Luther’s Conservative Reformation

After nearly a month, I owe it to this series to put the English wars in the context of the greater Reformation in Europe. I’ll write this with the assumption that the reader has some very basic knowledge on who Martin Luther is as this is not intended as an introductory piece on Luther’s biographical details.

Luther’s Reformation begins anywhere from 1517 to 1521 depending on how you frame it, but regardless this is a long way off from our target dates of 1620-1660 for this blog series. This gap is the focus of this particular article, where I want to highlight how the conservatism of Luther’s writings likely played a role in limiting the scope and progress of the Reformation in the 16th Century.

Probably any student of Christianity or Early Modern Europe will be familiar with the more provocative quotes from Luther like the following:

Faith alone is the saving and efficacious use of the word of God…. The word of God cannot be received and cherished by any works whatever but only by faith. Therefore it is clear that, as the soul needs only the word of God for its life and righteousness, so it is justified by faith alone and not any works; for if it could be justified by anything else, it would not need the word, and consequently it would not need faith

The Freedom of a Christian Man. Luther, 1520; ed. Harold J Grimm, 1957.

Likely the central message from any introductory class on Luther and Protestantism. The occasional political scientist will dust off quotes similar to this one for a class on the “origins of modern democracy”, highlighting Luther as the philosophical catalyst for Europeans to begin en masse to reject the Medieval social order. I won’t be focusing on the many reasons why the Medieval world came to an end during this period, but I’ll simply name drop the New World, the Black Death, the Printing Press, or the Peasants’ Revolts to be equally cliched myself. What I am interested in, though, is examining the tone of a few of Luther’s earlier texts and how it contrasts with the common image of Luther as a model revolutionary, however radical Protestantism would later become.

In fact, Luther equivocates throughout his early works, not just The Freedom of a Christian Man. He opens with his strongest messaging, almost in the style of a modern provocateur, declaring his Christian man as both “perfectly free…subject to none” but paradoxically a “servant…subject to all”. However, he always tacks back later in his pamphlets with very different language:

You will ask, “If all who are in the church are priests, how do these whom we no call priests differ from laymen?” … Holy Scripture makes no distinction between them, although it gives the name “ministers,” “servants,” “stewards” to those who are now proudly called popes, bishops and [feudal] lords and who should according to the ministry of the word serve others and teach them the faith of Christ and the freedom of believers. Although we are all equally priests, we cannot all publicly minister and teach.

Or as he puts here with very little subtlety:

Finally, something must be added for the sake of those for whom nothing can be said so well that they will not spoil it by misunderstanding it [the power of faith]. It is questionable whether they will understand even what will be said here. There are very many who, when they hear of this freedom of faith, immediately turn it into an occasion for the flesh and think that now all things are allowed them. They want to show that they are free men and Christians only by despising and finding fault with ceremonies, traditions, and human laws; as if they were Christians because on stated days they do not fast or eat meat when others fast….

Luther’s conclusion to The Freedom of the Christian Man includes an extended section dealing with the inevitable disagreements on the nature of ceremony and tradition where he spends roughly equal page space addressing the ‘radical’ and the ‘conservative’ points of view; e.g. when is it okay to disobey traditional authority and when must the “free” Christian submit? The theme is consistent across these quotations: Luther’s Reformation according to Luther should not be a wholesale reinvention of European society from top to bottom. More personally, Luther writing this does not explicitly depict himself as overthrowing the Pope as the head of Christianity nor the various feudal lords of Central Europe, and that seems intentional. Most discussions on the Reformation will be sure to cover this last point at the very least. It’s worth looking further.

Luther published another short pamphlet in 1523 entitled On Governmental Authority in which he further explored what he perceived to be the proper relationship between the lay people and governments be them burghs or kingdoms. He opens the pamphlet immediately with an explanation that he is writing this purposefully so that no one can argue that Luther’s theories exclude civil authority from a Christian world. In a similar style to his previous works, he grounds his main theological points firmly in biblical passages, mostly from the New Testament. An interesting sidebar here is this exposes a key perspective on the Reformation and how society was changing at its very roots. Luther himself was originally enrolled as a law student before eventually dropping out and focusing specifically on theology. The overlap of those professions in the period exposes a feature of this period. Although law as its own profession had existed for over two hundred years by the time Luther came of age, there was a great deal of overlap with legalistic minds and theological minds. In many ways, this reflects Medieval society in general, something that was to break down over the two hundred year period from 1500-1700.

