Wednesday 28 September 2016

Men of Yore: Dr John Flynn

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity.
John Flynn, in his early twenties (Source)

John Flynn OBE (25 November 1880 – 5 May 1951) was an Australian Presbyterian minister who founded what became the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the world's first air ambulance.

Always thinking of the needs of those in isolated communities, in September 1910 Flynn published The Bushman's Companion which was distributed free throughout inland Australia. He took up the opportunity to succeed E. E. Baldwin as the Smith of Dunesk Missioner at Beltana, a tiny settlement 500 kilometres north of Adelaide. He was ordained in Adelaide for this work in January 1911. The missioners visited the station properties in a wide radius of Beltana, and their practical and spiritual service was valued in the isolated localities. Flynn used it as an opportunity to look at the potential for something bigger. By 1912, after writing a report for his church superiors on the difficulties of ministering to such a widely scattered population, Flynn was made the first superintendent of the Australian Inland Mission. As well as tending to spiritual matters, Flynn quickly established the need for medical care for residents of the vast Australian outback, and established a number of bush hospitals.[1]  
The Royal Flying Doctors
By 1917, Flynn was already considering the possibility of new technology, such as radio and aircraft, to assist in providing a more useful acute medical service, and then received a letter from an Australian pilot serving in World War I, Clifford Peel, who had heard of Flynn's speculations and outlined the capabilities and costs of then-available planes. This material was published in the church's magazine, the start of Flynn turning his considerable fund-raising talents to the task of establishing a flying medical service. The first flight of the Aerial Medical Service was in 1928 from Cloncurry, Queensland. A museum commemorating the founding of the Royal Flying Doctor Service is located at John Flynn Place in Cloncurry.[2] 
Flynn married the secretary of the AIM, Jean Baird, in 1931 at the relatively advanced age of 51.


One thing you can always depend on is that Aussies will always do things on a big scale: ranches, cattle herds, straight roads, railway networks, post-apocalyptic movies, and ambulance services.  Yep, when you're dealing with a country the size of Oz you need to have an ambulance service on a big scale.  One that can cross a continental country, and fast.  That means that you need an ambulance that can literally fly.  Enter Dr John Flynn and the Royal Flying Doctors.

The Royal Flying Doctors meant (and means) that injured Bruce's and Sheilas who are stranded in the outback thousands of miles from a hospital can get transported from their remote location to a hospital and recieve medical treatment en-route.  That requires thinking on a big scale, and being technically minded enough to utilise the highest-technology medical equipment available.  And that's what Dr John Flynn did: he used the latest technology (airplanes, radio communication and more) to make his Flying Doctors concept a reality.


Friday 26 August 2016

Men of Yore: Frederick Burnham

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity.

Frederick Burnham (aged 20) (Source)

Frederick Russell Burnham DSO (May 11, 1861 – September 1, 1947) was an American scout and world-traveling adventurer. He is known for his service to the British South Africa Company and to the British Army in colonial Africa, and for teaching woodcraft to Robert Baden-Powell in Rhodesia. He helped inspire the founding of the international Scouting Movement
Burnham was born on a Lakota Sioux Indian reservation in Minnesota where he learned the ways of American Indians as a boy. By the age of 14, he was supporting himself in California, while also learning scouting from some of the last of the cowboys and frontiersmen of the American Southwest. Burnham had little formal education, never finishing high school. After moving to the Arizona Territory in the early 1880s, he was drawn into the Pleasant Valley War, a feud between families of ranchers and sheepherders. He escaped and later worked as a civilian tracker for the United States Army in the Apache Wars. Feeling the need for new adventures, Burnham took his family to southern Africa in 1893, seeing Cecil Rhodes's Cape to Cairo Railway project as the next undeveloped frontier. 
Burnham distinguished himself in several battles in Rhodesia and South Africa and became Chief of Scouts. Despite his U.S. citizenship, his military title was British and his rank of major was formally given to him by King Edward VII. In special recognition of Burnham's heroism, the King invested him into the Companions of the Distinguished Service Order, giving Burnham the highest military honors earned by any American in the Second Boer War. He had become friends with Baden-Powell during the Second Matabele War in Rhodesia, teaching him outdoor skills and inspiring what would later become known as Scouting. Burnham returned to the United States, where he became involved in national defense efforts, business, oil, conservation, and the Boy Scouts of America (BSA). 
During World War I, Burnham was selected as an officer and recruited volunteers for a U.S. Army division similar to the Rough Riders, which Theodore Roosevelt intended to lead into France. For political reasons, the unit was disbanded without seeing action. After the war, Burnham and his business partner John Hays Hammond formed the Burnham Exploration Company; they became wealthy from oil discovered in California. Burnham joined several new wilderness conservation organizations, including the California State Parks Commission. In the 1930s, he worked with the BSA to save the big horn sheep from extinction. This effort led to the creation of the Kofa and Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuges in Arizona. He earned the BSA's highest honor, the Silver Buffalo Award, in 1936, and remained active in the organization at both the regional and national level until his death in 1947. To symbolise the friendship between Burnham and Baden-Powell, the mountain beside Mount Baden-Powell in California was formally named Mount Burnham in 1951.


