Sunday, December 31, 2017

Luna La Grange

Luna Lee takes us into the New Year with her gayageum styling of ZZ Top's La Grange.  She really gets going about 1:10 into this clip.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Catch Him If You Can

Frank Abegnale Jr, played by Leonard DiCaprio, was the subject of Stephen Spielberg's film Catch Me If You Can.  This past October, Abegnale, for the past 41 years an FBI employee, spoke to an audience at Google.   When I came across the video I debated whether to watch it at all, decided to listen for a few minutes, and ended up watching the entire hour.  It's fascinating to hear Abegnale talk about the movie, his life, the meaning of family and manhood, as well as his observations on cybersecurity, the subject he's worked on for the past twenty years.

If you listen carefully you also realize how subtle and adept Abegnale is on avoiding questions he does not want to answer.  At a couple of points he references Spielberg's comments on him and you are left wondering if those comments are accurate portrayals of Frank's life or whether Abegnale is using Spielberg's version to avoid commenting on whether the director's portrayal is really accurate.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

I Can't Complain

I can't complain
But sometimes I still do
Life's been good to me
So far

Joe Walsh performing Life's Been Good in 2012 on Live From Daryl's House.  Joe sounds better than ever on both guitar and vocals.  And Daryl Hall's not too shabby either.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Hedge Fund Operating School As Tax Shelter Endorses Trickle Down Economics


Harvard's endowment is $38 billion.  It is part of the 1% of universities which have more than 40% of the total endowment of American universities.  Obviously unequal and unfair.  Thanks are due to Congress for addressing this injustice.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Last Minute Shopping?

There's a little shoppe in Prague I recommend for interesting gifts . . .


Friday, December 22, 2017

The Astaire Rogers Songbook

We've featured the memorable partnership of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers on several occasions.  I couldn't stand to watch their films when I was younger but have grown to appreciate the artistry and beauty of their dance scenes.  Their films also featured many classics from the Great American Songbook, most of them introduced to audiences for the first time.  Below are my nine favorites, arranged chronologically.

The Continental, composed by Herb Magidson & Con Conrad.  From The Gay Divorcee (1934).


Night & Day, composed by Cole Porter.  The Gay Divorcee.

Cheek To Cheek, composed by Irving Berlin.  From Top Hat (1935).

I Won't Dance, composed by Jerome Kern & Dorothy Fields.  From Roberta (1935).

The Way You Look Tonight, composed by Jerome Kern & Dorothy Fields.  From Swing Time (1936)

Extra added bonus version from Tony Bennett!

Let's Face The Music And Dance, composed by Irving Berlin.  From Follow The Fleet (1936).  My favorite of their music and dance sequences.

They Can't Take That Away From Me, composed by George & Ira Gershwin.  From Shall We Dance (1937).

They All Laughed, composed by the Gershwins.  Shall We Dance.

Let's Call The Whole Thing Off, composed by the Gershwins.  Shall We Dance.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

The Important Question

We've written several times about contingency in history and the human inability to predict the course of events or the consequences of actions (see, for example Churchill & Tolkien).  We need to constantly remind ourselves when looking at the actions of historical figures that while we know how things turned out, they did not know when they made their decisions.

I was reminded of this recently watching Professor Joanne Freeman of Harvard on C-Span,  Professor Freeman is a scholar of Alexander Hamilton and a lively and thoughtful speaker.  She closed her talk on Hamilton by reading an excerpt from Federalist 1, noting that Alexander was a pessimist about the ability of the United States to survive in a hostile world but felt the proposed Constitution gave us the best possible chance.  Hamilton writes:
It has been frequently remarked that it seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force

If there be any truth in the remark, the crisis at which we are arrived may with propriety be regarded as the era in which that decision is to be made; and a wrong election of the part we shall act may, in this view, deserve to be considered as the general misfortune of mankind.
Hamilton, Madison, Washington and the others did not know how it would turn out.  It was a gamble; one worth taking in their view, but still a gamble.   Some would say the outcome of that gamble is still to be determined.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ovid, Please Come Home!

