Saturday, December 9, 2017

Free Speech Leads to Tolerance and Prosperity

J.S. Mill was an early advocate for our current view of free speech. He wrote, “If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”

Such a rule is likely rhetorically supported in many liberal democracies, and beyond as Greg Lukianoff from FIRE notes, however there exist variations to the rule. European countries permit more restriction on speech and have adopted, by convention or individually, some form of prohibition on hate speech, no longer allowing it, unlike the American system. Hate speech as a category has always been difficult to define and is hued in ambiguity, but generally, it limits speech aimed at people based on race, nationality, ethnic origin, religion, sex, and sexual orientation. The United States has advocates intent on including this as a form of unprotected speech, a category which has been previously unrecognized.

Additionally, information from Pew shows a stronger culture of free speech in the United States when compared to other regions, reflecting the few narrow exceptions to free speech legally permitted now.
Not only is the United States an exception in terms of legal protections for free speech, a product of the First Amendment, but it embraces concepts of free speech to a greater degree than most of the rest of the world. This indicates a culture of free speech which is partially rooted in the legal protections but not solely.

To further illustrate the point that the U.S. is quite exceptional in regards to free speech, consider this survey which found the U.S. at the top of 38 nations.
What we see in the United States is not only a strong legal presumption in favor of speech but strong cultural and political acceptance of free speech as well.

The Consequences Thereof
I suspect John Stuart Mills got it right, or his version is close enough, as a matter of what speech policy yields the best outcomes. Consider this 2016 Pew Survey from their Global Attitudes Survey.
Among the polled countries, the U.S. didn’t just come out ahead, it came out far ahead with only seven percent saying that growing diversity makes the U.S. a worse place to live. This is not reported enough, in my opinion, despite the limited use.

At the very least one should be dubious, in light of this contrast, when claims are made that the U.S., unique in its level of speech protection and tolerance, should adopt the European model of speech laws.

The contrast in attitudes regarding tolerance is so stark that even the least tolerant in the United States appears to match more closely with the most tolerant in other countries. Consider the ideological analysis below parsing out how diversity is viewed within similar groups.
Though much in society, both the good and bad, is multi-factorial and difficult to parse, it appears that broad protection of free speech either does not impact tolerance or it does not increase intolerance, at least when compared to other regimes (this comparison is limited, and temporal comparisons would help draw a more certain conclusion). This may appear counter-intuitive, but I suspect two things occur that help increase tolerance as people are exposed to various types of speech, including offensive speech. First, they see the consequences of offensive or inappropriate speech and adjust their behavior accordingly. Second, they are exposed to various views and are better able to compare them against the alternatives.

The benefits of speech also extend to economic activity and human welfare. Many have extolled the value of speech in economic growth and human flourishing. From science to the exchange of ideas, to the changing view that commerce should be pursued rather than shunned- as it, as well as finance, were once viewed as second-rate economic activity, the ability to converse has been central to human progress.

Deidre McCloskey argues that rhetoric and dignity help explain the Great Enrichment, the period wherein real income, per head “increased, in the face of a rise in the number of heads, by a factor of seven — by anything from 2,500 to 5,000 percent.” No such event in history compares in terms of human flourishing. That this coincided with a rise of traditional liberal values, free speech included, appears to be more than coincidence.

Here the Great Enrichment is graphically represented from Tyler Cowen and Alex Taborrock’s Principles of Economics.
This should amaze you.
That speech is tied to economic development has an intuitive appeal when considering that much of wealth creation is done via communication. From prices to ideas, economic activity is often tied to speech, not only to find benefits but to avoid costs. Whether to find wares, move resources, or spur innovation, speech is crucial to economic growth and prosperity.

Sliding Away From Free Speech
There is a serious concern regarding the future of free speech in the United States. College campuses have become the battlegrounds for much of this cultural battle over how much speech should be permitted. Students and activists on the left and right use the Heckler’s Veto to shut down speech with which they disagree, creating an illiberal turn in our free speech culture.

This attitude appears to be spreading beyond a few activist groups. A 2015 survey found that 40% of Millennials would support bans on certain types of offensive (but currently protected) speech. This in contrast to the, somewhat ironically, low levels of support from the Silent generation, which suggests that about 12% of those polled would support bans on offensive speech.
I do want to be careful to not overstep here in concluding too much from this data. First, I think that since the concerns of the time, the so-called topic du jour, changes from one generation to another it seems likely that what once was considered a speech taboo is no longer relevant and no new taboo arose to replace the outdated one for older generations. Combined with other variables such as the perspective of having seen the positive benefits of speech, such as the end to the draft, perhaps attitudes drift towards more speech tolerance as time goes on.

