Aug 14

History Wednesday: Revolution, Eh?

Ever wonder how the American Revolution created Canada?

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No, seriously.

Well, as it turns out the Continental Army was at least as interested in Canada as it was in its own jurisdictions, at least at first. That had some far-reaching consequences. So let’s take a look, eh? Beauty!

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Jul 17

History Wednesday: The Pioneering Dictator

Latin America is well-known for its history of military strongmen, caudillos and other dictators. That may be the most obvious thing I’ve said all day. Yet it had to start somewhere.

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Specifically, here.

Jose Gaspar Rodriguez de Francia, also known as “El Supremo,” ruled Paraguay with an iron fist nearly a century before the rise of the so-called “banana republics.” His methods were brutal, and his motivations were often … shall we say, odd.

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Mar 15

Friday Crap Roundup V

Yes, that’s right ladies and gentlemen! It’s time once again for the Friday Crap Roundup! Now 30 percent dafter for your reading enjoyment!

Breaking Precedent, Rome Style

Earlier this week I opined on papal names and how they rarely deviate from accepted standards. Only six names had been used by popes since 1800. Well, make it seven thanks to Pope Francis. Now while he didn’t take my advice and go with something screwy, he broke a very longstanding precedent anyway. I like that sort of thing in religious leaders. As a matter of fact one has to go all the way back to 913 CE to find the last pope who chose a name never used by any of his predecessors.

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That’s right. Pope Lando.

And so with the conclave over I don’t expect to mention the papacy again for the foreseeable future. All the best to you guys out there in the Vatican.

Ignoring Precedent, Tulsa Style

Speaking of precedent, someone should explain the concept of judicial review to this guy, who actually said:

Just because the Supreme Court rules on something doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s constitutional …. I hear this all the time from Republicans – they say that the court is the arbitrator and after the arbitration is done, that’s the rules we have to live under and we can go forth and make legislation given those rules. That’s not the case.

Yeah, apparently he hasn’t heard of cases like Marbury v. Madison, Brown v. Board of Education, Roe v. Wade, and so forth. Judicial review, that is the prerogative of the court system to strike down unconstitutional laws, has been a central tenet of the American judicial system since, oh, 1803 or so. But you don’t need me to tell you that; anyone who paid attention in high school government class can tell you that.

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“And tell ’em the Big Marsh Man sent you!”

Well, apparently Jim Bridenstine wasn’t paying attention. Unfortunately, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives last year from the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area. C’mon, you guys. Politics is stupid enough without willfully electing this sort of cement-headedness.

Setting Precedent, Boise Style

Recently I wrote of my adventures (if you really want to call them that) with a mysterious person who may or may not be a woman known as “gr8tits2play.” Well, less than a week later, when one does a Google search for that name guess who comes up, like, a lot?

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Oh, lovely.

I suppose it’s in the common interest for me to inform you I’m not “gr8tits2play,” I don’t have a dead uncle in Mali with a fortune I need to smuggle into the United States, I’m not a representative of the lottery in the UK or anywhere else, and I have no problems whatsoever with penis size.

TMI? Fine, let’s move on.

Track of the Week

It’s been one of those weeks, but I hope to finish strong. I need to. Beachy will be here tonight.

In the meantime, play this over and over.

Mar 12

Habemus Deliramentum!

I’m not entirely sure why, but every time there’s a papal conclave I watch events intently. I’m not Catholic. I’m not even religious. So what’s the attraction?

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White suits? Nah ….

The historical aspect certainly has a lot to do with it. This is only the fourth papal conclave of my lifetime. For those of you who didn’t pay attention, there were two in 1978 and one in 2005. The fact Benedict XVI resigned just makes it more intriguing this time around. As you may have noticed, I’m into history. Besides, with Elizabeth II staying put for the foreseeable future there’s not a lot of excitement in this arena.

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“Tell me about it ….”
Image credit: Dan Marsh

Another facet that captivates me is the regnal name the new pope will take. While this has the potential to be exciting, in reality it isn’t. Since 1800 popes have only used one or a combination of six names: Benedict, John, Paul, Pius, Leo and Gregory. In addition, we haven’t seen a Leo or Gregory since before 1900. I’m writing this before the much-anticipated white smoke appears, but I suspect the new pope’s name won’t deviate from this format much, if at all.

That’s too bad. There are a lot of awesome papal names throughout history. Some of my favorites include Sylvester, Hormisdas, Anastasius, Gelasius, Hilarius, Cletus and Lando.

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Yes, seriously.

I think it would be nice to see the new pope take one of these names, or something equally bizarre like Jehoshaphat, just to force the world media to use it for the next few years. Given the very unfunny scandals the Roman Catholic Church faces and will continue to face, a little bit of levity may be in order.

Or he could go off the deep end and take the regnal name “Blue Ribbon.” Why? Well, the German word for pope is “Papst,” so …

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With my brain constantly coming up with stuff like this, I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since 1985.

The Catholics are concerned about growing secularization. This is one way to bring the hipsters on board.