Friday, June 9, 2023

François Hertel

François Hertel (real name Rodolphe Dubé, 1905 –1985) was a Catholic priest, poet, philosopher, essayist, professor and memoirist from Quebec, Canada.

His work was part of the literature event in the art competition at the 1948 Summer Olympics.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Eddie Lawrence

Eddie Lawrence (born Lawrence Eisler; 1919 –2014) was an American monologist, actor, singer, lyricist, playwright, artist, director and television personality, whose comic creation, the Old Philosopher, gained him a devoted cult following for over five decades.

In September 1956, a single titled "The Old Philosopher" rose to the Billboard Top 40 chart, a rare distinction for a comedy record by a little-known performer. It turned out to be a one-hit wonder for Eddie Lawrence, and paved the way for his long comedy career. In a four-minute routine, a crotchety, ridiculous-sounding character recounts a litany of nonsensical calamities.

Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Singer Emmanuel Macron

French President Emmanuel Macron surprised audiences by erupting in song while on official visit in the French Pyrénées.  

Visibly uncomfortable, video shared by BFMTV shows a beret-wearing Macron hesitantly accompanying a choir of Pyrenean shepherds in Argelès-Gazost as they sing traditional songs.

Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Nikolai Berdyaev

Nikolai Alexandrovich Berdyaev (1874 –1948) was a Russian philosopher, theologian, and Christian existentialist who emphasized the existential spiritual significance of human freedom and the human person.

Berdyaev decided on an intellectual career and entered the Kiev University in 1894. It was a time of revolutionary fervor among the students and the intelligentsia. He became a Marxist for a period and was arrested in a student demonstration and expelled from the university. His involvement in illegal activities led in 1897 to three years of internal exile to Vologda in northern Russia. 

A fiery 1913 article, entitled "Quenchers of the Spirit", criticising the rough purging of Imiaslavie Russian monks on Mount Athos by the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church using tsarist troops, caused him to be charged with the crime of blasphemy, the punishment for which was exile to Siberia for life. The World War and the Bolshevik Revolution prevented the matter coming to trial.

In 1920, Berdiaev became professor of philosophy at the University of Moscow. In the same year, he was accused of participating in a conspiracy against the government; he was arrested and jailed. The feared head of the Cheka, Felix Dzerzhinsky, came in person to interrogate him,  and he gave his interrogator a solid dressing down on the problems with Bolshevism. 

After being expelled from Russia, Berdyaev and other émigrés went to Berlin, where he founded an academy of philosophy and religion, but economic and political conditions in the Weimar Republic caused him and his wife to move to Paris in 1923. He transferred his academy there, and taught, lectured and wrote, working for an exchange of ideas with the French and European intellectual community, and participated in a number of international conferences.

Monday, June 5, 2023

Jay Garfield

Jay Lazar Garfield (1955) is an American professor of philosophy who specializes in Tibetan Buddhism.

 He also specializes on the philosophy of mind, cognitive science, epistemology, metaphysics, philosophy of language, ethics, and hermeneutics.

He is currently Doris Silbert Professor in the Humanities at Smith College, professor of philosophy at the University of Melbourne, visiting professor of philosophy and Buddhist studies at Harvard Divinity School, and Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at the Central University of Tibetan Studies.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Jenny Kleinsmit

Dutch NGO "Dikke Vinger" ("Fat Finger") is a team of unpaid volunteers who work together in their spare time to create a better world for fat people. Fat Finger stands for connection between fat people, a critical and nuanced attitude, independence, accessibility and inclusion.

Jenny Klijnsmit is a blogger, blogging about acceptance and weight discrimination. She blogs for fat people who are fed up with being ashamed of their bodies and weight and tired of feeling guilty about their eating habits. She mainly writes about her own experiences as a fat cis woman.

Saturday, June 3, 2023

Lenora Garfinkel

In the world of Orthodox Judaism, men may run the synagogues — but Lenora Garfinkel built them.

