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History of the World in Strange Amusing Anecdotes' Journal
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Below are the 4 most recent journal entries recorded in History of the World in Strange Amusing Anecdotes' LiveJournal:

Saturday, January 30th, 2010
12:13 pm
Samuel L. Clemens, sounding an awful lot like a nineteenth-century Samuel L. Jackson, wrote the following to the Hartford City Gas Light Company in February of 1891:

Some day you will move me almost to the verge of irritation by your chuckleheaded Goddamned fashion of shutting your Goddamned gas off without giving any notice to your Goddamned parishioners. Several times you have come within an ace of smothering half of this household in their beds & blowing up the other half by this idiotic, not to say criminal, custom of yours. And it has happened again to-day. Haven’t you a telephone?

The same Mr Clemens, alias Mark Twain, had some thoughts on the "Awful German Language", which can be found here. Though I know no German, I am studying Russian, and can well appreciate his thoughts on sentence-ending verbs.
Monday, February 9th, 2009
3:05 pm
Renaissance Popes
There is much to be said about the Renaissance popes, but not a lot to be said for them.

It is small wonder than Erasmus, Luther and others wanted Papal reform during the Renaissance, as the Popes themselves seem to have concentrated comparatively little energy on Christian pursuits, preferring to act in their more dubiously justified capacity as secular princes, using their power and the influence of the church for personal, political and material gains as well as to further the interests of their families (this latter being a reciprocal relationship, as many of the popes relied on family connections and pre-existing influence to gain the position in the first place).

Pius the Second admittedly had a “christian” motivation when he urged the nations of Europe to make war on Mohammed II: the Sultan’s encroachment on traditionally Christian lands was a real threat. But Alexander VI and his son, Cesare Borgia, had no such lofty motive for their wars in Italy, wishing only to carve out a state for Cesare to rule (to speak nothing of Alexander’s many other faults). Julius II, renowned for his belligerence and warlike spirit, was not fighting a crusade either. They fought not Muslim Turks or Arabs, but their neighbours in religion, Christian princes.

Aside from war, Renaissance popes as a whole seem to have been interested in things which one would not expect from a pope, which, indeed, one would hope not to find in the leader of a holy institution. Leaving Alexander VI aside, as too easy a target, we may see Julius II gaining his position thanks to bribery (even after accusing Alexander of the same), and shortly thereafter issuing a bull that condemned any elections decided with the means he himself had used; Clement VII and others meddling in the political affairs of Europe for purely secular reasons; and rampant nepotism (so much, indeed, that the word "nepotism" was coined to describe it), favouring "nephews" who were as often as not actually illegitimate sons. It seems a wonder anyone believed there was anything holy about them.
Sunday, February 8th, 2009
12:06 am
George Washington and the 4th of July
When George Washington was young and fighting in the French and Indian War, he presided over quite a number of disasters, starting from the massacre of a French diplomatic party and ending up with the July 4th surrender at Fort Necessity, where Washington's few remaining soldiers staggered out drunk on bad surrender terms.

Years later, July 3rd, 1775, the day before the anniversary of the Fort Necessity catastrophe, Washington took command of a ragged, ill-organised and ill-equipped collection of men that called itself the Continental Army but had a long way to go before it could really deserve the title. Surely Washington could never have expected July 4th to turn out a holiday that he would gladly celebrate, but by coincidence it did, the year after that, by which point the war was well on.

It's very interesting that the Continental Congress was willing to start a war an entire year before it was willing to declare the Colonies' Independence, but unfortunately, it is also midnight where I am, so I'll have to meditate on that further at some future time...
Thursday, February 5th, 2009
5:11 pm
Sennacherib and the Mice
For the inaugural post of this community, what better than a bit of Herodotus? His actual historicity may be dubious, but he's certainly amusing, and my role model in certain ways. So here we have the story of the Egyptian king, Sennacherib, and the Army of Mice.

There was a priest reigning in Egypt, called Sethos. He didn't think much of the Egyptian warrior class, and thought he'd have no need of them, so he did various things to offend them, including taking away the land they had each received from previous kings.
After Sethos had done this, Sennacherib (a king of Arabia) led a large army to Egypt, and naturally the warrior class wouldn't rise up to help Sethos after what he'd done. Thus in danger for his life, the priest-pharaoh went to the temple, bewailing to the god's statue what had happened. At last he fell asleep, and in a dream the god reassured him that he would be fine if he confronted the Arabs: the god himself would send help.
The king trusted this, and took whoever was willing to follow him to camp at Pelusium, which was where the enemy would enter Egypt. These men were shopkeepers, craftsmen and merchants, not warriors. But after the enemy arrived and made camp, an army of field mice swarmed through their camp, chewing up anything they could chew, and rendering the army entirely defenseless.
Sethos erected a statue depicting the god, with a mouse in his hand and the inscription: "Whoever sees me, let him venerate the gods."
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