Great Moments in Fighting Back

“Federal prosecutors are expected on Monday to request a judge’s permission to obtain DNA from Mr. Abdulmutallab [the alleged terrorist on Flight 253] to compare with DNA found on remains of the device taken from the aircraft.” –Wall Street Journal, Monday, December 28, 2009 Let’s not copy the Greeks’ and Romans’ brutality, but acts of war require a tougher response …

Chanukah

Friday night, December 11, marks the start of the eight days of Chanukah, an annual Jewish holiday. But it also lays claim as the start of western civilization. Not Jewish civilization, which was already old at the time of the first Chanukah in 167 B.C., and not Hellenic (ancient Greek) civilization, which was also ancient. But the encounter of the …

Lend Me Your Ears

December 7 is a day that will live in infamy, but not only because of Pearl Harbor. Two thousand years before Japan’s surprise attack on the U.S. Pacific Fleet, another event in American history took place: the murder of Marcus Tullius Cicero. American history? Although Cicero was Roman, he had a unique influence on the minds of America’s Founders. We …

Big is Beautiful

My love song to large lecture courses has just been posted on Minding the Campus, http://www.mindingthecampus.com/originals/2009/12/big_is_beautiful.html.

Alexander and Afghanistan

We fight wars with men – and with ghosts. When it comes to haunted battlefields, Afghanistan is second to none. The specters stretch backwards from the Soviets, who failed in Afghanistan in the 1970s, to the British who suffered there in the nineteenth century, and all the way to Alexander the Great, who conquered Afghanistan long ago but at a …

Napoleon Palin

A little over two hundred years ago this season, Napoleon became famous. He grabbed a French flag, strode onto a bridge over the Adige River in northern Italy, and led his men in an attack on the Austrian army on the other side. As the French advanced, enemy guns took out soldiers on either side. With the luck of greatness, …