The “Southern Nationalist Flag”

I guess I missed this detail at the time of the Charlottesville Rally in 2017, when this photo was taken.

Getty images via Newsweek.

You can see the Confederate Battle Flag and the hybrid flag featuring the odal rune in the foreground. But what do the white flags with the black “X” mean? Apparently they are examples of the Southern Nationalist flag. According to an article in Occidental Dissent:

The Southern Nationalist Flag, or Black Cross, was designed by Southern activists in Augusta, Georgia in the summer of 2013. It features a St. Andrew’s Cross (the black “X”), the basis for several of our ancestral flags in the British Isles, a few State flags in Dixie (Alabama, Mississippi, Florida and the former flag of Georgia) as well as the Confederate Battle Flag. It has since been adopted by much of the Southern Nationalist movement and has been used at events, rallies and protests across the South. 

Wikipedia says that it’s associated with the neo-Confederate League of the South, which also calls it the “Cushman flag.” And Flags of the World summarizes an interview with the designer, who said the flag “has a medieval, ‘Crusader’ look,” reminiscent of the flag of the Teutonic Order. The white field is supposed to stand for “European heritage, hierarchy, tradition” and the black saltire for “nationalism.” The flag also refers to the word “Dixie,” “which is derived from French word for number 10, dix, because the saltire resembles the Roman numeral X.” He proceeded to claim that the colors constitute “a complete rejection of the red, white, and blue which was borrowed from the French Revolution. You know, equality, democracy, fraternity, you know, liberty.”

But presumably he is not rejecting the red, white, and blue of the Confederate Battle Flag, which were derived from the U.S. flag, which were derived from the British Union Jack, which predates and has nothing to do with the French Revolutionary tricolor. 

Speaking of which, I am open to the possibility that not all current uses of Confederate flags are racist. However, I would not extend such consideration to this flag. Anyone flying it should probably be avoided. 

The Farnsworth House

Wikipedia.

From The Spectator (hat tip: Instapundit), a review of Broken Glass, a new book about Mies van der Rohe’s controversial Farnsworth House in Plano, Ill.

To see the Farnsworth House in reality is to understand how perfection can be revealed in steel and glass. It is an understanding no visitor can resist. But to live in it — as I once did for several days — is to put every assumption of the modernist aesthetic to severe test.

It is an astonishingly beautiful building, as visceral as it is intellectual. The way in which elementary materials and ‘nearly nothing’ have a transcendent effect is profound. It floats, perfect proportions denying material weight. From outside it looks agreeably alien; from inside, its transparency makes landscape captive. And the architect’s attention to the logic of structure and to detail is revelatory. Rivet heads were painstakingly ground off at steel junctions to make visually perfect joints. The frame is made with such fanatical precision that it responds to impacts like a tuning fork. As a whole, the Farnsworth House improves upon nature, which was Voltaire’s definition of art.

Yet it is absurd. Mies insisted on building on the Fox River’s floodplain, the better to enjoy the local woods. He refused thermally efficient double-glazing. Only after protest was Farnsworth allowed a wardrobe; Mies said it was a weekend house and the necessary single dress could be hung out of sight behind the bathroom door. He was adamant that his own furniture designs were used rather than his client’s preferences. Moreover, his architectural training had not included Mechanical & Electrical Services, so he knew nothing of plumbing, heating, air-conditioning, drainage or power supply. Water seepage from above complemented the rising damp caused by the turbulent, intrusive Fox below. The house was an oven in summer and a freezer in winter. Ugly stains soon appeared. When Farnsworth complained about the exiguous fireplace, Mies said: ‘Get smaller logs.’

The original budget had been $10,000. But this ‘functionalist’ architect was notoriously sloppy in business, and the account came to seven times as much. Despite his managerial incompetence, Mies took Farnsworth to court over unpaid fees and won. Her revenge was to fill the house with unsuitable furniture — and eventually to go to live in Italy (where her relationship with the poet Eugenio Montale was another episode of Euro-flavored unrequited love).

Farnsworth House is a magnificent catastrophe, a manifesto of designer arrogance, a maintenance nightmare, an unlivable space where God fought with Satan over the details, especially the boiler and drains. And it is now a national monument, a pilgrimage site for architecture students from all over the world. Widely imitated (by designers whom Nikolaus Pevsner called ‘three blind Mies’), it has never been bettered. In a sense, it couldn’t be.

I wrote a paper in college about Mies van der Rohe’s directorship of the Bauhaus in the early 1930s, before it was closed by the Nazis, which assured its fame forever. Thus did most of the material that I consulted for that paper take a rather hagiographic approach to modernist architecture and its practitioners. It took Tom Wolfe’s From Bauhaus to Our House (1981) to expose their arrogance and even incompetence. 

Anyway, the Farnsworth House is now a museum, and you can take a virtual tour of the place. 

President Roberts

From The Reinhardt Eagle:

Reinhardt’s Board of Trustees appointed Mark A. Roberts, Ph.D., as the 21st President of Reinhardt University. Dr. Roberts assumed his role on April 7, 2021.

“The Board of Trustees embodies a strong sense of purpose and is deeply committed to the ideals of private higher education and the mission of Reinhardt University,” said Ken White, Chairman of Reinhardt’s Board of Trustees. “We are pleased to announce Dr. Mark A. Roberts as our 21st President, a leader who will uphold the values of Reinhardt and who, with great care, will impact the lives of our students and the entire Reinhardt community. The  Board took its responsibility seriously in making this selection and invited the community, faculty and staff, and alumni leaders into our process. Throughout Dr. Roberts’s distinguished career, and during the past several years as Reinhardt’s Provost, Executive Vice President and Interim President, Dr. Roberts has proven to be a highly respected and effective leader who can guide and elevate Reinhardt during a time of tremendous opportunity in providing the education for today’s students to thrive in a very complex and changing world. We are grateful for his service to Reinhardt and look forward to his tenure as our President.”…

[Roberts said] “I am very grateful to the members of the Board of Trustees for their confidence in my leadership. Their engagement and collaboration throughout these trying times have been of strategic importance and, quite frankly, inspiring to me. I also must recognize Reinhardt faculty, staff, and students. Their devotion and openness to innovation has been the guiding light that allows the university to persist and grow despite many obstacles. I am humbled to serve as president of this great learning community.”

More at the link. This is great news. All best wishes to President Roberts as he moves Reinhardt forward. 

The Lost Golden City

News of an interesting archaeological find from National Geographic:

‘Lost golden city of Luxor’ discovered by archaeologists in Egypt

The 3,400-year-old royal city was built by Amenhotep III, abandoned by his heretic son, Akhenaten, and contains stunningly preserved remains.

Three thousand four hundred years ago, a contentious ancient Egyptian king abandoned his name, his religion, and his capital in Thebes (modern Luxor). Archaeologists know what happened next: The pharaoh Akhenaten built the short-lived city of Akhetaten, where he ruled alongside his wife, Nefertiti and worshipped the sun. After his death, his young son Tutankhamun became ruler of Egypt—and turned his back on his father’s controversial legacy.But why did Akhenaten abandon Thebes, which had been the capital of ancient Egypt for more than 150 years? Answers may lie in the discovery of an industrial royal metropolis within Thebes that Akhenaten inherited from his father, Amenhotep III. The find, which has been dubbed the “lost golden city of Luxor” in an announcement released today, will generate as much enthusiasm, speculation, and controversy as the renegade pharaoh who left it.

Because the city was initially discovered just in September of last year, archaeologists have only scratched the surface of the sprawling site, and understanding where this discovery ranks in Egyptological importance is hard to say at this time. The level of preservation found so far, however, has impressed researchers.

“There’s no doubt about it; it really is a phenomenal find,” says Salima Ikram, an archaeologist who leads the American University in Cairo’s Egyptology unit. “It’s very much a snapshot in time—an Egyptian version of Pompeii.”

The site dates from the era of 18th-dynasty pharaoh Amenhotep III, who ruled between around 1386 and 1353 B.C. and presided over an era of extraordinary wealth, power and luxury. In Amenhotep III’s final years, he is thought to have briefly reigned alongside his son, Akhenaten.

But a few years after his father’s death, Akhenaten, who ruled from around 1353–1336, broke with everything the late ruler stood for. During his 17-year reign, he upended Egyptian culture, abandoning all of the traditional Egyptian pantheon but one, the sun god Aten. He even changed his name from Amenhotep IV to Akhenaten, which means “devoted to Aten.”  

More at the link.

The Duke of Edinburgh, 1921-2021

First Floor Tarpley acknowledges the death today of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh and consort of H.M. the Queen, at the age of 99 at Windsor Castle. May he rest in peace.

His arms, depicted on the funeral hatchment above, were a quartering of 1. Denmark 2. Greece 3. Battenberg/Mountbatten and 4. Edinburgh. From The Gazette, here is an image of Philip’s Garter stall plate, which also includes his crest and motto:

QWERTY

From Smithsonian Magazine (from 2013): an exploration of the idea that the standard North American keyboard layout was deliberately designed to be inefficient. Jared Diamond mentions this in Guns, Germs, and Steel (1997):

Unbelievable as it may now sound, that keyboard layout was designed in 1873 as a feat of anti-engineering. It employs a whole series of perverse tricks designed to force typists to type as slowly as possible, such as scattering the commonest letters over all keyboard rows and concentrating them on the left side (where right-handed people have to use their weaker hand). The reason behind all of those seemingly counterproductive features is that the typewriters of 1873 jammed if adjacent keys were struck in quick succession, so that manufacturers had to slow down typists. When improvements in typewriters eliminated the problem of jamming, trials in 1932 with an efficiently laid-out keyboard showed that it would let us double our typing speed and reduce our typing effort by 95 percent. But QWERTY keyboards were solidly entrenched by then. The vested interests of hundreds of millions of QWERTY typists, typing teachers, typewriter and computer salespeople, and manufacturers have crushed all moves toward keyboard efficiency for over 60 years.”

However, Jimmy Stamp relates that:

While it can’t be argued that deal with Remington helped popularize the QWERTY system, its development as a response to mechanical error, has been questioned by Kyoto University Researchers Koichi Yasuoka and Motoko Yasuoka. In a 2011 paper, the researchers tracked the evolution of the typewriter keyboard alongside a record of its early professional users. They conclude that the mechanics of the typewriter did not influence the keyboard design. Rather, the QWERTY system emerged as a result of how the first typewriters were being used. Early adopters and beta-testers included telegraph operators who needed to quickly transcribe messages. However, the operators found the alphabetical arrangement to be confusing and inefficient for translating morse code. The Kyoto paper suggests that the typewriter keyboard evolved over several years as a direct result of input provided by these telegraph operators. For example;

“The code represents Z as ‘· · · ·’ which is often confused with the digram SE, more frequently-used than Z. Sometimes Morse receivers in United States cannot determine whether Z or SE is applicable, especially in the first letter(s) of a word, before they receive following letters. Thus S ought to be placed near by both Z and E on the keyboard for Morse receivers to type them quickly (by the same reason C ought to be placed near by IE. But, in fact, C was more often confused with S).

In this scenario, the typist came before the keyboard. The Kyoto paper also cites the Morse lineage to further debunk the theory that Sholes wanted to protect his machine from jamming by rearranged the keys with the specific intent to slow down typists:

“The speed of Morse receiver should be equal to the Morse sender, of course. If Sholes really arranged the keyboard to slow down the operator, the operator became unable to catch up the Morse sender. We don’t believe that Sholes had such a nonsense intention during his development of Type-Writer.”

Interesting, if true. But it still might be good to promote the more efficient Dvorak layout for beginning typists. I see that I can select it in the System Preferences for this computer.

Ottoman Counterinsurgency

From adjunct professor Tim Furnish on Voices from the Hill:

American Grand Strategy seems to be going back to the future — a 19th-century one of “Great Power Competition,” that is.

This process began under Obama, ramped up under Trump, and is continuing, albeit in a less bellicose way, under Biden. There are those who would not deem it wise—especially if it were to “elevate competition itself to the guiding paradigm of U.S. foreign policy.” But the assumption, if not the geopolitical reality, is here to stay for the foreseeable future; and the former may to some extent engender the latter.

That being so, the global tussle for power among the U.S., China and Russia will likely prove particularly problematic for the already troubled Middle East, where terrorism and insurgencies simmer, and often boil over. If the U.S. is going to pursue effective polices in the region vis-à-vis those Great Power competitors, it would behoove us to learn from the experience of the last Great Power to rule the region, the Ottoman Empire.

Sixteen nations in North Africa and the Middle East were once part of the Ottoman state. Ten of those now face active insurgencies: Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Sudan, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Israel/Palestine and Turkey. The Ottomans confronted seven major insurrections during their 500-year reign, as I examine in my latest book “The COIN of the Islamic Realm: Insurgencies and the Ottoman Empire, 1416-1916.” Sufi groups, Celalis and Kadizadelis posed a problem in Anatolia (modern Turkey). The Druzes of Syria gave the Sultans headaches. Yemen’s Zaydis were a multigenerational mutiny against the imperial center. The Wahhabis sought to oust the Ottomans from Arabia, and ultimately succeeded. And the eschatological Mahdists did the same for Sudan. Not all of these anti-Ottoman groups have analogs in the modern Middle East. But the Kadizadelis, Zaydis and Sudanese Mahdists certainly do. Before drawing lessons from these conflicts, some background is in order.

Read the whole thing.

Phi Alpha Theta Induction 2021

Congratulations to the newest members of Reinhardt’s chapter of Phi Alpha Theta, the honor society for students of history: Annabelle Forrester, Addyson Huneke, Jessica Landers, Marissa Liguori, and Gianna Sanders. This year’s ceremony took place this afternoon in the Community Room of Hill Freeman Library.

Left to right: Gianna Sanders, Jessica Landers, Marissa Liguori, Annabelle Forrester, Valerie Coleman, Jonathan Good, Addyson Huneke. Photo: Ken Wheeler.

Our guest speaker was Valerie Coleman, curator of the Noble Hill Wheeler Memorial Center in Cassville, Georgia, who spoke of the center’s history and legacy. As noted earlier on this blog, the center is in the building of the former Noble Hill School, which was constructed in 1923 with a matching grant from the Rosenwald fund, which had been established by Julius Rosenwald, president of the Sears, Roebuck and Co. It closed in 1955 with the construction of Bartow Elementary School, an amalgamated Black school for Bartow County, and fell into a dilapidated state. Through the initiative of Susie Weems Wheeler, it was resurrected and restored as a museum and cultural center in 1987. The Center has recently acquired the former St. James AME church building in Cassville and hopes to restore that as well. 

Our thanks to Ms. Coleman and our congratulations to all new members of Phi Alpha Theta!

Recycled Fabric

From UPI (hat tip: Instapundit):

Wright brothers’ wing fragment to take flight again on Mars

A piece of cloth from the Wright brothers’ first flight in 1903 is set to become part of aviation history again — this time on Mars.

Carillon Historical Park, the Ohio home of the Wright Brio home of the Wright Brothers National Museum, said NASA officials got in contact in 2019 about finding a way to connect Wilbur and Orville Wright‘s first successful flight in Kitty Hawk, N.C., with the first heavier-than-air flight on Mars.

The museum provided a small fragment of the Wright Flyer I’s wing covering to be carried aboard Ingenuity, a small helicopter attached to the belly of NASA’s Perseverance rover on the surface of the red planet.

NASA said Ingenuity is expected to take its first flight sometime after April 8. The flight will mark the first-ever powered, controlled flight of an aircraft on another planet, NASA said.

More at the link