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About Childress

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  1. California, where I live, and New York have applied the most stringent rules vi-a-vis the virus. Simply walking on the sidewalk here in LA- without serious purpose- risks a ticket. One notices that there are two opposing sides: those that wish to clamp down on nearly all economic activity in the interest of 'health' and those fearing a recession or worse, don't. Saving humanity or, borrowing from Tacitus, a case of leaving a desert and calling it peace. Maybe a compromise?
  2. Not all of Kepler’s siblings rushed to her side like he did — a sister pleaded hardship, a brother withdrew his support when he began to feel threatened, and another brother joined the prosecution. I’d like to meet that guy. Part 1: The Ancient Background: Burning at the stake- and its variations- is one of those most fearful modes of execution; the practice goes back to ancient Babylonia. It’s also mentioned in the book of Genesis, usually reserved for sexual crimes but that Hebraic custom eventually died out. Diodorus Siculus, a 1st century Greek historian, mentions the so-called Brazen Bull a torture and execution device that was used centuries before: The bull was said to be made entirely out of bronze, hollow, with a door in one side.. According to legends the Brazen Bull was designed in the form and size of an actual bull and had an acoustic apparatus that converted screams into the sound of a bull. The condemned were locked inside the device, and a fire was set under it, heating the metal until the person inside was roasted to death. -Ancient World Review Lovely. Julius Caesar reported that the ancient Celts practiced the burning alive of humans, that being prescribed by Druidic law. The Romans, horrified, stamped out the tradition throughout the empire and there are few reports until the reign of Nero who blamed the famous Fire of Rome in 64AD on the tiny sect of Christians residing in the Rome. He had the victims wrapped in the ‘tunica molesta’ a garment doused in pitch that was lit and raised on poles to illuminate the City streets at night. There was a lull until the 3rd century when we read that Roman jurisprudence declared that army deserters and arsonists were liable to death by fire. The state reacted similarly to the burgeoning number of Christian converts- without enduring success- and the members of the new faith would grow to command the heights of the government. But the Christians eventually devolved into battling sects, destabilizing the state. Beginning with Constantine the Great in the 4th century the Christians deemed heretics were, in a reversal of fate, now vulnerable to burning and the practice continued into the Byzantine Empire. But compared with late Medieval Europe, the era of Kepler, these auto-da-fés were likely on a small scale.
  3. An interesting map of Vienna just prior to WW1. A single section of Vienna played host to Adolf Hitler, Leon Trotsky, Joseph Tito, Sigmund Freud and Joseph Stalin. The two revolutionaries, Stalin and Trotsky, were on the run while Sigmund Freud was already well established. Hitler was hawking his paintings and postcards. All men, for better or worse, would shape the 20th century. Although Karl Marx never lived in Vienna that city honored him with the Karl-Marx-Hof , the longest single residential building in the world. It was built between 1927 and 1930.
  4. THE ASTRONOMER Johannes Kepler, the discoverer of the laws of planetary motion, was born 1571 in the town of Weil der Stadt, Germany; he received a master’s degree from the University of Tubingen in 1588. The great Polish astronomer Copernicus had, in 1533, proposed that the planets revolved in predictable cycles around the sun rather than the earth. For many Christian prelates of the day, this amounted to heresy; after all, the Old Testament tells us that Joshua defeated the Amorites by God’s intervention, halting the sun in its path and extending the daylight. As a student, Kepler became convinced of Copernicus’ heliocentric theory but he remained a steadfast Lutheran to the end. Leaving Tubingen, Kepler became for several years a professor at the Academy of Graz where he wrote his first book on astronomy. Although his theories turned out to be completely incorrect he attracted the attention of Tycho Brahe, the greatest astronomer of the day, who recruited him as his assistant at his observatory in Prague. Upon Tycho’s death in 1600 Kepler was appointed Imperial Mathematician by the Holy Roman Emperor. He held the position for the rest of his life. Tycho, a careful and accurate observer, was the last significant astronomer before the invention of the telescope. Relying on his records, Kepler believed that he would determine which theory of planetary motion was correct: the heliocentric theory of Copernicus, the ancient geocentric theory of Ptolemy, or a third advanced by Tycho. However after years of calculations he found, to his dismay, that his mentor’s observations were inconsistent with any of these theories. Tycho and all the classical astronomers assumed that planetary orbits consisted of circles, or combinations of circles. Kepler discovered- and