History of the World-Babble On

When I sat down to write this evening, I wanted to address the tragedy unfolding in Ukraine.  Then I realized there honestly is little of value I could add to the never-ending parade of bad news (frankly, do I ever?).  You've heard it, you'll continue to hear it, so why should I add to your burden?  After all, you come to Blogger for quality entertainment.  Which begs the question, what the hell are you doing here?  So, instead, I decided to carry on with this nonsense, if for no other reason that it will temporarily take your minds off the prospect of a Third World War.

********

NOTE:
  I'll continue to post this disclaimer.  The past several posts and who-knows-how-many-to-come are merely what I can remember from the Penguin Academy of Our Lady of Barnum Avenue and History Class at Stratford High School while growing up older in Connecticut.  I will research some specifics, mostly dates and the most obscure of names, and I'll try to place historical events in their proper historical context.  Meaning, I won't have the Aztecs land on the moon.  Or...did they?  Anyway, please don't use any of this nonsense to prepare for the History Advanced Placement Examination.  If you do, the only college you'll get into is Klown Kollege and you'll probably be confused for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  Or Joe Biden.  Especially if you sniff their hair.


Cradle of Crazy

Sucky Map.
Don't Use.

Yeah, that's more like it.

    When I sat down to write this week's "History of the World" segment on the civilization of Babylon, I realized I didn't know a whole lot about it.  I may have been absent the day the nuns taught it or I may not have been paying attention (my money's on the latter).

   What I can remember is that, around 2,000 B.C.  (give or take a hundred years…go ahead…count),  Babylon rose in the Fertile Crescent (land of the Fertile Crescent rolls-I believe we've already covered that) in what is now present-day Iraq (yeah, that Iraq).      

    Situated on the Euphrates River...or is that Tigris? (Seriously, who cares?), it grew to be a regional superpower (only because the Chinese were inventing gunpowder, the Russians were trying to figure out how to get drunk on potatoes, and the Americans hadn't been invented yet.).

    I knew there was a big shot called Hammurabi (or
"What should the penalty be for stealing?"
"Cut his hand off."
"Lying?"
"Cut his tongue off."
"Sneezing without a Kleenex?"
"Cut his nose off."
"Adultery?"
"Seriously?"
Hamburgerabi, as Chris Martin calls him).  He created what is called the "Code of Hammurabi" (the dude sounded like a stuck-up jerk to me).  This formed the basis of our legal system which was furthered developed in the Roman Twelve Tables, the Code of Justinian, the Magna Carta, Constitution, Rock, Paper, Scissors, and rules for Monopoly.  Sure, there's others, but we're not talking about them.  Let's get back to Babylon, shall we? 

    Oh, wait.  I'M the one who went off on a tangent.  Never mind.




Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
Brought to you by Nebuchadnezzar.
And the Nineveh Home Depot.
You can build it.  They can help.
    There was also another high roller called Nebucchadnezzar, who is known as the greatest king of Babylon (take that, Hammurabi).  He built one of the seven Wonders of the Ancient World.  Although, like five of the other wonders of the ancient world, it no longer exists.  
    So, we're going to have to take it on faith that it was pretty sweet.


The only one which still exists is the Great Pyramid of Giza.
Not to be confused with the So-So Pyramids of Giza.
It was built in Ancient Egypt.
Where they married their sisters.
Coincidence?

   
"Trust me.  I saw it on the Internet. 
Of course, I'm dead so..."


      King Nebuchadnezzar is also the guy who invaded Judah, 
Daniel.
Also an Elton John song.
Unrelated.
Probably.
destroyed Solomon's temple, grabbed a whole bunch of Hebrews, and dragged them all back to Babylon (this is known as the "Babylonian Captivity."  Duh.).  He's featured in a few books of the Bible: Kings, Esther, Jeremiah (who was not a bullfrog and not a good friend of mine), Daniel, and the lesser-known Schlomo.

    He got a bad rap, deservedly so, as the nuns made us play "Pin
"But, not before ten rosaries, ye cheeky scamps."
the Tail on Nebuchadnezzar" before we were allowed to go to Bingo.

    Babylon pretty much ruled the roost for that region of the world, even Egypt (because the aliens and their spaceships had already left).  



