Contrabands of War
Former slave, photographed between 1862 and 1865
Gladstone Collection of African American Photographs, Library of Congress
Cantonese Pirate Ching Shih/Cheng I Sao/Shih Yang (1775–1844)
The early details of Ching Shih’s life are unclear, but she is believed to be a former sex worker captured by pirates. In 1801, she married the pirate captain Zheng Yi and bore two sons. Ching Shih was a full participant in the fleet as Chinese pirate bands were family affairs including women and children. In 1807, Zheng Yi was killed in Vietnam and Ching Shih took control of the fleet, a bold move for a woman of the time. She built a coalition with her husband’s nephew and cousin, appointing his adopted son Chang Pao as her second in command.
Under Ching Shih’s leadership, the Red Flag Fleet became the most powerful pirate band in Asia. They expanded from pillaging into protection schemes. Ching Shih devised a new code of laws for pirates. Complete obedience was required. Disobedience led to beheading. Female captives deemed unattractive were returned to shore, but attractive women could join the fleet as wives. However, consent and fidelity were not optional. Both rape and adultery were punishable by death.
The Red Flag Fleet thrived under Ching Shih’s command, successfully evading Chinese, British, and Portuguese opponents. In 1810, the Chinese government offered the pirates amnesty and Ching Shih retired a rich woman. She ran a gambling house with her second husband Chang Pao until her death in 1844 at the age of 69.
Know your Greek vases!
Kylix - Drinking cup used for wine.
Kantharos - A drinking cup.
Lip Cup - Wine cup.
Phiale - A libation bowl.
Skyphos - A drinking cup.
Lekanis - Used to contain different substances and objects; was a chamber pot toilet, a container for ointments or small objects. Also a vessel in which were placed the jewels that her father gave the bride.
Lebes Gamikos - Another ritual water vessel used for weddings.
Rhyton - Ceremonial libation pourer.
Psykter - Used as a wine cooler. The pot was filled with wine and then placed into another container of cold water.
Stamnos - Used for mixing and storing liquids.
Dinos - A mixing bowl.
Krater - Used as a bowl to mix water and wine.
Today in labor history, May 18, 1979: An Oklahoma jury finds for the estate of atomic worker and OCAW member Karen Silkwood, ordering Kerr-McGee Nuclear Co. to pay $505,000 in actual damages and $10 million in punitive damages for negligence leading to Silkwood’s plutonium contamination.
So I just learned that Cleopatra actually lived closer in time to the moon landings than the construction of the Great Pyramid of Giza. Ancient Egyptian Civilization was around a very long time.
- Pyramid of Giza — built circa 2540 BC (4553 years ago)
- Cleopatra — Born ~69 BC (2082 years ago)
- Moon Landing — 1969 AD (44 years ago)
- Diff between Cleopatra and Pyramid of Giza - 2471 years
- Diff between Cleopatra and Moon Landing - 2038 years
Watergate: The Video Game
Journalists: It’s the game you’ve always wanted to play. Forget finding Carmen Sandiego. In Watergate: The Video Game, you’re on the hunt to expose Richard Nixon’s corruption. Here, the real sleuthing happens through interviews, document acquisition and hard-hitting reporting. This is the best way to celebrate the Pulitzer Prize that the Washington Post received 40 years ago today for its coverage of the Watergate scandal.
FJP: I like the 8-bit glory of it all. — Michael
If we’re a little bleary-eyed tomorrow, it’s because we’ve spent all night investigating Watergate.
If you hit “no”, you’re resigned to listening to the police scanner for the rest of your life.
Hey now everybody now hey now everybody hey now everybody now
Originating in the 18th century, but growing in popularity throughout the 19th century, dance cards were small, decorative notebooks used by women to record the names of the men who had promised them a dance at a ball.
As can be seen in the fan-shaped example above, the names of each dance that will be played at the event are noted already on the blue “Dances” sections, whilst the “Engagements”, or the names of the men with whom the woman intends to dance, are marked in ink beside them. Apparently the men would just have to remember by heart with whom they had promised the dance.
The dance cards came in particularly handy at the massive 19th century balls of Vienna, especially those during Fasching, just before Lent. Most dance cards incorporated a pencil and a cord to attach to the woman’s wrist, however, more elaborate dance cards of the elite were sometimes decorated with precious metals or jewels.
On September 14 1964, John Steinbeck was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Lyndon B. Johnson.
In this photo, John Steinbeck with his 19 year-old son John (left), visits his friend, President Johnson, in the Oval Office, May 16, 1966.
I think John Steinbeck is one of the greatest literary geniuses of the 20th century. I’d definitely recommend reading East of Eden, The Grapes of Wrath, and Of Mice and Men.
He’s also really cute, which I didn’t know until looking him up today.