The Six Types of Courage

alex atkins bookshelf educationYou cannot imagine a more unlikely trio for an important life journey: an empty-headed scarecrow, a rusty tin woodman, and a cowardly lion. But those are Dorothy’s companions on the famous yellow brick road to the Land of Oz — from the imagination of L. Frank Baum. While Dorothy seeks to return home, the scarecrow wants a brain, the woodman longs for a heart, and the lion desires courage. When Dorothy accuses the lion of being a coward, he responds: “You’re right, I am a coward! I haven’t any courage at all. I even scare myself.” We can presume, that the Cowardly Lion seeks physical courage, that is, “acting intentionally in the face of risks, threats, or obstacles in the pursuit of morally worthy goals.” The classic example is the fireman who rushes into a burning house to save a helpless infant. In mythology and literature, the lion is traditionally a symbol of power, wisdom, confidence, bravery, and pride. Baum’s lion lacking courage, of course, is dramatically ironic. But despite what the Cowardly Lion believes, there is much more to courage than physical strength and bravado.

Dr. Lisa Dungate, PsyD, a parenting coach and child/family therapist, along with best friend Jennifer Armstrong, an award-winning author of historical fiction for children and teens, created Lion’s Whiskers, a fascinating blog that shares compelling stories and insight to help parents and their children to develop courage to meet the many challenges that life presents; they state: “We have found one of the best ways to inspire courage is through story — traditional stories, family stories, true stories from history — and by giving our children opportunities to practice courage every day.” [Incidentally, the title of the blog was inspired by a charming and instructive Ethiopian folk tale about a healer who teaches a woman how to be courageous.] Dungate and Armstrong provide a new insight into the understanding of courage. First, by definition: “Courage, very broadly, involves making a decision or taking action where a risk is involved — something actual or imagined to fear. Courage is the necessary force ensuring growth rather than retreat.” Second, by classification: they believe that there are six types of courage — and, taken together, are critical to deal with the inevitable slings and arrows of life. Briefly, here is their classification of courage:

Physical courage.  This is the courage most people think of first:  bravery at the risk of bodily harm or death.  It involves developing physical strength, resiliency, and awareness.

Social courage.  This type of courage is also very familiar to most of us as it involves the risk of social embarrassment or exclusion, unpopularity or rejection.  It also involves leadership.

Intellectual courage.  This speaks to our willingness to engage with challenging ideas, to question our thinking, and to the risk of making mistakes.  It means discerning and telling the truth.

Moral courage.  This involves doing the right thing, particularly when risks involve shame, opposition, or the disapproval of others.  Here we enter into ethics and integrity, the resolution to match word and action with values and ideals.  It is not about who we claim to be to our children and to others, but who we reveal ourselves to be through our words and actions.

Emotional courage.  This type of courage opens us to feeling the full spectrum of positive emotions, at the risk of encountering the negative ones.  It is strongly correlated with happiness.

Spiritual courage.  This fortifies us when we grapple with questions about faith, purpose, and meaning, either in a religious or nonreligious framework.

Courage is multifaceted, and as such, a sticky wicket for research. Dungate and Armstrong elaborate: “Courage remains a difficult construct to accurately and categorically define for social researchers, psychologists, theologians, and philosophers alike (Woodard & Pury, 2007; Goud, 2005).  [We] are in the process of conducting research to compile an accurate definition for courage for the Lion’s Whiskers blog.  At this point, we fully acknowledge that our perspective is wholly Western and we look forward to a more multicultural, and thus universal, definition of courage as we develop this blog.

The study they cite, Courage: Its Nature and Development (ResearchGate, March 2005), psychologist Nelson Goud identifies three dimensions of courage (fear, appropriate response, and a higher purpose) as well as three main themes in the developmental process for learning courage: 1. building confidence and self-trust; 2. perceiving a worthy purpose; and 3. managing fear. (Gould also cites research that suggests six different types of courage: physical, moral, civil, vital, psychological, and existential.) In terms of learning courage, Dungate and Armstrong believe that four more themes need to be added: 4. empowering decision-making; 5. intention and willing action; 6. opportunities to practice and persevere; and 7. ensuring a sense of belonging and self-worth.

