Morning Ed: History {2018.ID]

[Hi1] A look at the first female mapmaker.

[Hi2] This is interesting and I wish I had not read it. The history of castration.

[Hi3] So, apparently, Julius Caeser was chin-deficient.

[Hi4] Razib Khan points out that even in the historical context, human sacrifice was largely believed to be bad.

[Hi5] The volcanic eruption on the island of Krakatoa was very, very, very loud.

[Hi6] This makes more sense than gold, if you ask me.

[Hi7] The interesting story of the nation’s first law professor and his suspicious death.

[Hi8] A dark look at Britain’s slave trade. {More}

[Hi9] The United States might have made Scandanavian social democracy possible.


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Will Truman is a former para-IT professional who is presently a stay-at-home father in the Mountain East. He has moved around frequently, having lived in six places since 2003, ranging from rural outposts to major metropolitan areas. He is also on Twitter. ...more →

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24 thoughts on “Morning Ed: History {2018.ID]

  1. Hi3: Other recent archeological studies have shown that rather then being the most beautiful woman alive, Cleopatra was average in appearance.

    Hi4: The Bible has more than a few passages where God makes it known that if you engage in the sacrifice of children to Moloch, your an evil horrible no good person. It should be a no brainer that people thought human sacrifice was bad even if they were kind of inconsistent about this. The Romans were horrified at Carthage’s sacrifices but certainly loved lethal blood sports.

    Hi5: Some teen is going to use this as justification for playing their music loud to their parents.

    Hi9: I’m not buying this at all. It comes across as wishful self-thinking and doesn’t stand up to historical scrutiny. The United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy sent a much smaller percentage of their population over but still developed welfare states. American opponents of the welfare state really need to have it be seen as entirely un-American for some reason so they tell themselves these myths about all Americans being individualists and everybody else a collectivist.

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    • Hi9: Its also a very ahistorical argument. Many immigrants during the 19th century were deeply involved with trade unionist, socialist and anarchist movements in the United States. Its one reason why they were hated so much by Anglo-Americans. They were seen as bringing in dangerous foreign thought into the country. The IWW song-writers and organizer Joe Hill was from Sweden for example.

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      • Hi9: I’m also skeptical for a couple of reasons: One is that Swedish immigrants during the period included groups like the Janssonites that build communities in the U.S. in which property was held in common and farming/ industrial activities were centrally planned. The other is that Scandinavians that settled the Upper Mississippi still show a political imprint of rural support for the democratic party through the legacy of agrarian socialism. For example, the name of the Democratic Party in Minnesota.

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  2. Hi3: I suspect many “beautiful” people of the past (like Cleopatra) were actually pretty average, but were either (a) exceptionally charismatic (and therefore, seemed more so) or (b) had really good hagiographers who talked them up after their deaths. (Though honestly, in my book, attractiveness is a strange thing to laud someone for. Intelligence, mercy, or ability to negotiate well and keep peace seems more to be desirable traits in a leader)

    Hi4 (not entirely dissimilarly from point b above): I wonder if some reports of “Group X does human sacrifice” was an attempt to “other” Group x, make them seem barbarian savages, and therefore, it was okay to strip them of their rights/invade them/kill them off/whatever. I don’t deny that some cultures may have done human sacrifice but I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that some accused of it did not.

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    • I wonder how many people ever actually saw Cleopatras face, or the face of any important person before the age of representational art.

      Aside from her court and important visitors, commoners might only ever catch of a glimpse of Her Majesty from fifty yards away and only for a moment.

      And one of the cautions books make about histories of the time like Suetonius, none of them regarded objective fact as important. So pretty much all we have to go on are highly motivated opinions.

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  3. Hi9 While there might be a small amount of truth to this I think it’s a low percentage and not a primary cause, probably not even statistically worth discussing. There are a lot of other factors involved, and reasons for migrating are varied and personal. Trying to draw that sweeping a conclusion is not going to be accurate, either data-wise or just in passing the smell test.

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  4. Hi3: Other recent archeological studies have shown that rather then being the most beautiful woman alive, Cleopatra was average in appearance.

    What chroniclers apparently agree on is that she had an extraordinary personality, a woman totally different to what most Romans -and Greeks- had ever encountered. She spoke several languages, including Latin and Egyptian (the only Ptolemaic sovereign to do so), she was physically courageous, intelligent, and politically savvy.

    For her contemporaries , she might have been a pre-op FtM transgender. The mind and soul of a man in the body of a woman. An intellectual/emotional equal to them. No wonder they found her irresistible

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  5. Hi9: I think there’s some truth to the basic concept but he’s actually looking at it bass-ackwards. The U.S. is the sociological anomaly here that needs explaining. And, if you accept the basic framework of evo-psych — yes, I know there’s a lot of resistance and valid criticisms — this model of self-selection via emigration has the advantage of at least offering an explanatory hypothesis more substantial than hand-waving about “culture”.

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    • Let me add that the writer makes the ubiquitous mistake of conflating egalitarianism with collectivism vs hierarchical with individualism. In other words the real landscape here is left vs right on one axis orthogonal to individualism vs collectivism on the other.

      It should be understood that both socialism, on the left, and fascism, on the right, are collectivist ideologies and they both found more purchase in Europe than America in the 20th century.

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  6. Hi4: There is a peculiar political correctness in native american studies in academia that does not serve its cause very well. Here, we have an article about the mass extent of human sacrifice in Mesoamerica that seems to be more expansive than found anywhere (or at lest the evidence is preserved), which is interesting, but the writer gets annoyed that a civilization is being reduced to its worst components and blames our anti-human-sacrifice “biases and cultural conditioning” as a result of centuries of colonialism. At least zionism wasn’t mentioned.

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    • I think the phrase “reduced to” is the key here.

      Here on Ordinary times, commenters are discussing the beauty of Classical music, and we have variously commented on the marvelous history of European art.

      Of course, at the very same moment that Beethoven and Mozart were composing, that Leonardo was drawing, heretics were being skinned alive or boiled in oil.

      We grasp the complexities of European culture, understanding how horror and barbarism could coexist with beauty and piety.

      We don’t have that sort of complex understanding of Aztec culture. We don’t have Aztec music or poetry to lay alongside the brutality.
      Its almost like if the entire Roman civilization was known to us only by ruins and gory tales of gladiators.

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