Sunday, October 20, 2013

Week 8: Hello My Old Friend Failure. (Plus Ralph)

Walking down a corridor, our intrepid author runs into one of the more annoying aspects of college, social interaction with people who may have annoyed you in past semesters by one upping all of your answers. He decides to make the best of this situation by acknowledging her existence in passing.
This ends one example of my Machiavellian mastery over the use of verbal language to defuse socially awkward situations.

I know. You all have been waiting by your computer since the Friday of week 7. Desperately hoping beyond hope that if you kept hitting the refresh page, eventually a new post would emerge. I feel it is my duty to be honest....I was unable to post anything last Friday, and I am now late to post something this week.

Pauses for collective gasps and expressions of awe. 
Holds up hand for silence.

I don't believe in excuses for even the smallest of infractions on my word......but I have a really good excuse this time. Besides that, which most of you undoubtedly already know about, I feel responsible somewhat for raising hopes and cruelly dashing them down. Hence, the title referring to my re involvement with the popular acquaintance of Failure. But, to give recompense, I will give a slight touch of historical humor. Behold....Ralph! It must have happened. What must have all those innocent people who had Hitler mustaches have thought when they had one man ruin their facial hair? (While I think the video is hilarious, I looked up this "Cracked site", and I wouldn't advise it, seriously.)

Moving on to the academic tid-bits of the week, It was slim-pickings. Between midterms and fall break, there wasn't a whole lot of formal lessons to write about, but I did get to know one of my prof's favorite historical characters, Alfonso V.

    To add some definition, the man known as Alfonso V of Aragon could also be called Alfonso I of Sicily, Alfonso III of Barcelona, and Alfonso 'the magnanimous'. Living from 1396-1458 AD, Alfonso inherited the maritime empire of the Iberian kingdom Aragon. It often seems that in regard to the Spanish people the history books skip from the Battle of Tours in 732, which marks the high tide of Muslim advance in Spain, to the unification of Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella. This method ignores the fact that the Iberian kingdoms were all individual feudal territories with unique cultures, dynasties, and ambitions. Aragon was one such territory. The Mediterranean bordering kingdom had become less interested in reclaiming land from the Muslims as time went on, and the sea going Aragonese began to cast an imperialistic eye across the Mediterranean. Islands were consolidated under Aragonese forces, and the trade network that was established rivaled even the Italian city states. By the time of the Renaissance, this Spanish empire was outgrowing simply island hopping. It looked at the peninsula of Italy with a covetous gaze. One area in particular that became easy pickings was Southern Italy, Sicily and Naples. This territory was rural, under-developed, and already being exploited by its northern neighbors in a nearly colonial fashion. It was relatively easy for the kingdom of Aragon to absorb the island state of Sicily, which was nearly completely independent from Naples, southern Italy, in the first place. The challenge for these Spanish empire builders was how to conquer Naples itself. Naples was just as bereft of political unity as it was of any sort of economy. Knights and nobles were plentiful, and they often went about in roving bands plundering. This prevented any sort of centralization of power, but it also made foreign invasion quite tricky. If one didn't have the support of at least a good portion of these barons, it would mean fighting throughout the entire mountainous country side of Naples.
   Enter Alfonso V of Aragon. This King was born into a world of Spanish chivalry, honor, and etiquette. There is much evidence that showing that Alfonso cared for none of this. Alfonso spent most of his early reign expanding Aragon's Mediterranean holdings. At some point during his far flung adventures, the absent king caught the eye of the aging, widowed, childless queen of Naples. This queen, Queen Joanna II, had a very turbulent reign, and she had no biological heirs. The ruling line would end with her death. Knowing this, Joanna adopted different nobles, giving them hope of inheriting Naples, in return for favors. Alfonso was one such individual, and it looked as if he would inherit Naples without bloodshed. But, it wasn't going to be that easy for the Aragonese king. Joanna had also promised the kingdom to a French Duke, Louis III of Anjou. When Queen Joanna died, a civil war broke out between supporters of the Alfonso and Louis. Alfonso drew upon the estimable finances of Aragon to pull together a army of mercenaries, known as Condottiero, for crushing resistance. While the reliance on mercenaries might seem unwise to moderns, even the contemporaries hated the use of mercenaries (see Machiavelli), Alfonso had seized upon the key to controlling Naples. Previous kings of Naples had never been able to bring power to the kingdom, because the barons would oppose measures that led to an increase in a king's power base. By using Aragonese troops and mercenaries, Alfonso created an independent power base from which to dictate policy after his victory, and this foresight would reap enormous dividends when he did win in 1443 AD.
   After conquering Naples, one might expect Alfonso to exploit in much the same way as it had been exploited. It was after all a part of the Aragonese empire, and therefore it was by right of conquest a colony. At this point Alfonso surprises all expectations. He gives administration and regency of the sophisticated, strong, developed Aragon to his brother, and he devotes himself entirely to the ruling of uncouth, weak, poor Naples. There has been speculation that this was simply a moment to get away from his harridan wife, or that he fell in love with the Italian culture and countryside. Whatever the reasoning, Alfonso threw himself into the development of Naples. He instituted reforms of the government and legal system, centralizing power into himself and the capital. Using his independent military force, he cut the nobility's power and guaranteed a safer freer economy. Into this new economy he built, Alfonso ordered special preferences for his own Aragonese banks, capital, and industry, making Naples an important member of the empire. Alfonso was also a rabid supporter of learning, and he sponsored many academies and humanist clients. Understandably, the common people of the realm adored him, and it was said that he was so beloved that he could walk about completely without armed guards.  
   This is all very positive, and it was pretty much the story that my prof gave. However, there is another side to look at this from. Spanish historians often discount Alfonso as a flighty monarch, who seriously mismanaged his dynasty by practically creating a situation for civil unrest. When Alfonso died, he left behind a newly thriving Naples and a prosperous Aragon, but he failed to leave behind a legitimate heir. In his twilight years, the king had gotten the empire to recognize his illegitimate son, Ferrante, as king of Sicily and Naples, but Alfonso's brother was to inherit the Spanish holdings. This dynastic instability, and the subsequent power struggles, are often laid squarely at his feet by Spanish contemporaries.

