Friday, November 9, 2007

Weird Politics (and This Day in History)

Loaded title, right? However, our day and age is not the first time when weird politics have been put into play.

In 1519, three powers were diplomatically warring it out in Europe: England, led by Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon; France, headed up by Francis I and (not nearly as much in influence as Catherine) Claude, Duchess of Brittany, noted for her religious piety and not much else; and the Holy Roman Empire, under the the young and inexperienced Charles V, which contained Burgundy, the Netherlands, and, at that time, huge swathes of Spain and Italy.

Anglo-Spanish relations had repeatedly risen and crumbled due, mostly, to betrayal by the former Spanish king, Ferdinand of Aragon, Catherine's father. However, when Ferdinand died, Henry of England realized that England was a precious commodity and her services could be quite efficiently sold to the highest bidder. Henry, aided and abetted by his Lord Chancellor and Cardinal Wolsey, went about forming conflicting alliances with Charles and Francis. A key point in the alliance between France and England was an actual face-to-face meeting between the kings. However, in a form very representative of the time, this repeatedly failed to happen.

After several postponements on both sides, the kings of England and France swore an oath, as was fashionable at the time, not to shave until they met.

Imagine Francis' surprise when he heard on November 9, 1519 (hence "this day in history"!) that Henry of England had cut off his beard.

This may well have been the beginning of what I think is nearly five hundred straight years of disagreement between France and England, and indeed Henry VIII did end up siding with Charles V (it didn't hurt that he was Catherine's niece by her sister Juana, known to history as Joanna the Mad - nice title), but the reason for the shave-off might have been entirely innocent, and is occasionally documented as such: Catherine convinced her husband to shave it off, as she simply hated beards.

Politics are, by definition, weird.

(Source 2, Source 3, Source 4. Because I, having been raised by engineers, believe in the power of documentation.)

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Gah, almost forgot.

Halloween costume!

This is an old(ish) picture (well...obviously - time stamp for the win!), because by the time I got ready to take my sister and her friend trick-or-treating, it was already a bit late, so no time for a photo op. I did walk the streets in this, though.

Got recognized once, too. Here's the primary screencap I worked from. Due to my dire inability to work with patterns, most of this was freehanded. My sewing machine - normally similar in temperament to a grouchy old man - and I developed an understanding on this costume. It was phenomenal.

Then the sewing machine died.

Sigh. That's life.

I love Halloween.

Aaaaaaaaand...we're off!

Yep. It's that time of year again. NaNoWriMo is upon is, and I'm happy to say I bagged my wordcount quota before lunch today.

(And let me just say I almost fell out of my chair when I finished tallying up the manual count and it came to 1687. Daaaaaaaaang. I have too much free time in the morning.)

I managed to balloon that out by 200 in the type-in, so I'm in decent standing for the first day (though my mom has me by 30 words. Hi, mom!).

Who else in the blogosphere is NaNoing? And how are you doing? Your story perking up at the whistle yet?

Best of luck to my fellow writing fiends, including those who are using the month for comics, manga, plays, and whatever other creative pursuits!