Last week, I posted this article that had 3 real theories on the origins of April Fool’s Day, and 3 fake theories. Below are the 3 true theories: Continue reading “Follow-up to REAL theories for the origin of April Fool’s Day”
This week in 534 BCE, Thespis of Icaria became the first person we know of to portray a character on stage in ancient Greece. He sang about myths to an audience in Athens. But rather than just narrating by song, he played the various characters in the story, using masks to differentiate them. Thespis also won Athens’ first recorded “Best Tragedy” competition. Then he took it on the road, performing in the various Greek city-states with his masks, props, and costumes. Thespis changed theatrical story-telling in the ancient world – and today, we use “thespian” as a synonym for actor, in his honor.
This week in 1904, Wilbur Wright achieved humanity’s first “circular flight.” He did this in the 2nd plane he and his brother Orville built. The Wright Flyer II, pictured here, took one minute and sixteen seconds to complete a circle in the air. The plane made a total of 105 flights in 1904, but this one—on September 20—was the first complete circle.
This is fun …
Happy New Year! Rockin’ Book Reviews, a great book site, is doing a contest/giveaway for a paperback copy of my book, The Jericho River, A Novel About the History of Western Civilization. It’s open to U.S. residents and runs until January 13, 2016. If you’d like to enter, click here and scroll down to the white giveaway box (“Physical Copy of The Jericho River”).
That same page has an author interview and a great review of the book, both by Lu Ann Worley.
Last year, I spoke at a TEDx Youth conference — to an audience of smart, motivated high school students. My topic was the magic of history. I told the students many of my favorite short stories from past times. I wanted to reveal history’s endless well of fun, excitement, and humor, and to explain how reading history might enrich the kids’ lives. The message applies with equal force to adults and to younger kids. Check it out:
(Don’t be confused by use of the name “David Carthage” on the screen. It’s a former pen name.)
© 2013 by David W. Tollen. All rights reserved.
The English word “garden” sounds like the Serbian and Russian suffixes grade, grad, and gorod, all of which mean “town.” You see them in city names like Belgrade, Leningrad, and Novgorod. The word “town,” on the other hand, sounds a lot like the Dutch tuin, for “garden.” What’s the connection? Continue reading “Town and Garden: Words Across Time”
Ideology is great stuff. It topples tyrants and fires up the citizens to achieve momentous things. But when a government adopts an ideology, it’s grim tidings for those who disagree — and for anyone suspected of disagreeing. Plus, fiercely held ideologies tie governments’ hands and lead to irrational policy choices. Ideology, in other words, is a prescription for bad government. Continue reading “History’s Worst Governments Had the Most Ideology”
According to Jared Diamond, the Spanish conquered the Aztecs and Incas with guns, germs, and steel. At first blush, his conclusion seems undeniable. But I’m actually not so sure about the steel. If steel gave the Spanish such an advantage in the 1500’s, why did so many conquistadors abandon their European breastplates in favor of Aztec and Inca cotton armor?
Imagine the Roman emperors still ruled today—and kept ruling until the year 3000 C.E. Imagine an American president still presides in the year 4800—governing roughly the same part of North America as today and operating under American traditions and laws, including the U.S. Constitution. In other words, imagine a government and society lasting three thousand years, with only the occasional interruption. That’s how long the Pharaohs reigned over ancient Egypt. Continue reading “The Unbelievable Duration of Egyptian Civilization”