Mar 242018

Today is the Day of Remembrance for Truth and Justice (Día de la Memoria por la Verdad y la Justicia), a public holiday in Argentina, commemorating the victims of the Dirty War. It is held on 24th March because that is the anniversary of the coup d’état of 1976 that brought the National Reorganization Process to power.

President Juan Perón died on July 1, 1974. He was succeeded by his wife María Estela Martínez de Perón, affectionately called “Isabelita.” Despite her claim as the country’s rightful ruler, María rapidly lost political influence and power. A group of military officials, organized by Perón himself to aide María, took control in an effort to revitalize Argentina’s deteriorating political and social climate. This shift in governance paved the way for the ensuing coup. The involvement of the US and France in financing and supporting the coup was kept secret for decades, but has now come to light. The blood of tens of thousands of desaparecidos is on the hands of the CIA. I have not the slightest doubt that if I had lived in Buenos Aires at the time, I would have been counted among them. 

The coup in Argentina was part of a much broader strategic political policy of the CIA in Latin America known as Operation Condor, whose purpose was to encourage takeovers by far-right regimes and to bolster them while in power. The torture and murder of intellectuals and dissidents was explicitly condoned, and many of the assassinations of opponents to the governments were ordered directly by the CIA. Operation Condor was planned in 1968, and was officially implemented in 1975.

Condor’s key members were the governments in Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia and Brazil. Most of the members of the Juntas have now been convicted of crimes against humanity and genocide. A series of declassified documents from the US State Department reveal the leading role of the CIA. The largest secret operation on a continental scale, a component of Operation Condor, was Operation Central America, deployed from 1977 to 1984. The CIA was restricted from covert operations in Latin America under Jimmy Carter, president from 1977 to 1981. According to Duane Clarridge, head of the CIA at the time, the Argentine military regime, which was little more than a puppet of the CIA, was funded to do the “dirty” work that the CIA was not allowed to conduct by Carter. The Argentine dictatorship carried out CIA operations in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, including an Argentine military landing in Central America as an outside legionary force.

The military coup in Argentina in 1976 was coordinated and funded by the CIA as a key stage in having a compliant military regime in the region. Shortly before 01:00 am on March 24th, president Martínez de Perón was detained in Buenos Aires. At 03:10 all television and radio stations were interrupted. Regular transmissions were cut and replaced by a military march, after which the first communiqué was broadcast:

People are advised that as of today, the country is under the operational control of the Joint Chiefs General of the Armed Forces. We recommend to all inhabitants strict compliance with the provisions and directives emanating from the military, security or police authorities, and to be extremely careful to avoid individual or group actions and attitudes that may require drastic intervention from the operating personnel.

A state of siege and martial law were implemented, as military patrolling spread to every major city. The morning was seemingly uneventful, but as the day progressed, the detentions multiplied. Hundreds of workers, unionists, students, and political activists were abducted from their homes, their workplaces, or in the streets. State terrorism in Argentina continued until the democratic government of Raúl Alfonsín was elected to office in 1983. It organized the National Commission CONADEP to investigate crimes committed during the Dirty War and heard testimony from hundreds of witnesses and began to develop cases against offenders. It organized a tribunal to conduct prosecution of offenders and in 1985 the Trial of the Juntas was held. The top military officers of all the juntas were among the nearly 300 people prosecuted and the top men were all convicted and sentenced for their crimes. At the time, Argentina was the only Latin American example of the government conducting such trials.

Threatening another coup, the military opposed subjecting more of its personnel to such trials. It forced through passage by the legislature of Ley de Punto Final (Full Stop Law) in 1986, which ended prosecutions for crimes under the dictatorship. Fearing military uprisings, Argentina’s first two presidents after the Dirty War sentenced only the top two ex commanders and, even then, very leniently. The Ley de Punto Final provided amnesty to Dirty War acts, arguing that torturers were only doing their “jobs” (the defense of Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg). President Carlos Menem praised the military in their “fight against subversion.”

In 2003, Congress repealed the Pardon Laws and in 2005 the Argentine Supreme Court ruled they were unconstitutional. In 2006, under Nestor Kirchner, the government re-opened investigations and began prosecutions again of the crimes against humanity committed by military and security officers. Its 2006 sentencing of Miguel Etchecolatz (Director of Intelligence for the Buenos Aires Provincial Police) for conviction on numerous charges of kidnapping, torture and murder. Argentine courts condemned the 1970s Junta members for crimes against humanity and genocide of political dissidents. Some of these trials are still in progress, and many Argentinos are still seeking information concerning the fate of their family members – in particular, Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo (Association of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo) whose children were among those “disappeared” by the Junta.

The commemoration of this date was sanctioned as Law 25633 by the Argentine National Congress on 1st August 2002 and promulgated by the Executive Branch on 22nd August of the same year. However, it was not implemented as a public national holiday until 2006. The 30th and 40th anniversaries of the coup were marked by massive demonstrations on this date. Argentina is still waiting for an apology from the US for its part in the Dirty War. Probably be a while.

I have given recipes for pretty much all the well-known dishes of Argentina so it’s time to branch out to some lesser known regional recipes. Chipás are a favorite of mine from northeastern Argentina. They were originally a simple form of bread made from cassava flour by the indigenous Guaraní, but after Spanish colonization cheese was added to the dough to make them as they are now. There are numerous varieties. Standard chipás are shaped into small balls, but they can also be baked into doughnut shapes or larger buns that may be called chipa’í or chipacitos. These are sold in small bags by street sellers in both cities and small towns. Other common variants include the chipá caburé or chipá mbocá (cooked around a stick) and the chipa so’ó, filled with ground meat. There are other varieties of chipa with different ingredients; chipa manduvi (made with a mix of corn flour and peanut), chipá avatí and chipa rora (made of the skin of the seed of corn after being strained, like a whole-wheat bread). Flavorings, such as anise seeds can also be added. The cassava flour is essential and you may have to order it online. Mozzarella is a common cheese used as well as other locally produced cheeses.



1 lb cassava flour
½ cup butter
4 eggs, beaten
½ lb melting cheese , grated
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk


Preheat the oven to 420˚F/200˚C.

Mix the butter and the eggs in a stand mixer until they are well combined. Add the grated cheese and mix.

Dissolve the salt in the milk. Add to the mixture. Then, add the cassava flour slowly and continue mixing until a dough forms.

Knead the dough on a floured board and then place it in a bowl, cover and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes.

Pinch off pieces about the size of a golf ball, roll them with your palms into regular balls and place them, about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until lightly golden.

Mar 232018

Today is World Meteorological Day (WMD – ominous acronym!!) celebrating the founding of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on this date in 1950.  It is the successor to the International Meteorological Organization (IMO), which was founded in 1873. WMO is the specialized agency of the United Nations for meteorology (both weather and climate), operational hydrology and related geophysical sciences. Its current Secretary-General is Petteri Taalas and the President of the World Meteorological Congress, its supreme body, is David Grimes. The Organization is headquartered in Geneva.

On 23rd March 2017, WMO released a completely revised and updated electronic version of the International Cloud Atlas — — combining 19th century traditions with 21st century technology. The International Cloud Atlas was first published by WMO predecessor, IMO, in 1896. The new version contains hundreds of images submitted by meteorologists, photographers and cloud lovers from around the globe. It includes new classifications, including volutus, a roll cloud; clouds from human activities such as the contrail, a vapor trail sometimes produced by airplanes; and asperitas, a dramatic undulated cloud which captured the public imagination. It also features meteorological phenomena such as rainbows, halos, snow devils and hailstones.

Today would be a good day to have a teaching moment with someone who confuses weather and climate and says things like, “This winter has been really cold and snowy; how can climate change be real?” There are plenty of them, so you will have your work cut out for you. The theme for 2018 is “Weather Ready; Climate Smart.”

What recipe would make you “weather ready” today? It will very much depend where you are. It is always 32˚C during the day here in Phnom Penh (which reminds me that if you live in a benighted country that still uses Fahrenheit for weather reports, you might want to take some time to get used to Celsius). My old home in New York has been experiencing snow storm after snow storm this year, and it looks as if they are dreaming of a White Easter. Actually, whether it is snowing or baking hot, I always enjoy hearty soups (yes, I know, I am weird). To be ready for anything, especially if you are snowed in and making do with what you have, I always enjoy what I call “throw-everything-in-a-pot soup.” I have some on the stove right now. Some people in the US call it refrigerator soup (that is, pull everything out of the refrigerator you can find and simmer it up together). The difference for me is that I put in dried legumes, pasta, sauces, and vegetables from my garden, along with stuff knocking around in the refrigerator.