would prove- that planetary orbits were not circular but elliptical; it was a huge scientific breakthrough. He exulted: I give myself up to divine ecstasy… My book is written. It will be read either by my contemporaries or by posterity- I care not which. It may well a hundred years for a reader, as God waited 6,000 for someone to understand his work. Kepler went on to provide a complete and correct description of the motions of the planets around the sun, solving many of the basic problems of astronomy that had baffled Copernicus and Galileo. Though unable to prove it- lacking future methods- he was the first to suggest that planetary motions were controlled by forces emanating from the sun. The challenges were immense; mathematical techniques of his day were primitive and calculators had yet to be invented. Kepler did all the laborious computations by hand. In his great book, Astronomia Nova published in 1609, he formally presented the laws of planetary motion. Gutenberg’s printing press had resulted in an enormous rise in literacy and the book (written in Latin) would go on to garner a wide audience, Kepler becoming famous throughout Europe. However, the most difficult challenge awaited him; in 1620, his mother was arrested for witchcraft. THE DEVOTED SON Witchcraft trials were not uncommon throughout the Middle-Ages but the phenomenon became a craze around the time Luther nailed his 95 theses to the cathedral door in 1517. Anonymous accusations flew; the air breathed paranoia. Persecutions continued through and after the Reformation; both Protestants and Catholics staged trials with varying numbers of executions. Around 50,000 Europeans are estimated to have perished in witchcraft trials between 1500 and 1700 and the most common mode of execution was being burned at the stake, a singularly horrific way to die. Several historians estimate that 75% of the victims were females. In 1615 Kepler’s 68-year-old mother, Kathalina was accused of witchcraft by neighbors in her home town of Leonberg; they had always considered her 'eccentric'. Her crimes were various; a glazier accused her of poisoning his wife and a 12-year-old girl testified that Kathalina had rendered her finger useless by touching her while the two passed on the street. She was also accused of killing local animals and turning herself into a cat. Kathalina was arrested and her incarceration would last for six years; the final 14 months saw her attached to an iron chain on the floor of her cell. She would have been shown the instruments of torture – they would screw thumbs with heavy irons, and sometimes the thumb would come completely off, causing excruciating pain. They would pull people up on a rack into the air. And she would be talked to in very threatening terms, all the time with a clear agenda to get her to confess. -Ulinka Rublack, a professor of early modern history at Cambridge Kepler dropped everything and moved his family from Linz to Leonberg to take up his mother’s defense. His intervention carried the risk of sharing his mother’s fate if one of the zealous prosecutors judged him complicit. At the trial, Kepler displayed a scientist’s logic, a lawyer’s legerdemain, and consummate courage. Rublack describes his defense as a ’rhetorical masterpiece’: He was very good at spotting inconsistencies, and at dissecting in a very scientific way the accusations. So he mounted a very pioneering defence. The statue of Kathalina in Eltigegn A broken Kathalina was released in the autumn of 1621 and she died six months later, her four children surviving her. She was 74. Not all of Kepler’s siblings rushed to her side like he did — a sister pleaded hardship, a brother withdrew his support when he began to feel threatened, and another brother joined the prosecution. Kepler died in 1630 in Regensburg, Bavaria. During the turmoil of the Thirty Year’s War, his grave was destroyed; the location of his final resting place remains unknown.
  5. Imagine yourself riding a noble steed, wearing a plumed hat and sitting athwart a a tiger's hide. Think of the babes you'd...
  6. During the Napoleonic era the paintings of soldiers may have represented the culmination of military plumage; many of the officers were veritable peacocks. The Emperor stressed, to an obsessional degree, the value of a well turned out soldier; he felt it was essential for morale. During a review in 1811 he grew furious over the uniforms issued to a newly created regiment: Too small, too short, too tight, badly cut, badly made, badly sewed; many of the buttonholes made only with a simple snip of the scissors … sleeves not lined … capotes so tight that they cannot be worn over the uniform coat but they hamper the movements of men who have nothing on but a waistcoat under them; many … are of bad cloth … I want a report! Like George Washington, Napoleon wanted his soldiers to be 'dressed to kill' thus the Grande Armee was a military tailor’s delight. The dashing cavalryman, Joachim Murat, represents a kind of apogee: The battles of the Napoleonic Wars were a bloody carnage but, as one officer concluded, 'If you survived, you should look like a conqueror; if you didn’t, you should at least try to make a handsome corpse.' True camouflage finally came in with WW1.