Wrong aliens

    The Babylonians led the way in improved farming, lawmaking, education, mathematics, phrenology, interpretive dance, origami, cake-decorating, clogging, haberdashery, ice sculpture, charades, flower arrangements, beheading, writing (sure, why not?), and statues of half-men/half-lions.  

    Or bulls.  Or eagles.  Whatever.

"I don't know animals."

    Eventually, though, Babylon declined and fell around 540 BC (give or take a hundred years) when they left the front gate of the city unlocked and a whole bunch of Achaemenids wandered in and trashed the joint.  

The Babylonians
Never able to shave with hooves or buy pants with four legs.

    The Achaemenids, also known as Persians (who were the ancestors of, you guessed it, Iranians), were lead by Cyrus the Great, a real mover and shaker himself.  Eventually, Cyrus, Darius, Xerxes, and a whole bunch of crazies would run amok in that region of the world.  They would also threaten the nascent civilizations of the Western World, most notably Greece.

Meanwhile, in China...

    But, that's another story.

    Anyway, that's pretty much all I can remember about the Babylonian Empire.  They were a pretty big deal, evidently, but it was difficult to keep track of all the loinclothed players so early in the school year.  Besides, that's probably all you need (or, most importantly, want) to know.  

    After all, no one wants to hear me babble on.
   
See what I did there, yo?

Next time: The Assyrians.  Beheading people before beheading people was cool.
   



A City By Any Other Name

    

It's like they have a different word for everything.

             Occasionally, you learn something at Stuff and Nonsense.  Not often, mind you.  But sometimes.

                Way back when I had brown hair, I served aboard the aircraft carrier, USS George Washington.  As was the way it went back then (probably still is), we spent quite a bit of time when deployed keeping an eye on Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, and other asylums. 

                Basically, we were on "Lunatic Watch."

                Obviously, we spent our time on the water because we were...a ship (please try and keep up), primarily the Persian Gulf.

                Only it wasn't the Persian Gulf, we were told by the powers that be.  No, no, "Persian" implies it was an "Iranian" body of water, you understand.  And we didn't like those people.

                NOTE:  "Iran" was once known as "Persia."  Before that?  Yeah, "Iran."  You really can't make this stuff up.

                Anyway, so as to tick off the "Death to America" crowd, we were under strict orders to refer to it as the "Arabian" Gulf.  Because they were our friends.

"Those infidel American bastards must be dealt with!  We must attack Washington and New York!"
"It's been done."
"Oh.  By the Chinese?"
"No.  By an ally."
"You're shitting me."

                NOTE:  I am not going to entertain any 9/11 conspiracies here.  Not the point today.  Thanks for playing, though.

                Friendship can be complicated.

                I have to wonder....is it only the U.S. military which refers to it as the Arabian Gulf?

                Similarly, but not exactly, we're being told that pronunciation of the capital city of Ukraine is not what we've been told it was back in elementary school.

                In the run-up to the Turnip-in-Chief's wagging the war dog in Eastern Europe, I kept hearing news people mispronouncing the name of Ukraine's capital.  Or so I thought.  Silly me.

                For as long as I can remember, I've been spelling it "Kiev" and pronouncing it "KEE ev."  Well, wouldn't you know it, I've been doing it wrong.

                To more closely align with the Ukrainian language, its capital is actually "Kyiv." which is pronounced "Keev."  Or, close enough.

It's still Chicken Kiev.  Don't worry.

                Apparently, Ukrainians have been clamoring for people to do this ever since the Soviet Union shit the bed in the 1990s (Personal Note:  I remember there was a time when I had a bit of smug snarkiness about that.  Then, we got Biden so...).  "Kiev," you see, is the way Russians say it and we can't have that.

                Likewise, it's no longer known as "The" Ukraine, which is considered Russian.  Now, it's just the more friendly "Ukraine."

            Incidentally, this is just like plain old "Smokey Bear," not "Smokey the Bear."

"And, if you eff that up, well...you know where you can jump."

                Huh.

                At first I was a little miffed ("miffed" not really the right word, but it'll have to do).  I considered it the "Persian/Arabian Gulf" of the 21st Century.  Rather silly, I figured.

