Friday, September 16, 2005

At a Conference...

I have been at a conference since Thursday. I presented a paper today. (And it went well!) Unfortunately, the advertised "wireless" access at the hotel is not working and my laptop is worthless for going online. I am posting this note from one of only two very busy public computers in the hotel lobbey.

I guess this blog is on vacation for a few days. I think my next post will probably be on Sunday when I get back home.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Medieval Paupers

The Medieval Paupers - Presents a lecture by Lynn Harry Nelson, Emeritus Professor of Medieval History, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas. Nelson examines Medieval paupers by categorising them into three groups, physically incompetent, socially marginalised and economically deprived and examines factors contributing to this state, as well as outcomes of this state.

From the site:

About 20% of the medieval population were destitute and homeless, wandering the roads of Europe looking for work or for charity, and climbing beneath a roadside hedge to die. Although they were ubiquitous, they have been neglected by historians because of the lack of sources discussing them directly. One exception was the starving beggars who followed "King" Tafur on the First Crusade. They were utterly without fear and, when food was low, would go out and capture one of the Muslim opponents. They would then roast and eat him. Leaders of both Muslims and Christians feared the beggars and finally conspired to lure them out into a waterless desert and abandon them there without supplies. Only a few survived.

Poverty became institutionalized by the early modern period and remained so until the European empires could raise living standards generally by exploiting their colonies. Now that the colonial system has collapsed, there are signs of the reappearance of a permanent underclass even in the industrialized nations. So the beggars of the middle ages may not have been so much a reflection of medieval society's lack of sensitivity or humanity as a result of economic changes that they were unable or unwilling to control.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

History of Thailand

History of Thailand. This is a good short essay on the history of the Asian nation of Thailand.

Wikipedia notes, "The Kingdom of Thailand is a country in Southeast Asia, bordering Laos and Cambodia to the east, the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia to the south, and the Andaman Sea and Myanmar to the west. Thailand is also known as Siam, which was the country's official name until May 11, 1949. The word Thai (ไทย) means "freedom" in the Thai language. It is also the name of the Thai people - leading some inhabitants, particularly the sizeable Chinese minority, to continue to use the name Siam."

From the site:

Southeast Asia has been inhabited for more than half a million years. Recent archaeological studies suggest that by 4000 BC, communities in what is now Thailand had emerged as centers of early bronze metallurgy. This development, along with the cultivation of wet rice, provided the impetus for social and political organization. Research suggests that these innovations may actually have been transmitted from there to the rest of Asia, including to China.

The Thai are related linguistically to Tai groups originating in southern China. Migrations from southern China to Southeast Asia may have occurred in the 6th and 7th centuries. Malay, Mon, and Khmer civilizations flourished in the region prior to the arrival of the ethnic Tai.

Thais date the founding of their nation to the 13th century. According to tradition, in 1238, Thai chieftains overthrew their Khmer overlords at Sukhothai and established a Thai kingdom. After its decline, a new Thai kingdom emerged in 1350 on the Chao Praya River. At the same time, there was an equally important Tai kingdom of Lanna, centered in Chiang Mai, which rivaled Sukothai and Ayutthaya for centuries, and which defines northern Thai identity to this day.

Monday, September 12, 2005

Darius III Codomannus

Darius III Codomannus - A tribute to the Persian king defeated by Alexander the Great at Gaugamela in 331 BC. This site includes images, biographical and analytical articles, and links to ancient Persian Web resources.

From the site:

In 331 BC the Persian King Darius III suffered his shattering defeat by Alexander the Great at the battle of Gaugamela. In the aftermath Darius was murdered by his kinsmen. With his death ended the Achaemenid dynasty which had reigned supreme over the Ancient world for more than two centuries.

Alexander had crushed an enchanting and unique culture. The aim of is to help you to discover the wealth and heritage of foreign, distant or lost cultures. This is a tribute to the Great King Darius III. At Gaugamela he found his 'Waterloo'.

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Gates of Vienna

Gates of Vienna. On the fourth anniversary of 9/11, I remember the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, DC.

I had taken the day off of work due to illness. I caught the coverage from the start. At first, I thought there had been a simple accident with a misguided plane. When the second plane hit, I knew that this was an attack on America.

Never forget. Radical Islam has declared war on America (and all of Western society) and we can not afford to lose. How will world history look one, two, or three hundred years from now? Will women be free? Will there be freedom of religion? Will the world look more like America or Saudi Arabia?

I have blogged today an excellent site which has daily commentary on many issues including combatting radical Islam. As the site header reads, "At the siege of Vienna in 1683 Islam seemed poised to overrun Christian Europe. We are in a new phase of a very old war." Indeed.