Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Shi Huangdi, the First Emperor of China

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.

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.
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.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Great Fire of Rome

Fig.1: The Pretty Darn Great Fire of Rome.
The Great Fire of Rome began on July 19, 64 AD (Anno Doughnutty, the doughnut being invented 64 years prior), and by the end of its six-day pillage, damaged ten of the fourteen districts in the city, including six or seven just-fantastic pizzerias. While fires were common in ancient cities such as Rome, this is the only one to be considered "Great" (fig.1), with historians considering the fire of 69 AD as "Good," and the fire of 80 AD as "Just Alright."

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.