Category Archives: History

A year worse than 2020

It’s understandable to feel 2020 is the worst year ever, with a global pandemic, an economic upheaval due to COVID-19 mitigation efforts imposed by government, and our partisan insane, hysterical spin information war blared across American media every day.  I’ve felt that way myself at times this year, but then I came across the above video.  This video mentions research by Harvard medieval historian, Michael McCormick.  I found this 2018 article on McCormick’s research:

“Ask medieval historian Michael McCormick what year was the worst to be alive, and he’s got an answer: “536.” Not 1349, when the Black Death wiped out half of Europe. Not 1918, when the flu killed 50 million to 100 million people, mostly young adults. But 536. In Europe, “It was the beginning of one of the worst periods to be alive, if not the worst year,” says McCormick, a historian and archaeologist who chairs the Harvard University Initiative for the Science of the Human Past.

A mysterious fog plunged Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia into darkness, day and night—for 18 months. “For the sun gave forth its light without brightness, like the moon, during the whole year,” wrote Byzantine historian Procopius. Temperatures in the summer of 536 fell 1.5°C to 2.5°C, initiating the coldest decade in the past 2300 years. Snow fell that summer in China; crops failed; people starved. The Irish chronicles record “a failure of bread from the years 536–539.” Then, in 541, bubonic plague struck the Roman port of Pelusium, in Egypt. What came to be called the Plague of Justinian spread rapidly, wiping out one-third to one-half of the population of the eastern Roman Empire and hastening its collapse, McCormick says.”

Granted, we’re in August and have a ways to go in 2020, but still 536 AD sure seems like it was way worse than 2020.  It’s interesting that such catastrophic events in 536 AD were largely forgotten in history and the major events weren’t pieced together for centuries.

If you’re interested in the Fall of Rome, here’s a link to a series of podcasts by Patrick Wyman (hat tip to JK, who provided a link to a blog post, which had a link to this podcast series):

Clicking around a lot is how I landed on this Worst Year In History YouTube video too.



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Filed under General Interest, History

A bit of English history

I have about zero interest in makeup, so I almost skipped past this video.  Glad I decided to watch it.   If you are interested in the cultural changes brought about by the industrial revolution, this video will fascinate you.  Most fascinating bit of odd trivia was learning that tuberculosis was rampant and the TB symptoms of pale skin, flushed cheekbones, brightened eyes were considered beautiful  and became a fashion trend to imitate.  Another of those, “nothing new under the sun” moments, considering the heroin chic trend in the 1990s.

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Filed under General Interest, History

A few links on Ulysses S. Grant

After mentioning Ulysses S. Grant in my latest blog posts, I decided I should read his autobiography, The Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant.   His autobiography is easily available free online.  Amazon has several formats, and in digital format they have a  6-part free version:

Part 1 

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

The Gutenberg Library has a free online version here.

Bartleby has free version online too – here.

Often many interesting facets to the character and lives of important political figures get buried under the smears used by their political rivals and detractors.  Grant is probably more widely known for his reputation as a drunk than as the general who led the Union to victory.

Just a bit of casual googling in the past few days and I learned that besides being a former U.S president and general, Grant was also an accomplished watercolor artist.

Recently, I learned that Karen Pence, wife of vice president, Mike Pence, is also an accomplished watercolor artist and has made promoting art therapy programs to help trauma victims a cause she’ll use her position as second lady to promote.  The liberal media has painted her as a far-right, Christian zealot so often that I found it interesting to find out she’s an artist, but even more interesting, she’s a trained pilot:

“Karen comes from a family of pilots. “I was born on an Air Force base,” Karen said on Afternoons With Amos, a radio show. “My dad worked for United Airlines. I kind of grew up around planes. My godfather had his own plane, and when I was a teenager, I got to fly with him and it just kind of got in my blood.”

Although her license is not current, her son Michael has the flying gene. “My son, though, has taken me out because he’s a pilot now, he’s actually an instructor,” she said in the interview.”

The more facets we take the time to see in people, especially people who have been tarred by the media, the easier it is to see them more as sparkling diamonds than as cheap paste jewelry.  Most people defy cookie-cutter descriptions.  Most are complex, with many experiences and interesting tidbits to share.  You can enrich your own life greatly by taking the time to get to know them.