Nonetheless, these illiberal anti-speech attitudes have been confirmed more recently by Brookings, where free speech was shown again to have unusually low support from college-age adults, not only endorsing bans on speech but demonstrating support for heckling and interrupting a speaker with whom you disagree.

Which again turns us to the culture of free speech. Free speech is as much a cultural phenomenon as it is a legal guarantee. Make no mistake, I believe the fact that the United States is foremost in speech protection and tolerance is closely related, a reflecting glass of sorts, where our moments of speech antagony are met with the protections of the First Amendment allowing us to culturally realign with the underlying message and expand tolerance towards each other and diverse, even wrong, ideas.
However, an illiberal cultural development is possible. We have seen it time again with free trade. Despite the overall benefits, we continue to find anti-trade attitudes bubbling up into our politics and policy, pushing away long-term economic development to alleviate the fears that a few may lose employment. Same is true for the Luddites among us who insist that efficiency and prosperity is a poor trade-off for a static employment regime and scarcity, and wage war against automation.
It is to our benefit to remember that speech brings varied, hard-to-replicate benefits to ourselves and society. Recently, the great American classic, To Kill A Mockingbird was banned in a Mississippi school district as the racially tinged language “[made] people uncomfortable.” It is hard to argue this book has not brought net benefits to many, including myself, despite the fact that it may induce discomfort. So it is with speech. Indeed there are downsides, but they are far outweighed by the benefits, which stretch unseen into our relatively prosperous lives.
Reprinted from Medium
James Devereaux
James Devereaux is an attorney.  All views are his own and not representative of employers or affiliations.
This article was originally published on Read the original article.

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Dog that Buried the Frogs

[Feb. 2, 1895.]

The dog in question was a Scotch terrier. He was one day observed to appear from a corner of the garden carrying in his mouth, very gently and tenderly, a live frog. He proceeded to lay the frog down upon a flower-bed, and at once began to dig a hole in the earth, keeping one eye upon the frog to see that it did not escape. If it went more than a few feet from him, he fetched it back, and then continued his work. Having dug the hole a certain depth, he then laid the frog, still alive, at the bottom of it, and promptly scratched the loose earth back into the hole, and friend froggy was buried alive! The dog then went off to the corner of the garden, and returned with another frog, which he treated in the same way. This occurred on more than one occasion; in fact, as often as he could find frogs he occupied himself in burying them alive. Now dogs generally have some reason for what they do. What can have been a dog's reason for burying frogs alive?

[Feb. 16, 1895.]

I knew a dog in Ireland—a large retriever—who had been taught always to bring his own tin dish in his mouth, to be filled at the late dinner. For some reason his master wished to make a change, and to feed him twice a day instead of once, to which he had always been accustomed. The dog resented this, and when told to bring his dish, refused, and it could nowhere be found; on which his master spoke angrily to him, and ordered him to bring the dish at once. With drooping tail and sheepish expression he went down the length of the garden, and began scratching up the soil where he had buried the bowl deep down, to avoid having to bring it at an hour of which he did not approve.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

The Legend of the Phantom Ship

THE LEGEND OF THE PHANTOM SHIP, article in Chambers's Journal 1894

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It is a somewhat singular fact that there is not a single European nation whose mariners do not share in the picturesque and romantic superstition that certain parts of the ocean are haunted by the Spectre of a Ship. The tradition is quite the best known among the lore of the sea. Poets have told the tale in rhythmic heroics; novelists have taken it for their plots; play-writers have dramatised it; and one of the most masterful of modern musicians has founded an opera upon the Old-World legend. Nor can we be permitted to doubt that such an ocean Phantom really does exist. For did not two royal princes see her with their own eyes as short a time ago as the 11th July 1881? Such testimony is not to be disputed by any loyal British subject. In the 'Cruise of the Bacchante' it is stated that, at four o'clock in the morning of the day just mentioned, 'The Flying Dutchman crossed our bows. A strange red light as of a phantom ship all aglow, in the midst of which light the masts, spars, and sails of a brig two hundred yards distant stood out in strong relief as she came up. . . . Thirteen persons altogether saw her; but whether it was Van Diemen, or the Flying Dutchman, or who else, must remain unknown.' The verisimility of the spectre is established convincingly by what happened to the unhappy sailor who first sighted her. 'At 10.45 A.M. the ordinary seaman who had this morning reported the Flying Dutchman fell from the foretopmast-crosstrees and was smashed to atoms.'

