Re: Spotlight

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Probably someone about whom we know so little that we don't even know that he or she has been important, or at least that we don't at all recognize the extent of his or her import.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:31 AM
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And who therefore can only be identified by the sort of definite description given in the post itself.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:31 AM
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My mother occasionally goes off on the weirdness of 1950's Catholic school education, which relied on a parallel Catholic American history. In this context, she refers frequently to Katherine Tekkawekka*, Lily of the Mohawks, who was apparently an early Native American convert who was martyred or something, and who loomed extremely large in the version of American history she was taught.

*phonetic spelling based on how Mom says it -- I have no idea what the name actually is.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:34 AM
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Ataturk.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:35 AM
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Lee Harvey Oswald

(oh you think you know, I know).


Posted by: dsquared | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:36 AM
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It's got to be some kind of scientist. Or maybe public health/doctor type.

of course, the thing with scientists is that its an impersonal process -- someone else might have discovered it if that individual hadn't.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:38 AM
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This isn't a winning entry, but one name that comes to mind is Muhammad ibn Abd-al-Wahhab.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:38 AM
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Or someone from before 1000 BC or so. Like the guys who invented agriculture, or who wrote the Old Testament.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:39 AM
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8: You think God is underrated ?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:47 AM
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Aud the Deep Minded.


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:49 AM
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9
: A lot of people think God had only one issue, and are surprised to hear about his opposition to the Vietnam War and imperialism in general.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:50 AM
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The team that marketed Jesus.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:50 AM
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someone else might have discovered it if that individual hadn't.

And pretty often the one(s) who get credit aren't the `right' ones, anyway.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:50 AM
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Emperor Constantine: made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:50 AM
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Avicenna


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:51 AM
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I don't get how 14 fills either `most important' or `unknown'


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:51 AM
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16: the stipulation was not "unknown", but "about whom most people know nothing. Why there is a case for most important should be obvious.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:53 AM
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Most important? Dunno. Much more important than they are known:

Presper Eckert, John Mauchly. Vannevar Bush.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:57 AM
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Another nominee: Gavrillo Princip, the assassin of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:57 AM
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14: Mehmed the Conqueror trumps your Emperor Constantine. This game would be so much better as a card game.


Posted by: Armsmasher | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:57 AM
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Maimonides.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:58 AM
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i think it kind of depends on the condition that it be someone "about whom most people know nothing." there are lots of historical figures about whom most people know very little and should know more, but nothing at all? that's hard.

i'm going to say, for americans, maybe john marshall. i think most people know very little to nothing besides the fact that he was the first chief justice of the supreme court. he did, after all, basically define the role of the judiciary in the american constitutional scheme. furthermore, knowing about what distinguishes john marshall in many ways presupposes a familiarity with constitutional law which many (or most) people do not have.

for people world-wide, i haven't a clue, mainly because how "most people" is going to be interpreted when taking six billion people into account.


Posted by: expat lumberjack | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 9:58 AM
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17: Ah well, I was coming from the position of a) pretty well known, and b) doesn't really cut it for most important.

`Most people know nothing' really sets too low a bar, I think.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:00 AM
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Katherine Tekkawekka

Kateri Tekakwitha. Very important to Catholic Indians and in Catholic accounts of colonial history, virtually unknown otherwise.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:00 AM
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Unf.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:00 AM
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The guy on the grassy knoll.


Posted by: asl | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:01 AM
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I think you are disqualified if you have a wikipedia entry.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:02 AM
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Kermit Roosevelt.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:02 AM
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And Ari comes up with a dude who improved our underwater salvage technology? What a letdown. My book al-Wahhab and how he blew your shit up from beyond the grave will totally outsell his.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:02 AM
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Eighth Day of Creation is good for early molecular biology. Max Delbruck was a character, apparently.

Rather than a person, what about the Suez canal? The story of how the Brits lost world power over it may be of some interest for anyone interested in today's declining imperial power.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:03 AM
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29: There was a recent popular book about the rise of Wahhabism, actually. I forget the title, but I've seen it in bookstores.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:04 AM
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Ari's going to be pissed that everyone's discussing this here instead of at his site.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:05 AM
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24: Hey, she's real. Doesn't sound terribly important, admittedly.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:05 AM
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actually, i'm going to change my vote to george de mestral. helping people without intelligence and/or motor-coordination for fifty years!


Posted by: expat lumberjack | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:06 AM
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32: Given some of the suggestions, perhaps not.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:07 AM
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If I were feeling ambitious I would photoshop the cover of "Liberal Wahhabism: from takbir to the teachers' union."


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:07 AM
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Emmanuel Swedenborg.

I'm skewing pretty US-centric, oh well.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:07 AM
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Leonard Cohen wrote a novella featuring Anne Tekakwitha in some way.

Alp Arslan, founder of the Seljuk Empire, who defeated the Byzantines in 1071.

The leaders of the first Turkish empire were even less known: Bumin, Kül Tigin. Bilge, and Tonyukuk. They united central Asia, and made it briefly possible for one individual to travel from Constantinople to China and back.

Kanishka of the Kushan dynasty in Afghanistan and India ca. 130 A.D. The Kushans helped create the Silk Road and played a massive role int the development of Mahayana Buddhism, which reached China from there.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:09 AM
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The problem with this, is that anyone I'm coming up with (other than the Lily of the Mohawks) is someone I've heard of because of a book written about how underpublicized they've been, like Rosalind Franklin. Ari wants someone that book hasn't been written about yet.

I don't have a name, but I bet there are some fascinating possibilities in the public-health/sewage treatment/water supply area -- that 19th/early 20th century change of cities from hotbeds of disease to places that are as healthy as anyplace else to live.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:09 AM
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Xenu, too well known?


Posted by: ixnaythemetier | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:11 AM
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The Rotten Library has a lot of good stuff about Wahhabism and takfirism.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:11 AM
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The story of how the Brits lost world power over it may be of some interest for anyone interested in today's declining imperial power.

I think you could make a pretty good case that their world power was already lost and that Suez was a symptom rather than cause. WWII fucked the British empire forever.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:11 AM
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Ari wants someone that book hasn't been written about yet.

And then is Ari going to ask us for some research? And then maybe some thesis statements? Perhaps a few chapter headings?

Maybe you suckers are willing to do Ari's work for him, but I'm not.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:12 AM
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39: Some of that (public health) was really huge ... but I'm not sure how much was more re-invention than invention. The ancient greeks had sewers and modernish toilets, as did Rome (which is part of why it could get as big as it did). Egypt had something like it.

The middle ages were a deep, deep hole for europe to dig itself out of before much could be though of as `progress'.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:13 AM
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22 puts it well.

(If the profession were slightly different, I'd think 22 was shivbunny.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:13 AM
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42: Hopefully it will be something slightly less dramatic that fucks the American one forever.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:14 AM
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38 is pretty good.

Most of the other candidates listed so far fall into my 'really quite well known' category.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:15 AM
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27, Will, everybody has a wikipedia entry, even the most successful anti-imperialist in history before Mao, who remains pretty damn obscure in the west.

Leonard Cohen wrote a novella featuring Anne Tekakwitha in some way.

True. It was dreadful in more ways than I can think of.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:15 AM
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just a 1L avoiding reading for property


Posted by: expat lumberjack | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:16 AM
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39: like that book on John Snow, The Ghost Map.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:16 AM
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35 -- Hey!

John Marshall wasn't the first CJ. Just the first to really take on the Executive.


Posted by: Napi | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:16 AM
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If we take the stipulations too seriously, this will be a completely unfun game for reasons w-lfs-n outlines in 1. Or, if the standards are slightly more relaxed, the names will be ones almost no one else has heard of, so we can sit around being like, oh, ok.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:16 AM
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51: with my error, i rest my case.


