Quotulatiousness

January 15, 2018

Khosrau Anushirawan: Trolling Justinian – Extra History – #4

Filed under: History, Middle East — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

Extra Credits
Published on 13 Jan 2018

Iran and Rome had agreed to an Eternal Peace, but tensions between them proved too great and Khosrau decided to invade while Justinian’s guard was down. His army swept into Rome practically unopposed, and he made a mockery of Justinian at every opportunity while treating himself to a grand old time pillaging and parading across the Roman border.

January 2, 2018

The Defence of Baku – The Adventures of Dunsterforce Part 2 I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Britain, History, Middle East, Military, Russia, WW1 — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 1 Jan 2018

In part two of the Adventures of Dunsterforce, we follow the Hush Hush Army on their travels through the Caucasus. Picking up where we left off, the Dunsterforce leave Enzeli, clash with Jangalis en route, and head for Baku. They had to journey through territory controlled by warlords, cossacks and bolshevik soviets and when they arrived during the Siege of Baku, Dunsterville and his men meet the five dictators that make up the Centrocaspian Dictatorship.

December 31, 2017

A contrarian view of hijabs, niqabs, and burqas

Filed under: History, Middle East, Religion — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Western views of full-coverage clothing, including hijabs, niqabs, and burqas, may be concealing a hidden benefit to those who choose to wear such clothes voluntarily:

Hijabs, niqabs, and burqas — different sorts of coverings worn by Islamic women — are divisive apparel in the West, associated with patriarchal oppression, cultural outsiders, and even suicide bombers. Yet few accounts actually discuss the experiences of the women wearing the veils, and the freedom and anonymity coverings can afford if worn voluntarily.

Born in Pakistan and educated in America, Rafia Zakaria is the author of Veil, a new book which explores the history and shifting meanings of female coverings in Islamic countries and Western secular society. In a wide-ranging conversation, she talks with Reason‘s Nick Gillespie about the theological underpinnings of veils, their use as a means of controlling female sexuality, and how they have become markers of socio-economic status and virtue signaling.

Veils present a particular conflict for Western feminists. On the one hand, veils — especially burqas — are emblematic of regimes that are particularly oppressive to women. Feminists and others have moved to ban the wearing of veils in public in the name of female empowerment. But if a Muslim women wants to wear one, is she endorsing patriarchy and setting back the women’s rights movement or simply owning her own choices, especially in a culture that might itself be anti-Islamic?

December 26, 2017

The Hush Hush Army – The Adventures of Dunsterforce Part 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Britain, History, Middle East, Military, Russia, WW1 — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

The Great War
Published on 25 Dec 2017

Dunsterforce Book: http://amzn.to/2BA5IRM
The Dunsterforce was a small British military mission under Colonel Dunsterville. Its goal was to prevent the spread of German influence in the South Caucasus and Caspian Sea. The soldiers soon find themselves in the complicated and violent post-revolutionary Caucasus where no one can really be trusted.

Khosrau Anushirawan: The Immortal Soul – Extra History – #3

Filed under: History, Middle East — Tags: — Nicholas @ 04:00

Extra Credits
Published on 23 Dec 2017

Once the chaos settled, Khosrau enjoyed an unprecedented era of peace. He brought reform to the army and the economy, invested in a great center of learning, imported knowledge from around the world, and earned his new title of “The Immortal Soul.”

Midwinter celebrations, historically speaking

Filed under: History, Middle East, Religion — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

In the most recent Libertarian Enterprise, L. Neil Smith tries to track down where our traditional Christmas celebrations originated:

Each and every one of those cultures has had a different way, of course, of dignifying what is essentially a middle finger in the face of nature. The earliest such I could find was Zagmuk, the ancient Mesopotamian celebration of the triumph of Marduk over the forces of Chaos.

Or whatever. I suspect the Mesopotamians would have decreed a celebration if it had been Chaos that had won in the second, by a knock-out. Nearby cultures picked the idea up and celebrated their own versions.

All this happened about 4000 years ago.

