I really enjoyed hearing Shackleton’s, Whitman’s, Einstein’s, and Curie’s voices.
I really enjoyed hearing Shackleton’s, Whitman’s, Einstein’s, and Curie’s voices.
What started the American Revolution?
The typical answers are “taxation without representation” and the economic and political consequences that came with that.
My guest today argues that while economic and political principles all played roles in the American Revolution, there’s one big thing underlying all the causes of the Revolutionary War that often gets overlooked: honor.
His name is Craig Bruce Smith, he’s a historian and the author of the new book American Honor: The Creation of the Nation’s Ideals During the Revolutionary Era. Today on the show we talk about what honor looked like in America during the colonial period, how that concept changed, and how this shift precipitated the War of Independence. We then explore how personal affronts to honor experienced by several of the Founding Fathers at the hands of the British transferred into a feeling of being slighted as a people, galvanizing a collective sense of honor in the colonies and inspiring the fight for independence. We then discuss the role honor played in Benedict Arnold’s treason and how his treachery spurred colonial Americans to go on to win the war. We end our conversation discussing why the sons of the Revolutionary Era returned to a more traditional ethos of honor in the form of dueling.
This show will give you fresh insights on the founding of America.
I am seriously considering inventing an improved and a modern version of this gear system for my adaptation of the Roman Way. Also I very much like the fact that if you have to go into combat you can immediately shed the weight as compared to a ruck or backpack. I will still use the weight vest to simulate armor but adapt this system for carrying additional weight and gear.
Now once Solomon finished building the Lord’s temple, the royal palace, and everything else he wanted to accomplish, the Lord appeared to him a second time in the same way he had appeared to him at Gibeon.
The Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your cry to me. I have set apart this temple that you built, to put my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.
As for you, if you walk before me just as your father David did, with complete dedication and honesty, and if you do all that I have commanded, and keep my regulations and case laws, then I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, just as I promised your father David, ‘You will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’
However, if you or your sons turn away from following me and don’t observe the commands and regulations that I gave you, and go to serve other gods, and worship them, then I will remove Israel from the land I gave them and I will reject the temple that I dedicated for my name. Israel will become a joke, insulted by everyone.
Everyone who passes by this temple, so lofty now, will be shocked and will whistle, wondering, Why has the Lord done such a thing to this land and this temple?
The answer will come: Because they deserted the Lord their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt’s land. They embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them. That is why the Lord brought all this disaster on them.”
Then the Lord said to Joshua: “Tell the Israelites to designate the cities of refuge, as I instructed you through Moses, so that anyone who kills a person accidentally and unintentionally may flee there and find protection from the avenger of blood. When they flee to one of these cities, they are to stand in the entrance of the city gate and state their case before the elders of that city. Then the elders are to admit the fugitive into their city and provide a place to live among them. If the avenger of blood comes in pursuit, the elders must not surrender the fugitive, because the fugitive killed their neighbor unintentionally and without malice aforethought. They are to stay in that city until they have stood trial before the assembly and until the death of the high priest who is serving at that time. Then they may go back to their own home in the town from which they fled.”
So they set apart Kedesh in Galilee in the hill country of Naphtali, Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and Kiriath Arba (that is, Hebron) in the hill country of Judah. East of the Jordan (on the other side from Jericho) they designated Bezer in the wilderness on the plateau in the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead in the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan in the tribe of Manasseh. Any of the Israelites or any foreigner residing among them who killed someone accidentally could flee to these designated cities and not be killed by the avenger of blood prior to standing trial before the assembly.
A World War II-themed ad created by a mobile phone company in Thailand as part of a campaign called “The True Meaning of Giving” has taken the Internet by storm.
Produced by TrueMove, the three-minute spot uses a war story to show that “compassion is the true communication,” with the final moments of the ad tying everything together (we won’t spoil it for you).
As noted by AdWeek, one of the actors wrote in the YouTube comments that the story is in referee to a POW camp in Kanchanaburi, Thailand, where prisoners were forced by the Japanese to build a railway bridge.
TrueMove is no stranger to creating compelling advertisements. In September 2013, the company’s “Giving” ad amassed millions of views.
There is something somewhat ironic about this (how good a shape the carrier still appears to remain in despite repeated attempts to utterly destroy it), but if you ask me, not very…
Our ancestors built extremely well and with great purpose.
We could still learn much from them.
(For slideshow and video see original article link in title.)
By Brad Lendon, CNN
Updated 2:15 PM ET, Fri April 17, 2015
USS Independence was sunk in 1951 after weapons tests
Carrier was close-in guinea pig to two atomic bomb tests
Agency: Ship looks remarkably intact 2,600 feet below surface of the Pacific Ocean
(CNN)A former U.S. Navy aircraft carrier that survived a Japanese torpedo strike and was a massive guinea pig for two atomic bomb blasts looks remarkably intact at the bottom of the Pacific, according to federal researchers who surveyed the wreck last month with an underwater drone.
