Author Archives: John Lusk


I’m not kidding.


«Byzantium learned about Normans the hard way. In the ninth and tenth centuries Byzantine strength had revived somewhat as Muslims turned to fighting one another, and in 975 a Byzantine army even came within sight of Jerusalem (it failed to take the holy city but did liberate Jesus’ sandals and John the Baptist’s hair). But within a century the Byzantines became dangerously dependent on Norman mercenaries, whose unreliability (for all their ferocity, they regularly ran away) contributed to a catastrophic defeat at Turkish hands in 1071. Twenty years later, with Constantinople under Turkish siege, the Byzantine emperor wrote to the pope in Rome, apparently hoping for help in hiring more mercenaries. The pope, though, had other ideas. Seeking to strengthen his own position in his struggles with Europe’s kings, he called a summit in 1095 and pitched the idea of an expedition—a crusade—to throw the Turks out of Jerusalem.

There was wild enthusiasm; rather more, in fact, than either the pope or the Byzantines wanted. Tens of thousands of villagers started walking east, plundering central Europe and massacring Jews as they went. Only a few reached Anatolia, where the Turks slaughtered them. None made it to the Holy Land, except as slaves.

Of more practical use were the three armies of French and Norman knights, backed by Genoese merchants, which converged on Jerusalem in 1099. Their timing was impeccable: the Seljuks were too busy fighting one another to offer much resistance, and after heart-stopping feats of bravado the crusaders breached the holy city’s walls. For twelve hours they plundered and killed on a scale that shocked even the Normans among them, burning Jews alive and chopping Muslims into pieces (though at least, a Jewish woman observed, the Christians did not follow the Turkish practice of raping their victims first). Finally, at dusk, the conquerors splashed through ankle-deep gore to thank God at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.

Yet spectacular though it was, this direct assault on the core never seriously threatened Islam. The Christian Kingdom of Jerusalem was steadily rolled back until in 1187 the Muslims recaptured the city. More crusades followed, most failing dismally; in 1204 the fourth, unable to afford ships, ended up renting itself out as muscle to Venetian financiers and sacking not Jerusalem but Constantinople. Neither the crusading movement nor the Byzantine Empire recovered from this disgrace.»

A ‘potential resolution’ to Hannah Jones tenure controversy may not heal damage done at UNC | NC Policy Watch

«“I led a search committee last year, when we were trying to hire a historian,” Sturkey said. “I had one of our leading candidates express reservations to me about coming to UNC without tenure. She said she wasn’t sure she could enjoy academic freedom at UNC because of our governing bodies. She was worried she might be denied tenure if she writes about the history of race in America.”»

«Another Board of Trustees member said some of their colleagues are now floating the idea that they should simply wait until July, when new trustees cycle on to replace retiring ones. Those whose terms end include Stevens and Chuck Duckett, chairman of the University Affairs committee, from which Hannah-Jones’s tenure submission never emerged. Duckett has said publicly he had questions about Hannah-Jones’s application, but would not elaborate on what they were.

Without Stevens and Duckett, the board member told Policy Watch, a newly constituted group may be able to look at the issue with fresh eyes.

“I don’t personally think that is workable,” the board member said. “I think this is something we have to deal with sooner rather than later. [Hannah-Jones] is supposed to start on July 1. And every day we don’t deal with this is a poor reflection on us. It is not a ‘Great Day to Be a Tar Heel’.”»

House with rainbow lights

This is actually pretty cool, visual-wise.

Strictly (@StrictlyChristo) Tweeted: HOA decided no flags allowed except the USA flag. Someone reported their Pride flag (up since 2016). Looking through the new rules, they noticed that removable lights are permitted without restriction so…they bought 6 colored floodlights and washed their house in pride colors.

Democratic Report Raises 2022 Alarms on Messaging and Voter Outreach – The New York Times

Dems need to get serious about misinformation. Republicans ALWAYS claim low taxes lead to more jobs and we need more “law and order” and a strong military, without defining “strength” other than “moar troops, tanks, ships, and planes.” And the people say “Rawr!”