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“Got no checkbooks, got no banks”*…

 

Trinidad and Tobago, the tiny twin-island nation off the coast of Venezuela, has struck gold. Its newly re-released $50 note (TT) earned top billing in this year’s competition convened by the International Bank Note Society (IBNS).

Designed in partnership with the British banknote manufacturer De La Rue to commemorate the 50th (golden) anniversary of the country’s Central Bank, the $50 note shows familiar takes on its national symbols like its coat of arms, a red hibiscus flower, and a red capped cardinal bird, its wings fanned out like a palm tree. The back of the note depicts a smiling carnival dancer, collaged in front of the 22-story Central Bank and Ministry of Finance twin towers, which are the tallest buildings in the entire country…

Read the whole story and see the runners-up at “The world’s best banknotes of the year.”

* Irving Berlin, “I Got the Sun in the Morning”

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As we reach for our wallets, we might recall that it was on this date in 2012 that Facebook went public.  The IPO was the biggest in technology and one of the biggest in Internet history, with a peak market capitalization of over $104 billion.  Some pundits called it a “cultural milestone”; in any case, a great deal of money was “printed.”

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Written by LW

May 18, 2015 at 1:01 am

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all”*…

 

Facebook has analyzed its well-known meme, “List 10 books that have stayed with you in some way. Don’t take more than a few minutes, and don’t think too hard. They do not have to be the ‘right’ books or great works of literature, just ones that have affected you in some way.”

It gathered an anonymized sample of over 130,000 status updates matching “10 books” or “ten books” appearing in the last two weeks of August 2014 (although the meme has been active over at least a year). 63.7% of the posters were in the US, followed by 9.3%in India, and 6.3% in the UK. Women outnumbered men 3.1:1. The average age was 37.

Here are the top 20 books, along with a percentage of all lists (having at least one of the top 500 books) that contained them.

  1. 21.08 Harry Potter series – J.K. Rowling
  2. 14.48 To Kill a Mockingbird – Harper Lee
  3. 13.86 The Lord of the Rings – JRR Tolkien
  4. 7.48  The Hobbit – JRR Tolkien
  5. 7.28  Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen
  6. 7.21  The Holy Bible
  7. 5.97  The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams
  8. 5.82  The Hunger Games Trilogy – Suzanne Collins
  9. 5.70  The Catcher in the Rye – J.D. Salinger
  10. 5.63  The Chronicles of Narnia – C.S. Lewis
  11. 5.61  The Great Gatsby – F. Scott Fitzgerald
  12. 5.37  1984 – George Orwell
  13. 5.26  Little Women – Louisa May Alcott
  14. 5.23  Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
  15. 5.11  The Stand – Stephen King
  16. 4.95  Gone with the Wind – Margaret Mitchell
  17. 4.38  A Wrinkle in Time – Madeleine L’Engle
  18. 4.27  The Handmaid’s Tale – Margaret Atwood
  19. 4.05  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe – C.S. Lewis
  20. 4.01  The Alchemist – Paulo Coelho

Read more here.  And see how the same list varied in non-English-speaking areas here (spoiler alert: Harry Potter still rules…).

* Oscar Wilde

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As we turn the page, we might send leather-bound birthday wishes to poet, iconic bad boy (and, as readers will recall,  father of the redoubtable Ada Lovelace) George Gordon, Lord Byron; he was was born on this date in 1788.  Byron once famously suggested that “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.”  Still, history suggests, even then…

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Written by LW

January 22, 2015 at 1:01 am

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”*…

 

From Susanna Wolff at College Humor,

Start at the beginning…

Or click through to a particular period…

More social history.

[TotH to EWW]

* George Santayana

 

As we slouch toward Bethlehem, we might recall that it was on this date in 1776 that five students at the College of William and Mary founded what has become the most prestigious undergraduate honor society in U.S. higher education, Phi Beta Kappa.  When the Revolutionary War forced William and Mary to close in 1780, newly formed chapters at Harvard and Yale took over Phi Beta Kappa’s development; by the time that the William and Mary chapter was revived in 1851, Phi Beta Kappa was active at colleges throughout New England.  By the end of the nineteenth century, the once secretive, exclusively male social group had transformed itself into a national honor society, open to men and women, dedicated to fostering and recognizing excellence in the liberal arts and sciences.