The USS Independence was scuttled in January 1951 during weapons testing near California’s Farallon Islands. Although its location was confirmed by a survey in 2009, researchers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration went looking for it again in March as part of a project to map about 300 wrecks that lie in and around the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.
“After 64 years on the seafloor, Independence sits on the bottom as if ready to launch its planes,” mission leader James Delgado, the maritime heritage director for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, said in a statement.
Indeed, sonar images show what looks to be an airplane on one of the elevators that took planes from the Independence’s hangar deck to its flight deck. The ship sits upright with a slight list to starboard, according to NOAA.
NOAA’s survey of the 623-foot-long, 11,000-ton carrier was conducted by the Echo Ranger, an 18.5-foot-long autonomous underwater vehicle provided by the Boeing Co. The Echo Ranger traveled 30 miles from its base in Half Moon Bay, California, and hovered 150 above the carrier, which lies 2,600 feet below the surface of the Pacific Ocean. The drone used a three-dimensional sonar system provided by Coda Octopus to get images that showed how well the warship has weathered 64 years in the deep.
“This ship fought a long, hard war in the Pacific and after the war was subjected to two atomic blasts that ripped through the ship. It is a reminder of the industrial might and skill of the ‘greatest generation’ that sent not only this ship, but their loved ones to war,” Delgado said in the statement.
In its 20 years in the Navy, the ship played a role in some of the most important events of World War II, earning eight battle stars in the process, and the dawn of the nuclear age.
Independence was seriously damaged by Japanese torpedo planes during the Battle of Tarawa in late 1943. The ship returned to California for repairs and made it back across the Pacific by July 1944 to participate in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea and the sinking of one of the Japanese Imperial Navy’s biggest warships, the battleship Musashi. Later, in the Battle of Cape Engano, planes from the Independence were involved in the sinking of four Japanese aircraft carriers.
After the war, Independence became part of a fleet used to measure the effects of atomic bomb tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific on July 1, 1946. It sat just 560 yards from ground zero in the first test, a 23-kiloton air blast of a fission bomb similar to the one used over Nagasaki, Japan, a year earlier, according to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization. Twenty-four days later, Independence was 1,390 yards from the center of a second atomic blast — also a 23-kiloton device but an underwater detonation.
The ship was later brought back to California for nuclear decontamination before being sunk during the weapons training in 1951.
NOAA said no signs of radioactive contamination were noted during the survey of the sunken carrier last month.
The agency has no plans for further missions to the ship, according to the NOAA statement.
For your Monday Acculturation…
That very day two of them were going to a village named Emma′us, about seven miles from Jerusalem, and talking with each other about all these things that had happened. While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them.
But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation which you are holding with each other as you walk?”
And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cle′opas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”
And he said to them, “What things?”
And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since this happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; and they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb, and found it just as the women had said; but him they did not see.”
And he said to them, “O foolish men, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He appeared to be going further, but they constrained him, saying, “Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent.” So he went in to stay with them.
When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed, and broke it, and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened and they recognized him; and he vanished out of their sight.
They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the scriptures?” And they rose that same hour and returned to Jerusalem; and they found the eleven gathered together and those who were with them, who said, “The Lord has risen indeed, and has appeared to Simon!”
Then they told what had happened on the road, and how he was known to them in the breaking of the bread…
Our Ancient and Medieval ancestors were much, much more ingenious that most modern people give them credit for. Someone should create/produce an app/algorithm to scour ancient and medieval medicinal texts (and other kinds of texts) to see what other advantages could be gleaned.
Rather than doing this kind of work (and this is hardly the first example I’ve seen of such historical re-creation) by piecemeal examination and experimentation.
By the way I not long ago finished another set of brilliant lectures by Mike Drought of Wheaton College.
Take cropleek and garlic, of both equal quantities, pound them well together… take wine and bullocks gall, mix with the leek… let it stand nine days in the brass vessel…
So goes a thousand-year-old Anglo Saxon recipe to vanquish a stye, an infected eyelash follicle.
The medieval medics might have been on to something. A modern-day recreation of this remedy seems to alleviate infections caused by the bacteria that are usually responsible for styes. The work might ultimately help create drugs for hard-to-treat skin infections.
The project was born when a microbiologist at the University of Nottingham, UK, got talking to an Anglo Saxon scholar. They decided to test a recipe from an Old English medical compendium called Bald’s Leechbook, housed in the British Library.
Some of the ingredients, such as copper from the brass vessel, kill bacteria grown in a dish – but it was unknown if they would work on a real infection or how they would combine.
Sourcing authentic ingredients was a major challenge, says Freya Harrison, the microbiologist. They had to hope for the best with the leeks and garlic because modern crop varieties are likely to be quite different to ancient ones – even those branded as heritage. For the wine they used an organic vintage from a historic English vineyard.
