May. 18th, 2017

33 to 45

May. 18th, 2017 09:45 am
stoutfellow: My summer look (Summer)
My father hated Harry Truman - absolutely despised him for his handling of the MacArthur affair during the Korean War. (I once heard him refer to HST as "Hairy Ass Truman".) He and I had more than one loud argument over the matter, but no minds were ever changed.

I've been thinking about Truman a fair bit lately, and especially about two of his most famous aphorisms (the first of which my father occasionally used, despite his opinion of the man):

"If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

"The buck stops here."

Can't imagine why those keep coming to mind.
stoutfellow: Joker (Default)
I'm currently reading Mandeville's Travels. Lots of bizarre stuff - dog-headed men, pygmies who war with the birds, headless men with eyes in their chests - which is pretty much as I expected. But I just ran across something which surprised me a bit.

There was a tradition of Biblical interpretation which identified Ham, Shem, and Japheth as the ancestors of the peoples of, respectively, Africa, Asia, and Europe. This, combined with the story of the drunkenness of Noah and Ham's reaction, was used to justify race-based slavery. Mandeville, however, assorts them differently; for him, Ham (or Cham) is the ancestor of Asia, and Shem that of Africa. He refers to the same story to identify Cham as a violent and selfish man, and hence the ancestor of those men of power known as the Chams - that being a common variant on the title "Khan". (He goes on to tell a distorted but recognizable version of the life of Genghis, together with brief accounts of some of his successors.)

Mandeville is interesting. The first part of the book describes the Middle East, and at least tries to approximate reality, but once he gets as far as "the isles of Ind", he goes off the rails. He is aware that the world is round, and gives the common estimate of its size - which he rejects as probably too small, and his estimate does seem to be closer to the correct value.


stoutfellow: Joker (Default)

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