Merry Christmas, one and all.
Now is the Solstice of the Year
Winter is the Glad song that you hear
Seven maids move in seven time
Have the lads ready up in a line
Ring out these bells
Ring out, Ring Solstice Bells
Ring Solstice Bells
Join together beneath the mistletoe
By the holy oak where on it grows
Seven druids dance in seven time
Sing the song the bells call loudly chiming
Ring out these bells
Ring out, Ring Solstice Bells
Ring Solstice Bells
Praise be to the distant sister sun
Joyful as the silver planets run
Seven maids move in seven time
Sing the song the bells call loudly chiming
Ring out these bells
Ring out, Ring Solstice Bells
Ring Solstice Bells
Ring on, Ring Out
Ring on, Ring Out
Jethro Tull, _Ring Solstice Bells_
A substantial minority of Americans do not have a clue about our National History. From a Marist Poll:
On July 4th we celebrate Independence Day. From which country did the United States win its independence?
Great Britain Unsure Other countries mentioned
USA Residents 74% 20% 6%
26% of Americans did not know that we declared independence from Great Britain. The full poll results, on Bob's site linked above, breaks it down by region and age category.
Even the BEST category still has 14% of USA Residents not knowing the most fundamental fact about our nation.
My father, Frederick Michael Weimer.
He served as a seaman second class aboard the USS Block Island, the only American aircraft carrier sunk by the Germans during World War II.
Six sailors perished in the torpedo attack on the Block Island by a U-boat patrolling the Atlantic Ocean near the Canary Islands on May 29, 1944. But the remaining 951 Navy personnel, including my father, were evacuated safely to other vessels. He was discharged in 1946.
My father died in 2005.
Rest in Peace, Dad.
Time Magazine has a good article on the Matteo Ricci map created in China, and coming, permanently, to the University of Minnesota.
I first came across Matteo Ricci in a Jonathan Spence (one of the best scholars on China living today) and have been fascinated about his life and adventures. That biography did mention the map's creation, and I can't wait to see it at last!
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts will host an exhibit of Venetian Renaissance paintings and drawings which have never been to the U.S. before...Noon says the exhibit of 12 paintings and 13 drawings will be a rare opportunity to see Titian's work, and how he influenced other major artists, including Tintoretto, Veronese, Bassano and Lotto -- whose work will also be part of the exhibit.
The exhibit, "Titian and the Golden Age of Venetian Painting: Masterpieces from the National Galleries of Scotland," will be on display in February 2011.
I'm definitely going to go see this when it comes to Minneapolis.
King Tutankhamen, known as Egypt's boy pharaoh, probably spent much of his life in pain before dying at 19 from the combined effects of malaria and a broken leg, scientists say.
You may have read or heard this story already, giving a new analysis of the life (and probable) death of the boy king, King Tut.
Curved spine, cleft palate, malaria, injuries...even if he was a King, he didn't have that Kingly a life. I did not know that 100 walking sticks were found in the tomb. It makes sense, given the problems he likely had in life.
Via my friend Kevin Brady, here is a blog entry on English Russia on the "Seven Wonders of Russia"
It's a mixture of human and natural wonders. Beautiful photographs of all of them. My favorite has to be the Geysers. Did you know that while Yellowstone has most of the Geysers in the world, many of the rest are in Far Eastern Russia?
Anyway, go and see the Seven Wonders. You could probably do a "Seven Wonders" meme for any sort of polity, countries, states, even cities.
MPR had a story a couple of days ago that makes me jump in my seat for joy.
One of the world's rarest maps -- a massive print from 1602 showing the world with China as its center -- will soon be on permanent display at the University of Minnesota.
The James Ford Bell Trust announced this week that it has acquired the "Impossible Black Tulip," the first map in Chinese to show the Americas, from a London books and maps dealer for $1 million. Only six copies of the map remain and several are in poor condition.
The Library of Congress will display the map for the first time in North America on Jan. 12, where it will be scanned to create a permanent digital image available to scholars.
The map will then travel to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts for a brief exhibition, before moving to its permanent home at the James Ford Bell Library at the University of Minnesota in the spring.
Matteo Ricci, the Jesuit cartographer I read a biography of a couple of years back, was instrumental in the creation of this map. I recall the biography mentioning that he had collaborated on a map with chinese scholars; Clearly this is the map.
I definitely will go and see this map when it moves up here.
My thoughts on the "The Louvre and the Masterpiece" exhibit now at the MIA.
62 works. 5000 years. Real works and clever forgeries! Sculpture, drawings, paintings.
The Louvre and the Masterpiece attempts to provide a broad selection of works from France's (and perhaps the World's) most famous museum. At the MIA after a stint at the High Museum in Atlanta, the Louvre and the Masterpiece explores a variety of types of art, and a variety of works.
The theme of "Masterpiece" is explored in a number of ways. What, precisely makes a masterpiece and what does not comes through ranging from unfinished drawings by Da Vinci to an absolutely larger-than-life lion sculpture.
You won't find the Mona Lisa here (it can't leave France because its a National Treasure). But what you will find is Vermeer's The Astronomer, John Martin's huge and arresting Pandemonium, sketches and incomplete works by Michelangelo and Da Vinci, and Barye's magnificent bronze sculpture The Lion and the Serpent
There are some other interesting pieces in this collection, including a famous forgery of Egyptian art--the Blue Head. I particularly also liked De Tour's painting "The Card Sharp", showing the fleecing of a young noble by a card shark who doesn't have an ace up his sleeve...but rather in the back of his doublet.
It is rather expensive ($14 here in Minneapolis) to see the exhibit, but short of actually visiting the Louvre, or doing a judicious search on the web, there is no other way to see these works of art and get a taste of what the Louvre is all about.
Where did the years go?
20 years ago, the Berlin Wall fell. This means, now, that more of my life has been spent without the Berlin Wall than it was with that edifice in place.
The Berlin Wall fell as I was beginning college, and making my way in the world. It was an exciting time and I can't imagine it wasn't even more exciting, there. I have a friend who had been to East Germany before the Wall fell.
From his stories, its clear that the adage that "the past is a different country" is definitely true.
And I still need to see the classic movie about the fall of the wall, "Goodbye Lenin!"
Pat Buchanan,you've gone way beyond the bend.
Far, far beyond.
Hitler was not misunderstood, Mr Buchanan. He was a monster. Period, full stop.
In an darker, alternate history, Pat Buchanan is a Gauleiter for New York City. And very happy in his job.
Via my brother (thanks, Greg)
Archaeologists have unearthed a sprawling country villa believed to be the birthplace of Vespasian, the Roman emperor who built the Colosseum, they said Friday. The 2,000-year-old ruins were found about 80 miles (130 kilometers) northeast of Rome, near Cittareale, lead archaeologist Filippo Coarelli said.
The 150,000-square-feet (14,000-square-meter) complex was at the center of an ancient village called Falacrine, Vespasian's hometown.
If you want to understand the United States and its people, says Maira Kalman, you need to visit Monticello, Thomas Jefferson's home in Virginia.
I really need to see Monticello.
Hypatia of Alexandria
Hypatia of Alexandria; born between AD 350 and 370 - 415) was a Greek scholar from Alexandria in Egypt,considered the first notable woman in mathematics, who also taught philosophy and astronomy.She lived in Roman Egypt, and was brutally killed by a Christian mob who blamed her for religious turmoil. She has been hailed as a "valiant defender of science against religion", and some suggest that her murder marked the end of the Hellenistic Age.
A Neoplatonist philosopher, she followed the school characterized by the 3rd century thinker Plotinus, and discouraged mysticism while encouraging logical and mathematical studies.