The most memorable takeaway from Luther’s On Governmental Authority is the “Two Kingdoms” theory. Roughly put, Luther divides the world into two groups, Christians and non-Christians, and makes some arguments based on biblical references to argue that while Christians have no need for laws, non-Christians do and therefore both laws and governments need to exist to manage them. Something important to remember here is that Luther’s “non-Christians” include professed Christians who do not live what Luther considers to be “true” Christian lives. This is a convenient logical turn that allows Luther to argue that true Christians are not overly-concerned with the profane while defending the traditional authorities that he seems to want to guard against destructive impulses within the Reformation.

Whether he slips into his next argument or intended it in his “Two Kingdoms” introduction, Luther moves on to build a sanctioned excuse for not only acquiescence to civil authority, but active and zealous participation in Christian governments across Europe. He bases this in the concept of charitable action for the benefit of others rather than oneself:

Here the other proposition applies, that you are under obligation to serve and assist the [state] by whatever means you can, with body, goods, honor, and soul. For it is something which [Christians] do not need, but which is very beneficial and essential for the whole world and for your neighbor. Therefore, if you see that there is a lack of hangmen, constables, judges, lords, or princes…you should offer your services…. Here is the reason why you should do this: In such a case you would be entering entirely into the service and work of others, which would be of advantage neither to yourself nor your property, or honor, but only to your neighbor and to others.

On Governmental Authority. Martin Luther, 1523. ed. Hans J. Hillberbrand, 1968.

This is advocacy against anarchy at least and could be viewed as overt religious support for the state. We can imagine why Luther might insert this passage, but it does seem to be a very convenient official stance for kings, dukes, and counts in Europe to take. After all, that happens to preserve the convenient power-sharing arrangement the First and Second Estates traditionally wielded against the Third. Modern readers should remember that rulers and state officials were just as notorious in the late Medieval period as they are now for corruption, profiteering, and skulduggery. Luther takes an openly obliging position on the privilege of the ruling class by shamelessly claiming that service to the state could never bolster one’s property nor honor.

Luther ends the first section of his pamphlet and opens the second section, entitled “Part Two How Far Does Temporal Authority Extend”, where he begins to deal with the question of where the limits of state power lie and how those limits interact the power of the Church and of God. Luther enters what must be described as a heated invective at both the Church and nobility in his opening paragraphs. He accuses feudal lords of “heaping tax upon tax and tribute upon tribute” and the Church of “heaping alien sin upon themselves and incur[ing] the hatred of God, and man, until they come to ruin…”; hardly a resounding recommendation. The reader should take note, though, that Luther spends most of this criticism focused on lords who attempt to legislate either against the owning of translated Bibles or directly in favor of the Pope. Likewise his criticism of the Church centers around similar topics. Luther is very concerned with state overreach into religious matters and in some ways is arguing for an early separation between the Church and the state itself, but only in so much as he believes the Christian Church to be the ultimate authority on Earth. The modern reader cannot mistake his words here as support for post-Enlightenment secular values; see this rather as arguing for state recognition of the independence of the Church in affairs relating to God, as defined by Luther apparently.

Luther chastises Germany’s lords again in Friendly Admonition to Peace concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants published in 1525. Set against the backdrop of a Peasants’ Revolt against their lords regarding taxation and religious worship (quite common during this period), Luther addresses both the lords and the peasants in turn. His first section written to the lords is mostly wrist-slap language, speaking about honor and the grace of God. He speaks as a peer to them later about individual Articles put forth by the peasants, backing them in principle, but ultimately appealing to his audience’s lordly sense of equity. In his address to the peasants, Luther takes a mostly sympathetic tone to the principle of the revolt (the spread of the Lutheran Church), but uses very telling language to advocate for nonviolence,

The fact that the rulers are wicked and unjust does not excuse tumult and rebellion, for to punish wickedness does not belong to everybody, but to the worldly rulers who bear the sword…. Now you cannot deny that your rebellion proceeds in such a way that you make yourselves your own judges, and avenge yourselves, and are unwilling to suffer any wrong. That is contrary not only to Christian law and the gospel, but also to natural law and all equity….

Friendly Admonition to Peace concerning the Twelve Articles of the Swabian Peasants. Martin Luther, 1525. ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand, 1968.

