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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Virignia Tech Loses

No, I'm not talking basketball. I'm referring to less important - seemingly - stuff.  Academic distinction.  Prowess. Among historians, eminence.  Though his offerings were generally a bit more shallow than my tastes required*, there is no doubting the fact that James I. Robertson has had - over the last several decades - a profound effect on Civil War research and analysis.

And now he's hanging his tools on the wall and calling it quits:
A history of teaching: After 44 years, celebrated Civil War historian James Robertson is leaving Virginia Tech
By Tonia Moxley, Roanoke Times

From Fort Sumter to Appomattox Court House, once a year Dr. Bud walks about 300 students through the war that made America. His is thought to be the largest Civil War class in the country.

In it, he talks about battles, yes.

And significant dates, politics and military strategy.

But most fascinating to him are the stories of the people whose convictions and ambitions, foibles and flaws shaped the darkest time in the nation's history.

[James] Robertson studied under Bell Wiley*, a prominent Civil War historian who was the first to chronicle the life of the common soldier. Robertson followed that vein in his own scholarship and teaching.

In his class, students learn about Civil War medicine, such as it was, and that for every one man killed in battle, two died of disease.

Robertson said he wants his students to see the war, not with the benefit of hindsight, but with the narrow blinders through which the people who lived then saw it.

Mostly, he wants them to feel what the war was like, and is gratified when he can make them weep. Teaching history as a compilation of statistics and dates, Robertson says, is a travesty.

"If you don't understand the emotion of the war, you'll never understand the war," he said.

[W]ord of the class has passed down like a legacy through the generations. It's not uncommon, history department Chairman Mark Barrow said, to hear a student say their grandfather and father before them was enrolled.

[Heather] Lewenczuk said she learned of the famous course from her boyfriend, whose father took it while a student at Tech.

Now, word has spread that this year's class will be the last with Robertson. [link]
I have in my library several of his books.  Including General A.P. Hill: The Story of a Confederate Warrior, which was quite good, and one of his masterful works dealing with the life and conquests of Stonewall Jackson. Also superb.

This is truly a loss for Virginia Tech. But if history teaches us anything, it is that all good things must come to an end.

Be well in retirement, Mr. Robertson.  You've earned a good rest.

* Robertson edited a number of books that reproduced Civil War soldiers' letters, which were okay, and he provided commentary in "Civil War illustrated" narratives - picture books; good for bringing in revenue for a publisher, but totally lacking in substance.

** Bell Wiley was a scholar par excellence in his own right.  He took Civil War studies from the sometimes mundane analysis of battles and campaigns to the just-as-fascinating examination of everyday life in the armies of North and South.  Want to know who fought the Civil War?  Read The Life of Billy Yank, the Common Soldier of the Union and The Life of Johnny Reb, the Common Soldier of the Confederacy.  

Great stuff.

Caption of the Day

From Hot Air:

Too funny.

So Much For That 'Inconvenient Truth'

Who can forget the startling before-and-after photos of the melting snowcap atop Mt. Kilimanjaro:

Or this one:

And who can forget the dramatic headlines (this one from 2008):

The ... inconvenient truth?

See "Snow Slowly Building On Mt. Kilimanjaro."  This one appears in 2011.  Make note: The hysteria is now slowly receding.

- - -

So the spawn of Al Gore  move on to other cosmic cataclysms:

May God have mercy.

There Are Leaders & There Are Followers

Read the following headline and ask yourself: Which one of the two people mentioned should be the leader of the free world:

We can argue about whether it's right to tangle with Moammar Ghaddafi, especially right now with two other wars going on and an empty treasury vault, but this is not arguable:  Sarah Palin advocated for a "no-fly zone over Libya a month ago - when it might have made some difference.  Barack Obama, commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces, commits to her plan only now, when, everyone agrees, it's too late to make any difference.

Maybe it's time we started thinking about who our commander-in-chief ought to be.  The best one?  Or the current one.