As “brass vessels” would be hard to sterilise – and expensive – they used glass bottles with squares of brass sheet immersed in the mixture. Bullocks gall was easy, though, as cow’s bile salts are sold as a supplement for people who have had their gall bladders removed.
After nine days of stewing, the potion had killed all the soil bacteria introduced by the leek and garlic. “It was self-sterilising,” says Harrison. “That was the first inkling that this crazy idea just might have some use.”
A side effect was that it made the lab smell of garlic. “It was not unpleasant,” says Harrison. “It’s all edible stuff. Everyone thought we were making lunch.”
The potion was tested on scraps of skin taken from mice infected with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. This is an antibiotic-resistant version of the bacteria that causes styes, more commonly known as the hospital superbug MRSA. The potion killed 90 per cent of the bacteria. Vancomycin, the antibiotic generally used for MRSA, killed about the same proportion when it was added to the skin scraps.
Unexpectedly, the ingredients had little effect unless they were all brought together. “The big challenge is trying to find out why that combination works,” says Steve Diggle, another of the researchers. Do the components work in synergy or do they trigger the formation of new potent compounds?
Using exactly the right method also seems to be crucial, says Harrison, as another group tried to recreate the remedy in 2005 and found that their potion failed to kill bacteria grown in a dish. “With the nine-day waiting period, the preparation turned into a kind of loathsome, odorous slime,” says Michael Drout of Wheaton College in Norton, Massachusetts.
If the 9th Century recipe does lead to new drugs, they might be useful against MRSA skin infections such as those that cause foot ulcers in people with diabetes. “These are usually antibiotic-resistant,” says Diggle. However, he doesn’t recommend people try this at home.
It wouldn’t be the first modern drug to be derived from ancient manuscripts – the widely used antimalarial drug artemisinin was discovered by scouring historical Chinese medical texts.
Harrison is due to present the research at the Society for General Microbiology conference in Birmingham, UK, this week.
The real fault then lies with the fact that the People are either so greedily complicit with, or so pathetically apathetic towards, their own demise they they consent to their own enslavement and destruction.
The Greeks cannot fault the Persians when they intentionally gave birth to and then elevated Alcibiades.
It is always seemingly ideal to have a bad guy to blame for the evils around you but the Truth is the Joker still lives only because you lack the courage to kill him yourself.
The Wise Civilization is that civilization that first admits to itself that not all men are civilized, and far more importantly, admits to itself that not all men even desire to be civilized.
I listened to Netanyahu’s speech to AIPAC. It was short, but a very good speech, and an important and honest one and very well received.
Glad I watched it.
Also below this speech is a former speech to AIPAC on the same general subject matter.
The prime minister’s address, delivered early morning Israel time on Tuesday
March 6, 2012, 6:22 am
Thank you for the warm reception. It could be heard as far away as Jerusalem – the eternal and united capital of Israel. More than two thirds of the Congress is in attendance here tonight. I deeply appreciate your being here.
Last May when I addressed the Congress, you stood up to applaud the state of Israel. Now I ask the 13,000 friends of Israel here to stand up and applaud you, the representatives of the American people. Democrats and Republicans alike, we applaud your unwavering commitment to Israel.
I want to recognize Yossi Peled who is here tonight. Yossi was born in Belgium. His parents hid him with a Christian family during World War II. His father, and many other members of his family, were murdered at Auschwitz. His mother survived the Holocaust, returned to reclaim Yossi, and brought him to Israel. He became one of Israel’s bravest and greatest generals.
And today, Yossi Peled serves as a minister in my government. Yossi’s life is the story of the Jewish people – the story of a powerless and stateless people who became a strong and proud nation able to defend itself. And ladies and gentlemen, Israel must always reserve the right to defend itself.
I’d like to talk to you about a subject no one has been talking about recently….Iran. Every day, I open the papers and read about these red lines and these time lines. I read about what Israel has decided to do or what Israel might do. Well, I’m not going to talk to you about what Israel will do or will not do. I, never talk about that. But I do want to talk to you about the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran. I want to explain why Iran must never be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.
President Obama has reiterated his commitment to prevent this from happening. He stated clearly that all options remain on the table, and that American policy is not containment. Well, Israel has the same policy. We are determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. We leave all options on the table. And containment is definitely not an option.
The Jewish state will not allow those seeking our destruction to possess the means to achieve that goal. A nuclear armed Iran must be stopped. Amazingly, some people refuse to acknowledge that Iran’s goal is to develop nuclear weapons. You see, Iran claims that it’s enriching uranium to develop medical research. Yeah, right. A country that builds underground nuclear facilities, develops intercontinental ballistic missiles, manufactures thousands of centrifuges, and absorbs crippling sanctions – is doing all that in order to advance…medical research. So you see, when that Iranian ICBM is flying through the air to a location near you, you’ve got nothing to worry about. It’s only carrying medical isotopes.
