Monday, 17 November 2014


“The long unmeasured pulse of time moves everything. There is nothing hidden that it cannot bring to light, nothing once known that may not become unknown.” – Sophocles

Haiti - Vertieres’ Day. Latvia - Independence Day (since 1918). Morocco - Independence Day. Oman - National Day.

Today is the anniversary of the birth of:
Carl Maria von Weber, composer (1786);
Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, pioneer photographer (1789);
W.S. Gilbert, writer of Gilbert and Sullivan fame (1836);
Amelita Galli-Gurci, soprano (1889);
Eugene Ormandy, conductor (1899);
George H. Gallup, of poll fame (1901);
Alan B. Sheppard, US astronaut (1923);
Mickey Mouse, cartoon brainchild of Walt Disney (1928);
Margaret Attwood, writer (1939);
Brenda Vaccaro, US actress (1939);
David Hemmings, actor (1941);
Linda Evans, US actress (1942).

The wild asparagus, Asparagus officinalis, is the plant for birthdays falling on this day.  The name could be related to the Greek word aspartos = “not sown, growing wild”.  It is also known as sparrow-grass or sporage, the long Greek word being anglicised so that the Anglo-Saxon tongue would not trip and fall over itself!  The shoots of the plant have been eaten from ancient times and many of the ancient writers (Pliny and Cato for example) wax lyrically over the virtues of this vegetable.  The Elizabethans considered it an aphrodisiac.  Herbalists prescribed asparagus boiled in broth as a laxative and boiled in white wine as a diuretic.  The asparagus symbolises beauty complemented by brains.  It is under the astrological dominion of Jupiter.

Haiti won independence from France in The Battle of Vertières, on November 18th, 1803. The site is now part of an historical monument in the northern city of Cap Haitien. A national holiday, The Battle of Vertières Day is celebrated each year on November 18th. In 2011 a crowd of over 200,000 Haitians gathered to celebrate and hear Haitian President Michel Martelly deliver a speech at the monument site. The Battle of Vertières marked the first time in recorded history that slaves successfully led a revolution for their freedom. Less than two months after the battle, Haiti became the first black independent republic.

The Republic of Latvia was founded on 18 November 1918. However, its de facto independence was interrupted at the outset of World War II. In 1940, the country was forcibly incorporated into the Soviet Union, invaded and occupied by Nazi Germany in 1941, and re-occupied by the Soviets in 1944 to form the Latvian SSR for the next fifty years. The peaceful Singing Revolution, starting in 1987, called for Baltic emancipation of Soviet rule. It ended with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, and Latvia declared the restoration of its de facto independence on 21 August 1991.

Carl Maria Friedrich Ernst von Weber (1786–1826,) was a German composer who is considered to be the founder of German romantic opera. He wrote 10 operas, including Der Freischütz (1821) and Oberon (1826). Among his instrumental works is the popular Invitation to the Dance (1819).

Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (18 November 1787 – 10 July 1851) was a French artist and photographer, recognised for his invention of the daguerreotype process of photography. He became known as one of the fathers of photography. Though he is most famous for his contributions to photography, he was also an accomplished painter and a developer of the diorama theatre. Daguerre’s name is one of the 72 names inscribed on the Eiffel tower.

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