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Real Rod Hull
Oct 3, 2003

by Fistgrrl

I like the story of the shortest war in history.


On the 25th of August 1896 Sultan Hamad died and his cousin Hamoud was declared as his successor by the acting British Consul, Sir Basil Cave. This appointment was not met with agreement by Khaled, another cousin of Hamad who, as the son of Barghash, considered that he had the rightful claim to the accession. By the time that Cave reached the royal palace Beit el Sahel, the doors were barred. Khaled had gained access through a broken window, along with around 2000 supporters and had proclaimed himself Sultan, raising the Zanzibar flag.

The British authorities refused to recognise Khaled's claim and tension rose as a potentially explosive stand-off ensued. Cave had marines from the three British ships in the harbour stationed around the town, evacuating Europeans to the British Consulate under heavy guard, where they gathered excitedly on the roof to watch the drama unfold.

The night passed off without event and the following morning two further ships arrived in Zanzibar harbour to reinforce the fleet. At dawn Rear Admiral Rawson turned his guns on the palace and issued Khaled with an ultimatum. Either he was to surrender and walk out to the customs shed by 9.00am or the fleet would open fire.

At 8.00am Khaled sent a message asking for talks, but his request was curtly turned down. As the seconds ticked by the sweat must have stood out on the brows of all involved. At 9.02am the fleet opened fire a barrage of shells on the palace and when the dust settled the building was in ruins, with up to 500 bodies strewn amongst the rubble. At 9.40am, the flag was lowered as Khaled surrendered, escaping through the maze of streets to seek sanctuary at the German consulate. From there he escaped to Mombasa, where he lived out his life in exile.

The battle is officially listed in the Guinness Book of Records as the shortest war in history.


Jul 2, 2003

The Battle of Quiberon Bay

One of the most significant naval battles in the Seven Years War. Britain's Western Squadron, the main battle fleet of the Royal Navy, simulataneously guarded the Channel from invasion attempts and blockaded the French fleet at Brest. The fleet under Hawke retreated to Torbay in southern England in the face of an autumn gale on 7 November 1759. At the same time, a French fleet returning from the Caribbean was able to put into Brest. The French commander, Admiral Herbert de Brienne, comte de Conflans, with a newly-expanded fleet, was able to slip out of Brest on 15 November for Quiberon Bay with twenty-one ships of-the-line.

Hawke sailed with all speed from Britain with twenty-five ships plus frigates and caught the French on 20 November at the Bay. It was a terrible day for a battle. The wind was extremely strong, nearly 40 knots and the sea had a very strong swell. Adding to the danger were the shoals that infested Quiberon Bay. Striking a shoal could mean disaster for a ship and her crew. Still, Hawke ordered the Squadron into the Bay with their topsails unfurled, an extremely risky maneuver given the weather, but one that gave the British a considerable gain in speed. Like Boscawen, Hawke, instead of ordering his fleet to form the line of battle, signaled a "General Chase", essentially ordering his captains to engage the enemy at will. Owing to the superior gunnery and seamanship of the British sailors combined with the tactical inferiority of the French (who had attempted to form the line), Hawke's fleet decimated the enemy. Fred Anderson vividly describes the action:

"The British, swarming around them like wolves around sheep, kept the French from forming a defensive line; then, through a short and sanguinary afternoon, fought in no discernible order. Ships collided, crashed onto rocks, ran aground, and bombarded each other with convulsive fury in a virtually indescribable action."

Six French ships were lost in battle and four ran aground the next day (21 November.) French casualties totaled over 2,500. The French navy was practically destroyed and total British maritime dominance was assured for the remainder of the war. The victory allowed Britain to flex its maritime muscle in every theatre of the war, now that the naval threat to the home islands was largely eradicated.

Photoshop Machine
May 11, 2005

This was history's first Secret Weapon:


Greek fire (also called Byzantine fire and liquid fire) was a weapon used by the Byzantine Empire, said to have been invented by a Syrian Christian refugee named Kallinikos (Callinicus) of Heliopolis, probably about 673. Some people believe that he acquired this knowledge from the chemists of Alexandria. It was capable of discharging a stream of burning fluid, and was very effective both on sea and land, but it was used primarily at sea. It is rumored that the key to Greek fire's effectiveness was that it would continue burning under almost any conditions, even under water. Enemy ships were often afraid to come too near the Byzantine fleet because, once within range, the fire gave the Byzantines a strong advantage.

The process of manufacturing the fluid was a very carefully guarded millitary secret — so secret, in fact, that today we still do not know how it was made. Various sources speculate that its constituents may have included sulfur, quicklime, and liquid petroleum. It is not clear if the mixture was ignited by a flame as the mixture emerged from the syringe, or that it ignited spontaneously when it came into contact with water. If the latter is the case, it is possible that the ingredient responsible was calcium phosphide, made by heating lime, bones and charcoal. On contact with water, calcium phosphide releases phosphine, which ignites spontaneously.

These materials were apparently heated in a cauldron, and then pumped out through a siphon or large syringe, known as a siphonarios mounted on the bow of the ship. It could also be used in hand grenades, made of earthenware vessels.

Byzantine fire was largely responsible for many Byzantine military victories, and partly the reason for the Empire surviving as long as it did, particularly near the end of the Empire when there were not enough inhabitants of the empire to effectively defend it. It was first used to repel the Arab seige of Constantinople in 674-677 (battle of Syllaeum), and 717-718, against the Russians in 941 and against the Venetians during the Fourth Crusade. It quickly became one of the most fearsome weapons of the medieval world; the mere sight of any sort of siphon, whether it was used for Greek fire or not, was often enough to defeat an enemy. It was, however, hard to control, often accidentally setting Byzantine ships on fire as well.

It was in a general way similar to the modern flamethrower. See also napalm to learn about a flammable substance which has been used in modern warfare, notably World War II (primarily in the Pacific), and the Vietnam War.

Apr 19, 2003

by Lowtax

This is one of the funniest historical stories I've ever heard. When you are watching the news, and you see Fred Phelps and his crazy Westover Baptist church, you probably think to yourself "That has got to be the craziest Christian denomination ever. There is no way that anyone could ever misinterpret the Bible worse than these awful fuckers." And you would be thinking this because you had never heard about The Circumcellions.


The name "Circumcellions" somehow sounds like the name of an advanced Star Trek alien race, or perhaps a groundbreaking association of Ancient Roman jurists. The truth is so much less, and yet, at the same time, somehow, so much more...

The word itself means "guys who hang around villages," rather unglamorously. The Circumcellions were a Christian suicide cult of the fourth and fifth centuries. Their religious practice consisted of delivering random beatings to strangers along the road, with the purpose of goading the strangers into killing them. If that didn't work, they just threw themselves off a cliff instead.

While there's a myth that Christianity began with a monolithic Roman church, the first five centuries of Christianity were in fact a very diverse period in which competing groups battled it out over all manner of doctrinal and political issues.

The Circumcellions were one such group. Based in Northern Africa, at the edge of the decaying Roman empire, they spun off from a more conservative anti-Roman sect to become one of the more peculiar footnotes in the history of Christianity.

Sociologically, the Circumcellions were the Roman equivalent of trailer trash -- rural, uneducated and less-than-notable in terms of contribution to the gross national product. The only job of a Circumcellion was simply "being a Circumcellion." Despite this, members of the sect didn't starve to death... because that would take too long.

Although they considered themselves breakaway Christians, one would be hard-pressed to develop a theological justification for the Circumcellions. Its parent cult, the Donatists, was founded on the basis of an extremely complex stand that generally extolled the virtues of Martyrdom.

The Circumcellions took the premise to lemming-like proportions (literally) and decided that martyrdom was the ultimate Christian value. They set out to accomplish it... by any means necessary.

According to the gospels, Jesus told Peter to put away his sword in the Garden of Gethsemane, shortly before the Crucifixion. Many Christians have taken this command as an injunction to nonviolence and evidence of Christ's pacifism.

The Circumcellions, on the other hand, took this passage to mean that they shouldn't use bladed weapons. Instead, they favored large clubs, which they inexplicably called "Israelites."

Using their "Israelites," the Circumcellions whacked their victims around in the hopes of provoking their own martyrdom, all the while shouting "Praise the Lord!" in Latin. Because of their combativeness, they were also known as "agonistici," the Latin word for fighter which is the root of the modern word "antagonist."

Since they were destined to be martyrs, the Circumcellions didn't trouble themselves with such virtues as chastity and poverty. Frequently drunk, they cavorted with women and often robbed those victims who failed to assist their martyrdom with a sufficiently violent counterattack.

Frequently, their enthusiasm outstripped their common sense. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, a much-discussed historical incident along the highway illustrated this point:

A number of these fanatics, fattened like pheasants, met a young man and offered him a drawn sword to smite them with, threatening to murder him if he refused. He pretended to fear that when he had killed a few, the rest might change their minds and avenge the deaths of their fellows; and he insisted that they must all be bound. They agreed to this; when they were defenceless, the young man gave each of them a beating and went his way.

When faced with such setbacks, the Circumcellions opted instead simply to drown themselves or jump off cliffs. Men and women alike embraced "martyrdom" in this way.

Their parent sect, the Donatists, disavowed the Circumcellions in short order, because they were quickly becoming the laughingstock of the heretical community. The Donatists specifically forebade jumping off cliffs, to no avail. Crowds of Circumcellions and their supporters would flock to the streets to honor the cliff-jumpers' deaths.

Ironically, the Donatists died off before the Circumcellions, who refocused on tormenting Catholic priests and bishops with beatings, torture and even occasionally rebaptizing them as Circumcellions. They would sometimes set on caravans of wealthy merchants and free their slaves, forcing the masters to pull the carriage behind them.

The Circumcellions eventually suffered the same fate that befalls most suicide cults -- it died out due to excessive death. Contributing factors included the anarchist tendencies of attacking both religious and civil authority figures, which demanded a forceful government response, combined with the pressures that arise from persecuting the wealthy, combined with their predeliction for hurling themselves off cliffs in the absence of any other way to die.

If you're a Catholic, however, thir legacy lives on. You can thank the Circumcellions for the doctrine of the "just war" and your inability to invoke "conscientious objector" to get out of military service.

You see, it was in response to the wacky shenanigans of the Circumcellions that St. Augustine wrote the first major theological justification for the use of violence by Christians -- so that they could defend themselves against the club-wielding morons.

So remember, as you're getting bombed out of that foxhole, you're doing it to protect the Catholic Church against the absolute dumbest religious movement in history. "Praise the Lord!"

This thread brought to you by a tremendous dickhead!

Real Rod Hull
Oct 3, 2003

by Fistgrrl


Cock Democracy came out of the closet to say:
The Zulu War

I remember reading somewhere that evidence recovered from the area indicates that the british defences may have been too widely dispersed, which would explain why they died. If they had been properly deployed they could have laid down a sufficient rate of fire to halt the Zulus.

Also, the tradition of drummer boys accompanying British troops into battle ended at Isandlwana. The Zulus hung the drummer boys up on meat hooks and cut off their testicles.

Jul 12, 2001

Suit up!

