Friday, December 31, 2010

New Year’s Eve, 2010

Before the year recedes entirely into history, let's do a quick retrospective of it.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Prehistoric Beginnings

Blogging Will Durant’s History of Civilization

Immense volumes have been written to expound our knowledge, and conceal our ignorance of primitive man.
I wonder what it was like in Europe 20,000 years ago as Neanderthals battled Cro-Magnons for survival. If mere racial differences arise to prejudices in our era, what was it like when humans were divided into different sub-species?

Neanderthals may not have had the same brain capacity but they still had communities, tools, and ceremonies. Durant laments that only a small fraction of pre-historical artifacts survive. Since there was no writing we know about from this period, we can only speculate from scant evidence of human achievements and struggles.

Durant's Brief Outline
  1. Paleolithic Culture
  2. Neolithic Culture
  3. The Transition to History
- From Introduction, Chapter IV.

I believe that this series is one of the great works of modern history literature. Its material is essential knowledge.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

The Trojan War

Previously in Herodotus

118. Let us now leave Homer and the Trojan Epic; but this I will say, namely that I asked the priests whether it is but an idle tale which the Greeks tell of that which they say happened about Troy; and they answered me thus, saying that they had their knowledge by inquiries from Menelaos himself. After the rape of Helen there came indeed, they said, to the Trojan land a large army of Greeks to help Menelaos; and when the army had come out of the ships to land and had pitched its camp there, they sent messengers to Troy, with whom went also Menelaos himself; and when these entered within the wall they demanded back Helen and the wealth which Paris had stolen from Menelaos and had taken away; and moreover they demanded satisfaction for the wrongs done: and the Trojans told the same tale then and afterwards, both with oath and without oath, namely that in deed and in truth they had not Helen nor the wealth for which demand was made, but that both were in Egypt; and that they could not justly be compelled to give satisfaction for that which Proteus the Pharoah of Egypt had. The Greeks however thought that they were being mocked by them and besieged the city, until at last they took it; and when they had taken the wall and did not find Helen, but heard the same tale as before, then they believed the former tale and sent Menelaos himself to Proteus.

- Herodotus, Book II

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Difference Between Doers and Critics

Critics hang around and wait for others to make mistakes. But the real doers of the world have no time for criticizing others. They're too busy doing, making mistakes, improving, making progress.

- Wayne Dyer

More about Wayne Dyer

Sunday, June 27, 2010

They Meet

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

He was a skinny man, a bit short, 23 years old on that August night of 1873, with a walrus mustache, and bulging eyes. He was, what Americans of the time called, "a dandy" and these kind of men easily bored Jennie Jerome.

Lord Randolf Churchill was taken and really taken with this dark looking American. So, his immediate problem was how could keep her with him at this party with all of these virile naval officers around. Fellows were already approaching to ask her to dance and she already had a full dance card.

In desperation, he asked her himself. They walked along the deck of the ship. The Royal Marine Band played in the background. The lanterns bobbed in the twilight breeze. They stepped into the quadrille. In a few minutes the truth was clear. Randolf was a terrible dancer. Time for Plan B.

“Dancing makes me dizzy,” he admitted. He took her along the deck to a seat. He got her some champagne to sip and they talked. Randolf could talk. He spoke with great intensity. There was more to this man and Jennie was intrigued.

Clara broke in. “There is such a thing as spending too much time at such a ball as this with just one man.” “Oh, mother, couldn’t we invite him to dinner tomorrow?” A mother would ask, “Who is he? And more importantly, does he come from a good family?”

This series consists of short summaries for passages from the book that I am writing. Graphic is that of another Churchill book that I really like.

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The Old Country Pol Is Cheap

- From the Good old days, when bosses ran machines and the ward healers handed out the dough –

Wife: What did the people do when you said you never paid a thin dime for a vote and intended to keep it that way?
OCP: A couple applauded, one man shook my hand, and the rest walked out.

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Information Age, 2000 -

Computers have been around for a couple of decades but if one were to designate a dividing line across history, where would it be? This illustrates the problem with dating and classifying history. Just like all my other dating divisions, the century mark is close enough - and more easy to remember, too.

While the naming of this age is more prognostication than history, I think that it is a pretty safe bet that the greater greater ability to get and to share information worldwide will be an even more determining factor than the development of agriculture, bronze, and iron was in earlier ages.

Information sharing is not just computers but satelites communication, cell phones, cable television, and digital photography/video/audio. All of these technologies combine to become a driving force for our age. As of this decade, it only seems that the information tech will become even more important as the decades goes by.

Previous AgeMaster ListBack to the Start

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

H Tries to Reconcile His Story with Homer's

Previously in Herodotus

116. This the priests said was the manner of Helen's coming to Proteus; and I suppose that Homer also had heard this story, but since it was not so suitable to the composition of his poem as the other which he followed, he dismissed it finally, making it clear at the same time that he was acquainted with that story also: and according to the manner in which he described the wanderings of Paris in the Iliad (nor did he elsewhere retract that which he had said) it is clear that when he brought Helen he was carried out of his course, wandering to various lands, and that he came among other places to Sidon in Phoenicia. Of this the poet has made mention in the "prowess of Diomede," and the verses run this:[Illiad VI 289 – JL]]

There she had robes many-colored, the works of women of Sidon,
Those whom her son himself the god-like of form Paris
Carried from Sidon, what time the broad sea-path he sailed over
Bringing back Helene home, of a noble father begotten.

And in the Odyssey also he has made mention of it in these verses:[IV 227 – See Note 1 – JL]

Such had the daughter of Zeus, such drugs of exquisite cunning,
Good, which to her the wife of Thon, Polydamna, had given,
Dwelling in Egypt, the land where the bountiful meadow produces
Drugs more than all lands else, many good being mixed, many evil.

And thus too Menelaos says to Telemachos:[Oddyssey IV 351 - JL]

Still the gods stayed me in Egypt, to come back hither desiring,
Stayed me from voyaging home, since sacrifice was due I performed not.

In these lines he makes it clear that he knew of the wandering of Paris to Egypt, for Syria borders upon Egypt and the Phoenicians, of whom is Sidon, dwell in Syria. 117. By these lines and by this passage it is also most clearly shown that the "Cyprian Epic" was not written by Homer but by some other man: for in this it is said that on the third day after leaving Sparta Paris came to Ilion bringing with him Helen, having had a "gently-blowing wind and a smooth sea," whereas in the Iliad it says that he wandered from his course when he brought her.