I usually start with a chicken stock base and add whatever meat or bones I have available. If I am using dried legumes they have to go in first because they need to cook for several hours (lentils, a little less). The trick is to time the addition of ingredients:

First: meats and dried legumes

Second: vegetables

Third: pasta

The pasta is last because I like it just al dente when served.  The absolute key to throw-everything-in-a-pot soup is taste, taste, taste. You need to adjust flavorings regularly according to the underlying taste of the stock. I may add soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, parsley, mushroom ketchup, and various herbs and spices depending on how the stock base is evolving. This is a real test of your culinary skills. If you are not careful you can wind up with something hideous. You can also end up with something magical. Have at it.

Mar 222018

On this date in 1638, following a number of civil and church proceedings against her, Anne Hutchinson (née Marbury; July 1591 – August 1643), a Puritan and a major player in the Antinomian Controversy which shook the infant Massachusetts Bay Colony, was formally banished from the Colony. Her strong religious convictions were at odds with the established Puritan clergy in the Boston area, and her popularity and charisma helped create a theological schism that threatened to destroy the Puritan community in New England.

Hutchinson was born in Alford in Lincolnshire in England, the daughter of Francis Marbury, an Anglican cleric and school teacher who gave Anne a superior education for the time. She lived in London as a young adult, and there married her old friend from home William Hutchinson. The couple moved back to Alford where they began following dynamic preacher John Cotton in the nearby port of Boston, Lincolnshire. Cotton was compelled to emigrate in 1633, and the Hutchinsons followed a year later with their 11 children and soon became well established in the growing settlement of Boston in New England. Anne was a midwife and used that position to convey her personal religious convictions to women in her care. Soon she was hosting women at her house weekly, providing commentary on recent sermons. These meetings became so popular that she began offering meetings for men as well, including the young governor of the colony Henry Vane.


She began to accuse the local ministers (except for Cotton and her husband’s brother-in-law John Wheelwright) of preaching a “covenant of works” rather than a “covenant of grace,” and many ministers began to complain about her increasingly blatant accusations, as well as certain theological teachings that did not accord with orthodox Puritan theology. The situation eventually erupted into what is commonly called the Antinomian Controversy. Hutchinson’s visits to women in childbirth led to discussions along the lines of the conventicles in England.

As the meetings continued, Hutchinson began offering her own religious views, stressing that only “an intuition of the Spirit” would lead to one’s election by God, and not good works. Her ideas that one’s outward behavior was not necessarily tied to the state of one’s soul became attractive to those who might have been more attached to their professions than to their religious state, such as merchants and craftsmen. The colony’s ministers became more aware of Hutchinson’s meetings, and they contended that such “unauthorised” religious gatherings might confuse the faithful. Hutchinson responded to this with a verse from Titus (2:3-4), saying that “the elder women should instruct the younger.”

Hutchinson’s gatherings were seen as unorthodox by some of the colony’s ministers, and differing religious opinions within the colony eventually became public debates. The resulting religious tension erupted into what has traditionally been called the Antinomian Controversy, but has more recently been labelled the Free Grace Controversy. The Reverend Zachariah Symmes had sailed to New England on the same ship as the Hutchinsons. In September 1634, he told another minister that he doubted Anne Hutchinson’s orthodoxy, based on questions that she asked him following his shipboard sermons. This issue delayed Hutchinson’s membership to the Boston church by a week, until a pastoral examination determined that she was sufficiently orthodox to join the church.

In 1635, a difficult situation arose when senior pastor John Wilson returned from a lengthy trip to England where he had been settling his affairs. Hutchinson was exposed to his teaching for the first time, and she immediately saw a big difference between her own doctrines and his. She found his emphasis on morality and his doctrine of “evidencing justification by sanctification” to be disagreeable. She told her followers that Wilson lacked “the seal of the Spirit.” Wilson’s theological views were in accord with all of the other ministers in the colony except for Cotton, who stressed “the inevitability of God’s will” (“free grace”) as opposed to preparation (works).


Hutchinson and her allies had become accustomed to Cotton’s doctrines, and they began disrupting Wilson’s sermons, even finding excuses to leave when Wilson got up to preach or pray. Thomas Shepard, the minister of Newtown (which later became Cambridge), began writing letters to Cotton as early as the spring of 1636. He expressed concern about Cotton’s preaching and about some of the unorthodox opinions found among his Boston parishioners. Shepard went even further when he began criticising the Boston opinions to his Newtown congregation during his sermons. In May 1636, the Bostonians received a new ally when the Reverend John Wheelwright arrived from England and immediately aligned himself with Cotton, Hutchinson, and other “free grace” advocates. Wheelwright had been a close neighbor of the Hutchinsons in Lincolnshire, and his wife was a sister of Hutchinson’s husband. Another boost for the free grace advocates came during the same month, when the young aristocrat Henry Vane was elected as the governor of the colony. Vane was a strong supporter of Hutchinson, but he also had his own ideas about theology that were considered not only unorthodox, but radical by some.


Hutchinson and the other free grace advocates continued to question the orthodox ministers in the colony. Wheelwright began preaching at Mount Wollaston, about ten miles south of the Boston meetinghouse, and his sermons began to answer Shepard’s criticisms with his own criticism of the covenant of works. This mounting “pulpit aggression” continued throughout the summer, along with the lack of respect shown Boston’s Reverend Wilson. Wilson endured these religious differences for several months before deciding that the affronts and errors were serious enough to require a response. He is the one who likely alerted magistrate John Winthrop, one of his parishioners, to take notice. On or shortly after 21 October 1636, Winthrop gave the first public warning of the problem that consumed him and the leadership of the Massachusetts Bay Colony for much of the next two years. In his journal he wrote, “One Mrs. Hutchinson, a member of the church at Boston, a woman of a ready wit and a bold spirit, brought over with her two dangerous errors: 1. That the person of the Holy Ghost dwells in a justified person. 2. That no sanctification can help to evidence to us our justification.” He went on to elaborate these two points, and the Antinomian Controversy began with this journal entry.

On 25th October 1636, seven ministers gathered at the home of Cotton to confront the developing discord; they held a “private conference” which included Hutchinson and other lay leaders from the Boston church. Some agreement was reached, and Cotton “gave satisfaction to them [the other ministers], so as he agreed with them all in the point of sanctification, and so did Mr. Wheelwright; so as they all did hold, that sanctification did help to evidence justification.” Another issue was that some of the ministers had heard that Hutchinson had criticised them during her conventicles for preaching a covenant of works and said that they were not able ministers of the New Testament. Hutchinson responded to this only when prompted, and only to one or two ministers at a time. She believed that her response, which was largely coaxed from her, was private and confidential. A year later, her words were used against her in her 1637 trial, conviction, and banishment from the colony. This was followed by a March 1638 church trial in which she was excommunicated.

Hutchinson and many of her supporters established the settlement of Portsmouth with encouragement from Providence Plantations founder Roger Williams in what became the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. After her husband’s death a few years later, threats of Massachusetts taking over Rhode Island compelled Hutchinson to move totally outside the reach of Boston into the lands of the Dutch. Five of her older surviving children remained in New England or in England, while she settled with her younger children near an ancient landmark called Split Rock in what later became The Bronx in New York City. Tensions were high at the time with the Siwanoy Indians. In August 1643, Hutchinson, six of her children, and other household members were massacred by Siwanoys during Kieft’s War. The only survivor was her 9-year-old daughter Susanna, who was taken captive.

Hutchinson is a key figure in the history of religious freedom in England’s American colonies and the history of women in ministry, challenging the authority of the ministers. She is honored by Massachusetts with a State House monument calling her a “courageous exponent of civil liberty and religious toleration.” She has been called the most famous—or infamous—English woman in colonial American history.

She has since been celebrated in memorials, with a river and a highway (the Hutchinson River Parkway), named after her. I drove the “Hutch” on my daily commute to work for 25 years. By some weird coincidence my first real girlfriend was also named Anne Hutchinson. Yet another Anne Hutchinson wrote the main textbook on Labanotation (dance notation) in English, which I used all the time in my research. Clearly, she is haunting me.

The cooking in colonial North American colonies of the 17th century very closely followed that of the home countries of the colonists, with some substitution of ingredients. This fricassee recipe comes from The Accomplish’d Lady’s Delight In Preserving, Physick, Beautifying, and Cookery (1675), and is a favorite of mine. Rabbit and chicken fricassee were undoubtedly popular dishes in the colonies, although more for special meals than daily cooking. The trick here is to use young, tender meats. Fricassees are not long-cooking stews. The meat, jointed, is simmered very quickly until just cooked, then the juice is replaced with butter and egg yolks to make a thick sauce along with some verjuice (which you can replace with white wine).

