Sunday, February 1, 2015

The Duke of Monmouth Lands in England

Featuring Gilbert Burnet

Introduction to our series Monmouth’s Rebellion:
This series is from History of My Own Time. Gilbert Burnet was a Whig who opposed King James. He was in exile when these events occurred. After the Glorious Revolution he ended up as Bishop of Salisbury. And now, Gilbert Burnet.

Time: 1685
Place: Ledgemoor, Somerset

View Larger Map
Satellite view of the battlefield today.

James II was scarcely seated on the English throne in 1685 when serious disturbances began in his realm. The King had inherited the peculiar traits of the Stuarts. His first purpose was to overcome the Parliamentary power and make himself absolute ruler. He was likewise a Roman Catholic, and one of his objects was the suppression of English Protestantism.

During the first days of his reign the Protestant peasants in the west of England rose in revolt. They supported the claims of James Fitzroy, Duke of Monmouth, to the throne. Monmouth was the (reputed) illegitimate son of Charles II and Lucy Walters. With other exiled malcontents, English and Scotch, he had taken refuge in Holland. One of those exiled was the Earl of Argyle, whose father had figured prominently on the side of the Scottish Presbyterians against Charles I.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Why we've Never Lived in Such Peaceful Times as Now

In The World Is Not Falling Apart published by Slate last month on 12/22/14, Steven Pinker and Andrew Mack argue that world violence is at a new low.  We've never had it so good.

All I can say to all of the historical data they present is, huh?  While actual violence may be at historic lows the threats of violence has never been higher. Examples:
  • North Korea has scrapped the armistace that ended the Korean war.  
  • Jihadists can and have struck at any time and anywhere.
  • Iran is moving rapidly towards nuclear weapons.
One could go on.  Historic trends up to now may be down but indications for the future are ominous.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Noah on the Flood

"Into everyone's life, a little rain must fall, but this is ridiculous."

    - Noah

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Venice Defeats Genoa

Featuring Henry Hallam

Introduction to Venice Defeats Genoa:
Henry Hallam (1777 – 1859) wrote View of the State of Europe During the Middle Ages from which this passage is taken.

During the Middle Age the Mediterranean Sea was Western Europe’s main connection with the rest of the world. The Italian city-states dominated the trade routes. Two cities were above the others. This is the story of how one of those two finally came out on top. And now, Henry Hallam.

Time: 1380
Place: Venice

The Grand Canal of Venice
circa 1760 by Francesco Guardi
Public domain image from Wikipedia.
Genoa did not stand alone in this war. A formidable confederacy was raised against Venice, which had given provocation to many enemies. Of this Francis Carrara, seignior of Padua, and the King of Hungary were the leaders. But the principal struggle was, as usual, upon the waves. During the winter of 1378 a Genoese fleet kept the sea, and ravaged the shores of Dalmatia. The Venetian armament had been weakened by an epidemic disease, and when Vittor Pisani, their admiral, gave battle to the enemy, he was compelled to fight with a hasty conscription of landsmen against the best sailors in the world.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Why Intaphrenes Was Executed

Previously in Herodotus

119. Upon this they showed themselves to the king and told the cause for which they had suffered this; and Darius, fearing that the six might have done this by common design, sent for each one separately and made trial of his inclinations, as to whether he approved of that which had been done: and when he was fully assured that Intaphrenes had not done this in combination with them, he took both Intaphrenes himself and his sons and all his kinsmen, being much disposed to believe that he was plotting insurrection against him with the help of his relations; and having seized them he put them in bonds as for execution. Then the wife of Intaphrenes, coming constantly to the doors of the king's court, wept and bewailed herself; and by doing this continually after the same manner she moved Darius to pity her. Accordingly he sent a messenger and said to her: "Woman, king Darius grants to thee to save from death one of thy kinsmen who are lying in bonds, whomsoever thou desirest of them all." She then, having considered with herself, answered thus: "If in truth the king grants me the life of one, I choose of them all my brother." Darius being informed of this, and marveling at her speech, sent and addressed her thus: "Woman, the king asks thee what was in thy mind, that thou didst leave thy husband and thy children to die, and didst choose thy brother to survive, seeing that he is surely less near to thee in blood than thy children, and less dear to thee than thy husband." She made answer: "O king, I might, if heaven willed, have another husband and other children, if I should lose these; but another brother I could by no means have, seeing that my father and my mother are no longer alive. This was in my mind when I said those words." To Darius then it seemed that the woman had spoken well, and he let go not only him for whose life she asked, but also the eldest of her sons because he was pleased with her: but all the others he slew. One therefore of the seven had perished immediately in the manner which has been related.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Solomon Also Builds His Palace

Featuring Henry Hart Milman

Previously on Solomon Builds the Great Temple. And now Henry Hart Milman.

