What Historical Character Would You Like To Be?

by Louise

Wolf Hall is coming to an end soon. I am a big fan of historical fiction and often wonder what it would be like if I actually lived in those times.

Who would I be? From what I have read I would have liked to be at court in the time of Elizabeth I. I am afraid my head would be chopped off under Henry VIII or worse still I would be burned at the stake.

Which character from history would you like to be?

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153 thoughts on “What Historical Character Would You Like To Be?

  1. From what I have read I would have liked to be at court in the time of Elizabeth I.

    No showers and no medical care? Sorry, no appeal at all.

    As an example form the period I’ll use Henry VIII: The wound on his leg became infected and it never completely healed. Although on occasion it would temporarily close over, for the most part it would continue to fester for the rest of his life. He began to suffer from insomnia and crippling migraine headaches. He also developed gout….The ulcers were now on both of King Henry’s legs and stank.

    He died on the 28 January 1547 at the age of 56. Fifty-six was actually quite an advanced age for the Tudor period. However it was not a pretty death. Such was the degree of infection in the King’s lower limbs that he was unable to move from the bed and the putrid smell of gangrene hung over the entire room.

    Keep in mind those sores festered and stank for 11 years before he finally died.

  2. Which character from history would you like to be?

    None. I would however love to be someone 500 years in the future. That would awesome.

  3. I, too, enjoy historical fiction. However, I am very happy to live in the present. Has anyone read the book Wolf Hall? I started in and then put it down. I’m thinking about trying a second time to read it…

  4. The one who killed Hitler and Stalin when they were babies.

    You assume that would ensure a better historical outcome. Things could have turned out much worse with someone else in charge of Germany or the Soviet Union during that era.

  5. Rhett, you are now defending Hitler and Stalin. Sounds like you miss Saac and the argumentative threads.

  6. Rhett – that is an awesome idea.

    If we’re going by fashion I would pick the 1805s (Jane Austen style with the muslin gowns) or the 1880s-90s (bustles and then puffed sleeves!). IRL I like modern medicine (and being able to own property and work for a living) too much to travel back in time!

    Houston – Wolf Hall is very good. Her style is really engrossing and you can feel transported to the time period as she is describing it. However, it is not something I can read with anything else going on – I need a quiet room.

  7. Rhett, you are now defending Hitler and Stalin.

    Well, to take Hitler for example, if he hadn’t opened up a two front war he might have won. If he had made different decisions re: weapons R&D, he might have won.

  8. I was watching Ask the Midwife and the doctor gave a woman thalidomide for her severe morning sickness as it was a new “cure”. While historically accurate, I cringed! I think, as Rhett, notes it is hard to look back in time, be aware of the medical, social and financial limitations and still yearn to have been alive then. I am certain that 50 years from now people will look back and wonder why we did some of the things we did as they will be so abnormal for that future time. I wonder what we will be judged harshly for.

    Different periods of history would be fun to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there, such as to have seen how something was actually done – like the pyramids being built – or to wear fashionable clothing that were suitable to our body shapes, or to be acquainted with a person who became famous rather than the “fiction” that is often their biography.

  9. Rhett – you are arguing the Star Trek prime directive. The underlying idea was just because you are changing one thing in the current time line so that something is avoided and the world is “better”, you may be creating a timeline where something worse to happens.

  10. Anon at 10:25 – check out Stephen King’s 11/22/63… deals with a world in which JFK was never assassinated. Might be something to think about when you’re traveling through time.

    When I was a kid, a book called “Time at the Top” piqued my interest. I would love to visit Victorian America (or England, even), or even the Revolutionary period. Not sure if I could pick a historical character to be… I’ll have to think more.

  11. Rhett, you are now defending Hitler and Stalin.

    Also keep in mind if they had they died, it’s likely none of us would be here. The population of the US might still be 300 million, but it would be a different 300 million as the chain of events that lead your parents and grand parents to meet and have sex at that one instant that ensured that one specific sperm merged with that egg – wouldn’t have happened.

  12. I always wanted to be the first female Supreme Court Justice when I was younger, so I would pick Sandra Day O’Connor. What an interesting life.

  13. So the problem with real historical people is that, by and large, women didn’t get much chance to both be married/have a family and to do stuff out in the world. And since I like being a woman, choices are few. I don’t want to go all rule-the-worldy like Catherine the Great or Queen Victoria (way too much effort), but I also don’t want to do dramatic awesomeness (e.g. Amelia Earhart) that would preclude having my own little family. Maybe Molly Brown? Marriage ultimate fell apart, but she had a family and got to do really interesting stuff (though I really wouldn’t put “be on the Titanic” on the top of my to-do list).