To make a Rare Fricacie.

Take Young Rabbits, Young Chickens, or a Rack of Lamb, being cut one Rib from another, and par-boyl either of these well in a Frying-pan with a little water and salt, then pour the water and salt from it, and Fry it with sweet Butter, and make sauce with three Yolks of Eggs beaten well, with six spoonfuls of Verjuice, and a little shred Parsley, with some sliced Nutmeg, and scalded Gooseberries; when it is fryed, pour in the sauce all over the Meat, and so let it thicken a little in the pan; then lay it in a Dish with the sauce, and serve it.


Mar 212018

Today is World Puppetry Day. The idea came from the puppet theater artist Javad Zolfaghari from Iran. In 2000 at the XVIII Congress of the Union Internationale de la Marionnette, (UNIMA) in Magdeburg, he put up the proposal for discussion. Two years later, at a meeting of the International Council of UNIMA in June 2002 in Atlanta, the date of the celebration was fixed. The first celebration was in 2003. The original focus for the day was marionette puppets, but it can easily be expanded to include the whole cascade of possibilities. These are a few that I have encountered and enjoyed.

A hand puppet (or glove puppet) is a puppet controlled by one hand, which occupies the interior of the puppet. The Punch and Judy puppets are familiar examples of hand puppets, and I have enjoyed them over the years. In fact a good friend of mine operated a Punch and Judy show as a sideline, and Tony Hancock’s Punch and Judy Man is stellar film concerning English class values. As a boy, I have to say that Harry Corbett and Sooty won out for me, though. I even had my own Sooty puppet. Akin to the hand puppet is the sock puppet, a particularly simple type of hand puppet made from a sock. One of the best-known practitioners was Shari Lewis with Lamb Chop. Not my thing – sorry, Shari.

Marionettes, or “string puppets,” are suspended and controlled by a number of strings, plus sometimes a central rod attached to a control bar held from above by the puppeteer. The control bar can be either horizontal or vertical. Basic strings for operation are usually attached to the head, back, hands (to control the arms) and just above the knee (to control the legs). This form of puppetry is complex and sophisticated to operate, requiring greater manipulative control than a finger, glove or rod puppet.

A shadow puppet is a cut-out figure held between a source of light and a translucent screen. Shadow puppets can form solid silhouettes or be decorated with various amounts of cut-out details. Color can be introduced into the cut-out shapes to provide a different dimension and different effects can be achieved by moving the puppet (or light source) out of focus. Javanese shadow puppets known as Wayang Kulit are what I know best. Shadow puppetry in Asia may have originated in China during the Song Dynasty (960-1279 CE), but it became widespread, especially in SE Asia.

The Ventriloquist’s Dummy is a puppet although they are called dummies because they do not speak on their own. I have loved these acts since childhood, and never tire of them.

Múa rối nước is a Vietnamese water puppet form, originally used in flooded rice paddies. Múa rối nước literally means “puppets that dance on water.” The tradition supposedly dates back to the 10th century. The puppets are built out of wood and the shows are performed in a waist-deep pool. A large rod supports the puppet under the water and is used by the puppeteers to control them. The appearance is of the puppets moving over the water. When the rice fields would flood, the villagers would entertain each other using this puppet form.

The water also provides the setting for traditional stories depicting day-to-day village life. Water puppets bring wry humor to scenes of farming, fishing, festival events such as buffalo fights, and children’s games of marbles and coin-toss. Fishing turns into a game of wits between the fisherman and his prey, with the fisherman getting the short end (often capturing his surprised neighbor by mistake). Besides village life, scenes include legends and national history. Lion dogs romp like puppies while dragons exhale smoke and shoot sprays of water at the audience. Performances of up to 18 short scenes are usually introduced by a pig-tailed bumpkin known as Teu, and accompanied by a small traditional orchestra.

There are many more types of puppets, of course, and you probably have your own favorites. I was thinking of cooking lamb chops as the recipe of the day, but I expect Shari Lewis fans would not be amused. Instead, here is the Swedish chef from the Muppets making popcorn.

Mar 202018

Today is the birthday (1904) of Burrhus Frederic “B.F.” Skinner noted for his take on behaviorism in psychology. Skinner considered free will an illusion and human action dependent on consequences of previous actions. Skinner believed that living things behaved according to certain basic principles which could be defined and measured. For one of his key parameters, operant conditioning, he invented the operant conditioning chamber, also known as the Skinner Box.  Skinner founded a school of experimental research psychology and imagined the application of his ideas in the design of a human community in his utopian novel, Walden Two.

Skinner was born in Susquehanna, Pennsylvania, to Grace and William Skinner. His father was a lawyer. He attended Hamilton College in New York with the intention of becoming a writer. After receiving his Bachelor of Arts in English literature in 1926, he attended Harvard University. A fellow student, Fred Keller, convinced Skinner that he could make an experimental science from the study of behavior. This led Skinner to invent his prototype for the Skinner Box and to join Keller in the creation of other tools for small experiments. After graduation, he unsuccessfully tried to write a novel while he lived with his parents, a period that he later called the Dark Years.[20] He became disillusioned with his literary skills despite encouragement from Robert Frost, concluding that he had little world experience and no strong personal perspective from which to write. His encounter with John B. Watson’s Behaviorism led him into graduate study in psychology and to the development of his own version of behaviorism.

Skinner received a PhD from Harvard in 1931 and remained there as a researcher until 1936. He then taught at the University of Minnesota at Minneapolis and later at Indiana University, where he was chair of the psychology department from 1946–1947, before returning to Harvard as a tenured professor in 1948.

Skinner’s work has been received positively and negatively (you can count me on the negative side). He has been widely revered for bringing a quantized scientific approach to the study of human behavior, and he has been criticized for attempting to apply findings based largely on animal experiments to human behavior. My critique is not of the order; I find his analysis simplistic. Skinner called his approach to the study of behavior “radical behaviorism.” This philosophy  assumes that behavior is a consequence of environmental histories of reinforcement. In contrast to the approach of cognitive science, behaviorism does not accept private events such as thinking, perceptions, and non-observable emotions as causes of an organism’s behavior. However, in contrast to methodological behaviorism, Skinner’s radical behaviorism did accept thoughts, emotions, and other “private events” as responses subject to the same rules as overt behavior:

The position can be stated as follows: what is felt or introspectively observed is not some nonphysical world of consciousness, mind, or mental life but the observer’s own body. This does not mean, as I shall show later, that introspection is a kind of psychological research, nor does it mean (and this is the heart of the argument) that what are felt or introspectively observed are the causes of the behavior. An organism behaves as it does because of its current structure, but most of this is out of reach of introspection. At the moment we must content ourselves, as the methodological behaviorist insists, with a person’s genetic and environment histories. What are introspectively observed are certain collateral products of those histories.

In this way we repair the major damage wrought by mentalism. When what a person does [is] attributed to what is going on inside him, investigation is brought to an end. Why explain the explanation? For twenty five hundred years people have been preoccupied with feelings and mental life, but only recently has any interest been shown in a more precise analysis of the role of the environment. Ignorance of that role led in the first place to mental fictions, and it has been perpetuated by the explanatory practices to which they gave rise.

Skinner’s behavioral theory was largely set forth in his first book, Behavior of Organisms. Here he gave a systematic description of the manner in which environmental variables control behavior. He distinguished two sorts of behavior—respondent and operant—which are controlled in different ways. Respondent behaviors are elicited by stimuli, and may be modified through respondent conditioning, which is often called “Pavlovian conditioning” or “classical conditioning”, in which a neutral stimulus is paired with an eliciting stimulus. Operant behaviors, in contrast, are “emitted”, meaning that initially they are not induced by any particular stimulus. They are strengthened through operant conditioning, sometimes called “instrumental conditioning”, in which the occurrence of a response yields a reinforcer. Respondent behaviors might be measured by their latency or strength, operant behaviors by their rate. Both of these sorts of behavior had already been studied experimentally, for example, respondents by Pavlov, and operants by Thorndike. Skinner’s account differed in some ways from these earlier ones,[34] and was one of the first accounts to bring them under one umbrella.

The idea that behavior is strengthened or weakened by its consequences raises several questions. Among the most important are: (1) Operant responses are strengthened by reinforcement, but where do they come from in the first place? (2) Once it is in the organism’s repertoire, how is a response directed or controlled? (3) How can very complex and seemingly novel behaviors be explained?

Skinner’s answer to the first question was very much like Darwin’s answer to the question of the origin of a new bodily structure, namely, variation and selection. Similarly, the behavior of an individual varies from moment to moment; a variation that is followed by reinforcement is strengthened and becomes prominent in that individual’s behavioral repertoire. “Shaping” was Skinner’s term for the gradual modification of behavior by the reinforcement of desired variations. Skinner believed that “superstitious” behavior can arise when a response happens to be followed by reinforcement to which it is actually unrelated.

Skinner answered the second question by saying that a stimulus comes to control an operant if it is present when the response is reinforced and absent when it is not. For example, if lever-pressing brings food only when a light is on, a rat, or a child, will learn to press the lever only when the light is on. Skinner summarized this relationship by saying that a discriminative stimulus (e.g. light) sets the occasion for the reinforcement (food) of the operant (lever-press). This three-term contingency (stimulus-response-reinforcer) is one of Skinner’s most important concepts, and sets his theory apart from theories that use only pair-wise associations.

Most behavior of humans cannot easily be described in terms of individual responses reinforced one by one, and Skinner devoted a great deal of effort to the problem of behavioral complexity. Some complex behavior can be seen as a sequence of relatively simple responses, and here Skinner invoked the idea of “chaining.” Chaining is based on the fact, experimentally demonstrated, that a discriminative stimulus not only sets the occasion for subsequent behavior, but it can also reinforce a behavior that precedes it. That is, a discriminative stimulus is also a “conditioned reinforcer.” For example, the light that sets the occasion for lever pressing may also be used to reinforce “turning around” in the presence of a noise. This results in the sequence “noise – turn-around – light – press lever – food.” Much longer chains can be built by adding more stimuli and responses.

However, Skinner recognized that a great deal of behavior, especially human behavior, cannot be accounted for by gradual shaping or the construction of response sequences. Complex behavior often appears suddenly in its final form. To account for such behavior, Skinner introduced the concept of rule-governed behavior. First, relatively simple behaviors come under the control of verbal stimuli: the child learns to “jump”, “open the book”, and so on. After a large number of responses come under such verbal control, a sequence of verbal stimuli can evoke an almost unlimited variety of complex responses.

Reinforcement, a key concept of behaviorism, is the primary process that shapes and controls behavior, and occurs in two ways, “positive” and “negative.” In The Behavior of Organisms (1938), Skinner defined “negative reinforcement” to be synonymous with punishment, that is, the presentation of an aversive stimulus. Subsequently, in Science and Human Behavior (1953), Skinner redefined negative reinforcement. In what has now become the standard set of definitions, positive reinforcement is the strengthening of behavior by the occurrence of some event (e.g., praise after some behavior is performed), whereas negative reinforcement is the strengthening of behavior by the removal or avoidance of some aversive event (e.g., opening and raising an umbrella over your head on a rainy day is reinforced by the cessation of rain falling on you).

Both types of reinforcement strengthen behavior or increase the probability of a behavior reoccurring; the difference is in whether the reinforcing event is something applied (positive reinforcement) or something removed or avoided (negative reinforcement). Punishment is the application of an aversive stimulus/event (positive punishment or punishment by contingent stimulation) or the removal of a desirable stimulus (negative punishment or punishment by contingent withdrawal).

Anthony Burgess’ A Clockwork Orange is a fictionalized critique of Skinner’s behaviorism, which hits home in part. There is a whole lot to more to behavior than conditioning.

Skinner was fond of making contraptions as a boy, which may be why he hit on the Skinner box as an adult. When he was growing up, he and a friend built a cabin in the woods where elderberry trees were plentiful. They made some money from a door to door business selling elderberries, but had a problem harvesting the berries because green berries mixed in with the ripe ones when they were picked. So, he designed a flotation system to separate ripe from green berries. My house in the Catskills was not so far from the area where Skinner was a boy, and I had elderberries growing wild on the edge of my wood lot. I used them primarily with apples in apple crumble, but they have a range of uses. They are a little too tart and juicy to be used by themselves in pies and such, but their flavor is excellent when mixed with apples or pears. They can also be folded into bread dough to make something similar to raisin bread. Basically, wherever you use currants or raisins, you can use elderberries.

Elderberries are also commonly used to make syrup which is sometimes used as a cough medicine, but can also be used on pancakes. This is the simplest recipe for a basic syrup.

Elderberry Syrup


3 cups water
3 cups fresh elderberries
1 ½ cups raw honey


Place the elderberries and water in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer on medium-low for 30 minutes. Reduce the liquid by about one-third.

Remove pan from the heat and mash the elderberries. Strain the mixture into a bowl using 2 layers of cheesecloth.

Let the liquid cool to barely warm, gently stir in the honey, and mix thoroughly.

Store in glass bottles.

Mar 192018

Sydney Harbour Bridge was formally opened on this date in 1932. Amongst those who attended and gave speeches were the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Philip Game, and the Minister for Public Works, Lawrence Ennis. The premier of New South Wales, Jack Lang, was to open the bridge by cutting a ribbon at its southern end. However, just as Lang was about to cut the ribbon, a man in military uniform rode up on a horse, slashing the ribbon with his sword and opening the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the name of the people of New South Wales before the official ceremony began.

He was promptly arrested. The ribbon was hurriedly retied and Lang performed the official opening ceremony and Game thereafter inaugurated the name of the bridge as ‘Sydney Harbour Bridge’ and the associated roadway as the ‘Bradfield Highway’. After they did so, there was a 21-gun salute and an RAAF flypast. The intruder was identified as Francis de Groot. He was convicted of offensive behavior and fined £5 after a psychiatric test proved he was sane, but this verdict was reversed on appeal. De Groot then successfully sued the Commissioner of Police for wrongful arrest, and was awarded an undisclosed out of court settlement. De Groot was a member of a right-wing paramilitary group called the New Guard, opposed to Lang’s leftist policies and resentful of the fact that a member of the Royal Family had not been asked to open the bridge. De Groot was not a member of the regular army, but his uniform allowed him to blend in with the real cavalry.

Despite the bridge opening in the midst of the Great Depression, opening celebrations were organized by the Citizens of Sydney Organising Committee, an influential body of prominent citizens and politicians that formed in 1931 under the chairmanship of the Lord Mayor to oversee the festivities. The celebrations included an array of decorated floats, a procession of passenger ships sailing below the bridge, and a Venetian Carnival A message from a primary school in Tottenham, 515 km (320 mi) away in rural New South Wales, arrived at the bridge on the day and was presented at the opening ceremony. It had been carried all the way from Tottenham to the bridge by relays of school children, with the final relay being run by two children from the nearby Fort Street Boys’ and Girls’ schools. After the official ceremonies, the public was allowed to walk across the bridge on the deck, something that would not be repeated until the 50th anniversary celebrations. Estimates suggest that between 300,000 and one million people took part in the opening festivities, a phenomenal number given that the entire population of Sydney at the time was estimated to be 1,256,000.

The bridge itself was regarded as a triumph over Depression times, earning the nickname “the Iron Lung”, as it kept many Depression-era workers employed. Sydney Harbour Bridge is as iconic as Big Ben or the Eiffel Tower although the design is not especially original to Sydney. If you know Newcastle-on-Tyne or New York City at all well you will know of older bridges of the same design.

There had been plans to build a bridge as early as 1815, when convict and noted architect Francis Greenway reputedly proposed to Governor Lachlan Macquarie that a bridge be built from the northern to the southern shore of the harbor. In 1825, Greenway wrote a letter to the then The Australian newspaper stating that such a bridge would “give an idea of strength and magnificence that would reflect credit and glory on the colony and the Mother Country.” Nothing came of Greenway’s suggestions, but the idea remained alive, and many further suggestions were made during the 19th century. In 1840, naval architect Robert Brindley proposed that a floating bridge be built. Engineer Peter Henderson produced one of the earliest known drawings of a bridge across the harbor around 1857. A suggestion for a truss bridge was made in 1879, and in 1880 a high-level bridge estimated at $850,000 was proposed.

In 1900, the Lyne government committed to building a new Central railway station and organized a worldwide competition for the design and construction of a harbor bridge. Local engineer Norman Selfe submitted a design for a suspension bridge and won the second prize of £500. In 1902, when the outcome of the first competition became mired in controversy, Selfe won a second competition outright, with a design for a steel cantilever bridge. The selection board were unanimous, commenting that, “The structural lines are correct and in true proportion, and… the outline is graceful.” However due to an economic downturn and a change of government at the 1904 NSW State election construction never began.

A three-span bridge was proposed in 1922 by Ernest Stowe with connections at Balls Head, Millers Point, and Balmain with a memorial tower and hub on Goat Island.

