After this year of “celebrity rapture”, as one friend called it, hearing of a 90 year old man’s slipping out of existence registers little more than a vale, but since the man in question was the lovely John Glenn, my second thought was of his wife. I knew of her because of The Right Stuff, where their relationship was beautifully portrayed, but I had no idea of her history after the spaceflight era. Turns out she went from a crippling stutter to a professor. Fans of etymology will understand the significance of that. She’s a tough broad and I mourn for the good man and the great relationship she lost.
After years of cruel slurs, of being overlooked by strangers, Annie Glenn seeks out the handicapped. In a crowd, she heads straight for those in wheelchairs. She has a sort of radar; finds the shyest person in the room and takes the time to draw him out. A group of deaf people were in the audience at one of her husband’s speeches. Afterward, Annie Glenn went over to them and soon was learning sign language. As the press crowded around Glenn, he looked over at his wife, who was signing “I Love You” to the deaf. “That’s what you should be covering,” he told the reporters.
I’m a British citizen but don’t have much patriotic devotion to the country. Unless, of course, you count its commitment to culture and the arts. The decision to make museums and galleries free was a wonderful one, and much appreciated. Wish more countries would follow suit.
Fifteen years ago today National Museums around the country opened their doors and welcomed visitors in free of charge.
On that day people in London, Manchester, York and many more places could visit the Victoria and Albert, the Museum of Science and Industry and the National Railway Museum without paying a penny.
It was one of Labour’s boldest initiatives and one of its most enduring legacies.
He didn’t win the Turner Prize, but all the press around him has been a wonderful way to spend time (virtually) with my friend Michael. So great to see someone who has worked so hard for so long finally get the recognition and the success he’s due.
Every evening at approximately 10 p.m., the “Flogsta scream” (Flogstavrålet in Swedish) may be heard, when students individually or collectively let out screams and howls from windows, balconies and roof tops.
According to Uppsala University, the collective screaming acts as “a much needed safety valve” and “a cry of angst” for students stressed by the demands of university life.
Someone at NPR has stumbled upon my favourite Wikipedia page: The Pencil. Believe it or not, it’s full of geopolitics, historical significance, hilarious facts, and so many famous names-cum-art-brands that it reads like fan fiction.
The classroom writing implement has roots in exploding stars, the French Revolution, the British crown jewels and Walden Pond.
This election has been a mess, but I’m hoping against hope that Hillary wins tonight. Stories like this move me to tears, and give me such hope for the future.
For the first time in American history, a woman has been nominated by a major party and stands a real chance of becoming our next president. The moment has huge historical significance for millions of American women, including some over the age of 96 who lived before women even had the right to vote. As a result, many are taking to real and virtual grave sites to thank the suffragettes who made women’s suffrage possible. Stories and images of the long line to place an “I Voted” sticker on Susan B. Anthony’s tombstone have made their way around the Internet, but equally moving are the tributes women are posting on suffragist Ida B. Wells’ virtual grave site.
There’s a new Grant biography for us all to enjoy. American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant is here reviewed very favourably by the Chicago Tribune. Given the fuss and fury of this year’s election campaign, it might be nice to spend 850 pages immersed in the company of a genuinely nice man. (Though the chapters dealing with corrupt and predatory businessmen might be a jarring reminder of our current situation.)
No presidential biography can avoid serving as a comment on its own time. In this regard, White’s book is an invaluable gift. The Grant he finds is, in every regard, the antithesis of what has come to be viewed as the modern politician — humble, modest, self-made; known as “the quiet man,” he spoke little, but thoughtfully and judiciously (he also wrote his own memoirs, of which Gore Vidal stated, “the author is a man of first-rate intelligence. … His book is a classic.”) He was fair, altruistic, loyal (sometimes to a fault and at his own expense), honest, decent, and deeply honorable. He was magnanimous in victory, concerned for the welfare of his country and his fellow citizens, open-minded, curious about the world and others. He fought against the nascent Ku Klux Klan, and for fair dealing with Native Americans, causing Frederick Douglass to conclude, “To him more than any other man the Negro owes his enfranchisement and the Indian a humane policy. … He was accessible to all men. … The black soldier was welcome in his tent, and the freedman in his house.”