Indeed, Dungate and Armstrong as the pied-pipers of courage, weave the strands of myths, fables, folklore, as well as true stories to form a sort of “courage cloak” to wrap around yourselves and your children, “to help you muster courage in the face of fear, to be an inspirational parent to your children, and foster the security and hope for your children’s future.” These are exactly the types of stories that the world needs now, particularly in America, where spineless, feckless politicians, that pull the levers behind the curtain, present dreadful role models. And these are the stories, passed on from generation to generation, that never get old.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: The Four Qualities of Empathy
Life Lessons From Scrooge
The Importance of Empathy
The Wisdom of the Ancient Greeks

For further reading:
Penguin Dictionary of Symbols by Jean Chevalier



What is a Tom Swifty?

alex atkins bookshelf wordsMore than a century ago, Edward Stratemeyer, the founder of a book-packaging company, created the character of Tom Swift.  Stratemeyer wrote under the pseudonym of Victor Appleton. The very popular adventures of Tom Swift appeared in a series of books (40 volumes), published from 1910 to 1941. The protagonist, Tom Swift, is portrayed as a hero and scientific genius (modeled after famous inventors of the time — Thomas Edison and Henry Ford). In some ways, Swift was the early 20th-century version of Jimmy Newtron, or a Tesla for teens. Many of Swift’s inventions, like a fax machine,  hand-held movie camera and taser, predated the actual invention by several decades. In fact the word TASER is an acronym of “Thomas A. Swift’s Electric Rifle.” The Tom Swift canon influenced many notable science fiction writers like Isaac Asimov, Robert Heinlein, and Ray Kurzweil. Over the several decades, different writers have continued writing Tom Swift adventures for new generations of children. As of 2009, the Tom Swift book series has sold more than 30 million books (compare that to the Hardy Boys series, another successful Stratemeyer creation, that has sold more than 70 million books since 1927).

Another impact of the Tom Swift books was the rise of a clever word game. Stratemeyer, and the writers that followed him, tended to over-use adverbs to modify the verb “said.” For example, “Let’s run to the field,” said Tom excitedly or “Hand me the keys!” Tom said emphatically. A popular word game that began in the 1950’s was the adverbial pun, a type of Wellerism (introduced by Charles Dickens’s character Sam Weller in The Pickwick Papers), to satirize Statemeyer’s overused sentence construction. This type of sentence became known as a “Tom Swifty.” For example, “I can’t find the box of oranges,” said Tom fruitlessly or “Put that knife down,” said Tom sharply. Below are some examples of Tom Swifties:

“My favorite authors are Slaughter and Hemingway,” Tom said frankly and earnestly.

The lemon is too sour, Tom said bitterly.

“Welcome to my tomb,” said Tom cryptically.

“I can’t find the oranges,” said Tom fruitlessly.

“Don’t you love sleeping outdoors,” Tom said intently.

“Let’s trap that sick bird,” Tom said illegally.

“I lost my trousers,” said Tom expansively.

“Don’t try to pull the wool over my eyes,” Tom said sheepishly.

“I just dropped the toothpaste,” said Tom crestfallenly.

“This tooth extraction could take forever,” said Tom with infinite wisdom.

“Watch what you’re doing with that paddle,” said Tom, awestruck.

“That doesn’t add up,” said Tom nonplussed.

“I can’t think of anything to write,” Tom said blankly.

“Elvis is dead,” said Tom expressly.

“I’ve eaten too much white sauce,” said Tom ruefully.

“This may be the worst case of dry rot I’ve ever seen,” said Tom flawlessly.