                Then, I thought, well why not pronounce their cities the way they should be said, rather than some jumped-up "I-speak-English-and-am-better-than-you-so-why-don't-you-shut-up?"

                The practice is not without precedent.  I'm old enough to remember when it was "Peking" before it became "Beijing."

                And I really avoid calling "Chile" like it's something you served with beans and corn bread.  "CHEE lay" rolls off the tongue just as fine.

"Mmmmmmmmmmm........Chillay with beans....."

                Still, I wonder if we'll ever hear of "Pair REE" or "MEHICO City?"

                I'll do the best I can with "Kyiv," though.  But, I'm an old man, after all, and set in my ways.

                Who stubbornly calls it the Persian Gulf.

               

Love Is In the Air

 

"All I told Claudius was,
'Don't lose your head over that marriage thing.
  Such a touchy guy.'

    February 14th is a day set aside for love and the greeting card industry.  For it is on this day* when lovers throughout the world (or at least this country) scour the aisles of supermarkets in search of that which most fervently expresses their devotion to their significant other.  Flowers, chocolates, lingerie, stuffed Cupids, early pregnancy tests...all fly off the shelves, snatched up by those who desperately want to get laid.  At least once this year.

Then again, some seek that special something for that special someone..  I won't judge.
Sidebar, your honor?  You can actually get this on Amazon.

    Incidentally, this will probably be the biggest workout that Lady Schicks get all winter.

    But, how did this holiday (a holiday which doesn't involve time off from work or school?  Suck it, ya big babies.  You got Columbus Day.  Some of you.  Suck it anyway) come into our culture?

    Obviously (or not, for those of who went to public school), Valentines Day is named in honor of Saint Valentine, he of the Rome Valentines.

    There are many versions of how this day came to be.  There was a Valentine of Terni, a Valentine of Genoa, and a Valentine of Secaucus, New Jersey.  But, I'm only going to concentrate on the Valentine of Rome.  Mostly because he's pretty much the only one the nuns taught us about.  Plus, do you really want to read a long-ass post?  Well, longer than usual, anyway.

    Besides, you gotta get to Walmart to pick up a box of chocolates shaped like a heart.  God speed, you sentimental sap, you.  May your chocolates be more than those sucky jelly-filled ones.

    Anyway, Valentine was a Roman (I already said that) priest/bishop/philanderer in the third century under the rule of Claudius II, nicknamed "Claudius the Cruel" behind his back.

The 'Kick Me' sign on his back really pushed him over the edge.

    As was often the case during the first few centuries of the Roman Empire, persecution Christians was a favorite past time along with gladiatorial games, enslaving Germans, and invading others.

    Unfortunately, that whole invading bit took quite a bit of manpower to pull off.  And, since free college and sex changes weren't really things in the Roman Army, the emperor needed to find some ways to staff the legions.

    One of his beliefs was that a married Roman wouldn't be that keen to travel far from home to conquer people who weren't too keen on being invaded .  Claudius figured a married man would be very reluctant to join the army.

Plus, try explaining this to the wife.

    Valentine (the big dope) disagreed with this philosophy and took to conducting marriage ceremonies for Christian soldiers.

    Apparently, Jewish soldiers were on their own.  For those who may be curious, Muslim soldiers hadn't been invented yet.

"But we're coming!  Infidel!"

    Claudius (since he was cruel) ordered Valentine arrested for eventual execution once the check cleared after hiring an executioner.

    While he was waiting, Valentine restored sight to the blind daughter of his jailer.  A pretty nice thing to do,  if you ask me.  If I was the jailer, I would have at least accidentally left his cell door open.  But noooooooooooo, Valentine's execution by beheading happened on February 14, 296 (once the swordsman's visa from Iran was approved).

"Beheading?  Oh, boo hoo!  Pussy.  OW!!"
-Saint Sebastian

    The night before, though, Valentine allegedly left Julia a note saying, "Your Valentine."

    

"Hey, I'm sorry.  I ate all the chocolates."

NOTE:  Now you know.

    Some sources say that, at the bottom of the card, Valentine also wrote, "P.S. Your dad is an asshole."  That, unfortunately, has been lost to history.

    A couple hundred years later, Pope Gelasius (after a successful lobbying effort by the nascent Latin greeting card industry) designated Valentine a saint.  Christians by this time were running the show, having given the pagans the heave-ho.

"HEY! GET TF AWAY FROM ME!  I BET YOU'RE NOT VACCINATED!!!"

  Saints were being made right and left, and Valentine made the cut based on his religious fervor, miracle, and outstanding penmanship.

Of course, godly piety affects others in different ways.

    The origins of the other other trappings associated with Valentines Day  remain hazy and probably were generated in lands far and wide from Rome.  Cupid, though, may be based on the possibility that Valentine gave Julia more than a note.

"He's my what???"

    If you know what I mean.

  Happy Saint Valentines Day!

    Now you better get going.  She'll be home from work anytime now.


*That this is the only day designated as such is kind of sad, if you think about it.  What do the other 364 days of the year consist of?  "HEY, WHERE THE HELL IS MY DINNER?"

Things That Make You Go "Hmmmm...."

 


Excuse me...

 If you're vaccinated and boosted, you can still catch COVID and you may die.

 If you're vaccinated and boosted, you can still spread COVID which may kill someone.

 

And...

 If you're not vaccinated and boosted, you can catch COVID and you may die.

If you're not vaccinated and boosted, you can spread COVID which may kill someone.

 

But...

 If you're vaccinated and you catch COVID  from an unvaccinated or vaccinated individual, your symptoms (okay, I'll play this game) won't be as severe were you not vaccinated.  I guess.


Then...

 Why does anyone give a rat's ass if anyone is vaccinated or not if COVID can be spread from a vaccinated or unvaccinated person?  If you're unvaccinated and you [may] have a higher chance of getting very sick and dying, then that (okay, I'll play this game) is your own damn fault.

 

Whereas...

 If someone catches COVID from you (or, let's be honest, it could just as easily be from the guy wearing forty masks in a full-body condom at Home Depot), then they should experience (okay, I'll play this game) milder symptoms if they got the jab.

 

Now that I think of it...

 For those who say society should not have to pay for the medical care of those who choose not to get vaccinated, but get sick, then why don't we deny treatment to smokers, drug abusers, alcoholics, or the obese?  I can hear the predictably pompous, "Well, those people don't infect the health of others."

 Secondhand smoke aside, that is a very slippery slope I do not care to tread.

 

Besides...

 If you're vaccinated and boosted, you allegedly have a greater chance of weathering the storm.  You're good. 

 

 

 

History of the World-Meanwhile, Back in Mespotomia

NOTE:  I'll continue to post this disclaimer.  The past several posts and who-knows-how-many-to-come are merely what I can remember from the Penguin Academy of Our Lady of Barnum Avenue and History Class at Stratford High School while growing up older in Connecticut.  I'll research some specifics, mostly dates and obscure names.  I'll also place historical events in their proper historical context.  Meaning, I won't have the Aztecs land on the moon. 

Or...did they?

Anyway, please don't use any of this nonsense to prepare for the History Advanced Placement Examination.  If you do, the only college you'll get into is Klown Kollege where you'll probably be confused for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.  Or Joe Biden.  Especially if you sniff their hair.


Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians.  Oh, My.
Mostly Sumerians.  Okay, only Sumerians.


Fun Fact:  "Mesopotamia" is Greek, Latin, or French
(probably not French, though) for "Between the Waters." 
And now you know.  Nerd.
 

 
"Prom?"
  While the Egyptians were working up the nerve to ask their sisters out on a date, the peoples gathered around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers decided their sisters weren't as hot as those Egyptian babes.  That being the case, they figured they may as well invent language, the wheel, 'Make Mesopotamia Great Again' ballcaps, dirty limericks, improved farming techniques, mud, "Let's Go Brandon" tee shirts, irrigation, knock-knock jokes, and flaying.

NOTE:  Okay, the Mesopotamian Civilizations may have arisen first.  Or not.  I wasn't there.  Were you?  Besides, I wanted to write about the Egyptians last week.  So…shut up.

