Saturday, June 30, 2012

Usurper vs. Usurper: June 30, 350 AD


Iulius Nepotianus (full name: Flavius Iulius Popilius Nepotianus Constantinus) (died June 30, 350 AD), commonly known in English as Nepotian, was a member of the Constantinian dynasty who reigned as a Short-Lived Usurper of the Roman Empire. 

He ruled the city of Rome for twenty-eight 
days, before being killed by Marcellinus, the military commander supporting his Rival 
Usurper, Magnentius.

Nepotianus was the son of Eutropia, half-sister
of Emperor Constantine I, and of Virius Nepotianus.  On his mother's side, he was the grandson of Emperor Constantius Chlorus and Flavia Maximiana Theodora.

Mosaic showing grape harvesting, Santa Costanza Mausoleum, Via Nomentana, Rome, 
350 AD.

Following the revolt of Magnentius, Nepotianus proclaimed himself "emperor" and entered Rome with a band of gladiators on June 3, 350 AD.  

After attempting to resist Nepotianus with an undisciplined force of Roman citizens, Anicetus (Praefectus urbi Titianus), prefect of the Praetorians of Rome and supporter of Magnentius, fled the city.

Magnentius quickly dealt with this revolt by sending his trusted magister officiorum Marcellinus to Rome. According to Eutropius, Nepotianus was killed in the resulting struggle 
on June 30, 350 AD,  his head put on a lance and borne around the city.   In the following days, his mother Eutropia was also killed during the persecution of the supporters of Nepotianus, most of whom were senators.




Joggled lintel above front door at Conisbrough Castle, Castle Hill, Conisbrough, Doncaster, South Yorkshire, England, ca., 1180.  Constructed by fifth Earl of Surrey, Hamelin Plantagenet, half brother of King Henry II.

Joggle, Joggling:  Masons’ terms for joining two stones in such a way as to prevent them from slipping or sliding, by means of a notch in one and a corresponding projection in the other.  It is often seen exposed on the face of a flat arch.  If a joggle is concealed, it is called a ‘secret joggle.’

Turbah al-Farnathîyah, Damascus, exterior, joggled relieving arch, ca. 1224. Mausoleum for Hanbalî shaykh and ascetic, `Alî al-Farnathî.

NOTE:  Were I to psychoanalyze myself, I would say that posting these  images indicates a strong desire for coolness and stability, qualities I find are in short supply these days.   But I don't go in for that sort of thing.

The words “joggle” and “joggling” suggest rough, forceful motion, however.  Odd.

Architectural definition excerpted from The Penguin Dictionary of Architecture by John Fleming, Hugh Honour and Sir Nikolaus Pevsner, London, Penguin Books, 1966.

Friday, June 29, 2012

The Kind Of Poetry I Want 2

A poetry that goes all the way
From Brahma to a stock,
A poetry like pronouncing the Shemhameporesh,
Unremitting, relentless,
Organised to the last degree.
Ah, Lenin, politics is child’s play
To what this must be.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


Let us draw an arrow arbitrarily. If as we follow the arrow we find more and more of the random element in the state of the world, then the arrow is pointing towards the future; if the random element decreases the arrow points towards the past. That is the only distinction known to physics. This follows at once if our fundamental contention is admitted that the introduction of randomness is the only thing which cannot be undone. I shall use the phrase ‘time’s arrow’ to express this one-way property of time which has no analogue in space.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


If you wear this silver bonnet
I will sew my heart upon it
For this bonnet makes you seem
Like someone I met in a dream, a dream

I won’t wear your silver bonnet
Not unless some gold’s put on it
You can take your dreams back home
I have plenty of my own, my own

Tell me something distant sister
If I found my dream and kissed her
Would this vision of perfection
Turn into my own reflection


Who or what I am escapes me
Every changing minute shapes me
What I get is what I yearn for

Dreams are what I gladly burn for

In her cradle we have rocked her
Tended by the dreaming doctor
Now she waits in sleeping beauty
For some prince to do his duty

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


The Queen tells the Duchess of Cambridge to curtsy to the 'blood princesses’

By Richard Eden, The Telegraph
7:30AM BST 24 Jun 2012

   The Duchess of Cambridge may be the future queen, but she has discovered that there are several women in the Royal Family to whom she must show reverence.  Mandrake [1] hears that the Queen has updated the Order of Precedence in the Royal Household to take into account the Duke of Cambridge’s wife. 

   The new rules of Court make it clear that the former Kate Middleton, when she is not accompanied by Prince William, must curtsy to the “blood princesses”, the Princess Royal, Princess Alexandra, and the daughters of the Duke of York, Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie.