And in another shocking statement of strange teleological basis,

It is true that the rulers do wrong when they suppress the gospel and oppress you in temporal things; but you do much more wrong when you not only suppress God’s word, but tread it underfoot, and invade His authority and His law, and put yourselves above God. Besides, you take from the rulers their authority and right; nay, all that they have. For what have they left, when they have lost their authority?

Here Luther speaks even more clearly with respect to the so-called ‘temporal’ authorities, namely the feudal lords. This echoes Luther’s vision of the role of the “stewards” from The Freedom of the Christian Man but depicted at length. He gives what reads almost as a blanket concession for ducal law at least within Germany, couched within a weak appeal for feudal justice based on Christian values. Luther lays out his would-be prescription for lordly behavior mostly on a good-faith basis. Lords are left to their own devices with an almost explicit honor code, although the resulting grey area is completely unaddressed by Luther. Perhaps he was thinking about this within the context of his “good men who produce good works” argument, which gives him some logical consistency even if he still lacks what to us seems common sense. People are flawed and will continue to be flawed and that includes lords as well despite their professed faith.

So why? Maybe Luther had a slow ratchet of progress planned in his mind, but maybe he didn’t and simply found himself surrounded by controversy. Perhaps this was an attempt to placate existing elites for protection from staunch Catholic allies? Was this an attempt to cynically create a Protestant ‘bloc’ with Luther himself as a sort of first-citizen Pope of a new Christian order? It’s hard to say, but I think it’s important to remind ourselves that the Reformation was from the very start a radical movement that tried it’s hardest at times to be as conservative as possible and this holds true for Britain as well as Germany.

From a modern perspective his tone may seem underwhelming; we’ve become accustomed to ‘heroes’ of change and progress who take a vocal stance opposing the status quo. We openly applaud this as a cultural value. Luther’s tone sets the stage for the strange conservatism of England’s own Reformation which should be kept in context as we examine the minds of the Puritans. The shrill call for further Reformation that characterizes the pre-Civil War period fits as a collective response to a century of delayed decisions by the existing powers represented ultimately by King Charles, Archbishop Laud, and the Church of England.

John Smith, James Fort, and the “City upon a Hill”

The “City upon a Hill” is likely most familiar to us within the context of American history and the associated pedagogy surrounding American exceptionalism. “City upon a Hill” becomes shorthand for “land of the free, home of the brave” or the 20th Century vision of America as the “melting pot” of the “best and the brightest” that stands out as a shining beacon of liberty, etc. The origin of the phrase comes, not surprisingly, from the Bible in Matthew 5:14 and gained minor historical significance as part of John Winthrop’s sermon to the Massachusetts Bay colonists on the eve of their mission to New England. The meaning being: the world is watching us as we are a city upon a hill, so we mustn’t fail in our values and commitment (to God).

Given this religious foundation, you might be interested to find that Mr Winthrop was not a minister; he was, in fact, a lawyer. It’s worth remembering that generally speaking, everyone in 15th and 16th Century Europe was more religious than their counterparts today, but with Winthrop we are entering the Puritan mind where the boundary between the secular and the spiritual breaks down.

This is one of the many veins of thought that I want to investigate in this blog series. Histories of the English Civil War disagree even today about the role religion played in the conflict. The Puritan control of the Parliamentarian movement definitely creates an association between the cause of Parliament and the Puritan cause of further reformation. English puritanism died out much sooner than its colonial offshoot, so I’m hoping that by studying the early Americans, who were still very English at this point, we can learn something about their shorter-lived brothers back across the Atlantic.

The reason I put John Smith and not John Winthrop in the title of this post is that I’d like to demonstrate how deeply ingrained the “City upon a Hill” metaphor was within puritanism even before John Winthrop made it explicit in the written record. John Smith’s name will be familiar to most Americans at least through exposure to depictions of John Smith in popular culture like Disney’s Pocahontas. John Smith was the rakish mercenary and colonist who, despite being convicted of mutiny only a month into the journey to found Jamestown, eventually rose to lead and helped save the fort from one of the many starvation events that plagued it until after 1610. In the climax of his Jamestown career, Smith admonished his fellow colonists on the virtues of hard work and the fate of those who would expect a ‘free ride’:

