About Me

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Did Socrates say "Know Thyself", or was he misunderstood, as all are. Show Thyself is all we can do. The knowing is unknowable.  

I am filled with joy.  It can't be helped.  

Became a Farmer, Builder, Musician, Tank Commander, Librarian, Lawyer and Minister. I have failed at many things. And now retired.  Filled, just filled, with Joy. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Monday, August 22, 2011

Parable of the Party Affiliation - in a balloon...

Thank you Mark D'Truth

A parable of Party Affiliation:

A woman in a hot air balloon realizes she is lost. Spotting a man in a boat below, she descends to lower altitude and shouts to him, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don't know where I am."

The man consulted his portable GPS and replied, "You're in a hot air balloon approximat­ely 30 feet above a ground elevation of 2346 feet above sea level. You are at latitude 31 degrees, 14.97 minutes north and longitude 100 degrees, 49.09 minutes west."

She rolled her eyes and said, "You must be a Democrat."

"I am," replied the man. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist­, "everythin­g you told me is technicall­y correct, but I have no idea what to make of your informatio­n, and I'm still lost. Frankly, you've not been much help to me."

The man smiled and responded, "You must be a Republican­."
"I am," replied the balloonist­. "How did you know?"

"Well," said the man, "you don't know where you are or where you're going.
You've risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise that you have no idea how to keep, and you expect ME to solve your problem. You're in EXACTLY the same position you were in before we met, but somehow, now, it's MY fault."

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Can you name three "great" Conservatives? Churchill could not. He named three great Liberals!

Botha - The hero of the Boer War who captured Winston, and then proceeded to bring South Africa into the Commonwealth. He was not just a great guerrilla officer, but a real "community organizer". After becoming Prime Minister, he sought to eliminate racial barriers and create a unity of people. Nationalism, and Apartheit, was the failure of his reforms.

Baden-Powell - a gay husband and wife team, formed the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides. The world's first international organization open to children of all creeds, colors, and financial straits.

Booth - husband and wife "community organizers", founded the Salvation Army to help the "undesirables" of the world. They formed Christian sharing communities with very little economic disparity, and with healthy lifestyles and diets.

These are the "conservatives" named by Winston Churchill after giving the question a lot of thought. All three persons he named were, in their lifetimes, attacked as "liberals".




Monday, June 20, 2011

The First of the royal edicts guaranteeing religious freedom was Unitarian.

"A Unitarian, King John Sigismund of Transylvania -- now known as Romania -- pronounced the first edict of religious freedom in the year 1568. I traveled to Romania several years ago and stood in the church in Torda, where that proclamation was made. This was an almost unimaginable act in an age in which people were being burned at the stake for not getting their theology just right.
Francis David, King Sigismund's spiritual advisor, was the single greatest influence on the king's theological beliefs. After Sigismund's death, David lost favor and was finally arrested for his views. I made a pilgrimage to the town of Deva and walked up a long, dusty hill to the dungeon where he was imprisoned. It was actually a deep hole in the ground into which David was lowered, and there he sickened, and died. His famous words still live with us, though. He said simply, "You need not think alike to love alike." At the center of our faith is not belief, but love." -- Marilyn Sewell, in Huffpost

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The type of UN-believer who despises vicious little gods

I sat next to a Believer. After prodding, and only at the extremity of his relentless insistence, I revealed to him that I was an unrepentant sinner.  Indeed, I certified that I was the very worst of the species: I was not only an atheist as to his god, but I positively despised such a god. If his god existed, it should be ashamed of itself and I would not forgive it. If there was a heaven, I would shake its golden dust from my sandals and take my place among the suffering sinners for my eternity.

But I smiled gently into his dismay. I invited him to add the greatest of all jewels to his crown, and "warn" me. I echoed St. Paul's assurance that a Believer has only to warn those who have fallen away, so as to achieve further elevation in the hierarchies of heaven.

"For your own assurance," I said, "Give me a warning". He looked startled.

"Warn me!" I said. "But be specific. Recall that I am a righteous man. I struggle to avoid false pride and hypocrisy, and I treat others as I would be treated. What outcome awaits me that a god worthy of worship has prepared for me?"

The Believer eagerly stepped up to the bait of self-aggrandizement, and warned me of eternal damnation. He assured me, apparently without a hint of the irony, that my destiny would be made unpleasant at the hands of a god willing to torture a righteous man for the sin of refusing to worship at the feet of a torturer.

Monday, April 04, 2011

I like Unions. I dream of 200 stars on the flag.

There is a pendulum that swings between the fierce fight for independence, usually from the oppression of indifference, and the effort to find common ground and swell with being part of something bigger. 

Sometimes the union is really not bigger, just a smaller pie for the parts while Tamerlane or a monopolist is made more imperial.   That is a call for fraction, for freedom.

But there is a vector in history.  We tend to look for each other and when we find each other we find comforts and amusements.  Even with different instruments, we play the same songs.  The vector leads to unity.

Now, after a million years of primates wandering over the cooling surfaces of this hot ball, the world really has become unified.  Those who want to ignite fears of strangers, or to scape-goat a neighbor, have their own agendas, but their appeals are to a moot matter.  The fact is, the world is unified.

The Founders decided to add a star to the flag for each State which joined the Union.  The candy-stripes of course, give it away -- it is not a flag of war and conquest.  Europe laughed at the party favor which was picked as the design for the American flag.  In light of all things, in light of history and its direction, its irony, it is time to add stars.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

We are Ibsen's Ghosts. Pitifully afraid of light.

GHOSTS.  Henrik Ibsen wrote in Act 2: "I almost think we're all of us Ghosts. ... It's not only what we have invited from our father and mother that walks in us. It's all sorts of dead ideas, and lifeless old beliefs, and so forth. They have no vitality, but they cling to us all the same, and we can't get rid of them. Whenever I take up a newspaper, I seem to see Ghosts gliding between the lines. There must be Ghosts all the country over, as thick as the sand of the sea. And then we are, one and all, so pitifully afraid of the light."

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Quote: Goethe - words have been exchanged, now take action!

Der Worte sind genug gewechselt,
lasst mich auch endlich Taten sehn!

  The words are exchanged,
now at last show me what you can do! (Goethe, Faust I)

Sunday, February 06, 2011

List of Cook Books that are healthy FUN sensual

OK start the list: [rougher than usual]

1.  journalist Michael Pollan, (books by this author) born on Long Island, New York (1955). He's the author of best-selling books about food: The Botany of Desire (2001), The Omnivore's Dilemma (2006), In Defense of Food (2008), and Food Rules (2010). His nutrition philosophy is: "Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants."

Friday, February 04, 2011

Politics - not being disheartened

""The absurdity of politics is not new."  Robert Coover.

And Aristotle said it so gracefully, before being murdered by henchmen of his rivals. "Man is a Political Animal".

