What can we learn from Lee?

source, wiki photo by Cville Dog

Lots of conversations about history, how we should remember our history, etc.  Amateur historians love arguing about Lee, how can you not, he is interesting.

Robert E. Lee had many noble personal qualities, as did many officers in Hitler’s army.

If there’s anything to learn from him, might it not be that a man of principle and dignity can end up on the outrageously wrong side of the most important moral issue of his time?

Nobody should judge John Kelly without reading this Washington Post profile of him by Greg Jaffe.

About 12 hours later, the elder Kelly e-mailed his extended family in Boston, preparing them for the possibility that Robert might be maimed or killed. Kelly knew that Robert went out on almost every patrol with his men through mine-filled fields. One of the Marines at Bethesda told him that Robert was “living on luck.”

“I write you all to just let you know he’s in the thick of it and to keep him in your thoughts,” Kelly typed. “We are doing a Novena a minute down here and there is no end in sight.”

On Oct. 31, Kelly sent a second e-mail to his eldest sister, the family matriarch. “I am sweating bullets,” he confided. “Pray. Pray. Pray. He’s such a good boy . . . and Marine.”

This is painful to watch:

What a dilemma: the American people have elected a mean angry fool, do I try and do what I can to contain him or resign knowing he might do more damage without me around?

What’s the point of a statue of Lee if not to learn from him?

From this take on Lee by Roy Blount Jr. in Smithsonian mag:

We may think we know Lee because we have a mental image: gray. Not only the uniform, the mythic horse, the hair and beard, but the resignation with which he accepted dreary burdens that offered “neither pleasure nor advantage”: in particular, the Confederacy, a cause of which he took a dim view until he went to war for it. He did not see right and wrong in tones of gray, and yet his moralizing could generate a fog, as in a letter from the front to his invalid wife: “You must endeavour to enjoy the pleasure of doing good. That is all that makes life valuable.” All right. But then he adds: “When I measure my own by that standard I am filled with confusion and despair.”


Let him deny himself

Went looking for the source of a story that Robert E. Lee, asked by a mom for advice on raising her boy, said “teach him to deny himself.”

From Douglas Southall Freeman’s four volume 1934 R. E. Lee: A Biography.  The source cited is one Joseph Packard’s Recollections of a Long Life.

Original source probably one JC:

And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Luke 9:23, KJV.

 


The ignoble and unhappy regime

 

Evocative phrase from Bob Marley and the Wailers’ “War” (34:05 above) keeps popping into my mind.

The lyrics are a near-exact repetition of a speech in the UN by the Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie. However, the two simple guitar chords and the semi-improvised, spirited melody put to Selassie’s words is unmistakably Marley’s.


Almond

Take a break from your work and the stressful news to learn the etymology of the word almond.

Looked it up because I wondered if it might be Arabic.  Not so.

From Greek amygdalos, a word of unknown origin, perhaps from Semitic.

Thanks Online Etymology Dictionary.

(From the Who Did This? section of Online Etymology Dictionary’s website:

My political ideas have no future and I keep them to myself unless provoked. They tend toward the -isms that begin with anti-anti- and take root among the kind of people who are steamrolled by developments, murdered by revolutions, and forgotten even in footnotes. I deplore politics based on herd and tribe and demonizing of the other, which means most of it. What else? Dogs and I don’t get along. I’m trying to think of qualities that matter to people’s weighting of integrity. I haven’t watched television since 1994. It might have been ’96. I put ketchup on hot dogs and mustard on french fries. When I played World of Warcraft I found I generally chose a rogue. Human. Female.

And:

Etymonline is a can-opener

Couldn’t agree more.)

The same root word is used to name the amygdala in your brain.

We don’t wade into neuroscience here on Helytimes.  Using the brain to study itself feels grotesque.  It’s too overwhelming, my brain refuses to learn about itself.  (Only just learned there are two amygdala, for instance).  And charts like this agitate because I suspect they are probably crazy oversimplifications to the point of being meaningless?

But some interesting bits from the Wiki page on amygdala:

Amygdala volume correlates positively with both the size (the number of contacts a person has) and the complexity (the number of different groups to which a person belongs) of social networks.[59][60] Individuals with larger amygdalae had larger and more complex social networks. They were also better able to make accurate social judgments about other persons’ faces.[61]

And:

There are cases of human patients with focal bilateral amygdala lesions, due to the rare genetic condition Urbach-Wiethe disease.[67][68]

And:

The amygdala appears to play a role in binge drinking, being damaged by repeated episodes of intoxication and withdrawal.[70] Alcoholism is associated with dampened activation in brain networks responsible for emotional processing[clarification needed], including the amygdala.[71]

The story about Obama eating seven almonds a night was so perfect – that is a good number of almonds to eat!  Obama’s explanation of it I found illuminating:

“Well, this is an example of the weird way that the press works,” Obama said. “So Michelle and Sam Kass, who was our chef here, one night they were talking about me and teasing me about how disciplined I was, that I didn’t have potato chips or I didn’t have a piece of cake. And this is when Michelle said, ‘Yes, and he just has seven almonds. That’s it.’ To really drive home the point that I needed to loosen up a little bit. And Sam relayed this joke to The New York Times in the article and somehow it was relayed as if I was counting out … the seven almonds.”

source

Almonds.  Enjoy them.