You must obey this now for a law, that he that will not work shall not eat

If I told you that our new acquaintance was also quoting the Bible here you wouldn’t be too surprised would you? I hope not, because that’s precisely the point. But, before we move on it’s important to understand a few things about the makeup of James Fort up to this point. Smith’s The Proceedings provides a crew manifest in its first chapter laying out the names, titles, professions, and functional roles of 67 members (out of 105) of the voyage, presumably recorded for their importance or perhaps just their memorability. Relevant to us: out of the first 105 colonists, 29 were listed holding the distinction of “Gentlemen” as their function within the expedition. Smith himself was listed as “Councell” along with five others including their preacher. Other functions include “Laborers”, “Carpenters”, and, endearingly, “Boyes”. If this manifest is to be believed, a rough 30% of the crew would have been posher stuff than the modern stereotype of the yeoman farmer of early America.

Indeed, the colonists’ initial plans never included “vi[c]tual” self-sufficiency. Being enterprising “Gentlemen”, the crew of the first voyage intended to trade both with locals and their investors back home in England to acquire food and profit. Even their choice of landing was motivated more by the need for defense from Spanish than any concerns about staple agriculture; the land around James Fort was mostly marshland with limited fresh water. Had times been different, the colonists’ gamble might have paid out, but as the archeological record reveals, and unfortunately for Smith and his compatriots, the Jamestown region suffered a near-thousand-year drought during the first few supply voyages. These environmental conditions, combined with the socially-upscale composition of the crew and the likely-inevitable tensions with the locals under chief Powhatan, undermined the initial plans for the colony sending it on an unstable trajectory. In the Summer of 1609 when Smith wrote his exhortation, James Fort had over 200 settlers and was entirely reliant on supply ships from England to prevent another mass death like the one experienced in 1607. By the time these ships arrived in May 1610, the colony had 50 inhabitants, barely clinging to life.

With this context in mind, let’s turn back to the Captain’s quote above. Smith is referencing the Bible here, specifically 2nd Thessalonians 3:10. A more casual eye might end the inquiry here, satisfied that Smith was simply using the common cultural reference point of the day, the Bible. This alone does demonstrate how deeply ingrained knowledge of the word of the Bible itself was at this point, even to a commoner like Smith who spent most of his adult life in the field as a mercenary. But let’s go one step deeper here and look at 2nd Thessalonians as a whole. Roughly put, the book is framed as a letter from Paul, writing in Corinth, to a new and struggling church recently established further north. Paul covers some points of apparent concern to this church, giving instructions for how to identify the second coming and for how to identify his letters from counterfeits. The main content of his letter, though, is devoted to convincing these founders to stick by their faith and also covers how to handle incompetent peers, calling to “keep every brother who leads an unruly life”. Paul instructs not to punish these “brothers”, but rather literally to “admonish them”. Within this section, Paul writes:

For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat

In his letter, Paul takes a tone similar in character to Smith in his letter to the colonists (and investors), reassuring his audience that there are better times ahead for them and that this will be assured specifically by a strong and equally-shared commitment to making their church a success. Failures are blamed specifically on members who are not perceived to be ‘pulling their weight’ as we might put it.

I find it too coincidental that Capt. Smith writes in very much the same context. As a foundational figure in the colony’s existence, Smith finds himself writing from a position of authority attempting to set a standard for the settlers to follow. He really does “admonish” his fellow colonists that:

the labors of thirty or forty honest and industrious men shall not be consumed to maintain a hundred and fifty idle loiterers.

The colony is not simply a business venture gone terribly wrong: it is a figurative “City upon a Hill”, a public symbol of the progress of reformed Christendom in the physical world. The success of the wider movement depends in part on the success of each small step into unknown territory, which itself depends on each member contributing as equally as possible in the face of adversity. Yes, Smith is writing this in part to drum up strong sentiment to preserve the financial backing for James Fort, but the parallels here are hard to ignore. What this demonstrates to me is that well before the more famously religious Puritan charters to New England, English colonists to the Americas were already well-imbued with a sense of their role in not only a national mission, but a religious one as well.

What that mission entails precisely, will have to wait for another time…

Civil War!

Hi all,

I’m reviving the blog with a new format to cover the research I’ve been doing over the past year and a half. I’ve gone into a few topics in some level of depth, but primarily Sumer, Caesarion Rome, and the English Civil Wars. The latter two are of special relevance as they represent the topic of this blog series: Civil War!

