Friday, May 30, 2014

OXFORD: Gargoyles and Grotesques

A "grotesque" at New College
who seems to despair
at what he sees.
All over Oxford are buildings with gargoyles or "grotesques".

The difference between them, don't you know, is that a "grotesque" doesn't spout water.

Some are in the shape of faces, some are animals, some are entire people. 

Look carefully and you will find some of them engaged in unexpected (for sculptures) activities such as nose-picking, or bladder relief.

You can buy a book on the subject, Gargoyles and Grotesques, for five pounds sterling, as of the last time I checked the price, plus postage.

Oxford Today has today, May 30, 2014, picked up this thread today with major coverage.

Another source, for information on gargoyle sculptors in the United States, is American Gargoyles, which provides photos of winged griffins, fallen angels, and damned souls of Washington's National Cathedral, the Woolworth Building, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, Tribune Tower in Chicago, Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, and other buildings.

The Oxford Gargoyles are also, by the way, a jazz a capella singing group.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

BLOG VIEWS: 35K–most viewed posts

The Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race Dinner blogsite has had 35,000 look-ins.

The most-viewed posts are on
(1) why Hitler gave orders not to bomb Oxford (more than 2,500 views) and
(2) my obituary of Peter Darrow last year (more than 1,000 views).

Most readers are in the USA. Next is UK. In third place, Germany.

Thank you for reading this blog.

Monday, May 26, 2014

SLAVERY: USA Before 1776 (Superseded)

(This post has been superseded by one on June 24, 2014, here.)

Slave traders. Benjamin Franklin argued that slavery
in the West Indies was immoral, but not such much
in the American mainland colonies. Slavery themes
were applied to relations between colonies and Britain.
I just acquired a book by historian David Waldstreicher called Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery and the American Revolution (Hill and Wang, division of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2004).

It was an eye-opener for me. It shows that Franklin himself was a runaway, from a despotic brother and father and the contract that they signed with him binding him to work for them. Yet Franklin relied on slave labor at home and in his business and his newspaper relied heavily on advertising from slave auctioneers and from slaveowners pursuing runaways.

Waldstreicher's book could be considered a guide to omissions and errors in Franklin's Autobiography. It therefore falls into the category of a debunking history, useful because it helps explain how slavery was treated in pre-Revolutionary America.

We know that after the Revolution, historians give great credit to the abolitionists who, in due course, stirred up emotions on both sides that precipitated the Civil War. Benjamin Franklin is counted among these abolitionists.

But before the Revolution, Franklin was much less activist on the subject of slavery within mainland American colonies. Before the Revolution, antagonism toward slaveowners emerged in a roundabout way. The 1764 revenue tax on French and Dutch sugar benefited British plantation owners. They were able to raise their prices, at the expense of people living in the mainland colonies. At the time, the British Parliament considered the West Indies a far more profitable part of the world for them than the mainland, and the objections of the mainlanders, represented in England by Franklin among others, did not get much of a hearing.

The reaction back home of those in the colonies was one of outrage at both Parliament and the "nabob" plantation owners in the West Indies. One form it took was opposition to slavery–opposition to slavery in the plantations and opposition to the slavery of the colonies to the mother country. It did not mean questioning the existence of slavery in the colonies, where the concentration of power and money was not as great as in the West Indies.

Franklin and other leaders in the colonies–Steven Hopkins, Governor of Rhode Island, and James Otis, a writer who pushed the anti-slavery arguments to the extreme–painted a picture of all residents of the colonies being slaves to the British crown and Parliament.

The Revolutionary spirit did not precede the antislavery argument, as has often been taught. Instead, the Revolution can be said to have emerged from taking antislavery arguments applied to the wealthy British West Indies slaveowners and applying them to the relations between the colonies and the mother country.  (Waldstreicher, pp. 177-179.)

So the pre-Revolutionary colonies were antislavery relative to the West Indies, their leaders took the view that "slaves, or their labor, was unimportant in mainland America" (Waldstreicher, p. 180). Their sugar slavers were evil, whereas the colonies were slaveowners in some kind of moderation, and were okay.

Benjamin Franklin maintained a dialog on slavery issues in Britain with David Hume, William Pitt, Lord Mansfield, Lord Hillsborough, William Knox and Samuel Johnson. Franklin is described as being "downright crafty" in making the case for the innocence of the American colonies. In England, Franklin shifted his focus on the labor of the American colonies to the importance of the land in contributing to British welfare, while insisting that Americans "are not, never were, nor ever will be [Britain's] slaves."

Franklin was supported by former Prime Minister William Pitt (alumnus of Trinity College, Oxford), who in retirement opposed the taxes and echoed Franklin's argument that the American colonists  were not slaves of the British. Pitt was a hero to Americans because his soldiers had chased the French and their Indian allies from the colonies during the Seven Years ("French and Indian") War.

Slavery was "present at the creation" of the United States, but not in a way that we might remember accurately without Waldstreicher's parsing. A worthwhile point to make.

Comment (added June 3, 2014)

Waldstreicher could have added some numbers that would have helped Benjamin Franklin make his case regarding the difference between slavery in the American colonies and in the Caribbean and Brazil. Slavery in the colonies was horrible, but slavery in the other places was even more horrible.

One source says that 12 million slaves were brought from Africa to the Americas during the most active decades of the slave trade. During that entire period, 287,000 slaves were brought to the North American colonies. Most of the 11.7 million other slaves were sold in the Caribbean Islands and Brazil, where they had a short life expectancy with no family life and needed, in the blind language of the time, to be "replenished". In the United States, slaves in homes and on farms usually were given their own places to live, and they often were allowed to have children, and their life expectancy was for the most part much higher than in the other parts of the continent where slaves were used.

In the 17th century, the colonies imported 21,000 slaves. In the 18th century up to 1760, 189,000 slaves were imported. In the 1760s, another 63,000. In the 1770s, another 15,000

Friday, May 16, 2014

OXFORD SPORT: May 6–Roger Bannister Runs 4-Minute Mile

Sir Roger Bannister–breaking the 4-minute barrier in
1954–and recently in an interview.
May 13, 2014–In 1954, 60 years ago, Roger Bannister was the first person ever recorded as running a mile under four minutes. The record was set on the Oxford University track.

As Sir Roger says in an interview for Oxford Today, it was the year after Mt. Everest had been climbed (on May 29, 1953), and Queen Elizabeth II was newly  crowned, and Britain was looking for new challenges.

At the time, some doctors feared that the four-minute floor would be defeated only at the cost of the runner's life. The 1954 Pathé news clip looks as thought that could have been the case!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

OBIT: Jerry Goodman ("Adam Smith") Memorial

George J. W. ("Jerry") Goodman, aka
"Adam Smith", Rhodes Scholar 1952
Yesterday's vivid memorial service in New York City for George Jerome Waldo ("Jerry") Goodman will stick with me as a reminder of how such events should be conducted. Goodman died on January 3 this year at the University of Miami Hospital, after a long effort to fend off the bone-marrow disorder myelofibrosis.

Goodman was elected a Rhodes Scholar from Missouri in 1952, but resigned from residence at Oxford University because of plumbing and padlocks at Brasenose College.

His moniker "Adam Smith" was reportedly given to him by Clay Felker when he was editing New York Magazine, to preserve Goodman's anonymity as he tried to stay in the business while pillorying it. Goodman said others have also claimed credit. Later, Goodman used the nom-de-plume for his wildly popular books about Wall Street and then as a trademark for a widely praised show on economics for the general public.

Goodman was born in St. Louis on August 10 (same date as my wife Alice's birthday), 1930. He was the son of Alexander Mark Goodman, an attorney, and Viona Cremer Goodman. Jerry Goodman's officemate and friend, Craig Drill, has written a testimony to the public-spiritedness of Alexander Goodman in the attached comments at the memorial service.

Jerry Goodman attended Harvard College, graduating magna cum laude in 1952, and was an editor of The Harvard Crimson. Goodman won a Rhodes Scholarship to Brasenose College, Oxford, where he studied political economy. However, he quit the college before the end of the first year of his scholarship. As his son Mark put it to me yesterday:
He liked the people at Oxford, but he did not like the facilities. He said: "I never want to take another cold shower ever again." He also didn't like the fact that the college gates were locked every night and he had to climb over to walls to get back in.
Instead of a thesis at Oxford, he spent his time writing a novel, The Bubble Makers, published in 1955, about a Harvard student in conflict with his grandfather. He wrote several other novels and a book for children.

In 1954, he joined the US Army First Special Forces (later called the "Green Berets") in the Intelligence Group known as Psywar (psychological warfare).

In 1961, Goodman married an actress from Phoenix, Sally Cullen Brophy, who had a full Broadway and television acting career in the 1950s and 1960s. When she retired from acting, they moved to Princeton. She taught theater arts at local universities. She died of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in 2007. Their two children, Susannah and Mark, both spoke at the memorial service, with warm words for Goodman's participation in their childhood activities, and an emphasis on the music that they shared a love for.