- Herodotus, Book II

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

Note 1: These references to the Odyssey are by some thought to be interpolations, because they refer only to the visit of Menelaos to Egypt after the fall of Troy; but Herodotus is arguing that Homer, while rejecting the legend of Helen's stay in Egypt during the war, yet has traces of it left in this later visit to Egypt of Menelaos and Helen, as well as in the visit of Paris and Helen to Sidon.

Monday, June 21, 2010

How to Achieve Success

Many people dream of success. To me success can only be achieved through repeated failure and introspection. In fact, success represents the one percent of your work which results only from the 99 percent that is called failure.

- Soichiro Honda

More on Soichiro Honda

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Presenting Lord Randolf

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

The Stock Market Crash of 1873 left Leonard Jerome broke. Jennie was 19 years old. They still attended another season at Cowes.

A Regatta ball at Cowes was an interesting event. This year, for example, a must-see one was the August 12 ball for the heirs to the Russian throne on board the HMS Ariadne. The Jerome women had to jump in their evening dresses from the barge to the ladders hanging on the side of the ship. They then had to climb up. This task accomplished, they could admire the bobbing lanterns, the giant flags of Great Britain and Imperial Russia, or the music of the Royal Marine Band.

They stood there bare-shouldered, dark complexioned, and hesitant. Young men danced with them. Time swept by as it always does on such nights. Jennie was standing alone dreamily admiring a set of Chinese lanterns bobbing in the twilight breeze when her friend Frank Bertie came up and said, “Miss Jerome, may I present an old friend of mine who has just arrived in Cowes, Lord Randolf Churchill.”

This series consists of short summaries for passages from the book that I am writing. Graphic is that of another Churchill book that I really like.

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Frontier Justice

Easterner: Do outlaws in the west have civil rights?
Cowboy: In theory they do but they get those rights suspended on a noose.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Dark Age, 500 - 1000

With the fall of the Roman Empire, Western Europe fell into a period of sharp decline. In every aspect of life - commerce, culture, public safety - the quality of life declined. Every decade, every century, new generations grew to expect life to get harder and harder. Writing and other basic skills retreated to a few monasteries. As Kenneth Clark said in his epic TV series, Civilization, "Civilization survived by the skin of its teeth."

This was not true of the rest of the world. The Eastern Roman Empire survived but did not prosper. From the sands of Arabia, the followers of Mohammad erupted. They took most of the lands of the Empire and the Persian Empire to the east. The Mohammedans were no respecters of learning during this period. They destroyed the Great Library of Alexandria upon the grounds that if the books did not agree with the teachings of the Koran, then they were pernicious and if they did, then they were superfluous.

This wasn't true of the whole world, of course. China reached a peak in the 8th. Century. These were good times for India and Japan, too. In the 10th. Century, the Mongols invaded China in the east and the Vikings rampaged throughout Europe and the Mediterranean. While "the skin of its teeth" figure of speech may be too much, this age was not civilization's best.

Previous AgeMaster ListNext Age

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Pharoah Expels Paris

Previously in Herodotus

115. Hearing this, Thonis seized Paris and detained his ships, and after that he brought the man himself up to Memphis and with him Helen and the wealth he had, and also in addition to them the suppliants. So when all had been conveyed up thither, Proteus began to ask Paris who he was and from whence he was voyaging; and he both recounted to him his descent and told him the name of his native land, and moreover related of his voyage, from whence he was sailing. After this Proteus asked him whence he had taken Helen; and when Paris went astray in his account and did not speak the truth, those who had become suppliants convicted him of falsehood, relating in full the whole tale of the wrong done.

At length Proteus declared to them this sentence, saying, "Were it not that I count it a matter of great moment not to slay any of those strangers who being driven from their course by winds have come to my land hitherto, I should have taken vengeance on you on behalf of the man of Hellas, seeing that you, most base of men, having received from him hospitality, did work against him a most impious deed. For you did go in to the wife of your own host; and even this was not enough for you, but you did stir her up with desire and have gone away with her like a thief. Moreover not even this by itself was enough for you, but you’ve come here with plunder taken from the house of thy host. Now therefore depart, seeing that I have counted it of great moment not to be a slayer of strangers. This woman indeed and the wealth which you have I will not allow you to carry away, but I shall keep them safe for the Greek who was thy host, until he come himself and desire to carry them off to his home; to yourself however and your fellow-voyagers I proclaim that you depart from your anchoring within three days and go from my land to some other; and if not, that you will be dealt with as enemies."

- Herodotus, Book II

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What Pushes You

If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don't have to be pushed. The vision pushes you.

- Steve Jobs

Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Jerome Ladies Survive

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

After the surrender, they returned to Paris. In the immediate aftermath of the Commune’s violence and the Germans’ siege, Paris was a drab, unhappy place.

Ruins everywhere: the sight of the Tuileries and the Hotel de Ville made me cry. St.-Cloud, the scene of many pleasant expeditions, was a thing of the past, the lovely chateau razed to the ground. And if material Paris was damaged, the social fabric was even more so. In vain we tried to pick up the threads. Some of our friends were killed, others ruined or in mourning, and all broken-hearted and miserable, hiding in their houses and refusing to be comforted.
How life had changed for Jennie Jerome! Had she stayed in New York, she would have had a sheltered, rich girl’s life though enlivened no doubt by her debonair father. Now the family was broken. By 1871 she had known the court of Napoleon III and had been introduced to the highest levels of social and political life. During that desperate flight from Paris on that last day, she had experienced danger and had seen death. She had experienced the plight of the refugee. And she had seen the aftermath of defeat.

The Jerome women still had entry to some of the high points of the social season, though their sponsors were increasingly bleak. At the Cowes Regatta, (the same Cowes that her father had crashed a few years earlier), she remembered,
I can see now the Emperor leaning against the mast looking old, ill and sad. His thoughts could not have been other than sorrowful and, even in my young eyes, he seemed to have nothing to live for.
Aristocrats from all over Europe always came to Cowes. The Jeromes made an annual appearance.

This series consists of short summaries for passages from the book that I am writing. Graphic is that of another Churchill book that I really like.

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Lord George Seeks a Sponsor

- Another chestnut from the continuing sage of our noted playwright, Lord George Bernard Noel Shakespeare Coward –

Sponsor: Do you have any experience with villain characters?
Lord George: Sure, I testified on behalf of my uncle in the Old Bailey before they hanged him at Newgate.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Roman Age, 1 - 500 AD

The Roman Empire never dominated the world like the Europeans did 1500 years later but they certainly put on the best show. The great migrations across the northern Eurasia landmass was held up at the frontiers of Rome's Empire. This impacted the rest of the civilizations: China; Persia; and the rest of the civilized peoples of Central Asia.

