Tag Archives: history

MawsonNewYear

Happy New Year!

In Antarctica, there is a place along the frigid coast called Mawson Station. It is named for Sir Douglas Mawson, an Engligh-born Australian explorer who was one of the early Heroic Explorers of Antarctica. His story is quite interesting, especially his survival during one grim trip where things went south, so to speak. There is a bit of info on that in the Wikipedia article, and the story is the subject of the book Alone on the Ice: The Greatest Story in the History of Exploration. Continue reading

economy

The Failure of Mutually Assured Destruction

For decades, the Soviet Union and the United States held each other at bay in an uneasy stalemate. It was an active, “hot” war despite the “cold war” moniker, and each side lose thousands of troops. But it never broke into a nuclear conflagration, because each side realized the destruction that would come from it. And that once begun, it could not be undone. The Soviet and American leaders were, in a sense, much alike. Neither side would risk it, though both got very good at the brinkmanship involved.

This concept does not work at all if one side are suicide bombers. They plan to die; it’s merely a question of doing the most damage on the way out.

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the-food-for-thought-award

Sunday Verse 6: Two Worlds

Another post in the Food for Thought series, triggered by this nomination from Citizen Tom.

One rather famous verse in the synoptic Gospels (such as in Matthew 21) includes this line: “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”

The same chapter contains many other recognizable phrases, and it has long intrigued me how many different Biblical expressions have made it to English conversational or literary use.  For example, in this chapter are found the expression “Many are called, but few are chosen” and “Show me the money!”  (often translated as “show me the tribute money” or “show the the tribute coin”). Continue reading

bertrand_russell

Denoting Bertrand Russell, “Red Emma” Goldman, Thomas Jefferson

(This wound up being something of a scattered ramble on different philosophers in history.) I mentioned recently Ayn Rand’s definition of selfishness, as “concerned with one’s own interests.”  It’s straightforward enough. In the ensuing discussion, I described this as less opaque than some of the definitions of Bertrand Russell.  (I had  miswritten his first name as “Bertram”; my apologies.)

I don’t have his works online (edit: found a collection), though some parts of this no doubt exist. Here’s a nice example, from his treatise on Denoting I read last year:

Thus `the father of Charles II was executed‘ becomes: `It is not always false of x that x begat Charles II and that x was executed and that “if y begat Charles II, y is identical with x” is always true of y‘.

This may seem a somewhat incredible interpretation; but I am not at present giving reasons, I am merely stating the theory.

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Sunday Verse 4: Presidential Musings

This is the fourth in a series of Sunday posts related to the Food for Thought award from Citizen Tom:

The Food for Thought posts

 

Matthew 12 is telling part of the story of Jesus, and two aspects of this chapter struck me.  First, it has been the source of a number of statements that are commonly associated with US presidents, and second that it also contains a reference applicable to our current one. Continue reading

Expecting Different Results

Barack Obama claims that he was prevented from solving the economic crisis be the fact that he was opposed in Congress.

Congress was, of course, run by Democrats in the Senate, and Democrats in the House, for Obama’s first two years.  And yes, they did not vote to pass a budget — at one point, Obama’s offered budget proposal got exactly zero votes from Democrats. Continue reading

hurricane-sandy-iss-flyover

Extreme Weather Reporting

Sandy damaged the Northeast, but was not “unprecedented”

Sandy was a very damaging storm, with widespread winds and rain afflicting a large area seemingly unprepared to deal with it.  It was modest from a historical standpoint: there have been many larger hurricanes that have hit the US east coast and New England specifically, with larger storm surges, greater rain, more damage, many times more lives lost. The 1994 “Great Atlantic Hurricane” was a Category 3 at landfall (Sandy was barely a 1) and its impact was described this way (regarding the Jersey Shore): Continue reading

the-food-for-thought-award

Sunday Verse 2: Root of Evil

(Well, not exactly “Sunday” by the time I got this posted.)

As noted last Sunday, I’ve been given the “Food for Thought Award” (nominated by Citizen Tom)— and it has some obligations.  Among them are these writings, on seven Biblical verses that have been significant or inspirational to me.  This is the second.  There are nominations involved as well, and a few sprang immediately to mind.  My old friend the extraordinary SeraphimSigrist would be an ideal candidate, for one — his thoughtful writings reflect his beneficent doings in his travels far and wide spreading his faith and helping his fellow man. I always learn something interesting from him and enjoy his deep, compassionate mind.

Versions of 1 Timothy 6

This is the source of the much quoted, and it seems misquoted, verse about money and evil.  I tend to favor Young’s Literal Translation (YLT), which was a well-regarded attempt in the late 1800s to preserve as much of the intent of the original languages as possible.  But in the case of this particular line, the rendering has subtle differences which are significant: Continue reading