On December 14, 2017 the City Council of Rome revoked the order of exile issued to Publius Ovidius Naso, better known as Ovid.  What is unusual is that the order was issued 2,009 years ago in 8 AD by the Emperor Augustus.  Questions have been raised regarding the legal authority of the Council to revoke an order of Augustus and reporters have been unable to reach Ovid for a response to this stunning development.

Ovid was the youngest of a triumvirate of Roman poets who rose to prominence during the reign of Augustus (31 BC - 14AD), the others being Virgil (70 BC - 19 BC), author of the Aenied regarded as the national epic of ancient Rome, and Horace (65 BC - 8 BC).

Born in 43 BC, Ovid is best known for the Metamorphoses and Ars Armatoria (The Art of Love).  Much of his work had erotic themes and it is this which may have led him afoul of Augustus.  Throughout his reign, Augustus promoted laws designed to increase the Roman birthrate among its leading citizens and enforcing a strict moral code.

Unfortunately, Augustus' only child, Julia, flouted her father's code, engaging in promiscuous and adulterous behavior that eventually drove her appalled husband, Tiberius (stepson of Augustus) into voluntary exile in 6 BC.  Augustus refused to believe rumors of his daughter's behavior until a series of events forced him to take action in 2 BC.  Julia was exiled to an island off the coast of Italy and several of the men associated with her were executed or forced to commit suicide.  Several years later Ovid, who had also been a member of Julia's circle, was ordered exiled to Tomis, a remote town on the Black Sea coast of what is now Romania where the poet remained until his death in 17 or 18 AD.  Augustus died in 14 AD at the age of 77.  Tiberius, his successor, reportedly ordered Julia be starved to death.
Rome revokes ancient poet Ovid's exile – 2,000 years on(Statue of Ovid in Tomis (now Constanta, Romania))

There is an alternative theory of these events which holds that while Julia and her male companions misbehaved sexually it was not those actions that led to exile and executions.  Rather Julia, knowingly or unknowingly became enmeshed in a plot to depose her father.  One of her lovers was Iullus Antonius, son of Marc Antony, Augustus' great rival from 43 to 31.  Iullus was known to have ambitions of his own and it is speculated may have been at the center of the plot against Augustus.  With Julia's downfall, Iullus committed suicide.

The specific reasons for Ovid's exile remain unknown.  He wrote two books of poetry in exile and all he would say of the matter was that the cause was "carmen et error", a poem and a mistake, which he bitterly regretted.  His poems portray Tomis as a barbarous town, cold and gray, whose inhabitants did not speak Latin, and knew nothing of his accomplishments; "here I'm the barbarian, understood by nobody".

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Alternative Polka

A tribute to 90s alternative rock done in polka style by Weird Al Yankovic!  Artists (in order) are Beck, Stone Temple Pilots, Sheryl Crow, Nine Inch Nails, REM, Alanis Morrisette, Smashing Pumpkins, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fights, Soundgarden, and Green Day.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Collusion!

With Russia and Iran by the Obama Administration. Politico is running an astonishing story by Josh Meyers. You should read the entire lengthy story. I checked the twitter feed of the author and he’s certainly no fan of Trump or Republicans but he actually seems to have done something rare for a reporter – committed an actual act of journalism! Here is an excerpt:

In its determination to secure a nuclear deal with Iran, the Obama administration derailed an ambitious law enforcement campaign targeting drug trafficking by the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hezbollah, even as it was funneling cocaine into the United States, according to a POLITICO investigation.
The campaign, dubbed Project Cassandra, was launched in 2008 after the Drug Enforcement Administration amassed evidence that Hezbollah had transformed itself from a Middle East-focused military and political organization into an international crime syndicate that some investigators believed was collecting $1 billion a year from drug and weapons trafficking, money laundering and other criminal activities.
Over the next eight years, agents working out of a top-secret DEA facility in Chantilly, Virginia, used wiretaps, undercover operations and informants to map Hezbollah’s illicit networks, with the help of 30 U.S. and foreign security agencies.
They followed cocaine shipments, some from Latin America to West Africa and on to Europe and the Middle East, and others through Venezuela and Mexico to the United States. They tracked the river of dirty cash as it was laundered by, among other tactics, buying American used cars and shipping them to Africa. And with the help of some key cooperating witnesses, the agents traced the conspiracy, they believed, to the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.