Roman influence penetrated deep into Africa. Their influence and outright conquest penetrated deep into the Middle East. Iraq was briefly a province of Rome; Egypt, permanently. Had the Persian Empire not been so embroiled with Rome, it could have pressured the other civilizations to its south (India) and east (China).

This was the age of the spread of Christianity, accelerated greatly by the stability of the Roman Empire.

Even 2 millenia later, no empire has held such a hold on the public imagination as the Roman.

Previous AgeMaster ListNext Age

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Pharoah Summons Paris

Previously in Herodotus

114. Thonis then having heard their tale sent forthwith a message to Proteus at Memphis, which said as follows: "There hath come a stranger, a Trojan by race, who hath done in Hellas [Greece - JL] an unholy deed; for he hath deceived the wife of his own host, and is come hither bringing with him this woman herself and very much wealth, having been carried out of his way by winds to thy land. Shall we then allow him to sail out unharmed, or shall we first take away from him that which he brought with him?" In reply to this Proteus sent back a messenger who said thus: "Seize this man, whosoever he may be, who has done impiety to his own host, and bring him away into my presence, that I may know what he will find to say."

- Herodotus, Book II

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Leaders Will Be Who?

As we look ahead to the next century, leaders will be those who empower others.

- Bill Gates

Photo (cc) Kjetil Ree.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Empress of France and Their Desperate Escape

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

The Second Empire was at its height. Napoleon III had renovated Paris. “Never had the Empire seemed more assured, the court more brilliant, the fetes more gorgeous,” Jennie later wrote. Relieved of the burden of Leonard’s philandering, Clara bloomed in her own, softer way. She presented her daughters at court. The Jeromes became intimate friends of the Empress Eugenie and the rest of the Imperial family. Jennie saw Eugenie’s beauty and admired her power to move men, influence events, and change history.

Then came 1870 and the Franco-Prussian War. The Commune took over Paris. The German army surrounded the city. The French declared the Third Republic. Clara, Jennie, and her sisters made a “Gone With the Wind” style escape through the mobs to make the last train out.

Napoleon was a captive of the Germans. Eugenie was a fugitive from both them and the Republic. Everybody remembered what had happened to Marie Antoinette. From the Channel Coast they helped her flee to England.

Leonard came at once and got them into Brown’s Hotel just off Piccadilly. From Jennie’s memoirs: “A winter spent in the gloom and fogs of London did not tend to dispel the melancholy which we felt.”

This series consists of short summaries for passages from the book that I am writing. Graphic is that of another Churchill book that I really like.

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

Saturday, June 5, 2010

The Old Country Pol Chats Up a Voter

- From the Good old days, when bosses ran machines and the ward healers handed out the dough –

OCP: Ziggy, I sure hope you can vote for me.
Ziggy: Well, right now you’re my second choice.
OCP: Who’s your first?
Ziggy: Whoever signs up to run against you.

Friday, June 4, 2010

The Classical Age, 500 BC - 1 AD

This is Herodotus, the Father of History. He lived in the first century of this age. His book's theme was the first major clash of civilizations from Europe versus Asia. This theme served as a backbone. He added ribs and bone to form what amounted to a general history of the world to his time. As one reads his book, one can ponder what lay just ahead.

The next centuries would bring Alexander the Great, the conquest of Persia and Egypt and the spread of Greek civilization to the borders of India and China. To the west, Rome rose in Italy and Carthage in north Africa.

The last century of this age saw Rome rise to the status of super-power in the Mediterranean world.

This was the age of the great classic writers of ancient history. Phoenician explorers circumnavigated Africa. The seven wonders of the ancient world were identified and described.

And Herodotus traveled, measured, chronicled, and pondered just how many ages had preceded his own.

Previous AgeMaster ListNext Age

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Helen Goes to Egypt, Not Troy

Previously in Herodotus

113. And the priests told me, when I inquired, that the things concerning Helen happened thus:--Paris having carried off Helen was sailing away from Sparta to his own land, and when he had come to the Aegean Sea contrary winds drove him from his course to the Sea of Egypt; and after that, since the blasts did not cease to blow, he came to Egypt itself, and in Egypt to that which is now named the Canobic mouth of the Nile and to Taricheiai. Now there was upon the shore, as still there is now, a temple of Hercules, in which if any man's slave take refuge and have the sacred marks set upon him, giving himself over to the god, it is not lawful to lay hands upon him; and this custom has continued still unchanged from the beginning down to my own time. Accordingly the attendants of Paris, having heard of the custom which existed about the temple, ran away from him, and sitting down as suppliants of the god, accused Paris, because they desired to do him hurt, telling the whole tale how things were about Helen and about the wrong done to Menelaos; and this accusation they made not only to the priests but also to the warden of this river-mouth, whose name was Thonis.

- Herodotus, Book II

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

Note: This is a very different version than the common one. Herodotus believed Helen spent the Trojan War in Egypt, not Troy.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Grandma Moves Out

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

The Civil War showed Leonard Jerome at his best. To seven year old Jennie Jerome, “I remember nothing about it, except that every little Southerner was ‘a wicked rebel’ to be pinched if possible.”

Leonard acquired a part interest in the New York Times. At the height of the Draft Riots in July 1863 he grabbed the latest in military hardware, a pair of gatling guns, and mounted them in the Times Building’s windows. The mob departed for easier pickings at the Herald Tribune.

Leonard made and lost enormous amounts of money. His womanizing and his gambling became increasingly notorious. As in business, he did not always win his battles. One day, while eating with his friend Belmont, he asked, “August do you remember Fanny’s celebrated ball?” Belmont replied, “Indeed I do. I paid for it”. Leonard slowly said, “Why, how very strange. So did I.”

“People like Belmont and Jerome do not enter Society, they create it as they go along,” a contemporary wrote. They founded the American Jockey Club, an important event in the history of horseracing. They built the Jerome Racetrack, with seating for eight thousand, a luxurious clubhouse, with dining rooms, guest rooms, a ballroom, and facilities for other sports such as skating, trapshooting, polo, and sleighing. It was the biggest sports facility in the country up to that time.

Distinguished guests such as Ulysses Grant attended opening day on September 25, 1866. Leonard’s horse Kentucky won and in the winner’s circle twelve-year-old Jennie was hoisted on top of him. With the crowd’s applause flowing around her, it was one of the most memorable moments of her life.

Leonard’s play became larger. How about a race across the Atlantic, with a cool $90,000, winner takes all? It was done. He held the victory party at the Royal Yacht Squadron at Europe’s most famous resort, Cowes, on the English Channel.

By 1867 Clara had had enough. She took the children and left for Paris.

