"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

Monday, April 11, 2011

Birthdays Today

Mediocre birthdays today, perhaps only interesting to me.   But then... what else is a blog except what's interesting to the person doing the blogging?

First, it's Edward Everett's birthday.   Born in 1794, Everett was the "orator" -- I suspect we don't have people who are "orators" anymore; a sign of the times, since our attention spans grow too short for listening to long speeches -- who spoke for more than two hours at Gettysburg in the fall of 1863, only to be eclipsed in history by a short set of comments spoken immediately after him, of course, by President Abraham Lincoln, the "Gettysburg Address."  

Everett was a very accomplished man -- Governor, Senator, Congressman, President of Harvard, etc. -- yet he is remembered as a bore who spoke too long when Lincoln captured the moment in a few words.   History is funny that way.   But, then, Everett had the good sense to realize it at the time, when few did, commenting to Lincoln that "I should be glad if I could flatter myself that I came as near to the central idea of the occasion, in two hours, as you did in two minutes."  

It's also Bill Irwin's birthday, born in 1950.   What exactly is Irwin -- an actor?  a comic?  a clown?  a magician?   Hard to say.   I remember watching a show he did many years ago called The Regard of Flight, which I thought was one of the most brilliant things I had ever seen.   Here's a scene from that show:

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