Hope everyone has a nice day and let’s be thankful that yesterday’s missile alarm warning in Hawaii was a false alarm.


Filed under General Interest, History, Military

“He never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right” ( a repost from August 2015)

Here’s another old post, I wanted to repost from August 29, 2015:

“He never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right”

“My son,” said the Norman Baron, “I am dying, and you will be heir
To all the broad acres in England that William gave me for my share
When we conquered the Saxon at Hastings, and a nice little handful it is.
But before you go over to rule it I want you to understand this:
“The Saxon is not like us Normans. His manners are not so polite.
But he never means anything serious till he talks about justice and right.
When he stands like an ox in the furrow with his sullen set eyes on your own,
And grumbles, ‘This isn’t fair dealing,’ my son, leave the Saxon alone.”


Hannan, Daniel (2013-11-19). Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World (p. 91). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Coming from a blue-collar background, I do understand the rise of populist icons, like Sarah Palin and Donald Trump, among working class Americans, who aren’t going to assiduously study issues, read history or pay any attention to renowned pundits like George Will, with his use of words most of these people have never even heard, let alone know their meaning.  These are the people I grew up around and as one of my sons, as a precocious 12 year-old informed me, many years ago while on a visit to the backwoods of PA, “Mom, your family is kind of like Northern rednecks.”  There you have your explanation for the rise of Donald Trump and Sarah Palin before him.

In my many years online, I have been banned two times from posting comments on two blogs, The American Thinker and The Last Refuge Blog, one years ago and one just recently.  After my experiences posting on the Excite message boards way back during the Clinton impeachment, these days I don’t venture to other sites very often to post comments, preferring to stay here at my own backwoods blog, to ramble to my heart’s content.  The past few days, I spent some time at National Review posting under my long-time user name, mhere (my little inside joke on the Russian word for peace) and at The American Thinker under the name, susanholly.  I was observing the comments from the devoted Trump supporters and thinking about the Trump supporters’ views.

This Trump phenomenon hearkened back to the Sarah Palin flirtation with a 2012 run for President and that is where I got banned from The American Thinker, for commenting on Sarah Palin wallowing (and making big money) in the reality TV trash culture, while bashing the decline in American culture.  I hadn’t written any cuss words or called any other posters names, just expressed my opinion, that she is a populist, self-promoter more than she is a staunch conservative standard-bearer.

Often Palin lands on the right side of conservative issues, but she can’t offer more than trite slogans and appeals to emotion to support her views.  Her supporters adore her and any venue where she ends up looking stupid, gets turned on the reporter asking the question, like Katie Couric asking Palin what  newspapers and periodicals she reads to stay informed, in that famous interview before the 2008 election.  Palin couldn’t even list any and to this day she insists that was a gotcha question, when in fact it’s a fair and very pertinent question.  Instead of learning from that failure, Palin doubled down on her attacks against the “lamestream” media and her supporters do the same.  Charles Krauthammer fell prey to vicious attacks from Palin supporters for his comments in a Dec 2010 appearance on Bill O’Reilly (at minute 2:50), for suggesting that Palin should have spent the past two years acquiring policy expertise.  Krauthammer committed the ultimate sacrilege for insisting the Couric interview questions during the 2008 election were not gotcha questions :

Daniel Hannan, in his book, Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World explains this gap between the elites and ordinary people perfectly:

On July 3, 1940, Admiral Sir James Somerville issued the saddest order of his career. France had been occupied by the Nazis and was required under the armistice terms to transfer its Mediterranean fleet to German command. The British couldn’t allow such a development: Italy had entered the war on Hitler’s side, and control of the Mediterranean was at stake.

Winston Churchill ordered a larger British force to confront the French fleet off the Algerian naval base of Oran. The French admiral, Marcel-Bruno Gensoul, was given three options: to take his ships to British waters and carry on the struggle; to remove them from the theater of operations and keep them in the West Indies for the duration of the war; or to scuttle them.

All three options were turned down and, as the sultry day wore on, a final ultimatum was issued and rejected. At last, Admiral Somerville ordered his ships to shell the French fleet, the only occasion the British and French navies have exchanged hostile fire since Trafalgar. For ten minutes, great geysers of water shot into the sky, soon joined by black smoke from the battleship Bretagne, which was badly hit. No fewer than 1,297 Frenchmen were killed and 351 injured, by far the worst naval losses suffered by France during the war. There were no British casualties.