Posted by: expat lumberjack | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:18 AM
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Tekakwitha is also one of the stars of William Vollmann's Fathers and Crows, which is a fantastic book.


Posted by: felix | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:18 AM
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For reasons that remain obscure, I was recently reading a bunch of wikipedia articles about Chilean history. Fascinating stuff, and full of important people that most Americans know nothing about, such as the improbably named revolutionary hero Bernardo O'Higgins.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:19 AM
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How about an obscure surveyor/militiaman named...

George Washington!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:20 AM
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One could construct a case for Malcom MacLean, the father of containerized shipping, who enabled the economic rise of China.

On similar grounds, a case could be made for the guys at Corning who first made optical fibers that could carry a signal.

OTOH, you have to think that the march of technology would have eventually produced these innovations whether or not the specific individual had ever been born. I would even argue that the Ottomans would have eventually conquered the Byzantines with or without Mehmed the Conqueror. But it was far from inevitable that Christianity would become the most important religion in the world, and Constantine's choice was pretty indispensible to making that happen.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:23 AM
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I had actually heard of O'Higgins before (though I didn't know anything about him), but it turns out there were actually a lot of Irish expatriates in eighteenth-century South America, some of whom held very important positions in the Spanish imperial administration.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:24 AM
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Knecht: Constantine apologist.

"Sure, Constantine may have spread around some walking-around money to encourage conversions to Christianity, but that was standard practice at the time...."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:24 AM
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A related issue here is the "should." People can get pretty testy when they are being told they should know some piece of history.

I sat in on a conversation recently in which two people were semi-lamenting the African-American history requirement for high school graduation. (They weren't black themselves, nor were they white.) I was naively amazed at the rapidity with which it had moved from a contentious, raucously debated issue (when it passed a few years ago) to just another version of the "Why should I have to study about dead white guys; they're not relevant to my life" conversation.

It's an interesting answer to what it means when a minority group gets enough political power to strongarm its history into the curriculum.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:24 AM
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Bernardo O'Higgins is the contrapositive of Eamonn de Vallera.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:26 AM
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Zarathustra. Duh.


Posted by: David Weman | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:27 AM
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It's an interesting answer to what it means when a minority group gets enough political power to strongarm its history into the curriculum.

Ogged will be writing a textbook for the mandatory chapter on the enormous contributions of the Lur to the making of America.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:28 AM
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58: I don't know anything about the actual South American history there, but there are a whole lot of O. Henry stories that treat the Irish-American revolutionary in Latin America as a comic trope.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:28 AM
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63: Was there a sudden increase in Lur political power of which I am unaware?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:29 AM
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39: To quote myself "The trouble with thinking of someone the average American hasn't heard of is that I'm the average American in this regard. O noes paradox!"

But I had heard of Kateri Tekakwitha. So.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:31 AM
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Sewerage? Public health?

You want John Snow, the guy who proved with stats that cholera was spread in the water supply and came from sufferers' diarrhoea, thus proving the germ theory, founding the science of epidemiology, and effectively finishing the fucker as far as London was concerned.

And there's a pub named after him.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:32 AM
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66: I believe I am the average American in this regard, and I never learned about her, preferring our own local Indian abductee, Frances Slocum. As well as the narrative of the captivity and restoration of Mary Rowlandson.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:32 AM
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66 me. There's probably a room for a book on all the female philosophers who spent most of their time poking holes in the theories of the Big Name Philosophers.

Or Arnauld.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:33 AM
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Was there a sudden increase in Lur political power of which I am unaware?

Just what do you think ogged's "hiatus" really is?

I don't know anything about the actual South American history there, but there are a whole lot of O. Henry stories that treat the Irish-American revolutionary in Latin America as a comic trope.

This is something a bit different, though. These guys weren't Irish-American (indeed, in this time period there were hardly any Irish-Americans) but genuine Irishmen who left Ireland, which was in bad shape under British rule, and ended up serving the Spanish crown, which they could do because they were Catholic. Bernardo's father Ambrose O'Higgins was one of the most prominent examples.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:34 AM
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68: We had to do research on saints as part of getting confirmed and since there's only a handful of female saints who aren't named something dull, she tended to pop up.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:35 AM
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Not to harp, but you could actually define a swath between the western boundary of the Persian world, through Pakistan, Afghanistan, the central Asian Turkish republics, Mongolia, and Xinjiang, and then say "every important historical figure from this area before Genghis Khan except Xerxes". And you could throw in the Ukrainian steppe and the Caucasus.

To a considerable degree it's because of the absence and/ordestruction of records, and not necessarily by western imperialists.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:37 AM
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re: 69

Such as?

I'm struggling to think of any pre-20th century.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:40 AM
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mary wollstonecraft, for one


Posted by: expat lumberjack | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:42 AM
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69, 73: Margaret Fuller?


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:44 AM
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I believe there's a Tekakwitha figure among the statuary at Old St. Patrick's in Chicago, and there's also a forest preserve named after her outside the city. Basically, it sounds as though people who don't know about Tekakwitha just haven't been paying attention.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:44 AM
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73: Heloise, the various princesses who corresponded with Descartes who tended to say things like 'excuse my poor feminine brain, but don't you have a big honkin' circle in your reasoning?'


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:46 AM
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also elisabeth of bohemia, who corresponded with descartes


Posted by: expat lumberjack | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:47 AM
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Samuel Huntington


Posted by: cleek | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:47 AM
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77: beat me to it.


Posted by: expat lumberjack | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:47 AM
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Basically, it sounds as though people who don't know about Tekakwitha just haven't been paying attention.

Or aren't Catholic.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:47 AM
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re: 77

Ah, ok. I wondered if there was a swathe of them I didn't know about. Your 69 seemed to imply more.

Iirc, Jonathan Israel's Radical Enlightenment has a section on the role women played -- as correspondents, hosts of salons, etc. -- in the philosophical milieu of the time.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:48 AM
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82: I'm sure there's more. But I do not know them because I do not know! Etc. But if I ever write a pop philosophy book, that will probably be the subject, and if the book's already been written, I'll write it better.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:50 AM
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elisabeth of bohemia

The whole Winter King story is interesting, but can't be told briefly, and has already been covered pretty well in English by Cicely Wedgwood, who I really like for 17th century history.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:53 AM
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"Various princesses" is not fair to the eventual Queen Christina, who shouldn't be lumped. There's a well-known painting of Descartes surrounded by his Swedish admirers, including some babes.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:54 AM
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I've found a place for Cala to teach!

Have you e-mailed me back, BalaBoBala? I haven't received anything.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:54 AM
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re: 83

I'm more skeptical. I'd be surprised if there are huge numbers, and even more surprised if there's a substantial archive of 'lost' philosophy written by women of the time. It's the same with science -- teh misogyny was powerful, widespread and deep and the number of people who broke through that seems to have been small.

Note that there's none at all, obviously, but philosophy seems to have lagged behind even the sciences in gender equity.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:56 AM
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Hannah Dustin, patron saint of American genocide, is a nice counterpart to Tekakwitha. An Emerson by birth. Her sister Elizabeth Emerson was a martyr for infanticide.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:57 AM
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87: The philosophy job market blog commenters tell me that it is perfectly equitable and that the only reason they didn't get flyouts is that all the women in their Armani suits are beneficiaries of affirmative action.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:00 AM
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I'm more skeptical. I'd be surprised if there are huge numbers, and even more surprised if there's a substantial archive of 'lost' philosophy written by women of the time.

There aren't huge numbers, for the reasons you mention. On the other hand people know less than they should about the few there were, whether that's those already mentioned, or Hypatia of Alexandria, or Lady Anne Conway (who actually managed to get published, and provided Leibniz with the concept of monads).

Note that there's none at all, obviously, but philosophy seems to have lagged behind even the sciences in gender equity.