  14. I really wouldn’t put “be on the Titanic” on the top of my to-do list

    At least if made from an exciting evening.

  15. I think we really underestimate the hardship that people had to tolerate in the past ages (per Rhett’s first post). Most of your kids dying. You dying in childbirth or war. Disease, hunger, religious intolerance, fear, and rape. Don’t forget people who killed their family members and friends to consolidate power. No thanks.

  16. Maria Agnesi or the prophet Daniel, I suppose. Agnesi lived as well as was possible for her time, and the prophet Daniel had some fascinating but miserable experiences yet never [that history records] messed up

  17. “You assume that would ensure a better historical outcome. Things could have turned out much worse with someone else in charge of Germany or the Soviet Union during that era.”

    Looks like I’m not the only one who never missed an episode of Quantum Leap!

  18. LfB, I envision you as Auntie Mame. She was a real person, you know.

  19. “you are arguing the Star Trek prime directive”

    I love how much Star Trek comes up in real life. One of my favorite shows of all time. Exactly what I love about science fiction.

  20. Wow – you people can sure suck the fun out of things…. dessert tomatoes all around.

  21. I think LfB should be Laura Bassi. Then we could know each other and Laura Bassi is close to Laura from Baltimore.

  22. Rhode,

    studied midwifery at La Maternité where she contracted “purulent opthalmia” from a young patient. When Blackwell lost sight in one eye, she returned to New York City in 1851, giving up her dream of becoming a surgeon.

    “purulent opthalmia” = gonorrhea of the eye.

  23. It is hard to pick. Life was so rough for people in the past, especially women. I have always thought Anne Hutchinson was really interesting, but then she and her family were massacred by Indians right near where I live

  24. Keep in mind that the historical figure you pick would have had the “best” their time offered and that they had no concept of the things we have or have access to today. They would not know what they “are missing” so to speak.

  25. Oops…hit send too soon. I would like to have been at Bletchley Park during WW 2.

  26. Aren’t any of you interested to see the historical figure’s world as they saw it – not as history sees it?

  27. MM – one of her daughters survived in RI I believe. I vaguely remember reading about it, and I ran into someone in my building who claims to be her direct descendant. This is New England, after all, these people can trace their lineage to the Mayflower.

  28. I would like to have been at Bletchley Park during WW 2.

    And if you were Alan Turing you’d have that lovely chemical castration and eventual suicide to look forward to.

    They would not know what they “are missing” so to speak.

    The agony of Dr. Blackwell’s eye gonorrhea or Henry VIII putrid gangrenous legs would still of course be present.

  29. Aren’t any of you interested to see the historical figure’s world as they saw it – not as history sees it?

    You mean in this sense?

  30. Louise,

    Just sort of channeling Louis CK’s everything’s amazing and no one is happy bit.

  31. Rhett- I love that bit by Louie CK.

    I am having trouble with this one for the same reasons as Rhett and LfB. I’m hung up on how much I like modern life and also by how awful things were for women throughout history. I have no imagination! But I don’t think it’s an uninteresting topic – I am having fun reading the links/thoughts of others.

  32. Rhett – I think the point is we live with diseases today and treat them as best as our medical knowledge allows. However, 50 or more years from now, people will be as fearful of being around those diseases as we are of those of the past.

    I’d like to see Yellowstone, but not the day the massive lava chamber below it decides to explode. Just like, I would like to die peacefully in my sleep rather than from something that is lingering and/or painful congestive heart failure or pancreatic cancer. Plenty of people in our time have visited Yellowstone and died in their sleep.

  33. EYE – gonorrhea!!! Poor thing didn’t even know where to put it!!!
    I don’t even want to have poison ivy or a sore shoulder back then!

  34. Houston — I started Wolf Hall (the book) twice, but didn’t finish it either time. Something about the writing style just didn’t appeal to me. I enjoyed watching the series, though.

  35. “LfB, I envision you as Auntie Mame. She was a real person, you know.” — @PTM, I am not exaggerating (much) when I say I think that is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me. I adore her.

  36. Houston – I loved Wolf Hall, but it took me a while to get into the book. Every other person was named Thomas, so until I got past the first fifty pages or so, I couldn’t tell who was being spoken about (or speaking) at times. I would give it another go, if you can!