The Sacred Band of Thebes

Whenever I heard about gay guys, unfortunately, I thought of guys skipping around in pink with limp wrists saying how "faaaaabulous" everything is. The Sacred Band of Thebes changed all that. Three hundred gay men from Thebes, 150 couples, were some of the best warriors in history. Those 300 men fought together for over thirty years before being defeated by Alexander the Great.

Their whole deal was that they knew if their boyfriend saw them defeated they'd be shamed. Also, if they saw anyone come near their boyfriend, they'd kill the other warrior.

Think about a steroetypical heterosexual relationship. If the guy is ever in a fight in front of his girl, he is not losing because he's going to look weak in front of his woman. Also, he'd never let anyone lay a hand on his lady.

But here it's two men. Men are stronger and better warriors than women*. But here it's two males in the relationship. It's just pretty badass that a "bunch of fags" are the best warriors in history.

* I have nothing against women, but men are stronger; it's just physiological. I don't want to derail this into some sexism thread, but if an average man and woman were on similar weight lifting regiments for a year, the man would be stronger. Look at female body builders, as hard as they try, they can't come close to the men. It's history.
Sorry, I just had to defend myself.

Feb 4, 2005

Joo! Tosi kiva lelu!

I'm copying this off another forum, where it was posted to by Lazarus and the Gimp, one of the best Internet posters ever. He's done more of these posts about history, but this is one of my all-time favorites.


Historical Filth- The worst place on Earth

I've been musing for some time over the question "What, in terms of political history, is the worst place on Earth?". With that question in mind, I started checking out some of the likeliest candidates for a starring role in a Filth column.

This was very nearly a feature about China. I've always had a soft spot for the sheer scale and inventiveness in slaughter that the Orient produced- tales of Queens having their limbs hacked off and then being drowned in barrels of wine are music to my ears. One day their time will come...

However one country, astonishingly, beats them. It's history covers but a fraction of the time that China has been around, but for sheer concentrated barbarity it has no equal. No other country can matched it for ruthless and blood-drenched weirdos in positions of supreme power. Not even Scotland. Would the winner please step forwards?

Hello Paraguay.

Now Paraguay doesn't make the news much, and it never has. It just hides away behind its more glamorous neighbours, skulking away in a particularly grotty area like a geo-political haemorrhoid. That's a simile that suits it well, for Paraguay really is the arsehole of the planet. While other Latin American states gave us sexy beverages, sultry racing drivers and intriguing new ways to wear one's pubic hair, Paraguay has been the testing bed and living museum of crap politics.

It's early years were your usual South American tale of woe- Conquistadors, diseases, Jesuits, massive repression of the native Indians, yadda yadda. Noting special at all, really. The fun kicks off when Paraguay broke free of Argentina and became independent in 1811, under....

Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia 1766-1840.

Or, as he preferred to be addressed, "El Supremo". He was Paraguay's first dictator, and under him Paraguay became a sort of prototype socialist state a good 100 years before it became trendy in the world at large. Dr Francia gets a mixed press- he was far from the average totalitarian dictator because certainly wasn't a corrupt man. Every day he withdrew a miserly two pesos from the treasury to fund his entire household needs. He was ruthless in his pursuit of the corrupt, and the state treasury's coffers swelled handsomely under his control.

However he was murderously egocentric. Anyone, without exception, failing to accord him the respect he felt he was due was immediately executed on the spot. He ruled without ministers wielding sole and total control of the nation. Being vehemently anti-religion he seized all church property, persecuted the clergy, and for a time made marriage illegal. He also banned fiestas, abolished every form of social distinction, closed all colleges and had all dogs shot (he didn't like dogs much).

Hating the aristocracy, and the racism they displayed to the Indians, he passed incredibly draconian marriage tax laws to ensure that the only people the landowners could afford to marry were native Indians. This worked rather well, and helped avoid racial conflict in the country, so he made mixed-race marriage compulsory.

Paraguay's borders were closed and it became a hermit state. Uninvited foreigners were imprisoned for years, while other immgrants simply had all their property confiscated. El Supremo liked confiscating things.

If you want a flavour of what this prototype Stalin was like, examine how he treated his own family. His sister married without his permission, so he had her husband shot. And the priest who married them. His sister disappeared, presumably bearing more bullet-holes than previously. Finally, when he realised that his daily allowance of two pesos was not enough to feed both himself and his daughter, he generously legalised prostitution so that she could lawfully earn a living. Bless him.

Carlos Antonio Lopez 1790- 1862

Gained power on the death of Dr Francia in 1840, and was the polar opposite of his predecessor. He managed three years of constitutional rule before getting bored and abolishing the constitution. From then on he ran Paraguay as his personal piggy bank, and by his death he personally owned over half the country. If Dr Francia was the prototype Stalin/Pol Pot, Lopez was the classic fat military dictator with both grubby paws in the state's coffers. Lopez re-opened the borders, established diplomatic relations across Europe and America, and almost picked a fight with the USA in 1845.

Beyond his amazingly rapacious corruption, Lopez was a pretty deft ruler and he steadly built up Paraguay's military power. He freed many political prisoners, allowed some dissent and abolished slavery (in name only)- his philosophy seemed to be that as long as you gave him all your money he wasn't that bothered about what you got up to. However his son was the worst thing to ever hit South America.....

Francisco Solano Lopez 1827- 1870

One of the worst rulers of all time, young Francisco watched his father steadily build up Paraguay's military power, and became over-confident. Pausing briefly to marry Eliza Lynch (an Irish prostitute) he started making aggressive interventions in the war between Brazil and Uruguay, which resulted in him declaring war and invading Brazil in 1864. When Argentina refused to allow Paraguayan troops to move through their territory, Lopez declared war on them too. Finally the new Uruguayan puppet government declared war on Paraguay, which meant that Paraguay was at war with nearly all of its neighbours simultaneously, hopelessly outnumbered and out-gunned.
Within two years, suicidal attempts to invade Brazil and Argentina had shattered the Paraguayan army and the country was being invaded from all directions. Massacres and disease decimated the population. Frantic Paraguayan Generals tried to persuade Lopez to seek peace, but he refused to stop fighting and had them all executed (usually by having them tied to anthills to be eaten alive by the ants). When his 70 year old mother and two sisters tried to make him see reason, he had them all repeatedly beaten savagely and kept them nailed into wooden crates, from which they were only removed for further beatings. His two brothers and two brothers-in-law were executed.
Finally, and mercifully, Lopez was killed in battle. The War of the Triple Alliance caused the death of an estimated 80% of Paraguay's population, making it pro rata the bloodiest war ever. By the final days, the Paraguayan army consisted of children as young as six attacking enemy artillery placements with clods of earth.


Between 1870 and 1954, the shattered Paraguay had no fewer than 40 Presidents, mostly crap dictators, and assassinations were rife. It was lucky to have any at all- it was only it's convenience as a buffer zone between Brazil and Argentina that ensured it's continued existance. It was left with a liberal constitution, and hordes of ambitious and corrupt politicians that formed two parties- the Colorados and the Liberals- and these parties have picked over Paraguay's bones since. The Colorados ruled from 1887 to 1904, when the Liberals revolted. Then in 1932, the **** hit the fan again....

Eusebio Ayala/ Jose Felix Estigarribia

This pair made quite a double-act. Ayala was President, and Estigarribia was his leading General. Between them they launched a war against Bolivia over control of the Chaco river region- an important area to two land-locked countries. It was also a hell-hole- a disease-ridden morass of snakes and ants full of highly pissed-off Indians. The Chaco War was three savage years of slaughter, in which wounded soldiers were flayed alive by ants. Surprisingly, Paraguay managed to win this one.
Ayala and Estigarribia couldn't celebrate for long, however. Within a year they had been deposed by a coup and imprisoned. Estigarribia made a comeback, and became President in 1939. He was just (in typical Paraguayan style) abandoning the constitution and installing himself as sole dictator when an aeroplane crash transformed him into a gooey red smear across the landscape.

General Higinio Morínigo

Replaced the puddle of blood and gristle that used to be Estigarribia. Compared to the others mentioned here, Moringio seems a little half-arsed. Yes- he was a brutal and repressive military dictator, but this is Paraguay, dammit. He gets a mention because he firmly installed the Colorados into power (where they've been pretty much ever since) and bloodily persecuted the Liberals. He also displayed un-Paraguayan levels of military restraint by waiting until 1945 before entering the Second World War (declaring war on Germany and Japan). Unfortunately he wasn't as effective at brutally slaying his opponents as other Paraguayan dictators, and in 1947 a devastating civil war erupted in which he was deposed by his own party.


6 relatively quiet years. Admittedly the country had just had the crap kicked out of it (again), and it had 6 Presidents during this time (2 were democratic, astonishingly). It had 2 coups, and one "coup within a coup". It was almost dull. Then the next nutter strode up...

Alfredo Stroessner (1912- )

Stroessner was the son of German immigrants. Many of the immigrants to Paraguay were German, and in the 1920's German nationalist groups kept springing up that were noted with approval by a certain Mr Hitler across the Atlantic. After 1945, Paraguay became one of the most popular destinations for fleeing Nazis seeking the solace of Aryan neighbours and a nicely militaristic dictatorship- most notably Josef Mengele.

Stroessner presents an example of what Hitler could have been if he hadn't been so determinedly expansionist. He was the longest-serving dictator in Latin American history, and quietly kept his atrocities within Paraguay's borders. His power was propped up by some shrewd diplomacy- Stroessner was the right-wing golden boy of the USA until the late 60's, and when his relationship with the States soured he allied himself to the Brazilian juntas. There were numerous large civil projects completed, but half Paraguay's economy was dedicated to the military (which, in Paraguay, exists to combat internal enemies, not external ones) that supported his regime.

Stroessner had two particular hallmarks- one was widespread persecution of the Indian minorities, the second was having political opponents thrown out of aeroplanes, leaving the Paraguayan landscape liberally dotted with splats of dissident puree. He was so good at this that he lasted until 1989 before being toppled in yet another military coup.

Recent years.

My trusty old Encyclopaedia Britannica signs off making hopeful noises about the restoration of democracy in Paraguay following the arrival of a democratic government in 1993. Fat chance.

In 1996, Paraguay was on the brink of a military coup when General Oviedo objected to his sacking and started getting ambitious. Widespread protests on the streets in favour of democracy resulted, and Ovideo backed down. Unfortunately, in 1999 he was back. The vice-President Dr. Luis Maria Argaña was assassinated with the prime suspects being Oviedo and the President, Raúl Cubas. Cubas was ousted in a Congressional coup and fled the country along with Oviedo.

In nearly 200 years of existance Paraguay has lurched from one dictatorship to another. Only one democratic leader has served a full term, the Colorados still hold power and the military is still primed and ready to attack internal opponents. Have you booked your holiday yet?

Feb 14, 2004

Dance to the beat

I love conspiracy theories and stories about the mafias. Things like that are what make movies like JFK so fun to watch and mull over afterwards.

Build a Video Projector for Cheap... ...archive death

Apr 15, 2005

That first story was awesome and this thread kicks rear end.

Since most of the Finlands history is war related, it's not really fun, just full of war heroes.
Here's few of them

Larry A. Thorne is the only American POW/MIA to fight communism under three flags - those of Finland, Germany and America.

