The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Recently Read

These are not new books, and in fact, only one of them was new to me. The others were revisited with great pleasure. But if you want to wallow in the Civil War, you can't do better than Stephen W. Sears.
  • To the Gates of Richmond: The Peninsula Campaign, Stephen W. Sears. If you want to know why George McClellan was the political George W. Bush and the military Benito Mussolini of his day, this is the book to read.
  • Landscape Turned Red: The Battle of Antietam, Stephen W. Sears. Horrifying and probably treasonous behavior on the part of the Federal command, astonishing courage and sacrifice from the rank and file, and the ouster, for the first time, of Lee from a northern invasion.
  • Chancellorsville, Stephen W. Sears. After Lincoln booted McClellan and installed "Fighting Joe" Hooker in command of the Army of the Potomac, Hooker invaded Northern Virginia, stumbled into the area called the Wilderness, and got his butt kicked right back across the Rapidan by Lee and Jackson.
  • Gettysburg, Stephen W. Sears. And of course, after Chancellorsville, Lee moved north again, up through Maryland and into Pennsylvania. Then, his brain quit working, and he allowed himself to be pulled into a meeting engagement with the Union army, this time under George Meade, who was essentially the first of the Federal generals to understand offensive movement, defensive action. Lee lost.
The thing I like about Sears is that he's a careful and well-educated historian who can also write. Unlike the popularizers like Shaara and his ilk, Sears has no axe to grind, he just explains and does it brilliantly. I haven't done an actual count, but these four books together probably comprise 2500 pages, and you'll be hard pressed to find a better introduction to the war in the East. I don't know what Sears may be working on now, but I hope it's more of the same. If he'd just take on first and second Manassas and Fredricksburg, virtually the whole pre-Grant eastern theater would be covered, and we could remainder a lot of lesser books on the subject.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Unpopular Music

Various churches around the country are again defying Federal Law by endorsing political candidates. This is nothing new, and the government, quaking in its boots at the thought of the uproar that would ensue, generally ignores them instead of ordering drone strikes on the miserable bastards stripping them of their tax-exempt status and demanding tax payments back to the Eighteenth Century.

However, there's another odd category of public personality whose endorsement of one or another posturing right-wing jackass News Corp shareholder should, in the opinion of this blog, be regulated. We support the right of people like Ted Nugent and Kid Rock to vote how they please, but it does seem odd that they're allowed to carry on the way they do and yet pay no taxes.

What? They're not tax-exempt? You mean to tell me Nugent is for-profit? And he's still around? And that little ponce, the other one, too? Wait a minute. That implies that people actually pay to hear them? Oh lordy lord, I'm a-moving to Canadia.