    Historical figure – I am with you all in that the bad stuff influences my decisions. I think maybe Ben Franklin, just because he lived in an exciting time and did so much.

    Fictional character – probably Elizabeth Bennett!

  37. @WCE — ok, I am ashamed to admit that I had to look up Laura Bassi. But count me in — she looks awesome!

    Next post: which fictional character do you want to be. :-)

  38. No fair SSK — that is exactly who I had lined up for the next post. No cuts!

  39. Has anyone read “Survival of the Savvy” or “What got you here won’t get you there”? Worth buying on Amazon, waiting for a copy to be available at the library or should I just peruse an abstract at GetAbstract’s website?

  40. Next post: which fictional character do you want to be.

    Wesley Crusher – I’d get to by young again and have cool adventures.

  41. “I’d like to see Yellowstone, but not the day the massive lava chamber below it decides to explode. ”

    Made me think of the new island that appeared off Japan: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-05-17/new-volcanic-island-off-japan-a-natural-lab-for-life/6476036 And made me wonder if there was a place on the earth and at a certain time I’d like to visit…

    I’d like to explore the area I’m living now about 500 years ago; and I’d like to see NYC when it was still New Amsterdam. And Rome at the height of the Roman Empire. It would also be cool to see the Isthmus of Panama before the canal was put in.

  42. @Rhode — I’d go Crete at the height of the Minoan empire (pre-volcano) and Athens/Rhodes at the height of the Greek empire — think would have been pretty cool to see those fabulous places in their prime. And, hey, at the least the Minoans had flush toilets.

  43. And made me wonder if there was a place on the earth and at a certain time I’d like to visit…

    I’d like to be in orbit to watch the Mars size object impact the proto-Earth which resulted in the formation of the moon.

  44. Part of a big harem? It kind of seems like it would be like camp/college dorm with more meaningful intrigue. Perhaps in the golden years of the samurai? As an expert on Japan history (I’ve read sho-gun), I believe they bathed in hot water ever day (at least people of means did.)

    Now I will go back to cleaning the kitchen and stop exoticizing the other.

  45. It seems like the Brits had particularly bad ideas about hygiene. Fresh air and baths being things that were thought to harm people, and washing hands not so much either. Also, hardiness was not particularly important in a leader, it seems (this historical fact brought to you by period drama I have seen on TV). I wonder if their contemporaries lived quite as disease filled lives. Was there a South American king that spent 12 years of his rule with stinky legs? Seems unlikely.

  46. “And Rome at the height of the Roman Empire.” Me too Rhode – except for the toilets.

    Ada – a harem – feh, who has the energy.

    How great would it be to go back knowing what we know? I’d be like a wizard! Except I don’t actually know how to make a lot of the awesome things we have – hell, I don’t even know how to make a wheel. So everyone would probably just think I’m crazy, but an engineer would be a king or queen!

  47. Those harem girls would look at you and say, “You don’t have any other women to entertain your man? Feh, who has the energy?” If you are one of a hundred wives, I doubt he even knows your name after the first year…

  48. Moxie: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lest_Darkness_Fall#Plot_summary

    I want to visit the past, not live there. Like the Edwardian era — I would be happy to spend a week there as a wealthy visitor in the same way that I might spend a week in an impoverished but interesting country with regressive gender roles, giving good tips to the serving staff but not thinking too hard about how they get by, dressing up for dinner, playing along with their bizarre customs (ladies leave the table so the gents can drink port and talk politics) just as they politely pretended not to notice my various solecisms.

  49. Speaking of amazing historical figures, any thoughts on the proposal to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 with Harriet Tubman?

    My thoughts: DO IT DO IT DO IT!!!

  50. I suspect that Rhett would have liked to have been Adam. You know, the father of original sin and all that!

  51. Personally, on the double sawbuck image change, I’d prefer we decide whether Lincoln should be on the penny* -or- the $5, whether Jefferson should be on the nickel -or- the $2 bill (they are still made) and whether Washington should be on the quarter -or- the $1 bill*. Pick one, I really do not care. Then there are three coins or bills available for other historical figures.

    * I think we should do away with the penny; round to the nearest $0.05. Get rid of the $1 and $2 bills, a la Canada. $1 and $2 coins work perfectly well.