They followed cocaine shipments, tracked a river of dirty cash, and traced what they believed to be the innermost circle of Hezbollah and its state sponsors in Iran.

But as Project Cassandra reached higher into the hierarchy of the conspiracy, Obama administration officials threw an increasingly insurmountable series of roadblocks in its way, according to interviews with dozens of participants who in many cases spoke for the first time about events shrouded in secrecy, and a review of government documents and court records. When Project Cassandra leaders sought approval for some significant investigations, prosecutions, arrests and financial sanctions, officials at the Justice and Treasury departments delayed, hindered or rejected their requests.
The Justice Department declined requests by Project Cassandra and other authorities to file criminal charges against major players such as Hezbollah’s high-profile envoy to Iran, a Lebanese bank that allegedly laundered billions in alleged drug profits, and a central player in a U.S.-based cell of the Iranian paramilitary Quds force. And the State Department rejected requests to lure high-value targets to countries where they could be arrested.
According to the author the administration obstructed the investigation of Hezbollah because it did not want to interfere with the negotiations over the Iran nuclear deal.

This follows upon the previously known collusion between the Obama Administration and Russia in 2012. The Kremlin openly supported Obama in the election campaign and, in turn, President Obama trashed Mitt Romney for his anti-Russian foreign policy. Obama was also caught on mic with President Medvedev telling him he’d have more flexibility in dealing with Russia after the election. We know from other revelations that Obama sought Russia’s assistance in reaching a deal with Iran.

We also now know that the Clinton Campaign paid for the Steele dossier on Donald Trump which used information from Russian government intelligence sources. And, in turn, President Obama obstructed the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server by endorsing her, publicly pronouncing on her innocence while the “investigation” was underway, and refusing to appoint a special counsel despite the obvious conflict of interest. In addition, the Obama Administration may have used the information sourced from the Kremlin to obtain a FISA warrant allowing it to spy on the Trump campaign.

I am confident that Robert Mueller and his team of Democratic Party supporters, now that their investigation of Trump and his team turned up multiple examples of stupidity but none of actual collusion, will be turning their focus to undertaking a full investigation of Democratic collusion with Russia and Iran. [sarcasm alert!]

It's increasingly difficult to understand the continued hysterical focus by Progressives, the Democratic Party Daily Newsletter (aka The New York Times), and a newspaper openly committed to strangling democracy in darkness (The Washington Post) to a false narrative about Trump campaign collusion with the Kremlin during the election, as the real story seems to be boomeranging back on the Democrats.

The situation has grown so bizarre that I agree with a piece by Lee Smith at The Tablet titled "Why Glenn Greenwald Deserves A Pulitzer Prize".  I share Smith's disdain for Greenwald's political views but he's spot on in describing how Greenwald nailed this year's top story - "how the American press became a woozy facsimile of Pravda".

So far this month we've had three completely false stories from the media regarding Trump and Russia.  The misdating of an email regarding Wikileaks; a false story about Mueller subpoena of Trump records at Deutsche Bank, and worst of all, ABC's misreporting that Michael Flynn would testify that Trump asked him to contact Russian officials during the campaign.

There is a scandal here and it is in plain sight.  The Obama/Clinton collusion with Russia and Iran and their subversion of U.S. intelligence and investigation agencies for political purposes.   The sad! thing is that the Kremlin really does want to disrupt the U.S. political system, and with the assistance of Robert Mueller and the Democratic Party it is achieving its goals. 

