Thursday, September 30, 2010

Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood: Dante Gabriel Rossetti

Proserpine (Oil on canvas, 1874) - Tate Britai...Image via WikipediaIn the 19th-century —around 1848— a group of English writers and painters gathered around Dante Gabriel Rossetti, who was then a most influential painter and poet. Members of the group were William Rossetti and the painters Holman Hunt, Edward Millais, Burne-Jones, Christina Rossetti, William Morris, and Swinburne.
Gabriel Charles Dante Rossetti, who later changed the order of his names to stress his kinship with the great Italian poet Dante, was born in London May 12, 1828, to his Italian immigrant parents.
In the late '60s Rossetti began to suffer from headaches and weakened eyesight, and began to take chloral mixed with whiskey to cure insomnia; such mixture made worse his depression and paranoia. Critic Robert Buchanan attacked Rossetti and Swinburne, calling his school "The Fleshly School of Poetry" (1871). Such attack —there are plenty of reviews of books of Buchanan in the Web— changed him completely. In the summer of 1872 he suffered a mental breakdown, complete with hallucinations and accusing voices. He was taken to Scotland, where he attempted suicide, but gradually recovered, and within a few months was able to paint again. He died of kidney failure on April 9, 1882.
The group members (or the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, as they called themselves) insisted that painters should paint whatever they see, and not follow the formal rules of painting. Nature was to be painted just as it was filtered by the painter’s experience, and in no way altered just because of the methods of previous painters.
In becoming a writer, or a painter, or an artist in general, creative people must often break away from the strait-jackets imposed by tradition. A similar attitude we find in novelist Janes Asten (austen persuasion), who rebelled against the Gothic patterns of her predecessors.
To highlight their new direction in painting, they called the group Pre-Raphaelite, not because they wanted to honor early Italian painting but because they wanted to break away from the rules and strictures laid down by Ra­phael for painting ideal figures.
Not only did their work showed respect for nature, but also profound personal experiences. They achieved sharply realized details. They took not the least account of the poverty or the vitality of contemporary England and its social and economic problems, turning instead to a heroic and embellished world of the Middle Ages, and also to a poetry which by symbolism, imagery, and music created a pictorial impression or a vague mood from which all ideas some­times disappeared.
For the sensual elements ("fleshly mysticism") of such poems as Rossetti's The Blessed Damozel they were condemned with the pejorative sobriquet: the "fleshly school."
Art was then enriched by the Pre-Raphaelites, by disengaging art from the mundane and vulgar events that happened in the world. In that, they held that it is not the business of the artist to instruct or to solve social problems; they believe in ‘art for art’s sake.’ And by skirting the contemporary life ugly issues, they were able to focus in the sensuous and decorative beauty—they achieved the new direction they so much desired.
The group was influential in subsequent artists, such as the symbolists.
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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bacon, Sir Francis and a Writing Method

Bacon, Sir Francis (1561-1626) was a true man of the British Renaissance, for he became a polymath: philosopher, scientist, essayist and jurist. In addition, his works themselves show that he was a master rhetorician.

Given his manifold and versatile mind, ambition, and practical nature, Lord Bacon is a fine example of the British Renaissance that also produced William Shakespeare.

Born into an aristocratic family —his father was Lord Keeper of the Seal and his uncle Elizabeth's principal minister— he was groomed and bound to become a courtier. At the age of thirteen he sets off for Cambridge, where he studied law. Later he was elected to Par­liament and appointed Queen's Counsel (1598).

In 1618, under James he rose to higher appointments until he finally be­came Lord High Chancellor, the loftiest judicial post in England. Knighted in 1603, he assumed the title of Baron Verulam and Viscount St. Albans. Just as his ascendancy had been short of spectacular, his descent was as vertiginous as it was tragic and pathetic. Charged with and having admitted accepting bribes from litigants, he was imprisoned briefly, ban­ished from court, and removed from public office.

After five years of retirement, while experimenting with snow to see grasp the process of refrigeration, an acute chill killed him.
Having developed a method of reasoning that required experimentation, he’s deemed to be the father of the inductive method.
Much like the French philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes, Bacon’s method was to doubt received knowledge. He himself described his method as a "passion for re­search, a power of suspending judgment with patience, of meditating with pleasure, of assenting with caution ... of arranging my thought with scrupulous pains ... and with no blind admiration for antiquity." In

The Advancement of Learning
(1605), he explained his wish to redo all the sciences of his own time, and based them not in syllogistic deduction but in experimentation. In the Novum Or­ganum (New Instrument, 1620), he explained the inductive method of reasoning, the method which proceeds from the particular to the general.
Famous is his description of the "idols," his word for bad habits of mind that cause men to fall into error and prevent them from seeing the truth. He hoped to eliminate the super­stitions and quibbling which during the Middle Ages had confused science and philosophy. Much of the education he received at Cambridge he rejected, considering it useless and all but Aristotelian rehashing.

