bookmark_borderPost-387: A BBC podcast on the Waco 1993, Koresh cult story; podcast review and thoughts on Waco’s place in history

Losing a pair of gloves I felt particular attached to, I decided I’d be willing to retrace my steps around town. Chances were fair that I could find the missing gloves, as I had in similar cases before. I was committed. I figured the had fallen out of my pocket while I was cruising along on the bicycle.

The glove search failed.

But unexpected good thing have a way of showing up, springing from the bad. I decided to make the best of this perhaps-several-hours-long commitment to carefully and slowly retrace all my steps by listening to a podcast along the way, so as “not to waste the time.” This is how I justified the search to myself. I am not in the habit of listening to earphones in public these days, so this was a conscious decision.

I googled around for a podcast that would make my time worth it. Something new. I came to the BBC podcasts page. The top one I saw was called “End of Days.” I said, Okay, yes, this’ll do. I don’t even have a good working pair of earphones anymore. I have a few freebies from airlines. Only one earphone worked.

Gone forever though the gloves may be, those gloves did give me a final gift, one arguably even better than hand warmth, as without losing them, I’d never have come to hear this really excellent “BBC Five Live” podcast. It’s less about the 1993 Waco incident, more about the personalities involved, a retrospective after 25 years. About 4.5 to 5.0 hours of total listening time; eight episodes. Some impressions and reactions follow in this post. First personal re:Waco, then a long review of the podcast’s contents, then a brief final thought on cults as I encountered them in my years in Korea.

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bookmark_borderPost-386: Thirty Years of Mideast Intervention

It suddenly occurred to me that the endless US interventions in the Middle East familiar to us today really date to August 1990, and have, since that month and the fateful decision made in it, followed on a path set down at that time. August 1990 was the month George H.W. Bush and his foreign policy people decided on the intervention against Iraq in its local war against Kuwait. In other words, there is a traceable ‘genealogy’ of US Middle East interventions that start with the August 1990.

This idea occurred to me suddenly while reading a book called The Back Channel, by William J. Burns, published in March 2019 and recently given to me by my friend Aaron S. The author, Burns, is one of the most significant US State Department figures of the 1990s–2010s whom you’ve never heard of. The chances are fair that he could be sworn in as Secretary of State in Jan. 2021, if a Democrat wins.

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bookmark_borderPost-384: Genealogy research project

I have been spending time off and on the past few months working on a highly research intensive genealogy project. It traces my great-grandfather’s “line” (as the genealogy-ism has it) back several centuries, across New England and back to 1630s Massachusetts. Before that, limited information is available but it seems the original ancestor was a Puritan out of Lincolnshire, England.

It’s been fascinating making new discoveries and connections all along the way.

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bookmark_borderPost-382: Thirty Pieces of Silver

We use the phrase “thirty pieces of silver” metaphorically in a variety of contexts. I used it today. It is a reference to the betrayal of Jesus by his apostle Judas for which he was paid that sum of pieces of silver.

I got to wondering how much thirty pieces of silver, ca. AD 33 in the Roman province of Palestine, would be worth in our terms, today; what is a reasonable US-dollar figure to attach to it? I spent some time on this and would propose $10,000 (see below).

From a version of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper; Jesus has told the twelve apostles that one of them has betrayed him. Most are in one or another state of shock or anger. Peter, angry, leans over Judas’ shoulder. Judas, slouched over and looking worried, clutches a bag with unknown contents but about large enough to hold 30 pieces of silver.
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bookmark_borderPost-381: Southern California observations; Anaheim, Robber’s Peak, Orange

Nov. 2019: I passed through California for about five days.

(Observations about Southern California with pictures, and some springboarding off of them.)

Places I spent at least some time were: Van Nuys; the Santa Ana River trail in Orange County; Anaheim and “Anaheim Hills;” Orange (the city of); Santa Barbara. On a previous visit (late Aug. 2018), I went to Huntington Beach.

