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April 21, 2014

Andrew Silow-Carroll: Passoverkill? Suggestions to make next year's seders even more culturally sensitive

Sara Israelsen Hartley: Seeking the Divine: An ancient connection in a new context

Christine M. Flowers: Priest's execution in Syria should be call to action

Courtnie Erickson: How to help kids accept the poor decisions of others

Lizette Borreli: A Glass Of Milk A Day Keeps Knee Arthritis At Bay

Lizette Borreli: 5 Health Conditions Your Breath Knows Before You Do

The Kosher Gourmet by Betty Rosbottom Coconut Walnut Bars' golden brown morsels are a beautifully balanced delectable delight

April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review April 1, 2013/ 21 Nissan, 5773

Connections and coincidence: History is full of mysterious relationships, including clusters of greatness

By David Shribman




JewishWorldReview.com | In olden times, when people wrote on paper and employed postage stamps, letters created unlikely connections.

The most remarkable set of correspondence in American history was surely the letters between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson after the two men left the White House.

In England, there were the letters, written sometimes during cabinet meetings, sometimes three times a day, between H.H. Asquith, who became prime minister of Great Britain in 1908, and Venetia Stanley, a London socialite. And there were the letters between David Lloyd George, who succeeded Asquith as prime minister in 1916, and Frances Stevenson, who became his second wife.

Not long ago the New Yorker magazine published a series of affecting letters between the writer Daniel Mendelsohn and the novelist Mary Renault. These provide poignant insights into a young man's searchings and longings.

Hardly anyone pays attention to the letters between Calvin Coolidge, 30th president of the United States, and his father, the notary public who swore in his son by the light of a kerosene lamp in a Vermont farmhouse in August 1923, but they offer great insights into a man whose virtues only now are being celebrated.

In her provocative and readable new biography of Calvin Coolidge, Amity Shlaes examines those letters and quotes one that the young Coolidge, then a student at Amherst College, wrote his father on the occasion of the death of Oliver Wendell Holmes in 1894. Referring to "the Autocrat of the Breakfast Table on whom the years sat so lightly and who had just declared that he was 85 years young," Coolidge noted with great regret that only "Gladstone is left of those great men who were born in 1809."

Indeed, the year 1809 produced perhaps the most unlikely connections of all time.

William Ewart Gladstone, four times Britiain's prime minister, was but one of several giants born in 1809. The others included Charles Darwin, Abraham Lincoln, the poets Edgar Allan Poe and Alfred Lord Tennyson, the composer Felix Mendelssohn, the American frontier explorer Kit Carson, the inventor Cyrus McCormick and the author Nikolai Gogol.

How are we to account for this astonishing blossoming of political, scientific and artistic power from the boys of 1809? Was it merely a coincidence that so much genius was created in a single year, or did social, political and cultural events conspire to produce an especially fertile environment?

While the crop of 1809 was unusually bountiful, we stand in wonder, too, at other examples of generational fecundity -- the ties that bind but mystify.

How was it possible for Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederic Handel and Domenico Scarlatti, three of the titans of serious art music, to all have been born in the year 1685, with Handel and Bach born just over a month apart? (Taking this one step further, what are we to make of the death of Joseph Haydn in that luminous year of 1809? And could it be possible that Kit Carson's birth in December 1809 -- on Christmas Eve! -- was some celestial compensation for the death of another explorer, Meriwether Lewis, two months earlier?)

History is full of surprising connections, none more beguiling than the West Point Class of 1915, known as the class the stars fell upon. That class produced nearly five dozen generals, accounting for more than a third of the class. Among them were two with five stars (Dwight Eisenhower, Omar Bradley), two with four stars and seven with three. The West Point Class of 1976 has produced two four-star generals (nearly three dozen generals in all) and is the only class to have produced commanders of two concurrent wars, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Their only known rivals for achievement might be the Harvard Business School Class of 1949, which counts among its ranks onetime chiefs of Xerox, Johnson & Johnson, Capital Cities/ABC, General Dynamics and the Securities and Exchange Commission. Under their sway were the Hilton hotels, Rockefeller Center, the Chicago Bulls -- and a powerful government bureaucracy.

