Saturday, September 24, 2005

Podcast Test and Final Location for New Historium

This is my first attempt at a podcast.

If you haven't seen it already, my new place for Historium is

Sunday, September 04, 2005

Complete Site Relocation

Since posting to two sites is getting hard, I have decided to completely put all my posting on Historium2. I urge all people with links here to change them. Just don't forget this blog's URL, I'm planning to keep it as an emergency site.

Just remember there are two URL's:
or the shorter:

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Discussion: Marco Polo

Introduction: Marco Polo was the most important European of the Middle Ages who opened up Asia for the rest of the world. He spent almost two decades working for Kublai Khan of China and traveled to almost all the places under the Khan’s rule. Further, he also traveled both the overland and the water route between the Middle East and Orient. Throughout all these travels Polo made detailed observations of the lands that he saw. His gave information on the culture, people, and for that most importantly, the economy. Future European explorers who wanted to travel to the East, including Columbus, read his work widely.

Setting the scene: Marco Polo himself was too active of a person to sit down and start writing of his own choosing. In fact, after his travels Polo joined in the Venetian wars against their great foe and rival, the Genoese. During a naval battle Polo was captured and put in jail. It was in the confines of prison that Polo met the writer Rusticiano. It was to him that the traveler related his accounts of distant worlds in extraordinary detail and with much of the medieval European prejudice reduced.

Questions: What would have happened if Marco Polo managed not to get captured? What if he simply decided not to relate his experiences? What if he was killed in the battle? Anybody who reads this post is encouraged to give a response. It does not matter how much you know about the subject, just take what you already know and give the best prediction you can. Once again, this question will stay up for the week.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Famous Last Words

gotten from:

John Adams: Thomas Jefferson still survives. One of the founding fathers of America, also second president of the United States. He had a letter correspondence with Jefferson. Adams died on the Fourth of July, 1826, in reality Jefferson had died only few hours before Adams.

John Brown: I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood! Fanatical abolitionist who fought fervently for the cause. Tried to steal some weapons from the armory at Harpers' Ferry to arm a slave revolt, failed and tried for treason. His words are prophetic of the more than 500,000 Americans who died in a war just a few years later.

Genghis Khan: Let not my end disarm you, and on no account weep or keen for me, let the enemy be warned of my death. The Mongol ruler who conquered half the known world and united almost all of Northern Asia. His acts would revolutionize the world and his descendants would continue to expand the empire.

John Henry (Doc) Holiday: This is funny. Famous western gunfighter who fought with Wyatt Earp. Died of Tubercolosis in bed.

Thomas Jonathan "Stonewall" Jackson: Order A.P. Hill to prepare for action! Pass the infantry to the front rapidly! Tell Major Hawks. . . . Let us cross over the river and sit under the shade of the trees. Confederate General during the Civil War, one of Lee's best soldiers. Was accidentally shot by his own troops who mistook him for Union cavalry. Eventually died from pneumonia, his last hours were spent in delerium.

Friday, August 26, 2005

A Message to all Grammar Freaks (and food for thought for others)

This message is particularly directed for all grammar freaks, but anyone can read it just for entertainment or as something to spark thought on the subject. Why, o why do so many people spasm, convulse, and become insane whenever someone says “me too”, instead “I also”? Why do they insist that you follow the rules some board or committee picked? What gives a few people the right to establish rules for a language that has roots going back thousands of years, to its earliest ancestral tongues?
Language is a means of communication, that said, if somebody can understand you, it is enough.

Anybody can understand me if I make some grammar mistake, the point is whether I can get the message across. Yet the freaks insist you get everything right. Why do we insist on regulating a language that has always and always will change? I have a teacher who is a zealot in maintaining strict use of correct grammar, even in spoken language. This is the idea of language: when someone listens to another, they don’t think of the exact definition of each word heard and then try to put it together; they get a feeling for the tone and subject matter, and then apply a general meaning to the words that makes sense. Whether you say “me too” or “I also” won’t make a difference. Others will still understand what you are saying in general.

Just keep in mind, every change ever in language started out as a difference from the norm. If you say something that is very difficult or impossible to understand, then someone should correct you. But if someone corrects you even when most people would understand you, then that’s their problem.

