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Ubuntu focuses on mobile devices

Ubuntu focuses on mobile devices

Posted Nov 4, 2011 0:03 UTC (Fri) by fuhchee (guest, #40059)
In reply to: Ubuntu focuses on mobile devices by tshow
Parent article: Ubuntu focuses on mobile devices

"I once took a course that considered ancient stories..."

Fascinating. Could you give a reference to the course, or some of the teaching materials?

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Ubuntu focuses on mobile devices

Posted Nov 4, 2011 0:55 UTC (Fri) by tshow (subscriber, #6411) [Link]

It was a (3rd year undergrad? maybe 4th?) course at University of Toronto, I believe the prof was Joseph Goering. If I recall correctly, the course was called "History of Warfare", which I suppose was sort of true.

The reference texts were The Illiad, the Old Testament, Machiavelli's "The Prince", The Song of Roland, and (IIRC) Harald's Saga, with a few other sources thrown in as well.

It was an excellent course; it might as well have been called "Prof. Goering grinds all his axes while taking questions.".

The biblical stuff was fascinating in a lot of ways, mostly because if you actually sit down and read the sources some of the things that happen are nothing like the popular perception. The example that sticks in the mind is that of Moses and the Red Sea. If you actually read the source, what happens is this:

The Egyptians are on chariots, and are closing on Moses and his people. Moses says "There's a sea, and the tide is out, so let's stand on the mud flats waiting for the Egyptians." The Egyptians drive out into the mud flats, their chariots bog down in the mud, and Moses and crew attack.

That's much more interesting to me than the "Moses snapped his fingers and God fixed everything" Charlton Heston version.

One of the things Prof. Goering pointed out at that point was that Moses' people destroyed the chariots. They didn't keep them, they chopped them up and burned them despite the tactical advantage they offered in battle. His belief was that they recognized that a chariot-based military requires an aristocracy simply to support the maintenance burden, and they weren't interested in living in such a society.

There was a whole section on the course about the Song of Roland, which is kind of an odd story because the core of it is a real story (a battle between Basque rebels and some of Charlemagne's forces that went badly for the Carolingians), but the 11th century rewrite recasts it as part of the Reconquista and changes the Basques to Saracens.

Machiaveilli's work was interesting. He gets a bad rap, but given when he was operating, his heart was in the right place.

Harald's saga was a lot of fun, and fit with the theme of the course quite well. The bit where Harald meets Harold Godwinson is priceless. Harald and his forces are waiting for a parley with the English, and a messenger rides up from the English side. Harald tells the messenger to tell the English King that he is there for lands that are rightfully his. The messenger tells him "The King says you are to be granted only six feet of English soil, or as much more as you are taller than other men.", and then rides off.

Harald turns to one of his people and says something about how the messenger was pretty mouthy for a functionary, and someone says "Oh, didn't you know? That was King Harold."

Machiavelli the troll

Posted Nov 10, 2011 0:24 UTC (Thu) by man_ls (guest, #15091) [Link]

My sources tell me that Machiavelli was just trolling, and it completely fits with what the book actually says. Pity that your prof didn't grind this particular axe, as is sadly not a reputable source.

Machiavelli the troll

Posted Dec 3, 2011 0:44 UTC (Sat) by Pageofswords (guest, #81668) [Link]

Actually, Rosseau was the first to propose that Machiavelli was, in fact, a troll. But also exposed by, Rosseau was a complete jackass. Not exactly a reputable source either. To most scholars, the "troll" theory is pretty much equal with "Machiavelli the immoral", "Machiavelli the amoral" (he was a pragmatic and a scientist, who didn't believe in what he wrote but wrote it how it was), and "Machiavelli the new moralist". Cracked probably should have mentioned these possibilities, but no matter how informative it is it's still a comedy website.

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