A Beautiful Mind

The story of John Forbes Nash, the brilliant Princeton-educated mathematician, who struggled with mental illness was dramatized in 2001 in a film starring actor Russell Crowe as Nash. journalism professor Sylvia Nasar wrote an unauthorized biography in 1999. Erstwhile in 1994, John Forbes Nash, Jr. shared Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences for his work with game theory.

A Beautiful Mind
Princeton University
Russell Crowe in a video still from A Beautiful Mind (2001) directed by Ron Howard

The Lorrha Missal

The Lorrha Missal (also called the Stowe Missal) was a book containing the texts of the mass and popular in Gaelic Scotland and Ireland. The first prayer below was prayed after the consecration (i.e., Words of Institution) and before the distribution. The second prayer was the post-communion prayer. It was at Lackeen Castle that the Lorrha Missal was found during restoration work at the castle in the 18th century. This illuminated manuscript was written mainly in Latin with some Gaelic in the late eighth or early ninth century, and it was annotated and some pages rewritten at Lorrha Monastery some time in the mid-11th century.

We believe, O Lord.
We believe we have been redeemed
by the breaking of Christ’s body,
and the pouring of his blood.
We rely on this sacrament for strength,
confident that what we now hold in hope,
we will enjoy in true fulfillment in heaven;
through our Lord Jesus Christ
who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
now and forever.

We give you thanks, O Lord,
holy Father, almighty and eternal God,
for you have satisfied us
with the body and blood of Christ your Son.
In your mercy, O Lord,
let this sacrament not be for our condemnation or punishment,
but for our salvation and forgiveness,
for strengthening the weak
as a firm foundation against the dangers of the world.
With this communion forgive all our guilt,
and give us the heavenly joy of sharing in it;
through our Lord Jesus Christ
who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit
now and forever.

The Liturgy and Diverse Services from the
Lorrha (“Stowe”) Missal

Ohthere of Hålogaland’s Voyage to the White Sea // Anglo-Saxon Primary Source (890)

Voices of the Past narrates this retelling of Ohthere’s voyage to the White Sea, which he retold to his lord King Alfred. In the late Ninth Century a Norseman arrived at King Alfred of Wessex’s court. The stories he told the king were recorded for posterity by a court scribe. This is a retelling of that Ninth Century document recording the exploits of a Ninth Century resident of Norway’s northernmost province.

A map depicting Europe for King Alfred’s translation of Orosius.  Engraved by John Bayly.

The Voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan conveys certain travels attributed to Ohthere, whose detailed travelogue was included in King Alfred’s translation from Latin of the Compendious History of the World by Paulus Orosius (d. 420 A.D.) Ohthere was a Norwegian explorer, hunter, and trader who told the tale of his voyages north and east past the Kola peninsula to the White Sea. Ohthere was received in the court of King Alfred of Wessex.

The Old English text comes from Charles T. Onions, ed. Sweet’s Anglo-Saxon Reader in Prose and Verse, 14th Ed. (Oxford, England: Clarendon, 1959), lines 63-67, and was republished by Jonathan Slocum of the University of Texas at Austin Linguistics Research Center:

Hē sǣde ðæt Norðmanna land wǣre swȳþe lang and swȳðe smæl. Eal þæt his man āþer oððe ettan oððe erian mæg, þæt līð wið ðā sǣ; and þæt is þēah on sumum stōwum swȳðe clūdig; and licgað wilde mōras wið ēastan and wið uppon emnlange þǣm bȳnum lande. On þǣm mōrum eardiað Finnas. And þæt bȳne land is ēasteweard brādost, and symle swā norðor swā smælre. Ēastewerd hit mæg bīon syxtig mīla brād, oþþe hwēne brādre; and middeweard þrītig oððe brādre; and norðeweard hē cwæð, þǣr hit smalost wǣre, þæt hit mihte bēon þrēora mīla brād tō þǣm mōre; and se mōr syðþan, on sumum stōwum, swā brād swā man mæg on twām wucum oferfēran; and on sumum stōwum swā brād swā man mæg on syx dagum oferfēran. Ðonne is tōemnes þǣm lande sūðeweardum, on ōðre healfe þæs mōres, Swēoland, oþ þæt land norðeweard; and tōemnes þǣm lande norðeweardum, Cwēna land. Þā Cwēnas hergiað hwīlum on ðā Norðmen ofer ðone mōr, hwīlum þā Norðmen on hȳ. And þǣr sint swīðe micle meras fersce geond þā mōras; and berað þā Cwēnas hyra scypu ofer land on ðā meras, and þanon hergiað on þā Norðmen; hȳ habbað swȳðe lȳtle scypa and swȳðe lēohte. Ōhthere sǣde þæt sīo scīr hātte Hālgoland þe hē on būde. Hē cwæð þæt nān man ne būde be norðan him. Þonne is ān port on sūðeweardum þǣm lande, þone man hǣt Scīringes hēal. Þyder hē cwæð þæt man ne mihte geseglian on ānum mōnðe, gyf man on niht wīcode, and ǣlce dæge hæfde ambyrne wind; and ealle ðā hwīle hē sceal seglian be lande. And on þæt stēorbord him bið ǣrest Īraland, and þonne ðā īgland þe synd betux Īralande and þissum lande. Þonne is þis land oð hē cymð tō Scīrincges hēale, and ealne weg on þæt bæcbord Norðweg. Wið sūðan þone Scīringes hēal fylð swȳðe mycel sǣ ūp in on ðæt lond; sēo is brādre þonne ǣnig man ofer sēon mæge. And is Gotland on ōðre healfe ongēan, and siððan Sillende. Sēo sǣ līð mænig hund mīla ūp in on þæt land.