Ladies and Gentlemen, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then what is it? That’s right, it’s a duck – but this duck is a nuclear duck. And it’s time the world started calling a duck a duck.
Fortunately, President Obama and most world leaders understand that the idea that Iran’s goal is not to develop nuclear weapons is ridiculous. Yet incredibly, some are prepared to accept an idea only slightly less preposterous: That we should accept a world in which the Ayatollahs have atomic bombs.
Sure, they say, Iran is cruel, but it’s not crazy. It’s detestable but it’s deterrable. Responsible leaders should not bet the security of their countries on the belief that the world’s most dangerous regime won’t use the world’s most dangerous weapons. And I promise you that as Prime Minister, I will never gamble with the security of Israel.
From the beginning, the Ayatollah regime has broken every international rule and flouted every norm. It has seized embassies, targeted diplomats and sent its own children through mine fields. It hangs gays and stones women. It supports Assad’s brutal slaughter of the Syrian people. Iran is the world’s foremost sponsor of terror. It sponsors Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa, and South America. Iran’s proxies have dispatched hundreds of suicide bombers, planted thousands of roadside bombs, and fired over twenty thousand missiles at civilians. Through terror from the skies and terror on the ground, Iran is responsible for the murder of hundreds, if not thousands, of Americans. In 1983, Iran’s proxy Hezbollah blew up the Marine barracks in Lebanon, killing 240 American servicemen.
In the last decade, its been responsible for murdering and maiming American soldiers in Afghanistan and Iraq. Just a few months ago, it tried to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador in a restaurant just a few blocks from here. The assassins didn’t care that several Senators and members of Congress would have been murdered in the process. Iran accuses the American government of orchestrating 9/11, and it denies the Holocaust. Iran brazenly calls for Israel’s destruction, and they work for its destruction – each day, every day.
This is how Iran behaves today, without nuclear weapons. Think of how they will behave tomorrow, with nuclear weapons. Iran will be even more reckless and far more dangerous.
There’s been plenty of talk recently about the costs of stopping Iran. I think it’s time to talk about the costs of not stopping Iran.
A nuclear-armed Iran would dramatically increase terrorism by giving terrorists a nuclear umbrella. That means that Iran’s terror proxies like Hezbollah, Hamas will be emboldened to attack America, Israel, and others because they will be backed by a power with atomic weapons.
A nuclear-armed Iran could choke off the world’s oil supply and make real its threat to close the Straits of Hormuz. If you’re worried about the price of oil today, imagine how high oil prices will be when a nuclear-armed Iran starts blackmailing the world. If Iran gets nuclear weapons, this would set off a mad dash by Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt and others to acquire nuclear weapons of their own.
The world’s most volatile region would become a nuclear tinderbox waiting to go off. And the worst nightmare of all, Iran could threaten all of us with nuclear terrorism. It could put a nuclear device in a ship heading to any port or in a truck parked in any city. Think about what it would mean to have nuclear weapons in the hands of radicals who lead millions in chants of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.”
For the sake of our prosperity, for the sake of our security, for the sake of our children, Iran must not be allowed to get nuclear weapons!
The best outcome would be if Iran abandoned its nuclear weapons program peacefully. No one would be happier than me and the people of Israel if Iran actually dismantled its program.
But so far, that hasn’t happened.
For fifteen years, I’ve been warning that a nuclear-armed Iran is a grave danger to my country and to the peace and security of the world. For the last decade, the international community has tried diplomacy. It hasn’t worked.
For six years, the international community has applied sanctions. That hasn’t worked either. I appreciate President Obama’s recent efforts to impose even tougher sanctions against Iran. Those sanctions are hurting Iran’s economy. But unfortunately, Iran’s nuclear march goes on. Israel has waited patiently for the international community to resolve this issue.
We’ve waited for diplomacy to work. We’ve waited for sanctions to work. None of us can afford to wait much longer.
As Prime Minister of Israel, I will never let my people live under the shadow of annihilation.
Some commentators would have you believe that stopping Iran from getting the bomb is more dangerous than letting Iran have the bomb.
They say that a military confrontation with Iran would undermine the efforts already underway, that it would be ineffective, and that it would provoke even more vindictive action by Iran. I’ve heard these arguments before. In fact, I’ve read them before. In my desk, I have copies of an exchange of letters between the World Jewish Congress and the US War Department. The year was 1944. The World Jewish Congress implored the American government to bomb Auschwitz. The reply came five days later. I want to read it to you. Such an operation could be executed only by diverting considerable air support essential to the success of our forces elsewhere…..and in any case would be of such doubtful efficacy that it would not warrant the use of our resources….And here’s the most remarkable sentence of all. And I quote: Such an effort might provoke even more vindictive action by the Germans. Think about that – “even more vindictive action” — than the Holocaust.
My Friends, 2012 is not 1944. The American government today is different. You heard it in President Obama’s speech yesterday. But here’s my point.