    Many civilizations arose during this time frame, but it was that
"Cleanliness is next to godliness, you know. 
On an unrelated matter,
I can't wait until pants are invented. 
FYI, I wonder if I have feet."
of the Sumerians that first burst onto the scene in 3,000 BC (give or take a hundred years…go ahead…count).  Their culture was very similar to that of the Egyptians.  However, their leaders weren't called "Pharoahs."  Neither were they considered divine, even though they carried out some priestly functions (early budget cuts, don'tcha know?).   They bathed regularly, though.  

   Each of their cities was the home of a particular Sumerian god:  Innana at Uruk, Nanna at Ur, and PopPop (god of Pepomint Lifesavers), from West Palm Eanna.  In the early dynastic period, circa 2,800 BC (give or tak a hun…oh, you know the drill), they began building great stepped temples, called ziggurats, which paid extra homage to these deities.  And gave them a nice place to entertain out of town guests.
"Let's see those know-it-all Egyptians top this!"


Sigh....

    These palatial structures gave birth to a sizable bureaucratic structure including specialized administrators, merchants, mimes, lobbyists, and, most importantly, scribes.  As the day to day running of the palace grew more complex, a need to keep written
I dunno.  It's all Greek to me.
records arose.  After all, using the backs of Hittite slaves to keep track of how many goats were sacrificed was considered impractical.  So, Leo Scribe, of the Euphrates' Scribes, hit upon the idea of scratching wedge-shaped figures into wet blocks of mud.  Thus, cuneiform was invented.  Which resulted in an immediate shortage of mud tablets.  That was immediately blamed on China.


Colorforms would come much later.

   South of modern Iraq (yeah, that Iraq), the city of Ur dominated the region.  With its strong political organizations, wealth, and monopoly of mud, it was the shining beacon to those rubes who wanted to make something of themselves and get away from one-goat towns such as West Palm Eanna.  

    In addition to everything else, Ur boasted the largest ziggurat in the region and a cosmopolitan scene which partied hard.  Well, until the sun went down (they were still having a little trouble figuring out how to keep the lights on.  The first solution, setting slaves on fire, proved impractical.  Seriously, what were they good for?). 

"I dunno, if you ax me, I think these Ur guys are compensating for something. 
Hey, if you see any mud, can you pick some up?"

    Eventually, despite being united by King Lugalzagesi (of the Umma Lugalzagesis), the Sumerians were conquered by Sargon, King of Akkad in 2,400 BC (sounds pretty specific.  Then again, Leo the Scribe probably wrote the date down in mud) in his quest to found the First Galactic Empire in world history.

Sargon
Conqueror of Sumer
Calgon
Conqueror of Water Spots
 
   However, the Akkadian Empire began its decline once Sargon passed away from bad clams, knife in the ribs, or old age (Sources are unclear...Leo never wrote it down.  Probably ran out of mud).  His kids would have taken over the family business, but that wasn't the case (ain't that always the way?).  All they
"Oh, yeah?  I would so kick your ass in Call of Duty
If it was invented yet.  
Let's eat some Tide Pods, instead. 
They haven't been invented yet, either? 
Shit."
apparently wanted to do was hang out with their friends, smoke rye ziggurats, and ride slaves down the steps of the ziggurat of Ur.


    So, around 2,050 BC (are any of you really going to check the accuracy of these dates?  I didn't think so), Ur once more rose to prominence, after the alien invaders were ousted by the great general, Urk-Yuge-Trumpuk.  Under the 3rd Dynasty (no, I don't remember what the 1st and 2nd dynasties were.  I don't think it's important.  And neither should you) of Ur-Nammu, Sumerian culture reached its zenith. 

No wonder it eventually died. 
The Japanese made better models.

    Eventually, though, Ur would be absorbed by other powers and the civilization of Sumer would vanish into history as the first real culture studied by Elementary School students before June.

    Because, when they got back from Sumer (see what I did there?) vacation, they studied the cool ones of Greece and Rome.

"At least the Romans became good Catholics.  
Who only tortured Zoroastrians, heretics, and Shriners.
Saints be praised."

    And, even though modern audiences consider the region to be a monolithic asylum of crazy people, it really was nothing of the sort.  It was a diverse asylum of crazy people.

    We'll meet some of those next time.

Next:  I finally get to Babylon and Assyrian.

Happy Independence Day!

     Or "Fourth of July" to the rest of the world.     Yes, yes, sigh, I know.  Many other countries, other than the United State...