David Nasaw’s The Patriarch is a comprehensive account of the life and times of the founder of the Kennedy family dynasty, Joseph P. Kennedy. In many ways he remains the least understood Kennedy; his name has been subject to rumor, surrounded by myth, and maligned in whispers. Even during his life he remained a divisive, controversial figure: at once irascible, overbearing, frustratingly obdurate, and cunning, as well as loyal, devoted, conscientious, and steadfast.
As I have gotten older I find that reading plays brings more enjoyment than it did in earlier years. Tragedies especially: the unformed mind has not yet been sufficiently battered by the winds and waves of fortune against the rocks, and is equipped with a merciful immunity to the pathos of existence. And yet, as the years roll on, beards and barnacles begin to replace the smooth, supple surfaces of youth; scars and aches accumulate; and the omnipresence of tragedy dawns on the maturing mind with a startling rapidity. The mind then calls for a tonic: it requires the writer to make sense of all this chaos, all this pain, and all this suffering. The struggle must be dignified with a sense of universal justice, and an ethic of enduring goodness. So the tragedian steps forward, and with his stylus attempts to perform this task.
One of the more fascinating of the seven wonders of the ancient world was the Pharos Lighthouse in Alexandria, Egypt. I have lately been reading the history of the Arab conquest of Egypt in the seventh century, and have become more acquainted with some of the monument’s unique characteristics, and the legends that have surrounded it.
In this podcast we discuss the subject of having the faith and confidence to follow your creative muse, without looking for the approval or endorsement of others. The herd is always going to try to enforce conformity. Do your homework, do your research, and learn your subject: but at the critical jumping-off moment, you need to keep your own counsel and not let anyone undermine your instinct.
In some recent researches I have discovered one of the more interesting travelers and scholars of the medieval Islamic world. I have been encouraged to review what sources are available; and the more we learn, the more impressive his story becomes. His name is Yakut Al-Hamawi, and his career and achievements tell us much about the geographical and social mobility of the age in which he lived. His career also confirms the truth of the adage that a man of ability will always find a way to rise to the top, regardless of the obstacles placed in his path.
Before one can philosophize, one must eat. And so we turn now to the subject of eating. I wanted to share this recipe because I think it is inexpensive, flavorful, and simple to prepare. It requires no further justification.