Thursday, December 1, 2022

Melbourne, Australia - Rome - Baltimore

December 1, 2022 Peace and Good, I finished my visit to our friars in Australia, and on Saturday flew overnight to Rome. The trip is so incredibly long (13 hours to Doha, 5 hour layover, 5 1/2 hours from there to Rome) Overall, the visit went very well. We had a three day meeting at a retreat house, and there was a good sense of fraternity and honesty. We need to find a way to support the friars, especially since some of them are ill and can no longer serve full time. The weather in Rome was quite cool and the winter rains have begun, which is a very good thing considering the drought from which Italy has been suffering. Tuesday I travelled from there to Baltimore. I have been visiting doctors these days. I go to Louisville on Saturday to visit some of our friars from India. Their province is getting ready for their chapter, and I am visiting the Indian friars who are living in our federation. I finished some reading: The Battle of Manzikert by Charles River Editors This was a climatic battle between the Turks and the Byzantine empire which led to the loss of the Anatolian peninsula, what we today call mainland Turkey (for the Turks were originally nomads who came from the area around Mongolia). This crippled the empire for they were dependent upon the area for many of their army recruits and for much of their food and wealth. Communism in Power: From Stalin to Mao by Vejas Gabriel Liulevicius This is a series of lectures from the teaching company that outlines the history of communism from the days of its early triumphs to the later stage of its development. This was the second of a series of three courses on communism (its rise, its development, and its fall) presented by this lecturer who is very, very good. Gutenberg the Geek by Jeff Jarvis This is a somewhat comical overview of the invention of the printing press and how Gutenberg did not fully benefit from it because of some of the debts that he owed those who financed his project. The author draws the parallel between this and the found up companies in the Silicon Valley. The short book is clever and a bit informative. The Battle of Saipan by Charles River Editors This is the story of the conquest of the island of Saipan by the US marines and army during the Second World War. It deals with strategy (why this island), plans preceding the invasion, the invasion itself both from the American and Japanese sides, and the long term consequences of the conquest (which meant that B-24 planes could take off from its airports and bomb the islands of Japan. Americas in the Revolutionary Era by Marshall Eakins This is a very good overview of the revolutionary movements throughout the Americans in the late 18th and early 19th century. The course (The Great Courses) is well done, speaking initially of the US and Haitian rebellions, and then those of Latin America. The professor also explains why there was not a major rebellion in certain countries (Paraguay, Cuba, Puerto Rica, and the Dominican Republic). He speaks of the heroes of the various wars, as well as their shortfalls. The course is very well done. What we Know about the Brain (and what we don’t) by Jessica Payne This is a one hour examination of some of the myths of the brain. Payne speaks of how we always use all of the brain, even in sleeping (and not only a small percentage of it). She speaks of the left brain and right brain thesis (which she holds is only partially true). She deals with the need for sleep and the benefits of meditation. Although it is very short, the lecture is informative. King Arthur by Christopher Fee This is a longer presentation by Learn25 (a company similar to the Teaching Company) on the story of King Arthur. Fee is a very good scholar and presenter. He deals with the historic origin for the Arthur legend (especially in Wales, England and France). He deals with the reason for certain turns and twists in the plot in various retellings. He speaks of later works on Arthur, and even theatrical and movie presentations. Small Wars by Lee Child An officer in the War Planning staff is murdered, and Reacher must find her murderer. She presents herself as rich, and she was involved in the Middle Eastern planning section. This story involves Reacher’s brother, who is also in the army. The Road to Little Dribbling by Bill Bryson This is an overview of Bryson’s trips throughout England and Scotland, some decades after the publication of his book Notes from a Small Island. He goes from the most southern tip to the most northern island of England, and comically tells of his adventures. I don’t know if it is because he is getting older, but he has a tendency to be crabby at times and highly sarcastic, something he presents thinking it is just funny. Buried Treasure by Charles River Editors This is the story of various episodes of buried treasures and their discovery, from pirate gold to silver and gold mines, from Nazi plunder to other cases of war booty. Have a good week. Shalom fr. Jude


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