Saturday, January 15, 2011

List of Assassins

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The following is a list of some of the most famous assassinations and assassination attempts. It is not intended to be exhaustive.
Assassin(s)↓ Year (AD format)↓ Target↓ Result↓ Notes↓
Ehud ca. 1200 BC Moabite king Eglon Killed Stabbed to death in his throne room (Judges 3:12-30).
Arda Mulissi 681 BC Assyrian king Sennacherib Killed Stabbed to death while at prayer in a temple, or possibly crushed under a winged bull colossus.[1]
Jing Ke 227 BC Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang Survived One of the earliest documented attempts.
A strongman hired by Zhang Liang 218 BC Chinese Emperor Qin Shi Huang Survived Long-distance heavy hammer (30-kg) throwing; the origin of a Chinese idiom 誤中副車 ("mistakenly hit the escort carriage").
Marcus Junius Brutus, Gaius Cassius Longinus, and others 44 BC Roman Dictator Julius Caesar Killed Resulted in Civil War and indirectly in the end of the Roman Republic
Fan Jiang, Zhang Da 221 military general of Shu Han Zhang Fei Killed
Hashshashin 1192 Conrad of Montferrat Killed
Pazzi Conspiracy 1478 Lorenzo and Giuliano de' Medici See notes Giuliano died, after being stabbed 19 times, but Lorenzo escaped.
Oda Nobunaga 1557 Sengoku period Oda Nobuyuki Killed
Balthasar Gérard 1584 Dutch Stadtholder William the Silent Killed The first assassination carried out with a firearm.
Jacques Clément 1589 King Henry III of France Killed Religious-political antagonism.
Guy Fawkes 1605 King James I of England, Parliament of England Survived See the Gunpowder Plot.
François Ravaillac 1610 King Henry IV of France Killed Religious-political antagonism.
Army officers 1747 King Nader Shah Killed He was able to kill two of the assassins before dying.
Jacob Johan Anckarström 1792 King Gustav III of Sweden Killed The king was shot at a masquerade ball and died two weeks later from his wounds.
Charlotte Corday 1793 French revolutionary Jean-Paul Marat Killed Later often seen as a patriotic act.
François-Joseph Carbon 1800 French Emperor, King of italy Napoleon I of France Survived Detonated an explosion by the roadside in an attempt to kill Bonaparte, which he narrowly missed. The attempt is referred to as the Plot of the Rue Saint-Nicaise.
John Bellingham 1812 UK Prime Minister Spencer Perceval Killed First and only U.K. Prime Minister to be assassinated.
Richard Lawrence 1835 US President Andrew Jackson Survived First attempt to kill a US President, Jan. 30. Both guns misfired.
Edward Oxford 1840 Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom Survived Oxford fired twice, but both bullets missed.
Unknown 1842 Former Missouri Governor Lilburn Boggs Survived Orrin Porter Rockwell, a close associate of the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, Jr., charged but acquitted of all charges.
János Libényi 1853 Austrian Emperor, King of Bohemia Franz Joseph I of Austria Survived Attacked with a dagger to the back of the neck. Survived due to the thick collar of his uniform.
John Wilkes Booth 1865 US President Abraham Lincoln Killed First assassination of a sitting United States President. See Assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Patrick J. Whelan 1868 Canadian Member of Parliament Thomas D'Arcy McGee Killed Only Canadian victim of assassination at the federal level.
Charles J. Guiteau 1881 US President James Garfield Killed Died 80 days following the shooting. See James A. Garfield assassination.
Ignacy Hryniewiecki 1881 Tsar Alexander II of Russia Killed Assassination plot concluded with bombs.
Tsuda Sanzo 1891 Tsar Nicholas II of Russia Survived The Tsar was attacked with a sabre during a state visit to Japan.
Mirza Reza Kermani 1896 King Naser al-Din Shah Qajar Killed Ironically assassinated on the day of his fiftieth kingship ceremony.
Frederick Russell Burnham 1896 Mlimo, the Ndebele religious leader Killed Effectively ended the Second Matabele War.
Luigi Lucheni 1898 Empress Elisabeth of Austria Killed Lucheni attacked the Empress randomly on the street of Geneva, in a senseless act of violence. Elisabeth was stabbed in the heart once with a sharp needle file. Due to her extremely tight corset, she had no idea she has been wounded and collapsed suddenly two hours later due to slow internal hemorrhaging.
Gaetano Bresci 1900 King Umberto I of Italy Killed
Leon Czolgosz 1901 US President William McKinley Killed See William McKinley assassination.
Eugen Schauman 1904 Governor-General of Finland Nikolai Ivanovich Bobrikov Killed Happens on day described in James Joyce's novel Ulysses, is briefly mentioned in the book
An Jung-geun 1909 Prime Minister of Japan Itoh Hirobumi Killed
John Schrank 1912 former US President Theodore Roosevelt Survived Shot at campaign event; Roosevelt continued with his speech.
Alexandros Schinas 1913 King George I of Greece Killed Possible conspiracy.
Gavrilo Princip 1914 Austro-Hungarian Archduke Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria Killed Considered the start of World War I.
Raoul Villain 1914 French socialist leader Jean Jaurès Killed The assassin was tried and acquitted in 1919.
Fritz Joubert Duquesne 1916 Lord Kitchener, British Field Marshal and Secretary of State for War Killed Killed on the HMS Hampshire after the cruiser struck a mine; Duquesne falsely claimed to have sabotaged Hampshire.
Fanny Kaplan 1918 Russian communist leader Vladimir Lenin Survived Shot on factory meeting, Fanny Kaplan was captured and executed by Bolsheviks. Lenin died 6 years later due to unrelated causes, but within Russian pop culture, Kaplan is still widely considered to have killed him.
Unknown 1922 Michael Collins Killed Killed in an ambush firefight near the end of Irish Civil War.
Eligiusz Niewiadomski 1922 First Polish President Gabriel Narutowicz Killed Killed five days after his inauguration, while attending the opening of an art exhibit at the Zachęta Gallery in Warsaw.