Frederick Burnham may not have contributed to humanity in any great way: he didn't make any scientific discoveries, better the lives of the working classes (besides founding the American Boy Scouts), explore any uncharted lands, or indeed chart lands.  But he was on the fore-front of the European frontier as it was expanding in the 19th century, which makes him one of the pioneers of the age.

Reading through his life is a testament to the type of life he lived: exciting!  You can't call his life dull, that's for sure.  And that's what life is about when it comes to the frontier, excitement, the great un-known.  "What are you going to do tomorrow?"  Someone asks.  "I've no idea!" you reply with enthusiaism.  That's what it's about.  Freedom, liberty, doing your own Will.  And that's why Fred is on the Men of Yore list, for being a man of the frontier.

P.S. If you're interested in a fuller and longer account of his life THIS webpage is an agreeable alternative to his Wikipedia entry.


Friday 5 August 2016

Men of Yore: Stephen Harding

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity.

Stephen Harding, O.Cist. (French: Étienne Harding, died 28 March 1134), was an English-born monk and abbot, who was one of the founders of the Cistercian Order in what is now France. He is honoured as a saint in the Catholic Church.

Harding was born in Sherborne, Dorset, in the Kingdom of England, and spoke English, Norman, French and Latin.[1] He was placed in Sherborne Abbey at a young age, but eventually left the monastery and became a travelling scholar, journeying with one devout companion, into Scotland and afterwards to Paris and then to Rome.[2] He eventually moved to Molesme Abbey in Burgundy, under the Abbot Robert of Molesme (c. 1027-1111).

When Robert left Molesme to avoid its corruption and laxity, Harding and Alberic of Cîteaux went with him; but upon the complaint of the monks, they were called back again — Robert, by an order of the pope, the other two by the local bishop. The young Harding was then made superior. Seeing no hope of a sufficient reformation, Robert appointed another abbot at Molesme; then, with Alberic, Harding and twenty-one other monks, received permission from Hugh, Archbishop of Lyons, and legate of the Holy See, to retire to Citeaux, a marshy wilderness five leagues from Dijon where they formed a new, more austere, monastery.[2] Eudes, afterwards Duke of Burgundy, built them a little church, which was placed under the patronage of the Blessed Virgin, as all the churches of the Cisterians from that time have been.

Robert was initially abbot of Cîteaux Abbey, returning to Molesme after a year. Alberic then took over, serving as abbot until his death in 1109.[2] Stephen, the youngest of the three, became the third abbot of Cîteaux. However, very few were joining the community and the monks were suffering from hunger and sickness. It seemed for a while as if the new order was destined to die out.[3] In 1112,Bernard of Clairvaux entered the community, bringing with him thirty companions.[4] Between 1112 and 1119, a dozen new Cistercian houses were founded to accommodate those joining the young order. Harding's powers as an organiser were exceptional, he instituted the system of general chapters and regular visitations. In 1119, he wrote the "Carta Caritatis" (Charter of Charity), an important document for the Cistercian Order, establishing its unifying principles.[4]

Stephen Harding served Cîteaux Abbey as its abbot for twenty-five years. While no single person is considered the founder of the Cistercian Order, the shape of Cistercian thought, and its rapid growth in the 12th century, was arguably due to the leadership of Harding. Insisting on simplicity in all aspects of monastic life, he was largely responsible for the severity of Cistercian architecture.[5] In 1133, he resigned as head of the order, because of age and infirmity.[4] He died on 28 March 1134,[6] and was buried in the tomb of Alberic, his predecessor, in the cloister of Cîteaux.[5]

In a joint commemoration with Robert of Molesme and Alberic, the first two abbots of Cîteaux, Stephen Harding's feast day is celebrated by the Cistercian Order, on 26 January.


It's often  said that 'women are a civilising force on men'.  Are they heck.  Monasteries are proof that men don't need the influence of 'a good women' in order to become civilised and create great works.  Some great achievements have come out of monasteries over the past millenia: architecture, agricultural technology, the written word, medical care and so on.  Monasteries from the East and monasteries from the West prove to us that men like can live together and peaceful and fruitful lives, and that they don't need a woman to 'civilise' them.

In the west one of the more remarkable monastic orders are the Cistercians.  They contributed greatly to the development of agriculture.  So much did they contribute to the advancement of agriculture that some historians have speculated that if it wasn't for the protestant revolution and the dissolution of the monasteries in England, that the Industrial Revolution may have occured a few hundred years sooner.  Which means for thee and me we could be taking vacations on Mars ourselves rather than watching sci-fi movies about Mars instead.  Shame really, I rather fancy having a trundle around the base of Mount Olympus and having a butchers in the souvineer shop..


