Justice Stevens was an Oxfordian

Last Tuesday, at the funeral for the Supreme Court Justice John Paul StevensRuth Bader Ginsburg delivered a eulogy. She concluded, “Justice Stevens much appreciated the writings of the literary genius known by the name William Shakespeare, so I will end with a line from the Bard fitting the prince of a man Justice Stevens was: ‘Take him for all in all, we shall not look upon his like again.’ ” Ginsburg’s wording was careful—it had to be, lest she mischaracterize her colleague’s views. Stevens didn’t appreciate the writings of Shakespeare; he appreciated the writings of the individual known asShakespeare. Ginsburg’s “Hamlet” quote? Stevens, known for his dissenting opinions (Bush v. GoreCitizens United v. F.E.C.), believed that it was probably written not by Shakespeare, the commoner from Stratford-upon-Avon, but by Edward de Vere, the seventeenth Earl of Oxford.

A quick recap of the Oxfordian theory, which was proposed in 1920, by a schoolteacher named J. Thomas Looney: Shakespeare was the front man for de Vere, an aristocrat who could not publish under his own name. (Writers were looked down on—sometimes they were even tortured or killed.) This explains why there were no books in Shakespeare’s Stratford house and why no letters written by Shakespeare survive. (Some Oxfordians think that Shakespeare was illiterate.) This explains why there is no evidence that Stratford citizens recognized Shakespeare as a writer during his lifetime. And it explains why the plays are so good, so complicated, so familiar with the concerns of nobility and the geography of Italy. (Shakespeare isn’t known to have ever left England.)

Stevens began expressing his doubts about the Bard of Avon in November of 1987, at a moot-court hearing on the topic “Who Wrote Shakespeare?” Stevens and Justices William Brennan and Harry Blackmun listened to arguments in support of the Stratford man and arguments in support of de Vere. Stevens said, of the Stratford argument, “I have lingering concerns about some of the gaps in the evidence: the absence of eulogies at the time in 1616 when Shakespeare died.” He added, “You can’t help but have these gnawing doubts that this author may, perhaps, have been someone else.” A few years later, in a law-review article, he doubled down, citing the theory that “Shakespeare is a pseudonym for an exceptionally well-educated person of noble birth who was close to the English throne.” Edward de Vere.

“The article was him coming out as an Oxfordian,” Tom Regnier, a former president of the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship, said. The organization, which has about four hundred members—including the Shakespearean actors Derek Jacobi and Mark Rylance, who are honorary trustees—is dedicated to researching the authorship question and evangelizing about de Vere. In 2009, the group gave Stevens its highest honor: naming him Oxfordian of the Year.

Alex McNeil, the Oxfordian who was tasked with notifying Stevens, didn’t know how to contact a Supreme Court Justice, so he mailed a letter to the Court. Several weeks later, he received a response from Stevens’s secretary: “Be here on November 12th at 2pm.” (“They don’t ask, ‘Is such-and-such date good for you?’ ” McNeil said.) Regnier, McNeil, and two other Oxfordians—all attorneys—arrived at Stevens’s chambers to present him with a plaque. They chatted about the authorship question. Michael Pisapia, one of the Oxfordians who joined, said that Stevens made it clear that he was an anti-Stratfordian, but that he shied away from endorsing a definitive theory of authorship.

“He said, ‘Of course it’s not the guy from Stratford,’ ” Pisapia recalled. “But when we asked about the other candidates he’d say things like ‘Oh, I don’t bite.’ ‘What about Bacon?’ ‘No, I don’t bite.’ ‘O.K., so what about Oxford?’ He said, ‘Well, you certainly couldn’t convict anyone else of it.’ ”

But the award was not rebuffed. “He accepted it with both hands, literally,” Pisapia said. The Oxfordians understood Stevens’s reluctance to commit. “Let’s say some piece of evidence comes out and proves that it was Queen Elizabeth I,” Pisapia said. “His whole career as a jurist would have a shadow over it. Like, ‘Wow, he sure missed that one.’ ” (Although the reputation of Hugh Trevor-Roper, the historian, never quite recovered after he authenticated the Hitler diaries, Whoopi Goldberg’s career didn’t suffer when she raised doubts about the moon landing on “The View.”)

The late Justice Antonin Scalia was openly Oxfordian. Scalia told the Wall Street Journal, in 2009, that his wife “thinks we Oxfordians . . . can’t believe that a commoner could have done something like this, you know, it’s an aristocratic tendency.” (Scalia was never named Oxfordian of the Year.)


How to Write a New Yorker Cartoon Caption: Kumail Nanjiani & Dave Bautista Edition

McNeil said, “We’re often accused of snobbery by the other side, but we’re not saying that someone from a small town, a four-day trip away from London, couldn’t have done this. It’s that he couldn’t have done this without leaving any evidence behind. And, for lawyers, it’s the evidentiary question that sticks out the most.”

