Recipe – Tandoori Chicken

Not many of us have a standalone enclosed clay oven nearby, so some thought is needed to produce an Americanized
version of the Indian classic tandoori chicken

Start with 6-8 chicken thighs

Marinade

  • 1 cup yogurt
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 t – cayenne
  • 1 t – cumin
  • 1 t – turmeric
  • 1 T- paprika
  • 3 cloves – garlic, minced
  • 1 inch -ginger root, minced
  • 1/2 cup – parsley, minced

Garnish

  • 4 T- fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Lime wedges

1. Combine marinade ingredients and mix in a blender or food mill or food processor.

2. Remove the marinade to large bowl, fold in the yogurt, then add to chicken pieces. Marinate for 1-2 hours

3. Place a double sheet of aluminum foil on the grill so chicken is not exposed to flames.

4. BBQ or grill for 45-60’ or until done (preferably in a covered BBQ), turning every 15 minutes, and basting with extra marinade. If using an oven – place chicken in oven proof pan, bake at 400 for 10′, then reduce heat to 350 and continue to bake for 45′ or until chicken is done.

5. Garnish with coriander leaves and lime wedges. Serves 3-6, depending on number of courses – eg, 6 in an Indian dinner with many courses; 3 with a simple side dish and salad
More recipes & Food images

Tandoori chicken Tandoori chicken cooking on grill Tandoori chicken

 

Tandoori chicken cooking

Recipe – Arni Kleptiko

Arni Kleftiko is quick and easy way to prepare lamb, even if you’re not on the lam….

Greek bandits didn’t usually have time for leisurely lunch breaks, so they combined their ingredients in a fireproof pot, and laid the pot in the middle of a cooking fire and went tabout their business. When they returned later, a tasty meal was ready to eat – arni kleftiko!

  • 1 lb Lamb pieces, cut into 1″ cubes
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 12 oz can tomatoes
  • 1 t cinnamon
  • 1 t fresh oregano
  • 3 medium potatoes, cut into thin slices
  • 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
  • Combine lamb, onions, tomatoes and spice and divide among 4 individual casserole
    bowls or a shallow baking pan. Top with potatoes sprinkle with mozzarella, cover with foil.

    Bake 1 hr @ 350 until meat is tender; uncover for last 15′ to brown.

    Other links:  More recipes

Book – Homage to Catalonia – George Orwell

 

Orwell’s War in Spain

George Orwell gives a close up view of the attempt to set up anarchist and socialist governments during the 1930’s in civil war-torn Spain

Fragmentation of the Left in the Spanish Civil War

The danger was quite simple and intelligible. It was the antagonism between those who wished the revolution to go forward and those who wished to check or prevent it – ultimately, between Anarchists and Communists….
Given this alignment of forces there was bound to be trouble.”
Such is Orwell’s succinct analysis of the problems facing those who would resist Franco’s right wing coup in Spain in 1936.

Opposed to the Franco-led Fascists (supported by Germany and Italy) was the Popular Front, “in essential an alliance of enemies“. Further complicating the mix was the emerging fact that in Spain, “on the Government [ie, anti-fascist] side the Communists stood not upon the extreme Left, but upon the extreme Right. ” Orwell justifies this counter-intuitive claim with a detailed discussion, summarized by noting that the International Communist movement at this time had forsaken the goal of world revolution to chase the chimera of the completion of a revolution in the USSR. This Stalinist position (including alliances with capitalist democracies at the expense of workers and unions) caused Trotsky and others to seek other venues. Recently, the formerly Maoist (nee ‘Trotskyite’) rulers of China similarly shifted from totalitarian extreme left to authoritarian right (socialist ideals sacrificed to entrepreneurial capitalism, without significant political liberty.) [Compare similar ideas presented in China Wakes -The Struggle for the Soul of a Rising Power – Nicholas D. Kristof & Sheryl WuDunn]

 

Why the Communists dominated

The Communists focused on winning the war no matter what –without collectivization that would alienate the peasants, or worker control of industry that would push the middle classes into Franco’s arms. Their stated goal was parliamentary
democracy, with strong central government, and a fully militarized government under central, unified command. The POUM position was that such talk was just another name for capitalism, and ultimately the same as fascism. Their alternative was worker control, with workers militias and police forces “If the workers do not control the armed forces, the armed forces will control the workers”. The Anarchists (actually a multitude of parties) had comprised in even considering this alliance, but insisted on direct `control over industry by workers, “government by local committees and resistance to all forms of centralized authoritarianism” Orwell’s summary of this bewildering political situation is “Communist emphasis is always on centralism and efficiency, the Anarchist’s on liberty and equality”. Combining forces seemed like a reasonable solution for the duration, “But in the early period, when the revolutionary parties seemed to have the game in their hands, this was impossible. Between the Anarchists and the Socialists there were ancient jealousies, the POUM, as Marxists, were sceptical of Anarchism, while from the pure Anarchist standpoint, the ‘Trotskyism’ of the POUM was not much preferable to the ‘Stalinism’ of the Communists.”

One example of how these rivalries frustrated an effective opposition to the Fascists:

.. the Russian arms were supplied via the Communist Party, and the parties allied to them, who saw to it that as few as possible got to their political opponents. …by proclaiming a non-revolutionary policy the Communists were able to gather in all those whom the extremists h ad scared. It was easy, for instance, to rally the wealthier peasants against the collectivization policy of the Anarchists. … The war was essentially a triangular struggle. The fight against Franco had to continue, but the simultaneous aim of the Government was to recover such power as remained in the hands of the trade unions. It was done by .. a policy of pin pricks…There was no general and obvious counterrevolutionary move.. The workers could always be brought to heel by an argument that is almost too obvious to need stating: ‘Unless you do this, that and the other we shall lose the war’.”

 

 

Spanish Civil War & the Cold War

Modern parallels, from the arguments made during the cold war to modern appeals by the Democratic party to its leftward elements and other progressives– ‘work with us or get something worse’. Or, in his descriptions of the Communist crack down on the other Leftist factions after the 1937 Barcelona street fighting, a comparison of the broad and unchecked abuses of a police force which has no worries about habeas corpus — why worry about producing evidence at a trial when it can merely arrest or ‘disappear’ opponents without any legal representation or outside communication.

But this book is also a very personal one, written less than a year after these events took place, Orwell paints indelible images of life in the muddy trenches, and even the moment when he is shot in the throat:

Roughly speaking it was the sensation of being at the centre of an explosion. There seemed to be a loud bang and a blinding flash of light all round me, and I felt a tremendous shock, such as you get from an electric terminal; with it a sense of utter weakness, a feeling of being stricken and shrivelled up to nothing. The sand-bags in front of me receded into the immense distance… I knew immediately that I was hit, but because of the seeming bang and flash I thought it was a rifle nearby that had gone off accidentally and shot me. All this happened in a space much less than a second. The next moment my knees crumpled up and I was falling, my head hitting the ground with a violent bang, which, to my relief, did not hurt. I had a numb, dazed feeling, a consciousness of being very badly hurt, but no pain in the ordinary sense.”

 

Recipes – Best Vegan & Vegetarian

 

In the old days vegetarian potluck dinners were dreadful – bowls of undercooked, tasteless veggies, or tasteless rice – bean – tofu casseroles, with no spice or interest. Today there’s no excuse – there are hundreds of places to find easy to make and tasty recipes. Vegetarian dishes form a major component of many cuisines, including Chinese and Southeast Asian, Indian, Mexican and Middle Eastern. I’ve been cooking for over 40 years and have collected some of my favorites here. I also keep an  interactive online database that lists recipes by ingredient, spice or nationality. Details for the recipes in this table can be found there.

Vegetables are easy to cook, whether steaming,  microwaving or  grilling. They’re easy recipes for kids or the beginning cook, and they offer easy ways to vary and experiment.

