Monthly Archives: November 2014

Brunch: A Plea: A Plea

Brunch Plate.
Photo adapted from: moriza via Photopin CC BY 2.0

There I was, listening to Alton Brown dissect the history of brunch in episode 232 (14.4) of Good Eats, and I learn for the first time ever that the first known use of the word brunch in print was in the article “Brunch: A Plea” by one Guy Beringer, published in Hunter’s Weekly in 1895.

That sort of thing excites me. “I’d like to read that article!” say I to myself.

Confidently, I typed "Brunch: A Plea" into my search bar. Result: lots of blog posts, magazine articles, blog posts masquerading as magazine articles, and a newspaper item or two.

“Oh, ha ha,” I think. “That makes sense.” I open a few likely ones from top results. Smithsonian. Mental Floss. Lots of links, but none to the source, and always the same quote, pulled by a Wikipedian from a 1998 New York Times article:

Instead of England’s early Sunday dinner, a postchurch ordeal of heavy meats and savory pies, why not a new meal, served around noon, that starts with tea or coffee, marmalade and other breakfast fixtures before moving along to the heavier fare? By eliminating the need to get up early on Sunday, brunch would make life brighter for Saturday-night carousers. It would promote human happiness in other ways as well. “Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting.” Beringer wrote. “It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”

Hmm. Oh my.

filetype:pdf "brunch, a plea"

Uh-oh. Wikipedia references and external links: no. Google Books: no. Gutenberg: no. Library of Congress: no. WorldCat: no.

This is getting serious. And yet…

“Fool!” think I. “Work from the Wikipedia references! Track it down!”

Well, here they are:

Screenshot from Wikipedia page "Brunch" listing several citations.

Seven is the aforementioned NYT article. Six is of no use. Five, in a gentle diatribe against over-cautious imprecision in the dating of word origins in dictionaries, offers this:

For brunch, The Random House Dictionary says “1895-1900,” yet it is well known that Guy Beringer, the Englishman who coined the word, first used it in print in his article entitle “Brunch: A Plea,” which appears in Hunter’s Weekly in 1895. [Bold emphasis mine.]


So here it is: “Brunch: A Plea”: A Plea: somebody, please, track down the original article and give it to the Internet. We need this. I believe this particular story is factual; no real reason to doubt it and the Times piece quotes from it in several places. Nevertheless, the first-page-result writing on brunch in the past fifteen or twenty years knows about a single paragraph of Beringer and is quick to attribute his words to an article no one seems able to produce. Even Good Eats offered up the ubiquitous paragraph in full, leaving me little better off now than when I began.

Find this article, you win my thanks…and you restore the rights of brunching know-it-alls everywhere to tell Beringer’s story without shame.

In clearly related news, OER Educated rides again!

Here is an image of the old version of the site, cobbled together with loving care from a basic template. This shiny new WordPress version will usher in a whole new era of experimentation, probably-maybe. It is what will happen around this site that I am most excited about, of course: computers, learning, the Web, and digital culture. Would that the digital Humanities had come into vogue in time for undergrad! Here we are, though, and there is yet time enough.
Screenshot of

Learning by doing is…hard

After many, many months of playing with various ways to “roll your own” on the Web — including using Google Drive as a site host, installing a slew of open source scripts to my local machine, and running a few websites from my desktop for an audience of exactly one — I have taken the plunge into a hosted server environment.

What a weekend. The image of the hand-coded index page reveals more of what I cannot do than of what I can. I managed to knock at least some of my server properties out of commission for still-mysterious reasons (but clearing the cache and refreshing the DNS entries at least did not make it worse, whether or not they helped). The past couple of days have held a lot of uncomfortable learning, which is simultaneously the very best and least welcome kind.

At least I accomplished the choosing of a server and the spinning up of this very WordPress blog. Advantages of the server company I chose include “unlimited” this-and-that, a “free” domain renewal each year, and especially monthly billing, so that I can throw in the towel any time I like. Disadvantages, however, include a relative dearth of one-click script installs, the benefits of which are quickly becoming evident.


  • One domain, two sub-domains (so far)
  • Apache, PHP…the usual — but no ability to customize the server environment because it is shared



This is the same software familiar to those who use Wikimedia properties. Configuration is a bit frustrated for a layperson, but using it as an end-user is easy enough. A Wiki is both simple and flexible; achieving that can result in alienating casual users, since “simple” does not necessarily mean “easy”. There is a reward on the other side, however.


Still one of the best, and with Jetpack, even a self-hosted instance (like this one!) can take advantage of a bunch of quick integrations — social sharing, Markdown, basic stats, and so forth.


After asking to be one of the Beta kids, and after receiving my invite, I promptly put off signing up until a couple of days ago. Known offers both free and paid accounts, but also is available as an open source script. My attempt to install it — and then trouble-shoot the installation — was unsuccessful, unfortunately; unlike both MediaWiki and WordPress, this script was not a supported one-click installation. Known is social networking that caters to the person rather than to the platform, encouraging both individual ownership and considered openness.


Ah, Moodle. Almost as prickly on the back end as MediaWiki, and every bit as robust. I have run this on my local machine, but have yet to try for a proper installation.

Some things that make me sad:

Ghost runs on Node.js and is generally not supported in a shared server environment. Meanwhile, the hosted version offers no freemium. Ghost is a beautiful, elegant, simple, Markdown-driven blog platform, but one that eludes me. At least one WordPress theme mimics the front-facing glory of Ghost, if not the back-end joys, but, alas, does not quite offer the menu I want without PHP fiddling.

Some things that make me happy:

Markdown syntax in the WordPress editor? Nice! Moreover, users of Draft get a small win in being able to create WP posts and pages in the comfy Draft editor and send the content back to WP with a minimum of fuss.

Next up…


To be learned!


To be re-attempted!


I am a curator without a collection…or am I?


Clearly, I will never get anywhere without this…