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Thursday, 12 October 2017

J. D. Salinger

J. D. Salinger was born Jerome David Salinger in Manhattan, New York on January 1, 1919.

October 11, 1950 Photographed by Lotte Jacobi.  Wikipedia 

Salinger attended New York University, Ursinus College, and Columbia University in succession. While taking night classes at the latter, he met Whit Burnett, a professor who also edited Story magazine. Burnett told Salinger that his stories were skillful and accomplished, accepting The Young Folks, a vignette about several aimless youths, for publication in Story

Salinger started dating Oona O'Neill, daughter of the playwright Eugene O'Neill in the early 1940s. Their relationship ended when Oona began seeing Charlie Chaplin, whom she eventually married.

JD Salinger took a job as activities director on board a luxury Caribbean cruise liner, the MS Kungsholm in 1941. That same year, he wrote a short story for The New Yorker called Slight Rebellion Off Madison, but its publication was postponed due to the attack on Pearl Harbor and Salinger was drafted into the US Army and posted to Normandy.

During his service from 1942 to 1944, Salinger began working on a play featuring Slight Rebellion Off Madison's main character, a disaffected teenager named Holden Cauldfield, Salinger even kept pages on his person when marching into battle.

Traumatized by some very bloody battles on D-Day and in Luxembourg, Salinger suffered a nervous breakdown in Nuremburg in 1945 and was hospitalized for a spell in a mental hospital.

After recovering from his breakdown, Salinger had a short spell doing military service in the counter-intelligence division in Germany before returning to New York in 1946.

Salinger continued to write, contributing short stories to various outlets. Slight Rebellion Off Madison was finally printed later in 1946. He also continued working on his work about Holden Cauldfield – now as a novel. This would become his cult classic of teenage angst, The Catcher in the Rye.

In 1948, Salinger's critically acclaimed short story A Perfect Day for Bananafish appeared in The New Yorker magazine, which became home to much of his later work.

Producer Darryl Zanuck purchased the rights to another of Salinger's short stories, Uncle Wiggily in Connecticut. Released as My Foolish Heart in 1949, it earned actress Susan Hayward an Oscar nomination.

By 1950, Salinger had completed The Catcher in the Rye, Harcourt Brace agreed to publish, the work but the author broke away from the deal after they insisted on rewrites. The untouched book was eventually released by Little, Brown and Company on July 16, 1951. It became an immediate popular success.

The success of The Catcher in the Rye led to public attention and scrutiny. Salinger became reclusive, publishing new work less frequently.

His best known post-Catcher In the Rye work were Salinger's stories of the Jewish Glass family, including Franny and Zooey published in 1961.

Salinger on the cover of Time (September 15, 1961)

Salinger never published an original work after 1965 and was never interviewed after 1980.

The reclusive Salinger did not like publicity. He told his agent to burn any mail that fans sent him and refused to have his his photograph on the jacket of his books.

The founder of Norton Antivirus purchased, at an auction, love letters written by the reclusive Sailinger to American novelist and journalist Joyce Maynard. He returned the letters to the author out of respect for his privacy.

On January 27, 2010, Salinger died in his home in Cornish, New Hampshire of natural causes at age 91.

Sources Mental Floss, Huffington Posr

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Salem witch trials

The Salem Witch Trials took place in 1692 in Salem, Massachusetts. During the Trials, over 150 people were arrested and put in jail after being accused of practicing witchcraft. Even more people were accused, but were never formally charged by the authorities.

The central figure in this 1876 illustration is usually identified as Mary Walcott

20 people were executed as a result of the Salem Witch Trials, fourteen of them women. All but one of those deemed to be witches were killed by hanging. Five others (including two infant children) died in prison.

Bridget Bishop's case was the first brought to the grand jury. Bishop was accused of not living a Puritan lifestyle, for she dressed differently and owned a tavern in her home, where shuffleboard was played and minors were served. Her odd costumes and "immoral" lifestyle, affirmed that she was a witch. She went to trial the same day and was convicted. On June 10, 1692, Bishop was the first witch in the Salem trials to be executed by hanging.