The sighting of the phantom ship by the Bacchante had at least the effect of settling one vexed point, the question of her rig. She is a brig, that most homely and commonplace of all craft The discovery is a little disappointing. The imagination, in picturing the Flying Dutchman, conjures up the portrait of a brave old seventeenth-century galleon, gaudy with yellow paint and tarnished gilt-work; a pink-shaped stern castellated into a poop-royal, and crowned atop with a great horn lantern; broad decks guarded by breast-high bulwarks, and flanked on either side by a row of quaint green-coated culverins and carronades; short masts with a great spread of yard, and embellished by huge barricaded tops; and manned by a little crowd of strange-looking Dutchmen, contemporaries of sturdy old Van Tromp; silent, inanimate, ghost-like: kept alive only by the terrible spell which rests upon the ill-fated vessel.

There are many versions of the famous legend of the Flying Dutchman. Quite recently, an American gentleman set himself the task of endeavouring to discover the paternity of the tradition, and who the Hollander was that brought upon himself and his companions such a miserable doom by his act of profanity. The result of his investigations would be extremely interesting, but it does not appear that he has yet given them to the world. Perhaps the story has been nowhere better told than by Captain Marryat in the novel which he founded upon it. Cornelius Vanderdecken, a sea-captain of Amsterdam, coming home from Batavia, is much troubled by head-winds when off the Cape of Good Hope. Day after day he goes on struggling against the baffling weather without gaining a foot of ground. The sailors grow weary, the skipper impatient. Still the bleak sou'-wester continues to blow the old galliot steadily back. For nine dreary weeks this goes on; then a terrible fit of passion seizes Vanderdecken. He sinks down upon his knees, and raising his clenched fists to the heavens, curses the Deity for opposing him, swearing that he will weather the Cape yet in spite of the Divine will, though he should go on beating about until the Day of Judgment. As a punishment for this terrible impiety, he is doomed to go on sailing in the stormy seas east of Agulhas until the last trumpet shall sound, for ever struggling against head-winds in a vain effort to double the South African Cape. Such, in brief, is the legend of the Flying Dutchman, as it has been accepted by English-speaking sailors for many generations past. The rest is the creation of Marryat's imagination: the extirpation of Vanderdecken's sin by the lifelong devotion of his son Philip, and the ultimate crumbling away into thin air of the ship herself when Marryat had finished with her.

Bechstein, in the 'Deutsches Sagenbuch' gives the Dutch version of the phantom ship, which is totally dissimilar from our own, both as regards the name of its evil-minded hero, and the sin for which he was condemned to wander. 'Falkenberg,' he says, 'was a nobleman who murdered his brother and his bride in a fit of passion; and was therefore condemned to wander for ever towards the north. On arriving at the seashore he found awaiting him a boat, with a man in it, who said "Expectamus te." He entered the boat, attended by his good and his evil spirit, and went on board a spectral barque in the harbour. There he yet lingers, while the two spirits play at dice for his soul. For six hundred years has the ship been wandering the seas, and sailors still see her in the German Ocean sailing northward, without helm or steersman. She is painted gray, has coloured sails, a pale flag, and no crew. Flames come forth from her masthead at night.'

Another Dutch account of the old legend says that the skipper of the phantom ship was a native of Amsterdam, one Bernard Fokke, who lived in the seventeenth century. He was a daring, reckless seaman, who had the masts of his ship encased with iron to strengthen them and enable him to carry more sail. It is recorded that he sailed from Holland to the East Indies in ninety days; and in consequence of having made many wonderful voyages, came at last to be reputed a sorcerer, in league with the devil. In one voyage he disappeared for a while, having been spirited away by Satan, and on his return was condemned—the legend does not say by whom—to sail for ever the ocean between the southern capes with no other crew than his boatswain, cook, and pilot. Many Dutch seamen believe that his vessel is still to be fallen in with in the Southern Ocean, and that, when he sights a ship, he will give chase for the purpose of coming alongside to ask questions. If these are not answered, all is well; but should those hailed be so injudicious as to make any reply, ill-luck is certain to befall them.