Goodman pioneered a style of financial writing that made the language and concepts of Wall Street more understandable and accessible to the typical investor. He was founding editor of Institutional Investor in the second half of the 1960s, and in the process transformed financial writing. Michael Lewis at his best is channeling Goodman. The first non-fiction book that Goodman wrote, The Money Game, was published in 1968 when he was at Institutional Investor and was soon Number 1 on the bestseller list. A colleague who was at the Harvard Business School at the time told me after the memorial service yesterday:
It is hard to imagine the impact that Adam Smith and the book had on B School students at the time. When the first piece about "Red-Dogged Motorola" came out in New York Magazine, we rushed out to get on the phone. We got early copies of The Money Game and we couldn't get enough of Scarsdale Fats and the other characters.
In the book he memorably introduced the joke that ends with an economist on a desert island proposing to two fellow storm survivors faced with cans they can't open: "Assume a can opener". His point was to make fun of economists who make unwarranted assumptions.

His love of music, and especially opera, led him to interview Placido Domingo, during a period when he was singing in Wagner's Ring Cycle at the Met. Jerry showed him why so many Americans know the Ride of the Valkyries theme - Elmer Fudd, bedecked in a Teutonic helmet and plunging a shovel in the ground as he goes, sings it as he chases Bugs Bunny from hole to hole: "Kill Da Waabbit, Kill Da WAAAbbit, Kill Da WAAABit... etc." After they watch the clip, Jerry sings the theme again, and Placido Domingo lustily joins in. A cartoonist celebrated Jerry's 70th birthday with a picture of Lincoln Center lights advertising the duet - "Placido Domingo/Adam Smith sing KILL DA WABBIT".

I met Jerry through my fellow Trinity College, Oxford alumnus Ham Richardson, the late Louisiana-born top-ranked tennis great who moved to New York City after his tennis career was over to participate in venture capital and other Wall Street deals. We got talking about the British Empire, Rudyard Kipling, The Just-So Stories that we both loved (done up by Disney as The Jungle Book) and then the "great grey-green greasy banks of the Limpopo River, all set about with fever trees." Jerry said the Limpopo River was in the Congo, and I said that didn't make sense, Kipling was writing about South Africa, and I said the my recollection was that the Limpopo ran through the top of the eastern end of South Africa. He was interested, and bet me $10 that I was wrong. So we Googled it on our iPhones (actually, no - it took a while for us to get an Atlas in Ham's library, and find the river), and when he saw I was right he immediately handed over a $10 bill with no hesitation. Not as exciting a betting amount as the one that starts Liar's Poker, but Jerry got something he seemed always willing to pay something for - good information. I saw him many time after that and we always updated each other in a bantering tone.

During a stint in Hollywood, he wrote screenplays, including an adaption from one of his novels,  The Wheeler Dealers (still a good flick), starring James Garner and Lee Remick.

He was a member of the Editorial Board of The New York Times, an editor of Esquire Magazine, a writer for Fortune, and a founding member of New York magazine.  In 1984, PBS television launched him as the anchor and editor-in-chief of Adam Smith's Money World, which won eight Emmy nominations and five of its Awards. The program was aired in more than 40 countries and the Soviet Union ran a Russian-language-dubbed edition, doubtless watched by a young Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, who was born the year that Goodman was elected a Rhodes Scholar.  Goodman interviewed, among others, Warren Buffett and (in Moscow) Mikhail Gorbachev.

The family suggests donations in memory of Jerry Goodman be sent to two research programs for the cure of Myeloproliferative Disorders: (1) Robert Rosen, Chairman, MPN Research Foundation, 180 N. Michigan Avenue, #1870, Chicago, IL 60601 (or online, or (2) The Tisch Cancer Research Institute, Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, One Gustave L. Levy Place, Box 1079, New York, NY 10029.

Here are links to some memorable obituaries of Jerry Goodman:
Jason Zweig, in the Wall Street Journal, who provides some of the original comments that Goodman was most famous for.
Douglas Martin, New York Times.
Martin Sosnoff, Forbes
Other good ones? Tell me at

April 30, 2014

Jerry and I were friends for almost forty years. Over the last two decades, we were officemates, sharing soup and sandwiches regularly.    

Jerry was raised in St. Louis at the end of the Great Depression. He told me that his father, Alexander Goodman, a lawyer, never made much money because he chose instead to take on cases and causes that he believed in.

Alexander once represented a farmer whose dog had been killed by a train. The attorney for the railroad asserted: “The dog was on our tracks, and, anyway, what is the value of a dog?”  

Well, Alexander’s answer was one of eloquence: “What is the value of a dog?  What is the value of a dog? Who wakes with the farmer before the break of day? Who toils daily beside his master in winter’s cold and summer’s heat? And who, when the farmer has gone to his final resting place, by the grave site, sits, refusing to leave, his muzzle between his paws?”