Bridget Bishop, as depicted in a lithograph

Another suspected witch was Martha Corey, who was accused of witchcraft by two emotionally aroused young girls. Refusing to confess, she was hanged and her husband was slowly pressed to death under heavy stones.

On January 15, 1697, Salem and the Massachusetts Bay Colony proclaimed a day of fasting and repentance before God for the tragic error and folly of the Salem witch trials. Among the reasons for the day of fasting given by the resolution were, "so all of God's people may offer up fervent supplications unto him, that all iniquity may be put away, which hath stirred God's holy jealousy against this land; that he would show us what we know not, and help us, wherein we have done amiss, to do so no more."

Samuel Sewall (1652-1730), one of the three presiding judges involved in the Salem witchcraft trials, admitted in 1697 that the convictions were a mistake. He accepted the "blame and shame" for them and for the next 33 years until his death the judge annually spent a day of repentance in fasting and prayer.

Samuel Sewall 1729, by John Smibert
Within a decade, the local court had declared the trials unlawful, passed a bill restoring the good names of the accused and granted £600 restitution to their heirs.

Writers Ralph Waldo Emerson and Ray Bradbury, actors Christopher Reeve, actress Linda Hamilton, and astronaut Alan Shepard are all descendants of Mary Bradbury, a woman tried and sentenced in the Salem Witch Trials who escaped death and lived to age 85.

The actress Sarah Jessica Parker, who played a witch convicted in the Salem witch trials in the Disney movie Hocus Pocus, later discovered that her great grandmother, Esther Elwell, was accused of witchcraft during the Salem Trials, because a 17-year-old girl had claimed to have seen her among 'three spectres' pressing down on a woman who died. Esther escaped trial when the prosecution for witchcraft was abolished.

Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, is a dramatized and partially fictionalized story of the Salem witch trials, in which he compares McCarthyism to a witch-hunt. The play was first performed at the Martin Beck Theatre on Broadway on January 22, 1953 in the midst of a period when senator Joseph McCarthy was the visible public face of the government ostracizing people for being communists.

In Salem today, police cars are adorned with witch logos, a school is known as the Witchcraft Heights Elementary School and the Salem High School athlete team is the Witches.


Tuesday, 10 October 2017


A salary is a form of payment from an employer to an employee, which is usually paid for a fixed period of time, like a month or a week. If someone is not a salaried employee, they are generally an hourly employee.

Part of a Roman soldier's pay was made in salt, known as "salarium". That is why the pay of today is known as a salary.

In 1592 Galilei Galileo was appointed to the chair of mathematics at Padua University, at the time the premier university in Italy. As a mere Mathematics University Lecturer, Galileo received 160 scudi per year, 1/30th the salary of a Professor of Medicine. As Galileo's university salary could not cover all his expenses, he was forced to take in well-to-do boarding students whom he tutored privately.

In August 1599 Galileo was rewarded with a new, six-year contract, retroactive to December 1598, with a salary of 320 ducats doubling of his salary. This meant he was now one of the highest-paid professors at the university.

Galileo by Justus Sustermans 

The salary for Britain's first official Poet Laureate in 1668 was £200 a year plus a butt of canary (110 gallons of Spanish sherry).

As USA's first president, George Washington pulled in a salary of $25,000 a year, equal to 2% of the total U.S. budget in 1789. Apparently excited by his newfound purchasing power, Washington started living it up, reportedly buying leopard-skin robes for all his horses and spending seven percent of his income on alcohol.

Lord Nelson's annual salary, at the time of the Battle of Trafalgar, was approximately £600pa.

In 1830 in the UK, a select committee recommended that the salary of the First Lord of the Treasury (Prime Minister) and other senior Cabinet ministers-except for the Lord Chancellor- should be £5,000 per year.

That recommendation was accepted by Parliament in 1832. The beneficiary of this first prime ministerial salary was Earl Grey. Parliament also gave the Lord Chancellor an aggregate salary of £14,000 per year.