Monday 1 August 2016

Alternative Lyrics to Well Known Songs 44 - Hilly Hilly

('Hilly Hilly' is based on 'Jimmy Jimmy' by 'The Undertones')

Anyone seen the vid of Hilly Clinton lying for 14 minutes straight.  Crikey moses!  14 minutes!  And people think she's a suitable candidate for president?!  Well, maybe, if you think that sociopathy is a good qualification for presidency.  Trump may have his faults, but I'm not aware that he's ever lied on such a scale as Hilly.

That said, it isn't my country, so I don't really have any right to say that people should vote for one candidate over the other.

Enough rambling about the political carnival, on with the real carnival.  Maestro, cue the music!

Play the music video above and sing along using the alternative lyrics below.

# Hilly Hilly #
Little Billy's wife,
she wasn't very bright.
Lying all the time,
Every day and night.

Hilly Hilly.
Hilly Hilly. (Ohhh)
Hilly Hilly.
Poor old Hilly look at her nose!

"I remember landing there..
..under sniper fire."
She claimed in Bosnia,
It turns out she's a liar.

Hilly Hilly.
Hilly Hilly. (Ohhh)
Hilly Hilly.
Poor old Hilly look at her nose!

Hilly Hilly.
Hilly Hilly. (Ohhh)
Hilly Hilly.
Poor old Hilly look at her nose!

She was the Sec. of State,
and sent an unsafe 'mail.
Then lied to the FBI.
It's enough to make you pale.

Hilly Hilly.
Hilly Hilly. (Ohhh)
Hilly Hilly.
Poor old Hilly look at her nose!

Hilly Hilly.
Hilly Hilly. (Ohhh)
Hilly Hilly.
Poor old Hilly look at her nose!
(Poor old Hilly look at her nose!)

Hilly Hilly.
Hilly Hilly. (Ohhh)
Hilly Hilly.
Poor old Hilly look at her nose!

[End of lyrics.]

Friday 29 July 2016

Men of Yore: Hippolyte Mege-Mouries

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity.

Hippolyte Mege-Mouries (Source)

Hippolyte Mège-Mouriès (Draguignan 24 October 1817 – Paris 31 May 1880) was a French chemist and the inventor of margarine.
He was born as Hippolyte Mège, the son of a primary school teacher, but later added his mother's surname to his own. In 1838, Mège obtained a job in the central pharmacy of the Hôtel-Dieu hospital in Paris and started to publish original contributions in applied chemistry.
Mège focussed on fat processing in the 1860s, which culminated in 1869 in a patent for margarine. His invention involved mixing processed beef tallow with skimmed milk, and resulted in a cheap but qualitatively good substitute for butter 'for the working class and incidentally the Navy'. Mège received a prize from the French government, formally led by Emperor Louis Napoleon III. In 1871, Mège sold his invention to the Dutch firm Jurgens, one of the pillars of Unilever.
Okay, a quick survey of hands.  Hands up if you use margarine?
[Performs a quick count] Lots of you then.

Keep your hand up if you've heard of Hipployte Mege-Mouries?
[Has a butchers] Not so many that time around.

Bonus question: Hands up if you even knew that Hippolyte was a name?!
[Has another look]

Oh.. more of you than I thought..  [embarrassed shuffle] It must just be me then who's never heard the name before.  Ahem..

So, now you know the name of the man who invented margarine, even if you don't know anything about him, other than a handful of basic facts:
- he was French,
- he lived in the 1800s,
- and he had a moustache..

Oh well, I suppose a name's better than nothing.  I suppose it gives you some kind of connection to the fact that margarine was invented, magicked out of thin air, created ex-nihlo as they say, by a man; and so it ceases to be just an impersonal 'thing'.  It's become an object connected to humanity in it's own little way.

P.S. Even the French wikipedia entry wasn't any more extensive.  'Slim pickings' this week (Is that the name of a cowboy from the John Wayne era, or am I losing it?)


Sunday 19 June 2016

Men of Yore: Robert Bakewell

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity.

Robert Bakewell (Source)

Robert Bakewell, (born 1725, Dishley, Leicestershire, England—died October 1, 1795, Dishley) agriculturist who revolutionized sheep and cattle breeding in England by methodical selection, inbreeding, and culling. Bakewell made his farm famous as a model of scientific management, and many of his methods are still commonly practiced today.

As a young man, Bakewell traveled throughout England and
Europe to learn agricultural techniques and then returned to his father’s 178-hectare (440-acre) farm at Dishley to serve as his apprentice. Upon his father’s death in 1760, he inherited the family farm and began to innovate breeding techniques. Unlike his contemporaries, he separated his male and female livestock to prevent random breeding. He developed an “in-and-in” method in which desirable traits were exaggerated by inbreeding and individuals with undesireable traits were culled (removed) from the breeding populations. He also pioneered the large-scale use of letting animals for stud.

