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On this day in 1927 Nicola Sacco, a shoemaker, and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, a fish seller, were executed in Boston. The two men, Italian immigrants, had been convicted of the murders of Frederick Parmenter and Alessandro Berardelli, employees of the Slater & Morrill Shoe Company. Seven years earlier, April 15, 1920 at 3:00 in the afternoon, in the broad daylight of South Braintree, Massachusetts, two thieves shot and robbed a paymaster and his guard of the nearly $16,000 payroll they were carrying.
Seven shots were fired. The killers picked up the two boxes containing the money, leaped into a car containing several other men, and sped away. The whole event took less than a minute.
A few weeks later, Sacco and Vanzetti were arrested on a streetcar by a policeman who thought they looked suspicious. Both men were armed, and they lied to police about their guns. That September, Sacco and Vanzetti were indicted for the murders. The trial began the following spring in Dedham, Massachusetts. The case was heard by Judge Webster Thayer, who called the two men “anarchists.” On the evening of July 14, the jury returned its verdict: both men were declared guilty of murder in the first degree.
Neither Sacco nor Vanzetti had a criminal record, nor were they communists. But they were known to the authorities as militant radicals. They were politically active and had been involved in the anti-war movement. Their arrest took place just after the Red Scare of 1919, a time of fear and political unrest.
Though Sacco and Vanzetti believed themselves to be victims of prejudice, Judge Thayer denied all motions for a new trial. Vanzetti said in his last speech to Judge Thayer: “My conviction is that I have suffered for things that I am guilty of. I am suffering because I am a radical, and indeed I am a radical; I have suffered because I was an Italian, and indeed I am an Italian …”
Many well-known artists and intellectuals — including H.G. Wells, Upton Sinclair, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Bertrand Russell, Dorothy Parker, John Dos Passos, and George Bernard Shaw — demanded and campaigned for a retrial. They were unsuccessful. On August 23, 1927, seven years after their arrest, Sacco and Vanzetti were sent to the electric chair. The execution caused riots in Germany, Paris, and London.
7 Grammar Pet Peeves
Look at you, sitting there being good.
After two years you’re still dying for a cigarette.
And not drinking on weekdays, who thought that one up?
Don’t you want to run to the corner right now
for a fifth of vodka and have it with cranberry juice
and a nice lemon slice, wouldn’t the backyard
that you’re so sick of staring out into
look better then, the tidy yard your landlord tends
day and night — the fence with its fresh coat of paint,
the ash-free barbeque, the patio swept clean of small twigs—
don’t you want to mess it all up, to roll around
like a dog in his flowerbeds? Aren’t you a dog anyway,
always groveling for love and begging to be petted?
You ought to get into the garbage and lick the insides
of the can, the greasy wrappers, the picked-over bones,
you ought to drive your snout into the coffee grounds.
Ah, coffee! Why not gulp some down with four cigarettes
and then blast naked into the streets, and leap on the first
beautiful man you find? The words ruin me, haven’t they
been jailed in your throat for forty years, isn’t it time
you set them loose in slutty dresses and torn fishnets
to totter around in five-inch heels and slutty mascara?
Sure it’s time. You’ve rolled over long enough.
Forty, forty-one. At the end of all this
there’s one lousy biscuit, and it tastes like dirt.
So get going. Listen: they’re howling for you now:
up and down the block your neighbors’ dogs
burst into frenzied barking and won’t shut up.
“Good Girl” by Kim Addonizio, from Tell Me. © American Poet Continuum.
It takes 92 minutes for the ISS to orbit the Earth traveling at approximately 17,200 mph. That correlates to a sunrise or sunset every 45 minutes that astronauts attend, or a total of 15-16 rotations per day on Earth. If you find that the live cam is dark–be patient–sunrise is just around the bend; however, it lasts only a few seconds!
Dr. Wahls (doctor, researcher, and sufferer of progressive multiple sclerosis) began studying the latest research on autoimmune disease and brain biology, and decided to get her vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids from the food she ate rather than pills and supplements. This is her story about how she used functional medicine and Paleo principles to walk again. She breaks the (Paleo) diet down very simply into which foods provide what the body–and brain–need to thrive.
It’s the Birthday of the Man Who Said…
It’s the birthday of American grammarian William Strunk Jr. (1869), born in Cincinnati, Ohio. He was an English teacher at Cornell for 46 years, and edited works of Shakespeare and James Fenimore Cooper. In 1918, he self-published a little book for the use of his students, called The Elements of Style. It was a 45-page volume intended, according to Strunk’s introduction, “to lighten the task of instructor and student by concentrating attention … on a few essentials, the rules of usage and principles of composition most commonly violated.” He revised it in 1935; and in the late 1950s, one of his former students, the writer and New Yorker editor E.B. White (Winnie the Pooh), revised and reissued the 1935 edition. It’s now colloquially known as “Strunk and White.”