Although, perhaps, no version of the famous old nautical tradition is so quaint and full of a weird kind of romance as the English one, yet there are others which are wilder, and glow with a more lurid colour. The Germans particularly exhibit that quality of eerie fancifulness which enters into most of their lore in the stories they have of the phantom ship. They tell of a spectral ship, to be met with in remote ocean solitudes, whose portholes grin with skulls instead of the muzzles of cannon. She is commanded by a skeleton, who grips in his bony hand an hour-glass; and her crew is composed of the ghosts of desperate sinners. Any honest trader that chances to encounter this grisly apparition is doomed to founder. Coleridge took his idea of a death-ship, in the 'Ancient Mariner,' from an old German legend. She is a vessel that approaches without a breeze and without a tide, wnose sails glance in the misty sunlight 'like restless gossamers;' and in her cabin Death plays at dice with the woman Nightmare for the possession of the mariner's crew. She wins, whistles thrice, and off shoots the spectre-barque.

In a volume of a German 'Morgenblatter' for the year 1824 is contained another story of a phantom ship. A lookout man sights and reports a vessel. When questioned concerning her, he says he saw a frigate in a faint haze of light, with a black captain, and a skeleton figure with a spear in its hand standing on the poop. Skeleton shapes noiselessly handled the cobweb-like sails and ropes. The only sound which he heard as the mysterious craft glided past was the word 'water.' The history of this strange ship seemed to be known to one of the sailors on board, who recounted it as follows: 'A rich Spaniard of Peru, one Don Lopez d'Aranda, dreamed he saw his son, Don Sandovalle, who had sailed with his bride for Spain, on board his ship with a ghastly wound in his head, and pointing to his own form, bound to the mainmast of the vessel. Near him was water, just beyond his reach, and the fiendish crew were mocking him and refusing him drink. The crew had murdered the young couple for their gold; and the curse of the wandering Dutchman had descended upon them. They are still to be seen cruising off the entrance to the Rio de la Plata.'

The French version of the time-honoured legend is given by Jal, in his 'Scenes de la Vie Maritime.' He says: 'An unbelieving Dutch captain had vainly tried to round Cape Horn against a head gale. He swore he would do it; and when the gale increased, laughed at the fears of his crew, smoked his pipe, and drank his beer. He threw overboard some of them who tried to make him put into port The Holy Ghost descended on the vessel; but he fired his pistol at it, and pierced his own hand and paralysed his arm. He cursed God; and was then condemned by the apparition to navigate always, without putting into port, only having gall to drink, and red-hot iron to eat, and eternally to watch. He was to be the evil genius of the sea, to torment and punish sailors, the spectacle of his tempest-tossed barque to presage ill-fortune to the luckless beholder. He is the sender of white squalls, of all disasters, and of storms. Should he visit a ship, wine on board turns sour, and all food becomes beans—the sailors' particular aversion. Should he bring or send letters, none must touch them, or they are lost. He changes his appearance at will, and is seldom beheld twice under the same circumstances. His crew are all old sinners of the sea, marine thieves, cowards, murderers, and so forth. They toil and suffer eternally, and get but little to eat and drink. His ship is the true purgatory of the faithless and idle sailor.'

The old Norsemen had a curious and vague tradition of a phantom ship, which they called Mannifual. The French maritime chronicler, Jal, gives an account of her; so likewise does Thorpe in his work on 'Northern Mythology.' She was so gigantic that her masts were taller than the highest mountains. The captain rode about on horseback delivering his orders. Sailors going aloft as boys came down respectable middle-aged men; and in the blocks about her rigging were dining-halls where they sustained life during their heavenward wanderings. When passing through the Strait of Dover on her way northward, she stuck; but the captain with ready invention ordered her sides to be liberally besmeared with soap, and she slipped through, leaving the cliffs of France and England white for ever afterwards. Down to within a century ago, this gigantic ship was known among English sailors by the name of The Merry Dun of Dover; but she seems quite to have disappeared from the maritime lore of this country. The seamen of Normandy still believe in her existence, and call her the Chasse Froude. They say that she is so immense that it takes her seven years to tack. On one occasion, in turning, her bowsprit swept away a whole battalion of soldiers from the Dover cliffs, whilst her stern boom was demolishing the forts of Calais. When she rolls, whales are tossed high and dry by the swell. Many extravagant particulars of this colossal fabric are given by Jal; and in 'Les Traditions Populaires' of Sebillot, exaggeration runs into wild absurdity.