Somerville was sickened by what he later called “the most unnatural and painful decision” of his life. He passed a grim and silent evening in the mess, where many of his officers had tears in their eyes. But he couldn’t help noticing that, on the lower decks, a very different attitude prevailed, most sailors cheerfully declaring that they “never ’ad no use for them French bastards.”

It was an extreme illustration of an age-old social divide. The English (and later British) upper classes tended to be Francophone and Francophile. Yet theirs was a minority tendency, one that opened them down the centuries to accusations of being effete and unpatriotic.

That class division can be traced right back to the Norman Conquest, which placed England under a French-speaking aristocracy. It was to be more than three centuries before English again became the language of Parliament, the law courts, the monarchy, and the episcopacy. Certain parliamentary procedures are still, a millennium after the Conquest, conducted in Norman-French. The Queen’s approval of legislative bills, for example, is announced with the phrase “La Reine le veult.”

The native English, disinherited and resentful, projected their resentment onto French-speakers in general. The popular stereotype of the Frenchman closely resembled the radicals’ stereotype of the aristocrat: mincing, epicene, sly.

Even today, most Britons suspect (with good reason) that their elites are more Europhile in general, and more Francophile in particular, than the country at large. By “Europhile,” they don’t simply mean readier to accept EU jurisdiction, though that belief is demonstrably accurate. “Europhile” has wider connotations: of snobbery, of contempt for majority opinion, of the smugness of a remote political caste.

The extraordinary thing is that we can find no period in the past nine hundred years when such a sense was absent. The linkage between French manners and upper-class decadence has been made in England (then Britain, then the Anglosphere as a whole) by every generation.

Hannan, Daniel (2013-11-19). Inventing Freedom: How the English-Speaking Peoples Made the Modern World (pp. 92-93). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Yesterday, at The American Thinker, I commented a good bit on an article, “The New Jacksonian Rebellion (and Trump, too)”, by J. Robert Smith. He writes:

In the day, weren’t Old Hickory and the Jacksonians “mad as hell?” Jacksonian Democracy was fueled by a righteous indignation — as is today’s liberty rebellion.

When we consider the struggle for freedom (and it’s been ongoing since the Revolution), we need to consider how past movements are amalgamated, synthesized. Today’s liberty rebellion resembles the Jacksonian but has many fathers. Expressions for liberty change, somewhat, to fit the times, but the core principles remain. Liberty is still man’s natural state. Humanity’s direction (as epitomized in the American experience) struggles toward achieving this birthright. It’s nearly instinct.

Though the focus is on Trump, some conservatives — and more Republicans — are unsettled by the liberty rebellion. It’s too Jacksonian in profile for whiggish conservatives — it’s raw, coarse, and full of the frontier; it discounts government more than they’d care. They are the George Wills of the world. explains Jacksonian Democracy in terms that do show this same sort of the elites vs the ordinary man class struggle:

By the 1820s, these tensions fed into a many-sided crisis of political faith. To the frustration of both self-made men and plebeians, certain eighteenth-century elitist republican assumptions remained strong, especially in the seaboard states, mandating that government be left to a natural aristocracy of virtuous, propertied gentlemen. Simultaneously, some of the looming shapes of nineteenth-century capitalism—chartered corporations, commercial banks, and other private institutions—presaged the consolidation of a new kind of moneyed aristocracy. And increasingly after the War of 1812, government policy seemed to combine the worst of both old and new, favoring the kinds of centralized, broad constructionist, top-down forms of economic development that many thought would aid men of established means while deepening inequalities among whites. Numerous events during and after the misnamed Era of Good Feelings—among them the neo-Federalist rulings of John Marshall’s Supreme Court, the devastating effects of the panic of 1819, the launching of John Quincy Adams’s and Henry Clay’s American System—confirmed a growing impression that power was steadily flowing into the hands of a small, self-confident minority.

