Archive for the History Category

Romanesque and Gothic Architecture

Posted in Historic Architecture, Religions, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on November 15, 2017 by Drogo

Cathedral Architecture of the Middle Ages

Romanesque cathedrals were based on Roman basilica designs, with thick walls and high ceilings. Engineering innovations like Gothic arches, flying buttresses, and keystone vaulting allowed for higher and larger expanses. Stain-glass windows and sculptures were integral parts of Gothic style; Cathedrals had exterior demons and interior angels. Water spout sculptures were called gargoyles and grotesques were ornaments to ‘ward off evil’ in much the same way comedic caricatures and scary decoration do at traditional festivals like Halloween. By embracing cultural demons in some form, the stress of Sin has less power for some; while scaring others into obedience, lest they get captured by demons outside. The inner sanctum of the church was where God protects his followers.

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Christian Crusades

Posted in History, Military, Religions, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , on November 8, 2017 by Drogo

The Christian Crusades (1095-1410) invaded Jewish and Muslim territories, and used militant terrorism on locals. In 1095 Byzantine Emperor Alexios Komnenos I requested military aid from Pope Urban II. Whether Alexios was just complaining or wanted a show of mercenary support under Byzantine control, is unclear. Alexios had restored the Empire’s finances and authority, but he still struggled with foreign enemies, particularly the migrating Turks.

At the Council of Clermont later that year, Pope Urban preached for a Crusade to free the holy lands from the infidels. By giving more military forces than Alexios requested, Urban would be in a political position of power in the East. Local clerics through-out Europe were encouraged by Pope Urban’s declaration of holy war. Peter the Hermit led thousands of mostly poor Christians out of Europe in what became known as the People’s Crusade. In 1096 Peter claimed he had a letter from Heaven telling Christians to prepare for the Apocalypse by seizing Jerusalem from the Muslims and Jews. Europe witnessed the first major anti-Semitic massacre when these Crusaders terrorized entire Jewish communities in Rhineland Germany. Before they got close to Jerusalem, the first Crusader army was ambushed by the Turks and suffered heavy losses, causing retreat. The Kings of France and England refused to join Pope Urban’s Crusade of German despotism, but many other nobles began to rally troops from various countries based on bonds of lordship, family, ethnicity, and language. Foremost amongst the noble financiers were Count Raymond IV of France; Prince Bohemond and his nephew Tancred of Norman Italy; and lastly Godfrey and his brother Baldwin I, lords of Lotharingia. Combined with a Northern French army led by lesser lords, the armies totaled about 100,000 people.

The official First Crusade army led by nobles combined with some veterans of the first peasant army, and traveled to Byzantium. Emperor Alexios cautiously welcomed them, and made the princes and counts pledge allegiance to him. This allowed both East and West Christian Empires to unite against the Turkish Sultan Kilij Arslan I. In 1097 after a Crusader siege and a Byzantine naval assault, Nicaea was captured. Crusader envoys were sent to Egypt seeking an alliance. The Turks were not unified in defense of Aleppo and Damascus. The 3-month march to Antioch was plagued by starvation, thirst, and disease. Baldwin used 100 knights to claim his own territory in Edessa. Despite losses, the Crusader army embarked on an 8-month siege stalemate of Antioch. Bohemond persuaded a tower guard to open a gate, and the Crusaders entered and massacred the many Muslims and Christians of Antioch.

Sunni Islam under the Sultan of Baghdad raised an army to recapture Antioch, led by the Iraqi general Kerbogha. Having lost thousands through desertion and starvation in the besieged city, the Crusaders attempted to negotiate surrender. This was rejected by Kerbogha, who wanted to destroy the invaders. Morale within the city was boosted when a mystic soldier claimed to have discovered the Holy Lance of Antioch. Bohemond led his Franks to break the Muslim ranks, who surprisingly retreated and abandoned the counter-siege.

