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Sunday Deposed Monarch Blogging: House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen

[ 0 ] May 13, 2007 |

The House of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen came into existence in 1576 as the result of one of many splits within the original House Hohenzollern. Unlike their more famous Franconian cousins, the Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen House remained Roman Catholic. For almost 300 years, the family ruled over the small principality of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, between Baden and Wurttemberg. The principality became formally independent in 1815, but was eaten by Prussia in 1849.

Like most other German royalty during the year of re-unification, the formal elimination of their state’s independence did not result in political irrelvance. The last Prince of Hohenzollern-Simaringen briefly served as Minister-President of Prussia. The decay of the Ottoman Empire, however, would give the House its greatest opportunity. In 1866 Romania, the product of the recent union of Wallachia and Moldavia, tossed out its prince and appointed Charles of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen as its new monarch. The Principality of Rumania remained under nominal Ottoman control until 1878, when it became independent as a result of the Russo-Turkish War. Charles was crowned as Carol I, King of the Romanians, in 1881. Romania grew slightly as a result of the Second Balkan War in 1913, and after enduring German and Austria occupation for two years, acquired Transylvania following the First World War. The entry of Romania into the war on the Allied side created some tension in greater House Hohenzollern. King Ferdinand acquired the nickname “the Loyal” from his Romanian subjects, but Kaiser Wilhelm II erased his name from the Hohenzollern House register and connived to have him excommunicated by Pope Benedict XV. The annexation of Transylvania created the historically largest Romania ever, but one which included substantial non-Romanian ethnic minorities.

The death of Ferdinand I in 1927 led to a crisis in the monarchy, as Carol II was tempermentally unsuited to assuming the throne. Consequently, the six year old Michael I became King, supported by a three member regency. In 1930 Carol II got bored of wandering Europe with his mistress and returned to Romania. A group of dissatisfied politicians managed to depose Michael I and crown Carol II king. Carol II ruled for ten years, lost Bessarabia to the Soviets, and watched as the Romanian government devolved into fascism. Carol II abdicated under German pressure in 1940, moving to Portugal and returning Michael I to the throne.

In June 1941, Romania joined the Nazi crusade against Soviet Russia. Like all armies allied to the Germans, the Romanians suffered from poor equipment and limited spares. The Russians took advantage of this to devastating effect at the Battle of Stalingrad, where the collapse of two Romanian armies in the face of a fierce Soviet offensive resulted in the encirclement of the German Sixth Army. German efforts to relieve Stalingrad failed, and the Soviets won one of the most critical battles of the war. In August 1944 Michael I played a crucial role in an anti-Nazi coup, which reversed Romania position in the war and facilitated a quick Soviet occupation of the country. Michael I was awarded a Legion of Merit by President Truman and an Order of Victory by Stalin in recognition of his contribution.

Soviet occupation was not kind to King Michael. Efforts at resistance proved futile, and Michael abdicated and fled the country in January 1948. Accounts differ as to the amount of money Michael escaped with. Since his abdication (which Michael later denounced as coerced and illegitimate), Michael has lived in Britain and Switzerland. In 1992 he visited Romania for Easter, and was greeted by huge and enthusiastic crowds. Apparently seeing this enthusiasm as a threat, the Romanian government banned Michael from visiting for another five years. Michael’s citizenship was restored in 1997, and he has since been a strong public advocate for Romanian interests in Europe.

Prospects for restoration are mixed. Michael remains relatively popular in Romania, but pro-monarchist parties haven’t had much political success. Michael I has five daughters but no sons, and because Romanian law prohibits female succession, the heir to the throne will become Friederich William of Hohenzollern upon Michael’s death.

Trivia: Three successive monarchs of what dynasty managed a total of 135 years of rule?

Falling Man

[ 0 ] May 13, 2007 |

Don DeLillo’s new novel about 9/11 is out. It’s been 30 years since the publication of Players, the first of DeLillo’s works to deal with the the psychology, organization and aftermath of terrorism; among that novel’s more ominous tones, the central character, Pammie, works at the World Trade Center, where she writes brochures for a firm known as Grief Management Counseling. If you’ve read anything else by DeLillo — especially Underworld or Mao II — you’ve pretty much been waiting for six years to see what he might do with the subject of 9/11.

The initial reviews of Falling Man are predictably mixed. Michiko Kakutani calls it “tired and brittle,” while Laura Frost and Sven Birkerts offer more positive accounts.

Now, I’ll read the book no matter what, because I would read — and maybe even enjoy — Don DeLillo’s grocery list. I wasn’t overwhelmed by Cosmopolis, and I thought The Body Artist was crap, but as far as I’m concerned, when you write a book like White Noise, you get a lifetime benefit-of-the-doubt pass.

(As an aside, when my wife and I got hitched a few years ago, I was hoping the ceremony might include a reading of “The Mystery at the Middle of Ordinary Life,” DeLillo’s three-minute “playlet” about marriage; this was not the last artistic battle I’ve lost, and we oped for a pretty cool cummings poem instead. Still, the DeLillo piece would’ve been priceless….)

Another Great Move

[ 0 ] May 13, 2007 |

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Above: Mariners President Chuck Armstrong and GM Bill Bavasi

I see that Jeff Weaver will be resting his 14.32 ERA on the D.L. with Lit up like Jaime Navarro in Coors Field against the 1939 Yankees Syndrome “shoulder tendinitis.” Who could have seen this meltdown coming from a pitcher as consistent and coming off as great a season as Weaver?

The most amazing thing about the Mariners is that they have a payroll of $106 million. Where the hell did it go? The only interesting starting pitcher is young, cheap and hurt; behind him there’s a decent innings munchers and a parade of lemons. The offense is unspeakably dreary, an old team without much power or speed or any on-base skills. And what’s even more irritating is that when they had an old but championship quality team at the turn of the decade, Armstrong threw around quarters like thousand-pound anvils, preventing the team from acquiring the extra premium player(s) that might have put them over the top. The end of the Mariners as a good team, I’ve thought for a while, was during the collapse in 2002 when Pinella ordered a ridiculous 3-2 suicide squeeze from Jose Offerman, resulting in a double play that sent the Mariners irrevocably on the road to oblivion. I was furious at Pinella, but someone at the time interpreted the act as Pinella telling Armstrong and Gillick “Fuck you–you can’t find me a better player for the stretch run than Jose Offerman?” And, frankly, that now makes a lot of sense to me.

Meanwhile, yesterday was my belated first trip to Shea this year. The Brewers are very impressive, reminding me of my favorite team ever (the early-Alou Expos.) They’ve got an impressive core–I had no idea Hardy was that kind of hitter–on offense, they play very good defense, they have good arms, they seem smart and well-managed. (Taking advantage of Showalter demoting Cordero after a bad month was a great move.) They will cool off, and you have to worry about Sheets’ health, but you have to like them to win the division. I mean, you have to like a team that can provide two proofs that fat players can have good genes…meanwhile, while I’m not worried about the Mets they played yesterday like they were hungover; offensively and defensively all their reactions seemed a bit off. Even the stadium personnel seemed in a fog; the apple didn’t come out of the hat after the Mets homered, the hot dogs were inexplicably allowed to become fully cooked against clear stadium policy, and they didn’t have “Sunglasses at Night” or “Never Surrender” cued up when pinch-hitter Corey Hart was the boy in the batter’s box. Unlike the Mariners, though, at least when they’re asleep you know they might wake up the next day…

More Supression of Innovative Teaching!

[ 0 ] May 13, 2007 |

In light of this, I breathlessly await a lengthy diatribe form Mickey Kaus in which he argues for strengthening teacher’s unions so that they’re protected from having their innovation crushed by nitwit bureaucrats who don’t really know anything about teaching. [But he doesn't care about educational outcomes--he cares about union-busting!--ed.]

Mothers’ Day

[ 0 ] May 13, 2007 |

Today, we celebrate the women who grunted us into being, nourished us to maturity, soothed our wounds, comforted us in sickness, confiscated our drugs, embarrassed us in front of friends, and unintentionally promoted the array of neuroses from which only the sweet touch of death will release us.

Once a year, in recognition of their grace and beauty and martyrdom, we take time out to say, “Thanks, Mom, for squandering what could have been the most creative and productive years of your lives on us, your sniveling, unworthy children. I can’t believe we treated you so poorly when we were teenagers. Here’s a plate — the buffet table is over there. Go nuts.”

As always with holidays and birthdays, I’m late with cards and gifts and such, but I notice on my calendar that Fête des Mères is not celebrated in France and Quebec until May 27 le 3 juin, so I figure I’m OK for a couple of weeks. Thank goodness for the dilatory French and their belated toasts to motherhood.

"Just ‘Taking Care of Business!’"

[ 0 ] May 13, 2007 |

Last Tuesday’s episode of Veronica Mars was fine and all, but I’m really not convinced that we need to encourage over the hill musicians to play more stuff “from the latest album”.

Case in point, Roger Waters is a colossal asshole. At a tribute to the late Syd Barrett…

Gilmour, Mason and Wright performed Arnold Layne, the group’s first hit and one of Barrett’s best-known works. They then took part in a finale performance of Bike, from the band’s debut album, featuring all the night’s performers – except Waters.

Waters, a former schoolfriend of Barrett with whom he formed the band in 1965, played his own song Flickering Flame before the interval.

That’s right; not only wouldn’t he play a Syd Barrett song with the rest of Pink Floyd, but he took the opportunity to play a song from his latest crappy solo album. When I saw them back in ’94, Pink Floyd actually opened with Astronomy Domine… and only played, like, three songs from their latest crappy album.

On Turning a Corner…

[ 0 ] May 12, 2007 |

Between March 2003 and August 2006, there was never a period in Iraq in which Coalition casualties exceeded 2.5/day for each of three consecutive months.

Since September 2006, Coalition casualties have exceeded 2.5/day every single month. Barring a remarkable downturn in violence, May will be the ninth consecutive month at 2.5+.

Surge advocates have argued that higher casualties since February are evidence that the insurgency is coming out to fight; an increased tempo of operations leads to higher casualties, but hurts the insurgency more than the Occupation. Lost in this argument, however, is the fact that casualties were at a prolonged, historic high before the Surge even began.

Tank Destroyer Pr0n

[ 0 ] May 12, 2007 |

When I first met with the TAPPED folks in March, Adele Stan asked “How did you get into this security stuff?” That’s not quite the right question; I think that a lot of eleven year old boys are obsessed with military equipment. The better question is why I never stopped being interested in it…

God, I miss the Soviet Empire.

Teaching Thoughts

[ 0 ] May 12, 2007 |

You may have seen this article in which Theda Skocpol called for a greater emphasis on teaching at Harvard. MMF has interesting commentary. It’s always been strange to me–especially in disciplines with large numbers of undergraduate majors–how little emphasis is placed on teaching for advancement. (One would think, at least, that departments would strive for balance–some great teachers, some great researchers–but in many places it seems as if tenure cases are evaluated among similar criteria, with the latter getting much more emphasis. Of course, research is also much easier to evaluate.) One place where my experience is different than Aspazia is that I had a lot of mentors at grad school who were excellent teachers and put a lot of work into it–more than would be strictly justified by a purely material cost-benefit ratio–and I learned a lot from them. As an international student, I also benefited from more training and systematic feedback than a graduate student instructor usually receives.

See also A White Bear, who has interesting thoughts about the relationship between teachers and students and the language of contracts.


[ 0 ] May 12, 2007 |

Sorry, Rudy. If you’ve lost Ben Domenech, you’ve lost America.

Rudy Giuliani is an honorable man, and an inspiring man. He has been an exceptional leader. He saved New York City from more than one tragedy, and helped it recover from another. I personally have an enormous amount of respect for the man, and I believe we all owe him our respect. But to understand the gravity of his speech this morning at Houston Baptist University is to understand why Rudy Giuliani should never be the President of the United States.

Jesus, Ben. Did you smoke, like, four pipes full of earnest this afternoon? Ease up. Eat an orange or something. Shit.

And as for the rest of you, really — don’t bother Googling every third sentence in Ben-Do’s post, just in case . . . you know. I did it. It’s all Ben.

Easy Answers To Simple Questions

[ 0 ] May 11, 2007 |


Speaking of mature and honest public dialogue, I wonder if it would be possible for anti-choice conservatives to address the reality that, even in countries where abortion is illegal and there are strong cultural disincentives surrounding women’s autonomous choice regarding reproduction, women still get abortions, though in unsafe and often fatal conditions. And I wonder further if they could acknowledge that used to be the reality in this country pre-Roe and would be again in a post-Roe world. And, lastly, I wonder if they could then admit at long last that they simply don’t care if women who want abortions die in the process of getting them, so we can put this whole “pro-life” bullshit to bed once and for all.

No, no, and no. If there’s one thing that not only the “pro-life” position but abortion “centrism” depend on, it’s scrupulously ignoring how abortion law actually works.

This has been easy answers to simple questions.

Friday (Presidential) Cat Blogging

[ 0 ] May 11, 2007 |

Calvin Coolidge was a man of few words and even fewer emotions, but he loved the shit out of his animals. In addition to dogs, cats and birds, the stony Coolidge and his wife Grace owned pet raccoons (Rebecca and Horace), a donkey (Ebeneezer), a goose (Enoch), a wallaby, a pygmy hippo, and a bear among other beasts great and small. None of these, however, did the president adore more than his beloved cat Tiger (or “Tige”), a striking orange tomcat with black stripes who would drape himself around the president’s shoulders as Silent Cal wandered through the White House. Like Coolidge’s canine friends, Tige would rush to his master’s side when called.

In late March 1924, Tige disappeared from the White House during an ice storm. The president was greatly distressed the next morning when the cat did not respond to his customary greeting. A thorough search of the grounds turned up nothing, and for three days the Coolidge family fretted over the mysterious fate of Tige. On the evening of March 24, Secret Service agent James Hanley appeared on WCAP radio and appealed to the city to keep an eye out for a cat fitting Tige’s description. Scores of Washingtonians began calling the White House with reports of cat sightings and unhelpful offers to replace the lost cat.

To the nation’s delight, on March 25 a Navy captain named Benjamin Fink — pictured here — discovered Tige inside the Naval building, about 500 yards from the White House. Coolidge was overjoyed by Tige’s return and immediately had a collar made for him with his name and address on it.

Four months later, Tige disappeared for a second time and was never seen again.

(Image link)

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