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What Alfred Russel Wallace Really Thought About Darwin

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  • by Krishnoid (984597) * on Sunday January 27, 2013 @02:59AM (#42705925) Journal
    Semi-offtopic, but is there any blog software capable of publishing entries with dates prior to 1900? If someone wanted to publish something like a diary with dates marked accurately in a blog format, can that be done? It seems that this would be an interesting medium, at least in concept, to present items of historical relevance.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday January 27, 2013 @03:04AM (#42705943)

      No. No digital representation of a date can represent values before 1900, nor is it even mathematically possible.

      • You are absolutely correct. It is also a little known fact that all the days between Saturday and Sunday were lost sometime before 1900 and so we are left with only 7 of the original 9 days of the week. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to wake up on Uranday or Nepturday on a sunny day a year before the year 1900.
    • by DavidD_CA (750156)

      It would be really interesting to see, say, the diary of Anne Frank posted in a blog format -- verbatim, possibly with historical photos added.

      Or the scientific journals of Darwin.

      Also semi-off-topic: I once wandered into an IRC channel and found the entire cast of Hamlet (as bots) going line by line through the script complete with /me-style actions.

    • 64 bit date formats in OpenVMS go back to 1858 IIRC.

      • by dmbasso (1052166)

        From this openvms faq [hoffmanlabs.com]:
        The modified Julian date adopted by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) for satellite tracking is Julian Day 2400000.5, which turns out to be midnight on November 17, 1858.

    • by Jesus_666 (702802)
      I don't see why not. For instance, WordPress posts use MySQL DATETIME fields, which allow dates as far back as 0000-00-00. If you want your post to appear as being from 1531, go right ahead.

      Now, WordPress automatically sets the post date and AFAIK you'd have to resort to database manipulation to change it but if there isn't already a plugin that handles this it would be easy to write one.
    • by Pseudonym (62607)

      The usual way to handle it is to remove dates completely from the stylesheet [pepysdiary.com] and just put the date in the title.

    • by Quirkz (1206400)
      Or a reprint of such horror classics as Frankenstein or Dracula? I believe both were written as a collection or journals.
    • Coming in late, but you might like http://www.pepysdiary.com/ [pepysdiary.com]

  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @03:28AM (#42706003)

    A wormhole into a can of worms? I doubt it. Wallace has never critized Darwin publicly as far as I know, and I doubt in secrecy either. Did Victorian English ever use blunt language in writing? I don't really know but I suspect they didn't. I some of the summaries to the scanned pages and find it hard to believe there was ever

    Yes, Wallace is our too little sung hero. He is not unsung (e.g. http://wallacefund.info/song-about-alfred-russel-wallace [wallacefund.info], http://wallacefund.info/mr-darwin-mr-wallace-mr-matthew-song-mr-haines [wallacefund.info]) and I've raised many a toast to his memory!

    • by Runaway1956 (1322357) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @03:50AM (#42706077) Homepage Journal

      One result of Wallace's early travels has been a modern controversy about his nationality. Since Wallace was born in Monmouthshire, some sources have considered him to be Welsh.[7] However some historians have questioned this because neither of his parents was Welsh, his family only briefly lived in Monmouthshire, the Welsh people Wallace knew in his childhood considered him to be English, and because Wallace himself consistently referred to himself as English rather than Welsh (even when writing about his time in Wales). One Wallace scholar has stated that because of these facts the most reasonable interpretation was that he was an Englishman born in Wales.[8]

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alfred_Russel_Wallace [wikipedia.org]

      I guess the real question is, could he become king of England?

      • I guess the real question is, could he become king of England?

        Well, no, cause he's dead.

        • by ultranova (717540)

          I guess the real question is, could he become king of England?

          Well, no, cause he's dead.

          But wouldn't that make him an excellent king? Being dead, he can't become involved in any scandal, all his words can be re-interpreted as people wish, and all his misdeeds can be excused as fair for his time. It works for American Founding Fathers, so why not the King of England?

          Even better would be a completely fictional person, a royal version of a virtual idol if you will. Almost all we get to see of real royals is

      • by Elky Elk (1179921)

        Well, No. Because he's not German.

      • by tehcyder (746570)

        I guess the real question is, could he become king of England?

        As there is no such title, no he couldn't.

        The current Queens' title is Queen of Great Britain [wikipedia.org]. And Wales is part of Great Britain (like Scotland).

        • So - the title is up for grabs? I need to check into getting it for myself! I'm sure that Aunt Sophie would approve!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      "Did Victorian English ever use blunt language in writing?"

      Of course they did. Otherwise words like "cad", "fop", and "dandy" wouldn't exist in their traditional sense in the English language. There's quite the collection of blunt insults that were used in the 19th century that have fallen out of fashion. Well, or in some cases, been re-tasked as words with slightly different meaning or as unfortunate acronyms.

      Anyway, both Darwin and Wallace were gentlemen enough to write and publish a paper together abo

    • Did Victorian English ever use blunt language in writing?

      Of course they did. And you can bet that Elizabethan-era English certainly had its own share of insulting terms, though admittedly the term "expletives" wouldn't nearly cover all of the insults (they did better than the "Yo Mama!" joke.) http://www.renfaire.com/Language/insults.html [renfaire.com] is one site that gives a rather nice explanation about the sorts of terms used and occasionally why they might not be used any longer.

  • by GodfatherofSoul (174979) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @04:06AM (#42706103)

    Been a while since I read an essay on "Origin", but as I recall Darwin was sitting on his works for quite a while. It was only after he learned that someone else was working on what he'd already accomplished that he decided to publish. Much like the way Newton had to be goaded into publishing the Principia.

