Bob Moses Is an Inspiration

No, not that one. This one. If we had a few more like him, our education system would be the envy of the world. To get an idea of just how important a figure Moses is, consider the following excerpt:

Taylor Branch, a leading historian of the civil rights era, says Moses' Northern roots, quiet demeanor and philosophical training made him different from many of the movement's decidedly Southern and evangelical leaders.

"He spoke quietly, he didn't give big sermons like Martin Luther King," Branch says. "He didn't seek out dramatic confrontations like the Freedom Riders and the sit-ins, but he did inspire a broad range of grassroots leadership."

Branch says Moses was self-effacing, observant and sensitive. He says Moses went south to serve Mississippi's sharecroppers and ended up a leader by helping to push voter registration to the center of civil rights work.

"To this day he is a startling paradox," Branch says. "I think his influence is almost on par with Martin Luther King, and yet he's almost totally unknown."

Benjamin Franklin told us that we have a republic if we can keep it. If we can get Bob Moses more famous, and if others are inspired to follow his example, we might be able to keep our republic after all.

Quote of the Day

. . . if “all successful applications of probability to describe nature can be traced to quantum origins,” as Albrecht and Phillips maintain, that means that even when we think we’re using classical probabilities, deep down, it’s really the quantum world calling the shots. We are opening the box on Schrödinger’s cat every time we flip a coin or check the weather, and countless other times during every day.

--Jennifer Ouelette

How the Creative Class Created

Quite fascinating:

Nikola Tesla typically worked from noon until midnight, breaking at 8:00 p.m. for dinner every night at the Waldorf-Astoria. Among the many peculiarities of this ritualized repast was his practice of not starting the meal until he had computed his dinner's cubic volume, "a compulsion he had developed in his childhood." Truman Capote, who wrote lying down in bed or on a couch, refused to let more than two cigarette butts pile up in an ashtray and "couldn't begin or end anything on a Friday." Louis Armstrong smoked pot ("gage," as he called it) almost daily and couldn't go to sleep until he had taken his dose of a "potent herbal laxative" called Swiss Kriss. "Armstrong believed so strongly in its curative powers that he recommended it to all his friends," Currey writes, "and even had a card printed up with a photo of himself sitting on a toilet, above the caption 'Leave It All Behind Ya.' "

The prolific Hungarian mathematician Paul Erdos believed that "a mathematician is a machine for turning coffee into theorems." And indeed, if there's a drug the artists in
 Daily Rituals can agree on, it's caffeine. Soren Kierkegaard preferred his coffee with sugar, or perhaps it was vice versa: "Delightedly he seized hold of the bag containing the sugar and poured sugar into the coffee cup until it was piled above the rim," his biographer observed. "Next came the incredibly strong, black coffee, which slowly dissolved the white pyramid."

[. . .]

James Joyce, we learn, woke daily around 10:00 a.m. He'd lie in bed for about an hour, then get up, shave and sit down at his piano, where he'd play and sing before writing in the afternoon and then hitting the cafes later that evening. John Updike, meanwhile, worked mornings, preferring to "put the creative project first," as he put it. Of his discipline, he said, "I've never believed that one should wait until one is inspired because I think that the pleasures of not writing are so great that if you ever start indulging them you will never write again."

“Some of the creative feats mentioned in the book seem godlike. P.G. Wodehouse, for instance, wrote the last 8,000 words of 'Thank You, Jeeves' in a single day.

Charles Darwin boasts one of the book's strictest schedules. After a stroll and breakfast alone, Darwin would begin a 90-minute work session around 8:00 a.m. He'd break to read mail with his wife and then return to his study around 10:30 a.m. for a second session. By noon or so, he'd have completed what he considered his workday, but the rest of his waking hours were no less regimented. He responded to letters, read and rested at regular intervals until bedtime, which arrived daily around 10:30 p.m. "Thus his days went for forty years," Currey writes, "with few exceptions."

(Via 3 Quarks Daily.)