This series consists of short summaries for passages from the book that I am writing. Graphic is that of another Churchill book that I really like.

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Tombstone In Lincoln, Maine


His widow, aged 24 lives at 7 Elm Street, has every qualification for a good wife and yearns to be comforted.

Friday, May 28, 2010

The Iron Age, 1000 - 500 BC

As iron spread through the civilized world, activity in and among civilizations leveled up. China acquired iron around 600 BC.

In the first century of this age, Kings David and Solomon ruled Israel. Just to the NW, the Phoenicians ranged throughout the Mediterranean. India adopted the caste system. In Mexico, the Olmecs, still in the Stone Age, produced giant heads 9 feet high.

During this age, Assyria revived its super-power status and the Middle East remained as the foremost area of civilization. Its reach activated a coalition of enemies who destroyed it by 600. To the west, the Greeks rose to major-power status. During this period they established colonies around the Agean Sea and west to Sicily and Italy. Athens experimented with democracy.

New: Carthage and Rome were founded in this age. Old: China regressed to a feudal society. The collapse of Assyria brought Egypt a twilight glow of prosperity before the Persians came.

At the end of this age, Confucius was alive in China and Buddha was alive in India. Zoroaster lived sometime during this age.

Previous AgeMaster ListNext Age

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Pharoah Proteus

Previously in Herodotus

112. After him, they said, there succeeded to the throne a man of Memphis, whose name in the tongue of the Hellenes was Proteus; for whom there is now a sacred enclosure at Memphis, very fair and well ordered, lying on that side of the temple of Hephaistos which faces the North Wind. Round about this enclosure dwell Phoenicians of Tyre, and this whole region is called the Camp of the Tyrians. Within the enclosure of Proteus there is a temple called the temple of the "foreign Aphrodite," which temple I conjecture to be one of Helen the daughter of Tyndareus, not only because I have heard the tale how Helen dwelt with Proteus, but also especially because it is called by the name of the "foreign Aphrodite," for the other temples of Aphrodite which there are have none of them the addition of the word "foreign" to the name.

- Herodotus, Book II

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Not Genius but What?

Men give me credit for genius but all the genius I have lies in this: When I have a subject in mind I study it profoundly. Day and night it is before me. The result is what some people call the fruits of genius, whereas it is in reality the fruits of study and labor.

- Alexander Hamilton

More on Alexander Hamilton

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Mother and Jenny Lind

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

In 1851 he was appointed U.S. Counsel to Trieste. Located between Italy and the Balkans, it was the Austrian Empire’s only seaport. In Europe, Clara got her first taste at a happier life. Europe’s elites did not impress the thoroughly American Leonard. “It is better to speak well in just one language than to chatter in five,” he said.

In 1853 he returned the family to the more adventuresome venue of New York City. There he met and fell in love with one of the most famous singing stars of the century, Jennie Lind. When his second daughter was born, on January 9, 1854 he insisted on naming her “Jeannette”. Months later Clara learned that her baby had been named after this other woman.

In 1859 he built his dream mansion on the southeast corner of 26th. Street near Madison Square. Clara had it designed in the best Napoleonic Paris style. It rose six stories high. The white and gold ballroom accommodated three hundred; the dining room seventy. Leonard’s attention was on the secondary buildings. His stable cost $80,000. Next to it his theatre seated six hundred.

At this time other wealthy families were building homes in the area. Delmonico’s Restaurant made its debut. So did the Fifth Avenue Hotel. It sported impressive innovations: a central heating system, “a perpendicular railway intersecting each story” (i.e. an elevator), and most startling of all – indoor toilets. Critics called them “not only unsanitary but immoral.”

This series consists of short summaries for passages from the book that I am writing. Graphic is that of another Churchill book that I really like.

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Old Country Pol Finishes His Speech

- From the Good old days, when bosses ran machines and the ward healers handed out the dough –

OCP: And in conclusion, my good friends, remember Abraham Lincoln once said that no man can fool all the people all the time. All I want is a working majority.

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Bronze Age, 3000 - 1000 BC

Metallurgy was important to this age apart from the advantages (military and commercial) that it conferred upon civilization but also what it indicated. Knowledge was just one ingredient to a Bronze Age society. Organization, technical skills, and commercial rewards were necessary to implement and support industrial activity. Civilization itself had to rise to a new level.

During this period the major super-powers in the world were Egypt, Iraq, and China. (I use the general term "Iraq" for the succession of different empires that based their heartland in this area.)

China 's remoteness and protected it from the wars of the civilizations to the west. The Shang Dynasty may have ruled over 5 million people, which made the most populous empire in the world. It entered the Bronze Age by 1500.

Iraq established the first empire based on large scale conquest in the 24th. Century. It extended from the Persian Gulf in the south to the east coast of the Mediterranean in the west, and to the Caspian Sea in the north. It lasted about 2 centuries which isn't bad considering the primitive infrastructure and governance of the times. After 2000 the region became Babylon and became the hub of much inter-civ activity. It conquered and was conquered. The age ended with the Assyrian Empire in control.

This era was Egypt's golden age. The pyramids were mostly built by 2000. Egypt had its first large invasion in the 18th. Century. This changed the character of the state from an isolationist, inward looking society to a more standard warring and conquering empire.

India had a large first-rank civilization in the Indus River Valley until 1500. The Aryan invaders spent the rest of the age conquering the rest of India.

What is most significant about this age is that the historian emerges from almost total reliance upon artifacts, crockery, and excavations to written records. We go from just writing about physical things to writing about people and events.

Previous AgeMaster ListNext Age

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Pharoah Regains His Sight

Previously in Herodotus

111. Now after Sesostris had brought his life to an end, his son Pheros, they told me, received in succession the kingdom, and he made no warlike expedition, and moreover it chanced to him to become blind by reason of the following accident:--when the river had come down in flood rising to a height of eighteen cubits*, higher than ever before that time, and had gone over the fields, a wind fell upon it and the river became agitated by waves: and this king (they say) moved by presumptuous folly took a spear and cast it into the midst of the eddies of the stream; and immediately upon this he had a disease of the eyes and was by it made blind. For ten years then he was blind, and in the eleventh year there came to him an oracle from the city of Buto saying that the time of his punishment had expired, and that he should see again if he washed his eyes with the water of a woman who had accompanied with her own husband only and had not knowledge of other men: and first he made trial of his own wife, and then, as he continued blind, he went on to try all the women in turn; and when he had at last regained his sight he gathered together all the women of whom he had made trial, excepting her by whose means he had regained his sight, to one city which now is named Erythrabolos, and having gathered them to this he consumed them all by fire, as well as the city itself; but as for her by whose means he had regained his sight, he had her himself to wife. Then after he had escaped the malady of his eyes he dedicated offerings at each one of the temples which were of renown, and especially (to mention only that which is most worthy of mention) he dedicated at the temple of the Sun works which are worth seeing, namely two obelisks of stone, each of a single block, measuring in length a hundred cubits each one and in breadth eight cubits.