Bakewell was one of the first farmers to breed both
sheep and cattle for meat instead of primarily for wool or work. He developed the Leicestershire longhorn cattle, which were good meat producers but poor suppliers of milk and were later supplanted by the shorthorns bred by his apprentice Charles Colling. Bakewell also developed the Leicester sheep, a barrel-shaped animal that produced long coarse wool and also provided a good yield of high-quality fatty meat, though these sheep eventually lost their popularity because of changes in taste in meat.


Just as certain plant species have been domesticated by humans to such an extent that people will think of wheat as more of a 'food grown on a farm' than 'a plant' (like dandelion or stinging nettles), so have certain animals have also been domesticated to such an extent that they are seen as 'food raised on a farm' rather than 'an animal' (like a bear or fox).  This process of transforming a wild animal to a domestic one takes years and years of perseverance and selective breeding, and like everything else in civilization, someone had to get the ball rolling.  And when it comes to animal husbandry (the management of domesticated animals), one of those men was Robert Bakewell.

He brought the scientific approach to animal husbandry which allowed farmers to produce more from their cattle (be it wool, milk, or meat), which means both more profits for the farmer and cheaper food for you and me.

Without that development we, living 250 years later, wouldn't have productive and high yield farms and would obviously be worse off because of it.  So next time your tucking into your bowl of milk and cornflakes, raise your spoon to Robert Bakewell and his agronomical endeavours.


Saturday 28 May 2016

Men of Yore: Guillaume-Henri Dufour

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity.

Guillaume-Henri Dufour (Source)

Guillaume-Henri Dufour (15 September 1787, Konstanz[1] – 14 July 1875, Geneva) was a Swiss army officer, bridge engineer and topographer. He served under Napoleon I and held the office of General to lead the Swiss forces to victory against the Sonderbund. He presided over the First Geneva Convention which established the International Red Cross. He was founder and president of the Swiss Federal Office of Topography from 1838 to 1865.
The Dufourspitze (the highest mountain in Switzerland) in the Monte Rosa Massif is named after him.

Dufour was born in Konstanz, where his parents were temporarily exiled from Geneva. His father Bénédict was a Genevan watchmaker and farmer, who sent his son to school in Geneva, where he studied drawing and medicine. In 1807, Dufour travelled to Paris to join the École Polytechnique, then a military academy. He studied descriptive geometry under Jean Nicolas Pierre Hachette, and graduated fifth in his class in 1809, going on to study military engineering at the École d'Application.

In 1810, he was sent to help defend Corfu against the British, and spent his time mapping the island's old fortifications.[1][2]

By 1814, he had returned to France, and was awarded the Croix de la Légion d'Honneur for his work repairing fortifications at Lyons. In 1817, he returned to Geneva to become commander of the Canton of Geneva's military engineers, as well as a professor of mathematics at the University of Geneva. His duties included preparing a map of the Canton.[1]

Dufour remained a General in the army. Among the officers serving under him was Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte, nephew of the former Emperor.

In 1847 the Catholic cantons of Switzerland attempted to form a separate alliance of their own, known as the Sonderbund, effectively splitting from the rest of the country. Dufour led the federal army of 100,000 and defeated the Sonderbund under Johann-Ulrich von Salis-Soglio in a campaign that lasted only from November 3 to November 29, and claimed fewer than a hundred victims. He ordered his troops to spare the injured.

In 1850 the mountaineer and topographer Johann Coaz served as his private secretary.[3]

In 1863 he was part of a committee which, under Henry Dunant led to the foundation of the International Red Cross.

On 16 July 1875, 60,000 persons participated at Dufour's burial at Cimetière de Plainpalais in Geneva.

Saint Antoine Bridge

Saint Antoine Bridge as pictured by Drewry, 1832

Dufour acted as state engineer from 1817, although he was not officially appointed as such until 1828. His work included rebuilding a pumping station, quays and bridges, and he arranged the first steam boat on Lake Geneva as well as the introduction of gas streetlights.[1]

The scientist Marc-Auguste Pictet had visited Marc Seguin's temporary wire-cable simple suspension bridge at Annonay in 1822, the first wire-cable bridge in the world, and published details in Switzerland. He joined with others to promote a new bridge across the Genevan fortifications, consulting with Seguin on how it might be built, receiving back a series of sketches. Dufour developed the design in late 1822, proposing a two-span suspension bridge using wire cables - this would become the first permanent wire cable suspension bridge in the world. The design used three cables on each side of an iron and timber bridge deck.[1] The cables stretched 131 feet between the towers, although the largest span was only 109 feet


Civil wars can be highly destructive events for a nation: for the people, for the infrastructure, for the society as a whole.  Just look what happened to the USA in the 1860s: the number of men who were killed or maimed, the destruction to property, and the forced ‘reconstruction’ of the Southern States after the war.  It’s an example why civil wars should be avoided at all costs.
Guillaume-Henri Dufour was in an un-enviable position of leading the army during the Sonderbund, Switzerlands civil war.  He could have played 'hard ball' and sought out to destroy those who opposed him, but he didn't.  He managed to end the civil war with only a dozen or so casualties, and he also ensured that enemy soldiers were treated well.  That takes a level and compassionate head.  If there were more men like Dufour in positions of power when a civil war kicked off, on both sides, then in short the world would be a better place.

