Thursday, December 27, 2012

Lenin's Political Genius - Sam Welles (1948)



My grandpa - Sam Welles - outlined in his book - Profile of Europe
Lenin's political genius as well as the "plotter's revolution" of October 1917 that followed the
 February 1917 democratic revolution. He said, "There has probably never been a colder, clearer, more cynical and complete logician of power than Lenin."


          Lenin was one of the greatest statesmen who ever lived, as Marx was one of the greatest emotional-philosophical forces. There has probably never been a colder, clearer, more cynical and complete logician of power than Lenin. Stalin has learned the master's lesson well. But he is an imitator, not a pioneer in Lenin's class.
          Lenin kidnapped a state. Too few Americans remember that it was not the Communists who turned out the czars. In February 1917, the Russian people, without any help from Lenin (who was then in exile in Switzerland), revolted. The people overthrew the czar, freed political prisoners, speech and the press. They organized the only free election in Russia's history. The Russian people knew what they wanted; Lenin knew better. Lenin said: "The people themselves do not know what is good or bad for them."
          Lenin organized not a people's but a plotter's revolution. One night, eight months after the February revolution, his men seized the key points in Petrograd. They grabbed the telegraph office to "telegraph the revolution to the provinces." They kidnapped the members of the democratic Provisional Government and took their place. That was the October 1917 Revolution, the one the Communists made. Lenin then re-established the czarist-type secret police which the democratic revolution had abolished, and used spies as well as force to keep his power. Communists, who constantly rewrite history for their own purposes, now often talk as if there had been only one 1917 Revolution. Some "scholarly" American works, deliberately or not, make the same assumption. There were two Russian revolutions that year. What might have happened had the Communists not wrecked the first, democratic revolution is one of the greatest - and saddest - if's in history.
          At the time of Lenin's coup the Bolsheviks (as the Communists were then, as now, officially called) were a minor party that numbered only 200,000 in a state of 160 million people. The free election arranged by the democratic Russian government was only a month off. Lenin could not stop it and he did not have time to fake very much of it. When the Russians made their one free trip to the polls, Lenin and his Communists were voted out. They got only 156 seats in the 601-member Constituent Assembly. A clear majority, 320 seats, went to the Social Revolutionary Party. Lenin, the apostle of power, knew the answer. When the Assembly met, he at once dispersed it with the bayonets of his Lettish Regiment. Russia entered a 1918-21 civil war that killed twice as many Russians as the Germans had in 1914-1918.
          Lenin's genius lay in knowing how to use what little power his little party had to keep control and gradually to tighten the Communists' stranglehold on Russia. Lenin had the political genius of the highest - and most ruthless - order. He said, "Religion is the opiate of the people," and then used promises to drug people with. He used fear on a prodigious scale - and "fear" is still the key word with Russians, up to and including Stalin. He originated the Communists' use of strategic retreat. He made peace with the Germans at Brest-Litovsk early in 1918, yielding vast territories so he could concentrate on his civil war to win the rest of Russia. He initiated the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1921, which gave Russia's businessmen a chance to do their own trading in a Communist state, because Russian industry was paralyzed and the capitalist incentive was the only thing that could get it started again. He made such concessions when the Communists were too weak not to make them, never otherwise. As soon as he could, we went back on them.
          Lenin said of NEP soon after he announced it: "We have met a great defeat, and are now making a strategic retreat. All our military successes were preceded by similar retreats. Afterward we began a cautious advance, finally crowned with victory." After Germany collapsed in 1918, Lenin tore up the Brest-Litovsk treaty and recovered as much of that territory as he could. He had started turning the screws on NEP before he died; Stalin completed the process and abolished it in 1928.
          What Lenin said is the best clue to him - and a striking clue to Communism. Here are some quotations from him:

"There are no morals in politics; there is only expediency. A scoundrel may be of us to us just because he's a scoundrel." 

"It does not matter that Comrade Krassikov had squandered party funds in a brothel, but it is scandalous that this should have disorganized the transportation of illegal literature." 

(When the head of his secret police brought in the day's list of arrests and suspects): "Shoot those two, hold these five, and let the rest go." 

"We shall ask: on which side are you? For or against the Revolution? If against - we shoot you! If for - follow us and work!" (Lenin's devoted wife Krupskaya offered one of her few objections when he uttered this dictum. She said: "That way you'll kill off all the best ones, all those with the courage of their convictions.") […]

"We cannot live in peace; memorial services will be sung either over the Soviet republic or over world capitalism. But until this takes place, the principle rule is to dodge and maneuver. We have to use any ruse, dodge, trick, cunning, unlawful methods, veiling of the truth." 

 "We shall destroy everything , and on the ruins we all erect our temple…Take, for instance, the bourgeoisie - or democracy, if you prefer that term. It is doomed, and in abolishing it, we are only completing the inescapable historical process." 

"I do not care what will become of Russia, to hell with it! All this is only a road to world revolution." 

          By the time Lenin died, the Soviet pattern was set. The "excesses" that are the present and future worry of the whole world had developed. Stalin has merely followed Lenin's lead. With minor personal variations, Trotsky or any other Russian Communist leader would have done the same. As Sir John Maynard, one of the most careful and thorough students of Russia, has written of Stalin and Trotsky: "I cannot myself, after close study of Trotsky's recorded opinions, detect with certainty any ideological difference between the two men."

 

On back of book:

          Sam Welles Author of Profile of Europe is an associate editor of Time and one of its top foreign news writers. During the war he served for three years in the State Department and in our London Embassy, where he was the Special Assistant to Ambassador Winant.
          At Oxford University, on a Rhodes Scholarship after Princeton, he took an honors degree in modern history. Ever since 1935 has spent a considerable part of his time traveling over Europe. In one thirty-nine month period he logged more than 100,000 miles from Connemarra to Constantinople; and during the Conference of Foreign Ministers in Moscow he walked more than 300 miles through that city and its suburbs. In the months that followed, he visited sixteen other countries, making his way across most of them by car. His equipment-including extra cans of gas, spare tires, tools, food and mountains of documents- would almost have outfitted a polar explorer.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

"Red Square May Day parade" - Sam Welles (1948)



My grandpa wrote in his book - Profile of Europe - about the 
Russian people which he said were 
"the single most impressive thing [he] saw in Russia" as 
exemplified by the 1947 Red Square May Day Parade

Sam Welles wrote in 1948:

          The people were the single most impressive thing I saw in Russia. They made the Red Square May Day parade my single most impressive experience there. The Russian border inspectors were right to be moved by that little lavender-colored pass. No one who has seen Moscow's May Day Parade could ever possibly underestimate the might and magnificence of Russia. I stood at one spot and watched a million people walk by. I have seen Bastille Day crowds in Paris and Holy Week crowds jamming into St. Peter's in Rome and the great square outside. I have seen the Easter parades of Seville, Spain. In Britain I have seen the processions and vast crowds for a King's funeral and a king's coronation. I have seen the crowds at Coney Island on a hot summer Sunday. They all shrink beside a Moscow May Day.
           I do not mean the military part of the parade, which took up the first hour. The troops, the tanks, the trucks, the guns were well deployed but nothing special. The 310 airplanes (which included only five four-engined planes, three of them bombers) were not impressive compared to Western nations' air spectacles. They did include 105 jet fighter planes, the first time Russia had shown jet planes publicly - and the Soviet censor, true to form, killed all references to them in reporters' cables.
          Nor do I mean the appearance of Stalin and other members of the Politburo on the reviewing level atop Lenin's tomb. That was interesting, not least interesting because of the heavy array of uniformed secret police officers - not soldiers, every one of them was an officer - flung around all four sides of the tomb and kept alert through the long parade by being replaced with files of fresh officers every half hour. The officers first appeared a few minutes before the Politburo put in an appearance. After the military part of the parade, extra files of secret policemen were marched in to line the entire circuit of Red Square, before the people were allowed in for their "spontaneous demonstration." Across the hundred-yard cobbled width of Red Square, other files of troops were placed every fifteen feet, stretching the whole length of the square from the Historical Museum on the west to St. Basil's Cathedral on the east. These troops stood literally shoulder to shoulder and alternately faced opposite directions so they could watch everybody. Every third one of these troops was also a secret policeman; the rest were picked soldiers from the Kremlin's crack Guards Divisions. These twenty files of troops split the people's procession into twenty long narrow lengths, like twenty parallel pieces of spaghetti, and of course controlled and directed the people every instant they were in Red Square.
          All these elaborate precautions were not perfectly successful. Just before May Day the American photographers - who had been given permission to stay on after the Moscow Conference and been promised hey could take pictures of the Red Square ceremony - were suddenly informed that they could have passes but could not take pictures. To tell that to an American photographer is just to egg him on. Tom McAvoy of Life slung one camera around his neck and another over his shoulder, each one bulkier than a pistol or a hand grenade. During the military part of the parade he stood on a balcony just outside the square, where he could get mass-effect shots. (He had first locked the door of the balcony, as well as the door of the room, so he would not be disturbed.) When the people's parade began, Tom turned spontaneous demonstrator and came in on the far side of the square, where he spent a busy quarter of an hour getting fine pictures of the parade, with Lenin's tomb and the Kremlin as a background. Finally, still not showing his pass and still using only the one Russian word pajolsta (please), Tom gradually angled the entire way across the slow-moving people's parade and through its twenty interspersed files of secret police and soldiers, to a stance directly in front of the tomb. He shot pictures of Stalin and the others to his heart's content - from a few yard's distance. All the secret policemen there and elsewhere assumed he was just another photographer who had permission to move about.
          To cap the climax, Molotov, standing beside Stalin, saw him busily snapping just below. Tom had photographed Molotov on his visits to America and, of course, regularly took his picture during the Moscow Conference. Molotov knew him, and had no way of knowing that sacred Soviet underlings had forbidden the American photographers to take any pictures on May Day. He nodded and beamed at Tom, and then waved at him.
          Tom is one of the most American Americans I know. He has all the humor, verve, nerve, and ingenuity which this episode implies. I was dumbfounded then utterly delighted when, from my front-row stand in the bleacher section nearest Lenin's tomb, I saw him come through the parade and start shooting the Politburo. Then he came over to our reporters' row, where he was supposed to have been from the beginning, and with twinkling eyes told us the whole story. I felt honored when he slipped me some of his film rolls to hold in case he got searched as he left the square. His pictures made a striking display in Life. They held a laugh and a hope. When Americans are American enough, they have a knack of peacefully getting through impossible difficulties.
          Stalin occasionally moved from side to side of the forty-foot reviewing walk on top of the tomb, to stretch his legs. But he never sat down, and he never long stopped waving in acknowledgement of the cheers. […]
          Such are the precautions to keep Russia's leader from assassination - far greater than those for a president, the only American official so protected. (Three American presidents have been assassinated since 1865; in that period only one czar, Alexander II in 1881, and one Politburo member, Sergei Kirov in 1934, have been assassinated, both in the city that is now Leningrad.) In the Soviet system, not one man but thousands are constantly protected. […]
          I have missed my main point in writing this chapter if I have not made it clear that for centuries the Russian people have been accustomed to a leader and to forms of collective living. Soviet Russia is a land where a handful of sunflower seeds is a generous gift to a beggar, where a sweater costs two months' wages, where jail is risked by a joke. It is a land whose people's spirit is a strange compound of pride and inferiority, hate and friendship, gentleness and violence, patriotism and dissatisfaction, fear and hope - all flavored with tradition. It is a land of less hope and more disillusion than in the early years of Communism, but one that still has some hope, at least enough to keep many young Russian striving. It is an old land, where youth is very important. It is a land of a great, unconquerable people who have been beaten into passive silence by a dictatorship. It is a land which any nation can live with, if it shows strength and patience, firmness and consistency, political health, and willingness to fight when it must for its principles. […]
         But nothing prepares one for that parade. What a milling mass of humanity it was. This, in the living, slowing moving flesh is the great flowing tide of man, woman, and child power that is the chief single characteristic of this vast land. Part of the procession was in organized groups. Most of it was people, just sauntering along. Whole families were there: mothers walking hand in hand with little girls and boys, fathers with still smaller children on their shoulders. There were not only endless pictures of Stalin and the Politburo; endless red flags; endless factory, club, shop and organization floats and banners. There were kids tugging at tow balloons and occasionally, as at any circus, losing their grip so the gay-colored bubbles floated up over the crowd.
          This slow, steadily moving mass goes on hour after hour after hour the whole great width and length of Red Square, without ever a break or gap or pause. A voice over the loudspeaker regularly bade those in the square to "Hurrah for Stalin!"[…]
          At last this seemingly endless stream of humanity did gradually taper to an end. It was Russia that had passed in the shape of her greatest strength: her patient, pliant, almost tireless people who can make up for almost any stupidity, brutality or miscalculation of their masters. The Russian people did that against the Tartars, Napoleon and the Nazis. They would do it against any other invader. No procession I am ever likely to see will have the force, impact or sheer splendor of those million ragged people.