  52. The Loonie and Toonie!? I love most things about Canada, but the coined $1 I do not.

  53. There was a couple from Italy in front of me getting coffee and they could not figure out our change. Then I noticed – unlike other countries – we don’t print the numerical value of the coin on the coin.

  54. “Speaking of amazing historical figures, any thoughts on the proposal to replace Andrew Jackson on the $20 with Harriet Tubman”

    I voted for Eleanor Roosevelt, but Harriet Tubman would be fine too.

  55. Rhett, I noticed that last night while playing “bank” with my 6 year old. Eventually we switched to playing with foreign money (including pre-Euro) and was informed that US coins are boring. We need animals, musical instruments, and multicolor!

  56. I’m no fan of the idea of replacing Jackson. I’m too much of a traditionalist. I like Presidents being on currency. I would eliminate the penny, and have Lincoln kick Ben Franklin off the $100 bill.

  57. Interesting to note that there are still 336 of these, still legal tender and still held by the public.

  58. But, but, then the line “dropping Hamiltons like Aaron Burr” would no longer work!

  59. Milo,

    Is he the one who died of food poisoning he got at his own inauguration?

  60. Anon at 10:25 – check out Stephen King’s 11/22/63… deals with a world in which JFK was never assassinated. Might be something to think about when you’re traveling through time.

    If someone was going to travel back in time and stop JFK’s assasination it would have already happened. Maybe in the original timeline he wasn’t killed and someone travelled back to assasinate him.

  61. Just pneumonia, as I understand it. 32 days in office, according to Wiki. Tippecanoe and Tyler, too.

  62. “Maybe in the original timeline he wasn’t killed and someone travelled back to assasinate him.”

    Maybe they did that to prevent him from becoming the next Hitler.

  63. “Dropping Harrisons like the common cold.” Doesn’t have the same ring.

  64. DD – very true… in the book, the protagonist is sent back to stop Oswald… JFK lives, new world ensues. Much like Marty who bought the sports almanac that Biff brought to 1955, the protagonist created a rift in the space time continuum which altered the course of events, creating an alternate present.

  65. You could have them rotate like the back of quarters. I’d love to see the Franklin Pierce $100. Preferably (since he seems to be one of the historically acknowledged alcoholics who was President), with a Coors Light in his hand. I’d also like to see the Dick Cheney hundred. The eagle could have missiles in his claw rather than arrows. Or maybe replace the eagle with a Blackhawk.

    I voted for Eleanor Roosevelt, too. But that begs the question of why thus far have we ignored FDR?

  66. Milo,

    Ah, I was thinking of Zachary Taylor. And it wasn’t at his inauguration, it was at a fundraiser for the construction of the Washington Monument.

  67. In BTTF, we see that alternate present juxtaposed with the “actual” present.

    In our world, we could be living in an alternate universe where Hitler lived, JFK died, and the Berlin Wall fell. I wonder, if we could look into parallel universes (ala Fringe) what we would see?? Maybe Hitler died, JFK died, but the Wall remained… or any combination of any event (with or without historical significance) would/could alter the timeline…

    {back to water temperature research… my head hurts}

  68. I kind of wonder what would have happened if Stonewall Jackson hadn’t been accidentally shot and killed a couple months before Gettysburg, if he had helped Lee win in Pennsylvania and allowed him to continue his push into the North, and this prevented Lincoln from turning the war around before the 1864 election, if McLellan won the Presidency and negotiated a peace with Jeff Davis…

  69. “But that begs the question of why thus far have we ignored FDR?”

    The dime isn’t good enough?

  70. “I voted for Eleanor Roosevelt, too. But that begs the question of why thus far have we ignored FDR?”

    Eleanor had a life before and after FDR which was very rare for a woman of means. And she had brains – education, upbringing, and common sense (and a lot of luck…).

    I’d vote for FDR on currency – it was his programs which boosted morale in the nation. And a lot of the infrastructure his programs created still exist.

  71. So, on a completely unrelated note: http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/16/business/dealbook/taking-responsibility-for-our-reactions.html?src=me. I am *so* the girl in the room (minus the hand-raising).

    This would drive me bs crazy. Dude, it’s a meeting — you don’t need to psychoanalyze it, or look for meaning, or mull it over with your shrink for seven sessions, or question your self-worth, or whatever. You just need to stick to the [$#@!&#!$] agenda.

  72. Ha! Didn’t even realize he was on the dime!

    How should we handle currency as we move more progressively to a cash-less society? How will we honor presidents and important people then? Stamps?