Hypatia was the daughter of Theon, who was her teacher and the last known mathematician associated with the museum of Alexandria. She traveled to both Athens and Italy to study,before becoming head of the Platonist school at Alexandria in approximately AD 400.According to the Byzantine "Suda", she worked as teacher of philosophy, teaching the works of Plato and Aristotle. It is believed that there were both Christians and foreigners among her students.
Hypatia maintained correspondence with her former pupil Bishop of Ptolomais Synesius of Cyrene. Together with the references by Damascius, these are the only writings with descriptions or information from her pupils that survive.
The contemporary Christian historiographer Socrates Scholasticus described her in his Ecclesiastical History:
There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time. Having succeeded to the school of Plato and Plotinus, she explained the principles of philosophy to her auditors, many of whom came from a distance to receive her instructions. On account of the self-possession and ease of manner, which she had acquired in consequence of the cultivation of her mind, she not unfrequently appeared in public in presence of the magistrates. Neither did she feel abashed in going to an assembly of men. For all men on account of her extraordinary dignity and virtue admired her the more.
Many of the works commonly attributed to Hypatia are believed to have been collaborative works with her father, Theon Alexandricus; this kind of auctorial uncertainty being typical for the situation of feminine philosophy in Antiquity.
A partial list of specific accomplishments:
A commentary on the 13-volume Arithmetica by Diophantus.
A commentary on the Conics of Apollonius.
Edited the existing version of Ptolemy's Almagest.
Edited her father's commentary on Euclid's Elements
She wrote a text "The Astronomical Canon."
Her contributions to science are reputed to include the charting of celestial bodies and the invention of the hydrometer, used to determine the relative density and gravity of liquids.
Her pupil Synesius, bishop of Cyrene, wrote a letter defending her as the inventor of the astrolabe, although earlier astrolabes predate Hypatia's model by at least a century - and her father had gained fame for his treatise on the subject.
Carl Sagan has a good piece on her in an episode of Cosmos, which is where I first learned about her.
Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry 'Caesar!' Speak; Caesar is turn'd to hear.
Beware the ides of March.
What man is that?
A soothsayer bids you beware the ides of March.
Set him before me; let me see his face.
Fellow, come from the throng; look upon Caesar.
What say'st thou to me now? speak once again.
Beware the ides of March.
He is a dreamer; let us leave him: pass.
Julius Ceasar, Act I Scene II
In Ancient Rome, the 15th of March, the Ides of March, was a feast day of the God of War, Mars, and a day devoted to military parades and celebrations.
On the ides of March, in 44 BC, Gaius Julius Ceasar, Dictator of Rome, was stabbed and killed by a conspiracy led by Gaius Cassius Longinus and his brother-in-law Marcus Junius Brutus, in a failed attempt to restore the Roman Republic.
If you have seen the HBO Series Rome, or seen the Shakespeare play, you are familiar with the basic details of the plot and its results. No matter how noble the intentions of the conspirators were (and that is extremely arguable), in the end, what the conspirators were trying to prevent by killing Gaius Julius Ceasar, they instead hastened and made manifest.
From the New York Times, I give you the Immigration Explorer Map.
You can spend endless amounts of time with this dynamic map, seeing how different types of immigrants came to the US over the last century, and where they went.
Today, in 1789, Congress convened, and the Constitution of the United States was put into effect.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,
establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common
defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to
ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the
United States of America.
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union,
establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common
defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to
ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the
United States of America.
All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the
United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.
The House of Representatives shall be composed of Members chosen every second
Year by the People of the several States, and the Electors in each State shall
have the Qualifications requisite for Electors of the most numerous Branch of
the State Legislature.
No Person shall be a Representative who shall not have attained to the Age of
twenty five Years, and been seven Years a Citizen of the United States, and who
shall not, when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State in which he shall be
Representatives and direct Taxes shall be apportioned among the several States
which may be included within this Union, according to their respective Numbers,
which shall be determined by adding to the whole Number of free Persons,
including those bound to Service for a Term of Years, and excluding Indians not
taxed, three fifths of all other Persons.
The actual Enumeration shall be made within three Years after the first Meeting
of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent Term of ten
Years, in such Manner as they shall by Law direct. The Number of
Representatives shall not exceed one for every thirty Thousand, but each State
shall have at Least one Representative; and until such enumeration shall be
made, the State of New Hampshire shall be entitled to choose three,
Massachusetts eight, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations one, Connecticut
five, New York six, New Jersey four, Pennsylvania eight, Delaware one, Maryland
six, Virginia ten, North Carolina five, South Carolina five and Georgia three.
When vacancies happen in the Representation from any State, the Executive
Authority thereof shall issue Writs of Election to fill such Vacancies.
The House of Representatives shall choose their Speaker and other Officers; and
shall have the sole Power of Impeachment.
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each
State, chosen by the Legislature thereof, for six Years; and each Senator shall
have one Vote.
Immediately after they shall be assembled in Consequence of the first Election,
they shall be divided as equally as may be into three Classes. The Seats of the
Senators of the first Class shall be vacated at the Expiration of the second
Year, of the second Class at the Expiration of the fourth Year, and of the
third Class at the Expiration of the sixth Year, so that one third may be
chosen every second Year; and if Vacancies happen by Resignation, or otherwise,
during the Recess of the Legislature of any State, the Executive thereof may
make temporary Appointments until the next Meeting of the Legislature, which
shall then fill such Vacancies.
No person shall be a Senator who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty
Years, and been nine Years a Citizen of the United States, and who shall not,
when elected, be an Inhabitant of that State for which he shall be chosen.
The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but
shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
The Senate shall choose their other Officers, and also a President pro tempore,
in the absence of the Vice President, or when he shall exercise the Office of
President of the United States.
The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for
that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the
United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be
convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.
Judgment in Cases of Impeachment shall not extend further than to removal from
Office, and disqualification to hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or
Profit under the United States: but the Party convicted shall nevertheless be
liable and subject to Indictment, Trial, Judgment and Punishment, according to
The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and
Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof;
but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations, except
as to the Place of Choosing Senators.
The Congress shall assemble at least once in every Year, and such Meeting shall
be on the first Monday in December, unless they shall by Law appoint a
Each House shall be the Judge of the Elections, Returns and Qualifications of
its own Members, and a Majority of each shall constitute a Quorum to do
Business; but a smaller number may adjourn from day to day, and may be
authorized to compel the Attendance of absent Members, in such Manner, and
under such Penalties as each House may provide.
Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings, punish its Members for
disorderly Behavior, and, with the Concurrence of two-thirds, expel a Member.
Each House shall keep a Journal of its Proceedings, and from time to time
publish the same, excepting such Parts as may in their Judgment require
Secrecy; and the Yeas and Nays of the Members of either House on any question
shall, at the Desire of one fifth of those Present, be entered on the Journal.
Neither House, during the Session of Congress, shall, without the Consent of
the other, adjourn for more than three days, nor to any other Place than that
in which the two Houses shall be sitting.
The Senators and Representatives shall receive a Compensation for their
Services, to be ascertained by Law, and paid out of the Treasury of the United
States. They shall in all Cases, except Treason, Felony and Breach of the
Peace, be privileged from Arrest during their Attendance at the Session of
their respective Houses, and in going to and returning from the same; and for
any Speech or Debate in either House, they shall not be questioned in any other
No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected,
be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States which
shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been increased
during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States,
shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.
All bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives;
but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.