In 1914 John Bradfield was appointed “Chief Engineer of Sydney Harbour Bridge and Metropolitan Railway Construction”, and his work on the project over many years earned him the legacy as the “father” of the bridge. Bradfield’s preference at the time was for a cantilever bridge without piers, and in 1916 the NSW Legislative Assembly passed a bill for such a construction, however it did not proceed as the Legislative Council rejected the legislation on the basis that the money would be better spent on the war effort.

Following World War I, plans to build the bridge again built momentum. Bradfield persevered with the project, fleshing out the details of the specifications and financing for his cantilever bridge proposal, and in 1921 he travelled overseas to investigate tenders. On return from his travels Bradfield decided that an arch design would also be suitable and he and officers of the NSW Department of Public Works prepared a general design for a single-arch bridge based upon New York City’s Hell Gate Bridge. In 1922 the government passed the Sydney Harbour Bridge Act No. 28, specifying the construction of a high-level cantilever or arch bridge across the harbor between Dawes Point and Milsons Point, along with construction of necessary approaches and electric railway lines, and worldwide tenders were invited for the project.

As a result of the tendering process, the government received twenty proposals from six companies; on 24 March 1924 the contract was awarded to British firm Dorman Long and Co Ltd, of Middlesbrough well known as the contractors who built the similar Tyne Bridge of Newcastle Upon Tyne, for an arch bridge at a quoted price of AU£4,217,721 11s 10d. The arch design was cheaper than alternative cantilever and suspension bridge proposals, and also provided greater rigidity making it better suited for the heavy loads expected.

One curious aspect of the bridge’s architecture are the pylons which are purely for aesthetics. At each end of the arch stands a pair of 89 m (292 ft) high concrete pylons, faced with granite. The pylons were designed by the Scottish architect Thomas S. Tait, a partner in the architectural firm John Burnet & Partners. About 250 Australian, Scottish, and Italian stonemasons and their families relocated to a temporary settlement at Moruya, NSW, 300 km (186 mi) south of Sydney, where they quarried around 18,000 m3 (635,664 cu ft) of granite for the bridge pylons. The stonemasons cut, dressed, and numbered the blocks, which were then transported to Sydney on three ships built specifically for this purpose. The Moruya quarry was managed by John Gilmore, a Scottish stonemason who emigrated, with his young family to Australia in 1924, at the request of the project managers. The concrete used was also Australian-made and supplied from Devonport, Tasmania and shipped to Sydney on a ship named Goliath.

Abutments at the base of the pylons are essential to support the loads from the arch and hold its span firmly in place, but the pylons themselves have no structural purpose. They were included to provide a frame for the arch panels and to give better visual balance to the bridge. The pylons were not part of the original design, and were only added to allay public concern about the structural integrity of the bridge. Although originally added to the bridge solely for their aesthetic value, all four pylons have now been put to use. The south-eastern pylon contains a museum and tourist center, with a 360° lookout at the top providing views across the harbour and city. The south-western pylon is used by the New South Wales Roads and Traffic Authority (RTA) to support its CCTV cameras overlooking the bridge and the roads around that area. The two pylons on the north shore include venting chimneys for fumes from the Sydney Harbour Tunnel, with the base of the southern pylon containing the RMS maintenance shed for the bridge, and the base of the northern pylon containing the traffic management shed for tow trucks and safety vehicles used on the bridge. In 1942 the pylons were modified to include parapets and anti-aircraft guns designed to assist in both Australia’s defense and general war effort. The top level of stonework was never removed.

There had also been numerous preparatory arrangements. On 14 March 1932, three postage stamps were issued to commemorate the imminent opening of the bridge. Several songs were composed for the occasion.

Australia always presents me with a culinary challenge, but for Sydney Harbour Bridge I have created a dish using local ingredients. John Dory is commonly found in Australian waters including Sydney Harbour and is a popular fish variety in local cuisine. It can be battered and fried and served with chips, or pan-fried with herbed oil on a bed of mashed potato with salad, and is popular in Australia. John Dory fillets are mentioned by both Eliza Acton in Modern Cookery for Private Families (1845) and Mrs Beeton in her Book of Household Management (1861). Both compare the John Dory to turbot and give recipes that can serve for either. They are very plain recipes calling for boiling or baking as in this example from Mrs Beeton


  1. INGREDIENTS.—1/4 lb. of salt to each gallon of water.

Mode.—This fish, which is esteemed by most people a great delicacy, is dressed in the same way as a turbot, which it resembles in firmness, but not in richness. Cleanse it thoroughly and cut off the fins; lay it in a fish-kettle, cover with cold water, and add salt in the above proportion. Bring it gradually to a boil, and simmer gently for 1/4 hour, or rather longer, should the fish be very large. Serve on a hot napkin, and garnish with cut lemon and parsley. Lobster, anchovy, or shrimp sauce, and plain melted butter, should be sent to table with it.

Time.—After the water boils, 1/4 to 1/2 hour, according to size.

Average cost, 3s. to 5s. Seasonable all the year, but best from September to January.

Note.—Small John Dory are very good, baked.

We can do better than that by adding another ingredient from NSW, the macadamia nut. Macadamia nuts are indigenous to eastern Australia although they are not found quite as far south as Sydney. You have to go north to Byron Bay where they are plentiful. Here is my macadamia-crusted John Dory.

©Macadamia-Crusted John Dory


4 skinless John Dory fillets (about 6 oz/180 gm each)
2 cups (300 gm) unsalted macadamias
1 garlic clove, peeled and minced
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon (plus wedges to serve)
1 tbspn extra virgin olive oil
1 tbspn flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1 tbspn chives, chopped


Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.

Place the macadamia nuts, garlic, lemon zest, half the lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a food processor and pulse to make a coarse paste. Do not process too finely, the paste should be a little chunky. Add in the parsley and chives and stir to mix.

Place the fish on a greased baking tray and press the nut mixture into the top of each fillet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the crust is golden and the fish is cooked through.

Serve with lemon wedges on a bed of salad greens sprinkled with the remaining lemon juice and some extra olive oil.



Mar 182018

On this date in 1834 the Tolpuddle Martyrs, a group of 19th-century Dorset agricultural laborers who were arrested for, and convicted of, swearing a secret oath as members of the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers, were sentenced to penal transportation to Australia. Their friendly society operated as a trade-specific benefit society, so it is often considered to be a forerunner of trade unions.

Before 1824 the Combination Acts had outlawed “combining” or organising to gain better working conditions. In 1824/25 these acts were repealed, so trade unions were no longer illegal. In 1833, six men from Tolpuddle in Dorset founded the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers to protest against the gradual lowering of agricultural wages. These Tolpuddle laborers refused to work for less than 10 shillings a week, although by this time wages had been reduced to 7 shillings and were due to be further reduced to 6. Typically, Dorset laborers ate bread and cheese for their main meals (perhaps with meat on Sundays), and a family would pay in the neighborhood of 5 shillings per week for bread alone (they did not conventionally bake at home). Farm workers got their housing free and were allowed to use land to grow vegetables. Even so, 6 shillings per week represents starvation wages for workers who were in the fields from sun up to sun down 6 days per week.

The Tolpuddle Friendly Society, led by George Loveless, a Methodist local preacher, met in the house of Thomas Standfield. Groups such as the Tolpuddle Martyrs would often use a skeleton painting as part of their initiation process. The newest member would be blindfolded and made to swear a secret oath of allegiance. The blindfold would then be removed and they would be presented with the skeleton painting. This was to warn them of their own mortality but also to remind them of what happens to those who break their promises. An example of this skeleton painting is on display at the People’s History Museum, Manchester.

In 1834, James Frampton, a local landowner and magistrate, wrote to Home Secretary Lord Melbourne to complain about the union. Melbourne recommended invoking the Unlawful Oaths Act 1797, an obscure law promulgated in response to the Spithead and Nore mutinies, which prohibited the swearing of secret oaths. James Brine, James Hammett, George Loveless, George’s brother James Loveless, George’s brother in-law Thomas Standfield, and Thomas’s son John Standfield were arrested and tried before Sir John Williams in R v Lovelass and Others. They were found guilty and sentenced to seven years’ penal transportation to Australia. At the time of sentencing, George Loveless wrote on a scrap of paper lines from the union hymn “The Gathering of the Unions”:

God is our guide! from field, from wave,
From plough, from anvil, and from loom;
We come, our country’s rights to save,
And speak a tyrant faction’s doom:
We raise the watch-word liberty;
We will, we will, we will be free!

