August 1

Amber pages

Jean Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet de Lamarck, born today in 1744

Herman Melville, author of "Bartleby" as well as "Moby Dick" (I only say this because the latter is the one that people vaguely, sort of, know, or at least have heard of, though probably not read; but in terms of the development of Nihilism as a philosophy, and its position as an essence of Existentialism, upon both of which today's thinking in the western world depends, "Bartleby" is actually a far, far more important book), born today (though he probably would have preferred not to) in 1819 

George Harrison's Concert for Bangladesh, today in 
1971. I have also noted the Concerts for Band Aid and Live Aid on July 13, but they could not have happened without this, so this is where I will, eventually, write about the shame of western governments crippling Third World economies in order to obtain our own wealth, and the tuppence worth of guilt-money which is all our pop-stars are able to give back... and all hail them for doing even that much.

Swiss Confederation founded... today in 1291. Another angle on the same shame named above: tax havens...

Slavery abolished in Jamaica, today in 
1838. I shall try to compile a list of all the dates of abolition, in all the lands and states where slavery existed, and put them all together on a single page. The trouble is - and see my World Hourglass for far too many examples of this - for every land in which slavery has been abolished, two more have come up like hydra-heads to replace them (Ivory Coast, Virgin Islands, Viet Nam, Bangladesh, Northern Mariana Islands...), but because we are rightly ashamed to call it slavery, we have found conscience-appeasing euphemisms, "out-source workers" being the most favoured.

And today in 1790, the first US census was taken, not including native tribes as far as I am aware. 3,929,214 people in 17 states. I have absolutely no interest in this statistic per se, but it might be an interesting number to use on some other occasion. An increase from less than 4 million people 200 years ago to just over 325 million at the end of 2017. Staggering!

The cartoon at the top of the page is actually, truly, genuine. My photograph, circa 2010. Outside the Martin Luther King museum in Atlanta, Georgia, there is a row of old slave houses, kept for the historic interest and known as "Freedom Avenue". The traffic sign was added somewhat later, I imagine for the convenience rather than with conscious irony. It is unclear whether the sign is for cars, and is insisting on miles per hour, or perhaps for freedom-seekers, and is insisting on paces per century.

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