Friday 20 May 2016

Men of Yore: Sir Robert Peel

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity.

Sir Robert Peel (Source)

Sir Robert Peel, 1st Baronet (25 April 1750 – 3 May 1830), was a British politician and industrialist and one of early textile manufacturers of the Industrial Revolution. He was the father of Sir Robert Peel, twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Peel's father Robert Peel and grandfather William Peele were yeoman farmers who were also engaged in the infant textile industry, then organised on the basis of the domestic system (most of the work being undertaken in the home). 

Business Career
Like many others, Peel joined partnerships to raise the capital required to set up spinning mills. These were water powered (usually using the water frame invented by Richard Arkwright), and thus located by rivers and streams in country districts. Thus Peel and Yates set up a mill and housing for their workers at Burrs near Bury. As elsewhere, the shortage of labour in the rural districts was mitigated by employing pauper children as 'apprentices', imported from any locality that wanted them off their hands. They were housed in a kind of hostel. 
Peel became quite rich, and lived at Chamber Hall in Bury, where his more famous son was born. Peel was listed as a subscriber to the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal navigation in 1791.[1] He also built the first factory in nearby Radcliffe.  
Political Career
In politics, Peel was a 'Church and King' Tory and a staunch supporter of William Pitt the Younger. This was unusual, as many of the Lancashire mill owners were nonconformist and radical in their outlook. In 1790 he was elected Member of Parliament for Tamworth, having bought the borough along with Lord Bath's estate in the area, and carried these principles into political life. He made Drayton Manor in Staffordshire his principal residence and started to adopt the lifestyle of a country gentleman. In 1800 he was created a Baronet, of Drayton Manor in the County of Stafford and of Bury in the County Palatine of Lancaster.[2] Concerned at the working conditions for children in the cotton industry, and even more concerned that some of his mills had been run by their 'overseers' (managers) contrary to his own paternalistic intentions, in 1802, he introduced the Health and Morals of Apprentices Act, legislation that tried to limit the number of hours that apprentice children worked in the mills, and obliged the mill owners to provide some form of schooling. In 1815, at the urging of Robert Owen, he introduced a Bill introducing stricter limits on the hours childen (whether or not apprentices) could work in textile mills; in 1819 this was passed (heavily amended, and applying only to the cotton industry) as the Cotton Mills and Factories Act. In 1817, he retired from business, the various partnerships which had operated his mills being dissolved.[3] In the 1818 General Election, Peel and his son William had been the two MPs returned by Tamworth in a contested election ; in 1820 Peel left Parliament (restoring the traditional arrangement at Tamworth of returning un-contested one MP of the proprietor's choosing and one representing other local interests). 

Peel married as his first wife Ellen Yates (the daughter of his partner) on 8 July 1783. They had eleven children, including:
Peel had high hopes for his children, especially his eldest son, Robert,[9] who he would make repeat the substance of each Sunday's sermon after mass.[10] Peel accepted that he would not mingle with high society, but intended to prepare his son to be able to.[10]

After the death of his first wife, Peel married Susanna Clerke (sister of Sir William Clerke) on 18 October 1805. The marriage was unsuccessful and the couple eventually separated, with Susanna moving to Warwickshire. She died on 10 September 1824. Sir Robert was at the time unwell and his children represented him at the funeral.[11] 

In April 1830, Sir Robert was growing frail, though he still played whist until he was too weak to deal.[4] He was too proud to allow his nephew to deal for him, so stopped playing.[4] Peel died in his armchair, peacefully and without anyone noticing until hours later.[4] 
When writing the biography of his son Robert, Douglas Hurd stated that Peel had "a good life, well sustained by family pleasures, worldly success, orthodox Christian faith and a strong practical mind"[12] His funeral was attended by the entire "corporation of Tamworth" and sixty tenants on horseback.[4] 
In his will, an equal amount to each of his sons, except Robert, to whom he left all his lands and four times the assets left to the other sons. Peel had given Robert £230,000 during his lifetime, plus £100,000 on the event of his marriage and willed him a further £154,000.[13] 

It's vogue in our society to trash capitalists and portray business owners as heartless, greedy tyrants who would sell their own mothers to increase their bottom line.  But it's also vogue in our society praise 'celebrities' and portray them as compassionate individuals who would sell their homes to help people (e.g. Anglina Jolie, who thinks that we open our doors to all immigrants, ignoring whether these 'refugees', are real asylum seekers, economic migrants, criminals, or indeed terrorists). 