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Who Wants To Live Forever

When it comes to the genre of Bombastic Rock, Freddie Mercury and Queen remain the champions.  I was reminded of this when I came upon Highlander (1986) on cable and promptly watched it from start to finish.  A wonderfully cheesy 1980s flick starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery its theme song, Who Wants To Live Forever, written by the band's guitarist Brian May,  is a perfect match for the tone of the movie.

Extra added bonus watching the film was realizing that its villain, The Kurgan, was played by Clancy Brown, who also portrayed the evil Captain Byron Hadley in The Shawshank Redemption.  Most recently he was Gracchus, George Clooney's Roman centurion sidekick, in the Coen Brothers film, Hail, Caesar!
https://i1.wp.com/www.fortressofsolitude.co.za/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/Clancy-Brown-as-The-Kurgan-in-Highlander.jpg (The Kurgan)https://i.imgur.com/cLGrUjZ.jpg (Hadley)https://3.bp.blogspot.com/-ulCyeJtQOXk/V4mxjnXb4pI/AAAAAAAAUks/RQCqDQs5E7QlvS2TdiqDk4qX5ZmJW1z9ACLcB/s1600/Hail%2BCaesar%2B%25288%2529.png (Gracchus)

The song's title echoes the words of Marine Corps Sergeant Major Dan Daly, who reputedly shouted at his company, "Come on, you sons of bitches, do you want to live forever?", as he urged them to charge German troops at the Battle of Belleau Wood in 1918.   Daly, who twice turned down promotions to officer, preferring to remain a sergeant, was awarded two Medals of Honor, the first for heroism in connection with the relief expedition sent to Peking to rescue besieged diplomats during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900, and the second for actions in Haiti during 1915.




Saturday, December 16, 2017

Have A Merry Die Hard Christmas!

A google search on "Is Die Hard a Christmas Movie?" generates nearly 31 million results.  The controversy flares up every December.  This blog has absolutely no opinion on the matter but feels obligated to bring the matter to our readers attention in our continuing pursuit of Useless Knowledge.

Here is the case for and against:




And, regardless of your views, here are 30 cold, hard facts about Die Hard.

Friday, December 15, 2017

St. Teresa

Joan Osborne from 1995.  Co-written by Osborne, Eric Bazilian, Rob Hyman, and Rick Chertoff.  Bazilian and Hyman were members of The Hooters, a band with some 80s hits, and also wrote songs for Cindy Lauper's debut album.  Chertoff produced both Lauper's and Osborne's debut albums.

Outside The Pale

I was very pleased that Alabama Republicans refused to vote for Roy Moore, even though it meant the election of yet another progressive Democrat.  I have no idea about the accuracy of the allegations about his personal life, but there was enough on the record elsewhere to make him unacceptable.

As a lawyer and justice his contempt for the rule of law was an abomination.  And he also seemed to me to be a gay-obsessed racist.

But I have a question for progressives.  Over the past decade enough Republican voters have repeatedly defected from the support of candidates of their party who appeared to be beyond the pale.  For progressives, what combination of beliefs, actions, statements, behaviors, attitudes in a Democratic candidate would be unacceptable to them and lead them not to support that candidate even if it meant the election of a Republican?  I ask because in the 21st century we've seen Democratic candidates with records of anti-semitism, race-baiting, incitements to violence, and hateful statements and prejudices against many of their fellow Americans, but I have yet to see a parallel reaction by Democratic voters to what we've seen from Republicans.

I'm waiting . . .

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Madame Blatavsky And The Birth Of Baseball

Captain Abner Doubleday (1819-93) fired the first cannon shot in defense of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861.  He went on to serve with the Army of the Potomac, being wounded twice, and eventually promoted to Major General.  His finest moment was on the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg, July 1, 1863, when he assumed command of the First Corps after the death of General John Reynolds, holding the field for several hours against superior numbers of Confederates, and allowing time for the rest of the Union Army to reach the scene.
http://sabr.org/sites/default/files/images/Abner-Doubleday-LOCPP.jpg (General Doubleday from SABR)