The farmer won his case. And Jerry’s father’s words were published in the holiday card sent around by the St. Louis Bar Association.  Now we know from whence came Jerry’s story-telling ability! 

Jerry entered his early teens during World War II and always had a special interest in military history.  He rarely spoke about his time as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, but told many stories about his time in the US Army First Special Forces Group.  His favorite World War II hero was Ernest Evans, a mixed-blood Cherokee, who, as Captain of a destroyer in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, repeatedly attacked, against all odds, the Imperial Japanese Fleet.  

Of his time at Harvard, Jerry talked mostly about writing for The Crimson. Moreover, he was thrilled to have been accepted into a small seminar on modern poetry led by Pulitzer Prize winner Archibald MacLeish. 

He enjoyed singing in the Glee Club and had a solo in one Christmas concert, which he later sang out to our office with gusto.  But he truly “sang his song” as a writer.  

Through the prism of humor, he helped us to better understand ourselves (sort of), as well as this sport -- and addiction -- called the modern stock market.  He had an uncanny ability to tell the real from the phony, even though the phony for many of us has glittering attractions.  

Jerry was proud to have coined some memorable words and phrases.  “Gunslingers,” a term for aggressive money managers from his classic, The Money Game, was one of his favorites. Some of his unforgettable phrases have found a permanent place in Wall Street vernacular, among these: “The stock doesn’t know you own it” and “If you don’t know who you are, the stock market is an expensive place to find out.”  

And he was proud of some of the images he created, among them the partygoers at the Masque of the Red Death ball -- money managers in the frothy “go-go” years -- asking, “What time is it?  What time is it?  But the clocks had no hands.”  

And he was gratified that his pioneering “Adam Smith’s Money World” -- which ran for 13 years on PBS -- won five coveted Emmy Awards and that his popular Goodman Lectures at Princeton on Media and Global Affairs had to be moved to larger auditoriums.  At the tail end of the dot-com bubble, Jerry, Mark, and I started, which was a tremendous success in terms of fun and for father and son to work together.

Jerry was a polymath, a Renaissance man. He would take our lunch discussions from the Coptic-language Gospel of Thomas to his meeting with Günter Schabowski, the portly spokesman for the East German Politburo whose comments on TV -- inadvertently -- helped to bring down the Berlin Wall. 

Invariably, at our lunches, Jerry could not refrain from talking about investing and stocks. “Why is John Hancock so cheap?” “Is Continental Airlines going bankrupt again?” Jerry did his homework, and to better understand the biotech stocks, he actually went back to Princeton and audited two courses.

Despite many financial successes and fame, he never changed homes. He certainly never behaved ostentatiously or arrogantly. Jerry was destined to become a carrier of our culture, not just a passive observer, articulating with grace and wit the voice within us that knows what is right…as his father had done.

Jerry often bragged about Susannah and Mark, and it was evident how much he loved them. Beaming with pride, he showed me photographs of his granddaughters, Sophie, Lily, and Leah, who brought him great joy. Buying a condo in Coconut Grove was a big step for him, and he enjoyed going down to the warmth and the sea, along with Lynda, his loving partner, and his family.  

Jerry and I fell into the habit of reciting evocative poetry. Just a few months before his own death, as he was saddened by the loss of two close friends, Jerry read aloud Stanley Kunitz’s “The Layers.” As he read it, I could see the young man in Archibald MacLeish’s poetry class and, now, the older man with the courage of Captain Ernest Evans.  He felt this poem was a spiritual testament to what it is to be human.

THE LAYERS - Stanley Kunitz
I have walked through many lives,
some of them my own,
and I am not who I was,
though some principle of being
abides, from which I struggle
not to stray.

When I look behind,
as I am compelled to look
before I can gather strength
to proceed on my journey,
I see the milestones dwindling
toward the horizon
and the slow fires trailing
from the abandoned camp-sites,
over which scavenger angels
wheel on heavy wings.

Oh, I have made myself a tribe
out of my true affections,
and my tribe is scattered!

How shall the heart be reconciled
to its feast of losses?

In a rising wind
the manic dust of my friends,
those who fell along the way,
bitterly stings my face.

Yet I turn, I turn,
exulting somewhat,
with my will intact to go
wherever I need to go,
and every stone on the road
precious to me.

In my darkest night,
when the moon was covered
and I roamed through wreckage,
a nimbus-clouded voice
directed me:

Live in the layers,
not on the litter.

Though I lack the art
to decipher it,
no doubt the next chapter
in my book of transformations
is already written. 

I am not done with my changes.