Time: 953 BC from The Temple of Solomon - (The First Temple) by Lambert Dolphin
Place: Jerusalem

Though the chief magnificence of Solomon was lavished on the Temple of God, yet the sumptuous palaces which he erected for his own residence display an opulence and profusion which may vie with the older monarchs of Egypt or Assyria. The great palace stood in Jerusalem; it occupied thirteen years in building. A causeway bridged the deep ravine, and leading directly to the Temple, united the part either of Acra or Sion,on which the palace stood, with Mount Moriah.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Solomon Dedicates the Temple

Featuring Henry Hart Milman

Previously on Solomon Builds the Great Temple. And now Henry Hart Milman.

Time: 953 BC from The Temple of Solomon - (The First Temple) by Lambert Dolphin
Place: Jerusalem

The singers, as it drew near the gate, broke out in these words: “Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lifted up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in.” It was answered from the other part of the choir, “Who is the King of Glory?” --the whole choir responded, “The Lord of Hosts, he is the King of Glory.”

When the procession arrived at the Holy Place, the gates flew open; when it reached the Holy of Holies, the veil was drawn back. The Ark took its place under the extended wings of the cherubim, which might seem to fold over, and receive it under their protection. At that instant all the trumpeters and singers were at once to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice, with the trumpets, and cymbals, and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying, “For he is good, for his mercy endureth forever”, the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord, so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud; for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God. Thus the Divinity took possession of his sacred edifice.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Climate Change Since the Ice Ages

cc-by-2.0 from Wikipedia
photo by Scott Ableman
My take on George Will's latest. His column was published 1/7/15 in the Washington Post.

Summary: The world's climate has changed a lot over recorded history and before.  These changes have impacted human civilization in major ways.

 And if climate Cassandras are as conscientious as they claim to be about weighing evidence, how do they accommodate historical evidence of enormously consequential episodes of climate change not produced by human activity?
In the Medieval Warm Period (800 - 1300) the Earth was warmer than anytime in the last 8,000 years.  Northern England had vinyards.  Then global cooling set in and human upheaval resulted.  Farmland had to be abandoned and people starved.

The Little Ice Age occured in the 17th. century.  1675 was known as "the year without a summer."  Lots of change.

The climate is changing because the climate is always changing.

My Views:
While he goes too far in places, (I doubt that the wars of the 1600's were caused by climate change), this does remind us that climate has changed in the past and the change has not been due to human causes.  The problem that ordinary folks like myself have is that with the large amount of emissions that present society puts into the air it is hard not to think that this would have some impact.  I wonder if global warming is a combination of human and natural causes.

George Will almost didn't make it as a syndicated columnist. His style was considered too erudite for a general audience.

Whatever one thinks of his views, read his work for use of language and for how he marshals facts and uses logic.

Here's his Wiki bio.

Electronic Painting

by Jack Le Moine

Must chemistry be the only delivery media for paintings? Since the beginnings of civilization humanity has hung artwork on walls of homes, businesses, galleries, and public places. Artists mixed different resins with chemicals with organics and whatever other stuff goes into the paints that get put onto walls, clays, stones, woods, canvases and whatever other stuff paints are applied to and that is the fine art of painting. Whew!

What do people buy when they buy a painting? The canvas, the paints applied thereto, and the wood frame around it, of course but are the materials the main part of the sales price of art? People buy the artist’s conception and execution and, let’s face it, into the artist’s reputation. Look, I own a Renoir!

The author with his flat screen.
CC BY-SA 3.0 image by Jack Le Moine, CPA.
So, what if the delivery media for paintings were electronic instead of chemical? The major advantage of an electronic painting over an old-fashioned chemical one is that the electronic painting can show movement. The chief disadvantage will be energy consumption.

If the future of paintings is electronic, then landscapes can show trees swaying in the wind, ocean waves washing upon the beach, or clouds wafting over a meadow. The painting would be like a movie but with important differences:

  • Length - since they are not intended to be viewed at one sitting, an electronic painting could last many hours of screen time.
  • Activity – camera cuts can be few or even non-existent.
  • Subject – no story, no movie stars; most paintings and prints are landscapes. An electronic painting can consist of a camera pan of a meadow with a gurgling brook over a 24 hour period.
  • Activation – motion sensors could detect presence and turn the painting on and off for energy conservation.
  • Sound – soft background music can be turned on or off at the viewer’s choice. The silent era of movies may be due for a comeback.

The delivery devices will need to be plugged into a power source. Installers can run wires behind walls. To keep costs down the manufacturers should resist the urge to add features. These are the future version of canvases for paintings, not flat screen tv’s. Features should be limited to serving just that purpose.

Like chemistry based paintings, the electronic bases paintings of the future will be sold on the basis of the artwork incorporated on it rather than the canvas or the display device. An usb port would allow new art to be downloaded onto the device.

