Wednesday 26 February 2014

Havamal Snippets 128: Enjoy the good in life!

A simple stanza stating that it is good to pleased by good things, and it's not good to be pleased by bad.

Puzzlingly though this stanza seems to contradict the relativistic nature of pagan beliefs somewhat by dividing the world into absolutes (i.e. good and bad).  A relativistic view means that a good act is only good when viewed from a certain perspective.  If that same act is viewed from another perspective then it is perceived as bad.

So perhaps the stanza is talking about taking pleasure in acts that are good from 'your' perspective rather than taking pleasure in acts that are evil from 'your' perspective.  If that's the case then it is contingent on you being aware of both good and evil so that you know what you are doing.  Which is like a passage from the Bible that "we should be wise as serpents yet gentle as doves", inasmuch as people should know evil, which means studying evil, and thinking about evil, yet keeping distanced from it and affirming good rather than evil.

Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
illu feginn
verðu aldregi
en lát þér at góðu getit       
I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
[6] never be
[5] glad in evil,
but let yourself be pleased by good.

Sunday 23 February 2014

Havamal Snippets 127: Speak out about misdeeds

Expose fraudsters and liars.  Make their malevolent actions and intentions known to all so that no-one else has to suffer from their wicked ways.  A good way of destroying liars is by exposing them to light and to publicity.  Name and shame, like the site does.  Liars like to hide in the masses, in the herd, in the mob, because they are safe there, hidden behind a mass of other people.  A man is like a city on a hill, a light held aloft, something clear and distinct that all can see.  Men are bold and clear (though sometimes they are unaware of this, oblivious to their own obviousness) women are indistinct and murky.

Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
hvars þú böl kannt
kveðu þat bölvi at
ok gefat þínum fjándum frið           
I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
when you come upon misdeeds
speak out about those misdeeds,
and give your enemies no peace.


Friday 21 February 2014

Men of Yore: Gediminas

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity. 


He was supposed by the earlier chroniclers to have been the ostler of Vytenis, prince of Lithuania, but more probably he was Vytenis' younger brother and the son of Pukuveras Liutauras, another Lithuanian prince. In any case, his purported Rurikid origin was a later fake. According to the latest research, even his grandfather cannot be named with certainty. Gediminas became Grand Duke (Didysis Kunigaikštis) of Lithuania in 1316 at the age of forty and ruled for 25 years.

Choice of religion
He inherited a vast domain, comprising Lithuania proper, Samogitia, Red Russia, Polotsk and Minsk; but these possessions were environed by powerful and greedy foes, the most dangerous of them being the Teutonic Knights and the Livonian Brothers of the Sword. The systematic raiding of Lithuania by the knights under the pretext of converting it had long since united all the Lithuanian tribes against the common enemy; but Gediminas aimed at establishing a dynasty which should make Lithuania not merely secure but mighty, and for this purpose he entered into direct diplomatic negotiations with the Holy See. At the end of 1322 he sent letters to Pope John XXII soliciting his protection against the persecution of the knights, informing him of the privileges already granted to the Dominicans and the Franciscans in Lithuania for the preaching of God's Word, and desiring that legates should be sent to receive him also into the bosom of the church.

On receiving a favorable reply from the Holy See, Gediminas issued circular letters, dated 25th of January 1325, to the principal Hansa towns, offering a free access into his domains to men of every order and profession from nobles and knights to tillers of the soil. The immigrants were to choose their own settlements and be governed by their own laws. Priests and monks were also invited to come and build churches at Vilnius and Novogrodek. In October 1323 representatives of the archbishop of Riga, the bishop of Dorpat, the king of Denmark, the Dominican and Franciscan orders, and the Grand Master of the Teutonic Order assembled at Vilnius, when Gedymin confirmed his promises and undertook to be baptized as soon as the papal legates arrived. A compact was then signed at Vilnius, in the name of the whole Christian World, between Gedymin and the delegates, confirming the promised privileges.

