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Posts Tagged ‘House of Lords

“What’s old is new again”*…

 

Toward the end of the 1800s, an insane asylum physician in Zurich discovered a surprising tendency among his patients. One, an Austrian maid, had spent years wandering the countryside, claiming to be royalty. A second, an hysterical epileptic, habitually convinced strangers that she was their distant relative. A third, a chronic masturbator, posed as Catholic (he was in fact Protestant), and compulsively pilfered items which he then discarded unused. In 1891, Anton Delbrück summarized his discovery in Die pathologische Lüge, christening the condition pseudologia phantastica, or, as we now say in English, pathological lying. And with that came the emergence of a public health issue requiring large-scale study, and somewhat improbably, widespread concern about an epidemic of dishonesty and even fake news…

As Mark Twain said, “history doesn’t repeat itself, but it does rhyme”– the tale of the late 19th century “pathological” lying and fake news that plagued the nation: “Shameless Liars.”

See also: “The Great ‘Fake News’ Scare of 1530.”

* proverbial gloss on Ecclesiastes 1:9

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As we deliberate with Diogenes, we might recall that it was on this date in 1764 that English radical, journalist, and politician John Wilkes was declared an outlaw and expelled from the British House of Lords.  Wilkes and Thomas Potter had written a pornographic poem dedicated to the courtesan Fanny Murray entitled “An Essay on Woman,” a parody of Alexander Pope’s “An Essay on Man.”  Wilkes’s political enemies– foremost among them our old friend John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich—  obtained the parody. Sandwich had a personal vendetta against Wilkes that stemmed in large part from embarrassment caused by a prank of Wilkes involving the Earl at one of the Hellfire Club‘s meetings; he was delighted at the chance for revenge. Sandwich read the poem to the House of Lords, which declared the poem obscene and blasphemous. The Lords moved to expel Wilkes.  He fled to Paris to avoid a hearing, but was tried and found guilty, in absentia, of obscene and seditious libel.

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Written by LW

January 19, 2017 at 1:01 am

“Principles have no real force except when one is well-fed”*…

 

… and sometimes not even then.

Let the binging begin…

… at House of Carbs.

* Mark Twain

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As we treat ourselves to the BBC’s original, which is at least as good, we might recall that it was on this date in 2007 that the British House of Commons voted ten times on a variety of reforms for the upper chamber of Parliament, the House of Lords.  Outright abolition, a wholly appointed house, a 20% elected house, a 40% elected house, a 50% elected house and a 60% elected house were all defeated in turn. But the vote for an 80% elected chamber carried by 305 votes to 267, and the vote for a wholly elected chamber was won by an even greater margin: 337 to 224.  Significantly, this last vote, won by an overall majority of MPs, had political authority.

Still, this was only an “indicative” vote; the House of Lords rejected the proposal.

The House of Lords in session

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Written by LW

March 7, 2014 at 1:01 am

“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

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