"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Birthdays Today

Thomas Becket was born today in 1117.  Becket was Archbishop of Canterbury until his murder in 1170; assassinated by followers of Henry II, Becket was almost immediately canonized.   The struggles between the Catholic Church and the King of England during the Middle Ages were almost entirely political, in my estimation, rather than doctrinal -- Becket and Henry II were essentially rival kings.  

Also born today, in 1804, was the 19th century Conservative prime minister of England, Benjamin Disraeli, the only Jewish man ever to be prime minister.   (Disraeli was born into a Jewish family, but was baptised as a Christian and practiced as an Anglican his whole life.)    Disraeli's main rival at the time was Gladstone, the Liberal leader.   Disraeli was almost a popular novelist during his period, but his works have not worn well, and are not read much today.  

Finally, today is Jane Fonda's 73rd birthday.   An execrable person politically, "Hanoi Jane" was the star of one of my favorite movies in the mid-1960s when I was a small kid first liking movies, the comic western, Cat Ballou.  For some reason, this picture from the movie captures how I feel about her -- an incredibly cute girl who actually probably needed to be strung up.

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