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In Honor of Herschel Browne


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I'm so very sorry to say that Herschel Browne - our own, irreplaceable The Hersch - member #248 - who has regaled us with his extraordinary intelligence and acerbic wit since May 25, 2005 - passed away tonight after a year-long struggle with liver disease.

This evening, I'm in Baltimore helping another friend with medical issues, so I'll write more tomorrow, Tuesday - and because of these circumstances, I won't be able to take the community offline tomorrow - but we will be offline on Wednesday for one hour, 12-1 PM.

Kind regards,


PS - Please look out for a potential new member: Ed Mulrenin, who was Herschel's guardian angel when he was getting towards the end. Ed is a hero, and needs to be recognized as such.

Poor Herschel - he didn't ask for any of this. Maybe he should have taken better care of himself, but nobody asks for this. :(

Nobody solved Herschel's Jun 13th History Problem - nobody had a chance, and he knew it, but he'd like it the most if we all gave it a shot. The bastard slipped in one, impossible challenge, just before he left us. He was kind enough to send me the real answers, which I'll publish in his name - but people should really try to answer it first - I can "play Herschel," and do the best I can to guide you.

I'd say that a lot of intelligence and education died with Herschel, but the truth is that much of it can found right here. Gosh, he was argumentative, and I never had much of anything to say that would quiet him down - mainly because he *always* had something else to enlighten me with. His and my discussions were classic examples of what I value most in this community: discussing to learn; not arguing to win. He knew this; yet, he discussed things at such a high level, that it was a constant challenge just trying to keep up with this brilliant, worldly man.

What a loss - what a horrible loss for us all.

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I'm posting the answers to Herschel's incredibly difficult trivia challenge. Honestly, this makes me incredibly sad, because when he sent them to me, I wrote him back, saying "This is a hard damned quiz." His response, less than one-month after which he'd be gone: :( 


I thought it would be. I knew all these (widely available, although hard to look up) facts off the top of my head, and could have answered them as they're framed. And I'm boasting only slightly. I imagine you could come up with just as difficult a quiz. Just don't make it about wine, which would be unfair.

Sorry for not responding sooner; I've been hors de combat for a few days, but am doing well now. Can you come and see me some time soon? I know you've been poorly too, but a visit from you with a good chat (and a glass of excellent calvados) would almost certainly be restorative for both of us. At least give me a call at 202-387-4840. 

More than all the best, 


Hi Don. The quiz answers are as follows:

1. Fred Steiner

2. Frederic March, one of the great screen actors, last appeared in the American Film Theater's production of the The Iceman Cometh. He played Harry Hope.

3. Robert Ryan's last appearance was in the same Iceman, as Larry.

4. June 13th is the feast of Saint Anthony of Padua. He had left Portugal as a young man to join Saint Francis of Assisi in Italy. He is now among other things the patron saint of his home city of Lisbon, where June 13th is a big festive holiday. June 13th is an official holiday in Lisbon and vicinity but nowhere else.

5. Ingram Frizer, whoever he might have been, murdered Marlowe at some house in Deptford, as was convincingly established by the historian Leslie Hotson in a monograph published in 1922.

6. Meaningful to those of a certain age. It accomplished an extensive reorganization of Usenet by renaming all of the discussion groups into a set of forums and subforums according to a fixed hierarchy based on high-level qualifiers. All clear?

7. The bridge was the Taft Bridge, which carries Connecticut Ave over the Rock Creek gorge. Had they built the Red Line to use the existing structure, it would have saved the enormous expense if tunneling under the creek, and they could have built Woodley Park station much less deep than it is today. I guess it made too much sense.


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11 hours ago, MC Horoscope said:

What about this question number 6?

6. The Roosevelts: What were the names of the 2 branches, and can you elaborate? 

I guessed Hyde Park and Oyster Bay, where the FDR and TR branches spent a lot of time.

You were correct on that one.  I had read a fair bit on the Roosevelt’s and also knew that answer.

Franklin and Eleanor were 4th or 5 th cousins, Teddy Roosevelt was Eleanor’s uncle and close to her and attended their wedding.

Growing up I was aware of many 2nd cousins on my dad’s side-his parents were immigrants to the US each with 6 brothers and sisters and so he had many first cousins most in the NYC region.  I and my brother and father met still more folks with the same last name whose ancestors were from the same region of Poland, presumably 3rd and maybe 4th or 5th cousins.  When you do the math on dna... and potentially shared genes it gets very remote.  

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Yes, it can get remote pretty quickly. I believe it goes like this:

1st cousins share same grandparent

2nd cousins share same great grandparent

3rd cousins share same great great grandparent

4th, 5th, and so on ...


Most of my cousins my age are 1st cousins once removed. (They''re the children of my first cousins, most of whom are 20 years older than me and were having their first kids at the time my parents were having their last one!)



On another note, Robert Ryan is a favorite of mine. Although he often played mean or rough or at least crusty characters, sometimes even racist, as in Bad Day at Black Rock, The Racket, The Professionals, The Wild Bunch, Dirty Dozen, you wouldn't know it but he was committed to liberal causes. When Woody Guthrie died Ryan did narration at the Carnegie Hall celebration of Guthrie's music in 1967, reading quite movingly from Guthrie's book Bound for Glory. After the show the cast of musicians packed up and crowded Ryan's Upper West Side apartment for socializing and sing alongs. Turns out that very apartment/suite later came into the hands of John Lennon and Yoko Ono in, that's right, The Dakota, along Central Park.

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