Yeah...  I don't think we'll pay too much attention to what is considered vogue/fashionable by modern society.  It makes much more sense to go straight to source.  To the kernel, the root, the topic at hand.  And in this case it's the compassion of white male capitalists, the so-called boogey men of the 21st century.

Robert Peel was one of the first to start the ball rolling in the UK when it came to legislation protecting the working conditions of factory workers.  Without him the whole raft of Factory Acts, that have increased the working conditions for the poor, might not have materialised; leaving working class people (young, middle aged and old) working in appalling conditions.  He made it illegal for under 9s to work in factories, for 10-16 year olds to work for more than 12 hours a day, and much more.  That's right, before Robert Peel and his laws, it was acceptable to employ children and work them longer, and harder than a Chinese Coolie.  That's how expendable white children were considered back in the 1700s.  And it was Peel who successfully attacked that way of thinking.  Without him we and our children might still be slaving away in coal mines and textile mill 14 hours a day.

And if that's not praiseworthy enough, here's what socialist Syndey Webb said about the Factory Acts in 1910:
The system of regulation which began with the protection of the tiny class of pauper apprentices in textile mills now includes within its scope every manual worker in every manufacturing industry. From the hours of labour and sanitation, the law has extended to the age of commencing work, protection against accidents, mealtimes and holidays, the methods of remuneration, and in the United Kingdom as well as in the most progressive of English-speaking communities, to the rate of wages itself. The range of Factory Legislation has, in fact, in one country or another, become co-extensive with the conditions of industrial employment. No class of manual-working wage-earners, no item in the wage-contract, no age, no sex, no trade or occupation, is now beyond its scope. This part, at any rate, of Robert Owen's social philosophy has commended itself to the practical judgment of the civilised world. It has even, though only towards the latter part of the nineteenth century, converted the economists themselves -converted them now to a " legal minimum wage " — and the advantage of Factory Legislation is now as soundly " orthodox " among the present generation of English, German, and American professors as " laisser-faire " was to their predecessors. ... Of all the nineteenth century inventions in social organisation, Factory Legislation is the most widely diffused.  
Not bad going for an 'Evil Capitalist' eh?!


Saturday 30 January 2016

Men of Yore: Charles Goodyear

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity.

Charles Goodyear (Source)

Charles Goodyear,  (born Dec. 29, 1800, New Haven, Conn., U.S.—died July 1, 1860, New York City), American inventor of the vulcanization process that made possible the commercial use of rubber. 
Goodyear began his career as a partner in his father’s hardware business, which went bankrupt in 1830. He then became interested in discovering a method of treating india rubber so that it would lose its adhesiveness and susceptibility to extremes of heat and cold. He developed a nitric acid treatment and in 1837 contracted for the manufacture by this process of mailbags for the U.S. government, but the rubber fabric proved useless at high temperatures. 
For the next few years he worked with Nathaniel M. Hayward (1808–65), a former employee of a rubber factory in Roxbury, Mass., who had discovered that rubber treated with sulfur was not sticky. Goodyear bought Hayward’s process. In 1839 he accidentally dropped some India rubber mixed with sulfur on a hot stove and so discovered vulcanization. He was granted his first patent in 1844 but had to fight numerous infringements in court; the decisive victory did not come until 1852. That year he went to England, where articles made under his patents had been displayed at the International Exhibition of 1851; while there he unsuccessfully attempted to establish factories. He also lost his patent rights there and in France because of technical and legal problems. In France a company that manufactured vulcanized rubber by his process failed, and in December 1855 Goodyear was imprisoned for debt in Paris. Meanwhile, in the United States, his patents continued to be infringed upon. Although his invention made millions for others, at his death he left debts of some $200,000. He wrote an account of his discovery entitled Gum-Elastic and Its Varieties (2 vol.; 1853–55). 

Men don't always get rich for contributing to the betterment of the world, but more often than not they enjoy the contributions that they've made.  For some men, like Gregor Mendel (the monk who discovered Mendelian inheritance), Josef Bazellgete (who designed Londons sewerage system), and Charles Godyear that's often enough, because the work that they do gives them more satisfaction than the wealth they earn from it.  And at the end of the day, isn't that all that really matters?  Getting contentment from doing.


Friday 22 January 2016

Men of Yore: Christopher Sholes

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity.

Christopher Sholes

Christopher Latham Sholes (1819-1890) has been called the "Father of the Typewriter." Although he did not invent it, he did develop the first practical commercial machine. Sholes also developed the Qwerty keyboard that is still in use today.
Sholes was born on February 14, 1819, near Mooresburg Pennsylvania. On his mother's side, his ancestry could be traced back to John and Priscilla Alden, the famous Pilgrims. His paternal grandfather had commanded a gunboat during the Revolutionary War. Sholes' father, Orrin, served in the War of 1812 and was rewarded for his service with a gift of land in Pennsylvania. In 1823, when Sholes was four, Orrin moved his family to Danville, Pennsylvania, were he ultimately apprenticed all four of his sons to become printers.