The Jewish people are also different. Today we have a state of our own. The purpose of the Jewish state is to secure the Jewish future. That is why Israel must always have the ability to defend itself, by itself, against any threat.
We deeply appreciate the great alliance between our two countries. But when it comes to Israel’s survival, we must always remain the masters of our fate. Israel’s fate is to continue to be the forward position of freedom in the Middle East. The only place where minorities enjoy full civil rights; The only place where Arabs enjoy full civil rights. The only place where Christians are free to practice their faith; The only place where real judges protect the rule of law; And as Prime Minister of Israel, I will never allow anything to threaten Israel’s democratic way of life. And most especially, I will never tolerate any discrimination against women.
This week, we will read how one woman changed Jewish history. In Synagogues throughout the world, the Jewish people will celebrate the festival of Purim. We will read how some 2,500 years ago, a Persian anti-Semite tried to annihilate the Jewish people. We will read how his plot was foiled by one courageous woman – Esther. In every generation, there are those who wish to destroy the Jewish people.
We are blessed to live in an age when there is a Jewish state capable of defending the Jewish people. And we are doubly blessed to have so many friends like you, Jews and non-Jews alike, who love the State of Israel and support its right to defend itself. Thank you for your friendship, Thank you for your courage, Thank you for standing up for the one and only Jewish state.
Photographer: Joe Rosenthal
The Battle of Iwo Jima kicked off 70 years ago, on Feb. 19, 1945.
One of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific theatre of World War II, the 35-day fight for the desolate island yielded 27 recipients of the Medal of Honor, along with one of the most famous photographs ever taken.
According to the The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal, American military planners thought the battle would only be a few days. Instead, it dragged on for five weeks, at a cost of more than 6,800 American lives. The Japanese lost more than 18,000.
Here’s what the Marine Corps Historical Company wrote about the first day:
This Day in Marine Corps History. 19 February 1945: At 08:59, one minute ahead of schedule, the first of an eventual 30,000 Marines of the 3rd Marine Division, the 4th Marine Division, and the new 5th Marine Division, making up the V Amphibious Corps, landed on Iwo Jima The initial wave did not come under Japanese fire for some time, as General Kuribayashi’s plan was to wait until the beach was full of the Marines and their equipment. By the evening, the mountain had been cut off from the rest of the island, and 30,000 Marines had landed. About 40,000 more would follow.
My New Testament scripture readings this past week have been from the Book of Acts (of the Apostles).
“Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from us, one of these must become a witness with us of His resurrection.”
And they proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said, “You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles.
In keeping with the theme of the post immediately before this one something else that occurred to me this morning. My wife was talking about how bitterly cold it has been around here lately (in the past week and how cold it will be in the upcoming week, especially for South Carolina) when I blurted out, “yeah, it’s colder than a Siberian witches’ tit.”
Then I thought about why he used to say that. My father used to say this all of the time when it was really, really cold, it was his go-to phrase to express “absolute coldness.”
Now I have studied folklore since I was a teenager, and one bit of folklore that has fascinated me since I was a kid were the tales of Baba Yaga.
Baba Yaga is not Russian, she’s actually Slavic (probably) in origin (at least as Baba Yaga), and her tales are spread throughout the Slavic lands but over time they became increasingly associated with Russia (as either her true origin point), the place where she fed upon (she was a cannibal, especially of children) many of her victims (as in some incarnations she was the Forest Crone and Witch), or as being associated with her more evil deeds.
But I think that behind her may lay far older tales out of the East, and specifically the Frozen North and East, that is to say the huge and yet alien landscape of complete and unbroken frozenness and fear, in other words, Siberia.
My father was not a student of folklore but at that time, in the South, it was very common to be brought up with at least a passing knowledge of folklore, much of which got mixed around together with the various people groups inhabiting/settling the South (Irish, Scots-Irish, German, Black, Indian, etc, etc.).
I was, as a young child, cared for by an old Appalachian mountain woman who taught me folk-medicine and had an especially rich store of folk tales she would tell me as a kid. Later on, as I got older and started studying folklore I realized just how broad her range of folktales were, moving way beyond what you would normally associate with as being Appalachian in origin or from the people groups that tended to make up the Appalachian peoples. She had apparently absorbed a lotta tales from a lot of different sources and changed them around in retelling.
My suspicion is that as these various groups intermingled one tale or story influenced another and Siberia became not only the vaguely distant/rumored origin of alien frozen wastes and the metaphor for the land of extreme cold and desolation, but also the homeland associated with the most fearsome and cold of all witches, namely, Baba Yaga.
Over time though, in the retellings, her name was lost, or became unimportant and all that was left was the prototypical “frozen, cold, deathly and deadly super-witch, the Siberian Witch” – whose teats froze little children – so that she could abduct them and cook them later for eating – rather than sustained them with life.
Hence to eat from the Siberian Witches tit was a trap, just as Baba Yaga was a baiting pedophile witch (in the sense that she stole children and ate them), and if you did so it really meant Death.