Giuseppe Zangara 1933 Anton Cermak Killed Killed in Miami, Florida during a visit of president-elect of Franklin Roosevelt.
Vlado Chernozemski 1934 Alexander I of Yugoslavia Killed Killed in Marseille during a state visit.
Carl Weiss 1935 US Senator Huey Long Killed Shot in a Louisiana State Capitol hallway.
Ramón Mercader 1940 Lev Bronstein Trotsky Killed Killed by a pick-hit on head.
Vasil Laçi 1941 Victor Emmanuel III Survived
Jan Kubiš, Jozef Gabčík 1942 SS-Obergruppenführer Reinhard Heydrich Killed
Claus von Stauffenberg 1944 Chancellor and Führer of Germany Adolf Hitler Survived See the July 20 plot.
Nathuram Godse 1948 Political and Spiritual Leader Mahatma Gandhi Killed
Oscar Collazo and Griselio Torresola 1950 US President Harry S. Truman Survived Attempt to draw attention to the Puerto Rico independence movement, in which both attempted killers were active. See Truman assassination attempt.
Talduwe Somarama 1959 Prime Minister of Sri Lanka Solomon Bandaranaike Killed Assassinated by a Buddhist monk as part of a conspiracy.
Otoya Yamaguchi 1960 Inejiro Asanuma Killed Asanuma was pierced to assassin's bayonet while making a speech.
Richard Paul Pavlick 1960 US President-elect John F. Kennedy Survived Dec. 11   See: John F. Kennedy
Jean Bastien-Thiry and the OAS 1962 French President Charles de Gaulle Survived
Nguyen Van Cu and Pham Phu Quoc 1962 President of the Republic of Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem Survived See 1962 South Vietnamese Presidential Palace bombing
Byron De La Beckwith 1963 Medgar Evers Killed Evers, an African American activist and NAACP leader, was shot by De La Beckwith, a Ku Klux Klan member, who was convicted in 1994.
Generally believed to be Nguyen Van Nhung and Duong Hieu Nghia, on orders from Duong Van Minh 1963 President of the Republic of Vietnam Ngo Dinh Diem Killed Part of the 1963 South Vietnamese coup. See Arrest and assassination of Ngo Dinh Diem.
Believed to be Lee Harvey Oswald 1963 US President John F. Kennedy Killed For general information on the incident, see John F. Kennedy assassination. The US Government's official report concluded that Oswald acted alone, however a subsequent investigation contradicted the Warren Commission's findings. See: House Select Committee on Assassinations (1979)
Jack Ruby 1963 Lee Harvey Oswald Killed First live murder ever seen on US television
Norman 3X Butler, Thomas 15X Johnson, Talmadge Hayer 1965 Activist Malcolm X Killed Tensions and departure from the Nation of Islam
Uncertain, believed to be James Earl Ray or Loyd Jowers 1968 Political activist Martin Luther King, Jr. Killed Ray was convicted on a guilty plea but later recanted, while a 1999 civil trial convicted Jowers and 'unknown others', while also noting that 'governmental agencies were parties' to the plot. See Assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sirhan Sirhan 1968 US Senator Robert F. Kennedy Killed See Assassination of Robert F. Kennedy.
Huang Wen-hsiung 1970 Vice Prime Minister of Republic of China Chiang Ching-kuo Survived
Members of the Front de libération du Québec 1970 Vice Premier of Quebec Pierre Laporte Killed Kidnapped and later killed. One of only two political assassinations in Canadian history.
Arthur Bremer 1972 US Presidential candidate George Wallace Survived Wallace was paralyzed for life
ETA 1973 President of the Government of Spain Luis Carrero Blanco Killed The murder of Luis Carrero Blanco was, according to ETA, then to intensify existing divisions within the Franco regime between the "openness" and "purists".
Samuel Byck 1974 US President Richard Nixon Survived Attempted to hijack a commercial jet with the intention of crashing it into the White House.
Prince Faisal bin Musa'id 1975 Saudi King Faisal Killed
Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad and coup 1975 First Bangladeshi President Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Killed The coup was planned by disgruntled Awami League colleagues and military officers who were led by Khondaker Mostaq Ahmad, and they targeted to exterminate his entire family.
Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme 1975 US President Gerald Ford Survived
Sara Jane Moore 1975 US President Gerald Ford Survived
Chilean DINA agents 1976 Orlando Letelier Killed Killed by a car bomb, September 21, 1976, along with his American assistant, Ronni Moffitt.
Dan White 1978 San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk Killed Killed over not reappointing Dan White supervisor. See Moscone–Milk assassinations.
Larry Layton and other members of the Peoples Temple 1978 Leo Ryan, Congressman from California Killed Killed in Guyana during an official visit to investigate allegations of abuse of American citizens at the Jonestown compound of the Peoples Temple religious organization. See Leo_Ryan#Jungle_ambush.
Kim Jae-kyu 1979 South Korean President Park Chung-hee Killed See Park Chung-hee assassination.
Thomas McMahon 1979 Louis Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma Killed Killed along with three others while on a fishing trip with his family by a bomb planted onto his boat by McMahon. McMahon was a member of the Irish Republican Army, who claimed responsibility for the attack.
Mark David Chapman 1980 John Lennon Killed Obsession with The Catcher in the Rye. See Assassination of John Lennon.
John Hinckley, Jr. 1981 US President Ronald Reagan Survived To impress actress Jodie Foster. See Reagan assassination attempt.
Khalid Islambouli 1981 Egyptian President Anwar Al Sadat Killed Rare attack carried out by a group.
Mehmet Ali Ağca 1981 Catholic Pope John Paul II Survived See Pope John Paul II assassination attempt.
Group of army officers 1981 Bangladeshi President Ziaur Rahman Killed Plotted by a faction of officers of Bangladesh Army led by General Abul Monjur.