   When William is with her, Kate does not need to bend the knee to either of them, but she must curtsy to the Prince of Wales, the Duchess of Cornwall, the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.

   Despite being married to the Queen’s son, the Countess of Wessex will, however, have to curtsy to Kate, even when William is not present. 


Edward Ferrero (1859):  Illustrating the three-count curtsy.  From The Art Of Dancing, New York, 1859.

   “Updating the Order of Precedence has been a simple matter of following the precedent set when the Prince of Wales married Camilla Parker Bowles,” a courtier tells me.

   A document is said to have been circulated privately in the Royal Household, clarifying Kate’s status. When the Order was last updated, after Prince Charles’s second marriage, in 2005, the Countess of Wessex was reported to be upset that she now had to curtsy to Camilla. “She didn’t like it one bit,” a senior courtier was quoted as saying.

   The Earl of Wessex’s wife had previously been the second-highest ranking woman in the Royal family because neither of the Queen’s other sons, Charles and Prince Andrew, were married. 

Truly penny dreadful

   The Order of Precedence affects other aspects of royal protocol, such as who arrives first at an event. For example, Camilla was forced to wait in the drizzle outside the Guards Chapel, Windsor, for the arrival of Princess Anne at a memorial service in 2006, because Charles had not accompanied her. A Buckingham Palace spokesman declines to comment.

   However, after Charles remarried, the Queen changed the Order of Precedence “on blood principles” so that neither Princess Anne nor Princess Alexandra, the granddaughter of George V, would have to curtsy to Camilla when her husband was not present.

   Although the etiquette may seem arcane, it is taken very seriously by the Royal family, whose members bow and curtsy to each other in public and in private. A vivid illustration came after the Trooping the Colour ceremony last weekend, when Kate could be seen curtsying to Prince Philip on the balcony of Buckingham Palace. 

Thomas Hillgrove (1863):  Illustrating the four-count curtsy.  From A Complete Practical Guide To The Art Of Dancing, New York, 1863.

   The Order of Precedence affects other aspects of royal protocol, such as who arrives first at an event. For example, Camilla was forced to wait in the drizzle outside the Guards Chapel, Windsor, for the arrival of Princess Anne at a memorial service in 2006, because Charles had not accompanied her. A Buckingham Palace spokesman declines to comment. 

[1]  For those who do not regularly  read The Telegraph, “Mandrake” is a news/gossip column edited by Tim Walker.

   NOTE:  It must be the heat and the phone calls not being returned prompting  this murderous mood and desire to confront discourteously this story about royal curtsies (to whom one must curtsy; when; why) and the updated Royal Household Order of Precedence.

   A curtsey (also spelled curtsy or courtesy), as most people learn in childhood, is a traditional gesture of greeting, in which a girl or woman bends her knees while bowing her head.  It is the female equivalent of male bowing in Western cultures. Miss Manners characterizes its knee bend as deriving from a "traditional gesture of an inferior to a superior." The word "curtsy" is a phonological change from "courtesy" known in linguistics as syncope.

  With Europe failing, China slowing, Americans at daggers with their countrymen, and Hugo Chavez in as incurably a bad mood as I am (only Vladimir Putin seems to be enjoying himself lately), the revised “according to Hoyle” of curtsies (“in public and in private”) seems extraordinarily stupid today.  

  I remind myself, then, that Queen Elizabeth II is probably the only person alive who knows who killed JFK and the secrets of Roswell, so I forgive her a lot and I would like to think that this may be her idea of humor.  But sometimes I wonder whether THIS   might also be.

A lovely young girl curtsying and presenting flowers to Queen Elizabeth II during her 1954 visit to Brisbane, Australia.

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Kind Of Poetry I Want (Hugh MacDiarmid)

A poetry like the hope of achieving ere very long
A tolerable idea of what happens from first to last
If we bend a piece of wire
Backwards and forwards until it breaks.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Sermon: Study Finds People Who Believe In Heaven Commit More Crimes

SEATTLE (CBS Seattle) JUNE 22, 2012, 8:31 AM 

Believing if you are on a “highway to hell” could impact whether or not if you commit a crime.

   A study published in the scientific journal PLoS One by University of Oregon’s Azim Shariff and University of Kansas’s Mijke Rhemtulla finds that people who believe in hell are less likely to commit a crime while people who believe in heaven more likely are to get in trouble with the law.

   The two professors collected data for belief in hell, heaven and God from the World and European Values Surveys that were conducted between 1981 until 2007 with 143,197 participants based in 67 countries. They compared the data to the mean standardized crime rate in those countries based on homicides, robberies, rapes, kidnappings, assaults, thefts, auto thefts, drug crimes, burglaries and human trafficking.

