|Fig.1: Long, drawn-out fight scene directed |
by Peter Jackson.
Friday, December 20, 2013
Saturday, December 14, 2013
|Fig.1: The greatest thing about Peter the Great is that |
Johnny Depp could easily play him in a bio-pic.
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Korea has enough tension today with two antagonistic states vying for land, ideologies, and latent craziness (you'd think the North would have that last one in the bag, but the South have their moments). But you actually haven't seen anything yet. If two's company and three's a crowd, people in Korea must have felt pretty claustrophobic for the first seven centuries following the baking of the first doughnut (Anno Doughnutty, or AD for the lazy people out there). The Korean peninsula played host to three different kingdoms during this time, an era that those clever historians dubbed the Three Kingdoms Period. For nearly 700 years, the states of Goguryeo, Baekje, and Silla scratched and clawed the living heck out of each other until a victor finally emerged. It was the sort of spectacle that almost makes you glad of Korea's present division, communism and all.
Even more scary is the fact that they had to whittle it down to just three separate kingdoms. The Gojoseon kingdom, which had supposedly ruled Korea for two millennia under the descendants of a bear-woman, fell apart after a Chinese invasion in 108 BC. Many local rulers then took control, and Korea was cut-up into more unfulfilling slices than an office birthday cake. The super-aggressive rulers of Goguryeo took care of their neighbors in the north, and even snatched up some land from the Han Dynasty in China as they were started to get old and fall apart in the 2nd and 3rd centuries (respect your elders, my butt). Baekje formed as a confederation of tribes near the Han River valley in southwestern Korea. They just wanted to share their resources at the local co-op, living together while holding hands and singing in harmony forever and ever. Freaking hippies. Then there was Silla, who was quite content with their corner of the peninsula, and just wanted to be left to themselves. They demonstrated this by keeping their door closed to any diplomatic relations, and shouting at the other Korean states, "Just leave me alone! I hate you!" There was actually a fourth state in the south, Gaya, but they were relatively insignificant and had their finger in their nose the whole time. And so by the 4th century, the stage was set for the Battle of the Three Kingdoms (fig.1), and each one hoped the odds were ever in their favor.
|Fig.1: Official Vegas Odds|
Saturday, November 30, 2013
|Fig.1: Yellow sky during battle, better find a paddle!|
Friday, November 22, 2013
Friday, November 15, 2013
|Fig.1: More like Catherine |
the Great Cross-dresser!
Thursday, November 7, 2013
|Fig.1: The Who Temple of Angkor Wat, located |
behind the Why Garden and the I Don't Know
Costello: Which temple did you see in Angkor?
Abbott: Angkor Wat.
Costello: That's what I'm asking you.
Abbott: I'm telling you: Angkor Wat.
Costello: Yes, Angkor what?
Abbott: That's right.
And then it goes downhill from there. Well lost in the hilarity is the fact that Angkor Wat, the object of confusion, is considered the largest religious monument in the world: at over 20 million square feet, it is 12 times larger than the Temple Mount in Israel, can fit about 800 Christ the Redeemer statues from Brazil within its walls, and is approximately 3.8 billion times holier than that Celtic symbol you got tattooed on your lower backside. On top of that, it is the largest tourist attraction in Cambodia, as well as its national symbol, making it akin to the Eiffel Tower in France, the Taj Mahal in India, and practically any old marble piece of crap in Greece. It is still considered a holy place of worship by Cambodian monks to this day, which I'm sure the million visitors per year does absolutely nothing to diminish.
Wednesday, October 30, 2013
Before vampires did stupid things like sparkle and impregnate high schoolers, they were among the most terrifying creatures of legend, right alongside witches, werewolves, and koalas. The classic vampire that everyone recognizes is Count Dracula; based on Irish author Bram Stoker's classic 1897 novel, the character has been popularized in the storied performances of Béla Lugosi in the 1931 film, Christopher Lee in the 1958 version, and Zale Kessler's fantastic voice acting in 1988's Scooby-Doo and the Ghoul School. But the real Dracula was not so much interested in ingesting people's blood as he was killing invading Turks and sticking their rotting corpses on spikes for everyone to see. Not nearly as bad!
