Can’t forget one of our key missions here

Reporting on notable Helys.  Here’s one:

That’s in the Ahmedabad Mirror.

Kalyan Shah took that for us over on Wikipedia, thanks Kalyan!

We could use some good news.  Keep going, Hely!

Bob Dancer

fascinated by this quote in this New York Times article about the Vegas shooter.

Made me think about Addiction By Design which we discussed here.  Would love to hear Natasha Dow Schüll’s take on this guy.



Ken Burns & Lynne Novick’s The Vietnam War I felt was “harrowing.”

What does the word harrowing mean?


In farming this is a harrow.

A device consisting of a heavy framework having several disks or teeth in a row, which is dragged across ploughed land to smooth or break up the soil, to remove weeds or cover seeds;

A harrowing documentary feels like it’s doing this to you?

A harrowing experience is painful, but it breaks up your clods.

The etymology drifts back into the mists of Old Norse before dissolving away into Proto-Indo-European and Old Persian, but it may have something to do with “harvest”



From Proto-Germanic*harjōną (see also East Frisian ferheerje, German verheeren(to harry, devastate)) Swedish härja(ravage, harry)), from Proto-Germanic*harjaz(army) (see also Old English here, West Frisian hear, Dutch heer, German Heer), from Proto-Indo-European*koryos (compare Middle Irish cuire(army), Lithuanian kãrias(army; war), Old Church Slavonic кара(karastrife), Ancient Greek κοίρανος(koíranoschief, commander), Old Persian [script needed](kāraarmy)).

As a boy, Winston Churchill went to a school called Harrow:

which he found to be a harrowing experience.  Churchill had many harrowing experiences.  He was in combat, for one.  That’s a famous harrow.  Having polio is harrowing.

UNITED STATES – SEPTEMBER 27: President Franklin D. Roosevelt leaves his home at 49 East 65th Street for a short visit to his family estate at Hyde Park, north of New York City. This photograph is unusual in that FDR’s leg braces are clearly visible. (Photo by Martin Mcevilly/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)

Childbirth has got to be harrowing, as is growing up on the frontier.

You wouldn’t wish any harrowing experiences on anybody, but it seems like all great leaders had been through a harrowing or two.



Lincoln Mailbag!

Wow, reader Dan G. didn’t take to Elizabeth Pryor Brown’s book, of which I spoke positively:

First chapter berates Lincoln for a disorderly approach to the military — fair enough, I suppose — without acknowledging the more defensible reasons for this, such as a desire to establish the facts on the ground independent of the possibly self-serving officers in the chair of command.  To hear her, the military should be spared any outside audit or opportunity for whistleblowing. And she doesn’t even mention his ultimate success. Her second chapter pooh-poohs his coarse humor and sometimes rustic rhetoric as though the prissy rareified manners of a Boston drawing room were innately superior and not, as they would have been in real life, a barrier to communicating with and leading the broad mass of the people.

It’s not just me:

He goes on to describe the book as:

a biography of Sam written by Diane

which is a funny idea.

Raven Maps

I’ve spoken before of my love of Raven Maps.  Shoutout to Professor McHugh for putting me onto them.

Recently I had some correspondence with them.  With their permission I share it with you.

Name: Steve Hely
Their Questions or Comments: Hi! Big fan of your maps, have bought several. I was interested in learning some cartography basics so I can make a topo map of a small (five square miles) area of the world I inhabit and love. Do you have or know of any resources for learning these skills! Thanks!

(That’s what I wrote, on their form).

Raven Maps replies:

Steve Hely,

Well, that’s a good question. The old techniques have long-since been reduced to algorithms and interred in software. All maps are now produced digitally, but I assume you want to just enjoy learning your area in the way that mapping it allows? You don’t need to become a GIS / Cartography tech for that.
My suggestion: get the printed USGS 1:24,000 scale 1:7.5′ map of your area (perversely, an area you are interested in often turns out to be at the edge of two, or at the corners of two or three, in that case get all the sheets you need), or print them out from an on-line digital source); get tracing paper (or polyester drafting film), and start tracing the features you are particularly interested in– and just keep at it. Many iterations, probably many dozens. That’s OK, tracing paper is cheap. Colored pencils cost more but you won’t need all that many. Remember that every completed map has a great many more layers and classes of features than you probably care about, and probably does not show the ones you DO care about– and that’s where the fun starts, as you figure out what to leave off, how heavy / what color the lines are, how to identify the features you care about, and so on.
For an area of 5 miles on a side, differences in projection (among various source maps, which you will probably start consulting) will be only a very minor problem, you can probably ignore. Scale differences can be corrected at your local FedEx copy shop.
And always, keep on hand some sample map you especially like, so that you can see how that map handled the particular issue you are wondering how to solve. (There’s a reason you see aspiring painters closely studying the classics in museums– first, learn how THEY did it.)
Hope this helps,
Stuart Allan
Raven Maps
What a beautiful, civilized response.
A letter like that could inspire a lifetime passion for cartography.

I mean the USGS website is sick. What a beautiful thing we the taxpayers have made.


Gun Stocks

I don’t know why I care about this.  I guess because I’m interested in what moves stock prices, narratives invented around stock prices, and how things get reported?

This effect seems to me to be exaggerated.

