The guy who killed John Wilkes Booth

More on the Civil War.

Reading American Brutus, a wonderful look at Booth and the Lincoln conspiracies.

The fellow who shot him was Boston Corbett, a very odd fellow indeed, which act brought him instant fame and adulation.

Why odd?  Earlier in his life, to stifle (to say the least!) his lust for two whores, he scissored off his testicles.  This is most decidedly going into my novel.

Also intriguing in the Booth book are excerpts from his diary on the run, wherein he laments that he fully expected to be hailed as a hero, another Brutus or Wilhelm Tell, for felling a tyrant.  Instead, Lincoln is turned into a saint, and everyone wants his hide.

A very interesting story!

Robert Devereaux

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What I resolve

The only resolution I ever truly kept:  Make no resolutions!

But I resolve this year to do less blogging and more work on the new novel.  The blogosphere, I have learned, is fiercely competitive, getting more so every day.

And if you don’t have a niche, or a huge following, and if you don’t take to diary-writing with a natural zeal bordering on sweet mania, then attracting a crowd of readers will be no walk in the park.

So as I don’t see this skyrocketing any time soon, I’ll ease off.

interesting experiment, though, knowing that your quick jot of thoughts is bloggable for years afterward, and that the whole gaggle of entries is then the oyster of whoever finds one’s site.

Ciao, baby!

Robert Devereaux

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Snoveling show, big honkin’ drifts

Yep, Vicki and I live in northern Colorado, and had our lives halted, outside the home anyway, by the Solstice storm of 2006.

Fortunately, we kept electricity and warmth and were well-stocked in the pantry.  Hours of clearing, by snow shovel, the driveway and sidewalks and the area around my Honda, parked in front.

Vicki and I also walked a bit in boots, then she went out in snowshoes for more.  Great neighbor kids, Pat and Clay, helped me shovel, and a few guys with snowblowers cleared the sidewalks in full everywhere on our street.

That’s it!

Robert Devereaux

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The glaciality of Christianity

Christian churches always seem agonizing centuries behind the common sense of genuinely humanistic people.

They supported slavery during the 19th century in the US, pointing as ever to the Bible to say it was God’s will that blacks be enslaved.

They supported state laws against blacks and whites marrying, and it took a Supreme Court case, in the 1970’s if I recall correctly, to nullify all of those bigoted state laws.

And now it’s the anti-gay push, and once again the Bible is trotted out and selectively quoted and misinterpreted, as it always is.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if they would just WAKE THE FUCK UP and be more like Christ in every way?

How long, o Lord, how long?

Robert Devereaux

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A new bookshelf

Prosaic, but what the hell.

Two days ago, I went to American Furniture Warehouse and bought a three-shelf bookcase for my Civil War books.

The new year shall bring even more focus to this project, as I continue to red-pen my books and start getting a feel for the structure, the tone, of my particular brand of anti-war novel.

It will be a joyous celebration of living, in my vision of it, the prose full of warmth and muscle, even when I’m describing the most horrendous of war scenes.

I want every paragraph and sentence to scintillate!

We think grand, because big visions bring about better projects, true in any walk of life.

A writer should subscribe to Marianne Williamson’s wondrous words:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.
We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant,gorgeous, talented, fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?
You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There is nothing enlightened about shrinking
so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.
We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone.
And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously
give other people permission to do the same.
As we are liberated from our own fear,
our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne was having a very good day indeed when these words came to her!

Robert Devereaux

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Ain’t gonna study war no more

Vicki and I resumed our watching of the Ken Burns Civil War documentary with Episode Six, 1864 part one, last evening.

And in the stillness of a coffee-sipping morning today, as I gazed idly at the Christmas lights strung above and to the sides of our picture window, the thought occurred to me that perhaps the title for my new novel is Ain’t Gonna Study War No More.

Apparently this hymn ("Down By the Riverside"), from the Black gospel tradition, was inspired by this Bible passage from Isaiah:

Come let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
to the house of the God of Jacob;
that he may teach us his ways
and that we may walk in his paths.
He shall judge between the nations,
And arbitrate for many peoples;
They shall beat their swords into plowshares,
And their spears into pruning hooks,
Nation shall not lift up sword against nation,
Neither shall they learn war any more.

Interesting discussion of the origin of the song here, with one nice possible lead and tie-in to the Civil War:

The song was known in Civil War times, by both whites and blacks, but mostly different verses and somewhat different tunes; The verse "I ain’t goin’ to study war no mo’" perhaps originated with the Contrabands. No trace of it earlier. The camp meeting song, Down by the river, also comes from this period but some suspect that it is earlier. It is difficult to sort this out. More than one song involved here.

War is such insanity, and these odd men whose job it is to play with the lives and deaths of their soldiers–this Grant, this Lee, the madman Sherman–must have been very peculiar sorts indeed.

Where do we get off institutionalizing murder and surrounding it with notions of honor and valor?  Hailing as "heroes" those whose devilish artistry it is to mold the chaos of mass murder into victories and defeats, thousands dead at a throw?

This book is a great challenge, since the intolerable evil of slavery is rolled up into it all as well.  But non-violence was never tried, though I’m curious to further explore some of the non-violent abolitionists (I think Wendell Phillips was such, though I may be misremembering).

Robert Devereaux

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Impeach them all!

This madman Bush, Mister Paranoid Fantasist with his finger far too close to the button, must be removed from office at once.

His presence one second more in the People’s House is intolerable and an abomination.

Out with him, away with the whole anti-American crew of them!

Robert Devereaux

Posted in U.S. politics | Leave a comment

Great interview with Harry Reid

Bob Geiger from Nevada scooped the world press with a 30-minute interview with incoming Senate majority leader Harry Reid.

Wonderful to see that sane government is to be restored, that finally the adults will be in charge, and that the multitude of impeachable offenses committed by this maladministration will be exposed to the light of day.


Geiger: With a Democratic House and Senate and the prospect of a Democratic president in 2008, what’s your gut feeling on how long it will take to repair the Republican damage that’s been done to our global reputation? Just how long do you think it will take to repair the damage that’s been done to America’s reputation in the last six years?

Reid: It’s going to take generations. It’s going to take generations. I talked to former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin in my office here just a day or two ago and he’s traveled the world recently and he just shakes his head at the difference from when he was Secretary of Treasury and how we are now viewed in many parts of the world. It’s a shame. And it’s going to take generations to overcome that.

Geiger: A lot of good Democratic initiatives were shot down by the GOP majority in the 109th Congress — and there were some good bills like Debbie Stabenow’s work with first responder initiatives and Ted Kennedy with the minimum wage — in addition to the minimum wage, what would be some things that you can see coming back rapidly to be reconsidered?

Reid: Well, we have to do something about energy independence. Our country is in big trouble — we use 21 million barrels of oil every day, seven days a week, 52 weeks a year. We import more than 60 percent of that. We need energy independence and all this administration has done is throw big wet sops to the oil industry. This is the most oil-friendly administration in the history of our country.

We also have to recognize health care — we’ve got to do something about health care. Two subsets of that, one is stem cell research, which is giving hope to millions. Second would be to recognize that we must do something to allow Medicare to negotiate for lower prices for drugs for senior citizens. The way it is now, it’s not a fair playing field where the private sector has an advantage over Medicare and that’s not the way it should be.

Geiger: How about the Real Security Act of 2006? Will that come back to the floor?

Reid: I think it’s extremely important that progress is being made, but we need to change direction in Iraq — that’s something the American people spoke about on November 7. But also, we have to make sure that we’re safe here at home. Port security, chemical plant security, nuclear power plants need to be secure, our water, our sewer systems, our airplanes. If someone is sitting next to me on an airplane and I’m flying to Las Vegas, I feel pretty comfortable about that person sitting next to me. But I don’t know what’s in that cargo hold, so there’s a lot more that needs to be done.

Geiger: I know that Senator Boxer has introduced legislation that would require blast-proof containers on commercial airliners…

Reid: Yes, she’s done a number of things. She also wants to make sure that these airplanes have the ability to find out if someone is firing a missile at them, which is not farfetched any more.

Geiger: How frustrating was it for you when you continued to see the corporate media, the mainstream media, pay no attention to the Real Security Act to the extent that when I’m watching television, and I’m watching the pundits continuing to mimic Republican spin that the Democrats "have no plan" for security and there’s 528 pages of legislation that was shot down by the Republicans.

Reid: We did have a plan and the press, a lot of it, ignored our plan. But, that’s what’s in the Iraq Study Group report. Our plan, which we offered as legislation on the floor, the Reid-Levin amendment is basically what the Iraq Study Group did. Our plans for energy independence, for helping kids get through school — not because of how much money their parents have, but because they’re smart enough to be educated — that was part of what we wanted to do.

Retirement security, so that people have more security in their retirement than they do now because pensions are being obliterated, social security is being attacked… So it certainly is concerning that we weren’t able to get our message out as much as people said we didn’t, but I think we did more than we were given credit for as indicated by elections on November 7.

Sweet, eh?

Robert Devereaux

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Neato historical charts

More on Civil War artifacts.

Today, I chanced upon HistoryShots, a great company for visual display of complex historical movements.

They have charts of both the Union and Confederate armies, which I may just have to pop for.

I try to wait a day or two before purchasing anything online, to see if the urge wanes and to erode the frightening power of the impulse buy.

Still, these are awfully tempting!

Robert Devereaux

Posted in Wondrous books | Leave a comment

More payback for Rumsfeld

Check this out, a new lawsuit filed today by nine former detainees against war criminal Donald Rumsfeld.

Let the lawsuits multiple, against him and all of these unworthies who posture and screw up the world for us sane folks.

Robert Devereaux

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