Saturday, December 28, 2002
a flash on the moon ... half a megaton, no biggyFrom an article in Space.com (via Voyage to Arcturus):
...In 1956, an amateur astronomer -- Leon H. Stuart -- reported in the Strolling Astronomer, that he had observed and photographed a flash a few years earlier on the Moon. This event is the only unambiguous record of the crash of an asteroid-sized body onto the lunar surface._ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
book recommendation ...In 1966, two teenage boys, Kern (17) and Rinker (15) Buck, spent a winter restoring an old Piper Cub, and then flew it across the country. Rink has now written an utterly delightful book, Flight of Passage. It's full of the joys of flying, and working on airplanes, (including the pleasures of intoxication from the dozens of coats of Butyrate dope applied to the fabric-covered plane.)
... After twenty minutes or so we didn't have to beg Kern for a fix. He had started his long, rhythmic sweeps down the fuselage and wings with his spray gun.The boys have lots of difficulty (and pleasure) dealing with their father, an eccentric, out-sized character and a former barn-storming pilot.
And the trip itself is a delight to experience
...The funeral director dropped us off at a cavernous, countrystyle cafe built underneath the bleachers of a horse track in Blytheville, which overflowed with a Sunday afternoon crowd. We were amazed at the gaudy hairdos and extravagant makeup of the waitresses, and how much fried chicken you could buy for a dollar in Arkansas. I couldn't believe how they piled up the plates—people in Arkansas seemed to be world-class eaters. In addition to wonderfully flaky but moist Southern-fried chicken, we got collard greens cooked in ham bones, corn, okra, all kinds of jellies and sauccs, mashed potatoes and noodles with gravy, homemade bread and pecan pie for desert.
Friday, December 27, 2002
Thursday, December 26, 2002
It's raining ...
Never forget who brings the rain_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
I've noticed this myself ...From "Cinderella Bloggerfeller"
... According to Dienstag's First Law of Idiotarianism, all wars must resemble Vietnam and all empires must resemble Rome. It is only thus that we are able to extract lessons from history and find within its pages a Moral For Our Time. Haven't we learnt anything from the Roman experience in Vietnam? Who can forgot those moving war films Born on the Ides of March, Cohort, Full Metal Breastplate and Acropolis Now (*) ? You see, America really is like Rome during its waning years:_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
signs of health ...From Pete DuPont's roundup of the best and worst of 2002:
...The Wall Street Journal's Kimberley Strassel reports Census Bureau data concluding that "more people in this country went to watch truck and tractor pulls at least once a month than went to watch tennis matches," and "in 1999, the average American consumed more than 117 pounds of red meat, nearly 30 pounds of cheese, and 31.9 gallons of beer." I guess I have some catching up to do in 2003, but what a country._ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
another great Anglosphere columnFrom Jim Bennett, Anglosphere: The right decentralism...
... Genuine decentralism, or in the American context, genuine federalism, is not the defense of petty tyrannies against wider ones. It is the defense of civil society on all levels, of the state against the Federal, the community against the state, the group against the community, and the individual against the group. There are a variety of tools that may be used in this, and sometimes the power of the wider entity must be used to balance a smaller tyranny. Like many useful tools, such power must be used only with great caution, but sometimes it must be used never the less. The Constitution and Bill of Rights were written to provide such uses, and such cautions._ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _
lower than pond-scum...I just LOVED this, the tale of how the Women in Green heckled Jane Fonda, who was doing the important Hollywood-work of giving support to dictators.
... I couldn't believe it! After telling CNN we weren't demonstrating, we were now about to come face to face with Jane Fonda. It was simply too much. It was almost unbelievable.Thank you, Women in Green. Couldn't have said it better myself. And there are few slime-creatures in the world who deserve it more...
Wednesday, December 25, 2002
Amazing software that can read your mind...For your holiday enjoyment, go here, and click on the 'welcome' where it says: 'Letar du efter den magiska grottat "Cave of Magic"'
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Merry ChristmasI won't bore you with the details of our holiday, except for one. You know the image from a print by Kawase Hasui that usually sits at the top of this blog? (back soon.) Well, to my complete astonishment, a copy of the actual wood-block print was under the Christmas tree! Thank you, Charlene...
What sweeter music can we bring
Tuesday, December 24, 2002
Heaven in ordinarie, man well drest,
Monday, December 23, 2002
word note...(I posted this as a comment in Brink Lindsay's Blog. He had expressed disappointment upon discovering that the Wright Brothers had in fact flown not at Kitty Hawk, but at nearby Kill Devil Hill)
Names are part of the poetry of history. It's worth a bit of historical inaccuracy to get a name that rings in the mind.
What if the Battle of Waterloo had been called the Battle of Hougemont? Or Shiloh called The Battle of Pittsburg Landing? Ugh. Bunker Hill was actually fought on Breed's Hill, but which is the better name?
Kitty Hawk is a splendid name, so it was the correct one to use. Nothing's really lost, because anyone who is interested in the subject soon learns about Kill Devil Hill.
(And since I'm on the subject of battle-names, the American defeat at Kasserine Pass in Tunisia should really have been called Sidi Bou Zid. Thank goodness somebody wasn't pedantic.)