James Loveless, the two Standfields, Hammett and Brine sailed on the Surry to Sydney, where they arrived on 17th August 1834. George Loveless was delayed due to illness and left later on the William Metcalf to Van Diemen’s Land, reaching Hobart on 4th September. Of the five who landed in Sydney, Brine and the Standfields were assigned as farm laborers to free settlers in the Hunter Valley. Hammett was assigned to the Queanbeyan farm of Edward John Eyre, and James Loveless was assigned to a farm at Strathallan. In Hobart, George Loveless was assigned to the viceregal farm of Lieutenant Governor Sir George Arthur.

In England they became popular heroes and 800,000 signatures were collected for their release. Their supporters organized a political march, one of the first successful marches in the UK, and all were pardoned, on condition of good conduct, in March 1836, with the support of Lord John Russell, who had recently become home secretary. When the pardon reached George Loveless some delay was caused in his leaving due to no word from his wife as to whether she was to join him in Van Diemen’s Land. On 23rd December 1836, a letter was received to the effect that she was not coming and Loveless sailed from Van Diemen’s Land on 30 January 1837, arriving in England on 13th June 1837.

In New South Wales, there were delays in obtaining an early sailing due to tardiness in the authorities confirming good conduct with the convicts’ assignees and then getting them released from their assignments. James Loveless, Thomas and John Standfield, and James Brine departed Sydney on the John Barry on 11th September 1837, reaching Plymouth on 17th March 1838, one of the departure points for convict transport ships. A plaque next to the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth’s historical Barbican area commemorates the arrival. Although due to depart with the others, James Hammett was detained in Windsor, charged with an assault, while the others left the colony. It was not until March 1839 that he sailed, arriving in England in August 1839.

The Lovelesses, Standfields and Brine first settled on farms near Chipping Ongar, Essex, then moved to London, Ontario, Canada, where there is now a monument in their honor and an affordable housing co-op and trade union complex named after them. George Loveless is buried in Siloam Cemetery on Fanshawe Park Road East in London, Ontario. James Brine is buried in St. Marys Cemetery, St. Marys, Ontario. He died in 1902, having lived in nearby Blanshard Township since 1868. Hammett remained in Tolpuddle and died in the Dorchester workhouse in 1891.

A monument was erected in their honor in Tolpuddle in 1934, and a sculpture of the martyrs, made in 2001, stands in the village in front of the Tolpuddle Martyrs Museum.The Tolpuddle Martyrs festival is held annually in Tolpuddle, usually in the third week of July, organized by the Trades Union Congress (TUC) featuring a parade of banners from many trade unions, a memorial service, speeches and music. The courtroom where the martyrs were tried, which has been little altered in 200 years, in Dorchester’s Shire Hall, is being preserved as part of a heritage scheme.

The simplest way to celebrate the Tolpuddle Martyrs would be a ploughman’s lunch of bread and cheese, and I would have a classic Dorset cheese such as blue Vinny. But I have waxed lyrical enough in previous posts about a ploughman’s (search if you are interested). Instead I will give you Dorset jugged steak. In this context, “jugged” simply means casseroled slowly. The flavor combinations here are special, and the forcemeat balls add a little something to what might otherwise be no more than beef stew, (commoner in the 19th century than now).

Dorset Jugged Steak


800 gm stewing steak, cubed
30 g plain wholewheat flour
1 large onion, peeled and sliced
5 whole cloves
salt and pepper
200 ml port
400ml beef stock (approx.)
200 gm sausage meat
60 gm fresh wholemeal breadcrumbs
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
20 ml redcurrant jelly


Preheat the oven to 325°F/170°C.

Place the meat cubes and flour in a heavy paper bag. Tightly close off the top and shake the bag vigorously to coat the meat. Put the meat in a casserole, leaving the excess flour in the bag. Add the cloves and onions, salt and pepper. Pour in the port and add enough stock to just cover the meat.

Cover the casserole and bake for 2 hours 15 minutes.

In a mixing bowl Place the breadcrumbs, parsley and sausage meat in a mixing bowl and thoroughly mix them together. Divide this mix into 8 pieces and roll them into balls.

Once the 2 hours 15 minutes is up remove from the oven add the redcurrant jelly stirring slowly and the forcemeat ball. Return to the oven for a further 45 minutes.

Serve with crusty bread, and a green salad or vegetable of your choice, such, as spinach, along with boiled new potatoes.


Mar 172018

Today is the birthday (1846) of Catherine “Kate” Greenaway, a Victorian children’s book illustrator and writer whose work influenced the children’s dress styles of the day. She is part of what is called The Golden Age of Book Illustration which actually covers a huge raft of styles and techniques.

Kate Greenaway was born in Hoxton, London, the second of four children. Her mother, Elizabeth Greenaway, was a dressmaker and her father, John Greenaway, was a wood engraver, whose business failed when he took a commission to engrave illustrations for Charles Dickens’ The Pickwick Papers from a publisher who went bankrupt. As a young girl Kate lived with relatives in Rolleston, Nottinghamshire. John wanted to work without interruption on the Dickens engravings and sent the entire family away for about two years, a period that for Kate, according to children’s literature scholar Humphrey Carpenter “was crucial … she felt it to be her real home, a country of the mind that she could always reimagine.”

John Greenaway

On the return of his wife and children the family moved to Islington, living in the flat above a millinery shop Elizabeth Greenaway opened to provide an income. There was a garden outside the building, which Greenaway wrote about in letters and an unfinished autobiography in the 1880s, describing it as place with “richness of colour and depth of shade.” Her father took on work for The Illustrated London News, often bringing home the wood blocks to carve during the night. Kate was interested in her father’s work, and through him was exposed to the work of John Leech, John Gilbert and Kenny Meadows.

As a young child Kate was educated at home and also sent to series of dame schools. When she was about 12 she began formal art education when enrolling in the National Course of Art instruction,[5] first at Finsbury School of Art and later at the South Kensington School of Art headed by Richard Burchett. The curriculum was design-based with a focus on technical skills, with emphasis on geometric and botanical designs to create patterns for architectural elements such as decorative wallpapers and tiles. She completed the five stages of ornamental courses in one year and the ten stages of the drawing courses with similar speed. In 1864, she completed the final course, “Elementary Design,” winning a national bronze medal for her designs. Later awards included a national silver medal in 1869 for a set of geometric and floral decorative tiles.

She later attended the Royal Female School of Art. With classmate Elizabeth Thompson, Greenaway augmented her studies by learning to draw the human figure from life and the two women rented a studio in South Kensington for a year for this purpose. At the school she did have the opportunity to work from models dressed in historical or ornamental costumes but she continued to be frustrated that nude models were not permitted in the women’s classes. Later she enrolled in night classes at Heatherley School of Fine Art where she met Edward Burne-Jones, Edward Poynter and Walter Crane and in 1871 she enrolled in the Slade School of Fine Art.

By 1867 she began to receive commissions, in part the result of the national awards she received and in part because of exposure at exhibitions. The publisher of People’s Magazine, W. J. Loftie purchased a set of six watercolours Greenaway exhibited in 1868, printing them in the magazine set to verse written by his contributors. A year later Frederick Warne & Co purchased six illustrations for a toy book edition of Diamonds and Toads.

Her first book, Under the Window (1879), a collection of simple verses about children, was a bestseller. As well as illustrating books Greenaway produced a number of bookplates. Greenaway was elected to membership of the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours in 1889.

She lived in an Arts and Crafts style house she commissioned from Richard Norman Shaw in Frognal, London, although she spent summers in Rolleston. Here’s a gallery:

Greenaway died of breast cancer in 1901, at the age of 55. She is buried in Hampstead Cemetery, London.

Greenaway’s paintings were reproduced by chromoxylography, by which the colors were printed from hand-engraved wood blocks by the firm of Edmund Evans. Through the 1880s and 1890s, her only rivals in popularity in children’s book illustration were Walter Crane and Randolph Caldecott. “Kate Greenaway children” were dressed in her own versions of late 18th century and Regency fashions: smock-frocks and skeleton suits for boys, high-waisted pinafores and dresses with mobcaps and straw bonnets for girls. Liberty of London adapted Kate Greenaway’s drawings as designs for actual children’s clothes. A full generation of mothers in the liberal-minded “artistic” British circles who called themselves The Souls and embraced the Arts and Crafts movement dressed their daughters in Kate Greenaway pantaloons and bonnets in the 1880s and 1890s.

We have to go with apple pie to celebrate Kate Greenaway, and Mrs Beeton has to be our guide. I have given modern recipes for apple pie in other posts, but this one works fine. Adding beer or sherry to the apples would work fine as long as you pick the right ones. A dark or amber ale would be all right. I would use a dry sherry rather than a sweet one. Then again, I would prefer brandy.