Every Bill which shall have passed the House of Representatives and the Senate,
shall, before it become a Law, be presented to the President of the United
States; If he approve he shall sign it, but if not he shall return it, with his
Objections to that House in which it shall have originated, who shall enter the
Objections at large on their Journal, and proceed to reconsider it. If after
such Reconsideration two thirds of that House shall agree to pass the Bill, it
shall be sent, together with the Objections, to the other House, by which it
shall likewise be reconsidered, and if approved by two thirds of that House, it
shall become a Law. But in all such Cases the Votes of both Houses shall be
determined by Yeas and Nays, and the Names of the Persons voting for and
against the Bill shall be entered on the Journal of each House respectively. If
any Bill shall not be returned by the President within ten Days (Sundays
excepted) after it shall have been presented to him, the Same shall be a Law,
in like Manner as if he had signed it, unless the Congress by their Adjournment
prevent its Return, in which Case it shall not be a Law.
Every Order, Resolution, or Vote to which the Concurrence of the Senate and
House of Representatives may be necessary (except on a question of Adjournment)
shall be presented to the President of the United States; and before the Same
shall take Effect, shall be approved by him, or being disapproved by him, shall
be repassed by two thirds of the Senate and House of Representatives, according
to the Rules and Limitations prescribed in the Case of a Bill.
The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and
Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general
Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be
uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and
with the Indian Tribes;
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject
of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the
Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin
of the United States;
To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited
Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and
Offenses against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning
Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be
for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union,
suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the Militia, and for
governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United
States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers,
and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline
prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District
(not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and
the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United
States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent
of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of
Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into
Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this
Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or
The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any of the States now existing
shall think proper to admit, shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to
the Year one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty may be imposed
on such Importation, not exceeding ten dollars for each Person.
The privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus shall not be suspended, unless when
in Cases of Rebellion or Invasion the public Safety may require it.
No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.
No capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the
Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.
No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.
No Preference shall be given by any Regulation of Commerce or Revenue to the
Ports of one State over those of another: nor shall Vessels bound to, or from,
one State, be obliged to enter, clear, or pay Duties in another.
No Money shall be drawn from the Treasury, but in Consequence of Appropriations
made by Law; and a regular Statement and Account of the Receipts and
Expenditures of all public Money shall be published from time to time.
No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person
holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of
the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind
whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State.
No State shall enter into any Treaty, Alliance, or Confederation; grant Letters
of Marque and Reprisal; coin Money; emit Bills of Credit; make any Thing but
gold and silver Coin a Tender in Payment of Debts; pass any Bill of Attainder,
ex post facto Law, or Law impairing the Obligation of Contracts, or grant any
Title of Nobility.
No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties
on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing
its inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by
any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the
United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Control
of the Congress.
No State shall, without the Consent of Congress, lay any duty of Tonnage, keep
Troops, or Ships of War in time of Peace, enter into any Agreement or Compact
with another State, or with a foreign Power, or engage in War, unless actually
invaded, or in such imminent Danger as will not admit of delay.
The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of
America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together
with the Vice-President chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct,
a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives
to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or
Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United
States, shall be appointed an Elector.
The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two
persons, of whom one at least shall not lie an Inhabitant of the same State
with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and
of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and
transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to
the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence
of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the
Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes
shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of
Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and
have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall
immediately choose by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a
Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like
Manner choose the President. But in choosing the President, the Votes shall be
taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; a quorum
for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two-thirds of the
States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In
every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest
Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there
should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall choose from
them by Ballot the Vice-President.
The Congress may determine the Time of choosing the Electors, and the Day on
which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the
No person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at
the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office
of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not
have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a
Resident within the United States.
In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death,
Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said
Office, the same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by
Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of
the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as
President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be
removed, or a President shall be elected.
The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation,
which shall neither be increased nor diminished during the Period for which he
shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other
Emolument from the United States, or any of them.
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following
Oath or Affirmation:
"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of
President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve,
protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."
The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United
States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual
Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the
principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject
relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to
Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in
Cases of Impeachment.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make
Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall
nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint
Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court,
and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein
otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress
may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think
proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during
the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End
of their next Session.
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the
Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge
necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both
Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with
Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he
shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he
shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all
the Officers of the United States.
The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States,
shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason,
Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court,
and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and
establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold
their Offices during good Behavior, and shall, at stated Times, receive for
their Services a Compensation which shall not be diminished during their
Continuance in Office.
The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under
this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which
shall be made, under their Authority; to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other
public Ministers and Consuls; to all Cases of admiralty and maritime
Jurisdiction; to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party; to
Controversies between two or more States; between a State and Citizens of
another State; between Citizens of different States; between Citizens of the
same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a
State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and
those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original
Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall
have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and
under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and
such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been
committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such
Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.
Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against
them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person
shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the
same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.
The Congress shall have power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no
Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except
during the Life of the Person attainted.
Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records,
and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general
Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be
proved, and the Effect thereof.
The Citizens of each State shall be entitled to all Privileges and Immunities
of Citizens in the several States.
A Person charged in any State with Treason, Felony, or other Crime, who shall
flee from Justice, and be found in another State, shall on demand of the
executive Authority of the State from which he fled, be delivered up, to be
removed to the State having Jurisdiction of the Crime.
No Person held to Service or Labour in one State, under the Laws thereof,
escaping into another, shall, in Consequence of any Law or Regulation therein,
be discharged from such Service or Labour, But shall be delivered up on Claim
of the Party to whom such Service or Labour may be due.
New States may be admitted by the Congress into this Union; but no new States
shall be formed or erected within the Jurisdiction of any other State; nor any
State be formed by the Junction of two or more States, or parts of States,
without the Consent of the Legislatures of the States concerned as well as of
The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and
Regulations respecting the Territory or other Property belonging to the United
States; and nothing in this Constitution shall be so construed as to Prejudice
any Claims of the United States, or of any particular State.
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican
Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion; and on
Application of the Legislature, or of the Executive (when the Legislature
cannot be convened) against domestic Violence.
The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall
propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the
Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for
proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and
Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of
three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths
thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the
Congress; Provided that no Amendment which may be made prior to the Year One
thousand eight hundred and eight shall in any Manner affect the first and
fourth Clauses in the Ninth Section of the first Article; and that no State,
without its Consent, shall be deprived of its equal Suffrage in the Senate.
All Debts contracted and Engagements entered into, before the Adoption of this
Constitution, shall be as valid against the United States under this
Constitution, as under the Confederation.
This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in
Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the
Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the
Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or
Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.
The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the
several State Legislatures, and all executive and judicial Officers, both of
the United States and of the several States, shall be bound by Oath or
Affirmation, to support this Constitution; but no religious Test shall ever be
required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United
The Ratification of the Conventions of nine States, shall be sufficient for the
Establishment of this Constitution between the States so ratifying the Same.
Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the
Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred
and Eighty seven and of the Independence of the United States of America the
Twelfth. In Witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names.
George Washington - President and deputy from Virginia
New Hampshire - John Langdon, Nicholas Gilman
Massachusetts - Nathaniel Gorham, Rufus King
Connecticut - William Samuel Johnson, Roger Sherman
New York - Alexander Hamilton
New Jersey - William Livingston, David Brearley, William Paterson, Jonathan
Pennsylvania - Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Mifflin, Robert Morris, George Clymer,
Thomas Fitzsimons, Jared Ingersoll, James Wilson, Gouvernour Morris
Delaware - George Read, Gunning Bedford Jr., John Dickinson, Richard Bassett,
Maryland - James McHenry, Daniel of St Thomas Jenifer, Daniel Carroll
Virginia - John Blair, James Madison Jr.
North Carolina - William Blount, Richard Dobbs Spaight, Hugh Williamson
South Carolina - John Rutledge, Charles Cotesworth Pinckney, Charles Pinckney,
Georgia - William Few, Abraham Baldwin
Attest: William Jackson, Secretary
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or
prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or
of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition
the Government for a redress of grievances.
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the
right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the
consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and
effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and
no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or
affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the
persons or things to be seized.