 

Previous Helytimes coverage of almonds.


Wicked Game

A friend tells a story about a guy who had a cassette that was just this song over and over, they once listened to it all night while playing cards.

If you drove from LA to Portland just listening to this song on repeat would you go insane?  Become a genius?


Ireland should take in two million refugees

I’ve developed a radical policy idea.  This is my position paper.

The Republic of Ireland should take in two million refugees.

Here’s my case.

Ireland is empty

Seriously, walk around the place.  There’s like nobody there.

Almost nobody

Here’s Ireland overlaid on Pennsylvania:

Pennsylvania has 12.78 million people.  Similar landscape and climate.

Ireland has 4.773 million people.

Ireland has fewer people today than it did in 1841.

Not busy

What a wild fact.  What other country is like that?  Can we really trust that 1841 census?

My source here is the Central Statistics Office of Ireland:

Ireland is empty because people moved away.

There were all the people that died in the massive famine.

But post-famine emigration is really what depopulated Ireland.  The whole story of Ireland is people moving away.

Even James Joyce looked for a life elsewhere.

The people of Ireland were themselves once refugees.  

They weren’t always looked fondly on either.

They were considered to be dirty and dangerous fundamentalists from a scary religion.

Now look at them.

“Her father, Alfred Roy Carey, was of African American and Afro-Venezuelan descent, while her mother, Patricia (née Hickey), is of Irish descent.”

Says The Washington Post:

According to the Census, there are 34.5 million Americans who list their heritage as either primarily or partially Irish. That number is, incidentally, seven times larger than the population of Ireland itself (4.68 million).

That’s just the USA.  There are something like two million Irish Australians and four millionish Irish Canadians.

What a great chance for Ireland to return the favor! 

What a cool national mission for Ireland!

And remember, we’re just restoring Ireland to its historical population level.

some people could live here

Possible counter argument:

But that will destroy the unique national character of Ireland!

Meh.

First of all, maybe they won’t, maybe they’ll adapt to it.  Or, as immigrants have done everywhere, offer new foods, traditions, ideas, and stir themselves into an overall blend.

You telling me Athlone isn’t happy to have Thai restaurant Kin Khao? Check out the reviews!

Second of all Irish culture is pretty darn resilient, there’s dudes in Southie three generations removed who’ve never visited the place who have shamrock tattoos and sing some fraction of the songs while they get drunk together.

Third of all Irish culture has been well-preserved already.

You can count on the Irish to do a fine job preserving.  source, shoutout to Wiki user Dilif

You can count on the Irish to do a solid preservation job.

(This song about boiling a policeman and spreading him like pavement is a fair example of Irish culture*.)

and

Frankly Irish culture could use a bit of a jolt.

Previous pinnacle of Irish culture?

Taking in two million refugees is a challenge.

But Ireland is up to it.  This country is one of the best ever producers of nurses, caregivers, teachers, cops.  It could be a a national project that would bring out the best in them.

You don’t think largely ceremonial president Michael D. Higgins could inspire and lead his countrymen in this task?

In conclusion, Ireland should take in two million immigrants.

Honestly it’s mostly sheep over there.

By the way, not asking Ireland to do anything I wouldn’t do myself.  You could argue California has already taken in two million refugees.  I haven’t crunched the numbers yet but I think we could take in a million more.

* I’m aware the song was written by a Scottish person

How big are England and Ireland compared to California?

The UK: 65.64 million people.  93,629 square miles.

California: 39.25 million people. 163,996 square miles.

Ireland: 4.773 million people.  32,595 square miles.

In 1841 the population of Ireland (just counting what’s now the Republic, not the whole island) was 6.53 million.

abandoned house near Killary photoed by Helytimes

Ireland is like a ghost town.

Today’s radical policy suggestion:

Ireland should take in two million refugees.  Much as the world once took them in.  It’s time to return the favor.  Two million refugees would return the nation to pre-1841 population.

Today’s question:

Are there other countries where the population is significantly smaller today than it was around 1840?

(maps via the great site Overlap Maps which is run by Sunflower Education, a publisher of books for homeschoolers)