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My heart goes out .. on both sides of the aisle

Saturday, July 29th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — Senators Hirono, McCain — and death shall have no dominion ]
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You have probably seen Sen. John McCain‘s speech, so I’ll begin with Sen. Mazie Hirono. She too, like McCain, has a severe cancer diagnosis, she too flew in to vote, she too made an impassoned speech on thr Senate floor. Here’s a clip from her speech:

Here, from the other wise of the aisle, with similar dignity and depth, is McCain:

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And death shall have no dominion

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead man naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

Dylan Thomas

More to the somewhat right, Zenpundit

Friday, June 9th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — second of two posts ]
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And here’s the second of two posts, one from myself and one from Zen, both about today’s Comey testimony — in an initial attempt at balance in response to our friend Scott observing:

This blog has been getting a little partisan since November…can we go back to being a little more objective?

I don’t suppose Zen will mind my making a post of it here, since he posted it en plein air / en clair on FaceBook himself:

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The Comey testimony is amazing on a number of levels.

My initial read is that the President didn’t obstruct justice in a legal sense but his actions in attempting to influence the investigation of General Flynn provide more than a theoretical ground for an article of impeachment.

Historically that is not going to get you a conviction in the Senate by itself. Not even in a Democratic Senate, without other articles and clear evidence supporting them. Which is why Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton finished their terms after being impeached and Richard Nixon resigned even before articles could be voted upon.

The GOP has a POTUS who is out of control in the sense that he won’t accept normal staff assistance and advice to avoid transgressing obvious red lines in the daily conduct of his office.

The last administration inappropriately tried to influence Comey in an investigation too – but note that the President personally didn’t wheedle him. There’s good reasons he didn’t. While the type of convo between Comey and Trump was common with J. Edgar Hoover and US Presidents, ever since Watergate this has been understood to be suspect behavior at best and a red line to be avoided.

If Trump continues as he has done he will soon be in dire straits and all the complaints about hyper partisan media and Never Trump/Obama mole leakers will not matter, no matter how accurate

More to the somewhat left, Cameron

Friday, June 9th, 2017

[ by Charles Cameron — first of two posts ]
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Our friend Scott just observed:

This blog has been getting a little partisan since November…can we go back to being a little more objective?

Here’s the first of two posts in an initial attempt at balance, one from myself and one from Zen, both about today’s Comey testimony.

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Was this the day a boil burst?

Was this the day a boil burst on the neck of universe?
Universe is too large,
even solar system exaggerates,
Jove Pater may be keeping a paternal eye on us,
there may even be villages in New Guinea
where John Frum is the news topic of the day,
but as Dan Rather just said of Comey’s testimony,
This scene is going to be written about fifty, a hundred,
two hundred years from now; there’s something
Shakespearean about it, in more current terms,
House of Cards..

My mind drifted from the Comey hearings,
and came back, I wondered where it had gone, given
the intensity of the moment,
volcanic maybe, though all moments
have seemingly a sort of priority in their own times
like a balcony in Escher bulging because,
well, because he’s seeing it, making it his focus..
My mind must have wandered,
that’s the metaphor, down to the banks of Lethe,
dipped in, gotten ah somehow baptized,
deep baptized,
so that Lethe, the banks of Lethe,
the steps leading down to the banks of Lethe
all vanished, all submerged,
gone down into oblivion, known
only because once there was mind on Comey
and I woke to mind gone.

Pure Buddhism, pure any meditative practice..
Mind here, gone,
and meanwhile the volcano,
Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, boil,
has burst,
spewed forth evidence Mueller
like a small planetary Jove Pater can work with
in his own moments volcanic —
just an American,
or not quite only an American Jove Pater —
manwhile, Trump ever Mercurial,
Comey stellar..

Speaking of stars, whoah!
Catastrophe,
meaning literally: a downward-turning of the stars.

Let’s get metaphysical — a quick sequence of tweets

Thursday, November 19th, 2015

[ by Charles Cameron — From Elkus to Furnish, Tolkien to Feynman, — too tired to write, not tired enough to sleep — ripe for the twitter feed ]
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The occasion of mirth:

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Adam Elkus identifies the zone:

The mirth:

and:

and:

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Meanwhile, Tim Furnish was there ahead of time, defending Tolkien & attacking IS:

And now let’s get back to those laws of physics:

The third greatest story ever told

Saturday, January 31st, 2015

[by Lynn C. Rees]

Colleen McCullough is dead (props Razib Khan).

It’s a sign of George Lucas’ complete incompetence as a storyteller that he found the third greatest story ever told and left it an abomination. It is a sign of McCullough’s greatness as a storyteller that she took the third greatest story ever told and lifted it far enough to almost glimpse the second greatest story ever told. When I see the fall of the Roman Republic, I see it through McCullough’s eyes.

McCullough wrote seven books in her Masters of Rome series:

  1. The First Man in Rome
  2. The Grass Crown
  3. Fortune’s Favorites
  4. Caesar’s Women
  5. Caesar: Let the Dice Fly 
  6. The October Horse
  7. Antony and Cleopatra

I’ve read the first six.

McCullough is given one of the greatest cast of characters in history and brings them to life:

Lesser-known characters given their due:

One aspect of history that McCullough’s novelizations allow her to highlight how interconnected these characters were, especially by blood ties. Genealogy helped and hindered the lives of prominent Romans in ways history books sometimes fail to capture. Servilia Caepionis, for example, was Caepio’s daughter, Drusus’ niece, Cato’s half-sister, Brutus’ mother, and Cassius and Lepidus‘ mother-in-law as well as Caesar’s long-time mistress.

McCullough uses fictional but plausible plot devices, arrived at through meticulous research, to plug gaps in the historical record. She marries Sulla to an invented short lived younger sister of Julia Caeseris, making Sulla Marius’ brother-in-law and providing a rationale for why Sulla was on Marius’ staff in Numidia. She explains Caesar Octavianus’ chronic absence from the field of battle by making him asthmatic.

Vivid scenes I recall:

  • Marius, deep in Asia Minor, unarmed and alone, giving Mithridates and his army the stare down and forcing Mithridates to retreat (“O King, either strive to be stronger than Rome, or do her bidding without a word.”, according to Plutarch).
  • The pompous young Pompeius, looking forward to meeting the great general Sulla on his return from the east, is shocked when the formerly handsome Sulla, disfigured by a disease (of McCullough’s invention), having lost his hair and teeth, wearing a ridiculous Raggedy Andy wig, drunkenly greets him like an sentimental old fool.
  • Sulla, wandering in this ridiculous over the top getup through the streets of Rome later, then he promptly proscribes the enemies he has been sniffing out as an innocuous circus act.

McCullough’s star though out is clearly Caesar, growing from a young boy learning at the knee of Uncle Marius, to the devoted husband of the daughter of one of Sulla’s archenemies who refuses to divorce her despite Sulla going into full beast mode to the rising politician to conquering general to assassinated dictator.

Sulla, however, is her most unforgettable character. A Cornelii, one of the great patrician families of Rome, but born into a branch fallen on hard times, Sulla hangs out with the low life hipsters of Rome, uses his good looks and charm to first win the love of two rich women (who he promptly murders), and then climbs his way to the leadership of Rome’s conservative aristocratic oligarchy. He is first friends and then deadly enemies of Marius. He ruthlessly culls Rome of his enemies only to give up power and go back to his partying ways. Her Sulla makes Caesar and Octavianus look like helpless babes.

Come for Caesar, Pompeius, Cleopatra, Octavianus, or Antonius. Stay for Sulla and Marius, men overshadowed by the prima donnas they made possible. McCullough can rest in peace knowing she brought one of the primal stories of Western civilization alive for anyone who reads her books.

George Lucas can toss and turn.


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