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime,
unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising
in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time
of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense
to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any
criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life,
liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be
taken for public use, without just compensation.
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and
public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime
shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously
ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the
accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory
process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of
Counsel for his defence.
In Suits at common law, where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty
dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a
jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than
according to the rules of the common law.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel
and unusual punishments inflicted.
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed
to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor
prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to
The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any
suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States
by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.
The Electors shall meet in their respective states, and vote by ballot for
President and Vice-President, one of whom, at least, shall not be an inhabitant
of the same state with themselves; they shall name in their ballots the person
voted for as President, and in distinct ballots the person voted for as
Vice-President, and they shall make distinct lists of all persons voted for as
President, and of all persons voted for as Vice-President and of the number of
votes for each, which lists they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to
the seat of the government of the United States, directed to the President of
The President of the Senate shall, in the presence of the Senate and House of
Representatives, open all the certificates and the votes shall then be counted;
The person having the greatest Number of votes for President, shall be the
President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors
appointed; and if no person have such majority, then from the persons having
the highest numbers not exceeding three on the list of those voted for as
President, the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot,
the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by
states, the representation from each state having one vote; a quorum for this
purpose shall consist of a member or members from two-thirds of the states, and
a majority of all the states shall be necessary to a choice. And if the House
of Representatives shall not choose a President whenever the right of choice
shall devolve upon them, before the fourth day of March next following, then
the Vice-President shall act as President, as in the case of the death or other
constitutional disability of the President.
The person having the greatest number of votes as Vice-President, shall be the
Vice-President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors
appointed, and if no person have a majority, then from the two highest numbers
on the list, the Senate shall choose the Vice-President; a quorum for the
purpose shall consist of two-thirds of the whole number of Senators, and a
majority of the whole number shall be necessary to a choice. But no person
constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to
that of Vice-President of the United States.
1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime
whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United
States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate
1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the
jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State
wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge
the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any
State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of
law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the
2. Representatives shall be apportioned among the several States according to
their respective numbers, counting the whole number of persons in each State,
excluding Indians not taxed. But when the right to vote at any election for the
choice of electors for President and Vice-President of the United States,
Representatives in Congress, the Executive and Judicial officers of a State, or
the members of the Legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male
inhabitants of such State, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the
United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion,
or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the
proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole
number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such State.
3. No person shall be a Senator or Representative in Congress, or elector of
President and Vice-President, or hold any office, civil or military, under the
United States, or under any State, who, having previously taken an oath, as a
member of Congress, or as an officer of the United States, or as a member of
any State legislature, or as an executive or judicial officer of any State, to
support the Constitution of the United States, shall have engaged in
insurrection or rebellion against the same, or given aid or comfort to the
enemies thereof. But Congress may by a vote of two-thirds of each House, remove
4. The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law,
including debts incurred for payment of pensions and bounties for services in
suppressing insurrection or rebellion, shall not be questioned. But neither the
United States nor any State shall assume or pay any debt or obligation incurred
in aid of insurrection or rebellion against the United States, or any claim for
the loss or emancipation of any slave; but all such debts, obligations and
claims shall be held illegal and void.
5. The Congress shall have power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the
provisions of this article.
1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or
abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or
previous condition of servitude.
2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate
The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from
whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and
without regard to any census or enumeration.
The Senate of the United States shall be composed of two Senators from each
State, elected by the people thereof, for six years; and each Senator shall
have one vote. The electors in each State shall have the qualifications
requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of the State legislatures.
When vacancies happen in the representation of any State in the Senate, the
executive authority of such State shall issue writs of election to fill such
vacancies: Provided, That the legislature of any State may empower the
executive thereof to make temporary appointments until the people fill the
vacancies by election as the legislature may direct.
This amendment shall not be so construed as to affect the election or term of
any Senator chosen before it becomes valid as part of the Constitution.
1. After one year from the ratification of this article the manufacture, sale,
or transportation of intoxicating liquors within, the importation thereof into,
or the exportation thereof from the United States and all territory subject to
the jurisdiction thereof for beverage purposes is hereby prohibited.
2. The Congress and the several States shall have concurrent power to enforce
this article by appropriate legislation.
3. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an
amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of the several States, as
provided in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the
submission hereof to the States by the Congress.
The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or
abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
1. The terms of the President and Vice President shall end at noon on the 20th
day of January, and the terms of Senators and Representatives at noon on the 3d
day of January, of the years in which such terms would have ended if this
article had not been ratified; and the terms of their successors shall then
2. The Congress shall assemble at least once in every year, and such meeting
shall begin at noon on the 3d day of January, unless they shall by law appoint
a different day.
3. If, at the time fixed for the beginning of the term of the President, the
President elect shall have died, the Vice President elect shall become
President. If a President shall not have been chosen before the time fixed for
the beginning of his term, or if the President elect shall have failed to
qualify, then the Vice President elect shall act as President until a President
shall have qualified; and the Congress may by law provide for the case wherein
neither a President elect nor a Vice President elect shall have qualified,
declaring who shall then act as President, or the manner in which one who is to
act shall be selected, and such person shall act accordingly until a President
or Vice President shall have qualified.
4. The Congress may by law provide for the case of the death of any of the
persons from whom the House of Representatives may choose a President whenever
the right of choice shall have devolved upon them, and for the case of the
death of any of the persons from whom the Senate may choose a Vice President
whenever the right of choice shall have devolved upon them.
5. Sections 1 and 2 shall take effect on the 15th day of October following the
ratification of this article.
6. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an
amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the
several States within seven years from the date of its submission.
1. The eighteenth article of amendment to the Constitution of the United States
is hereby repealed.
2. The transportation or importation into any State, Territory, or possession
of the United States for delivery or use therein of intoxicating liquors, in
violation of the laws thereof, is hereby prohibited.
3. The article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an
amendment to the Constitution by conventions in the several States, as provided
in the Constitution, within seven years from the date of the submission hereof
to the States by the Congress.
1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice,
and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for
more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President
shall be elected to the office of the President more than once. But this
Article shall not apply to any person holding the office of President, when this
Article was proposed by the Congress, and shall not prevent any person who may
be holding the office of President, or acting as President, during the term
within which this Article becomes operative from holding the office of
President or acting as President during the remainder of such term.
2. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an
amendment to the Constitution by the legislatures of three-fourths of the
several States within seven years from the date of its submission to the States
by the Congress.
1. The District constituting the seat of Government of the United States shall
appoint in such manner as the Congress may direct: A number of electors of
President and Vice President equal to the whole number of Senators and
Representatives in Congress to which the District would be entitled if it were
a State, but in no event more than the least populous State; they shall be in
addition to those appointed by the States, but they shall be considered, for
the purposes of the election of President and Vice President, to be electors
appointed by a State; and they shall meet in the District and perform such
duties as provided by the twelfth article of amendment.
2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate
1. The right of citizens of the United States to vote in any primary or other
election for President or Vice President, for electors for President or
Vice President, or for Senator or Representative in Congress, shall not be
denied or abridged by the United States or any State by reason of failure to
pay any poll tax or other tax.
2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate
1. In case of the removal of the President from office or of his death or
resignation, the Vice President shall become President.
2. Whenever there is a vacancy in the office of the Vice President, the
President shall nominate a Vice President who shall take office upon
confirmation by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress.
3. Whenever the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the Senate
and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration that he
is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, and until he
transmits to them a written declaration to the contrary, such powers and duties
shall be discharged by the Vice President as Acting President.
