Random NotesIf I have been less sharp, less public, it is because I am sick ... again ... or still, depending at how you want to look at it. Not enough to keep me in bed, just enough to be sluggish and make lots of writing mistakes. I even forget to use simple devices like spell checkers.
I am surprised at the amount of energy being put into Dictionary of Received Ideas, but I worry that people are neglecting their own fine blogging activities. Sharon's excellent post on the judicial career of George Jeffreys, the kind of history blogging I hoped to encourage by creating an index, has been lost in the shuffle. It's a wonderful look at the political aspects of jurisprudence under the Stuarts:
And so to the events that forever sealed his reputation as Bloody Judge Jeffreys. His actions are entirely consistent in the light of his career to that point, his unwavering loyalty to the Stuart monarchy and his harsh attitude towards those who threatened it in any way. His treatment in court of Lady Alice Lisle, an elderly widow accused of treason simply for taking a few rebels into her house after their defeat, has been particularly condemned (although the biographer notes that there is some doubt about the reliability of the only account of the trial). Less often noted, perhaps, is that Jeffreys delayed her execution and recommended her to the king for a pardon; as the biographer says: it was James who pointedly denied mercy in this and scores of other instances that September".Similarly, Claire looks at cultural artifacts from the same period (I can't use the term Jacobite to describe it, for some reason). (Hereand here). History bloggers can be tight fisted about their research, and it is great that Claire is willing to share a little about how these artifacts should be analyzed.
While I am on the subject, Claire has started a new blog dedicated to historical fiction. Such books are no more abstract than political science, nor less useful. Perhaps she would be interested in my current reading, Edward Jones' The Known World, which tries to make sense of the obscure phenomenon of free African-Americans who owned slaves in 19th C Virginia. In other literary news, I recommend this article on the history of the writing of 120 Days of Sodom (in French) , which de Sade had written in the Bastille and believed he had lost when the prison was stormed. I also recommend this interview with Amos Oz (audio), who discusses his fantasies about being a book, the Holocaust in Ukraine and its effect on his mother (who would commit suicide), and the partition of Israel.
I also want to welcome Geitner Simmons back to the world of (obsessive) blogging. In one of his posts he discusses language as a factor in Ukraine's political turmoil. As a side note, he mentions the close relationship between Dutch and German when dialects are mapped. I have tried to convince Germans (outside of the Rhine) of this truth for years.
[Added:] Last nights Amazing Race was better. I still hate Jerk-athon: was he really about to hit his wife with his elbow? Is that not enought to get him kicked off the show (threatening violence on other shows is prohibited). I still think it's funny that the contestant will go to ticket counters to take trains. Knowing what I know about travel in Europe, and racing for $1 million, I would take my chances that I would not be caught without a ticket and just board. I still like Gus, whose patience is turning into an effective strategy for staying in the race. And I am half sorry for the team that was eliminated: I liked Lena, but hated her sister.