Musing, News, and the Past

1,592 notes

August 12, 30 BC: Cleopatra VII commits suicide.

One year after the decisive Battle of Actium, in which Octavian (the future Roman emperor Augustus) soundly defeated Mark Antony at sea, Alexandria fell to the land forces of this same man. Faced with an entirely hopeless situation, Mark Antony committed suicide via his own sword. Cleopatra VII Philopator, the last of the Ptolemies to rule Egypt and effectively the last pharaoh of Egypt, followed suit soon after.

She had aligned herself with Mark Antony following Julius Caesar’s assassination in 44 B.C., and she had subsequently given birth to three of his children, though it was her son by Caesar, Caesarion, who succeeded his mother as pharaoh of Egypt. According to most accounts, and most depictions in popular culture and art, Cleopatra committed suicide by having a poisonous snake (usually an asp) bite her. Modern historians and toxicologists have theorized that, rather than carrying out her suicide in a dramatic and potentially painful, drawn-out way, she simply consumed a deadly mixture of various drugs and poisons. Seventeen-year-old Caesarion was temporarily, and in name only, pharaoh for ten days before being killed on Octavian’s orders - supposedly strangled to death. His kingdom, his mother’s kingdom, and the kingdom of nearly three hundred years worth of Macedonian Greek kings, became the Roman province of Aegyptus

(Source: unhistorical, via theactofhistory)

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thecivilwarparlor:

Jewish Soldiers In Blue And Gray - Brother Against Brother-
During the Civil War, Jewish Americans served in the military in impressive numbers. Simon Wolf, author of The American Jew As Patriot, Soldier and Citizen, writes that, “The enlistment of Jewish soldiers, North and South, reached proportions considerably in excess of their ratio in the general population.”
Wolf estimates that approximately twelve hundred Jews served in the Confederacy, including twenty-four army officers and eleven navy officers. Other accounts claim that Wolf grossly underestimates the number, placing the actual number as high as ten thousand. Wolf estimates that almost six thousand Jews served the Union - a number that also may be higher.  A far greater proportion of Southern Jews fought for the Confederacy than Northern Jews fought for the Union. This could have been because Southern Jews were better assimilated and therefore their interests were more similar to those of their Christian countrymen, or merely because, out of necessity, a far higher percentage of Southerners were under arms. Entire families of Southern Jews rushed to join the Confederate ranks: including the five Moses brothers of South Carolina, the six Cohen brothers of North Carolina, the three Levy brothers of Louisiana, and the three Levy brothers of Virginia.  
Of the estimated six thousand Jewish soldiers who served in the Union army, six received the Congressional Medal of Honor. One recipient was Abraham Cohn, a former medical student at the University of Berlin, who enlisted as a private in the 68th New York Regiment. He received the medal “for conspicuous gallantry displayed in the battle of the Wilderness, in rallying and forming, under heavy fire, disorganized troops; also for bravery and coolness in carrying orders to the advance lines under murderous fire in the battle of the Mine, July 30, 1864,” as stated in the letter from S.N. Benjamin, Assistant Adjutant General. Cohn rose to be captain of the regiment. As a result of sickness, Cohn received an honorable discharge. But he recovered, and re-enlisted as a private in the 6th New Hampshire Volunteers, and ultimately was appointed to the post of Adjutant.  
http://www.acjna.org/acjna/articles_detail.aspx?id=241
http://www.maltzmuseum.org/pdf/newsletters/2012-fall-newsletter.pdf

thecivilwarparlor:

Jewish Soldiers In Blue And Gray - Brother Against Brother-
During the Civil War, Jewish Americans served in the military in impressive numbers. Simon Wolf, author of The American Jew As Patriot, Soldier and Citizen, writes that, “The enlistment of Jewish soldiers, North and South, reached proportions considerably in excess of their ratio in the general population.”

Wolf estimates that approximately twelve hundred Jews served in the Confederacy, including twenty-four army officers and eleven navy officers. Other accounts claim that Wolf grossly underestimates the number, placing the actual number as high as ten thousand. Wolf estimates that almost six thousand Jews served the Union - a number that also may be higher.  

