Spiraling Toward Irrelevancy

Never has a blog title spoken quicker to the absolute truth than "Spiraling Toward Irrelevancy" ...


Cell Phone Video of the Dirt Worshiper Saddam Hussein Hanged

Taken via someone's cell phone. Arab television has shown this video and American networks have made some mention of it. But even though it matches the previously and widely seen video that circulated beginning Friday night, we must still say "purported," in deference to an official authentication.

UPDATED 1/2/2007: No longer "purported,"according to this article from the Associated Press, via Yahoo News: "BAGHDAD, Iraq - The prime minister on Tuesday ordered an investigation into the conduct of Saddam Hussein's execution in a bid to learn who among the witnesses taunted the former Iraqi leader in the last minutes of his life, then leaked a cell phone video." It then goes on to describe the video linked to above.


Tour Mordhaus

In the extraordinarily unlikely event you're interested, feel free to take this virtual tour of Mordhaus, my home.


Quick Notes on Diana Spencer's Still Being Dead

Interesting news out of London: Diana Spencer is still dead.

This must have come as quite the surprise to the legions of WASP housewives, celebrity addicts, fag hags, and admirers of pointless, toothless monarchies who had, through various combinations of mental illness, childish enthusiasm, and hope-beyond-hope, come to believe she could hover over the beds of the true believers as they slept, bestowing good tidings and – who knows? – perhaps slipping one pound notes under their pillows.

If you’ve at any point found yourself genuinely curious as to the contents of the Scotland Yard report, or worse have taken it upon yourself to download and read even a portion of it, do the world a favor and have yourself rendered unable to breed. Or kill yourself. And do one or the other right away, because sensible, thoughtful people cannot take the chance your rutting will produce another waterhead mutt who could learn from your tragic intellectual example.

I’m pro-life, but not that pro-life.


Up to Your Eyeballs in "Lincoln's Tomb" Research Notes

BrianWise.com’s front page has been cleaned up; new, low-impact graphics have been added. On the Lincoln’s Tomb page, a few pictures of Notre Dame’s library have been added, as have pictures from my first trip to Ft. Wayne, Indiana’s Lincoln Museum, along with my notes, for your short-term amusement.

Re: Research at Notre Dame.

There is nothing substantive to report on the Notre Dame front. It’s going as research always goes, being as dull and tiring as possible. I frequently find my thoughts wandering – to what I’m having for dinner, to wondering what my son is doing, to wondering what the cats are doing, to thinking about the girl-on-top sex I’d like to have with this redhead currently attending law school at the People’s Republic of Columbia University. And et cetera like that.

No doubt I am ill-suited for the tedium research provides; had I put my nose to the grindstone ten months ago, when research efforts officially began, I could be very close to being done with (at least Mr. Lincoln) by now. But no; I’ve frequently been hampered by laziness, bad moods, and insecurities, and have let them dictate policy.

On the other hand, I do enjoy digging through old books, so I’m rarely disappointed when the planets align and I find myself in the mood to work. Sitting there indiscriminately on the shelves in Dr. Charles A. Leale’s 1909 account of the medical care he administered upon the fallen president; Leale, two months removed from Bellevue Hospital Medical College, was the first doctor to reach Lincoln in the box at Ford’s that night. Also, what appears to be a program from the day, in 1936, when the Servius Tullius stone was dedicated at Lincoln’s tomb. (It was removed during some construction before being replaced and dedicated.)

Also, a curious little volume called I Saw Booth Shoot Lincoln by one William J. Ferguson, 1930. Employed by Ford’s at the time, Ferguson takes the unique historical stand of categorically denying that John Wilkes Booth ever paused on Ford’s stage, rose to his full height, brandished his dagger and yelled, “Sic semper tyrannis!” despite what scholarship has to say on the matter. (Ferguson will be discussed briefly in a footnote I plan to write.)

So on and so on. I traipse around the tenth floor in my socks, re-shelving whatever materials I use as I finish with them, squatting down at random places and generally taking up space, yawning madly, stretching convulsively, making eyes at the cuter brunettes, redheads and black haired girls. In other words, I behave like a college student – somehow, I’m suspecting, by osmosis; there is clearly something in the air. When I’m in the mood for the work, it really is quite the time.

Contrary to previous assertions here and at my website, I could be finished with the book portion of Notre Dame in January, and will then move on to what I’m looking forward to most: the microfilm materials, downstairs.

Re: Research at Fort Wayne’s Lincoln Museum.

Before even getting to Ft. Wayne I was dreading having made the appointment. As recently as Thursday, the day before, I was thinking of canceling. For one thing, I am genetically predisposed to hate doing unfamiliar things; for another, I hate driving by myself in towns I’ve never driven through before. But the main thing is that I don’t think I belong in this fraternity (i.e., of Lincoln writers). You would have a hard time convincing me, despite the unique nature of the book’s central theme, that I should be the one writing Lincoln’s Tomb. (Noted Lincoln historian Douglas Wilson will be giving a talk at the Ft. Wayne museum next President’s Day – and why the hell hasn’t he written this book?) More that I belong in the Society of Irritable Opinion Columnists.

But I must say that by the time I walked down to the museum’s research room last Friday, I was excited and quite anxious to get started. After filling out a standard form – which I described on the Lincoln’s Tomb page as something of a cross between common data gathering and a place to send the legal papers should materials come up missing – I was unleashed upon a collection of files.

I wasn’t long into the process before I came across a paper that caused breath to leave my body: Someone, at some point along the line, prepared a chart detailing Lincoln’s fluctuations in heart rate as he lie dying in the Petersen house. It goes undated and offers only “JAMA” as a possible source (meaning the Journal of the American Medical Association), and even then offering no hint as to whether the page was prepared by JAMA, prepared on its behalf, or copied from a chart printed in one of its journals. It was old enough to have been hand drawn on a piece of graph paper with the necessary notations made with a manual typewriter. (Flipping through my Fort Wayne papers now, I don’t see that I had it included in my stack, which baffles me.)

There were also several strings of correspondence between museum staff and visitors / readers of Lincoln Lore. Some were looking to sell something to the museum, some were looking for answers to old Lincoln questions, or to add their two cents to previously voiced topics of concern. There was a letter from W. Emerson Reck – whose heartbreakingly well-researched book A. Lincoln: His Last 24 Hours is a necessity for any Lincoln admirer or researcher – on whether it’s spelled “Petersen” or “Peterson.”

Reck doesn’t speak definitively on the point, saying instead that different sets of records from different decades in the early to mid 1800s alternate, having it spelled each way depending on what set he was reading. (For some reason, I also didn’t think enough to have this letter copied for the fun of having it, though history has settled the matter: Petersen is the accepted spelling.) Several emails are included in the files I saw, meaning that I had better be more careful how I address correspondence to that office, just in case.

Having now been to Fort Wayne and having gotten some idea as to the scope of the material available there, I can state without reservation that the entire rest of the book could, and very well may, be researched there. Oh, some cursory trips will have to be made to the Lincoln presidential library in Springfield, Illinois; mostly for the sheer thrill of having done some work there. Not to forget some of the larger libraries along the funeral train route – Chicago, Indianapolis, Michigan City (Indiana), et cetera – housing microfilmed newspaper clippings of the proceedings in those towns. But other than those, I am strongly suspecting most of the research work can be done there in Fort Wayne. Which is no small relief, as I am now familiar with the facility.

The point of no return is fast approaching. If I’m ever going to back out ……..