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Category Archives: Biographies

I enjoy sharing posts about people I find inspiring and whose actions inspire my work. Here are a few you may love.

Creativity: The True Art of Being Immortal

Blais Pascal

Blais Pascal

Being a fan of Sci-Fi, I can tell that one of the pre-occupations of mankind is learning how to live forever. Shallow as that may sound, it’s an unconscious desire of every human, including YOU.

Well, I learnt the secret of living forever in the most unlikely places-rap music.50 Cent, in the euphoria of releasing his first album raps, “When I die, they’ll read this and say a genius wrote it”. Ludacris in the first song off his album, Chicken n Beer, raps, “Through this music, I’ll still be heard if I’m dead”.

Three years ago, I came across a booklet in my house, it was a christian booklet written by Blaise Pascal. Till that moment, I had not known Blaise Pascal to be a writer, even a writer of christian books. I only knew him as a 17th Century Mathematician, not as a deep-faithed christian. That book was titled, Pensées (I read and write French) but its contents were published in English. I could deduce that it was a book that carried Pascal’s deepest thoughts. It’s one of the most astounding arguments for belief in the christian faith that I’ve ever read, but it was written prosaically like a literary work and I later learned that it is hailed as “the most eloquent book in French prose.”

In Pensées, Pascal surveys
several philosophical paradoxes: infinity
and nothing, faith and reason, soul and
matter, death and life, meaning and vanity—seemingly arriving at no definitive conclusions besides humility, ignorance, and grace.

What if Blaise Pascal had decided not to write his thoughts, for he died at the young age of 39.

Pascal’s work in Mathematics was already so precocious that famed philosopher and mathematician Rene Descartes was convinced that Pascal’s
father had written it. Descartes dismissed it with a sniff: “I do not find it
strange that he has offered demonstrations about conics more
appropriate than those of the ancients,”
adding, “but other matters related to this subject can be proposed that would scarcely occur to a 16 year old child.”

In 1642, in an effort to ease his father’s
endless, exhausting calculations, and
recalculations, of taxes owed and paid, Pascal, not yet 19, constructed a
mechanical calculator capable of addition
and subtraction, called Pascal’s calculator. 400 years later, these machines are widely regarded as the first computers and are the pioneers of computer engineering.

Today, there are limited copies of Blaise Pascal’s writing, especially the book, Pensees. It is mostly published with the original title Apologie de la religion Chrétienne (“Defense of the Christian Religion”) but I’m sure the book will never be phased out. It was Blaise Pascal’s last writing and an immortal sign of his creative genius as a writer.

He died, his last words being “May God never abandon me,” and was buried in the cemetery of Saint-Étienne-du-Mont.

Unleashing your creative side makes you immortal.

Check this blog for new posts by Tito Tobi on Wednesdays or Saturdays. His books are available on http://www.smashwords.com

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Posted by on 31/10/2014 in Biographies

 

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Sights of Sub-Saharan Africa’s Largest University: ABU Tower

This structure is arguably the most popular landmark and icon of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria in Northern Nigeria. Popular misconceptions outside the University states that it houses the Information Communications Technology unit of the school but truth is that many within the school knows it doesn’t and many more don’t know exactly what lies within the tower.
But none can deny that it holds a spectacular aura that fuels this myth because of it’s location at the centre of the University.

Check this blog for new posts by Tito Tobi on Wednesdays or Saturdays. His books are available on http://www.smashwords.com

 
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Posted by on 10/10/2014 in Biographies

 

Which World leader could you be?

Here’s just a little game I found on the internet. I’ve been told that I could be like Napoleon Bonaparte……and I kinda agree with that.

You could be like Napoleon! You are strong, capable, and incredibly charismatic. You have a deep appreciation for military strength and patriotism. You’re also remarkably tolerant, intellectual and liberal. Napoleon Bonaparte was born in 1769. He rose to prominence during the latter stages of the French Revolution and reigned as “Emperor of the French” from 1804 to 1814. He supported many liberal reforms such as religious freedom and a new legal code. He was forced into exile in 1815 and spent the last 6 years of his life in confinement by the British. Just like him, you will also be remembered for hundreds of years!

