Wednesday, May 04, 2016
Sunday, May 01, 2016
Saturday, April 30, 2016
Friday, April 29, 2016
There are numerous articles I've seen this morning talking about the emerging "gender war" in the 2016 general election, which now seems officially underway. 'Trump’s ‘woman’s card’ comment escalates the campaign’s gender wars', 'Trump escalates his gender war' are just a couple examples. There's plenty of misogyny in our society and our politics. Women face various campaign or perception hurdles men do not. Is this female candidate tough enough to be president? Is she too tough ("angry", "abrasive") and therefore not likable? Etc etc. But the simple fact is that if you are explicitly fighting a 'gender war' with a female candidate, you're already losing and probably losing badly, as Tierney Sneed's article this morning confirms in the polling numbers. It comes down to a simple issue of the 19th Amendment: women can vote! And in addition to being able to vote, there are slightly more women than men and they actually vote a bit more. But it really comes down to: women can vote! In electoral terms, the dynamics of gender and race are different in various ways. But they're pretty similar in this way. If you are thematically invoking racial or gender stereotypes without doing so openly or explicitly you can mobilize societal prejudice in your favor - what we sometimes generically call 'dog-whistling'. But if you're attacking your opponent as a women - and yes, attacking her as only doing well because she's a woman or 'playing the woman card' - that's not a gender war. It's a gender massacre and you're the one being massacred.
Sunday, April 24, 2016
Saturday, April 23, 2016
Saturday, April 16, 2016
It would be easy enough to call the show "steampunk" except that the technology that sets the pace in the show is electricity. Murdoch, the lead character, is a Toronto detective who is enthusiastic about modern technology -- x-ray machines, electrical automobiles, movie cameras -- and uses it very effectively to solve crimes. In the course of his adventures he also runs into many leading figures of the time – Alexander Graham Bell, Henry Ford, Tesla, Marconi, Andrew Carnegie, Winston Churchill. He does not run into Sherlock Holmes, but he does run across somebody who thinks he is Sherlock Holmes.
I am also impressed by the depiction of the city of Toronto. Toronto circa 1899 is shown as being multi-cultural and multi-ethnic, wrestling with a variety of political, racial, and social conflicts, which are reasonably realistically portrayed. One of the main characters, for instance, gets in trouble for promoting contraception, which is illegal at the time. Other characters are properly shocked by this and there is a bit of a riot.
I think there may be more in-jokes in the series than I'm picking up. Two days ago I saw an episode where I was pretty sure two characters were modelled after Toronto's Ford brothers. The characters were not politicians, but they looked like the Fords and their personal interactions with each other matched what I know of the Fords.
All too often we think that people in the past were old-fashioned fuddy-duddies. In some places in some areas that is undoubtably true. But in other times people -- or many of them – are seized by an awareness of modernity. One of the great virtues of Murdoch's Mysteries is that it reminds us of that fact. "We live in a new and incredible age," says one character, and she is quite right.
Sunday, April 10, 2016
However, other people have stepped in to cover most of those expenses. The Canadian Cancer Society is providing me with accommodation and transportation -- at least the great bulk of it - at no cost. And it's not a personal benefit. Large numbers of people are receiving similar help through a network of volunteers. Do you know that you are surrounded by a network of volunteers turning the wheels of the world? (I hardly think that Ontario is unique in this?) I am a happier person knowing about this great collective effort.
"Two Worlds Become One: A 'Counter-Intuitive' View of the Roman Empire and 'Germanic' Migration" by Guy Halsall
Here is the abstract:
The Roman Empire and barbaricum were inextricably linked throughout the Roman Iron Age. By late antiquity, Germanic-speaking trans-Rhenan areas were inundated with imperial inﬂuence. Migration was two-way and in various forms, all of which, including large-scale ‘folk movement’, were normal: part and parcel of the imperial frontier’s dynamics. The counter-intuitive conclusion is drawn from this that the relationship between the existence of a formal frontier and signiﬁcant migration is quite the opposite of the one we have grown used to imagining. The collapse of the frontier took with it the mechanisms for migration. Therefore I have to modify my 2007 epigram that ‘the end of the Roman Empire produced the Barbarian Invasions and not vice versa’. The end of the Roman Empire put an end to the barbarian migrations. This conclusion helps us contribute more responsibly to modern debate on migration. It also contributes to a discussion of the formation of Germany. The end of migration changed the political dynamics of the regions between Rhine and Baltic. The latter became more inward-facing and from these, eventually, emerged ‘Germany.’
Here is the complete text
Saturday, April 09, 2016
amazing early-morning set at Woodstock.
It has long been fashionable to make fun of Woodstock but it was the site of an amazing effloresence of music. Perhaps equally astonishing is the high quality of audio and video recording that was accomplished in what was a weather disaster. Here's to the sound engineers, cinematographers and all the other hardworking people who preserved this wonderful music.
Monday, March 14, 2016
Note that great armor!