But the christianizing of Lithuania was by no means to the liking of the Teutonic Knights, and they used every effort to nullify Gedymin's far-reaching design. This, unfortunately, it was easy to do. Gedymin's chief object was to save Lithuania from destruction at the hands of the Germans. But he was still a pagan reigning over semi-pagan lands; he was equally bound to his pagan kinsmen in Samogitia, to his Orthodox subjects in Belarus, and to his Catholic allies in Masovia. His policy, therefore, was necessarily tentative and ambiguous, and, might very readily be misinterpreted.

Thus his raid upon Dobrzyn, the latest acquisition of the knights on Polish soil, speedily gave them a ready weapon against him. The Prussian bishops, who were devoted to the knights, at a synod at Elbing questioned the authority of Gedymin's letters and denounced him as an enemy of the faith; his Orthodox subjects reproached him with leaning towards the Latin heresy; while the pagan Lithuanians accused him of abandoning the ancient gods. Gediminas disentangled himself from his difficulties by repudiating his former promises; by refusing to receive the papal legates who arrived at Riga in September 1323; and by dismissing the Franciscans from his territories. These apparently retrogressive measures simply amounted to a statesmanlike recognition of the fact that the pagan element was still the strongest force in Lithuania, and could not yet be dispensed with in the coming struggle for nationality.

At the same time Gedymin through his ambassadors privately informed the papal legates at Riga that his difficult position, compelled him for a time to postpone his steadfast resolve of being baptized, and the legates showed their confidence in him by forbidding the neighboring states to war against Lithuania for the next four years, besides ratifying the treaty made between Gediminas and the archbishop of Riga. Nevertheless in 1325 the Order, disregarding the censures of the church, resumed the war with Gediminas, who had in the meantime improved his position by an alliance with Wladislaus Lokietek, king of Poland, whose son Casimir now married Gedymin's daughter Aldona.

Incorporation of Slavic lands
While on his guard against his northern foes, Gediminas from 1316 to 1340 was aggrandizing himself at the expense of the numerous Slavonic principalities in the south and east, whose incessant conflicts with each other wrought the ruin of them all. Here Gedymin's triumphal progress was irresistible; but the various stages of it are impossible to follow, the sources of its history being few and conflicting, and the date of every salient event exceedingly doubtful. One of his most important territorial accretions, the principality of Halych-Volynia; was obtained by the marriage of his son Lubart with the daughter of the Galician prince; the other, Kiev, apparently by conquest.

While exploiting Slavic weakness in the wake of the Mongol invasion, Gediminas wisely avoided war with the Golden Horde, a great regional power at the time, while expanding Lithuania's border towards the Black Sea. He also secured an alliance with the nascent grand duchy of Muscovy by marrying his daughter, Anastasia, to the grand duke Simeon. But he was strong enough to counterpoise the influence of Muscovy in northern Russia, and assisted the republic of Pskov, which acknowledged his overlordship, to break away from Great Novgorod.

Domestic affairs
His internal administration bears all the marks of a wise ruler. He protected the Catholic as well as the Orthodox clergy, encouraging them both to civilize his subjects; he raised the Lithuanian army to the highest state of efficiency then attainable; defended his borders with a chain of strong fortresses; and built numerous towns including Vilnius, the capital (first mentioned ca 1321). At first he moved the capital city to the newly built city of Trakai, but in 1323 re-established a permanent capital in Vilnius, on the site of the capital of King Mindaugas, formerly called Voruta.

Gedymin died in the winter of 1342 of a wound received at the siege of Bayerburg castle. He was married three times, and left seven sons and six daughters. Two of his sons perished in battle. Jaunutis initially ruled Vilnius after the death of his father and was formally Grand Duke of Lithuania until his elder brothers Algirdas and Kęstutis returned from military campaigns in Ruthenia and forced him to abdicate his throne in their favor.


Lest anyone think that Europeans were converted to Christianity by peaceful methods like reason and kindness, they were nearly all converted at the point of the sword (by the various Roman Catholic Military Orders), or by being forced to after their leader/King chose to convert.  Gediminas tried to placate the war-mongering Christians by allowing them into his country and treating them as equals, like any decent human does.  But, alas, it didn't work, and the Christians invaded anyway.  Ho hum.