This man was Vlad III, Prince (or Voivode) of Wallachia. Wallachia was a principality in Eastern Europe located in present-day Romania, just to the south of a little place called Transylvania! Dramatic noise! Vlad III was born in 1431 to Vlad II, whose nickname was Dracul ("the dragon"). Thus his son became known as Dracula, meaning "son of the dragon," implying that Vlad's great-great-great-great grandsons could have been called Draculaaaaaa. Anyway, this was a very precarious time to live in Wallachia, as those darn Ottomans were beginning their surge into Europe, and Vlad's kingdom was right on the front lines. Wallachia needed a strong, ruthless ruler to defend their territory and way of life, and a prince whose nickname would later be used for a blood-sucking monster was exactly what the doctor ordered.
|Fig.1: What Vlad III Dracula |
lacked in fangs and a thirst
for blood, he made up for
with awesome hair!
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
|Fig.1: Genghis knows how to grow a playoff beard.|
Monday, October 14, 2013
Last time...on the Canned Historian:
By 415 BC, Athens and Sparta had been at "peace" for six years (I use that word as lightly as Burger King uses "healthy" to describe their new menu options). There had been fighting between Athens' and Sparta's allies in their respective Leagues, but the two main powers had stayed out of their gym class squabbles for the most part. But then Athens received a nice letter from some friends on the island of Sicily, asking them to help in their struggle against the big man on campus there: Syracuse (not really fig.1). Athens saw an opportunity not only to help a friend out, but to plant a foot in Sicily and hopefully use its resources to eventually defeat those Spartans. Okay, to be honest, Athens was really only thinking of that second thing, but who hasn't been a little selfish when given the chance to take over a large island in the Mediterranean? You and I have no right to judge!
- Greek city-states became Greek city-men during the Persian War.
- Workplace tensions between Athens' Delian League and Sparta's Peloponnesian League could not be resolved by HR, initiating the Peloponnesian War in 431 BC.
- Sparta refuses to get wet, and Athens doesn't want to get out of the pool, so the war goes nowhere at first.
- Jack Bauer rescues his daughter and takes down the Serbian agent who kidnapped her, only to realize that he killed the agent's body-double's second-cousin-twice-removed, and had mistaken his daughter with a My Size Barbie.
- Athens and Sparta agree to the Peace of Nicias, putting the war on hold...for now...
|Fig.1: Despite popular knowledge, |
this gentleman would not be
involved in Syracusan politics
until the mid-4th century BC.
Monday, October 7, 2013
|Fig.1: The Battle of Mrs. Hutchinson's Geometry Class, circa 6th Period.|
Sunday, September 29, 2013
|Fig.1: The poor treatment of |
the Inca civilization gives me
an ugly, stinky llama face!
Friday, September 20, 2013
|Fig.1: The Toledo Strip, home to the Toledo Strip Mall with a Dunkin Donuts, |
a Krispy Kreme, and a Tim Horton's all in one convenient location!
Friday, September 13, 2013
|Rule #1: Don't bring up King Hammurabi's nose.|
Thursday, September 5, 2013
|Fig.1: The greatest contribution |
Zanzibar has ever given the world,
suspenders and all.
Archaeologists believe that Zanzibar has been inhabited for at least 20,000 years; since it is an island about twenty miles off the coast of the mainland, it must have been pretty difficult to "Keep Yourself Alive" with food and a fresh-water supply if you were an Ancient Zanzibarian. But they succeeded, and Zanzibar Town on the west side of the island is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in Africa, which is one of the few accolades with "oldest" and "Africa" in it that the Egyptians haven't snagged up. A first century Greek text on ports in the Indian Ocean refers to an island named Menuthias in the location of Zanzibar, and praises its booming trade of tortoise shells, as well as even cryptically refers to "Fat Bottomed Girls" putting on a "Bicycle Race." Zanzibar was certainly one-of-a-kind even back then!
