Sunday Sermon: Military Honor

[Spoiler Warning: If you haven’t seen Seven Samurai, I am going to drop an important plot-point. And what’s wrong with you?]

I grew up reading about feats of derring-do, famous last stands, and martial arts philosophy. My favorite movie was, and remains, “Seven Samurai” by Akira Kurosawa – it’s an extended meditation on the different aspects of military honor, courage, despair, humor, and the fleeting moments of peace that warriors can occasionally snatch out of the mud and blood and awfulness.

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Popcorn Time!!

Watching the formation of the Trump cabinet, and how the new government beds itself down with the police state, there’s going to be a lot of passive observation to do. And, unless you’re in the train-wreck, you’re going to need some popcorn. Thus: popcorn recipes!

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Causality: The Path Forking Problem

forkingIt seems to me that humans don’t assess cause and effect very well; we had to invent the scientific method as a way of teasing out which causes of a particular effect are the important ones. That’s a comforting illusion for us, but causality is not a chain of events and causes, it’s more like a lattice-work stretching backward in time to the Big Bang. In practical terms, it doesn’t make much sense for us to answer “Why did the chicken cross the road?” with “The Big Bang” even though it’s true: we search for something we can pin it on immediately.

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Coal Country

Pennsylvania is hugely coal country. And, with the Marcellus Shale fracking, there has been a sudden influx of money that has been very welcome in most of the state. About a decade ago, neighbors were pitted against neighbors as carpetbaggers with energy exploration contracts came through, getting people to sign exploration rights with rights of first refusal. In economically depressed areas like Carbon County (a county named after coal, what do you think?) the money and the work were very welcome.

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The Hardcore of Yore – Dickey Chapelle

Trigger warning: war and death, death imagery

Dickey Chapelle died when I was a kid and the news of her death was how “war photographer” entered my mental landscape. When I was a kid and started getting interested in military history, I was mostly inclined toward the Napoleonic Wars because of the gorgeous uniforms and the amazing paintings by Meissonier and David (I spent a lot of time at the Musee Des Invalides…)

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