 

On back of book:

          Sam Welles Author of Profile of Europe is an associate editor of Time and one of its top foreign news writers. During the war he served for three years in the State Department and in our London Embassy, where he was the Special Assistant to Ambassador Winant.
          At Oxford University, on a Rhodes Scholarship after Princeton, he took an honors degree in modern history. Ever since 1935 has spent a considerable part of his time traveling over Europe. In one thirty-nine month period he logged more than 100,000 miles from Connemarra to Constantinople; and during the Conference of Foreign Ministers in Moscow he walked more than 300 miles through that city and its suburbs. In the months that followed, he visited sixteen other countries, making his way across most of them by car. His equipment-including extra cans of gas, spare tires, tools, food and mountains of documents- would almost have outfitted a polar explorer.

Religion in Soviet Russia - Sam Welles (1948)




My grandpa - Sam Welles - coming from a long line of 
Episcopal priests including his grandfather, father, and brother, 
wrote in his book - Profile of Europe - about religion in Soviet Russia. 
Later, in the 1950's, he edited the Time-Life Guide to World Religions. 

Sam Welles wrote in 1948:

          In their quiet, patient way the Russian people have recesses which even the Kremlin cannot control. Perhaps the chief of these is religion. Religious persecution in Soviet Russia was never so bad as it was under Rome's Nero or Diocletian. There were always some churches open above ground, not just in catacombs. Now there are more, and the Kremlin has allowed more than a dozen seminaries to reopen. It has made other small but significant concessions. Russians have always liked to bake certain cakes at Easter. In years past the special ingredients for these cakes used to pop up in Soviet stores - possibly by sheer coincidence - a week or two before Easter. In 1947 it was no coincidence. Many stores had the ingredients piled on separate counters, with the sign EASTER SPECIALS.
          The whole history of Christianity shows that once active persecution has ceased, religion returns with the slow steady power of a rising tide. There are at least some signs it is doing so in Russia. There are still official Soviet pronouncements against religion. Young Bolshevik recently had the most open antireligious attack the Soviet press had published since the Nazi invasion in 1941. It quoted Stalin: "The Communist Party must be antireligious since its activity is founded upon science, which is antireligious." The article then stated: "If a Young Communist believes in God or goes to church, he is not fulfilling his obligations." Komsomol Pravda has criticized Soviet teachers for failing to give their pupils "clear and firm atheistic beliefs".
          Apparently the Kremlin thinks that time is on its side and that a state-fostered, materialistic outlook will in due course eliminate religion. The Kremlin might be right. But I saw nothing in Russia that approached the deep enthusiasm and emotion in tens of thousands of Russians of both sexes and all ages in Moscow on Easter eve. I went first to the Church of the Resurrection, where some two thousand had jammed every inch inside and thousands more were milling cheerfully in the square outside, holding the little tapers they would light at midnight. People were perched thick on every window sill, peering into the church. Then I went on to the Easter service at Epiphany Cathedral, conducted by the Patriarch. Some twenty thousand people were happily shouting, singing and shoving outside its doors. Inside, over seven thousand packed it into the eaves. At midnight, when the Patriarch chanted, "Christ is risen!", the choir took up the refrain, and lights from the candle which the Patriarch lighted spread quickly from taper to taper throughout the whole cathedral. Their little lights flickered on the most deeply happy faces I saw in all Russia.
          After the period of fairly severe religious persecution from 1923 to 1941, the Kremlin made concessions to the people's clear desire for more than a trickle of religion. The new religious literature is printed at the old Godless Press- under that imprint! Which could indicate that the Godless Press may some day be used again for its old purpose of publishing antireligious literature. The Kremlin has had the same experience with Russia's literary classics. It long restricted the reading of many works by Dostoievsky, Gogol, Ostrovsky, Pisemsky and Ouspensky. It has gradually brought them back because the people wanted to read them.
          As an American who knows Russia well has said, "The strength of the Kremlin lies largely in knowing how to wait. The strength of the Russian people is in knowing how to wait longer."

 

On back of book:

          Sam Welles Author of Profile of Europe is an associate editor of Time and one of its top foreign news writers. During the war he served for three years in the State Department and in our London Embassy, where he was the Special Assistant to Ambassador Winant.
          At Oxford University, on a Rhodes Scholarship after Princeton, he took an honors degree in modern history. Ever since 1935 has spent a considerable part of his time traveling over Europe. In one thirty-nine month period he logged more than 100,000 miles from Connemarra to Constantinople; and during the Conference of Foreign Ministers in Moscow he walked more than 300 miles through that city and its suburbs. In the months that followed, he visited sixteen other countries, making his way across most of them by car. His equipment-including extra cans of gas, spare tires, tools, food and mountains of documents- would almost have outfitted a polar explorer.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Static Quality of Soviet Russia - Sam Welles (1948)

 

My grandpa's book - Profile of Europe (1948) - was written after his trip to the 
1947 Moscow Council of Foreign Ministers. Below I've transcribed a section pertaining to 
Soviet transportation and communication problems where he argues, "No nation can approach its full potential until it has first-rate communications and transport."


Contents 

Part I 
Chapter 1: Europe Between the Magnets
Part II: A Look at Russia 
Chapter 2: The Surprises
             3: The People
             4: The Power
             5: The Controls
             6: The Economy
             7: The City
             8: The Farm
             9: The Questions
 Part III: On the Edge of Russia 
Chapter 10: Sacred Scandinavia
             11: The Satellites
             12: Pressure in the Mediterranean
             13: The Defeated
Part IV: The Western Marches 
 Chapter 14: Western Union, France
              15: Belgium, Holland, Italy
              16: Great Britain
Part V 
 Chapter 17: Who Forms a Foreign Policy?
 Acknowledgements


---

From Chapter 2: 'The Surprises'

[…]
          Two qualities the West should never lose in dealing with the Soviet Union are understanding and compassion. Other qualities, such as firmness and patience, are needed too. But understanding and compassion are quite as important

2

          Soviet Russia is a very controversial subject. Anyone writing on it should submit his credentials. I have long studied Russia and, for a year before I went there, headed the Time group that analyzed all news and background available on it. My 1942-1945 service in the U.S. State Department included much work on Russia. During my stay in the Soviet Union, I took notes that would fill eight hundred printed pages. Stalin has said, "Facts are stubborn things" - I try to be fair and factual.
          This book uses about one-sixth of my Russian notes. A reporter learns to winnow, and I have earned my own living primarily as a reporter ever since entering college in 1931. During the eight months of 1947 I spent in Europe, I talked to hundreds of experts and to thousands of plain people. Through these conversations plus reading and personal observation, I have amassed bushels and bushels of facts.
[…]