Abner was also, according to an official baseball commission finding in 1907, the originator of America's first national pastime, drawing up rules for a contest held in Elihu Phinney's cow pasture in Cooperstown, NY in 1839.  It's the reason the Baseball Hall of Fame, which officially opened on the 100th anniversary of Doubleday's game, is located in that bucolic upstate New York town.
https://baseballhall.org/sites/default/files/styles/fullscreen_image_popup/public/islandora_images/HOF%20Weekend%201939_4253-89_Grp_NBL.jpg?itok=nKl50gCn
(First Hall of Fame induction in 1939; front row L to R; Eddie Collins, Babe Ruth, Connie Mack, Cy Young; standing L to R; Honus Wagner, Pete Alexander, Tris Speaker, Nap Lajoie, George Sisler, Walter Johnson; Ty Cobb arrived too late for the photo)

Of course, Doubleday did not invent baseball, indeed there is no evidence he was even in Cooperstown at the time, though he did have cousins who lived there.  The direct lineal ancestor of today's game grew out of the sport played in the New York City area earlier in the 19th century.  The American birthplace was urban, not rural.

How, and why, was the Doubleday myth accepted?

Answer: Albert G Spalding

Albert Spalding was one of the stars of early organized baseball in the 1870s, pitching for the Boston Red Stockings of the National Association starting in 1871.  Dissatisfied with the loose running rules of the Association, in 1876, Spalding played a key role in organizing the National League.  After becoming one of the first players to use a glove he founded the Albert G Spalding sporting goods company, which still exists.  Albert proved to be even more of a success as a businessman than as a ballplayer.
https://i.pinimg.com/originals/c4/0e/a7/c40ea7d7d8e2c79700b1c5dc2f33b22b.jpg(Spalding as ballplayer, 1870s)

To help promote the business, Spalding published the first set of the official rules of baseball and an annual guide to the sport which became the "bible" of baseball.   In 1888-9 he put together a team of National League stars to undertake the first world tour to popularize baseball (and his company).  In 1900 President McKinley appointed him the US Commissioner for the Summer Olympics.

In 1905 when baseball pioneer Henry Chadwick wrote an article claiming that baseball derived from the English game of rounders, Spalding, as the most powerful man in baseball and an American patriot decided something must be done to establish the American origins of the game.  He organized what became known as the Mills Commission, named after the former National League president and close friend of Spalding, Abraham Mills, though for all practical purposes Spalding ran everything.

After announcing the commission and a public plea for information on the origins of baseball, Spalding received a letter from Abner Graves, a mining engineer in Denver, claiming claiming he was present as a child when Abner Doubleday approached a group of boys in Cooperstown with his newly developed rules of baseball back in 1839.  The letter is nonsensical and baseball historians have dismissed its accuracy yet it led directly to the 1907 conclusion of the commission establishing baseball's origin with Doubleday in Cooperstown.  You can find the full text of the Graves letters here.

It turns out there is a previously unknown connection between Albert Spalding and Abner Doubleday that may explain why Spalding pushed the Cooperstown story.   The connection was laid out for the first time in David Block's magisterial opus, Baseball Before We Knew It: A Search For the Roots of the Game (2006).  Block traces back the near and distant relatives of baseball to Europe, and England in particular.  His hypothesis is that the direct lineal ancestor of baseball is an English game called stool ball which, by the early 1700s had evolved into base ball which was a very rudimentary form of what became today's game.  Carried to America by colonists a variant of base ball was played in the encampments of George Washington's Continental Army.
https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/08/Aprettylittlepocketbook.jpg(from A Little Pretty Pocket Book, published in England (1744), image from Wikipedia)

The book also contains a chapter by David's brother Philip regarding his research into Spalding and Doubleday.  It turns out both were heavily involved in the Theosophical Society.  The Theosophical Society was the first organization in the United States devoted to the study of Eastern (Asian) thought and religion.  Founded in 1875 in New York City by Madame Helena Petrovna Blatavsky, who arrived from Russia two years previous, Abner Doubleday served as vice-president and then president of the Society from 1879 to 1884, remaining actively engaged until his death in 1893.
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky.jpg(Madame Blatavsky; Wikipedia)

Prior to arriving in America, Blatavsky traveled widely, including to India as well as claiming she was sent by The Masters of Ancient Wisdom to Tibet where she was trained to develop her own psychic powers.

