18 September 2019

Rusticus in Luna

The earliest literary appearance of the familiar character of the Man in the Moon, the man punished by being eternally banished on the moon, is in “Rusticus in Luna” (“Ruſticuſ in luna”), a 12th‐century folk rhyme in Latin that is preserved in the book De naturis rerum (On the Nature of Things), by Alexander Neckam. Having only known the rhyme from 19th‐century typeset sources, I wondered if a manuscript copy from the Middle Ages had been digitized for the delight of Internet users, and then, thanks to the Trinity College library, I located one.

An 1866 translation into English by Sabine Baring‐Gould goes
See the rustic in the Moon,
How his bundle weighs him down ;
Thus his sticks the truth reveal
It never profits man to steal.

“Ruſticuſ in luna,” manuscript copy of De naturis rerum, by Alexander Neckam, 13th century. From the collection of Trinity College, Cambridge.


Curious Myths of the Middle Ages, by S. [Sabine] Baring‐Gould, London: Rivingtons, 1866, new ed., 1877, p. 196. Digitized by the Internet Archive from the collection of the John P. Robarts Research Library, University of Toronto.

(1866 printings: UCLA, Oxford.)

28 June 2019

Jackson Heights, 1921

The four illustrations from “Twenty‐six Garden Apartment Houses Costing $3,000,000 to Be Built at Jackson Heights,” The New York Times, 25 Sept. 1921. (In the public domain.)


“3 of the 14 new garden elevator apartments on 19th and 20th Sts. Jackson Heights”


“Garden view of new apartments under construction at Jackson Heights”


“Group of new garden apartments on 22nd and 23rd Sts. under construction at Jackson Heights”


“Floor plan of new 6 room elevator apartments under construction at Jackson Heights”

25 April 2019

Preparing for the Passing Over of the Angel of Death

“Preparing for the Passing Over of the Angel of Death,” illustration by C. M. Burd for With the Children on Sundays: Through Eye‐Gate and Ear‐Gate into the City of Child‐Soul, by Sylvanus Stall, Philadelphia: Uplift Publishing Co., 1911, p. 229. (In the public domain.)

— https://www.archive.org/details/withchildrenonsu00stal/page/229
— https://www.flickr.com/photos/internetarchivebookimages/14783117655

17 March 2019


THE HIPPOPOTAMUS.—One of the largest and most formidable animals known to natural history is the Hippopotamus or River Horse. Its short clumsy legs bear a body of great bulk and a tough hide, and its head is one of the most peculiar and repulsive possessed by any animal; the neck is short and very thick. The expression of ferocity in its face is a true index to its character. The native home of the Hippopotamus is in the large rivers of the northern part of central Africa. (Hippopotamus amphibius.)”

Illustration by Friedrich Specht, engraved by Carl Gottlob Specht (from mark), for Brehm’s Life of Animals: A Complete Natural History for Popular Home Instruction and for the Use of Schools, vol. 1, Mammalia, by Dr. Alfred Edmund Brehm, 1895. Digitized by the Internet Archive from the collection of the American Museum of Natural History. (In the public domain.) <https://www.archive.org/details/brehmslifeofanim00breh/page/551>


“Hippopotamus,” illustration by Friedrich Specht for Illustrated Natural History (Animals and Birds): Arranged for Young Readers, by Rev. J. G. Wood, 1899, as reprinted in Children’s Own Library, vol. 10, Miscellaneous Tales, ed. by J. Ellis Burdick, 1910. Digitized by the Internet Archive from the collection of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (In the public domain.) <https://www.archive.org/details/childrensownlibr10burd/page/108>

18 February 2019

Goodbye, Cookie ⚱️🍪👀🐈

Goodbye, Cookie. ⚱️🍪👀🐈

23 July 2016.

11 Feb. 2012.

11 Feb. 2012.

7 May 2017.

7 May 2017.

7 May 2017.

14 Dec. 2013.

15 June 2018

June: “Don’t Spoil a Good Dream”

Don’t Spoil a Good Dream,” illustration by Frank Mack, calendar, South Pacific Base Command headquarters, US Army, 1945. (In the public domain.)

03 February 2017

Punching Nazis and Burning University Campuses → Attacking Jews

I am extremely disheartened, if not frightened, by how many of my supposedly progressive online contacts on social media have lately been condoning violence against those with whom they disagree. First, many were posting to say that punching Richard Spencer was perfectly acceptable because he is a Nazi. Of course, Spencer’s views are reprehensible, but literally condoning violence against him sets a terrible precedent. In an age when so many get their information about current events solely from headlines or from unreliable sensationalistic sources, I anticipated that the next step would be to start calling people bigots, whether true or not, just to excuse violence against them. Sure enough, some I know are again justifying violence by demonizing Milo Yiannopoulos with a barrage of insults ranging from calling him a “Trump supporter” (which he is) to calling him a “white supremacist” (which he is not), all in the name of curtailing freedom of speech. Label someone a Republican or a conservative and many conclude they therefore have nothing of value to say; label someone a Nazi or white supremacist (even someone of Jewish background) and many conclude that a violent response is not only appropriate but necessary.

