Lying for the Cause, Sacco and Vanetti version

Oh, my. Were Sacco and Vanzetti really guilty all along? G as in good . . . pointed me to Betsy’s page from which I then went to an LA Times story about a rediscovered Upton Sinclair letter.
I gave my father In Denial: Historians, Communism, & Espionage, a short book about historians willing to lie for their cause for Christmas – so this revelation seems well-timed. I’ll have to tell mother to print the LA times story for him.
If Sacco and Vanzetti were guilty as charged there are a lot of people who ought to remove one of their key examples of what they perceive as the injustice of the American judicial system. Would they? Let me predict that this evidence won’t make the slightest difference for a very long time. I think it’ll take a generation for the Venona decrypts to break down resistance to Soviet espionage.

In the news? Well…

This morning’s “in the news” aggregator box on Google News:
In The News
Ricky Ponting……LK Advani
Rex Grossman….Banda Aceh
Wild Oats…………Merry Christmas
Mark Brunell…….Jesus Christ
Kobe Bryant…….Tamil Nadu
I guess. I mean, it was his birthday yesterday and all.
Click Jesus Christ and see what the first story was.

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!
I’ll offer a Christmas prayer for all my readers tomorrow – no children here in the morning, so I don’t have to go to midnight Mass! Yay! I’m also offering a prayer in thanksgiving for whoever invented the gift bag.

Well, that’s ONE less letter of recommendation to write.

The student who said he was persecuted for requesting the Little Red Book via interlibrary loan has confessed to being a liar.
(oh – and – the story and comments here at Inside Higher Ed are perfect.)
Differently Authentic is ahead in the polls as a new term for “fake but accurate” to describe this sort of meretriciousness at Mr. Treacher’s blog. Go vote.

Winter and Christianity got you down?

So – here you are a nice non-Christian who quails even at ‘happy holidays’ — what do you do? And baby, it’s cold outside. Well, you could go to the Brooklyn Museum and look at what synagogues had on their floors in the 7th century of the so-called “Common” era (such denial!). I’ll be going soon, but then it’s my period and I love the interaction between the early synagogues (though this isn’t really so early) and early church architecture. Sadly, the link isn’t very picture rich, but if it stops even one person from believing that pre-modern Jew’s didn’t decorate using figural art, it’s a start.

Twelve of the mosaic panels that will be on display were part of the sanctuary floor of the synagogue in Hammam Lif, Tunisia (the ancient Punic city of Naro, later the Roman Aquae Persianae), the primary subjects of which are Creation and Paradise. The Latin inscription on the floor panels indicates that Julia of Naro gave the floor to the community. Two menorahs flank the inscription. Included are depictions of a tree in Paradise, sea animals and birds in a scene portraying Creation, and symbolic birds and baskets that relate to the themes of Creation and the coming of the Messiah. Decorative motifs include birds and fruits. The remaining nine panels come from other rooms in the building and other nearby buildings. They depict animals, a male figure, and a female figure.

That one’s a zombie error as persistant as “Muslims don’t depict Muhammad,” and as hard to kill, depite the enormous pile of data I can hand students. Another nice touch about this one is the inscription crediting a female donor, cheefully undercutting lots and lots of assumptions about the “status of women” in Judaism or Late Antiquity. Repeat after me: there is no such thing as ‘the status of women’ — there are differences between being an elite woman and any number of types of non-elite woman. That’s the entire theme of my “Women and Art in the Middle Ages” course; despite primary and secondary reading and class discussion it sometimes doesn’t penetrate the all too modern mind of some students.

Theme-park Sufism?

You have to read a good ways into the story to find out that the picturesque whirling dervishes are government employees. I recommend it, though – it’s interesting on lots of levels — and has very nice photographs.
We hear a fair amount about the officially secular nature of the Turkish state, but here they are not only no longer suppressing dervish lodges but paying the performers. Or worshippers. Or whatever. The article makes the ambiguity clear — I’m not criticizing that — I’m only interested in the ambiguity myself, which I first heard about from a colleague who wrote her dissertation on Turkish modernization. She was back in Turkey summer before last (I think) and saw her first performance.