So, colder than a Siberian Witches tit didn’t just mean the bitterly cold and alien and bleak landscape of Siberia, it meant the cold and bleak Siberian landscape was the home of the Siberian Witch, the Baba Yaga (or whoever Baba Yaga was first derived from), and that this witch, this Baba Yaga was really the absolute coldness of Death.
So although her name disappeared from the saying, her origins never disappeared, and so the saying didn’t just imply, “Boy it’s really cold” it actually and really is a metaphor meaning exactly this; “It’s colder than a Siberian witches’ tit,” or put another way, “It’s as cold as, or maybe even colder than, Death.”
And you know, now that I’ve thought on these things awhile this morning I believe I’ll incorporate some of these elements of Baba Yaga into the song I’m writing about her for my new album Locus Eater.
This morning, while getting ready for church we were discussing the past when my wife mentioned an old spiritual (song) that was her grandfather’s favorite hymn. I knew it of course and immediately began to sing the first few stanzas (even though I’m not much of a singer).
Then something occurred to me and I said out loud to my wife,
“You know, despite all of the problems between blacks and whites at that period of time my grandfather would have immediately recognized the same hymn and they would have known the same lyrics. Especially what that hymn implied about the future. There was, despite all other things back then, a recognizable Christian and religious sub-culture that most everyone knew and was a part of, regardless of anything else. And that was true for a lot of the entire nation back then too, not just the South.
I’ll bet though that you could sing those lyrics to most people nowadays and they wouldn’t understand them, know the source, or even understand that it was a hymn or what it ever implied. There is so little common between us anymore. And we are not richer because we have nothing between us, we are far the poorer for it.”
And we are...
Now an angel of the Lord said to Philip, “Go south to the road—the desert road—that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza.” So he started out, and on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of the Kandake (which means “queen of the Ethiopians”). This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the Book of Isaiah the prophet. The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.”
Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked.
“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.
This is the passage of Scripture the eunuch was reading:
“He was led like a sheep to the slaughter,
and as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
so he did not open his mouth.
In his humiliation he was deprived of justice.
Who can speak of his descendants?
For his life was taken from the earth.”[
The eunuch asked Philip, “Tell me, please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?” Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
As they traveled along the road, they came to some water and the eunuch said, “Look, here is water. What can stand in the way of my being baptized?” And he gave orders to stop the chariot. Then both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water and Philip baptized him. When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord suddenly took Philip away, and the eunuch did not see him again, but went on his way rejoicing. Philip, however, appeared at Azotus and traveled about, preaching the gospel in all the towns until he reached Caesarea.
Still more from Amphipolis…
You know though, from a fictional and gaming point of view, and not just an historical one, finding more than one person in a great tomb is a Godsend of a story idea.
Everything from mistaken identity, to multiple burials over time, to different kinds of burials and relics and remains, to different types of animals and creatures (maybe extinct ones), to even ancient enemies being buried in the same tomb.
The possibilities are manifold… and excellent.
Photograph courtesy of Greek Ministry of Culture
Published January 26, 2015
Media reports and the blogosphere are fueling speculation that the remains of a woman found in a massive tomb in northern Greece may belong to Alexander the Great’s mother, Olympias, who was executed when she was about 60 years old.
The Greek Ministry of Culture and Sports reported last week that the remains of five individuals have been found in the burial chamber of the elaborate tomb beneath what is known as Kasta Hill in the ancient city of Amphipolis. Archaeologists excavating the site have dated the tomb to the final quarter of the fourth century B.C., around the time of Alexander the Great’s death in 323 B.C. (See “Behind Tomb Connected to Alexander the Great, Intrigue Worthy of ‘Game of Thrones.’”)
But the discovery has failed to settle the issue of whether the monument may have belonged to a family member or close associate of the famous Macedonian conqueror. And many historians are dismissing the rampant hypothesizing as a distracting parlor game. (See “Who’s Buried in Largest Tomb in Northern Greece? New Finds Raise Intrigue.”)
“We have so far an elaborate monument that’s partially damaged and vandalized,” points out Frank L. Holt, a University of Houston professor who has written several books on Alexander the Great. “It contained bones and cremains of persons unknown who may have nothing to do with the original structure or with each other.
“The chronology remains uncertain,” he says. “The royal status of the bodies, and of the building, cannot yet be verified. Why the headlong rush to judgment?’
Women and Men, Old and Young, Buried and Burned
From the 550 pieces of human bone recovered from the burial chamber, researchers have so far identified a woman over 60 years old, two men between the ages of 35 and 45, a newborn infant of unknown gender, and a very small set of cremated remains that most likely belonged to an adult of unknown age and gender.
About a quarter (157) of the remains are intact enough to allow researchers to eventually identify the gender, age, and height of the individuals, while the rest are fragments of vertebrae and other skeletal remains. An unknown number of animal remains, including bones of horses or donkeys, were also found in the chamber.
