Friday, September 03, 2010

"Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802" by William Wordsworth


Earth has not anything to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!
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"Dum" by Vivek Oberoi

My ongoing fascination with Bollywood superstar Vivek Oberoi is now entering its fourth year; although his only previous appearance on the Pop Culture Institute came when he was awarded the distinctly dubious honour of the Gratuitous Brunette* - all the way back in April 2007, before I'd hit on the brilliant idea of posting such things on people's birthdays - I'm always looking for new and subtle ways to work this lovely man's face and work into the mix...

He appears here today on the occasion of his 34th birthday, performing the title track to a film he made in 2003. I gather from the reviews at Amazon that the movie is about a one-man crusade to rid the police force of corruption. While dancing.

Sounds good to me!

*He was, in fact, one of the first to receive this accolade (or should I call it an ecch-olade?).
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Pop History Moment: The Death of Oliver Cromwell

A poll conducted in the UK in 2002 named Oliver Cromwell among the Top Ten Greatest Britons of all time...

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketReally? A crusader for liberty of conscience who viciously suppressed all religions but his own. A so-called Republican who killed a King only to have His Late Majesty's titles and privileges (and power and income, let's not forget) showered upon himself (and who later passed his rule on to his son, despite an earlier disavowal of the hereditary principle.) A devoted Parliamentarian who once in power acted towards that body as 'cavalierly' as had his predecessor. A man who talked a big game when it came to liberty but who nevertheless ruthlessly conquered Ireland. Besides which savagely suppressing the arts by closing London's theatres, single-handedly not just ending the English Renaissance but setting it back.

Really? This is a great man? This murdering thug and hypocrite, who cloaked his greed in religion, and couldn't even be bothered to obey the First Commandment?

His death - on this day in 1658 - could easily be considered his greatest act. The Irish may take some solace in knowing it was they who may have indirectly caused it; he died of malaria, which he likely contracted while campaigning in Ireland. He also received terrible medical attention, since during his Protectorate many of the better doctors fled London and indeed England for some reason.

It turns out the best thing that can be said about Oliver Cromwell was spoken by the Earl of Clarendon as long ago as 1667 - according to Clarendon, he was 'a brave bad man'. May we never see his like again.
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POPnews - September 3rd

[Frederick Douglass escaped slavery via train and ferry, taking
24 hours to travel from Maryland to New York City dressed
as a sailor and using another man's identification papers.

36 BCE - At the sea-going Battle of Naulochus - fought off the coast of Sicily, oddly enough near Naulochus - Octavian's admiral Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa defeated Sextus Pompeius, son of Pompey, thus ending Pompeian resistance to the Second Triumvirate and (not inconsequentially) freeing up a vital portion of Rome's grain supply.

301 CE - The Republic of San Marino was founded by its namesake, St. Marinus.

590 CE - Gregory I was elected Pope to replace the recently deceased Pelagius II.

1189 -England's King Richard I (since better known as 'Richard the Lionhearted') was crowned at Westminster Abbey; not only was his coronation marred by anti-Semitic violence - notably killed in sectarian attacks that day was the scholar Jacob of Orléans - but owing to his involvement in the Crusades, the King would spend a scant ten months of his ten-year reign in his kingdom, allowing his brother John pretty much free reign to hone his already considerable skills as an absolute douchebag monarch.

1777 - During a skirmish between British/Hessian and American forces at Cooch's Bridge in New Castle County, Delaware - known as the Battle of Cooch's Bridge* - the Stars and Stripes was flown in battle for the first time; while technically an American loss, the battle was an unqualified victory for the nascent nation's propagandists, who've been waving the flag over battlegrounds ever since.

*Incidentally, the only battle of the American Revolution to be fought in Delaware.

1783 - The American Revolution was officially concluded with the signing of the Treaty of Paris by Americans John Adams, Benjamin Franklin, and John Jay and British emissary David Hartley at the Hotel d'York in Paris.

1812 - 24 settlers were killed by Shawnee raiders near Underwood, Indiana, in what came to be known as the Pigeon Roost Massacre; the location of the killings, which occurred shortly after the opening of the War of 1812, is now a State Historic Site.

1838 - Frederick Douglass stole his freedom.

1870 - Prussia's Second Army under Prince Friedrich Karl undertook the Siege of Metz, which would result in a decisive Prussian victory in the Franco-Prussian War against the defenses of Metz when France's Marshal François Bazaine finally surrendered on October 23rd.

1878 - Over 640 people died when the crowded pleasure boat Princess Alice collided with the coal ship Bywell Castle within sight of London's North Woolwich Pier; owing to severe pollution in the River Thames many of those who didn't die on that day perished in the subsequent months.

1914 - William, Prince of Albania left the country after just six months due to opposition to his rule.

1925 - The American zeppelin USS Shenandoah crashed near Caldwell, Ohio, killing 14 - including its commander, Zachary Lansdowne.

1935 - Sir Malcolm Campbell became the first person to ever drive a car faster than 300 mph.

1951 - Search for Tomorrow made its TV debut on CBS; it would be broadcast for 35 years, not going off the air until 1986.

1967 - On what came to be known as Dagen H in Sweden, traffic changed from driving on the left to driving on the right overnight; to be more precise, the change-over occurred at 4:50 AM.

1971 - Qatar gained its independence from the United Kingdom.

1976 - The Viking 2 spacecraft landed at Utopia Planitia on Mars.

1995 - eBay was founded.

2004 - Day 3 of the Beslan school hostage crisis ended with the deaths of more than 300 people, over half of whom were children.
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