The Young & The Ignorant

On a recent trip to Walt Disney World my family and a few friends were able to enjoy the ride Soarin’.  The ride is a flying simulation with a very large screen that takes guests across different landscapes around the world.  Among the landscapes and scenes the ride takes you to include India’s Taj Mahal, Monument Valley in the United States, and Egypt’s Pyramids. The ride’s duration is only a few minutes, but it’s a delightful presentation of the beautiful things created by both God and man.  As we were walking out of the ride I turned to my wife to ask a question.  She gave me the ‘don’t talk to me’ look.  Later on I found out why. She was listening to the couple talking behind her.  Of course they were talking loud enough it was hard not to.  The guy was explaining that he understood why all the things were part of the ride except for “that random-a– castle in Czechoslovakia.” Let’s discuss this for a moment.  First, this is the random castle from the experience:
This is Neuschwanstein Castle.  It’s not in Czech.  It’s in Bavaria To further the experiment I have a mental exercise that I do where I try to understand how the other person came to their conclusion.  I try to find logical potential reasons for them to consider their beliefs to be valid.  This is based upon the idea that we believe we’re right and we believe that we’re logical creatures–though we’re also terribly fallible.  This particular set of statements about the castle being random and in Czech has me a bit puzzled.  So this post is dedicated to asking how could someone come to that conclusion? Here’s what I can imagine:
  • The castle is in Bavaria and built by a king with little influence outside of his kingdom.  Had it been built by Charlemagne or Napoleon or someone else with greater significance maybe it would be better known.  Ludwig just doesn’t make it into American History Books.
  • A lack of knowledge of where the castle is can be further caused by the problem of it not being associated with a major historical figure combined with the reality that many of the maps this couple have seen in their lifetime are digital.  As kids I grew up with the printed cartoonish maps of the world that included major landmarks.  As things have gone digital fewer of these may be available for people to consume.
  • There’s no movies set in the castle.  That sounds minor, but we’re visual creatures used to consuming visual media.  There’ very little popular visual media (outside of tourist videos) that include the castle.  Things might be different if the castle were used more as a location in movies.  As much as the Mission Impossible series have used world locations this hasn’t been one of them.
  • Bavaria is a backwater state in Germany.  My friends from Northern Germany would often comment about how backwards Bavaria is about some things.  Imagine there was a king of West Virginia, and that right before losing the kingdom he built a castle.  That’s the way my friends in Erfurt made it sound like Neuschanstein castle was.  It’s often used as a symbol for Germany, but it’s really part of the backwater state in the country.
  • There’s not much exciting about the castle.  When you go, it looks good, but the experience isn’t Disney.  It’s about the king and how hard he made people work (for very little pay) to create the castle to satisfy his desire to impose his rule as near to God-like as possible.  There’s some discussion about whether or not he was actually murdered.  Why?  Because a king who acts that way might have made more than just a few enemies.
  • There’s lots of good reasons to believe that Czechoslovakia is still a country, but most of them fall apart as soon as one cares to look and I doubt our young characters in this post had ever had the need to look.
While I didn’t follow up with the young couple to actually discover what there reasons were, reviewing these potential reasons helps to humanize how such a situation could happen.  How can you use an exercise like this to help you relate to others.

We Wish You Well

My grandfather was a man with a kind smile.  He died before I made it to ten years old.  When I had kids of my own and visited grandma’s house I discovered his old reel-to-reel tape recorder and found a treasure of information on the old tapes.  While I don’t know what year this particular recording came from and I can’t verify if Donal Hill was the author, I can attest that the loving thoughts expressed are a benefit to those who will listen.

A Heritage to Follow

Screenshot_20181012_225445The Lucius Clark book is up on Amazon.
It’s been really neat to find lessons in there that apply no matter what age the reader is.  I’ve enjoyed these stories as a teenager, and now as a parent.  My parents are finding parallels with his mission to theirs.  There seems to be something here for everyone.
Here’s the description from the book cover:
The Clark children didn’t have beds, but slept on straw filled ticks on the floor. When company came for dinner, it was the custom to have the children wait until the adults were through eating, or stand at the table to eat, because of the lack of chairs.Friendly Indians frequently rode about the area on their ponies. The braves would shoot squirrels with bow and arrows, and roast them over a fire on sticks. The Clark boys were invited to share this delicacy with the Indians. It sounds like the beginning of a great adventurous life, and through those experiences Lucius gained insight that allowed him to leave behind a great legacy. That legacy was passed on to his children during his lifetime, and is now passed on past that generation through this book.This is a selection of the writings of Lucius Clark and those who knew him. The book includes his autobiography, transcripts of interviews, and his funeral proceedings.

Civilization Collapse

A few people I’ve gotten to know over the years have asked if I have a history degree.  When they do I refer them to my brothers who both have degrees and have taught in the subject.  Recently I came across a video that connects several of my favorite topics, history, systems theory, economics, and archeology.  I believe it’s worth sharing.

In the video the author explains how he believes that the systems society was based on prior to the ~1200 BC collapsed causing a reset for humanity.  I love how as an aside he includes a reference to the emergence and popularity of a nearly common alphabet. Remember, according to Epcot, ‘if you can read this, thank the Phoenicians.”

Uncovering History

One of my favorite podcasts is by far “Stuff You Missed in History Class.”  The two upbeat hosts take their audience on a well researched exploration backwards through the timeline twice a week.  They’ve covered the things that make history come alive.  On the way back from France with my daughter last year we listened to the episode about the man who sold the Eiffel Tower.  There’s only one problem with the show that I can see.  It’s only on twice a week and while they’re back catalog is quite impressive it doesn’t necessarily satisfy the itch to see history get dug up out of the ground.

Thankfully some people on the earth are British.  Why?  Because this is a problem that certainly someone from Britain has a solution to.  If that’s what you’re thinking you’d be precisely correct.  This is a problem someone from Britain has solved and that solution is called Time Team.

It’s a BBC program that ran from 1994 to 2014 and during its twenty year run the program followed its same three part format.  The host introduces the location and its historical significance and finishes his intro with “and we’ve got just three days to do it.”  A quick upbeat title sequence gets the reader excited to see what was buried and then we switch to part one where they’re ripping up an open field or someone’s pristine garden looking for buried clues about the past.

On time team each of the three parts corresponds to one particular day.  For a reality TV show it’s a brilliant way to control your time doing principle photography while still being effective with the shows goals.  

I have been binge watching this show on youtube for the past several weeks and it’s just delightful to see them unearth the past layer by layer and trench by trench.  If you’re looking for a show to play in the background of your Sunday afternoon activities that’s got nuggets for everyone in the family, then this is a great one to get started with.