  1. INGREDIENTS.—Puff-paste No. 1205 or 1206, apples; to every lb. of unpared apples allow 2 oz. of moist sugar, 1/2 teaspoonful of finely-minced lemon-peel, 1 tablespoonful of lemon-juice.

Mode.—Make 1/2 lb. of puff-paste by either of the above-named recipes, place a border of it round the edge of a pie-dish, and fill it with apples pared, cored, and cut into slices; sweeten with moist sugar, add the lemon-peel and juice, and 2 or 3 tablespoonfuls of water; cover with crust, cut it evenly round close to the edge of the pie-dish, and bake in a hot oven from 1/2 to 3/4 hour, or rather longer, should the pie be very large. When it is three-parts done, take it out of the oven, put the white of an egg on a plate, and, with the blade of a knife, whisk it to a froth; brush the pie over with this, then sprinkle upon it some sifted sugar, and then a few drops of water. Put the pie back into the oven, and finish baking, and be particularly careful that it does not catch or burn, which it is very liable to do after the crust is iced. If made with a plain crust, the icing may be omitted.

Time.—1/2 hour before the crust is iced; 10 to 15 minutes afterwards.

Average cost, 9d.

Sufficient.—Allow 2 lbs. of apples for a tart for 6 persons.

Seasonable from August to March; but the apples become flavourless after February.

Note.—Many things are suggested for the flavouring of apple pie; some say 2 or 3 tablespoonfuls of beer, others the same quantity of sherry, which very much improve the taste; whilst the old-fashioned addition of a few cloves is, by many persons, preferred to anything else, as also a few slices of quince.


  1. INGREDIENTS.—To every lb. of flour allow 1 lb. of butter, and not quite 1/2 pint of water.

Mode.—Carefully weigh the flour and butter, and have the exact proportion; squeeze the butter well, to extract the water from it, and afterwards wring it in a clean cloth, that no moisture may remain. Sift the flour; see that it is perfectly dry, and proceed in the following manner to make the paste, using a very clean paste-board and rolling-pin:—Supposing the quantity to be 1 lb. of flour, work the whole into a smooth paste, with not quite 1/2 pint of water, using a knife to mix it with: the proportion of this latter ingredient must be regulated by the discretion of the cook; if too much be added, the paste, when baked, will be tough. Roll it out until it is of an equal thickness of about an inch; break 4 oz. of the butter into small pieces; place these on the paste, sift over it a little flour, fold it over, roll out again, and put another 4 oz. of butter. Repeat the rolling and buttering until the paste has been rolled out 4 times, or equal quantities of flour and butter have been used. Do not omit, every time the paste is rolled out, to dredge a little flour over that and the rolling-pin, to prevent both from sticking. Handle the paste as lightly as possible, and do not press heavily upon it with the rolling-pin. The next thing to be considered is the oven, as the baking of pastry requires particular attention. Do not put it into the oven until it is sufficiently hot to raise the paste; for the best-prepared paste, if not properly baked, will be good for nothing. Brushing the paste as often as rolled out, and the pieces of butter placed thereon, with the white of an egg, assists it to rise in leaves or flakes. As this is the great beauty of puff-paste, it is as well to try this method.

Average cost, 1s. 4d. per lb.

BUTTER.—About the second century of the Christian era, butter was placed by Galen amongst the useful medical agents; and about a century before him, Dioscorides mentioned that he had noticed that fresh butter, made of ewes’ and goats’ milk, was served at meals instead of oil, and that it took the place of fat in making pastry. Thus we have undoubted authority that, eighteen hundred years ago, there existed a knowledge of the useful qualities of butter. The Romans seem to have set about making it much as we do; for Pliny tells us, “Butter is made from milk; and the use of this element, so much sought after by barbarous nations, distinguished the rich from the common people. It is obtained principally from cows’ milk; that from ewes is the fattest; goats also supply some. It is produced by agitating the milk in long vessels with narrow openings: a little water is added.”


  1. INGREDIENTS.—To every lb. of flour allow 8 oz. of butter, 4 oz. of lard, not quite 1/2 pint of water.

Mode.—This paste may be made by the directions in the preceding recipe, only using less butter and substituting lard for a portion of it. Mix the flour to a smooth paste with not quite 1/2 pint of water; then roll it out 3 times, the first time covering the paste with butter, the second with lard, and the third with butter. Keep the rolling-pin and paste slightly dredged with flour, to prevent them from sticking, and it will be ready for use.

Average cost, 1s. per lb.

BUTTER IN HASTE.—In his “History of Food,” Soyer says that to obtain butter instantly, it is only necessary, in summer, to put new milk into a bottle, some hours after it has been taken from the cow, and shake it briskly. The clots which are thus formed should be thrown into a sieve, washed and pressed together, and they constitute the finest and most delicate butter that can possibly be made.

Mar 162018

Today is the birthday (1789) of Georg Simon Ohm a Bavarian physicist and mathematician who gave his name to the equation relating voltage, resistance, and current: Ohm’s law. Ohm was born in Erlangen, Brandenburg-Bayreuth (then a part of the Holy Roman Empire), son to Johann Wolfgang Ohm, a locksmith and Maria Elizabeth Beck, the daughter of a tailor in Erlangen. Although his parents had not been formally educated, Ohm’s father was a respected man who had educated himself, and, in consequence, was able to give his sons an excellent education through his own instruction. Of the seven children of the family only three survived to adulthood: Georg Simon, his younger brother Martin, who later became a well-known mathematician, and his sister Elizabeth Barbara. His mother died when he was ten.

From early childhood, Georg and Martin were taught by their father who brought them to a high standard in mathematics, physics, chemistry and philosophy. Georg attended Erlangen Gymnasium from age 11 to 15 where he received little in the area of scientific training, which sharply contrasted with the inspired instruction that both he and his brother received from their father. Ohm’s father, concerned that his son was wasting his educational opportunity, sent him to Switzerland, where in September 1806 he accepted a position as a mathematics teacher in a school in Gottstadt bei Nidau. Ohm left his teaching post in Gottstatt Monastery in March 1809 to become a private tutor in Neuchâtel. For two years he carried out his duties as a tutor while and continued his private study of mathematics. Then in April 1811 he returned to the University of Erlangen.

Ohm’s own studies prepared him for his doctorate which he received from the University of Erlangen on 25th October 1811. He immediately joined the faculty there as a lecturer in mathematics but left after three terms because of unpromising prospects. He could not survive on his salary as a lecturer. The Bavarian government offered him a post as a teacher of mathematics and physics at a poor-quality school in Bamberg which Ohm accepted in January 1813. Unhappy with his job, Georg began writing an elementary textbook on geometry as a way to prove his abilities. That school was closed in February 1816. The Bavarian government then sent Ohm to an overcrowded school in Bamberg to help out with the teaching of mathematics.

After his assignment in Bamberg, Ohm sent his completed manuscript to King Wilhelm III of Prussia. The King was impressed with Ohm’s book, and offered him a position at the Jesuit Gymnasium of Cologne on 11th September 1817. This school had a reputation for good science education and Ohm was required to teach physics in addition to mathematics. The physics laboratory was well equipped, allowing Ohm to begin experiments in physics. As the son of a locksmith, Ohm also had some practical experience with mechanical devices.

Ohm published Die galvanische Kette, mathematisch bearbeitet (The Galvanic Circuit Investigated Mathematically) in 1827. Ohm’s law [current (I) = voltage (V) divided by resistance (R)] first appeared in this book, as did his comprehensive theory of electricity. The book begins with the mathematical background necessary for an understanding of the rest of the work. While his work greatly influenced the theory and applications of current electricity, it was coldly received at that time. It is interesting that Ohm presents his theory as one of contiguous action, a theory which opposed the concept of action at a distance. Ohm believed that the communication of electricity occurred between “contiguous particles” which is the term he himself used. The paper is concerned with this idea, and in particular with illustrating the differences in this scientific approach of Ohm’s and the approaches of Joseph Fourier and Claude-Louis Navier.

Ohm’s college did not appreciate his work and so he resigned from his position. He then made an application to, and was employed by, the Polytechnic School of Nuremberg. Ohm arrived at the Polytechnic School of Nuremberg in 1833, and in 1852 he became a professor of experimental physics at the University of Munich.