Friday, August 30, 2013
In the 17th century, colonialism was the cool thing to do. Everybody in Europe was getting in on it: the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the French, the English, and even those crafty Swedes! It was like Pokémon Cards or Beanie Babies, only more bloody and with an extra dose of religious fanaticism. If you didn't have a colony to exploit and call your own, you were a loserface. And that's what Scotland was during this time: nothing but a pimple-skinned, four-eyed, mouth-breathing, booger-picking loserface. Sure they tried to get their foot in the New World ground with lame-brain attempts like Nova Scotia in Canada (translated from "New Scotland" in Latin) and Perth Amboy, New Jersey (translated from "The Toxic Runoff from Staten Island Settles Here" in Algonquian), but neither of those remained in Scottish hands for longer than a decade. The men of the highlands needed to get a little ambitious in order to stop the bullying and constant wedgies from the other European nations, and hatched a plan (or scheme, if you will) to become masters of two oceans by taking a crucial point in Central America called the Darien.
Scotland's urge to become better economically was really based on its relationship with England. While still two separate countries, Scotland and England shared the same monarch, so they were en route to becoming the cluster that is the United Kingdom. The king in the 1690s, William III (fig.1) didn't much care for the Scottish part of his realm, and only allowed England's overseas exploits to prosper and be adapted into adventure novels. Like a good redheaded Celtic stepchild, Scotland still tried to win their monarch's affection, and presented a plan to build a colony in the Darien (present-day Panama). It would be the perfect spot for a trading post in the Caribbean, especially if some sort of canal was eventually constructed in this Panama region that linked the Atlantic and Pacific. I'd call it a long shot of that ever happening, but that's just me.
|Fig.1: William III of England was |
only known as William II in
Scotland, just to low-ball him a
Friday, August 23, 2013
|Fig.1: You know you're great when your emblem includes multiple lions.|
Saturday, August 17, 2013
Think back to the American Revolution. What got the Brits in trouble in the first place? No, besides the gaudy red color of their uniforms. That's right, it was taxes on everything imaginable, from sugar, to tea, to playing cards, to newspapers, to sugary tea-flavored playing cards with news articles on them. The American colonists didn't appreciate being taxed without any representation in Parliament, or at least that was their excuse to get drunk and dump a bunch of tea into the harbor (soon followed by cow-tipping out in Farmer Wittenton's fields). Long story short, the Americans rebelled, and shook off British rule. You'd think they would have learned their lesson, but Britain nearly goofed again in another colony almost a century later: Australia. Yet another instance of "taxation without representation" caused a rebellion that changed the fabric of a quickly-developing nation. Yeah, the rebellion pretty much laid an egg, but details details...
In 1851, a man with an unfortunate name, Thomas Hiscock, became very fortunate by discovering gold in Victoria, the southeastern-most colony on the Australian mainland. Sure enough, folks from all over the world migrated to the island or continent or whatever it is to claim a piece of that action, with most settlers camping out in tents throughout Victoria (fig.1). The British government didn't miss a beat either, and created a law
that not only made the profits from discovered gold taxable, but also
forced people to purchase a £1 monthly permit in order to even be
allowed to look for gold. At first this was circumvented by miners pretending to be searching for their lost lucky penny or dog that wandered away from home, but the local magistrates cracked down on this and became rigorous in inspecting everyone's permits. This upset many Australians, old and new, and many banded together into unions in order to protest against this grave injustice...or practice their boomerang skills. One of the two.
|Fig.1: A "Canvas Town" south of Melbourne, where you |
could find all the amenties of the big city, like a butcher,
a doctor, and at least 57 liquor stores.
Friday, August 9, 2013
|Fig.1: Andrew Jackson failed to check his text messages to see if the war was over.|
Friday, August 2, 2013
|Fig.1: Yes, Charlemagne was so awesome, |
it was believed he was made out of gold.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
*Note: Because there are quite a few Japanese names in this post, and we English-speakers tend to get all confuzzled with that sort of thing, I will be color-coding some important names to make it easier to follow. If you're colorblind and still can't follow along, sorry...grow some new eyeballs.*
The Hatfields and McCoys. The Capulets and Montagues. The Simpsons and the Huxtables. But none of these family feuds has had as much impact or cost more lives than the Minamoto and the Taira clans in 12th century Japan. Their battle for power and influence over the Emperor during the Heian period led to a five-year civil war known as the Genpei War, which is even a whole year longer than The Simpsons battled The Cosby Show for the ratings in the crucial Thursday 8pm time slot. After the war's conclusion in 1185, the political structure of Japan changed for hundreds of years, and allowed for the emergence of the samurai culture, which is several times better than the cowboy culture (fig.1).
