Wednesday Oct. 19, 2016

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Sonnet 73: That Time of Year Thou Mayst in Me Behold

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou see’st the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west;
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire,
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish’ d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

“Sonnet 73: That Time of Year Thou Mayst in Me Behold” by William Shakespeare. Public Domain.  (buy now)

On this day in 1781, Lieutenant General Charles Cornwallis of the British army surrendered at the Siege of Yorktown, ending the American Revolutionary War. The British army had been routed by the defensive forces of the American Army, led by General George Washington, and the French troops, led by Comte de Rochambeau. Lord Cornwallis claimed to be ill and skipped the surrender ceremony. At the ceremony, his soldiers, despondent and drunk, wept and threw down their muskets. Cornwallis had requested his army be afforded the traditional “honors of war,” at the surrendering ceremony, which included marching out with flags waving, bayonets fixed, and the army band playing a tune, but Washington refused. In Cornwallis’s absence, Brigadier General Charles O’Hara presented the sword of surrender to Rochambeau, but Rochambeau refused to accept it and pointed to George Washington, who also refused to accept it, and pointed instead to his second in command, Benjamin Lincoln. When Lord North of the British Parliament learned of Cornwallis’ surrender, he exclaimed, “Oh, God! It’s all over!”

It’s the birthday of motion picture pioneer Auguste Lumière (1862). He was born in Besançon, France, and his father was a former painter who had taken up photography. Auguste and his younger brother Louis studied science in Lyon, and opened a successful business producing photographic plates. Their father returned home from a trip to Paris in 1894, full of descriptions of Thomas Edison’s new Kinetoscope: a peephole machine that pulled strips of film in front of a light source, creating the illusion of movement. The Lumière brothers began work on a device that would project the images, and in February 1895, they patented their cinématographe, which was an all-in-one camera, developer, and projector. A month later, they shot their first footage of workers leaving their factory in Lyon. They held their first public screening that December, showing 10 short films — each of them about a minute long — depicting scenes from everyday life. One film in particular provoked a strong reaction: the Lumières had filmed a train pulling into a station head-on, and the audience members screamed and scrambled out of their seats, believing the train was about to plow through the screen into the theater.

Auguste Lumière wasn’t much interested in pursuing further developments in motion picture technology, being more interested in medical research. He reportedly said, “My invention can be exploited … as a scientific curiosity, but apart from that it has no commercial value whatsoever.”

It’s the 85th birthday of David John Moore Cornwell, better known as British author John le Carré (books by this author), born in Poole, Dorset, England (1931). He’s the creator of George Smiley, a spy who redefined what a spy could be in espionage novels. George Smiley appeared in several le Carré novels, including Call for the Dead (1961), Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (1974), and Smiley’s People (1979).

John le Carré’s latest book is a memoir, The Pigeon Tunnel: Stories from My Life (2016).

His advice to writers is simple. They should remember, he says, that “‘the cat sat on the mat’ is not the beginning of a story, but ‘the cat sat on the dog’s mat’ is.”

It’s the birthday of journalist and columnist Jack Anderson (1922) (books by this author). He was born in Long Beach, California, to Mormon parents, who moved the family to Utah when Jack was two years old. He got his first newspaper job at 12, editing the Boy Scout page of the Mormon Church’s paper, The Deseret News. Before long he was making seven dollars a week covering local fires and traffic accidents for The Murray Eagle. He spent most of his professional life on the syndicated “Washington Merry-Go-Round” column, which in its heyday was carried by over a thousand papers.

Anderson wasn’t above some questionable tactics like eavesdropping and rifling through garbage cans, but he never shirked what he saw as a moral duty to keep Washington honest, even when it meant pursuing and exposing formerly close friends like Joseph McCarthy. As an investigative reporter with a flair for courting disgruntled low-level government employees and convincing them to sneak him classified documents, he was not especially popular among Washington powerbrokers. Richard Nixon put Anderson on his infamous Enemies List. J. Edgar Hoover called him “lower than the regurgitated filth of vultures.” G. Gordon Liddy plotted his murder. In 1975, the Washington Post reported that Liddy considered poisoning the aspirin in Anderson’s medicine cabinet; Anderson credited his large family with saving his life in that instance: “I had a wife and nine children, and nobody wanted to risk the chance one of them might get a headache,” he wrote in his autobiography.

It was on this day in 1873 that the first set of football rules were drafted in America. The rules were written by representatives from three universities: Yale, Rutgers, and Princeton.

Beginning in the early 19th century, different “mob football” games became common on college campuses. They all had different rules, but they had in common two teams, each with a big mob of players, trying to advance a ball toward the other side. Most versions resembled some combination of soccer and rugby. Dartmouth’s was called “Old Division football,” Princeton’s was called “ballown,” and boys in prep school were playing something called “the Boston game.” In the early 1860s, both Harvard and Princeton actually banned these games on their campuses because they were so violent, and many other universities followed suit. But the games’ popularity continued to grow outside of college campuses, and by the end of the decade, the games were back at the universities.

The first official intercollegiate football game was in November of 1869, between Rutgers and Princeton. The universities had decided that they would just play by the rules of whichever team was hosting, so in this case, they played at Rutgers according to the Rutgers rules, and Rutgers won. A week later, they played again at Princeton with Princeton’s rules, and this time Princeton won. For the next few years, that was how games went — the rules according to the home team.

Princeton decided that something needed to be done so that all teams could play by the same basic rules. They invited Rutgers, Columbia, Yale, and Harvard to join them in forming an intercollegiate league and standardizing rules. Harvard refused to join the league because it wanted to continue playing by its own rules, and Columbia failed to show up for the meeting; but on this day in 1873, representatives from the other three universities met at the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City.

They came up with 12 rules that everyone could agree on. The rules included: six goals were needed to win a game, or a lead of two goals; there would be one referee and two judges; and no one could throw or carry the ball. Columbia agreed to these rules, and four games were played according to the new rules in the remainder of 1873.

In October of 1887, a Princeton professor (and college football fan) named Alexander Johnston published an article in Century magazine called “The American Game of Foot-Ball.” He praised the sport’s accessibility, pointing out that only wealthy young men could purchase a horse for polo, or the equipment for rowing, but that anyone could join a football team. He illustrated the emphasis on team playing rather than individual playing, and explained how important it was for the moral development of young men. And he compared the strategy and camaraderie to that of the military, but with a far happier outcome. He wrote: “To him who really likes the game, and who understands its possible influence on the development of Americans, the excitement, the cheers, the blowing of horns, and the ebb and flow of the game, count for little. There is, instead of them, a feeling of thankfulness; […] a satisfaction in knowing that this outdoor game is doing for our college-bred men, in a more peaceful way, what the experiences of war did for so many of their predecessors in 1861-65, in its inculcation of the lesson that bad temper is an element quite foreign to open, manly contest.”

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®