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Written by LW

December 5, 2011 at 1:01 am

Special Academy Awards Prep Edition: Inside “Social Network”…

Aaron Sorkin

Aaron Sorkin, the odds-on favorite for this year’s Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar, set out to be an actor.  But as Pete Hammond reports in Deadline Hollywood, his career took a different turn…

…those early plans were trumped when he began writing for the stage. In 1989, at the age of 28, he was named Outstanding American Playwright by the Outer Critics Circle for A Few Good Men. Just three years later, he wrote the screenplay for the film version which was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar. His subsequent success in film has included scripts for Malice (1993), The American President (1995), Charlie Wilson’s War (2007) and the upcoming Moneyball. As an Emmy-winning television writer and producer, he was behind critically acclaimed [and your correspondent’s all-time fave] Sports Night, long-running The West Wing, and the short-lived Studio 60 On The Sunset Strip. But he has never been nominated for an Academy Award.

Discover how Sorkin (who worked from the book proposal, not the book, which wasn’t written when he started) did his research, how he shaped his characters, and how he approaches a “non-fiction film”…

I would tell anyone that if you are seeing a movie that begins with “The following is a true story…,” you need to look at that movie the way you would a painting and not a photograph. This is my take on what happened. You can put a bowl of fruit on a table and have 10 people take a picture of it and those 10 photographs would look pretty much like each other. If you ask 10 painters to paint it, you’re going to get a lot of different versions of the thing. And so I was telling a true story, but very quickly the people became characters to me and not historical figures. And people, and properties of people, and properties of characters, actually have very little to do with each other. I know people don’t speak in dialogue, and life doesn’t play itself out in a series of connected scenes that form a narrative. But that’s what a writer does.

… and more in his interview with Hammond.  As a special bonus, use the link there (or here) to download a pdf of Sorkin’s full script.

And lest one fret that Sorkin’s dreams of greasepaint came to naught, watch for him in his cameo as the advertising executive in Social Network.

As we recheck our privacy settings on Facebook, we might recall that it was on this date in 1981 that Hill Street Blues premiered on NBC.  The first show from Sorkin’s spiritual forefather Stephen Bochco, the gritty HSB resurrected the then-moribund “cop show” genre and introduced the ensemble cast as a structural feature of series.  By the time the show signed off in May 1987, it had set the records for most Emmy nominations and most Emmys won in a single season.  In its first season alone, it received eight Emmy awards– a debut season record surpassed only by Sorkin’s ensemble political drama The West Wing.

title card

 

The Challenges of Social Media, Part 69…

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As we titter over Twitter, we might note that it was on this date in 1925 that Calvin Coolidge became the first U.S. President to have his inaugural address broadcast (on the radio).  Indeed, his retiring reputation notwithstanding, Coolidge was a veritable master of the media of his day:  in 1923 (as he served out Harding’s term) he became the first president to have a Congressional address broadcast; then in 1924, he gave the first broadcast political speech; that same year he obliged Lee De Forest, and became the first President to appear in a film with recorded sound.  Coolidge’s mastery of the media extended to policy as well: he engineered, then signed the Radio Act of 1927, which assigned regulation of radio to the newly created Federal Radio Commission.  And he understood the power of the press– he gave 529 press conferences, meeting with reporters more regularly than any President before or since.

Coolidge delivering his inaugural address

Be thou familiar, but by no means vulgar…

From Sarah Schmelling and McSweeney’s, Hamlet as it might unfold on Facebook (rendered by Angelfire):

(For a larger and more readable version, click here.)

Update, and further to “How Quickly We Forget…“:  this lovely piece from Lost Magazine (originally from Alexander Stile’s The Future of the Past):  “Are We Losing Our Memory? or The Museum of Obsolete Technology.”

As ponder we performers, we might pause to recall that it was on this date in 1901 that Australian diva Helen Porter Mitchell– better known as Nellie Melba– revealed to the world the recipe for “Melba Toast.”  The dish’s name dates back to 1897, when it was created for the then-ailing singer by the great chef (and her great fan) Auguste Escoffier;  hotel proprietor César Ritz coined the term in conversation with Escoffier.

Peckish readers can find the recipe here.

(So great was Melba’s sway over Escoffier that he also created “Peach Melba” in her honor…)

Nellie Melba

Written by LW

March 23, 2009 at 1:01 am

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