The Elements of Style is full of helpful advice to aspiring writers and students everywhere. In it, one may find such wisdom as, “Instead of announcing what you are about to tell is interesting, make it so,” and “Never call a stomach a tummy without good reason.”
American author Dorothy Parker once wrote: “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second-greatest favor you can do for them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first-greatest, of course, is to shoot them now, while they’re happy.” (The Writer’s Almanac)
Excerpts from Elements of Style by William Strunk, Jr. and E. B. White (1918):
She’s twelve and she’s asking the dog,
who does, but who speaks
in tongues, whose feints and gyrations
are themselves parts of speech.
They’re on the back porch
and I don’t really mean to be taking this in
but once I’ve heard I can’t stop listening. Again
and again she asks, and the good dog
sits and wiggles, leaps and licks.
Imagine never asking. Imagine why:
so sure you wouldn’t dare, or couldn’t care
less. I wonder if the dog’s guileless brown eyes
can lie, if the perfect canine lack of abstractions
might not be a bit like the picture books
she “read” as a child, before her parents’ lips
shaped the daily miracle of speech
and kisses, and the words were not lead
and weighed only air, and did not mean
so meanly. “Do you love me?” she says
and says, until the dog, sensing perhaps
its own awful speechlessness, tries to bolt,
but she holds it by the collar and will not
let go, until, having come closer,
I hear the rest of it. I hear it all.
She’s got the dog’s furry jowls in her hands,
she’s speaking precisely
into its laid-back, quivering ears:
“Say it,” she hisses, “say it to me.”
“Do You Love Me?” by Robert Wrigley, from Earthly Meditations: New and Selected Poems. © Penguin, 2006.
If we were children we might climb,
Catch the rooks sleeping, and break no twig,
And, after the soft ascent,
Thrust out our heads above the branches
To wonder at the unfailing stars.
Out of confusion, as the way is,
And the wonder, that man knows,
Out of the chaos would come bliss.
That, then, is loveliness, we said,
Children in wonder watching the stars,
Is the aim and the end.
Being but men, we walked into the trees.
“Being But Men” by Dylan Thomas, from Collected Poems. © Norton, 1971.
1925, from omphalo- + Greek -skepsis, from skeptesthai “to reflect, look, view”
Mystics of the Middle Ages practiced omphaloskepsis, believing that concentrating on a single focal point such as the navel would help them experience divine light and glory.
Greek mythology holds that Zeus released two eagles, one
from the east and one from the west, and made them fly toward
each other. They met at Delphi, and the spot was marked with a
stone in the temple of the oracle there, a stone they named
“omphalos,” Greek for “navel” (it supposedly marked the center
of the world). Mystics have been practicing omphaloskepsis for
centuries, but it wasn’t until the early 1920s that English
speakers combined “omphalos” with another Greek term, “skepsis”
(which means “examination,” not “skepticism”), to create a word
for studying one’s own middle and thinking deeply.
My daughter, at eleven
(almost twelve), is like a garden.
Oh, darling! Born in that sweet birthday suit
and having owned it and known it for so long,
now you must watch high noon enter –
noon, that ghost hour.
Oh, funny little girl – this one under a blueberry sky,
this one! How can I say that I’ve known
just what you know and just where you are?
It’s not a strange place, this odd home
where your face sits in my hand
so full of distance,
so full of its immediate fever.
The summer has seized you,
as when, last month in Amalfi, I saw
lemons as large as your desk-side globe –
that miniature map of the world –
and I could mention, too,
the market stalls of mushrooms
and garlic buds all engorged.
Or I think even of the orchard next door,
where the berries are done
and the apples are beginning to swell.
And once, with our first backyard,
I remember I planted an acre of yellow beans
we couldn’t eat.
Oh, little girl,
how do you grow?
You grow this way.
You are too many to eat.
as in a dream
the conversation of the old wives
speaking of womanhood.
I remember that I heard nothing myself.
I was alone.
I waited like a target.
Let high noon enter –
the hour of the ghosts.
Once the Romans believed
that noon was the ghost hour,
and I can believe it, too,
under that startling sun,
and someday they will come to you,
someday, men bare to the waist, young Romans
at noon where they belong,
with ladders and hammers
while no one sleeps.
But before they enter
I will have said,
Your bones are lovely,
and before their strange hands
there was always this hand that formed.
Oh, darling, let your body in,
let it tie you in,
What I want to say, Linda,
is that women are born twice.
If I could have watched you grow
as a magical mother might,
if I could have seen through my magical transparent belly,
there would have been such a ripening within:
the seed taking on its own,
life clapping the bedpost,
bones from the pond,
thumbs and two mysterious eyes,
the awfully human head,
the heart jumping like a puppy,
the important lungs,
the becoming –
while it becomes!
as it does now,
a world of its own,
a delicate place.
I say hello
to such shakes and knockings and high jinks,
such music, such sprouts,
such dancing-mad-bears of music,
such necessary sugar,
Oh, little girl,
how do you grow?