The New Atlantis
(unfinished and published in 1627 after his death) is a Utopian sketch (like Sir Thomas More's Utopia) of an ideal country of scholars, where the goal was above all scientific achievement. Bacon’s Essays (1597, 1612, 1625) brought him great fame in world literature. These 58 essays are meditations and maxims contain much wisdom and nimbleness of wit. It is a practical book filled with recipes for living a good (moral) life and achieving success—a self-help book. In Essay XXXIV, Of Riches, he says: “There’s no real use for great riches, unless it is in the distribution.” What appears on the surface to be a simple remark, it contains a profound truth: we can only become wealthy if we think of others. This was true during Bacon’s times as well as our time; to wit: the legacies of Bill Gates and Warren Buffett.

Although his Essays —as all his other books and articles— were written in Latin, there are many fine translations, and the language remains accessible today. Usually, the essays are grouped into three sections: (1) man, society, and the world (2) man himself, and (3) man and God.

Bacon, many historians have said, was intellectually great but morally weak. The English poet Alexander Pope described him as "the wisest, brightest, meanest of mankind."

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Incredible New Drug to Treat Enlarged Prostate Gland

Prostate and bladder, sagittal section.Image via Wikipedia

FDA approves Jalyn™, a fixed-dose combination of dutasteride and tamsulosin, for symptomatic BPH in men with an enlarged prostate

- Improves symptoms more effectively than either medicine alone

Issued: 14 June 2010

GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE: GSK) announced today the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Jalyn, a single-capsule combination of dutasteride (0.5 mg) and tamsulosin (0.4 mg) to treat symptomatic benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) in men with an enlarged prostate. BPH is one of the most common prostate disorders, affecting nearly half of all men 50 years of age or older in the U.S. In a clinical study of nearly 5,000 men, co-administration of these two medicines significantly improved symptoms of BPH compared to either medicine taken alone. GSK expects to make the product available during the second half of 2010.

“This is the first time these therapies will be available together in a once-daily capsule,” said Anne Phillips, M.D., Vice President, R&D Medicine Development Leader, GSK. “Jalyn offers two mechanisms of action to provide symptom improvement and the ability shrink the prostate over a sustained time.”

Common symptoms of BPH caused by an enlarged prostate include awakening at night to urinate, frequent urination, urgency, incomplete bladder emptying, starting and stopping, and weak stream. If left untreated, in severe cases, BPH can get worse over time and require catheterization or hospitalization for the inability to urinate, or prostate-related surgery.

Approval of the combination was based on two-year results from the CombAT (Combination of Avodart and Tamsulosin) study, one of the largest clinical trials to date of men with BPH (4,844 patients). The study compared changes in urinary symptoms seen with dutasteride co-administered with tamsulosin as opposed to either medicine alone. Changes were measured via a validated symptom index.*

Reported adverse events were consistent with the known safety profiles of dutasteride and tamsulosin. The most common adverse reactions reported in subjects receiving combination therapy were impotence, decreased libido, breast disorders (including breast enlargement and tenderness), ejaculation disorders and dizziness.

Dutasteride, marketed by GSK as Avodart®, currently is FDA-approved for the treatment of symptomatic BPH in men with an enlarged prostate, to reduce the risk of acute urinary retention (AUR), and to reduce the risk of prostate-related surgery. Avodart treats symptoms and over time can shrink the prostate. Tamsulosin, an alpha-blocker, is indicated for the treatment of the signs and symptoms of BPH.Tamsulosin works by relaxing the muscles in the bladder and prostate.

About CombAT

CombAT is an international multicenter, randomized, double-blind and parallel-group study. Men [aged ≥50 years with a prostate volume (PV) ≥30 cc, serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) level 1.5-10 ng/mL, Qmax >5 and ≤15 mL/sec with a minimum voided volume ≥125 mL and International Prostate Symptom Score (IPSS) ≥12] with moderate-to-severe BPH symptoms were randomized to receive dutasteride 0.5 mg/day plus tamsulosin 0.4 mg/day (n=1610), dutasteride 0.5 mg/day (n=1623), or tamsulosin 0.4 mg/day (n=1611).

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia

Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH), also known as enlarged prostate, is a prevalent and progressive disease that affects 50 percent of men over 50 years of age and over 90 percent of men older than age 80. An enlarged prostate can lead to urinary symptoms because of its location around the urethra. Over time, the prostate can continue to grow and urinary symptoms may lead to urinary symptoms. Left untreated, in severe cases, an enlarged prostate can lead to serious long-term problems including acute urinary retention (AUR) and the need for prostate-related surgery, and in rare cases even kidney or bladder damage.

For further information, including complete prescribing information, please visit

GlaxoSmithKline – one of the world’s leading research-based pharmaceutical and healthcare companies – is committed to improving the quality of human life by enabling people to do more, feel better and live longer. For further information please visit

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Thursday, September 9, 2010

A Blooming Athlete: Soccer Princess Amy Rodriguez

Faster than Superman, Quicker than the Road Runner, unstoppable soccer princess Amy Rodriguez is a seasoned striker--a natural forward that can score. Though she may not have the dribbling skills of Leo Messi, she surely surpasses the speed and strength of Cristiano Ronaldo.