At the age of eighteen, Sholes went to Green Bay, Wisconsin to work for his brothers Henry and Charles, publishers of the Wisconsin Democrat. Two years later, when Charles bought a share of the Wisconsin Enquirer, Christopher Sholes moved to Madison to assume the post of editor. The next year, at the age of 21 and at his brother's bidding, he moved to Southport, Wisconsin, and founded the Southport Telegraph, a weekly newspaper. Southport was a new town on the Lake Michigan shoreline south of Madison, (incorporated as the city of Kenosha in 1850.) Sholes soon became owner and publisher of the Telegraph.

Sholes the Newspaperman
Settling in Southport, Sholes married Mary Jane McKinney in 1840. He and his family lived there until 1857. Sholes published his paper and became involved in politics, both reflecting his drive for social reform. The Telegraph took stands against capital punishment and war, and supported the growing movement for women's rights. A fight between two members of the territorial government in Wisconsin resulted in one member being killed in the council chamber. Sholes was an eyewitness and reported the incident in his paper. His article was reprinted across the country and Charles Dickens related the tale in his American Notes as an example of law making in the United States.
Sholes was a firm believer in mass communication. He felt that people could not reach their full potential until they could be brought closer together in thought. Sholes approved of every new way of communicating that came along. The Telegraph would give free ad space to any itinerant teacher of handwriting-shorthand or longhand-that came to Kenosha.
Politically, Sholes was a good Democrat. He supported the platform of his party, which included the condemnation of the anti-slavery abolitionists. He was rewarded with an appointment to local postmaster. In 1848, Sholes was elected to the first senate of the newly admitted state of Wisconsin. He then served as city clerk in Kenosha, and returned to Madison as an assemblyman.
In January 1853, Sholes met James Densmore, an editor from Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Where Sholes was mild-mannered and poetic, Densmore was aggressive and possessed a temper. He did not make a good first impression on Sholes. Yet the two men shared many political views and quickly formed a partnership.
The first collaboration of the two men was the Kenosha Daily Telegraph. By using the wire news services of the Associated Press, they would have enough content to fill a paper every day. In the first year of their publication, they had taken on new causes. Sholes had undergone a change of heart and now supported the work of the abolitionists and the congressional candidate of the newly formed Republican Party.
Sholes traveled to Kansas, where a struggle had broken out after the United States Congress passed the Kansas-Nebraska Act. It was determined that the residents of new territories would decide the question of slavery. Sholes returned to Wisconsin and the newspaper business. This time, he worked at Republican papers, the Milwaukee Free Democrat and then the Milwaukee Daily Sentinel and News. He visited the Wisconsin soldiers in the Union Army of the Potomac during the Civil War. In this capacity, Sholes represented the governor of Wisconsin, but paid his own expenses. He supported the Republican Party and President Abraham Lincoln throughout the war. As a reward, Sholes was given a federal post, serving as collector of customs for the Port of Milwaukee in 1863.

Sholes the Inventor
Despite his long career in journalism and politics, Sholes was an inventor at heart. Tired of addressing newspapers to subscribers with pen and ink, he invented a machine that would do the task using preset type and a treadle, variations of which were in use until the advent of computers. While living in Milwaukee, Sholes would often spend time at C.F. Kleinsteuber's machine shop, which was a meeting-place and workshop for amateur inventors. Working with another printer, he developed a machine that consecutively numbered railway tickets and bank notes. Sholes was trying to adapt it to automatically number the pages of books. Another amateur inventor in the workshop, lawyer Carlos Glidden, was working on a mechanical plow. Both Sholes and Glidden were interested in the work others were doing on typing machines. As an outgrowth of Sholes' page-numbering device, the two began work on a typing machine of their own.
The idea of a machine that would help people communicate with clarity must have appealed to Sholes. Many typing machines had come before. William Burt created the first typing machine in 1830. Fifty more people invented or re-invented machines before Sholes began his work in 1867. A plan for a machine in Scientific American inspired Sholes, but it seemed to be unnecessarily complex. The design called for a cast plate containing all the type. The plate would be adjusted to bring the desired letter into position and a hammer would force paper against the plate.
It took Sholes only a week to determine the basic premise of his typing machine. A single letter of type, carved onto a short metal bar could be made to strike upward against a glass plate. The first model came out with the help of Glidden and Samuel Soule, a draftsman and civil engineer. It only typed the letter "W", but its basic design would become the trio's first typing machine.

