(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘Lord Byron

“A lot of people don’t realize what’s really going on”*…

 

While public debate about the license reading technology has centered on how police should use it, business has eagerly adopted the $10,000 to $17,000 scanners with remarkably few limits…  But the most significant impact is far bigger than locating cars whose owners have defaulted on loans: It is the growing database of snapshots showing where Americans were at specific times, information that everyone from private detectives to ­insurers are willing to pay for…  Unlike law enforcement agencies, which often have policies to purge their computers of license records after a certain period of time, the data brokers are under no such obligation, meaning their databases grow and gain value over time as a way to track individuals’ movements and whereabouts…

Read more about this nebulous network and how it’s being used at “A Vast Hidden Surveillance Network Runs Across America, Powered By The Repo Industry.”

[TotH to Dave Pell]

* “Miller” (Tracey Walter) in Alex Cox’s wonderful Repo Man

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As we reconsider public transit, we might recall that it was on this date in 1818 that Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was published.  Shelley had begun writing the story two years earlier, when she was 18 and on vacation near Geneva with her husband (the poet Percy) and their friend Lord Byron.  The house party set itself the task of each writing a gothic story; only Mary finished hers.  The first edition was published anonymously; Shelley was first publicly identified as the author on the title page of the 1823 second edition.

The work has, as Brian Aldiss argues, a strong claim to being the first true science fiction novel.  As the sub-title– “The Modern Prometheus”– suggests (and like all great sci fi), it treats the philosophical, cultural, and psychological ramifications of scientific and technological progress.

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Coming (Not) Soon (Enough)…

As we negotiate for the Bronte bout, we might recall that it was on this date in 1814 that Percy Bysshe Shelley eloped with then-17-year-old Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin… despite the fact that Shelley was already married.

Shelley, the heir to his wealthy grandfather’s estate, had been expelled from Oxford for refusing to acknowledge authorship of a controversial essay. He eloped with his first wife, Harriet Westbrook, the daughter of a tavern owner, in 1811. But three years later, Shelley fell in love with the young Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, daughter of a prominent reformer and early feminist writer. Shelley and Godwin fled to Europe, marrying after Shelley’s wife committed suicide in 1816.

Shelley’s inheritance did not pay all the bills, and the couple spent much of their married life abroad, fleeing Shelley’s creditors. While living in Geneva, the Shelleys and their dear friend Lord Byron challenged each other to write a compelling ghost story. Only Mary Shelley finished hers– which she later published as Frankenstein.

Mary Shelley

Transmuting base (instincts) into gold…

The folks at 826LA (an institution inspired, it seems, by 826 Valencia in SF) have performed an alchemical feat:  they’ve made cheating good!

click here for a larger view, and sign-up info

One simply forms a team, raises tax-deductible contributions to 826LA– then spends that loot on “cheats” (explained here) in the contest.  A good time is had by all– and 826LA gets to continue its work “helping students across Los Angeles finish all their homework, write their first books, and become all-around more confident writers.”

As we practice recognizing diphthongs by ear, we might recall that it was on this date in 1811 that Lord Byron (George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron) returned from the two-year trip that was the inspiration for Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage (1812)…  as a result of the publication of which, Byron became a major pop star– whose taste, manners, and fashion were all widely imitated.  Quoth the startled poet: “I awoke one morning and found myself famous.”

Byron (by Thomas Phillips)

“It’s the stories, man; it’s the stories!”*…

Zachary Kanin

Readers who are readers will be delighted to discover (if they haven’t already) Narrative Magazine, a wonderful web-based literary review (though there is also a thrice-yearly hard copy edition).  Featuring fiction from the likes of Ann Beattie, Richard Bausch, James Salter, Elizabeth Benedict, and Amy Bloom, essays from folks like Gail Godwin, Larry McMurtry, and Rick Bass, it also showcases poetry and your correspondent’s special weakness:  cartoons like the one above (use the pull-down on the page at the other end of that link to see other galleries).

The love-child of two Bay Area literati, Narrative is a 501-c3 devoted to Letters. It’s worthy of readers’ attention– and, dare your correspondent suggest, of their support.

* Jazz giant Charlie Parker would hang around a jukebox at one of the clubs he frequented, putting his coins in to play country-western songs. When friends finally asked him, “Why do you listen to that stuff?,” he reportedly replied, “It’s the stories, man, it’s the stories!” (source)…  not altogether apropos, your correspondent confesses; but it is an awesome anecdote…

As we luxuriate in good literature, we might recall that it was on this date in 1812, just before he published the first two cantos of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, that George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron– aka Lord Byron– made his first speech in the House of Lords…  as it happens, a defense of Luddite violence against Industrialism in his home county of Nottinghamshire.

Byron in 1813, in Albanian dress, as painted by Thomas Phillips

Advances in Materials Science, Volume Eight(-ball in the side pocket)…

The folks at Nottage Design have built a pool table using a glass bed with a surface of a new material, Vitrik, which is transparent, but has the rolling characteristics of the traditional pool table surface, felt.

And, while it costs just under $40,000 (AUS), that includes a nifty accessory kit (silver cues and bridge stick, balls, racking triangle, etc.) and delivery…  in Australia.

One can download the brochure here.

As we consider our caroms, we might recall that it was on this date in 1810 the George Gordon, Lord Byron, swam the Hellespont (the four-mile strait in Turkey now called the Dardanelles).  Byron, 22 at the time and on an extended Grand Tour, was emulating the (legendary) Greek hero Leander, who supposedly swam the same stretch…

Lord Byron

And continuing on the theme of athletic accomplishment, we might recall that it was on this date, exactly 170 years later, that in 1980, the great Willie McCovey hit his 521st (and final) major league home run– one year to the day after Bobby Bonds followed Willie Mays to become became the second member of the 300-300 Club (300 home runs, 300 stolen bases).  Bobby’s son Barry became the 4th member of the 300-300 Club in 1995 (Andre Dawson “joined” in 1991); then Barry became the only member of the 400-400 Club in 1998, and then the only member of the 500-500 Club (in 2003)…  Willie Mays remains the only member of the 300-300-3000 Club:  300 home runs, 300 stolen bases, and 3,000 hits.

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