The fishermen of Normandy have another picturesque legend, upon which Tom Hood founded his poem, 'The Phantom Boat of All-Souls' Night.' They believe that if their masses for the souls of their friends in purgatory are rejected, a ghostly barque will come gliding in to the harbour with a spectral crew of the souls of those who had been drowned at sea. People may recognise their lost ones amongst the grisly group; but at midnight a bell strikes, and the phantom vanishes in a wreath of smoke. In a local History of Dieppe it is stated that 'the watchman of the wharf sees a boat come within hail at midnight, and hastens to cast to it a rope; but in the same instant, the boat disappears, and fearful cries are heard, which make the listener shudder, for they are recognised as the voices of sailors who perished at sea that year.' The same account says that this boat appears on the night of All-Saints' Day.

The French traditions of the phantom ship are indeed all very gruesome. The natives of Brittany tell of a great spectre vessel manned by huge human figures and gigantic dogs, which wanders ceaselessly about the oceans, never entering harbour or casting anchor. The crew are composed of the souls of men guilty in their lifetime of terrible crimes; and the dogs are demons in disguise, who take care that the unhappy wretches shall not have too comfortable a time. The orders in this dreaded fabric are delivered by means of great conch-shells, which seems a providential arrangement, since the noise made by them is so great as to be audible for leagues, and gives vessels a chance of avoiding contact with the fatal spectre. There is, however, nothing to be feared if an Ave is promptly repeated and the protection of Saint Anne d'Auray invoked.

The Italian legend is a local one, as old as the year 1339, when Venice was first wedded to the Adriatic by the ceremony of a ring being dropped over the prow of a gondola into its limpid blue waters. During a tempest, a fisherman was bid to row three mysterious men first to certain churches in the city, then out to the entrance of the port. The boatman with terror beheld a vast Saracen galley rushing in before the wind, crowded with most fearful-looking demons. The three men in his boat, however, caused her to founder before she could get near the city, thus saving Venice. When they stepped ashore again, one of them handed the waterman a ring, by means of which these three strangers were discovered to be St Mark, St Nicholas, and St George. Giorgione has painted this phantom vessel, with her crew of spectral demons leaping overboard, affrighted by the saints; and the picture may still be seen in the Venetian Academy.

The Icelanders have a superstition which they call 'Skipamal,' or the speaking ship. The idea is a pretty one. They conceive that utterances come forth from the motionless hulls of vessels; but few can understand the strange language. In a volume of Icelandic Legends compiled by Arnanson, a story is told of one who could interpret these singular sounds. He overheard a conversation between two ships one night. Said the first vessel: 'We have been long together, but to-morrow we must part.'

To which the other replied: 'Never. Thirty years now have we been together; we have grown old together; and when one is worn out, the other must lay by.'

Then continued the first ship: 'That will not really be so; for, although it is fair weather this evening, to-morrow morning will it be bad; and no one will go to sea but your captain, while I and all the other ships will remain. You will sail away, and nevermore come back, and our companionship is at an end.'

The other vessel replies: 'Never; for I will not stir from this spot.'

'But,' expostulates the first ship, 'you must: this is the lost night of our companionship.'

'When you do not go, I will go not. The Evil One himself must take a hand in it else.'

Then the captain of the ship that was to sail came on board and ordered her to be got under way; but the staunch old fabric would not stir, and his crew mutinied. He shipped a fresh one; but they could not get the vessel out, and likewise rebelled. He called on the Deity — still without success; then invoked the Evil One, upon which his vessel flew out into the raging storm, and was lost; and her spectre still haunts the northern ocean, flitting pale and ghostly among the icebergs.

The Americans have many poems on the subject of the phantom ship. Whittier, in 'The Garrison of Cape Ann,' writes of

The spectre-ship of Salem, with the dead men in her shrouds,
Sailing sheer above the water, in the loom of morning clouds.

Again, his 'Wreck of the Schooner Breeze' is the story of a

Weird unspoken sail;
She flits before no earthly blast,
With the red sign fluttering from her mast,
The ghost of the schooner Breeze.