Fatimid Egyptians took Jerusalem from the Turks. Raymond left Bohemond at Antioch, and led his Crusader army rapidly along the South coast to Jerusalem. After some failures, Crusaders constructed two large siege engines; the one commanded by Godfrey breached the walls in 1099. For two days the Crusaders massacred the Jews and Muslims of Jerusalem and pillaged the City of God. Godfrey further secured the Frankish position by surprising the Egyptian Shia soldiers, who retreated to Egypt. By 1100 most of the Crusaders considered their pilgrimage complete and returned to Europe, leaving behind Godfrey, Tancred, and Baldwin. Muslims mistook the Crusaders for the latest in a long line of Byzantine mercenaries (eg Vikings), rather than religious paladins bent on long term conquest and control of people property. During the 1100s Muslims realized they needed to organize their armies like the Europeans were doing, so they could level the playing field at least for defense.

Moses Maimonides was a Jewish rabbi, physician, and philosopher in Morocco and Egypt during the 1100s. Moses Maimonides wrote the tractate ‘Sanhedrin’ in which he formulated 13 Principles of Hebrew Faith. The Sanhedrin summarized his opinion of the required beliefs of Judaism; which included the exaltation of God and Moses, the coming of the Jewish Messiah, and resurrection of the dead. Maimonides also wrote about charity and prophesy.

Knights Hospitallers, aka ‘The Order of Knights of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem’, originated from an Amalfitan monastic Christian hospital cult in Jerusalem. After the first conquest of Jerusalem circa 1100, the Hospitallers also became a military order under Papal charter, charged with the care and defense of the Holy Land. The medieval Catholic military order endured and eventually became the modern Sovereign Military Order of Malta.

The Knights Templar were founded circa 1120 and lasted as an official Catholic paladin military order until 1312. The name ‘Templar’ comes from their full name ‘Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ in the Order of Solomon’s Temple’. In the Dark-Ages Frankish knights in the court of Charlemagne paladins (cleric-warriors) tradition based on the legends of Roland and his other knights. Templars admired the image of pauper knights helping each-other by sharing the same horse. Templar knights with their red cross on white field coat-of-arms, became famous for dedication to faith, fighting, and finance.

Teutonic Knights, aka ‘The Brothers of the German House of Saint Mary in Jerusalem’, were a clerical military mercenary order circa 1190. The Teutonic mission was to conquer and protect German Church interests including pilgrims and hospitals. The Teutonic Order has recently been only religious since 1929, but still confers limited honorary ‘knight’ awards.

Arabic philosophy was usually more enlightened than European philosophy under Christian theology during the Middle-Ages. We in the West are still learning from Arabic sources, how to interpret our own records better. Robert of Chester translated the Arabic book of the ‘Composition of Alchemy‘ in 1144.

After the establishment of the religious military orders of Hospitallers, Templars, and Teutonic Knights; Popes were granting money and property to those who fought papal enemies, making the crusades more blatantly political and economic, although many continued to use the theology as justification for war. True believers often cannot be counted, as we cannot know what people truly thought inside. People often are torn inside about loyalties and motivations, and religions are largely based on dealing with dualities in life.

More nobles from all over Europe led campaigns with smaller groups of crusaders. The loss of Aleppo and Edessa before 1150, led to propaganda for the Second Crusade. This time kings got in on the action. King Louis VII and Conrad III led armies from France and Germany to Jerusalem and Damascus, without major victories. Preaching anti-Semitism again led to attacks on Jews including massacres in the German Rhineland and other places, amid claims that the Jews were not contributing financially to Christian society or the rescue of the Holy Land.

In the 1160-80s Islamic power changed leaders from Zengi, to Nur al-Din, and finally to the most famous Saladin. Saladin united Aleppo, Damascus, and Egypt in the Crusade era. Holy Roman Emperor Frederick I, kicked off the Third Crusade by drowning in the Saleph River on route to the Holy Land. Richard the Lionheart, King of England conquered Cyprus in 1191. Philip II of France arrived at the siege of Acre, and with the help of his best buddy Richard, the French and English won. Richard and his English army travelled South along the Mediterranean coast, and defeated Muslims near Arsuf and recaptured Jaffa. Richard the Lionheart came close to Jerusalem, but realized he lacked the resources to capture and keep the city. This marked the end of Richard’s crusading career, but Richard preferred his properties in France so Prince John ran England (see Magna Carta and ‘Legend of Robin Hood’ – 1200s).