The Romans had a midwinter holiday, Saturnalia, which involved feasting and giving gifts. Later on, the word became a synonym for abandon and debauchery, but the Romans, by and large, were a pretty puritanical bunch, given to grim tales such as that of Lucius Junius Brutus who had his own sons executed because they sold out to the Etruscans, and Mucius Scaevola who burned his own hand off to prove that Romans… well, would burn their own hands off given half a chance. Nobody ever needed a festive midwinter holiday worse than they did.

Saturnalia started around the eighth century, B.C.

Hanukkah is interesting. I learned about it when I wrote The Mitzvah with Aaron Zelman. These days a lot is made of the “Festival of Lights” and the miracle that occurred when the Jews retook their Temple from a pack of Hellenized Syrians who had left only enough lamp oil behind for a single day. The oil miraculously burned eight days, instead, and that’s what all that ceremony with the Menorah is all about.

There’s another Hanukkah story, of a victory of the Maccabees (a nickname, meaning “hammer” — see Charles Martel) over those same Hellenized Syrians, which is how the Jews got their Temple back. Jews argue over which story is more significant, but it’s pretty obvious to me. It’s equally obvious that they’d find something else to celebrate in the middle of the winter, even if they’d never gotten their Temple back.

Which happened in 165 B.C.

Christmas probably wasn’t celebrated, as such, for a couple of hundred years after the presumed birth of Christ. I say “presumed”, because the whole story — no room in the inn, born in a manger with animals on the watch, shepherds coming to worship, a star shining overhead — was shoplifted, directly from another religion popular in Rome at the time of the early Christians, worship of the warrior-god Mithras.

Speaking of sticky fingers, holidaywise, the Yule log and the Christmas tree were “borrowed” from the norsemen, who were accustomed to hanging dead male animals and male slaves from a tree to decorate it.

Yuck.

There is a midwinter holiday that has come along more recently than Christmas. I have to confess that, to me, Kwanzaa (Est. 1966) represents one of the lamest, most transparent inventions a con-man ever foisted on any segment of the public. It’s basically a holiday for black people who don’t want to celebrate the white peoples’ holiday. On the other hand it’s no lamer than any other excuse for a holiday.

December 19, 2017

Transcaucasia in World War 1 I THE GREAT WAR Special

Filed under: Europe, History, Middle East, Military, Russia, WW1 — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 18 Dec 2017

The Caucasus region with its many different ethnic groups and its resources was always of particular interest to the greater powers like Russia, Persia or the Ottoman Empire. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the idea of ethnic self determination and resulting national movements, the fluctuating powers situation caused by World War 1 created a unique situation for Georgians, Azerbaijanis and Armenians.

December 18, 2017

Khosrau Anushirawan: Prince of Persia – Extra History – #2

Filed under: History, Middle East, Religion — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Extra Credits
Published on 16 Dec 2017

Kavadh asked his allies in Eastern Rome for help getting Iran back on its feet. The Romans’ replies were not only unhelpful – they were insulting. By the time Khosrau inherited the throne, resentment and war had turned the delicate alliance with Rome into an open rivalry.

December 15, 2017

Jerusalem Surrenders – Bolsheviks Consolidate Control I THE GREAT WAR Week 177

Filed under: Britain, History, Middle East, Military, Russia, WW1 — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 14 Dec 2017

This week in the Great War, the British under Allenby capture the Holy City. Meanwhile the British War Cabinet beings to strategise for future offensives. In Russia, though the fighting may be over on the Eastern Front, the fight for control of the country is far from over. Before the Bolsheviks can negotiate peace with Germany, they need to establish peace within Russia’s own borders.

December 11, 2017

Khosrau Anushirawan: Like Father, Like Son – Extra History – #1

Filed under: History, Middle East, Religion — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Extra Credits
Published on 9 Dec 2017

Khosrau Anushirawan ushered in a golden age of Iran, but only after his father Kavadh suffered through the near collapse of the empire. Once he broke free from a controlling minister and radical religious reformer, Kavadh realized that the empire needed to change.