Habib Tanious Shartouni 1982 Lebanese President Bachir Gemayel Killed Bomb explosion in the Phalange's Beirut headquarters.
Uncertain believed to be Rogelio Moreno instead of Rolando Galman 1983 Philippine Senator Ninoy Aquino Killed Believed to have been ordered by then President Ferdinand Marcos.
Satwant Singh and Beant Singh 1984 Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi Killed Assassinated by personal bodyguards.
Provisional Irish Republican Army 1984 British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher Survived Detonated a bomb at the Grand Hotel during the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton.
Unknown 1986 Swedish Prime Minister Olof Palme Killed Shot on his way home from a cinema on a street in central Stockholm. See Assassination of Olof Palme.
Dieter Kaufmann 1990 German Federal Minister of the Interior Wolfgang Schäuble Survived Shot in back and face after an election campaign event in Oppenau. Has been paralysed and confined to a wheelchair ever since.
Provisional Irish Republican Army 1991 British Prime Minister John Major Survived Mortar attack during a meeting at 10 Downing Street
Thenmuli Rajaratnam 1991 Former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi Killed Killed in an explosion triggered by a LTTE suicide bomber. See Assassination of Rajiv Gandhi.
Janusz Walus 1993 South African Communist Party leader Chris Hani Killed Anti-Communist killing
Unknown 1993 Sri Lankan President Ranasinghe Premadasa Killed Attack carried out by an LTTE suicide bomber on May Day parade.
Mario Aburto 1994 Mexican Candidate Luis Donaldo Colosio Killed
Uncertain; see main article for theories 1994 Rwandan President Juvénal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira Killed Plane carrying the two leaders shot down by unknown attackers with a surface-to-air missile. The attack was the catalyst for the Rwandan Genocide. See Assassination of Juvénal Habyarimana and Cyprien Ntaryamira.
Yigal Amir 1995 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin Killed Attack carried out by Israeli opposed to Oslo Accords. See Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin.
Michael Abram 1999 George Harrison Survived Abram broke into Harrison's house and repeatedly stabbed him.
ETA 2000 Member of the Basque Parliament Fernando Buesa Killed Car bombing
Dipendra 2001 King Birendra of Nepal and other royal family members of same country Killed See Nepalese royal massacre.
Volkert van der Graaf 2002 Dutch Election Candidate Pim Fortuyn Killed The attack took place in a parking lot outside a radio studio in Hilversum, where Fortuyn had just given an interview.
Maxime Brunerie 2002 French President Jacques Chirac Survived Brunerie attempted to shoot the President during the Bastille Day Military Parade.
Mijailo Mijailović 2003 Swedish Foreign Minister Anna Lindh Killed Lindh was stabbed while visiting a shopping centre in Stockholm. She died the following morning.
Zvezdan Jovanović 2003 Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Đinđić Killed Jovanović killed his victim with a sniper rifle (a relatively rare type of assassination); he is suspected to have acted for organized crime backers. See Assassination of Zoran Đinđić.
Chen Yi-hsiung 2004 President of Republic of China Chen Shui-bian Survived See 3-19 shooting incident.
Unknown 2005 Former Lebanese Prime Minister and billionaire Rafik Hariri Killed Assassination via car bomb in Beirut.
Vladimir Arutyunian 2005 U.S. President George W. Bush and Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili Survived Threw a hand grenade at Bush, which failed to detonate.
Unknown; many theories 2006 Journalist Anna Politkovskaya Killed Shot in the elevator block of her apartment in Moscow. See Assassination of Anna Politkovskaya.
Unknown, though believed to be figures within the government of Russia 2006 Former FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko Killed Acute radiation syndrome via ingestion of polonium-210. See Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko.
Unknown, widely believed to be Islamic militants 2007 Former Prime Minister of Pakistan and Pakistan Peoples Party Chair and Opposition Leader Benazir Bhutto Killed Killed while entering a vehicle upon leaving a political rally for the Pakistan People's Party in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. See Assassination of Benazir Bhutto.
Soldiers 2009 President of Guinea-Bissau João Bernardo Vieira Killed Hacked to death during armed attack on his residence in Bissau.
Karst Tates 2009 Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands and royal family Survived Attempted to ram the Queen's bus with his car. See 2009 attack on the Dutch Royal Family.
Men under his aide de camp 2009 President of Guinea Moussa Dadis Camara Survived Currently in Burkina Faso
Unknown, widely believed to be Mossad agents 2010 Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, senior Hamas military commander Killed Exact cause unknown; possibilities include suffocation, strangulation, and electrocution. See Assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh.
Casey Brezik 2010 Missouri Governor Jay Nixon Survived Mistakenly stabbed a college dean in a hallway by a lectern where Nixon was to speak. Brezik told police that he thought he had stabbed Nixon.
Unknown, believed to be two ranch workers 2010 Eugène Terre'Blanche, founder of the Afrikaner Weerstandsbeweging in South Africa Killed He was found hacked and beaten to death at his farm, allegedly killed by two of his workers.
Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri 2011 Salmaan Taseer, 26th Governor of Punjab Killed
Jared Lee Loughner 2011 Gabrielle Giffords, U.S. Representative from Arizona Survived Shot, along with several staffers and U.S. District Judge John Roll (killed), at a constituent event in her district. There were a total of at least 6 deaths and 12 injured.