His First Typewriter
The three men set to work to make a complete machine. After much trial-and-error, a workable prototype was built by the fall of 1867. The design required that the paper be placed between the type and the inked ribbon, so only tissue paper could be used. After selling their first one, Sholes, Glidden, and Soule tried to raise enough capital to mass-produce the machine. Sholes typed a letter to his old partner James Densmore, who recognized the possibilities of their invention. He bought into the group and began promoting the machine. Densmore requested that the design be simplified so that it would be cheaper to produce.
Densmore spent a thousand dollars to manufacture a handful of machines before deciding that it was unworkable. The concept was good, but the execution, which had been largely in the hands of Soule, was faulty. He decided to try again, but with Sholes alone. Densmore requested that the machine be able to accommodate thicker, higher-quality paper. This led Sholes to develop a moving cylindrical carriage to hold the paper, and the inked belt, or ribbon, that would be located between the type and the paper.
Despite these changes, Sholes maintained his original concept of the type striking upward against the carriage. This differed from the front striking machines that would later become the standard. The great benefit of the front-striking typewriter was that the operator could see the type as is was being printed, with no delay.
Aside from his efforts to develop a machine that the public would accept, Sholes was also responsible for designing a typewriter keyboard. The earliest typing machines used many different styles of keyboards: circular or in rows with separate keys for upper-and lower-case letters. Almost all arranged the letters in alphabetical order, from a-to-z. As Sholes experimented with his new machine, he found that placing the keys in alphabetical order caused his machine to jam too often.

The Qwerty Keyboard
Many legends surround Sholes' development of the keyboard. It is not laid out based on the frequency of use of certain letters, nor are the most used letters placed under the strongest fingers. The most frequently quoted story, that it is based on the arrangement of the letters in the printers' type-case-in the days when every printed page was set individual letter and symbol by hand-is false. Most likely Sholes changed the order of the keys as he created prototype after prototype of his machine, trying to eliminate the most frequently occurring jams, when two nearby keys would meet. The layout kept frequently combined letters separated mechanically, which limited the number of possible collisions between type bars. It probably also slowed the rate a good typist could reach, further eliminating possible jams.
Ultimately, Densmore sold the machine to Philo Remington, American manufacturer of arms, sewing machines and farm implements. Even after Sholes' hours of experimentation, the engineers and mechanics at Remington were able to improve on the machine. They solidified the layout of the keyboard into something very close to what is still used on all alpha-numeric keyboards in most English-speaking countries today.
This has come to be known as the Qwerty keyboard, after the first six letters at the upper left on the keyboard. A comparison of keyboards from around the world shows that most countries using the Roman alphabet (A, B, C, etc.) or some variation of it use basically the same layout of keys. Over time, typewriters advanced technologically. The mechanical aspects were supplemented first by electric assistance and finally by electronic devices. It was no longer necessary to use the key positions to keep the machines from jamming. Many people have developed more efficient keyboards, both easier to remember and better able to divide the work between the right and left hands. However, these have all been commercial failures. The public has refused to adopt them, preferring the Qwerty design instead.
Sholes finally agreed to sell his rights to Yost and Densmore in 1880. History does not record the price, but it was not very high. Sholes was tired of the machine, and was ready to invent something else. He took advantage whenever possible to turn his rights into ready cash, believing until almost the end of his life that the typewriter would never be a success.
When sales of the Remington typewriter increased, Sholes accused Densmore of cheating him. Densmore replied that Sholes had probably made more money than he did. Once Sholes totaled his receipts from the typewriter for the period of 1872 to 1882, it came to more than $25,000. Densmore had not realized that much in that period, although he was to make much more in the coming years.
Sholes was quite proud of one social consequence of the typewriter—it opened office careers to women. Previously, business schools only trained men as secretaries. Since men were reluctant to give up communicating and corresponding in elegant handwriting, it became common for typewriter manufacturers to train women as typists. They frequently offered both machine and operator as a package to prospective clients. Women, who had been locked out of the office, suddenly had their foot in the door.
Sholes spent the end of his life in ever-increasing obscurity. He continued to tinker with various inventions, but none saw the light of day. Even as he neared his death in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on February 17, 1890, his bed was often crowded with models of inventions.
Because he had not associated his name with either the machine or its producers, he was forgotten. Whenever articles were written about the history of the typewriter, Sholes was only mentioned in passing. Often his innovations were judged to be unoriginal or hindrances. Yet he must be credited with contributing to the design of the typewriter. Even now, as typewriters fall into disuse, his legacy lives on. Remember him the next time you wonder "Who designed this stupid keyboard?"

Well I bet you never knew that the first typewriters were manufactured by a gunsmith.  I bet that they must've been quick off the draw!  [tumbleweed blows by]  Yeah ok.. I'll get my coat.

The typewriter is yet another example of the American spirit of enterprise.  Europeans may be good at inventing things, but Americans definitely excel at advertising them and mass-producing them.  Millions knows about Samuel Colt's revolver because he was an excellent showman and self-publiciser, and millions know about the Linus Yale's locks, because they were good publicisers and showmen.  It's no good having a great invention if there's only a handful of them in existence.  And it's no good having a world-beating idea if you don't bellow it to the world and let them know about it.  If you have a good product then make it known to all 'and' make it available for all.  These are two of the keys to American success: mass-publicity and mass-production.