Archive for the ‘rome’ Tag

11/08/2022 “Strange History”   Leave a comment

Today is a good a day as any to look back through history to find some strange rules, laws or customs. In the past I’ve shown some seriously strange laws still on the books in this country. Now let’s take a trip back into history look at some of their foibles because in truth some of theirs are way stranger than ours.

  • It was once proposed in the Rhode Island legislature in the 1970s that there be enacted a two-dollar tax on every act of sexual intercourse.
  • A law was passed in England requiring all corpses to be buried in a wool shroud, thereby extorting support for Britain’s flagging wool trade. The act was repealed 148 years later, in 1814.
  • The average age of Elizabethan and Jacobean brides was about 24 and their bridegrooms around 27. The primary reason for delayed marriages was to limit births among poor people. The higher the social status, however, the younger the age at marriage.
  • As in Abraham’s time, it was the custom among men in Rome, when swearing to tell the truth, to place one’s right hand on one’s testicles. The English word testimony is related to this custom.

  • When a Chinese bystander ashore was killed accidentally by a cannon salvo of greeting from an English ship, during the early days of the China-Western trade, the English were forced to turn over to China the hapless gunner, who was promptly strangled.
  • The Tinguian people of the Philippines have their own way of kissing. They put their lives close to each other’s face and quickly inhale.
  • In 1853 Illinois passed a law that required any black entering the state and staying more than 10 days to pay a fine of $50. If he could not pay, the black could be sold into slavery for a period commensurate with the fine.
  • Over the centuries, playing cards have been put to strange uses. They became the first paper currency of Canada when the French governor, in 1685, use them to pay off some war debts. In 1765, the year of the Stamp Act, when every pack of playing cards was being taxed one shilling, they were also used for class admission at the University of Pennsylvania. Napoleon even used them as a ration cards during the French Revolution.
  • The town of High Wycombe in Buckinghamshire, England, carries on the multi-century custom called the “Weighing-in Ceremony.” In early May, the town’s mayor, mayoress, deputy town mayor, deputy mayoress, town clerk, and district counselors representing wards in the town’s boundaries are weighed in order to learn if they have grown fat at the public trough.

ISN’T HISTORY ENLIGHTENING?

02-18-2016 Journal – Me and Julius Caesar!   Leave a comment

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It’s 630am and I just finished watching Julius Caesar be murdered for the umpteenth time. What a bizarre way to start my day.  I’m badly addicted to the late great HBO series, Rome, and watching it has slowly become my morning ritual. My fixation with all things Roman began in my junior year of high school with the reading of Julius Caesar and my three years of Latin language  classes also helped. Later in college I became quite fond of wearing togas giving me a whole new appreciation for Roman ingenuity when it came to easy-removed clothing.

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Over the years I’ve read almost everything I could find about that time period trying in vain to understand how such an advanced society could become so bloodthirsty and uncaring about human life.  The history of the time gave me a great deal of respect for Spartacus and his minions who rose up and attempted to free themselves from slavery even though they were all killed in the process.  I remain puzzled by the entire era which forces me to keep reading about it.

I’ve heard so many people over the years comparing the situation in this country to Rome’s decline and in some ways agreed with them. The only accurate comparison for me concerned the continuing lack of morality in Rome that seemed to increase year by year with their affluence. The United States seems to me to be in a similar rut but comparing the two in their entirety is like comparing apples with oranges.

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I’ve been reading for the last few months a book written in the mid-1700’s by Edward Gibbons, The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. It’s a difficult read on a good day as are all books written by so-called intellectuals.  There are as many footnotes as actual text in the book and I wanted to scream out loud before I made it through the first 100 pages. It became somewhat easier when I decided to completely disregard all of the footnotes and just read the actual text. I’ll probably finish reading this cumbersome tome in a few months but it won’t be easy.  Unfortunately there’s just enough valuable information in it to keep me reading to the end.

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I just finished my second cup of hot black coffee and I can feel my energy level beginning to rise. I’ll be spending some time today putting the finishing touches to a print I’ve been working on.  It’s an abstraction of a family photo
taken last Christmas in front of the tree. It’s more of an experiment in the use of vivid colors while working with materials that are somewhat new to me.  It’s preparing me for a more detailed and difficult project that I’ll be starting in the next few weeks using these same materials. As always practice and preparation make for a satisfactory completion of any project.

I’ll watch a few more minutes of Rome then get up to face my day.  I should be safe since the Ides of March are still a few weeks away.

02-03-2013   2 comments

Don’t you just love the month of February?  We get to celebrate Ground Hog Day, Lincoln’s Birthday, Valentines Day, and of course this year, Super Bowl Sunday. I wish I had all of the money spent preparing for and the celebration of a stupid football game.  Do I sound like a sports hater?  I’m not exactly sure but I think I just may be one.  

I played a great deal of sports in my life and thoroughly enjoyed all of those activities.  I had a great deal of success in my endeavors with Little League Baseball, Pony League Baseball, High School Baseball, Basketball and Football, American Legion Baseball, Semi-Pro Baseball, Racquetball, Bowling, and others I’ve probably forgotten.  I’m not bragging but trying to show many of the reasons why I should be a screaming and hollering fanatic for all sports. Why is it that that watching sports except for possibly Little League Baseball is like getting my teeth drilled without Novocain.

As a younger man I often got caught up in following the Pittsburgh Pirates and Steelers and considered myself a loyal fan.  That being said, I hate watching their games even when they’re winning.  I’ve never been  able to admit my dislike of watching sports because my father would have disowned me.  He was an avid fan of most sports and was quite the accomplished athlete in his own right.

So why?  I’ve only mentioned football because of all the Super Bowl hoop-la over the last week or so.  My better-half who in truth is a fan, a fan of the parties and get-togethers, and interaction with her friends but only a so-so fan of the sport.  I think the great majority of fans are just like her.

I’m reminded of our addiction as a society to sports every time I watch an episode of Spartacus.  I suppose the human race has advanced from the Roman’s version of the Super Bowl held at the Coliseum where gladiators killed Christians, animals, and themselves in great numbers. With crowds of thousands cheering, betting, and orgying their hearts out. They called it then “bread and circuses” which allowed the political caste to maintain control over the great unwashed.

Do you see any similarities?  These days we make it possible for our gladiators, the biggest and strongest of us, to be paid great sums of money to punish themselves and many times damage themselves critically.  The money and glory, as in Rome, were all that ever mattered.  Does that ring a bell for you? It not such an honorable profession when you see a super successful man like Mike Webster, formerly of the four time Super Bowl winning Steelers, suffering from amnesia, dementia, depression, and acute bone and muscle pain after his retirement. He lived out of his pickup truck or in train stations for years between Wisconsin and Pittsburgh.  Webster’s wife finally divorced him six months before his death in 2002. He was only 50 years old.

Of course, Webster was responsible for his own decisions but in my opinion the system was responsible for the pressures of money, fame, performance enhancers, and steroid use that ultimately destroyed him.  Unfortunately he’s not alone.

Maybe that’s what makes celebrating these sports so difficult for me.

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