- Herodotus, Book II

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

* Cubit = 1.5 feet.

Monday, May 17, 2010

These Can Never Be Regained

It is a maxim universally agreed upon in agriculture, that nothing must be done too late; and again, that everything must be done at its proper season; while there is a third perception which reminds us that opportunities lost can never be regained.

- Pliny the Elder

More on Pliny

Sunday, May 16, 2010

The Other Grandfather

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

Leonard Jerome made his first pile working for his uncle. He became a partner in his law firm in his hometown of Palmyra, New York.

It was a small town but it had one big attraction for Leonard: the Hall sisters. These sisters were Indian looking and rumors were that their grandmother had been raped by an Iroquois. His brother and him both came calling. Leonard fell for Clara. Eventually both brothers married the sisters.

With Clara’s money, Leonard bought the Rochester Daily American. He was restless. He bought a telegraph company, too. In 1850 he quit the law firm, sold the newspaper, and moved the family to Brooklyn.

New York City satisfied Leonard Jerome’s desires. He immersed himself in the nightlife, the gambling, the racing, and the women. He befriended August Belmont, the American representative of the Rothschild banking empire. Clara stayed home and silently suffered.

Leonard could not see why his day life couldn’t be as exciting as his night life. He sold the telegraph company and plunged into the stock market. He sometimes combined business and politics. In the New Haven railroad scandal, he lobbied for and got a bill for railroad reform. This bill enabled him to get out of it a winner. “That damned fellow has figured out how to cash in on honesty!” a competitor cried.

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

Saturday, May 15, 2010

No Barbed Wire Today

- Heard on a stagecoach:

Salesman: Nice day today.
Rancher: Yep.
Salesman: You going west?
Rancher: Yep.
Salesman: I sell barbed wire.
Rancher: Yep.
Salesman: You raise cattle?
Rancher: Yep.
Salesman: Can I get you to say anything to me other than YEP?
Rancher: Nope.

Friday, May 14, 2010

The Agricultural Age, 10,000 - 3,000 BC

At the beginning of this age, the the planet has warmed from the Ice Age to the temperatures of today. In Alaska, the ice prison has broken up and the humans began migrating to the rest of the continent. In northern Africa, the lush plains of the Sahara turned into the desert of today. To the retreating peoples, the Nile River valley beckoned.

Climate change caused large stands of wild grain grew thoughout the Middle East. Around 8000 people in northern Iraq began to deliberately plant these grains. The nearby Tigris and Euphrates Rivers provided irrigation. After harvest, the grains were ground into flour which kept for long periods of time.

Historians call this age "The New Stone Age" or in Latin the "Neolithic Age". I don't think that advances in stonework was the determining factor in this era. It was warming of the planet and the subsequent development of farming.

Agriculture provided stability. It supported more people. It allowed people to congregate into cities. City folk were able to perform specialized tasks. Organization for defense and for commerce was needed. And people's imaginations were freed to pursue academic pursuits. Agriculture is the foundation that allows workers of other skills to prosper.

Jericho (yes, the one of the Bible) may be the world's oldest city, dating back to 8000. Posessing all of 10 acres and 2,500 people, it was the must-see metropolis of 7500. By 6000, pottery was developed. In the Far East, humans independently developed the farming of rice.

In the Sixth Millenium, the Sumerians took over the Iraq region and established a network of cities. In 4000 they founded the city of Ur and made it into the largest city in the world.
Egypt united under its first ruler in 3100. The Chinese established their first cities along the Yellow River about this time. Cities began in the Indus River Valley.

Towards the end of this era, the lands around the eastern Mediterranean began civilizations. In 4000 world population reached the unprecedented number of 85 million people. They lived in isolation from other civilizations but this was about to change.

Here's a related article.

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Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Egypt and Ethiopia

Previously in Herodotus

110. He moreover alone of all the Egyptian kings had rule over Ethiopia; and he left as memorials of himself in front of the temple of Hephaistos two stone statues of thirty cubits each, representing himself and his wife, and others of twenty cubits each representing his four sons: and long afterwards the priest of Hephaistos refused to permit Darius the Persian to set up a statue of himself in front of them, saying that deeds had not been done by him equal to those which were done by Sesostris the Egyptian; for Sesostris had subdued other nations besides, not fewer than he, and also the Scythians; but Darius had not been able to conquer the Scythians: wherefore it was not just that he should set up a statue in front of those which Sesostris had dedicated, if he did not surpass him in his deeds. Which speech, they say, Darius took in good part.

- Herodotus, Book II

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

I think H is talking about Nubia (modern Sudan). There is no recorded Egyptian conquest of Ethiopia.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Difference Between the Great and the Merely Adequate

For it is the willingness of people to give of themselves over and above the demands of the job that distinguishes the great from the nearly adequate.

- Peter F. Drucker

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Who Is That Woman?

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

John Winston, the 7th. Duke, set out to restore the Churchill situation. He was a serious man, and a deeply religious one. Sales of some of the palace treasures stabilized the Marlborough finances. He became active in Parliament. In a religious era, he made the religious state of the realm his priority issue. He became Lord President of the Council and a cabinet member in Lord Derby’s Third Administration. In 1868 Disraeli asked him to lead the Conservatives in the House of Lords.

The Churchill family was again a solid, established member of Europe’s nobility. They were normal. They were respectable. And John Winston intended to keep it that way. The family’s future depended upon solid conservatism both financially and socially, upon not making waves.

This is the situation in August, 1873 when Randolf bursts into the palace to announce that he has just met a most wonderful girl and he intends to marry her!

The Duke is away in Scotland but the Duchess naturally asks questions. Who is she? And more importantly, does she come from a good family? Randolf supplies such answers as he can.
Extract from a letter to his Father:

Blenheim [Palace]: Wednesday, August 20, 1873
Mr. Jerome is a gentleman who is obliged to live in New York to look after his business. I do not know what it is. He is reputed to be very well off, and his daughters, I believe, have very good fortunes, but I do not know anything for certain. He generally comes over for three of four months every year. Mrs. Jerome has lived in Paris for several years and has educated her daughters there. They go out in Society there and are very well known.
I have told you all I know about them at present. . . . .
Ever your most affectionate son,
The Duke and Duchess are increasingly concerned. Then Randolf supplies Jennie’s picture. Shock!