Members of the U.S. Congress raised their own pay to $7500 each in 1907. Both House and Senate members got the same bucks while the Cabinet members and the Vice President would earn twelve grand.

Babe Ruth made his major-league debut with the Boston Red Sox in 1914 at an annual rookie salary of $2,900.

Winston Churchill was on a prime minister's salary of £10,000 pa in 1943.

The salary of the President of the United States was increased from $75,000 to $100,000 in 1939 with an additional $50,000 expense allowance added for each year in office.

John F Kennedy did not keep his $100,000 salary; instead he donated it to charity.

José Alberto "Pepe" Mujica Cordano became President of Uruguay in 2010 serving for five years. During his time in office Cordano was called "the world's 'poorest' president" because he donated around 90 percent of his $12,000 monthly salary to charities to help poor people and small entrepreneurs.

José Mujica in 2009.

There is a $44,000 salary cap for unionized doormen in New York City.

Monday, 9 October 2017



Saladin was born in Tikrit in modern-day Iraq in 1137. His personal name was "Yusuf"; "Salah ad-Din" is a laqab, an honorific epithet, meaning "Righteousness of the Faith."

Saladino, by Cristofano dell'Altissimo, ante 1568

His father was Ajub Nejm ed-Din, a Kurd and Governor of Baalbeck, later an army commander.

As a child Saladin studied the Quran and poetry on behalf of the Atabeg of Mojul. Other information on his early childhood is scarce.

Saladin was sent to Damascus in Syria to finish his education. There he lived for ten years at the court of Nur ad-Din (Nureddin).

He had a military education under the command of his uncle, the Seljuk statesman and soldier Shirkuh.


The beginning of Saladin's military career was under his uncle Shirkuh on behalf of Nur al-Din, the ruler of the Syrian province of the Seljuk Empire, in Egypt. With his uncle he conquered Egypt between 1164-74.

Map of conquests of Egypt in Saladin's time By EvitoSol at  Wikipedia

Saladin was inaugurated as Vizier of Fatimid in Egypt on March 27, 1169. On being appointed to the position, Saladin repented "wine-drinking and turned from frivolity to assume the dress of religion", according to Arabic sources of the time.

Two years later, he abolished the Fatimid Caliphate, and realigned the country's allegiance with the Sunni, Baghdad-based Abbasid Caliphate.

Not long after Nur ad-Din's death in 1174, Saladin launched his conquest of Syria, peacefully entering Damascus at the request of its governor. The following year, he was proclaimed the "Sultan of Egypt and Syria" by the Abbasid caliph al-Mustadi.

A lover of justness, every Monday and Thursday Saladin sat dispensing justice. Often he sat far into the night listening to petitions. No one was refused a hearing.

As a Muslim leader, Saladin was renowned for his support of Theologians and other scholars.


After a series of crisis, Saladin and his Ayyubid army invaded the kingdom of Jerusalem with a massive force at the start of summer in 1187. The wily Saladin proceeded to defeat the Christian Jerusalem army at the Battle of Hattin near the town of Hittin on July 4, 1187 by setting fire to dry grass around the armored Crusaders in the already hot terrain.

The Battle of Hattin proved decisive as the Muslim armies under Saladin captured or killed the vast majority of the Crusader forces, removing their capability to wage war. As a result, the Muslims wrested control of Palestine – including the city of Jerusalem – from the Crusaders, who had conquered the area 88 years earlier.

Saladin and Guy of Lusignan after Battle of Hattin

The Third Crusade was launched two two years later to retake Jerusalem. The leaders were the Holy Roman Emperor, Frederick Barbarossa, the newly crowned Richard I of England and Philip Augustus of France.

Despite the Crusaders capturing Acre in 1191, the Third Crusade was considered a failure as the crusaders failed to regain Jerusalem.

In 1192 the Crusaders' Sultan opponent Saladin and the Crusaders finally agreed to a three-year truce and free access to Jerusalem for Christian Pilgrims, a concession Saladin would have granted before the crusade.