4. Whenever the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers
of the executive departments or of such other body as Congress may by law
provide, transmit to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of
the House of Representatives their written declaration that the President is
unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office, the Vice President
shall immediately assume the powers and duties of the office as Acting
Thereafter, when the President transmits to the President pro tempore of the
Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives his written declaration
that no inability exists, he shall resume the powers and duties of his office
unless the Vice President and a majority of either the principal officers of
the executive department or of such other body as Congress may by law provide,
transmit within four days to the President pro tempore of the Senate and the
Speaker of the House of Representatives their written declaration that the
President is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office. Thereupon
Congress shall decide the issue, assembling within forty eight hours for that
purpose if not in session. If the Congress, within twenty one days after
receipt of the latter written declaration, or, if Congress is not in session,
within twenty one days after Congress is required to assemble, determines by
two thirds vote of both Houses that the President is unable to discharge the
powers and duties of his office, the Vice President shall continue to discharge
the same as Acting President; otherwise, the President shall resume the powers
and duties of his office.
1. The right of citizens of the United States, who are eighteen years of age or
older, to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any
State on account of age.
2. The Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate
No law, varying the compensation for the services of the Senators and
Representatives, shall take effect, until an election of Representatives shall
Happy Birthday wishes to two people, long dead, whose shadows not only cover us today, but perhaps will do so for as long as our civilization lasts.
Born today, February 12, in 1809, within a few hours of each other: Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, and naturalist Charles Darwin, author of On the Origin of Species
More history this time, this time the history of what was once the cutting edge in military technology.
Chariot, From Chariot to Tank, The Astounding Rise and Fall of the World's First War Machine, by Arthur Cotterell is a history of the chariot.
Between the domestication of the horse, and the use of stirrups and other techniques to make horse-riding warfare more practical, the primary uses of horses in warfare was by means of the chariot. Cotterell begins with the description of one of the major battles in the ancient world, the Egyptian-Hatti Battle of Kadesh in which 5000 chariots on both sides participated. From this basis, Cotterell describes the history of the use of the chariot in time and space from Rome all the way to China.
There is an enormous amount of detail in the book, but its marred by digressions, poor organization and badly formed repetitions. Cotterell mentions battles and places, only to return to them again and again. That would not be a problem, but there is no sense of building on what was already written, or an awareness that there is something new to be said in the narrative. He mentions battles, and then comes back to them again, talking about them as if we had not already read about it earlier in the novel. It was extremely frustrating to this reader.
I learned a lot from the novel, my conception of what good the chariot was and how it was used has expanded. I particularly appreciated that Cotterell did not restrict himself to the Middle East and Europe, as he extensively talks about the role of the chariot in India and China. Cotterell, in the typical haphazard fashion in this book, extends the mandate of the book beyond the war machine role of the chariot to discuss its use as symbol and mythological object ranging from Rome to China.
It's all a pity, though. I really wanted to like and recommend this book, but the disorganized writing and jumbled information just made this book a chore to read, rather than a joy. The scholarship and information is all there, but its more work than its worth, in my opinion, to reach and get it out.
My fellow citizens,
I stand here today humbled by the task before us, grateful for the trust you have bestowed, mindful of the sacrifices borne by our ancestors. I thank President Bush for his service to our nation, as well as the generosity and cooperation he has shown throughout this transition.
Forty-four Americans have now taken the presidential oath. The words have been spoken during rising tides of prosperity and the still waters of peace. Yet, every so often the oath is taken amidst gathering clouds and raging storms. At these moments, America has carried on not simply because of the skill or vision of those in high office, but because We the People have remained faithful to the ideals of our forbearers, and true to our founding documents.
So it has been. So it must be with this generation of Americans.
That we are in the midst of crisis is now well understood. Our nation is at war, against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred. Our economy is badly weakened, a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some, but also our collective failure to make hard choices and prepare the nation for a new age. Homes have been lost; jobs shed; businesses shuttered. Our health care is too costly; our schools fail too many; and each day brings further evidence that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and threaten our planet.
These are the indicators of crisis, subject to data and statistics. Less measurable but no less profound is a sapping of confidence across our land -- a nagging fear that America's decline is inevitable, and that the next generation must lower its sights.
Today I say to you that the challenges we face are real. They are serious and they are many. They will not be met easily or in a short span of time. But know this, America -- they will be met.
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.
We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.
In reaffirming the greatness of our nation, we understand that greatness is never a given. It must be earned. Our journey has never been one of short-cuts or settling for less. It has not been the path for the faint-hearted -- for those who prefer leisure over work, or seek only the pleasures of riches and fame. Rather, it has been the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things -- some celebrated but more often men and women obscure in their labor, who have carried us up the long, rugged path towards prosperity and freedom.
For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans in search of a new life.
For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and plowed the hard earth.
For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.
Time and again these men and women struggled and sacrificed and worked till their hands were raw so that we might live a better life. They saw America as bigger than the sum of our individual ambitions; greater than all the differences of birth or wealth or faction.
This is the journey we continue today. We remain the most prosperous, powerful nation on Earth. Our workers are no less productive than when this crisis began. Our minds are no less inventive, our goods and services no less needed than they were last week or last month or last year. Our capacity remains undiminished. But our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions -- that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America.
For everywhere we look, there is work to be done. The state of the economy calls for action, bold and swift, and we will act -- not only to create new jobs, but to lay a new foundation for growth. We will build the roads and bridges, the electric grids and digital lines that feed our commerce and bind us together. We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology's wonders to raise health care's quality and lower its cost. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories. And we will transform our schools and colleges and universities to meet the demands of a new age. All this we can do. All this we will do.
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions -- who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.
What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them-- that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works -- whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account -- to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day -- because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.
Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control -- and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous. The success of our economy has always depended not just on the size of our Gross Domestic Product, but on the reach of our prosperity; on the ability to extend opportunity to every willing heart -- not out of charity, but because it is the surest route to our common good.
As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and we are ready to lead once more.
Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.
We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort -- even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet. We will not apologize for our way of life, nor will we waver in its defense, and for those who seek to advance their aims by inducing terror and slaughtering innocents, we say to you now that our spirit is stronger and cannot be broken; you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.
For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus -- and non-believers. We are shaped by every language and culture, drawn from every end of this Earth; and because we have tasted the bitter swill of civil war and segregation, and emerged from that dark chapter stronger and more united, we cannot help but believe that the old hatreds shall someday pass; that the lines of tribe shall soon dissolve; that as the world grows smaller, our common humanity shall reveal itself; and that America must play its role in ushering in a new era of peace.
To the Muslim world, we seek a new way forward, based on mutual interest and mutual respect. To those leaders around the globe who seek to sow conflict, or blame their society's ills on the West -- know that your people will judge you on what you can build, not what you destroy. To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history; but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist.
To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds. And to those nations like ours that enjoy relative plenty, we say we can no longer afford indifference to suffering outside our borders; nor can we consume the world's resources without regard to effect. For the world has changed, and we must change with it.
As we consider the road that unfolds before us, we remember with humble gratitude those brave Americans who, at this very hour, patrol far-off deserts and distant mountains. They have something to tell us, just as the fallen heroes who lie in Arlington whisper through the ages. We honor them not only because they are guardians of our liberty, but because they embody the spirit of service; a willingness to find meaning in something greater than themselves. And yet, at this moment -- a moment that will define a generation -- it is precisely this spirit that must inhabit us all.
For as much as government can do and must do, it is ultimately the faith and determination of the American people upon which this nation relies. It is the kindness to take in a stranger when the levees break, the selflessness of workers who would rather cut their hours than see a friend lose their job which sees us through our darkest hours. It is the firefighter's courage to storm a stairway filled with smoke, but also a parent's willingness to nurture a child, that finally decides our fate.
Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves, our nation, and the world, duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task.
This is the price and the promise of citizenship.
This is the source of our confidence-- the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny.
This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed -- why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.