Complicating interpretation of the remains is the fact that none of the bodies were found in their original burial places, and no significant burial objects have been reported found.
Fascinating study linking genetic variation to language and linguistic variation.
Producing new insights into the evolution and development of human populations around the globe is no easy task, but scientists can draw on multiple sources of data to do it. In a new study, Sohini Ramachandran and colleagues at Stanford University and University of Manitoba analyzed troves of data on genetics and distinct sounds in language—phonemes—to discern important patterns.
Among the findings published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, is that genes and languages both vary more as geographic distance increases. The analysis showed there are distinct geographic patterns, or axes, of the greatest differences. The data also reflect how languages and genes evolve differently, for instance among isolated populations.
Ramachandran, assistant professor of ecology and evolutionary biology, discussed these and other insights with writer David Orenstein.
Why are language and genes sometimes combined in studies of populations?
Fields that study the human past, especially ancient human history, have to draw on multiple disciplines and lines of evidence in order to confirm and calibrate observed signatures in data, since we can’t truly know all events in human history. Because language is inherited ‘vertically’ [from parents to children] like genes, and also changes ‘horizontally’ based on contact among populations, many researchers in genetics interpret analyses of DNA from different populations in the context of the languages the study populations speak.
This kind of interdisciplinary work is what initially drew me to studying human evolution.
In this study what did you find was similar between languages and genes and what was different?
We saw that axes of differentiation in both our linguistic and genetic dataset corresponded, meaning that differences in both datasets of very different types of markers were geographically distributed quite similarly.
One very interesting contrast we saw between languages and genes had to do with isolated populations: an isolated population loses genetic diversity rapidly, as individuals marry within the population; in contrast, we saw a range of variation in linguistic markers for languages that are geographically isolated (have few neighboring languages). Some languages that are isolated lose complexity and others gain complexity and innovate new sounds. This makes me wonder whether contact among populations homogenizes their languages in some way so people can understand each other.
We found that linguistic markers do not hold signatures of the human expansion out of Africa, which is not surprising due to the rate at which languages changes and can be influenced by neighboring languages.
Tell us more about that difference between what genes and languages showed regarding human origins in Africa?
To be precise, genes tell us that the people living today with the most genetic diversity currently live in Southern Africa (like the San bushmen) and that modern humans emerged in Africa, but we don’t know where the geographic origin of our species was precisely based on genetic data. The language analysis did not reveal this African origin because language changes in a complex way, much differently from genes where we have a good sense of the mutation process. In my conversations with different linguists, including those at Brown who generously listened to me present our ideas multiple times, the rate at which language mutates, and which linguistic markers are more likely to change than others, seems to be an open question.
You found geographic axes, or directions, of difference in language and genetics. What might they tell us about human evolution and history?
These axes, which look for directions along which a dataset is most differentiated, tell us about axes along which humans likely did not migrate a great deal. For example, migration north/south in Africa would mean moving across climate regimes; we also know populations are quite different across latitudes in Europe and we see that for both our language datasets and genetic datasets.
What do your findings tell us about how we can use genes and language, either together or separately, for population studies?
We learn more from using both data types together and analyzing them using similar methods than we would have learned from either type alone. One signal we saw loud and clear in this study is how much geographic distance affected our ancestors’ genes and languages; geographic distance predicts differentiation in both data types, underscoring that there are still deep signatures of ancient migrations in our genomes and cultures today.
Explore further: Oceans apart: Study reveals insights into the evolution of languages
So they took Jesus, and he went out, bearing his own cross, to the place called the place of a skull, which is called in Hebrew Gol′gotha. There they crucified him, and with him two others, one on either side, and Jesus between them. Pilate also wrote a title and put it on the cross; it read, “Jesus of Nazareth, the King of the Jews.”
Many of the Jews read this title, for the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city; and it was written in Hebrew, in Latin, and in Greek.
The chief priests of the Jews then said to Pilate, “Do not write, ‘The King of the Jews,’ but, ‘This man said, I am King of the Jews.’”
Pilate answered, “What I have written I have written.”
When the soldiers had crucified Jesus they took his garments and made four parts, one for each soldier; also his tunic. But the tunic was without seam, woven from top to bottom; so they said to one another, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it to see whose it shall be.” This was to fulfill the scripture,
“They parted my garments among them,
and for my clothing they cast lots.”
So the soldiers did this.
Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other. From heaven he made you hear his voice to discipline you. On earth he showed you his great fire, and you heard his words from out of the fire.
There are three types of men in the West; the suicidal, the saboteur, and the Strong.
The suicidal man is effeminate and naïve. He knows nothing of history and even less of human nature. He is entirely and ignorantly self-absorbed. Without realizing it, or to be more accurate, without wanting to realize it, he is the nevertheless the stubborn and reckless instrument of the suicide of his own civilization.