    Milo – I often wonder if the French hadn’t entered the American Revolution what would have happened… with the Civil War, I also wonder how long the South would have held out. The infrastructure to make munitions and move goods just wasn’t there. If Jackson hadn’t died, would the South had the munitions and ability to get further north?

  73. Lol, Milo! Oops! I missed that big time. Now ignore me while I go search for a dime. Junior takes all my coins every day, takes them to Publix each week, dumps them into a machine and gets like 3 cents for each dime.

    (The machines incidentally do not take dollar coins.)

  74. How will we honor presidents and important people then? Stamps?

    Google doodles and “Sexy ____” costumes.

  75. “If Jackson hadn’t died, would the South had the munitions and ability to get further north?”

    Probably not. Statistically speaking, they were never going to win. I’d have to go back and read some analyses about at what point any hope they had of a European country stepping in on their side was dashed. I remember reading something that laid all of that on economic reasons because of some bad cotton crop and default on futures contracts, Europe lost interest. But the details escape me.

    That’s why I just figure the most likely alternate ending is the North getting so fed up with war that they actually elect McLellan who, iirc, ran on the platform of negotating a settlement.

  76. “But that begs the question of why thus far have we ignored FDR?”

    It does not beg the question. It raises the question.

  77. “How will we honor presidents and important people then? ”

    There is a holiday for presidents. Perhaps we could add an “Important Persons’ Day” holiday as well.

  78. Maybe it was more complicated than that:

    McClellan was nominated by the Democrats to run against Abraham Lincoln in the 1864 U.S. presidential election. Following the example of Winfield Scott, he ran as a U.S. Army general still on active duty; he did not resign his commission until election day, November 8, 1864.

    Really??? WTF? And they were criticizing that pig chick from Iowa for being a lieutenant colonel in the National Guard.

    He supported continuation of the war and restoration of the Union (though not the abolition of slavery), but the party platform, written by Copperhead Clement Vallandigham of Ohio, was opposed to this position. The platform called for an immediate cessation of hostilities and a negotiated settlement with the Confederacy. McClellan was forced to repudiate the platform, which made his campaign inconsistent and difficult. He also was not helped by the party’s choice for vice president, George H. Pendleton, a peace candidate from Ohio.[79]

  79. I like HM’s reply. Google could do a special home page on each president’s birthday.

    BTW, did you know that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, July 4, 1826? I heard neither wanted to give the other the pleasure of outliving him.

  80. “Important Persons’ Day”
    and, since we already have two official federal (Christmas and MLK Day) holidays doing just that, i.e. honoring important people, we could just rename one of them.
    No additional holiday needed.

  81. Has anyone else read When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead, a young adult novel? This conversation reminds me of it.

  82. BTW, did you know that John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on the same day, July 4, 1826?

    Exactly 50 years to the day after the signed the Declaration of Independence.

  83. “Important Persons’ Day”

    A day that reminds 99.9% of Americans how little they’ve managed to accomplish in their lives.

  84. back to water temperature research…

    Water is a brisk 51 in Gloucester just in time for Memorial Day, an adult male might be able to swim for more than an hour before being rendered unconscious.

  85. We can’t take Hamilton off the $10 bill, because he is the handsomest man on our currency. The $10 is my favorite bill and I like to look at his face!

    I vote for Harriet Tubman – she was so brave that I can’t even imagine it. Going back into the South once she had escaped; yikes! I am also not a fan of Eleanor Roosevelt, so that cements my vote for Harriet.

  86. I was out all day. I would either like to have been Artemisia Gentileschi, or her subject in this painting, the widow Judith beheading Holofernes.

  87. Artemisia Gentileschi shows up in the 1632 series. For what that’s worth.

  88. HM, your daughter knows your reading tastes better than I do. I liked it. My friend got it for me because I told her I love A Wrinkle In Time.

  89. How should we handle currency as we move more progressively to a cash-less society? How will we honor presidents and important people then? Stamps?

    Have you missed the Internet? Stamps are going the way of cash.

  90. LfB – 5 seasons of Quantum Leap on Netflix. For important persons day we should add Jonas Salk, the guy who invented tv and the guy who invented AC.

  91. I can’t believe no one else has said this yet…..Laura Ingalls Wilder. I loved those books as a kid.
    I would have been a good pioneer woman.