Daniel Hannan and J. Robert Smith clearly lay out this common man vs the moneyed elite sentiment, which transcends centuries in American society as surely as in British society. At the turn of the 20th century novelist  Owen Wister, dedicated his popular novel, “The Virginian”, to his close friend, President Theodore Roosevelt.  “The Virginian” introduced America to the iconic cowboy, bold, brave, unfettered by Eastern elite snobbery.  This is one of my favorite American novels and I often cite a quote from it too: “When a man ain’t got no ideas of his own, he’d ought to be kind of o’ careful who he borrows ’em from.” Wister perfectly describes the class gap between the self-made Western cowboy as he prepares to go East to meet the family of his new bride, a New England schoolmarm from a blue-blood family:

“Why, I have been noticing. I used to despise an Eastern man because his clothes were not Western. I was very young then, or maybe not so very young, as very–as what you saw I was when you first came to Bear Creek. A Western man is a good thing. And he generally knows that. But he has a heap to learn. And he generally don’t know that. So I took to watching the Judge’s Eastern visitors. There was that Mr. Ogden especially, from New Yawk–the gentleman that was there the time when I had to sit up all night with the missionary, yu’ know. His clothes pleased me best of all. Fit him so well, and nothing flash. I got my ideas, and when I knew I was going to marry you, I sent my measure East–and I and the tailor are old enemies now.”

Bennington probably was disappointed. To see get out of the train merely a tall man with a usual straw hat, and Scotch homespun suit of a rather better cut than most in Bennington–this was dull. And his conversation–when he indulged in any–seemed fit to come inside the house.

Mrs. Flynt took her revenge by sowing broadcast her thankfulness that poor Sam Bannett had been Molly’s rejected suitor. He had done so much better for himself. Sam had married a rich Miss Van Scootzer, of the second families of Troy; and with their combined riches this happy couple still inhabit the most expensive residence in Hoosic Falls.

But most of Bennington soon began to say that Molly s cow-boy could be invited anywhere and hold his own. The time came when they ceased to speak of him as a cow-boy, and declared that she had shown remarkable sense. But this was not quite yet.

Donald Trump, part and parcel, a creature of that wealthy, elite class that his supporters loathe, has managed to transcend his personal history and take on an outsider personna, carefully crafted to tap into this populist sentiment of his supporters, many who like Palin, rail against the Washington elites, big-money interests, mainstream media and most especially those they deem RINOs.  I was called a pinkie wagger a couple times yesterday while commenting, for holding a different view of Trump.  Most of these people will not be swayed by smart punditry, as Kevin D. Williamson and Jonah Goldberg are finding out, nor will they bother with George Will or Charles Krauthammer, because what is happening is they are closing ranks and it is very much a class struggle.  The more information you provide to show Trump flip-flopped or discredit his vague policy ideas, the more they will hunker down, fuming about “pinkie-waggers” and elitists.  In fact, here’s Sarah Palin’s interview, commiserating still over those unfair media gotcha questions, with Trump.  He, being asked what his favorite Bible verse is, fits her definition of a gotcha question… Truly, he said his favorite book after the Bible was his own book, “The Art of the Deal”, so asking him what his favorite Bible verse was an attempt at a gotcha question???.  You can watch the entire Palin interview of Trump, replete with their mutual adoration society, but very slim on policy or insights on anything more than how they understandhow ordinary people feel: Video here.

Partisan political ideology aside, America remains torn apart by factions and this Trump phenomenon must be forcefully exposed as just that – a populist movement centered on a personality more than firm American founding principles.  They may rally under “freedom and liberty” slogans, but there is no firm principled core to the Trump campaign, because his campaign centers on emotion and ginning up a mob tactics.  In every other breath he spouts his polls numbers as vindication that he is right.  Poll numbers don’t make you right. He should hone his arguments in well-thought out, clear sentences.

America needs to hold all of its presidential candidates’ feet to the fire.  Expecting intelligent, well-reasoned arguments and explanations for their policies and ideas, should be the standard we demand. We need leaders who read extensively, who will study issues carefully and at the heart, being President is the highest political office in the land, so demanding a president who has mastered government policy issues is a must.  Expecting that all of our elected officials, both in Congress and the President possess an in-depth understanding of The Constitution, a breadth of knowledge on US history and a strong foundation on foreign policy issues should be our minimum expectation.

Education is free in America!  Accept no excuses!  I possess no college degree, but I devoted my life to reading as much as I can in my spare time.  I have signed out books from Army post libraries, public libraries, purchased many books and even borrowed books from friends.  The ability to access information and learn is limitless in our internet age.   Assuredly, there are gaps in my education, as my blog will surely affirm, but if someone points out something they think I need to read or points out an issue where what I have written is totally misguided or ill-informed, I don’t get angry.  I get reading and try to learn more.  We must all start demanding excellence, not only from our leaders, but from ourselves as well.  America should be admired for it’s educated citizens, not  considered as the home of ignorant, loudmouth, vulgar slobs!

