Beshoff’s Chip Shop Founder was Last Survivor of Potemkin Mutiny

From his 1987 New York Times obituary:

Ivan Beshoff, the last survivor of the 1905 mutiny on the Russian battleship Potemkin, a harbinger of the Russian Revolution, died Sunday, his family said today. His birth certificate said he was 102 years old, but he contended he was 104.

Born near the Black Sea port of Odessa, Mr. Beshoff abandoned chemistry studies and joined the navy, serving in the engine room of the Potemkin.

The mutiny over poor food was the first mass expression of discontent in Czar Nicholas II’s military and later came to be seen as a prelude to the 1917 Russian Revolution.

The mutineers killed the captain and several officers. The entire Black Sea fleet was ordered to suppress the rebellion, but crews refused to fire on the battleship, and it sailed for 11 days before surrendering.

Mr. Beshoff had said he fled through Turkey to London, where he met Lenin. He settled in Ireland in 1913, saying he had tired of the sea.

Mr. Beshoff worked for a Soviet oil distribution company and was twice arrested as a Soviet spy, but became a beloved figure in the Irish community.

After World War II, he opened a fish and chips shop in Dublin. His sons opened branches elsewhere in the city.

Weirdly (to my mind) Beshoff’s don’t mention this on their website… although we do have this historical tidbit:

Grandfather Ivan Beshoff came to Ireland from Russia in 1913 and lived to 104 years. His father lived to 108 and his grandfather to 115 – enough said about the goodness of fish.

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”the most sane fringe phenomena.”

The current New Yorker features a piece by Brooke Jarvis on the maybe-extinct, maybe-not Tasmanian tiger, or thylacine.

About fifteen years ago I had a cryptozoological phase, with occasional relapses. However, I can rarely get past the minimum viable population problem. Jarvis’ article is a witty and rather wise piece. The Tasmanian tiger’s continued existence is not that unlikely, and Jarvis cites the many examples of Lazarus species:

Tiger enthusiasts are quick to bring up Lazarus species—animals that were considered lost but then found—which in Australia include the mountain pygmy possum (known from fossils dating from the Pleistocene and long thought to be extinct, it was found in a ski lodge in 1966); the Adelaide pygmy blue-tongue skink (rediscovered in a snake’s stomach in 1992); and the bridled nailtail wallaby, which was resurrected in 1973, after a fence-builder read about its extinction in a magazine article and told researchers that he knew where some lived. In 2013, a photographer captured seventeen seconds of footage of the night parrot, whose continued existence had been rumored but unproven for almost a century. Sean Dooley, the editor of the magazine BirdLife, called the rediscovery “the bird-watching equivalent of finding Elvis flipping burgers in an outback roadhouse.” The parrots have since been found from one side of the continent to the other. Is it more foolish to chase what may be a figment, or to assume that our planet has no secrets left?

But there is also something to be said for the impatience expressed by Anna Povey here:

But some people erupted in frustration at the mention of the tiger. “We killed them off a hundred years ago and now, belatedly, we’re proud of the thylacine!” Anna Povey, who works in land conservation, nearly shouted. She wanted to know why the government fetishizes the tiger’s image when other animals, such as the eastern quoll—cute, fluffy, definitely alive, and definitely endangered—could still make use of the attention. I couldn’t help thinking of all the purported thylacine videos that are dismissed as “just” a quoll. “It does piss us off!” Povey said. “It’s about time to appreciate the things we have, Australia, my God! We still treat this place as if it was the time of the thylacines—as if it was a frontier and we can carry on taking over.”

Bob Brown, former leader of the Australian Greens, expands on this;

In the nineteen-seventies, Bob Brown, later a leader of the Australian Greens, a political party, spent two years as a member of a thylacine search team. He told me that although he’d like to think the fascination with thylacines is motivated by remorse and a desire for restitution, people’s guilt doesn’t seem to be reflected in the policies that they actually support. Logging and mining are major industries in Tasmania, and land clearing is rampant; even the forest where Naarding saw his tiger is gone. Throughout Australia, the dire extinction rate is expected to worsen. It is a problem of the human psyche, Brown said, that we seem to get interested in animals only as they slide toward oblivion

.
The whole thing is worth reading – it is a classic of a kind of New Yorker piece; erudite, witty, slightly detached but unexpectedly moving.