What drives a country to fight itself to the death? What forces rend neighbor from neighbor, husband from wife, brother from sister? And, ominously, what echoes of civil war do we see in our own society? What about in ourselves?

We’ll be starting this series with thoughts and notes on the English Civil War with special interest paid to the economic, social, religious, and political underpinnings for the war itself, its lead-up, and its aftermath. Expect the Protestant Reformation and the colonization of the Americas to show up a few times.

Until next time

At the MFA: Takashi Murakami and More

I’ve been away from the blog for a month now; holidays and work kept me busy enough. However, I’ve still been taking plenty of photos and today I’ve got a selection from my trip to the MFA in Boston. Sydney and I recently visited the museum as part of our trip out to see family and friends over Christmas and New Years. The main exhibit we went to see was Takashi Murakami, who I’ll confess I knew nothing of before attending the museum, as well as the main exhibits on permanent display. I’d been to the museum a few years prior, but completely forgot how massive it was. Consequently, we had to move pretty quickly through certain sections in order to make to another engagement we had later that evening.

For context, Takashi Murakami is a Japanese contemporary artist who blends both art and fashion, high and low in his style. Sometime around 2009 he coined the term “superflat”, which he meant to describe the unique style of Japanese art. Many of his pieces on display were modern renditions of older 17th and 18th Century Japanese pieces as well as a few recognizably Japanese pop art murals. Enjoy.

Egyptian fresco of a lion

Lion and bull in combat

Tablet memorializing the life of a certain pharaoh, whose name I’ve forgotten


The unrealistic proportions of the head and torso disappear when this statue is viewed from below, as it would have been when originally constructed

As low as I could get, but you can see how the proportions already look better here

Orientalist dresser of European manufacture. European decor was already heavily influenced by East Asian styles as early as the 17th and 18th Centuries

Close-up of one of the dresser’s vignettes

This man found fame on Broadway over the past few years

The following photos in this style were all part of a single 20ft mural

The anime influence is undeniable in this mural

Another classical Japanese-inspired mural. The inspiration can be seen in two images

A 17th Century Japanese print, which serves as inspiration for the Murakami mural

Saw this on the way out, remember these incense holders from Teotihuacan?


Thanks for checking these out and keep your eyes open for two more posts in the next few days. I’ve got some photos from the New England Aquarium and from the Legion of Honor in San Francisco.

At the de Young: Teotihuacan

I’ve been waiting for a chance to make it to the de Young’s Teotihuacan exhibition for a number of months now and on Sunday Sydney and I finally had a chance to head over. The exhibit featured a little more than half a dozen rooms filled with a variety of artifacts excavated from different digs of Teotihuacan. Most of these were either religious figurines or fragments from larger statues, although a few everyday pieces also appeared in the collection.

For background, Teotihuacan was a Mesoamerican city state founded around 100 CE near modern-day Mexico City. The site is noteworthy for a number of reasons, foremost being the large pyramids built along its famed “Avenue of the Dead”. The site flourished for around 500 years before eventually succumbing to a rapid decline in population and a large burning and destruction of the major civic and religious structures. The exact origins of the founders of the city are unknown as are the reasons for its rapid decline although climate change and internal upheaval are generally listed as the leading theories.

Anyway, enjoy the de Young’s Teotihuacan:

A series of carved shells.

The details on these shells were amazing; I felt like I was looking at something that had just been carved.

Loved the attitude of this particular character.

The last of the shells.

A lot of the close-ups for this came out great, so be prepared for a few more 🙂

One of the many murals in the exhibition. This particular one seems to depict two animals devouring a third.

This piece was described as a “face with claws”. I can find the claws in the center, but where are the eyes?

I loved this particular angle for this piece. The relief and the lighting give it this great terminating effect.

One of my favorites in the collection. From this angle you can really see the way the pigment was applied and how the ceramic was originally shaped. Unfortunately, I don’t remember the name for this one.

Sydney claimed to feel a special connection with this piece. Must be the hair…

I enjoyed seeing these masks done in a very different style from the other ceramics in the collection. There were so many “storm gods” that seeing some human faces was refreshing.

This piece and the next were both described as incense burners. In fact, many of the harder-to-define pieces wound up being burners for incense.

Whoever made this piece had a wonderful sense of humor. I love this thing.

This statue fragment was actually more than 6′ in length and about 2′ or 3′ tall.

The title piece of the collection. This one was also a larger piece probably being about 5′ in diameter.