In 1200 Pope Innocent III began preaching for the Fourth Crusade in France, England, and Germany. In Venice the Doge plotted to use the Fourth Crusade to overthrow Emperor Alexios III of Byzantium. Crusader knights arrived in Venice and were unable to pay the Venetians for a fleet, so they agreed to attack Constantinople, sack it, and share what could be looted as payment. The crusaders conquered Constantinople twice, pillaging churches, and killing nobles and many citizens. The Fourth Crusade never got near Jerusalem.

Popular ecstatic piety led to the Children’s Crusade in 1212. Large groups of young adults and children gathered, believing their innocence would enable success, where their corrupt elders had failed. Most were captured and sold into slavery. Few went on to the Holy Lands. In 1217 the Fifth Crusade was led by Andrew II of Hungary and Duke Leopold VI of Austria, against Saladin’s Ayyubid successors in Egypt and Syria.

The Sixth Crusade was a negotiated truce, supported by force and concessions. Frederick II was a Holy Roman Emperor with some cultural sympathy for Islam, and arrived at Acre in 1228. The peace treaty gave Christians most of Jerusalem and access to Acre, while the Muslims kept their sacred areas, and the Sultan of Egypt could use crusaders as mercenaries. Pope Gregory IX attacked Frederick II, ruining Christian progress in the area. Next was the Barons’ Crusade, and finally several other crusades including those in modern times.

 

[to be continued]

 

 

 

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Stupid Crusades Video War commentary by Drogo Empedocles

Stoicism

Posted in History, Philosophy, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on November 7, 2017 by Drogo

Stoicism was founded at the Stoa in Athens by Zeno of Citium circa 200 BC. Stoics stressed moderation of emotions, with solemn contemplation of options. They believed it was better to accept Fate as Reality, rather than wasting time fighting it with free-will. Our will (prohairesis) can be cultivated from ‘tabula rasa’ (clean slate) in harmony with Nature, for better contentment.

Stoicism is a conglomerate of personal and social ethics informed by logic and nature. We all will die, and so philosophy should prepare us for that destiny. We have little control over our fates, but should accept the responsibility for our own emotions and decisions. Detachment from emotions is one way to be responsible in our thoughts and actions. Stoics are skeptical about extremes of desire or fear. We should seek to understand our purpose in life, in relation to society and human nature. Seneca and Epictetus believed virtue was sufficient for happiness, a wise sage was immune to misfortune. Stoics tend to have a solemn demeanor, with a trust-worthy seriousness. Remain calm and think about it.

From its founding, Stoic doctrine was popular during the Roman Empire, and influencing the Emperor Marcus Aurelius and Cicero. Stoic pantheism influenced Christianity, and Stoic God as Reason blossomed in the Renaissance. Over the centuries, stoicism became very important for self-reflective poetry, literary naturalism, and stalwart pragmatism.

Solar Eclipse Holiday 2017

Posted in astronomy, Events / Celebrations, news, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on August 21, 2017 by Drogo

Moon Eclipse of the Sun for Three Hours (apx)

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SCOD Astronomy August 21, 2017, Observations near Washington DC East Coast America

Commentary by Drogo Empedocles as he observed the eclipse disc geometries through special star-net glasses given by Maryland Libraries, and documented in text, audio, and video.