Those who knew Saladin say little about his physical appearance apart from his being slight in stature with a short, neat beard.

A possible portrait of Saladin, found in a work by Ismail al-Jazari, circa 1185

The Muslim leader was active in his faith, very devout in prayers and fasting. In his younger days, this made him reclusive but later on became the motivation to drive the Christians from the Holy Land.

Saladin was fond of a joke often at the expense of Christians. He once planted a piece of the true cross at the threshold of his tent, where everyone who came to see him had to tread on it. On another occasion, he got some pilgrim monks drunk and put them to bed with wanton Muslim women, thus robbing them of any spiritual reward for their efforts.

As a typical Mohammedan, Saladin was fiercely hostile toward unbelievers. Despite this, he retained a kindliness and humanity to his foes, which surprised the Crusaders.

On one occasion, Saladin sent presents of the most luscious peaches and pears and fruit flavored snow from Mount Hermon to King Richard I, when his rival was confined to bed with fever. The English king refused to respond in an equally chivalrous manner.

The elite garrison of Saladin's armies during the Siege of Acre

On another occasion, during battle Saladin saw Richard I's horse fall and generously sent him a groom with two fresh steeds.

Saladin was a paradox for the Crusaders, Such was his chivalry and generosities to those he defeated in battle, many of his opponents believed he was a secret Christian. Later when Dante's Divine Comedy allocated the great men of the Christian era to their destiny after death, Saladin was placed in Purgatory rather than Hell, despite being a heathen.


Having rode out from Damascus to meet some pilgrims returning from Mecca, not long after King Richard's departure, Saladin was forced to retire to his bed due to pain and fever. After some days the Muslim leader fell into a coma from which he never recovered and he died on March 4, 1193, at Damascus.

His last words were: "When I am buried, carry my winding sheet on the point of a spear and say these words: Behold the spoils which Saladin carries with him! of all his victories, realms and victories nothing remains to him but this.”

Saladin lived piously and simply. When he died he left no personal possessions and just one piece of gold and forty pieces of silver. There wasn't enough money to pay for his funeral; Saladin had given his riches away to those in need.

He was buried in a mausoleum in the garden outside the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.

Saladin's tomb, near Umayyad Mosque's NW corner

Saldin's prudence and generosity in contrast to Richard I's more violent characteristics inspired Sir Walter Scott's The Talisman.


A salad is a serving in a meal that includes leaf vegetables and sliced small pieces of uncooked or cold cooked vegetables. A salad dressing or vinaigrette is then poured on top of the vegetables.
Some also add other foods to the salad, such as beans, croutons, cheese, egg, pasta, olives, cooked potatoes, rice, or tuna.

The Romans and ancient Greeks ate mixed greens with dressing. Pythagoras favored a cucumber salad with raisin-coriander vinaigrette.

Medieval European royal salad chefs often combined as many as 35 ingredients in one enormous salad bowl, including items such as rose petals, marigolds and violets.

Mary Queen of Scots ate a salad containing boiled celery root diced and tossed with lettuce, creamy mustard dressing, truffles, and hard-cooked egg slices.

One of the most noted salad makers of all time was Marquis of Albignac, a French nobleman who fled the French Revolution and went to live in London. Unlike contemporary émigrés who resign themselves to menial labor, Albignac took up the fine art of salad making. He became known as the Salad King, and outrageous sums of money were paid to the Frenchman to prepare the "sallets" for prominent dinners held in Governor Square.

In order to fulfill the constant demands of his elegant customers, the Marquis of Albignac hired a servant, "who followed him with a mahogany box, containing all the requisites for a good salad."

The English landscape artist Joseph Turner was discriminating when it came to salads. Presented with one at his table, he commented to his neighbor "nice cool green, that lettuce, isn't it? And the beetroot pretty red- not quite strong enough; and the mixture delicate tint of yellow, Add some mustard and then you have one of my pictures."

The French author Alexandre Dumas was also a gourmet. He often prepared his own salads seasoned with almond milk, a liqueur or champagne.