recipe
ingredients
nationality
Acili Paste
CHILE + ONION + GARLIC + CILANTRO + NONE
Mideastern
Apfelkuchen
APPLE + CINNAMIN + NONE
Continental
Artichoke Bok Choy Salad
ARTICHOKE + BOK CHOY + CELERY + PINE NUTS + NONE
Asian
Asian Brussels Sprouts
BRUSSELS SPROUTS + rice VINEGAR, soy sauce, sesame oil, NONE
Asian
Baked
EGGPLANT
EGGPLANT + ONIONS + RED PEPPER + PINE NUTS + PARSLEY + NONE
Basil Slaw
CABBAGE + BASIL + NONE
American
Bok-Broc Soup
BROCCOLI + TOMATO + BOK CHOY + BARLEY + OREGANO + NONE
Broccoli Stirfry
BROCCOLI + GINGER + SOY SAUCE + NONE
Asian
Carrot & Pine Nut Salad
CARROT + PINE NUTS + OLIVES + LEMON + BASIL + FETA + NONE
Mideastern
Carrot Salad
CARROT + GARLIC + PARSLEY + LEMON + NONE
Continental
Carrot Salad with OJ
CARROT + ORANGE JUICE + GARLIC + PARSLEY + LEMON + NONE
Continental
Cauliflower/Artichoke Salad
CAULIFLOWER + ARTICHOKE + SAVORY + TARRAGON + NONE
Chard Gorgonzola
CHARD + GORGONZOLA + NONE
Italian
Chard Parmesan
2 lb Swiss chard (or spinach), cleaned, ripped in large pieces
1/4 lb mushrooms, sliced 1/4 cup pine nuts 1/4 cup Italian
parsley, chopped handful of chives, chopped 8 oz pasta, cooked
al dente 8 oz ricotta cheese 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
feta
Italian
Chervil Potato Soup
POTATO + CHERVIL + PARSLEY + NONE
Chile Relleno
CHILE + + NONE
Mexican
Coconut Squash
TOMATO + SQUASH + CAULIFLOWER + RAISINS + COCONUT MILK + NONE
Asian Indian
Cole Slaw
CABBAGE + CARROT + VINEGAR + PAPRIKA + SORREL + NONE
American
Corn Tikki Tacos
CORN + CHILES + COCONUT + RAISINS + YOGURT + CLOVES + CINNAMIN
+ CAYENNE + CUMIN + NONE
Asian Indian
Cottage Basil Salad
TOMATO + COTTAGE CHEESE + BASIL + PARSLEY + NONE
American
Cranberry Campari
CRANBERRY JUICE + CAMPARI + NONE
Italian
Cream barley soup
CARROT + BARLEY + PARSLEY + NONE
Continental
Deep fried asparagus
ASPARAGUS + + NONE
French
Delhi Pumpkin/Zucchini Soup
PUMPKIN + POTATOES + ZUCCHINI + GARLIC + CAYENNE + CUMIN +
TURMERIC + NONE
Asian Indian
Dry-fry Eggplant Parmigiana
EGGPLANT + OREGANO + NONE
Italian
Easydillas
MUSHROOM + TORTILLAS + CHILES + CORIANDER + PARSLEY + NONE
Mexican
Eggplant Canelloni
EGGPLANT + POLENTA + CAPERS + GORGONZOLA + NONE
Italian
Eggplant Lentil Soup
CARROTS +
EGGPLANT + LENTIL + GARLIC + PARSLEY + PAPRIKA +
NONE
Mideastern
Eggplant w/ Mushrooms & Onions
EGGPLANT + TOMATO SAUCE + MUSHROOMS + OREGANO + CHEESE + NONE
Italian
Elote Relleno
CHILES + CORN + MUSHROOMS + CHEESE + NONE
Mexican
Endive Salad
WALNUT + ENDIVE + RED BELL PEPPER + ROQUEFORT CHEESE + NONE
Continental
Fancy Rice
RICE + GINGER + CORIANDER + CAYENNE + LEMON + NONE
Asian
Filo triangles
SPINACH + FETA CHEESE + OREGANO + NONE
Mideastern
Golden Refried Rice
RICE + scallions, mushroom, turmeric, NONE
American
Greek Sandwich mix
TOMATO + ONION + OLIVES + FETA + PEPPERONCINI + LEMON + NONE
Mideastern
Gujarat Relleno
CHILES + CORN + COCONUT + GINGER + CINNAMIN + PEANUTS +
RAISINS + NONE
Asian Indian
Hot & Sour Mushroom Soup
BEAN SPROUTS + MUSHROOMS + TOFU + SOY SAUCE + VINEGAR + NONE
Asian
Indian Carrots
CARROT + CHILES + LIME + TURMERIC + CORIANDER + NONE
Asian Indian
Lemon Cucumber Salad
CUCUMBER + LEMON + TOMATO + PARSLEY + NONE
Mideastern
Lentil Salad
LENTIL + + NONE
Mideastern
LoCal Burritos
REFRITOS + COTTAGE CHEESE + TORTILLAS + CHILES + NONE
Mexican
Melanzane Peperonata
EGGPLANT + BELL PEPPER + GARLIC + NONE
Italian
Mideast pilaf
rice, mushrooms, mint, yogurt
Mideastern
Mint Mint Coos Coos
LENTILS + COOS COOS + MINT + NONE
Mideastern
Monterey Pizza
MUSHROOM + TOMATILLO + CILANTRO + OREGANO + NONE
Mexican
Mushroom Pilaf
CARROT + RICE + MUSHROOM + RAISINS + COCONUT + NONE
Mideastern
Orange Ginger Soup
CARROT + ZUCCHINI + YELLOW SPLIT PEAS + ORANGE + CHILES +
GINGER + NONE
Asian Indian
Peanut Noodle Stirfry
BROCCOLI + ZUCCHINI + TOMATOES + PEANUT BUTTER + SOY SAUCE +
SALSA + NONE
Asian
Peanut Pepper Pilaf
RICE + BELL PEPPER + CHILES + PEANUTS + YOGURT + NONE
Mideastern
Potatoes and Leeks
POTATO + LEEK + GARLIC + CAYENNE + NONE
Continental
Quick Spanish Rice
RICE + + NONE
Mexican
Ratatouille Nicoise
EGGPLANT + CELERY + GARLIC + NONE
Italian
Salad Chevre Chaud
CHEESE + + NONE
French
Salad with phyllo package
FETA CHEESE + PHYLLO + + NONE
Mideastern
Sesame Capellini
MUSHROOMS + WATER CHESTNUTS + CELERY + LIME + CORIANDER + SOY
SAUCE + NONE
Asian
Sesame spinach
SPINACH + FUYEE + SESAME SEEDS + NONE
Asian
Spinach with Peanut Sauce
TOFU + SPINACH + PEANUT BUTTER + YOGURT + NONE
Asian
Syrian Chile Paste
+ CHILI + CAYENNE + NONE
Mideastern
Tartiflette
POTATO + ONION + CHEESE + + NONE
French
Thai Chili Dip
+ VINEGAR + CHILES + NONE
Asian
Tikki Tacos
CORN + COCONUT + RAISINS + CINNAMIN + GINGER + NONE
Asian Indian
Tofitas (Tofu fajitas)
CHILES + TOFU + TOMATO + BELL PEPPER + TORTILLA + CHILI +
OREGANO + NONE
Mexican
Tofuchiladas
TOFU + TORTILLA + TOMATO + CHILES + BELL PEPPER + YOGURT +
CINNAMIN + OREGANO + CHILI + NONE
Mexican
Tomato salad
TOMATO + VINEGAR + TARRAGON + MINT + CHIVES + NONE
American
Twice Cooked Eggplant
EGGPLANT + CARROT + CUMIN + NONE
Mideastern
Vegetable cream soup
LENTILS + + NONE
Continental
Yellow Ginger Soup
CARROT + ZUCCHINI + YELLOW SPLIT PEAS + CHILES + GINGER + NONE
Asian Indian
Yellow Pea-Vegetable Soup
YELLOW SPLIT PEA + CARROT + PARSLEY + NONE
French
Yogurt Broccoli Soup
BROCCOLI + YOGURT + MINT + THYME + NONE
Continental
Zucchini Fettucine
ZUCCHINI + RED BELL PEPPER + PARSLEY + FENNEL + OREGANO + NONE
Italian

 

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Fictionary – Online Dictionary Game

Fictionary Rules

(Also known as the Dictionary Game)

It’s really easy….

Each round, an unusual word is presented, along with a series of definitions. One of them is correct, the others are bogus, some submitted by other players. Choose the definition you think is right, then click submit. (The game is on the honor system, so please don’t check the dictionary before playing).  You get a point for selecting the correct definition, or when someone else chooses your fake definition.We started this game in 1996 but it’s been neglected — we’d like to start again, but we need your help to get going. Illuminated manuscript

We’re soliciting new words for the first round — as we get words, we’ll also need fake definitions for them.

Play Fictionary

Suggest a new Fictionary word

Make up a phony definition

We’ll allow private games — email us if you’re interested in a private game with your friends or school class


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Book – Byzantium – John Julius Norwich

Final assault and the fall of Constantinople in 1453
This is a trilogy consisting of:

      • Byzantium – The Early Centuries
      • Byzantium – The Apogee
      • Byzantium – The Decline and Fall

There’s also an abridged version, in one volume, but I  find it difficult to consider missing out on so much. Norwich writes for the lay reader, but relies heavily on primary sources, often with intriguing quotes.  Despite the potential for dry history, he instead presents a lively and fascinating account of the millennium of Byzantine history, starting with Constantine and ending with the Ottoman conquest. Beginning with a quote from W.E.H. Lecky, 1869,

  • Of that Byzantine empire the universal verdict of history is that it constitutes, without a single exception, the most thoroughly base and despicable form that civilisation has yet assumed.. …The history of the Empire is a monotonous story of the intrigues of priests, eunuchs and women, of poisonings, of conspiracies, of uniform ingratitude of perpetual fratricides.”, he comments, “This somewhat startling diatribe… although to modern ears it is perhaps not quite so effective as the author meant it to be — his last sentence makes Byzantine history sound not so much monotonous as distinctly entertaining — the fact remains that, for the past 200 years and more, what used to be known as the Later Roman Empire has had an atrocious press.  “

 

Norwich proceeds to prove that point in 3 volumes of readable history filled with tales both heroic and despicable.

The footnotes are as intriguing as the main text. After describing how

  • the soldiers everywhere proclaimed that they would accept on none but Constantine’s sons, reigning jointly.  With Crispus dead, that left the three sons born to Fausta; the Caesar in Gaul Constantine II, the Caesar in the East Constantius, and the Caesar in Italy Constans”,

he footnotes

  • The distressing lack of imagination shown by Constantine in the naming of his
    children has caused much confusion among past historians, to say nothing of
    their readers.  The latter can take comfort in the knowledge that it lasts
    for a single generation only — which, in a history such as this, is soon over

His style is brisk and interlocking, writing on the broader European history, he’ll follow one thread for several years, then return to the main branch and continue on.  The current year under discussion is always in the upper right corner of the page, making it easier to follow the twists and turns of the plot.   The book is so well written that one can easily jump in anywhere and pick up the flow.

One of the major benefits of this leisurely treatment is the ability to correct historic misunderstandings and mistakes.  The first and most interesting is his emphasis on the fact that the ‘barbarian’ invasions of the 4th and 5th centuries were almost always led by christianized tribes (Goths, Vandals, Ostrogoths, Visigoths) looking for a land to settle their people.
And in many cases, these were not invasions, but uprisings and revolts of peoples who had been promised land and security by the emperor(s) and then been ignored.  The case of Alaric is of particular interest — history books typically spend a paragraph at best and describe him as an invading brute, whose invasion of Italy is stopped only by a courageous pope.   In fact, Alaric and his Visigoths had been alllied with the Roman Empire for some years, and it was only after they had been continually denied their promised lands that Alaric invaded.  (He was opposed by the Vandal Stilicho who led the Imperial forces. Another interesting view is the ‘fall’ of the Roman Empire (western) in 476. The last Western emperor, Romulus Augustulus abdicated in favor of Odoacer, whose goal was to continue to rule as a subject of the Eastern Emperor. Rather than a major turning point in history, Norwich explains

  • it is also undeniable that most people in Italy at the time, watching the young ex-emperor settle himself into his comfortable Campanian villa, would have been astounded to learn that they were living through one of the great
    watersheds of European history.  For nearly a century now that had grown used to seeing barbarian generals at the seat of power.  There had been Arbogast the Frank, then Stilicho the Vandal, then Aetius — who, though a
    Roman, was almost certainly of Germanic origin on this father’s side — then Ricimer the Suevian.  Was the Scyrian Odoacer, they might have asked so very different from these? 

The answer is that he was — though for one reason only.  He had refused to accept a Western Emperor.  In the past those Emperors may have been little more than puppets; nevertheless they bore the title of Augustus, and as such they were both a symbol and a constant reminder of the imperial authority.  Without them, that authority was soon forgotten.  Odoacer had request the rank of Patrician; but the title that he preferred to use was Rex. In less than sixty years, Italy would be so far lost as to need a full-scale reconquest by Justinian.  I would be two and a quarter centuries before another Emperor appeared in the West; when he died, his capital would be in Germany rather than in Italy, and he would be a rival rather than a colleague — not a Roman but a Frank.

It’s always difficult for modern readers to fully understand any previous culture, and for the Byzantine case, Norwich spends extra time trying to convey a sense of the importance of religion in every day affairs.  Many of the political arguments revolved around the propagation and extermination of various heresies.  Despite the attempts of various councils convened by the Emperors, heresies such as the Arian, Nestorian and monophysite continued to prosper.  What’s particularly interesting is that the history is not a simple progression of orthodox emperors and allied
clergy fighting a successful battle against heterodox opinion.  Rather it’s a much more complex situation in which Arian or monophysite ideas would control the state and church for long periods.  Only after the fact can one look back to see the emergence of the orthodox.   Splits between east and west were also common, but sometimes even comical:

In 482, the Emperor Zeno’s attempt to

  • heal the breach by means of a circular letter known as the Henoticon, had proved spectacularly unsuccessful.  It had sought to paper over the differences .. and, like all such compromises, it had aroused the implacable hostility of both sides.  Most outraged of all were Pope Simplicius in Rome and his successor Felix III, whose anger was still further increased by the appointment to the Patriarchate of Alexandria, with the bless of both Zeno and Acacius, of one Paul the Stammerer, a cleric whose utterances, when comprehensible at all, were violently monophysite in character. At a synod held in Rome in 484, Pope Felix had gone so far as to excommunicate the
    Patriarch of Constantinople — a sentence which, in default of any orthodox ecclesiastic courageous enough to pronounce it, had been transcribed on to a piece of parchment and pinned to the back of Acacius’s cope during a service in St. Sophia, when he was not looking, whereat the Patriarch, discovering it a few moments later, instantly excommunicated him back, thereby not only placing the see of Constantinople on the same hierarchical level as that of Rome but simultaneously confirming and open schism between the two churches that was to last for the next thirty-five years.

The Byzantium trilogy contains a good index, and excellent tables of the emperors, and family trees for the often confusing lineages. The maps are adequate, but as so often happens, fail to contain many of the important place names contained in the text. Luckily there are many excellent historical atlases available as complements.  While expensive ($45 each in hard cover), Byzantium is well worth the price.

