Fire both fascinates and terrifies man. It has nurtured man’s ascent from savagery to civilization by cooking his food, keeping him warm, and smelting his metals for war and agriculture; and yet nothing else so triggers his instincts of panic and terror when trapped in its presence. Fires in large buildings and aboard ships at sea are especially terrible because the victims of these fires often have nowhere to flee.Continue reading
We have noted elsewhere that the young United States went to war against the Barbary principalities of northern Africa in 1801. President Jefferson found the continued payment of tribute to these piratical opportunists to be obnoxious, and resolved to punish the corsairs militarily. Tripoli returned the favor by declaring war on the Americans. Sword and bullet would now settle the matter.Continue reading
Stephen Decatur ranks as one of the greatest of America’s early naval commanders. His only equal in bravery and fighting prowess was John Paul Jones. He was the kind of man who could not sit by the sidelines and watch a fight play out; he had to be in the thick of the action, issuing commands, and inhaling the sulphurous smoke of battle. Yet he was no rash hothead; his decisions, while bold and daring, were always based on a sound consideration of military realities.Continue reading
In this podcast we discuss Alexandre Moratto’s 2021 film Seven Prisoners. The movie describes the experience of a young man named Matheus, who is basically sold into a modern form of industrial serfdom in Sao Paolo. He tries to rebel at first, but quickly learns the futility of resistance. But being ambitious, he gradually begins a series of accommodations with his oppressors that strip him of his honor. What is the price of one’s soul? What is the price of one’s humanity? The loss of one’s moral base happens slowly, gradually, and almost imperceptibly.
A brilliant, morally profound film, and one that we should all reflect on.
Continental Europe is dotted with serene and beautiful cemeteries from the First and Second World Wars. They are also found in the Dardanelles, holding the fallen of the Gallipoli campaign. They are ordered, serene, well-kept, and dignified with the solemnity that supreme sacrifice confers. Tourists now visit them frequently, strolling among the chiseled headstones that sprout like white flowers amid seas of green.Continue reading
William Bainbridge ranks among the very greatest of the early American naval commanders. Born in Princeton, New Jersey in 1774 to a father who was a prominent physician, he was apprenticed to the sea at the ripe age of fifteen. Even as a teenager, his actions and deportment marked him as fated for great things.Continue reading
Winston Churchill, like most statesmen, was known to have little patience for pettifoggery and pirouetting around a problem. His mind instinctively sought the core of a problem, and was able to slash through brambles and thickets to find it. His biographer William Manchester wrote, “[He] cared little for obtuse political or social theories; he was a man of action: state the problem, find a solution, and solve the problem.”Continue reading
The audiobook of my translation of Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations is now available. Narrated smoothly and beautifully by Saethon Williams (the same narrator of my other translations), this audiobook is a complete and unabridged version of the print edition published in August 2021. Mr. Williams has brought his own authority, sparkle and polish to the dialogues, and I am confident that readers and listeners will find the audiobook to be a source of both enjoyment and understanding.Continue reading
When it comes to learning, were things better back in the 1980s and 1990s, or are they better now? How has the internet contributed to the “instant gratification” mentality? What are the parameters of the tension between the availability of resources, and the ease of gratifying our baser desires? We discuss.Continue reading
The fabled USS Constitution is still the oldest commissioned vessel in the US Navy. Just the sight of her in Charlestown drydock is enough to quicken the pulse of any man entranced by feats of heroism and valor. A relic from an era when warships circled each other at sea like snarling dogs, she tallied an extraordinary list of accomplishments during her active service life. We will here relate the tale of her escape from almost certain capture by a squadron of British ships during the War of 1812.Continue reading