The White Death - World's Greatest Sniper

Dog Faced JoJo
Oct 14, 2004

Woof Woof

Just a short one:

Originally, John Wilkes Booth planned to kidnap Lincoln, possibly as a bartering chip to release Confederate POW's but most likely because of his hatred of Lincoln. After a couple of attempts failed because Lincoln failed to appear as scheduled, Booth decided on assassination.

Booth decided on a very bold endeavor. A plan was made to also assassinate Sec. of State William Seward (stabbed but survived), VP Andrew Johnson (assassin got cold feet), and Gen. U.S. Grant, who was scheduled to join the Lincolns at Ford's Theater, but cancelled at the last moment.

There are also the interesting facts surrounding Dr. Samuel Mudd, the doctor who set Booth's broken leg after he escaped the theater, but since the facts are all so questionable, I'll omit them from here so as to avoid derailment on discussions of historical accuracy.

May 16, 2002

These Swipers Can't Swipe Me

King Heiron II of Syracuse commissioned the smithing of a holy crown. This crown was to be a gift to the gods, and thus Hieron commanded it be made of solid gold. Indeed, such a godly crown was forged, and Hieron was satisfied, but not for long. Rumors arose that the goldsmith had replaced a quantity of the crown's gold with silver or other lesser metals, and the king became suspicious of the goldsmith.

Because of its holy nature, the crown could not be analysed by destructive means, and Hieron charged his keenest advisor with the task of identifying the composition of the crown.

After some time musing over the riddle before him, Hieron's advisor decided to take a bath and relax. As he slid into his brimming bath, he noticed the level of the water rise in turn.

"Eureka!!" he shouted, as he leapt out of the bath, dripping water onto the marble floor, his limp bridge probably flopping around nonchalantly.

He had solved the riddle--by comparing the force of water displaced by a volume of gold equal to that of the crown with that of the crown itself, it was possible to determine the true density of the crown. This would dictate whether or not the crown was pure gold.

Sure enough, the rumors proved true, as the crown failed the test.

The advisor was the great Syracusan inventor, Archimedes, and that is the legend behind Archimedes' Principle of Buoyancy.

LiquidNasty fucked around with this message at May 20, 2005 around 22:42

Photoshop Machine
May 11, 2005

Carlos "White Feather" Hathcock


Gunnery Sergeant Carlos Norman Hathcock II, United States Marine Corps(Ret.), was laid to rest Friday, February 26, at Woodlawn Memorial Gardens in Norfolk, Virginia. Gunnery Sgt. Hathcock was 56.

Mourners came from all across the United States. Some dressed in suits and ties, others in faded, Vietnam-era camouflage uniforms. They made the trip-- some driving twenty-four hours straight-- to pay their respects to Gunnery Sgt. Hathcock. Hundreds of people, including scores of active duty servicemembers and law enforcement personnel, attended the military funeral to remember a man considered by many to be the best Marine Corps sniper ever.

Lines formed as attendees waited to sign the overflowing guest log. One glance at the log and it was easy to see how many people knew and respected Hathcock; Charlotte Mecklenburg Police, Virginia Beach Special Weapons and Tactics Team, Sea, Air and Land Teams 2 and 8, Hathcock's Rangers, Parris Island Shooting Team, on and on.

A deafening silence fell over the standing-room-only crowd at Woodlawn Funeral Home's chapel when Hathcock's son, Gunnery Sgt. Carlos N. Hathcock III, approached the lecturn. "To everyone here today, he was known as Gunny Hathcock. To me he, was Dad," Hathcock III said, his voice breaking. "He's the Dad that would let me sleep in the boat when we went fishing, and the one I'd fight with when I was a teenager," remembered Hathcock III, wiping tears from his eyes. "It's taken me up until the last few years to figure out what he was trying to teach me, because now I have a son too. Thank you Dad."

Navy Captain Norman D. Holcomb, Force Chaplain for U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Atlantic officiated the service. Chaplain Holcomb, a former Marine infantryman and sniper, served with Hathcock before joining the Navy. "I transferred from a sniper unit to an infantry unit and got shot shortly thereafter," Holcomb said. "The Gunny told me- that's what happens when you leave your cover and concealment go back to the grunts, you make yourself a target," Holcomb recalled Hathcock kidding him.

Marine Security Forces Battalion (MCSF Bn) from Norfolk provided honor guards for the visitation and funeral, as well as rifle and burial details. Lieutenant Colonel Jeffery Christman, executive officer of MCSF Bn, played the Marines' Hymn and Amazing Grace on bagpipes. Sergeant Major Joseph L. Houle, U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Atlantic Sergeant Major, presented the family with two neatly-folded flags. Mrs. Hathcock received one and her son, Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock III, the other.

Hathcock's passing marked the end of a battle he'd been fighting for nearly 30 years. Not against the enemy in some far-off land; this battle was against multiple sclerosis. Diagnosed in June, 1975 with the disease, Hathcock continued serving his country until being medically retired in April, 1979, just 55 days short of a full 20 years in the Corps.

Hathcock gained notoriety for his outstanding marksmanship shortly after joining the Marine Corps in May, 1959. The Vietnam veteran pioneered new methods of instruction and weapons for the Marine sniper. He helped establish the Marine Corps Scout/Sniper Instructor school at Quantico, Virginia. Hathcock once recorded a kill from two thousand five hundred meters using an M2 .50 caliber machinegun with a side-mounted scope-- one of his own innovations.

Hathcock is often quoted as saying, "The most deadly thing on the battlefield is one well-aimed shot." He was severely burned while saving the lives of seven Americans from a fiery mine explosion in Vietnam. He was later awarded a Silver Star, the military's third highest decoration, for his heroic actions. Gunnery Sgt. Carlos Hathcock II: Marine Sniper, husband, father, teacher, friend. He will be missed.

Here's a nice picture of the Carlos Hathcock M25.

Only registered members can see post attachments!

Jan 26, 2004

You ever do the chicken dance at a wake? That really bothers people.


moonwalk came out of the closet to say:
Badass Spartans

I'm reading Sin City at work today and just finished The Big Fat Kill. Thanks for the background info. It's even more badass than I thought.


Dog Faced JoJo came out of the closet to say:
There are also the interesting facts surrounding Dr. Samuel Mudd, the doctor who set Booth's broken leg after he escaped the theater, but since the facts are all so questionable, I'll omit them from here so as to avoid derailment on discussions of historical accuracy.

Well, this is a history thread. Why not add them?

Vicissitude fucked around with this message at May 20, 2005 around 18:26

Apr 4, 2002

We go play hope

The story of Paddy Murphy

Paddy Murphy was a gun runner for Capone. He would sell Capones guns to buyers, return the money to Capone, and be rewarded with a % of the profits. As gangsters tend to do, Paddy decided he would break his contract and that would screw Capone. After selling a particularly large shipment of guns, rather than return the money to Capone he skipped town. Paddy was on the lamb, with Capone's gang in tail. Capone caught up to Paddy near a university and attacked. Paddy was shot, but managed to escape.

Paddy Murphy hobbled his way to a local chapter of the fraternity Sigma Alpha Epsilon, and identified himself as an alum sig alph. The people in the fraternity helped him, they kept him safe inside their house. The next day, in order to fool Capone, the Sig Alphs put on a fake funeral for Paddy. They hired a crooked preacher, and had a large procession.

Capone, satisfied that he had done away with his nemesis, never retrieved the money. After all the only person who knew where the money was is "dead," so Capone left. The next day, Paddy skipped town and lived out the rest of his days in both secret, and style.

Action Jacktion
Jun 3, 2003

In the 11th and 12th centuries, a Christian sect called the Cathars became popular in Europe. They believed that the physical world was evil, and that Jesus had been a sort of ghost, not a physical man. Only by being unconnected to the physical world could one escape it after death, instead of being reincarnated. Because the physical body was not important to them, they treated women as equals.

In the early 13th century, the pope launched a crusade against them. In 1209, the city of Béziers was destroyed; when asked how to tell the difference between Catholic and Cathar citizens, the Abbot of Citeaux supposedly responded "Kill them all, God will know his own" (the origin of the phrase that eventually became "Kill them all, let God sort them out"). After about twenty years of war wiped out most or all of the Cathars, the Inquisition was created to find any remaining believers.

Cathars were also called Bougres and Bulgars because the sect began in the Balkans. They did not want to bring more souls into the world, so they refrained from sexual reproducing. They were vegans, because meat, dairy products, and eggs were all the products or byproducts of sexual reproduction. Because they did not want children, they engaged in sex acts that had no risk of pregnancy. This is where the word "bugger" comes from.

Sep 24, 2003

clown is watching you sleep


Stefu said:
Paraguay dictators

Man this article really makes me want to get Tropico off the shelf and back onto my computer.

last laugh
Feb 11, 2004


I guess it's not the most interesting or obscure history, but if you've never had a a chance to follow the Bayeux tapestry scene by scene, I suggest you do it.

edit: I take that back this for me is the most interesting piece of medieval English history.

Invader Zym
Sep 19, 2002


BatonRougeWigga came out of the closet to say:

As he was returning to the mother ship, he could see a squadron of Japanese Zeroes heading toward the fleet to attack.

I'll have more respect for O'Hare airport now that I know it was named after one of the clones of Dr. Funkenstein.

In an earlier thread, it was agreed that one of history's biggest badasses must be Master Sgt. Roy Benavidez:

Deathy McDeath
Apr 28, 2002

I sexually identify as a fat tinder girl,

Yeah lemme just clean my pannus first.

These candles smell amazing btw


Photoshop Machine came out of the closet to say:
Carlos "White Feather" Hathcock

drat you, I was gonna post about him. He was a truly great

Anyway, for another great Marine, we need only look to the great Sergeant Major, Dan "You sons of bitches wanna live forever?" Daly.


Born on Nov. 11, 1873 at Glen Cove, Long Island NY. He enlisted in the Corps on Jan 10, 1899 at the age of 25. His professed reason for enlisting was to participate in the Spanish American War, however soon after completing boot camp, he was transferred to the Asiatic Fleet.

On the evening of Aug. 14, 1900 then Private Daly and Capt. N.H. Hall occupied a barricade in the city of Peking China during the Boxer Rebellion. Set between the Ch'ien Men and Hata Men gate, it was a solid defensive position.

As night fell, the Capt. returned to get reinforcements, and Daly volunteered to stay at the barricade. His position was assaulted by the Chinese all through the night, but the Marine held through attack after attack.

On December 11, 1901 Daly was awarded the Navy issue Medal of Honor. The citation for his first of two awards of the Navy Medal of Honor reads; "In the presence of the enemy during the battle of Peking, China, 14 August 1900, Daly distinguished himself by meritorious conduct."

Daly's next action saw him at Vera Cruze during the Mexican American War in 1914. This was followed smartly by action in Haiti during the first occupation of that Caribbean country. (See Smedley Butler's bio for more info.) By now a Gunnery Sergeant, Daly was part of a patrol which was pushing the bandit Cacos into an old French fort in an attempt to consolidate and destroy the remaining rebels.

