In the country of Mt. Ararat, where the Bible says Noah’s Ark rested when the Great Flood subsided, there now is news of the discovery of the world’s oldest leather shoe. First announced on the plosone.org scientific website, the moccasin-looking shoe is made of cowhide, cut into two layers, and tanned with plant or vegetable oil. A leather cord is used to lace the shoe along front and back seams through leather eyelets.
The proud Roman general stood with his commanders and retinue as the wild hillsmen, dressed in the ragged but still-flamboyant clothes of corsairs, fell before him in turn, begging for clemency. It was about 75 B.C. in the rugged hills near Coracesium in Cilicia, an untamed region along the coast of southwestern Asia Minor, and the Cilician pirates, possibly the most successful race of brigands the world has ever seen, were surrendering to the Roman general Pompey.
Amtrak and its lobbyists at the National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP) recently invited us to commemorate the third annual National Train Day on May 8. Supposedly celebrating “America’s love for trains,” the day could not boast a more ironic host than the railroad nobody rides. Worse, Amtrak’s sponsorship was as shameless as Dracula’s funding a fashion show concentrating on décolletage: The government that owns Amtrak has sabotaged, subsidized, and sucked the life from American railroads since the industry’s inception.
Since the days when Mark Antony’s grandfather patrolled the coasts of the Mediterranean searching for the distinctive gilded-stemmed masts of their lightweight vessels, pirates from Cilicia (modern-day Cukorova, Turkey) had vexed Roman shipping lanes.
Studs Terkel called World War II the “good war.” If any war could be called good, then the Second World War is at least a candidate. However, it should be remembered that until the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, 70-80 percent or more of Americans in poll after poll said they wanted nothing to do with the war that was raging in the Far East or with the one that had erupted in Europe — and for good reason. By the 1930s it seemed that the death of tens of thousands of American boys during the Great War had been for naught. We were determined not to become entangled in yet another war overseas serving the interests of other nations.