Monday, August 22, 2005

What if: Battle of New York City

Throughout history there have been countless close calls where things could have easily gone the other way. In this weekly series I will post on a particular moment in time and ask readers to give their thoughts and opinions on what would have happened if things went differently.

This week's what if will be during the Battle of New York. The setting: it is September of 1776, in New York City. The fledgling new American nation has recently declared independence but is far from winning a victory over the British. The army has almost no experience and training. Recently the British have just routed and pushed back many of the Americans to their fortifications at Brooklyn Heights, in Long Island. All the British have to do is bring together all their troops and artillery and make one final assault. Given their superior training, equipment, and morale, they probably would have succeeded. Yet their general, Howe, has decided to enjoy the day's victory and pull back his troops to camp.

Later at night, there is a second close call. The wind is coming from a northerly direction, which prevents the British ships from sailing up and blocking any hope of Washington's troops escaping across the river. This allows the Americans to silently slip into their boats and withdraw to Manhattan.

My questions are these: what would have happened if the British army had continued their assault and stormed Brooklyn Heights, if the wind was different and the British ships could sailed up, thus completely surrounding the Americans. I am not just talking about the American army or Washington, but also of the United States' situation, and maybe even the world too. Tell me whatever you think, any feedback related to this would be good. This question will be open until next Monday, when I will post another what if.

Note: don't forget to visit the other historium at

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Breaking Site News: New Historium!

I have the DSL now and also have set up the new Historium. I urge everyone to go and have a look at it, and tell me what you think. Since there is no commenting on it, you can either comment in blogger or e-mail me ( I am not planning yet on deleting this blog, but am waiting for what you think. Tell me soon!

Saturday, August 20, 2005

More Delays, New Plans

The Verizon DSL I was supposed to get during the middle of the month has been postponed for the 25th of August, hopefully I can start blogging then, though school is starting. From what I've read in the packet Verizon offers web hosting, where you can add videos and music. I will definitely look into it and probably switch, maybe I could finally make a If you're wondering, this guy hasn't blogged regularly for months and now he's thinking of moving the whole site? i don't blame you. Still, with the new Internet it would be much easier to post daily, and it would be really interesting if I could make videos to help clarify the posts, some quiet background music would be nice too.

For subject matter, I'm planning to abandon the chronological study of the Crusades, it is more than a series of battles, it is an era. There are countless interesting strories that happened in that time. I'm also going to read Marco Polo's Travels, a book that I believe had a substantial impact on history. Further topics will include more studies of historical patterns, linguistics, influence, and maybe some short biographies. Reader suggestions for other topics are most welcome. Finally, I am considering a weekly "what if series". There are many close calls in history and it would be interesting to wonder what would have happened if history went the other way. What-if's can never be accurately created since there are too many variables that we may not know about. Still, any kind of debate that is backed up with evidence can lead to more knowledge.

Either way, keep visiting now and then and leave a few suggestions or comments. Thank you for still reading and see you soon.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Gone for a few days

Since I'm getting a new Internet service and going on vacation for a few days, I won't be back until probably August 17 or 18, please check up around that time, but don't stop reading! See you until then.


Sunday, July 31, 2005

Putting all that Study of History Stuff to Work: How America Rose

When the United States of America finally ensured its independence by ending the Revolutionary war in 1783, the country was anything but a power. True it held huge tracts of land and countless rivers and possible mineral deposits, but for the most part the country was just starting to gear up. It was mostly made up of farms, and industrial and commercial activities were concentrated in a few coastal cities. The national government it had chosen was barely able to do anything. Each state considered itself an autonomous unit, banding together with the other states for protection. Still disputes flared between states and people. Barely able to manage foreign policy, the United States had little if any influence on the rest of the world. Yet in the decades to come the upstart, politically radical nation would prove itself to be able to create an effective government (Constitutional Convention of 1787), deploy its military in foreign lands (wars with the Barbary pirates of North Africa), defend it’s rights against foreign powers (War of 1812), adapt to changing economies (1st Industrial Revolution), expand it’s borders and become an emerging power of the Western Hemisphere (Louisiana Purchase and Mexican-American War), and overcome the toughest of crises (American Civil War), and the list goes on.

So how did it do it? well certainly it had gifted men and a spirit to move forward, but more of an answer could be found by looking farther in the past.

As far back as circa 500 B.C., in the Italian peninsula. According to legend, it was about this time that the city of Rome gained complete autonomy from the Etruscans and establish the Republic. Yet about 600 years later the Roman nation would be the power of the Mediterranean. Again, how did it do it? The answer is that it went through an almost perpetual series of war, uprisings, economic slump, and political revolutions, and for the first half-millennia, usually came out stronger. The Romans chose to adapt, or make the situation adapt to them. Instead of just swallowing every setback and continue they sought for ways to prevent the setback from happening again.

It is possible that the same happened in this country. The country is not the same as it was 100, 50, 25, or even 10 years ago. It has gone through perpetual change, to meet the perpetual challenges. It has grown in every direction it has been attacked on. Everything at every level, from multi-national alliances to the individual goes through a constant barrage of difficulties, hurdles, crises, and disasters, big and small. That is the source of change.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Another of those History Repeats

The ancient Greek philosophers accomplished major advances in, well, philosophy, and political theory. They provided a base of scientific knowledge that would be, together with the Romans, the main source of learning until the Rennaissance and Enlightenment scientists and philosophers. There are, however, two very similar sets of events both in classical Greece and later in Rennaissance Europe. In Greece Socrates was one of the early great philosophers. Eventually the Athenian Republic grew suspicious of him and charged him with accusations such as spreading heresy. One of Socrates' students, Plato, grew disillusioned of this and soon broke away from Athens. In part because of his anger Plato wrote a series of works, many or all of which had Socrates in them as a character. Some of these works were also written in dialogue form.

Around 2000 years later Copernicus pushed the idea of a sun-centered solar system. He died shortly after his works were published and therefore did not see much of the hurricane that followed. The Church, firmly entrenched in the Ptolemaic model of the Universe, led a campaign to batter down the Copernican model. Still the new model attracted followers among the new wave of scientists adhering to the scientific method. One of these was Galileo. His Dialogue sparked intense anger in the Pope and caused the inquisition of the astronomer shortly afterwards.

Both Plato and Galileo then each had their own "patrons", each published works that were based partly on these patrons' ideas. Ironically, the Copernican model goes against the Greek originated Ptolemaic model.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Posting Centennial

This post is the 100th post of this blog. So, now I'm stuck thinking about what this one will be about. Since it's a marker for my blog, should it be about my blog? Or maybe I should knock off my own Outline of History. Maybe I should make it like a sitcom and give links as a blog version of flashbacks. In some ways blogs really are like TV shows. Well, this is milestone in the number of posts so it could be related to that.

When it comes to the actual recording of happenings there are simply no accurate ways to do it. All we have to start with is physical evidence and oral/written records. Evidence no matter how solid and objective it is, has to be interpreted to fit it in the big puzzle. Oral records go through person after person and generation after generation of adaptation and erosion. Written records are but an interpretation of something by people, it is impossible to observe everything that's happening during a siege, or funeral, or voyage. What you don't see you have to get from someone else. And even then all the events can't be put on paper. Things have to be left out, and they are.

It'd be nice if we had some big movie studio or TV where we could just punch in the date and location of a place on Earth and see everything that happened, then again, maybe it wouldn't be so great. History is nothing more than educated (or dumb) guesses fitted with the latest interpretation of evidence and the most recent theory. No human can know everything everywhere at any moment, much less in all moments. It is therefore practically impossible to predict a future. But for every moment in the present there probably has been a similar moment in the past.

This then, is one of the major goals and purposes of the study of history: to break through all the technological, scientific, and all other change that has happened and to find common rythms and patterns that have always happened. Change, as the saying goes, is a neccessary evil, so it follows that at some level of thought and study of the past it's effect is gone. The emotions and instincts people had millenia ago are still the exact same ones we have today. Everything has it's role. The idea of a chain of events is then probably somewhat innacurate, a stack of world "snapshots" is more fitting.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Why I'm so Obsessed with Early Human History...and some philosophy

Some of you are probably wondering why I'm posting so much about how things were like in early societies. Basically, it's cause I'm spending my summer not at the beach, or at some other vacation spot, but by pondering the meaning of life, society, and a bunch of other stuff.