Leaving Southern California, north to Silicon Valley, I spent time in: San Jose; Palo Alto; the Stanford campus; Menlo Park; Redwood City. (Another post, maybe.)

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Friday early morning. I arrive at the airport from points east (Korea, by way of a long layover in Hawaii) and am soon on the bus to LA Union Station. Or am I? I am not. I got on the wrong bus. It was not labeled. It came to the place marked LA Union Station; I decide to take this new opportunity. and follow the shuttle bus where it goes. New destination: Van Nuys.

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bookmark_borderPost-380: Stonewall Jackson’s Way

Lee–Jackson Day in Virginia.

No doubt many are unaware of the Lee–Jackson Day holiday. The two sons of Virginia, Robert E. Lee and Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson, have birthdays about this time (Jan. 19 and Jan. 21, respectively), a coincidence which gave rise, a long time ago, to the holiday in Virginia. It remains in effect today, even if backed by no enormous media machine.

As for Stonewall Jackson, I can think of no better way to commemorate him than Stonewall Jackson’s Way, which is a song (below), but more a musical portrait.

It is a great piece of art in that it is an effective portrait of the general, his men, and the campaigning that brought fame and renown to both.

The song “Stonewall Jackson’s Way” was originally written in 1862 and appearing in poem form but also quickly becoming a hit song. The song’s composer was unknown for years. Testament to how alluring was the legend of Stonewall Jackson, by 1862, is the fact that an northern admirer had actually written the poem/song, a fact only finally revealed in the 1880s.

The version recorded by Bobby Horton in the 1980s is good (below); Horton rightly deserves his fame as a Civil War music interpreter/popularizer.

“Stonewall Jackson’s Way” Lyrics, as sung by Bobby Horton (below, a few more comments below on the figure of Jackson, and on my feelings on Lee–Jackson Day):

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bookmark_borderPost-377: The 2020s as The Twenty-Twenties

Someone (A.R.) sent me a message saying

It’s the roaring 20s again! Quick, enjoy some alcohol before the economic collapse.

I predict people are going to use “the twenty-twenties” for the decade of the 2020s, and not “the twenties” (as for “the two-thousand[-and]-twenties,” No).

“The twenty-twenties” sounds sleek, futuristic. “The twenties” is already taken. The foregoing reasons are compelling and lead me to the conclusion that “the Twenty-Twenties” is the one.

Also this. Scholars believe Jesus was born in 5 BC, in which case our year “2020” into the 2,025th year anno domini. The number sticklers would say we’re already down to a mere four years , 11 months and some days left in the true “2020s.”

bookmark_borderPost-376: On “electoral tipping points”: 1618 (the trigger for the Thirty Years War) and the present

New Year’s Day 2020.

For reasons I don’t know, I began to re-read the classic history of the Thirty Years War by C. V. Wedgwood. In it I was reminded of a political point about that war I had forgotten, and one similar to one the US may be, today, at the cusp of.

The crisis began in 1618 because of an electoral tipping point.

There are fairly direct parallels between the Thirty Years War origin and the US institutions of the electoral college system and the nine-member Supreme Court system (see below) and fears about the ‘flipping’ thereof.

The Holy Roman Empire, a nominal political arrangement encompassing most of central Europe for most of the second millennium AD and ruled (in theory if not practice) by an emperor of the Hapsburg Dynasty for much of that time, had seven “electors” (Kurfürsten). These were seven seats which held the right to cast one vote for emperor when the need arose.

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bookmark_borderPost-374: “A Generalized Crisis of Confidence” (on the political situation in the West by the 2010s)

Like many, I have an interest in the question of why cultural-political entities “decline” — call them states (or proto-states), cultures, or, most-grand of all, civilizations. (This includes “lost civilizations.”)

This interest has informed some of the writing on these pages over the 2010s, most usually indirectly but sometimes pretty directly. Post-252, Western Civilization’s long-forgotten collapse, circa 1200 BC, is an example of the latter.