And I didn't mean that the names Waterloo or Shiloh were inaccurate. But the names were chosen from several possibilities, and probably because they were noble-sounding. For the happy few who still love history, hearing the word Shiloh immediately fills the mind with profound reflections; of bloodshed on a scale until then unknown, of courage and sacrifice, of the greatness of Ulysses Grant, and of a frontier faith that named a log-cabin church in the woods after a village in Palestine. And to think that it could just as easily been called The Battle of Owl Creek.
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wars of freedomI hadn't intended to write about war right now, but I keep thinking that it was just about this time of year that Epaminondas persuaded the Thebans to march against Sparta. That was one of the best and most surprising events in history.
Surprising first because in the ancient Mediterranean world, citizen-armies never fought in winter. Ships were laid-up, and men stayed home by the fire.
Surprising because the Theban Confederacy, comprising most of Boeotia (bee OH shuh) had just become a democracy, the last flowering of democracy in Greece before the Macedonian conquest. And in some ways the best, because Boeotia was conservative and rural, and avoided the corrosive radicalism of other Greek democracies, with their masses of urban poor.
And surprising most of all, because Sparta was then the pre-eminent land-power of Greece, and all Greek states tried their best to avoid fighting her invincible army.
Surprising also because this Theban army was the last flowering of the almost extinct Hoplite Phalanx, the armies of free Greek citizens who, in heavy bronze armor, would decide a war in an single brutal clash, and then return to their farms. Thebes had long been ruled by a small aristocracy, upheld and bullied by Sparta. The coming of democracy made all Theban citizens eligible to fight as Hoplites, and they now formed a mighty force that was able to challenge Sparta for the first time. Sparta was eager to crush this new threat, and several battles were fought, culminating in a heavy Spartan defeat at Leuctra, in 371 BC.
The Thebans might have thought this sufficient, but a remarkable man, Epaminondas, one of the Theban generals, (and a Pythagorian philosopher) dreamed of ending the Spartan threat forever. Spartan power rested on the ability of all her citizens to be full-time soldiers, devoting their whole lives to military training. This was possible because they had long-before conquered the large neighboring province of Messenia, and reduced its people to near-slaves, the Helots, held down by brutal totalitarian tactics, including a ruthless secret police.
If Messenia could be freed, the basis of Spartan power would be destroyed. This is what Epaminondas persuaded the Thebans to undertake. And it was the rise of democracy and freedom in Thebes that gave the Thebans the upsurge of energy and courage to accomplish what no one had dreamed of before. They were fighting for practical reasons, to destroy a threat and to have revenge for past wrongs. But they were also fighting to free the most wretched and oppressed people in Greece.
When the Thebans marched into Laconia, the Spartans did not dare to come out and fight them in the open-- in itself a momentous change and a huge psychological victory. From there they marched west into Messenia, and with the Messenians, built, with astonishing speed, a new walled city and fortress, Messene, and endowed it with the plunder of the campaign. From this stronghold the Messenians could defy Spartan power.
We might keep that long-ago war of liberation in mind, as we face the likelihood of our own coming campaigns to destroy our enemies and free the oppressed. The similarities are many. Such as the sophisticated and nuanced types who loathed the whole enterprise and would have opposed it if they had had the military strength. Back then it was the Athenians, who held the rustic Thebans in contempt. Beoetian was used as a sneer, as we might say bumpkin ... or cowboy.
Then and now, it's the Beoetians who treasure liberty, and who do the dangerous and dirty work needed to preserve it. (and it's the clever Athenian/lefty types who write the books, which is why we don't hear often of Epaminondas as one of the greatest of the Greeks)
The book you want to read is The Soul of Battle, by Victor Hanson.
ruins of the walls of Messene
Sunday, December 22, 2002
Three-winged and gold-shod prophecies of Heaven ...This is also from Little, Big ... Actually, this harvest feast should have been posted at Thanksgiving, but I forgot. Smoky's toast is from a poem by Hart Crane.
They set out a lot of sleepy, sea-dark wine that Walter Ocean made every year and decanted the next, his tribute; in it, toasts were made over the glistening bodies of the birds and the bowls of autumn harvest. Rudy rose, his stomach advancing somewhat over the table's edge, and said:_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _"Bless the master of this houseWhich that year included his own grandson Robin, and Sonny Noon's new twins, and Smoky's daughter Tacey.
beneath a decillion stars...From Little, Big, by John Crowley,
When he received these communications, Santa drew the claws of his spectacles from behind his ears and pressed the sore place on the bridge of his nose with thumb and finger. What was it they expected him to do with these? A shotgun, a bear, snowshoes, some pretty things and some useful: well, all right. But for the rest of it . . . He just didn't know what people were thinking anymore. But it was growing late; if they, or anyone else, were disappointed in him tomorrow, it wouldn't be the first time. He took his furred hat from its peg and drew on his gloves. He went out, already unaccountably weary though the journey had not even begun, into the multicolored arctic waste beneath a decillion stars, whose near brilliance seemed to chime, even as the harness of his reindeer chimed when they raised their shaggy heads at his approach, and as the eternal snow chimed too when he trod it with his booted feet.