As I mentioned some blog entries ago, I spent the last few weeks catching up on home maintenance. I am now convinced I'm actually living in the House of Usher. Not only is it rotting (where wood has been exposed to frequent moisture; I've been fixing a lot of those), but it's also sinking into the ground. More accurately, the ground has been sinking around the house. There's now a big step up onto the porch from the earth sinking and it appears that the porch may be pulling away from the house. There's a major repair cost in my future for that. What a headache.
I watched a truly horrible historical production yesterday. "Alfred the Great" (1969), starring David Hemmings. Gosh, did it suck. But, as I'm interested in Anglo-Saxon history I felt obligated to watch it, with all of its egregious historical errors and liberties. Alfred's wife Ealhswith taking up with his Viking enemy? I don't think so; that one somehow escaped the notice of his chroniclers. And at one point Alfred is shown milling about a square stone Norman keep - the type that wouldn't be seen in England for another 200 years. Sheesh.
As I recall, there were a number of interesting historical movie and television productions in 1969 and 1970 - they were in fashion: "Waterloo" (1970), "Cromwell" (1970), "Anne of the Thousand Days" (1969), "Ivanhoe" (1970) and "The Six Wives of Henry VIII" (1970).
Perhaps the grubby early 1970's aesthetic (males were long-haired and bearded) somehow led to an interest in the past. I don't know, I can't account for it. But "Alfred the Great" is certainly the least of these productions.
I also finished "Where Does The Weirdness Go? - Why Quantum Mechanics is Strange, But Not As Strange As You Think" by David Lindley, an ultimately disappointing book. It seemed to repeat itself a lot and gave me little insight into or clarification on the EPR paradox. I give up.
My right-wing New Hampshire cousin Ronbo - who is not at all happy about the turn of political events recently - sent me a link to this website of the U.S. military firing missiles in spectacular photographic style. Two more: Here, and here. The way I figure, if we're going to spent billions of dollars on defense, we ought to get some great photos out of it!
But these images touch on the fact that, despite whatever you think about combat and war, there is simply nothing that comes close in terms of awesome spectacle. I have read this sentiment a number of times in various soldier diaries. Feeding a hungry child, rebuilding a home or inoculating Third World citizens against diseases are all the stuff of noble charity. But there's something fascinating about watching stuff get blown up, and young men line up for the opportunity. (I did.)
Some interesting quotes I have gathered over the years about war:
"War is an initiation into the power of life and death. Women touch that power on the moment of birth, men at the edge of death." - William Broyles
"War is to man what motherhood is to women." - Benito Mussolini
"Every man thinks meanly of himself for not having been a soldier." - Samuel Johnson
"In war, as in prostitution, amateurs are often better than professionals." - Napoleon
"No one is so foolish as to prefer war to peace: in peace children bury their fathers, while in war fathers bury their children." - Herodotus
"As long as war is regarded as wicked, it will always have its fascination. When it is looked upon as vulgar, it will cease to be popular." - Oscar Wilde
"Men love war because it allows them to look serious. Because it is the one thing that stops women from laughing at them." - John Fowles
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