Who is this American with the dark skin and the mysterious past? They will make inquiries! They will find out!

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Sir Thomas More on Susan Blake

Good Susan Blake in royal estate
Arrived at last at Heaven’s gate.

- His epitaph at her urgent entreaty. Two years later, they broke up and he added:

But Peter met her with a club
And knocked her back to Beelzebub.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Warming Age, 20,000 - 10,000 BC

Immense volumes have been written to expound our knowledge, and conceal our ignorance, of primitive man.
- Will Durant

The attempt to wrap one's mind around pre-historic periods requires one to confront a bewildering array of jargon. Palaeolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, and Chalcolithic describe the development of humans in terms of Stone Ages. Pleistocene and Holocene describe geological periods. As I say in my article on The Age of Agriculture, I don't think that the attributes that these terms highlight are the most important.

The warming planet and the retreat of the great ice sheets may have been indiscernable to the humans of the time. Authorities seem to agree that the process was gradual, rather than the global warming trends of today. In any case, the habitats of such Ice Age animals as the Great Wooly Mammath and the Sabertooth Tiger shrunk and led to their extinction.

The Earth's typography was still substantially different than today. There was no Black Sea; it was dry. The flood waters from the Mediterranean came later. The North Sea filled up. The Sahara in northern Africa with its lush savanas was a center of human activity.

One wonders how the equator regions - the Amazon River - differed from today. Why didn't an equivalent to Egypt in the next area arise along the Amazon? Maybe it did. An ancient civilization lays under the jungle bed just waiting to be found.

Humans did use stone and fire. They domesticated animals, though the horse wasn't domesticated until late in the next age (around 4500 BC). And they painted. A lot of these artifacts were found in caves, thus giving rise to the image of early man living in caves. The supply of available caves would have severely limited the population and restricted them to hilly/mountainous areas. Caves may have just preserved things more than the shelters constructed out in the open. Were the 20,000 BC paintings in the Alamira Cave the work of an amateur while the really good stuff got lost by the wear of time?

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Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Geometry Discovered

Previously in Herodotus

109. For this reason Egypt was cut up; and they said that this king distributed the land to all the Egyptians, giving an equal square portion to each man, and from this he made his revenue, having appointed them to pay a certain rent every year: and if the river should take away anything from any man's portion, he would come to the king and declare that which had happened, and the king used to send men to examine and to find out by measurement how much less the piece of land had become, in order that for the future the man might pay less, in proportion to the rent appointed: and I think that thus the art of geometry was found out and afterwards came into Hellas also. For as touching the sun-dial and the gnomo* and the twelve divisions of the day, they were learnt by the Hellenes from the Babylonians.

- Herodotus, Book II

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

* gnomo = an upright staff or an obelisk for observation of the length of the shadow.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Who Is Not Left Long Without Proper Reward

No man who continues to add something to the material, intellectual, and moral well-being of the place in which he lives is left long without proper reward.

- Booker T. Washington

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Their Age of Disgrace

Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

4th. and 5th. Generations
The succession passed through their daughter Anne to their grandson Charles Spencer. They had quiet, diffident personalities. It was said that the magnificence of the Churchill legend hung heavily upon them. They maintained but did not add to the family legacy.

6th., 7th., and 8th. Generations
The next three dukes were profligate spenders. Under them debt began to tarnish the family legacy.

The third and fourth Dukes beautified the Palace. The gardens were a special achievement. They were great art collectors. Under them the estate reached its pinnacle of splendor and of debt.

9th. Generation
When George took over in 1817, the king granted permission to add “Churchill” back to the family name. Later, as Winston Churchill’s official biography puts it, “In more recent times the Churchills have tended to drop the Spencer from their surname.”

The 6th Duke brought the financial situation to a crisis. His irresponsible behavior led to charges of adultery, kidnapping, other lawsuits, and four marriages. Scandal and ruin threatened the Churchill legacy. By this time the Duke had to live in just a few rooms of his palace and close up the rest.

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Tombstone in Hartfield, MA, 1771

Beneath this stone, a lump of clay,
Lies Arabella Young,
Who on the 21st. of May,
Began to hold her tongue.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Ice Age, 110,000 - 20,000 BC

It’s difficult to imagine living on a planet where the weather was so cold, that ice sheets covered much of North America, Europe, and Asia. Thankfully, the configuration of the continents did not permit the extension of the southern ice sheets too far north. In the higher elevations of the continents, great glaciers grew independent of the polar ice. So much of the planet's water was in the great sheets of ice that sea levels dropped. Thankfully, humans knew how to make fire.

Here’s a link to a Wikipedia map of the Ice. (There's no use trying to pop up these maps here. The blogs pages are too small to see the details.)

And here’s a map of the planet’s vegetation. While it is hard to read, here’s a few noticeable items:

  • There is no Black Sea
  • the Mediterranean is now two lakes; the Italian Peninsula is now an isthmus going all the way down to Africa
  • the Red Sea is now a small lake
  • land connects Siberia to Alaska
  • Australia includes Guinea and the Solomon Islands; and if it doesn’t connect to SE Asia, is sure comes close.
The descriptions of the kind of land are mostly bad; the few good colors can hardly be seen; the only one that seems decent is “Savannah”. Was this where most of the humans lived during this time?

During this age there were 3 species of humans:
  1. Homo Erectus had been around for 1.8 million years but died out around 70,000. They had survived previous ice ages; they didn’t survive this one.

  2. Neanderthals had been around for 350,000 years but when the great ice sheets disappeared, so did they.

  3. Modern Man started around 200,000 years ago. This ought to not be confused with Cro-Magnon Man which appeared 40,000 and died around 10,000. The Cro-Magnons were a subgroup of Modern Man.
This map shows where the three groups lived during the Ice Age. The most interesting feature in this is that the only one of the three groups that migrated was Modern Man.

About 50,000 Modern Man commenced an unprecedented level of cultural and technical achievement in a short period of time. They developed sophisticated hunting techniques (such as using trapping pits or driving animals off cliffs), made clothing out of hides, carefully buried their dead, and even painted their caves.

Neanderthals also had tools and fire but they did not innovate. As the Ice Age ended, the last communities of the Neanderthals died out in Gibralter. The future belonged to Modern Man.