A far greater proportion of Southern Jews fought for the Confederacy than Northern Jews fought for the Union. This could have been because Southern Jews were better assimilated and therefore their interests were more similar to those of their Christian countrymen, or merely because, out of necessity, a far higher percentage of Southerners were under arms. Entire families of Southern Jews rushed to join the Confederate ranks: including the five Moses brothers of South Carolina, the six Cohen brothers of North Carolina, the three Levy brothers of Louisiana, and the three Levy brothers of Virginia. 

Of the estimated six thousand Jewish soldiers who served in the Union army, six received the Congressional Medal of Honor. One recipient was Abraham Cohn, a former medical student at the University of Berlin, who enlisted as a private in the 68th New York Regiment. He received the medal “for conspicuous gallantry displayed in the battle of the Wilderness, in rallying and forming, under heavy fire, disorganized troops; also for bravery and coolness in carrying orders to the advance lines under murderous fire in the battle of the Mine, July 30, 1864,” as stated in the letter from S.N. Benjamin, Assistant Adjutant General. Cohn rose to be captain of the regiment. As a result of sickness, Cohn received an honorable discharge. But he recovered, and re-enlisted as a private in the 6th New Hampshire Volunteers, and ultimately was appointed to the post of Adjutant. 

http://www.acjna.org/acjna/articles_detail.aspx?id=241

http://www.maltzmuseum.org/pdf/newsletters/2012-fall-newsletter.pdf

9 notes

Iraq jihadists blow up 'Jonah's tomb' in Mosul - Telegraph

theorthodoxbritreturns:

The new jihadist rulers of Iraq’s northern city of Mosul on Thursday completely levelled one its most well-known shrines.

The Nabi Yunus shrine was built on the reputed burial site of a prophet known in the Koran as Yunus and in the Bible as Jonah.

"Islamic State completely destroyed the shrine of Nabi Yunus after telling local families to stay away and closing the roads to a distance of 500 metres from the shrine," said the official at the Sunni endowment, which manages Sunni religious affairs in Iraq.

The endowment official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, and Mosul residents told AFP it took the Sunni extremists an hour to rig the shrine with explosives.

"They first stopped people from praying in it, they fixed explosive charges around and inside it and then blew it up in front of a large gathering of people," said a witness who did not wish to give his name.

The endowment official said the Islamic State jihadist group that overran large swathes of northern and western Iraq last month have now destroyed or damaged 30 shrines, as well as 15 husseiniyas and mosques in and around Mosul.

Husseiniyas are Shiite places of worship that are also used as community centres.

The official listed the most notable losses to Muslim heritage as being the shrines of Imam Yahya Ibn al-Qassem, Aoun al-Din and Nabi Danial.

"But the worst destruction was of Nabi Yunus, which has been turned to dust," he said.

The Islamic State late last month proclaimed a “caliphate” spanning parts of Iraq and Syria.

The group aims to create an approximation of society as it was in the early days of Islam, which was founded in the 7th century, and considers Muslims who do not adhere to its puritanical version of the religion heretics.

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Can Voice Stress Analysis tell us if someone's lying? Probably not.

allthingslinguistic:

Mark Liberman on Language Log has a through refutation of Voice Stress Analysis, a technique that is used to supposedly tell if someone is lying. Excerpt: 

How does this stuff supposedly work?

CVSA works by measuring involuntary voice frequency changes that would indicate a high level of stress, as occurs when someone is being deceptive. Muscles in the voice box tighten or loosen, which changes the sound of the voice, and that is what the CVSA technology registers.

"The technology uses proprietary methods to process the vocal input, typically yes or no responses to direct questions," Kane explains. "CVSA analyzes vocal input and identifies responses where stress is either present or absent and provides graphical output for each yes or no response."

Here “proprietary”, as far as I can tell, means something like “The original ‘voice stress’ ideas have been thoroughly debunked both theoretically and practically, so now we won’t tell anyone how our products work, so that no one can test the ideas without buying our stuff and taking our training — and if they do that and fail to find positive results, we can say that it’s because they did it wrong…”

In “Analyzing voice stress”, 7/2/2004, I complained that I and others had been trying for 30 years to validate the claims behind “voice stress analysis”, without even being able to find evidence for the stable measurement (and even the existence) of the features (like variable “micro-tremors” or other “involuntary voice frequency changes”) that this technology is supposed to be based on.