His patrol of 35 Marines was ambushed by an approximate 400 Cacos. While fording a river, the rebels opened fire. All the Marines made it to the bank safely, however, the horse carrying the machine gun was killed and abandoned in mid river, along with many others. During the night, the embattled Marines were again attacked and the patrol leader called for the machine gun. Daly immediately volunteered to return to the river and retrieve the weapon.

Making his way back to the river through enemy patrols, he found the dead horse, cut the gun from it, and strapping it to his back returned to the Marine Position. This action earned him his second Navy issue of the Medal of Honor. A place in Marine Corps history shared by only one other Marine, Smedley D. Butler. Both men earning these second awards during the same action.

Daly's citation reads; "Serving with the Fifteenth Company of Marines on 22 October 1915, Gunnery Sergeant Daly was one of the company to leave Fort Liberte, Haiti, for a six day reconnaissance. After dark on the evening of 24 October, while crossing the river in a deep ravine, the detachment was suddenly fired upon from three sides by about 400 Cacos concealed in bushes about 100 yards from the fort. The Marine detachment fought its way forward to a good position, which it maintained during the night, although subjected to a continuous fire from the Cacos. At daybreak, the Marines in three squads, advanced in three directions, surprising and scattering the Cacos in all directions. Gunnery Sergeant Daly fought with exceptional gallantry against heavy odds throughout this action."

By now, at age 44 Daly was looking to the clouds of war in France and soon he shipped "over the pond" as First Sergeant of the 73rd Machine Gun Company. His many actions during this conflict were to net him his, as he said, "hat full of medals." One of which was wiping out German machine gun nests alone with grenades and a .45 Colt pistol and another time capturing 13 enemy soldiers.

At Lucy li Boucage, on the outskirts of Belleau Wood France, Daly made a comment which still thunders with the Marine spirit today. Outnumbered, outgunned and pinned in a poor position, the Marines were soon to be chopped to pieces by the German Machine gunners. Daly ordered an attack, leaping forward and yelling to his men. He is purported to have said, "Come on you sons of bitches! Do you want to live forever?" Later Daly told a Marine Historian, "What I really yelled was: For Christ's sake, men-COME ON! Do you want to live forever?"

Regardless of what was said, he and his small group of Marines surged out of the position and captured the town of Lucy li Bocage.

Another quote from this penultimate enlisted Marine leader, "

Daly remained single his entire life and retired from the Corps February 6, 1929 as a Sergeant Major. At age 65 on April 28, 1937 Daly died at Glenade L.I, New York.

Semper Fi, Dan Daly.

Nov 6, 2004


In one of his famous speeches Churchill asked America 'Give us the tools and we will finish the job'. But America wouldn't 'give' anything without payment. After two years of war, Roosevelt had drained Britain dry, stripping her of all her assets in the USA, including real estate and property. The British owned Viscose Company, worth £125 million was liquidated, Britain receiving only £87 million. Britain's £1,924 million investments in Canada were sold off to pay for raw materials bought in the United States. To make sure that Roosevelt got his money, he dispatched the American cruiser, 'Louisville' to the South African naval base of Simonstown to pick up forty two million Pounds worth of British gold, to help pay for American guns and ammunition!. Not content with stripping Britain of her gold and assets, Roosevelt now proceeded to 'strip the flesh off the bone'. In return for 50 old destroyers, he demanded that Britain transfer all her scientific and technological secrets to the USA. (American science had been lagging years behind the British at this stage). Also, he demanded leases on the islands of Newfoundland, Jamaica, Trinidad and Bermuda for the setting up of American military and naval bases in case Britain should fall.

Lord Beaverbrook was later to exclaim "The Japanese are our relentless enemies, and the Americans our un-relenting creditors".

Nov 17, 2004

Don't stop believin'

Michigan and Ohio have always been fierce rivals - and the reason for that dates back to Michigan's founding. One of the little tidbits of history where I grew up is referred to as "The Toledo War," a border dispute that basically amounted to no real "war" but is still an interesting story anyway. I am recalling this from memory, mostly, with a little assist from Google, so bear with me.

The dispute of the southern border of Michigan with Ohio stemmed from the fact that early maps of the area - based on The Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which established an east-west line drawn from the southern tip of Lake Michigan across the base of the peninsula - placed the tip of the lake much further south than originally realized. The difference was about 450 square miles, and included the present-day city of Toledo (in fact, in western Lucas County, there's a road named Old State Line Road, which marks the boundary).

After surveys, there was an Ohio line, and a Michigan line - a difference of about eight miles.

In 1833, when Michigan lobbied to join the Union, Ohio successfully blocked the acceptance of Michigan as a state until they accepted the "Harris Line," the Ohio boundary named after its surveyor. This angered Michigan no end.

Ohio's governor, Robert Lucas, refused to negotiate with Michigan, and created Lucas County out of the disputed area. Upon hearing this, Michigan Territory Gov. Stevens Mason mobilized troops. It was up to the newly appointed officials to hold session in Toledo, which they did by candlelight one evening, which added to the validity of the Ohio claims. The minutes were stealthed out of town, thereby proving Ohio had exercised its rights in the disputed area.

No, there was no actual shooting, although a fellow named Two Stickney got into it, and I believe stabbed, a Michigan sheriff. He was the son of a Major Stickney who numbered his sons (he had a brother named One).

Eventually, President Jackson intervened, and removed Gov. Mason from office, and Congress pretty much forced Michigan to agree to Ohio's claims (when Michigan became a state in 1837, the first thing it did was elect Mason governor again).

Here's the punchline.

Michigan felt it had lost. Ohio got its 450-odd square miles of swampy land at the mouth of Lake Erie.

So, Congress worked out renumeration. Michigan got the Upper Peninsula - 9,000 square miles of the richest timber, iron and copper deposits in the country.

As an Ohioan, it makes me wonder who won, exactly.

(pretty much recalled from memory)

Chasie fucked around with this message at May 20, 2005 around 18:59

Dec 12, 2004


Satan's Scallion came out of the closet to say:
Sir Ernest motherfuckin' Shackleton:

Almost 7 months camping on ice floes, followed by a 16 day, 800 mile voyage in a tiny rear end 22 foot boat (covered with tarp and sealed with oil paint, no joke) with 5 men crammed in it through the most vicious seas in the world, followed by a climb over some seriously bad-rear end mountains using no mountain gear at all except for screws stuck into their boot bottoms and a carpenter's adz.

Not a single man died.

For any goons interested, the James Caird (ship they used) is on display in Dulwich College's North Cloister in South London, and it's entirely free for any members of the public to walk in and take a look. How do I know? Why, 'twas my old school. Indeed, one of the boys there enjoyed a bit of folling around with his girlfriend in it after school one day.
That was not cool at all.
If you do pop down, I strongly advise you to go visit the Wodehouse Library just next to it. There's an old archivist up there who wanders around in slippers all day, and if not too busy will happily regale you with plenty of stories about Shackleton or any of the school's other old boys until your ears melt.

May 27, 2004

Extolling the virtues of motherhood

I have a handwritten document somewhere from 1933-35-ish which is the flight journal of my husband's great grandfather, who was the first dutch pilot to make commercial flights from Holland to then Batavia, now Jakarta.

Due to the archaic and cursive handwriting it's a bitch to translate though.

Not with the actual "uiver" (A legendary plane in it's own right), but a Douglas DC 2 nonetheless:

Only registered members can see post attachments!

Sep 22, 2004

titty whiskey

1. What became of the State of Franklin?


As Congress was heavily in debt at the close of the Revolutionary War, North Carolina, in 1784, "voted to give Congress the twenty-nine million acres lying between the Allegheny mountains and the Mississippi river."[1] ...

This area included the northeast region of what is now Tennessee, essentially the mountain area.


In August, 1784, a convention met at Jonesboro and formed a new State, with a constitution providing that lawyers, doctors and preachers should never be members of the legislature; but the people rejected it, and then adopted the constitution of North Carolina in November, 1785, at Greenville. They made a few changes in the North Carolina constitution, but called the State Franklin. John Sevier was elected governor and David Campbell judge of the Superior court. Greenville was made the capital. The first legislature met in 1785.

Thus began the state of Franklin. The state of Franklin was a confused, bumbling affair where taxes were not taken and the last 15 months of its history is completely unknown. The next mention of the State of Franklin is address in 1796 when Tennessee became a part of the union.

2. How Tennessee Screwed the Indians in Kingston

"The city of Kingston served as Tennessee's state capital for one day (September 21, 1807) as a result of treaties negotiated with the Cherokee Indians. The two-hour legislative session passed two resolutions and adjourned back to Knoxville. "

Essentially, the people agreed to have the capital in Kingston, met for long enough to make a formal agreement to move the capital to Knoxville, and never looked back.

Apr 18, 2004


ctz came out of the closet to say:
A week before Operation Overlord took place, a signaller in London was practicing sending the message that allied forces had landed in Normandy and were making good progress inland.

Unfortunately, she was practicing on a live circuit set up to an office in New York. This resulted in a hockey match in New York holding a minutes silence to recognise their military's advance into northern France.

Luckily the error was caught soon enough and the information didn't leak to the Germans.

This reminds me of another bizarre story about the build-up to Overlord (which many of you may already have heard):

It seems that in the weeks preceding the invasion, the daily crossword in The Telegraph kept having answers which contained classified codenames for Allied Operations. Pluto, Mulberry etc., but particularly the beaches intended for the landings (Utah, Omaha, Juno et al.) This caused a colossal flap, as everyone thought that a crossword setter was relaying intelligence to the Germans via codes in the clues (God, talk about a more civilised and cool age). An investigation was launched and the setter responsible was interrogated at length. It turned out that he was a school teacher called Leonard Dawe, somewhere on the South coast, who was in the habit of asking his pupils to suggest words that he could incorporate into his crosswords. One of these pupils, in turn, used to hang around the military bases in the area, and gleaned the odd word from overheard conversations. They were repeating the words to him, when asked for inspiration, he was writing clues for them and setting them in The Times. MI5 relaxed, the invasion went ahead, and then a bunch of other stuff happened.

Aug 21, 2002

Conspiring Cartographer

Satchel Paige was cut from the most bad rear end American cloth there ever was. A pitcher, primarily in the segregated days of baseball, Satchel was such a draw, he'd be loaned to teams with struggling attendance to help boost ticket sales.

While records from this era are shakey, it's estimated, that between his pitching in the Negro League, AND in "Barnstorming" games, where the white professionals played in the off season for cash (even the all stars), Paige tallied 1500 wins, 300 shut outs, and 55 no hitters. The records that are known for sure are:

A consecutive streak of 64 scoreless innnings (over seven full games, this was the era before closers)

A record of 31-4 posted in 1933 (If a pitcher goes 23 wins today the coach is estactic)

A stretch of 21 STRAIGHT WINS. Again, this is a good SEASON for most pitchers.

At the tender age of 42 he was finally allowed to enter the Majors, after impressing a Cleaveland pitching scout by throwing 4 of 5 balls over a lit cigarette laid on the ground 60 feet away.
His carrear in the majors was nothing great, as he was 42, but he still helped Cleveland get to the world series in his first year. He was traded, traded again, and finally left baseball for a while, but in 1965 he was brought back one more time AT THE AGE OF 59 and pitched 3 scoreless ininngs for the Kansas City Athletics. He is BY FAR the oldest pitcher ever to start a game. Here are some fun quotes!

