Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Random Notes

Any Linguistic Historians of the US? Media Matters, usually so good at refuting nonsense said in the media, has no substantive response to Pat Buchanan's comments:
The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality, than with the other citizens of the American Republic.
Uh, Pat, we were there ... nothing happened. The republic still stands.

Goose-stepping: Ralph Luker links to Richard Overy's review of Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600-1947 by Christopher Clark. I'm eager to read more about the myth of Frederick the Great. Overy's own statement, however, has me scratching my head:
It could be argued that much of what has been laid at Prussia's door might with as much historical justice be blamed on Austria, which fought for more than a century, from the 1740s to 1866, to stifle Prussia's claims to represent Germany. The war of 1914 was Austria's war, not Prussia's; Hitler was Austria's revenge on Prussia for defeat in 1918. If Clark could give us a book on Austria half as good as his history of Prussia, it would be well worth the wait.
The Habsburgs were cramping the Hohenzollern's style? Another theory about how the imperial tradition unfairly contained Germans will to unity, or is this the survival of Ranke? No one gave an f--- about German unity until after Napoleon, and after that they were content to have both Austria and Prussia involved (since they suspected Prussia so much). Richard Overy, Kleindeutscher.

Perhaps he could have read Daniel Johnson's review of the same book, which also appears in the Telegraph (for some reason):
Prussia's militarism compensated for its political inferiority to the other great powers.
I'll pass on his optimism in the democracy of Weimar Prussia, which was really more circumstantial than desired.

Cities in Dust: Ralph also links to this review of Among the Dead Cities: The History and Moral Legacy of the WWII Bombing of Civilians in Germany and Japan by A. C.

Not victims, but partners: Oxblog's assessment of imperialism in the Middle East.

Carnivalesque: It's up at Early Modern Notes. Go read.

Traditional Chinese Medicine? More ideology than ideas? [HT: Jonathan Dresner]
TCM developed in a tradition of an authoritarian culture. Independent thinking and argument were discouraged. A tradition of objective science did not develop. Diseases were not described. Symptoms and physical characteristics were related only to natural elements and the cosmos. Ideas conformed to those of the emperor and state. TCM contained no concept of physiology, biochemistry, organ function, heredity, or infectious disease.

Julian Green on Language (from his soon to be published diaries):
Langage. La liberté de toucher à une langue et de la transformer a pour limite sa beauté. On en veut aujourd'hui aux règles du français, aux difficultés de l'orthographe, aux exceptions, qui paraissent des subtilités difficiles à accepter en nos jours de disette, tout ce qui participe à la musique et au charme de notre langue. Bientôt on voudra la simplification à outrance, on ne redoublera plus les consonnes, on écrira toutes les formes de é de la même manière (é, ais, et, ès, aie, est, etc.), on en arrivera à noter des sons uniques et à écrire en borborygmes, mais c'est déjà l'usage, si on ouvre au hasard les livres qui paraissent.

(I'll translate later.)

Lost in Time: Sark, the so-called last vestiges of feudalism in the world, and its Norman dialect. [HT: Céline]

Finally: Hoodathunk? Vincent won a challenge rife with zaftig models.

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