 3

[...] The first thing I noticed after our Berlin-to-Moscow plane crossed the Soviet border surprised me: the lack of motion. Russia has a static quality. America is a large country with static stretches. I remember once rising before dawn on the Utah-Nevada border and driving west; in the first 150 miles along the road I saw only two cars. But I am here talking about the great area of European Russia which is as thickly settled as America's Middle West, with towns or villages every few miles or oftener. You see surprisingly little motion there. When you fly in America, even over mountain or arid areas, you see railroads and paved highways; in the middle west you see a maze of them, carrying heavy traffic. We flew into Russia at 1,500 feet. It was diamond-clear; I saw men walking along the roads. But in the five hundred miles to the outskirts of Moscow, I saw just two trains. Not one single motor vehicle was visible, even in cities like Vilno and Vitebsk.
          Nor will I soon forget a Soviet airplane ride from Stalingrad to Moscow, when we flew almost the whole six hundred miles at a hundred-foot altitude on occasion dropping to forty feet or less, so that I sometimes looked up at church steeples beyond our wingtips. The pilot sent back word that he wanted the Americans on board "to see Russia," and then zoomed down to ten feet over the river Don so that our propellers sucked up drops of water and turned them into a misty rainbow spray. Flying at a hundred feet for hundreds of miles, you do see everything - with a new and startling clarity. I saw the terrible scars of war: the still raw trenches zigzagging through the fields and up the hillsides; the gun emplacements in gulches and on bluffs; and burnt-out tanks, some of them freshly plowed round and one a rusting brown-red in a vast green expanse of winter wheat that lapped up to the very tank treads. I saw two constantly recurring signs that we were in Soviet Russia: decaying churches and great collective barns. Nearly all those churches we brushed past were falling to pieces even in towns untouched by war, their roofs caved in, the plaster peeling from their walls and steeples, and the onion bulbs on top of the steeples only skeletons. The barns on collective farms were big structures, dominating their villages like grain elevators in the Dakotas or Catholic churches in Quebec. It was a bird's eye view all right. Chickens ran for shelter from us as though we were hawks. Cows completely lost their dignity. Flocks of sheep huddled madly together from every part of their pasture. Only the roads and rails were still and lifeless as we roared past. In these six hundred thickly settled miles before Moscow's immediate suburbs, I saw one stationary train, no trains in motion, one paved road, and not one car or truck.
[…]
          Russia's communication's system is as poor as its transport: mails and telegrams are slow and uncertain, few Russians have phones. As one Soviet official in Russia remarked to me: "The only way a telephone is of much use is to have your secretary make appointments for you to go see people, or for them to come see you. A telephone is too hard to hear over." The Soviet phone model is almost an antique; it is hard to hear over, even when the secret police have not taped it. 
          No nation can approach its full potential until it has first-rate communications and transport. If you think of a businessman in Nashville writing steadily for five months to a Seattle manufacturer, finally hearing he can have one-third of his original order, and then bombarding Seattle with intermittent letters, phone calls and telegrams for eight more months before finally getting a shipment of half that third - and having something almost that slow and discouraging happen with every transaction involving goods and transport - you will have some idea of what postwar Russia is like. Naturally the war is in part responsible. But Russia was always a long way from a modern or adequate system of transport and communications. It still is.





On back of book:

          Sam Welles Author of Profile of Europe is an associate editor of Time and one of its top foreign news writers. During the war he served for three years in the State Department and in our London Embassy, where he was the Special Assistant to Ambassador Winant.
          At Oxford University, on a Rhodes Scholarship after Princeton, he took an honors degree in modern history. Ever since 1935 has spent a considerable part of his time traveling over Europe. In one thirty-nine month period he logged more than 100,000 miles from Connemarra to Constantinople; and during the Conference of Foreign Ministers in Moscow he walked more than 300 miles through that city and its suburbs. In the months that followed, he visited sixteen other countries, making his way across most of them by car. His equipment-including extra cans of gas, spare tires, tools, food and mountains of documents- would almost have outfitted a polar explorer.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Book of James - Transcribed

 

Already having formal training in both the Anglican and Catholic traditions, as part of 
my continuing religious education I've transcribed sections of the Book of James below: 

I. Address

Chapter 1

          James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the dispersion, greetings.

II. The Value of Trials and Temptation 


Perseverance in Trial 1:2-8

          Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly and he will be given it. Be he should ask in faith, no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.

Temptation 1:12-18

          Blessed is the man who perseveres in temptation, for when he has been proved he will receive the crown of life that he promised to those who love him. No one experiencing temptation should say, "I am being tempted by God"; for God is not subject to temptation to evil, and he himself tempts no one. Rather, each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire conceives and brings forth sin, and when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.
          Do not be deceived, my beloved brothers: all good giving and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no alteration or shadow caused by change. He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.

III. Exhortations and Warnings 

Doers of the Word 1:19-27

          Know this, my dear brothers: everyone should be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath, for the wrath of a man does not accomplish the righteousness of God. Therefore, put away all filth and evil excess and humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls.
          Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his own face in the mirror. He sees himself, then goes off and promptly forgets what he looked like. But the one who peers into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres, and is not a hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, such a one shall be blessed in what he does.
          If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, his religion is vain. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God and the Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their affliction and to keep oneself unstained by the world.

Chapter 2

Sin of Partiality 2: 1-13

          My brothers, show no partiality as you adhere to the faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ. For if a man with gold rings on his fingers and in fine clothes comes into your assembly, and a poor person in shabby clothes also comes in, and you pay attention to the one wearing the fine clothes and say, "Sit here, please," while you say to the poor one, "Stand there," or "Sit at my feet," have you not made distinctions among yourselves and become judges with evil designs?
          Listen, my beloved brothers. Did not God choose those who are poor in the world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom that he promised to those who love him? But you dishonored the poor person. Are not the rich oppressing you? And do they themselves not haul you off to court? IS it not they who blaspheme the noble name that was invoked over you? However, if you fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, "You shall love your neighbor as yourself," you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular, has become guilty in respect to all of it. For he who said, "You shall not commit adultery," also said, "You shall not kill." Even if you do not commit adultery but kill, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as people who will be judged by the law of freedom. For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

Faith and Works 2:14-26
       
          What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well," but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
          Indeed someone may say, "You have faith and I have works." Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works. You believe that God is one. You do well. Even the demons believe that and tremble. Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works. Thus the scripture was fulfilled that says, "Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness," and he was called "the friend of God." See how a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And in the same way, was not Rehab the harlot also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by a different route? For just as a body without a spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Chapter 3

True Wisdom 3:13-18

          Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show his works by a good life in the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, no not boast and be false to the truth. Wisdom of this kind does not come down from above but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every foul practice. But the wisdom from above is first of all pure, then peaceable, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without inconsistency or insincerity. And the fruit of riteousness is sown in peace for those who cultivate peace. 