The only shot I included of the many serpent murals on display.

Sadly, the other close-ups of some of the figurines came out blurred. Obsidian was apparently a widely used crafting material in Teotihuacan, potentially something it traded in.

This statue was the final piece in the collection and stood about my height. I love the detail of the fragmentation in the third photo.

Thanks for reading and keep your eyes out for another photography post. Sydney and I are planning on going to the Legion of Honor in January to see their Rodin collection and their “Gods in Polychrome” exhibition of Greco-Roman statues painted in their original coloring.

What I’m Reading – 12/5/17

My first post for December! Spent the weekend absorbed in Christmas decorating and I’m pretty happy with the results. Hopefully this is the first of many great Christmas tress I’ll have in San Francisco.

Besides that not much else has been going on. Chelsea play their final match in their Champions League group stage today. A win would put Chelsea on top of their group although even a loss still means they’ll make it to the knockout stages. Either way the opponents in the next round will be difficult. Honestly, even a quarter final appearance this year would be a pretty good showing. Anyway, here are the links:

What I’m Reading – 11/30/17

I thought I was done for November, but I found six more articles I really wanted to share! I don’t have much else to share in the way of personal details today; I’ve mostly spent the week doing shopping for Christmas decorations for the tree. I do have a few things to say about Bitcoin and the markets today, though.

We’ve had a crazy few days on the markets as Bitcoin blitzed to $11,000 to the dollar and then pulled all the way back to $9,000 all in the span of 48 hours. Anyone still seriously looking at this as anything other than a severe bubble is likely to get burned badly. Remember, if Bitcoin bursts this is going to have big ramifications for the rest of the crypto-markets as mainstream investors move away. If crypto takes a hit, make sure to re-assess any positions you might have in AMD or Nvidia since the two major GPU makers have received a huge boost from crypto-mining over the past year and a half.

In other news, tech stocks pulled back a fair bit both in China and the US as investors decided to take profits. It looks today that any profit-taking has ended temporarily and we may be heading higher before the end of the year. Anyway, here are the links:

What I’m Reading – 11/28/17

Feels good to be back to work after the holiday. I spent the weekend eating great food with Sydney’s folks at her house and finally finished the Hamilton biography I’ve been starting and stopping for ten years. I have to say the first half of his life was definitely more entertaining the second, although for someone who died at age 49, Alexander Hamilton lived an incredible life. If you never saw the musical or read about his life, I highly recommend it.

This week is all about getting decorations ready for Christmas and hopefully putting together a surprise for Sydney (don’t tell her). Other than that, I’ll be going to see the Disaster Artist later on this week. If you haven’t seen the previews, the Disaster Artist is about Tommy Wiseau and the making of The Room, one of the most notoriously bad movies of all time.

I haven’t really kept up too much with the news over the weekend, so I’ll leave off this section for today. Anyway, here are the links:

What I’m Reading – 11/22/17

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Hopefully all of you are safely with your family or friends and ready to enjoy the holiday. I’m trying to get this written while packing up, so I’ll keep it short. The week has been busy on the production side of things and equally busy in the news. We’ll most likely be paying more for our internet service going forward if the FCC repeals Net Neutrality later this week. For those of you who aren’t up-to-date on that issue, I’ve included a link on the issue in today’s set.

Anyway, here are the links:

What I’m Reading – 11/18/17

Originally this post was supposed to have photos from a trip to the MOMA this weekend, but considering we didn’t finish making breakfast until 2pm today, it’ll have to wait for tomorrow. Instead, we watched Chelsea thump West Brom 4-0 in the Premier League with a beautiful assist from Alvaro Morata leading to an Eden Hazard goal. The win takes Chelsea to third in the table, as Spurs lost to Arsenal 2-0. Currently four teams are within one point of 4th place in the league which will definitely make for an interesting Christmas run of games. By the way, if you only read one link this week, I highly suggest reading the final article on finding lost trade cities of the Bronze Age.

In other news, Mugabe is definitely going to be ousted in Zimbabwe and the controversial Roy Moore is trailing his Democrat opponent by something like 5 points in the polls, which would add to Republican woes as the Democrats ready themselves for a midterm challenge. In business news, Tesla, under pressure for Model 3 production problems, unveiled a new electric semi truck picking up exploratory orders from the likes of Walmart.

Anyway, here are the links: