Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Canada (video)

This is entry #3 of the C.A.N. World Factbook, the only reliable source for international information that's also chocked full of terrible jokes. Today, we are looking at the most humble, unassuming country on Earth: Canada. So how about we knock them down a notch or two? From its rich history, to its wide landscape, to its funny pronunciation of words, I have a lot of material to work with. And I don't even mention Justin Bieber! You're welcome.

C.A.N. World Factbook: Canada

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Defenestration of Prague

The word of the day is defenestrate:
de·fen·es·trate (dē-ˌfe-nə-ˈstrāt), verb

definition: to throw a person or thing out of a window

Origin: de- + Latin fenestra (window)

Used in a sentence: I couldn't help but defenestrate my little sister after she put lipstick on my G.I. Joes!
Fig.1: "This is the last time we book the conference 
room on the top floor!"
What does this have to do with history, you ask? Well, would you believe me if I told you that a major war actually started in Europe because some guys got defenestrated? It's true, I swear it! In 1618, the growing conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Bohemia (present-day Czech Republic) actually led to a situation where local noblemen threw their king's representatives out of a third-story window (fig.1). This allowed the bubbling religious pot to boil over, and Europe would be at war for the next thirty years during the Thirty Years War. The Defenestration of Prague is great not only because it's an awesome historical event, but it gives us the opportunity to learn some vocabulary as well! Please don't throw me out of a window for that!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Toussaint Louverture

Fig.1: "Turn around, the revolt is
back there!"
There are a lot of sucky things about slavery. But probably the worst part about it of all was that once you were a slave, chances are you'd be a slave for the rest of your life. Sure, there have been a bunch of slave revolts throughout history, but rarely do they get very far, and even the "successful" ones get squashed in the end (just ask Spartacus, if you can pinpoint which one he is). The glaring exception is the revolt against colonialism and forced servitude on the Caribbean island now known as Hispaniola, led by a man who called himself Toussaint Louverture (fig.1). While he was not a slave at the time the revolt began, nor did he initiate the revolt, nor did he live to see it finish (man, that's a lot of qualifiers), his impact on the events in French-held Saint-Domingue from 1791 to 1804 led directly to the independence and rule by former slaves in the western part of the island, now called Haiti. As such, he is considered to be a founding father of his country, on par with contemporaries like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson (I see no irony there whatsoever).