Like a polygraph, voice stress analysis seems to work primarily by convincing people that it works and thereby making them less likely to lie in the first place. 

2 notes

'They are savages,' say Christians forced to flee Mosul by Isis

theorthodoxbritreturns:

Iraqi Christians who were forced to flee the northern city of Mosul under threat of forced conversion or execution by jihadists have spoken of their terror as churches were turned into mosques and their homes and property confiscated.

The expulsion of one of the world’s oldest Christian communities provoked condemnation and anguish from figures as diverse as the pope and Iraq's prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, who lambasted the Islamic State (Isis) for its “criminality and terrorism”.

Last weekend Isis gave the city’s Christians a stark choice: convert to Islam, pay a religious tax, or face death. “They said there is no place for Christians in the Islamic state,” one distraught refugee said from the safety of Bashiqa, 16 miles from Mosul. “Either you become Muslim or you leave.” Mosul’s last 1,500 Christian families were reportedly robbed at Isis checkpoints as they fled.

Hundreds have found shelter in areas between Mosul and Irbil – the capital of the Kurdistan regional government – that are controlled by Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, but they face an uncertain future.

"If Isis stays, there is no way the Christians can return," Father Boutrous Moshi said from Qara Qoosh, a Christian area south-east of Mosul. "It is up to God whether we return or not. They have not burned the churches but they did set fire to the pictures and the books and broke the windows."

Monks at the 4th-century Mar Behnam monastery, a major pilgrimage site run by the Syriac Catholic church, were allowed to take only the clothes they were wearing.

Sarab Hazem, from the Zehoor neighbourhood of Mosul, said that initially there were no attacks on Christians when Isis took the city in a lightning offensive in June, though Isis fighters did capture and take away police, security agents and soldiers. “No one knows what becomes of them,” he said.

Then, statues of Christ and the Virgin Mary were destroyed. “They are savages,” Hazem said. “This is oppression for no reason. I believe it is no longer possible for Christians to live in Iraq.”

Bashar Nasih Behnam, 52, who fled with his two young children last Friday, told a similar story: “They [Isis] threatened us and said you can’t stay in Mosul and you have to leave,” he said. “They said we have conditions: either you comply with them or you leave. So we left.”

Deprived by Isis of Iraqi government rations (a legacy of the sanctions imposed in the Saddam Hussein era) they were too frightened to go out to their church, where the jihadis took down a statue of the Virgin Mary and put their black flag in its place. A monastery was turned into a mosque.

Two nuns who were looking after three orphans were kidnapped but later released. The Arabic letter “N” for Nasrani (Christians) was daubed on the doors of houses – to show that they had been seized as the property of the Islamic state declared by Isis.

"There is not a single Christian family left in Mosul," Behnam said. "The last one was a disabled Christian woman. She stayed because she could not get out. They came to her and said you have to get out and if you don’t we will cut off your head with a sword. That was the last family.

"There is not a single family that left and was not robbed. They took our money, gold, even the earrings from their [women’s] ears. They took everything, even mobile phones.

"We don’t know if we are going to go back. Until now we have no idea if there can be a return. We don’t know what our destiny is. They have even taken our houses in Mosul."

Bassem Fadel Zarghit, a shopkeeper from Mosul’s al-Rifa’i neighbourhood, said the city’s Christians had felt doomed despite initial reassurance from Isis. “There is no one left,” he said. “It’s not just the Christians. It’s also the Shia that are being targeted.”

Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, was once among the country’s most mixed. Waves of attacks on Christians since the 2003 US-led invasion to topple Saddam have eroded its once sizeable Christian population, mainly from the Assyrian and Chaldean denominations.

The decree issued by Isis in Mosul mirrored one that its fighters issued in the north-eastern Syrian city of Raqqa in February, demanding that Christians pay the jizya levy in gold and curb displays of their faith in return for protection.

Human Rights Watch has condemned Isis for its vicious campaign against minorities in the Mosul area.