Tag Archives: History

Things that make you go hmmm

With apologies to C&C Music Factory, there are things that really make you go hmmm.

Or in some cases, huh?

We live in such a pop culture world, one where people who have never seen a Monty Python sketch, but can actually quote verbatim lines from many of the sketches (like the Parrot sketch).  One such thing is “no one expects the Spanish Inquisition”.

In reality, the Spanish Inquisition made appointments.  They would give a 30 day notice of when they were going to arrive to question a person.  The questioning in question was to find out if a person in a particular parish was Jewish or Muslim.

The Inquisition was originally intended in large part to ensure the orthodoxy of those who converted from Judaism and Islam. This regulation of the faith of the newly converted was intensified after the royal decrees issued in 1492 and 1501 ordering Jews and Muslims to convert or leave.

The Inquisition itself began in the 13th Century, after the reclaiming of Granada.

The Spanish Inquisition can be seen as an answer to the multi-religious nature of Spanish society following the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslim Moors. After invading in 711, large areas of the Iberian Peninsula were ruled by Muslims until 1250, when they were restricted to Granada, which fell in 1492. However, the Reconquista did not result in the total expulsion of Muslims from Spain, since they, along with Jews, were tolerated by the ruling Christian elite. Large cities, especially Seville, Valladolid and Barcelona, had significant Jewish populations centered in Juderia, but in the coming years the Muslims were increasingly subjugated by alienation and torture. The Jews, who had previously thrived under Muslim rule, now suffered similar maltreatment.

Post-reconquest medieval Spain has been characterized by Americo Castro and some other Iberianists as a society of “convivencia”, that is relatively peaceful co-existence, albeit punctuated by occasional conflict among the ruling Catholics and the Jews and Muslims. However, as Henry Kamen notes, “so-called convivencia was always a relationship between unequals.”[1] Despite their legal inequality, there was a long tradition of Jewish service to the crown of Aragon and Jews occupied many important posts, both religious and political. Castile itself had an unofficial rabbi. Ferdinand’s father John II named the Jewish Abiathar Crescas to be Court Astronomer.

Nevertheless, in some parts of Spain towards the end of the 14th century, there was a wave of violent anti-Judaism, encouraged by the preaching of Ferrand Martinez, Archdeacon of Ecija. In the pogroms of June 1391 in Seville, hundreds of Jews were killed, and the synagogue was completely destroyed. The number of people killed was also high in other cities, such as Córdoba, Valencia and Barcelona.[2]

The Inquisition focused on more than just Jews and Muslims, but also witchcraft, bigamy, sodomy, blasphemy and Freemasonry.  Why that last was a focus is because Francisco Javier de Mier y Campillo, the Inquisitor General of the Spanish Inquisition and the Bishop of Almería, suppressed Freemasonry and denounced the lodges as “societies which lead to atheism, to sedition and to all errors and crimes.”  Interestingly, while the aspect of the Inquisition has changed, it still exists.  There has also been much historical revision of the Inquisition, as one author tried to point out that they were not nearly as cruel as originally portrayed.

Another Spanish custom among Catholics is a garb worn by penitents during the Catholic Holy Week.  This garb has the unfortunate distinction of looking exactly like a KKK garb.

The capirote is a hood traditionally worn by Spanish Catholic penitents, still worn in Holy Week processions. It looks exactly like a KKK hood. During the Inquisition it was used to humiliate the condemned and indicate their impending fate. No one is entirely sure how a Spanish Catholic hat came to be adopted by a Protestant White supremacist society in the southern USA, though some claim the white, ghost-like headwear is symbolic of the spirits of the confederate troops killed in the American Civil War.

Rather unfortunate, indeed.  On another sort of related note, KKK in Korean means LOL.  Also, Superman really was involved in a drop in KKK recruitment after the Second World War.  The radio series Adventures of Superman, needed a new villain and the KKK fit the bill.  Within four weeks of airing, recruitment in the KKK in Florida dropped to zero.

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Posted by on July 13, 2014 in Fun, Life, randomness


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Race, technology, history

originally posted on my tumblr

Pretty ambiguous title, but it’s shorter than “Erasure of race in history, believing advanced technology was the only thing that could do something and why the Western world just can’t say I don’t know”.  Maybe that’s be the sub title.

History is filled with colourful stories, epic battles, major events that changed the world, and helped the human species advance to what we are today.  But there’s a major problem.  A lot of people in this modern world continue to erase the aspects of history to favour a very whitewashed look into it.  One need only look at the European paintings of Christ to realize this.  How a white man was born of a Middle Eastern Jewish woman is beyond me.  Maybe that’s how racists see it as a miracle.