Other links:

Books about Turkey

Byzantine Ruins

Book – King Hereafter – Retelling MacBeth

In Dunnett’s unique retelling of the Macbeth story  most resemblance to Shakespeare’s ‘Scottish Play’ is purely incidental. Like the re-visioning of the Arthur tales by Bernard Cornwell, Mary Stewart,  and many others, the
barebones of what we think we know of the story become mere background whispers. Here, the death of Duncan occurs as a minor tremor in the plot. Instead, we’re dropped into the tightly wound world of medieval politics, trade and family feuding so familiar from Dunnett’s two historical fiction series – the Niccolo and Lymond books.

Once again, her hero is an underestimated young man, bright and adept in both trade and politics. This time the setting is the northern portion of Great Britain, the Orkneys and Scandinavia at the height of the Viking successor empires. They squabble to control Denmark and England culminating, after this narrative, in 1066 and all that. Tight, intricate
plotting is her trademark, and once more, allegiances and kingdoms bloom, thrive and then are shattered in the course of a paragraph. And there are the expected setpieces – races along the oars of speeding Viking longships, and ice skate
races in the wintry Orkneys. The only downside is that this is a standalone tale, with no sequels. Never light reading, Dunnett is at the top of my list of historical novelists.

Among the other ideas she incorporates are the  concepts of the pre-capitalist, pre-mercantilist kingdoms [in Philip Bobbitt’s terms, Princely states rather than Kingly states as described in The Shield of Achilles, ] where the ‘monarch’ might actually hold little land. His power relied on holding together an amalgam of territories that had no natural borders. Instead ties of tribal nature still held, while the mechanism was held together by new economic concepts like cash money:

Nowadays, money was something all men had need of. The church required it, to pay armies to push the Saracens back in the Mediterranean; to fight off the heathenish tribes of the Baltic; to establish churches and send her missions
abroad. Kings required it, to bribe their enemies and to pay their friends for services rendered where land was wanting or inappropriate; to hire fleets with, and foreign fighting-men; to buy the luxuries that their status demanded.

And since not every country could make money or, having made it, could protect the place where it was kept, a trade in money was always there: money that did not go rotten or stink or require great ships to carry it backwards and forwards, or fail altogether if the weather was bad or some tribe of ignorant savages wiped out the seed and the growers. Money which grew of its own accord: in Exeter, in Alston, in the Hertz mountains where the Emperor Henry had made his new’palace

 

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Recipes – Quick & Easy Eggplant

  • Download royalty free images of Eggplant
  • Eggplants are native to southeast Asia and are produced in a variety of shapes and colors – the most familiar to Westerners is the oblong ‘aubergine’ colored fruit, or the long, tapered ‘Chinese’ or ‘Japanese’ varieties. The Turks have a special love for it, and a bride is said to be unfit for marriage until she knows at least 2 dozen recipes.Eggplant is on of the tastiest and versatile vegetables, but many people underappreciate it. It’s used in European, Middle Eastern , Chinese and Indian cuisines

Prepare the eggplant for frying or grilling

  • Cut into rounds or long strips:  1/2″ thick if frying, or 1″ if grilling. Some people find eggplants are bitter.  If so,  use this next step: place paper towel on a plate, sprinkle lightly with salt, add a layer of eggplant. Sprinkle with salt, then add more eggplant. Top with another layer of paper towels. Let this sit for about 2 hours, during which time the salt will extract much of the water in the eggplant. Then pat dry with additional paper towels and proceed to the next step. (Remember that paper towels compost easily!)
  • To fry eggplant, heat 1 T of oil in a cast iron skillet over high heat, then fry the slices for about 2′ each side until nicely browned. Fry the next batch without adding any more oil. This method of dry frying uses almost no oil, and is best for recipes where the eggplant is later layered with moist ingredients. Alternatively, use about 1 T more oil for each batch of slices to produce a richer result.
  • Or grill or roast the entire eggplant until its skin is almost charcoal for a unique smoky taste. The result is excellent for baba ganoush and other recipes calling for mashed eggplant. Usually the skin is discarded. Prick the eggplant with a fork several times before cooking, or you’ll discover how to turn an eggplant inside out! I’ve tested, savored and experimented with eggplants for years, discovering recipes in travels to China, India, Turkey and other parts of the Middle East and North Africa. Here are some of my favorites:
  • Simple eggplant Appetizer

    This first recipe is simple, yet elegant and makes an eggplant starter or side dish:
    •1 eggplant sliced into 1/2″ slices
    •3 cloves of garlic
    •3 T chopped parsley
    •1 T lemon juice
    •1 T olive oil

    Fry the eggplant slices and arrange on a plate.

    Combine the other ingredients in a food processor [or chop extremely fine], then drizzle on top of eggplant slices. Can be served warm or cold.

    IMAM BAYILDI (The Imam Fainted)
    •Olive oil

    •2 medium onions, chopped fine
    •3-5 garlic cloves, chopped
    •3 medium tomatoes, chopped
    •3 tablespoons chopped parsley
    •Salt and pepper to taste
    •2 medium eggplants
    •2 teaspoons sugar
    •3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

    This is one of the most famous Turkish recipes and varies everywhere – it’s always one of my favorites to order in the smaller Turkish Bufes.

    Cut eggplants in half, and hollow out the centers, leaving a shell of about 3/4 – 1″.

    Chop the extracted eggplant. In a cast iron skillet, heat 3 T olive oil over high heat. Add the onions and reduce to medium heat. Add the garlic, tomatoes, chopped eggplant, salt, and pepper.

    Cook for 5′, stirring occasionally, then reduce to low heat and simmer for additional 15′. Toss in the chopped parsley.

    Stuff each eggplant half and arrange in a baking dish. Sprinkle with sugar, lemon juice, and 1/2 cup oil.

    Bake, covered, in pre-heated moderate oven (350 F.) for about 40 minutes, or until tender.

    Imam biyaldi can be serve hot, or cold with yogurt. Makes 4 to 6 servings depending on the size of the Imam’s appetite.


    More eggplant recipes:

  • Eggplant with red pepper in bean sauce
  • Eggplant with Mushrooms & Onions
  • Zucchini — Eggplant Casserole
  • How to cook vegetables on an outdoor grill
  • Eggplant with YuXiang sauce
  • Melanzane arrostiti
# Name ingredients nationality
194 Baked Eggplant EGGPLANT + ONIONS + RED PEPPER + PINE NUTS + PARSLEY
49 Chicken-Eggplant Stew TOMATO SAUCE + GARLIC +
CINNAMON + OREGANO + PARSLEY + THYME
Italian
47 Dry-fry Eggplant Parmigiana EGGPLANT + OREGANO Italian
148 Eggplant Canelloni EGGPLANT + POLENTA + CAPERS + GORGONZOLA + NONE Italian
192 Eggplant Lamb Casserole EGGPLANT + + LAMB Mideastern
173 Eggplant Lasagna EGGPLANT + FETA + YOGURT + PORK Mideastern
25 Eggplant Lentil Soup CARROTS + EGGPLANT + LENTIL + GARLIC + PARSLEY + PAPRIKA Mideastern
4 Fettucine w Eggplant & Sausage EGGPLANT + OREGANO + PORK Italian
191 Lamb Eggplant Stew EGGPLANT + POTATO + SAFFRON + LAMB
87 Moussaka Stew EGGPLANT + TOMATO + OREGANO + YOGURT + LAMB Mideastern
157 Ratatouille Nicoise EGGPLANT + CELERY + GARLIC Italian
174 Twice Cooked Eggplant EGGPLANT + CARROT + CUMIN Mideastern
Harvest - tomatoes & eggplant
Harvest – tomatoes & eggplant
Eggplant and other vegetables
Eggplant and other vegetables
Eggplant, cucumber peppers and tomatoes
Eggplant, cucumber peppers and tomatoes
Indian villagers sell eggplant and other vegetables
Indian villagers sell eggplant and other vegetables
Indian villagers sell eggplant and other vegetables

Indian villagers sell eggplant and other vegetables
Villagers sell eggplant
Villagers sell eggplant
Villagers sell eggplant
Villagers sell eggplant
Potatoes and eggplant for sale
Potatoes and eggplant for sale
Unidentified Hindu woman sells vegetables on the street
Unidentified Hindu woman sells vegetables on the street
Eggplant being stir-fried in a wok
Eggplant being stir-fried in a wok
Meze of leek pate, grilled eggplant and yogurt cajik,
Meze of leek pate, grilled eggplant and yogurt cajik,
Eggplant with Yu Xiang Sauce
Eggplant with Yu Xiang Sauce
Eggplant with Yu Xiang Sauce
Eggplant with Yu Xiang Sauce
Women selling eggplants and other fresh vegetables
Women selling eggplants and other fresh vegetables
Squash, eggplant and peanuts
Squash, eggplant and peanuts
Indian villagers sell eggplant and other vegetables
Indian villagers sell eggplant and other vegetables
Eggplant and other vegetables i
Eggplant and other vegetables i
Summer bounty - Fresh vegetables
Summer bounty – Fresh vegetables
Fresh vegetables on a metal grid
Fresh vegetables on a metal grid
Fresh vegetables on a metal grid
Fresh vegetables on a metal grid
Summer bounty - Fresh vegetables
Summer bounty – Fresh vegetables
Harvest - tomatoes & eggplant
Harvest – tomatoes & eggplant
Eggplant and Peppers isolated
Eggplant and Peppers isolated
Montage - India Markets, food and people
Montage – India Markets, food and people
Montage - India Markets, food and people
Montage – India Markets, food and people
Potatoes and eggplant for sale
Potatoes and eggplant for sale
Women selling eggplants and other fresh vegetables
Women selling eggplants and other fresh vegetables
Sausages, eggplant and peppers on the grill
Sausages, eggplant and peppers on the grill
Sausages, eggplant and peppers on the grill
Sausages, eggplant and peppers on the grill
Sausages, eggplant and peppers on the grill
Sausages, eggplant and peppers on the grill
Grilled sausages, eggplant and peppers
Grilled sausages, eggplant and peppers
Man sells eggplant
Man sells eggplant
Meze of leek pate, grilled eggplant and yogurt cajik,
Meze of leek pate, grilled eggplant and yogurt cajik,
Grilled eggplant
Grilled eggplant
Eggplant and other vegetables
Eggplant and other vegetables
Eggplant and tomatoes
Eggplant and tomatoes

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Book -Web Copy That Sells

Do you know the secrets behind writing web copy that sells thousands of dollars of product every week?

Would you like to increase your web related income by an order of magnitude?

Of course you would.

Web copy that sells – the Revolutionary formula for creating killer copy by Maria Veloso. claims to help everyone write irresistible copy that compels people to  buy whatever you’re selling on the web. Instead it describes various sleazy, deceptive & underhanded methods for the hard sell.

A large portion of this book is devoted to e-mail marketing which very few people use today. (Unless, of course,  they’re retired princes from Nigeria)  So the information in these chapters is nothing more than fill. There are a  few people for whom the book really is worthwhile – if you are doing legitimate mass email marketing, or if you are marketing an eBook about marketing or other money making products, then yes, Veloso may help you sell more.  But for all her examples, she gives no examples of how to increase the sales of the widgets most of us might want to sell on the web.  Also, if your product doesn’t cost $100 – $1000 then she does even less to help you.

So why spend time with this book? The book IS worth reading, precisely because it exposes in clear language, the psychological tricks that copy writers use to get you to buy products you otherwise wouldn’t consider.

How to become a great web copywriter in five hours or less

Here’s the big “secret’ she reveals:

find a good piece of copy [aka plagiarism!]

 write it out by hand two or three times right now

then write it  two or three times over the next week (this will take roughly 5 hours).

