This Day in History Entry #186

August 29th, 2012 by Wordsman

What gives gov’ment the power to rule?
Divine right was once a useful tool
Locke said folks represent
With the people’s consent
Tyranny? That’s just really not cool

Event: Birth of John Locke
Year: 1632
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This Day in History Entry #185

August 22nd, 2012 by Wordsman

Dick the Third lost his kingdom, of course
The one he tried to trade for a horse
And House Plantagenet
At Bosworth its end met
Henry Tudor took his crown by force

Event: The Battle of Bosworth Field, the last significant battle of the Wars of the Roses, which saw the end of the Plantagenet Dynasty (through the death of Richard III) and the rise of the Tudor Dynasty
Year: 1485
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This Day in History Entry #184

August 15th, 2012 by Wordsman

Though his first try had no vict’ry brought
Kublai Khan chose to take one more shot
But his first loss was twinned
As that same divine wind
Throughout his mighty fleet chaos wrought

Event: The Mongol fleet is ravaged by a typhoon at the Battle of Kōan, ending their second attempt to invade Japan
Year: 1281
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Know Your Picture Characters Entry #103

August 13th, 2012 by Wordsman

A. 鸵鸟 B. 火烈鸟 C. 蝴蝶 D. 大熊猫 E. 天鹅 F. 大猩猩 G. 鲨鱼

Some of you may be wondering where the Wordsman has been hiding himself these past few weeks.  Then again, you may not.  Well, wondering or otherwise, he has been in China.  Why, you ask?  The answer should be obvious: he went to conduct research on kanji (or hanzi as they are called in Chinese) with his lovely assistant, and for no other reason whatsoever.  The Wordsman is nothing if not diligent.

But first, there is the outlying matter of the last challenge.  Do you even remember the last challenge?  This one was also in Chinese, and it was about animals.  You at least remember animals, right?  Those things with fur, scales, and feathers that move around and either look cute or kill each other?  If it’s been so long that you’ve even forgotten what animals are, I advise a trip to the local zoo.  If you’ve simply forgotten which animals were involved in the puzzle, or what your guesses were, I advise not blaming yourself.  After all, it has been . . . good lord, it’s been two whole months.  That’s summer vacation for you, I guess.

It came down to a head-to-head between Theoman and Shirley.  In A, he saw teeth, she saw cuteness (well, grudging cuteness, anyway).  In the end, they were both right, for A is the cutest, toothiest of all the birds: the ostrich.  However, they were both correct in the non-sarcastic sense on B, both linking the idea of fire with the shocking Flamingo.  And they teamed up again to track down the horrid butterfly at C.  Apparently the old adage should be changed to “Everyone suspects the butterfly.”  And they matched up again on D, identifying it as the mighty gorilla.  Unfortunately, this identification is wrong, though their answers did contain hints of truth.  Theoman is right that the first character means “big,” and the hairy arms reaching out to squeeze the life out of you from Shirley’s description could in fact belong to the Giant Panda (seriously, they’re bears, they’re not as cuddly as they look).  The “big” is to distinguish them from the “little” Panda, known in English as the Red Panda.

Our contestants finally disagreed at E, and it is here where Theoman pulled into the lead, picking the graceful (but mean) swan over the awkward (but even meaner?) ostrich.  Seriously, are there any really friendly birds?  Theoman couldn’t keep the streak going at F, though, because this is not some large yellow Sesame Street dweller, unless they’ve added a big yellow gorilla since I stopped watching the show.  We’re going to give the edge to Shirley on this one, because we think a gorilla would probably have an easier time trying to deal cards than trying to fly.  You know, like the ostrich.  They fly, right?  And, in conclusion, we’re not really sure where Theoman sees a tree in G, and even less sure where Shirley thinks she saw Natalie Portman, but it’s really a shark.

And now, finally, a new puzzle.  The result of painstaking research, this challenge will require you to identify various major tourist sites in China.  These include: a kung fu temple, a temple to heaven, a restricted-access city, a tower for a yellow bird (seriously, why does Big Bird keep almost coming up this week?), a palace for relaxing in the hottest season, a bunch of ancient clay dudes, and a rather large wall.  If you need any help, my gut tells me you’ve probably seen pictures of some or all of these places very recently.

A. 兵马俑 B. 长城 C. 故宫 D. 黄鹤楼 E. 少林寺 F. 天坛 G. 颐和园

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This Day in History Entry #183

August 8th, 2012 by Wordsman

Th’Inquisition, you never expect
The Armada? Now, that can be checked
Fear of Drake’s fire ships
Caused some large Spanish slips
The invasion plans? They were, well, wrecked

Event: The English defeat the Spanish Armada at the Battle of Gravelines
Year: 1588
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This Day in History Entry #182

August 1st, 2012 by Wordsman

Long before the U.S.’ slaves were free
They were given their rights ‘cross the sea
It would take several years
‘Fore they could let out cheers
But it started in eighteen-three-three

Event: Slavery Abolition Act 1833 goes into effect in the United Kingdom
Year: 1834
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