Longfellow, in 'The Ship of the Dead,' embodies an old New-England tradition. The legend runs that a ship was sent to sea from New Haven one day in January 1647, but was nevermore heard of again. In the following June, just before sunset, a ship like her was beheld sailing up the river against the wind, slowly fading out until she vanished from view. The apparition was accepted as a premonition of the loss of the vessel.

Bret Harte, in his poem called 'A Greyport Legend,' relates a strange, wild superstition of the mariners of that town. The tale goes that a number of little children went on board a dismasted hull to play; the wind rose; the craft broke loose, drifted away to sea, and was lost

When fogs are thick on the harbour reef,
The mackerel fishers shorten sail,
For the signal, they know, will bring relief,
For the voices of children, still at play,
In a phantom hulk that drifts away,
Through channels whose waters never fail.

Instances of traditions and superstitions founded upon the idea of a phantom ship might be multiplied until this article assumed the dimensions of a stout volume; but want of space forbids that the list should be further extended. It is not difficult to conceive the paternity of the romantic old legend. The sudden disappearance of a distant ship through some subtle, imperceptible wreathing of mist upon the horizon, would be sufficient to suggest the notion of a spectral vessel. Herman Melville, in his admirable work 'Typee,' has a quaint idea, out of which might easily grow a tradition of a phantom ship. 'I heard,' he says, 'of one whaler which, after many years' absence, was given up for lost. The last that had been heard of her was a shadowy report of her having touched at some of those unstable islands in the far Pacific whose eccentric wanderings are carefully noted in each new edition of the South Sea charts. After a long interval, however, the Perseverance—for that was her name—was spoken somewhere in the vicinity of the ends of the earth, cruising along as leisurely as ever, her sails all bepatched and bequilted with rope-yarns, her spars fished with old pipe-staves, and her rigging knotted and spliced in every possible direction. Her crew was composed of some twenty venerable Greenwich pensioner-looking old salts, who just managed to hobble about deck. The ends of all the running ropes, with the exception of the signal-halyards and poop-downhaul, were rove through snatch-blocks, and led to the capstan or windlass, so that not a yard was braced or a sail set without the assistance of machinery. Her hull was encrusted with barnacles, which
completely encased her....What eventually became of her, I never learned; at any rate, she never reached home.'

Nor is the belief in the Flying Dutchman a superstition of the past. Sailors in this age give just as great credence to the ancient legend as they did a couple of centuries ago. Indeed, no race is more persistent in credulity than seamen. They continue to cling to traditions that have come down from mariners of a date when the ocean was still shrouded in mystery and romance. Friday's sailing is as unlucky as ever it was; the St Elmo's Fire is yet full of significance; and a Finn amongst the crew ruins the prospects of a voyage at the very outset. It will take many generations, even in this prosaic age of iron and steam, for the sailor to abandon his old beliefs; and it may be safe to predict that the very last fragment of superstition he will be willing to give up will be the legend of the Phantom Ship.

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Al Franken, Prison Book Bans and Other Books in the News (Dec 7 2017)

If anyone needs a really cheap gift to give this season, you probably can't do worse than this new book by Al Franken.

Must-Reads of 2017: Al Franken's Comedy Turns Tragic
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Al Franken Admits In His New Book That He Faked Apologies To Save His Political Career

The Victorian detective who was the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes
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‘Dangerous’ Luther published German Bible in 1534
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German-language Bibles and their impact in US, Europe
Yoder believed that the translation of the Bible into the languages of the people — particularly Martin Luther’s translation into high German — was crucial to bringing about the individualism of the modern world.

Amazon's Best Selling True Crime Books

The 9 Best True Crime Books Of 2017

Read the first & only book published about the kidnapping & murder of Adolph Coors III — the CEO, Chairman, & eldest grandson of the the founder of the Adolph Coors Company beer dynasty. Listed by the New York Times as one of the “Best True-Crime Stories.”

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Science fiction triggers 'poorer reading', study finds
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The demise of rock stars in new book

Penguin to rush-release YouTube psychologist's 12 rules for life
"Jordan Peterson has spent his career studying the connections between psychology, ancient mythology, religion, and philosophy and the book brings together insights from some of humanity’s oldest stories with episodes from his clinical practice..."

Trump urges Twitter followers to buy Fox News host's history book
"Go get the new book on Andrew Jackson by Brian Kilmeade...Really good."

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“On Trump Force One, there were four major food groups: McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, pizza and Diet Coke,” the book says.