"Ain't no man can avoid be born average, but there ain't no man got to be common."

"Don't pray when it rains if you don't pray when the sun shines."

"I never rush, see, they can't start the game without me."

"I never threw an illegal pitch. The trouble is, once in a while I toss one that ain't never been seen by this generation."

"I use my wind up, my double wind up, my triple wind up, my hesitation wind up, my no wind up. I also use my step 'n' pitch it, my submariner, my side armer, and my bat dodger. Man's got to do what he's got to do."

Leroy "Satchel" Paige was Elected to the baseball hall of fame in 1971, and what he might have accomplished had he been allowed to join the majors before the age of 42, is left to speculation.

hungryyaweh fucked around with this message at May 20, 2005 around 20:28

Jan 21, 2004


The Pundits

One of the greatest projects of nineteenth century geography was the Great Trigonometric Survey of India. Bit by bit, the whole subcontinent was mapped with unprecedented precision. The English also wanted geographical information on the lands further north. This was not just out of scientific curiosity: The Russians were expanding their empire into Central Asia, and the English feared that might have set their eyes on India. Thus, the Russians and the English both tried to extend their influence in Asia. Knowledge of geography of the region was of course of utmost importance in this so-called 'Great Game'.
However, in some regions these surveys seemed impossible. Some of the Indian border countries, in particular Tibet, would not allow westerners to enter their country, let alone a British surveying team. In the 1860s, Thomas G. Montgomerie, a captain in the survey, realised that the solution to this problem would be to train natives from Indian border states such as Sikkim to be surveyors, and have them explore the region. These would raise less suspicion than Europeans, and might be able to make observations disguised as a trader or a lama (holy man). These native surveyors are called pundits, after a Hindi word for a man of learning.

A number of tricks were developed to enable the pundits to make their observations without being found out. They were trained to make exactly 2,000 paces to the mile. To count them, they used what looked like a buddhist rosary, but instead of the usual 108 beads had 100, every tenth being slightly larger. Every 100 paces a bead was dropped. A prayer wheel did not hold the usual buddhist prayer om mani padni hom, but maps and notes. Pundit Nain Singh also found that these could be used to ward off curious co-travellers: Each time someone came too near, he would start whirling the wheel around and thus pretend to be in religious contemplation. Usually this would be enough to stop others from addressing him. Another way of keeping their observation was to turn them into a poem, and recite that during their travels.

The pundits were given extensive training in surveying: They learned to use the sextant, determine height by measuring the temperature of boiling water, make astronomical observations. They also got a medical training. Despite the precautions and tricks, some of them were sent back, tortured or even executed. But with their travels they managed to map the Himalayas, Tibet and surrounding areas with remarkable precision. Their exploits are still little known and under-appreciated. They deserve to be counted among the greatest and most daring explorers in history.

Nain Singh (1826?-1882)
The first, and arguably the greatest, of the pundits was Nain Singh, a Bhotian schoolteacher. With his cousin Mani Singh, he left Dehra Dun, the survey's northern India headquarters, for Nepal in 1865. From there Mani returned to India by way of western Tibet, but Nain went on to Tashilhumpo, where he met the Panchen Lama, and Lhasa. During his stay in Lhasa, his secret was discovered by two Kashmiri merchants, but for unknown reasons, they did not report him to the authorities. Nain Singh returned to India by way of Mansarowar Lake in western Tibet. He had done an enormous jog, mapping the trade route through Nepal to Tibet, determining for the first time the location and altitude of Lhasa, and mapping a large section of the Tsangpo, the major Tibetan river.
On a second voyage, in 1867, Singh explored western Tibet and visited the legendary Thok-Jalung gold mines. He noticed that the workers only dug for gold near the surface, because they believed digging deeper was a crime against the Earth and deprive it of fertility. In 1873-5, he traveled from Leh in Kashmir ot Lhasa, by a route more northerly than the one along the Tsangpo that he had taken on his first journey.

Hari Ram
Hari Ram explored the region around Mount Everest in 1871-1872. At first he was not allowed to enter Tibet, but his luck changed when he met a district official whose wife was ill. He examined her, checked his medical book for a disease with similar symptoms, and gave her some pills. To his own surprise, the woman recovered, and from then he found relatively little difficulty in travelling on. He gave a frightening account of his trip along the Bhote Kosi river:

He followed the general course of the Bhotia-Kosi River, which he was obliged to cross fifteen times within twenty-five miles. At one place the river ran in a gigantic chasm, the sides of which were so close to one another that a bridge of 24 paces was sufficient to span it. Near this bridge the precipices were so impractible that the path had to be supported on iron pegs let into the face of the rock - the path being formed by bars of iron and slabs of stone stretching from peg to peg and covered with earth. This extraordinary path is in no place more than eighteen inches, and often not more than nine inches in width, and is carried for more than a third of a mile along the face of the cliff, at some 1,500 feet above the river, which could be seen roaring below in its narrow bed. The Pundit, who has seen much difficult ground in the Himalayas, says he never in his life met anything to equal this bit of path. (report of Montgomerie to the Royal Geographical Society, as quoted in Cameron 1980)
During his voyage, Hari Ram had opened up 30,000 square miles of virtually unknown territory. He had travelled all the way around Mount Everest, but because other mountains stood in between, he never actually saw it. On a second journey, Hari Ram traversed northern Nepal from west to east.

Krishna Singh
Krishna Singh (also known as Kishen Singh), Nain Singh's brother, also was an important pundit. His last and greatest voyage commenced in 1878. He followed the northern trade route from Lhasa to Chinese Turkestan and China. He followed the route all the way to Tuhnwang, and on his way back explored the eastern Tibet border region. At one point the caravan leader wanted the caravan to go by horse to cross a bandit-ridden area faster. Krishna, unable to count his steps during this period, measured the distance (230 miles) by counting his horse's steps instead.

At this time, the Tsangpo river was still a mystery. Was this river, which flows from west to east through Tibet, perhaps the same river that flows into the Bay of Bengal under the name of Brahmaputra, as Nain Singh thought? To find this out, a pundit name Kinthup was sent into Tibet, together with a Chinese lama, as whose servant he would act. They were to throw logs into the Tsangpo, fifty logs a day for ten days. Along the Brahmaputra, surveyors would be on the lookout for these logs. However, the lama proved unreliable. He wasted time on flirting with various women and eating and drinking with his colleagues, and then sold Kinthup to a Tibetan lama. After seven months in slavery, Kinthup managed to escape, and travelled east along the Tsangpo. His master nearly captured him, but he fled into a buddhist monastery, and the head lama bought him from his previous owner.

Despite all, Kinthup was still dedicated to his task, and after a few months he asked permission to make a pilgrimage, and used his leave to cut and mark the logs. He did not throw them in the water yet - it was eighteen months since he had left India, and probably noone would be looking for them any more. So Kinthup returned to the monastery, some time later asked for permission to make a pilgrimage again, and went to Lhasa, where he had a fellow Sikkimese bring a letter to the survey authorities to tell about his fate, and announce when he would be throwing the logs into the river. Kinthup returned to the monastery, and on his next leave threw the logs into the river as announced. Only then he returned to India, but there disappointment awaited him. His letter had not reached India, and his report of his travels were not believed. Kinthup left the survey and became a tailor. Only years later did geographers realize that his reports and his story were completely correct - and that the Tsangpo and the Brahmaputra were indeed the same river.

chinese algebra
Aug 31, 2004

Las Vegas and Segregation

In 1955, Las Vegas' contribution to the civil rights movement was born. Like most things in Vegas, it began with a casino. The Moulin Rouge casino opened in March of 1955 on the westside of Las Vegas. The westside was a ghetto without water and sewer utilities, and the home to Las Vegas' African-American community. Attempts had been made as early as the teens to confine the town's black community to Block Sixteen, the red light district at the time. The attempts failed, but the African-American community was instead confined to the westside. At the time Las Vegas was known as "the Mississippi of the West" due to its rigidly enforced segregation. While blacks could work for the casinos, and very rarely even perform at them, they could not stay at the hotels or gamble at the casinos. A rare expection was made when Lena Horne performed at Bugsy Seigel's Flamingo, and even then the staff went so far as to burn the linens she used.

The Moulin Rouge was the first integrated casino, employing blacks and whites alike in every position at the hotel/casino. While the casino was wildly popular, it shut down six months later. To this day, no one knows for sure why the property survived for only six months, although plenty of theories abound, ranging from mismanagement of funds to pressure from the whites-only establishments on the Strip.

On March 17, 1960, Las Vegas NAACP President Dr. James B. McMillan had an announcement to make: "We will hold a 'spontaneous' peaceful demonstration similar to what has occurred already in the South." The demonstration, set for March 26, was to protest Strip and Glitter Gulch policies that kept hotels and casinos segregated. McMillian used the still closed Moulin Rouge as his 'war room' to plan his strategy in an attempt to force the casino owners to acknowledge the segregation. Consequently, on March 25, a day before the planned march, it was announced that the demonstration was called off and that negotiations leading ultimately to the desegregation of casino properties was forthcoming. These negotiations took place in the Moulin Rouge. State and local officials were in attendance along with the casino owners, and arbitration was hammered out by mediators, most prominently, Las Vegas Sun founder and editor Hank Greenspun (who was, interestingly enough, also Bugsy's Seigel's public relations manager for the Flamingo).

An agreement to desegregate, known as the Moulin Rouge Agreement, was made in attempts to avoid any bad publicity civil rights protesters would bring to the casinos. Dr. McMillan, a local dentist, had managed to con the mob that effectively ran Las Vegas. He had in essence acted alone, announcing the protest without consulting other African-American community leaders. Had the casino owners not capitulated, the protest would not have occured. Thus, in appropriate Las Vegas fashion, Dr. McMillan had gambled- and won.

Hardcore Phonography
Apr 28, 2004

I have my eye on a suite in Baker Street.

I'm going to have to do this from memory, as I only have scraps of notes to go by. This is from Varlam Shalamov's Kolyma Tales, about his and others experiences in the Kolyma region, a key producer of gold in the Gulag system. It's not actually his story, but that of a companion named Platonov (or perhaps Platanov) who died about a month after telling Shalamov of how he survived the first few months at Jankhar.

The Snake Charmer

The end of the official work day in Kolyma doesn't mean work is over. After returning their tools, laborers were forced to stand in ranks and suffer through the abuse and swearing of guards during one of the 10 daily head counts. After the count was finally finished, the mine workers, of which Platonov was a member, had to walk 5 kilometers into the forrest to carry back a log each for firewood. All the trees within 5 kilometers of the camp had long since been cut up for this purpose, leaving a wasteland of stumps that were covered by snow in for most of the year. It was like a minefield, and any poor soul who didn't stay on the path was risking at least a broken arm if they happend to trip on one of these stumps and land on the rock-hard permafrost.

Platonov stood wearily in line, and eventually he made his way to the log pile and dropped his burden. He then made his way into the dark log cabin, and after his eyes adjusted to the dark, he saw that a group of 7 or 8 people had not gone out to work that day. These were the thieves, professional criminals who had taken the only gas lamp and were sitting cross-legged on one of the bunks playing cards. Even though he had just been transferred to Kolyma the day before, Platonov recognized the thieves instantly from their tattoos, crosses, and the ever-present long fingernail of the smallest finger.

No bunks were available, so Platonov sat on the edge of one of the lower ones, thinking "as soon as they split up, I'll grab a bunk and get some sleep," dozing off before the thought was even completed. Above him, the leader of the thieves Fedya threw down his cards and said "OK boys, send over that Ivan."

Platonov was awakened by a blow to his back.

"There calling you, Ivan!" a voice said.

"My name isn't Ivan" retorted Platonov, still unable to make out who was talking to him.

"Fedya, he says he's not coming!"

"What do you mean, 'he's not coming'?" said Fedya in a low, menacing tone.

Platonov was thrown out into the light by a pair of hands, and above him the criminal Fedya pointed at him with his dirty nail.

"You want to go on living" asked Fedya, again in his oddly relaxed tone.

"I plan on it," said Platonov.

A fist struck him in the face, and he fell to the floor.

"That's no way to answer, Ivan. I can't believe they taught you to answer like that at college! Go lay next to the poo poo-pail, that's your spot now. And if you so much as make a single sound, we'll strangle you."

Platonov, a political prisoner, was a camp veteran, and had seen two people strangled with towels by the thieves in the past, and knew not to argue. The guards may have had the guns, but the thieves ran the barracks; this was a truth throughout the entire Gulag.

"I'm so bored guys, maybe if someone could scratch my heels.." said Fedya, letting out a yawn. A young boy, no older than 20, jumped up on the bed and scratched at Fedya's heels. He was soon kicked away, however, because all he did was "scrape," and had "no tenderness," as Fedya put it.

The night dragged on for another hour, and again Fedya complained "I'm so bored, guys. If only we had someone to tell a story."

"Fedya, what about that Ivan, maybe he can tell us a story!" said one of his minions.

"Well, there's an idea, wake him up," and the orders were carried out. Platonov stood in front of the thieves, thinking that he was going to be robbed or beaten.

"Look, I blew up at you earlier. Tell me, can you tell novels?"

A flash went over Platonov's face. Of course he remembered his telling of Dracula in his previous prison. But these people were not civilized, they were barely even human! Should he become the court jester, to serve as entertainment one moment telling stories, and the next being beaten? But there was another way of approaching the situation. Perhaps he could serve as an enlightener, exposing these people to real literature, and not getting an extra bowl of soup because he emptied the poo poo pail.

"I can. I can!" replied Platonov, smiling for the first time that day.

"Oh, sweetie! Come, sit up here on this blanket. Have some bread, I promise you'll eat better tomorrow. Have a smoke!" exclaimed Fedya.

Platonov hadn't smoked for a month, and the "butt," as they called the short, home-made cigarettes, made him dizzy.

"What's your name, sweetie?" asked Fedya.

"Andrei," replied Platonov, still feeling shy and guarded.

"Alright, Andrei. Tell us something spicy, like The Count of Monte Cristo, but nothing about prisons or bars."

"How about The Club of Black Jacks, or The Vampire?"

"Give us the Jacks. Shut your goddamned mouths, you bastards" bellowed Fedya at the group that had surrounded them.

Platonov coughed to clear his throat and began...

"In the city of St. Petersburg in the year..." he began.

It was almost light when he simply couldn't go on.

"That was great, now lie down here and get some sleep with us. You won't have much time, it's almost dawn, but you can get some sleep at work and save your energy for tonight." explained Fedya.

It was on their way out of the barracks to line up for the morning count when Fedya was pushed violently to the ground while in the doorway by a tall country boy who had slept through the last nights novel. As he stood up, he dejectedly walked to get in formation, thinking that he was a fool to believe that his lot had changed.

While standing in formation, he saw one of the audience from the previous night whisper something into the ear of the boy that had ruthlessly pushed him through the doorway.

The tall boy walked over to Platonov.

"Please, I beg you, don't tell Fedya I hit you. I didn't know you were a novelist, brother!" he said while almost every cell in his body shook from fear.

"I won't tell" said Platonov.

Bea Arthur
Sep 11, 2001

Slippery When Wet

Great thread, I love history.
Heres one:

Traditionally the center of papal life was situated in Rome, but in 1309 the papacy was moved to the French city of Avignon, where it remained until 1377, when Pope Gregory XI returned to Rome. France wasn't pleased by this shift of papal power, so in turn, they elected their own pope. This started what is known as thr "Great Schism."
Now there were two recognized popes with countries scrambling to align with one or the other. The situation climaxed in 1409, when the Council of Pisa was called to fix the problem. The council simply elected a whole new pope, Alexander V, and tried to dissolve the papacies of the current Italian pope, Gregory XIII, and the Avignon poe, Benedict XIII. Of course, neither pope wanted to surrender his seat of wealth and power, thus bringing us to a grand total of three popes.
Eventually, the Italian pope resigned and the Avignon pope was deposed (rumor has it, he was defenestrated-literally "thrown out of the window" of the palace), finally ending the Great Schism in 1417 after 39 years of papal confusion.

This was one of my favorite stories from my Western Civilization class.
The process behind the papcy ending up in France in the first place is also a good one, but probably more widely known.

In fact, there are a lot of interesting papal stories. First one that comes to mind would be how a woman got elected to be pope, although that story is debatable.

Mister Orange
Dec 1, 2002

Dissed like Vlissingen

This is a seriously cool thread, thanks for the great stories guys.

I've just got a cool story to add, very short one at that.

During the battle of the Bulge, the Germans send a couple hundred soldiers behind enemy lines, dressed in american clothing and driving american vehicles to cause mayem. This meant they gave out false orders, changed roadposts and whatnot. This meant that the americans became really suspicious of eachother. The germans had falsified American identification papers to near perfection. However, the original American documents contained a rather obvious typo. Instead of Identification, it said Indentification. The Germans however, corrected the mistake and gave out papers with the proper spelling. That made rounding up the germans much easier for the Americans.

I just love that story so much, can't really explain why. I read it in Citizens Soldiers, by Steven Ambrose.

Johnny Feng
May 12, 2002


I heard that during the Mexican-American War (kind of a bullshit war, instigated by the US to precipitate a land grab), a bunch of Irish immigrants defected from the US army and fought on the side of the Mexicans. The Mexicans called them the San Patricios.

Apr 18, 2004


Bea Arthur came out of the closet to say:
In fact, there are a lot of interesting papal stories. First one that comes to mind would be how a woman got elected to be pope, although that story is debatable.

I was going to post about Pope Joan, but I couldn't find a source to back it up. True or not, I love the story. Occultists are mad for it as well.

May 3, 2005

I say what I like

I heard a really good story once that I can only recall vaguely. Maybe one of you has heard it and can give some details.

I want to say that it is japanese in origin, but I may be wrong.

Anyway, the army of an expanding empire came to a city. Being vastly outnumbered the citizens pleaded with the general to let the women and children leave. The general toled them that he would let the women of the city leave with whatever they could carry on their backs.

Supposedly when the general saw the women leaving the city with their husbands on their backs he was so moved that he let the city be.

Dog Faced JoJo
Oct 14, 2004

Woof Woof

Another quick one:

All Americans know that our first President was a hero of the revolution. What they might not know what that he established the observance of Thanksgiving Day (4th Thursday in Nov.), assisted in the design of the Great Seal of the United States of America, and ordered all foreign troops out of the new country. Oh, and his name was John Hanson, not George Washington.

Between the time the Articles of Confederation were accepted (1777) and the U.S. Constitution was ratified (1789), somebody had to run the fledgling country. While Washington was busy winning battles, a series of eight men were elected by congress to one year terms as caretakers of the country. Although the official title was "President of the United States in Congress Assembled", the powers were really quite limited in comparison to those granted by the Constitution.

Jul 2, 2004

Bitter, on-the-run cop seeks femme fatale hitwoman for fiery, bullet-riddled romance. Must enjoy long walks through construction sites, high-caliber h

How Nevada Became a State and other Civil War prattlings

As the 1864 election loomed, Abraham Lincoln and the Republican party feared that in the face of American's deadliest war, Lincoln might lose the election. (A handwritten note found from Lincoln's presidency office files that appears to be his handwriting put it as close as 10-12 electoral votes) So the Repuplican party, in a long history of being very good at creative ways to win elections, set about to try and bring in another territory to statehood that they knew would come down on the Republican side.

So the Republican party turned to the territory of Nevada. Carved out of the Deseret territory that was mostly filled with miners and Mormons (the U.S. having been fighting a low-intensity war with the Mormons before the South seceded), the Nevada territory would bring in a solid Republican electoral vote. Now the rule as to bringing in territories at the time was that you had to have enough people to have one congressional district. In that time that amounted to about 70,000 people in Nevada.

Nevada had 20,000.

The Republican party carried on however and asked Nevada's territorial legislature to draw up a Constitution. The legislature sent the Constitution both overland as well as on a ship setting sail from California to the east coast. The President and his cabinet waited and as the election loomed closer, urged Nevada to send the entire Constitution via telegraph.

It was the longest telegraph ever sent and cost over $3,000 in 1864 currency.

Nevada became a state with its meager population. However if they'd truly waited for Nevada to have enough people, it would have taken until about 1972.

Don't laugh. Wyoming still wouldn't be a state.

John Brown
Most know the details of John Brown's raid on the Harper's Ferry arsenal in what is now West Virginia. Of course his plan seemed doomed to fail, as Harper's Ferry was right up the railroad lines from Washington D.C., and Robert E. Lee was quickly able to shift Marines up to the arsenal and after a short firefight kill or capture most of John Brown and his followers. Also, Brown counted on inciting a slave uprising, not realizing that upper Virginia had the least slaves of most of the South.
Celebrities present at Brown's hanging included Robert E. Lee and John Wilkes Booth, who called the spectacle, "Glorious."

Lincoln was a big man
We all know that Lincoln was tall, but few know that he was pretty handy in a fight.
During a tussle between two representatives in the Illinois state legislature, Lincoln grabbed one of the combatants by his collar and belt and threw him a good 10 feet.
Later when Lincoln was challenged to a duel he agreed and when asked for the weapons and protocol to be used specified, "Sledgehammers at 5 feet apart." The duel was quickly backed out of.

I apologize if I've gotten some of the details wrong, I'm trying to remember them from lectures a year ago.

Wolfsforza fucked around with this message at May 20, 2005 around 19:48

Gewehr 43
Aug 25, 2003

Lady Be Good

I'm telling this story and embellishing a little from memory, but the above link will provide some more substantial factual detail. This got a little longer than I anticipated, but questions and comments are welcome.


In early April, 1943, a B-24D Liberator bomber lifted off from a desert airfield in Libya. Groundcrews gritted their teeth against the torrents of dust swirled about by the bomber's four propellers, and watched as the plane disappeared into the distance. On her nose were stenciled the words "Lady Be Good," the name of a popular song at the time. Along with the load of high explosives inside her were nine men who were destined never to be seen alive again.

They were raw. Having just arrived in Libya a short time before, the crew of William Hatton had barely had time to adjust to their surroundings before being called up for their first mission over Italy. They had had all the necessary training, true, but training is rarely ever close to the real thing.

Nervous and jittery, they joined up with their flight and headed north towards their target at Naples. Along the way the sun began to set, and shortly after the bomb run the group turned south for home. In the fading light, the inexperienced crew became separated from the rest of their group. Now, all alone above the desolate darkness of the Med below, they turned to Hayes, their navigator for redemption. He and he alone would be the guiding force that led them home safely to their field in Libya.

But he was raw too. He had neither the training or intrinsic skill to face the task that loomed over him that night, and soon the bomber and the nine men inside her were hopelessly lost. Sometime during the mission, the wind had shifted fiercely from south to north. So now, as Hayes looked at his charts, and plotted his location, he was unaware that a ferocious tailwind was pushing his plane south at a rate far faster than he was predicting.

The hours droned on, and Hayes - who thought his plane was fighting a vicious headwind, when in fact it was being pushed quickly southward by an unusually strong tailwind - continued plotting his course in error. Every time Hatton would call to ask for their position, Hayes would respond "Still over the med, chief." What none of them could see in the darkness was that the Libyan coast had long slunk away behind them and all that awaited them below as a sea of cold, unforgiving sand.

The dull throb of the Liberator's four Pratt & Whitney Wasp engines created a sort of lull, as everyone in the aircraft settled in. Surely, they'd be descending soon... wouldn't they? Hayes was the only one who knew, and as he sat there in his cramped compartment, doodling absentmindedly on his notes, even he began to feel the twinge of fear. They should be close.

It was then that the men's ears perked up. One of the Wasps had coughed. The soothing lull soon became a cacophony of gyrating propellers as one after the other lost and then again regained power. The engines were gasping for life as they began to ingest air from the fuel tanks. Soon it was clear to Hatton and his crew that they were going to have to leave the aircraft rather than face ditching in the dark Med.

Donning their parachutes and "mae west" life preservers, they one by one slipped out of the aircraft and into the tranquil darkness. As they fluttered silently down, they could hear the Liberator make her way off in the darkness, one engine still faltering on the right wing. Fear gave way to utter confusion as the cold Sahara rushed up to meet them. “What the hell happened to the Med,” one of them wondered as he brushed himself off in the darkness.

Calling out to each other, eventually most of the rattled crew found each other and huddled for warmth. Their Bombardier, John, hadn’t answered any of the calls, however and there was no sign of him. For hours they called out his name but he was never seen again.

The anxiety of their situation, their lost airplane, and their lost friend weighed heavily on their minds as the sun slowly rose over the desert sea. Discarding their unnecessary equipment, they began to walk. It was obvious to them what had happened. Hayes had gotten them lost over the desert, not the Med, and now they were all going to pay for his mistakes. They didn’t show him any animosity though. They were a team and they new they had to work together if any of them had any hope of survival.

For days they walked. Behind them lay a string of discarded equipment. Jackets, parachutes, belts and other gear all thrown away as the afternoon sun baked their already burning skin. Water was a problem too. They had barely a canteen among the eight of them and with no idea how far they had to go, they began a strict rationing program: half a capful a day for each man. It was ludicrous. Half a capful was barely enough to wet their cracking lips and they still had miles to go.

How many miles they didn’t know. Truth be told, they really didn’t have much of a plan. They knew what direction they’d flown and for how long, but the variable they didn’t know was the tailwind and how far it had pushed them. For all they knew they could have been twenty or two hundred miles from civilization.

"Just walk." That’s all each man told himself as he wearily lifted one foot and placed in front of the other. "Just keep walking."

By night they chattered and froze under a pristine sky. By day they roasted alive under a burning sun. The desert was taking its toll on the poor flyboys and soon they would succumb to it. Finally, after days of walking, the group made a decision. Several of the men who were in better shape would take the remaining water and continue walking in hopes that they could find help and form a rescue effort. The others would stay behind and wait for them.

And that is where they died. For as the men continued walking north, they too perished one by one, each body quietly covered and enveloped by the ever-shifting sand. There would be no help; no rescue efforts. The last of the Lady’s men fell to the sand and disappeared roughly 130 miles from where he and his crewmates first gathered in the darkness of the Sahara.

For seventeen years the men of the Lady Be Good lay in silence and isolation. It wasn’t until 1960 when an oil survey team from British Petroleum first sighted the remains of a mystery bomber lying on the desert floor several hundred miles south of Benghazi. Curious, they explored the wreck only to find it abandoned and untouched. Personal effects and navigation logs were still sitting in their proper place inside the airplane. Aside from being broken in half at the mid section, it looked as though she had made a perfect belly landing. But where was the crew?

Over the course of the next few years, USAF and other US personnel made various expeditions to the Libyan desert in an effort to locate the bomber’s missing crewmen. In time they did. First, they came across the remains of five crewmen; bleached white bones amidst a scattering of WWII era equipment. On one of them, the copilot, they found a diary. Though it was scarce in its entries it painted a chilling picture of the crew in their final days. Undertones of fear, desperation, and isolation mount in each subsequent entry until the final defeated, “no help yet very cold nites…”

As the search teams continued, seven of the eight men who gathered the night they bailed out were located, one over 130 miles north of the bail out point. By mid April of 1943, Tech Sgt. Harold Ripslinger had walked over 130 miles in the burning heat of the Sahara on little more than a half capful of water per day. He didn’t know it, but he was still several dozen miles south of his base near Benghazi.

The body of their bombardier, John Woravka was finally located some 12 miles north of the B-24’s wreckage site. Tangled around his shattered and broken body were the remains of his parachute and rigging lines. From some points of view, he might be considered the lucky one.

One of the greatest ironies of the entire saga of this doomed crew was a discovery made by some of the first BP oil crew to find the aircraft. As stated, the plane was largely intact and appeared to have made a relatively soft landing on a hard gravel plain. Inside the storage lockers on board the aircraft, the oil crews found various desert survival gear and several canteens, each full to the brim.

It was probably this story that really got me interested in WWII. It was the foreword to a huge book on B-24's called "Log of the Liberators" by Steve Birdsall. I read it when I was about 11 and the story of the Lady's men has stuck with me for years.

Gewehr 43 fucked around with this message at May 20, 2005 around 19:50

Feb 4, 2005

Joo! Tosi kiva lelu!

Since a few popes were discussed, here's another Historical Filth, from the same guy who wrote the Paraguay one (though under a different nick):


The first "Historical Filth" article I ever wrote was called "The 10 worst Popes in history"- it even pre-dated the "Filth" title itself. It was a piece I was never really happy with, as I'd not yet settled on the more comfortable narrative style. It read as a shrill denunciation rather than an enthusiastic wallowing in human failings. I always promised myself I'd re-write it one day.

That day has now come, though the great thing about the history of the Papacy is that finding grossing perversions among the Popes is like finding interesting discharges produced by the less expensive street hookers in Bangkok. It's like shooting fish in a barrel. Of the ten Popes below, only one featured in my original article and there's still loads more great stories left unrevealed. The Roman Catholic church is the gift that just keps on giving, as far as I'm concerned. I invite you to sit back and spend a few minutes wading crotch-deep through the slurry of human endeavor with me. You're in good company with these God-botherers, I can assure you.

The Pimp Pope

Sixtus IV (1471- 1484)

Popes throughout the ages have always faced a pressing problem. namely "how the hell can I get the cash to pay for my lavish lifestyle and huge retinue of totty?". For a considerably large part of the history of Catholicism, the solution proved to be in prostitution and no Pope took it quite so far as Sixtus IV.
To fund his lifestyle and war against the Turks, Sixtus started building a huge brothel for both sexes in Rome. He also imposed annual taxation of Rome's prostitutes, and if there was one thing Rome was not lacking, it was prostitutes. Your average pilgrim was probably a bit backed up around the bollocks by the time he reached Rome, and the chance of a few quick fumbles followed by absolution was a combination few could resist. Rome was stuffed with whores of all types, so this was a big earner for Sixtus.
Sixtus was bisexual and incestuous- he had relationships with his nephews. He was also impressively liberal, and approved petitions permitting certain noble families to commit sodomy during the hot months of the year. He also built the Sistine Chapel, which gives him quite a groovy track record, though he totally blew it away by appointing Torquemada and starting the worst excesses of the Inquisition. The git.

The Pornographer Pope

Pius II (1458- 1464)

Amongst the company of this article, Pius II looks almost saintly, though he remains one of my favourites. Born in poverty, young Enea Piccolomini took jobs as secretary to a number of Cardinals, leading to employment as a roving ambassador. His memoirs reveal a lively time spent wooing young ladies in his spare moments- but it's a rather charming and romantic randiness rather than the rampant fornications of the average Pope.
He came to the attention of Pope Nicholas V due to his writing ability (at another time he was poet laureate to King Frederick III of Germany)- namely his noted skill at churning out pornographic stories. Nicholas V employed Enea as his secretary, with the duty of producing the Papal porn. With a blend of charm, flattery and self-promotion he rose effortlessly through the ranks to become Pope. I take this tale as proof that the next Pope will be Hugh Hefner.

The Paedophile Pope

Leo X (1513- 1521)

There have been quite a few gay Popes, but they usually kept this aspect of their lives under a degree of discretion. Not Giuliano de'Medici who was probably the most "out" Pope ever. Becoming a Cardinal at 13 (the youngest ever), Leo X went on to be elected Pope. At his election he had to be carried into the Conclave on a stretcher because his sodomy-related anal ulcers were too painful for him to walk or sit. One of his first acts was to make his lover a Cardinal.
This is all pretty blameless stuff, of course. However Leo did like boys who were disturbingly young, even by the standards of the time. One of his favourite party tricks at banquets was to serve up huge pies from which naked boys would emerge and be served up (culinary side-note: regrettably, the records do not reveal what sort of pie was considered suitable to contain rent boys. Being a British prole at heart, I'm hoping it was a pork pie, though the image of jailbait covered in pork jelly is one likely to give me nightmares, I can assure you).
It's also recorded that as nobody could be bothered to wash up after these banquets the (silver) plates and cutlery would simply be thrown in the river. Seeing as the typical main course was a nice plate of parrot's tongues, one can only gawp at the size of the catering bills they must have run up. It left the papal treasury bankrupt.
If all this wasn't impressive enough, Leo was also an atheist. He was a major factor in the works of Martin Luther and the rise of Protestantism, which should surprise nobody.

The Pre-pubescent Pope

Benedict IX (1032- 44, 1045, 1047- 48)

Yes, you're reading those dates correctly. Benedict was Pope three times- a record likely to remain unchallenged for the foreseeable future. At the time, Rome was controlled by the monstrous Tuscolani family- so it probably surprised nobody when Pope XIX died in suspicious circumstances and was replaced by the 12 year old Benedict IX.
There is a theory that the more spoiled and unrestrained a child is, the more depraved they will be as an adult. I suspect that the textbook definition of this theory reads "see Benedict IX" because he racked up one hell of a track record. Among his hobbies were bisexuality, bestiality, witchcraft and Satanism. In fact, if Marilyn Manson lived up to his own publicity and was elected the next Pope he'd still fall some distance short of Benedict. Dante, who was not squeamish about consigning Popes to his inferno, considered him to be the lowest ebb of the papacy.
Eventually he became so unpopular that he spent the last years of his reign in fear of his life, hence the three reigns. His second interregnum occurred because he sold the papacy to his godfather- a feat still unequalled in Papal history. The fact that he died of natural causes years after his final deposition surprises just about everyone seeing as he was possibly the most unpopular man in the entire world.