Chapter 4

Causes of Division 4:1-12

          Where do the wars and where do the conflicts among you come from? Is it not from your passions that make war within your members? You covet but do not possess. You kill and envy but you cannot obtain; you fight and wage war. You do not possess because you do not ask. You ask but you do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. Adulterers! Do you not know that to be a lover of the world means enmity with God? Therefore, whoever wants to be a lover of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you suppose that the scripture speaks without meaning when it says, "The spirit that he has made to dwell in us tends toward jealousy"? But he bestows a greater grace, therefore, it says:

"God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble." 

          So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, your sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds. Begin to lament, to mourn, to weep. Let your laughter be turned into mourning and your joy into dejection. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you.
          Do not speak evil of one another, brothers. Whoever speaks evil of a brother his brother speaks evil of the law and judges the law. If you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one lawgiver and judge who is able to save or to destroy. Who then are you to judge your neighbor?

Warning against Presumption 4:13-17

          Come now, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we shall go into such and such a town, spend a year there doing business, and make a profit" - you have no idea what your life will be like tomorrow. You are a puff of smoke that appears briefly and then disappears. Instead, you should say, "If the Lord wills it, we shall live to do this or that." But now you are boasting in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil. So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin.

Chapter 5

Patience and Oaths 5:7-12

          Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient with it until it receives the early and the late rains. You too must be patient. Make your hearts firm, because the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not complain, brothers, about one another, that you may not be judged. Behold, the Judge is standing before the gates. Take as an example of hardship and patience, brothers, the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Indeed we call blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of the perseverance of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, because "the Lord is compassionate and merciful."
          But above all, my brothers, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath, but let your "Yes" mean "Yes" and your "No" mean "No", that you may not incur condemnation.

IV The Power of Prayer 

Anointing of the Sick 5: 13-15

          Is anyone among you suffering? He should pray. Is anyone in good spirits? He should sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? He should summon the presbyters of the church, and they should pray over him and anoint [him] with oil in the name of the Lord, and the prayer of faith will save the sick person, and the Lord will raise him up. If he has committed any sins, he will be forgiven.

Confession and Intercession 5: 16-18

         Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful. Elijah was a human being like us; yet he prayed earnestly that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain upon the land. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the earth produced its fruit.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Putin Outlines the Next Stage of Russia's Journey



          In his annual message to the Federal Assembly, President Vladimir Putin spoke philosophically of Russia's journey and explained that the country has moved into a new stage of development. Mr. Putin addressed a variety of historic trends including those needing reversal such as demographic collapse and capital flight, as well as traditions that should be perpetuated - the glory of the Russian military, the depth of Russia's human capital, and spirituality.

Contents of the Speech

          Anta-gonist [ru] LiveJournal Blog organised the contents of Putin's speech into ten categories, including (1) promoting three-child households, (2) curtailing capital flight, (3) introducing a luxury tax, (4) empowering auditors, (5) introducing a temporary suspension of officials, (6) regulating political competition, (7) immigration reform, (8) honoring the heroes of World War I, (9) not returning to the awful days of privatization, and (10) increasing food production to meet demand.
             Vadimb LiveJournal Blog included in his post titled, "Putin's Message: The Birth Rate in the Russian Regions, the Prohibition of Migrants' Entry into Russia without Passports" excerpts from the speech [ru] which give insight into the specifics of Mr. Putin's plan.
          For example, Mr. Putin's plan for combating Russia's demographic crisis targets those regions of Russia that are sparsely populated. The Russian Far East has had demographic concerns since the early 1990's when the Fall of the Soviet Union led to a net outward migration as well as an excess of deaths over births in the region. Such concerns are exacerbated by the contrasting population density on the Chinese side of the Amur and Ussuri Rivers. At the turn of the millennium, there were 80 million people living in the Chinese provinces that border Russia while the Russian figure was 5 million and falling.
Уже начиная с 2013 года, начнем выплаты дополнительных пособий при рождении третьего и последующего детей в тех регионах страны, где демографическая ситуация пока хуже, чем в среднем по стране. Таких субъектов Федерации у нас 50. Большая их часть сосредоточена в Центральном, Северо-Западном, Приволжском и Дальневосточном федеральных округах.
Starting in 2013, we will begin paying additional benefits for the production of three or more children in those regions of the country where the demographic situation is worse than the national average. We have 50 such regions in the Russian Federation, and most of them are concentrated in the Central, Northwestern, Volga, and the Far Eastern Districts.

          Possibly inspired by the international controversy surrounding the Pussy Riot verdict, another excerpt touched on issues of state-mandated morality.
Закон может защищать нравственность, и должен это делать, но нельзя законом установить нравственность. Попытки государства вторгаться в сферу убеждений и взглядов людей – это, безусловно, проявление тоталитаризма. Это для нас абсолютно неприемлемо. Мы и не собираемся идти по этому пути. Мы должны действовать не путем запретов и ограничений
The law can protect morality, and should do so, but the law cannot instill morality. Attempts by the state to intrude into the sphere of beliefs and attitudes of the people - this is certainly a manifestation of totalitarianism. This for us is totally unacceptable. We are not going to go down that route. We must act, not by prohibitions and restrictions

Official portrait of Vladimir Putin.
Source: Wikimedia Commons, Kremlin.ru 

Reactions to the Speech 

          Other RuNetizens speculated as to the likely effectiveness of these reforms as well as to Mr. Putin's sincerity as he delivered them. Mikhail Terekhin's LiveJournal blog distinguished between Mr. Putin's public appearances and those of Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev before asserting skepticism that any of these reforms would come to fruition.
Это послание было гораздо интереснее слушать, чем интервью Медведева журналистам. Почему? Да потому что Путин умеет врать красиво и интересно. Медведев как-то в этом пока не очень преуспел. [...] Путин в своём послании затронул почти все сегодняшние проблемы в России. Первое же вранье из его уст было сформулировано фразой: «Все, что намечено, будет неукоснительно исполняться». Даже идиот поймёт, что он врёт. Если описывать вкратце, то он сказал, что очередей в детские сады не будет, что появятся и будут развиваться 25 миллионов рабочих мест, что все те, кто на 1 января 2012 года был зарегистрирован в очереди на новое жильё из-за аварийного состояния старого, получат новое жильё. В общем, и так ясно, что очереди останутся, рабочих мест не будет, как впрочем, и нового жилья.
This message was much more interesting than listening to Medvedev's interview with the journalists. Why? Because Putin is able to lie beautifully and interestingly. Medvedev somehow was never very successful at this. […] Putin in his message touched on almost all of today's problems in Russia. The very first lie out of his mouth was formulated with the phrase, "Everything that is planned will be strictly enforced." Even an idiot can see that he is lying. Put succinctly, he said that there will be no more kindergarten queues, 25 million jobs will be created, and that everyone who had registered for a new home by 1 January 2012 due to a breakdown of the old will receive new housing. In general, it's so clear, that queues will remain and there will be no jobs or new housing.