Recorded live from 1-4pm while watching, preoccupied with metaphoric meditation while watching the event (Observation notes corrected in post-production):

“At 1:30 Pm the Sun is traveling (sunwise) clockwise from left to right (to a person standing with their head straight up), and the moon is passing right to left, down-ward, counter-clockwise. 2:16pm Sun is over 1/2 to 3/4 covered by the circular curve of the Moon’s perimeter. Sun-light remains bright, only slightly dim. No sun-rise sun-set color tones, just dimmer. Went back inside, turned off inside house lights, so the light from the windows can slowly show the progress, and i can determine how dark it gets outside compared to enclosed darkness. Sun-light dim, Later at 2:37pm close to total eclipse, curves at thin crescent. 2:52pm Eclipse in decline, passing away, pacman’s mouth headed South…. 3:23 Eclipse in final phase. 3:54 last fragment of the Sun covered, apx. END of eclipse. Interesting how quickly the Moon began to move across the Sun, and yet lingered over for much longer than its’ initial advance seemed, according to observed interaction and clocks. At no time did the sky go black, there was always some day-light to see objects. Life has not changed; but the after effect reflection on Life and Death is much deeper, than the previous excited anticipation of the event. The visual recordings from my cell phone camera do not show much evidence of the event, oddly. Several Neighbors were out-side during the central hour of the Eclipse, also observing.”

Landscape Photos:  Did NOT show significant dimming, despite observation

Soundcloud Audio Recordings:   Verbal Only  /  Reggae Remix

Video Recordings:  Did NOT show the Moon (none of the dark curves of the eclipse are visible in the videos)  Youtube – Start 12:50 Pm  /   12:56 Pm  /  1:06 Pm  /  1:39 Pm

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Peaceful Politics: Theory vs Policy

Posted in Cooperatives / Communities / Networks / Travels, Critical Commentary of Civilization, Economics, History, Philosophy, Politics, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 6, 2017 by Drogo

True Distinction of Left vs Right in Theory and Policy

Politics 101 – Left-wing goal is humanitarian freedom, Right-wing is totalitarian military. Both can act like each-other to defend themselves, but those are the ideologies. The definitions apply to people based on the majority of their actions, not just words.

The more violence, the more Right-Wing the actions are by proof of theory. True progressive Left-wing leaders have been Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Noam Chomsky; all of which advocated non-violence as a primary and constant belief. The Left-wing leaders that deviate are considered less successful by history, because they competed using violence, which is vital to Right-wing theory. Remember, Classical-Liberals are for individual rights like American Libertarians; a concept with is Liberal and therefore Left-wing (corporations are not people).

Peace by social progress is Left Wing, Peace by military progress (War) is Right Wing. Despite labels, anytime Leftists use violence, they become part of a Right-wing game. I am talking about written theory and ideology in the pure form, not actual leaders or incarnations based on regimes. This was the fate of Communism and the reason why global 2-party systems do not really have a true Left wing today. Terminology gets confused, as no side is purely one or the other. True Left means love, civil rights, compassion, non-violence; but because people think Communist states were Left due to ideology that was barely addressed under totalitarianism…. the words are confusing. Non-violence is vital to Leftist theory, and when Leftists are violent, they play into ‘might is right’.

People who want to be on the Right today, seem to think Hitler was actually Socialist, aka Left, because of his party label. Hitler ran as a ‘National Socialist’; this does not mean he actually was Left-wing, or did anything in accordance with Left ideology; it means he was a demagogue liar that perpetuated militant totalitarianism and fascism under a false label. There is incredible double-speak in politics, and I am seeing it in comment sections more and more. One cannot slaughter thousands of citizens, rule by war, and provide public works for elite survivors and be true Leftist based on false platitudes. This strange lack of educated understanding of theory makes no sense, because neo-nazis are clearly the opposite of hippies; the two extremes of Right and Left in modern society. Hitler’s actions were mostly extreme Right-wing militant and fascist, while most hippies (except for violent punks) are extreme Left-wing pacifists. Major double-speak has been going on in the past few decades, and now under Trump. The confusion with the American Libertarian label has also perpetuated the bashing of the term ‘Liberal’ and now they are attempting to co-op it by claiming to be Patriotic like the founders, in their efforts to allow corporations and the 1% to rule us.

Similar issues with Stalin, ok we can say he and Lenin were Communist because they placed economics in control of their ‘State’ government, but the implementation of laws and results were clearly Right-Wing Totalitarian and not in keeping with Marxist ‘power to the people’ democratic-anarchist worker controlled theory, aka true Communism or Socialism.

Liberal non-violence is not as weak a position as war-hawks tend to portray it. Non-violent resistance to authoritarianism is different than extreme pure Pacifism. The best Left-wing leaders often make the distinction that they want to minimize violence, but self-defense can be justified as a rare exception to the rule, rather than a cause for frequent preemptive attacks. The main Left-wing tool is compassionate negotiation, and when that fails we use sanctions and ‘restraining orders’. The critique by the Right of this Left-wing peaceful tactic, is that peace allows Right-wing war-hawks to continue arming for war (Chamberlain’s failure to control Hitler’s aggression before WW2). This is of course the catch-22 problem of war justification, as I explained with diagrams in Operation 10 COW. It takes strong compassionate humanitarian leaders for societies to break out of the self-destructive war-monger paradigm. We rarely see Left-wing volunteers glorified because they are not financed by capital for obvious reasons; the main reason being that plutocrats who have most of the World’s wealth, and got most of their money from being part of the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) because it includes the largest corporations, now provides the funding for all major political leaders and propaganda on commercial media outlets.

Our government run by corporations seems to be playing ‘bad cop / good cop’ with us. Bait and Switch, give us the worst, then make us beg for the less worse. If we are not being with nature more than destroying it, we have to balance our system better. as an architect, i learned how our built environment could be more integrated with nature, and still achieve progress in technologies. I was largely unable to find enough clients to pursue those goals, and was blacklisted because of my environmental dedication. So now i practice where ever i am allowed to work on my own designs.

I am not a committed pacifist. I would not hold that it is under all imaginable circumstances wrong to use violence, even though use of violence is in some sense unjust. I believe that one has to estimate relative justices. But the use of violence and the creation of some degree of injustice can only be justified on the basis of the claim and the assessment-which always ought to be undertaken very, very seriously and with a good deal of skepticism that this violence is being exercised because a more just result is going to be achieved.” – Chomsky

Peace

West Virginia Coal Mine Wars

Posted in Economics, History, Military, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on April 5, 2017 by Drogo

Chronology of the WV Coal Mine Wars

1912 – West Virginia Miners strike in Paint Creek and Cabin Creek, and are evicted from their houses; tent colonies are set up.

1913 – The Blue Moose Special train passes through the encampment of Cabin Creek and opens fire on the unarmed inhabitants. A reconciliation between the coal operators and the miners leads to the right to organize in Cabin Creek and Paint Creek.

1919 – An armed march by some 5,000 miners is organized on Lens Creek with the intention of overtaking Logan county and establishing a union. The march was abandoned some days later when the miners learned that federal troops would be sent in.

1920 – Seven Baldwin-Felts detectives, two miners and the Mayor Testerman are killed in the Matewan Massacre. Sid Hatfield, the Chief of Police of Matewan who was involved in the shooting, is charged with the deaths of the detectives.

1921 – Matewan Chief murdered in public. Sid Hatfield and Ed Chambers are gunned down on the steps of the McDowell County courthouse by C.E. Lively, a Baldwin-Felts (Pinkerton) detective. Lively is never convicted of the crime.

Though tensions had been simmering for years, the immediate catalyst for the uprising was the unpunished murder of Sid Hatfield, police chief of Matewan, At a rally on August 7, Mother Jones called on the miners to march into Logan and Mingo counties and set up the union by force. Armed men began gathering at Lens Creek, near Marmet in Kanawha County on August 20, and by four days later up to 13,000 had gathered and began marching towards Logan County. Meanwhile, the reviled Sheriff of Logan County, Don Chafin, had begun to set up defenses on Blair Mountain.

The second armed march of the miners took place, with the same intent as the first; to reach Logan County, overthrow the crooked Sheriff Don Chafin and organize a union. What would become known as the Battle of Blair Mountain was composed of some 10,000-15,000 armed miners in total, marching from Lens Creek in Kanawha County, to Logan County, some sixty-five miles away.

The WV Mine Wars end at the Battle of Blair Mountain where Don Chafin and 1,500 men were waiting for the miners. There was sporadic fighting for a week with hundreds of deaths. The miners eventually disbanded when 2,000 troops, aerial forces as well as chemical warfare troops converged at Blair Mountain. The rebellion was forced to surrender, and lay down arms.