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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Canals Divide Egypt's Land

Previously in Herodotus

108. Then Sesostris, having returned to Egypt and having taken vengeance on his brother, employed the multitude which he had brought in of those whose lands he had subdued, as follows:--these were they who drew the stones which in the reign of this king were brought to the temple of Hephaistos*, being of very great size; and also these were compelled to dig all the channels which now are in Egypt; and thus (having no such purpose) they caused Egypt, which before was all fit for riding and driving, to be no longer fit for this from thenceforth: for from that time forward Egypt, though it is plain land, has become all unfit for riding and driving, and the cause has been these channels, which are many and run in all directions. But the reason why the king cut up the land was this, namely because those of the Egyptians who had their cities not on the river but in the middle of the country, being in want of water when the river went down from them, found their drink brackish because they had it from wells.

- Herodotus, Book II

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

* The location of this is unknown. How did H not notice that this was a Greek god and not an Egyptian one? - JL.

Monday, April 26, 2010

This Makes the Bottom Fall Out of Your Game

The minute you get away from fundamentals - whether it's proper technique, work ethic, or mental preparation - the bottom can fall out of your game, your schoolwork, whatever you're doing.

- Michael Jordan

Photo cc Steve Lipofsky.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

The First Duke of Marlborough

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

3rd. Generation
His son John was presented at court and granted a commission in the army. Over the next two decades John’s abilities at court and in the field propelled him to higher and higher levels of command. By 1674 he was Colonel. By 1682 he was a Lord; by 1685 a Baron, and Major General in the army.

In the Revolution of 1688 he supported William (the winner). In 1689 he was made a privy councilor and Earl of Marlborough.

Then came the fall.

John’s wife Sarah (the one quoted above) was Lady in Waiting to the Queen’s sister, Princess Anne. Throughout these years, John, Sarah, and Anne were close friends.

The King and Queen quarreled with the Princess and blamed the Churchills. All three were banned from the Court and from public life.

In 1702 everything changed. The King died. He left no children. The throne was vacant. Princess Anne succeeded to it. Also in 1702 the French launched their greatest bid for world domination until Napoleon a century later. When the Spanish Empire joined the French, it looked like nothing could stop them.

Marlborough was promoted from Earl to Duke and from Major-General to the head of the army and sent to the continent. Back in London, Sarah and Queen Anne, together with the Churchills’ close associate, Sidney Godolphin, ran the government.

Britain, The Netherlands, The Hapsburg Empire and lesser powers composed Marlborough’s Grand Alliance. Marlborough marched his army in daring thrusts and parries. He won every battle he fought; he captured every fort he besieged. Still, the French side was so strong that the war raged for 11 years.

At war’s end, grateful rulers throughout Europe showered gifts upon him for his deeds. He built the magnificent Blenheim Place in Woodstock.

John died in 1722 and Sarah in 1744.

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Tombstone in Hollis, NH

1742 – 1776

Here lies Cynthia, Steven’s wife,
She lived six years in calm and strife,
Death came at last and set her free,
I was glad and so was she.

Friday, April 23, 2010

The Age of Early Man, 200,000 - 110,000 BC

It’s 200,000 years ago and another ice age has just started. Two species of humans continue as before. Neanderthals had been around for 150,000 years; while the older group, Homo Erectus has been around for a couple of million years. But now a new group of humans appears: Modern Man – us.

Humanity has fire, which is a necessity to survive an ice age. They have simple stone tools and weapons.

They face fierce predators. This is the golden age for very large mammals: mammoths, sabertooth tigers, mastodons, and many others. The large size may have protected them from the cold.

Fast forward 70,000 years. Between 130,000 and 110,000 there is an inter-glacial period. The ice sheets recede. The climate approaches what it is like in historic times.
20,000 years may not seem like such a long time compared to the time scales we discuss here but consider that our own civilization goes back only 5,000 years. For 20,000 years, those early humans had plenty of time to develop the same kind of civilization that we experience now. So why didn’t they?

Pictured is a Homo Erectus, the most primitive of the 3 groups of humans. Source: Wikipedia.

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sesostris Escapes the Fire Trap

Previously in Herodotus

107. As this Egyptian Sesostris was returning and bringing back many men of the nations whose lands he had subdued, when he came (said the priests) to Daphnai in the district of Pelusion on his journey home, his brother to whom Sesostris had entrusted the charge of Egypt invited him and with him his sons to a feast; and then he piled the house round with brushwood and set it on fire: and Sesostris when he discovered this forthwith took counsel with his wife, for he was bringing with him (they said) his wife also; and she counseled him to lay out upon the pyre two of his sons, which were six in number, and so to make a bridge over the burning mass, and that they passing over their bodies should thus escape. This, they said, Sesostris did, and two of his sons were burnt to death in this manner, but the rest got away safe with their father.

- Herodotus, Book II

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Need for a Definite Plan

A career, like a business, must be budgeted. When it is necessary, the budget can be adjusted to meet changing conditions. A life that hasn't a definite plan is likely to become driftwood.

- David Sarnoff

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The First Churchills

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

When the first Duchess of Marlborough read the first history of the Churchill family just before her death in 1744, she wrote,

This History takes a great deal of Pains to make the Duke of Marlborough’s Extraction very ancient. That may be true for aught I know; But it is no matter whether it be true or not in my opinion. For I value nobody for another’s merit.
That last sentence made her point. But the sentence immediately preceding it unintentionally revealed another. In just three generations the Churchills had come from nowhere to the top of society.

1st. Generation
When the first Churchill to enter our story was born sometime around 1600 the family was blacksmiths or something similar. John Churchill went to London and became a successful lawyer.

2nd. Generation
This enabled his son, Winston Churchill (the first one) to make an advantageous marriage with Elizabeth Drake. The Drake family had connections with the higher reaches of society. A century earlier, the family had included Sir Francis Drake, the buccaneer.

The Civil War broke out in 1642. The 21 year old Winston Churchill joined the king’s army. He fought for the king throughout the war. The cause was lost. Others deserted. Not Churchill. He fought on. As the king’s followers dwindled, he raised Churchill to the rank of Colonel.

By 1646 it is was all over. Defeat was total. In 1649 the king was beheaded. Oliver Cromwell ruled.

The discredited Royalist retired to the home of his mother-in-law, Lady Drake. The bad news for him was that he had to spend the next ten years living in his mother-in-law’s home. The good news was that she had supported Parliament and Cromwell in the war. Thus Winston got by and here a new generation of Churchills was born. John was born in 1650.

In 1660 came The Restoration. Charles II took back the throne and he remembered Winston Churchill, who had stayed with his father to the bitter end.

Other Installments of this series (in progress).

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Frontier Advertisement

One good deer rifle for a woman.

- Ad in Cloverland (MI) newspaper.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Age of Mammals, 65 MYA - 200,000 BC

In the aftermath of the great comet, the small survived. Hot blooded creatures, the mammals dominated. As time went by, the evolved larger and larger. Some animals returned to the sea and evolved into giants. The whales and dolphins started out as amphibians.