He said that the land of the Norwegians was very long and very narrow. All that a man can either graze or plough extends alongside the sea; but it is however in certain places very rocky; and wild moors lie to the east and above, beside the inhabited land. On the moors live Finns. The inhabited land is broadest to the east, and ever narrower further north. To the east it may be sixty miles wide, or somewhat more; and towards the middle, thirty or more. To the north, he said, there it was narrowest, so that it might be three miles wide towards the moor; the moor afterwards, in some places, (is) as wide as one might cross in two weeks; and in some places as wide as one might cross in six days.

Then alongside that land on the south, on the other side of the moors, is Sweden, as far as that land to the north; and alongside that land on the north, the land of the Cwena people. The Cwenas sometimes conduct raids against the Norwegians across the moor, sometimes the Norwegians against them. There are very large fresh-water lakes throughout the moors; the Cwenas carry their ships over the land onto the lakes, and from there raid the Norwegians; they have very small and very light ships.

Ohthere said that the district is called Helgeland, which he lived in. He said that no one lived north of him. There is a port in the south of that land, which one calls Skiringssal. He said that one could not sail there in a month, if one anchored at night, and each day had a favorable wind; and all the while he shall sail near land. To the starboard of him is first Ireland, and then the islands that are between Ireland and this land. Then this land continues until one comes to Skiringssal, and all the way on the port side (is) Norway. To the south of the Skiringssal a very large sea flows up into that land; it is wider than any man is able to see across. Jutland is on the other side, opposite, and thereafter Zealand. The sea extends many hundreds of miles up into that land.

The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan – Operation Storm-333

For military history buffs I found this interesting as it came out this past month. Kings and Generals animated historical documentary series on Modern Warfare offers an narrated exposition of the beginning of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. This video describes the prelude of the invasion, how and why the Marxist USSR dictatorship decided to invade Afghanistan, and Operation Storm-333 conducted by the Soviet Special Forces (Spetsnaz) against the president of Afghanistan Hafizullah Amin in his Tajbeg Palace.

Kings and Generals animated historical documentary series on Modern Warfare continues with a video on the beginning of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

Why did the Celts Collapse?

Knowledgia asks “Why did the Celts Collapse?” : “The Celts were a people of mysticism, tenacity, and rich culture. Though they lacked a written language for some time, making it hard to document their lives and civilizations for future generations, we have managed to learn a fair amount about these fascinating people. How they rose to power, how they existed, and even, where they are now.”

God is sovereign over the affairs of men

“Governing under the authority of God our empire which was delivered to us by the Heavenly Majesty, we both conduct wars successfully and render peace honorable, and we uphold the condition of the state. We so lift up our minds toward the help of the omnipotent God that we do not place our trust in weapons or our soldiers or our military leaders or our own talents, but we rest all our hopes in the providence of the Supreme Trinity alone, from whence the elements of the whole world proceeded and their disposition throughout the universe was derived.”

—Emperor Flavius Justinianus, The Digest of Justinian, Volume 1.

“Sugarcoating evil”

The crux of the “Sugarcoating Evil” article is that “Totalitarians of the past two centuries have sanitized evil by using syrupy phrases and words to mask their true intentions and meaning.” One pertinent portion reads at the onset:

       It has often been said that if the devil shows up at the door to steal your soul, he will not appear with bat wings, cloven hoofs, horns, a tail and smelling of brimstone, but will instead be handsome and charming and impeccably dressed. I would add that he will be erudite, with a beautiful, mellifluous siren voice, and speak with such a nonstop fluidity that you will be captivated by his speech to the point that you will not be able to stop and think calmly.

        We actually see this today in the various, yet dovetailed, attempts at destroying America from within and, along with it, its traditional, sacred, principles. From various sources we are told that stating truths, stating facts, voicing certain opinions, must be suppressed at all costs, and all outlets for voicing opposition to this disintegration must be crushed. No divisiveness must exist, these satanic agents proclaim. Rather, we must all speak with one voice (theirs) think with one mind (theirs).

        Nowadays, words which on the face appear reasonable and correct are being used to mask truly horrific ends. Words are being mangled by these agents of evil. Even some phrases which have been commonly used are now being stolen and warped to promote the destruction of America. And some are even being used to mean the opposite of the original meaning.

The New English Review had an intriguing op-ed simply entitled “Sugarcoating Evil.” In George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language, he spent a considerable time examining the connection between political orthodoxies and the debasement of language, as well as the use of rhetorical doubletalk. Orwell carried this point home in his dystopian novel 1984 whereby he introduced the concept of Newspeak, the language of Big Brother. In Orwell’s novel, the ruling English Socialist Party (Ingsoc) conjured the Newspeak lexicon in order to meet the ideological demands of the totalitarian state ideology of Oceania. Newspeak was a controlled language of simplified grammar and restricted vocabulary designed to constrain the individual’s ability to think, articulate, and communicate “subversive” concepts such as personal identity, self-expression and free will. The effect of Newspeak was to enervate the very existence of its speakers.

The Greenland Vikings – Land of the Midnight Sun

The Fall of Civilizations has produced a most excellent documentary on The Greenland Vikings – Land of the Midnight Sun: “One of the most unlikely tales of a society’s fall is the incredible saga of the Vikings of Greenland. Find out how these European settlers built a society on the farthest edge of their world, and survived for centuries among some of the harshest conditions ever faced by man. Discover how this civilization was able to overcome the odds for so long, and examine the evidence about what happened to cause its final and mysterious collapse. Including Viking poetry, Inuit folktales and thousands upon thousands of walrus.”