The tenets of Theosophy are difficult for me to understand so I'll settle for this excerpt from Wikipedia and let the reader make of it what they will:
One of the central philosophical tenets promoted by the Society was the complex doctrine of The Intelligent Evolution of All Existence, occurring on a cosmic scale, incorporating both the physical and non-physical aspects of the known and unknown Universe, and affecting all of its constituent parts regardless of apparent size or importance. The theory was originally promulgated in the Secret Doctrine, the 1888 magnum opus of Helena Blavatsky.[7] According to this view, humanity's evolution on earth (and beyond) is part of the overall cosmic evolution. It is overseen by a hidden spiritual hierarchy, the so-called Masters of the Ancient Wisdom, whose upper echelons consist of advanced spiritual beings.

Blavatsky portrayed the Theosophical Society as being part of one of many attempts throughout the millennia by this hidden Hierarchy to guide humanity – in concert with the overall intelligent cosmic evolutionary scheme – towards its ultimate, immutable evolutionary objective: the attainment of perfection and the conscious, willing participation in the evolutionary process. These attempts require an earthly infrastructure (such as the Theosophical Society) which she held was ultimately under the inspiration of a number of Mahatmas, members of the Hierarchy.

In addition to the stated objectives, as early as 1889 Blavatsky publicly declared that the purpose of establishing the Society was to prepare humanity for the reception of a World Teacher: according to the Theosophical doctrine described above, a manifested aspect of an advanced spiritual entity (the Maitreya) that periodically appears on Earth in order to direct the evolution of humankind. The mission of these reputedly regularly appearing emissaries is to practically translate, in a way and language understood by contemporary humanity, the knowledge required to propel it to a higher evolutionary stage. 
Interested in spiritual matters from a young age, Doubleday subscribed to the Transcendentalist journal, The Dial, after graduating from West Point.  Upon retiring from the army in 1873, Doubleday decided to devote his time to spiritualism.  After reading Blatavsky's book Isis Unveiled, which he praise for its "marvelous erudition" and "the most novel explanations given in the work in regard to the psychical and spiritual phenomenon", Abner sought the author out and joined the Theosophical Society.  He also continued to pursue his spiritual interests outside the group translating into English two French books on magic and the occult.

Block notes that Doubleday continued to be a supporter of Madame Blatavsky:
"even after she came under numerous attacks by her enemies, including charges that she fraudulently produced psychic phenomena and allegations of alcoholism and other immoral behavior."
In 1880, Blatavsky and the society's co-founder, Henry Steel Olcott moved to India where they became associated with Arya Samaj, a Hindu reform movement.  They also visited Ceylon where it is reported they became the first Westerners to officially convert to Buddhism.  Blatavsky also created controversy in India being accused of fraud related to her alleged production of paranormal phenomena.  In 1885 she returned to Europe where she wrote The Secret Doctrine which she claimed to be a commentary on ancient Tibetan manuscripts.  She died in 1891.

When Doubleday died the society's journal noted that the general had "many strange psychical experiences of his own".  Harper's Weekly also noticed his interest in the occult in its obituary:
"Since his retirement he has lived quietly at Mendham, New Jersey, writing more or less for magazines on military subjects and studying the occult sciences.  He was one of Madame Blatavsky's first converts, and was a firm believer the theosophical theories . . . No one could take with him on this subject without realizing that he was perfectly honest in his faith.  Whatever a skeptic might think of the founders of the society, he could not help believing that this old soldier was a genuine Buddhist, and found much consolation in the religion which he had embraced towards the end of his life."
Interestingly, Doubleday's funeral cortege was accompanied by a military honor guard from the Lafayette Post of the Grand Army of the Potomac under the command of, none other than, Colonel Abraham Mills, the post commander, National League president, and later chair of the Mills Commission!
https://sabr.org/sites/default/files/images/Spalding-Albert-435.54_HS_PD.jpg(Spalding)