Philosophy has a terrible record in this regard, and the number of otherwise intelligent people who cast about for rationalizations for it is in my experience quite remarkable.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:00 AM
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Not huge numbers, but you don't need huge to make a book.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:02 AM
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One could construct a case for Malcom MacLean, the father of containerized shipping, who enabled the economic rise of China.

He's a major figure in The Box, which I've been meaning to read. How about Willis Carrier? Or Alhazen? Alhazen was the major figure of Islamic science in the medieval period, and his work in translation was enormously influential on Bacon. (That's pretty much all I know about him, although in his case I'm sure there's a book.)


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:03 AM
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re: 89 and 90

The philosophy job market blog commenters tell me that it is perfectly equitable

Heh.

Philosophy has a terrible record in this regard, and the number of otherwise intelligent people who cast about for rationalizations for it is in my experience quite remarkable.

Yeah. The record is very very poor.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:03 AM
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Indeed, there are even whole books written about a single person.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:03 AM
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also interesting is how, at an undergraduate level, women are shuffled from philosophy to english departments--to the benefit of english departments, i should say. i don't recall offhand a reference discussing this phenomenon; nevertheless, i shall state it as fact.


Posted by: expat lumberjack | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:05 AM
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58: I don't know anything about the actual South American history there, but there are a whole lot of O. Henry stories that treat the Irish-American revolutionary in Latin America as a comic trope.

Not to mention Duck, You Sucker.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:05 AM
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Cohen on Tekakwitha:

I did a lot for that girl. I was very gratified when someone sent me an Italien newspaper an the day she was beatified and it had an excerpt in Italien from "Beautiful Losers". I did love the woman.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:06 AM
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It was mentioned in that Morgellon article, but I think Semmelweiss is a pretty good choice.


Posted by: The Critic | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:07 AM
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On the other hand, the more the idiots blather their circular arguments, the happier I am about dismissing them. ("There are fewer women in philosophy not because of sexism, but because women are naturally unsuited for philosophy except for some bizarre exceptions. My evidence for this is the low number of women in philosophy.")


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:07 AM
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re: 95

I probably shouldn't comment about this, but there was a big fuss made about the fact that there were no women admitted to the graduate/masters program at my university a couple of years back. Which was pretty ridiculous.*

* although that said, my experience of the preceding 4 or 5 years was that there was more or less a 50/50 split.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:07 AM
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The figures in Atherton's Women Philosophers of the Early Modern Period are Elisabeth, Margaret Cavendish, Anne Conway, Damaris Cudworth, Mary Astell, and Catherine Trotter Cockburn. Christine de Pizan is a Renaissance figure worth mentioning. Teresa of Avila, Catherine of Siena, and Therese de Lisieux are doctors of the Catholic Church, for whatever that's worth.

The recent consensus is that Conway didn't really provide Leibniz with the concept of monads, I think, but she's interesting anyway.


Posted by: Zippy | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:08 AM
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Kind of OT, but it seems like the American history you are exposed to, at least through high school, is very dependent on where you grew up. I grew up on the East Coast, and it wasn't until I took history classes in college that focused on the West, and expansion, that I learned anything about that area. So I can imagine there are a lot of important historical figures beyond the East Coast that I wouldn't be aware of.


Posted by: pasdquoi | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:10 AM
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Huge numbers of engineering pioneers are relatively unknown because their work mainly affects people at second hand unless they're engineers themselves.

Business theory likewise. Frederick Winslow Taylor has been making people's lives a misery for a hundred years, but how many of them have heard of him?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:10 AM
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Of the 66 U.S. departments surveyed in the Leiter Report in 2004, Penn State had the highest percentage of women amongst full-time faculty, at 43.75 percent. Princeton had the lowest, at about 5.9 percent. The median score is just shy of 18 percent. In only five departments (of sixty six) were more than a third of full-time staff women. Three quarters of all departments had fewer than 22 percent women amongst full-time faculty.



Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:10 AM
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Didn't some guy prove that circular arguments are OK? Hegel, maybe?

Take that, bitches!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:11 AM
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John Wesley Powell deserves more attention than he gets.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:13 AM
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40% at my ex-grad school. interesting that the percentage is so close to that of penn state, as my ex-grad school was fairly closely linked with penn state in terms of academic interests. well, maybe not "interesting." nevermind.


Posted by: expat lumberjack | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:13 AM
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Didn't some guy prove that circular arguments are OK? Hegel, maybe?
Take that, bitches!

I heard Emerson showed that. Circular arguments are OK as long as you call them "transcendental arguments".


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:14 AM
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My department is fairly female-friendly, a fact that I attribute to having a critical mass of women affiliated with the department.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:14 AM
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re: 104

In only five departments (of sixty six) were more than a third of full-time staff women.

I can absolutely believe that. In my undergraduate department [in the UK], there were three women [roughly 20% of the staff, I think] and one of those was on a fixed term/temporary contract.

I don't know what the percentage is among staff at my current university, but I wouldn't imagine it's much different. Among my graduate school peers, though, it's much more even so (perhaps) things are improving slowly.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:17 AM
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Among my graduate school peers, though, it's much more even so (perhaps) things are improving slowly.

Maybe. But let me introduce you to the phrase "the leaky pipeline."


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:20 AM
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Taking my guidance from Lyndon LaRouche, I nominate Paolo Sarpi (a Venetian contemporary of Galileo's):

The evils of which you speak, are a result of what's called, today, British Liberalism, which is essentially a hedonistic system. It's a creation of an infamous character called Paolo Sarpi, who created the system of Liberalism. The system of Liberalism is greed, and no morality.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:20 AM
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Don't a lot of departments hire female secretaries in order to improve their AA numbers?

Deirdre McCloskey in econ improved the departmental stats by getting a M2F sex-change operation. Not only for that reason.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:20 AM
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Actually, Cala, the reason no one got any on-campus job interviews is because T. Sh*lby single-handedly got every job interview on offer in the US this year.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:24 AM
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Also, it's ridiculous how it's only when sexism pops up that philosophers decide that the job market is a perfect measure of someone's philosophical talents. The rest of the time it's because they didn't have an Armani suit to wear because they're poor, or that the smoker is ridiculous, or that the interviewer asked weird questions, or that the APA is a silly place to interview. But when it's question of why there aren't as many women?

Oh ho! it's just that philosophy makes their brains overheat!


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:26 AM
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Business theory likewise. Frederick Winslow Taylor has been making people's lives a misery for a hundred years, but how many of them have heard of him?

Along those lines, I nominate Luca Pacioli, the 15th century monk who invented double-entry bookkeeping.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:27 AM
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Shah Ismail I, go Wikipedia him. The founder of Safavid Iran, converted the region to Shi'ism, created the still-extant boundary between Turkey and Iran. A kind of Constantine.

I mention him because he was important independently of circumstances -- if he hadn't existed, chances are no one would have taken his place. One can't say the same about Alp Arslan or Fatih Mehmed.


Posted by: CG | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:29 AM
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"To the extent that it likes me, the APA is a reliable indicator of goodness; to the extent that it does not, I blame the suit."


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:29 AM
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Sometimes reading that blog makes me want to beat people with the reality stick.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:33 AM
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There are a couple of things wrong with that blog. First, bad idea to rip on one's own faculty while on the market. Second, yes, the market is crazy, but there's not that much of an effort to understand how (for example) a group of faculty teaching three courses and in the middle of a grading crunch might rely on frustrating heuristics rather than read everyone's sample with utmost charity. Third, christ, the comments section.


Posted by: FL | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:38 AM
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Leo Szilard. But I'm just copying that from a well known book, which I think is cheating.


Posted by: Katherine | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:45 AM
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Oh, and Ibn Khaldun.


Posted by: CG | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:51 AM
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121: I've done that a couple times already, but didn't that book, like, win the Pulitzer prize?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:52 AM
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On my wife's behalf, she has an entire screenplay written in her mind about Clarence Stein, Henry Wright, and the Regional Planning Association of America. Lewis Mumford is well known, but Stein and Wright redefined the garden suburb for America.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:54 AM
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Belva Ann Lockwood.


Posted by: lurker | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:56 AM
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51a) fwiw, that wasn't meant as snarkily as it sounds --- just that I'm not sure they want a typical unfogged thread over there.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:04 PM
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How does the gender problem in philosophy compare to that in the physical sciences? The word "pipeline" reminds of how Chad Orzel blogged about how the problem begins with the relatively small number of women even in introductory physical science classes, and was promptly accused of having his head up his ass and making excuses for misogynist behavior. Some of the follow-up posts seem to have disappeared, but I think that was the most unpleasant argument I've ever seen on the web. Everyone agreed that there is a real problem and that it's important to think about how to solve it, but from there the discussion became incredibly vituperative and ultimately went nowhere.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:07 PM
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The contrast between the thread there and this one is illuminating. Each seems pretty typical of its site.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:07 PM
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128 was referring to the Edge of the West comment thread, of course.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:08 PM
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Actually, I originally intended my Hannah Dustin suggestion there for here, but I didn't want it to conflict with Alp Arslan.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:12 PM
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Hannah Dustin? Alp Arslan? Who are these people?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:15 PM
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Hannah Dustin? Alp Arslan? Who are these people?

Looks like we're on the right track.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:16 PM
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Actually, I originally intended my Hannah Dustin suggestion there for here, but I didn't want it to conflict with Alp Arslan.

They're so similar, after all.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:17 PM
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Hannah Dustin / Alp Arslan cage match!
Only one scalp will remain attached!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:18 PM
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just that I'm not sure they want a typical unfogged thread over there

They seem to have got one - most of the same people, anyway.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:25 PM
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Fewer cock jokes, though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:25 PM
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most of the same people, anyway

I like to think of Unfogged as a starter-culture for a healthy, thriving comments section. We're like sourdough starter, or lichen, or something.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:34 PM
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I like to think of Unfogged as a starter-culture for a healthy, thriving comments section. bacterial culture


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:37 PM
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I like to think of Unfogged as a starter-culture for a healthy, thriving comments section. We're like sourdough starter, or lichen, or something.

I think mycosis is the word you're looking for.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:37 PM
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Or candida albicans, or trichophyton rubrum, or......


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:37 PM
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I'm not sure they want a typical unfogged thread

We love everybody, especially you.


Posted by: Eric | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:38 PM
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Henry II, HRE. Joost Lips.


Posted by: Michael Vanderwheel, B.A. | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:46 PM
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Joseph Fourier.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 12:58 PM
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What's the difference between yogurt Unfogged and an eisteddfod?


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 1:06 PM
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121, 123: Leo Szilard. But I'm just copying that from a well known book

I assume that this is for his role in the history of the atomic bomb. But in addition, IIRC, he pretty much got there first with the solution to the paradox of Maxwell's Demon was the increase in entropy from the act of gathering the information to sort the particles. And I think in the course of that work he also coined the term (and concept?) of a "bit". So when Physics is ultimately (and properly...) reformulated as a special case of Information Theory he will get more due for that work as well.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 1:07 PM
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You won't find dsquared trolling the eisteddfod.


Posted by: Gonerill | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 1:07 PM
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146: I find that very hard to believe.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 1:09 PM
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Well, maybe a little.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 1:10 PM
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Definitely not obscure enough, but I just love saying Button Gwinnett's name aloud.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 1:16 PM
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39: Haven't read the whole thread yet (sue me). Because, as Teo says, I'm incredibly angry that it even exists. But LB in 39 is onto something: George Waring would be good.

And I hate you all. Especially Becks for starting this.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 1:44 PM
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Ari--I woulodn't have read your comment thread at all if it hadn't been for this one here.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 1:46 PM
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I don't know that you could make an argument that he was all that influential, but I've always been fond of Harald Hardraade. Any seven-foot Viking who started his career as a bodyguard for the Emperor in Constantiople, and ended it invading England weeks before William the Conqueror got there, is pretty darn cool in my book.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 1:48 PM
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Charles Benjamin Dudley.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 1:54 PM
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Still making my way through the thread. But, 106, Don Worster recently wrote a huge biography of Powell. Still, you're right, not enough people know about Powell. Particularly the late Powell.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 1:54 PM
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153: Dudley's good. But Chris Dudley was more important.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:04 PM
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Zhao Mengfu


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:08 PM
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155: Because he was historically bad at FTs and white?


Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:09 PM
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155: the basketball player or the keyboardist?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:09 PM
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Basketball. And because his name was the one I read when I first saw the comment. I'm not really sure of his actual importance. But I could say the same for just about anyone, right? So why not: Chris Dudley: How He Changed America (An Unauthorized Biography)?


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:14 PM
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I obviously got this right in 1, people.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:22 PM
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I am teaching Hannah Dustan this term! Chop chop!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:28 PM
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And not Elizabeth?

Racist! Prude! Natalist!


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:35 PM
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Oudemia, when I first found out about the sisters Hannah and Elizabeth -- the good sister who killed bad guys and the bad, lewd sister who killed innocents -- it seemed like some horrible Greek or German myth that was just waiting for a structuralist interpretation. But no, these were real, historically-recorded people from my own family, a little more than 300 years ago.

Do you think that all that horrible mythical stuff with parricides and cannibals and incest was all real? Have the rationalizers been lying to us all this time, and did Zeus really kill Saturn? Did Noah really lie with his daughters while drunk, and are we all their descendants?

I guess I'm a fundamentalist now.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:41 PM
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I am teaching Hannah Dustan this term! Chop chop!

Is she the one in Spiderman or the acky breaking heart guy's daughter?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:42 PM
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I am only doing 3: Mary Rowlandson, because she is the star, Hannah, because she is the most fun (sorry chopped people!), and the Pa/nth/er Ca/ptivi/ty, because it is the most insane.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:42 PM
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163: You know, that's really funny John, because one of the reasons I like to teach Hannah is to compare her to Hecuba (who does some chopping of her own). Maybe I will add Elizabeth! My syllabus: All becoming, No being.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:44 PM
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Hannah Emerson Dustin (Dustan), patron saint of American genocide.

Her unmarried sister Elizabeth Emerson, martyr of lewdness.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:45 PM
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I knew that there was a reason not to sleep in the same house as Emerson.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:46 PM
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What do you teach, oudemia?


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:46 PM
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Emerson, I seriously can't believe that the book you suggest hasn't been written. But I can't find it. And don't have the expertise to write it. Maybe I could do something like: Hannah and Elizabeth: Linked by Blood, Separated by Memory. I smell a big advance. And probably very small sales. Still, I'll send you a check.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:48 PM
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Movie rights. Ari. Movie rights.


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:49 PM
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The anti-abortion people probably also have a place for Elizabeth in their pantheon as "The Mother of American Family Planning".

She was counseled personally by Cotton Mather for six months or more before being hanged. He regarded her as incorrigible.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:49 PM
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Wow, what a great story. Thanks for the Dustan pointer!


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:50 PM
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And she probably would have expedited the hanging herself, if she could have. "Just kill me!"


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:51 PM
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169: I'm mostly a classicist, but obviously this class isn't solely that. I will send you a syllabus, if you like, because any attempt to really describe this particular class would be easily found by Googling students.

Elizabeth: Hanged for infanticide! Hannah: Scalped 4 (?) Abenakis for killing her baby!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:52 PM
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Many more than 4, as I remember.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:53 PM
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You're not a fundamentalist, Emerson, you're a euhemerist.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:54 PM
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175:

send away!


Posted by: will | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:54 PM
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176: You're right. 10!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:55 PM
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No, all myths are REAL, just like the fundamentalists say.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:56 PM
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180: No, that's what euhemerists say. Fundamentalists say only their own myths are real.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:57 PM
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I'm a poly-fundamentalist.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:59 PM
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Hannah Dustan: 10/12 aint bad!


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 2:59 PM
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I don't understand the 'leaky pipeline' analogy. Is the implication that you have steady attrition of women at all career stages, or that there are a few known drop-out points?

It is contrasting with the idea that you keep your initial supply of women professionals, right?


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:01 PM
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176: Most of them were children --- should they count full or 1/2? Still more than 4 though.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:01 PM
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Actually, whether Emerson's really a euhemerist depends not on whether he believes the myths are real but on whether he believes the characters in them were gods or men.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:02 PM
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I think all the 'leaky pipeline' implies is that women go in one end, and don't come out in comparable numbers the other. It's formally agnostic about exactly where the leaks are or what causes them -- just comparing the pressure going into the pipe with that coming out of it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:04 PM
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froz gobo


Posted by: froz gobo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:04 PM
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If the myth says 20 feet tall, they were 20 feet tall. If the myth says halfe-horse, half man, that's how it was.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:05 PM
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Okay, John Emerson is not a euhemerist.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:05 PM
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The stories really are wonderfully mad. And we have so much supporting literature -- each sister has her own Cotton Mather sermon, plus Hannah has her own conversion narrative (God strengthened her resolve to resist the nasty Indians' Catholic come-ons and mader her his instrument of chopping!). (More classics: Mather's sermon was "Dux femina facti.")


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:06 PM
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Imagine that you have a tub being filled with women from a pipe with a given diameter and velocity, while the leaky tub was simultaneously being drained by a pipe with a different diameter and velocity, and you want to know how long it will be before the tub was full of women. You need calculus to solve that problem, which is why feminists should study math.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:08 PM
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"Leaky Pipeline" should be the name of a gay bar.

"Nobody goes to the Mineshaft anymore. We're going to the Leaky Pipeline!"


Posted by: zadfrack | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:08 PM
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There are some pretty obvious places where you'd expect to see leakage. Birth of a second child, for example, is big. And so is third.


Posted by: Nápi | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:09 PM
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No monument to Elizabeth yet, right? Maybe the militant pro-choicers should establish one.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:09 PM
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195: A little bigger than her sisters, natch.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:10 PM
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At this firm, the partnership process is a big point. Women last as associates to or beyond the time at which they'd conventionally expect to be considered for partner, and then either remain associates or leave. (This does not impugn any particular partnership decision -- I'm at that point chronologically, and I wouldn't make myself a partner based on my record here either.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:11 PM
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195, 196: There are at least two monuments to Hannah. I think we should start an equity movement. No Hannah without Elizabeth!


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:14 PM
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197: There certainly have historically been decisions like that (tenure, etc) that tended to go against merit. Not sure how prevalent it is now. It's complicated, though, clearly and just saying `fewer women make partner here' isn't evidence of directly misogynist practices, as you say.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:15 PM
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184: I think that the idea is closer to "there are known dropout points", but I might be taking the analogy with a leak (which you can point to and patch) too far. E.g., five women join the philosophy department, six years later, two are left, and the other three lef


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:15 PM
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I think what's really necessary is joint statues, two-faced like Janus, each killing someone in their own characteristic way (Hannah scalping a Native American, while Elizabeth smothers an infant.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:15 PM
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Hands down: James Clerk Maxwell. Without him, Einstein would probably never have discovered relativity.

Runner up: Margaret Sanger


Posted by: A. Chandler Moisen | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:16 PM
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Cala? You okay?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:17 PM
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202: Maxwell is hardly unknown. Sanger fits much better.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:17 PM
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Legend: "Don't Mess with The American Woman". Perhaps the Native Americans should be replaced with sex trafficers on no specific ethnicity, though.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:18 PM
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201: The statues of Hannah have her with an ax in one hand and scalps in the other. So Elizabeth can have a pillow in her right hand and dead babies in her left. Such fun! Whom shall we commission?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:19 PM
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Sanger is famous as an early Nazi.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:19 PM
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Anna Symms Harrison, wife of William Henry Harrison, was not only the first lady who spent the shortest length of time in the White House, but was also inventor of the famed "Symms Doiley". This contribution was significant due to Harrison's innovative use of silicon thread, and is today considered an early precursor to the modern integrated circuit.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:22 PM
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t, and the three who left did for reasons that amount to more than just personal preference.


Posted by: InterruptedCala | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:22 PM
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Cool. Well, if they want to come discuss pipes with me, I think that would be great. There's a lot of literature on selecting the right pipe and pipe-sizing for your flow volume and installing pipes and lowering friction in pipes. I think I could help them a lot.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:23 PM
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Dux femina facti

Anglice? Doesn't make obvious sense to me.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:23 PM
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211: It's Vergil, about Dido: A woman was the author of the deed. Vergil says it in amazement at the awesomeness of Carthage under Dido. Mather I guess is amazed at the awesomeness of a woman scalping a whole bunch of people.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:26 PM
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210: Let's talk about fluid dynamics .... laydeez


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:26 PM
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Ah. Obscure sense of "Dux". Got it. Can't remember any Vergil cos I never liked him.


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:27 PM
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It would cover Elizabeth too.

Elizabeth and Hannah were probably the first feminazis. If jonah encountered them he'd be wetting his pants in a minute.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:28 PM
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"Maxwell is hardly unknown."
I wonder what percentage of Americans can say who he was or what he accomplished. Precious few, I bet.


Posted by: A. Chandler Moisen | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:29 PM
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212: as, for that matter, wouldn't you be?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:30 PM
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I wonder what percentage of Americans can say who he was or what he accomplished. Precious few, I bet.

Problem is, this counts for almost everyone.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:30 PM
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216: He was a brilliant 'pataphysician; everyone knows that.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:31 PM
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216: well geez if that's our standard I nominate FDR.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:31 PM
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206: Whom shall we commission?

Thomas Kinkade?


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:34 PM
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"Problem is, this counts for almost everyone."

Oh I don't know. I'm thinking relative to the magnitude of their impact.

Most people know who Einstein was, probably even Isaac Newton. Maxwell is right up their with them in terms of importance, but comparatively unknown.


Posted by: A. Chandler Moisen | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:36 PM
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221: Oh, wow. I had no idea he worked in three dimensions. That is awesome. Sold! Someone should send him an inquiry letter describing the proposed work.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:38 PM
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This sculpture depicts the Thomas Kinkade painting, The Prince of Peace.

Oh yeah? Then how come it's three-dimensional?

(And isn't "depict" an odd choice there?)


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:38 PM
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Except how does it work being The Sculptor Of Light™? Do they glow? Are they radioactive? There's got to be something radiant about them, no?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:39 PM
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Then how come it's three-dimensional?

No one said it depicted the painting accurately.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:40 PM
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Well, I think that we've done our part! The statue has been fully theorized and gossiped. Now it's the responsibility of the money people, the sculptor, and the various political authorities to do their part.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:41 PM
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He doesn't seem to be billing himself as The Sculptor Of Light™, just as The Painter Of Light Who Also Does Sculpture™.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:42 PM
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225: Unfortunately once the Painting Of Light is rendered in three dimensions, its wave function collapses and it is reduced to mere particles.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:42 PM
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More like The Painter Of Light Who Gives Sculptors Specifications.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:43 PM
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227: Should it be in MA? Or perhaps on the Mall? Or the Mall of America? Or Epcot?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:43 PM
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More like The Painter Of Light Who Gives Sculptors Specifications.

"Does Sculpture" is not necessarily synonymous with "Sculpts."


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:44 PM
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I disagree, A.C.M.

Einstein is an anomaly, because he got picked up as an pop culture icon, and because he was relatively recent.

Newtons impact was probably far beyond either of them. Einsteins contributions more singular (Maxwell synthesized a lot of previous work and cleaned it up nicely to fit together -- some of Einsteins stuff was more `new').

As for Maxwell, he's pretty well known for a scientist. I don't think he sticks up as being particularly poorly known relative to his contributions even when you stick to physics and consider people like Gibbs and Hamilton. Let alone much deeper impacts like Gauss.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:44 PM
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The sculpture should be located in Nancy Pelosi's office, to make her more intimidating.


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:44 PM
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232: A technicality.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:45 PM
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I mentioned that my Christmas present from my inlaws last year was a Thomas Kinkade gift basket, with a mug with a little Kinkade painting on it, and flavored tea, right? I still have the mug. (This year, I got a thriller about infanticide in the Amish community, and how a hardbitten lawyer finds peace among her simple clients.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:45 PM
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236: I'm in awe.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:46 PM
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236: How was the tea?


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:47 PM
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They're really sweet people. I shouldn't make fun.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:47 PM
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238: Terrible -- some sort of hyperfruity mess. Mangokiwipassionfruitraspberry, or something.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:48 PM
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240: Sounds about right for a Kinkade mug, anyway.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:49 PM
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Thriller's name? Please.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:49 PM
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The Tea Merchant Of Light™


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:50 PM
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I collect Amish literature. And literature about the Amish.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:50 PM
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He's the one who kills the Amish babies, of course.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:50 PM
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244: Old order Mennonite too?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:50 PM
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The Shakers, too.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:50 PM
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245: Who, Kinkade?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:51 PM
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No one ever suspects The Tea Merchant Of Light™.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:51 PM
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Every sculpture is created under Thomas Kinkade's explicit direction with final details sculpted by Thom's own hand.

Doubters!


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:52 PM
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Wow. I thought he only killed decor (with impressive scope, but still)


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:52 PM
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236: That's fantastic. For years, my Scottish, anti-papist in-law equivalents gave me Irish stuff. I have every ridiculous Go! Ireland! book every published. I felt antagonized. (Or rather, I was antagonized! I'm only half! Not that the greasy wop side does me any favors . . .)


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:52 PM
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Aethlestan


Posted by: Adam Roberts | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:53 PM
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Plain Truth. I think there's quite a genre of "Not exactly Amish woman interacts with Amish under stressful circumstances and finds Peace through Quilting and stuff" books out there.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:53 PM
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"Peace through Quilting and stuff"

new mouseover text


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:55 PM
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So, Ari, is there a lot of Amish-themed porn? I need to know for school.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:55 PM
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256: Ogged, I thought you were on hiatus.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:56 PM
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Plain truth is nothing.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:56 PM
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246: I'm open to new things.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:56 PM
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Aethlestan

Um, Brytwalda, early 10th century, or another guy of the same name?


Posted by: OneFatEnglishman | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 3:59 PM
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Didn't we discuss Amish-themed fiction once before? I remember hearing that it's primarily aimed not at the Amish but at vaguely conservative people pining for a simpler, more wholesome past.

Anyway, tourist traps in Amish country have tons of the stuff. Shelf after shelf.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:00 PM
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But is any of it pornographic?


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:02 PM
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Only behind the counter, ben.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:03 PM
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Not that I recall, but like I say, there's a lot of it.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:03 PM
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This one has mild-romance-novel sex scenes -- I bet if you looked hard there'd be fairly-explicit-romance-novel sexy Amish books.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:04 PM
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Only behind the counter, ben.

And you have to ask in Pennsylvania Dutch.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:04 PM
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With the hairy Amish guy who's really half-Gentile kidnapping the pale English maiden? E.M. Hull did it first, LB.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:11 PM
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shivbunny is currently drilling in land rented from an Amish community. It's apparently a big enough sensation that it's in the local paper. Yesterday he was accosted by a polite Amish 12-year-old:
"Is that the drills that drills the holes?"
"Yes."
"Is that the hole you put the dynamite down?"
"And you will clean up all the mess your rig makes on the farmland after you're done?"
"Yes."

Observes shivbunny: "I guess we can figure out the topic of conversation around the dinner table lately."

Today he had a bunch of kids watching him.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:16 PM
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Hornyamishwive.com and Mennonitemayhem.con are both pay sites, and the models have not been authenticated by the respective church authorities.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:16 PM
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The Amish around here are actually quite friendly and sort of jolly. I'm not, though.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:18 PM
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I don't think that's quite what ben was looking for, Cala.


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:20 PM
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But it could serve as a setting.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:22 PM
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272: Where's AWB when we need her?


Posted by: soup biscuit | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:23 PM
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I was trying to explain Mennonites to a Moroccan recently. I am not sure how much I managed to communicate. I was hoping he had seen Witness, but unfortunately his movie taste runs more to The Big Lebowski.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:25 PM
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shivbunny is currently drilling in land rented from an Amish community

Porn?


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:27 PM
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Some day I'll learn to press preview.


Posted by: Ari | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:28 PM
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274: Wasn't Jackmormon telling us that the French remain permanently confused because "Amish" was translated as "Mormon" when Witness was released in France ?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:29 PM
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A sad, sad story from my hometown: There was a Mennonite community close by, straight out of central casting. There was one family that my parents were friendly with that was somehow estranged from the community. They still lived the same ascetic lifestyle, but in total isolation in a cabin on the mountain. They had six kids. The oldest was a beautiful, smart girl who earned a full scholarship to some Mennonite college.

As soon as she left home for college, she called the police and reported that the father had been molesting her and her siblings her whole life. The father went to prison, and the children were taken away by social services and put in foster care. (Of course they had to be split up, since no foster family takes five kids.) My mother testified in a hearing in favor of letting the mother retain custody, but because she had been judged to be an accessory in the abuse of the children (by keeping quiet about it despite her knowledge), the judge ruled against her.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:31 PM
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278: Apparently a major problem.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:35 PM
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Aethlestan?

Has someone with dyslexia been reading the novels of Talbot Mundy?


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:44 PM
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Anybody got any Amish scat porn? Two girls one cup cheese, that sort of thing?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:55 PM
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Amish scat porn

Two Girls One Churn


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:56 PM
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The one where he has his whey with her?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:56 PM
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There was a Letterman top 10 list ages ago listing Amish Spring Break activities. The only three I remember were Buttermilk Kegger; Wet Bonnet Contest; and Let's Go Into Town And Kick Some Mennonite Ass.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:57 PM
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Or gay Amish porn? Bum Raising 2: Lift My Timber, or whatever?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 4:59 PM
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Internets, you disappoint me.

However.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:00 PM
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I should mention that Glenn Gould did a great radio documentary about a Canadian Mennonite community, included in this expensive set. If anyone can find a copy online, it's worth listening to.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:03 PM
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286.2 is hilarious.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:04 PM
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285: I just deleted all the gay porn you made me download, Sifu. I was utterly baffled by its presence on my laptop until I remembered your search for the iliac crest.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:05 PM
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As I walk through the field where I harvest my grain,
I take a look at my wife and realize she's very plain!
...
Even Ezekial thinks that my mind is gone, fool.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:05 PM
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Amish girls gone wild schwag.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:09 PM
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289: "made" you download. It was consensual!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:09 PM
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290: Weird. That's the second time today I've encountered Weird Al references. The other time was a conversation about Gerardo's "Rico Suave."


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:10 PM
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OT:
Here's some news to occasion hating on the the Ivy League and JK Rowling at the same time.


Posted by: Knecht Ruprecht | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:11 PM
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All I wanna do is zoom-a-zoom-zoom-zoom and a boom-boom. Just shake your rumspringa.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:11 PM
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I also remembered "Drink molasses until you heave".


Posted by: Cryptic Ned | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:32 PM
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I like big buggies and I cannot lie.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:34 PM
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re: above

James Clark Maxwell was indeed pretty bad-ass. I have a bit of a soft spot for Poincaré too, though.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:38 PM
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Hands down: James Clerk Maxwell. Without him, Einstein would probably never have discovered relativity.

I don't agree. If Maxwell didn't figure out E&M, someone else would have (possibly Einstein himself, but probably someone else first). If Einstein didn't figure out special relativity, someone else would have first.

Now general relativity? That was much more out of the blue. (And by out of the blue, I don't mean read in disguise.)

Also: I bet Maxwell is really well-known in Scotland. Am I right?


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:51 PM
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Borte chono and Goo maral
just because they existed (mythologically)
Emerson family history is fascinating
well, not that distant history, but my father's two uncles were in gulags somewhere at the White Sea
and participated in WWII, one of them died near Kharkiv, he was a bortmechanic, another one was able to comeback home only after 1950ies
there is even a documentary about them


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:52 PM
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Dude Maxwell's not Scottish. No way.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:54 PM
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i was 300th, yay!


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:54 PM
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I don't mean to pick on typoes, but is a 'bortmechanic' a boat mechanic, or something more interesting?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:54 PM
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come back


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:55 PM
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not boat, it's a pilot


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:56 PM
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301: Everyone knows the Scots never came up with anything.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:56 PM
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something like the second pilot may be


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:57 PM
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If we're going to name a physicist it should probably someone who invented thermodynamics, since thermodynamics make things like car engines and refrigerators and shit work. Sadi Carnot, maybe.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:57 PM
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Maybe they tinker with better ways to keep bees.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 5:58 PM
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boltzmann


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:01 PM
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Boltzmann invented statistical mechanics, which explains why thermodynamics works, but I don't know if it's good for much.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:04 PM
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While we're at it, how about whoever invented air? That stuff is awesome.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:08 PM
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Hey, I've got one. Sliced bread.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:08 PM
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311: !


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:10 PM
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whoever invented air

Steve Jobs?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:11 PM
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Maybe. I forget the name.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:11 PM
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So what is it good for?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:13 PM
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I'll say Leonhard Euler, on behalf of my dad. Though he's been doing his best to spread the word.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:14 PM
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Sliced bread.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:16 PM
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My wife, when she doesn't know the answer to something, says "pi squared over six". It's the most annoying habit ever. Fucking Euler.


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:17 PM
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Even more exciting: they could be holding signs that say that 1 + 2 + 3 + ... = zeta(-1) = -1/12.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:22 PM
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Sliced bread.

Otto Rohwedder


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:23 PM
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Walt - email me, and I'll get my dad to send her a T-shirt. Seriously, he'd love that.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:23 PM
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Well, you could if the link was an email address ... fixed.


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:25 PM
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Are those t-shirts for sale? Am I dorky enough to wear one? (Probably.)


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:27 PM
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319: Jesus, ogged has been worrying about clothes shopping since 2004 at least?

Unfogged 2020: Okay, guys, I'm 5'10" and weigh 150. Where can I get some fucking clothes that don't look stupid?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:28 PM
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If Maxwell didn't figure out E&M, someone else would have (possibly Einstein himself, but probably someone else first). If Einstein didn't figure out special relativity, someone else would have first.

Indeed, for any accomplishment, if the person who accomplished it hadn't, one can claim that someone else would have. Nevertheless, Maxwell did figure out E&M.

If your argument is that E&M isn't actually a significant thing to have figured out, that's one thing; if you're going to say that, although it is significant, someone would surely have done it, you're a dumbass.


Posted by: ben w-lfs-n | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:31 PM
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327, had it not been written by Ben, would surely have had it's major points expressed at some point by somebody else, Ben therefore being utterly pwned.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:35 PM
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Haha, apostrophe! U funny! kekeke~


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:36 PM
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Boltzmann invented statistical mechanics, which explains why pretty much everythingthermodynamicsworks, but I don't know if it's good for much.


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:42 PM
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If your argument is that E&M isn't actually a significant thing to have figured out, that's one thing; if you're going to say that, although it is significant, someone would surely have done it, you're a dumbass.

It was certainly significant. And while I'm open to the possibility that I'm a dumbass, the point is that E&M was somehow "in the air" at the time. The timescale between Maxwell's discovery and discovery-sans-Maxwell would be short. It's often this way with even major theoretical discoveries: they tend to be the result of lots of people thinking about similar things that all point in the right direction, and finally someone figures out what they're pointing at. You can read the literature just before the groundbreaking moment and think: how could they not have known? But it's easy to say in hindsight. The person who does it still deserves credit.

Then there are the really rare theoretical discoveries that are not in the air at the time. General relativity, probably Newton's universal gravitation.... It's hard to think of examples because it doesn't happen often. These, also, would surely have eventually been discovered otherwise, but possibly much later.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 6:53 PM
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TJ: So what?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 7:05 PM
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Come to think of it, I think any of the great organic chemists should be on the list. Organic chemistry was really an exciting field and laid the foundations for modern biology.

Proof of my contention: who can name five of the great organic chemists? 3? 1?


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 7:08 PM
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The guy who discovered the structure of benzene by doing drugs?


Posted by: Walt Someguy | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 7:11 PM
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Walt wins so far.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 7:12 PM
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Perkin. Coal tar. Et cetera et cetera et cetera.

Morehead. Calcium carbide. Gases. Union Carbide. (UNC Scholarships.)


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 7:24 PM
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20 / 400 moves into the lead. How many people knew who he was, though?

The most famous organic chemist who was also a classical composer was Alexander Borodin. Wiki:

In his chemical profession Borodin gained great respect, being particularly noted for his work on aldehydes[4]. Between 1859 and 1862 Borodin held a postdoctorate in Heidelberg. He worked in the laboratory of Emil Erlenmeyer working on benzene derivatives. He also spent time in Pisa, working on organic halogens. One experiment published in 1862 described the first nucleophilic displacement of chlorine by fluorine in benzoyl chloride[5]. A related reaction known to the west as the Hunsdiecker reaction published in 1939 by the Hunsdieckers was promoted by the Soviet Union as the Borodin reaction. In 1862 he returned to the Medico-Surgical Academy. There he worked on the selfcondensation of small aldehydes with publications in 1864 and 1869 and in this field he found himself competing with August Kekulé.

Borodin is also credited with the discovery of the Aldol reaction together with Charles-Adolphe Wurtz. In 1872 he announced to the Russian Chemical Society the discovery of a new by-product in aldehyde reactions with properties like that of an alcohol and he noted similarities with compounds already discussed in publications by Wurtz from the same year.

He published his last full article in 1875 on reactions of amides and his last publication concerned a method for the identification of urea in animal urine.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 7:30 PM
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The pop song "Stranger in Paradise" was adapted from Borodin.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 7:32 PM
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And he got a posthumous Tony for it.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 7:35 PM
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I'm pretty sure Linus Pauling counts as an organic chemist.

331: In college biology lab I watched a movie about the discovery of the structure of DNA on one slow day towards the end of the semester, and I don't remember much about it except that Rosalind Franklin surely deserved more acclaim, and a black and white title between acts that read simply "she doesn't see it." Your post made me think of that.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 7:44 PM
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And maybe Michael Faraday, unless he counts as a physicist.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 7:48 PM
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I don't think Faraday counts. Pauling was late. The pioneering age of organic chemistry was the XIXc.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 7:49 PM
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Albert Hoffman (LSD)
Kekulé (benzene dude) - no drugs that I know of, rather dream of snake swallowing its tail.
Baekeland - Guess, roughly eponymous.



Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 7:55 PM
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We're up to five now, at least two of them relatively late. Six if you count Borodin.

The organic chemistry revolution was NOT televised, and that's a big understatement.


Posted by: John Emerson | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 7:58 PM
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Sherlock Holmes?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 8:02 PM
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345: Didn't they just file for bankruptcy?


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 8:06 PM
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Bakelite reminds me of a story I heard in a history of technology course. It seems that previously some billiard balls had been made of Celluloid (invented by John Wesley Hyatt). Unfortunately, these balls would sometimes explode when struck. Bakelite was more stable.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 8:07 PM
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The thing about coal tars is that a huge industry was built on the waste product of making coal gas.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 8:10 PM
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Kekulé (benzene dude) - no drugs that I know of, rather dream of snake swallowing its tail.

Seriously? Ouroboros? And this has to do with the structure of benzene? Right, then, I'll look it up, but ... really?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 8:10 PM
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349: Really. He knew that there were six atoms of carbon in a benzene molecule, but didn't know how they were arranged. He had the snake dream, and woke up realizing that the carbon atoms formed a ring.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 8:18 PM
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Whoever discovered carbon nanotubes, that guy? Love it.

Sure they're unspeakably toxic but ooh! space elevator!

I shouldn't be snide, really. I love 'em!


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 8:20 PM
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Buckminster Fuller?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 8:22 PM
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353

349, 350: However, I did not realize until looking it up just now that he first spoke of this in 1890 on the 25th anniversary of the discovery.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 8:22 PM
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352: I think his role was more gracious posthumous eponym loaner.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 8:24 PM
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351: Sumio Iijima via Google.
352: You're thinking of Fullerene (buckyballs), the spherical arrangements named after Fuller. Nanotubes are related (a form of?) to Fullerene.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 8:26 PM
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Fuller-ene. Rhymes with Frankensteen.

Ah, not just one inventor.

353. Hmmmm.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 8:26 PM
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a snake in a dream means you'll get pregnant
if you'd dream the snakes in cluster you'll get rich
- mongolian national superstitions
surely he got rich?


Posted by: read | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 8:28 PM
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356: technically discoverer, as they are found naturally in carbon soot.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 8:29 PM
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353: Lovely. Wikipedia at least spins this as an anecdote upon a joke upon a spoof upon ... or variations thereof.

It can't possibly be true, too good to be true.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 8:33 PM
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353: Although some scholars now believe that Kekule's dream was a hoax to avoid sharing credit for the discovery of the hexagonal shape of benzene, it still makes a wonderful story.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 8:36 PM
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Walt, you don't think that understanding the connection between the microscopic world and the macroscopic world is useful?

Do you like magnets? Materials? The properties thereof?


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 10:00 PM
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Haven't we read Gravity's Rainbow?


Posted by: Harrison | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:35 PM
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351: Rick Smalley, maybe? He's an interesting character.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-24-08 11:53 PM
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I am not responding to the Scot-baiting re: Maxwell, above.

re: Einstein and special relativity. I'm pretty sure Poincaré always pointedly refers to the theory as Lorenz's, and always maintained that Einstein had done nothing new in his 1905 publication.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-25-08 12:56 AM
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Lorentz.

Bugger, can't event spell the guy's name.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-25-08 12:58 AM
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I'm pretty sure Poincaré always pointedly refers to the theory as Lorenz's, and always maintained that Einstein had done nothing new in his 1905 publication.

I'm no physicist, but IIRC this wasn't the view of Lorentz, and Einstein credited Lorentz as a co-developer of special relativity.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 01-25-08 1:09 AM
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I'm not sure that Einstein was as clear cut as that -- he definitely talks about the importance of Lorentz, though. You're right, as far as I know, about Lorentz's own view.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-25-08 1:21 AM
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Also, I'm no physicist either!


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 01-25-08 1:23 AM
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It's a well-known phenomenon in physics that many people discover a lot of ideas and the attribution is always wrong.

For instance, there's the Landau-Ginzburg-Nambu-Goldstone-Anderson-Brout-Englert-Guralnik-Hagen-Kibble mechanism, which is affectionately referred to as "Higgs."


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-25-08 1:34 AM
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I exaggerate: Landau, Ginzburg, and Goldstone worked on related phenomena but not closely related enough to be part of the name. But I forgot Stueckelberg.

Also, I don't mean to malign the Scottish. Higgs did play an important role.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 01-25-08 1:37 AM
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essear - you could certainly wear an Euler-homage T-shirt. I'm not sure if the design's on cafePress - email me if you want one!


Posted by: asilon | Link to this comment | 01-25-08 3:12 AM
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Also: I bet Maxwell is really well-known in Scotland. Am I right?

Yep. He was at school in Edinburgh, where, thanks to his rural accent, he was universally known as "Daftie Maxwell". (He sounded like a 19th century Scots equivalent of Cletus the Yokel.) The problem is, I think, that he didn't have a very interesting life. He didn't run the Mint or travel round the world or invent atom bombs - he just studied and invented modern physics, and died in his forties.

Lorentz was the physicist; Lorenz (Konrad) was the ethologist.

Personally, I'd go for RA Fisher and JBS Haldane - the creators of the modern synthesis (basically "Darwin Was Right And This Is Why") which resurrected the theory of evolution by natural selection by uniting it with the science of genetics. (Also, Haldane was Scottish, and wrote a great kids' book called "My Friend Mr Leakey".)


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-25-08 4:17 AM
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ajay, Ludvig Lorenz was kind of a big deal. Retarded potentials, wee! Also Ed, of the Lorenz Attractors (not a band name, for shame).


Posted by: TJ | Link to this comment | 01-25-08 9:11 AM
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How depressing to be a physicist working in the same field as a much more famous person with almost the same name. Like being called Steven Hawkins or something. Poor Ludvig.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 01-25-08 9:45 AM
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The answer is ME!


Posted by: UNJUSTLY OVERLOOKED GENIUS | Link to this comment | 01-25-08 9:48 AM
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OTOH, you have to think that the march of technology would have eventually produced these innovations whether or not the specific individual had ever been born.

You'd think so, especially with the oft-cited "two guys invented calculus at the same time, you know" and like examples. But it's weird--cultures can become incredibly materially sophisticated with technological blind spots that appear shocking in hindsight.

Was just reading the book 1491, and the author cited two examples: the famous "wheels were only used on toys" in the pre-Colombian Americas, and the not-so-famous "Europeans used a moronically ass-backwards plow for about 1,500 years longer than the Chinese." It was such a bad plow that it basically demanded more than twice the work to use--two oxen and not just one to till the fields. And the innovation is simple--basically, just angle the blades. But at a time when they were building cathedrals and discovering the Americas, in their most important industry--agriculture--the Europeans were using a process-critical technology more than 1,000 years behind the times. And then go to China, where they were failing to make the same kinds of realizations in different areas (hey, y'all, put that gunpowder in a tube and you've got a great weapon!)

So I don't know if I really do subscribe to the "when the world needs railroads, railroads come" theory of technological progress. Geographic isolation has shown time and again that you can build Macchu Picchu without the wheel, so we shouldn't assume that just because the world came up with the idea of airplanes that, if history had taken a different path, we'd have also come up with other earlier technologies like railroads, cars, or I dunno, canning.

For some things, if you can do x, you can also do y (eg: if you can make steel, you can also smelt iron). But I think it's tricky to assume that the "march of progress" has a specific path that goes across the board.

I'm not sure if someone else would have come up with container shipping if he hadn't. I suspect probably, since we're investing so much effort as a society in moving things efficiently...but is it a chicken-and-egg thing? Because he came up with container shipping and it had such a big impact that our society decided this area of research (packing shit efficiently) had a big ROI?

Bleh, all a long way of saying we need to know more about the history of this area of research to know if it was a "calculus" thing or a "wheel" thing.


Posted by: anonymiss | Link to this comment | 01-25-08 1:00 PM
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I'm not sure if someone else would have come up with container shipping if he hadn't.

I think the most important thing about advanced capitalist society is that it institutionalized the process of searching for high-return new technologies. That is the big difference between modern society and pre-industrial societies, where as you point out inefficiencies persisted for millenia.


Posted by: PerfectlyGoddamnDelightful | Link to this comment | 01-25-08 3:54 PM
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