"People push each other to excel, but some of it is circumstantial, having to do with the opportunities presented to a certain group at a certain time," says Laurence Shames, who wrote a book about this group of Harvard overachievers. "The men of the Class of '49 may not have been smarter than others but they had a great deal more life experience, partially because they were veterans of World War II. They had values beyond business and beyond making money that gave them a riper sense of leadership."

These clusters of excellence have occurred throughout history, thrusting men and women of talent together and then, through the friction of their interchanges and the fertility of their friendships, elevating all of them to greater heights. Perhaps that explains why Jill Abramson, the executive editor of The New York Times, John G. Roberts Jr,. the chief justice of the United States, and Yo Yo Ma, the celebrated cellist, all took degrees from Harvard College in 1976, the year that produced so many West Point generals.

And consider the men who studied at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Me., with Franklin Pierce, later the 14th president. They included William Pitt Fessenden, a distinguished senator and treasury secretary, and the writers Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Pierce later appointed Hawthorne consul to Liverpool.

Coolidge was not isolated from this cluster phenomenon, either. Three members of his Amherst Class of 1895 were state legislators, one was an editor of the Pittsburgh Gazette (a precursor newspaper to today's Post-Gazette), one was the winner of a great balloon race and another, Dwight Morrow of Pittsburgh, was an ambassador, a senator and eventually the father-in-law of Charles Lindbergh.

Coolidge also was close to Harlan Fiske Stone at Amherst, who was a class ahead of him. Coolidge appointed Stone, who had been a Wall Street lawyer, as his attorney general and, later, to the Supreme Court. Franklin Delano Roosevelt elevated him to chief justice in 1941.

This theme can be carried too far, of course, and we're probably already past that point. So consider the year 1961. Among those born that year were Eddie Murphy (April 3), Boy George (June 14), Meg Ryan (Nov. 19), Heather Locklear (Sept. 25) and Aaron Sorkin (June 9). None of them has much if any connection with a man born Aug. 4, 1961. You know him as the 44th president of the United States.

Comment by clicking here.

David Shribman, a Pulitzer Prize winner in journalism, is executive editor of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.


Previously:



03/25/13 Where portraits tell the story of America's greatest conflict
03/18/13 A former president's correspondence reveals the power of letters, and the powerlessness of aging
03/11/13 Outrageous spectacle lead to a rational resolution on the budget? A nation can dream, can't it?
02/25/13 The one big thing Democrats and Republicans can actually agree on
02/18/13 Obama is wrong to make young people think college is mainly about making a living
02/11/13 The war inside the GOP
02/04/13 Presidential politics, frozen in place
01/28/13 Speech invokes past for present and future
01/14/13 If Obama's inaugural address is to be remembered at all
01/21/13 Identity crisis in the GOP
01/07/13 History meets firearms
12/31/12 In search of our better angels
12/24/12 Wounded in war, Inouye just kept serving his country
12/10/12 President as change agent
12/10/12 Another overtime election
12/03/12 Defining the Obama presidency: Our re-elected chief executive has the whip hand now, but how will he use
11/19/12 New Hampshire 2016
11/12/12 Obama's second chance
11/05/12 America's first martyr to free speech
10/29/12 Making hay in Iowa
10/15/12 When two men confronted each other from afar as civilization hung in the balance
10/08/12 If you look at the election a certain way, things don't seem so terrible
10/01/12 Debating the debates
09/24/12 Pessimists R Us
08/20/12 Obama remains a puzzle even as he asks the American people for a second chance
08/13/12 With Ryan, Romney upends the conversation
08/06/12 The real Romney remains hidden behind other people's opinions
07/30/12 What summer is for: How August can matter, and how Romney might use it
07/23/12 The Independent son of independent Maine promises to shake up Washington
07/16/12 The Rambler American
07/09/12 The Telstar revolution: Fifty years ago, a 3-foot orb was sent aloft and spawned a new era in communications
07/02/12 It's got only four electoral votes, but Romney and Obama will be fighting for them
06/25/12 A little noted rebellion over a lonely stretch of land helps tell the American story
06/18/12 You're nothing special: Luck is what you make of it . . . and what it makes of you
06/11/12 Anybody can talk authoritatively about the presidential election. Here's how
06/04/12 Candidates love to ally themselves with admired presidents, in sometimes unexpected ways
05/29/12 Americans aren't in a new burst of patriotism but they are in a new burst of appreciation for the military
05/21/12 Inside out: Almost nothing about this year's presidential election conforms to conventional analysis
05/14/12 Lugar grew into an elder statesman, which is why he'll be leaving the Senate
05/07/12 50 years later, MacArthur's farewell to arms continues to inspire
04/30/12 The likability factor: We're going to find out how important it is in these troubled times
04/23/12 Romney's four battles: With the nomination essentially in hand, he must turn to new challenges
04/16/12 For GOPers, expect the frustration to build, not abate
04/09/12 The political battles you cannot see
04/02/12 Romney's roadmap: Doing better in Democratic states may complicate his fall campaign
03/26/12 Romney struggles with same GOP forces his father faced long ago
03/19/12 The writer and the president
03/12/12 Romney could learn from his rivals after Super Tuesday
03/05/12 The GOP race continues, and Republicans continue to grouse about their choices
02/27/12 The turnout threat: when voters vamoose
02/20/12 The Winter's Tale: Republicans are engaged in a 'problem play,' full of psychological, and real, drama
02/13/12 Which Ike to like?
02/08/12 A tale of two elections: Voters today are making their most profound choice since 1912
01/30/12 Whither the GOP establishment?
01/23/12 The Democratic coalition is breaking up
01/09/12 The verdict that wasn't
01/02/12 These are the keys to who will persist
12/19/11 Another Gingrich rebellion
12/12/11 A defining fight for the GOP
12/05/11 A distinct lack of enthusiasm
11/28/11 For GOPers, the winds are beginning to pick up, the horizon is darkening
11/21/11 Today's polarized politics . . . blame FDR and the political scientists
11/11/11The sporting life
11/07/11 Ron Paul, true believer
10/31/11 Why Cain isn't able
10/10/11 GOP starting over
10/03/11 The Forgotten War of 1812
09/26/11 The way we live now
09/19/11 The crisis this time
09/11/11 But what will it mean?
09/05/11 A horse race column: Who might win the GOP nomination and how it might unfold
08/29/11 The vacuum calls
08/22/11 Passion and politics: How Barack Obama and Mitt Romney got crowded into the same dangerous corner
08/15/11 Eleanor's little village
08/08/11 The agony of August
08/01/11 The politics of the impossible: What a country this might be if the political class served the broad interests of the majority
07/25/11 Pennant fever grips 'Burgh
07/18/11 Exemplar of an era
07/11/11 On summer
07/04/11 The soul of the party
06/27/11 What the Secretary said
06/20/11 Romney has big advantages over his rivals, but they will be coming after him
06/06/11 One question each
05/30/11 The 14-week challenge
05/23/11 Delay tactics
05/16/11 Republicans are waiting
05/09/11 Bin Laden is dead. What does it mean?
05/02/11 From nobodies to nominees
04/25/11 The founders left slavery for future generations to settle, and we still haven't fully come to terms with it
04/18/11 From audacious to cautious
04/11/11 Dreaming of space
12/12/10 The GOP takes control
12/06/10 DECEMBER 7
11/29/10 GOP presidential hopefuls already are lining up local supporters in what is now a red state
11/22/10 Burning down the House
11/15/10 Institutions of higher learning are finally beginning to teach important lifeskills
11/04/10 The war has just begun
11/01/10 Echoes of a speech 40 years ago this week still resonate today
10/25/10 50 years ago America chose between two men who were dramatically different --- and eerily similar





© 2011, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Distributed by Universal Uclick, as agent for UFS.

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