 So what’s the next step? For decades, Islamists, their supporters and their apologists have been attempting to delegitimize and demonize Israel by spreading all manner of lies and distortions, including falsely blaming Israel, Zionism and the Jews for atrocities like ethnic cleansing, apartheid and even genocide, and then condoning slaughter of civilians by painting global terrorism as some honorable form of resistance for which Israel and the West are ultimately to blame anyway. I therefore predict an escalation in attacks on Jews worldwide, and that the Far Left and even so‐called progressives will leap to excuse it all away so long as the attackers call all the victims Zionists. With all the effort that has been put into convincing the world that Israel and Zionism are the most repugnant things on earth (in what has been called “the greatest smear campaign in the history of the world”), calling anyone a Zionist will make attacking him seem like the only reasonable response, and anyone who disagrees will be labeled a conservative or an Islamophobe. (I hope I am wrong about that.) Replacing freedom of speech with calls for violence against those with whom one disagrees is very dangerous indeed.

24 December 2016

The Feast of Dedication as Celebrated in an English Synagogue,” uncredited illustration in “Historical Sketch of the Jews Since Their Return from Babylon,” by Bernhard Pick, The Open Court, May 1897, 273. (In the public domain.)

01 April 2016

In Loving Memory of Joe Doyle

📷 In loving memory of Joe Doyle, a well‐known member of the community, who died on 22 March. 😢

(All photographs by Elyaqim Mosheh Adam, under a Creative Commons BY‐NC license.)

24 March 2016

Purim and Anti‐Semitism

🖼 The legend central to the holiday of Purim depicts a situation wherein allegations of anti‐Semitism are taken seriously and not categorically dismissed.

The illustration: “Esther confond Aman,” illustration by Gustave Doré from La sainte Bible, 1866, reprinted as “Queen Esther Accuses Haman Before the King” in “Haman Is Hanged on the Gallows Made for Mordecai,” The Bible Panorama or The Holy Scriptures in Picture and Story, Arranged for the Instruction and Entertainment of Children, as Well as Older Persons; Illustrating the Principal Events of the Old and New Testaments, with Descriptions of Them in Easy Words, [by William A. Foster,] Philadelphia: Charles Foster Publishing Co., 1891, 205. (In the public domain.) (Internet Archive) (Flickr) (Also Wikimedia Commons)

03 March 2016

Looking Serious in a Playful Winter Hat

🌬📷 By some ways of reckoning it, winter is over, but the weather here is certainly still wintery. Here are some of my recent photos showing that people in New York City can manage to look serious even when wearing a playful winter hat. And I write that as a New Yorker often in a mood as playful as my hats. (Photographs by Elyaqim Mosheh Adam, under a Creative Commons BY‐NC 4.0 license.)

11 February 2016

Swollen Bear Is Swollen

My keratocystic odontogenic tumor was finally cut out of me earlier this week, and now I have a large gap where it used to be that needs to slowly fill with the appropriate tissues. The procedure was carried out by three surgeons and was rather intense, including carefully separating my exposed inferior alveolar nerve from tumor tissue, but they put me back together so well that my jaw did not need to be wired and I can even speak fairly well. I am now recovering quite comfortably thanks to good medication. I am on a liquid diet for a few days but will be on a soft diet before the week is over. Also of note: At no point in time did anyone at the hospital ask me which three oral surgeons I find the sexiest in the whole clinic, yet those were coincidentally the very three who did the job.

The illustration
“Mr. Bear Came Down with the Mumps,” illustration by L. J. Bridgman for “The Strange Story of Mr. Dog and Mr. Bear—The Christmas Tree,” by Mabel Fuller Blodgett, St. Nicholas, Dec. 1915, 185. (In the public domain.) (Internet Archive) (Flickr)

09 February 2016

My Surgery Is Nigh

The time has finally come when the keratocystic odontogenic tumor (KCOT) about which I have been complaining for more than a year will be cut out of me. A few facts about my procedure:

— The tumor extends from my left wisdom tooth down my jawline to the further (right) side of my chin. Over the course of my long treatment, it was hoped the tumor would shrink. Although it has indeed shrunk, it got flatter and narrower but not significantly shorter. This means I still need quite a long incision for it to be excised, which I estimate from a tape measure held to my face to be at least six inches.

— Because this type of tumor is particularly aggressive, every last little bit of it needs to be scraped out, which necessitates removal of bone tissue at least a millimeter deep from parts of my mandible that are in contact with it. I will also need annual visits to an oral surgeon for the rest of my life to ensure the tumor doesn’t recur.