I think Napolen has been one leader I find to be definitely worth emulating to a large extent. I actually do speak  French pardonably, so maybe that just proves the little possibility of it all. So, just for the fun, you should just click on  the picture above if you are curious about which world leader in history you could be.

 
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Posted by on 09/06/2014 in Biographies

 

14+1 Quotes from Albert Einstein

The 14th day of March is the birth day of many special people and this time I think it’s only nice to share 14 quotes that evidently shaped the life of Albert Einstein as described in his own words. I have also added a special one quote for all the people who were born on this same day as the man who as been described as the greatest Jew to walk the earth after Jesus Christ. I guess you’ll also find it interesting to know that today is Pi Day if you write your dates American styled, (3.14). Enjoy.

  1. When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.

 2. I shall never believe that God plays dice with with the world.

(Einstein’s objection to the quantum theory, in which physical events can only be known in terms of probabilities. It is sometimes quoted as “God does not play dice with the Universe.”

Letter to Max Born)

3. Education is that which remains, if one has forgotten everything one learned in school.

4. Desire for approval and recognition is a healthy motive but the desire to be acknowledged as better, stronger or more intelligent than a fellow being or fellow scholar easily leads to an excessively egoistic psychological adjustment, which may become injurious for the individual and for the community.

(Ideas and Opinions, “On Education,” address to the State University of New York, Albany)

5 To me the worst thing seems to be (that) a school principally works with methods of fear, force, and artificial authority. Such treatment destroys the sound sentiments, the sincerity and the self-confidence of pupils and produces a subservient subject.

 

6. The real problem is in the hearts and minds of men. It is easier to denature plutonium than to denature the evil spirit of man.

7. Marie Curie is, of all celebrated beings, the only one whom fame has not corrupted.

8.  God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically.

 

 9.  It seems hard to sneak a look at God’s cards. But that he plays dice and uses ‘telepathic’ methods (as the present quantum theory requires of him) is something that I cannot believe for a single moment.

10.I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.

 

 11. If I were not a physicist, I would probably be a musician. I often think in music. I live my daydreams in music. I see my life in terms of music…I get most joy in life out of music.

12. Unless Americans come to realize that they are not stronger in the world because they have the bomb but weaker because of their vulnerability to atomic attack, they are not likely to conduct their policy at Lake Success or in their relations with Russia in a spirit that furthers the arrival at an understanding.

(Following its establishment in 1945 the United Nations General Assembly met temporarily in Lake Success, New York State, pending the setting up of a permanent headquarters.)

13. If I had known that the Germans would not succeed in constructing the atom bomb, I would never have lifted a finger.

(Referring to his efforts that eventually helped in making the first atomic bomb)

14. If only I had known, I should have become a watchmaker.

(Reflecting on his role in the development of the atom bomb)

15. You imagine I look back on my life’s work with calm satisfaction, but from nearby it looks quite different. There is not a single concept of which I am convinced it will stand firm, and I feel uncertain whether I am in general on the right track.

 

 
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Posted by on 14/03/2014 in Biographies

 

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BLACK JAZZ’n’SOUL WEEK: RAY CHARLES

Ray Charles (1930-2004), American pianist and singer, one of the most influential figures in the history of popular music. In the 1950s Charles—often called simply The Genius—fused gospel music with rhythm and blues (R&B) to pioneer a distinctive style that came to be known as soul music. He also recorded in and helped shape a wide variety of other musical genres, including blues, jazz, country, and rock.

Ray Charles

Ray Charles Robinson was born in Albany, Georgia. He lost his sight by age seven as a result of what was believed to be glaucoma. Charles received his first musical training at the Saint Augustine (Florida) School for the Deaf and Blind. At age 15, with both his parents dead, Charles left school, formed his own trio, and began touring the South (shortening his name to avoid confusion with boxer Sugar Ray Robinson). A few years later he moved to Seattle, Washington, where he continued to learn and experiment with various musical styles. Two of Charles’s biggest influences during this time were the smooth R&B sounds of Nat “King” Cole and the piano blues of Charles Brown.

