December 03, 2010

Of reproaches to chastity and such matters

Speaking of reading jags, a year or so ago, some friends inspired me to read the unabridged version of Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Don't ask me why since my only recourse would be to say "Because it's there."

Rather than a direct assault, I only try to read enough to turn the pages twice most days and then take a break when I finish a volume. At this point in my progress, the Western Empire has fallen into barbarian hands whilst the Emperor Justinian is trying to win it back.

One reason for reading is that there is something cool about 18th century English prose, not to mention that fact that his vast amount of research holds up pretty well. The real payoff, however, is to be found in the little zingers in which he treats of scandalous matters.

Here's a passage describing the marriage of the great general Belisarius and his amorously adventurous wife Antonina:

The birth of Antonina was ignoble; she descended from a family of charioteers; and her chastity has been stained with the foulest reproach. Yet she reigned with long and absolute power over the mind of her illustrious husband; and if Antonina disdained the merit of conjugal fidelity, she expressed a manly friendship to Belisarius, whom she accompanied with undaunted resolution in all the hardships and dangers of a military life.

Nobody, chaste or otherwise, writes like that any more.

TALKING SENSE. Here's an interview with a progressive deficit hawk.

UNEMPLOYMENT. Here's a good article from the Charleston Gazette about what extending unemployment insurance means to West Virginia (and other places too). And here's more on the subject from the WV News Service. And here's a call for the same from the White House Council of Economic Advisers. It may be part of an eventual deal on Bush-era tax cuts before it's all over with. Or not.

THE SPINE THING. Paul Krugman is not amused.

CHINA AND COAL. Here's an interesting look from The World.

SOME GOOD WV NEWS. West Virginia revenues are $121 million in the black while many other states are facing major shortfalls.


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