Index for 2008

160: The Icelandic Free State, by Loren Cobb

"As I write this it has been snowing steadily for three days, and the world outside is white beyond white. My cat and I are gathered warm around the hearth, thinking about another cold and snowy place one thousand years in the past: the Free State of Iceland. Here is the story.

In the year 866 Norway was little more than a collection of small coastal kingdoms, smaller chiefdoms, and individual farms, the whole united only by common traditions and language. The richest agricultural lands of Norway were in Vestfold, a coastal zone to the west of Oslo. Harald Fairhair, proud King of Vestfold and beneficiary of its agricultural riches and shipbuilding prowess, began in that year to unify of all Norway under his rule.

In this Harald was merely continuing a centuries-old European expansion of feudal powers to every corner of the continent, but to the independent farmers of Norway, who had never owed fief or paid land tax to anyone, the sudden arrival of royal tax collectors came as a rude shock. By ancient custom and law, the independent landowners of Norway owned their land in allodial title, free of any tax or feudal service obligation. They weren't about to give up those rights without a fight..." [15 Mar 08]

161: Letter from a Soldier, by L. B. Cobb

"Loren, I have been following your work and wanted to comment on the PTSD issues related to combat, and other non-combat events. This is a difficult issue for me — I don't share military experiences very often. There is one truth, however: it takes only eight weeks to teach someone basic tactics and marksmanship; about two years to develop from individual to soldier, and an event like combat to make this change permanent. The real issue is that there is no "un-training" and there is no "un-soldiering" that can be done. The pattern of thought is permanent, indelible, and ever-present. This is very frustrating..." [6 Apr 08]

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