So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:
"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive ... that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."
America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.
Thank you. God bless you. And God bless the United States of America.
Via The Map Room a map of the Milky Way, done in the iconic style of Harry Beck's London Underground Map.
I need to discover what tools (fonts, icons, etc) people use to put these sorts of maps together.
Via my friend Scott, some evidence that the movie Gladiator got (perhaps by accident) more things right than he or I thought.
Archaeologists have found more than 600 relics from a huge battle between a Roman army and Barbarians in the third century, long after historians believed Rome had given up control of northern Germany.
"We have to write our history books new, because what we thought was that the activities of the Romans ended at nine or 10 (years) after Christ," said Lutz Stratmann, science minister for the German state of Lower Saxony. "Now we know that it must be 200 or 250 after that."
"We believe the Germans ambushed the Romans here, but the legions quickly fired back with catapults and archers -- and then it came to a massive man-on-man onslaught," Loenne said.
The items unearthed so far include an axe, still sharp after nearly 1,800 years; horseshoes; shovels; spearheads; and dozens of arrowheads for a Scorpio, a cross between a catapult and a crossbow -- the ancient equivalent of artillery.
I have criticized Gladiator for its inaccuracies--having Roman Legions use artillery in a battle rather than a siege? Nonsense! And a battle against Germans in Germany by Marcus Aurelius' troops? Also nonsense! These discoveries, though, seem to suggest that, improbably, both may be true.
Pace Andrew Wheeler, who in his entry labels today a "Happy Pointless Instant in the Earth's Orbit Day" and the "silliest Holiday imaginable"
From a strictly celestial mechanical point of view, he's absolutely right. This point in the Earth's orbit is not perhelion (which happens to be January 4th this year) or aphelion (which happens to be July 4th). From the view of the motion of the Earth, today is just another day.
From a sociological point of view, he's completely wrong.
The concept of a New Year dates back two millenia. While pre-civilization Man likely had no concept of the calendar beyond the solstices and equinoxes of the Sun, the concept of the New Year as a holiday goes back to the Roman Empire. In 46 B.C Julius Caesar first established January 1 as New Year's day. Janus was the Roman god of doors and gates, and had two faces, one looking forward and one back. Caesar felt that the month named after this god ("January") would be the appropriate "door" to the year.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, most people went back to looking at the Vernal Equinox as the start of the year, until the Gregorian Calendar reforms of the 16th century.
The French Revolutionary Calendar attempted to change this (and in many other ways) by beginning the year with the Autumnal Equinox. While the French Revolutionaries managed to get their idea of a "metric system" to go global, their idea for a new Calendar was less well received.
In any event, it seems that a day to mark the change in a year is a useful sociological device. Be it an excuse to party, a time for reflection, a time for resolutions.
Happy New Year!
Just curious. Do you actualy say "You betcha?" Do you say it with a
Staten Island/Brooklyn Accent?
Only as homage to my adopted hometown. I don't truly grok it as part of my vocabulary, per se, and it sounds a bit silly coming out of my mouth. As far as my accent--according to reports from people who have known me here for several years, I seem to be losing my (never entirely strong) NY accent. For a while I protested that I really had an accent--and now it seems it is fading.
On the other hand, NY culture runs strong in my blood. I get into good natured arguments about the right form and style of pizza, to say nothing of bagels, and clam chowder...
Another book given to me in exchange for a review (via Amazon Prime), Champlain's Dream is the history of the explorer Samuel De Champlain, written by Pulitzer Prize winning author David Hackett Fischer.
Now well known for his Pulitzer Prize winning history, Washington's Crossing, in Champlain's Dream, David Hackett Fischer tackles the father of New France, explorer and colonizer Samuel de Champlain.
Although the volume veers slightly toward hagiography (despite the author's protestations to the contrary), Champlain's Dream is an exhaustive and detailed look at Champlain and his world. Starting with the sociopolitical and religious milieu of southwestern France in the 16th century, and continuing through the book, Fischer gives us an education on the environment in which Champlain grew up. I learned more about 16th and 17th century in this one volume than I have in an entire college course on European history.
The detail on Champlain the man and his actions and history is also similarly comprehensive. Although his admiration for Champlain comes through on every page, Fischer does try to give a balanced look at Champlain and his works. Fischer's thesis is that Champlain, raised in the cosmopolitan town of Brouage, carried a philosophy of tolerance and propensity to America in his relations with the Native American tribes. This multiculturalism and ethos is presented in stark contrast to the experiences of English and especially Spanish America.
Even given the author's obvious admiration for the subject, the biography is very well written, with a command of the language I could only wish was in modern high school and college textbooks. You won't be bored to tears reading about Champlain's adventures as a spy in Spanish colonies, or his explorations of the St. Lawrence Valley, or his attempts to continue to secure funding against competing interests in the Court of the French Kings.
Appendixes to the main text include copious footnotes, a discussion of the true age of Champlain (not clear cut, given the lack of records in the time period), and a discussion of how the biographies and view of Champlain have changed over time.
I enjoyed the volume quite a bit, and strongly recommend this book to all history buffs.
Not only because of the attack on Pearl Harbor by Japanese forces in 1941, but for a much older reason.
It was on this day in 43 BC that the great Roman lawyer and orator (and one of my favorite Romans, period) Cicero was executed. He had been giving speeches against Marc Antony, and he was hunted down and beheaded. Cicero's head was taken back to Marc Antony, whose wife, Fulvia, pulled out Cicero's tongue and jabbed it with her hairpin in revenge.
One of my oldest Amber PCs was deliberately given the same first name as Cicero--Marcus.
It was on this day in 1926 that the mystery novelist Agatha Christie disappeared from her home in Berkshire, England. Her abandoned car was found in a chalk pit seven miles from her house. The whole country was fascinated, and the story got lots of media attention. Police and ordinary citizens alike organized huge search parties.
Then, 11 days later, Agatha Christie was found in a luxury hotel. She was staying under a different name, and she claimed that she couldn't remember a thing. It had been a hard year for Christie -- her mother had died, and her husband had left her for his young mistress. To this day, no one knows if she had legitimate amnesia, or if it was a publicity stunt to raise book sales, or a way to publicly expose her husband's infidelity. But all the media attention made her even more famous, and she ended up as one of the best-selling authors of all time.
People who have watched the fourth season of the reboot of Doctor Who (Tennant as the Doctor, with Catherine Tate as Donna), know what really happened...
I am a fan of things Roman Empire, it is true. So I perked up my ears when I heard this commentary (which has full text at the link) about the Emperor Hadrian, and how his reign might wind up as a model and parallel, in some respects, to President Elect Obama.
After all, when Hadrian assumed the office of Emperor, the Romans were stuck with a nasty insurgency in Mesopotamia, the empire was in debt, there was plenty of discontent and a mandate for change...
It's the birthday of Mark Twain, (books by this author) born Samuel Langhorne Clemens in Florida, Missouri, in 1835. When he was young, his family moved to Hannibal, a Missouri town along the banks of the Mississippi and a frequent stop for steamboats. And in fact, after a few years working as a printer, he became a steamboat captain, which is where he got his pseudonym: "mark twain" is the call when the water is two fathoms deep -- about 12 feet -- which is deep enough for a boat to navigate safely.
One of the worst (IMO) depictions of Mark Twain as a character occurred in the Star Trek The Next Generation 2-part episode: "Time's Arrow". While the idea was cool and seems to work from a logical time travel sort of sense, the depiction of Mark Twain broke the historical character for me. And while I admire their steadfastness in not using a reset button and having the memory of the 24th century erased from Clemens, I can't help but think that someone like Mark Twain would have tried to make use of his knowledge, however subtly, once the Enterprise crew left.