Then there is the Harp Twins doing Metallica's One: Thanks to Nicholas at http://quotulatiousness.ca/ for putting me on this track.
Wednesday, March 09, 2016
Today "The Current" talked about the changes in the lifestyle of people in Newfoundland and Labrador resulting from the collapse of oil, gas, and mining revenues. Not exactly unprecedented, that collapse, and the resulting economic uncertaintly in NL has happened time and again over the last 500 years. Newfoundlanders move to where the jobs are, as best they can.
But they don't forget home, and many of them return for the short term or the long.
One younger Newfoundlander quoted John Crosby, a past prominent NL politician of national stature: "You can tell the Newfoundlanders in heaven. They are the ones who want to go home." I laughed and laughed -- that quip brought Crosby back to life.
I also noticed that the famous Newfoundland dialects seem to be fading out -- if the young and middle-aged interviewees are typical
Monday, March 07, 2016
Anderson adds that recording and touring under his own name now also allows him to shed some guilt he's felt since February of 1968, when the group's booking agency gave Jethro Tull the name of an 18th century British agriculturist after several other monikers were rejected. "If you'd asked me 20 years ago did I regret anything about my musical career, my answer then, as it is today, has always been the name of the band," Anderson admits. "I can't help but feel more and more as I get older that I'm guilty of identity theft and I ought to go to prison for it, really. It's almost as if I watched old Jethro Tull at the cash machine and leaned over his shoulder as he put his credit card into the machine to check out his PIN and filched his credit card form from his back pocket as he walked away and then fleeced his bank account. It doesn't make me feel very good. I never paid much attention in history class, so I didn't realize we'd been named after a dead guy until a couple of weeks later."
Monday, February 29, 2016
That’s a pretty good deal for these extra lines that not only add to the poem’s length, but have now cleared up some of the mysteries in the other chapters. These lines come from Chapter Five of the epic and cast the main characters in a new light. Gilgamesh and his companion Enkidu are shown to feel guilt over killing Humbaba, the guardian of the cedar forest, who is now seen as less a monster and more a king. Just like a good director’s cut, these extra scenes clear up some muddy character motivation, and add an environmental moral to the tale.
Sunday, February 28, 2016
Well, 30+30 equals 60, right?
The problem is that various accounts imply that there were 30 men on a side in addition to the commander himself. Were there 31 on a side for a total of 62?
About 100 years ago, H.R.Brush edited the most detailed account, a product of Brittany and therefore written by someone well acquainted with the battle, and he concluded that there were 30 participants on either side. In my article, my chapter in the book deeds of arms, and in my source reader on the combat, I followed Brush.
But, at about the same time that I finished my source reader (called the Combat of 30, volume 2 of my series Deeds of Arms) , Michael Jones wrote an article called "Breton soldiers from the battle of the 30 (26 March 1351) to Nicopolis (25 September 1396)," which appeared in Adrian R. Bell et al., eds., The Soldier Experience in the 14th century (Boydell Press, 2011). Jones was very interested in the careers of Bretons in the first half of the Hundred Years War, and the best examples he could find were the men at the combat of the 30. He followed them as closely as he could, and he was able to find a quite a bit about them, at least about those on the pro-French side.
And he came to the conclusion that there were 31 on a side.
I have not gone through his list systematically hecking It against Brush's (in Modern Philology).
I'd love to farm this out to Will McLean but alas he is not available.
Friday, February 26, 2016
Best thing about the dictionary? If you are content to have it in electronic form, it's FREE, FREE, FREE! And if you have a bundle to spend, you can have it in a very nice printed set.
Now there is scholarship for you.
About the same time, I ran across this article on ancient Greek music. Everyone who cares to know it knows that the ancient Greeks were world champions in their time in both painting and in music. But in both cases, just about none of it is left.
Back in 2013, the BBC ran (in its business section!?) a detailed piece on how some of that music must have sounded (at least in a minimal "unplugged" form).
Revelation (for me at least): "In ancient Greek the voice went up in pitch on certain syllables and fell on others (the accents of ancient Greek indicate pitch, not stress)."
Wow! Does this mean that speaking ancient Greek was similar to singing?
Buko, Andrzej, ed. Bodzia. A Late Viking-Age Elite Cemetery in Central Poland. East Central and Eastern Europe in the Middle Ages, 450-1450. Leiden: Brill, 2015. Pp. xxxi, 624. $293.00. ISBN: 978-90-04-27829-5.
A lavish and detailed work aimed at a wide audience, published even before the excavation report. But the publishers have narrowed down that audience, as the reviewer, Neil Price, points out:
However, given such an impressive catalogue of achievement, there sadly remains one truly glaring problem, which is not the fault of editor or contributors: as ever with Brill's otherwise excellent early medieval volumes, this book is priced far beyond the pockets of students, academics or even libraries [SM]. If it really does cost nearly three hundred dollars to viably produce a volume like this, then one wonders if a pdf on Open Access might honestly be a better solution, or at least breaking it up into two or three more affordable paperbacks.