The saboteur is crafty and destructive. He is an eager and willing accomplice of the Enemy. He has a fanatical view of history and a perverted view of human nature. He is entirely under the will of those who drive him. In full recognition of his aims he is the instrument of sabotage against all around him.
The Strong Man of the West is observant and determined. He is unimpressed by the effeminacy of the suicidal man and he is fully prepared to meet and thwart the craft and guile of the internal saboteur. He is the Champion of the Ideals of the Christian West, Defender of the weak and innocent, and Soldier of what is best and right. He has a pragmatic and realistic view of human nature. He is the Agent of his own will; he is the Ambassador of Higher Things, he is at peace and liberty with himself, but the implacable and relentless foe of evil, injustice, oppression, slavery, tyranny, and murderous fanaticism. He is the instrument of the Preservation and Salvation of the West.
When the first two (the effeminate suicidal man and the subversive saboteur) significantly outnumber the Strong Man then the West will falter, it may even entirely fail and be destroyed. The West is only as strong as her Strongest Men.
However, when the Strong Man is truly strong, not just in speech but also in action (for action has always been the historical and true key to real strength), when there is at least one Strong Man for every one of the other two kinds of “men,” then the West will not and cannot falter and fall.
The question therefore is as it has always been: What Kind of Man are you?
There is a show I very much enjoy watching when I can. It’s called Faith in History. Yes, the guy who conducts the show has a very pronounced sort of stumbling delivery when he speaks, but despite that, which often makes it difficult to follow him, I very much like the guy and the show is superb.
Today at lunch my youngest daughter and I sat down to watch the latest recorded episode because it was about George Washington Carver (and lately she had requested that she be allowed to study African history, which I’ll get back to in a moment) and although Carver is as American as peanut butter he was black and he was in my opinion the second greatest native inventor this nation ever produced (shy of Edison), and the very greatest bio-chemist (bar none) and one of the very greatest scientists this nation ever produced.
(Being particularly partial and interested in the biological, chemical, and genetic sciences myself I really like Carver and his work. He was brilliant, and well ahead of his time.)
Plus, I very much agree with his approach to invention, which I’ll recount later, as it is the closest parallel to my own method of invention that I have ever encountered in history.
Anyway it was an extremely good episode on Carver, dwelling upon both his scientific achievements and his personal life and faith.
My daughter seemed to enjoy the episode quite a bit, and as we watched it we would stop the show at various points and discuss science, God, technology, history, invention, writing, politics, and so forth. As is our wont when watching or discussing anything educational.
As for Carver’s methods of discovery, experimentation, inspiration, and invention they closely parallel my own, as he described in numerous letters, and in this speech:
“God is going to reveal to us things He never revealed before if we put our hands in His. No books ever go into my laboratory. The thing I am to do and the way of doing it are revealed to me. I never have to grope for methods. The method is revealed to me the moment I am inspired to create something new. Without God to draw aside the curtain I would be helpless.
Locking the door to his laboratory, Dr. Carver confided:
Only alone can I draw close enough to God to discover His secrets.”
The closest other two parallels I can name are found in the methods of Newton and Archimedes, both of whom I also seek to emulate when it comes to scientific discovery and invention. Archimedes in particular, and perhaps one day soon I will discuss the Agapoloid techniques I employ, which are derived to a large extent from Archimedes’ internal and mental mathematical and geometric laboratory.
After that and as we were cleaning up from lunch my daughter asked me if she could begin two independent courses of study.
My oldest child began her independent courses of study (that is to say she would choose two out of six curriculum areas to study in a self-directed fashion) at the age of 17 but my youngest wants to start now, at age 15.
Knowing now what I do about how advanced my children are and having loosened up a good deal over time with my second child I agreed and asked her to make me a list of what she most wanted to study.
Independent Areas of study are, of course, courses of study she chooses for herself, based upon her own interests, and in which she will do detailed research and work at the college level. Of course she’s been at college level in all her subject areas for a while now, but I mean detailed enough to write a collegiate term paper.
Lastly now that my older daughter is working and preparing for college my youngest daughter and I spend much more time together. The other night we were watching Agent Carter together and I was commenting on how much more clever the general level of conversation, formal or colloquial, was back then (in the Forties to early Fifties – language started declining in the mid-Fifties). That the language was snappier and more ironic than it is today, the level of conversation was far more clever, plus it was filled with universal cultural references and idioms.
“But,” I said, “I don’t care much for the décor or architecture of that time period. And I could have never walked around all day in a monkey suit.”
“Dad,” she said, “you must be crazy! I love the décor, the architecture, the clothes, and especially the cars and airplanes from that time period. I love almost everything about the Forties and I’d love to go back and live in that time period, minus, you know, the whole segregation and suppression of women things.”
“Yeah, I guess there is always that,” I said.
“But otherwise the Forties are for me!”
She’s a throwback to my Old Man. He grew up in that time period and always loved it too.
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