  7. It's true that the Incas did not engage in cannibalism. But they had their quirks. Tamara Bray, an associate professor of anthropology, documents that the young boys and girls were killed during sacrificial ceremonies. A mummified Incan girl Bray says the state would issue a levy for all provinces within the empire to tribute young children. Girls generally came from the ranks of the acllakun, which means "chosen women." "They [the Inca leaders] went through communities on a regular basis and took young girls away to live in the acllawasi (houses of the chosen women) and become essentially servants of the state," Bray says.Little is known about how boys were chosen, but Bray says some were the children of local lords. Of the collected pool of live "tribute," the Inca leaders then selected physically perfect, unblemished, virginal boys and girls for the mysterious capacocha ceremonies, which likely had religious, political and economic symbolic meanings. Historical writings indicate the victims were probably were drugged during the ceremonies and did not feel much pain, although killing methods were violent. "The forensic evidence indicates that some were killed by strangulation, others by a blow with a blunt instrument to the head," she says. http://www.abc.net.au/science/news/ancient/AncientRepublish_1379822.htm
  8. This is probably your book: Voice of the Vanquished, the Story of the Slave Marina and Hernan Cortes https://www.amazon.com/Voice-Vanquished-Marina-Hernan-Cortes/dp/1560025301 4.5 Stars The blurb: They triumphed over youthful hardships -- hers in Aztec-ruled Mexico and his in rural Spain -- to become a team that changed two continents forever. Without his loyal slave and interpreter Marina, the conquistador Hernan Cortes could not have toppled the empire of Moctezuma II. Without Cortes, Marina would have been crushed by the treachery of her ruthless stepfather. Together, they rebuilt a devastated empire, shaped its Christian destiny, and created their son from a love deeper than a master and a slave are ever supposed to know. Wikipedia: In her youth, her father Cacique of Paynala died, and her mother remarried another Cacique and bore a son. Now a stepchild, the girl was sold as a slave to a group of Mayan slavers[10] from Xicalango, an important commercial area.[11]:85 Bernal Díaz del Castillo claims Malintzin's family faked her death by telling the townspeople that a recently deceased child of a slave was Malintzin. The slavers sold her to Chontal Mayans,[12] where she learned their language. After a war between the Mayas of Potonchán, and the Mexicas of Xicalango, Malinalli and other slaves (arguably sex slaves[13]) were given as tribute to Tabscoob, the cacique of Tabasco. This change of ownership forced her to learn several languages, especially the Maya-Chontal of her new owners, as well as Náhuatl. During her time as a slave she befriended Jerónimo de Aguilar (a Spanish priest that spent eight years as a slave/prisoner of the Mayas until he was rescued by Cortés), from whom she learned Spanish. Recent books, say, the last 20 years, on the subject of the Conquest have been distorted by modern political sensibilities.
  9. Unlikely. The Europeans benefited from a degree of immunity, smallpox had been ravaging the continent from Roman times, or even earlier. The Spaniards also gifted the Indians with syphilis. Cortes allegedly acquired the disease in Hispaniola before sailing to Mexico, but that hasn't been proven.
  10. "Conquistadors sacrificed and eaten by Aztec-era people, archaeologists say" https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/10/conquistadors-sacrificed-eaten-aztec-acolhuas -The Guardian
  11. You're getting ahead. The invention that the Aztecs should have perfected first was the wheel. The Spaniards did notice that wheels were common on their children's toys. The Indians didn't make the leap. By the way, all the Indians in Mexico- including the Spaniards' allies- were devotees of cannibalism. Cortes would plead with them to forsake that practice but to no avail. The Indians were puzzled with his attitude, for them it was perfectly normal.
  12. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stalin's_poetry As a young man, Stalin avidly studied the works of Shakespeare and Goethe in translation. One of his poems: "The pinkish bud has opened,Rushing to the pale-blue violetAnd, stirred by a light breeze,The lily of the valley has bent over the grass." He wrote in his native Georgian language and later Russian. Robert Service, one of his biographers, wasn't enthusiastic: "fairly standard for early 19th-century Romantic poetry", and as "very conventional, ... very standardized and rather self-indulgent". Stalin published all of his work anonymously and never publicly acknowledged it. When Lavrentiy Beria secretly had Boris Pasternak and other noted translators prepare a Russian edition of Stalin's poems for the ruler's 70th birthday in 1949, Stalin had the project stopped. -Wiki
  13. Oops. Noticed an error: The Spaniards faced odds of 100 to 1. Make that 10,000-1: 50 million Indians vs 500+ conquistadors.
  14. The ravages of smallpox on a population without immunity: Virologists believe that early explorers first brought the virus to the littoral regions Once Cortes arrived it took two years for the smallpox to spread to the Aztec capitol. A native account describes of the effects of smallpox upon the people of Tenochtitlan: It began to spread…striking everywhere in the city and killing a vast number of our people. Sores erupted on our faces, our breasts, our bellies; we were covered with agonizing sores from head to foot. The illness was so dreadful that no one could could walk or move. The sick were so utterly helpless that they could only lie on their beds like corpses, unable to move their limbs or even their heads. They could not lie face down or roll from one side to the other. If they did move their bodies, they screamed with pain. A great many died from this plague, and many others died of hunger. They could not get up to search for food, and everyone else was too sick to care for them, so they starved to death in their beds. By 1520 Tenochtitlan was under siege by Cortés and the people were both starving and dying from smallpox. Bernal Diaz, Cortés’ chronicler, described the scenes in the city: We could not walk without treading on the bodies and heads of dead Indians. I have read about the destruction of Jerusalem, but I do not think the mortality was greater there than here in Mexico. Indeed, the stench was so bad that no one could endure it…and even Cortés was ill from the odours which assailed his nostrils. Past Medical History https://www.pastmedicalhistory.co.uk/smallpox-and-the-conquest-of-mexico/
  15. When you realized you were becoming an imperialist?
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