In the early 1950s Charles moved to Los Angeles, California, and began recording. His first national success came with the 1951 song “Baby Let Me Hold Your Hand.” His style further developed after he signed with Atlantic Records and recorded the hit song “I Got a Woman” (1954). Over the next few years Charles continued to grow in popularity and recognition with singles such as “Drown in My Own Tears” (1955), “Leave My Woman Alone” (1956), “Lonely Avenue” (1956), and “The Right Time” (1958). His first recording that became widely popular with both white and black audiences was “What’d I Say” (1959), which prominently featured his backup singers, the Raeletts.

Charles’s popularity peaked in the early and mid-1960s. In 1960 he recorded the classic “Georgia on My Mind,” which became that state’s official song in 1979. In 1961 he had a hit with a version of Percy Mayfield’s song “Hit the Road, Jack.” Throughout this time Charles continued to perform and record various different kinds of music. An example was the single “I Can’t Stop Loving You” from the album Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music (1962). The recording sold more than 2.5 million copies and established Charles as the first black musician to become a star in country music.

Beginning in the late 1960s, Charles mostly recorded versions of traditionally popular songs (as opposed to original material). He developed his own record label and performed with other artists. A recognized celebrity, Charles appeared in television commercials and films as well as continuing to record and tour widely into the early 2000s.

The artist published his autobiography, Brother Charles, in 1978. In the book he described his nearly two-decade addiction to heroin, which he overcame after being arrested in the mid-1960s.

During his life Charles received 12 Grammy Awards, a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award (1987), a Kennedy Center Honor (1986), and a National Medal of Arts (1993). Genius Loves Company, an album of duets released several months after his death, won eight Grammys in 2005. The awards included album of the year, pop album of the year, and record of the year for a duet with Norah Jones, “Here We Go Again.”

QUOTES

Here is a state that used to lynch people like me suddenly declaring my version of a song as its state song.

Ray Charles   (1930 – 2004)

U.S. pianist and singer. Referring to his version of the song, “Georgia.”

 
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Posted by on 06/02/2014 in Biographies

 

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BLACK JAZZ’n’SOUL WEEK: DIANA ROSS

Diana Ernestine Earle Ross, born in March 26, 1944, American popular singer, one of the most influential recording artists of the Motown era (1960s) and the disco period of rhythm-and-blues (R&B) music (late 1970s to early 1980s).

In 1993, the Guinness Book of World Records declared Diana Ross the most successful female music artist in history due to her success in the United States and United Kingdom for having more hits than any female artist in the charts with a career total of 70 hit singles with her work with the Supremes and as a solo artist. Diana Ross has sold more than 100 million records worldwide when her releases with the Supremes and as a solo artist are tallied.

Diana Ross’ seductive style

 

Known for her seductive vocal style and glamorous appearance, Ross helped her vocal group the Supremes become one of the most successful acts in the history of popular music. Ross was born into a poor family in Detroit, Michigan. At fifteen, Ross was brought to the attention of music impresario Milton Jenkins, manager of the local doo-wop group the Primes, by Mary Wilson. During high school, she and singers Florence Ballard and Mary Wilson formed a vocal group that became known as the Primettes. In 1961 the group signed a recording contract with the Motown Record Company and changed its name to the Supremes. Between 1964 and 1967 the Supremes dominated commercial radio airplay with a series of successful songs, including songs of emotional suffering such as “Stop in the Name of Love” (1965), “You Keep Me Hanging On” (1966), and “Reflections” (1967). (“Reflections” later became the theme song for the television series “China Beach” [1988-1991]). Other of their songs from the period were sweeter in style, including “Come See About Me” (1964), “Mother Dear,” which appeared on their popular album More Hits by the Supremes (1965), and “You Can’t Hurry Love” (1966). Ten of the group’s songs became number-one records on the Billboard magazine music charts. The Supremes’ success was largely due to the skillful songwriting of Motown writer-producers Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Brian Holland. The group’s hit songs usually told stories of lost love and almost all had repetitive lyrics and melodies, such as the songs “Baby Love” (1964) and “Nothing but Heartaches” (1965). Ross and the Supremes were at the center of media attention in the mid-1960s, with Ross especially taking on a larger-than-life persona in her array of dress wigs and glitzy gowns. In 1967 Florence Ballard was replaced and the group changed its name to Diana Ross and the Supremes. Fashioning herself after motion-picture stars of the 1940s, Ross received criticism for a perceived vanity and arrogance. Regardless, by making herself into one of the first black superstars in America, she helped to break down some of the social barriers that black American artists faced at the time.