Now you’re a ‘brilliant copywriter’ because, she says, you will ” start internalizing the wording, the phraseology, the riveting rhythm, even the mindset of the person who wrote the copy. Your brain assimilates it, and you practically step into the mind of the writer. This is by far the best modeling exercise I found for accelerating Web copywriting skills.” I was underwhelmed.

Trifecta Neuro affective principle

This principle ‘eliminates the need for you to make decisions’ about which points your sales proposition to include or exclude because the principal triggers are predetermined for you — proper inflammation of the sensible virtually guarantees successful results from the use of the formula and also dramatically shortens the need for superfluous words and long scrolling copy

the principal turns out to be:

  • to support, prove, and defend their respective propositions (redefinition)
  • to destroy the opponent’s arguments ( resistance )
  • to appeal to the audience’s emotions (resonance)

In fact this principle is nothing more than the idea of repeating things in threes and explaining things in multiple ways.    She  spends many pages making it seemed more complex than this but that’s what it boils down to

 

Using psychology to motivate prospects to become purchasers

Halfway through the book Veloso presents several chapters of material that actually make this book worth purchasing. She’s describing how to overcome your buyer’s resistance but in fact gives useful information on how we as consumers can resist some of these hard and soft sells. For example ” in selling a product or service, always tell your readers why they need to do what you’re asking. Something as simple as ‘ you must act now because this offer expires on December 31, after which we can no longer accept orders’  is sufficient. ”

she talks about the Zeigarnik effect, named after a Russian psychologist who showed that people have a tendency to remember things that are unfinished or incomplete. For example in one experiment, waiters could descrinbe orders that are already served, but could tell you exactly what the orders were that were yet to be served.  it’s a state of mental tension and imbalance caused by  uncompleted tasks.

Many of her techniques seem to take advantage or actually create this mental tension and unbalancing — such as creating cognitive dissonance in your readers/buyers. She also recommends adhering to  a linear path so that buyer remains along the path that you have created for her . This means no distractions ” if you’re ever tempted to include advertising banners on your website, or Google AdSense ads, or reciprocal links with other websites, or links to other unrelated pages in your website that don’t contribute to the sales process, remember that you are violating the linear path concept allowing the Zeigarnik effect to kick in.”  Of course this also eliminates many of the other techniques that might also be useful in increasing sales on your website. The website and corresponding web copy that she envisions has one purpose only and that is to drive buyers to the selling fields where the final sale is made. If you are selling products that rely on manipulation and heat of the moment decisions [think infomercials] then her techniques may be useful. But if you are trying to both give information, entertainment, and sell, her information will be of little value.

She really likes to include jargon like neurolinguistic programming and other neologisms to represent simple psychological manipulation. For example, using embedded commands to push your reader  where you want them to go. For example the sentence “‘I wonder how quickly you are going to buy this product’ seems harmless and the reader might consciously take it as a hypothetical comment. Notice the embedded commands, it’s quite an hypnotic effect: you are going to buy this product.    As you read this book you realize that the book itself has been organized and written using exactly these methods to blindside the reader and make them accept concepts and actions that they would otherwise challenge.. It’s filled with embedded commands,  bullet lists,  emotional triggers and other method she describes in the art of changing your prospects’ minds.

Veloso  includes many examples of successful copywriting, and guides you step by step in creating your very own web copy.  Unfortunately, most of her examples are of high cost products that are already guaranteed to get high readership and response, or of products that most of us should be embarrassed to be associated with.  Before presenting these examples which range from  manipulative to downright sleazy she always uses a disclaimer saying use your powers only for good.  There’s the  one-day seminar in Chicago introducing a breakthrough weight loss program this person developed to lose 25 pounds in less than two weeks and keep the weight off. It turns out the miracle is in fact one nutrient that ” the government won’t allow him to sell” but that this discovery is so “powerful, safe, and effective that it makes people lose the unwanted pounds so fast that they need a  new wardrobe just a few weeks after starting the program.”  For some reason the only way this information could be conveyed is in a one day 12 hours seminar that cost $1000 However for those who couldn’t attend the live seminar reservations were allowed to buy audio CDs of the seminar for $250

Supposedly, on the basis of this e-mail ‘hundreds’ of people forked over a thousand dollars to attend this seminar.  None of the buyers asked why a simple ‘nutrient’ solution to weight loss would require a 12 hours seminar as the only means of disclosure when at the same time audio’s were being sold with exactly the same information. Obviously this information could easily have been put in book form and presented for less than $100.  But the purpose of the techniques being recommended here was to get people to buy something they would not buy if they thought it through rationally.

  Do you really want to be writing web copy for these purposes?

Markets, Bazaars & Souks

Markets of the World

Markets by Type

How to Bargain When Traveling

American travelers are often hesitant to plunge into a foreign bazaar and haggle with sellers. But this is the natural and expected way of doing business in much of the world, so a little preparation can help you enjoy your trip more, and maybe bring back a story with your souvenirs.

Bargaining

The following are some general rules and advice for travelers in foreign markets and bazaars gleaned from experiences of bargaining in Turkey, Nepal, India, South America, China and North Africa.  In most of these countries US$ are accepted in additional to the local currency, so it’s a good idea to bring $1 and other small bills. Few countries have any currency black markets any more, so there is rarely any legal problem with using US currency.  English is often spoken,
but in countries like Morocco, French may be the common language; but many bazaaris speak multiple languages.   These suggestions reflect my experiences and preferences, which are highly personal.  There are many other approaches.

o
Have fun – don’t take this too seriously.  Negotiating a sale should be of benefit to both sides, not adversarial. Approach the process with a sense of adventure.  You probably can’t insult the vendor, and
nothing they say to you should be taken personally.  Treat it as a game of charades.  Even if you share few words in common, you can use gestures. Many vendors have calculators to make your offer.  Others write on their hands if paper isn’t available.  Write your counter offer if the seller doesn’t understand

o Pay what it’s worth to you – ask what something is made of, but especially in markets, covered bazaars and souks,  be wary of claims that sound exceptional.  Don’t expect to “buy a camel for donkey prices.” Ask questions before making any offer.  Look at several items.  You’re not likely to find antiques or high quality jewelry on a tabletop, but be alert since it can happen.  Better quality metals should have a hallmark (eg, sterling silver often has a 925 mark).  Usually, choose items because of their value to you, not because it’s claimed to be sterling silver or pure jade.  In many countries, silver, gold and semi precious stones in shops are sold by weight, with no consideration of the work involved.  So look for hand crafted items.  Here you’ll be bargaining not for the item, but for the price per gram of silver, etc.

o  Sellers never lose – don’t worry about offering too little.  If you do, they’ll probably just laugh and ask you to give a little more.  On rare occasions, a vendor might just say it’s too low and give up, so you have the option of raising your price or trying somewhere else. Walking away will usually let you know if your price is too low.  If it’s within range the vendor won’t let you walk out without making a counteroffer.

o  Making low offers at the start of a trip is an excellent way to  gauge the marketplace, since there are no rules for pricing and it will vary from city to city and even market to market.  Some guidebooks tell you to offer 1/3 or 1/2 the asking price, but astute vendors will have read these guide books too! This general rule can cost you money if the vendors are asking 5 or even 10 times what the item costs.  On a trip to China I saw the same item in different cities being offered for 250, 150 and 80 yuan. In all cases, the price I finally paid was between 15 and 30 yuan.   Items in tourist areas are likely to be inflated much more.  And if it’s a quick stop, such as a tourist bus or boat stop or outside a museum or other attraction, be ready to bargain quickly and sharply (I’ve closed some deals through the window as the bus drove away).  These can be places to get very good prices, since the vendors sell high volumes, but they’ll also start very high.  But don’t make a low offer if you’re not interested in the item at all – the buyer may take your offer, and the only real insult is to make an offer and then not honor it.  Once you name a price, you should be willing to pay that price if the seller agrees.  But you’re never obligated to come to an agreement.

o Quantity discounts – you’ll usually do  better by combining several items.  You might start bargaining for one item, then offer to buy 2 for a lower price.  Or, if the bargaining is stalled, add another item to the pile and accept the buyer’s last offer.  Changing currencies can be useful if you can do the math quickly in your head (sellers will always be able to do these calculations faster than you can).  Eg, after bargaining in the local currency, offer dollars instead.  Locals will often be able to get a better rate of exchange than you can, or dollars might be a hedge against inflation in some countries, so US$ can sometimes command a 10-20% premium.  If you pay by credit card, expect to pay a few percent more.  Be a bit careful if you agree on a price in dollars and then use a credit card — the amount has to be entered in the local currency, so check that the exchange rate used is a reasonable one.

o  Using your local guides – This varies both in the country, and how long your guide will be with you.  If the guide is just with you for the day or if you’re with a large, organized tour, it’s rarely useful to have them bargain for you.  Some local guides don’t like to let their groups free in bazaars or souks, when they can earn a commission by taking them on a ‘factory’ tour. (Other times the reason is just the hassle of keeping track of everyone, and then having the entire group wait when someone gets lost in the souk. If you’re on a large group tour like this, courtesy demands you stay with the group, and find time to return later on your own.)  If a guide is with you for a longer time, they may be able to find special prices or items for you.  Many guides have connections that can get you discounted prices.  Sometimes this can result in a good value, sometimes not – much depends on your skills and appetite for bargaining.   For example, in Egypt, a young man became my guide for the day and took me to several shops making inlaid boxes and other crafts.  The prices were 50-75% lower than what I had been able to bargain for in the bazaars.  The ‘guide’ of course expected (and got) a good tip, but everyone still benefits and these experiences are part of the fun of traveling.  Another problem with using a go-between is that you’ll need to tell them your actual price at some point, and how interested you are in an item.  It’s also more difficult to use the walk-away ploy when a guide does your bargaining.

o  Factory tours – Some years ago, organized tours changed from having stops at established shops, to having ‘educational’ stops at factories which just happened to have extensive showrooms.   If you educate
yourself beforehand, these can be excellent places to buy.  The factory tours range from extremely informative to thinly disguised selling.  You’ll often be told your group has a special discount (15-20% is common), but additional bargaining is usually expected.  These places usually have higher quality items than what you’ll see on the street, especially if they do a lot of overseas shipping or other wholesale selling.   And there will be a wider range of items to choose from.  Just remember that your local guide usually gets a commission on these purchases.  That said, you can profit from these tours too — quiz the presenter, asking them how to tell their high grade jade from what you just saw on the street for 1/10 the price, or what makes a difference in weaving techniques, etc.   Since these shops usually ARE selling a higher quality, the answers will usually be informative and accurate.

Where to shop in Turkey

Turkey offers many opportunities.

o Bargaining is expected.

o The Covered Bazaar in Istanbul is a great place to explore and purchase gifts. Do bargain. Gold is a good buy, and the best baklava shop is just across the street on the way back to Sultanahmet hotels

o Cappadocia is the best place for carpets, and try to go as a group for at least one carpet factory tour. Good bargains are also available in Istanbul.

o Leather goods, jewelry, lace, antiques and other crafts

o Cash — US one dollar bills are often accepted and sometimes preferred because of inflation. Bazaars and markets usually accept dollars, and dollars can be handy for a quick tip if you’re on your own, for taxi fare, etc.

o Make a copy of your passport and keep it separate from your traveling papers. It’s also handy to have copies of your credit cards, airline tickets, etc.

o While Theft isn’t a major problem –  just be careful as you would in any major city. Pickpockets and purse-snatchers are the biggest problem, especially in the markets or on public transportation. Just be alert


Shopping in India
A Jodhpur experience

Best Way to See Seattle …. Is to Leave It

After boarding, go to what will be the aft of the boat – the end attached to the dock – and go out on the viewing deck. As you leave Seattle, there are great views back to the city skyline, showing the sprawling city from Seattle Center and Queen Anne hill on the left (north), then south to the  stadiums and dockyards. On a clear day, you can even see
Mt. Rainier, over 50 miles away.