At least when Doctor Who met Charles Dickens in an analogous manner, it was just before his death and changes to the timeline were going to be minimal. Here, Clemens would have over a decade after the meeting with the Enterprise crew.
When I read Silverlock for the first time: When the characters find a raft on the great river and start sailing it, it took me a minute and a few paragraphs to realize just what they found, I was gobsmacked. "Huck Finn's raft!"
Mark Twain was born exactly two weeks after Halley Comet's perihelion. In his biography, he said, "I came in with Halley's comet in 1835. It's coming again next year (1910), and I expect to go out with it. The Almighty has said no doubt, 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.' " Twain died on April 21, 1910, the day following the comet's subsequent perihelion.
Via my friend Theresa
You've heard of or know the basics of the Monty Python "Dead Parrot" sketch, I am sure, even if you haven't seen it. A pet store owner sells a dead parrot to a naive customer, who then comes back demanding his money. Said pet store owner blithely comes up with outrageous explanations for the parrot's state, denying that the parrot is in fact dead.
Well, it turns out the joke is old. Very old. It turns up in a recently translated group of jokes from 4th Century BC Ancient Greece, with a dead slave instead of a parrot.
Today is Veterans Day.
I am the son of a WWII Veteran, the brother of a Veteran of operations concurrent with the First Gulf War.
War is hell. Wars are often, but not always, fought for the wrong reasons, or greedy reasons, or evil reasons. The American soldier in the trenches, however, does not start the war in which he is asked to fight. His (or her!) sacrifice, especially the final one, should be honored, even if his deployment or the reasons for his deployment should be abjured.
I remember all those who have fallen in defense of our country.
Today is the anniversary of Kristallnacht, the night in 1938 when German Nazis coordinated a nationwide attack on Jewish homes, businesses, and synagogues. More than 1,000 synagogues were burned or destroyed. Rioters looted about 7,500 Jewish businesses and vandalized Jewish hospitals, homes, schools, and cemeteries. Before that night, the Nazis had killed people secretly and individually. After Kristallnacht, the Nazis felt free to persecute the Jews openly, because they knew no one would stop them.
Today is the 125th anniversary of one of the most over engineered (which is why it has lasted) and most beautiful Bridges in the United States, if not the world.
Happy Birthday to the Brooklyn Bridge!
I've walked across the full 5900 foot length of the bridge only once.
Unfortunately, I have no taken pictures of my own of the beautiful bridge. But here is a small "free" one instead:
First linked in a note in Google Reader, a bust of Gaius Julius Ceasar from 46 BC was found in the river Rhone in France. It looks a little different than more classical depictions I've seen.
Before Zeus hurled his first thunderbolt from Olympus, the pre-Greek people occupying the land presumably paid homage and offered sacrifices to their own gods and goddesses, whose nature and identities are unknown to scholars today.
But archaeologists say they have now found the ashes, bones and other evidence of animal sacrifices to some pre-Zeus deity on the summit of Mount Lykaion, in the region of Greece known as Arcadia. The remains were uncovered last summer at an altar later devoted to Zeus.
NPR's Talk of the Nation interviewed the creator of yet another book on Maps and Cartography, called "Cartographia." The author, in the interview, has wonderful insights on what maps are and what they mean as cultural artifacts.
And the maps from the book, as seen in a gallery on NPR's website, are just too cool. This one is going onto the wishlist forthwith.
The Tabula Peutingeriana has to be considered one of the "greatest maps" in history. It's rarely shown to the public thanks to it being so fragile.
According to the BBC it was put on display for one day to celebrate its inclusion in Unesco's Memory of the World Register.
Darkness in the sky
A soft swirl of white snowflakes
Its Thanksgiving Day
As the son of a (late) World War II veteran, and the brother of a veteran, I remember, and honor all of those who have served. As I said last year, without such veterans defending my country, my life would be a very different alternate history, if I existed at all. All I can say is, Thank You.
Funny enough, I didn't see any Veterans around here selling poppies to wear. However, my Second Life Sim, Prim Perfect Reporter Jvstin Tomorrow, has a virtual one to wear today.
Remember, remember the Fifth of November,
The gunpowder treason and plot,
I know of no reason
Why gunpowder treason
Ever should be forgot.
Guy Fawkes, Guy Fawkes, t’was his intent
To blow up King and Parliament.
Three-score barrels of powder below
To prove old England’s overthrow;
By God’s providence he was catch’d
With a dark lantern and burning match.
Holloa boys, holloa boys,
Let the bells ring!
Holloa boys, holloa boys,
God save the King!
A penny loaf to feed the Pope,
A farthing o’ cheese to choke him,
A pint o’ beer to rinse it down,
A faggot o’ sticks to burn him.
Burn him in a tub of tar.
Burn him like a blazing star.
Burn his body from his head.
Then we’ll say the Pope is dead.
On October 4,1957, the Soviet Union launched the first object into orbit, Sputnik 1.
The satellite travelled at 29,000 kilometers (18,000 mi) per hour and emitted radio signals at around 20.005 and 40.002 MHz which were monitored by Amateur radio operators throughout the world. The signals continued for 22 days until the transmitter batteries ran out on October 26, 1957.Sputnik 1 burned as it fell from orbit upon reentering Earth's atmosphere, after traveling about 60 million km (37 million miles) in orbit.
It was *not* the first object to reach space, however. In 1944, a V2 rocket was launched from Peenemünde on a vertical test shot sub-orbital trajectory to an altitude of 176 km (109 miles), well beyond the 100 km (62 miles) altitude generally considered to be the border of space.
Of the estimated 7,000 languages spoken in the world today, linguists
say, nearly half are in danger of extinction and are likely to
disappear in this century. In fact, they are now falling out of use at
a rate of about one every two weeks.
Some endangered languages vanish in an instant, at the death of the sole surviving speaker.
Others are lost gradually in bilingual cultures, as indigenous tongues
are overwhelmed by the dominant language at school, in the marketplace
and on television.
New research, reported today, has identified the five regions of the
world where languages are disappearing most rapidly. The "hot spots"
of imminent language extinctions are: Northern Australia, Central
South America, North America's upper Pacific coastal zone, Eastern
Siberia and Oklahoma and Southwest United States. All of the areas are
occupied by aboriginal people speaking diverse languages, but in
The study was based on field research and data analysis supported by
the National Geographic Society and the Living Tongues Institute for
Endangered Languages, an organization for the documentation,
revitalization and maintenance of languages at risk. The findings are
described in the October issue of National Geographic magazine and at
As for me, I am saddened at the death of languages. I am not a good or even an average linguist, sometimes much to my chagrin. I *wish* I had an ear and mind for languages, but mastery of languages eludes me. Maybe I need to learn in some other fashion.
Language is a tool for expressing ourselves, and truths about the world, and so when a language is lost, one of those methods of doing so is lost. Languages, and the control of language is a powerful thing. And so the loss of language is like a loss of biodiversity. It makes the social ecosystem of humanity just a little more diminished, to our loss and sorrow.
Jack Vance's novel The Languages of Pao illustrates this perfectly.
Via the OUP Blog, something I never heard of. In the 1840's, an underground railroad tunnel, a half mile in length was built at Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn. It fell into disuse and was forgotten until 1980.
WASHINGTON (August 16, 2007) – The Nation is getting a new coin today – the Thomas Jefferson $1 Coin – the third coin in the United States Mint’s new Presidential $1 Coin series.
Thomas Jefferson $1 Coins are available at most banks and financial institutions throughout the country, starting today. The golden-colored Thomas Jefferson $1 Coins may also be purchased in collector bags and rolls on the United States Mint’s Web site, http://www.usmint.gov/, at noon ET.
I went to see A Day in Pompeii at the Science Museum of Minnesota last Sunday. It's paired with an IMAX movie: Greece, Secrets of the Past
I've already joked on my livejournal about a display of a small statue of Venus which had in its plaque lyrics from the epynomous Bananrama song. This amused me and got me on the right foot to enjoy this look into the most perfectly preserved Roman city that we have...for the most tragic of reasons.
A Day in Pompeii has a couple of hundred artifacts from the lost city, from the statue of Venus to a lararium complete with the small devotional statues, to a recreation of a themopolium, the Pompeiian equivalent of a fast food joint. I especially loved the lovingly cleaned and polished coins, so beautifully restored that I could read "Nero Ceasar" on one particular aureus. The preservation of the ash was such that there is even a cast of a loaf of bread eaten by the Pompeiians.
All of this is accompanied by a free audio tour, with an adult track with fairly good context, and a family friendly track geared toward children and the more casual viewer. I strongly suggest that if you are going to visit the exhibit that you take advantage of the tour.
There is also a short excerpt from a computer recreation movie of what a couple of the houses of Pompeii looked like in their heyday.
The crowning room in the exhibit, however, is the room with the body casts. After going through several rooms of the artifacts, the exhibit takes a dark turn as it describes in the words of Pliny the Younger the eruption of Vesuvius on that fateful day in August 79 AD. The room with the body casts is low lit, and has a background ambient sound of destruction and devastation that provides a creepy feel. The body casts themselves are displayed on small piles of charcoal, in the positions that they were found in. It made me shudder to gaze at them, and imagine the horror of their final moments. Particularly poignant was a cast of a dog, struggling to escape the rope or chain that held it in place.
If the exhibit intended to bring home the emotional impact of the eruption, it succeeded.
After this room, the exhibit turns toward a more general look at Volcanoes. This mostly was not very interesting, except for a live exhibit I managed to catch where the demonstrator showed us some lava (melted basalt and some impurities to lower the melting point). As we watched, he poured it and it cooled to a pool of obsidian. That was neat to see and I wish I had taken pictures of the process.
Overall, I think the exhibit was well done, if a bit pricey on top of regular museum admission to see. There was a good variety of artifacts, well documented, and a honesty about what we know and don't know about the artifacts and the life of Pompeii. I think the souvenir book was skimpy and I eschewed buying that, although I may want to pick one up at some point on a second visit.
I don't think the exhibit is so strong as to be worth to cross state lines, for, but if it should come to a museum near you (the exhibit is slated to visit Birmingham, Charlotte, San Diego and Houston), I recommend the exhibit to anyone with an interest in the subject, so that you, too, might spend a Day in Pompeii.
While the digital recreation of the Parthenon at its height and the views of Santorini were beautiful to look at, I was not that impressed with the movie as a documentary. I don't think it hung together all that well. If it had focused exclusively on one of its subjects, I think it would have been stronger. Skipping back and forth weakened it, I think.
When I see the exhibit on Pompeii again, I don't intend to see this film again, although the movie, if it ever comes on DVD, would be nice to screencap for its views of Santorini.
The New7Wonders organization is happy to announce the following 7 candidates have been elected to represent global heritage throughout history. The listing is in random order, as announced at the Declaration Ceremony on 07.07.07. All the New 7 Wonders are equal and are presented as a group without any ranking.
The Great Wall, China
Christ Redeemer, Brazil
Machu Picchu, Peru
Chichén Itzá, Mexico
The Roman Colosseum, Italy
The Taj Mahal, India
Any list of Seven Wonders of the World that lacks the Pyramids at Giza isn't worth having, even if they were a "finalist". Bah!
Peter Heather, a leading light on Imperial Rome and its relationship with the "barbarians" has an illuminating article on the Oxford University Press Blog about the Battle of Hadrianople.
The battle, a debacle for the Eastern Roman Empire, was one of the turning points in the history of Rome and Byzantium, helping to usher in the end of the Western Roman Empire (and very nearly the Eastern, too) in the process, even if many subsequent battles were far less catastrophic. It was a severe shock to the Roman Empire, especially given the size of the army wiped out, the loss of the Emperor Valens.
In a way, I see the Battle of Hadrianople being a parallel to the Battle in the Teutoborg Forest in 9 AD, where Augustus lost Varus and his Legions. That battle, too, marked a turning point, too--Rome would never attempt to add what is now Germany to the Roman Empire again.
And if you haven't read it before, the Oxford University Press blog is a fairly erudite, interesting blog full of stuff (its a group blog with a number of subjects and authors). I came across it thanks to Minnesota Public Radio, since a wordsmith from Oxford University who likes to delve into the origins of words occasionally stops by to discuss words and language. On his last visit,he plugged the blog and I added it to my newsfeeds.
Wild doesn't begin to describe some of these ideas.
MEDITERRANEAN: VIRTUAL MUSEUM ON ISLAMIC ART 'OPENS ITS DOORS'
Cairo, 20 April (AKI) - What's being billed as the first virtual museum of Islamic art "opened" officially on Friday providing a window on some of the traces of Islamic culture that are scattered across Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The project, which makes accessible online the marvels of ancient Islamic culture, involves 17 museums in 14 countries.
More than 850 artefacts, 385 monuments and archaeological sites, covering 1280 years of history are accessible at the click of a button. From 634 AD when for the first time the Islamic army penetrated the Levante to the fall of the Ottoman empire to the start of the 20th century.
The creation of this museum, whose themed exhibitions involve Algeria, Egypt, Germany, Italy, Jordan, Morocco, Palestine, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey and Great Britain, seeks to boost understanding of the historic ties between Europe and North Africa and the Middle East.
The site is available in eight languages. "It can be used by tourists who want to decide on the route of their journeys based on the things that they want to see, or history buffs and even young people who have to do research in class on ancient times" explained Mohammed Abbas Selim, project spokesman in Cairo.
Sponsored by the European Union and by the Euromed Heritage programme, "Discover Islamic Art" (www.discoverislamicart.org), cost 3.2 million euros and is part of the wider "Museum Without Borders", a non profit organisation founded in 1994 in Vienna by Eva Schubert, who has dedicated her career to the development of multicultural projects at an international level.
A recently found tomb dating back to the Han Dynasty, roughly 200 BC to 200 AD, has been found with a Roman-style column.
Very un-Chinese like.
Was there contact between Rome and China? Indirectly, to be sure and there were a few travelers that made the entire length of the journey. And then there was the Roman Legion captured by the Persians in this period, who might have been shipped east as slaves...
Happy Birthday to not only Abraham Lincoln , but another towering figure of the 19th Century, who was also not only born on February 12...but the same year as Lincoln, too, 1809.
Happy 198th Birthday to Charles Darwin AND Abraham Lincoln!
Novelist Robert Harris draws some parallels between Ancient Rome and the modern US, with some eerie recapitulations of language in the way the pirate attack on Ostia in 68 BC was handled by those in power in Rome, as well as the reaction of its citizenry.
Harris made this point in a NY Times article that I saw back at the end of September, which will soon be going beyond the pay wall.
In the NPR segment, though, he also makes the parallel between a massive natural disaster early in the Roman Empire and a modern day natural disaster.
Katrina is our own modern rendition of the destruction of Pompeii at the hands of Vesuvius in 79 AD.
Anyway, as a fan of things Roman, I found the parallels,once highlighted, interesting.
People who have been to New York or live in the area know that NYC has *two* world class Museum collections devoted to Egypt. One is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
The other one is in the Brooklyn Museum. I admit, years ago, I was skeptical when I first went to the Brooklyn Museum, having been spoiled on the MET. The Brooklyn one, though, does hold up.
I discovered tonight that the Brooklyn Museum has a website, and a flickr photostream devoted to their ongoing archaeological digs in Egypt.