You grow this way.
You are too many to eat.
What I want to say, Linda,
is that there is nothing in your body that lies.
All that is new is telling the truth.
I’m here, that somebody else,
an old tree in the background.
stand still at your door,
sure of yourself, a white stone, a good stone –
as exceptional as laughter
you will strike fire,
that new thing!
— Anne Sexton 1964
Mahal kita, Consuelo
Mother’s Day as we know it — where we celebrate our own mothers, with flowers, gifts, and cards — is relatively new, but annual celebrations to celebrate motherhood are an ancient practice.
The motherhood festivities have historically been in spring, the season of fertility. In ancient Egypt, there were celebrations to honor Isis, the loving mother-goddess, who is often shown in Egyptian art with the baby Horus at her breast, much like Mary and Jesus in later Christian iconography. The cult of the great mother-goddess Cybele began in Turkey and soon moved to Greece and Rome, and she was worshipped in some form for more than a thousand years. Her priestesses led wild celebrations, full of drinking, dancing, music, and all kinds of debauchery.
As the Roman Empire and Europe transitioned to Christianity, the Church set aside the fourth Sunday of Lent as a day to honor motherhood. It was a day to celebrate the Virgin Mary, and for people to honor their “mother church.”
In the 1600s, England declared an official Mothering Day for that fourth Sunday of Lent. It was a time when families were encouraged to get together, and servants or workers were allowed one day off work to go see their mothers, since many working-class families in England worked as servants on separate estates and rarely got to see each other. Mothering Day was also declared an exception to the fasting and penance of Lent, so that families could have a feast together.
When the pilgrims came to America, they stopped celebrating Mothering Day, just as they stopped celebrating most holidays that they thought had become too secular.
Mother’s Day was reintroduced to America in 1870 by Julia Ward Howe, who wanted to set aside a day of protest after the Civil War, in which mothers could come together and protest their sons killing other mothers’ sons.
But the woman who really created Mother’s Day as we know it was Anna Jarvis. Her mother had held Mother’s Friendship Days to reunite families and neighbors separated during the war, and when she died, her daughter, Anna Jarvis, worked to proclaim an official Mother’s Day to honor her mother and celebrate peace. And so on May 10, 1908, the first official Mother’s Day celebrations took place in Grafton, West Virginia, and at a church in Philadelphia. In 1914, Woodrow Wilson designated the second Sunday of May as Mother’s Day.
But Mother’s Day became commercialized very quickly, especially in the floral industry, and Anna Jarvis was furious. She said, “What will you do to route charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers, and other termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest, and truest movements and celebrations?” But flower sales and card sales continued to grow, and Anna Jarvis died in poverty and without any children of her own. (Writer’s Almanac. May 12, 2013)
* Avoid run-on sentences they are hard to read.
* Don’t use no double negatives.
* Use the semicolon properly, always use it where it is appropriate; and never where it isn’t.
* Reserve the apostrophe for it’s proper use and omit it when its not needed.
* Do not put statements in the negative form.
* Verbs has to agree with their subjects.
* No sentence fragments.
* Proofread carefully to see if you any words out.
* Avoid commas, that are not necessary.
* If you reread your work, you will find on rereading that a great deal of repetition can be avoided by rereading and editing.
* A writer must not shift your point of view.
* Eschew dialect, irregardless.
* And don’t start a sentence with a conjunction.
* Don’t overuse exclamation marks!!!
* Place pronouns as close as possible, especially in long sentences, as of 10 or more words, to their antecedents.
* Writers should always hyphenate between syllables and avoid un-necessary hyph-ens.
* Write all adverbial forms correct.
* Don’t use contractions in formal writing.
* Writing carefully, dangling participles must be avoided.
* It is incumbent on us to avoid archaisms.
* If any word is improper at the end of a sentence, a linking verb is.
* Steer clear of incorrect forms of verbs that have snuck in the language.
* Take the bull by the hand and avoid mixed metaphors.
* Avoid trendy locutions that sound flaky.
* Never, ever use repetitive redundancies.
* Everyone should be careful to use a singular pronoun with singular nouns in their writing.
* If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times, resist hyperbole.
* Also, avoid awkward or affected alliteration.
* Don’t string too many prepositional phrases together unless you are walking through the valley of the shadow of death.
* Always pick on the correct idiom.
* “Avoid overuse of ‘quotation “marks.”‘”
* The adverb always follows the verb.
* Last but not least, avoid cliches like the plague; seek viable alternatives.”
― William Safire, Fumblerules: A lighthearted guide to grammar and good usage
noun [yoo-fuh-miz-uh m] 1. a mild, indirect, or vague expression substituted for one considered to be offensive, harsh, or blunt when referring to something unpleasant or embarrassing 2. the expression so substituted: “To pass away” is a euphemism for “to die.”
noun [dis-fuh-miz-uhm] 1. a derogatory or unpleasant term used instead of a pleasant or neutral one