The Battle of Blair Mountain was the largest armed insurrection since the Civil War, and the largest organized armed uprising in American labor history. It led almost directly to the labor laws currently in effect in the United States of America. It was the final act in a series of violent clashes that have also (confusedly) been termed the Red Neck War, from the color of neck-scarves worn by the miners, and the likely impetus of the common usage (originally Scottish term Red-neck) in the vernacular of the United States.

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During the American Mine Wars of the 1920s, and the period that followed, liberal Union moderates (Democrat Centrists) argued they could produce concrete benefits for workers much sooner than radical Socialists who planned to overthrow capitalism in the future. Left Wing politics began to move right towards Center, as unions negotiated with company bosses; union leaders began to get paid more as they demanded more dues from paychecks, and workers began to see less effective representation.

In the 21st Century, Mayor Kip Stowell of Harpers Ferry, WV and other local liberals and historians voted to preserve the Charles Town Jailhouse. The modern jailhouse building was used to jail General Bill Blizzard, during his trial for ‘Treason’ (armed insurrection terrorism like John Brown). It was scheduled to be demolished by the Republicans in office. The jail was saved by replacing them with Democratic County Commissioners.

In 2005, the West Virginia Archives and History Commission voted unanimously to recommend to the National Park Service that 1,600 acres of Blair Mountain be included on the National Register. Coal mining companies and nearby landowners promptly sued to overturn the nomination. The Sierra Club moved to join the suit, and in May 2006 a West Virginia judge granted the Club’s participation. That same month, the National Trust for Historic Preservation placed the Blair Mountain battlefield on its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Places. The United Mine Workers union also came out in support of the National Register listing because of its importance to the labor movement.

(more research to come….)

SCOD audio reading of this Essay on Mixcloud

PBS Video Documentary of the WV Coal MINE WARS – covers much of the history

Coal Mine Wars

Corporate Media Fails Democracy

Posted in news, Politics, Recommendations & Tributes, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on March 27, 2017 by Drogo

Sadly it is up to bloggers and independent media to hold corporate government and media accountable, as underfunded as we are. In 2016 I would watch Bernie Sanders lectures online with enormous live crowds, while all news networks ignored his popularity and instead chose to air Clinton and Trump as their two pre-selected favorites. Every single day, every week, for months during the National election campaigns. It was blatantly obvious to me time after time, that our public news was being filtered in favor of the two candidates that their bosses had decided were worth reporting on. It was a ridiculous ‘good guy vs bad guy’ show, with no room for rational public dialog on issues that affect us.

The failing of big news media outlets to cover all the candidates was not just by ‘for-profit’ corporations like the major commercial tv networks, but also newspapers and ‘non-profits’. Obviously commercial news networks [FOX, NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, Washington Post, NY Times] would not want to advocate any politicians that threaten their corporate sponsors, but apparently even the ‘liberal’ news shows of NPR & PBS were not immune to their corporate sponsors either, despite receiving our tax payer money (some government funding) and a majority of their money from PUBLIC pledge-drives!! I will no longer donate to my beloved NPR or PBS until they begin to cover the smaller candidates much more during (at least) National elections. Usually NPR or PBS were the only intelligently sensitive news sources I had to rely on for many years, and I still love many of their shows. However the National election press coverage clearly showed that corporate money corrupts even the media, not just our government. In hind-sight they have done this with many other ‘lesser known’ but brilliant candidates that have represented popular beliefs, like Dennis Kucinich, Mike Gravel, and Cynthia McKinney.

We must remember that our media and government is there to serve us, not the other way around. If corporations insist on forcing us to submit to their influence, by dictating what or who gets propaganda and attention and how they get it, then we must not only resist but supply alternative solutions and vote for change. We the people must unite and show our opinions for support or boycott publicly. Thank you to all those who have done this resistance fighting already!!! Remember, remember, how they foiled our democracy; and have been doing it for a long time. Please continue to seek the truth so that democracy can work for us.

Bernie Sanders