In early 1920s America, salad dishes were greens with a plain dressing of salt and vinegar and oil. Alex Cardini, an Italian Air Force pilot living in exile in Tijuana ran a small restaurant, Caesar's Sports Bar & Grill Family Restaurant next to an equally small hostel. One day in 1924, some hungry Italian Air Force friends arrived so Cardini, with the help of an old aunt of his who worked in the kitchen, used his leftover ingredients to create a salad. It contained Cos lettuce, coddled eggs, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, Worcester sauce, freshly grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. The salad was a success and with the addition of anchovies smoothed onto a paste it was put on the menu of not only Caesar's but many other restaurants. It became known as Caesar's Salad, after Cardini's restaurant.

Geoff Peters from Vancouver, BC, Canada - Wonderful Caesar salad,

The use of salad bar, referring to a buffet-style table or counter at a restaurant or food market on which salad components are provided for customers to assemble their own salad plates, first appeared in American English in 1976.

American Airlines saved $40,000 in 1987 by eliminating one olive from each salad served in first-class.

In 2014 a man set up a kickstarter to get ingredients to make his first ever potato salad and ended up receiving $53,000.

Research shows, diners who sit next to a window are 40% more likely to order a salad.

Most salads are served at room temperature or chilled, with a notable exceptions being the south German potato salad which is served warm.

Macedonia is famous for its rich Šopska salad, an appetizer and side dish which accompanies almost every meal,

Shopska salad By Biso

Brazilians use begonias as an ingredient in salads.

Sources Geri Walton, Food for Thought by Ed Pearce

Sunday, 8 October 2017


Sake  is a Japanese word for "alcoholic drink". In English, "sake" means one kind of alcoholic drink made from rice. In Japan, people call this drink nihonshu ("Japanese liquor") or sake.

Sake served in a clear glass

Most sake is made from rice, water, kōji, and yeast. Small amounts of pure alcohol can be added at the end of production.

Sake is the national beverage in Japan. It is often served there with special ceremony – gently warmed in a small earthenware or porcelain bottle called a tokkuri, and sipped from a small porcelain cup called a sakazuki.

A serving set of sake cups

In 3rd century Japan, villagers brewed an alcoholic drink called chewing-in-the-mouth sake, or sake for short. The light-colored drink was made by an entire village who chewed a mixture of chestnuts, millet and rice, before spitting the mixture into a tub, allowing it to mold. Then the moldy mixture was combined with freshly cooked grain before letting it ferment into a strongly alcoholic beverage.

The spit of Japanese villagers was a vital component of brewing sake—the enzymes in their saliva aided the fermentation process.

The tax on sake has long been taxed by the national Japanese government. In the late 19th century, this tax was bringing in about 45% of the government's total direct tax income.

Sake Day ("Nihonshu no Hi" in Japan) is an annual event held on October 1 as a tribute to sake. Sake Day used to be regarded as only a national event in Japan, but is now a worldwide occasion. October 1 is traditionally the starting date of sake production in Japan.

Sake barrels

Hot sake is meant to be consumed with oily or fatty foods, while cold sake should be paired with sweet or sour dishes.

Nestle has introduced in Japan sake-flavored Kit Kats that contain 0.8 percent alcohol.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Camille Saint-Saëns


Charles-Camille Saint-Saëns was born on October 9, 1835, in Paris. When Charles-Camille was three months old his father died.

Saint-Saëns, photographed by Pierre Petit in 1900

After the death of his father, Saint-Saëns was raised by his mother and an aunt, who taught him to play the piano.

Saint-Saëns was a sickly child, and was often ill with tuberculosis, which carried on throughout his life.

The precocious child composed a piano piece soon after his 3rd birthday and he gave a full debut concert in 1846.

In 1848, at the age of thirteen, Saint-Saëns was admitted to the Paris Conservatoire.

Saint-Saëns as a boy

Saint-Saëns wrote his first symphony five years later.


Saint-Saëns was a distinguished pianist and organist, Franz Liszt called him the world's greatest organist.

