Water, Grain, and Shortages

As I mentioned last week, I’ve been re-reading Georges Lefevbre’s The Great Fear. France in 1788-90 was an odd place, balancing on the edge of the medieval and the modern. It was the world of Montesquieu, Jacques Necker, Lavoisier, of Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin. It was also a world where starvation waited just around the corner, where tens of thousands of people wandered the countryside and into the cities in search of work and food, and where a patchwork of laws and languages divided the country. Even within Paris, the beginning of the modern world walked mere feet from the depths of the Middle Ages. Continue reading

Editing and Random Thoughts

I am almost done with editing and proofing Eerily Familiar. My goal is to format and upload it today, with a release on the 15th.

I’ve been re-reading Georges Lefevbre’s book The Great Fear, about the panic that swept France in the course of 20 or so days in July and August 1789. It is an older work, but still excellent for capturing the mental world of parts of rural France at the time. One thing that stood out, that I’d missed before, is how much the people’s reaction to seeing grain wagons go past resembled that of people with junior water rights.

The juniors watch water flowing past that they cannot divert, because it belongs to the senior right. The peasants and villagers watched grain wagons trundle past and could not understand why they starved while someone else sold/hoarded/exported grain.

A longer post on the topic will come later, but the similarity in the responses stood out.

Rights are Not Given

I’m going to have to have the “The Constitution does not give you rights” talk with a few students. They are under the impression that our rights come from above, from the federal and state governments. *SIGH*

No, nopity, no. Not in the United States, no matter how much some officials and administrators think that to be true. We give some of our power to the government, in an exchange. We can take that power back if the government goes too far. How one determines what is “too far” is an argument for a later date. Unlike most of the world, even some other parts of the Anglophone world, in the US rights are inherent in the people. We have them. They are not given. Continue reading

Remember, Remember, the Fifth of November

gunpowder, treason and plot./ I see no reason why gunpowder, treason/ Should ever be forgot.”

Well, maybe, maybe not. I suspect a number of English Catholics, and Members of Parliament, would just as soon that Guy Fawkes Night be consigned to the refuse bin of history. And local constabularies as well, since they get to deal with bonfires and people enjoying the night a little too freely.

For Americans, I suspect any association we have with Guy Fawkes day comes from a movie (or the comic books from whence it came) and the use of Guy Fawkes masks by Anonymous, part of 4Chan, and some political groups. We don’t associate it with anti-Catholic sentiment, or English history, except as processed through the V for Vendetta comics and movie. Children don’t come around begging for “A Penny for the Guy,” although I did pester a Canadian prof with that in early November. He’d dig out a penny and advise me not to spend it all in one place. Continue reading

Sources of Sainthood

No, being married to the town’s eccentric isn’t quite what I’m thinking of. How does an individual become “Saint” So-and-So in the Christian tradition? Well, once you get past the Apostles and Paul of Tarsus, and Stephen the Martyr, the traditions begin to diverge, as does the theology.

Many Protestants, but not all, stop at what a youth leader once referred to as “The Big 12” plus two, those being Paul and Stephen. Some do add the title of saint to some of the early theologians, notably Augustine and Jerome, and Archangel Michael. Jokes aside, Martin Luther, Jean Calvin, Menno Simons, Henry VIII, and others are not considered saints. The Church of England/ Episcopalian Church recognizes more people as saints. Continue reading

Well, So much for all those Halloween Ads…

Apparently someone has declared that the word “spooky” is a racial epithet when used either to refer to a black person, or when used in the presence of black people. So “spooky good deals” and “spook-tacular savings” are out, among other things.

Oh for flip’s sake… It comes from a WWII joke told by the Tuskegee Airmen, and the title of a novel about an African-American secret agent, or “spook.” Because apparently no one ever made jokes based on German terms for their warfare styles and military units. Continue reading

Music Review: Caroleus Rex

Sabaton Caroleus Rex  (MP3 album)

I was curious to see if any music from the time of Charlemagne (Caroleus Magnus) could be found on YouTube. I got distracted and typed in Caroleus Rex. What I discovered was a hard rock album in English, Latin, German, and Swedish about Gustavus Adolphus and Charles X of Sweden.

It’s fascinating, and if you are into heavy metal, darn good. If you are history minded, it really gives you pause. Just how badly did the Thirty Years War and the Great Northern War afflict Europe? Well, someone wrote a suite of heavy metal songs about them 400 years after the Defenestration of Prague. Continue reading