Setting the Price of Wine in Geneva, 1556

As an essential foodstuff in sixteenth-century Geneva, the price of wine was, of course, regulated. Here we see in brief how that worked in 1556

Bathroom Reading Habits (Geneva, 1561)

A charming little bathroom book, found in the privies of La Fusterie in 1561. And yes, there is a pun in this summary

The Courting Stick

Dating has never been easy, but the eight-foot courting stick still used to separate New England couples into the 19th century made things both harder and easier.

Hitler, Bush and Historical Accuracy

“An evil exists that threatens every man, woman and child of this great nation. We must take steps to insure our domestic security and protect our Homeland.” This quote, according to hundreds of pages on the web, is by Adolf Hitler from a 1933 (or 1932 or 1922 on some pages) announcement of the creation […]

Ludlow Amendment, the Draft, and a culture of war

I’m reading the somewhat disappointing book Presidential Courage: Brave Leaders and How They Changed America 1789-1989 by Michael Beschloss. I’ll have to do a complete review, but in brief, the disappointing part is that in most episodes, I get to the end and think “Oh, it’s over.” Somehow it reads a bit like a core […]

Lost Lessons from the War on Communism

One would think that, having spent the second half of the twentieth century fighting one protractrated struggle against an implacable ideological enemy, we might have learned something. The Bush administration’s actions would seem to indicate that we did not. What should we have learned? That in a war of ideals, ideals that are not practiced […]

John Calvin Joins The Ranter in the War on Christmas

NEWSFLASH: The Ranter has declared war on Christmas! Or at least Bill O’Reilly and John Gibson and the other genius right-wingers at Faux News believe that liberal, left, secularists like The Ranter have declared war on Christmas. I hate to disappoint, so I have created a “Make war on Christmas, not Iraq” bumper sticker. Joining […]

"The people just do not understand the war"

No, that’s not a quote from The Ranter’s close friends Dubya or Rummy. That’s from David Maraniss’ book They Marched Into Sunlight (Simon & Schuster, 2003). Maraniss follows two parallel stories, that of a battle in Vietnam and that of a student protest in Madison, Wisconsin. The two stories converge on October 19, 1967, when […]