Thursday, January 20, 2005

Viva Le Resistance

In an effort to scoop the Drudge Report, Slack LaLane's well-placed sources have obtained a copy of the president's second inaugural address. Here are a few short excerpts:

"America loves liberty and freedom and freedom-spreading libertation. Freedom freedomination is free with liberty around the libertarious globe. We must continue to expand freedom to the brown ones far away and contract freedom for freedom-loving Americans here at home."

"Would you die already, Rehnny? Our boy Scalia wants your chair, ya big douche."

"Hey Dad, two terms, slut, what? Roll up, bitch."

I can't wait, should be a doozy. On a very related note, I finished the History Channel's two-hour documentary on the French Revolution last night. And while the re-enactments of certain events are kinda cheesy, the way they re-tell the story is absolutely riveting. Great stuff, I highly recommend catching the encore.

I never understood why more people aren't into history. The events of the past 2000 years have been better than any Hollywood movie -- Bruckheimer ain't got shit on the Middle Ages, the Coen Brothers got nuthin' on the Revolutionary War. And this event, specifically, couldn't be a cooler story: The growing poverty of the French people leading the third estate to rise up and depose the royal family (I mean, they fully marched to Versailles and ransacked the palace while screaming for blood!), the rise of the great orator Robespierre and the Jacobins to the head of the Revolution, the paranoia-inspired journalism of Jean-Paul Marat that incited the people, the Tennis Court Oath leading to formation of the National Assembly, the Declaration of the Rights of Man announcing the bitter end of the system of inequality, the sans culottes demanding the blood of the traitors, the Reign of Terror giving way to the Great Terror, everyone fearing they'd be next to lose their severed head to the wicker basket. And the ending is perfect -- Robespierre faces the fate of the national razor, and the country goes through a period of uncertainty before power eventually consolidates into the hands of one man: Napolean. It's a cliffhanger ending, something out of the Anakin Skywalker playbook.

But this program is debunks some myths and sheds new light on stuff I never knew: Marie Antoinette likely never said "Let them eat cake"; Robespierre was a staunch opponent of the death penalty for many years; it was tradition for selected friends and family to watch a new royal couple, in this case, the 15-year-old Prince Louis and a 14-year-old Marie, consummate a marriage on their wedding night (and it's wrong when I watch teenagers fuck?); Marat was murdered by a French girl from the provinces who believed in peace while he called for blood; Danton's dying words were that he only regretted dying "before that rat Robespierre." Just really cool shit.

Sorry for the bland history lesson, folks, but on a day like today, when the president is sworn in, when we hear the words freedom and liberty thrown around like they still mean something, it's important to look back at the lessons from history and honor the past. I promise we'll return to talking about random nothingness later in the day...

(I just re-read this post before putting it up, and I realize my nerd tendencies...get over it. Freedom!)


At 10:23 AM, Blogger Matty Mac said...

That documentary was very good, I must agree. I watched it with my dad who is a history buff, or at least tries to be. Funny you should mention this because I am reading "A Short History of Nearly Everything" by Bill Bryson and I am at the part where he talks about how the field of chemistry came to be during the French Revolution, specifically with Marat. Marat came up with the initial theory of combustion and was quickly denounced by Antoine Lovoisier and his wife Madame Lavoisier, which led to a bitter feud between the two parties for years (they were both amateur chemists trying to discover anything and everything) until Charlotte Corday popped a cap in Marat's ass (after Marat called for the beheading of Lavoisier), or something like that.

Soon after Marat was pushing up daisies, Lavoisier waited in line and watched his father-in-law get his head lopped off, then took his turn with the Gillette Guillotine Mach 1. A statue of Lavoisier was erected a hundred years later, only the wrong head was put on it. Gotta love the French.

And this was all because of the Ferme Generale, which was like a combination between the IRS and the Third Reich back in those days. Good times.

At 10:59 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Excellent, I was expecting blank stares and "0 Comments" all day. Didn't know that about chemistry and the Revolution, they didn't mention anything like that in the History Channel program obviously. So for my knowledge's sake, is your book disputing that Marat was killed for Revolution purposes? Are they saying it had more to do with science than bloodshed? Just curious...

I like how Corday's murder of Marat had the opposite effect -- he was basically martyred and the Revolutuon continued with more bloodshed than ever. Love it when shit like that happens...

Wasn't Lavoisier's wife like 13 when they married? i kinda remember that from AP Chemistry.