It turns out that Albert Spalding was also a prominent member of, and major financial contributor to,  the Theosophical Society.  Spalding became involved in the 1890s through his second wife, Elizabeth, a close aide of Katherine Tingley who had established a Theosophical enclave at Point Loma in San Diego in 1897.  Elizabeth had been a disciple of Madame Blatavsky and became close with Tingley, her successor as head of the U.S. Theosophical Society.  In fact, when Spalding received Graves's 1905 letter he and his wife had been living for several years in a palatial mansion in the Point Loma community.  It must have seemed a ready made solution for Spalding; Graves confirmed the very American birth of baseball, and its originator was a fellow Theosophist!

(Theosophical Society buildings at Point Loma from saveoursandiego)
http://www.sohosandiego.org/lostsd/images/theo2.jpg
In his research, Philip Block uncovered a 1905 article in the Loma Point community's weekly newspaper, four months after Spalding received the Graves letter.  The article references the Graves letter and, referring to Doubleday, notes:
"It is of interest to note the fact that it is to this stanch Theosophist, well known army officer and author, that the national game of Base Ball owes not only its name, but also in large degree its development from a simpler sport; or indeed, according to some writers, its very invention."
Two years later, Spalding, writing from his home at Point Loma, addressed the Mills Commission and endorsed the Doubleday story:
"I am very strongly included to the belief that Cooperstown, N.Y., is the birthplace of the present American game of Base Ball, and that Major General Abner Doubleday was the originator of the game."
The Commission, chaired by Spalding and Doubleday's mutual friend Abraham Mills, duly ratified this conclusion.



Monday, December 11, 2017

Allenby Enters Jerusalem

On December 11, 1917, General Edmund Allenby, commander of British forces in the Middle East entered Jerusalem through the Jaffa Gate.  As a sign of respect he dismounted from his horse and walked into the city, as shown below.  It was the emotional and symbolic culmination of a campaign launched from the Suez Canal against the Turks a year earlier.


Jerusalem, part of the Ottoman Empire since 1517, consisted only of the Old City and a few buildings outside the walls.  Since the latter part of the 19th century its population had been majority Jewish for perhaps the first time in over a thousand years.

A few days ago President Trump rightfully extended United States recognition to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, recognizing the reality of the past seventy years.  Contrary to many predictions, the American announcement has not triggered widespread outrage in the Muslim world.

The context of the President's announcement is better understood in the context of one of the final actions of President Obama's administration.  In a small and spiteful act, President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry maneuvered the passage of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which effectively denied Jewish rights to East Jerusalem, including the walled city, the Jewish Quarter and to Judaism's holiest sites, and allowing the Palestinians in adding yet another set of unreasonable demands to any future peace negotiations. 

In contrast, President Trump formally fulfilled the provisions of a 1995 law, passed by Congress by a 93-5 vote and signed by President Clinton, declaring  “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.”   Since then presidents have signed waivers every six months deferring action on the law.

The United States Senate reaffirmed the law just six months ago by a unanimous vote.  The co-sponsor was New York Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer who, two months ago, attacked President Trump for not keeping his campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem:
 “This year is the fiftieth anniversary of the reunification of Jerusalem, yet with 2018 fast approaching, the U.S. still hasn't moved the embassy or made clear its commitment to Israel's capital…President Trump's recent comments suggest his indecisiveness on the embassy's relocation. As someone who strongly believes that Jerusalem is the undivided capital of Israel, I am calling for the U.S. Embassy in Israel to be relocated to Jerusalem. Moving the embassy as soon as possible would appropriately commemorate the fiftieth anniversary of Jerusalem's reunification and show the world that the U.S. definitively acknowledges Jerusalem as Israel's capital.”
In taking this bipartisan action the President was more circumspect and diplomatic than Senator Schumer.  The Senator supports an undivided Jerusalem, while the President was careful to say that his action involved no predetermination of the ultimate boundary of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem.