The Maritime Adventures Of Philip Ashton

In June 1722 a seaman from Marblehead, Massachusetts named Philip Ashton was aboard a vessel that entered the waters around Shelburne, Nova Scotia.  Ashton was a fisherman and had no experience with trouble on the high seas.  But this was to change very quickly.  As his shallop entered the waters of the harbor, it was spotted and boarded by pirates under the command of the notorious Edward Low.  The crew and its cargo were now under the control of Low and his men.

Continue reading

Fixed Fortifications Are Useless

Armies and states throughout history have sought to provide security by constructing fixed fortifications like fortresses, citadels, and walls.  These projects inevitably end as dismal failures.  Not only do they not provide security, but they do something even worse:  they provide an illusion of security that encourages a defender to be overconfident and careless.  And when this happens, disaster is only a matter of time.  Walls and forts do not provide security; at most they can help channel avenues of approach for advancing enemies.  For states are not protected by fortresses, but by the valor of their citizens.  When the latter is lacking, the former are of no use.

Continue reading

The Life Of Father António Vieira

One of the most compelling figures of Portuguese history–and surely one of the greatest practitioners of its prose–was Father António Vieira, a Jesuit missionary, orator, statesman, writer, and mystic.  His career illustrates that stimulating mixture of conservative and progressive thinking that would come to characterize the Jesuit order throughout much of its history.  He was born in Lisbon in 1608 and moved to Brazil (what is now the state of Bahia) in 1614 when his father received an appointment for a government post there.

Continue reading

The Wisdom Of Mercy From Ibn Hazm Al-Zahiri


We turn now to those founts of wisdom who have lessons to teach us.  Abu Muhammad Ali Ibn Ahmad Ibn Sa’id Ibn Hazm (أبو محمد علي بن احمد بن سعيد بن حزم) is known to history as Ibn Hazm Al-Zahiri.  Born in Cordoba, Andalusia (Spain) in 994, he achieved enduring fame for his incredible intellectual achievements in a number of disciplines, including jurisprudence, theology, philosophy, and poetry.  He even composed a manual on love known as The Ring of the Dove (طوق الحمامة).  Here was a man of substance, a man who could appreciate the virtues of the passions as well as those of the mind.

Continue reading

The Lizzie Borden Murders


Writing recently about the O.J. Simpson murders has rekindled an interest in another infamous American crime story, one that is not as well-known to modern readers.  The Lizzie Borden axe murders of 1892 were in their day somewhat comparable to the Simpson case:  both trials were highly publicized, the jury’s perceptions were skewed by preconceptions about race and gender, and–most importantly–in both cases the killers got away scot-free.  The equivalence is not absolute, however.  If the murders in the Simpson case were crimes of passion, the Borden killings were all about profit.  It is this fact, perhaps, that makes the Lizzie Borden story even more chilling and despicable than the Simpson case.

Continue reading

The Lazarus Taxon: Something “Raised From The Dead”


There is a concept in biology called the Lazarus taxon.  The word taxon (plural taxa) means a taxonomic category, as a species or genus.  The term is used to describe animals or plants that vanish from the fossil record for long periods of time, only to “reappear” at a different point in history.  Organisms long thought to be extinct suddenly appear on the scene.  Why does this happen?  The biologists tell us it can be for many reasons:  the fossil record is sporadic, and not all species are preserved in it.  Some are; and some are not.  The reason why the word Lazarus is used is because it refers to the New Testament story of Lazarus being “raised from the dead.”

Continue reading

The Legacy Of Argentina’s Military Junta


The mainstream media narrative about Argentina in the 1970s goes something like this: (1) Argentina was governed by a brutal, merciless military junta from 1976 to 1983; (2) the dictatorship conducted an unprovoked campaign of extermination against leftists that left tens of thousands dead; (3) the leftists were innocent students.  This story—in one form or another—is what has become part of the accepted narrative of this period of Argentinian history.

[To read the rest of the article, click here.]