The Pint-sized Poisoner Pope

Gregory VII (1073- 1085)

Let me start by listing the positive points about Gregory VII.

Sorry. There aren't any. He was genuinely horrible. A bitter little midget, he ascended to the papacy through the simple and very effective method of poisoning absolutely everyone with a better shot at the title. These victims included six Bishops. When poisoning alone wasn't enough, he used his school of highly skilled forgers to come up with the necessary "ancient" documents to promote his cause.
If you want to know who to blame for the Catholic church's problems with its priest's sexual proclivities, Gregory is a better target than most. At his first Council in 1074 he deposed all married priests and attempted to impose celibacy (naturally, this did not prevent him fiddling with Countess Mathilda, whose husband gregory had murdered). Thousands of priest's wives were left abandoned and destitute- many committing suicide as a result.
Gregory's drive toward a celibate priesthood met with stiff resistance, even to the point of him being excommunicated by a group of Bishops. Eventually Gregory became so unpopular with the people of Rome that he was forced to flee for his life, supposedly dying of shame shortly after.

The Pike-wielding Pope

Clement VII (1378- 1394)

Antipope Clement VII was born Robert of Geneva, and was probably the hardest Pope ever. While most Popes were soft and pampered big girl's blouses, Robert was a former front-line soldier who was famed for his ability to decapitate a man with one blow of a pike. If you've ever seen the size of a pike you'll understand what a bruiser he must have been.
He earned one hell of a reputation for brutality by massacring thousands in his campaigns across Bologna and Florence (4500 massacred in Cesena alone), and during that particularly unstable time in Papal history (the start of the Great Schism) the Cardinals decided it was time to take control by electing a man's man for a change. At 36, Robert became Pope.
Naturally, as soon as he became Pope, he developed a taste for scantily-clad pageboys. It comes with the job, it seems.

The Pervy Pope

Paul II (1464- 71)

Nicknamed "Godly Mary", Pietro Barbo was another gay Pope, though his real tastes were something really vile. He was possibly the biggest sadist to become Pope, and spent much of his spare time watching naked men being racked and whipped while failing to conceal a papal priapism beneath his frock. One might expect him to be some sort of ice-cold snake-eyed killer- something close to Christopher Walken in a big white hat. Instead, he was famous for being tearful, and the waterworks would come on at the slightest provocation. This earned him another nickname- "Our Lady of Pity". Paul II died of a heart attack while being energetically buggered by a pageboy.

The Parricidal Pope

Paul III (1534-1549).

As a younger man, Alessandro Farnese earned the nickname "Cardinal Petticoat" for giving his young sister to Pope Alexander VI to be deflowered. That was one of his nicer acts as far as his family was concerned, because when he got bored of waiting for his inheritance he poisoned his parents. He also killed one of his sisters, committed incest with his daughter and murdered his son-in-law. He also had an affair with his niece, but was caught with his papal pants down by her husband who give him a thrashing that left him scarred for life.
He stayed immensely wealthy due to imposing a monthly tax on Rome's 40,000 prostitutes (Rome's total population at the time was only 100,000). Despite all this, he's remembered rather fondly as the commissioner of Michelangelo's work in the Sistine Chapel. If you ever visit it, don't buy any hype about Paul III- he was an appalling man who persecuted Protestants with a zeal that went far beyond the call of duty. However, I bet even the most tortured Protestant could at least take some small comfort from the fact that they weren't related to him.

The Party-animal Plague Pope

Clement VI (1342- 1352)

At the time of Clement's reign the Papacy was based in Avignon. The reason for the move was that Rome was considered too sinful and debased to house the church- naturally the Avignon Popes did everything they could to ensure that their new base was just as mucky as the old place. Clement was certainly no exception.
One of the greatest spenthrifts to become Pope, Clement had a lifestyle closer to one of the more flamboyant Roman Emperors than the average Pope. Even the bits of his horses were solid gold. He used lavish banquets (which tended to end as orgies) to seduce assorted noblewomen, when he wasn't establishing new brothels to boost his funds. While the Pope romped with his many mistresses, most of his palace was taken up by the extensive torture facilities of the Inquisition and they were never short of work.

When the Black Death hit Avignon in 1348, it was viewed as divine judgement on Clement. He reacted by burning much of the city, but three-quarters of the population still died. There was widespread celebration when he died, and fifty priests said mass for his soul for nine successive days in an attempt to keep him out of hell.

The Pirate Pope

John XXIII 1410- 1415

Technically speaking, Baldassare Cossa was an Anti-pope- this explains why he's one of two Popes to bear the name John XXIII. Unlike many Popes he wasn't born into a particularly enriched family, but he certainly displayed an impressive entrepreneurial streak which left him very seriously rich indeed. It wasn't the sort of career path one might associate with the Papacy, however. He was a pirate.
Seeking a change of career, he started working as Papal treasurer to Boniface IX and Alexander V and became a lot richer thanks to his staggering propensity for corruption. Naturally he was soon made a Cardinal. Embezzlement alone wasn't enough to keep him entertained so he happily continued to build a reputation as one of the world's greatest libertines. His home was stuffed to the rafters with two hundred concubines and prostitutes. When he wasn't knobbing them, he was killing people- it's recorded that he executed so many people that the poulation of Bologna dwindled significantly during his tenure.
Despite his unorthodox lifestyle, his accession to the Papacy was almost boringly traditional. He poisoned the reigning Pope then surrounded the Papal conclave with his troops until he'd terrified the Cardinals into electing him (yawn). One intriguing technical footnote was that Cossa had to be ordained as a priest the day before he was consecrated as Pope- it was not necessary to have taken holy orders to be a Cardinal. That was a mere trifle compared to another fact about the new John XXIII, however. He was an atheist.
John XXIII was eventually forced from power in the Council of Constance, which unified the Papacy (there were actually three Popes simultaneously up until that point). In his abdication he confessed to murder, adultery, incest, heresy, atheism, simony and sodomy. None of these were deemed totally incompatible with a career in religion so after a brief imprisonment he was made Dean of the Sacred College- a position he held until his death in 1419.

Oct 3, 2000
Can't post for 7 days!

The word "ye" never existed, and is a modern invention. Old and Middle English used to use a character called a thorn to represent the "th" sound. This character, if the forums will display it, was Þ. In the 1300's, the Þ was represented by a Y in printed documents, for various reasons. When the word Þe (or the) was printed, therefore, it looked like "ye." It was never written or pronounced that way, however.


Jun 1, 2004

Next time you want to get my attention, wear something fun. Low-riding jeans are hot.

A couple of stories. First, a more modern one.

From the Medal of Honor citation of Marine General David M. Shoup:


"Although severely shocked by an exploding shell soon after landing at the pier, and suffering from a serious painful leg wound which had become infected, Colonel Shoup fearlessly exposed himself to the terrific relentless artillery, and rallying his hesitant troops by his own inspiring heroism, gallantly led them across the fringing reefs to charge the heavily fortified island and reinforced our hard-pressed thinly-held lines. Upon arrival at the shore, he assumed command of all landed troops and, working without rest under constant withering enemy fire during the next two days conducted smashing attacks against unbelievably strong and fanatically defended Japanese positions despite innumerable obstacles and heavy casualties.

Now, an earlier battle, the Siege of Vienna of 1529, where the forces of the Graf von Salm turned back the armies of Suleiman the Magnificent 76 years after the fall of Constantinople and stopped the advance of the Ottomans into Europe:

From Wikipedia:


By the time they arrived, the Turkish army was far more formidable on paper than it was in reality. From the drenching country rains barely 20,000 of the camels remained as many of the men, too, took ill with fever or chills. Even of those able to fight, a third were light cavalry (sipahis), next to useless in siege warfare. Even so, the sight of tents as far as they could see struck renewed fear into the besieged city. It is possible they might have capitulated if not for Von Salm's steely resolve, and when Ottoman emissaries threatened to raze the city if it did not surrender, he returned them with honor but without reply.

The next day, the remaining 300 cannons opened fire simultaneously, the gunners having successfully made a superhuman effort to keep their powder and shot dry. The results were predictably negligible, however, as the guns were designed for use against men, not walls. Bowmen, too, fired their arrows with little effect. Salm reportedly remarked as balls crashed into the spires of St. Stephen's, "These pebbles are like the little pills my medico bids me swallow."

His response was a dramatic raid by a small unit of a hundred cavalry under Eck von Reischach that took the Turks by surprise and managed to kill two gun crews before fleeing back behind the walls. This had a great effect on the morale of both sides but did little to affect the battle. For several days, the bombardment continued uselessly with no signs of assault.

The Moles

On 1 October, however, a miner of Christian parentage who escaped into the city reported that the real purpose of the bombardment was to mask tunnelling efforts beneath the city. The Carinthian Gate, one of the city's four entrances, was the apparent target of this new assault, with the intent being to blow up the towers and then attack with assault troops. Salm, an expert in tunnelling, quickly took ingenious steps against the efforts, including placing buckets of water and dried peas near the cellar walls of homes adjacent to the gate. When they shook, an alarm was sounded and counter-miners commenced digging "like moles". What they discovered were six different tunnels, quickly moving through the Earth and towards the helpless bastions.

The Austrians dug until they struck the enemy tunnels, some of which were deserted, with powder kegs ready to be lit (these were carried off as booty) and some which were still occupied by miners and immediately became the site of bizarre combat. Guns were unusable due to the proximity of the kegs, so the men fought with whatever tools or body parts they could muster, each blow finding a target and countless fighting dying like, in the words of one witness, "devils from the nether pit of hell", returning above approaching insanity and covered with blood. As the battle continued, new weapons were devised for the underground war, including Turkish cavalry maces and Austrian sharpened spades as the fighting below ground grew even more fierce. At one point, a powderkeg prematurely exploded, killing dozens on both sides. The total death toll from this mini-war is still unclear, but it was here originated the term that would come to define the battle, the Siege of the Moles.

The majority of the mines were discovered before any damage could be done, but constant digging exhausted Viennese capabilities and on 5 October two mines exploded beneath the Salt Gate, leaving room enough for a company of soldiers to break through. Janissaries immediately stormed the breach but were met by twelve-foot pikes and halberds, repulsing them with heavy losses. Within hours the breaches were refilled.

The night after, the Austrians replied with a new form of deadly assault. Dozens or possibly hundreds of fanatics wearing cloaks of black and armed with homemade bombs - quite possibly one of the first appearances of the Molotov cocktail - exited the city in silence and strode into the Ottoman camps, tossing their bombs into tents before making their escape. As many as 2,000 Turks died unawares, sleeping.

The fighting continued unabated. Some days later a mine finally exploded under the two towers of the Carinthian Gate, bringing them down and opening it to assault, but the advance was held back by Spanish harquebusiers, German pikemen and Bohemian two-handed swordsmen with a heap of 1200 janissary dead left behind at the end.

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