The Oxfordians are busy planning their annual conference, which will be held this fall at the Mark Twain House, in Hartford, Connecticut. (Twain was skeptical of the Stratford man, and his last book, “Is Shakespeare Dead?,” addresses the authorship question.) “We’ll do something to honor Stevens,” Regnier said.

Pisapia credits Stevens, as well as the 2011 film “Anonymous,” with bringing the Oxfordian theory into the mainstream. “Thirty years ago, if you talked about the authorship question, you were lumped in with the flat-earthers, with the people who were going to stake out Area 51,” he said. “The Stevens thing wasn’t so groundbreaking to the rest of the world—it wasn’t like Beyoncé having twins—but it made it more acceptable to talk about.” ♦




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CRISPR Gene Editing Will Be Used Inside Humans For the First Time in Treatment for Blindness


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Now I can see why nobody wants to hire her!

Stop posting my comment without my permission on your blog.
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The planet has room for about 2.5 billion acres of forest, and all those trees could suck up an additional 200 gigatons of carbon. While that wouldn’t solve climate change, it would be a huge hel

By Tik Root
We recently told you about a study that looked at how may more trees could grow on Earth and how much carbon they could absorb from the atmosphere. The answer: The planet has room for about 2.5 billion acres of forest, and all those trees could suck up an additional 200 gigatons of carbon. While that wouldn’t solve climate change, it would be a huge help.
That kind of reforestation would be a monumental global undertaking, but every single tree still counts. They all sequester carbon.
So, if you plant a tree, what kind should it be?
Peter Del Tredici, senior research scientist emeritus at the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University said that, for trees to sequester a lot of carbon, they need to live long and healthy lives. “You want a tree that is going to survive in your climate with the minimum amount of maintenance,” he said.
To have a meaningful effect, he said, a tree must live at least 10 to 20 years. “It takes that long for a tree to build up enough foliage so that it can have a substantial impact on the environment,” Dr. Del Tredici said.
With that in mind, oaks can be great in the Northeast, while ficus trees might work better in Southern California. In the Northwest, just about everything does well. Nonnative, noninvasive species like the ginkgo tree are good options, too.
Getting your tree to reach its full potential requires plenty of soil volume and ample room to grow, Dr. Del Tredici said. He discouraged fast-growing trees like poplars because they have a shorter life span. Medium-growth trees like pin oak are better from a carbon perspective.
Considering how climate change might shift conditions like temperature and water availability over time is also really important, said Emily Nobel Maxwell, the cities program director for The Nature Conservancy in New York.
Careful placement of a tree can bring additional climate benefits, she added, which could possibly be even more significant than carbon sequestration.
“There are ways to locate tees to maximize energy efficiency benefits,” Ms. Maxwell said. A tree that casts shade on your house in the summer or helps insulate in the winter can lower utility bills and, quite likely, carbon emissions. “You can strategically plant.”
The Arbor Day Foundation has a plenty of tools — like a best-tree finder and a hardiness zone look-up — to help identify the right tree for the right place. The Department of Agriculture’s I-Tree lets you design your optimal tree placement. Another useful exercise is simply to walk around an arboretum or botanical garden to get a sense of what you like. A nursery can be a great resource as well.
But both Dr. Del Tredici and Ms. Maxwell pointed out that putting the tree in the ground is only the first step in a decades-long process. “As important as planting a tree,” Ms. Maxwell said, “is taking care of a tree.”

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Med errors

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Trump’s Electoral College Edge Could Grow in 2020, Rewarding Polarizing Campaign


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Snakes, stupidity and sycophants: the horror of the Johnson cabinet

Snakes, stupidity and sycophants: the horror of the Johnson cabinet

Difficult to know which is more distressing – Priti Patel as home secretary or Dominic Raab as foreign secretary. None of it gets any better from there …

Boris Johnson holds his first cabinet meeting in Downing Street, 25 July 2019

 Boris Johnson holds his first cabinet meeting in Downing Street, 25 July 2019. Photograph: Reuters

Another day, another horror. The new cabinet has met for the first time. Oh, and Boris Johnson has made his Commons debut as prime minister. Horrors plural, then. We’re living in a Hammerfilm, my friends, but one looped over and over, where the protagonist enunciates only using vowel sounds and stuttering, and the plot is him wreaking revenge on a nation because he once lost a game of fives and has never gotten over it.

Here is all the action from the day. I am so, so sorry.

cabinet meeting

Photograph: Aaron Chown/PAI swear to God this looks like the most awful dinner party of all time. This looks like a dinner party one would be personally offended to be invited to. The Guido Fawkes Twitter account described it as a “fantasy cabinet”, which pretty much tells you everything.