Escher on video and in Lego form

Escher on video and in Lego form

The Escher Museum in the Hague have a page with lots of Escher videos

Here is an excerpt from a National Film Board of Canada film which elegantly animates Escher’s work:

Here is what is apparently the only surviving film of Escher at work:

Part 1 of a 2 part documentary on Escher with Roger Penrose:

I long to attempt some of these Lego versions of Escher images.

Firstly, via the website of Andrew Lipson, here is Ascending and Descending (the ever-rising staircase)

lego_ascending

Again via Andrew Lipson, here is “Relativity”:

lego_relativity

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And again via Lipson, here is “Waterfall”:

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Here is a gallery featuring the above images, and other Escher-based Lego creations by Lipson and his collaborator Daniel Shiu, with the originals for comparison.

Here is a Daily Mail article from 2011 on Lipson’s Lego work.

Submissions to “Miscellanea: A Transdimensional Library”

I have previously noted that online publications that do me the honour of publishing me tend to go out of existence. Another example was Miscellanea: A Transdimensional Library.

It was only six years ago that Miscellanea was calling for submissions, but there is now little trace of its existence. Yesterday I posted four perhaps cryptic posts here; these were all my submissions to Miscellanea: A Transdimensional Library.

Alas, the Transdimensional Library is no more. This page (scroll down to the 13th July 2012 entry) mentions it:

A new story of mine is now available free online at the website of Eggplant Literary Productions. In fact, “Yggdrasil” is more properly a fragment of a non-existent longer work… As editor Raechel Henderson explains: “Inspired by such fantasy libraries as those found in Robin McKinley’s Beauty and Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series, Eggplant Literary Productions presents Miscellanea: A Transdimensional Library. The shelves will be filled with books of the other: books that have never existed and that haven’t been written yet. What I am looking for are excerpts from such books.”

Here’s the Duotrope listing . The Eggplant Literary Productions site is no more, its twitter feed unchanged since July 2014.

For what it’s worth, I will post my four submissions here – one of which, “The Book of Silences”, made the grade:

The Book of Silences, Volumes 1 – 23343
From the introduction to Volume 1

… the editors have found the task of compiling all the silences of recorded history a challenging one. Firstly, we had to set some kind of beginning point for our work. However, we did not to limit our task to this century, or the post war years, or even some remoter start point of early or high modernity. All beginnings are arbitrary, and exclude, and this was to be the first truly inclusive book in existence. The written word has recorded utterances, speeches, debates, thoughts expressed in suspiously neat prose and lofty poetry, thoughts expressed in suspiciously down-to-earth and populist argot, but has not before collected silences. We do not mean contemplated silence, or debated silence, or defined silence. We mean recorded silence. Authors have reflected that silence is an absence; we treat it as a presence. In this book, we record the silences of our texts, from Sumerian cuneiform tablets to blogs and wikis. The first few thousand volumes, of course, only get us some of the way into Classical Antiquity, and work has to be recommenced as archaeology reveals further writings, but our universal history of silence has continued implacable, expanding, perhaps never to be utterly finished but equally never to be utterly abandoned …

Here is The Transfinite Codex. The feedback on this was that it was too self-contained, not a part of a larger work:

The Transfinite Codex

From the Introduction

The Infinite Annex is an annex of this library which consists entirely of infinite stories. The annex, via the use of an innovative filing system, contains an infinity of volumes. Each volume, via the use of innovative printing techniques, contains an infinite story, one with a beginning and then no middle and no end, just continuance. Every story imaginable; romance, adventure, comedies of manners, tragedies of morals. Of course, each infinite story will eventually contain every one of these stories, perhaps with different names, or with the events in a different order.

There is still another story possible, one which does not exist in the Infinite Annex. Take the first line of one story, the second line of another story, the third line of another, the fourth of another, and so on. In this way another infinite story is created, but one which differs from any particular infinite story. Because it has one and only one line in common with each story, it has an infinity of lines that differ from each particular volume. Thus the Transfinite Codex is a single volume which possesses an infinitude beyond the infinitude of the Infinite Annex.

From “A Practical Guide to Time Travel”, also too self-contained… Ironically it was written as a reference to this story….