|Fig.1: There's really no contest here.|
Saturday, July 20, 2013
|Fig.1: The all-holy Egyptian pantheon, in an all-holy Egyptian conga line.|
Friday, July 12, 2013
We are quite used to the story of European nations going out and
violently conquering peacefully incorporating territories all over the world as colonies, stealing all of their resources bringing great new technologies to pitiful slums underdeveloped locales, and raping and pillaging befriending the hedonistic savages friendly indigenous communities while enslaving them economically allowing them to participate in the wonderful mercantilist system of the land of jerkfaces motherland. But has there ever been a time where the colony becomes the the motherland, and rules over the entire empire? Surprisingly, yes! Unsurprisingly, it's all thanks to Napoleon!
In 1807, Napoleon decided to invade Portugal because a) they had been traditional allies of the United Kingdom, and Napoleon hated everything British (he would automatically change the channel if Doctor Who came on, which, yes, even aired as early as the 19th century), and b) he really just enjoyed invading places, and how hard could Portugal be to take over? Even Portugal knew they wouldn't be that hard to take over, so immediately after Napoleonic French and allied Spanish troops crossed the border, the House of Braganza, the royal family of Portugal, hatched a plan. The regnant of Portugal was Queen Maria I (fig.1), who was at first labeled Maria the Pious, but eventually came to be known as Maria the Mad after reports that she always heard screaming in her head, talked to her dead husband when the room was empty, and claimed that Return of the Jedi was the superior chapter of the original trilogy. As such, her son and heir-apparent, John VI, ruled in her name beginning in 1799. Thus, it was up to him to put together a plan as Napoleon's crack troops marched closer and closer to the capital of Lisbon, and what he came up with was a rather simple idea. Bail!
|Fig.1: Queen Maria I of Portugal...with a |
blunt object! Run!
Thursday, July 4, 2013
We all know the story of Betsy Ross from second grade. George Washington needed a symbol to bring his young nation together against the tyranny of the British, so he commissioned a seamstress in Philadelphia to create the first American flag, which she does successfully, and all the Patriots rally around the new flag to beat the British and create the best nation on Earth. Amurika! But what most people don't know is that this story didn't come about until nearly a hundred years after the War of Independence, and was told by Betsy's grandson with basically no proof or verified sources except through family tradition and word-of-mouth. Sounds rather suspicious, doesn't it? So who really is this Betsy Ross character? Is there any reason to believe that she really did create the first American flag? And if not, why have we been lied to by our teachers and textbooks all this time? Miss Lewis, how could you?! After all the apples we gave you!
First of all, "Betsy" isn't even her real name! She was born Elizabeth Griscom in 1752, one of seventeen children in a prominent Quaker family in Philadelphia (I don't care if "Betsy" is short for "Elizabeth," it still sounds fishy). She was taught to sew at a young age by her great-aunt, Sarah Griscom, which normally isn't pertinent information when writing a mini-biography on someone, but I guess if an individual's possible claim to fame is sewing something, then I should just throw that in there. (Don't worry, I won't be telling you where Genghis Khan learned to sew when I write a history on him, even though it's quite a fascinating story!) During the Revolution, she apparently used this skill to make uniforms and tents for the Continental Army, but with her dubious sewing history, I really need to see embroidery that says "This was stitched by Betsy Ross" in order to even believe that.
|Fig.1: I bet that's not even your real hair, |
you lying scoundrel!
Wednesday, June 26, 2013
|Fig.1: No, you can't go back to Constantinople! So stop asking!|
Constantinople was technically founded in 330 Anno Doughnutty by the Roman Emperor Constantine (who, in all his narcissism, named it after himself), but it was really the site of the Ancient Greek city of Byzantium. That's like me going to Pittsburgh and saying, "I'm going to build an even better city here!" Which wouldn't be hard, cause it's Pittsburgh, but still, not cool. Anyway, Constantinople served as the capital of the eastern half of the Roman Empire, but then it became the only capital when Rome itself was bombarded with barbaric barbarians. Historians like to refer to the empire that Constantinople was centered around as the Byzantine Empire, to distinguish it from the Roman Empire and make it less confusing. But the Byzantines saw themselves as the Roman Empire, and in a sense, they were a continuation of the Roman Empire. So good job making things more confusing, you stupid historians! The nerve of those people (present company excluded, of course)!