Seattle ferry, leaving waterfront
Download royalty free images of
Seattle ferries
One of the best ways to see and explore Seattle is to leave it! Take one of the Washington State ferries. The boats run frequently.. There may be waits for cars on weekends and holidays, but bikes and walkers always get on.The ferries bound for Bremerton and for Poulsbo leave from the same dock in downtown Seattle. In 2017, adult fares are about $8 for adults, half that for seniors. There’s a $1 charge for bicycles, and about $12 for a car and driver. On the return, passengers and bicycles are free.When we bicycle, we load our bikes in the car and park on the street either to the north or south of the ferry terminals where parking is free, then bike the mile or so to the ferry. Otherwise you can park across the highway from the ferries and walk on or, if you plan to explore beyond the ferries, drive on.
When you tire of these views, grab a coffee in the snack bar, and then walk the length of the ferry to the forward viewing decks.  Now you’ll get views of the many Puget Sound islands, and the Olympic mountain range in the distance.  The ferry is likely to be followed closely by seagulls, and cormorants can usually be seen on the pilings drying their wings. Other shorebirds, coots, ducks are frequently seen. There are whales in the area, but it’s highly unlikely you’ll see one. Sunset panorama, Seattle skyline, sailboats

  • Download royalty free images of
    Seattle

Once you reach the terminus, you have several choices. You can stay on the ferry and return right away, or  you can walk or bicycle in the small towns nearby, returning for the ferry. There’s usually a short steep hill to get away from the dock, but it flattens out after that. You can drive to visit nearby cities of Port Gamble, Port Orchard or Port Townsend. The latter has several music festivals during the year and  many antique shops. It also has a ferry that goes to Whidbey Island so you can drive a loop trip. On Whidbey you can go north over Deception Pass bridge [the pass is the narrow bit of water under the bridge]. Or drive south to pick up another small ferry to Mukilteo, just north of Seattle. Port Gamble also hosts an annual Civil War re-enactment that offers a fun weekend, with 2 battles scheduled every day, and the soldiers’ camps to visit in between. These towns are also famous for their many Victorian houses. Many of them are now open as Bed & Breakfasts

Yet another option is to drive to nearby Olympic National Park for hikes. There are trailheads near the Hood Canal bridge link up to Highway 101. The park headquarters is atop aptly named Hurricane Ridge, with the best views of this wilderness park. But, since there are no roads into the main parts of the park, unlike Yellowstone or Yosemite, you really need to hike to appreciate everything the park offers. You can hike in the rainforest to the glaciated volcano, Mt. Olympus and then explore the Pacific Ocean beaches in just a few miles, without leaving the park. If you’re going to the Olympics, you’ll probably want to stay overnight. There are many campgrounds, and inexpensive motels in towns like Sequim, Port Angeles and Forks.

With a little forethought, you can come back into Seattle at sunset, or view the city lights at night.

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Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution

 

How the Renaissance contributed to the Scientific Revolution

Unintended Consequences of the Renaissance

The re-birth of learning during the Renaissance had many unintended consequences. Historical fiction if well done can demonstrate this.  Dorothy Dunnett while re-telling the story of Macbeth in ‘King Hereafter’describes what Phillip Bobbitt calls the transition from Princely states to Kingly states where the ‘monarch’ might actually hold little land, and whose power relied on holding together an amalgam of territories that had no natural borders (Eg, the widespread and disjointed Hapsburg Empire). Her Nicolo and Lymond series are excellent portrayals of politics and economics in these times. These states were supported by concepts from Greek Philosophy such as Plato & Aristotle’s ideas of government, and especially Aristotle’s ideas that nature could be deduced from first principles. No need for experiment. This reliance on revealed truth rather than observation and experiment gave way first with the Protestant Reformation, then with the experiments of artists and proto-scientists like Leonardio da Vinci and Vesalius artists and proto-scientists like Leonardo da Vinci and Vesalius.

Ultimately, the Renaissance started a series of revolutions – First , Copernicus and Bruno rejected the received idea that the earth was the center of the universe. Later scientific exploration showed that even the sun was only a tiny star amid vast galaxies. Finally, Darwin, standing on the shoulders of early scientists like Hooke, Galton, Newton, and Leibniz, knocked human beings from their pedestal as god’s primary focus, by showing that we are but one species in the sprawling network resulting from evolution.

Teleology, if not theology was dead.

Science & Democracy evolve from the Renaissance

Another consequence of Renaissance ideas was the concept that man might make his own rules, not being ruled from above. Venice had a constitution that was more republican or oligarchical than democratic. Various smaller experiments in city-state communes of medieval Europe followed, including the long struggles against Medici domination in Florence described by Machiavelli in The Prince. The 17th century saw further concepts democracy in philosophy and practice, especially in England and the new Dutch Republic. But it was the enlightenment of the 18th century that gave violent birth to the major democratic revolutions in America and France. What had started with Kings employing painters to glorify their reigns ended by replacing those dynasties with modern democracies.

Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Trilogy

Neal Stephenson’s Baroque Trilogy is a magnificent journey through 17th century Europe. Politics, and especially economics, are major foci, as the characters learn and adapt to the evolving capitalist system of venture capital and stock markets, Kings and Princes take a back seat to merchant traders and entrepreneurs.

 

Fernand Braudel – Civilization and Capitalism
15th-18th Century.

Fernand Braudel’s epic 3 volume work is Civilization and Capitalism 15th-18th Century. These are heavy lifting,
both physically and mentally, but well worth it, and you can see the influences he had on Dunnett and Stephenson when they prepared their fictional narratives. Braudel’s scope is phenomenal, touching details across centuries of history and different civilizations. Fantastic maps and charts illustrate the concepts, along with period pictures.

Starting with human life in the centuries before industrialization, he examines the machinery of exchange as a whole, from barter to the most sophisticated  capitalism. After a survey of the instruments of exchange, he then moves on to look at the effects of markets on the economy. Eventually, traders cease to be mere movers of goods from one place to another and start to build production facilities in far off places. Again echoed by  Dunnett & Stephenson

• Vol. I – The Structures of Everyday
• Vol. II – The Wheels of Commerce
• Vol. III – The Perspective of the World

Spices Markets of the World

Spices make excellent souvenirs for many trips – for yourself or your friends. They’re light, reasonably priced and literally import the exotic flavors of your trip. Of course, it helps if you know how to use them, but even if you don’t, you’ll find but even if you don’t, you probably know someone who does, and spices make a great gift.

There’re rarely any problems with customs. The main hassles are raw food items like unroasted coffee beans (ie, only buy roasted coffee beans) or many air dried meat products like prosciutto. Educate yourself before your trip;
learn what the common spices look like in various forms. During the trip, ask the waiter about the flavors in dishes you particularly enjoy. You may even be invited by the chef to explore the kitchen.

Spices can be found in many tourist souvenir shops, but avoid these prepackaged bits, often 5 or 6 spices on a foldout card . They tend to be both old and expensive. Instead, find a local market, where business is more frequent. In Istanbul, the Egyptian Market on the Golden Horn waterfront is the exemplar. Some bargaining is expected, with minimal changes of 10% or so are common. Do ask for prices before buying though. Some spices, like sumak or cardamon are several times more expensive than more common ones. Familiarize yourself with the metric equivalents if you’re used to ounces. 50- 100g should be enough for most purposes (about 2-4 oz).

 

Turkey – Recipes

    • My favorite spices from Turkey are its many peppers — everything from mild paprika, to hot red peppers. Usually powdered, they’re also found in paste form, and if well packaged, these travel and keep well.
    • Saffron is available in several forms.  It’s not as good as Iranian orMoroccan, but much cheaper, and for simple rice dishes, or soups, you just use a bit more.   Watch out for ‘Indian Saffron’ — it’s just turmeric.
    • And there are now many different forms of Turkish Viagra — from powdered ginger to walnut stuffed figs.

India – Recipes

India was the source of the original spice trade, making the fortunes of many successful voyagers.
Today anyone can bring back a Prince’s ransom in delectable spices.

  • Cardamom is the fruit of Elettaria cardamomum, a member of the ginger family, which grows in the moist, tropical regions of Southern Asia
  • Vanilla beans
  • Cocoa pods
  • Tamarind
  • Nutmeg & Mace are derived from the apricot-like fruit of the evergreen tree Myristica fragrans. When the fruit is ripe, it splits in half revealing a deep red, net-like membrane that covers a brittle shell. The membrane is mace, the shell nutmeg.
  • Turmeric is a rhizome of the tropical herb Curcuma longa. It’s used in powdered form.
  • Coriander
  • Ginger is a light-brown rhizome of the plant Zingiber officinale
  • Cayenne is made from the dried red skins of chili peppers
  • Cinnamon is the dried bark of an evergreen tree of the laurel family, Cinnamomum
    zeylanicum
    is native to India and Sri Lanka.
  • Asafoetida is the sap from the roots and stem of a giant fennel-like plant which grows wild in Central Asia. The sap dries into a hard, smelly resin and is usually used ground

Morocco

Cumin is the national condiment, found with salt & pepper on tables everywhere. Use either the seeds of this small
annual herb from the parsley family Cuminum cyminum, or the ground powder form. Popular in tagines.

Saffron – various qualities of saffron are widely available, prices vary accordingly.

Mexico Recipes

Dried peppers of all sorts are cheaply available everywhere. There’s no problem in bringing them back to the US, even with their seeds. In Mexico, both fresh and dried peppers are abundant, and the names change when a pepper is dried — anchos are just the dried form of poblanos. Chipotles are the smoky, dried form of jalapenos.

In many markets you can find moles – mixtures of up to 20 or more spices. These are excellent bases for sauces, soup flavorings, or marinades and I always buy several kilos – they’ll keep for months in the refrigerator.

Huitlacoche  is a fungus that grows on corn ears, producing big, swollen, deformed kernels, black inside with a silvery gray skin. It’s easily compared to truffles, with a delicious, inky mushroomy flavor, but it’s rarely available commercially. Sometimes you can find it in restaurants as Huitlacoche para Quesadilla.

China – Recipes

        • Ginger
        • Anise

Specific Spices:

  • Saffron  Absurdly priced in the US, saffron is affordable in many countries.   You do need to know a little about the differences. True saffron is made from the are the stigma (female organ) of the autumn
    crocus, or Crocus sativus, but other ‘saffrons’ are made from different flowers, sometimes even leaves.  Mexican saffron is one of these, it’s very cheap, but gives a completely different flavor (though quite good).   Turkish saffron is very good, but you need to use a loose teaspoon of threads where a recipe calls for a few threads of Spanish saffron.   In Morocco, several grades of saffron are available, in both thread and powdered form.  All are good value and reasonably priced.  Iranian saffron is some of the best I’ve found, but priced accordingly. In Turkey, you’ll also find ‘Indian Saffron’, but this is really Turmeric, a different spice entirely
  • Sumak Mostly unknown in the US, this is a common spice in the Mideast.  Use it to flavor grilled chicken or fish, or just sprinkle lightly on a salad of tomatoes and sliced onions.PepperDozens of choices, so try tasting them and choosing what you like best.  In Turkey, commonly red pepper, with some browns.
  • Pepper pastes (moles) also widely available.   In Mexico, both fresh and dried peppers are abundant, and the names change when a pepper is dried — anchos are just the dried form of poblanos.  Chipotles are the dried form of jalapenos.
  • Paprika  Good paprikas are widely available, with tastes varying from sweet to moderately spicy.
  • Cumin–The national spice of Morocco — found on most tables withthe salt and pepper.  Used in many dishes here and in India, Mexico, and the Middle East.  Available in both powdered and seed form. Roast the seeds to get a wonderful flavor
  • Coriander  The powdered form (made from the dried seeds)  very different from the fresh leaves and stems (also known as cilantro). Used in cultures throughout the world.   Use the fresh form in
    dishes that call for parsley!
  • Turmeric— The ‘poor man’s saffron’, this spice is basic to many dishes in the Indian subcontinent, up through China. It provides a beautiful saffron color, and a distinctive taste. In the US it’s most
    commonly found as a coloring agent in chicken soup.
  • Cardamom Another expensive spice in the US.  You can find green or black forms, or seeds.
  • Discover recipes using these spices

    More on markets, souks and bazaars

Blisters Dice Game

Ready to roll??

