Thursday, 25 August 2011

Constantius and Julian -Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 19 Part 2

Blackadder: Where is the prisoner.
Baldrick: He's dead.
Blackadder: Dead? Are you sure?
Baldrick:  Well I cut his head off. That usually does the trick.

In that episode of Blackadder 2, Edmund Blackadder had been put in charge of the Tower of London and had brought all the scheduled executions forward so he could enjoy a long weekend.  Unfortunately Queen Elizabeth had changed her mind about killing one of her favourites.  When the change of instructions got through,  it was too late. With, needless to say, hilarious consequences.

Thursday, 18 August 2011

Constantius and Gallus - Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 19 Part 1

When the sons of Constantine massacred all their close relatives, they spared a couple of their cousins. Gallus and Julian were too young to pose any immediate threat so they didn't have to be killed straight away.  But as their parents had been killed something needed to be done with them, so they were held captive.  Was there a long term plan for them?  It is hard to say.   Given that they had an empire to run, probably their captors forgot all about them.  They were safely out of the picture and there were plenty of other things going on.

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Sunday, 14 August 2011

Constantius - Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire Chapter 18 Part 3

Constantius was the middle of the three sons Constantine had with Fausta.  Of the three he was the one that showed the most promise.
Those who occasionally mention the education or talents of
Constantius, allow that he excelled in the gymnastic arts of leaping and
running that he was a dexterous archer, a skilful horseman, and a master
of all the different weapons used in the service either of the cavalry
or of the infantry.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Red Nails, an early Conan story by Robert.E.Howard

Conan the Barbarian (Thanks to Wikipedia)

With the financial crisis back on the agenda I decided I had better get planning for a worldwide economic meltdown.  There won't be much call for development chemists in any financial armageddon so I'll be needing an alternative career path.  I have decided to become a barbarian.  Steel is the currency of the warrior, and even Goldman Sachs can't do anything to get a rake off from that so it seems like a good choice.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

The Way We Live Now (Oxford World's Classics)

The Way We Live now isn't the best known of Trollope's works nowadays.  His novels about politicking churchmen are a lot more familiar.  But in his own day he was as well known for being one of the few novelists who really understood money.  And this one is the one that is really worth reading if you want an insight into what goes on in board rooms among the people who read the numbers.   At this time of financial meltdown, this is more true than ever.  The plot is too complicated to summarise and as I urge you to read it I don't want to spoil it anyway.  But it is a cracking read.