Portrait of a man reading by Rembrandt
One of the problems of the Internet is that there is quite a lot of it and despite being quite a conservative soul, I'm fond of it.
I must say that having a considerable portion of the knowledge of Mankind accessible via a machine that fits in my pocket is probably one of the more exhilarating aspects of life in a 21st century that has proved relatively disappointing thus far.
However, the flood of text and ideas is such that separating the wheat from the chaff can prove problematical. With that in mind, I'm hoping to start a set of regular post highlighting things about the Internet that I have found interesting or useful. There will be some wargaming content, but there will be other stuff also - I hope at least some of it proves of interest.
Doctor Alexander O'Connor is a friend, a loyal opponent and thoroughly good company. He is also considerably cleverer than I am, though I flatter myself that I have better jokes. His blog features a similar weekly round up, which is where I stole the idea from. He runs rather more to technology and philosophy than I do - but he is worth reading. You can find his Weekend Reading here.
Polemarch is an odd fellow and I think the first post-modern wargamer that I have encountered. He is very similar to Doctor O'Connor in some ways in that he never fails to make me think. He is what Chesterton describes as a fellow with his heart in the wrong place - I am struggling to think of a single occasion where we have agreed. That he is wrong is clear, at least to me, but that he continues to be wrong in such an engaging and well written fashion is the reason I never fail to read him carefully and with attention. You can find the Polemarch here.
"Then none was for a party; then all were for the state;
Then the great man helped the poor, and the poor man loved the great.
Then lands were fairly portioned; then spoils were fairly sold:
The Romans were like brothers in the brave days of old.
Now Roman is to Roman more hateful than a foe,
And the Tribunes beard the high, and the Fathers grind the low.
As we wax hot in faction, in battle we wax cold:
Wherefore men fight not as they fought in the brave days of old."
Horatius - Lord Thomas Babbington Macaulay
I discovered Babbington-Macaulay late in life and I have been doing my best to rectify this serious omission ever since. Read Horatius, it's a long story poem of the sort they don't write any more and it thumps along like the heartbeat of the messenger bringing you the story in person. I read it two year ago and it squirreled it's way in to my heart like no-one has since Joyce Kilmer. There may be better poetry out there, but I don't remember it.
His "History of England from the Accession of James the Second" may be Whiggish, partial and thoroughly dated. It is still however a skilfully written account of human drama, a story that encompasses the low as well as the high in time when history was mainly an account of the doings of Monarchs and Princes. I've read plenty of history that informs, but Macaulay makes the period live through the beauty of his prose and his eye, and sympathy for, the frailty of persons. I've yet to find a decent print edition, but if you're looking for an introduction, you can read him here.
Failing that there is an audiobook version produced by the volunteers over at Librivox. The quality of the readers varies, but this link has a lot more good than bad and will certainly give you enough to know if you've a taste for more.