Monday, September 18, 2017

Avoid Praising Smart Kids

Kids Praised for Being Smart
Are More Likely to Cheat
By Inga Kiderra, University of California San Diego

September 17, 2017 -- An international team of researchers reports that when children are praised for being smart not only are they quicker to give up in the face of obstacles they are also more likely to be dishonest and cheat. Kids as young as age 3 appear to behave differently when told “You are so smart” vs “You did very well this time.”

The study, published in Psychological Science, is co-authored by Gail Heyman of the University of California San Diego, Kang Lee of the University of Toronto, and Lulu Chen and Li Zhao of Hangzhou Normal University in China.

The research builds on well-known work by Stanford’s Carol Dweck, author of “Mindset,” who has shown that praising a child’s innate ability instead of the child's effort or a specific behavior has the unintended consequence of reducing their motivation to learn and their ability to deal with setbacks.

The present study shows there’s also a moral dimension to different kinds of praise and that it affects children at younger ages than previously known. Even the kindergarten and preschool set seem to be sensitive to subtle differences in praise.

“It’s common and natural to tell children how smart they are,” said co-author Gail Heyman, a development psychologist at UC San Diego. “Even when parents and educators know that it harms kids’ achievement motivation, it’s still easy to do. What our study shows is that the harm can go beyond motivation and extend to the moral domain.  It makes a child more willing to cheat in order to do well.”

For their study the researchers asked 300 children in Eastern China to play a guessing game using number cards. In total, there were 150 3-year-olds and 150 5-year-olds. The children were either praised for being smart or for their performance. A control group got no praise at all. After praising the children and getting them to promise not to cheat, the researcher left the room for a minute in the middle of the game. The kids’ subsequent behavior was monitored by a hidden camera, which recorded who got out of their seat or leaned over to get a peek at the numbers.  

Results suggest that both the 3- and 5-year-olds who’d been praised for being smart were more likely to act dishonestly than the ones praised for how well they did or those who got no praise at all. The results were the same for boys and girls.

In another study, published recently in Developmental Science, the same co-authors show that the consequences are similar even when children are not directly praised for their smarts but are merely told that they have a reputation for being smart.

Why? The researchers believe that praising ability is tied to performance pressure in a way that praising behavior isn’t. When children are praised for being smart or are told that they have reputation for it, said co-author Li Zhao of Hangzhou Normal University, "they feel pressure to perform well in order to live up to others' expectations, even if they need to cheat to do so."

Co-author Kang Lee, of the University of Toronto’s Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, emphasized the take-away for the adults in kids’ lives: “We want to encourage children. We want them to feel good about themselves. But these studies show we must learn to give children the right kinds of praise, such as praising specific behavior. Only in this way will praise have the intended positive outcomes.” 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Singapore's Unvoted President

The Singaporean presidential election of 2017 was the fifth Singaporean presidential election. It was held to elect the successor of the previous President of Singapore, Tony Tan, whose term expired on 31 August 2017. Following amendments to the Constitution of Singapore, the election was the first to be reserved for a particular racial group under a hiatus-triggered model. The 2017 election was reserved for candidates from the minority Malay community, who had not held the presidential office since 1970.

The close of nominations was on 13 September, and polling would have been held on 23 September if two or more candidates were eligible to stand. In accordance with the strict criteria laid out in the national constitution, the Elections Department declared Halimah Yacob to be the only eligible presidential candidate on 11 September. Halimah was consequently declared president-elect on 13 September, and was inaugurated as the eighth President of Singapore the following day.

Background of Singapore Presidency

The President is the head of state of Singapore. Following the Westminster system, the position is largely ceremonial, but enjoys several reserve powers including withholding presidential assent on supply bills and changing or revoking civil service appointments. The current system of holding elections for the Presidency began with the 1993 election, with the election of Ong Teng Cheong. Before then, the President was selected by Parliament.

There are strict requirements for prospective presidential election candidates, and whether a candidate meets the qualifications or not is decided by the Presidential Elections Committee (PEC), who are given the task of issuing a certificate of eligibility (COE) to prospective candidates.

The Presidency is, by the rules of the Constitution, required to be nonpartisan.

Parliamentary Reforms

In his speech to Parliament on 27 January 2016, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that it was timely to review the eligibility criteria of the Elected Presidency. On 10 February 2016, a Constitutional Commission consisting of nine individuals and chaired by Chief Justice Sundaresh Menon was formed. In its report released on 7 September 2016, the Commission recommended the following key changes:

  1. The election should be reserved for a racial group if it is not represented for five terms, or 30 years. If there are no eligible candidates from that group, the election would be opened to candidates of all races, and the "reserved election" would be deferred to the next Presidential election.
  2. The Council of Presidential Advisers (CPA) should be increased from six to eight members, with two alternate members. The President would have to consult the CPA on all monetary issues related to the financial reserves and all key public service appointments.
  3. A qualifying candidate from the private sector should be a senior executive managing a company with at least S$500 million in shareholders' equity. Previously, such a candidate had to be a chairman or CEO of a company with at least S$100 million in paid-up capital.
  4. For qualifying candidates from both the public and private sectors, the length of time that the candidate has held office should be doubled to six years.
  5. The public sector offices of Accountant-General and Auditor-General should be removed from automatic qualification.
  6. An applicant's entire qualifying tenure should fall within a 15-year period preceding Nomination Day.

The government announced in a White Paper published on 15 September 2016 that it has broadly accepted the recommendations, including the first three changes above. The government did not accept the three other proposed changes, preferring to adopt a "cautious" approach given the other concurrent changes to other aspects of eligibility criteria. On 8 November 2016, PM Lee, under the advice from Attorney-General, announced that the 2017 Presidential Election will be reserved for candidates from the Malay community.

The rules for campaigning have also been modified. Rally sites will no longer be designated for the candidates. All candidates are required to apply for police permit on their own to hold a rally. Also, candidates are required to sign a statutory declaration to affirm that they understand the roles of a President. These rules are purportedly made to ensure that the candidates campaign in a "dignified" manner.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Biochemical Cofactors

A cofactor is a non-protein chemical compound or metallic ion that is required for a protein's biological activity to happen. These proteins are commonly enzymes, and cofactors can be considered "helper molecules" that assist in biochemical transformations. The rates at which this happen are characterized by enzyme kinetics.