So love him or hate him, I enjoyed learning of good old Alfonso the Magnanimous.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Through the parting of the Myst Riven has come....

If you don't get the play on words it just means your not a hard core gamer :) but anyway the massive upgrade is complete ( I hope "~" ) for those of you who asked about it I built it myself with some help so I the best I can answer your "what computer did you get" question is to say a custom desktop PC. specs can be provided on request :)

Monday, October 7, 2013

So here is a random thought I had.

Since we now have Gryphen doing his own posts of random life happenings, I was wondering if people think it would be a good idea to give him his own little page to post on like thimble? Or should we assimilate the thimble tracker into the battle arena, seeing as how thats the spot people tend to check most frequently? The new "Nested" commenting system that disqus so kindly made the default would allow all the conversations to remain separate while still being on the same page. Of course I am interested to see if this makes the conversations die off faster. That would, In turn, keep the subjects "Flowing" with new posts and not get bogged down with an endless continuation of one conversation. I could go on speculating but lets hear it from the users. What say you?! I realize some of our members are on electronic hiatus for a month but that gives some time for everyone to think it over..........Loga style. (yeah, I said it)    

Sunday, October 6, 2013

One Last shot.....

Well guys this will be the last post on the old system "when next I post will will be with new wings...."

Friday, October 4, 2013

Week: 6 My New Title

Professor Gryphon, "A weapon of mass instruction!"

My new title. Thanks to my dear Father. Consider me the strategic ICBM of academia.

I am writing to say that this post will be quite short compared to my others. "Why?!" you ask plaintively? I am glad you asked. I currently am under the gun with three papers, and a church function over the weekend. Ergo, I am playing the wonderful balancing game of life, scholastic achievement, and responsibility.

"Does that mean that you won't be giving us some otherwise useless data?!" You all think desperately. Never fear! I will give a slight foretaste of what is coming in the future.

Platonic Dialogue.
The Ideal Form

There you go. That should be enough to wet the whistle.

Good bye bloggers. I hope to see most of you over the weekend.

AKA: A Weapon of Mass Instruction