    As a frequenter of the post office and luddite who still mails bills, I have to say the USPS stamp selection is pretty bleak. They are way beyond honoring presidents and other figures….right now they have “ferns” and “celebrity chefs” as options.

  92. During unassisted, prolonged, obstructed labour, the sustained pressure of the baby’s head on the mother’s pelvic bone damages soft tissues, creating a hole—or fistula—between the vagina and the bladder and/or rectum. The pressure deprives blood flow to the tissue, leading to necrosis. Eventually, the dead tissue comes away, leaving a fistula, which causes a constant leaking of urine and/or faeces through the vagina.

    Ah, the good old days. Everything’s amazing and no one is happy.

  93. In the 1850s, the infant mortality rate in the United States was estimated at 216.8 per 1,000 babies born for whites and 340.0 per 1,000 for African Americans.

    So, given the births per woman at 5.42 qqqqq could expect to bury at least one of her children when they were still toddlers.

  94. When I lived along the Ohio River, the church cemetery had a woman who her five children in the 1790’s and then died herself with the fifth.

    And I have no idea how the rates compare in other countries and over time- I can speculate unencumbered by data. And practices like infibulation don’t help.

  95. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenny_Lake

    N.b. – the original Jenny and her six children ALL died of smallpox
    – her husband’s nickname was Beaver Dick. I’ve already made the mistake of telling my 10 year old what “Grand Tetons” translates to and now I have to keep a straight face about this.

  96. This is why the schoolkids study the Founding Fathers instead of the mountain men. (Although in fairness I’m sure that nickname came about because his name was Richard and he was a notable trapper of tree-gnawing aquatic mammals, no matter what it sounds like to us.)

  97. her six children ALL died of smallpox

    Which is cotton stockings next to consumption.

  98. I am another big Laura Ingalls Wilder fan. I saw her family tree and the women in that family were very long-lived! Caroline Ingalls and her mother and grandmother lived very long lives, as of course did Laura and her daughter, Rose.

  99. My maternal grandmother gave birth to 12 babies, but only 6 survived to adulthood.

  100. I saw Still Alice last night and I thought of all the Tote bag academics – Mooshi, Saac, RMS….

  101. I cannot think of a single famous historical figure who I’d rather be over others ( even without limiting myself to a woman).
    I would also choose to live the part of the world with milder climate where people bathed everyday. Gangrene! Shudder. As a woman I would have also died in child birth.
    Now the real fun would be if I could be someone for a short time and come and go from present as I please.

  102. I absolutely do not discount the dangers of childbirth, and even more so do not discount the wear and tear and health from frequent or very early childbearing such as weakening of the pelvic floor and weakening or worse of the rear wall of the birth canal. But it is not the case that most of us would have died in childbirth, especially if we were not impoverished or did not marry a person from a vastly different gene pool than our own. That some of our children might have died from childhood diseases or transmitted venereal disease, that is more likely. My grandmother had ten children who lived to adulthood starting at the age of 17 with only one problem delivery (no 8) that required her to leave home to have the baby. She may have had a miscarriage somewhere in there. Far more important is what she used to tell her children – if I knew then what the girls know now, some of you wouldn’t be here.

  103. missed a fun post yesterday!

    on the hitler comment, there was a “newer” twilight zone episode on this, someone from the future went and killed hitler as a baby. his nanny then kidnapped another baby and raised this child as hitler, the episode made it appear that killing the baby didn’t change the events of WWII…

  104. definitely Lizzie Bennet as my fictional character of I think Ginny Weasley from Harry Potter

  105. “Cheer up, Rhett. Bad fistulas aren’t as common as dying in childbirth.”

    Not according to Shonda Rhimes. I swear, every episode of Grey’s Anatomy I’ve ever seen involves a fistula, or a study about fistulas, or a discussion about the number of fistulas they’ve seen. You could play a drinking game, using “fistula” as the cue to drink.

    (Not unlike “canvass” or “run the financials and see what pops” in Castle).

  106. Abigail Adams.

    If a child survives to age 1, the chance of that child surviving to age 60 is about 90% (assuming no further advances in medicine). So with three children, the middle born when I was 30, the chance that one will predecease me if I live to 90 is about 30%. Those were not the odds in 1915.

    But then 100 years ago, I would have died in childbirth with the first. In fact I could have pulled that off now if I had opted for a home birth rather than a really good teaching hospital. So I wouldn’t really go back.

