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.