Wednesday 19 February 2014

Havamal Snippets 126: Being your own boss is preferable

Autarky and autonomy are preferable to 'enforced' division of labour.  In this world every man works at what he loves.  The Ancient Greeks used to elect men to roles in the government based on ballots because they knew that as soon as people had a vested interest in remaining in the government then it would become corrupted.  This may be similar in that people who have a vested interested in being shoe makers or whatever are somewhat corrupt because their entire life is dependent on remaining in work.  If they lose that job then they are, to be blunt, screwed.  This can be seen in companies that manufacture 'designed to fail' (designed obsolescence) goods that break after a short period of time: because they have a vested interest in remaining in business.
Unfortunately, if, and this is a very big if, this extends to all the various positions of society, then it means that complex civilisations with people in fixed positions (like a politician or shoe maker or electrician or whatever) who have a 'vested interest' in remaining in that position will inevitably produce shoddy goods (either consciously or sub-consciously), which will not benefit society.  Eventually all of these shoddy goods produced as a result of 'vested interests' and corruption would break civilisation causing it to come crashing down.  The optimist in me sees that this amassing of corruption is unlikely so long as people prefer an honest living as opposed to a dishonest on.  And as we've managed to keep civilisation developing for a few years so far, I doubt that civilisation will come crashing down because of vested interests and corruption (although it will probably need a good clearing out soon, like a decayed forest needs a good fire to burn away the ossified & disease prone trees so that the new ones can grow).
Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
skósmiðr þú verir
né skeptismiðr
nema þú sjálfum þér sér
skór er skapaðr illa
eða skapt sé rangt
þá er þér böls beðit             
I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
be [6] not [5] a shoe-maker
or a shaft-maker,
except for yourself alone;
if the shoe is badly made
or the shaft bent,
then misfortune is in store for you.

Sunday 16 February 2014

Havamal Snippets 125: Good men do not deabte with less worthy men

A good man should not debate with a man less worthy than him because the less worthy (possibly meaning less noble, honest, decent etc) man does not play by the same rules as the good man.  This is because a less worthy man, like a woman, is only interested in winning the argument rather than proving a point.  A less worthy man will use debating tactics that will and pervert and contort all decent logic in an attempt to win the argument.  Sometimes they will resort to personal name calling, or mockery.  Many of the tactics seen on an internet forum by flamers are the same as used by 'less worthy' men in real life, but the real life debaters also have the advantage of physical force to win their argument.

HERE is a webpage with a list of 54 well known dishonest debating tactics, like 'name calling', 'straw men', 'appeal to authority' that you might find useful.  (Scroll down until you see 'Politicians, con men' in red text).

Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
þrimr orðum senna
skalattu þér við verra mann
opt inn betri bilar
þá er inn verri vegr              
I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
[6] you must not [5] dispute even three words
with a man less worthy than you:
often the better man is defeated
when the worser attacks.


Saturday 15 February 2014

Men of Yore: Joseph Rowntree

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity. 

Joseph Rowntree, 1862 (aged 26)
Joseph Rowntree (1836-1925) was born in 1836 into a Quaker family in York. A grocer’s son, he left the family business to run a small and struggling cocoa factory with his brother, Henry Isaac. Just as they had begun to turn the business round, Henry Isaac died. So Joseph carried on as sole proprietor, until, in time, he was joined by his sons and nephews.
From its early days with just twelve men, the factory grew fast and by 1906 it employed over 4,000 workers. Joseph was always determined to produce top quality cocoa, chocolate and confectionary.
A lifelong Quaker, Joseph seldom spoke about his religious beliefs. But they informed his life at all levels, from his home life to his commitment to social reform to his business practice.

Joseph was an active philanthropist. He worked to improve adult literacy, and to safeguard democracy and political fair play. Acutely aware of the social conditions many of his factory workers lived in, he was keen to improve the quality of civil life for all through the provision of affordable, decent housing, recreational facilities and opportunities for self-improvement.

In 1904, aged 68, Joseph Rowntree endowed the three Joseph Rowntree Trusts, giving “about one-half of my property to [their] establishment.” He believed the way to remedy the injustices of the world was not to relieve their ill-effects, but to strike at their roots. This would be the trusts’ work.  
Joseph died in 1925, aged 89, and the City of York turned out to mourn one of their great citizens. He was buried in the Quaker graveyard beneath a simple Quaker gravestone on which you can read just his name and his date. No more and no less.