November 27, 2017

Sea Peoples: The 1200 BC System Collapse

Filed under: Europe, History, Middle East — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Space And Intelligence
Published on 7 May 2017

In the 12th century B.C., after centuries of brilliance, the civilized and globalized world of the Bronze Age came to an abrupt and cataclysmic end. Kingdoms fell like dominoes over the course of just a few decades. No more Minoans or Mycenaeans. No more Trojans, Hittites, or Babylonians. The thriving economies and cultures of the late second millennium B.C., which had stretched from Greece to Egypt and Mesopotamia, suddenly ceased to exist, along with writing systems, technology, and monumental architecture. Could it happen again?

November 24, 2017

Tank Corps Unleashed – The Battle of Cambrai I THE GREAT WAR Week 174

Filed under: Britain, Germany, History, Middle East, Military, Technology, WW1 — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 23 Nov 2017

After stopping the offensive at Passchendaele, the British Army launches another, albeit more limited, offensive. Almost 500 tanks are put into place and the initial success is remarkable. But the Germans had been training in anti-tank warfare and are supported by fresh troops from the Eastern Front.

November 23, 2017

Transport regression

Filed under: Economics, History, Middle East, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

ESR linked to this article, saying “This is hands-down the most interesting article on history of technology I’ve read in a very long time. It seems the Middle East, the cradle of the wheeled cart, completely gave up on wheeled transport for 1500 years – it was displaced by, of all things, camels. Among other things, this explains the mazelike layout of old Arab cities – they’re like that because they’re optimized for walking and animal-riding, not wheeled transport.”:

When the first motor car chugged defiantly off the road and into the desert an entire epoch in world history began to pass away, the epoch of the camel. After centuries of supremacy as a transport animal, centuries that had seen it become for millions of people the romantic symbol of the entire Middle East, the stalwart camel was at last facing unbeatable competition.

Yet once before this homely drama of competition between the camel and the wheel had been played out in nearly identical fashion, only in reverse. Once, in ancient times, the Middle East teemed with carts and wagons and chariots, but they were totally driven out by the coming of the camel.

For all the discussion there has been among archeologists about why advanced societies such as those in pre-Colombian Central and South America never invented wheeled transport, there has been little notice taken of the amazing fact that Middle Eastern society wilfully abandoned the use of the wheel, one of mankind’s greatest inventions.

It did not, of course, abandon the wheel in all of its many forms. The potter’s wheel remained, and so did the huge, picturesque norias, or waterwheels of Syria. But gradually over the course of the first four or five centuries of the Christian era, and perhaps even earlier, all wheeled transport in the area, from the grandest chariot to the humblest farm wagon, passed out of existence.

As late as the 1780’s the French traveler Volney could still note, “It is remarkable that in all of Syria one does not see a single cart or wagon.” Moreover, in the Arabic and Persian languages one is hard pressed to find any vocabulary proper to either the use or construction of carts and wagons.

The most common explanation of this phenomenon is lack of, or deterioration of, roads in the Middle East, and to be sure the old Royal Road of the Persians and the whole network of Roman roads at some time fell out of repair and then passed out of use. However, roads are built for wheels and not vice versa. Their decline paralleled that of the wheel; it did not cause it.

November 17, 2017

The End Of Passchendaele – Fighting in Petrograd I THE GREAT WAR Week 173

Filed under: Europe, History, Middle East, Military, Russia, WW1 — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

The Great War
Published on 16 Nov 2017

The Anti-Bolshevik forces in Russia are trying to fight back last week’s revolution. The Battle of Passchendaele ends after 3 months of fighting and at least 500,000 casualties on both sides. The British are still advancing on Jerusalem and the Italians set up defences behind the Piave river.

November 8, 2017

Why Don’t Country Flags Use The Color Purple?

Filed under: Economics, History, Middle East — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

After Skool
Published on 17 Oct 2017

For centuries purple dye was worth more than gold. The dye used to produce purple fabric came from a sea snail that only lived off the shores of modern day Lebanon. Because it was so rare, purple became associated with royalty. This is the reason you don’t see purple on country flags. It was just too expensive to produce.

Sometimes the simplest questions have extraordinary answers.

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