At 11:18 AM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

I must be a nerd too because I think this is all pretty interesting.

Speaking of the French and revolutions. I just found out like last month that we might not have won our own revolution if it weren't for the French. Especially in deafeating British General Cornwallis and winning the battle of Yorktown. I'm sure everybody else already knows this but I was like, say what?

Why do we hate the French again? Oh right, because they didn't believe us about the WMD. Dumbass cheese eaters.

At 11:29 AM, Blogger Matty Mac said...

It didn't say "why" he was murdered, just that he was murdered in his bath tub. I can imagime it being a gruesome scene, given the grooming and hygiene standards of the day. Poor guy sitting in a tub full of lukewarm and dirty water, bacteria floating about, when some young chick barges in and goes to town on his white ass. The bacteria in the water alone probably killed him.

The book is about the scientific history of the earth, for the most part, with dates and other history kind of sprinkled in.

Madame Lavoisier was the 14 year old daughter of Antoine's boss when they married. Oh, to be young again.

A little more about the Ferme Generale (General Farm). It was an agency that collected taxes and fees on behalf of the government, and only on the poor and often arbitrarily. Good guys, to say the least. In his prime, Lavoisier was making 150,000 livres per year, or the modern dollar equivalent of $20 million per year. That's a lot of bling, but it couldn't get rid of a simple bout of Syphillis.

Aside from being an avid chemist, Lavoisier was also the commissioner of gunpowder, supervised the building of a wall around Paris (a key component to the beginning of the revolution), helped found the metric system, was involved with the research on hypnotism, prison reform, the respiration of insects and the water supply of Paris. However, being a chemist at heart, he never discovered an element. Which, in those days, was done by anyone with a beaker, bunson burner, hookah and a little time and white powder in their possession.

Seeing as Marat was very much against everything that Lavoisier was for (Ferme General, the wall, carbohydrates and free cable), I don't think his murder was politically or scientifically motivated. But that's just a guess.

Sorry for rambling.

At 11:56 AM, Blogger ethan said...

ever seen that history channel special about the barbarians? goths, vikings, etc - good shit.

for the record i'm neither pro- or anti-france, but i think two bigger reasons the u.s. generally doesn't like france is that they (in a military sense) will sell anything to anyone (i.e. weapons, etc) and hid behind the "we're opposed to war" mantra while in fact were just interested in keeping the unbelievable oil deal they had with hussein.

also, while the french did play a key role in the colonies winning the revolution, don't forget that they had a lot to gain by america winning. france profitted economically and politically, but it's not like they came in and saved our ass out of charity/belief in our system.

i bring this up because it can't really be compared to the u.s. saving france during wwII (they had already lost/were completely invaded), which i have sometimes heard as an argument against america feeling as if france owes us something for saving their ass 60 years ago. which i think is another reason the u.s. has some ill-will towards france.

whoa. what a terribly connected comment. i don't know where that came from (and i wasn't trying to imply gypsy was comparing the revolution to wwII, sorry if it came off that way). i just think u.s.-france relations are really interesting and important for the future of the seemingly powerless UN.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Gypsy, that is kind of true...but at the same time, the French Revolution may never have taken place had King Louis not helped us out over here. Apparently sending troops and money over here basically bankrupted (pay attention Mr. Bush) the French and sent their people into even more dreadful poverty, at a time when wheat and flour prices were rising and the winter was the coldest in a decade.

Matty, that's fuckin' fascinating stuff right there (no sarcasm at all). Yeah, I never understood how the clergy and nobility paid no taxes at all while the working poor got taxed to the tits -- wow, our current system is fucked up, but that's one of the worst tax systems you could ever engineer (apparently American companies today liked that system, because many of them pay no taxes at all).

The documentary said Marat had an awful skin disease that required him to soak in the medicinal tub for hours on, yikes. He got it by living in the sewers when he had no money -- that sounds fuckin' awful, and I'm sure it fueled his hatred for the royals and nobility.

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

I hear ya. I was sort of just kidding about that last part. Didn’t mean to oversimplify. I actually also learned from watching the “Founding Brothers” DVD (good history pick, by the way) that even at the time of the revolution, the French were really considered just the lesser of two evils. I realize that the main thing we shared with the French was a fear/hatred of the Brits.

And you’re right. The French trying to gloss over their motivations pertaining to the oil-for-food program is kind of slimy. I read that a lot of the funds from that program were held in Banque Paribas until not too long ago.

I also realize that none of this actually has anything to do with the French and their skin diseases. Sorry so off point. I do find the other stuff interesting, just went off on my own tangent. Next up, scurvy versus shingles… discuss.

At 1:16 PM, Blogger poophopanonymous22 said...

well i'll be damned, i thought i was the only douchebag who watched the history channel and the likes, missed this french program u speak of, but sounds very interesting

new favorite is the military channel, thats 112 on your time warner dial, cool shit

At 1:20 PM, Blogger ahren said...

before i gave up tv altogether, i was glued to the history channel for about 2 years straight. i agree that it's way more interesting than anything else on tv. the barbarians series that ethan mentioned is definitely worth seeking out. they replay it pretty often (or used to). the goths story is unbelievably cool-- my cat got his name from that episode.

is modern marvels still on? i think that's the best show on tv. i like how they take something that seems really commonplace, like cattle ranching or machining tools, and give the whole history of achievement that was required to get us where we are today, and how it fits in the context of history.

also, if you like that stuff, have you seen the ken burns serieses? i've seen jazz, civil war, and baseball. they are all awesome. given your taste in music, i can only assume you'd love the jazz series.

At 1:30 PM, Blogger poophopanonymous22 said...

modern marvels is still on (and poppin)!!

At 1:50 PM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

Oh no, Poophop. You are not the only one who loves the History Channel. I also missed the French Revolution documentary, but did catch the Ben Franklin special. (I can't help it, I dig the founding fathers.) But I like most of the shows on THC. The History of Sex (where I learned that the guy who wrote the Kama Sutra never had any. Huh?) Or the Investigative History episode on Jesse James (where I learned that the guy buried in his grave might not be him. hmm?) The History Channel rules.

At 2:30 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

How d-u-m am I? Took me about 20 seconds to figure out THC meant The History Channel. Jeez, long day already.

I gotta check out that Goths stuff -- I think the Visigoths have been mentioned in obcure references in about 3 or 4 old West Wing episodes....Sorkin musta been a big fan. Alaric: cool-ass name for a cat.

Modern Marvels is great...but did anyone used to watch that cheesy game show on THC with Marc Summers of Double Dare? It was called History IQ and it was so bad it was good. Used to be on every day in about 2001 ans 2002, but I think they either cancelled it or moved it to early morning on a weekend day. Hoobs and I watched every single day like two stoned idiots. The greatest part was that Summers got them to take Harvey, the DD announcer, as his announcer for this show. Great stuff. Summers and Harvey, a package deal.

Loved that little show, the final round was IMPOSSIBLE, and any show that has a tough final round is great to watch.

I don't have Time Warner, so no go on the Military Channel -- but I'm sure that's gonna be awesome.

At 2:34 PM, Blogger Matty Mac said...

I think it was last summer when I caught an episode of "Modern Marvels" about the "plane". No, not the thing with wings that transports people or drops bombs on unsuspecting 3rd world countries, but the thing you use to shave wood.

My first reaction was "Are you fucking serious? They're dedicating a one-hour tv show to a piece of sharp metal that hasn't changed it's design in over a century?" Well, they did and actually made it interesting. Of course, as I was questioning the validity of this program, not once did I move from my spot sitting on the coffee table.

They could do an episode of "Modern Marvels" on the evolution of the park bench and make it interesting.

At 6:19 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Oh, one more thing on this, from Matty's post from before: "Aside from being an avid chemist, Lavoisier was also the commissioner of gunpowder, supervised the building of a wall around Paris..."

Seriously, I would quit my job right now and move to Paris if the "commissioner of gunpowder" position were still available. I've been trying to think of a great joke for this, but I just can't stop thinking about how cool I would be if that were my title, and now I can't concentrate.

Yours in firearms,
Ace Cowboy
Commissioner of Gunpowder

At 11:01 AM, Blogger Matty Mac said...

Ace - The formal title is "Commissioner of the Royal Gunpowder and Saltpeter Association". So, it's even more fancy and homoerotic at the same time. Lavoisier was a large proponent of the increase in gunpowder resources and actually improved upon the chemical components of it to make it more explosive.

Oh, and he was the one who determined that water was made up of hyrdrogen and oxygen too. But that isn't nearly as cool as the whole gunpowder/saltpeter griffin thing.


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