    • by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @05:09AM (#42706241) Homepage Journal

      It's not that Darwin was lazy, it was that the religious environment was such that one risked being fired for ticking off the religious establishments. It wasn't quite as bad as Galileo, but the same kind of forces.

      Thus, he wanted the publication to be as water-tight as possible before releasing it; and that's one of the reasons why the work, for the most part, stands the test of time.

      • Correction, I should have said "blacklisted" instead of just "fired".

        Isn't that term considered racist, though? Is there a P.C. replacement?

        • Isn't that term considered racist, though? Is there a P.C. replacement?

          I have a feeling that I missed the joke, but there's nothing racist about the word "blacklisting" or "blacklisted."

          • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

            by Anonymous Coward

            there's nothing racist about the word "blacklisting" or "blacklisted."

            Agreed. Incorrectly perceived racism is no reason to be niggardly with your vocabulary.

          • You obviously missed the story about the government officials who were fired for being racist because they used the word "niggardly". Or the story about the City Councilman in Dallas (I believe) who demanded an apology from his fellow Councilman for the latter's use of the word "black-hole" to describe the city's budget deficit. Or for that matter the story of the student who was disciplined for racial harassment because he read a book about how the KKK was defeated in a street brawl while on his breaks whi
          • by tehcyder (746570)

            Isn't that term considered racist, though? Is there a P.C. replacement?

            I have a feeling that I missed the joke, but there's nothing racist about the word "blacklisting" or "blacklisted."

            It is possible to argue that any phrase which uses "black" in a negative way is potentially unhelpful in reinforcing stereotypes in such words as "blacklisted", or "blackballed" or the concept of "black hat" and "white hat" cowboys or hackers.

            In much the same way calling someone "a sinister ginger cunt" may be perceived as offensive on several levels.

        • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

          Correction, I should have said "blacklisted" instead of just "fired".

          Isn't that term considered racist, though? Is there a P.C. replacement?

          No, there is no P.C. replacement because blacklisting has nothing to do with race. From wWikipedia:
          According to the Henry Holt Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins the word "blacklist" originated with a list England's King Charles II made of fifty-eight judges and court officers who sentenced his father, Charles I, to death in 1649. When Charles II was restored to the throne in 1660, thirteen of these executioners were put to death and twenty-five sentenced to life imprisonment, while others escaped.

      • by Dcnjoe60 (682885)

        It's not that Darwin was lazy, it was that the religious environment was such that one risked being fired for ticking off the religious establishments. It wasn't quite as bad as Galileo, but the same kind of forces.

        Thus, he wanted the publication to be as water-tight as possible before releasing it; and that's one of the reasons why the work, for the most part, stands the test of time.

        Except that is pure speculation. There is no evidence that Darwin delayed publishing because he was afraid of the religious establishments. Based on his other writings, one could construe that he was anything but afraid of the religious establishment.

        • yes. I'm not an expert, but there was clearly some combination of physical and psychological illness, though there's nothing definitive on what. Even by the standards of gentleman scientists he was awfully slow, and you can argue that science was ill-served by his slowness.

          And yeah, in mid-19th-century Britain you would be criticized by the religious establishment, but it's not like they could hurt him or deny him an audience. The dude was wealthy, and a near-recluse in any case.

          Darwin was a great scient

    • if it wasn't for Darwin's delay, Wallace would probably only be known now to a handful of specialists.

  • Your headline is "What Alfred Russel Wallace Really Thought About Darwin," but there is no mention of this information in the article. One has to read 4000 letters to find it.
    • Well - were you planning anything else for next month? Think of it, 28 days devoted to researching something you never really gave a damn about anyway. You'll only have to average ~143 letters per day, then you can go on about the business of your life in March.

    • One has to read 4000 letters to find it.

      One has to read the primary source and form an opinion. That's not a bad thing. It means you can form your own one.

      • OK, I did it for you!

        So, to save you time:

        I think it's a fair assessment of the situation to say that Wallace did not think very highly of Darwin. This is apparent in letter number 3024 where he quite clearly states that if "[he met] Darwin he ... would pop a cap in his arse(sic)."

         

  • by Tablizer (95088) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @05:21AM (#42706253) Homepage Journal

    The Wallace Award is for people who would get a Darwin Award, but are slighted full recognition for their achievement.

  • by aNonnyMouseCowered (2693969) on Sunday January 27, 2013 @08:25AM (#42706603)

    The metadata for some random entry I clicked on reads like:

    LETTER (WCP1.1)

    A typical letter handwritten by author in English.

    Held by: Natural History Museum
    Finding number: NHM WP1/1/1
    Copyright owner: Copyright of the A. R. Wallace Literary Estate
    Record scrutiny: 01/12/2011 - Catchpole, Caroline;

    I'm curious about the copyright field. Aren't the letters supposed to be public domain? Since Wallaced died in 1913, which is well past the 50-75 years after death clause of most countries' copyright regimes, shouldn't the copyright on the letters have lapsed already?

    IANAL but I'm assuming that the letters have already been "published" by virtue of their having been snail-mailed and read by a second party. It's not as if they're some long-lost manuscript that's been hidden in some author's dusty drawer, which can arguably be considered as unpublished.

    • by sribe (304414)

      I'm curious about the copyright field. Aren't the letters supposed to be public domain? Since Wallaced died in 1913, which is well past the 50-75 years after death clause of most countries' copyright regimes, shouldn't the copyright on the letters have lapsed already?

      I know you can copyright a translation. Can you copyright a transcription? At least in the U.S. that seems unlikely to stand up in court because of the missing creative element, but it may well be that in other countries you can copyright such...

  • The correspondence of Alfred Russel Wallace has gone online for the first time.

    I just saw Doug Flutie talking to him on the sideline at the Pro Bowl. Who knew he was so versatile.

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