Tagged: History


Humpty Dumpty on Idiots

I continue to learn the most amazing things on Facebook–generally the things I thought I knew in grammar school and had to spend a lifetime unlearning. Today, someone recirculated a meme with the old wheeze that “idiot” comes from a Greek word meaning private citizen who did not take an interest in public affairs, to which a libertarian–very reliable people, libertarians, one knows what they are going to respond before a question is posed–that the polis was everything.


A Brief Account of Siena, Part II

In Tuscany, as in ancient Greece, neighborhoods and religious associations played a major part in the organization of everyday life.  In Tuscany the church Parishes and the neighborhoods that grew around them, whether known as quartieri (quarters),  sesti (sixths), or (in Rome and elsewhere)  rioni  were the locus of many activities, including the repair of roads and walls.


The Government We Deserve: Postscript

If we can trust a recent Rasmussen poll, nearly half the eligible voters in the United States believe the republic established by the mythical founding fathers has crumbled.  Predictably, Republicans are more inclined to this gloomy opinion than Democrats, and perhaps surprisingly, women more than men.


Siena: A Brief Account, I

If access to the sea determined the future of Pisa as a race of sailors and adventurers, Siena’s location in the arid mountains was equally significant.  Despite the great beauty of the landscape, the fact is that Siena lacked water and was subject to serious droughts. 


The Government We Deserve, Part II (of 4)

In the off chance that this screed might be read by people who do not already know the score, I ask such imaginary readers  to imagine a visit from Jefferson or Twain or Mencken or even some reasonable politician like Robert Taft or Sam Ervin, who asks us to take him on a guided tour of these United States.  We might begin their tour by taking them to see New York or San Francisco or Chicago or Portland, in fact to  any major city in to witness the complete breakdown of law and order, sanitation, and public decency.