Diana Ross as Billie Holiday in ‘Lady sings the Blues’

 

In 1970 Ross left the Supremes and embarked upon a solo career. Her most successful songs as a solo performer include the melodramatic “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (1970) and the disco hits “Love Hangover” (1976) and “Upside Down” (1980). Ross broadened her career, acting in motion pictures. She had the lead role in Lady Sings the Blues (1972), a film biography of jazz singer Billie Holiday. Later she starred in The Wiz (1978), a re-creation of a Broadway musical, costarring singer Michael Jackson. Ross, who since 1969 had helped guide Jackson in his musical career, later recorded “Muscles” (1982), a hit disco song written and produced by Jackson. Other notable recordings of her solo career include two ballads: “Friend to Friend” from the album Diana (1980); and “Missing You” (1985), a tribute to soul singer Marvin Gaye that was released shortly after his death in 1984. In the 1990s Ross continued to record music, including the album Take Me Higher (1995). In 1988 the Supremes were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Diana Ross and The Supremes

In February 2012, Diana Ross received her first ever Grammy Award, for Lifetime Achievement, and announced the nominees for the Album of the Year. Ross is also one of the few recording artists to have two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame—one as a solo artist and the other as a member of The Supremes. Billboard magazine named Ross the “female entertainer of the century”

 
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Posted by on 05/02/2014 in Biographies

 

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BLACK JAZZ’n’SOUL WEEK: MARVIN GAYE

Marvin Gaye

Marvin Gaye (1939-1984), American singer and songwriter, a recording artist for Motown Records, and one of the most popular and influential singers of rhythm-and-blues music (R&B) in the 1960s and 1970s. His songs were notable for their brooding, introspective qualities.

Gaye was born in Washington, D.C., where he sang in church as a child. The son of a poor Pentecostal minister, he grew up listening to the music of American blues singer Ray Charles, which became a major influence on Gaye’s work. In 1958 Gaye joined an R&B vocal group called the Moonglows. Three years later, he signed a recording contract with Tamla, one of the Motown record companies, serving as a drummer for studio sessions and, later, as a singer. Influenced by American singers Frank Sinatra, and Nat ‘King’ Cole, Gaye had hoped to sing in the popular style known as crooning, but after his first album—a series of jazz standards—received little attention, Motown had him record up-tempo soul-music material. The result was a series of songs that became classics, beginning with “Stubborn Kind of Fellow” (1963) and culminating in “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” (1968).

Gaye’s other popular records from this 1960s Motown era include “Can I Get a Witness” (1963), a song with traits of gospel music and a strong influence on British rock groups such as The Rolling Stones (the group recorded the song in 1964); “How Sweet It Is” (1964), a song with jazz influences; and “Ain’t That Peculiar” and “I’ll Be Doggone” (both 1965), pensive songs written and produced by American Motown artist Smokey Robinson. Later in the decade, Gaye recorded a series of romantic duets with Motown singer Tammi Terrell, including “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (1967), “If This World Were Mine” (1967), “You’re All I Need to Get By” (1968), and “What You Gave Me” (1969).

Shortly after Terrell’s death in 1970, Gaye established a new style of soul music with the album What’s Going On (1971), a deeply personal and spiritual reflection on family and social issues and particularly on the Vietnam War (1959-1975). A work that blended styles of soul, jazz, and rock music, the album marked one of the first times Motown had given an artist nearly complete creative control.

During the next ten years, Gaye recorded and produced a series of brooding, erotic songs including “Trouble Man” (1972), “Let’s Get It On” (1973), and “I Want You” (1976). By the end of the 1970s, his career was in decline and his personal problems were mounting. Gaye retreated to Europe, where he recorded the hit song “Sexual Healing” (1982). He then returned to the United States and, after a disappointing musical tour, moved in with his parents. In 1984, in the midst of a heated quarrel, he was shot to death by his father.

In 1982 Gaye won two Grammy Awards for “Sexual Healing.” In 1987 he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

 
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Posted by on 04/02/2014 in Biographies

 

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