Blisters is a simple dice game.

While learning the rules, just roll the dice and see how your roll fits with these game instructions. The rules may seem complicated at first but you’ll soon see how simple they really are when you’re playing the game. The object of the game is to control the dice and accumulate points toward a high score. Since this game was invented during a six month hiking expedition, the scoring goal is usually a hiking trail’s length. We “hike” the Appalachian Trail most often when we play, a goal of 2,145 miles!

Playing:
The game is played with six dice, three pair of different colors. Play is based on matching dice. The player rolls the dice, attempting to match numbers and accumulate points. Any dice that match are called scoring dice. When the number of scoring dice is two or four (a pair, two pair or four of a kind), the player has the
option of rolling the remaining non-scoring dice  or ending that turn, adding any points to their game score total. If the number of scoring dice is  uneven (three and five of a kind or a full house), the player
must
roll the remaining non-scoring dice.  When the player rolls the remaining dice, they’ll either roll more scoring dice or get BLISTERS. Whenever the player fails to roll scoring dice, this is called Blisters and the player loses any points from that turn.

Scoring:

Any dice with matching numbers are the scoring dice. If the numbers and the colors match, the score is ten times the number on one of those dice. If the numbers match but the colors do not, the score is the sum of the dice. For example; two red fives, a white four, a blue four, a blue two and a white three have been rolled. The two fives are the same color and are worth ten times the number on one of the dice or 50 points. (10 X 5) The two different color fours are worth their sum or 8 points. (4 + 4) The blue two and the white three do not match any other dice so they are worth nothing. In this example, the player has the option of rolling the non-scoring dice (the two and the three) or ending this turn and adding the 58 points to their game score total.

The player continues to control the dice until:

    • A: The total number of scoring dice is two or four (like the example above) and he/she chooses to end this turn, adding the points to the game score total.
    • B: The player fails to roll any scoring dice. (Blisters!)
    • or C: The player has 6 sixes. We’ll get to this rule later. If the player scores with all six of the dice during play, that player  must continue, adding any points gained so far to the turn total and rolling ALL six of the dice again.

Remember the difference between the game score and the turn score. The turn score is lost when the player gets Blisters during that turn. The score from previous rounds cannot be lost when the player gets Blisters.  Play continues for 5 rounds, looking to get a maximum score to enter the >Hall of  Fame.  Sometimes turns seem to last forever, other times they are over on the first roll (1,2,3,4,5,6! We call this a “primary burn”). You’ll notice patterns in scoring and gameplay, some turns may even amaze you. You can reach any goal score you choose in one turn if the luck of the dice is with you. I’ve seen a turn over 2000 miles!

 


Hall of Fame

Blisters rules Copyright 1993 Tim A Novak
All contents Copyright 1998 Tim A Novak and HAE.
Licensed & adapted by Steve Estvanik / Cascoly Software

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More from Cascoly:

World Religions

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Buddhism

 

Islam

 

Book – Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi

I find it hard to imagine two more fascinating cities than Venice and Varanasi. While  New York, Paris, Prague, Mexico City all have their attractions, if I had quickly to choose one place to spend a week it would likely be a choice between the Vs.  So when I happened on Geoff Dyer’s new book I knew he was writing for me.  Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi is a pair of novellas, intricately linked, yet totally separate.  In the first Jeff Atman [sanskrit for one’s true self ] is in Venice to write about the Biennale  for a British journal.  Venice and the art world form the backdrop to a week of Bellinis and cocaine, quick trysts with famous art and an alluring stranger.  A vaparetto map of Venice is useful in keeping track of their watery peregrinations, hitting all the highlights of Venice, and many of the more subtle aspects such as the cemetery island of Ste. Michelle.  They constantly cross over cultural hotspots, what will be known in hindusim as tirthas.  Varanasi being one of the most powerful of all tirthas.

The first half of the book is bright, fast, funny, sexy- always moving, day and night barely recognized. Yet he realizes that he is missing something. The San Rocco school and its Veronese painting of the crucifixion present him with a
curious puzzle.

everybody in the painting he was looking at was looking at the crucified Christ, even the two thieves who were getting crucified alongside him, even people like the guy on the horse, who was looking at something else. Atman didn’t know how long he sat there, staring at this painting, not having any thoughts about it, willing on an epiphany that never came, never happened, just seeing it, looking at. Perhaps that was the epiphany, surrounding himself to
what he was seeing.

The second novella is contemplative, thoughtful, and sexless, with repetitive movements space through a spiritual landscape. He wanders down to the cremation ghats:

the whole operation at Manikarnika was really labor-intensive, like one of those Salgano photographs of peasants toiling on the mountainside – a mountainside, in this case that had been so thoroughly worked over that it was
no longer a mountain . There were great stacks of wood, higher than houses, forever getting added to and denuded as logs were weighed out to fuel the never ending need for fires. Barges arrived, crammed with logs that were carried to
the shore, so big that only one or two could be carried at a time, slung like animals, stiff and heavy, over the shoulders of the men carrying them. The wood was stacked, chopped, weighed and carried down to the water again, probably
weighed again. Each cremation required a ton of wood.: Ton in the sense of a lot, not a specific unit of measurement. Smoke smudged the sky, blackening the temples and buildings crowded around the fires. Cows chewed on soggy marigolds, picking picking through the ash that the rivers dark edge. The water was sooty and dark, burned. Some dogs were there too. Half a dozen fires were burning, tended by the men who worked ther. People were standing around talking while, all the time, wood was lugged back and forth and fires were prodded with branches. It was like watching the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, as it might have occurred if Berenice no industry and a vast surplus manpower, all employed in the service of death.

He had planned to spend only a few days in Varanasi, and though he tried to wander alone he he realized that was impossible: By the time you have shown the first flicker of interest in doing, seeing or buying anything in India,
someone will have read the signs and acted on that, will be trying to turn this wish – for interest is a wish, desire, and, as such, constitutes demand – into a reality, to his or her financial benefits. I only learned this later

while during the tourist itinerary starts to slip outward cover the city and as advising. He ends up staying for weeks stretching to months:

I bought a couple of the little candle coracles, lit them and watched them wobble and float away . They were lovely, and it was lovely, at first, being on the crowded water in the faded light, waiting for things to begin. Almost as soon as it began, though, the ceremony became disappointing. You didn’t have to be a particularly discerning tourist to see that this was an exhausted pageant, drummed up for tourists, a son et lumiere with a cast of hundreds. Any significance it was supposed to have had been drained, possibly a long time ago or maybe just yesterday, or even now, right before our eyes. The event had bled itself white, but each night it had to bleed afresh, which only
made it seem more stale and bloodless. It was like trying to glimpse, in a performance of The Mousetrap, the ravaged majesty of Macbeth. The air was frantic with others, dense with harshly amplified chanting, the sound of conches
and the clamor of bells. I left before the and, before it had even got going

· Varanasi is filled with small temples at every turning

shortly after this I found myself outside Temple – I didn’t know which one, but that was not the big one Vishwanath, with all the airport security: metal detectors circuits. That’s why there are so many soldiers around: because
Vishwanath the Golden Temple, and the mosque were practically on top of each other goading the faithful, inciting them to live in peace. It was the old neighbors from hell scenario, raised to the level of intense theological
principle and proximity. There is no God but God, says that one place there are millions of them says the other. The fact that were able to get along for years did not mean that, at the drop of a hat, they would not be at one another’s
throats
.

As he observes the manner in which definition becomes obscured , a similar process affects his life:

I noticed a small blue shrine, the size of an emergency phone on the side of the motorway. in the middle of the shrine, where the phone would’ve been there was an orange blob, a worn shape.. Within the general roundness, it was
possible to make out the lump of the body and the smaller lump ofa head, but more rounded, less defined than a Henry Moore version of any God. Who was it ? Ganesh? It could’ve been any of them. There was not even residue of definition, but this did not suggest that its power had diminished or been shrunk; the sense was that its essence had become more concentrated. The feeling was not of erosion or diminution, but of withdrawal. The God, whoever it was, had retreated into itself. By reducing it self almost space to nothing, by coming so close to that which could not be identified as,, it had become more nakedly itself. I felt sure of this, even though I did not know who is what I was seeing.

The two parts of the book are completely separate yet it’s impossible to read
without making connections at every turning of a page

Books – Venice

Venice Guides and Travel writing

Venice Rough Guide Venice and Veneto: Great introduction to Venice.  Its restaurant and hotel suggestions are good, but it really shines in describing the city, and offering suggestions for many days’ walks — much better in fact, than several ‘walking’ guides we also consulted.  Good maps complement a sensible layout of this maze of a city.

The ‘Brief History’ does an excellent job, and prepares you for delving deeper with an extensive reading
list.

“Nobody arrives in Venice and sees the city for the first time. Depicted and described so often that its image has become part of the
European collective consciousness, Venice can initially create the slightly anticlimactic feeling that everything looks exactly as it should.
The water-lapped palaces along the Canal Grande are just as the brochure photographs made them out to be, Piazza San Marco does indeed look as perfect as a film set, and the panorama across the water from the Palazzo Ducale is precisely as Canaletto painted it. The sense of familiarity soon fades, however, as details of the scene begin to catch the attention – a strange carving high on a wall, a boat being manoeuvred round an impossible corner, a window through which a painted ceiling can be seen. And the longer one looks, the stranger and more intriguing Venice becomes “

—– John Ruskin, The Stones of Venice

This is a delightful book — both for the opinions expressed and the wonderful pomposity with which they are presented.   It’s impossible not to learn about art and architecture from this book, but it also (perhaps not intentionally) makes Woody Allen’s or Steve Martin’s New Yorker pieces seem like downers.  The man has no humility and there is no opinion other than his. For example – “I have said that the two orders, Doric and Corinthian, are the roots of all European
architecture.  You have, perhaps, heard of five orders: but there are only two real orders; and there can never be any more until doomsday.”
  Yet somehow the clarity and vitality of his description allows you to continue reading.   I was fortunate enough to pick this up in Venice, so I was able to search out his examples of the 5 worst buildings in Venice, and similar Ruskinisms.  — Some examples:

“The work of the Lombard was to give hardihood and system to the enervated body and enfeebled mind of Christendom;  that of the Arab was to punish idolatry, and to proclaim the spirituality of worship.  The Lombard covered every church which he build with the sculptured representations of bodily exercises – hunting and war.  The Arab banished all imagination of creature form from his temples, and proclaimed from their minarets, ‘There is no god but  God’.  Opposite, in their character and mission, alike in their magnificence of energy, they came from the North and from the South, the glacier torrent and the lava stream; they met and contended over the wreck of the Roman empire; and the very centre of the struggle, the point of pause of both, the dead water of the opposite eddies, charged with embayed fragments of the Roman wreck, is VENICE.”