The biggest benefit of the electronic paintings of the future will be the great artwork that will be available to the masses.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Motivation for Success

“Bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other.”

- Abraham Lincoln

More on Abraham Lincoln.

Picture: public domain from Wikipedia

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Building of the Temple

Featuring Henry Hart Milman

Previously on Solomon Builds the Great Temple. And now Henry Hart Milman.

Time: 953 BC from The Temple of Solomon - (The First Temple) by Lambert Dolphin
Place: Jerusalem

Josephus carries the whole building up to the height of the porch; but this is out of all credible proportion, making the height twice the length and six times the width. Along each side, and perhaps at the back of the main building, ran an aisle, divided into three stories of small chambers: the wall of the Temple being thicker at the bottom, left a rest to support the beams of these chambers, which were not let into the wall. These aisles, the chambers of which were appropriated as vestiaries, treasuries, and for other sacred purposes, seem to have reached about half way up the main wall of what we may call the nave and choir: the windows into the latter were probably above them; these were narrow, but widened inward.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

From the Extremities of Asia in the East to Europe in the West

Previously in Herodotus

112. Gum-mastich however, which the Arabians call ladanon, comes in a still more extraordinary manner; for though it is the most sweet-scented of all things, it comes in the most evil-scented thing, since it is found in the beards of he-goats, produced there like resin from wood: this is of use for the making of many perfumes, and the Arabians use it more than anything else as incense.

113. Let what we have said suffice with regard to spices; and from the land of Arabia there blows a scent of them most marvelously sweet. They have also two kinds of sheep which are worthy of admiration and are not found in any other land: the one kind has the tail long, not less than three cubits in length; and if one should allow these to drag these after them, they would have sores from their tails being worn away against the ground; but as it is, every one of the shepherds knows enough of carpentering to make little cars, which they tie under the tails, fastening the tail of each animal to a separate little car. The other kind of sheep has the tail broad, even as much as a cubit in breadth.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Martin Luther King Day, 2015

This may be the most political of all holidays with only one third of businesses taking the day off.  Given due regard to all sides, it does seem that with the Civil Rights revolution being so important to American History, a special day such as this one to commemorate and celebrate is needed.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Background of Israel's Temples

Featuring Henry Hart Milman

Previously on Solomon Builds the Great Temple. And now Henry Hart Milman.

Time: 953 BC from The Temple of Solomon - (The First Temple) by Lambert Dolphin
Place: Jerusalem

Solomon entered into a regular treaty, by which he bound himself to supply the Tyrians with large quantities of corn; receiving in return their timber, which was floated down to Joppa, and a large body of artificers. The timber was cut by his own subjects, of whom he raised a body of thirty thousand; ten thousand employed at a time, and relieving each other every month; so that to one month of labor they had two of rest. He raised two other corps, one of seventy thousand porters of burdens, the other of eighty thousand hewers of stone, who were employed in the quarries among the mountains. All these labors were thrown, not on the Israelites, but on the strangers who, chiefly of Canaanitish descent, had been permitted to inhabit the country.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Maps That Will Change Your View of the World

Here are some interesting maps comparing data in new, instructive and novel ways.

From BuzzFeed.
Shared from MI Laboratorio de Ideas.

This map shows the world from millions of years ago.  Tectonic plates move the continents around.  What if today's political boundaries were overlayed onto that age?  Dinosaurs come and get us!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Fate's Intersections

How many points were there in history that were decisive in determining how the world about us came to be the way it is? Many would be an answer but how many are at the very top in importance? I suggest these.
  1. The First Human
  2. Assyrians Turn from Jerusalem
  3. The Greeks Stop the Persian's Conquest of Their Homeland
  4. Roman Emperor Constantine Converts to Christianity
  5. Barbarian King Clovis Converts to Christianity
  6. Muslim Invasion of France Turned Back at Poitiers
  7. Gutenberg Brings Printing Press to Europe
  8. Lorenzo the Magnificent Energizes the Renaissance
  9. Columbus Discovers America
  10. China Outlaws International Commerce, Science Research and Development
  11. United States Declares Independence
  12. The Battle of Britain
  13. The Space Age
Some of these took place over time; some occured in moments.  A few comments on my list:

Who the first human was and when did he/she first exist is unknowable but we can infer from the surrounding evidence that at some point we must say, "this was a human".

While the introduction of the printing press was an important event, civilizastion would have gone the way of the Chinese and the Muslim World without the Renaissance and all that it did.

China's decisions curtailing extermal trade and exploration together with curtailing research negated a thousand years of decision points and progress and condemned it to the second rank of world civilizations until the closing decades of the 20th. century.

What will happen to the human race in the future depends largely upon decisions that will be made regarding space?  Humanity can be either a space-faring civilization or bound to just this one planet.