Sic Semper Semanis

Thursday, April 24, 2014

William the Conqueror: How England Got That Way

William the Conqueror lived nearly a thousand years ago, and may be the earliest documented case of what in our world (the future) has become almost a cliché: the little boy who gets picked on by bullies as a kid, but then grows up to raise an army, conquer a neighboring nation, oppress its people, and change the entire course of history. It is exactly because of this tradition that so many English boarding schools spent centuries encouraging bullying, in an attempt to cultivate a worthy opponent for William, who could right the wrongs he had done to England. This …continue reading

Catherine de Medici: One Bad Mother of a Queen

Catherine de Medici was like a real-life Cinderella, if Cinderella was kind of dumpy and had no problem getting married but then she didn’t get to be a princess until her husband died when she was forty. Other than that, the parallels are pretty similar. Catherine was a scion of the great Florentine Medici family, which you might remember from such historic exploits as controlling the entire European economy during the last half of the fifteenth century, and funding the Italian Renaissance. The Medici fortunes were in decline by Catherine’s time; her parents both died within a few weeks after …continue reading

Alexander the Great, and What Made Him That Way

The thing about history is that the further back you go, the less information there is. For example: Every single thing that’s happened anywhere in the world within the last ten minutes has been thoroughly recorded and collated on the internet, but about half a millionth of a percent of things from twenty minutes ago have been lost or confused with newer data, and if you want something from yesterday, you only have about a 99.9998 percent chance of finding it, so good luck with that. To take a huge leap back, if you want to know about a place …continue reading

Manuel Noriega: A Man, a Plan, a High-Level Drug and Arms Trade

Weekly Dictator has been a thing for a few years now, and every so often, people come to us and they say, hey. I like learning about dictators from the past and all, but what about me? How can I grab these bootstraps that are strapped to my very own boots, and pull myself up by them, and become a totalitarian leader myself? How can I make this all about me? Good question. I’m glad you asked. Ultimately, we all need to find our own unique path to large-scale human rights violations and treading the masses beneath our terrible feet. …continue reading

William Randolph Hearst: Building Paper Castles

If, at any point during his adult life, you asked William Randolph Hearst who the most powerful man in the world was, he would probably not say himself, because he had very good manners. But you would be able to tell he was thinking it. If he did say he was more powerful than any other man in the world, he’d have a strong case, and it would run more or less along these lines: Well, I own about a squintillion newspapers, and everybody reads them because I live in historical times and there’s no TV yet (but if there …continue reading

Oliver Cromwell: Ruling England With a Twist

One of the great things about being an American is, you don’t have to give a shit about what happened in England after we left it, which as far as most of our history books are concerned was in 1620 when the Pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock and began stealing from Indians. This is why very few Americans know about the English Civil War, which happened about a minute later. It was still only the 1600s, so England had a king (I mean, it still does, sort of, except right now they have the lady version). The king’s name was …continue reading

Napoleon Bonaparte: Setting the Standard

Like many of you, one of my favorite pastimes during this time of year is to while away the hours in the park or on the beach, enjoying a beautiful summer evening, sipping an iced tea, and daydreaming about what life will be like after the impending apocalypse. Despite the fact that I have no friends in today’s world, I imagine myself traveling with a jolly group of vagabonds, hiding in abandoned buildings or possibly traversing a desert wasteland in search of an undefined goal. When we’re not fighting about the water supply or the moral dilemma of cannibalism, we’ll …continue reading

David Wark Griffith: The Iron Fist of the Silver Screen

The fun thing about life is, there are so many different ways to succeed at having total control. Most people do it by setting up their life in an unchallenging way that rarely if ever requires them to interact with people or situations that they do not like and/or understand. Some people do it by becoming massive tyrants, whether in a professional, political, or other sense. They have real power over the people around them, and when they tell somebody to jump, that person says, “Yes sir of course please don’t kill me.” Those examples are more or less the …continue reading

Larry Flynt: I Got Your Free Speech Right Here

Valentine’s Day is upon us once again, and those of us who have a special someone in our lives are commercially obligated to pretend that they’ve done something to merit special attention in the middle of February—which I suppose they have, by being a warm body in our beds all through the winter and keeping us alive through the frigid nights. What I’m saying is, I know our budget is still depleted from Christmas but if I don’t get some jewelry this month my husband had better hope it doesn’t get unseasonably cold. But what of those unfortunates who have …continue reading