“…this solitude was anciently chosen by man for his habitation. They little thought, who first drove the stakes into the san and strewed the ocean reeds for their rest, that their children were to be the princes of that ocean, and their palaces its pride;… Had deeper currents divided their islands, hostile navies would again and again have reduced the rising city into servitude; had stronger surges beaten their shores, all the richness and refinement of Venetian architecture must have been exchanged for the walls and bulwarks of an ordinary seaport. Had there been no tide.. the narrow canals of the city would have become noisome, and the marsh in which it was built pestiferous. Had the tide been only a foot or eighteen inches higher in its rise, the water-access to the doors of the palaces would have been impossible… Eighteen inches more of difference between the level of flood and ebb would have rendered the doorsteps of every palace, at low water, a treacherous mass of weeds and limpets, and the entire system of water-carriage for the higher classes, in their easy and daily intercourse, must have been done away with. The streets of the city would have been widened, its networks of canals filled up, and all the peculiar character of the place and the people destroyed.”

Ruskin’s Venice : The Stones Revisited by Sarah Quill (Photographer)
This makes the perfect and beautiful companion book to John Ruskin’s eccentric views of this city. Using Ruskin’s text as a guide Quill also wanders the city capturing Ruskin’s ideas, while producing her own view of this captivating island fantasy.

John Julius Norwich — A History of Venice

shorter than his Byzantium trilogy, but just as readable

Fiction & Essays

  • Vikram SethAn Equal Music – set in Venice, portrays the intimate workings of a string quartet.
  • Thomas Mann – A Death in Venice
  • Blue Guide to Venice
  • Geoff Dyer – Jeff in Venice, Death in Varanasi
  • Jan Morris The World of Venice
  • Joseph Brodsky – Watermark – essays by the poet from a winter spent in Venice
  • Jason Goodwin – The Bellini Card – Yashmin the eunuch leaves his beloved Istanbul to investigate a mysterious painting in Venice. One of a series of mysteries set in 19th century Ottoman empire
  • Dorothy DunnettNiccolo Rising (House of Niccolo) one of several of her books that take place in Venice
  • Ian McEwan – The Comfort of Strangers – the eeriness of Venice and its moldering nobility set the backdrop for this twisted tale. The movie with Helen Mirren and Christopher Walken is unforgettable
  • Download royalty free images of Venice

Books – Democracy Through the Ages

Everyone speaks of democracy as if there’s a common understanding of what this word means, but it’s one of the harder of political labels to actually find in the world. With perhaps the exception of a few New England town meetings or other small groups, true democracy has never been in place for long, and in the US, it really was never considered and actually opposed by most of the Republican founders.  So, despite Bush’s arrogant claims to ‘bring democracy’ to Iraq, we really need to question and examine just what is being proposed.  Democracy is actually a fairly recent concept in terms of actually being used; flowering a few times in history, but only setting
solid roots in the 18th century, and the question is still open as to whether it will thrive.

There are many books to recommend, both fiction and non-fiction; history and polemic.  Historical fiction is often a superb way to show the actual workings of past societies

The earliest true attempt at democracy was in Athens in the 5th century BCE. and its lifespan was brief, emerging from resistance to tyrants and lasting only a few decades until oligarchies and tyrants regained control. The Peloponnesian War was in large part the struggle between  the Athenian Empire [ democratic, but including both slavery and subjugation of an extended collection of ‘allies’ for tribute  and resources] versus the Spartan league [ dominated by oligarchies with a feudal basis].  The final result of this long war was to weaken both antagonists and undermine their political systems.  Events in the war’s aftermath are described in,  The Trial of Socrates .   I.F. Stone places the writings of Plato in the context of  Plato’s and Socrates’ support for oligarchy rather than democracy.

The Roman Republic was a later experiment in the development of democracy, with an elaborate system of balances that worked for a time, but was again unable to respond and adapt to the needs of an expanding empire. Colleen McCullough’s Masters of Rome series of novels is the best re-creation of the politics of the last century of the Republic.  While relying on the noblesse oblige of an aristocracy, the Republic also had democratic elements.  Often, as in Athens, democracy was usurped by demagogues.

Venice was the next state to try forms of democracy, and by far the longest lasting, although once again, its constitution was more republican or oligarchical.  Various smaller experiments in city-state communes of medieval Europe followed, including the long struggles against Medici domination in Florence.  [Machiavelli – The Prince ]  The 17th century saw renewed democracy in philosophy and practice, especially in England and the new Dutch Republic.  But it was the 18th century that gave violent birth to the major democratic revolutions in America and France.

Revolutions always need to deal with the ideas of liberty and freedom, but sometimes, these ideas themselves are not mutually understood.  For example, the American revolutionaries from different parts of the colonies had very different concepts of liberty

In Radicalism of the American Revolution, like an earthquake that turns solid ground to jello,
Gordon Wood,  tosses out idea after idea that turn established concepts into shambles

More than two centuries later, the American experiment in democracy has degenerated into a plutocracy, in which wealth and power preempt democracy’s ideals of equality and freedom [cf Kevin Phillips’  Wealth & Democracy or Isaiah Berlin – Twisted Timber of Humanity].  While Phillips gives a depressing history of the decline, and its corruption thru the centuries,  Cadillac Desert focuses on perhaps the biggest corrupter of all – the sprawling water projects of the  American West, in which water is diverted at huge cost to grow crops no one needs, all to support giant corporations that threaten to wipe out the family farms that were the rationale for the projects in the first place.  Taken together, these books demonstrate that ideology or the party in power matters little – elections become a charade, masking the control of government by capital and its corporate controllers.  Kim Stanley Robinson examines these transnational corporations in his science fiction Mars Trilogy

From the left George Orwell‘s analysis of why socialism fails is apt today, especially in re the Tea Party movement

It was easy to laugh at Fascism when we imagined that it was based on hysterical nationalism….  For Socialism is the only real enemy that Fascism has to face. The capitalist-imperialist govern­ments, even though they themselves are about to be plundered, will not fight with any conviction against Fascism as such. Our rulers, those of them who under­stand the issue, would probably prefer to hand over every square inch of the British Empire to Italy, Germany and Japan than to see Socialism triumphant.

The job of the thinking person, therefore, is not to reject Socialism but to make up his mind to humanise it. Once Socialism is in a way to being established, those -who can see through the swindle of ” progress” will probably find themselves resisting. In fact, it is their ,special function to do so. In the machine-world they have got to be a sort of permanent opposition, which is not the same thing as being an obstructionist or a traitor. But in this I am speaking of the future. For the moment the only possible course for any decent person, however much of a Tory or an anarchist by temperament, is to work for the establishment of Socialism. Nothing else can save us from the misery of the present or the night­mare of the future. To oppose Socialism now, when twenty million Englishmen are underfed and Fascism has conquered half Europe, is suicidal. It is like starting a civil war when the Goths are crossing the frontier.

Socialists have a big job ahead of them here. They have got to demonstrate, beyond possibility of doubt, just where the line of cleavage between exploiter and exploited comes. Once again it is a question of sticking to essentials; and the essential point here is that all people with small, insecure incomes are “in the same boat and ought to be fighting on the same side. Probably we could do with a little less talk about” capitalist” and ” proletarian” and a little more about the robbers and the robbed. … and that Socialism means a fair deal for them as well as for the navvy and the factory-hand.

For more on this peculiar American Empire ….. after the American Century

 

Book – Newt Gingrich’s Gettysburg

 

What if Lee Won at Gettysburg?

Artillery firing, during Civil War battle reenactment Confederate soldiers advance, Civil War battle reenactment

A counterfactual history trilogy of the Civil War battle of Gettysburg and its aftermath consisting of:

  • Gettysburg
  • Grant Comes East
  • Never Call Retreat

The first volume covers the battle of Gettysburg, though with strategic maneuvers beyond anything contemplated by the actual participants. Like any successful counterfactual history, the authors are careful in their initial changes – in fact, most readers will not even be aware of the changes the authors introduce in the battle up to the end of the first day’s fighting. But by this point enough small changes have already occurred to allow Lee to produce a strategic masterstroke on a par with Jackson’s Chancellorsville march. From here the story rapidly diverges from what we know as history, but never beyond possibility, and it’s amusing to see various participants like Sykes, Sickles, Joshua Chamberlain and others perform in this parallel universe.
The battles scenes are excellent and provide a closeup look at the experience of individual soldiers. We witness how the opposing sides would arrange unofficial truces when the battles end. You’ll probably suspect that the climactic battle of the second book won’t resolve everything since there’s still that third volume! But that never subtracts from the tension & suspense of these books. Great
historical fiction – my only regret is that Gingrich didn’t start writing novels earlier, rather than spending so much time fighting other battles in Congress.
One small annoyance is the tendency of the authors to put anachronistic quotes in the mouths of their actors. The most prominent one was during a race between the armies towards the coast in which a general remarks “let the man on the farthest edge of the flanking troops touch the sea with his sleeve” – a statement actually made 50 years later in World War I by a German general during their flanking attack through Belgium. There are several more of these pillaged pedantries scattered thru the books, but their effect, fortunately, is minimal. One last quibble is why, (from laziness or publication schedule?) they chose to title the last book ‘Never Call Retreat’ – a title previously used by one of the masters of  Civil War history, Bruce Catton.

Even Lee can seem banal when words are put into his mouth:

“We turn this back into a battle of maneuver, gentlemen, the thing we have always done best, the thing that our opponents have never mastered. But let me say it before all of you quite clearly. I am not seeking a half victory. By abandoning this field, some will see that as an admission of defeat, something we have never yet done, completely abandon a field. In so doing we return to a war of maneuver. We cut their line of supply while at the same time continuing to secure our own line of supply by moving our wagon trains back down to Green­castle. The ultimate goal must be to force the Army of the Potomac into territory that we choose and then fight a battle to finish this once and for all”

He looked carefully at each one in turn. “That is what I will expect from you, what our country expects from all of us, and nothing less is acceptable.
We are here to win not just a battle.”

He paused for a moment.

“We are here to win a war.”

Gingrich is better in describing the details of Civil War close combat:

“… along that terrible, invisible line that seems to appear on a battlefront, a line that not even the brav­est will pass, knowing that to take but one more step forward is death.

Some were demoralized, clutching the ground; others, in shock, were cradling wounded, dying, and dead comrades. Most settled down to the grim task at hand. Raising rifles, taking aim up the slope, firing, grounding muskets, reloading and firing again.

In the coldest sense of military logic, this battered line was the shield, the soak off, having taken the first position and now stalling in front of the second. Their job was simply to absorb the blows, to die, to inflict some death upon those dug in until the second and third lines came up, still relatively unscathed, to push the attack closer in.

And so across the next ten minutes they gave everything they had, these volunteers turned professionals, the pride of the Army of the Potomac, the pride of the Republic. Thousands of acts of courage were committed, none to be recorded except in the memories of those who were there, the greatest courage of all simply to stand on the volley line, to fire, to reload, and all the time the litany chant in the background… “Pour it in to them. Close on the colors, boys. Pour it into them!”

Two hundred yards to the rear, the next assault wave reached the outh bank of the flood plain, their officers ordering a halt, letting the men catch their breath for a few minutes, to gulp down some water, while forward their comrades died.

Atop the crest the Confederate forces blazed away, some of the men, acknowledged sharpshooters, calling for others to load, to pass their guns up, making sure that every shot counted, though in the still air, now laced again by showers, the smoke quickly built to a hanging cloud of fog.

Men were falling in the trenches, though not near as many as down on the open slope. Rifle balls smacked into the loosely piled dirt, spraying the men; shots when they hit tended to strike arms raised while ramming or, far more deadly, in the chest or face.

A growing line of dead and wounded lay directly behind the trench, dragged out of the way so as to not be trampled under.

