Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville (1805 July 29th)

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The youngest son of a illustrious noble, Tocqueville was born in 1805. Despite a content and pampered childhood, the inheritance of the French revolution cast long shades over his life and work. Ten members of his immediate household were imprisoned during the reign of terror and six of them executed. (QUOTATIONS BELOW)

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TOCQUEVILLE ON KRNN, 7/29:  A French political historian and intellectual aristocrat best known for his “Democracy in America”, Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville was born on this day in 1805.  We hope you enjoy our radio republic playlist for this birthday tribute to deTocqueville on Crosscurrents, 7/29 at 8 am.

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Alexis-Charles-Henri Clérel de Tocqueville (July 29, 1805 – April 16, 1859) was a French political thinker and historian best known for his Democracy in America (appearing in two volumes: 1835 and 1840) and The Old Regime and the Revolution (1856). In both of these works, he explored the effects of the rising equality of social conditions on the individual and the state in western societies

His parents narrowly escaped with their lives, but the torment turned his father’s hair white at the age of 21 and exhausted his mo          ther’s health. Tocqueville never forgot his legacy and was not able to get rid of a certain reminiscence for these by gone years.

Amazingly insightful and rationally truthful about political life, this teacher of modern democracy remained a noble to his final days, and cannot be comprehended unless this reality is acknowledged.

He was in 1831, he set out with his close colleague Gustave de Beaumont on the well-known nine-month trip through America. The endorsed purpose for the tour was to study the penal system in America and report back on its viability for France. The actual aim was that both men needed to maintain a low profile for a while following renewed political commotion in 1830.

Any road, the two young aristocrats had a wonderous time. In the middle off parties and dinners, they seem to have found time to visit Niagara Falls, sleep in log cabins in the middle of Indian country, posture as potential settlers in Detroit, tolerate shipwreck on the Ohio, witness the plunders of slavery in Baltimore and, of course, inspect prisons.

Distant and standoffish in public, Tocqueville was zealous and faithful in friendship and marriage.  Contrary to the prescriptions of his class and the desires of his family, he married an English woman, Mary Motley.  She destroyed nearly all their letters after his death, though the correspondence that remain are tender.

Raised a Catholic, he lost his faith abruptly at the age of 16, and didn’t reclaim it until he was about to die.  Notwithstanding a challenge to his belief, this was the man who wrote: “Faith alone is the permanent condition of humanity.” Often ill for most of his life, he died of tuberculosis at 53.

QUOTATIONS:

American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

America is great because she is good. If America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”

Nothing is more wonderful than the art of being free, but nothing is harder to learn how to use than freedom.”

Liberty cannot be established without morality, nor morality without faith.”

Society is endangered not by the great profligacy of a few, but by the laxity of morals amongst all.”

Tyranny in democratic republics does not proceed in the same way, however. It ignores the body and goes straight for the soul.

When I refuse to obey an unjust law, I do not contest the right of the majority to command, but I simply appeal from the sovereignty of the people to the sovereignty of mankind.”

The health of a democratic society may be measured by the quality of functions performed by private citizens.”

The surface of American society is covered with a layer of democratic paint, but from time to time one can see the old aristocratic colours breaking through.”

Rulers who destroy men’s freedom commonly begin by trying to retain its forms. … They cherish the illusion that they can combine the prerogatives of absolute power with the moral authority that comes from popular assent.”

One of the commonest weaknesses of human intelligence is the wish to reconcile opposing principles and to purchase harmony at the expense of logic.”

Absolute excellence is rarely to be found in any legislation.”

Despotism often presents itself as the repairer of all the ills suffered, the support of just rights, defender of the oppressed, and founder of order.

It is easier for the world to accept a simple lie than a complex truth.

When the past no longer illuminates the future, the spirit walks in darkness.

Oxford College Professor Spooner (1844 July 22nd)

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Dr Spooner was born on July 22. 1844, and was the son of a Staffordshire County Court judge. He was educated at Oswestry and New College, of which he became a scholar in 1862 and a Fellow in 1867. Ordained a deacon in 1872 and a priest in 1875, he became chaplain to Archbishop Tait in 1878 and was examining chaplain to the Bishop of Peterborough from 1809 to 1916. He became Warden of his college in 1903 and held that office till he retired in 1924. A lecturer and teacher of ability, he devoted himself to the college and its members.

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SPOONER ON KRNN, 7/22:  A distinguished Anglican clergyman and philosophy professor of New College, Oxford, William Archibald Spooner was born on this date in 1844.  Even if you are a “dizzy bean” (busy dean) we hope you have time to listen to Crosscurrents, 7/22 at 8 am.

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He published little, and the outside world knew him only from the scholarship of the well-known edition of Tacitus’ “Histories” and his memoirs of Butler and William of Wykeham.

But to a series of generations of his countrymen Dr. Spooner was known not for his administrative abilities nor his scholarship but for the “Spoonerism.” A “Spoonerism” is defined as “a ludicrous form of metathesis or the transposing of initial letters to form a laughable combination.”

In 1879 it was a favourite Oxford anecdote that Spooner from the pulpit gave out the first line of a well-known hymn as “Kinkering Kongs their titles take.”

The anecdote is well enough authenticated, but according to most people who knew Spooner well that was the only “Spoonerism” he ever made – the essence of a “Spoonerism” being, of course, lack of intent, – though later when, thanks to indefatigable undergraduate and alas! graduates and dignified Fellows of colleges, the legends had become legion, he often used deliberately to “indulge in metathesis,” to live up to his reputation.

All sorts of stories, probable and improbable, were invented, the most of which have only to be heard to be recognised as unauthentic. Of the well-worn ones the best are those which made Spooner declare that he was leaving Oxford by “the town drain,” that some unauthorised person was “occupewing his pie,” that at a marriage it was “kistomary to cuss the bride,” and that he was tired of addressing “beery wenches.” Much better authenticated and not even a Spoonerism is his famous reply to a young lady who asked him if he liked bananas. He is said to have retorted, “I’m afraid I always wear the old-fashioned nightshirt.”

Although other famous men have been guilty of “Spoonerisms”, it was the doctor who had to bear the brunt of most of them and to be honoured by having his name enshrined in a word that is a permanent addition to the English language.

Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 1 September 1930

RE-Published:01:02 Wednesday, 01 September 2010

 

Apollo 11 Moon Landing (1969 July 20th)

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An event which brought the world together on another world.

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EAGLE HAS LANDED ON KRNN, 7/20:  “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”  The journey continues as we step toward moon blues music to which you are invited on WTBA, 7/20 at 5 pm.

July 20, 1969 – At 1:47 p.m. EDT Armstrong and Aldrin, in the lunar module Eagle, separate from the command module. Collins remains onboard the Columbia orbiting the moon.

– 4:17 p.m. EDT – The Eagle lands.

– 4:18 p.m. EDT – “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed,” Armstrong reports. When the lunar module lands on the moon’s surface at the Sea of Tranquility, it has less than 40 seconds of fuel left.

– 10:56 p.m. EDT – Armstrong says, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind,” as he becomes the first human to set foot on the moon.

– 11:15 p.m. EDT (approx.) – Buzz Aldrin joins Armstrong on the moon. The men read from a plaque signed by the three crew members and the president, “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 A.D. We came in peace for all mankind.”

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  1. STAND BACK:  The Apollo’s Saturn rockets were packed with enough fuel to throw 100-pound shrapnel three miles, and NASA couldn’t rule out the possibility that they might explode on takeoff. NASA seated its VIP spectators three and a half miles from the launchpad.

  2. POCKET ROCKET COMPUTER:  The Apollo computers had less processing power than a cellphone.

  3. FIZZY WATER:  Drinking water was a fuel-cell by-product, but Apollo 11’s hydrogen-gas filters didn’t work, making every drink bubbly. “The drinking water is laced with hydrogen bubbles (a consequence of fuel-cell technology which demonstrates that H2 and O join imperfectly to form H2O),” wrote Michael Collins in a 2001 memoir. “These bubbles produced gross flatulence in the lower bowel, resulting in a not-so-subtle and pervasive aroma which reminds me of a mixture of wet dog and marsh gas.”

  4. MISSED IT: When Apollo 11’s lunar lander, the Eagle, separated from the orbiter, the cabin wasn’t fully depressurized, resulting in a burst of gas equivalent to popping a champagne cork. It threw the module’s landing four miles off-target.

  5. LIGHT UP:  Pilot Neil Armstrong nearly ran out of fuel landing the Eagle, and many at mission control worried he might crash. Apollo engineer Milton Silveira, however, was relieved: His tests had shown that there was a small chance the exhaust could shoot back into the rocket as it landed and ignite the remaining propellant.

  6. GAINT STEP: The “one small step for man” wasn’t actually that small. Armstrong set the ship down so gently that its shock absorbers didn’t compress. He had to hop 3.5 feet from the Eagle’s ladder to the surface.

  7. NO KEY:  When Buzz Aldrin joined Armstrong on the surface, he had to make sure not to lock the Eagle’s door because there was no outer handle.

  8. TOUCHY FLAG: The toughest moonwalk task? Planting the flag. NASA’s studies suggested that the lunar soil was soft, but Armstrong and Aldrin found the surface to be a thin wisp of dust over hard rock. They managed to drive the flagpole a few inches into the ground and film it for broadcast, and then took care not to accidentally knock it over.

  9. HOME MADE:  The flag was made by Sears, but NASA refused to acknowledge this because they didn’t want “another Tang.

  10.      WRIGHT STUFF.  The first recorded flight was achieved by the Wright Brothers in 1903, 66 years before the first manned lunar mission. Thus, Neil Armstrong saw it fit to take with him pieces of wood from the pioneering Wright plane as well as a piece of fabric from the plane to symbolize the great progress made in aviation. Armstrong held these in his “personal preference kit” (PPK). The Wright Brothers, like Neil, were from the state of Ohio. The artefacts now sit in the Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C.

  11. PAPER WORK:  On their return to Earth, the three astronauts were brought back via Hawaii. On their entry, they had to be processed like any other traveller, filling out customs declarations. In the “Departure From” field, they simply wrote “Moon,” and declared the “moon dust” and “moon rock” they were bringing into America.  In 2015, Buzz Aldrin tweeted a “travel voucher” that outlined the nature of expenses incurred from his trip out of the atmosphere, just like somebody would for a trip of a more Earthly nature. In addition, he revealed that the astronauts were required to sign customs forms upon their return to Earth, upon which they declared to be carrying “moon rock and moon dust samples”