From page 132 “A Practical Guide to Time Travel” by Brendan McConnell

… What they don’t tell you about time travel is the emotional dislocation. I suppose my voyage, undertaken as it was explicitly for emotional reasons, has allowed me appreciate this most. But my conversations with those who, before and after my voyage, have journeyed purely from a spirit of scientific discovery or confirms my suspicion. The technical challenges – plotting co ordinates to ensure that one lands in a time and place conducive to staying alive – are of course formidable, but surmontable. What many find hardest is the sudden realisation that the past is now not only past but includes what was one’s future, and that loved ones and loved places are no more. Accelerated future-driving has proved a boon to historians and policy makers, and has made many aspects of contemporary life more civilised for us all, time traveller and future native alike. The realisation we have all made that, completely contrary to theoretical predictions and expectations, that while futuredriving is possible, travelling back has not yet been achieved, and that we are stranded in a place more forbidding than any we know, has driven some to the ultimate expression of despair: suicide.

Finally, this extract was indeed from this story. The feedback here was that the concept was interesting but not the execution….

Aphorisms (for an age beyond Aphorisms), Or, Reflections of an obsolete headshrinker

by Bert Gallagher MB BCh BAO MRCPsych

Published in what the author insists be referred to as the Year of Our Lord 2052

(extract)

# 35: Yesterday’s miracle cure is today’s dangerous treatment is tomorrow’s boring routine. Twas ever thus.
# 36: Life without illusions is lifeless.
# 37: When the anthropologists are interested in you, you know you’re on the way out.
# 38: The self is still the self. The self may be an illusion, but it is a true grand illusion..
# 39: When the anthropologists are interested in you, you know you’re on the way out. You also know that you’ll be back
# 40: Illusions that stubbornly persist may not be illusions after all
# 41: No brain scan ever will reveal my essence, my self, my soul.
# 42: When the philosophers are interested in you, you definitely know that you are on the way out.
# 43: Reaching my age has had the great advantage of allowing me no longer to care what it is fashionable or acceptable to think and say.
# 44: When they banned books, they said they wanted to liberate us from the illusions of the self that reading fostered. Little did they realise what illusions they laboured under.
# 45: Being thought an amusing throwback to a vanished age has been the only way I have survived.
# 46: The abolition of the mind was supposed to put me out of business, but business was never better than after they abolished the mind.
# 47: No one really believes they are just a brain.

I have been using “cf.” wrongly for my entire life

Number theory was famously described as absolutely, gloriously useless by G H Hardy, but is now vital for encryption and therefore the digital economy (and all else “e”) While looking this up, I came across this discussion on the site Math Overflow. And in that discussion, I came across this comment:

Pet peeve: “cf” stands for “conferre”, which means “to compare”; you are using it as reference or a “see for example”. Though an extremely common usage, it is incorrect. “cf” should be used for “compare with”, and you don’t want to compare the writings of Hardy with the statement that Number Theory was considered useless; rather, you want to use Hardy’s writings as a reference to the assertion that Number Theory was considered useless…

As well as Arturo Magidin, the authority of Wikipedia backs this up:

The abbreviation cf. (short for the Latin: confer/conferatur, both meaning “compare”)[1] is used in writing to refer the reader to other material to make a comparison with the topic being discussed. It is used to form a contrast, for example: “Abbott (2010) found supportive results in her memory experiment, unlike those of previous work (cf. Zeller & Williams, 2007).”[2] It is recommended that “cf.” be used only to suggest a comparison, and the word “see” be used to point to a source of information.[3][4]

I am ashamed to say that for my whole life (well, the portion of my life I have used Cf., which I would say is twenty-something years) I has been offedning Arturo Magidin and indeed proper usage by using it to mean “See”.

You learn something new every day.

“no longer did immediate this-worldly success have to be decisive”

From “God’s Gamble: The Gravitational Power of Crucified Love” by Gil Bailie:

The Resurrection delivers men from the fear of death,” writes John Meyendorff, “and, therefore, also from the necessity of struggling for existence.” Such a struggle for existence is spiritually deadening precisely inasmuch as it inevitably becomes a struggle against others for preeminence, material advantage, power, or survival. To the extent that it has been sacramentally instantiated in the life of the believer, the Resurrection of Christ provides the wherewithal required to live responsibly and nobly. Thus it is that the Resurrection has opened up history in a way never before known.

As Raymund Schwager observed: Through the resurrection of Christ . . . it became possible . . . to see conflicts, persecutions, and defeats in a different way. No longer did immediate this-worldly success have to be decisive. History as the history of victors was, at least in principle, overcome. . . . Truth and immediate this-worldly success were separated.

Though the responsibility for proclaiming the truth and struggling for its triumph in this world is in no way diminished, the Resurrection relieves those on whom the Easter Sun has shone of the desperate project of trying to achieve in history what can be fulfilled only eschatologically—a fool’s errand that has turned the late-modern period into a crematoria like no other in history.