Cofactors can be subclassified as either inorganic ions or complex organic molecules called coenzymes, the latter of which is mostly derived from vitamins and other organic essential nutrients in small amounts. A coenzyme that is tightly or even covalently bound is termed a prosthetic group. Cosubstrates are transiently bound to the protein and will be released at some point, then get back in. The prosthetic groups, on the other hand, are bound permanently to the protein. Both of them have the same function, which is to facilitate the reaction of enzymes and protein. Additionally, some sources also limit the use of the term "cofactor" to inorganic substances. An inactive enzyme without the cofactor is called an apoenzyme, while the complete enzyme with cofactor is called a holoenzyme.

Some enzymes or enzyme complexes require several cofactors. For example, the multienzyme complex pyruvate dehydrogenase at the junction of glycolysis and the citric acid cycle requires five organic cofactors and one metal ion: loosely bound thiamine pyrophosphate (TPP), covalently bound lipoamide and flavin adenine dinucleotide (FAD), and the cosubstrates nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+) and coenzyme A (CoA), and a metal ion (Mg2+).

Organic cofactors are often vitamins or made from vitamins. Many contain the nucleotide adenosine monophosphate (AMP) as part of their structures, such as ATP, coenzyme A, FAD, and NAD+. This common structure may reflect a common evolutionary origin as part of ribozymes in an ancient RNA world. It has been suggested that the AMP part of the molecule can be considered to be a kind of "handle" by which the enzyme can "grasp" the coenzyme to switch it between different catalytic centers.

Classification of Cofactors

Cofactors can be divided into two broad groups: organic cofactors, such as flavin or heme, and inorganic cofactors, such as the metal ions Mg2+, Cu+, Mn2+, or iron-sulfur clusters.

Organic cofactors are sometimes further divided into coenzymes and prosthetic groups. The term coenzyme refers specifically to enzymes and, as such, to the functional properties of a protein. On the other hand, "prosthetic group" emphasizes the nature of the binding of a cofactor to a protein (tight or covalent) and, thus, refers to a structural property. Different sources give slightly different definitions of coenzymes, cofactors, and prosthetic groups. Some consider tightly bound organic molecules as prosthetic groups and not as coenzymes, while others define all non-protein organic molecules needed for enzyme activity as coenzymes, and classify those that are tightly bound as coenzyme prosthetic groups. It should be noted that these terms are often used loosely.

A 1979 letter in Trends in Biochemical Sciences noted the confusion in the literature and the essentially arbitrary distinction made between prosthetic groups and coenzymes and proposed the following scheme. Here, cofactors were defined as an additional substance apart from protein and substrate that is required for enzyme activity and a prosthetic group as a substance that undergoes its whole catalytic cycle attached to a single enzyme molecule. However, the author could not arrive at a single all-encompassing definition of a "coenzyme" and proposed that this term be dropped from use in the literature.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Short Robot Documentary

Humans Need Not Apply is a 2014 short Internet documentary film, directed, produced, written, and edited by CGP Grey. The film focuses on the future of the integration of automation into economics, as well as the impact of this integration to the worldwide workforce. It was released online as a YouTube video [link below].

Premise

The film focuses on the topic of robots' rapidly increasing usefulness through human society, discussing how automation will lead to a future where human labour is no longer required. The film's title is a play on Irish need not apply, a phrase said to be used on job postings in the 19th century.

Early on, an analogy is made describing how humans once displaced horses from their jobs (by creating mechanical muscles such as automobiles), dismissing the argument that humans will always find new work, seeing as horses are not nearly as much used now. This analogy finishes by connecting the creation of mechanical minds, or "brain labor", will lead to robots ousting humans out of their occupations. Grey also discusses how economics is the force behind a future based upon automation.  Grey concludes by stating that 45% of the workforce could be replaced by bots, a figure which is inclusive of professional, white-collar, and low-skill occupations, and higher than the 25% unemployment figure of the Great Depression. Grey further states that even creative occupations are not secure, mentioning the included bot-composed music in the background of his video.

Additionally, the viewer is reminded that the short film is not discussing or portraying a future based upon science fiction, using examples such as Baxter, self-driving cars (referred to as autos in the film) and IBM's Watson.

Production and Funding

The film was funded through Subbable, a crowdfunding website. Grey used this website as a means to support his projects, before moving to Subbable's successor Patreon.

Reception

Humans Need Not Apply was covered by several publications, including Business Insider, The Huffington Post, and Forbes. Coverage of the video complimented its presentation, calling the video "well-produced". These publications also praised its premise, calling it "thought-provoking", and "compelling", but also maintaining that the points and topics brought up in the video were "terrifying". Bruce Kasanoff of Forbes commented that the video was "sobering," and "suggests, in a convincing fashion, that many human jobs will disappear over the coming years, because automation will do them faster, better, and cheaper." After a few days of release, the video reached one million views. As of June 2017, Humans Need Not Apply has reached over 8.7 million views.


= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

The 15 minute video is on YouTube at:

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Two Wise Contrarians

Two Stock Market Contrarians
on WolfStreet.com Speaketh

[Comments made to a WolfStreet article]

#1 Gershon

Sep 10, 2017 at 9:04 pm

Since the 1990s the physical economy – as distinct from Wall Street’s speculative casino – has been systematically pillaged and asset-stripped by the oligarchy. Not surprisingly, something like 80% of the volume on these rigged, broken, manipulated markets are high-frequency algos buying and selling to each other. As the middle class becomes more pauperized and sees its purchasing power debased by the Fed’s deranged money printing and the inflation the Fed purports not to see, they are too busy paying bills to speculate in the market. The main driver for these ludicrous stock valuations has been corporate buybacks using borrowed money (which used to be illegal), with valuations completely divorced from any underlying fundamentals.

When and how will the Ponzi end? God only knows. The correlation between central bank balance sheets and “the markets” is close to 100%. As long as the fraudsters at the Fed and central banks keep buying stocks and bonds, the Ponzi will keep levitating. But at some point true price discovery is going to asset itself, and that will be cataclysmic for the central bankers debt-fueled asset bubbles. When the whole house of cards comes tumbling down, millions will be wiped out, but the fraudsters running our central banks for the exclusive benefit of their oligarch patrons might finally be arrested and hauled in front of an honest judge as a long-overdue first step toward ending the Fed and restoring sound money and honest markets.

o                                #2 ChrisM

Sep 10, 2017 at 9:31 pm

My response to this question is that back in 2000, it was the first bubble and people were not up-to-speed on market drops. Remember consulting for a VC funded company when told by their founders that they could always raise more money. That was February, 2000. Now that we lived through 3 bubbles, serious investors are more on their toes about the potential sharp downturn and private equity investors are more sensitive to valuations (in some cases, though 2000 valuations can be found today with a number of unicorns). This is the only time in history where you have seen 3 extreme bubbles in such a short time period.

