” After studying mathematics at the University of Birmingham, she [MLBL] spent the latter part of the Second World War working at the Telecommunications Research Establish (TRE), the secret centre of Britain’s radar development effort. With the war over she returned to her studies, before leaving Britain for the Mount Stromlo observatory in Australia in 1947, where she worked classifying the spectra of stars. In 1951 she returned to Britain and chanced across an advert for a job at Ferranti in Manchester that would change her life: “I was reading Nature and saw an advertisement one day for – saying, ‘Mathematicians wanted to work on a digital computer.’”
It’s often asked whether we are still fighting the Civil War (“The past is never dead. It’s not even past.”–Faulkner), but I also wonder whether we are in some way still fighting the Vietnam War, or at least contesting its legacy. People who were alive at the time came together this weekend at “Lessons of Vietnam” with a goal of extending the conversation and complicating the “official” versions of the history.
From their website, “This effort began last fall in reaction to the Pentagon’s plans for their own commemoration, including extensive public outreach and a false and one-sided website history of the Vietnam War that excluded the peace movement. The New York Times reported our objections on its front page. While former presidents and Pentagon officials seek to obscure the memory of what we accomplished, we will keep pushing for an accurate history of both the Vietnam War and one of our country’s most important social movements.”
Hoping that a film will come out of, and more resources for teaching. It’s not a period to forget (or to reflect on in a one-dimensional way).
Watching the terrific adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” on Masterpiece and enjoyed the visual reference to the Holbein portrait of Thomas Cromwell (even sitting for a portrait comes with a bit of pointed political intrigue in this take on the story).
The painting itself hangs in the Frick, and is paired with that of Thomas More by the same artist. Both Anton Lesser who plays More and the dazzling Mark Rylance, the Cromwell, evoke the characters in these paintings to an extraordinary degree, a conversation about representation of history that continues.
It’s also interesting to consider the conversation between Mantel’s telling of the Thomas More story and the beloved (if now sort of 1960s ) version in A Man for All Seasons. A great feast for lovers of fine acting of an earlier era.