Lenora Garfinkel was born in the Bronx in 1930. Garfinkel was one of the first women to study architecture at the prestigious Cooper Union College in New York and went on to build Jewish community buildings across the New York metropolitan area over the course of a career spanning more than six decades. Her designs included the massive Viznitz Chasidic synagogue in Kaser, the Atrium wedding venue in Monsey, and multiple schools and ritual bath houses.

“There are very few frum architects with a sheitel with five kids that are specializing in frum buildings,” said Garfinkel’s daughter Letitia Dahan Forspan. “She was an expert in the halachot of building religious buildings, mikvahs and shuls based on halacha. That’s why they came to her. She sat with any rabbi making these plans like one of them.”

Garfinkel died of COVID-19 on April 29, 2020 at the age of 89.

Friday, June 2, 2023

Democritus, the Laughing Philosopher

The Utrecht painter Johannes Moreelse worked for a few years in Rome, where he was influenced by the paintings of Caravaggio. He painted scenes in the style of Caravaggio, with unidealised half-length figures and big contrasts between light and dark.

The grinning man in this painting (c. 1630) represents Democritus, the laughing philosopher. He is laughing at the vanity of mankind and the transience of the world. Democritus forms a pair with Heraclitus, the weeping philosopher. Moreelse made several versions of the two philosophers.

Thursday, June 1, 2023

Reuben Sinclair

Reuben Sinclair was born on his family farm near Lipton, Saskatchewan, Canada. His birth certificate was registered on 5 December 1911, but according to his older brothers, he was born in the summer of 1911.

His parents and his oldest siblings Samuel and Saul were born in Ukraine and moved in the 1900s to Saskatchewan, where they were given land by de Hirsch’s Jewish Colonization Association.

Sinclair joined the Royal Canadian Air Force during the Second World War and was stationed in North Battleford, Saskatchewan.

In March 2021 at the age of 109, he received his COVID-19 vaccine, making him one of the oldest known people to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.

He became the oldest known living Canadian veteran of the Second World War, following the death of 109-year-old Tom Lumby on 19 June 2021. He later became the oldest known living man born in Canada on 18 September 2021.

He became the oldest known living man in Canada, following the death of 111-year-old Ja Hyung Lee on 12 February 2022.

He became the oldest known living veteran of the Second World War, following the death of 111-year-old Ezra Hill on 4 October 2022.

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

Ralph, Coffee, Jazz and Poetry

Ralph Alfonso has lived in Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Oakville.

Ralph is a beatnik poet, musician, writer, designer, photographer, illustrator, record label owner and more.

For over 10 years, he lovingly hand printed a monthly zine (Ralph, Coffee, Jazz and Poetry) on a 1940s Gestetner Mimeograph machine.

Currently in Montreal, Ralph is still all over the pop culture map. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Kevin Rowland

Kevin Rowland (1953) is a British singer and musician best known as the frontman for the pop band Dexys Midnight Runners (currently called Dexys).

The band had several hits in the early 1980s, the most notable being "Geno" and "Come On Eileen", both of which reached number one on the UK Singles Chart.

Many of the group's songs were inspired by Rowland's Irish ancestry and were recognisable through Rowland's idiosyncratic vocal style.

Kevin Rowland & Madeleine Hyland

When Dexys disbanded in 1987, Rowland recorded a solo album, The Wanderer, which, together with its three singles, was a commercial failure. His next release was not until 1999 when he recorded a collection of interpretations of classic songs called My Beauty, a record mocked by the music press at the time for the choice of songs, Rowland’s earnest delivery and, above all else, the fact he chose to wear stockings and a pearl necklace for the cover image.

Before his music career, Rowland worked as a hairdresser.

Monday, May 29, 2023

Charles Ferdinand Ramuz

Charles Ferdinand Ramuz (1878 –1947) was a French-speaking Swiss writer.