If you look at crypto markets, people are making the same comments as your shoe shine guy. And look at the Australian and Canadian real estate markets, where valuations are through the roof. And then you have China, where there are trillions of yuan invested in non-productive assets. The last two bubbles were popped in the US, the next bubble will be popped from an overseas market that will then cascade into the US market.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

From Methane to Methanol

A Direct Path from Methane to Methanol

Lehigh University, September 7, 2017 -- In a study published today in Science, researchers from Lehigh and Cardiff University have demonstrated a promising approach to using colloidal gold-palladium nanoparticles to directly oxidize methane to methanol with high selectivity in aqueous solution at mild temperatures.

Liquid methanol is widely used as a feedstock for other chemicals and also has considerable potential as an alternative fuel source. However, converting methane—the primary component of abundant natural gas—into methanol is currently achieved by an indirect process which requires high heat and pressure.

Now researchers have discovered a new approach that allows the direct conversion of methane to methanol utilizing molecular oxygen under much milder reaction conditions.

A team led by Graham J. Hutchings at the Cardiff Catalysis Institute, and Christopher J. Kiely at Lehigh, used colloidal gold-palladium (Au-Pd) nanoparticles to directly oxidize methane to methanol with high selectivity in aqueous solution at low temperatures. Their findings were published in a Science article titled “Aqueous Au-Pd colloids catalyze selective CH4 oxidation to CH3OH with O2 under mild conditions.”

“Our work has shown that if a stable supply of methyl radicals can be established—for example, by incorporating a very small amount of hydrogen peroxide into the reaction mixture—then the selective oxidation of methane to methanol using molecular oxygen is entirely feasible,” said Kiely, the Harold B. Chambers Senior Professor of Materials Science and Chemical Engineering.

This latest discovery has been guided by Kiely’s and Hutchings’ longtime collaboration on developing Au-Pd nanoparticles as effective catalysts for many other reactions.

According to Kiely, the researchers were surprised to find that for this particular  reaction to proceed they needed the Au-Pd nanoparticles to exist as free-floating colloids in a very weak hydrogen peroxide solution into which they injected pressurized methane and oxygen gas.

“Usually when we use Au-Pd nanoparticles as catalysts they are nearly always dispersed on high surface area oxide supports such as titania,” said Kiely, who directs Lehigh’s Electron Microscopy and Nanofabrication Facility.

“In this case however, the presence of the ceramic support turned out to be highly detrimental.”

In the chemical industry methane is currently converted indirectly to methanol via the production of synthesis gas (carbon monoxide and hydrogen) at high temperatures and pressures, which is an expensive and energy intensive process. The most promising candidate processes discovered to date for the direct conversion of methane to methanol have tended to be complex, inefficient, and often require very high temperatures and aggressive reaction environments.

“The new simplified approach we have demonstrated brings us a step closer to making the direct conversion of methane to methanol a practically viable proposition,” said Kiely.

In addition to Hutchings and Kiely, the authors of the Science paper include Qian He, who earned his Ph.D. in materials science and engineering from Lehigh in 2013 and is now a University Research Fellow in the School of Chemistry at Cardiff University, and Sultan Althahban, a Ph.D. candidate in materials science and engineering at Lehigh.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Chinese Marshal Lin Biao

Lin Biao (December 5, 1907 – September 13, 1971) was a Marshal of the People's Republic of China who was pivotal in the Communist victory in the Chinese Civil War, especially in Northeast China. Lin was the general who commanded the decisive Liaoshen and Pingjin Campaigns, in which he co-led the Manchurian Field Army to victory and led the People's Liberation Army into Beijing. He crossed the Yangtze River in 1949, decisively defeated the Kuomintang and took control of the coastal provinces in Southeast China. He ranked third among the Ten Marshals. Zhu De and Peng Dehuai were considered senior to Lin, and Lin ranked directly ahead of He Long and Liu Bocheng.

                                                                Marshal Lin Baio
Lin abstained from taking an active role in politics after the civil war ceased in 1949. He led a section of the government's civil bureaucracy as one of the co-serving Deputy Vice Premiers of the People's Republic of China from 1954 onwards, becoming First-ranked Vice Premier from 1964. Lin became more active in politics when named one of the co-serving Vice Chairmen of the Communist Party of China in 1958. He held the three responsibilities of Vice Premier, Vice Chairman and Minister of National Defense from 1959 onwards. Lin became instrumental in creating the foundations for Mao Zedong's cult of personality in the early 1960s, and was rewarded for his service in the Cultural Revolution by being named Mao's designated successor as the sole Vice Chairman of the Communist Party of China, from 1969 until his death.

Lin died on September 13, 1971, when a Hawker Siddeley Trident he was aboard crashed in Öndörkhaan in Mongolia. The exact events of this "Lin Biao incident" have been a source of speculation ever since. The Chinese government's official explanation is that Lin and his family attempted to flee following a botched coup against Mao. Others have argued that they fled out of fear they would be purged, as Lin's relationship with other Communist Party leaders had soured in the final few years of his life. Following Lin's death, he was officially condemned as a traitor by the Communist Party. Since the late 1970s Lin, and Mao's wife Jiang Qing (with her Gang of Four) have been labeled the two major "counter-revolutionary forces" of the Cultural Revolution, receiving official blame from the Chinese government.

International View of the Official Chinese Explanation

The exact circumstances surrounding Lin's death remain unclear, due to a lack of surviving evidence. Many of the original government records relevant to Lin's death were secretly and intentionally destroyed, with the approval of the Politburo, during the brief period of Hua Guofeng's interregnum in the late 1970s. Among the records destroyed were telephone records, meeting minutes, personal notes, and desk diaries. The records, if they had survived, would have clarified the activities of Mao, Zhou Enlai, Jiang Qing, and Wang Dongxing relative to Lin, before and after Lin's death. Because of the destruction of government documentation related to Lin's death, the Chinese government has relied on alleged confessions of purged officials close to Lin to corroborate the official narrative, but non-Chinese scholars generally regard these confessions as unreliable.