Motley Fool notes:

The market for firearms is highly fragmented, with many names — Glock, Colt, Beretta  — privately owned, located abroad, or both. This can making investing in guns tricky. One of the easiest ways for an investor to gain exposure to this market, though, is through buying shares of industry leader American Outdoor Brands.

American Outdoor Brands is a nicer name than “Smith & Wesson”

Yesterday they were up 3.21%.

I asked a financial friend if he thought that was significant:

3%? Not very

The other big gun stock is Sturm, Ruger – RGR.

Yesterday they were up 3.48%.  Today they’re up another 1.78%.

Is that meaningful?  Maybe?  A tiny bit?


There is an initial burst in stock price immediately when trading opened, but that was mostly corrected by the end of the day.

Why do we tell ourselves this story?

I guess because it’s shocking these companies aren’t at all harmed when their product or a competitor’s products are used to shoot hundreds of people.

We tell this story because it’s twisted and we like twisted stories.

Even the Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund owns a buncha gun stock:



Shady Grove

In honor of the late great Tom Petty I invite you not to forget Mudcrutch, and post this Helytimes classic from April 2015


In my foolish youth I thought Tom Petty was kind of a joke, until Bob Dylan in Chronicles woke me up hard.

Bob also has words of respect for Jerry Garcia:

What an eerie tune.  Wikipedia is unusually quiet on this one.

Many verses exist, most of them describing the speaker’s love for a woman called Shady Grove. There are also various choruses, which refer to the speaker traveling somewhere (to Harlan, to a place called Shady Grove, or simply “away”)



The folks at take on the problem:

Subject: Origins: ‘Shady Grove’ a mondegreen ?
From: GUEST,Jake
Date: 15 Aug 10 – 11:23 PMMulling (for the thousandth time) over the incongruity of ‘Shady Grove’ which is nothing about trees protecting the singer from the sun, but seems to be a woman’s name, it occurred to me in a flash of insight, that of course it must have started as a song about a Woman or girl named “Sadie” with the surname “Grove”, ie, “Sadie Grove”, and was corrupted by the usual vagaries of oral transmission, etc, etc.   Searching this forum and the web generally provides no support for this conjecture, however.

Subject: RE: Origins: ‘Shady Grove’ a mondegreen ?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Aug 10 – 11:32 PMI have always shared this confusion: Shady Grove seems to be the woman’s name, but also the name of the place or location in which she lives, sometimes incongruously both at the same time. The fact that it’s one of those myriad songs [Going Down Town; Bowling Green …] which share pretty much the same set of ‘floaters’ doesn’t help.~Michael~

Subject: RE: Origins: ‘Shady Grove’ a mondegreen ?
From: Hamish
Date: 16 Aug 10 – 03:18 AM”Wish I was in Shady Grove” takes on a new meaning.”When I was in Shady Grove I heard them pretty birds sing” (and the earth moved, no doubt).

Subject: RE: Origins: ‘Shady Grove’ a mondegreen ?
From: GUEST,Lynn W
Date: 16 Aug 10 – 04:11 AMThere is a comment on Wikipedia that the melody is similar to Matty Groves. Any connection, I wonder?

Subject: RE: Origins: ‘Shady Grove’ a mondegreen ?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 16 Aug 10 – 05:19 AMWikipedia has got it backwards. The folk-revival version of “Matty Groves” took its tune from “Shady Grove”.

That’s as far down this hole as I can go at the moment.

I’d be shocked if any Helytimes readers hadn’t wikipedia’d The Child Ballads.

If demographizing the known Helytimes readership, I’d say “it’s people, mostly people I know, who have Wikipedia’d The Child Ballads.”

Still, why not a refresher on some best ofs?


Although shy and diffident on account of his working-class origins, he was soon recognized as “the best writer, best speaker, best mathematician, the most accomplished person in knowledge of general literature” and he became extremely popular with his classmates.

Child became the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory when he we was 26.  Says an admirer, writing in the 1970s:

Child well understood how indispensable good writing and good speaking are to civilization, or as many would now prefer to say, to society. For him, writing and speaking were not only the practical means by which men share useful information, but also the means whereby they formulate and share values, including the higher order of values that give meaning to life and purpose to human activities of all sorts. Concerned as he thus so greatly was with rhetoric, oratory, and the motives of those mental disciplines, Child was inevitably drawn into pondering the essential differences between speech and writing, and to searching for the origins of thoughtful expression in English.

(Yes!  That’s the good reason for being into this I’ve been looking for.)

Sometimes I picture Child backpacking around from pub to pub learning these things.  Mostly, though, he got them from manuscripts.

Don’t you worry, he could cut loose sometimes:

he also gave a sedulous but conservative hearing to popular versions still surviving.

Child engaged

 in extensive international correspondence on the subject with colleagues abroad, primarily with the Danish literary historian and ethnographer Svend Grundtvig, whose monumental twelve-volume compilation of Danish ballads, Danmarks gamle Folkeviser, vols. 1–12 (Copenhagen, 1853), was the model for Child’s resulting canonical five-volume edition of some 305 English and Scottish ballads and their numerous variants.



Child is buried in the Sedgwick Pie.

Sedgwick pie

Is Kyra Sedgwick eligible for the Sedgwick Pie?  Seems like she might be.  Also seems a bit rude to ask a wonderful and very alive actress and mother if she’s given any thought to her grave.

Famously (? I guess, I never read the biography) not included:

Edie Sedgwick