William H. Gass, Acclaimed Postmodern Author, Dies at 93
His plots just didn’t come in standard linear form. Though he never wrote a chase scene or a courtroom scene, laws were broken in his stories, and there was plenty of terror and brutality.

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See China’s futuristic—and controversial—new 1.2 million-book library

Which Banned Book Are You?
You'd be surprised by some of the books that have been banned over the years. Will your favorite make the list?

Here are the bestselling books in Canada this week
Feeding My Mother by Jann Arden
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Dan Brown faces possible new plagiarism lawsuit over ‘The Da Vinci Code’
Bestselling novelist Dan Brown has just published his latest thriller “Origin.” But Brown, among the highest-paid writers in the world, is facing the prospect of a new plagiarism lawsuit for copyright infringement from New England author Jack Dunn, who alleges the 2003 global bestseller “The Da Vinci Code” includes scenes, plots and storylines copied from Dunn’s 1997 novel “The Vatican Boys.”

There is no such thing as plagiarism so you can’t possibly be guilty of it
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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Nebuchadnezzar the Biblical Werewolf by Christopher Wordsworth 1871

Nebuchadnezzar the Werewolf by Christopher Wordsworth 1871

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Nebuchadnezzar's Disease. — let a beast's heart be given unto him] The celebrated physician, Dr. Mead (in his work "Medica Sacra," on the Diseases mentioned in Scripture, p. 59) observes that the ancients called persons affected with this species of madness lycanthropoi or cynanthropoi, because they went abroad imitating wolves or dogs, opening the sepulchres of the dead. See Aetius, Lib. Med. vi. Paul AEgineta, iii. 16. In like manner, the daughters of Proetus are related to have been affected, who, as Virgil says (Eclog. vi. 48), "implerunt falsis mugitibus agros." Servius there observes, that Juno possessed their minds with such a species of madness, that, fancying themselves cows, they ran into the fields, bellowed, and fled from the plough. These, according to Ovid (Met. xv. 326), the physician Melampus

"per carmen et herbas
Eripuit furiis."

Schenkins (Observ. Med. de Lycanthropia) records a remarkable instance of it in a husbandman of Padua, who, imagining himself a wolf, attacked and killed several persons in the fields; and when he was taken, persevered in declaring himself a wolf. On this form of insanity, called Lycanthropy,—in which men suppose themselves to be wolves or other wild beasts, and act accordingly,—the reader may refer to the interesting details collected by Hengstenberg, 91, 92; Trusen, Krankheiten, 1853; and especially Dr. Pusey, p. 425, who thus writes:—

"It is now conceded that the madness of Nebuchadnezzar agrees with the description of a rare sort of disease, called Lycanthropy, of which our earliest notice is in a Greek medical writer of the 4th century after our Lord, in which the sufferer retains his consciousness in other respects, but imagines himself to be changed into some animal, and acts, up to a certain point, in conformity with that persuasion.

"Marcellus (4th cent.) mentions two sorts, 'They who are seized by the kynanthropic or lycanthropic disease, in the month of February go forth by night, imitating in all things wolves or dogs, and until day especially live near tombs.' The disease is one from which there have been recoveries. Mercurialis says, 'The disease is horrible, yet not destructive to life, even if it last for months; nay, I have read that it has been thoroughly cured after years.'

"The remarkable expressions, his heart was made like the beast's, let a beast's heart be given to him, fit most naturally with this form of disease. The rest of the description would be in conformity with this, that Nebuchadnezzar, when affected with this disease, ate grass as an ox, and allowed his hair and nails to grow unshorn and unpared, as if he was the animal. The growth of the nails described is exactly that which modern physiologists have stated to be their growth when so neglected. His nails, Daniel says, were like birds' claws. 'The nails,' says Kolliker, 'so long as they are cut, grow unremittingly; when this is omitted, their growth is confined. In this case, and in the people of Eastern Asia, the nails become 1 1/2 or 2 inches long (among the Chinese, according to Hamilton, 2 inches), and curve round the fingers and ends of the toes.' The principles which regulate the excessive growth of hair, are, Dr. Rolleston tells me, less ascertained. Both being, I believe, called excremental, the excessive growth of both would probably be simultaneous. But both may have been the result of personal neglect, which is so strangely humiliating a part of a most distressing form of mental disease, and which I have seen as the result of disappointed pride.