[edit] References

  1. ^ http://www.gatewaystobabylon.com/introduction/murderersennacherib.htm Parpola, Simo, "The Murderer of Sennacherib", from Alster, Bendt (ed.), "Death in Mesopotamia", XXVIème Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale, Akademisk Forlag, 1980.

Constitution Worship: Jill Lepore in The New Yorker

Worth reading is a commentary by critic Jill Lepore in the January 17 issue of The New Yorker entitled The Commandments: the Constitution and its worshippers. Contributor_jillleporephoto_p233_crop
Lepore (pictured right) puts the current highlighting of the Constitution, including its (edited) reading in the House of Representatives, in historical and critical perspective.  Lepore writes:

If you haven’t read the Constitution lately, do. Chances are you’ll find that it doesn’t exactly explain itself. Consider Article III, Section 3: “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.” This is simply put—hats off to the committee of style—but what does it mean? A legal education helps. Lawyers won’t stumble over “attainder,” even if the rest of us will. Part of the problem might appear to be the distance between our locution and theirs. “Corruption of Blood”? The document’s learnedness and the changing meaning of words isn’t the whole problem, though, because the charge that the Constitution is too difficult for ordinary people to understand—not because of its vocabulary but because of the complexity of its ideas—was brought nearly the minute it was made public. Anti-Federalists charged that the Constitution was so difficult to read that it amounted to a conspiracy against the understanding of a plain man, that it was willfully incomprehensible. “The constitution of a wise and free people, ought to be as evident to simple reason, as the letters of our alphabet,” an Anti-Federalist wrote. “A constitution ought to be, like a beacon, held up to the public eye, so as to be understood by every man,” Patrick Henry argued. He believed that what was drafted in Philadelphia was “of such an intricate and complicated nature, that no man on this earth can know its real operation.”

This could be the basis for a great first assignment for the new semester's Constitutional Law class, in law school or as an undergraduate offering, as a way to open a discussion of the Constitutional text and its interpretations.



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Tom Key
What a refreshing look at our sacred bovine of bloviators!
Few documents cry out for clinical and expert modification more than this wonderful creature. Nothing would honor it more than its informed modification, and nothing insures its irrelevance like the almost universal indifference to its currency, which it now suffers.

President Obama as a Constitutional Law Professor:

President Obama as a Constitutional Law Professor:

Here is one of his Exams - and the outline of suggested answer providing his feedback to students.