In 1849, Ohm published Beiträge zur Molecular-Physik, ( Molecular Physics). In the preface of this work he stated he hoped to write a second and third volume “and if God gives me length of days for it, a fourth”. However, on finding that an original discovery recorded in it was being anticipated by a Swedish scientist he did not publish it, stating: “The episode has given a fresh and deep sense for my mind to the saying ‘Man proposes, and God disposes’. The project that gave the first impetus to my inquiry has been dissipated into mist, and a new one, undesigned by me, has been accomplished in its place.”

Ohm died in Munich in 1854 and is buried in the Alter Südfriedhof. Ohm’s name has been incorporated in the terminology of electrical science in Ohm’s Law, and adopted as the SI unit of resistance, the ohm (symbol Ω). Although Ohm’s work strongly influenced theory, at first it was received with little enthusiasm. However, his work was eventually recognized by the Royal Society with its award of the Copley Medal in 1841. He became a foreign member of the Royal Society in 1842.

Knieküchle is a traditional Franconian fried dough pastry that is very popular in Old Bavaria as well. Depending on region it has several other names, including Auszogne, Krapfen, Küchl, or Rottnudel. As a general rule they are made of yeast dough but some recipes vary slightly. Very common for example is the addition of raisins. The dough is shaped so it is very thin in the middle and thicker on the edges. They are then fried in lard and dusted with confectioner’s sugar. The pastry is mostly eaten for celebrations, so it is appropriate today to celebrate Ohm. In Franconia, people differentiate between “Catholic” and “Protestant” Knieküchle depending whether it is dusted with confectioner’s sugar or not. Ohm was Protestant, so you decide.


1 ¼ sticks unsalted butter
4 eggs
2 cups milk
½ cup sugar
1 package yeast
3 cups (approx.) all-purpose flour
oil for frying (or lard)
powdered sugar


In a small bowl, combine the yeast and ½ cup of the milk (lukewarm). Mix in 3 tablespoons flour and 1 teaspoon of the sugar. Allow this mixture to sit in a warm place for 1 hour.

Combine the remaining dough ingredients then add in the yeast mixture. Mix until a smooth dough forms, adjusting the flour as necessary. Knead by hand for about 20 minutes.

Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let sit in a warm place until double in volume.

Punch the dough down and divide it into tablespoon size pieces. Press each piece of dough flat and allow them to rise again for 1 hour.

Heat the oil in a deep-fryer to around 370˚F/190˚C.

Take each piece of dough and stretch it out again – large enough that it would be able to cover your knee [why they are called “knee pastries]. Fry each stretched-out piece of dough until golden brown on both sides. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and let drain on wire racks. Dust with powdered sugar if you wish. They can be eaten plain or with fruit preserves. They are best served warm.

Mar 152018

On this date in 1906, Charles Stewart Rolls and Frederick Henry Royce incorporated Rolls-Royce Limited as a business for car manufacture that quickly developed a reputation for superior engineering quality and for manufacturing the “best car in the world.” Later, Rolls-Royce became a leading manufacturer of piston aero-engines after it was led into building them by the economic necessities of the First World War.



From 1940, Rolls-Royce participated in the development of the jet engine and built for itself, and retains, a pre-eminent position in aero engine development and manufacture for use in military and civil aircraft. My father’s brother, my uncle Alec, worked in various divisions of Rolls-Royce aerospace engineering from the end of the Second World War until his retirement in both Scotland and New Zealand, so I feel a (minimal) connexion. He would pop in and out of our lives in both Australia and England because he was always flying all over the place on business, back in the days when only movie stars and millionaires traveled by plane. Hence, Rolls-Royce is sealed in my consciousness as the height of luxury, as if its image as a car manufacturer were not enough. There was a time when a Rolls-Royce automobile was not only identifiable by its shape, but also by the fact that its engine was so quiet that the sound of the tires on the road made more noise than the engine. “Ghost” was a deserving model name.

In 1884 Henry Royce started an electrical and mechanical business. He made his first car, a two-cylinder Royce 10, in his Manchester factory in 1904. Henry Royce was introduced to Charles Rolls at the Midland Hotel, Manchester on 4 May of that year. Rolls was proprietor of an early motor car dealership, C.S.Rolls & Co. in Fulham. In spite of his preference for three- or four-cylinder cars, Rolls was impressed with the Royce 10, and in a subsequent deal made on 23rd December 1904 agreed to take all the cars Royce could make. There would be four models:

a 10 hp, two-cylinder model at £395

a 15 hp, three-cylinder at £500

a 20 hp, four-cylinder at £650

a 30 hp, six-cylinder at £890

All would be sold under the Rolls-Royce label, and be sold exclusively by Rolls. The first Rolls-Royce car, the Rolls-Royce 10 hp, was unveiled at the Paris Salon in December 1904.

When Rolls-Royce Limited was formed in 1906, it was apparent that new premises were required for production of cars. After considering sites in Manchester, Coventry, Bradford and Leicester, it was an offer from Derby’s council of cheap electricity that resulted in the decision to acquire a 12.7-acre site on the southern edge of the city. The new factory was largely designed by Royce, and production began in early 1908, with a formal opening on 9 July 1908 by Sir John Montagu. The investment in the new company required further capital to be raised, and on 6th December 1906 £100,000 of new shares were offered to the public.

During 1906 Royce had been developing an improved six-cylinder model with more power than the Rolls-Royce 30 hp. Initially designated the 40/50 hp, this was Rolls-Royce’s first all-new model. In March 1908 Claude Johnson, Commercial Managing Director and sometimes described as the hyphen in Rolls-Royce, succeeded in persuading Royce and the other directors that Rolls-Royce should concentrate exclusively on the new model, and all the earlier models were duly discontinued. The new 40/50 was responsible for Rolls-Royce’s early reputation with over 6,000 built. Its chassis was used as a basis for the first British armored car used in both world wars.

In 1907, Charles Rolls, whose interests had turned increasingly to flying, tried unsuccessfully to persuade Royce and the other directors to design an aero engine. On 12 July 1910, at the age of 32, Rolls was killed in an air crash at Hengistbury Airfield, Southbourne, Bournemouth when the tail of his Wright Flyer broke off during a flying display. He was the first Briton to be killed in an aeronautical accident with a powered aircraft, and the eleventh person internationally. His was also the first powered aviation fatality in the United Kingdom.

When World War I broke out in August 1914, Rolls-Royce were taken by surprise. As a manufacturer of luxury cars, Rolls-Royce was immediately vulnerable, and Claude Johnson thought the bank would withdraw its overdraft facility on which Rolls-Royce depended at that time. Nevertheless, believing that war was likely to be short-lived the directors initially decided not to seek government work making aero engines. However, this position was quickly reversed, and Rolls-Royce was persuaded by the War Office to manufacture 50 air-cooled V8 engines under license from Renault. Meanwhile, the Royal Aircraft Factory asked Rolls-Royce to design a new 200 hp engine. Despite initial reluctance they agreed, and during 1915 developed Rolls-Royce’s first aero engine, the twelve-cylinder Eagle. This was quickly followed by the smaller six-cylinder Hawk, the 190 hp (140 kW) Falcon and, just before the end of the war, the larger 675 hp Condor.

Throughout World War I, Rolls-Royce struggled to build aero engines in the quantities required by the War Office. Rolls-Royce resisted pressure to license production to other manufacturers, fearing that the engines’ much-admired quality and reliability would risk being compromised. Instead, the Derby factory was extended to enable Rolls-Royce to increase its own production rates. By the late 1920s, aero engines made up most of Rolls-Royce’s business. Rolls-Royce’s Eagle, first produced in 1915, was the first engine to make a non-stop trans-Atlantic crossing by air when in June 1919 two Eagles powered the converted Vickers Vimy bomber on the transatlantic flight of Alcock and Brown.

Royce, who lived by the motto “Whatever is rightly done, however humble, is noble,” was awarded the OBE in 1918, and was created a baronet, of Seaton in the County of Rutland, in 1930 for his services to British Aviation. Because he was childless, the baronetcy became extinct on his death. He died on 22 April 1933.

There is a cocktail called the Rolls Royce made of 2 oz. gin, ½ oz. dry vermouth, ½ oz. sweet vermouth, and a dash of Bénédictine. Look it up if you want more details. There is also a dinner roll called the Rolls-Royce, so named because of the play on “rolls” than any deeper significance. When I was a boy, “Rolls” was the diminutive of Rolls-Royce leading to some bad puns in advertising:

(Man talking to a boy eating chocolate covered cake rolls)

Man: What do you think of the rolls? (i.e. pun on Rolls[-Royce]).

Boy: They sure go fast.

There is a recipe for Rolls-Royce dinner rolls here – The joke is certainly old now, but the site cannot resist saying, “Be prepared to make extras because these delicious dinner rolls will go fast!”