All Seeing, All Knowing

Let it be understood: I'm not a Republican.  So I don't claim to speak for them.  Nor do I sit here and pretend to know how and what they think.  Unlike all those really smart, open-minded, compassionate liberals out there who know everything.

Case in point:
Maher: 'Every Black Person Scares Republicans Unless They Look Like Urkel, Talk Like Colin Powell and Wear Bill Cosby Sweaters'
By Noel Sheppard, NewsBusters

Bill Maher went on a hate-filled rant about Republicans Friday night because the GOP in his view are too interested in "useless distractions" like public unions, ACORN, NPR and Planned Parenthood.

After telling his "Real Time" audience, "Governing this country with Republicans is like rooming with a meth addict," he dubbed the entire Party as racist saying, "Every black person scares you unless they look like Urkel, talk like Colin Powell and wear Bill Cosby sweaters ..." [link]
Republicans are scared of black people.

His evidence?

He hasn't any.  He just knows.

It should be noted that his audience seemed to love his ... statement of fact.

My guess is, they're all liberals too.


As you know, Barack Obama, not having enough on his plate to deal with, resurrected the gun control debate a week ago with his (empty) op/ed in the Arizona Daily Star, within which he put out a call to all sides to sit down and have a dialogue about the issue.

Democrats being big on dialogue.

Especially dialogue that targets our rights and the reduction thereof.

NRA President Wayne Lapierre, to his credit, listened to what Obama advocated, and summarily rejected the notion, saying, “Why should I or the N.R.A. go sit down with a group of people that have spent a lifetime trying to destroy the Second Amendment in the United States?” A good question.

Reactions to Lapierre's statement were amusing. And more than a bit puzzling. An example from Think Progress, a radically leftist, pro-gun control website:
So why is Wayne LaPierre misrepresenting Obama’s views [jf: he didn't] and rejecting his olive branch? Since everyone seems to agree on a path forward, the answer seems to be quite clear: money and self-preservation. Since President Obama took office, the NRA has benefited significantly in increased membership, due primarily to baseless and unfounded fears actively promoted by NRA officials, supporters and sympathizers, that Obama wants to eliminate the Second Amendment and take away everyone’s guns.
"The answer seems to be quite clear: money and self-preservation."  "Since everyone seems to agree on a path forward ..."


If only those darn trees weren't in the way, this dude could see the forest.

A question: What is it that "everyone seems to agree on"?  It's this: That we need to focus on madmen who do this country great harm.  And on the myriad laws on the books that were put in place to keep bad people from doing bad things.  (Emphasis on the word people.)

Another: What is it that Obama wants to do in this closed-door meeting of his?  Answer: He wants to talk about gun control.

If that's not the case, why bring in the NRA?

Lapierre agrees with the president that the problem needs to be addressed, but understands that the problem isn't one that his NRA involves itself in.

Madman control?  The National Rifle Association?  Really?

The loons at Think Progress see the NRA's rejection of such a meeting as being motivated - somehow - by "money and self-preservation."  Couldn't it be the obvious?  That the NRA is simply saying: Have your dialogue about strengthening existing laws and doing something about insane people walking our streets.  If that's your intent, you don't need to include us.

That, of course, isn't Obama's intent.  After all, who is it that he wants sitting across the table from Wayne Lapierre?  Those advocating the warehousing of America's lunatics?  Those opposed?  Experts on the efficient application and enforcement of the law?


Obama invites gun control advocates

Wayne Lappiere may be a lot of things, but stupid ain't one of them.

The "dialogue" isn't to be about Jared Lee Loughner.  Or about lax enforcement of existing laws.  (Who's responsible for that anyway?  And why does he need "dialogue" in order to do his job and effect strict enforcement of same?)

We've been down this road.  Obama's "dialogue" is to be about the curtailment of our rights.  Again.  It'll have nothing to do with insane people.  It'll be about gun shows and about how many guns we the sane should be allowed by the government to buy.  We could even have Bill Clinton's goofy trigger-lock debate again.

You people want to have a dialogue about insanity?   You don't need us for that.  Dialogue away.