Independence forward Amy Rodriguez is a class act. People flock to see her and the Independence team. Two of the three goals against the Chicago Red Stars came from Amy Rodriguez, and the third came from her assist.

Every Sunday evening the regulars and young aficionados crowd the bars along 1st Avenue and the Sixties, to watch WPS soccer. When goals are scored, the crowds roar and people over spill to to sidewalks to celebrate. And when Amy Rodriguez scores the roar may be heard all the way to the canyons of the financial district and Wall Street.

While Marta --the Brazilian Messi-- is admired by New Yorkers, Amy Rodriguez is revered by the fans in the Big Apple. I don't know about other states, but in New York City, Manhattan, people are dazzled by her performances.

"She is brilliant right now, and everybody knows she is hot and her efficiency right now is unbelievable," Independence coach Paul Riley said. And not only is this statement true but just the kind of energizer a young striker needs. What a difference from the Boston Breakers' coach DiCiccio who almost destroyed Amy's career by benching her almost the entire past season.

A Forward with the speed that Amy displays is unstoppable. No defender can stick to her for she has moves that the quickest eye can miss. With the ball and without it, she's always a menace to the opposing team.

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Saturday, September 4, 2010

A Poem for a Wedding Anniversay

NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 03:  Denise and Christophe...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeHappiness in married life doesn't just happen. Husband
and wife must work at it.

Honor your spouse with a wedding anniversary poem:

Life is what you make of it
As the saying goes
With all its little ups and downs
And lots of tos and fros
So take all its opportunities
Give everything a try
As we only get one attempt
And life can easily pass you by

This and many more sweet poems you'll find in:

After more than fifty years of marriage, I think I have
sound advice to give. See my love story "Mary Patricia and I"
in my book East of Tiffany's. See the ad on the right side bar.
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Friday, September 3, 2010

Tolstoy's Style in Anna Karenina

Queen Anna of the Netherlands, née Grand Duche...Image via Wikipedia"Anna Pavlovna's reception was in full swing. The spindles hummed steadily and ceaselessly all around. With the exception of the aunt, beside whom sat only one old lady, who with her thin gaunt face was rather out of place in this shining society, the entire company had settled into three groups. One, mainly masculine, had formed round the abbe. Another, of young people, was gathered round the gorgeous Princess Helene, Prince Vasili's daughter, and the little Princess Bolkonskaya, cute and rosy, though rather too plump for her age. The third group hovered round Mortemart and Anna Pavlovna."


Not only does the above paragraph lacks sentence variation, but each sentence in it begins with a noun, a pronoun, or an article. This is typical 19th century writing. In the 21st century readers demand agility, and writers accomplish this through sentence variation; especially by paying attention to strong sentence openers. In Mary Duffy's writing textbook Toolbox for Writers, you'll find abundant examples of how to begin sentences and how to write a college essay.


"As a clever maitre d'hotel serves up as a juicy delicacy a piece of meat that no one who had seen it in the kitchen would have cared to eat, so Anna Pavlovna served up to her guests, first the vicomte and then the abbe, as juicy choice morsels. The group about Mortemart quickly started discussing the murder of the Duc d'Enghien. The vicomte said that the Duc d'Enghien had been slain because of his own nobility, and that there were specific reasons for Buonaparte's hatred of him."


The only break in the pattern 'subject-verb-object' above is the Sentence that begins with the preposition 'As.' Were it not for this break, the reading would become quite monotonous.


"With a soft rustle of her white dress trimmed with moss and ivy, with a gleam of white shoulders, glossy hair, and sparkling diamonds, she glided between the men who made way for her, not looking at any of them but smiling on all, as if graciously allowing each the privilege of admiring her beautiful figure and well-shaped shoulders, back, and bosom--which in the fashion of those days were very much exposed--and she seemed to bring the glamour of a ballroom with her as she moved toward Anna Pavlovna."


With the inclusion of a prepositional phrase: 'With a slight rustle …' and an appositive between the m-dashes, the paragraph becomes a little more agile.


She waited, a smily on her face. All the time the story was being told she sat straight up, glancing now at her beautiful round arm, altered in shape by its pressure on the table, now at her still more beautiful bosom, on which she toyed with a diamond necklace. From time to time she smoothed the folds of her dress, and whenever the story produced an effect she glanced at Anna Pavlovna, adopting at once the expression she saw on the maid of honor's face, and again relapsed into her brilliant smile.

Not letting the abbe and Pierre get away, Anna Pavlovna, conveniently kept them under observation, brought them into the larger circle.


If you wish to learn how to write strong prose, fresh, and dynamic (how to write an essay or fiction), avoid beginning your sentences with nouns, pronouns, and articles. Instead use prepositional phrases: 'From time to time…' and the present participle: 'Not letting the …' as bolded in the above 2 paragraphs.

Mary Duffy's English guide Toolbox for Writers shows many ways in wich master writers use sentence openers: they use infinitives, the present participle, prepositions, past participles, subordinating conjunctions, coordinating conjunctions, similes--and many other parts of the English language.
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