"The expression however, Let a beast's heart be given unto him, may only signify the privation of the characteristic of man, reason, as the king wrote of himself, my reason returned unto me. And there is a distinct form of insanity, in which the eating of grass is one of the characteristic features. In many classes of the insane, the eminent Commissioner of the Board of Lunacy for Scotland, Dr. Browne, informs me, the eating garbage, excrement, even grass, is a symptom of general debasement and of perverted appetites.

"Dr. Browne tells me, as the result of the experience of above 30 years, - My opinion is, that of all mental powers or conditions, the idea of personal identity is but rarely enfeebled, and that it is never extinguished. The Ego and Non-Ego may be confused. The Ego however continues to preserve the personality. All the Angels, Devils, Dukes, Lords, Kings, "gods many," that I have had under my care, remained what they were before they became Angels, Dukes, &e., in a sense, and even nominally. I have seen a man, declaring himself the Saviour, or St. Paul, sign himself James Thomson, and attend worship as regularly as if the notion of divinity had never entered into his head.

"'I think it probable,—because consistent with experience in similar forms of mental affection,—that Nebuchadnezzar retained a perfect consciousness that he was Nebuchadnezzar, during the whole course of his degradation, and while he ate "grass as oxen," and that he may have prayed fervently that the cup might pass from him.

"'A very large proportion of the insane pray, and to the living God, and in the words supplied at their mother's knee or by Mother Church, and this whatever may be the form or extent of the alienation under which they laboured, and whatever the transformation, in the light of their own delusions, they may have undergone. There is no doubt that the sincerity and the devotional feeling is as strong in these worshippers as in the sane. I do not say that all madmen pray, or can pray; but, as you suppose, monomaniacs, and melancholies, chronic maniacs, and ements (in vast numbers), the hallucinated, &c. Those of the Edinburgh School of Philosophy, and educated medical men, would not, I conceive, take any exception to the view which I have given, because the very conception of partial insanity involves the possibility of the sentiment of devotion and the recognition of a Supreme Being remaining intact, while other powers are diseased.'"—Dr. Pusey.

I have been favoured with the following communication on this subject by an eminent person who enjoys the highest reputation for his skill in the treatment of lunaties—E. Palmer, Esq., M.D., of the Lincolnshire County Asylum, at Bracebridge, near Lincoln:—

"The enclosed description of the epidemic outbreak of Lycanthropy in France in the l6th century is taken from Esquirol, who is a very trustworthy writer. M. Calmeil, whose book "De la Folie, &c.," Paris, 1845, I send, your lordship will find gives full and authentic particulars of several cases occurring in the epidemic in the Jura, at Do1e and other places; and in Friedreich (a German treatise on the Literary History of Pathology, Wurzburg, 1830), p. 23, numerous references to the older literature of the subject in the works on Lycanthropy by Mei (Viteb. 1650), Muller (Lips. 1673), Nifanius (Giess. 1664), De Nyand, Sallzmann, Wolfeshusius, and Wolfius, 1666.

"It very commonly occurs that patients on their recovery from insanity have a full recollection of their sayings and doings, and of all that happened to them during their attack, which, of course, implies that during the attack they were conscious of their condition. In the case of Nebuchadnezzar, it was not until 'the end of the days'—or, as may be supposed, at the first dawn of intelligence, when partially lycanthropical and partially self-conscious, and in a state somewhat resembling that of a person awakening from a dream—that he lifted up his eyes unto heaven, being probably not yet rational enough to offer up a prayer in words, but still so far conscious as to be able dimly to perceive his identity. But when his understanding returned to him, there came back not only a recollection of his sin and the decree of the Most High, but also a vivid reminiscence of all the circumstances of his abasement amongst the beasts of the field; and he at once acknowledged the power and dominion of God."

"The amazing malady which possessed Nebuchadnezzar, known scientifically as Lycanthropy, is presented in a simple and natural way. The disease is well known in the sad annals of the human mind and attested by scientific examination. With it is associated the primitive werewolf superstition, which may have its rationalistic support in the actual frenzies of the human kind. Even if the essence of the story were true, that Nebuchadnezzar was so afflicted, after the manner of ’geniuses’ and of many royal persons, as George III of England and Otho of Bavaria, corroboration of it can hardly ever be expected from archaeology, for royal families do not leave memorials of such frailties. The alleged malady is not an impossibility." ~Montgomery 1927