I’m not saying this is a good practice – because it isn’t – but you know how schools scheme to get all their lowest achieving students kicked out so that their table position isn’t affected? This would be the lot that you’d round up and drive off the premises without even opening the gates. This is a cabinet thicker than the bubbling tar on today’s roasting roads. This is a cabinet thiccer than Nicki Minaj.

boris johnson and savid javid in cabinet meeting

Photograph: Aaron Chown/AFP/Getty Images


Crispy Just Got Crispy…Er

You’ve Tasted Crispy, But Tyson® Crispy Chicken Strips Are Now Even Crispy…Er. And Really, The ‘Er’ Is The Tastiest Part.

I hope Sajid Javid AKA Spock wearing a swimming cap is proud of himself. I hope the working-class, state-school boy is proud that he’s now chancellor of an administration pledging to make things easier for the wealthiest and most comfortable in society. I hope he thinks about his choices in life. I hope he’s thinking about them right now.

close up of sajid javid

Photograph: Aaron Chown/AFP/Getty ImagesSajid Javid thinking about his life choices right now.

michael gove

Photograph: Parliament liveMichael Gove here, who judging by the redness of his face is either defecting to Labour or has been sitting in the garden in the searing heat. Be your sunburnt best. Cute though, that he and James Cleverly are holding hands, if only so that their affair can be uncovered and Sarah Vine can write her “most personal and explosive column yet”, which she writes literally every single week.



Pretty In Peach With Baileys

Indulge In A Light, Refreshing-Tasting Peach Smoothie This Weekend With Baileys Almande. Not Only Is It Dairy Free But Gluten Free, And Vegan, Too!

I can just imagine lots of heartrending pieces about her teen son, but not about the time the couple left him in a hotel room, a bit like when David Cameron left his daughter in a pub. That’s the thing about Tories: their kids are like their morals, in that they’re disposable.

Anyway, I’m not saying the past three years haven’t been bad for all of us, but specifically bad for me, who had the indignity of being nominated for a prestigious Press Award, losing, and watching Vine win in a different category. It felt a bit like being punched in the face by excruciating prose.

jacob rees-mogg and amber rudd

Photograph: Chris J Ratcliffe/Getty ImagesWhat this is is when you bump into a colleague that you hate leaving the office at the same time, and have to exchange a polite hello. You’re both going the same way, but under no circumstances can you bear to spend another second in their company. So you are Amber Rudd, and you lie to Jacob Rees-Mogg that you forgot something and will have to pop back to your desk.

boris johnson behind railings

Photograph: Aaron Chown/PA


A vision of a future that could have been, had Johnson not avoided criminal prosecution over his £350m Vote Leave bus. I would recommend this clip of Ian Hislop on Have I Got News for You, talking about that particular case: “At the moment we’re just at the preliminary stage about whether when he was a public official he was telling lies and therefore abusing his office. It’s very similar to putting the Pope on trial and saying are you a Catholic? I would like him to have a fair trial, with a desirable result with him being imprisoned forever.” But now he lives in No 10. Truly; this country.

nicki morgan

Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty ImagesThis is actually a really nice photo of Nicki Morgan, isn’t it? It looks like the picture from a Chelsea flower show brochure. Or the promotional material showing off the communal gardens of a new development of flats. And by “communal” I mean only for the private owners and not the affordable tenancy holders, who are allowed to play with nearby drainpipes and I guess maybe the odd bollard. But really they should stay indoors, curtains closed.

jacob rees-mogg

Photograph: Tolga Akmen/AFP/Getty Images



Enjoy Jimmy Dean Anytime

Pancakes And Sausage On A Stick Are Great For Breakfast, Late-Night Snacks Or Anytime In-Between.

Here we have something with a garbage raison d’être and a street sweeping cart, in a joke that was far too easy to make.

andrea leadsom

Photograph: Will Oliver/EPAAndrea Leadsom here, auditioning for a role in a female remake of Ocean’s Eleven, seemingly unaware that it was already made last year, and Cate Blanchett played a blinder. She looks great though. For a mother.

priti patel

Photograph: Frank Augstein/APThis is how Priti Patel should always be photographed, to portray the fact that she is Voldemort in a boxy jacket. A Priti name with an ugly ideology. A woman whose hobbies and interests on her Tinder profile are listed as: building Lego models of immigration dentention centres; cosy nights in chatting about reinstating the death penalty; and working holidays to Israel. As home secretary, Patel will be attending Cobra meetings, which is appropriate, cos she’s a snake.

dominic raab

Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty ImagesDominic Raab here, looking as he will always look, which is a man cast as the latest Bond villain, before having to drop out because of his gross in-real-life behaviour. So here he is, having made the switch to horror. The endless, endless horror.

 Hannah Jane Parkinson is a Guardian columnist


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