          Finally, an interaction following a 1mim LiveJournal post placed Mr. Putin's proposals in their historical context. Both speakers agreed that, although life in Russia had improved over the past decade, life in Russia is still difficult and it is possible that life in Russia will always be difficult.

haleriy:
Никто не обещал, что мы будим жить хорошо. Обещали, что мы будем жить ещё лучше.
No one promised that we would live well. They promised that we would live better.

1mim:
Ну то что получше за 10 лет стало, тут спору нет... Но проблемы всё те же...Вечные они что ли?
Well, that things are a little better after 10 years, no argument here... But the problems are the same...Are they eternal or what?

Monday, December 10, 2012

Cairo Communique - Dec 1, 1943



Below is the text of the Cairo Communique, which serves to transfer title of Taiwan from Japan to China, followed by subsequent communiques and presidential statements relating to the Taiwan question. 

 
CONFIDENTIAL
HOLD FOR RELEASE
PLEASE SAFEGUARD AGAINST PREMATURE RELEASE OR PUBLICATION 

The following communique is for automatic release at 7:30 P.M., E.W.T., on Wednesday, December 1, 1943.

Extraordinary precautions must be taken to hold this communication absolutely confidential and secret until the hour set for automatic release.

No intimation can be given its contents nor shall its contents be the subject of speculation or discussion on the part of anybody receiving it, prior to the hour of release.

Radio commentators and news broadcasters are particularly cautioned not to make the communication the subject of speculation before the hour of release for publication.

STEPHEN EARLY
Secretary to the President 

President Roosevelt, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and Prime Minister Mr. Churchill, together with their respective military and diplomatic advisers, have completed a conference in North Africa.

The following general statement was issued:

"The several military missions have agreed upon future military operations against Japan. The Three Great Allies expressed their resolve to bring unrelenting pressure against their brutal enemies by sea, land, and air. This pressure is already rising.

"The Three Great Allies are fighting this war to restrain and punish the aggression of Japan. They covet no gain for themselves and have no thought of territorial expansion. It is their purpose that Japan shall be stripped of all the islands in the Pacific which she has seized or occupied since the beginning of the first World War in 1914, and that all the territories Japan has stolen from the Chinese, such as Manchuria, Formosa, and The Pescadores, shall be restored to the Republic of China. Japan will also be expelled from all other territories which she has taken by violence and greed. The aforesaid three great powers, mindful of the enslavement of the people of Korea, are determined that in due course Korea shall become free and independent.

"With these objects in view the three Allies, in harmony with those of the United Nations at war with Japan, will continue to persevere in the serious and prolonged operations necessary to procure the unconditional surrender of Japan."



1972 Joint communique: "The United States government… reaffirms its interest in a peaceful settlement of the Taiwan question by the Chinese themselves."

1979 US Presidential Statement: "The United States is confident that the people of Taiwan face a peaceful and prosperous future. The United States continues to have an interest in the peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue and expects that the Taiwan issue will be settled peacefully by the Chinese themselves."

1982 Joint communique: "The United States Government understands and appreciates the Chinese policy of striving for a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan question… Having in mind the foregoing statements of both sides, the United States Government states that it does not seek to carry out a long-term policy of arms sales to Taiwan that its arms sales to Taiwan that its arms sales to Taiwan will not exceed, either in qualitative or in quantitative terms the level of those supplied in recent years…"

1982 Presidential statement: "We attach great significance to the Chinese statement…regarding China's 'fundamental policy' [to strive for the peaceful solution to the Taiwan question], and … our future actions will be conducted with this peaceful policy fully in mind…We have an abiding interest and concern that any resolution be peaceful."

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Russians React to Obama's Reelection



          With the American elections finally over, Barack Obama now embarks on his second term as President of the United States. Since his first campaign in 2008, Obama's top advisor on U.S.-Russia policy has been Stanford professor and democratic-transitions expert Michael McFaul, who earlier this year became America's ambassador to Russia.
          Together, Obama and McFaul have pursued a "Reset" in relations with the Russian Federation. Recent events have led many observers to declare Obama's rapprochement a failure. Two watershed moments animating Obama's critics include the Kremlin-instigated closure of USAID offices in Moscow, and Vladimir Putin's assertion that the United States helped instigate street protests against Russian parliamentary and presidential elections last winter.
          Vilhelm Konnander, a former president of the Swedish Society for the Study of Russia, Central and Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, as well as a Global Voices author, epitomized the Reset-skepticism in a Facebook post:
[I wonder] what Obama's reelection will mean to US-Russian relations after the failed reset policy.
President Obama meets President Medvedev at the Business Forum on July 6, 2009, White House photograph, public domain.
          In his reaction [ru] to Obama's victory, Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev expressed relief that Americans had not elected the candidate (Romney) who insisted on describing Russia as America's "number one geopolitical foe."
          In far more colorful language, Russian Twitter users have weighed in on Obama's reelection with their own commentary. Here is one illustrative, and rather clamorous, exchange:

Shiitman:
А тут есть люди, которые расстраиваются, что ромни не победил?
Is there anybody here who's upset that Romney didn't win?

Smirnov:

я
I am.

Falanster
почему??
Why??
Smirnov:
много раз объяснял же. Обама это предельно мягкий курс. Нахуй он такой нужен нам в России
I've already explained many times. Obama is a complete soft-liner. We in Russia don't need a f---ing guy like that.

Falanster:
ну он же как бы умеренный соцдем, а ромни пиздец, а рашке оба как жук лапкой потрогал
Well, [Obama] is a moderate socialist democrat, whereas Romney is a f---head, but neither is something for Rasha [sic] to shake a stick at.
Smirnov:
[...] сравните администрацию Буша-мл и Обамы по отношению к Москве. ОДНО И ТОЖЕ??
[...] compare the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama by their relationships to Moscow. Are they one in the same??

Kulturtrager:
При Обаме похуизм под видом "перезагрузки"
Under Obama, "not giving a f---" [happens] under the guise of the "Reset"

          In other reactions, RuNetizens focused more on what Obama's second term might mean for the future of the United States. Oleg Kozyrev condemned [ru] the American election process, specifically the Electoral College, which he implied is undemocratic. Alexander Kireev cited polling data to illustrate [ru] racial polarization in American voting behavior.
          On the lighter side of things, right-wing politician Vladimir Zhirinovsky blogged that yesterday's election results do not indicate American enthusiasm for the Obama Administration, but rather mark the beginning of American's slow march toward stagnation and isolationism:
Победа нынешнего президента США обусловлена не большими ожиданиями от продолжения деятельности президента, а обычным нежеланием американцев менять устоявшиеся порядки. Они консервативны, как и все избиратели. Все боятся: а вдруг новый что-то такое начнет? […]
Что сейчас будет делать Барак Обама? Ничего. У него третьего срока нет – ему хочется поцарствовать 4 года, он будет кататься по заграницам, внутренние вопросы ему не решить, их вообще никому нигде нельзя решить, это надо героическое что-то произвести. Поэтому Америка сама себя обрекает на застой.
The victory of the incumbent President of the United States is not due to great expectations about the President continuing his work, but rather Americans' reluctance to change the established order. They're conservatives, like all voters. Everyone is scared: what would something new suddenly begin? […]

What will Barack Obama do now? Nothing. He doesn't get a third term -- he wants to rule for [another] four years, he'll travel around on trips abroad, he won't solve any domestic issues -- issues that nobody anywhere can solve, short of doing something heroic. For these reasons, America dooms itself to stagnation.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Russia: Religiosity & the Murdered U.S. Ambassador



          Responding to the attack on U.S. embassies and diplomatic territories across the Muslim world (specifically the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three members of his staff in Libya), Russian bloggers have addressed the perceived growth of religiosity in their own country, and used the incident as an opportunity to discuss the wider consequences of political unrest.
          Several media outlets have emphasized the connection between these anti-American violent outbursts and U.S. support for the Arab Spring. Evaluating the legitimacy of the recent bloodshed, many RuNet bloggers have questioned the validity of violently "avenging" Western religious liberality.
          Blogger Evgeny Schultz contextualized the recent events in the Middle East amid growing religiosity in Russia in a post titled [ru], "Religion on the March: In Libya and Russia":
Объяснение всегда просто: "Так требует вера, Бог". [...] Они экстраполируют всезнание, благость и всемогущество Бога на предстоятеля своей религии. И естественно, власть не собирается пропускать возможности мимо себя. Для власти религия - мощнейший электоральный рычаг. Но не понимает власть, что рычаг этот не им подчиняется. И рано или поздно ударит их по лбу. А вместе с ними и всю Россию. Никакие тактические выгоды не оправдают того стратегического тупик [sic], в который ведет клерикализация.
The explanation is always simple: "It requires faith, God." […] They extend God's omniscience, kindness, and omnipotence to their religious leaders. And, naturally, the authorities don't intend to let this opportunity pass them by. For the authorities, religion is the most powerful electoral lever. But the authorities fail to understand that they don't control this lever. Sooner or later it's going to knock them upside the head -- and all Russia with them. There are no tactical advantages that justify the strategic deadlock to which clericalization is leading.
Christopher Stevens, United States ambassador to Libya from June 7, 2012 until killed in an attack on the US consulate in Benghazi on September 12, 2012 (photo taken 23 April 2012), photo by U.S. Department of State, public domain.
          Schultz's nuance, if one can call it that, has not characterized the reactions of all netizens. Hardliner Orthodox blogger Archbishop Sergey Zhuravlev, for instance, posted [ru] a militant anti-Islam rant in response to the mob attacks on American embassies.
          On Twitter, some have aired skepticism about the effectiveness of violence as a response to sometimes offensive material.

In Baku, Azerbaijan, Rahman Haji wrote:
Один идиотский фильм о Пророке перевернул пол мира.Посол в Ливии убит, флаги США срывают с посольств на всем Ближнем Востоке. Просто ужас...
One idiotic film about the Prophet has turned upside down half the world. The [American] Ambassador in Libya has been killed, and American flags are being torn down from embassies across the Middle East. Simply awful...

In Chelyabinsk, Sergei Tretyakov tweeted:
Ирония дня: ливийские мусульмане увидели в интернете ролик про то, что мусульмане - не миролюбивые, обиделись и убили посла США в Ливии
The irony of the day: Libyan Muslims saw an Internet clip about how Muslims aren't peace-loving people, and they got offended and killed the U.S. Ambassador in Libya.

          Others have been more ambiguous in their commentary. In Tula, for example, Gregory Bukreev connected [ru] the anger allegedly incited by an anti-Muslim film to the Pussy Riot case.
В Ливии убит посол США за фильм,где плохо показан пророк Мухаммед,а остающиеся на свободе участницы Pussy Riot готовят новую акцию.Подумайте
In Libya, the U.S. Ambassador was killed because of a film that negatively portrayed the Prophet Mohammed. Pussy Riot's remaining members not in jail are planning a new initiative. Think about it.

          What is the public meant to "think" exactly? Bloggers seem to be united in disapproval of the mob violence against American foreign dignitaries, but a more vexing issue is Russia's own struggle with religious pluralism, including matters as troubling as homegrown Muslim and Orthodox extremism. The Orthodox Church's own growing influence, of course, was and remains a major concern for secularists following the Pussy Riot controversy.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Day at Centennial Olympic Park #ATL (09/09/12)

 

A graduate student at Georgia Tech's Sam Nunn School of International Affairs
today I took some time out to visit 
Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park which is located about 2 miles from campus. 
Along the way I uploaded photos to my Twitter account

Walked by some guys loading travel #golf bags into a car on the way home from #church, did an air swing and wished them well. #ATL 
My @georgiatech task for the day- make a working hypothesis about Russo-China #Amur River settlement (2004), and list key research questions
Then decided to take a break and headed to the park:

Fountains at the entrance, kids in swimsuits can play in the water.

Took this while sitting on a bench next to tourists from Germany, other fountains behind me.
This water you can't play in, but nice view of the lawn.

The grass is like a fairway on a nice golf course, I've never seen grass like
this in a public park in Texas - just not enough water to keep it so soft. 

The 'short' blue building in the very middle is the BBT
within walking distance of my apartment @GeorgiaTech. 

Another view from the lawn. The tall building on the right is the Westin Hotel -
It's famous because it's got a revolving restaurant at the top.
When I visited today I learned you have to pay $6 to ride the elevator up if you're not a guest.

The World of Coke building at the far end of the park.
Admission: Adult $16, Children $12, Senior $14

Georgia Aquariam - next to the World of Coke
Ticket prices vary, $25 - $40. Georgia Tech students get a discount.

@DonnaWelles
Walked the 2 miles home to @georgiatech from Centennial Olympic Park. Beautiful #ATL day.


Photo's from last night's home-opener:


Me at the Georgia Tech vs. Presbyterian football game on 9/8/12.
The score was very lopsided early on and so I left after the first quarter.
Next week we play UVA. As a student, I paid $8 for a $20 ticket. 

Pregame marching band formation. Beautiful historic stadium. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Mysterious 16th C Ant Plague - E. O. Wilson's "The Creation"



A graduate student at Georgia Tech's Sam Nunn School of International Affairs, one of my 
required courses is Empirical Research Methods. 
E. O. Wilson's "The Creation" is one of our assigned texts and I've 
transcribed a section of the book below - Wilson describes a 
mysterious ant plague that hit the Caribbean soon after Christopher Columbus discovered the New World.

An excerpt: 

          At that precise moment, in those circumstances, I felt confident I had solved a 500 year old mystery. At last, as the culmination of considerable effort, I could report the cause of the first environmental crisis experienced by European colonists of the New World.
          Around 1518, a plague of ants irrupted at the fledgling Spanish colony of Hispaniola. The event was witnessed by Fray Bartolome de Las Casas, exacting chronicler of Columbian America ("who promises before the divine word that everything said and referred to is the truth") and defender of the Caribbean Indians. A great saint, in my opinion, never canonized. He described the scene at the monastery as follows in his History of the Indies. "This plague was an infinite number of ants that…bit and caused greater pain than wasps that bite and hurt men. They could not defend themselves from these ants at night in their beds, nor could they survive if the beds were not placed on four small troughs filled with water."
          Elsewhere, in the newly established capital of Santo Domingo and in other parts of what is today the Dominican Republic, ant swarms destroyed the gardens and orchards everywhere. As the plague spread, entire populations of oranges, pomegranates, and cassias were wiped out. "As though fire had fallen from the sky and burned them," Fray Bartolome agonized, "they stood all scorched and dried out." The loss of the cassia trees, source of a purgative widely used in Spain, was particularly distressing. The colonists, whose income from mining had dropped with the near-extinction of the enslaved Taino Indians from maltreatment and disease, had turned to this crop as an important new source of income.

My copy of E. O. Wilson's 'The Creation'
Photo by Donna Welles 09/05/12

          Fray Bartolome believed that the plague was an expression of God's wrath for the maltreatment of the Taino people. Whatever the Spanish themselves thought about the cause, they soon turned to the highest authority for relief:
As the citizens of Santo Domingo saw the affliction of this plague grow, doing such damage to them, and as they could not end it by human means, they agreed to ask for help from the Highest Tribunal. They made great processions begging Our Father to free them from such a plague so harmful to their worldly goods. In order to receive divine blessing more quickly, they thought of taking a saint as a lawyer, whichever one by chance our Lord should declare best suited. Thus, with the procession over one day, the bishop, the clergy, and the whole city cast lots over which of the litany's saints Divine Providence would see fit to give them as a lawyer. Fortune fell on Saint Saturnin , and receiving him with happiness and joy as their patron, they celebrated him with a feast of great solemnity, as they have each year since then…
          And indeed, according to Fray Bartolome, the plague, as if miraculously, soon began to recede. Within a few years new trees were planted and brought to fruit. To this day citrus and cassia trees flourish throughout the Dominican Republic, and they remain mostly free of damage from ants.

Note: Wilson goes on to argue that the mysterious ant species was the 'tropical fire ant'. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Russia: 40th Anniversary of Canada-USSR Hockey Series



RuNet blogger Vladimir Kharitonov honored the 40th anniversary of the "Summit Series" - eight hockey games played on two continents between the USSR and Team Canada in September 1972. Although Canada emerged with more wins, the series allowed the Soviet Union to showcase some of its hockey talent that had previously been unknown in the West - Valeri Kharlamov and Vladislav Tretiak. Canada's Phil Esposito said publicly that the series' Most Valuable Player (MVP) was unequivocally the USSR's Alexander Yakushev.

Монета Банка России — Серия: Выдающиеся спортсмены России (хоккей): Харламов В.Б. 2 рубля, реверс.
Source: Wikimedia Commons 

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Joe Louis vs. Max Schmeling (1938) - #MargeryMillerWelles (Part II)

See Also: (Part I) by MMW

A founding author of Sports Illustrated, my grandma has been 
nominated to join the International Boxing Hall of Fame. 

Margery Miller Welles -my grandma- witnessed one of the 
most important sporting events in American history in 1938 at age 15 when 
her father took her to Yankee Stadium to watch Joe Louis fight Max Schmeling. 
For her Wellesley College thesis she wrote a bio of Joe titled, 
"Joe Louis: American" which was published before she graduated in 1945 and 
reviewed by Ring Magazine founder Nat Fleischer and Eleanor Roosevelt


An excerpt from Joe Louis: American:

[…]Below them was the ring. A lighted white square surrounded by darkness, it looked like a huge diamond set in black velvet. Now and then someone would light a cigarette, and the flame of the match would glow briefly, like a firefly, and be gone.
          Then everyone grew quiet. The silent was so profound that each of the seventy thousand might have been praying. The ring was clear. It was precisely ten o'clock, time for the main bout to begin. […]
          A cheer began at the edges of the crowd where Louis first appeared, and kept pace with him as he advanced toward the ring, growing from a shout to a roar, and from a roar to a bedlam. It beat against the sides of the stadium, ebbed back toward the ring, and then, when Louis climbed into the lighted square, it surged up around him and continued for minutes. When Schmeling climbed the ring-steps it was still filling the stadium, and was reinforced by another, briefer cheer for the German.

Photo of Margery Miller Welles taken around  the same time 
she sawJoe Louis defeat Max Schmeling (1938)
          Louis sat hunched forward on a stool in his corner, a blue satin robe falling away from this shoulders. He looked ahead into the darkness. There was no emotion on his face, no sign of either fear or courage. Schmeling turned his back to the ring and jumped lightly up and down on his toes several times. […]
          Louis, awaiting the gong, had lost his serenity. He looked lean, in spite of his town hundred pounds, and, perhaps for the first time in his career, he looked eager, even anxious.
          "Joe, remember Hitler sent him. Hitler sent him!" shrieked a voice from the outfield.
          At the bell they strode swiftly to the center of the ring, and Louis crouched a little, looking like a great tan cat. As he circled Schmeling slowly, seventy thousand people held their breath. Louis began to crowd in. Schmeling sent out a right hand punch which missed. Then the fury in Louis burst forth. He pounced on the German, and Schmeling, his face paper white, stumbled backward. Louis was on him again. He darted out a straight left, then with a twist of the wrist turned it into a cruel left hook. After that the punches came so fast no one could count them.
          "Oh, Joe! Oh, Joe! Oh, Joe!" The cry began with the Negroes in the stands and soon spread throught the stadium.
          Schmeling went down three times. When he got up the third time, his legs were sand and his hands hung useless at his sides. He looked like a grotesque drunk who could neither think nor act. It was then that the referee ended the fight and raised Louis' hand in victory after town minutes and four seconds of fighting.
          "Oh, Joe! Oh, Joe! Oh, Joe!" The crowd now came near to having only one voice. It howled and shrieked. It stood on its chairs and tore its hats to bits. It jumped up and down in its frenzy. "Oh, Joe! Oh, Joe!." It drowned out the formal announcement of Louis' victory. Seventy thousand people had gone insane.