Galileo’s Head Was On The Block

I often wonder what Galileo wrote in his diary that day in 1615 when he was investigated by the Inquisition.  – “Dear Diary…it’s sucks to be me today. The pope is pissed. That guy bother’s the shit out of me! I hate him and I hate the world. I don’t know why he’s picking on me. Copernicus and Kepler did it first, I was just sayin’, ya know, maybe they had a point and now I’m the one in trouble!  Anyway, I got grounded… I guess it could be worse…at least the risotto is good here.”

It’s good to know that even the most respected, most intelligent, most influential people in the world often felt the same way we do. We have such a culture of perfection, but the reality is that most of the greatest thinkers and doers in the world got to be that way because they were having a bad day.

Galileo’s head was on the block, the crime was looking up the truth

as the bombshells of my daily fears explode i try to trace them to my youth. Then you had to bring up reincarnation over a couple of beers the other night, now i’m serving time for mistakes made by another in another lifetime.

How long till my soul gets it right? Can any human being ever reach that kind of light? I call on the resting soul of Galileo, king of night vision, king of insight. – The Indigo Girls

I really enjoyed this little article. It did exactly what the author intended, which was to paint a picture of a semi-mythic, revered person as a real person.


Charles Darwin And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

October 19, 201210:37 AM
Darwin eyes

Aaron Birk

I guess everybody, even the smartest people who ever lived, have days when they feel dumb — really, really dumb. Oct. 1, 1861, was that kind of day for Charles Darwin.

In a letter to his friend Charles Lyell, Darwin says, “I am very poorly today,” and then — and I want you to see this exactly as he wrote it, so you know this isn’t a fake; it comes from the library of the American Philosophical Society, courtesy of their librarian Charles Greifenstein. Can you read it?

Darwin: "I am very poorly today and very stupid and hate everybody and everything."

American Philosophical Society/Permission to publish required

It says:

But I am very poorly today and very stupid and hate everybody and everything

Whoah! You know the feeling, right?

But this is Charles Darwin writing in 1861, two years after he’d published On the Origin of Species. His years of labor (which “half-killed me,” he said) were behind him. He was famous now, already working on his next book, which was going to be about orchids.

Does he mention orchids in this letter?

He does.

“I am going to write a little Book for Murray on orchids,” he says, [the italics that follow are mine] and today I hate them worse than everything.”

Here’s the line. Read it yourself:

Darwin: "I am going to write a little Book for Murray on orchids..."

American Philosophical Society/Permission to publish required

Who knew that minds of the first rank wake up some days feeling like they belong in a sewer? In his short biography of Darwin, David Quammen writes that he was “nerdy, systematic, prone to anxiety.” He was not quick, witty, or social. He spent decades working out his ideas, slowly, mostly by himself, writing letters and tending to a weak heart and a constantly upset stomach. He was a Slow Processor, who soaked in the data, thought, stared, tried to make sense of what he was seeing, hoping for a breakthrough. All around were snappier brains, busy being dazzling, but not Darwin’s, which just plodded on until it finally saw something special, hiding in plain view.

But most days, I guess, were hard. “One lives only to make blunders,” he writes here to Lyell.

Blunder, Blunder, Blunder

I feel bad for Mr. Darwin, but, honestly, seeing this letter made me happy. I shouldn’t feel this way, I know, but if a world-changer like Darwin felt like this, if even he had jolts of hating “everyone and everybody,” that reminds me no one’s exempt … and that’s nice.

Plus, suddenly there are two Darwins in my head instead of one. There’s Classic Charles, of course, the wise old genius. And now there’s Self-Hating Charles, a guy I could have a beer with.

Charles Darwin diptych

Aaron Birk

I like variety in my Darwins.


If you are having a bad day, this might help – your average, everyday Super-Tuscan:

Some of Italy’s best bottles do not adhere to government rules dictating the aging and blending of wines. They are known as super-Tuscans.

1. Castello Banfi Centine Toscana 2005 ($12)

With some top super-Tuscans costing $250, this Sangiovese-Cabernet Sauvignon-Merlot blend delivers a first-class ride for less than cab fare. It’s full of complex flavors: blackberry, plum, espresso, licorice, bittersweet chocolate, vanilla, and tar. The taste is rich and smooth, the tannins firm yet supple, and the brisk finish makes it a fine food companion. This one is a great value, suitable for Saturday dinner or Monday leftovers.

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