Trump is a smart man, who has been fabulously successful.  He can afford the best speech coaches, writers and political advisers.  Showing up for a debate unprepared is not to be cheered, it’s a show of arrogance and self-conceit.  Ronald Reagan wrote his speeches out on index cards.  A poster yesterday told me I was supposed to infer what Trump was saying in his ramblings .  Absolutely, dead wrong!!!  The President represents all of us to the entire world and he/she must be a person with clear ideas, excellent public-speaking ability and our American message must reverberate, clear, concise and leave no doubts!  Perhaps, Trump will devote the energy to study policy and perfect presenting his vision for America, and prove that he is the best candidate to represent all of us.  And that’s the key, the President of the United States is not just the President of his partisan followers; he is the President of ALL Americans.

To put America on the right track, every American should read President George Washington’s Farewell Address and understand that railing about partisan political views is fine, but to “make America great again” we need to unite as one nation, bond by common values, and that remains the challenge none of the Presidential candidates has spoken to. Factions will destroy our Republic andPresident Washington warned that it is the “duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.”

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Filed under American History, Culture Wars, Foreign Policy, General Interest, History, Politics, The Constitution, The Media

A little Roman history

A lecture on Tiberius and Gaius Gracchus by the late J. Rufus Fears, Ph.D. University of Oklahoma

Civic virtue: The willingness of the individual to subordinate himself to the good of the community


Filed under American Character, General Interest, History, Public Corruption

A return to the ancient Tyranny




I judge that it was necessary that Kings should be eliminated in Rome, or (else) that Rome would in a very short time become weak and of no valor; for considering to what (degree of) corruption those Kings had come, if it should have continued so for two or three successions, (and) that that corruption which was in them had begun to spread through its members; (and) as the members had been corrupted it was impossible ever again to reform her (the state). But losing the head while the torso was sound, they were able easily to return to a free and ordered society. And it ought to be presupposed as a very true matter that a corrupted City which exists under a Prince, even though that Prince with all his lives (family) may be extinguished, can never become free; and that rather it should happen that one Prince destroy the other, for (these people) will never be settled without the creation of a new Lord, who by his goodness together with his virtu will then keep them free: but that liberty will last only during his life time, as happened at different times in Syracuse to Dion and Timoleon, whose virtu while they lived, kept that City free: but when they died, it returned to the ancient Tyranny

Discourses on Livy, written by Niccolò Machiavelli circa 1517, from

So, Comey caved to the CORRUPT Clinton machine and now comes the Clinton version of “fast and furious”, in a flurry of  political machinations from the most corrupt political machine in American history.

September 18, 2015: “State Dept. requests deleted Clinton emails from FBI”

October 7, 2015: “FBI Seizes Four State Department Servers in Clinton Email Probe”

June 6, 2016: “State Department Blocks Release Of Hillary Clinton-Era TPP Emails Until After The Election”

July 12, 2016: “AG Lynch refuses to answer questions over 74 times”
July 12, 2016: “Clinton legal team moves to block deposition in email lawsuit”

July 12, 2016: “FBI to return thousands of recovered Clinton emails to State Department for potential release”

The Clinton legal eagles are working to shut down any more email releases. They want those recovered deleted emails, in FBI hands, back at the State Department, where they can make Hillary’s emails disappear there ( like the Rose Law Firm billing records).

Most of all they want to see what the FBI recovered and get that EVIDENCE  out of the hands of the FBI.   This assures that there will be NO FBI investigation into the Clinton Foundation.

Got it -THE  FBI IS NOW CORRUPTED BY THE CLINTONS.  The Clintons can do whatever they want.  

There’s no one to stop them.

The Obama administration is CORRUPT all the way to the top.

The Obama administration email records disappear with as alarming frequency as Hillary’s emails.  In the Obama administration all official government records are subject to editing, rewrite, or complete erasure to assure the official records fall in line with and support the Obama “narrative”.  This is the old Soviet model, where you can replace “Soviet party line” with  Obama “narrative” – the same modus operandi.  .  Efforts by the media, by private lawsuits, by governmental oversight agencies to investigate the Obama corruption continually meet this same stonewall effort.  Obama officials proclaim due diligence, while emails waft off into the ether.