Wednesday, June 19, 2013
|Fig.1: Seriously, what's going on here?|
Thursday, June 13, 2013
Now you're probably thinking, "Sima Dave, if you want to become the next Grand Historian, you shouldn't be writing about make-believe places like Timbuktu!" Well, my naïve child, I'm here to tell you that Timbuktu is a real city, despite its reputation as a magical faraway place! It's actually a city in Africa (Mali, to be precise), but we shouldn't hold that against it. Back in the day, Timbuktu was a major Medieval trading post, and people from all over Saharan Africa and the Middle East came to buy precious commodities like salt, gold, ivory, slaves, and rare 8-tracks. Europeans ate up descriptions of the city, and even offered rewards to those who could infiltrate society there and make it out alive, much like the girls' locker room. Of course looking at the town now, it looks like just any other third-world, war-torn, desertifying North African Hooverville, so how could this place really have once been the land of wealth, culture, and absolutely delicious falafels?
Timbuktu was most likely settled in the twelfth century by nomadic pastorialists who wanted a nice place to chill along the Niger River. Timbuktu would pale in comparison to Gao, another city along the Niger two hundred miles to the southeast, for a couple hundred years. But then trade routes began to shift, and Timbuktu became the major city in the region by 1375; this of course caused the people already living in Timbuktu to brag that they were there before it was cool, and thus the hipster movement was born (fig.1). Timbuktu's rise to prominence can be attributed to its incorporation into the Mali Empire around 1324 (fig.2). The ruler of Mali, happily/alliteratively named Mansa Musa, peacefully annexed the city, which opened the door to supplying merchants with rare items of wealth from all over the empire. Manua Musa also solidified Islam as the dominant religion of the land, which is a great thing, since Islam is an infallible religion and nothing bad or funny can be said of it. There...no jokes...so please don't issue a fatwa on me.
|Fig.1: The original inhabitants of Timbuktu.|
Thursday, June 6, 2013
|Fig 1: The first of many traffic jams in California history.|
*cue the dramatic music*
Tuesday, May 28, 2013
There have been many emperors of China (although if you compare it to China's population through the years, maybe it's just a handful), but only one has the honor of being the First Emperor. That would be Shi Huangdi, whose name literally translates to "The First Emperor." It's like he was born to that job! I'm going to change my name to "CEO of Google" and see how that works out.
Shi Huangdi was born around the mid-third century BC (Before Crullers, the concept of the circular pastry would not come to pass for another 250 years) during the time that my genius ancestor/incarnate Sima Qian called the Warring States Period. China was not a unified country during this time, and was broken up into the states of Qin, Qi, Chu, Yan, Han, Zhou, Wei, and sometimes Y and W (fig.1). Shi Huangdi succeeded his father as the ruler of Qin (pronouced "chin"), the western most Warring State, at the age of thirteen. He was merely a king during this time, but he knew if he worked hard, stayed in school, and said no to drugs, that he would become something even better someday.
|Fig.1: These Warring States just would not get along, no |
matter how many times we sent them to their rooms to
think about what they've done.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
|Fig.1: The Pretty Darn Great Fire of Rome.|
The main source for the fire is from a Roman senator named Tacitus, who wrote in the early second century. Tacitus was definitely the John Steinbeck of his day, who just gushed about the pain and suffering inflicted upon man by the forces of nature, and was also every 10th grade Roman schoolboy’s nightmare. Particularly uplifting is this passage from his Annals: "Some who had lost everything, even their food for the day, could have escaped, but preferred to die. So did others, who had failed to rescue their loved ones. Nobody dared fight the flames." I would feel the same if my chicken burrito from Chipotle was destroyed, which is a food and a loved one all rolled up in one delicious soft flour tortilla.