October 26


Joseph Aloysius Hansom, the man who used his own name to "brand" that English troika the pre-Ubercab, born today in 1803. 

So many of these "things" that exist in the world, which turn out to be named for their inventor (I have collected several on May 26). Most flowers and plants, many other creatures too, are named for what was not actually their discoverer - they had been there, seen by local people, under a local name, probably for millennia, but nothing exists until a white European has "discovered" it, preferably a member of a Church, the aristocracy, and the Conservative Party, and given it his name (his, there are very few hers).

So there are now the Fuchsia (Fuchsia triphylla, discovered on the Caribbean island of Hispaniola about 1696–1697 by the French monk and botanist, Charles Plumier, and named for the German botanist Leonhart Fuchs) and the Bougainvillea (Louis-Antoine, Comte de Bougainville, 1729-1811) and the Pointsettia (Joel Robert Poinsett, American ambassador to Mexico in the late 1820s)
.... and the Prashkeria Purpura, a species of wild nettle that is prolific in my window-box... 

I would love to learn that the Terebinth Oak was named for some native American troglodyte who came by boat to some remote and unimportant islands at the eastern end of the great ocean, now known as Little England, and that "oak" was Terebinth's word for "big tree with acorns" in her ancient tongue; alas this is unlikely to happen, to me, or to have happened, to her.

Among the creatures, my favourites include the Dorothy Parker wasp, which has a particularly sharp sting, the Melville Whale, a mythical creature much pursued by tearful blubberers but not yet actually handkerchiefed, and the Attenborough CGI, a species of documentary that inhabits television studios while pretending to be somewhere on, in, under, beneath or above the planet where only the CGI is capable of going.

Amber pages

Giuseppe Domenico Scarlatti, Italian composer, born today in 1685

Hillary Rodham Clinton, US First Lady and failed Presidential candidate, came in on the breaking of the proverbial white-water, today in 1947

Michael Servetus, Spanish theologian and physician, condemned to death for blasphemy, today in 1553 (staked, or should that be steaked,  on the 27th).

Shootout at the O.K. Corral, today in 1881. I thought it was just a 
Hollywood fantasy and a Gentleman's Club in East Miami, but apparently it really happened. And in such an appropriate place: Tombstone, Arizona. I haven't found any proof or confirmation, but I am told that Tombstone was first discovered, and the NRA founded, by a man named Christopher Columbine (see April 20).

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