When a treasure trove of knowledge is often found, it usually is celebrated.  The Timbuktu Manuscripts are a prime example.  While research and preservation of the manuscripts located in the West African nation of Mali has been conducted on them for decades (since at least 1970), the Western world, in particular right wing media, continues to state that African nations had no history, were better off as slaves, were savages with no written language.  Yet, these manuscripts, centuries old, contain thoughts and facts (known at the time) in a wide range of studies; medicine, philosophy, astronomy, economics, and more.  All of the manuscripts were written in Arabic (which was something that was common around the time of the Silk Road trading route).  But this proves before any aspect of European colonization that African nations had libraries and authors with deep questions about the world and it’s social fabric, as well as great scientific minds.

This is proven further with the evidence displayed by the Ancient Egyptians.  Thousands of years before the Timbuktu Manuscripts, the Egyptians were practicing medicine, studying the stars, and creating massive engineering projects.  This wasn’t just an isolated incident in one nation that bordered on the African continent and the Middle East.  Many cultures throughout the region were developing incredible breakthroughs, many of which are still seen today.

This is where I blast those who believe in ancient aliens theories (and in this case, by theory I mean science fiction).  Ancient aliens theories are good for one thing and one thing only; making entertaining science fiction.  See Stargate.  Those who hold these theories tightly are ignoring the innovative capabilities of the people in the region at the time, and are ignoring the basics of geological science.

A good example is the ancient city of Baalbek, where it is said that a slab of rock so massive was laid as a foundation, that it had to have been erected by aliens as a landing pad for their spaceships.  ‘Cause, that’s only what it could be!  There are three stones at Baalbek, the heaviest of which weighs 800 tons (but ancient aliens theorists will tell you that it really weighs 1200 tons… but what’s 400 tons between friends).  They will also say that no human could have moved those due to the fact there was nothing to move it with.  Not, a lot of these theories are states around Middle Eastern countries, but they often tend to leave out places like Stonehenge.  There are some, but the primary focus is on countries filled with brown people.

The bottom line is that much of this talk is the erasure of history.  Making it so that the people of that area could not have possibly built those massive monuments or written those incredible things, so it had to be something else.  Either ancient aliens, or by divine providence.

The West will use any excuse to comfort itself and explain it’s own ignorance.

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Posted by on May 9, 2014 in Life, randomness


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Writing and history

Representations of Shani (left) and Pania (right) as they appear in Guild Wars 2.

Representations of Shani (left) and Pania (right) as they appear in Guild Wars 2.

There’s a couple of things I wanted to talk about because they’re related and there’s a few sources that sort of brought all of this up.  The first source was reading and listening to an interview with author Junot Diaz.  The second source came from multiple places and focused on a sort of literary festival type feel and how it’s become very commodified.  The third source just came from a discussion with a friend about my plans for Elves of the Old West.

I’ll start there with the last one, because it sort of moves on into the interview with Junot Diaz.  This is gonna be long, so I’ll put a cut in here and if you want to read more, click it.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Posted by on October 12, 2013 in Fun, Life, randomness, Writing


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Fantasy stories and different cultures

I read a post of jhenne-bean‘s that, once again, got me thinking about stories of different cultures.  It was added to by bobbarob and jhenne-bean stated she’ll be writing a longer post at a later point, but I started to think about the different myths, folklore and stories that are not Eurocentric (once jhenne-bean makes her post, I’ll add that link here, because thoughts and ideas should be shared).


Lately, whenever there’s been a discussion of fantasy that includes race or even gender, the default argument of those defending certain properties (such as Game of Thrones) is that the story is based on medieval times and that’s how things worked.  Which is incredibly ignorant, to be honest.  To say something like that is to put on display how much one has no clue of the history of the world (even the history of Europe).

Fantasy isn’t some market that was cornered in Europe based on stories that cave dwelling white people told around camp fires.  Fantasy has its roots in practically every culture around the globe.  Including those who the defenders of certain properties (like Game of Thrones) would find surprising.  For hundreds of years, First Nation people in North America (what Northeastern tribes, in particular Iroquois, called Turtle Island) had a rich, oral tradition with story telling.  Many of those stories have been recorded and written down to be save so they aren’t lost.  Those stories include fantasy characters which have incredible similarities to European stories.  Not unlike how dragons aren’t simply a European commodity (Chinese).  The Iroquois’ stories included elves, and pixies, and sprites, and fairies, and other creatures that Europeans (especially British/Scandinavian/French) would call fae folk.

There is something else that a lot of these defenders of certain properties (like Game of Thrones) bring up, that being how people from nations outside of Europe were technically and intellectually inferior to Europe in medieval times.  Which is wrong.  While Europeans were still scratching in the dirt, the nations of the Middle East, around the Mediterranean, North and West Africa, were some of the most cultured, well read, scientifically advanced, and philosophically literate.  Baghdad was, at one time, the cultural epicenter of a Renaissance that rivaled the one in Europe.  Hundreds of years before the actual European Renaissance, the Middle East was the home to the largest library in the world.  Books were a huge commodity, and their weight in gold was offered.  Many books were transcribed from their original language into the language of the local area.  Which meant there had to be language scholars in Baghdad.  And they didn’t come from learned academies in Europe (mostly because there weren’t sufficient academies in Europe by this time).

The famed Silk Road actually helped spread the aspect of story telling and shared culture and religion between peoples.  Not only were commodities transported, but so too was information.  News from North Africa was shared in Pakistan, India, Thailand, Tibet, and all the way to the Far East and Asian Pacific.  And, it did go north into Europe.  For many North African nations, the communities became Mulsim not because they were conquered, but because it was fashionable and therefore more attractive for Middle Eastern merchants to deal with those communities.

Each of those areas also had their own stories.  In West Africa, the Yoruba had folklore that rivaled the stories of Ancient Egypt.  Far into the south, the Zulu tribes had their own stories, of which some mirrored what we have heard in Europe.  In the Western Asian nations (which includes Pakistan, Afghanistan, India) there were also there own stories which had their own elements.  But the fundamental basics usually stayed the same.

Many different cultures shared the same types of stories and the same types of characters.  Heroic figures who defeat some great evil, often being depicted as larger than life.  The folklore of Ancient Egypt, the Norse gods, Tuatha de Dannan, Baba Yaga, the Sky Women of the Iroquois creation story, Djinn from both pre and post Islamic culture, and many others all have their own stories but there are some very glaring similarities.  That comes from something like the Silk Road, where cultures traded goods, but also traded stories.

To end, two groups in North America evolved in isolation from the origins, although their reason for being in North America was completely different.  One group arrived in North America by choice, the other didn’t.  But the French Canadians and the African Americans became cut off from their cultural roots and had to evolve independently (although, I’d say the French Canadians had a much easier time).  In Quebec, the french language evolved differently from European french, and went onto influence Cajun (which derives from Acadian), and Hatian Creole (although, Haitian Creole did evolve independently as well, while it still was influenced by Acadian, and Acadian had some influence from Haitian).

For African Americans, naturally it was different, but they still developed their own stories, language and so on.  A story which comes from a region around South Carolina comes from African Americans.  It’s part of the line “Don’t let the hag ride you”.  It was believed that there existed a creature that would slowly drain the life out of a person until it would eventually skin the person and wear their skin.  This was called the Boo Hag.  Those who experienced sleepless nights were often said to be affected by the Hag.  There was a way to combat this creature, however.  By placing a broom on the floor by their bed, the Hag would have no choice but to count the bristles.

I know I’ve brought up Game of Thrones when talking about those who defend certain properties.  I do that only because lately Game of Thrones seems to have the largest number of people saying that fantasy existed that way because that’s how things were in medieval times.  Which, as I already said, is very naive and ignorant to say, and proves how little about history a person knows.

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Posted by on September 11, 2013 in Life, randomness


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A thought for Remembrance Day

Remembrance Day has come and gone in Canada (as has Veteran’s Day in the States), but this was something interesting that I was wanting to post up that appeared in the November 8th issue of the Outlook, the weekly newspaper I work at.

From The Friendship Book of Francis Gay, 2002
Monday, December 2

During the Second World War, Jennifer Stanley was a child who was a patient in a little cottage hospital in Lincolnshire.

On the wall opposite her bed, someone with an offbeat sense of humour had hung Jennifer’s gas mask.  She was very ill; she wouldn’t eat; and she didn’t seem to be interested in anything, until one morning a little dove flew through the window and landed on the gas mask.  Then it popped inside.  Later, the dove flew out of the window again and vanished.

Every morning for three weeks the dove returned to the gas mask, and Jennifer, with something to hold her attention, began to perk up.  Three dove’s eggs were found inside that gas mask a couple of weeks later.

That dove had unwittingly used the ugly symbol of war as a cradle for new life – and in the process had helped a little girl back to health and happiness.


Posted by on November 14, 2012 in Life, randomness


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The Quotables

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the Unite...

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and from 1951 to 1955. Deutsch: Winston Churchill, 1940 bis 1945 sowie 1951 bis 1955 Premier des Vereinigten Königreichs und Literaturnobelpreisträger des Jahres 1953. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Here’s a few quotes for this Wednesday morning, as I attempt to draw attention away from the political and racist nonsense I keep reading about at the RNC Convention in Tampa Bay, Florida.  Before we begin, a less for everyone; don’t read the comments sections of news articles.  They tend to be racist, oppressive, angry and rage inducing.  Anyway, on with the quotes.

We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give. Sir Winston Churchill

The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion. ~Doris Lessing

If you have hot flashes you’re too old for wearing hot pants. ~Maxine

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Posted by on August 29, 2012 in Fun, randomness


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The week in quotes

Not really, but I will end this with some of the more interesting quotes heard this week.  Because it’s not over, really.  For now, let’s begin with the usual lot.

English: Betty White at the premiere for The P...

English: Betty White at the premiere for The Proposal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Under everyone’s hard shell is someone who wants to be appreciated and loved. ~author unknown

Spend as much time on improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others. ~author unknown

“It’s [old age] not a surprise, we knew it was coming – make the most of it. So you may not be as fast on your feet, and the image in your mirror may be a little disappointing, but if you are still functioning and not in pain, gratitude should be the name of the game.” ~Betty White, If You Ask Me

“The magic of first love is our ignorance that it can never end.”  ~Benjamin Disraeli

“Never chase anyone. A person who appreciates you will walk with you” ~author unknown

“A great fire burns within me, but no one stops to warm themselves at it, and passers-by only see a wisp of smoke” ~Vincent van Gogh

“The fact is that every time we open the pages of another piece of writing, we are embarked on a new adventure in which we become a new person—a person as controlled and definable and as remote from the chaotic self of daily life as the lover in the sonnet… We are recreated.” ~Walker Gibson

And, perhaps not ending off in the week in quotes, because a lot of the comments coming from the news blogs and current event news cycle is enough to make one want to gouge out their eyes with the incredible amount of hate and stupidity.  I may sit down at some point and talk about that, but that is for another time.

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Posted by on July 4, 2012 in Fun, randomness


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Rockets once ruled Indian Head

They were called the Indian Head Rockets, a team in the Negro League of the 1950s. Indian Head is a small farming community east of Regina, Saskatchewan.  In Saskatchewan, one might think hockey is king here.  But you may find the sport fourth or even fifth on the list of activities most popular in the province.  Football, baseball, curling; those three sports have solid following in the province of Saskatchewan.  Football comes from over 100 years of the Green and White, as the Saskatchewan Roughriders are the only professional team of any sport here.  Curling can be attributed to such greats as the late Sandra Schmirler of Biggar, Ed LukowichStefanie Lawton and Rick Folk.  And then there’s baseball.

Terry Puhl (former Houston Astro), Aldon Jay “Lefty” WilkieTerry Donahue (who played with the All American Girls Baseball League), and Ralph Stanley Buxton are just a few of the names that trace back to Saskatchewan with professional baseball.  For a time, however, we had the Indian Head Rockets, one of several teams that played in the Negro League.  The players who were part of that 1950s team still remember Indian Head.  Some went onto the Big Leagues, playing for the Boston Red Sox, the St. Louis Cardinals and other teams in the Majors.

It’s said the story of the Indian Head Rockets would make a great movie.  Read more on the Rockets at the Saskatoon Star Phoenix.

“I was scouted, but it didn’t happen. I was drafted for the Korean War and the teams I guess forgot about me. No regrets. Canada was a tremendous experience. Indian Head was the most enjoyable time of my life.” ~Willie Reed, former player with the Indian Head Rockets

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Posted by on June 9, 2012 in Life, randomness


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What’s more important: science or art?

Why not both? To be honest, do we have to have just art, or just science? Science and art criss cross in so many different aspects. I think I put that forward in one post I made called the science of art; the art of science. There is art in science. And, there’s a science to art. Painter, sculptors, authors, illustrators all have a wide range of tools they use. Scientists have to get creative when dealing with problems.

Art and science are not necessarily two separate areas. They compliment each other so well. My answer; both.

Ask me anything.

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Posted by on June 4, 2012 in Fun, randomness


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Wednesday quotables

Random quotes for a Wednesday!

Each day is a gift – if you only untie the ribbons. ~author unknown

Enjoy the simple things. ~author unknown

“It is a small thing to lose the gifts as long as you possess the Giver; the supreme tragedy lies in losing the Giver and retaining only the gifts  ~FW Boreham

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.  Albert Einstein

Dreams are the future in rough draft and you helped set the course for my journey through life.  ~T.J. Mills


Posted by on May 9, 2012 in Fun, randomness


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