— There will be direct manipulation of my inferior alveolar nerve by my surgeons. Such intimate interaction with the nerves may leave me with some paresthesia on my face, possibly for the rest of my life. I admit I am concerned about whether my verbal articulation will be affected, and if so, how much.

— My jaw may be immobilized after surgery, and I will eat only a soft diet for a time. In preparation, I have stocked my apartment with soup, sauce, baby food, ḥummuṣ, yoqurt, butter, sour cream, cottage cheese etc.

I have great confidence in my surgeons’ abilities so I find I am not fearful. I will write about the recovery in the upcoming days as I expect to have more time to be online than ever before. See you later.

The drawing
Fig. 88, “Patient with dentigerous cyst,” uncredited illustration in Injuries and Diseases of the Jaws: The Jacksonian Prize Essay of the Royal College of Surgeons of England, 1867, 3rd ed., by Christopher Heath, Philadelphia: P. Blakiston, Son & Co., 1884, 192. (In the public domain.) (Internet Archive) (Flickr)

29 January 2016

After the Blizzard

Snow on 72nd Street between 35th and 37th avenues after the blizzard, Jackson Heights, 24 January 2016. (Photograph by Elyaqim Mosheh Adam, under a Creative Commons BY‐NC license.)

Taken with Nikon Coolpix S6900, edited with PicMonkey.

27 January 2016

After some of my friends requested information on my health and others expressed some confusion over it, I offer this health update.

• As you may remember, the x‐ray I had in August for sciatica incidentally revealed evidence of kidney stones, which led in October to a visit with a urologist who ordered another x‐ray and a CT scan so he could properly diagnose me. Much of November and December was spent correcting multiple billing, scheduling and authorization errors made by the health providers’ offices and by the insurance company, but I finally received the x‐ray and CT scan on different days earlier this month. When I was again seen by the urologist, the test results showed, not surprisingly, that I do indeed have kidney stones, and they are large enough that he recommended laser lithotripsy. Because I am in no pain and because I am facing significant oral surgery in the near future, we postponed my next urology visit until springtime.

• The last time I was seen by the oral surgeon in October, x‐ray and CT scan results showed that I had good bone tissue regrowth, but that the tumor itself hadn’t shrunk significantly. The aforementioned billing, scheduling and authorization errors, as well as the snowstorm, delayed the following visit, but it will be tomorrow (Wednesday), and based on our telephone conversations, the removal of the tumor on my jawbone is imminent, possibly within the next two weeks.

24 January 2016

🌳 A picture of an almond tree in the Land of Israel, in honor of the Jewish New Year of the Trees (ראש השנה לאילנות‎).

Uncredited illustration in Palestine: The Physical Geography and Natural History of the Holy Land …, by John Kitto, London: Charles Knight & Co., 1841, 212. (In the public domain.)

04 January 2016

Taken in by the Propaganda

The only thing that marred my otherwise wonderful extended New Year’s/Perihelion weekend was hearing in conversation that two different intelligent Jewish‐American atheist friends of mine have apparently fallen for the propaganda of fanatically religious Islamic extremists and their allies: One of them was accusing Israel of “ethnic cleansing” for issuing identification numbers, and the other was saying that radical Islam is no more a problem than extremism in any other religious group and that terrorism has nothing to do with Islamic doctrine but instead with economic disadvantages and a loss of “dignity” that make terrorists turn to terrorism in order to “shake things up.” This was saddening and disheartening but is also quite rare in my social circles.

15 November 2015

Autumn trees on 35th Avenue

My cover photo/header photo on the social media sites these days.

Trees on 35th Avenue between 64th and 65th streets, Woodside, 4 November 2015. (Photograph by Elyaqim Mosheh Adam.)

10 November 2015

Saturday evening, I arrived quite early for a social engagement at One Mile House on Delancey Street on the Lower East Side and was standing in front of the venue wondering what my next step should be. Should I wait there or try to find something else to do in the meantime?

While I stood there, about ten emergency vehicles—police cars, ambulances and fire trucks—pulled up alongside me with their sirens wailing, and EMTs, fire fighters and police officers filed into the Bowery subway station. A little while later, a police officer emerged with a loudly crying witness to whatever it was that had happened in there. As a crowd gathered, people were helping to translate her testimony from Chinese for the policeman as well as apparently helping her contact some family members on her telephone. I overheard what some passengers and some emergency workers were saying, and it turns out that her companion was struck by an arriving train as he stood on the platform.

Soon afterward, the injured passenger was brought out on a spine board to a wheeled stretcher that was waiting atop the stairs and rushed to an ambulance. I later learned that he had been wedged between the train and the platform and that his fellow passengers were pushing on the train trying to free him and that he later died at hospital.

• Ben Kochman and Ryan Sit, “Straphangers heave subway car off Queens man trapped, killed by J train,” Daily News, 9 Nov. 2015.
• Linda Adams, Twitter, 7 Nov. 2015.
• New York City Transit Authority, Twitter, 7 Nov. 2015.