I recall once being put on a team of three and given ten minutes to come up with something that made sense on the following question: “Was the the French Revolution inevitable?

This is a classic question, or maybe better stated is a variant on the classic question, Why did the French Revolution occur. Many, many volumes have been published on this.

This question was posed to be by a Dr. C. Ch., in a course in my first semester at graduate school, fall 2016. The course had an elaborate name but was effectively on European political history from 1648 to 1945.

I think the team was split between Yes, No, and Unsure. At my suggestion, our team finally agreed on a ‘No’ general response. It was not inevitable. The single critical element was poor leadership. This not only at the level of the king or royal court alone, who definitely are guilty of mismanagement, but all throughout the leadership classes in France and they didn’t seem to “want it” anymore, had stopped trying. Phrased another way is, there was a crisis of confidence in the mid-late 18th century in France.

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bookmark_borderPost-371: Great Grandfather No.4 before draft board, 1917

The is a snapshot of one of my four great-grandfathers in 1917-1918. I wrote it upon my discovery online of their WWI draft registration cards.

The others, in order of Father’s Father’s Father to Mother’s Mother’s Father, are:

Below I transcribe the draft registration card, provide a picture of the man, some comments on how the war period turned out for each man, and most ambitiously I try to re-create how they would have likely stood on the war. While I never knew any of these men, I did now their children in their old age (my grandparents).


Great-Grandfather 4
Born in Connecticut; of Colonial New England stock. Had lifelong ties to New Britain, Connecticut, often by residence, often by employment, and until his death for family/social reasons. He did not have to appear before the draft board in 1917 because he was still 19. Having turned 20, he was registered in June 1918 and was conscripted into the US Army:
[Transcription of draft registration card]

Registration Card

1. Name in Full: Earle Hazen
2. Home Address: 69 Church St., New Britain, Conn.
3. Date of Birth: April 13, 1897
4. Where were you born? East Berlin, Conn., USA
5. I am: A native of the United States. (Crossed out options are: ‘Naturalized Citizen’; ‘Alien’; ‘I have declared my intention [to naturalize]’; a Noncitizen or Citizen [American-]Indian’)
6. If not a citizen, of what nation are you a citizen or subject? [blank]
7. Father’s Birthplace: North Hero, Vt.
8[a]. Name of Employer: Landers, Frary, & Clark
8[b]. Place of Employment: New Britain, Conn.
9[a]. Name of nearest relative: M.H. [Mahlon] Hazen (father)
9[b]. Address of nearest relative: East Berlin, Conn.
10. Race: White (crossed out options are: ‘Negro,’ ‘Indian,’ or ‘Oriental’)

“I affirm that I have verified above answers and that they are true.”
[Signed,] Earle Hazen


Registrar’s Report

1[a]. [Height:] Medium
1[b]. [Build:] Slender
2[a]. Color of eyes: Blue
2[b]. Color of hair: Dark
3. Has person lost arm, leg, hand, eye, or is he palpably physically disqualified (specify)? None

[Signed by the Registrar of the City of New Britain, Connecticut]

Date of Registration: June 5, 1918

Picture
A middle-aged Earle Hazen (right), on his daughter’s wedding day (June 1942), 24 years after he appeared before the draft board. I believe the stout-looking figure in the background grinning and loitering is Walter Kosswig (no jacket) — see post-370 for Walter’s WWI(-era) profile. The older woman is Earle’s wife Catharine (nee Buchholz). The bride and groom are my mother’s parents. The yellow-paper handwritten caption is the work of my great aunt Ethel (Kosswig) Hinchliffe, who put together an anniversary scrapbook in 1982. “Ernie” refers to my grandfather, who is looking down.
 

Earle Hazen, circa 1930, with wife and daughter (my grandmother)

Why was Earle not registered in 1917? Why was he drafted in 1918? What was going on in his life in the 1910s? What would have been his position on intervention in the 1914-1918 war?

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