the other questions.
Still, passing around, say, a charcoal image of a cat stuck in a butter churn wouldn’t seem to have the same impact as that of a photo of the same scene.
The language of the Penobscot Indian Nation has existed for many centuries, at a minimum. Now, the Maine tribe is on the cusp of a dramatic development regarding a dictionary for its Eastern Algonquian tongue.
Efforts to preserve the Penobscot language, a dialect of Eastern Abenaki, received a major boost this week when it was learned that a federal grant has been awarded to allow researchers to assist the tribe in devising a complete Penobscot language dictionary.
The National Endowment for the Humanities has awarded a grant of nearly $340,000 to help the Penobscot Nation, the University of Maine and the American Philosophical Society preserve the language by creating a comprehensive version of the Penobscot Dictionary, complete with an English index and online database, according to the Bangor Daily News.
It would be the first published Penobscot dictionary.
The Penobscot Nation lives primarily on the Penobscot Indian Island Reservation, near Old Town, Maine, just north of Bangor.
Penobscot, like many Native American languages, has been in decline for well over a century.
Traveling with my four younger girls this past Sunday an impromptu a cappella concert broke out in the back seat, featuring an interesting array of songs.
The girls had been prompted by my wife, who had sung to them the night before as they were lying in bed, about to turn in for the night.
Mrs. Cotton Boll is blessed with a beautiful voice that could melt the stars, and she’s made a point of singing to my daughters since she came into their lives nearly five years ago.
It’s apparent from listening to my progeny warble away this past weekend that her efforts are reaping rewards.
To set the scene, daughters nos. 2, 4 and 5 were in the backseat and handled the singing. Daughter No. 3 was up front with me and chose to sit out the “session.”
The three began with songs that Mrs. Cotton Boll had taught them, including “In the Highways,” written by Maybelle Carter, of the famed Carter family; “Jesus, I Heard You had a Big House,” another Gospel song; and “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”