Climate slowly grew cooler as the millions of years passed by. Part of this was caused by the drift of the continents.

Antarctica drifted south, all the way to the South Pole. Australia, having split from it during the Age of the Dinosaurs, drifted north. India had also split from Antarctica and moved north, colliding with Asia 55 - 45 MYA. Arabia collided with Asia, too, 35 MYA. All this activity affected Europe, too. It went from being groups of disparate islands to a continent. The collisions caused the Alps, the Pyrenees, and the Carpathian Mountains. The North and South American continents closed enough that a land bridge connected them.

2.5 million years ago, the poles began to ice over. This marked the appearance of the first homos erectus – precursors of humans.

Above is a map of Earth 50 million years ago. Source: Wikipedia.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sesostris' Markers

Previously in Herodotus

106. The pillars which Sesostris of Egypt set up in the various countries are for the most part no longer to be seen extant; but in Syria Palestine I myself saw them existing with the inscription upon them which I have mentioned and the emblem. Moreover in Ionia there are two figures of this man carved upon rocks, one on the road by which one goes from the land of Ephesos to Phocaia, and the other on the road from Sardis to Smyrna. In each place there is a figure of a man cut in the rock, of four cubits and a span in height, holding in his right hand a spear and in his left a bow and arrows, and the other equipment which he has is similar to this, for it is both Egyptian and Ethiopian: and from the one shoulder to the other across the breast runs an inscription carved in sacred Egyptian characters, saying thus, "This land with my shoulders I won for myself." But who he is and from whence, he does not declare in these places, though in other places he has declared this. Some of those who have seen these carvings conjecture that the figure is that of Memnon, but herein they are very far from the truth.

- Herodotus, Book II

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Steinbeck on Responsibility

People need responsibility. They resist assuming it, but they cannot get along without it.

- John Steinbeck

More on Steinbeck

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Winston Is Born

- Another installment in my series

Stories of the world during the time Winston Churchill lived in it: 1873 to 1965.

Guns fired, bullets whizzed through the air, and Jennie fell. What kind of woman would go running around the countryside with a shooting party while in the last stage of pregnancy? The Duke and Duchess of Marlborough had to wonder.

That was not all. Even Lord Randolf wrote, “A rather imprudent and rough drive in a pony carriage brought on the pains on Saturday night.”

Imprudent, indeed! That wild, dark skinned American!

There’s more. Saturday was the St. Andrew’s Ball at the Duke’s Palace. She was not expected, to say the least. When she came down the stairs from her room holding a dance card, what could the Marlboroughs do? William Manchester in his biography of Winston Churchill writes, “She was actually on the floor, pirouetting, when the pains started.”

The servants took her out. They stumbled through the vast palace, down corridors, past drawing-rooms, then through the library “the longest room in England”. The quarter mile of red carpet was too much. She fainted.

They carried her to a room just off the Great Hall.

The pains continued that night and all Sunday. The lack of trains on a Sunday prevented the family doctor in London from coming. A local, country doctor came instead.

Lord Randolf wrote to Jennie’s mother (in the same letter),
“The country Dr is however a clever man, & the baby was safely born at 1:30 this morning after about 8 hrs labour. She suffered a good deal poor darling, but was vy plucky & had no chloroform. The boy is wonderfully pretty so everybody says dark eyes and hair & vy healthy considering its prematureness.”

Premature? The parents had been married that April. It was now November 30. So it must have been born prematurely! Though the baby didn’t look it. It was a fully developed baby!

Winston Churchill always enjoyed the controversy. “Although present on the occasion, I have no clear recollection of the events leading up to it.” The Marlboroughs were not amused. That wild woman! The Churchill family had not had such adventures since . . . . .
Excerpt from a book in progress. Churchill Stories. (from Chapter 1.)

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Lord George Counts His Audience

- Another chestnut from the continuing sage of our noted playwright, Lord George Bernard Noel Shakespeare Coward –

Producer (peaking through the curtain): We’ve got some people taking their seats.
LC: How many?
Producer: Well, Lord George, just between you and me, we outnumber them.

Friday, April 9, 2010

The Age of Dinosaurs, 250 MYA - 65 MYA

Ah, yes! The dinosaurs. Animals were big; the weather was hot; their blood ran cold. Little warm blooded mammals eeked out their living on the fringes of the biomass.

The dinosaurs marked the high point of life on Earth before Man. As predatory as lions, tigers, and bears became in the later age, it is difficult to see how any one of them could have fared against the giant T-Rex or the flying Raptor. The movie, “Jurassic Park” probably gives us more the flavor of the age than any monograph can.

The Earth looked vastly different during these times. Here is a map of the planet as it was around 100 million years ago.

The great southern continent of Godwanna had just broken up. India is drifting north; the eastern part of Godwanna drifts north north east and will split up into Australia, Guinea, New Zealand, and other islands. On the other side of the world, North and South America are drifting together.

65 million years ago a comet crashes. A cataclysmic ending to a dramatic age.

Source of map: Wikipedia.

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Tuesday, April 6, 2010

H's Version of Georgia and Circumcision

Previously in Herodotus

104. For the people of Colchis are evidently Egyptian, and this I perceived for myself before I heard it from others. So when I had come to consider the matter I asked them both; and the Colchians had remembrance of the Egyptians more than the Egyptians of the Colchians; but the Egyptians said they believed that the Colchians were a portion of the army of Sesostris. That this was so I conjectured myself not only because they are dark-skinned and have curly hair (this of itself amounts to nothing, for there are other races which are so), but also still more because the Colchians, Egyptians, and Ethiopians alone of all the races of men have practised circumcision from the first. The Phenicians and the Syrians who dwell in Palestine confess themselves that they have learnt it from the Egyptians, and the Syrians about the river Thermodon and the river Parthenios, and the Macronians, who are their neighbours, say that they have learnt it lately from the Colchians. These are the only races of men who practise circumcision, and these evidently practise it in the same manner as the Egyptians. Of the Egyptians themselves however and the Ethiopians, I am not able to say which learnt from the other, for undoubtedly it is a most ancient custom; but that the other nations learnt it by intercourse with the Egyptians, this among others is to me a strong proof, namely that those of the Phoenicians who have intercourse with Hellas cease to follow the example of the Egyptians in this matter, and do not circumcise their children.

- Herodotus, Book II

More Information: Egypt, Herodotus's Book.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Quality of a Life

The quality of a man's life is in direct proportion to his committment to excellence, regardless of his chosen field of endeavor.

- Vince Lombardi