On leaving the Conservatoire in 1853, Saint-Saëns accepted the post of organist at the ancient Parisian church of Saint-Merri near the Hôtel de Ville. Saint-Saëns then served as organist at the Church of the Madeleine for 20 years starting in 1857.

Saint-Saëns taught from 1861 to 1865 at the École de Musique Classique et Religieuse in Paris. It was his only teaching post, but his appointment was nevertheless important in the development of French music: his students included Gabriel Fauré, among whose own later pupils was Maurice Ravel. Both of them were strongly influenced by Saint-Saëns, whom they revered as a genius.

In 1871 Saint-Saëns helped to found the Société Nationale de Musique, which helped new music to be performed. Faure was also a member. The society gave first performances of works by Saint-Saëns, Claude Debussy, Ravel and others.

Saint-Saëns wrote four further symphonies, including the renowned Third  "Organ" Symphony, which was dedicated to Liszt and premiered on May 19, 1886.

Saint-Saëns composed 13 operas, of which the best known is Samson et Dalila. Franz Liszt  was an enthusiastic supporter of Samson et Dalila and was instrumental in arranging the first production at the Ducal Theater in Weimar (now the Staatskapelle Weimar) on December 2, 1877.

The Grand Ducal Theater in Weimar. By Andreas Trepte 

The role of Dalila was written for Pauline Viardot (1821–1910) but the singer was deemed too old to perform the role for the Weimar premiere and the role was entrusted to Auguste von Müller.

Saint Saëns also composed concertos for piano, violin, and cello, church music (including his Messe solennelle, 1855), chamber music, and songs.

Saint Saëns despised trends toward modern music and based much of his work on earlier composers, including Ludwig von Beethoven, Felix Mendelssohn, and Robert Schumann.

Saint-Saëns was one of the first to write symphonic poems, such as his Danse macabre, which was premiered on January 24, 1875. The work was not well received, the solo violin's screeching, use of xylophone and hypnotic repetitions caused widespread consternation.

Another symphonic poem, The Carnival of the Animals (1886) was written as a private joke, and Saint-Saëns never allowed it to be performed publicly during his lifetime.

Part of the original manuscript score of VII "Aquarium". 

Following Saint-Saëns death in 1921, The Carnival of the Animals' first public performance was given on February 25, 1922 by Concerts Colonne (the orchestra of Édouard Colonne).

For many years Saint-Saëns traveled all over the world as a famous musician. Eventually he became less popular in France, but in England and the United States he remained very much admired.

Saint-Saëns extensive travels were often reflected in his music. Both Africa (1891) for piano and orchestra and Caprice Arabe (1884) for two pianos show these influences, as does his Suite Algerienne (1880).


Saint-Saëns had a life time interest in astronomy. In 1858 he published some duets for harmonium and piano and used the money to buy a telescope.

He was also interested in other fields such as archaeology and philosophy, and was also a prolific poet and essayist.

Saint-Saëns lived a bachelor existence, sharing a large fourth-floor flat in the Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré with his mother until the mid 1870s. In 1875, he surprised many when nearing forty, he married Marie Laure Emile Truffot, who was just 19.

Saint-Saëns in 1875, the year of his marriage

They had two sons, both of whom died in 1878, within six weeks of each other, The younger child, Jean-François, passed away from pneumonia, the older, 2-year-old André, died after falling out of a fourth-story window. For the latter's death Saint-Saëns blamed his wife, and when they went on vacation together in 1881 in the Auvergne he simply disappeared one day. A separation order was enacted, but they never divorced.


Saint-Saëns gave what he intended to be his farewell concert as a pianist in Paris in 1913, but his retirement was soon in abeyance as a result of the war, during which he gave many performances in France and elsewhere, raising money for war charities.

Saint-Saëns at the piano for his planned farewell concert in 1913

He died in Algiers, Algeria on December 16, 1921. Saint-Saëns' funeral was in the cathedral there, and his body was then taken back to Paris where he was given a state funeral at the church of Madeleine.

Source Comptons Encyclopedia