The answers to life and society are connected, here's what I have come up with for the purposes of life:

-To live (it seems simple and obvious, but it is connected into everything alive.)
-Increase frequency of your DNA into gene pool (have kids, or anything alive that has your DNA in it)

Society was at the least an attempt to help in both. Humans, by themselves, are not really the greatest physical machines. They have intelligence, the ability to use natural objects and change them to suit their needs, and the ability to create some level of an artificial environment, (a bit off-topic, but sounds like the character traits from a video game). By combining the different talents of different people, society was able to get an edge in the struggle for survival. Large groups allow people to specialise in different jobs needed for the whole to survive and progress. Specialisation can lead to expertise and skill in a job. To pass on this knowledge, their were people who specialised in teaching, and perhaps general care for children while their parents where busy).

Speculating on early events in society is a way to understand the foundations of today's civilizations. It can explain some of the things happening now, and maybe we could then make better decisions.

Blog Update: Scroll down to the bottom if you want to see my blog advisor.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Origins of Law

I've finally ended several weeks of constantly not posting. Lack of topics and simple laziness are both reasons. Hopefully I'll be able to continue the daily posting I used to have. For now I will start with laws, tomorrow or maybe later today I'll finish the First Sack of Rome posting, later I'll continue with linguistics, Mesopotamia, Crusades, and other topics. Also, I'll welcome any other topics proposed by readers, some basic info and/or Internet resources about the topic would also be nice. Last, if you have anything to say about a post, please tell it in a comment. Laws, in some way or other, are vital for efficient, long-lasting, and functioning societies. In the earliest nomadic tribes there probably were some sort of basic understood rules that all member abided by. They may have been obvious things like, don't murder other tribe members, or don't steal food. To break these rules would result in communal backlash. Also, there is evidence that these people had some ideas of an afterlife. Fear of not having a good time after you die would have been a great force too. As a tribe grew more complex the laws had to expand too. There may have been laws governing different occupations or situations. Laws helped clear up and establish procedures and customs. While they complexified life, they also took away many worries. They would have helped keep things in order and direct people in different situations as cultures grew more sophisticated. Of course, as the number of these laws increased, it would have been impossible for an ordinary person to remember every one of them, in times before writing and alphabets, the responsibility would have had to be passed on to a group of people. These could be any number of different types, priests, elders, wisemen, council members, or shamans. But of course, a growing society placed other demands on these people, and more people meant that you could have people who solely spend their lives memorizing legal rules. Whoever ruled the tribe could then draw on these as advisors in daily and long-term issues. As the number and complexity of the laws continued to grow, the specialists would have divided them up into common subjects, such as civil or criminal law. At this time society was probably already urbanized, and far from the nomadic life before. This new highly complexified and sophisticated culture was strongly influenced by three principal forces: laws, government, and religion. Laws served the function of protecting people’s rights or making sure that the economic or political systems functioned smoothly. Government had two jobs, apply its power to tackle everyday issues and situations, and plan and safeguard future growth and welfare. Religion served as an explanation of phenomena, and an important aspect in shaping culture.

Even small combinations of these three forces could produce very different civilizations, a comparison of that could be made in the differences of Egyptian and Mesopotamian lands. Ancient Egypt, during the times it was united, put together all three forces in the pharaoh. He was lawgiver, absolute ruler, and a descendant of the gods all in one. It is important to note that in Egypt all property was considered to belong to the Pharaoh, while the people were mere holders of it. Mesopotamia went an entirely different course, splitting up the three forces to a great degree. Rulers considered themselves only agents who carry out their god’s/gods’ commands. Government and religion have always been closely tied to each other.

But the important thing is that government and law were separated. Ever since writing laws could be set down on tablets, always able to be referred to later. This was completely solidified by Hammurabi’s Code of Laws (about 1800 B.C.), although earlier codes are known to exist. The significance of this was that a ruler could no longer change a law to suit his/her particular needs. This greatly protected the people’s rights. Also, private property was recognized and the rules of its exchange, along with many other commercial exchanges, were laid out in laws.

Of course laws would still have to be changed to fit changing ways. But changing often very old rules would not be easy, and public unrest or even revolt might happen if some king just did it by himself. The process of changing these laws would be a great facet of government in the future.