“They had to amputate them both at the ankles,” said Tom defeatedly.

“Hurry up and get to the back of the ship!” Tom said sternly.

“I love explosions,” Tom boomed.

“Happy Birthday,” Tom said presently.

“There’s room for one more,” Tom admitted.

“Walk this way,” Tom said stridently.

“Bingo,” Tom exclaimed winningly.

“I didn’t see the steamroller coming,” said Tom flatly.

“You ever seen one this big?” Tom bragged cockily.

“Where did all the carpet on the steps go?” asked Tom with a blank stare.

“I have no flowers,” Tom said lackadaisically.

“I know not which groceries to purchase,” Tom said listlessly.

“It’s a unit of electric current,” said Tom amply.

“I’d like my money back, and some,” said Tom with interest.

“I have a delivery of shoes for the prisoners,” said Tom consolingly.

“This pizza place is great!” Tom exclaimed saucily.

“Let’s gather up the rope,” said Tom coyly.

“Who left the toilet seat down?” Tom asked peevishly.

“Pass me the shellfish,” said Tom crabbily.

“I’m the butcher’s assistant,” Tom said cuttingly.

“I unclogged the drain with a vacuum cleaner,” said Tom succinctly.

“We just struck oil!” Tom gushingly.

“Now I can do some painting,” Tom said easily.

“It’s freezing,” Tom muttered icily.

“I love hot dogs,” said Tom with relish.

“My therapist told me I suffer from multiple personality disorder,” said Tom, being frank.

“Pardon my flatulence,” said Tom astutely.

“If you want me, I shall be in the attic,” Tom said, loftily

“We’re going to see Riverdance, and that’s final,” said Tom, flatly.

“Follow that group of ships!” Tom said fleetingly.

“How many lambs do you have on your farm?” Tom asked sheepishly.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: What is a Malaphor?
What is a Pleonasm?
What is a Rhopalic?
Top Ten Puns

Words Invented by Dickens
Words with Letters in Alphabetical Order

For further reading:

Mistakes in Shakespeare’s Plays

alex atkins bookshelf literatureFew will deny that William Shakespeare was a literary genius. More than 450 years later, Shakespeare still towers over every literary figure — his plays have never ceased being performed, by professional and amateurs alike, as well as finding their way into various film adaptations; his plays are translated, read, and studied in high school and universities around the globe; his words and phrases form an important part of the English lexicon; and his work continues to inspire artists, filmmakers, poets, and writers. But, like any mortal, Shakespeare made mistakes. If one reads his plays very carefully, you will find some rather interesting blunders and anachronisms (things that belong to another time period). Here are some of the mistakes that Shakespeare made:

The Tragedy of Julius Caesar
In the play, which takes place in Ancient Rome around 45 B.C., a clock strikes the hour; however the clock was not invented until 1656.

Antony and Cleopatra
The play, which takes place throughout the Roman Empire from about 44 B.C. to 30 B.C., mentions billiards; however, billiards were not introduced until the early 1340s.

The Winter’s Tale
A vessel  is described as “driven by a storm on the coast of Bohemia” and “Our ship has touched upon the deserts of Bohemia.” However, Bohemia, now a part of Czechoslovakia, does not have a coast and is a fertile region surrounded by mountains.

The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
In an early scene, Hamlet’s father’s ghost appears before the sentries at Elsinore, the Danish royal castle. The ghost is presumably Catholic since it speaks of purgatory and absolution; however during the period in which the play takes place in Denmark, the Danes were pagans.

Prince Hamlet’s friend, Horatio, refers to the cliffs of Elsinore: “What if it tempt you toward the flood, my lord, / Or to the dreadful summit of the cliff / That beetles o’er his base into the sea” However, Elsinore has no cliffs.

The Two Gentlemen of Verona
Valentine explains that he traveled from Verona to Milan by ship (“Once more adieu! my father at the road / Expects my coming, there to see me shipp’d.”). The only problem is that it is impossible to make that trip by ship, since both are located in the central part of northern Italy.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: What if Shakespeare Wrote the Hits: Don’t Stop Believin
Were Shakespeare’s Sonnets Written to a Young Man?
When Was Shakespeare Born?
The Legacy of Shakespeare
Shakespeare the Pop Song Writer

The Shakespeare Thefts: In Search of the First Folio
Who Are the Greatest Characters in Shakespeare?
The Most Common Myths About Shakespeare
Shakespeare and Uranus
Best Editions of Shakespeare’s Sonnets

For further reading: The Blunder Book by M. Hirsch Goldberg


Literary Treasures Found in Auction Catalogs: March 2018

alex atkins bookshelf booksAn auction house’s catalog is a bibliophile’s dream of a museum between two covers. Open any catalog, and you will find literary treasures — valuable first editions, rare inscribed copies, manuscripts, letters, screenplays, and author portraits — from some of the most famous authors in the world.

Bonhams is one of the world’s oldest and largest auctioneers. Although Bonhams was created in 2001, the firm was a merger of two esteemed long-standing auction houses, Bonhams & Brooks (founded in 1793) and Philips Son & Neale (founded in 1796). It holds its auctions of antiques, art, books, and manuscripts in London, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Hong Kong, Paris, Singapore, and Sydney. As you can imagine, the auction business is extremely lucrative. In 2007, sales of auction items brought in more than $600 million. Here are some of the items found in their most current catalog, Extraordinary Books and Manuscripts (New York, March 9, 2018).

Saint Augustine: De Civitate Dei, second edition ($200,000 – 300,000)

Claudius Ptolemaeus: Cosmographia, third edition ($600,000 – 800,000)

Sir Isaac Newton, Manuscript Detailing Creation of Philosopher’s Stone ($200,000 – $300,000)

George Washington, Signed Letter to Governor Morris, dated May 6, 1779 ($40,000 – $60,000)

Alexander Hamilton, Letter to Baron von Steuben, dated June 12, 1780 ($10,000 – $15,000)

Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, First Edition, first binding, 1855 ($50,000 – $70,000)

Inaugural Bible of Ulysses S. Grant, 1869, only presidential inauguration bible in private hands ($80,000 – $120,000)

Oscar Wilde, Manuscript Draft of an Unknown Wilde Poem, 1890s ($50,000 – $70,000)

Albert Einstein, Letter Addressing his Involvement with Creation of the Atom Bomb to his son, Hans Albert, dated Sept. 2, 1945 ($100,000 – $150,000)
The letter includes this paragraph: ““My scientific work has only a very indirect connection with the atomic bomb. Indeed, I showed (39 years ago already) that according to the special theory of relativity, there exists an equivalence between the mass and energy of a system, that is, that the two are only different manifestations of the same thing. Also I noted that the energies released by radioactive decay are great enough to be emitted in a nuclear reaction when there is an imbalance of mass. That is all.”

The Only Copy of the Navigator Log of the Flight of the Enola Gay by Major Theodore Van Kirk, dated August 6, 1945 ($100,000 – $150,000)

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: The Antiquarian Bookseller’s Catalog
The Most Expensive Dust Jacket

The Most Expensive Book in the World
Most Expensive Book Ever Sold
Most Expensive American Book

Pie Day Trivia

alex atkins bookshelf triviaMarch 14 is a fascinating number for math and science geeks. First off, it is National Pi Day, in honor of the irrational number 3.14. Second, it is Albert Einstein’s birthday (3-14-1879). And third, it is the date that Stephen Hawking died (3-14-18). Put why should pi, the ubiquitous mathematical constant, get all the attention? Princeton University, where Einstein once taught, celebrates pi day with an Einstein look-alike contest (hashtag crazy hair), pie tossing, pie eating, and other pie-related tomfoolery. Now that’s the spirit, mates! To honor the humble pie, Bookshelf presents fascinating, fun — and delicious — pie trivia:

In 1959 rock-and-roll legend Buddy Holly, along with musicians Ritchie Valens and Jiles Richardson (known as “The Big Bopper”), died in an airplane accident. The plane was named “American Pie.” The tragedy inspired Don McLean’s famous song “American Pie” released in 1971. You know the one: “The day that music died / So bye-bye, Miss America Pie / Drove my Chevy to the levee, but the levee was dry…” In an interview, McLean noted “By the time he was 22 years old, [Holly] had recorded some 50 tracks, most of which he had written himself … in my view and the view of many others, [all absolute hits] … Buddy Holly and the Crickets were the template for all the rock bands that followed.”

In his 38 plays, Shakespeare killed off 74 characters. 30 of them were stabbed to death, 4 were poisoned, 4 were beheaded, and 2 were baked into a pie. In Titus Andronicus, the protagonist exacts revenge on Queen Tamora and her evil family by baking her sons in a pie and serving it to her. Bon appétit! Pass the pepper…

Speaking of meat pies, British actor and producer Peter Shaw wrote The Tale of Sweeney Todd in the late 1990s that was adapted into a screenplay of the same name by Peter Buckman in 1998. It tells the story of an evil barber that murders his clients to sell the victims’ jewelry and gives the corpses to his mistress, Mrs. Lovett, who makes them into meat pies to sell to her clients. Move over Marie Calendar…

Each year, grocery stores in America sell more than 186 million pies, generating more than $700 million

America’s favorite pie: apple pie (19%), pumpkin (13%), pecan (12%), banana cream (10%), and cherry (9%)

Favorite dessert to bring to a dinner party: Top three — pie (29%), cake (17%), and cookies (15%)

Family member that makes the best pie: mom (27%), store bought pie (26%), and grandma (17%)

Number of Americans that identify Apple pie as their favorite: 36 million

Number of men (age 35-54) that have eaten last slice of pie and denied it: 6 million

Percentage of Americans who have eaten an entire pie by themselves: 20%

Americans who believe that a slice of pie represents one of the “simple pleasures in life”: 90%

Americans who have passed off a store-bought pie as homemade: 7%

Americans who have eaten pie in bed: 33%

When is a pie not a pie? Boston Cream Pie is a cake, not a pie.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: Best Pi Puns
A Slice of Pi Trivia
Top Ten Puns


For further reading:

The Wisdom of Stephen Hawking

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsOn March 14, 2018, the world lost one of its most brilliant scientific minds in modern history — Stephen Hawking. Coincidentally, another brilliant physicist, also considered a genius, died that same day: Albert Einstein (March 14, 1879). And if that coincidence is not impressive enough, consider this: Hawking was born on January 8, 1942, the day that marked the 300th anniversary of the death of yet another scientific genius — Galileo Galilei (1564-1642).

Despite being diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) at the age of 21, and being told he only had about two years to live, Hawking lived an extremely productive life. He did not allow his disability to cripple his intellectual life; he once wrote: “By losing the finer dexterity of my hands, I was forced to travel through the universe in my mind and try to visualize the ways in which it worked.” Thanks to these fantastic cerebral journeys, Hawkings made many significant contributions to the study of black holes, the Big Bang, general relativity, quantum physics, and cosmology, to name just a few. At the University of Cambridge, Hawking held the same revered position for 30 years that Sir Isaac Newton once held: Lucasian Professor of Mathematics. Hawking wrote seven books and co-authored five books. His most well-known work, A Brief History of Time (1992), sold more than 9 million copies and made the British Sunday Times best-seller list for more than 4.5 years. In honor of his life, Bookshelf presents some of his most famous insights:

The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.

We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.

The whole history of science has been the gradual realization that events do not happen in an arbitrary manner, but that they reflect a certain underlying order, which may or may not be divinely inspired.

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.

