The World Provides Our Necessities (Podcast)

The world is a provider of necessities.  Just when you think you’ve hit rock bottom, things have a way of turning around if you keep fighting and stay in the game.  The only way to lose is to be a quitter.  Have faith in the world’s fructifying ability to provide for our needs.

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The Horns Of Dilemmas

There are times to act decisively, times to observe events and await opportunities, and times to discuss.  There are also times to say nothing at all.  Aesop tells a story to make this point.  A monkey, he says, was once taken as a shipboard pet by a Grecian sailor.  When the sailor’s vessel approached Attica’s Cape Sounion, a storm arose and the ship capsized; all aboard ship were tossed into the sea, but a dolphin appeared and prevented the monkey from drowning.

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The Insanity Of The Daughters Of Proetus

Pliny’s Natural History (XXV.47) contains a passage that discusses hellebore, a medicinal plant that in ancient times was used to treat insanity.  One variety of hellebore, he says, is called melampodion, a name acquired from a shepherd named Melampus, who noticed that the plant had a purgative effect on his female goats (capras purgari pasto illo animadvertentem) once they had eaten it.  This milk, we are told, cured “the daughters of Proetus of madness.”  Pliny even describes a detailed ritual supposedly used to collect the plant.  But who were the daughters of Proetus?  What story is being referenced?

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The Ring Of Thoth: A Tale Of The Supernatural By Arthur Conan Doyle (Podcast)

This podcast is a reading of A. Conan Doyle’s tale of the supernatural, “The Ring Of Thoth.”  First published in 1890, it recounts the horrific consequences of an ancient Egyptian priest’s discovery of the secret to eternal life.

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Before Acquiring The Horse, One Must Build The Stable

In the year 357 A.D., twenty-seven years after the empire’s capital had been moved to Constantinople, the emperor Constantius II visited Rome.  He was awed by its architectural splendor, which at that time was still substantially preserved.  He visited the center of the city and the extensive suburbs; the sanctuaries of Tarpeian Jove, “transcendent to the same extent as heavenly things rise above those of earth” (quantum terrenis divina praecellunt); the extensive baths; the amphitheatres; the immortal Pantheon, “arched in high grandeur, like a smooth neighborhood” (velut regionem teretem speciosa celsitudine fornicatam), and whose lofty niches were still adorned with the statues of former emperors; the Forum of Peace; the Oleum; and all the other brilliant monuments of this venerable jewel of a city.

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You Have To Make The Call (Podcast)

When you are leading, you have to make the big decisions.  You have to make the call, not sit back, judge the prevailing winds, and cover your ass.  If you are unwilling to put yourself on the line, you are a worthless leader and have no business being there.  In this podcast, we discuss:

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The Wisdom Of Ibn Al-Muzarra

The writer and scholar Yamut Ibn Al-Muzarra’ (يموت ابن المزرع) was a native of Basra, Iraq.  In the words of his biographer Ibn Khallikan, he was known as “an accomplished literary scholar, and well-versed in history.”  His name (Yamut) was a source of some consternation for him as a young man, for it is the third-person active form of the Arabic verb “to die” (مات).  He apparently never fulfilled his obligation of visiting the sick in hospitals, for fear that his name would bring misfortune upon patients confined to bed.  “The name,” he said, “which l received from my father has been a great annoyance to me.  So when I go to visit the sick and am asked my name, I answer, ‘The son of Al-Muzarra,’ and suppress my real name.”

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The Door In The Wall (Podcast Reading Of A Story By H.G. Wells)

This podcast is a reading of H.G. Wells’s short story “The Door In The Wall.” Published in 1911, it is considered one of his finest short pieces. It describes a young boy’s discovery of a secret door that led to an enchanted land, and the effect that this secret revelation had on the rest of his life.

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On The Death Of Seneca

There is a preparatory plaster statue, very finely executed by Eduardo Barrón, on display at the Museo Nacional del Prado Museum in Madrid.  It is called Nero and Seneca, and it was completed in 1904.  Barrón never produced a final version in marble or bronze; and although it remains a preliminary study, it is a powerfully evocative depiction of two strong personalities.  Seneca points at a passage in an unrolled book before him, and is leaning towards Nero, evidently to make some pedagogic point.  The young Nero, whom Seneca had the misfortune to tutor, remains slouched in his chair, a clenched fist pressed against his temple in sullen opposition to the lesson his teacher is attempting to expound.

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