Latina Magna Est!

or If You Can Read The Title, You Might be a Classics Nerd.

Imagine over a thousand teenagers (and a hundred or so theoretically adults) swarming a large school, muttering to themselves in dead languages, pushing a chariot, dragging catapults made of PVC and electrical tape, and fretting about the fit of the toga for their speech to the Senate. Many wear tee-shirts with strange cartoons and witty sayings or quotes in Latin. A number of the teens carry bags stuffed with reference books and dictionaries, because they anticipate challenging the test answers if they don’t get a perfect score. And a few are complaining about not having a javelin throw contest this year just because back in the 1970s someone almost got speared and trust us we’re soooo much better than that now. Welcome to the State Junior Classical League meeting.  Continue reading

In Lieu of Real Content . . .

Due to rehearsal and work demands: what the author is reading:

White, Sam – Climate of Rebellion. A very good environmental history of the Ottoman Empire, centering on the late 1500s-1600s. Highly recommend. (I know Sam through the Climate History group, but I still recommend the book on its merits.)

Chesterton, G.K. Orthodoxy. A collection of linked essays about Christian belief and culture, written before WWI but still pretty current.

Wright, John C. A Book of Feasts and Seasons  Short stories based on the great feasts of the Christian year, although not “in your face” Christian mission fiction. All are different and all are well written.

Keller, Katrin Erzherzögin Maria von Innerösterreich  A German-language biography of the ancestress of most of the Habsburg family, who was quite a lady in her own right and who governed Inner Austria (Styria) for several years. Very well written.

Simon, Tom Death Carries a Camcorder – A humorous but also serious look at fiction writing today and some of the weaknesses in it. Tom leans toward the literary side of the writing spectrum (like John C. Wright) but has thoughtful comments well worth chewing on no matter what you write or like to read.

Hoyt, Sarah Wings. A short story collection, runs the gamut from sci-fi to fantasy to beats-me-but-I-like-it.

Schmaus und Braus – Another German book, this one about food-related colloquial terms and trivia.

Torgerson, Brad Lights in the Deep  A collection of fantastic short stories. (Can’t read them at work because they suck me in so hard. He writes too darn well. 🙂 )

Mayer, Adrianne Amazons Actually more about the Scythians and other people of the Central Asian and Black Sea steppe than strictly about the Amazons. An excellent blend of linguistics, history, mythology and other disciplines.

When the Gates to the Gulf Open . . .

all h-ll tends to break out. Because storms need fuel, instability, and spin. And Gulf moisture is the magic ingredient that, when combined with an unstable air mass, produces hen-egg hail and tornadoes.

I seem to have spent my live alternating between living east and west of the 100th meridian, or roughly the 20″ rainfall line. West of this line the average precipitation is less than 20 inches per year and farming without irrigation can be rather chancy. The mixed-grass prairie shifts into short-grass steppe until the plains bump into the Rocky Mountain foreland. To the east of this invisible division is the Mississippi Embayment, tall-grass prairies, the land of tall corn and fat pigs, and humidity.

Even west of that magical line, however, when the Gulf opens up, we brace for impact.

From: whyfiles.org

From: whyfiles.org AKA “Must be May”

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A Dark and Moon-lit Night

Your humble scribe may or may not have participated in, spoken with, associated with, or even know one or more of the parties involved in the following story, which is purely a work of fiction. And it may or may not have happened on a college or university campus between the Front Range and the Atlantic Ocean.

Scene: A college campus in autumn, several hours after the sun has set. The almost full moon hangs high in the night sky, dimmed for a moment or two by wisps of cloud. Two older students, grad students perhaps, stand near Old Main, the administrative building, watching the night sky, contemplating the wonders of Collegiate Gothic architecture, and noting the bats flitting around.

Older Student #1: “You’re right. The building does look a little creepy by moonlight.”

Older Student #2: “Like the Hotel Dracula or something.” Continue reading

Bad Advice: Firearms Edition

I’m not sure which topic on the Internet presents more possibilities for finding really lousy information and advice: interpersonal relationships or firearms stuff. Granted, there’s lots of bad advice one can get in the real world as well, some of which has left me head-scratching with awe and wonder at the uselessness (or dangerousness) of it. Which may be why I avoid both topics on the ‘Net, aside from a few pretty trustworthy blogs or manufacturers’ sites. Because some of the things I’ve been told . . . Continue reading

Original Sin and the Republic

There is a saying, attributed to several sources including David Hackett Fischer, that “Puritans were a people who were never disillusioned.” That being because they held no illusions about the innate depravity of Man and the ability of people to get into mischief (of all sorts), in large part because of their acceptance of the doctrine of Original Sin. In one of his essays about the Constitution, Bernard Bailyn talks about the mindset of the men who wrote the document, and how they knew that people were frail and fallible and would find ways to abuse and misuse anything they could, and how they also knew that men could rise above those same weaknesses. And so the founders created a document to allow for the worst and harness the best. Which is a mindset that again, even though many of the Founders were Anglican, draws from Catholic (and later Calvinist) doctrine about Original Sin and the idea of the Fall. You see, to paraphrase the Colonial-era primer, through Adam’s fall, democrats all.

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Wie Es Eigentlich Gewesen

“How it actually was:” Leopold von Ranke’s call to historians to stick with nothing but the facts, while using all sources available. Von Ranke urged his students and peers to write history as it happened according to the documents, to eschew the speculation and slant found in works such as Gibbon’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire or the nationalist histories then coming into vogue. It is a challenge that historians still struggle with – how do you write objective history? Continue reading