The late 18th century was a time of social and political change. France was recovering from revolution. America had likewise just gone through a revolution to achieve independence.
In Britain the industrial revolution had pushed thousands of poverty-stricken people from the country villages to the crowded cities. Crime in the cities grew as people could not find work having been displaced by industry. The jails were over flowing as the Crown dealt with the under class of criminals. In 1787 the government needed a new way to the problem of the burgeoning prison population.
The initial idea had been to transfer the British jail population to the Crowns colonies in America. However, in 1783 the Crown lost the American option due to the Americans winning their war for independence. The British looked around their empire for other locations to house their jail population.
The explorers from Captain Cook’s discovery expedition 18 years earlier came upon the idea of Botany Bay, Australia. Their idea was to use the land down under as a giant repository for convicts. It wasn’t the ideal choice because the place had only been glimpsed once and the 15,000 mile voyage would take more than 8 months. Of course, the jails in Britain were full to capacity.
Between 1788 and 1868 165,000 British and Irish convicts made the perilous voyage to a strange land now referred to as Australia. The majority of the 165,000 convicts sent to Australia were impoverished and illiterate. The under class were victims of the Poor Laws and social conditions in Georgian England. Eight out of ten prisoners were convicted for larceny. Many did not consider themselves to be criminals. They were trying to survive in an industrialized Britain.
Apart from unskilled and semi-skilled labourers from Britain and Ireland, transportees came from varied ethnic backgrounds: American, Corsican, French, Hong Kong, Chinese, West Indian, Indian, and African.
There were political prisoners and prisoners of war, as well as a motley collection of professionals such as lawyers, surgeons and teachers.
The average age of a deportees was 26, and their group included children who were either convicted of crimes or were making the journey with their mothers. Just one in six was a woman. Depending on the offence, for the first 40 years of transportation convicts were sentenced to terms of seven years, 10 years, or life.
Most of the convicts stayed in their new home of Australia. They were free to return home after they served their jail term in Australia. However, a return voyage was not likely for many. After all, how were they going to afford the trip back to this original home in Britain? Aside fro the expense of going back to Britain, many of the transporters had begun to see Australia as their true home.
FIRST FLEET ON KRNN, 5/13 at 8am: Sailors and convicts set sail from Portsmouth, England, to found the first European colony in Australia, Botany Bay with the “First Fleet”, on this date in 1787. We hope you join us aboard the boat headed for an all Aussie playlist on Crosscurrents, 5/13 at 8 am.
On a windy evening in Oxford on May 6th 1954, Roger Bannister, proved himself as the most publicized British sports icon of the age after the second world war. He did not an Olympic title, he established just one individual world record (which he lost after barely six weeks) and he walked away from the running track at the top of his game when he was only 25. However on 6 May 1954, on the Iffley Road cinder track that he had helped to construct as an undergraduate a few years earlier, he ran a mile in under four minutes, a time which many in the public, the media and many athletes, too had considered not humanly possible.
Yet Bannister’s record on May 6th,almost never took place. For after working in a hospital that morning, he nearly decided not to travel to the Iffley Road track in Oxford due to high winds. However a chance meeting with his coach, Franz Stampfl, convinced him to give it a try. Stampfl told him: “If you pass it up today you may never forgive yourself for the rest of your life.” It was only 30 minutes before the race was due to start at 6pm that Bannister decided he would compete. “My pacemakers Chris Brasher and Chris Chataway were getting a little impatient,” he told me in 2014.
“They were saying: ‘Make up your mind!’ But it was I who had to do it. I was very concerned about the weather but when the wind dropped it proved just possible.”
Bannister’s race was more extraordinary given his minimal training. He did not attend his gynaecology lectures, enabling him to run for 45 minutes at lunchtime, and did only 35 miles a week.
What is also ignored is Bannister had felt “stale” a month before breaking the record and so he elected an unusual plan: a three-day break to go hiking. It was, he admitted, “bordering on the lunatic”. It gave Bannister a chance to relax from training and gave him a welcome distraction from the time record. His main training session included 10 repetitions of 400m with short rest periods between each lap – his intent was to do each one in around 60 seconds.
“I heard the lap times as they went by,” he says. “The first was 58. The half-mile 1.58. But the three‑quarters was three minutes and one second so I knew I had to produce a last lap of under 59.
“I was also unsure whether I should start my finish immediately or wait another 150 yards and overtake Chataway in the back straight. I decided I would stay a bit longer and then went. There was plenty of adrenaline then, I can assure you!”
When he crossed the finish line he collapsed, almost unconscious. He described feeling like “an exploded flashbulb” but he had the record. And it changed him. As he put it: “I suddenly and gloriously felt free from the burden of athletic ambition I had been carrying for years.” His sub-four mark lasted six weeks before the Australian John Landy broke it by more than a second. But later in 1954, when the pair met at the Empire Games in Vancouver, Bannister was triumphant after an epic contest – later called, with complete justification, the Miracle Mile – coming from 15 yards down with a surprise sprint off the last bend.
“I felt it was a piece of unfinished business to be able to reproduce the performance of my sub-four-minute mile in a race,” Bannister said. “And I ran the final lap in the last race I had in England beforehand in 53 seconds to persuade Landy that his best chance was to run me off my feet.
“However at the half-mile he looked as though he was doing it. He was 15 yards ahead and I thought either he’s going to break a world record in 3min 56sec or he’s going to have to slow. But I managed to catch him by the bell – and then I just managed to choose the right moment to take him by surprise.”
For having won the Empire Games and European Championships in 1954 he relinquished his track shoes when he was just 25 – at his absolute prime – to focus on medicine. Bannister admitted in 2014: “If I were to start running today I could not combine training with being a medical student.
“Most top athletes will train two-three hours a day, whereas I would run half an hour – very hard – five days a week.”
But while this gentleman athletes is gone – his legacy will endure for ever, namely: 3:59.4.
BANNISTER 4-MIN MILE ON KRNN, 5/6: The mile distance had never been run in under four minutes until Roger Bannister did so on this date in 1954. You are invited to join us on the running track for the music tracks on Crosscurrents, 5/6 at 8 am.
ROGER BANNISTER QUOTES:
Just because they say it’s impossible doesn’t mean you can’t do it.
The man who can drive himself further once the effort gets painful is the man who will win.
It is the brain, not the heart or lungs, that is the critical organ.
Sport, like all of life, is about taking your chances.
HE WROTE “ON THE ROAD AGAIN” ON A BARF BAG. Nelson’s 1980 hit, “On The Road Again,” was written aboard an airplane—on a barf bag. “I was on an aeroplane with Sydney Pollack and Jerry Schatzberg, who was the director of the movie Honeysuckle Rose,” Nelson told Uncut in 2014. “They were looking for songs for the movie and they started asking me if I had any ideas. I said, ‘I don’t know, what do you want the song to say?’ I think Sydney said, ‘Can it be something about being on the road?’ It just started to click in my head. I said, ‘You mean like, ‘On the road again, I can’t wait to get on the road again?’ They said, ‘That’s great. What’s the melody?’ I said, ‘I don’t know yet.’”
HE HAS BEEN PLAYING THE SAME GUITAR FOR NEARLY 50 YEARS. Nelson has been playing Trigger, his beloved guitar (which he named after Roy Rogers’ horse), since 1969. “I’ve got to take good care of Trigger,” Nelson told Uncut Magazine in 2014. “He’s had a couple of problems. We’ve had to go in and do some work on the inside, build up the woodwork in there a little bit over the years. But Trigger’s holding up pretty good.”
HE USED TO BE A BIBLE SALESMAN. Before he became a full-time musician in the mid-1950s, Nelson worked as a cotton picker (a gig he began as a child, working alongside his grandmother), disc jockey, and a Bible salesman.
There is only one map to the journey of life and it lives within your heart.
Once you replace negative thoughts with positive ones, you’ll start having positive results.
Be gentle with your words – you can’t take them back.
Be here. Be present. Wherever you are, be there.
When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.
Three chords and the truth – that’s what a country song is.
I like myself better when I’m writing regularly.
Waylon Jennings and I had a lot of fun recording together.
WILLIE NELSON ON KRNN, 4/29: His songs endure, his work influences and his music entertains, Willie Nelson was born on this date in 1933. Please join us as Willie’s compositions provide our playlist on Crosscurrents, 4/29 at 8 am.
“He left his eggs behind…lets chase him.”
One good thing about chasing rabbits and searchiing for Easter Eggs is that it keeps one’s mind off the craziness in the world. At least that is what I found when we were out on the wetlands this morning with the dogs and thereafter editing the attached image.
The process brought a smile to my face and I trust the image does for you too.
An adventurer who set more than 100 world records, among them five circumnavigations of the globe, straining the limits of planes, boats and balloons. Steve Fossett was born on this date 1944. His road trips were extreme and you are invited to road records on Crosscurrents, 4/22 at 8 am.
Steve Fossett set 116 records in five sports, 60 of which remain to this day. Below are some of them
• Between 1993 and 2004, he set 23 official world records in speed sailing
• In 2002, he became the first person to fly around the world alone and non-stop in a balloon, covering 19,428 miles
• As skipper with a 13-member crew, he beat the round-the-world sailing record in 2004, completing the voyage in 59 days and nine hours
• In 2005, he made his first solo non-stop, non-refuelled global circumnavigation in a single-engine plane. There was no refuelling for 67 hours
• In 2006, he broke the record for the longest flight, spending nearly 77 hours in the air and covering more than 25,000 miles
Samuel Johnson’s impressive accomplishment A Dictionary of the English Language, published on 15th April 1755, the enormous work took Johnson nearly 9 years to complete, curiously almost completely single-handedly, and is now considered as one of the most important dictionaries in the history of the English language.
When it came out the book was enormous, not just in scope (it contained a 42,773-long word list) but also in size: its pages were 18 inches (46 cm) tall and nearly 20 inches (50 cm) wide. Johnson himself pronounced the book “Vasta mole superbus” (“Proud in its great bulk”). One of Johnson’s significant innovations was to illustrate the meanings of his words by literary quotation, of which there are around 114,000. The authors most frequently cited by Johnson include Shakespeare, Milton and Dryden but also included sentences taken from the popular press of his day.
ENGLISH DICTIONARY ON KRNN, 4/15: A text which was authoritative, comprehensive, and innovative, The Johnson Dictionary Of The English Language was published on this date in 1755. If you fancy a bit of English slang, then get your agenda sorted and tune in the British skiffle playlist on Crosscurrents, 4/15 at 8 am.
Johnson—a celebrated humourist and anecdotist who also wrote uncountable works of journalism and criticism, biographies, essays, poems, and even a novel and a stage play—brought a huge amount of that wit and linguistic originality to his dictionary, which defined over 42,000 words, using 114,000 literary quotations to illustrate them. Famously, for instance, he defined oats as “a grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people”—but that famous definition is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the slights, barbs and quips Johnson included in his dictionary.
The Oxford English Dictionary calls a backfriend “a pretended or false friend,” but Johnson was more straightforward and defined the word as “a friend backwards”—or in other words, “an enemy in secret.”
No one likes paying tax—and Johnson knew it. Excise was defined as “a hateful tax levied upon commodities and adjudged not by the common judges of property but wretches hired by those to whom excise is paid.”
Johnson didn’t much care for French loanwords, and omitted a great deal of francophone words—including such familiar examples as champagne and bourgeois—from his dictionary. Many of those that he did include, meanwhile, had some serious shade thrown at them: Finesse is dismissed as “an unnecessary word that is creeping into the language”; monsieur was described as “a term of reproach for a Frenchman”; and ruse was labeled “a French word neither elegant nor necessary.”
A gynocracy is a governing body of women, or women seen as a ruling class. In Johnson’s pithier words, however, a “gynecocrasay” was defined as a “petticoat government.”
Johnson seemingly didn’t think much of his own job: On page 1195, he called a lexicographer “a harmless drudge” who “busies himself in tracing the original and detailing the signification of words.”
Lunch wasn’t so much a time as a quantity in Johnson’s eyes: He defined it as “as much food as one’s hand can hold.”
Johnson was commissioned to write his dictionary and paid a staggering 1500 guineas (around $300,000 today) for his troubles. Even still, he couldn’t let the opportunity to have a dig at the London publishers who acted as his financial backers go by: He famously defined a patron as “a wretch who supports with insolence, and is paid with flattery.”
A pension is “an allowance,” adding that “in England it is generally understood to mean pay given to a state hireling for treason to his country.”
As well as “one versed in the arts of government,” Johnson defined a politician as “a man of artifice; one of deep contrivance.”
EDMUND HUSSERL ON KRNN, 4/8: The founder of Phenomenology, a method for analysis of consciousness through which philosophy attempts to gain the character of a strict science, Edmund Husserl was born on this date 1859. We invite you to a playlist of psychedelic rock on Crosscurrents, 4/8 at 8 am.
Edmund Gustav Albrecht Husserl was a German philosopher, born in the Chezch Republic who established the academic field of phenomenology. In his initial work, he elaborated critiques of historicism and of psychologism in logic based on analyses of intentionality. In his later work, he sought to develop a systematic foundational science based on the so-called phenomenological reduction. Arguing that transcendental consciousness sets the limits of all possible knowledge, Husserl re-defined phenomenology as a transcendental-idealist philosophy.
To begin with, we put the proposition: pure phenomenology is the science of pure consciousness.
Natural objects, for example, must be experienced before any theorizing about them can occur.
All consciousness is consciousness of something.
The perception of duration itself presupposes a duration of perception.
All perception is a gamble.
EDMUND HUSSERL ON KRNN, 4/8: http://www.krnn.org live on air 8 am Alaska Time.
PLAYLIST TO INCLUDE: Big Brother/ Janis Joplin; Blue Cheer; Rhe Blues Magoos; Buffalo Springfield; The Byrds; Clear Light; The Electric Prunes; Grateful Dead; Iron Butterfly; Jefferson Airplane; Jimi Hendrix; Moby Grape; New Riders of the Purple Haze; Quicksilver Messenger; The Seeds; Straberry Alarm Clock; and Vanilla Fudge.