Ever since 1971, scholars outside of China have been skeptical of the government's official explanation of the circumstances surrounding Lin's death. Skeptics assert that the official narrative does not sufficiently explain why Lin, one of Mao's closest supporters and one of the most successful Communist generals, would suddenly attempt a poorly planned, abortive coup. The government narrative also does not sufficiently explain how and why Lin's plane crashed. Skeptics have claimed that Lin's decision to flee to the Soviet Union was illogical, on the grounds that the United States or Taiwan would have been safer destinations.

Influential Western historians critical of the Chinese government's official story have promoted the view that Lin did not have either the intention or the ability to usurp Mao's place within the government or the Party. One theory attempted to explain Lin's flight and death by observing that Lin opposed China's rapprochement with the United States, which Zhou Enlai was organizing with Mao's approval. Because the Chinese government never produced evidence to support their report that Lin was on board the plane that crashed in Mongolia, Western scholars originally doubted that Lin had died in the crash. One book, published anonymously using a Chinese pseudonym in 1983, claimed that Mao had actually had Lin and his wife killed in Beijing, and that Lin Liguo had attempted to escape by air. Other scholars suggested that Mao had ordered the Chinese army to shoot down Lin's plane over Mongolia.

The Chinese government has no interest in re-evaluating its narrative on Lin Biao's death. When contacted for its comment on fresh evidence that surfaced on the Lin Biao incident after the Cold War, the Chinese Foreign Ministry stated: "China already has a clear, authoritative conclusion about the Lin Biao incident. Other foreign reports of a conjectural nature are groundless." Non-Chinese scholars interpreted China's reluctance to consider evidence that contradicts its "official" history as the result of a desire to avoid exploring any issue that may lead to criticism of Mao Zedong or a re-evaluation of the Cultural Revolution in general, which may distract China from pursuing economic growth.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Doppelganger: the Ghostly Twin

A doppelgänger or doppelga(e)nger (literally "double-goer") is a look-alike or double of a living person, sometimes portrayed as a ghostly or paranormal phenomenon and usually seen as a harbinger of bad luck. Other traditions and stories equate a doppelgänger with an evil twin. In modern times, the term twin stranger is occasionally used.

The word "doppelgänger" is often used in a more general and neutral sense to describe any person who physically or behaviorally resembles another person.

Mythology

The application by English-speakers of this German word to the paranormal concept is relatively recent; Francis Grose's Provincial Glossary of 1787 included the term fetch instead, defined as the "apparition of a person living." A best-selling book on paranormal phenomena, Catherine Crowe's The Night-Side of Nature (1848), helped make the German word well-known. However, the concept itself, of alter egos and double spirits, has appeared in the folklore, myths, religious concepts, and traditions of many cultures throughout human history.

In Ancient Egyptian mythology, a ka was a tangible "spirit double" having the same memories and feelings as the person to whom the counterpart belongs. In one Egyptian myth entitled, The Greek Princess, an Egyptian view of the Trojan War, a ka of Helen was used to mislead Paris of Troy, helping to stop the war.. This is depicted in Euripides' play, "Helen."

In Norse mythology, a vardøger is a ghostly double who precedes a living person and is seen performing their actions in advance. In Finnish mythology, this is called having an etiäinen, i.e., "a firstcomer". (see also Christfrid Ganander's Mythologia Fennica)

In Breton mythology as well as in Cornish and Norman French folklore, the doppelgänger is a version of the Ankou, a personification of death.

Examples in Literature and Writing

In Prometheus Unbound by English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, the concept of a doppelgänger double was described as a counterpart to the self. American writer Edgar Allan Poe's story "William Wilson" (1839) describes the double with the sinister, demonic qualities of a pursuer or challenger of the real self's psychological equilibrium. English poet Lord Byron used doppelgänger imagery to explore the duality of human nature. Russian Fyodor M. Dostoyevsky's novel The Double represents the doppelgänger as an opposite personality who exploits the character failings of the protagonist to take over his life. Charles Williams Descent into Hell (1939) has character Pauline Anstruther seeing her own doppelgänger all through her life. Clive Barker's story "Human Remains" in his Books of Blood is a doppelgänger tale. The doppelgänger motif is a staple of Gothic fiction, arguably its central expression of character.

John Donne


Izaak Walton claimed that John Donne, the English metaphysical poet, saw his wife's doppelgänger in 1612 in Paris, on the same night as the stillbirth of their daughter.

Two days after their arrival there, Mr. Donne was left alone, in that room in which Sir Robert, and he, and some other friends had dined together. To this place Sir Robert returned within half an hour; and, as he left, so he found Mr. Donne alone; but, in such ecstasy, and so altered as to his looks, as amazed Sir Robert to behold him in so much that he earnestly desired Mr. Donne to declare befallen him in the short time of his absence? to which, Mr. Donne was not able to make a present answer: but, after a long and perplext pause, did at last say, I have seen a dreadful Vision since I saw you: I have seen my dear wife pass twice by me through this room, with her hair hanging about her shoulders, and a dead child in her arms: this, I have seen since I saw you. To which, Sir Robert replied; Sure Sir, you have slept since I saw you; and, this is the result of some melancholy dream, which I desire you to forget, for you are now awake. To which Mr. Donnes reply was: I cannot be surer that I now live, then that I have not slept since I saw you: and am, as sure, that at her second appearing, she stopped, looked me in the face, and vanished.

This account first appears in the edition of Life of Dr. John Donne published in 1675, and is attributed to "a Person of Honour... told with such circumstances, and such asseveration, that... I verily believe he that told it me, did himself believe it to be true. "At the time Donne was indeed extremely worried about his pregnant wife, and was going through severe illness himself. However, R. C. Bald points out that Walton's account

is riddled with inaccuracies. He says that Donne crossed from London to Paris with the Drurys in twelve days, and that the vision occurred two days later; the servant sent to London to make inquiries found Mrs. Donne still confined to her bed in Drury House. Actually, of course, Donne did not arrive in Paris until more than three months after he left England, and his wife was not in London but in the Isle of Wight. The still-born child was buried on 24 January.... Yet as late as 14 April Donne in Paris was still ignorant of his wife's ordeal. In January, Donne was still at Amiens. His letters do not support the story as given.

Percy Bysshe Shelley


On July 8, 1822, the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned in the Bay of Spezia near Lerici in Italy. On August 15, while staying at Pisa, Percy's wife Mary Shelley, an author and editor, wrote a letter to Maria Gisborne in which she relayed Percy's claims to her that he had met his own doppelgänger. A week after Mary's nearly fatal miscarriage, in the early hours of June 23 Percy had had a nightmare about the house collapsing in a flood, and

... talking it over the next morning he told me that he had had many visions lately — he had seen the figure of himself which met him as he walked on the terrace and said to him — "How long do you mean to be content" — No very terrific words & certainly not prophetic of what has occurred. But Shelley had often seen these figures when ill; but the strangest thing is that Mrs. Williams saw him. Now Jane, though a woman of sensibility, has not much imagination & is not in the slightest degree nervous — neither in dreams or otherwise. She was standing one day, the day before I was taken ill, [June 15] at a window that looked on the Terrace with Trelawny — it was day — she saw as she thought Shelley pass by the window, as he often was then, without a coat or jacket — he passed again — now as he passed both times the same way — and as from the side towards which he went each time there was no way to get back except past the window again (except over a wall twenty feet from the ground) she was struck at seeing him pass twice thus & looked out & seeing him no more she cried — "Good God can Shelley have leapt from the wall?.... Where can he be gone?" Shelley, said Trelawny — "No Shelley has past — What do you mean?" Trelawny says that she trembled exceedingly when she heard this & it proved indeed that Shelley had never been on the terrace & was far off at the time she saw him.

Percy Shelley's drama Prometheus Unbound (1820) contains the following passage in Act I: "Ere Babylon was dust, / The Magus Zoroaster, my dead child, / Met his own image walking in the garden. / That apparition, sole of men, he saw. / For know there are two worlds of life and death: / One that which thou beholdest; but the other / Is underneath the grave, where do inhabit / The shadows of all forms that think and live / Till death unite them and they part no more...."

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


Near the end of Book XI of his autobiography, Dichtung und Wahrheit ("Poetry and Truth") (1811-1833), Goethe wrote, almost in passing:

Amid all this pressure and confusion I could not forego seeing Frederica once more. Those were painful days, the memory of which has not remained with me. When I reached her my hand from my horse, the tears stood in her eyes; and I felt very uneasy. I now rode along the foot-path toward Drusenheim, and here one of the most singular forebodings took possession of me. I saw, not with the eyes of the body, but with those of the mind, my own figure coming toward me, on horseback, and on the same road, attired in a dress which I had never worn, — it was pike-gray [hecht-grau], with somewhat of gold. As soon as I shook myself out of this dream, the figure had entirely disappeared. It is strange, however, that, eight years afterward, I found myself on the very road, to pay one more visit to Frederica, in the dress of which I had dreamed, and which I wore, not from choice, but by accident. However, it may be with matters of this kind generally, this strange illusion in some measure calmed me at the moment of parting. The pain of quitting for ever noble Alsace, with all I had gained in it, was softened; and, having at last escaped the excitement of a farewell, I, on a peaceful and quiet journey, pretty well regained my self-possession.

This is an example of a doppelgänger which was perceived by the observer to be both benign and reassuring.

George Tryon


A Victorian age example was the supposed appearance of Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon. He was said to have walked through the drawing room of his family home in Eaton Square, London, looking straight ahead, without exchanging a word to anyone, in front of several guests at a party being given by his wife on 22 June 1893 while he was supposed to be in a ship of the Mediterranean Squadron, manoeuvering off the coast of Syria. Subsequently, it was reported that he had gone down with his ship, HMS Victoria, the very same night, after it collided with HMS Camperdown following an unexplained and bizarre order to turn the ship in the direction of the other vessel.

Twin strangers


With the advent of social media, there have been several reported cases of people finding their "twin stranger" online, a modern term for a doppelgänger which exists in reality. Twinstrangers.net, a website where users can upload a photo of themselves and facial recognition software attempts to match them with another user of like appearance, reports that it has found numerous living doppelgängers—including three living doppelgängers of its founder Niamh Geaney. Other reported cases have been The Independent's profile of Cordelia Roberts and Ciara Murphy and the Daily Star's report of Neil Douglas who met his look-alike on a flight.

In December 2016, a Channel 4 documentary called "Finding My Twin Stranger" featured a study by the Department of Twin Research at St Thomas' Hospital in London in which seven pairs of similar looking people were examined. The tests included empirical measures of the similarities of their features, and a DNA analysis.

Psychiatry

Heautoscopy is a term used in psychiatry and neurology for the reduplicative hallucination of "seeing one's own body at a distance". It can occur as a symptom in schizophrenia and epilepsy. Heautoscopy is considered a possible explanation for doppelgänger phenomena.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Treason and Traitors

In law, treason is the crime that covers some of the more extreme acts against one's nation or sovereign. Historically, treason also covered the murder of specific social superiors, such as the murder of a husband by his wife or that of a master by his servant. Treason against the king was known as high treason and treason against a lesser superior was petty treason. A person who commits treason is known in law as a traitor. Oran's Dictionary of the Law (1983) defines treason as a "citizen's actions to help a foreign government overthrow, make war against, or seriously injure the [parent nation]". In many nations, it is also often considered treason to attempt or conspire to overthrow the government, even if no foreign country is aiding or involved by such an endeavor.

At times, the term "traitor" has been used as a political epithet, regardless of any verifiable treasonable action. In a civil war or insurrection, the winners may deem the losers to be traitors. Likewise the term "traitor" is used in heated political discussion – typically as a slur against political dissidents, or against officials in power who are perceived as failing to act in the best interest of their constituents. In certain cases, as with the DolchstoBlegende  (Stab-in-the-back myth), the accusation of treason towards a large group of people can be a unifying political message. Treason is considered to be different and on many occasions a separate charge from "treasonable felony" in many parts of the world.

History

In English law, high treason was punishable by being hanged, drawn and quartered (men) or burnt at the stake (women), although beheading could be substituted by royal command (usually for royalty and nobility). Those penalties were abolished in 1814, 1790 and 1973 respectively. The penalty was used by later monarchs against people who could reasonably be called traitors, although most modern jurists would call it excessive. Many of them would now just be considered dissidents.

In William Shakespeare's play King Lear (c. 1600), when the King learns that his daughter Regan has publicly dishonoured him, he says "They could not, would not do 't; 'tis worse than murder": a conventional attitude at that time. In Dante Alighieri's Inferno, the ninth and lowest circle of Hell is reserved for traitors; Judas Iscariot, who betrayed Jesus, suffers the worst torments of all: being constantly gnawed at by one of Lucifer's own three mouths. His treachery is considered so notorious that his name has long been synonymous with traitor, a fate he shares with Benedict Arnold, Vidkun Quisling, Marcus Junius Brutus (who too is depicted in Dante's Inferno, suffering the same fate as Judas along with Cassius Longinus). Indeed, the etymology of the word traitor originates with Judas' handing over of Jesus to the chief priests, captains of the temple and elders (Luke 22:52): the word is derived from the Latin traditor which means "one who delivers." Christian theology and political thinking until after the Enlightenment considered treason and blasphemy as synonymous, as it challenged both the state and the will of God. Kings were considered chosen by God, and to betray one's country was to do the work of Satan.

Many nations' laws mention various types of treason. "Crimes Related to Insurrection" is the internal treason, and may include a coup d'etat. "Crimes Related to Foreign Aggression" is the treason of cooperating with foreign aggression positively regardless of the national inside and outside. "Crimes Related to inducement of Foreign Aggression" is the crime of communicating with aliens secretly to cause foreign aggression or menace. Depending on a country, conspiracy is added to these. In Japan, the application of "Crimes Related to Insurrection" was considered about Aum Shinrikyo cult which caused religious terrorism.

Related Offenses

There are a number of other crimes against the state short of treason:

  • Apostasy in Islam is considered treason in Islamic belief.
  • Compounding treason is dropping a prosecution for treason in exchange for money or money's worth.
  • Defection, or leaving the country, is regarded in some communist countries (especially during the Cold War) as disloyal to the state.
  • Espionage or spying.
  • Lèse majesté is insulting a head of state and is a crime in some countries.
  • Misprision of treason is a crime consisting of the concealment of treason.
  • Sedition is inciting civil unrest or insurrection, or undermining the government.
  • Treachery, the name of a number of derivative offences.
  • Treason felony, a British offence tantamount to treason.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treason

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Basics of Epigenetics

Epigenetics are stable heritable traits (or "phenotypes") that cannot be explained by changes in DNA sequence. The Greek prefix epi- (ἐπι- "over, outside of, around") in epigenetics implies features that are "on top of" or "in addition to" the traditional genetic basis for inheritance. Epigenetics often refers to changes in a chromosome that affect gene activity and expression, but can also be used to describe any heritable phenotypic change that does not derive from a modification of the genome, such as prions. Such effects on cellular and physiological phenotypic traits may result from external or environmental factors, or be part of normal developmental program. The standard definition of epigenetics requires these alterations to be heritable, either in the progeny of cells or of organisms.

The term also refers to the changes themselves: functionally relevant changes to the genome that do not involve a change in the nucleotide sequence. Examples of mechanisms that produce such changes are DNA methylation and histone modification, each of which alters how genes are expressed without altering the underlying DNA sequence. Gene expression can be controlled through the action of repressor proteins that attach to silencer regions of the DNA. These epigenetic changes may last through cell divisions for the duration of the cell's life, and may also last for multiple generations even though they do not involve changes in the underlying DNA sequence of the organism; instead, non-genetic factors cause the organism's genes to behave (or "express themselves") differently.

One example of an epigenetic change in eukaryotic biology is the process of cellular differentiation. During morphogenesis, totipotent stem cells become the various pluripotent cell lines of the embryo, which in turn become fully differentiated cells. In other words, as a single fertilized egg cell – the zygote – continues to divide, the resulting daughter cells change into all the different cell types in an organism, including neurons, muscle cells, epithelium, endothelium of blood vessels, etc., by activating some genes while inhibiting the expression of others.

Historically, some phenomena not necessarily heritable have also been described as epigenetic. For example, the term epigenetic has been used to describe any modification of chromosomal regions, especially histone modifications, whether or not these changes are heritable or associated with a phenotype. The consensus definition now requires a trait to be heritable for it to be considered epigenetic. Misuse of the scientific term by quack authors has created misinformation and controversy in the public.

Controversy


Due to the early stages of epigenetics as a science and the sensationalism surrounding it in the public media, David Gorski and geneticist Adam Rutherford advised caution against proliferation of false and pseudoscientific conclusions by new age authors who make unfounded suggestions that a person's genes and health can be manipulated by mind control.

Twins

Direct comparisons of identical twins constitute an optimal model for interrogating environmental epigenetics. In the case of humans with different environmental exposures, monozygotic (identical) twins were epigenetically indistinguishable during their early years, while older twins had remarkable differences in the overall content and genomic distribution of 5-methylcytosine DNA and histone acetylation. The twin pairs who had spent less of their lifetime together and/or had greater differences in their medical histories were those who showed the largest differences in their levels of 5-methylcytosine DNA and acetylation of histones H3 and H4.

Dizygotic (fraternal) and monozygotic (identical) twins show evidence of epigenetic influence in humans. DNA sequence differences that would be abundant in a singleton-based study do not interfere with the analysis. Environmental differences can produce long-term epigenetic effects, and different developmental monozygotic twin subtypes may be different with respect to their susceptibility to be discordant from an epigenetic point of view.

A high-throughput study, which denotes technology that looks at extensive genetic markers, focused on epigenetic differences between monozygotic twins to compare global and locus-specific changes in DNA methylation and histone modifications in a sample of 40 monozygotic twin pairs. In this case, only healthy twin pairs were studied, but a wide range of ages was represented, between 3 and 74 years. One of the major conclusions from this study was that there is an age-dependent accumulation of epigenetic differences between the two siblings of twin pairs. This accumulation suggests the existence of epigenetic “drift”. Epigenetic drift is the term given to epigenetic modifications as they occur as a direct function with age. While age is a known risk factor for many diseases, age-related methylation has been found to occur differentially at specific sites along the genome. Over time, this can result in measurable differences between biological and chronological age. Epigenetic changes have been found to be reflective of lifestyle and may act as functional biomarkers of disease before clinical threshold is reached.

A more recent study, where 114 monozygotic twins and 80 dizygotic twins were analyzed for the DNA methylation status of around 6000 unique genomic regions, concluded that epigenetic similarity at the time of blastocyst splitting may also contribute to phenotypic similarities in monozygotic co-twins. This supports the notion that microenvironment at early stages of embryonic development can be quite important for the establishment of epigenetic marks. Congenital genetic disease is well understood and it is clear that epigenetics can play a role, for example, in the case of Angelman syndrome and Prader-Willi syndrome. These are normal genetic diseases caused by gene deletions or inactivation of the genes, but are unusually common because individuals are essentially hemizygous because of genomic imprinting, and therefore a single gene knock out is sufficient to cause the disease, where most cases would require both copies to be knocked out.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetics

Friday, September 8, 2017

Pluto Surface Given Names

Pluto Features Given First Official Names

International Astronomical Union -- The Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature (WGPSN) of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has officially approved the naming of fourteen features on the surface of Pluto. These are the first geological features on the dwarf planet to be named following the close flyby by the New Horizons spacecraft in July 2015.

The IAU has assigned names to fourteen geological features on the surface of Pluto. The names pay homage to the underworld mythology, pioneering space missions, historic pioneers who crossed new horizons in exploration, and scientists and engineers associated with Pluto and the Kuiper Belt. This is the first set of official names of surface features on Pluto to be approved by the IAU, the internationally recognised authority for naming celestial bodies and their surface features.

NASA’s New Horizons team proposed the names to the IAU following the first reconnaissance of Pluto and its moons by the New Horizons spacecraft. Some of the names were suggested by members of the public during the Our Pluto campaign, which was launched as a partnership between the IAU, the New Horizons project and the SETI Institute. Other names had been used informally by the New Horizons science team to describe the many regions, mountain ranges, plains, valleys and craters discovered during the first close-up look at the surfaces of Pluto and its largest moon, Charon.

We’re very excited to approve names recognising people of significance to Pluto and the pursuit of exploration as well as the mythology of the underworld. These names highlight the importance of pushing to the frontiers of discovery,” said Rita Schulz, chair of the IAU Working Group for Planetary System Nomenclature. “We appreciate the contribution of the general public in the form of their naming suggestions and the New Horizons team for proposing these names to us.”

More names are expected to be proposed to the IAU, both for Pluto and for its moons. “The approved designations honour many people and space missions who paved the way for the historic exploration of Pluto and the Kuiper Belt, the most distant worlds ever explored,” said Alan Stern, New Horizons Principal Investigator from the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in Boulder, Colorado.

The approved Pluto surface feature names are listed below.

Tombaugh Regio honours Clyde Tombaugh (1906–1997), the U.S. astronomer who discovered Pluto in 1930 from Lowell Observatory in Arizona.

Burney crater honors Venetia Burney (1918–2009), who as an 11-year-old schoolgirl suggested the name “Pluto” for Clyde Tombaugh’s newly discovered planet. Later in life she taught mathematics and economics.

Sputnik Planitia is a large plain named after Sputnik 1, the first space satellite, launched by the Soviet Union in 1957.

Tenzing Montes and Hillary Montes are mountain ranges honouring Tenzing Norgay (1914–1986) and Sir Edmund Hillary (1919–2008), the Indian/Nepali Sherpa and New Zealand mountaineer who were the first to reach the summit of Mount Everest and return safely.

Al-Idrisi Montes honours Ash-Sharif al-Idrisi (1100–1165/66), a noted Arab mapmaker and geographer whose landmark work of medieval geography is sometimes translated as “The Pleasure of Him Who Longs to Cross the Horizons.”

Djanggawul Fossae defines a network of long, narrow depressions named for the Djanggawuls, three ancestral beings in indigenous Australian mythology who travelled between the island of the dead and Australia, creating the landscape and filling it with vegetation.

Sleipnir Fossa is named for the powerful, eight-legged horse of Norse mythology that carried the god Odin into the underworld.

Virgil Fossae honors Virgil, one of the greatest Roman poets and Dante’s fictional guide through hell and purgatory in the Divine Comedy.

Adlivun Cavus is a deep depression named for Adlivun, the underworld in Inuit mythology.

Hayabusa Terra is a large land mass saluting the Japanese spacecraft and mission (2003–2010) that returned the first asteroid sample.

Voyager Terra honours the pair of NASA spacecraft, launched in 1977, that performed the first “grand tour” of all four giant planets. The Voyager spacecraft are now probing the boundary between the Sun and interstellar space.

Tartarus Dorsa is a ridge named for Tartarus, the deepest, darkest pit of the underworld in Greek mythology.

Elliot crater recognises James Elliot (1943–2011), an MIT researcher who pioneered the use of stellar occultations to study the Solar System — leading to discoveries such as the rings of Uranus and the first detection of Pluto's thin atmosphere.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

A Storm Checklist

[From a friend of the blog author who grew up in south Florida]:

This is the best advice on how to
prepare for an emergency:

1. For a big storm like Irma, you need enough water to drink for a minimum of 7 days. The water does NOT have to be bottled. You can simply buy water containers and fill them with tap water.

2. Get a plastic sheet to line the tub. Then you can fill your tub with water without it leaking out. You'll use this to flush the toilet and for basic cleaning if the water goes out. Use sparingly.

3. Have enough food on hand to eat for 7 days - food bars and other packaged food is good. Canned soup, beans.

4. Buy a large number of Ziploc-like plastic bags - large and small. You'll use them to protect papers and other valuables AND you'll fill them 3/4 full of water and stuff the freezer full. Do that by midweek to be sure they are frozen when/if the power goes out over the weekend. It will keep the refrigerator colder. Do NOT set your fridge on the lowest setting.

5. Get a portable radio that receives AM and FM. NOAA radio is good, but doesn't get you information on evacuations and other instructions. Get batteries.

6. Get LED flashlights and/or lanterns. They run forever on fewer batteries. But you still need plenty of extra batteries.

7. Get large plastic bags. They are invaluable for keeping valuable things dry if you have a leak.

8. Get large plastic boxes. If you put your valuables, photos, and papers in plastic bags inside the boxes, they will likely be okay.

