At the Huffington Post this weekend, Robert L. Cavnar rearranges large portions of the human past to rebuke extremist "anti-government forces" of the kind that criticize FEMA, an agency we finally realize we need just as an "unprecedented" hurricane barrels toward the East Coast of the... Wait, did that already happen?
Cavnar builds his argument on a foundational narrative of history that sees a long string of (triumphant) dead people stacking each brick of progress on top of the last, building toward a perfected condition that can only be impeded by voting Republican; sometimes we move forward in time, sometimes we pull the wrong lever and move back. Tuesday? Better than Monday, 'cause of it happened later. Unless that asshole Bush is still around.
But the details get a little strange: "Many anti-government forces have successfully staked out territory that asserts that the 'free market' cures all ills, which it doesn't. They declare that the government can't do anything right (except for winning 2 World Wars and going to the Moon in less than 10 years), and that it should be shrunk down to the size that it can be 'drowned in the bathtub.'"
Welcome to the August 29, 2011 edition of the military history carnival. It's been three months of solid military history on the Internet, and this carnival is the best of reader-nominated entries. Special thanks to Jonathan Beard, for substantial contributions to this carnival.
In February of 1804, a court of inquiry met in Boston to consider the complaint of a group of field officers in the Massachusetts militia against their commander, Brig. Gen. John Winslow. The complaint was a great damp pile of butthurt, charging Winslow with behavior unbecoming a gentleman and spooling out a list of fourteen specifications that Tina Fey could have worked into Mean Girls pretty effortlessly, if she'd only known about them in time. Article 11 was that, at a brigade dinner, Winslow had identified one particular captain as the best officer in the line, "to the great injury of the feelings of the Gentmn present." The complainants demanded that Winslow be brought before a court martial. Predictably, the court of inquiry appointed to look into the matter yawned itself half to death, and then went to lunch. Curtain falls.
In March, though, Winslow struck back: he filed a complaint against his accusers, charging them with the ungentlemanly defamation of a superior officer; their "groundless and false" complaint, he argued, "has been highly injurious to the harmony and discipline of the Brigade." Let it not be said that nineteenth-century gentlemen didn't have lots of time on their hands.
Pure Medievalry will host CarnivalesqueLXXVII, an ancient/medieval edition of the festival, on 28 August. Use the form to nominate the best in ancient and medieval history blogging since 19 June. David Silbey hosts the next Military History Carnival here at Cliopatria on 29 August. Use the form to nominate the best in military history blogging since late May.
Working in a field long dominated by the 30-year rule (in which key documents don’t become available in the Foreign Relations of the United States series until 30, or often more, years after the fact), it’s remarkable to see how the internet has increased access to more recent foreign policy documents.
On some occasions, it’s through established sites, such as the National Security Archive or the Cold War International History Project. But in other instances, it’s more haphazard, as in two documents released in the past few days regarding Congress and U.S. foreign policy toward Libya.
Lynda Waggoner, ed., et al., Fallingwater, and WitoldRybczynski, "Falling for Fallingwater," Slate, 24 August, celebrate the 75th anniversary of the remarkable house Frank Lloyd Wright designed for its landscape.
A brief and inelegant update: Boston College received new federal subpoenas, earlier this month, for oral history materials relating to the Troubles in Northern Ireland. The August 2 subpoenas, filed under seal on behalf of the Police Service of Northern Ireland and revealed a few days ago by BC's public filing of a motion to quash, demand "any and all interviews containing information about the abduction and death of Mrs. Jean McConville" (see this post for background). McConville's murder has been in the background of the DOJ's efforts all along; this new set of subpoenas makes explicit an investigative effort that was both unstated and pretty clear.
More remarkably, these new subpoenas threaten to expose oral history sources that have so far been protected. While the original subpoenas served on BC in May demanded interview materials from two people already publicly known to have spoken to researchers, the new subpoenas would expose up to two dozen other interviewees whose identities have never been revealed.
John Sutherland, "Sounds Familiar," Literary Review, August, reviews Gary Saul Morson'sThe Words of Others: From Quotations to Culture. In "The Book Bench," New Yorker, 22 August, Jill Lepore wonders if you can distinguish the words of Charles Dickens from those of Edward BulwerLytton. One would have thought so, but not so fast!
David Starkey, a popular historian of Tudor history and a radio and TV academic celebrity, has come under severe fire for his comments on the London riots, which include the following extraordinary assertion:
What has happened is that the substantial section of the chavs...have become black. The whites have become black. A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic gangster culture has become the fashion. Black and white, boy and girl operate in this language together. This language, which is wholly false, which is this Jamaican patois that has intruded in England. This is why so many of us have this sense of literally a foreign country.
Commentary on the 2012 election has featured unusually prominent (and intelligent) perspectives from political science—most notably from Brendan Nyhan and in Ezra Klein’s Washington Post blog. The political science approach has stressed the relationship between the economy and presidential outcomes, while downplaying the significance of tactical political decisions, campaign rhetoric, or other types of horse-race coverage. And, given the likely economic data for 2012, theories from political science suggest that the President’s re-election chances aren’t all that good.
In the last few weeks, we’ve seen more attempts to apply a historical lens to 2012. Virtually the only positive historical example for Obama comes from 1948, in a scenario outlined by Norman Ornstein in the New Republic.
"Continuing with the examination of the initial organization
of the artillery in the Army of the Potomac, I turn now to
William Barry’s recommendation for a siege train to accompany
the army. Barry intended for the siege train to operate …
Continue reading →..."
"The photo from the boat ride back from Fort Sumter captures
my mood today. End of a long, event-filled vacation. Now back
towards home and to the routine. Blogging was understandably
light in weight during the vacation. The
paragraph-by-paragraph examination … Continue reading →..."
RebekahHiggit hosts the history of science carnival, The Giant's Shoulders #38 -- A Georgian Special, at the Board of Longitude project. Pure Medievalry will host CarnivalesqueLXXVII, an ancient/medieval edition of the festival, on 28 August. Use the form to nominate the best in ancient and medieval history blogging since 19 June. David Silbey hosts the next Military History Carnival here at Cliopatria on 29 August. Use the form to nominate the best in military history blogging since late May.
Adam Winkler, "The Secret History of Guns," Atlantic, September, recalls a time when supporters of African American civil rights saw the right to bear arms as essential and the National Rifle Association supported modest gun regulation.
"The Mysteries of Lam Qua" is a gallery of nineteenth century oil portraits by a Chinese artist known as Lam Qua (林官) (1801-1860). His paintings are beautiful, grotesque physiological studies of patients with extreme tumour growths. Lam Qua's paintings were specially commissioned by Reverend Dr Peter Parker, who established the first American hospital in Guangzhou in 1835 and who successfully introduced several Western surgical techniques to China: amputation, anesthesia and reconstructive surgery.