Sic Semper Semanis

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Boudicca: Her Knockers Knocked Down Cities

And by "knockers," I mean "army."

Here’s what we know for sure: We know that in the year AD 60, somebody burned down three major Roman settlements on the island of Great Britain, and we know that there was a woman there when it happened. Everything else is extrapolation. According to Roman historians (to wit: Tacitus and Cassius Dio), that woman was a red-headed terror named Boudica, and she was coming to eat your soul. Yes, she was dead by the time they wrote about her. So what? All the really good soul-eaters are dead. Everybody knows that. Boudica’s part in history was actually rather small, …continue reading

Genghis Khan: To Mongolia, and Beyond!

Genghis Khan stands out as a conqueror among conquerors, and only partially because he conquered people who had conquered other people first. That was inevitable, because Genghis conquered pretty much everyone he ever met. He was arguably the greatest conqueror who ever did conquer, but the thing that’s so incredible on top of that is that there is very little reason why he should have been so good at conquering in the first place. Pretty much everything we know about Genghis Khan comes from a book called The Secret History of the Mongols, which is a book that Genghis commissioned …continue reading

Hernan Cortes: Old School Takeovers in the New World

Okay, here’s our premise: It’s the future. The year is… whatever year you want, it doesn’t matter. Tomorrow. NASA has decided to get its shit together, or else Richard Branson has thrown a small portion of his insane fortune toward setting up a viable space exploration program once again. A young, brash, Felix Baumgartner type comes up with a theory: maybe we can collect all kinds of valuable resources – like Helium-3 or extra ozone, or like, space diamonds or something – maybe we can gather all of these things at a minimum effort to ourselves, if we just take …continue reading

Louis XVIII, The Restoration King, and the Thing About Revolutions

So for some reason I’ve been thinking about revolutions lately. Revolutions are necessary sometimes. Risky, because you never know how they’re going to turn out later. But a lot of the time they ultimately work out for the good. Take the French Revolution, for example. People were hungry, the king was kind of an asshole, the queen was kind of a bimbo, and the patent office had just given a big old green light to one Monsieur Guillotine. The rest is history. And that’s when the French learned that just because you don’t like the government you have, doesn’t mean …continue reading

North Korea and the Kim Dynasty: Can You Believe This Shit?

The history of Kim Jong Il is the history of Korea, which has been around roughly as long as the rest of the earth, so either six thousand or a million billion years, depending on who you ask. For a long time, Korea was basically in charge of itself. Then for a while China came in and bossed people around, and then Japan took over at the beginning of the twentieth century. When World War II happened the country was up for grabs, but the Americans and the Soviets couldn’t decide who should be in charge of Korea (nobody ever …continue reading

Chairman Mao and Maybe Also Some Current Events

This week our topic will be Chairman Mao Tse-Tung of the Chinese Communist Party. So let’s talk about North Korea. There have been press reports from reputable news outlets that a few days ago in North Korea, Kim Jong Un held public executions in up to seven different cities. Unlike the friendly bonhomie to be found at public hangings of bygone days in the western world, these executions were viewed by an unwilling audience and performed on prisoners who had committed the most negligible of crimes. One of the charges was “watching South Korean movies,” which in some countries might …continue reading

Emperor Palpatine: A Historian’s Analysis of The Star Wars

A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, there seems to have been an interplanetary society whose technology and scope more than dwarfs that of modern human achievement, assuming that such a society actually existed, which has been a matter of conjecture and debate for nearly forty years. To call the evidence “scanty” would be a kindness, and yet there are those who would like to believe in this ancient “Republic,” if for no other reason than that the statistical odds favor the presence of one or more intelligent, self-aware species in the universe, besides our own. On …continue reading

King Philip’s War: When People Stop Being Thankful, and Start Being Real

Well, it’s come around again, whether you like it or not. This is the time of year where we all have to pretend to be grateful for our lives while we spend time with the parts of our family that we don’t usually hang out with. The good news is, there’s probably a turkey dinner in it for you, assuming that you’re an American, which I am (assuming). Whether your plan for Thanksgiving is “unconventional,” “regular,” or “miserable,” there are always things to be thankful for, no matter who you are. Think of all the miracles in the world, like …continue reading

Cesare Borgia and How He Didn’t Take Over Italy

If you’ve heard of the Renaissance, you’ve probably heard of the Borgias. They were sort of like that one real weird family from Twilight, except they weren’t vampires. They were just from Spain. If the Borgias had lived in Spain this would not have mattered, because in Spain almost everybody is from Spain, and that was even more true at the end of the fifteenth century than it is now. Unfortunately for them, the Borgias lived in Rome, where being Spanish was unusual and frowned upon. When I say “the Borgias,” I am referring specifically to Rodrigo Borgia and his …continue reading

Blackbeard the Pirate: The Pirate Blackbeard

The scariest and most famous pirate ever was called Blackbeard, but that wasn’t his real name. He got his real name when he was born, and only a crazy or very stupid person would name a baby “Blackbeard,” because babies don’t have beards and so that wouldn’t make any sense. Blackbeard’s real name was Edward Teach or Edward Thatch or Edward Drummond or something else, and he was probably born in Bristol (England) if he wasn’t born in another place. The truth is that it is impossible to know much about Blackbeard’s early life, because he was born in a …continue reading