“[R]ates of belief in heaven and hell had significant, unique, and opposing effects on crime rates,” Shariff and Rhemtulla found in the study. “Belief in hell predicted lower crime rates … whereas belief in heaven predicted higher crime rates.”

   They also found that a recent social psychological experiment found that Christian participants who believe in a forgiving God gave themselves more money for the study.

   “Participants in the punishing God and both human conditions overpaid themselves less than 50 cents more than what they deserved for their anagrams, and did not statistically differ from the neutral condition, those who wrote about a forgiving God overpaid themselves significantly more-nearly two dollars,” the study found.

   Shariff and Rhemtulla believe that the study raises “important questions about the potential impact of religious beliefs on global crime.”

 NOTE:   Normally, when I see studies like this one, I ask myself  “who paid for  this and how can I get them to give me grant money?,” but I looked up Prof. Shariff and Rhemtulla’s paper on Prof. Shariff’s U. of Oregon website and in PLoS (Public Library of Science)(Link) and it appears to be self-funded.  For anyone interested, it's quite short and can be found HERE on Prof., Shariff's Culture and Morality Lab homepage (right-hand side of the page under Most Downloaded Papers).  

   My own hell belief conforms pretty exactly to the Limbourg brothers’ vision from Les Tres Riches Heures (1416)  seen in center position above.  My heaven conception was visually fixed when I first saw Alexander Hall’s Here Comes Mr. Jordan (1941) as a child (top illustration).   The Who’s best set-opener, John Entwistle’s great Heaven and Hell (Link), completed the thought. 
   I find William-Adolphe Bouguereau’s 1878 A Soul Brought To Heaven  (shown above this Note) simply overdramatic and upsetting.  
   Readers continuing down this road might want to to consult other sections of the June 22 edition of PLoS, including especially the revived Small Wonders section covering marsupial genitalia, sharks with laser beams, and doggie MRIs. * Carl Zimmer wrote a lovely essay on hands. * Rad photo collages made from National Geographic and …”  

   Seriously, PLoS looks like a terrific organization.

John Alec Entwistle (9 October 1944 – 27 June 2002)

Saturday, June 23, 2012


Quinces Baked In The French Style (Coings Au Four)

Allow one for each person. Peel and hollow out the cores of six to eight quinces, being careful not to piece through the bottom of the fruit.  Sprinkle each one with lemon juice as you go.  Stand the quinces in a buttered gratin dish.

     Mix together to a cream 150 g (5 oz/2/3 cup) caster sugar, 100 g (3 ½ oz/scant ½ cup) lightly-salted or unsalted butter, and 3 generous tablespoons (1/4 cup) of whipping cream or double cream.  Stuff the quinces with this mixture – if there is some left, add halfway through the cooking.  Top each quince with a level tablespoon of sugar and bake at gas 5, 190 degrees C (375 degrees  F) until the quinces are tender.  Serve with cream and sugar.

NoteBaked quince was Sir Isaac Newton’s favourite pudding.

Quince Vodka

A long time ago I wrote that quinces made everything delicious.  ‘Yes,’ replied one reader, ‘but first catch your quinces.’  And he enclosed a recipe for quince vodka, for those who can only bag a couple.

     Allow the quinces to become really ripe and yellow.  Wash them well, rinsing away any grey fluff that might remain.  Then grate them – peel, core and all – and put them into a litre bottling jar (1 ¾ pint/scant 4 ½ cups).  Add 60 g (2 oz/ ¼ cup) caster sugar.  Fill jar with vodka (or rum, gin or brandy for that matter).  The jar need not be full, but the fruit must be covered. Close tightly.  Leave in a dark place for at least two months.  Taste, and decide whether to leave for another two months or longer – it improves with time, and much depends on the quality of the quinces in the first place which can vary from year to year.  Add extra sugar if you prefer a liqueur sweetness; train off the liquor into a clean bottle.

From Jane Grigson's Fruit Book.

What a beautiful piece of fruit of such rare quality, like William Blake's extrarordinary 1795 rendering (color print with pen, ink and watercolor) of Isaac Newton as "divine geometer."   Yesterday we drove north from sweltering, parching heat into slightly less sweltering, parching heat.  Around dusk, a cooling storm erupted, scaring the daylights out of one of our dogs and reanimating the other, who is recovering from a malady and seemed actually to welcome the lightning, thunder and excitement.  The quince vodka pictured above, borrowed from the Baroque In Hackney blogger, who in turn borrowed it from The Quince Tree, looks exactly right for this climate, mood, breeze and moon.