Adrastia: The Goddess Who Punishes Hubris And Arrogance

We have observed that one of the themes of ancient literature is the concept of Fate or Fortune.  We find it first expressed in the plays and heroic poems of the Greeks; the idea then seeped into the writing of history and biography.  Closely associated with this concept is the idea of divine retribution for offending the gods.  Those who showed contempt for divine or human law would be humbled by the harsh blows of Fate:  no man could expect to thumb his nose at the laws of the universe and get away with it.

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The Wisdom Of Ibn Al-Sammak

The biographical encyclopedia of Ibn Khallikan–that deep well of collective anecdotal wisdom–has an interesting entry for one Abu Al-Abbas Muhammad Ibn Sabih.  His surname was Al Mazkur, but like many famous figures it is his nickname that posterity recalls best.  This nickname is Ibn Al-Sammak, which literally means “son of a fish-monger” in Arabic (the word for fish is samak, سمك).  It is not clear where this name came from; perhaps he had a fish-merchant as an ancestor.

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Bequeath Your Problems To Those Who Deserve Them

There is an amusing anecdote related in Chapter 60 of Gibbon’s Decline and Fall.  The author is describing an encounter between Fulk of Neuilly (d. 1201), a mendicant preacher trying to win support for a Fourth Crusade, and Richard I Plantagenet of England.  Fulk had been shopping his plans to various European monarchs, most of which were not interested in proving financial or material assistance to the project.  Fulk was reduced to beating his fist on the doors of one country after another, only to be rebuffed.  As Gibbon relates:

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When Embarked On A Great Enterprise, Do Not Look Back

When you have begun a great project, press forward until it is completed.  Do not look back; do not be distracted by the ambient noise of life, the doubting whispers of others, or the gnawing doubts that will inevitably bore their way into your consciousness.  Nothing great was ever accomplished by half-measures; and the failure of grand ambition is still more inspiring than the cautious steps of the timid man.  In a 1368 letter to Pope Urban V, the humanist Petrarch wrote the following words that I happened to read this morning:

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What You First Create, You Must Then Defend

Some people think that one big home run will set them on easy street for life.  They think that when they accomplish something, the game is essentially finished, and they can move on to something else.  But the world doesn’t really work that way.  Very often, the reward of labor is more labor:  but the new work is different in character from the old.  The creative labor of invention is replaced by the fighting labor of preservation.  We can see an example of this principle in the career of Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone.

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Why Worrying Is Pointless

For a good part of my life I used to worry excessively about things.  When I was in college I worried about keeping up my grade point average and being able to complete Marine Corps Officer Candidate School; when I was on active duty I worried about doing my job well; when I started my law practice many years ago I worried about all the various thing related to establishing oneself in one’s profession.  And there are other examples of worrying that I need not rattle off here.  All of this worry, all of this stress, was largely self-inflicted.

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“Dark Globalization”: The New Dimensions And Continued Progress Of The Plutocratic Insurgency

We have previous discussed in these pages a new and largely ignored form of insurgency warfare:  the globalized elite’s coordinated, targeted efforts to dispossess the general public.  Dr. Robert Bunker (on the staff of the US Army War College) and Pamela Bunker coined the term “plutocratic insurgency” to describe this novel form of warfare.  In a brilliant series of articles published on the Small Wars Journal website, Bunker has made a compelling case that what he calls “extra-sovereign actors” (i.e., globalized elites moving themselves and their capital freely across international boundaries) have been permitted to wage non-traditional warfare against the societies in which they operate.

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