Attorny General, Loretta Lynch, old friend of the Clintons and top Clinton advisers,  testified before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday,  She completely stonewalled the Republican Congressmen’s questions about her decision not to indict Hillary Clinton.  It was one of the most vile OPENLY CORRUPT public displays in American history, but then again she is part of the TOTALLY CORRUPT Clinton machine, part of the TOTALLY CORRUPT Obama administration, both of which are powerful leaders in the TOTALLY CORRUPT  Democratic Party, which assuredly looks more and more like an organized criminal enterprise.

 Corruption begets corruption!

We are now ruled by a political crime syndicate.  To counter TOTALLY CORRUPT  Hillary, the Republicans have CORRUPT, mercurial, Donald Trump, whom his handlers are trying to send out like a trained parrot with prepared comments, to avoid him blurting out crazy, incendiary, unhinged comments.  Trump’s business dealings and mob connections (where reports  surfaced of even Russian mob connections)  bode poorly for the prospect of an honest Trump administration.  Even his much touted Trump Foundation gives off warning signs that it could easily become as much a criminal enterprise as the Clinton Foundation, which I’ve covered in other posts, here, here, here.

Sadly, the path America is on leads only to a return to the ancient Tyranny.



Filed under American Character, General Interest, History, Politics, Public Corruption, Uncategorized

A thought to ponder

Carville/Begala scorched earth is the military strategy of scorched earth (a war crime under the Geneva Conventions btw) juxtaposed to a mass media battlefield

Mass media saturation is the military strategy of swarming juxtaposed to a mass media battlefield

Combined, they have been ruthlessly used to divide America into hostile, warring factions.  Perhaps it’s time to figure out the driving force(s) behind them.


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Filed under Culture Wars, General Interest, History, Military, Politics, Public Corruption, The Media

An American wake-up call

Watching how Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton operate, with their enemies lists, where he issues veiled threats, channeling Mussolini’s ghost for his strongman image and she unleashes Clinton sewer rats to attack her political enemies and silence them, the following video should be watched by every American, to warn where an American road, with either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump, as President, leads. I’ve already experienced being investigated by the Clintons and having a retired general sent to silence me during impeachment. I’ve lived all these years, since 1998, looking over my shoulder and not being able to trust anyone – my own husband was manipulated into having me sent to a mental facility. My Messages of mhere story tabbed at the top of my home page, while written in a light manner and with pseudonyms is the TRUTH.  I understand this man’s feelings completely, because I feel like I’ve been living in a cage too.  I want to be FREE in America again!

This video above shows how quickly a state can descend into tyranny – it should serve as an American wake-up call.


Filed under American Character, General Interest, History, Messages of mhere, Politics, Public Corruption

The sound of angels’ wings

Moving away from politics for a change, here’s a very interesting article from The Atlantic, “Hearing the Lost Sounds of Antiquity,” explaining how researchers are melding cutting edge technology with historical research to recreate the sounds from history, even sounds from the fourth century:

“History is mostly silent to us now.

Thousands of years of human stories have been told in paintings, and sculptures, and sheet music, and text; in shards and shells, and other fragments of things left behind. But because the history of recorded sound is only 160 years old, the original sounds of the distant past are lost to time.”

The article explains the technology used to recreate the lost sounds from history, but also offers some exciting ways the researchers believe their work could lead to new ways to understand history, beyond reading dry old histories or studying crumbling architecture:

“The data showing what happened to the chirp in each part of the church is fed to a computer, which then registers the impulse response for the unique space. And here’s where it gets really interesting: Once you have a building’s impulse response, you can apply it to a recording captured in another space and make it sound as though that recording had taken place in the original building.

“So you can take chanters with the original [Byzantine era] music and put them in a studio that has no acoustics,” Kyriakakis said. “They can sing a chant, and then we can process it … and all of the sudden we have performances happening in medieval structures. It’s like time travel to me.”

The implications go far beyond the ancient world. Kyriakakis, Donahue, and Gerstel imagine creating a catalog of impulse responses for historic buildings, then recreating the sounds of those structures in what would be, essentially, a museum of lost sound. With an integration of virtual reality technology, visitors could even get the experience of how the sound would have changed as people moved through a given space. (Theoretically, they could share these recordings online, too, but both Kyriakakis and Donahue say it’s harder to render the sound authentically over headphones. They talk more about the idea in a USC Engineering podcast.)