Temperance & alcohol
Until at least 1880 JR does not appear to have been a teetotaller, though his consumption of alcohol was very moderate. At Yorkshire Quarterly Meeting in 1889 he countered Friends who claimed that poverty was due solely to ‘the drink’, but he came to suspect that it was a contributory cause and, with Arthur Sherwell, set out to discover some hard facts; these found expression in their The temperance problem and social reform (1899), a book which ran through an enviable number of editions. 
Though spending money on books, on travel and on his garden, Joseph had no lavish tastes and was perturbed at his increasing wealth. In 1904 he set up three trusts: The Joseph Rowntree Village Trust (from 1959, Joseph Rowntree Memorial Trust; from 1990, the Joseph Rowntree Foundation) was concerned in particular with the development and supervision of New Earswick , but was extended to cover housing issues more generally.
The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust was for social, charitable and religious purposes, intended to finance such things as social surveys, adult education and Quaker activities.   
The Joseph Rowntree Trust Ltd from 1990, Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust Ltd) had power to undertake social and political work, such as Liberalism and the ownership of newspapers, which could not legally be supported from the fund of a charitable trust.

Rowntree was just one of the philanthropists who emerged during the industrial revolution in Britain during the 19th century.  Like other philanthropists he was also a businessmen (Robert Owen, John Cadbury and Titus Salt to name a few).  Indeed many of the philanthropic acts of the 19th century came from individuals and businesses (multi national corporations) rather than government handouts and social welfare; which shows that not all businesses or businessmen are motivated purely by profit.  Nor are they only cocerned with increasing their profit margin.  It's up to the individual to decide what he wants to do with his resources (be that money/gold or anything else).  Just like the monarchs of the middle ages, they can invest it in the edification of their fellow man or for ostentatious frippery.


Wednesday 12 February 2014

Havamal Snippets 124: Amongst friends, truth is preferable to civility

Honesty amongst friends is preferable to just saying what they want to hear, or saying what is easiest.  Some say that a good friend is one who will tell you things that you don't want to hear.  To do this it means valuing truth above civility (i.e. being nice to everyone and doing your best to avoid conflict), even if it means taking some flak from your friends as a result of telling them what they don't want to hear.

Sifjum er þá blandat
hverr er segja ræðr
einum allan hug
alt er betra
en sé brigðum at vera
era sá vinr öðrum
er vilt eitt segir     
Peace and trust are exchanged
when one can tell
another his whole mind.
Anything is better
than to be faithless:
he is not another's friend
who says only what the friend wants to hear.


Monday 10 February 2014

Alternative Lyrics to Well Known Songs 19 - Odinian Rhapsody

This edition of ‘Alternative Lyrics’ has a re-written song from the decade that brought us cultural-clobber like platform shoes, long hair and psychedelic colours.

If you’re interested in re-writing lyrics to songs then you might want to try using one or more of the following techniques:
a) Work with songs that you’re familiar with and that you enjoy listening to. It’s a lot quicker than familiarising yourself with new songs and then coming up with some alternative lyrics.
b) Write down any lyrics that just pop into your head when you first hear the song.
c) Find a copy of the original lyrics on-line, then read them and note how many syllables each line has. Then when you write your own lyrics, you can make sure that each line has the same number of syllables in it as the original. Doing this helps the alternative lyrics to sound ‘right’ when sung over the original.
d) Occasionally use words that are phonetically similar to the original lyrics. 
This makes the alternative lyrics sound better when sung over the original song track.

The Song: Odinian Rhapsody (based on Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen)
This is a song from the first-person perspective about how one mans struggle to liberate himself from the Big Mother state. A state which denies him his freedom to think and behave and travel where he pleases. In this case the man is one of
Odin’s own, and so the man uses ‘Wod’ (which is a kind of fury, a rage, that is used to destroy anything tyrannical) to liberate himself by destroying Big Mother. The squiggly parenthesis { } are used whenever Big Mother is speaking.

‘Big Mother’ is a more accurate term for the commonly used ‘Big Brother‘ (originally coined by George Orwell as a name for a totalitarian government). Credit to Ryu for first coining the phrase.

The lyrics include seven Norse-Pagan terms: Odin is a God you’ve all heard of, Hod and Hermod are two of Odins sons, Sleipnir is Odin's horse, Wod is a kind of righteous rage/fury, Valknut is a three-triangle symbol of Odin, and ‘Crooked-Cross’ is a Swastika (as used by many cultures around the world including Celts, Greeks, Buddhists).

Lean forward, play the music and sing along (if only in your head)

# Odinian Rhapsody #
This isn’t real life.
This is a fantasy.
Caught in a labrynth.
With no escape from th’ evil tyranny.
So, open your mind.
Look up to the Gods and see.
I’m just a Wod boy, I need my liberty.
Because I need to come, need to go,
in my mind and in my boots.
Any way Odin blows, his will really matters to me, to me.

Big Mother, just killed a man.
Put ritalin in his head.
Screwed his mind up, now it’s dead.
Big Mother, his life had just begun.
But now you’ve gone and thrown it all away.
Big Mother, ooo.
You need to let me go.
If I’m not allowed to go by this time tomorrow,
I will Wod, I will Wod, because Odin really matters.

Too late, your time has come.
As you will not let me be.
I will destroy you totally.
So goodbye Big Mother, you’ve got to go.
So I can wander on out there and find the truth.
Big Mother, ooo {any way Odin blows}.
You’ve just gotta die.
I sometimes wish you’d never been born at all.

I see some little Nordic symbols on the wall,
Crooked cross, crooked cross, Valk-knot and two white pine trees.
{Odin riding Sleipnir very, very frightening for me.}
Hod and Hermod,
{Hod and Hermod}.
Hod and Hermod,
{Hod and Hermod}.
Hod and Hermod, will hear my call.
{will hear his call}

I’m just a Wod boy, Big Mother hates me.
{He’s just a Wod boy one of Odin’s family.}
{We won’t let him live his life as Odin intended he.}
The Wod it comes, the Wod it goes, will you let me Wod?
{Big Mother: No! We will not let you Wod}
Let me Wod!
{Big Mother: We will not let you Wod}
Let me Wod!
{Big Mother: We will not let you Wod}
Let me Wod!
{Will not let you Wod}
Let me Wod!
{Never let you Wod}
Let me Wod!
{Never let you Wod}
Let me Wod!
{No, no, no, no, no, no, no -}
B-Big Mother, B-Big Mother, Big Mother let me Wod.
{Big Mother is completely terrified of thee,}
{of thee,}
{of thee!}

So you think you can tame me and milk me dry.
So you think you can fuck me and leave me to die.
Big Mother – I’ve destroyed you Big Mother.
Now I can get out, now I can get right outta here.

Ooh yeah, ooh yeah.
Odin really matters,
anyone can see.
Odin really matters.
Odin really matters to me.

Any way Odin blows.

[End of Lyrics]

Friday 7 February 2014

Men fo Yore: Alexander Parkes

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity. 

Alexander Parkes

Alexander Parkes was born in Birmingham, England, on December 29, 1813. As a young man he was apprenticed to a brass foundry that specialized in the art metal trade. From there he went to work at an electroplating firm, where he developed processes for silver-plating such unusual items as spider webs and living plants. His work in these industries led to his experimenting with solutions of rubber and cellulose nitrate.

Parkes' first patent was granted in 1841, for a method of waterproofing fabrics by coating them with rubber. In 1843 he patented a process for electroplating an object in a solution of phosphorus contained in bisulfide of carbon and then placing it in nitrate of silver. In 1846 he received a patent for a "cold" vulcanization process and another for reclaiming waste rubber. And, in 1850, he patented a process for removing silver from lead during the production of bullion.

In 1855, Parkes patented the first man-made plastic, which he created by dissolving cellulose nitrate in alcohol and camphor containing ether; the process created a hard solid which could be molded when heated. Parkesine was first exhibited to the public at the 1862 London International Exhibition, where it was received with much fanfare; he earned a prize medal for his exhibit. He established the Parkesine Company to manufacture and market the plastic in 1866, but the company was never financially successful and was liquidated in 1868 -- Parkesine proved too expensive to mass produce, plus it was highly flammable and prone to cracking. Business associate Daniel Spill improved the process and developed Xylonite, but it too proved unsuccessful.  
Meanwhile American chemist John Wesley Hyatt also developed a man-made plastic, which he called Celluloid, and several patent infringement lawsuits between Parkes, Spill and Hyatt eventually resulted in a U.S. judge declaring Parkes to be the inventor of the first man-made plastic, in 1870.

Despite the lack of financial success with Parkesine, Parkes continued to develop new processes and products related to electroplating, rubber, and plastics, and by the time of his death, which came in London on June 29, 1890, he held over 80 patents.


The middle of the 19th century was one of the fastest changing periods of time in modern history.  Just look at any time line and you'll see the sheer number of new technologies that appeared during that generation is staggering.  Plastics, blue jeans and telegraphy were all invented during this era, and look into any 21st century trendy Starbucks and you'll see plenty of plastic, blue jeans and the latest telephonic devices, all of which came into being around 150 years ago.  Any hip teenagers who believes that they are trendier than their parents because of the clothes they wear, or the items they own should not think over-inflate their own egos.  After all, these items basically came into being 150 years, or six generations, ago.  Not forgetting that opium, cocaine, marijuana, laudanum etc were all legal then.  Some of which the famous author Arthur Conan Doyle consumed (h/t to Vulture of Critique).

It shows that change/innovation often comes thick and fast rather than slowly and continuously as we may like it to happen.  The invention of plastics (which the world uses like the Romans used pottery) was one of those many inventions to come out of that era.


Wednesday 5 February 2014

Havamal Snippets 123: You can never get a reward from a bad man

This verse is both continuation of verse 122 and a verse in it's own right.

One can never get a reward from a bad man regardless of how much good one puts into him.  In this instance a bad man could be compared to a black hole, which can never become a star no matter how much light you cast into it.  However a good man will provide you with goodness so long as you are good to him in the first case.  This is similar to other verses (41 - 46) which encourage men to be good to good friends, visiting them often, and giving gifts often, because they will respond in kind; by being good.  Which is good(!)

því at af illum manni
mundu aldregi
góðs laun um geta
en góðr maðr
mun þik gørva mega
líknfastan at lofi 
-- because [2] you can never
[3] get a reward for good
[1] from a bad man,
but a good man
can make you
beloved through praise.


Sunday 2 February 2014

Havamal Snippets 122: Never bandy words with a stupid fool!

Advice for those who waste their time debating with the unwise on the Internet: never bandy words with a stupid fool!  I'm sure we've all experienced what it's like to debate/converse with people who are either: incapable of understanding what you are trying to say but don't want to admit it (for whatever reason); or have no interest in understanding what you say, and just want to 'win' the debate by attrition.  It's infuriating!  So take the advice of the Havamal and don't waste your time on them.  Either win the argument 'physical' methods (e.g raising your voice, physical contact etc), or 'status' based methods (e.g. shaming, name calling etc), because those or the only two options available when dealing with someone who doesn't respond to 'Reason'.  Or alternatively walk away.

Ráðumk þér Loddfáfnir
en þú ráð nemir
njóta mundu ef þú nemr
þér munu góð ef þú getr
orðum skipta
þú skalt aldregi
við ósvinna apa  
I advise you, Loddfafnir,
to take advice;
you would benefit, it you took it,
good will come to you, if you accept it:
[6] you must never
[5] bandy words
with a stupid fool --


Saturday 1 February 2014

Men of Yore: Roman von Ungern-Sternberg

This is another in a series of posts about men from history who have either achieved great things in one form or another by pushing boundaries: either in themselves or in society or science or exploration of some form. Boundary pushing and growth is what men do, it's their nature: to grow and push outwards. We, as men, are the frontiers men, the first to discover/uncover new territory, in a metaphysical sense (i.e. including both material and the immaterial) that is later colonised and 'civilised' by the rest of humanity. 

Baron Roman von Ungern-Sternberg

My name is surrounded with such hate and fear that no one can judge what is true and what is false, what is history, and what is myth.1 Baron Roman Fedorovich von Ungern-Sternberg, 1921
In Mongolia, there was a legend of the warrior prince, Beltis-Van. Noted for his ferocity and cruelty, he spilled “floods of human blood before he found his death in the mountains of Uliasutay.”2 His slayers interred the corpses of the Prince and his followers deep in earth, covered the graves with heavy stones, and added “incantations and exorcism lest their spirits again break out, carrying death and destruction.” These measures, it was prophesied, would bind the terrible spirits until human blood once more fell upon the site.
In early 1921, so the story goes, “Russians came and committed murders nearby the dreadful tombs, staining them with blood.”3 To some, this explained what followed.
At almost the same instant, a new warlord appeared on the scene, and for the next six months he spread death and terror across the steppes and mountains of Mongolia and even into adjoining regions of Siberia. Among the Mongols he became known as the Tsagan Burkhan, the incarnate “God of War.”4
Later, the Dalai Lama XIII proclaimed him a manifestation of the “wrathful deity” Mahakala, defender of the Buddhist faith.5 Historically, the same individual is best known as the “Mad Baron” or the “Bloody Baron.” His detractors are not shy about calling him a murderous bandit or an outright psychopath.
The man in question is the Baron Roman Fedorovich von Ungern-Sternberg. His exploits can be only briefly sketched here. In the wake of the Russian Revolution, Baron Ungern found himself in eastern Siberia where he aligned himself with the anti-Bolshevik “White” movement. However, his extreme monarchist sentiments and independent ways made him a loose cannon in that camp.
In 1920, he led his “Asiatic Mounted Division,” a rag-tag collection of Russian, Mongol, Tatar and other troops, into the wilds of Mongolia, a land seething with unrest against Chinese occupation. Rallying Mongols to his banner, in early February 1921 Ungern scored a seemingly miraculous victory by wresting control of the Mongol capital, Urga (today Ulan Bator), from a large Chinese garrison. He then restored the Mongols’ spiritual and temporal leader, the “Living Buddha” Jebtsundamba Khutukhtu Bogdo Gegen, or, more simply, Bodgo Khan and established himself as warlord over Outer Mongolia and the scattered White Russian detachments that had taken refuge there.
Surrounding himself with an inner circle of murderous sycophants and fortune-tellers, he instituted a reign of terror that claimed as victims Jews, real or suspected Reds, and hundreds of others who somehow aroused the Baron’s wrath or suspicion.6 In June of the same year, he launched an ill-fated invasion of Soviet Siberia which ended with his capture by the Red Army and his subsequent trial and execution on 17 September. 

Like Prince Vladimir of Wallachia (Vlad Tepes) Ungern-Sternberg was not just interested in 'war for wars sake' (though that may have been part of his characater), he was interested in improving the lives of the people whom he ruled over:
According to some eyewitnesses (his engineer and officer Kamil Gizycki, and adventurer and writer Ferdynand Antoni Ossendowski, etc.), Ungern was the first to institute order in Urga; imposing street cleaning and sanitation, and promoting religious life and tolerance in the capital, and attempting to reform the economy.

Ungern-Sternbergs mystical side meant that he  used 'witchcraft' against his enemies.  Witchcraft is just an olden term that modern folk would call 'psychological warfare' (In modern parlance 'psy-ops'):
But if Ungern was influenced – and mislead – by the supernatural, he also knew how to use it to his advantage. Prior to his final attack on Urga, he dispatched fortune-tellers into the city where they “filled the Chinese soldiery with superstitious fear” by predicting his imminent arrival and spreading rumours that the White Baron was immune to bullets and could appear and disappear at will.32 He also ordered nightly bonfires set on the surrounding hills. His Mongol agents told the credulous Chinese that the fires were Ungern offering sacrifices to the spirits who would take their vengeance on the sons of China.
As we all know the establishment (media, government, education etc) likes to shine a positive light on some historical characters and a negative one on others, Ungern-Steinberg is one of those characters.  If he had fought for the release of black slaves, or Jews, or votes for women, or some other leftist cause then he would be portrayed in a positive light; but because he was a staunch Monarchist, he used warfare in a confident aggressive manner, and because he had strong religious/mystical feelings he is either ignored or portrayed negatively by the establishment, because the establishment currently opposes all of those things.