Ramuz was born and educated in Lausanne in the canton of Vaud. He taught briefly in nearby Aubonne, and then in Weimar, Germany. In 1903, he left for Paris and remained there until World War I. As part of his studies in Paris he wrote a thesis on the poet Maurice de Guérin. In 1903, he published Le petit village, a collection of poems.

In 1914, he returned to Switzerland. He wrote the libretto for Igor Stravinsky's Histoire du soldat.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Xiang-Ping Li is a Professor at the ECNU School of Social Development, Head of the Department of Sociology, and Director of the Center on Religion and Society at East China Normal University.

Dr. Li also holds many academic and professional positions, including being a board member of the Society of Religion in China and Vice President of the Society of Religion in Shanghai, among others.

Saturday, May 27, 2023

Wang Ruowang (王若望)

Wang Ruowang (1918 –2001) was a Chinese author and dissident who was imprisoned various times for political reasons by both the Kuomintang and the Communist government of China for advocating reform and liberalization.

He was most commonly known by his pen name, "Ruowang", as a prolific essayist and literary critic.

Wang was a member of the Chinese Communist Party from 1937 to 1957, when he was expelled for holding "rightist views". He rejoined the Communist Party 1979, but in 1987 he was again expelled by Deng Xiaoping for promoting "bourgeois liberalization".

After his death in exile in New York City, he was widely eulogized as one of the Chinese government's most significant social and political critics.

Friday, May 26, 2023


Not much background on these dollar notes, or "Military Payment Certificate" as they were called.

Only for use in United States military establishments - by United States authorized personnel in accordance with applicable rules and regulations.

Nice to see a beret on a dollar bill though! 

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Hillel Furstenberg

Hillel (Harry) Furstenberg was born to German Jews in Nazi Germany, in 1935 (originally named "Fürstenberg").

In 1939, shortly after Kristallnacht, his family escaped to the United States and settled in New York City, escaping the Holocaust. Furstenberg is a mathematician and professor emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities and U.S. National Academy of Sciences and a laureate of the Abel Prize and the Wolf Prize in Mathematics.

Furstenberg gained attention at an early stage in his career for producing an innovative topological proof of the infinitude of prime numbers in 1955.

Thanks Frans

Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Field Leveling

The secrets and history of field leveling.

Not just in beret, but a good sample of 'bleu de France' workwear.

Tuesday, May 23, 2023


There was a time that any self-respecting Roman Catholic priest wore a Basque beret...

Monday, May 22, 2023

Anthony "Spice" Adams

Anthony "Spice" Adams (1980) is an American television host, actor, comedian, and former football defensive tackle.

After playing college football for Penn State, he was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the second round of the 2003 NFL Draft, for whom he played four seasons, followed by the Chicago Bears from 2007 to 2011.

After his playing career, he became involved in social media and television. He is now a co-host of The Great American Baking Show, the American adaptation of the popular Great British Bake Off.

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Suspenders / Braces

Suspenders (American, Canadian English), or braces (British, Australian English) are fabric or leather straps worn over the shoulders to hold up skirts or trousers. The straps may be elasticated, either entirely or only at attachment ends, and most straps are of woven cloth forming an X or Y shape at the back.

There have been several precursors to suspenders throughout the past 300 years, but modern suspenders were first popularised as "braces" in 1822 by a London haberdasher Albert Thurston. They were once almost universally worn, due to the high cut of mid-nineteenth and early twentieth century skirts and trousers that made a belt impractical.

During the nineteenth century, suspenders were sometimes called galluses. Samuel Clemens, known for his work as the author Mark Twain, patented "Adjustable and Detachable Straps for Garments" (ADSG), becoming one of the first to receive a United States patent for suspenders in 1871.

After losing popularity during World War I, when men became accustomed to uniform belts, suspenders were still regular attire throughout the 1920s.

Life magazine stated in 1938 that 60% of American men chose belts over suspenders. Though the return of fuller-cut trousers in the 1940s revived suspenders, they did not dominate over belts again to the same extent. However, in the UK they remained the norm to wear with suits and dress trousers.