The museum they’re envisioning would include churches, like the ones they’ve already mapped, but other structures, too—everything from ancient theaters and the Parthenon (an experiment that would also require mathematical modeling to bring back the missing part) to modern baseball stadiums and train stations.  “If we open up this idea,” Kyriakakis told me, “there’s no limit as to what can be measured and recreated.””

Now, consider researchers in a free society devoting energy to something that benefits everyone, while in other parts of the world we have a retrogression taking place where all the worst horrors of barbarism and depravity are embraced by religious zealots and their view on preserving history is to loot and then destroy ancient sites:

“So why is Isis blowing to pieces the greatest artefacts of ancient history in Syria and Iraq? The archeologist Joanne Farchakh has a unique answer to a unique crime. First, Isis sells the statues, stone faces and frescoes that international dealers demand. It takes the money, hands over the relics – and blows up the temples and buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of what has been looted.”

Okay, I promised this wasn’t going to delve into politics, so let me end here before launching into a foreign policy rant and let’s think about how these researchers recreating sounds from antiquity have actually come up with a sound in ancient cathedrals referred to as:

““They also discovered something that we call slap echo,” Donahue added, “when you have walls fairly close to one another and the frequencies go back and forth. It goes ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta, ta-ta-ta. [In the ancient world,] they described it as the sound of angels’ wings.””

The sound of angels’ wings…….. now that’s pretty amazing!


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Filed under Food for Thought, General Interest, History


Happy Valentine’s Day!  Hopefully, I’ll come up with some original posts soon and in fact, although there’s one in my draft’s folder  already written on “Wholesale Public Corruption,” it’s probably best to wait to post that one until a few more bits of evidence pan out conclusively.  All of my Messages of mhere story did happen in 1998 and early 1999 – that story is the truth!  The larger mystery of why so much effort and money was expended to shut me up, over my comments posted at the online, public, Excite message boards on the Clinton impeachment scandal, has taken longer to unravel.  I believe it goes to something deeper than just the Clintons, as stated in recent posts, hence my post “Wholesale Public Corruption”.

Until the moment arrives when I decide to post that, let me express my deep sorrow and also deep fear at hearing of Justice Scalia’s passing yesterday.  Another blow to The Constitution being able to survive the forces at play to “fundamentally transform America,” it took only hours before the partisan forces, on both sides, took to the media to lob their attacks at each other. They didn’t even have the respect to let his body be laid to rest, before unleashing this new front in their ongoing battle, really just a smokescreen to dupe the American people, whom they think of as mindless idiots or low information voters. While Americans angrily join these manufactured  partisan battles, attacking each other, these power-brokers in America keep consolidating their own power among their elite group, where membership in either political party is by invitation only.  So, enough of poltiics today, instead here’s another fascinating historical tidbit from The American Minute:

People often sign Valentine cards with X’s and O’s.

The Greek name for Christ, Χριστό, begins with the letter “X” which in Greek is called “Chi.”

“X” became a common abbreviation for the name Christ.

This is why Christ-mas is abbreviated as X-mas.

In Medieval times, the “X” was called the Christ’s Cross, or “Criss-Cross.”

The “Criss-Cross Row” was the way colonial school children learned the alphabet, where they would start at the X and say “May Christ’s Cross grant me speed (success)” and then proceed to recite the 26 letters.

It reminded students that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom”

“Mortals ne’er shall know
More than contained of old the Chris’-cross row.”

The Christ’s Cross was a form of a written oath.

Similar to the ancient practice of swearing upon a Bible, saying “so help me God,” then kissing the Bible, people would sign a document with or next to the Christ’s Cross to swear before God they would keep the agreement, then kiss it to show sincerity.

This practice has come down to us as “sign at the X”, or saying “I swear, cross my heart.”

This is the origin of signing a Valentines’ card with an “X” to express a pledge before God to be faithful, and an “O” to seal the pledge with a kiss of sincerity.

So, we still get the kisses part, the O,  of XO correct; it was the X meaning hugs that is not.  You can read the entire American Minute post at:

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Filed under Culture Wars, General Interest, History, Politics, The Constitution