All Opportunity For The Good, Yet None For The Unworthy

Philo of Alexandria wrote a relatively obscure essay entitled On the Prayers And Curses Uttered by Noah When He Became Sober.  His translator has fortunately shortened this unwieldy title to the compact De Sobrietate, or On Sobriety.  It contains the following passage of importance:

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Never Mind What Others Think…What Do YOU Think? (Podcast)

Far too often, we base our opinions on what we absorb from others. But if you have done the homework, if you have done the heavy lifting, and if you know the material, you should have the confidence to form your own thoughts. People read your writings because they want to know what YOU think, not what some other nibbler thinks. A critical step in intellectual independence is having the courage to state your own opinion on some learned topic, once you have earned the rights to do so.

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Perry Captures The British Fleet At Lake Erie

A glance at a map of Lake Erie quickly reveals its strategic importance to the belligerents of the War of 1812.  The lake sits atop what was then the western boundary of the United States.  The British were in control of Canada; with the waters of Lake Erie at their disposal, they would be able to ferry armies into positions allowing them to launch attacks on western Pennsylvania and New York, and proceed from there to America’s east coast cities. 

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The Defense Of The “General Armstrong”

Samuel Chester Reid was born in 1783 and first went to sea at the age of eleven.  Various adventures, including time as a captured prisoner of the French at Basse-terre in the Carribbean, honed his resourceful instincts; and privateering seemed a logical choice of career.  Upon the outbreak of the War of 1812, Reid assumed command of the brig General Armstrong.  She sailed from New York with a crew of about ninety men, composed of the expected assortment of adventurers, rogues, and merchant sailors. 

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A Well-Timed Ruse: The “Peacock” Captures The “Epervier”

The naval actions of the War of 1812 are instructive for several reasons.  These derive from the particular circumstances of the war, and from the nature of armed conflict in general.  In the War of 1812, the United States was at a significant disadvantage to her British adversary; the British navy was the best in the world, able to project power across the world in a way that the US Navy could not.  British officers were in general better trained and equipped, and often could rely on numerical superiority in engagements at sea. 

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The Almond, The Virtues, And Liberty Of Conscience

The philosopher Philo of Alexandria relates the following anecdote in his short treatise On the Life of Moses (II.23.178).  The prophet Moses, we are told, had appointed his brother to the office of high priest.  His decision had been based on his brother’s merits, but there was inevitably some grumbling by people who believed that the appointment was the result of familial favoritism. 

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The Strength Of Organized And Cumulative Effort

When studying the history of the exploration of the African continent, one is struck by the relative recentness of our acquisition of its geographic details.  Ancient man undoubtedly mounted expeditions here and there, but none of them has left a lasting modern mark.  Egyptians, Carthaginians, Greeks, and Romans eventually contented themselves with an awareness of the continent’s general contours.  Its interior they count not penetrate; deserts, mountains, rain forests, disease, heat, and hostile native peoples proved too forbidding.    

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Thomas Boyle Attacks Four Opponents At Once, And Beats Them All

Privateers were used extensively by the United States during the War of 1812.  The young American Navy did not have the money, resources, or manpower to conduct naval operations along the entirety of its vast coastline; it found it expedient to commission private parties to carry out some of its objectives. 

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Tusculan Disputations: What It Is About, And Why It Is Important (Podcast)

In this podcast I discuss my new translation of Cicero’s Tusculan Disputations. The work deals with five critical problems that face all of us: the fear of death, how to endure pain, how to alleviate mental distress, the various disorders of the mind, and why virtue is important for living a happy life. (A review of the book can be found in the October 2021 issue of The New Criterion). What questions could be more essential and fundamental than these?

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