Podcast: The Anarchy

Here it is: the first official announcement on my upcoming history podcast.

It will look into the background, causes, character and aftermath of the Anarchy in 1100s England.

This is an exciting but rarely discussed (among non-professional historians) period that connects the Norman Conquest with the Plantangenet/Avengin Empire of Henry II and his heirs.

It features a dynasty destroying shipwreck, several powerful female characters which pre-date the over-examined Eleanor of Acquitaine, and a decades-long war that left England largely rulerless.

Bottom line: Empress Maud should have a popular history book and ultimately movie or TV series. This is my effort to jump start that.

I envision this as my first series of podcasts focusing on medieval history. Right now, I feel like it will last about 10 1-hour episodes. Maybe more, maybe a little less. No promises there. And once those are wrapped up, I don’t have a second series topic picked yet. We’ll see what kind of traction I get and I’ll see if the audience has particular interests. More links coming as I get things set up. First episode in June.

As a final request: I need a title for the podcast as a whole. I’m leaning toward Illuminated Medieval right now, but I’ll take suggestions.

The Mission & Silence

The Mission is one of my favorite movies. The history, music and framing all come together into a powerful piece of film.

The more recent Silence is also amazing for many of the same reasons. I’ve watched it twice so far and am awestruck.

I feel like these movies share much. Besides the obvious presence of evangelizing Catholic brothers, the film’s share a seriousness, tone, scope and both can seen as stories of redemption, but with very different outcomes.

So it puzzles me that Silence has been largely ignored these past years.

Technically and in their art I see them as identical. So is it really the more difficult and ambiguous story in Silence that killed it’s chances for classic status? Or perhaps it’s overt rootedness in Christianity?

Uber accounting

I just ubered back to my hotel here in Charleston, SC. The driver asked me straight away what I do and I said, ‘accountant.’

The next question was not totally unexpected but it’s been a while.

“So what advice can you give me on personal money management?”

It’s not exactly an accounting question but I am familiar with this dynamic. A few years ago, I occasionally answered the career question with “economist” — which I never really was — and that usually resulted in “what should I invest in?” Which is even more of an non-sequitur.

So here’s what I said:

  • Keep careful track of your expenditures.
  • Make conscious decisions about changing those expenditures if you don’t like what you see.
  • Pay off your debt as quickly as possible.
  • Avoid credit cards.
  • Save as much as you can once you are debt free.

So I parroted Dave Ramsey.

Everything else is detail and circumstance.

I also heard something I’ve heard before from drivers:

“I really wish Uber would take out taxes from my pay. I hate trying to figure that out and putting money away for taxes.”

What a different world we would live in without withholding. Many people just cannot wrap their brains around withholding, the planning required if you are paid as an independent contractor or the freedom it provides. It’s shame that the easier system (pay with withholding) is also the choice that restricts your options.

But I guess that’s why it’s easier.

The Permanent Things

Both T.S. Eliot and Russell Kirk defined “the permanent things” rather indefinitely (yes, I know what I just said … blame them), but that hasn’t stopped me from trying to figure out what they meant.

If you are also interested, I recommend reading Dr. Bradley Birzer’s biography of Russell Kirk. Brad is a friend and I may have a footnote reference to me in the book, but despite this it’s an amazing read.

And I know that neither gentlemen meant merely “The Classics” when referring to permanence, but it is mildly shocking to me that when you type “Lethe and Euone” into Google, my blog is the 5th entry. And it continues to be my most consistently popular post.

Are even that small number of people reading the Purgatorio?

Travel writing

A day spent traveling seems like a perfect opportunity to write your blog. But between being uncomfortable on the plane, walking through the various airports and answering emails, it fell by the wayside.

And so here we are, after midnight, and I have nothing. But admitting failure is a kind of success, right?


Earth Day

It’s Earth Day and Caren, Ginny and I drove down to a bluff on the Mississippi south and east of Saint Paul. A beautiful Minnesota spring day welcomed us as did a warm sun. You can’t beat a bluff high above the river with some amazing views.

I can’t express how long the Minnesota winter was and how pleased I am that warm whether is finally here. We probably did a couple of miles and then headed back to home.

Being on the Mississippi is an under appreciated part of living in the Twin Cities.


I’m a little over halfway through my 30 day blog challenge and I’m struggling for things to write about. Part of the problem is that I am excited about my podcast idea (which expanded a bit more today after conversation with my wife), but I am trying to save all that for the podcast itself.

But I’m committed to the blog challenge, so here I write.

There’s a fair amount on my mind: this blog itself, the podcast, my week-long trip to Charleston next week, the actual beginning of spring here in Minnesota, helping my wife through her semester-end push in the coming weeks, a few work issues that need addressing, and finally a community project that should come to fruition when I return from Charleston.

This is all my life, my family, my neighborhood, my work and projects.

If anything all of this just reminds me to not accidentally read the news or scroll through Twitter (and/or unfollow a bunch of people).