  107. I marvel at how far we have come. We don’t expect any issues at all during delivery or with the baby, if a woman has had a healthy pregnancy. The only one time I knew of case of stillbirth it shocked us all beyond belief.

  108. Ingeborg Rapoport. FTW.

    “Ingeborg Rapoport was denied her PhD at the University of Hamburg in 1938 for “racial reasons” due to her Jewish heritage. Last week, the 102-year-old Rapoport at long last had the opportunity to defend her doctoral thesis on diphtheria before an academic committee — 77 years after she completed it. After she aced her oral exam, her PhD was approved and the degree will be awarded to her in a ceremony next month in Hamburg. When this Nazi injustice from decades ago is finally righted, Rapoport will become the oldest person in the world to ever receive a doctoral degree. ” (https://www.facebook.com/amightygirl/posts/850250231677958:0)

    http://www.wsj.com/articles/from-nazi-germany-a-tale-of-redemption-1431576062 for the full story.

  109. Milo: We’re visiting Nashville this summer, to see a relative who recently had a baby. Do you have any recommendations on places to see/things to do? I seem to recall your recent visit to that city.

  110. It does not beg the question. It raises the question.

    This drives me crazy as well, but it’s one of those things where language evolves and “begs the question” is now accepted to mean “raises the question.”

  111. “The only one time I knew of case of stillbirth it shocked us all beyond belief.”

    Yup. Quite literally, been there, done that. Perfect pregnancy, water broke when DW woke up on the morning of her due date. Normal, not extended, labor; vaginal delivery. All monitoring vitals normal throughout. Baby stillborn.

    This was 1993.

  112. Wow, what a fun discussion. For the record, I came pretty darn close to dying having my twins. Of course, I wouldn’t have had twins 100 years ago, at least not via IVF.

    With the recent vaccination debates, I think today’s society takes our current state of medical care for granted and really cannot conceive of what life was like without it 75 – 100 years ago.

  113. Houston – This is all recommended, and all within walking distance of the hotel unless otherwise noted:
    1. We stayed at the Hermitage.
    2. Went to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum and bought tickets that included the additional tour of RCA Studio B (you take a short bus ride from the museum for a guided tour there).
    3. Had breakfasts at Puckett’s and 417 Union, both highly recommended.
    4. Went to the Opry at the Ryman Auditorium
    5. Spent at least six or seven hours listening to the aspiring performers in the bars and clubs on the main drag. This is free, save for your drinks and any food, and the performers will hit you up for tips from time to time. I bought the album from one of the ones I really liked.
    6. Went to the Bluebird Cafe (Uber because it’s actually in the suburbs) for one of their “in the round” performances by songwriters. DW really liked this one; I preferred the Opry. It’s such a small space that tickets are extremely limited–you have to be on the computer at something like 5 am precisely the morning that they become available a month or so in advance.
    7. We took an Uber to Andrew Jackson’s plantation and spent a few hours touring everything. Some researcher/reporter team interviewed me about my impressions of Jackson, and I talked very briefly about Jacksonian Democracy and his unprecedented use of the veto. The historian said that he had never come across a random tourist who knew anything about Jackson of that substance :). I wrote down when it was supposed to air, but promptly forgot about it.
    8. We had one dinner at the Spaghetti Factory. It was good, but maybe unremarkable.
    9. We went to brunch on Sunday in the Gulch at Adele’s. The Gulch is a rapidly gentrifying neighborhood across the railroad tracks (literally) where a certain kind of White People get really excited about buying brand new high-rise condos. Adele’s took the totally novel and unique idea of converting an old automobile service station into a restaurant, and they left the old garage bay doors and concrete floors in place. I joke, but the food was really good.

    And I think that’s about it. I want to go back sometime and take my kids to the same places.

  114. Thanks Milo! Several of your recommendations were already on my list, but you helped me add several more. I also appreciate the commentary, which will help me prioritize (we will only be there 2 days).

  115. Grand ol Oprey, Bluebird Café, and Country Music Hall of Fame are on our list, as is a tour of Vandy. I’m not a big fan of Andrew Jackson, so his plantation did not make the cut. I was especially interested in your dining recommendations, as we hadn’t thought about that yet.

  116. “I wouldn’t have had twins 100 years ago, at least not via IVF. . . . I think today’s society takes our current state of medical care for granted and really cannot conceive of what life was like without it 75 – 100 years ago.”

    Pun totally intentional, of course. :-)

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