We are all different, but we share the same human spirit. Perhaps it’s human nature that we adapt and survive.

However bad life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at. Where there’s life, there’s hope.

For millions of years, mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened which unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk and we learned to listen. Speech has allowed the communication of ideas, enabling human beings to work together to build the impossible. Mankind’s greatest achievements have come about by talking, and its greatest failures by not talking. It doesn’t have to be like this. Our greatest hopes could become reality in the future. With the technology at our disposal, the possibilities are unbounded. All we need to do is make sure we keep talking.

It surprises me how disinterested we are today about things like physics, space, the universe and philosophy of our existence, our purpose, our final destination. Its a crazy world out there. Be curious.

I am just a child who has never grown up. I still keep asking these “how” and “why” questions. Occasionally, I find an answer.

[Hawking’s advice to his children] One, remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Two, never give up work. Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it. Three, if you are lucky enough to find love, remember it is there and don’t throw it away.

Keeping an active mind has been vital to my survival, as has been maintaining a sense of humor.

If we find the answer to that (why the universe exists), it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason. For then we would know the mind of God.

We are each free to believe what we want and it is my view that the simplest explanation is there is no God. No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realization. There is probably no heaven, and no afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that, I am extremely grateful.

I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.

There is a fundamental difference between religion, which is based on authority, [and] science, which is based on observation and reason. Science will win because it works.

Government works best under the glare of public scrutiny. Absent such scrutiny, abuses occur.

Aggression, humanity’s greatest vice, will destroy civilization.

We are in danger of destroying ourselves by our greed and stupidity. We cannot remain looking inwards at ourselves on a small and increasingly polluted and overcrowded planet.

It is a waste of time to be angry about my disability. One has to get on with life and I haven’t done badly. People won’t have time for you if you are always angry or complaining.

Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious, and however difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do, and succeed at. It matters that you don’t just give up.

We now know that our galaxy is only one of some hundred thousand million that can be seen using modern telescopes, each galaxy itself containing some hundred thousand million stars.

It is hard to imagine how free will can operate if our behavior is determined by physical law, so it seems that we are no more than biological machines and that free will is just an illusion.

Some people would claim that things like love, joy and beauty belong to a different category from science and can’t be described in scientific terms, but I think they can now be explained by the theory of evolution.

If a star were a grain of salt, you could fit all the stars visible to the naked eye on a teaspoon, but all the stars in the universe would fill a ball more than eight miles wide.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: The Wisdom of a Grandmother
The Wisdom of Tom Shadyac
The Wisdom of Martin Luther King
The Wisdom of Maya Angelou
The Wisdom of a Grandmother
The Wisdom of the Ancient Greeks

The Wisdom of Lady Grantham
The Wisdom of Morrie Schwartz

The Wisdom of Yoda
The Wisdom of George Carlin
The Wisdom of Saint-Exupery
The Wisdom of Steven Wright
The Wisdom of Spock
The Wisdom of Elie Wiesel

For further reading: A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking


There Should Be A Word for That: Bibliorts

alex atkins bookshelf wordsPeople who read real books (you know the ones made of paper) use all sorts of things, other than bookmarks, to mark their place — random scraps of paper, ticket stubs, photos, postcards, notes, post-its, tissues, letters, etc. Lexicographer Paul Dickson believes these types of alternative bookmakers deserve their own name. He calls them bibliorts, derived from the Greek word biblio meaning “books” and orts, an old and rare term for “scraps.” Interestingly, some readers use various bibliorts to mark several places in a book. High school and college students, for example, are notorious for using dozens of colorized post-it notes to mark important passages in a famous novel that they are studying.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: Words Invented by Book Lovers
How Many Words in the English Language?
Words with Letters in Alphabetical Order
What is the Longest Word in English?
There’s a Word for That: Epeolatry
Words for Book Lovers

For further reading: Words by Paul Dickson.

%d bloggers like this: