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General News    H4'ed 8/18/14

Eduardo Galeano, A Lost and Found History of Lives and Dreams (Some Broken)

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Photographer Philippe Halsman asks him: "Do you think there will be peace?"

And while the shutter clicks, Albert Einstein says, or rather mutters: "No."

People believe that Einstein got the Nobel Prize for his theory of relativity, that he was the originator of the saying "Everything is relative," and that he was the inventor of the atom bomb.

The truth is they did not give him a Nobel for his theory of relativity and he never uttered those words. Neither did he invent the bomb, although Hiroshima and Nagasaki would not have been possible if he had not discovered what he did.

He knew all too well that his findings, born of a celebration of life, had been used to annihilate it.

Father of the Computer

Alan Turing was sneered at for not being a tough guy, a he-man with hair on his chest.

He whined, croaked, stuttered. He used an old necktie for a belt. He rarely slept and went without shaving for days. And he raced from one end of the city to the other all the while concocting complicated mathematical formulas in his mind.

Working for British intelligence, he helped shorten the Second World War by inventing a machine that cracked the impenetrable military codes used by Germany's high command.

At that point he had already dreamed up a prototype for an electronic computer and had laid out the theoretical foundations of today's information systems. Later on, he led the team that built the first computer to operate with integrated programs. He played interminable chess games with it and asked it questions that drove it nuts. He insisted that it write him love letters. The machine responded by emitting messages that were rather incoherent.

But it was flesh-and-blood Manchester police who arrested him in 1952 for gross indecency.

At the trial, Turing pled guilty to being a homosexual.

To stay out of jail, he agreed to undergo medical treatment to cure him of the affliction. The bombardment of drugs left him impotent. He grew breasts. He stayed indoors, no longer went to the university. He heard whispers, felt stares drilling into his back.

He had the habit of eating an apple before going to bed.

One night, he injected the apple with cyanide.

Red Emperor

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Tom Engelhardt, who runs the Nation Institute's Tomdispatch.com ("a regular antidote to the mainstream media"), is the co-founder of the American Empire Project and, most recently, the author of Mission Unaccomplished: Tomdispatch (more...)
 

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