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'Naughty Words Chalked on the Back Fence' and the Need for Anonymity *

Mark Twain won't be born until 1835 but between writing his novels Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn he will dash off a letter to his pastor, the Reverend Joseph Twichell that will later be published as 1601: Conversation as it was by the Social Fireside in the Time of the Tudors. This missive is "locker-room humor" imagining a conversation between Queen Elizabeth the 1st and various nobles about farting and sex. The Reverend is most amused by it. Others are not. Accordingly, Mark Twain publishes this work anonymously to avoid reprisals. [1]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
There is a sense that those who have a controversial opinion should be willing to stand by those words proudly by name. We could probably live without more locker-room humor but we have as much to fear from the private sector as we do from the government. I saw a video of a man expressing his opinion at a Chick-Fil-A® drive-through. He was obviously agitated but remained polite as he protested the corporation's support of traditional Christian ideals. The server politely accepted his criticism and that is how such protests should go. Textbook case. But when the man was identified as CFO of a medical company, he lost his job and is now on Food Stamps. He has paid a high price for simply voicing an opinion. Don't feel too sorry for him. He took the video himself. Nevertheless, anonymity is a foundation stone of free speech: freedom from government reprisal and freedom from private sector reprisal. Otherwise, unpopular feelings go underground and fester, later emerging in unexpected violence. [2] [3] [4]

Total Tudor Cheesy: the Great Bed of Ware

People are talking. This bed is huge: 10 x 11 feet... as large as many modern bedrooms. It is rumored to have once held 26 women. That's B.S. but it can hold 4 couples... but why would you want to? (Don't answer that.) William Shakespeare probably slept there. (He mentions the Bed of Ware in his Christmas-time comedy, Twelfth Night, which debuts this year.) The bed will become one of the few pieces of Tudor furniture that will survive into the modern day probably because it is a novelty. Tudor beds are not normally this big. It is rented by the night in the town of Ware, just a little bit north of London. It will remain a tourist attraction until 1931 when a museum will buy and restore it as best they can. By that time, it will be totally worn out. [5] [6] [7]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Well... this bed is a honeymoon suite attraction. It is like spending your honeymoon at a motel with a rotating circular bed, a mirrored ceiling and fuzzy pink carpeting. It's cheesy but there is a market for cheesy. The Bed of Ware is designed with suggestive carvings and it seems that every couple who broke the bed in, carved their initials into the frame. The museum still gets requests to "use" the bed but over the years the frame has become unstable. If that substantial canopy fell on your head it would probably kill you. But if you always wanted to die in bed... like a general... this is the bed for you.

The Russian Famine Begins... 2 Million Lives Will End

Remember that volcano that exploded in Peru last year? Coupled with the Little Ice Age, unexpected freezing temperatures during the summer has caused this year's crops in Russia to fail. As many as 2 million Russians are going to starve to death before this famine is over and their government can do nothing about it. This is the Time of Troubles and the Czar (Do you remember Boris?) is passing out food to the hungry but all he is doing is attracting people to Moscow. They are dying in droves where the rest of the leadership can see. A Romanov Dynasty is looking better all the time. [8] [9]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
It is not clear what Czar Boris Godunov (GAW-doo-nahv) could have done that would have made any significant difference. In the modern day I hear politicians say that the United States economy is expanding. They have never seen more building. Well... certainly Washington DC is looking like a boomtown so naturally they would think that. If Czar Boris had done what our Federal politicians are doing, he would have shipped the poor off to Siberia where no one of importance could see them. In the United States the Federal government thinks that "Siberia" is Montana, Idaho and any state south of Virginia... and not much of Virginia either. That is why they want to get rid of the electoral college so that only the populous "smart states" can make the decisions. Guess what happens to the rest of us?

This Year on Wikipedia

Year 1601, Wikipedia.

See Also


* The asterisk in the section header indicates that it was read on the podcast.
  1. 1601. Gutenberg.org (2012). Retrieved on 22 June 2015. “Unfortunately, 1601 has recently been tagged by Professor Edward Wagenknecht as 'the most famous piece of pornography in American literature.' Like many another uninformed, Prof. W. is like the little boy who is shocked to see 'naughty' words chalked on the back fence, and thinks they are pornography. The initiated, after years of wading through the mire, will recognize instantly the significant difference between filthy filth and funny 'filth.' Dirt for dirt's sake is something else again. Pornography, an eminent American jurist has pointed out, is distinguished by the 'leer of the sensualist.'”
  2. Former Lecturer/Corporate CFO Bullies Chick-fil-A Clerk. YouTube (2015). Retrieved on 22 June 2015.
  3. Former CFO Now Unemployed, on Food Stamps After Viral Video. ABC News (YouTube) (2015). Retrieved on 22 June 2015. “Adam Smith has been unable to find a job since a video he made in protest of Chick-Fil-A went viral.”
  4. Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (Food Stamps) - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 22 June 2015. “The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), formerly known as the Food Stamp program, provides food-purchasing assistance for low- and no-income people living in the U.S.”
  5. The Secret History of The Great Bed of Ware. Wonders and Marvels (2015). Retrieved on 28 June 2015. “Lovers have been carving their initials into tree trunks and fenceposts since time immemorial. It seems like if you’re in love, you’re a fool if you don’t carry a pocket knife at all times, just so that you can proclaim your passion to the world. Maybe this is why the biggest bed in Christendom is simply riddled with graffiti.”
  6. Tudor courtiers and the Great Bed of Ware (MP3 (Podcast)). History Extra (March 15, 2012).
  7. Great Bed of Ware - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 28 June 2015. “England. Built by Hertfordshire carpenter Jonas Fosbrooke in 1580, the bed measures 3.38m long and 3.26m wide (ten by eleven feet) and can 'reputedly... accommodate at least four couples'. Many of those who have used the bed have carved their names into its posts.”
  8. Russian famine of 1601–03 - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 28 June 2015. “The Russian famine of 1601–1603 was Russia's worst famine in terms of proportional effect on the population, killing perhaps two million people, a third of Russian people, during the Time of Troubles, when the country was unsettled politically and later invaded by the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The many deaths contributed to social disruption and helped bring about the downfall of Boris Godunov, elected as tsar during the interregnum. The famine was part of worldwide record cold winters and crop disruption, which in 2008 geologists linked to the volcanic eruption of Huaynaputina in Peru.”
  9. House of Romanov - Wikipedia (2015). Retrieved on 28 June 2015. “The House of Romanov (Russian: Рома́нов, IPA: [rɐˈmanəf]) was the second imperial dynasty, after the Rurik dynasty, to rule over Russia, which reigned from 1613 until the abdication of Emperor Nicholas II on March 15, 1917, as a result of the February Revolution.”

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