You Don’t Know To A Certainty (Podcast)

Some guys look upon knowledge with a purely utilitarian view. They think that if something is not helping them that very instant, then it has no value. This view is shortsighted and terribly wrong. You never know what life has in store for you, and if you’re presented with an opportunity to learn, you take it and soak it up. We use a recent example to discuss this point further.

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The Captives Of The “Starry Crown”

The Canadian explorer Vilhjalmur Stefansson, who lived from 1879 to 1962, changed his birth name when he was in college.  He was originally known as William Stephenson, and was born in Manitoba, Canada.  His biographers do not know exactly what prompted him to make such a startling reinvention of identity. 

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Lost In The Lapse Of Years

The name Jacob August Riis is an obscure one today, known only perhaps to scholars of American journalism and photography.  He was a Danish-American journalist, and he lived from 1849 to May 26, 1914.  He produced excellent work in his day; his photographs of the New York slums were influential in helping promote social reforms that eased the lives of the urban poor.  His 1890 volume How the Other Half Lives:  Studies Among The Tenements Of New York constitutes an important record of the squalid conditions of the Gilded Age’s downtrodden. 

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I Am A Whirlwind, I Am War And Deluge

The philosopher Philo of Alexandria, in the second book of his treatise On Dreams (II.18.123), relates a story about a despotic governor of Egypt.  “It is only a very short time ago,” he says, “that I knew a man of very high rank, one who was prefect and governor of Egypt, who, after he had taken it in his head to change our national institutions and customs…was compelling us to obey him, and to do other things contrary to our established custom.” 

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The Kings Of Nothing

The war between Julius Caesar and Pompey engulfed the Roman world between 49 and 48 B.C.  Historians, seeking concision and brevity at the expense of accuracy, call it a “civil war”; and in one sense it is.  But to those who lived through it, or fell under the long shadow of its aftershocks, it was more than a civil war.  It was with good reason that the poet Lucan, in the first line of his Pharsalia, described the conflict as something “worse than civil”:

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Our Favorite Movies Of All Time

Someone recently asked if I could provide a reliable “core” list of movies. Sometimes two heads are better than one. So I spoke with my friend William Wolfe (who can be found at the Twitter account Zero Soy Pics), to see if he could give me a list of his own favorite films. I told Bill that I’d post both of our lists on my website.

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All Men Seek Their Divine Origins

By 331 B.C. Alexander the Great had reached Egypt and brought it under his control.  He already had a string of incredible military victories to his credit, including those at Granicus, Issus, and Tyre.  He must have sensed, in the marrow of his bones, that he possessed some indefinable quality that separated him from other men. 

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Apelles, The Greatest Painter Of Antiquity

Painting is a perishable art.  Pigment fades and flakes with the centuries; and the passage of millennia leaves us nothing of painting but dust and memories.  From antiquity have survived statues, tombs, mosaics, some murals here and there, artifacts of all kinds, and the sublime monuments of architecture; but of the great Greek and Roman painters, we have no original works.    

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Acknowledging The Debts To Our Predecessors

In his treatise On the Nature of the Gods, Cicero points out a shameful personal weakness of the philosopher Epicurus.  What was this character flaw?  It was Epicurus’s congenital inability to admit that he had ever been influenced by the thinkers that preceded him.  Cicero states:

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Heaven And Hell Can Change Places Very Quickly (Podcast)

Most people never realize that good fortune can be suddenly and brutally replaced by bad fortune. What once seemed like heaven can quickly be transformed into a hell. The reverse is also true: a man can find himself in terrible straits, but can extricate himself through consistent efforts, and reach a kind of “heaven.”

This observation leads us to make five (5) important conclusions. We list and discuss them.

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