"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Birthdays Today

Birthdays today are a mishmash, but interesting and fun.  

First, it's Oliver Wendell Holmes' birthday, born in 1841.  Perhaps the greatest American Supreme Court Justice, or at least the most well-known, Holmes was a pragmatist and skeptic who believed that the basis of law was experience.   Thus his most famous rulings smack of a particularly American brand of common sense, filtered through the mind of a patrician:  his pronouncements in Schenck v. United States that the First Amendment would not protect a person "falsely shouting fire in a theatre and causing a panic"; and in his opinion in Buck v. Bell, upholding the forced sterilization of a woman who was claimed to be of below average intelligence, that "three generations of imbeciles are enough."  Holmes saw a good deal of combat in the Civil War, suffering wounds at Ball's Bluff, Antietam and Petersburg; perhaps his war experience made him impatient with idealists.

It's also the birthday of  Sam Jaffe, born in 1891.   Jaffe played the title role in my father's favorite movie, Gunga Din.   Here's a clip, in case they have Youtube in Heaven:

It's also the birthday of Cyd Charisse (1921), for my money the classiest and sexiest dancer of the classical period for movie musicals (the 1950s).   Here she is, with Fred Astaire, in a cool movie that I watch whenever it's on TCM, The Band Wagon:


It's also the birthday fo the Hall-of-Fame leftfielder for the Boston Red Sox, Jim Rice, who was born in 1953.   Rice's career statistics are good, but they put him on the periphery of the Hall-of-Fame -- 382 HRs, 1451 RBIs, .298 lifetime average, .854 lifetime OPS.   Why did he finally get in?   Probably because playing for the Red Sox during a great period of Red Sox-Yankees rivalries (the 1970s) made him seem greater than he really was.   He never played on a World Series champion.   Meanwhile, Jim Edmonds of the Cardinals was a perennial Gold Glove centerfielder and World Series champion in 2006 whose career numbers -- 393 HRs, 1199 RBIs, .284 lifetime average, and .903 lifetime OPS, are comparable.   I don't think Edmonds will get in though.... if his Achilles tendon had just held out for one more year and he could have gotten to 400 HRs, maybe.  Ah, well.  


Finally, and just for fun, it's the birthday of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit model from years gone by, Kathy Ireland.   It is very very weird to consider that she's now 48.   Can that be true?   Tempus fugit, again.  

She still looks pretty good, though.

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