The Union artillery was again in full play, though aiming in most cases too high out of fear of striking their own battle line in the con­fusion. But enough shots were tearing in to do terrible damage…

 

 

Book – Washington’s Crossing

 

David Hackett Fischer
An invading force gets bogged down while fighting an insurgency. While it could be ripped from today’s headlines, this is actually a book about the American Revolution. This is an impressive work on many levels. It’s an excellent history of George Washington’s first year as commander of the Continental army. It also provides insights into the conduct of the war and the morale of the armies that provided the ultimate success. Along the way, Fischer shows that much of what we ‘know’ about this period is incorrect. It’s amazing at this point that there can be so much new information available [The diaries of Hessian Colonel Eward, e.g., only became available in English in 1979]

The early chapters are devoted to Washington’s challenge in bringing a true motley crew of independent regiments together as a continental army. He describes vastly different concepts of such basic values as liberty:

One backcountry company came from Culpeper County, in western Virginia on the east slope of the Blue Ridge Mountains. … and mustered three hundred men with bucktails in their hats and tomahawks or scalping knives in their belts…Part of their “savage-looking equipments” may have been their flag…. the dark image of a timber rattlesnake, coiled and ready to strike, and the words “Don’t Tread on Me.”

… This was an idea of liberty as reciprocal rights that belonged to all the people, a thought very different from the exclusive rights of New England towns, or the hierarchical rights of Virginia, or the individual autonomy of the backsettlers. … Their version of liberty was more radical in thought and act than any other unit’s in the army. But these men were devoted to the American cause and willing to fight in its defense.

A historiography at the back of the book is a standalone essay on the process of historical description and analysis, showing how over 200 years of study have processed historical fact to produce narrative with varying intentions.

A perhaps unintended effect is Fischer’s description of William Howe’s campaign to pacify the colonies, focusing on bringing New Jersey back into the British fold. His descriptions of the local insurgencies that opposed Howe are eerily familiar to today’s dispatches from Iraq.The actual offenses 2 centuries apart are different, but the refusal of officers to stop outrages, sparks an insurgency:

gathered by county justices and clergymen … They documented an epidemic of rape in New Jersey by British soldiers: “Three women were most horribly ravished by them, one of them an old woman nearly seventy years of age, ….” Others described gang rapes not only by private soldiers but by officers: “British officers, four or five, sometimes more, sometimes less in a gang, went about the town by night entering into houses and openly inquiring for women.”

Americans were shocked by the number of cases, by their scale, and by the involvement of British officers. The Pennsylvania Council of Safety reported another such an incident near Woodbridge, New Jersey: A “gentleman in that part of the country was alarmed by the cries and shrieks of a most lovely daughter; he found an officer, a British officer in the act of ravishing her, he instantly put him to death; two other officers rushed in with their fusees, and fired two balls into the father,” who was severely wounded.

Howe insisted that these reports were nothing but American propaganda…Junior officers in his army knew better. Captain John Peebles, commander of a grenadier company of the Royal Highland Regiment, wrote sadly in his diary on Christmas Eve 1776, “In orders a man condemned to suffer death for a Rape, but pardon’d at the intercession of the injured party; the second instance, tho’ there have been other shocking abuses of that nature that have not come to public notice. The story of the poor old man and his daughter in Long Island was very bad indeed, hard is the fate of many who suffer indiscriminately in a civil war. “

As always, the continuing occupation, with insufficient troops to complete its mission, then feeds further

Small bands of armed men ambushed mounted British couriers on the road. They killed a British officer and his servant, attacked foraging parties in the countryside, and shot at Hessian sentries. Captain Friedrich von Miinchausen wrote on December 14,1776, “It is now very unsafe for us to travel in Jersey. The rascal peasants meet our men alone or in small unarmed groups. They have their rifles hidden in the bushes, or ditches, and the like. When they believe they are sure of success and they see one or several men belonging to our army, they shoot them in the head, then quickly hide their rifles and pretend they
know nothing.”

The result was a spontaneous rising … Mott himself recruited men who were ready to take up arms against the British and Hessians. Other leaders did the same. Colonel David Chambers of the Hunterdon militia led a band in Amwell Township east of Coryell’s Ferry. These men did not go into the town of Trenton or attack its outposts, but when Hessian Jaegers or British dragoons or small foraging parties left the town and went up the Delaware Valley along the River Road, or northwest toward Flemington and Lambertville, or north toward Princeton, the Jerseymen attacked. Colonel RaIl began to lose men every day, and the strength of the militia increased. On December 16, Colonel Chambers sent prisoners across the river to George Washington: two Regulars, and one “Malitious Active Tory” who had “assembled and spirited the negroes against us.” On December 17, a patrol of British dragoons went upriver toward Pennington and McConkey’s Ferry. They were intercepted by the Hunterdon men, and one dragoon was” deadly wounded.” On December 18, another dragoon was killed on the road to Maidenhead by a party that was reported to be more than a hundred strong. On December 19, three grenadiers in the Lossberg regiment were captured while out forag­ing. On December 20, RaIl sent a patrol of Jagers and dragoons four miles upriver to Howell’s Ferry, where they met 150 Hunterdon men commanded by Captain John Anderson; the Americans came off second best and lost three or four men.

The Jerseymen forced RaIl to send dispatches to Princeton with an escort of a hundred men, which some British commanders thought absurd. But the growing scale of attacks by the Hunterdon militia supported his judgment. RaIl was rapidly losing control of the countryside, even to the outskirts of Trenton. He could not patrol up the river even to Howell’s Ferry, four miles upstream, without losing men. McConkey’s Ferry ten miles distant was beyond his reach. The Hessian commander could identify the American leaders by name, and he could defeat the Hunterdon militia in a stand­up fight, but he could not stop them from striking again and again, and vanishing into country that they knew so well. In all of this the Jersey men went far beyond instructions from Washington. This Hunterdon Rising was an autonomous event, by angry men against a hated oppressor.

… another American officer began to attack from a different direction. …Grenadier Reuber called the raiders with darkened faces “black Negroes and yellow dogs.” He added, “We had to watch out. . . . They crossed the Delaware to our side, set some houses on fire, and then retreated. Again everything was quiet. . . but we had to watch out. “

The American rebels kept up constant pressure on the isolated Hessian garrison. The description of the constant stress on the troops could be taken directly from reports of US Marines in Iraq and similar to Sebastian Junger’s reporting in War

“The Hessian garrison suffered few casualties in these repeated raids from the river, but they lost sleep and confidence and their morale was badly shaken. Rumors of impending attacks multiplied. On December 20 or 21, Reuber remembered that “the inhabitants of the town circulated a rumor that the rebels wanted to surprise us. We did not have any idea of such a thing, and thought the rebels were unable to do so.” But their colonel took no chances. Reuber wrote, “Early in the morning Commander Rall selected a strong force from his brigade, also a cannon, and we must march in two divisions, along the Delaware, to see about the Americans attempting to cross the Delaware for an aggression. There was no sign of it, and we marched to near Frankfort, which was situated on the other side of the Delaware.. There we could see Americans. Rall stopped us and we joined with the other divisions and returned to Trenton. All was quiet again.

“… He explained to Donop, “I have not made any redoubts or any kind of fortifications because I have the enemy in all directions.” For security the guns were kept in the center of town. Reuber wrote that every soldier was ordered to sleep “fully dressed like he was on watch. The officers and sergeants must enforce this order.”

Even the desperate but unanswered calls from commanders on the ground sound eerily like the pleas for more troops in Iraq that were ignored by Rumsfeld et al:

“Rall called for help. He sent many messages asking for assistance from Donop below Bordentown, General Leslie in Princeton, and Major General Grant at Brunswick. Rall reported that his Trenton garrison was exhausted, the town was indefensible, and attacks were increasing. Only one senior officer took Rall’s worries very seriously: In Princeton, Alexander Leslie, an excellent officer, moved quickly. As early as December 18 he wrote to Rall, “I’ve ordered the first Light Infantry to be at Trenton tomorrow at 10 o’clock and I take the 2d Light Infantry and 300 Men of the 2d brigade to Maidenhead to be in the way if needed. “31 Leslie also sent troops on December 21. Reuber recalled, “Saturday afternoon before Christmas came three English regiments from Princeton to Trenton for reinforcement and when they came to town and Major Rall settled them, they were ordered to turn around and march back to Princeton. ”

Fischer ably brings the narrative to a close:

In the winter campaign of 1776-77, Washington and the Continental army found a solution that had many elements. Part of it was flexibility and opportunism in high degree. Throughout the Revolution George Washington’s strategic purposes were constant: to win independence by maintaining American resolve to continue the war, by preserving an American army in being, and by raising the cost of the war to the enemy. Washington was always fixed on these strategic ends but flexible in operational means. …The diversity of operations in the winter campaign was the first clear example of a style that persisted through the war. He was quick to modify his plans with changing circumstances and adapted more easily than his opponents. Washington was a man of steadfast principle but also a military opportunist. Many American leaders would follow that example: Greene and Morgan, Lee and Jackson, Grant and Sherman, Eisenhower and Bradley, Nimitz and Patton, Schwarzkopf and Franks.

Another element in this American approach to war-fighting a new way of controlling initiative and tempo in war. After many defeats around New York, American leaders learned the urgent importance of seizing the initiative and holding it. George Washington and his lieutenants did more than merely surprise the Hessian garrison at Trenton on the morning after Christmas. They improvised a series of surprises through a period of twelve weeks. By that method they seized the initiative from their opponents and kept it … Washington made it a formal principle in the army, when he ordered his generals to drive the campaign and not “be drove.”

Initiative was largely about the control of time in campaigning. English historian George Otto Trevelyan wrote that George Washington succeeded at Trenton and Princeton because he “caught the occasion by the forelock.” In New Jersey, American leaders learned to make time itself into a weapon. They did it by controlling the tempo and rhythm of the campaign. Day after day through the winter campaign, the Americans called the tune and set the beat. By that method, they retained the initiative for many weeks and kept British commanders off balance. The material and moral impact was very great, especially when a small force was able to control the tempo of war against a stronger enemy. Events happened at a time and place of their choosing. From all this another American tradition developed. It appeared in the Civil War, in both theaters in World War II, and in discussions of tempo by Pentagon, planners in the twenty-first century.

The central figure was George Washington himself. In the winter campaign of 1776-77, he developed a system of intelligence that became part of his new way of war. Washington personally recruited secret agents, with orders to report to him alone, and employed Nathaniel Sackett, of the New York Committee for Detecting and Defeating Conspiracies, to construct an entire network in New York with agents male and female, of every rank and station. It is impossible to know the full extent of Washington’s intelligence operations, for he cloaked them in secrecy, but beyond doubt he was very active in this work.

Washington also asked Continental generals and militia commanders to gather their own intelligence, and even to run their own agents…lHis attitudes toward intelligence-gathering were different from those of leaders in closed societies, who sought to monopolize intelligence and prohibited efforts they did not con­trol. Washington was comfortable with an open system, in which others were not only permitted but actively encouraged to have a high degree of autonomy. This free and open system of information-gathering engaged the efforts of many people, produced multiple sources, and got better results than closed systems. It was another reason why free societies often have more effective intelligence systems than closed societies.

All of these elements came together in the winter campaign of 1776-77: boldness and prudence, flexibility and opportunism, initiative and tempo, speed and concentration, force multipliers, and intelligence. They defined a new way of war that would continue to appear through the Revolution and in many American
wars.

I’ve focused here on particular passages that highlight similarities with modern insurgencies and occupations, but the book is also an excellent military history of the Trenton campaign and its significance to the American Revolution. Of special interest are the over 40 pages of appendices with detailed orders of battle, weather records, and other information that will be of use to military modelers and gamers.

Finally, unlike so many histories, the maps are excellent – specifically designed to illuminate the text.

 

 

 

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