9. Get plastic sheeting and plenty of duct tape.

10. Do your laundry this week! Lol

Just in case.....A few hurricane tricks for those who may need it:

  1. Start running your ice makers now and bagging the ice in freezer bags. Fill as much space in between your freezer items as you can.
  2. . Freeze regular tap water for pets, cleaning or drinking in tupperware-type containers. REMEMBER to leave a small bit of space between the top of the water & the lids so the ice expands but doesn't crack the container.
  3. Start using up your perishables to make more room for ice in the freezer.
  4. Fill up all vehicles & check tires & oil.
  5. Cash from ATM, at least enough to get you through tolls and gas out of town. Call your bank if you plan on leaving the state so they don't freeze your card for out-of-area "suspicious" transactions.
  6. 6. All important docs screenshot & send to your email. Take originals in sealed bags or plastic bins.
  7. Pet & livestock food & supplies. Vet records in case you need to shelter then at a storm-safe facility.
  8. Evacuation plans and share with family members so they know where you're headed.
  9. Consider putting heirlooms & photos in plastic bins in a high place, second floor, or safe room if you don't plan on taking them with you.
  10. SECURE ALL FIREARMS & AMMUNITION PROPERLY.
  11. Old rags & beach towels on your windowsills. Even with the best windows & shutters, water seeping from the wind pressure happens. A few damp towels is better than soaked drywall or floors!
  12. Shutter windows and doors and bring everything outside into your garage or house NOW. Do not wait until the day before. Better to get done early and relax than wait until its too late, ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE MANDATORY PERSONNEL (hospital employee or first responder).
  13. 13. If you don't already have your hurricane supplies, you might want to get them now. Shelves are already empty in most places.
      
Hurricane Irma?  It is now a category 5 storm.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (originally The Rime of the Ancyent Marinere) is the longest major poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written in 1797–98 and published in 1798 in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads. Modern editions use a revised version printed in 1817 that featured a gloss. Along with other poems in Lyrical Ballads, it was a signal shift to modern poetry and the beginning of British Romantic literature.

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner relates the experiences of a sailor who has returned from a long sea voyage. The mariner stops a man who is on the way to a wedding ceremony and begins to narrate a story. The wedding-guest's reaction turns from bemusement to impatience to fear to fascination as the mariner's story progresses, as can be seen in the language style: Coleridge uses narrative techniques such as personification and repetition to create a sense of danger, the supernatural, or serenity, depending on the mood in different parts of the poem.

Inspiration for the Poem

The poem may have been inspired by James Cook's second voyage of exploration (1772–1775) of the South Seas and the Pacific Ocean; Coleridge's tutor, William Wales, was the astronomer on Cook's flagship and had a strong relationship with Cook. On this second voyage Cook crossed three times into the Antarctic Circle to determine whether the fabled great southern continent existed. Critics have also suggested that the poem may have been inspired by the voyage of Thomas James into the Arctic. "Some critics think that Coleridge drew upon James's account of hardship and lamentation in writing The Rime of the Ancient Mariner."

According to William Wordsworth, the poem was inspired while Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Wordsworth's sister Dorothy were on a walking tour through the Quantock Hills in Somerset. The discussion had turned to a book that Wordsworth was reading, A Voyage Round The World by Way of the Great South Sea (1726) by Captain George Shelvocke. In the book, a melancholy sailor, Simon Hatley, shoots a black albatross:

We all observed, that we had not the sight of one fish of any kind, since we were come to the Southward of the streights of le Mair, nor one sea-bird, except a disconsolate black Albatross, who accompanied us for several days ... till Hattley, (my second Captain) observing, in one of his melancholy fits, that this bird was always hovering near us, imagin'd, from his colour, that it might be some ill omen ... He, after some fruitless attempts, at length, shot the Albatross, not doubting we should have a fair wind after it.

As they discussed Shelvocke's book, Wordsworth proffers the following developmental critique to Coleridge, which importantly contains a reference to tutelary spirits: "Suppose you represent him as having killed one of these birds on entering the south sea, and the tutelary spirits of these regions take upon them to avenge the crime." By the time the trio finished their walk, the poem had taken shape.

Bernard Martin argues in The Ancient Mariner and the Authentic Narrative that Coleridge was also influenced by the life of Anglican clergyman John Newton, who had a near-death experience aboard a slave ship.

The poem may also have been inspired by the legends of the Wandering Jew, who was forced to wander the earth until Judgement Day for taunting Jesus on the day of the Crucifixion, and of the Flying Dutchman.

It is claimed that the harbour at Watchet in Somerset was the primary inspiration for the poem, although some time before, John Cruikshank, a local acquaintance of Coleridge’s, had related a dream about a skeleton ship manned by spectral sailors. In September 2003, a commemorative statue, by Alan B Herriot of Penicuik, Scotland, was unveiled at Watchet harbour.

Coleridge’s Comments

In Biographia Literaria, Coleridge wrote:

The thought suggested itself (to which of us I do not recollect) that a series of poems might be composed of two sorts. In the one, incidents and agents were to be, in part at least, supernatural, and the excellence aimed at was to consist in the interesting of the affections by the dramatic truth of such emotions, as would naturally accompany such situations, supposing them real. And real in this sense they have been to every human being who, from whatever source of delusion, has at any time believed himself under supernatural agency. For the second class, subjects were to be chosen from ordinary life...In this idea originated the plan of the 'Lyrical Ballads'; in which it was agreed, that my endeavours should be directed to persons and characters supernatural, or at least Romantic; yet so as to transfer from our inward nature a human interest and a semblance of truth sufficient to procure for these shadows of imagination that willing suspension of disbelief for the moment, which constitutes poetic faith. ... With this view I wrote the 'Ancient Mariner'.

In Table Talk, Coleridge wrote:

Mrs Barbauld once told me that she admired The Ancient Mariner very much, but that there were two faults in it -- it was improbable, and had no moral. As for the probability, I owned that that might admit some question; but as to the want of a moral, I told her that in my own judgement the poem had too much; and that the only, or chief fault, if I might say so, was the obtrusion of the moral sentiment so openly on the reader as a principle or cause of action in a work of such pure imagination. It ought to have had no more moral than the Arabian Nights' tale of the merchant's sitting down to eat dates by the side of a well, and throwing the shells aside, and lo! a genie starts up, and says he must kill the aforesaid merchant, because one of the date shells had, it seems, put out the eye of the genie's son.


Note by the Blog Author

Don’t miss the unforgettable illustrations that were etched for this poem by Gustave Dore.