Saturday, November 5, 2016

Today in tenuous historical connections...

This is not one of those at all.
Hey, do you know what today is? If you said today is the day three days before roughly half of the country makes a terrible decision that might put a narcissistic game show host in charge of the planet's largest arsenal, you would be correct and if you're anything like me the thought fills your veins with an ice cold dread. But hey, it's also Guy Fawkes Night! Which, when you think about it, is kind of a weird occasion because usually when someone has their own holiday it's because we're celebrating them. But this is not one of those.

Above: Cersei Lannister out-Fawkes-ing
her political opponents. Also, sorry.
Guy Fawkes Night marks the foiling of the Gunpowder Plot and doesn't so much celebrate Fawkes as it does commemorate him getting caught like a be-Van Dyke'd idiot standing around guarding an undercroft full of soggy gunpowder while his fellow conspirators booked it out of town. Their plan was to cram the basement of the Parliament building with enough explosives to blow up the MP's, King James and most of the Tyrells because, I don't know, they were feeling underappreciated and when things aren't going your way politically, why not blow shit up?

Spoiler alert: it didn't work. James I, the ermine-robe wearing boy detective, sussed out the plot, caught Fawkes and later his compatriots and had them all gruesomely executed because early modern English people were nuts for public horror shows.
Fun History Quiz! Is the man on the right A) an ergot-crazed psychopath
rooting around in the chest cavity of one of his victims, or B) a legitimate
part of the English criminal justice system in the seventeenth century?
(the answer is B, but both might be kind of true)

Above: an unrelated picture of the guy
half the country is going to vote for
on Tuesday. Half. Holy shit.
Anyway, this celebration of the capture of history's biggest patsy grew into Bonfire Night aka Guy Fawkes Night and is celebrated throughout Britain by setting effigies of Guy Fawkes on fire because violence is not the way to affect political change. Except when it is. Fun fact: James' son Charles I would totally get overthrown and beheaded like forty years later. So like many of history's lessons, this one is kind of muddled. On the one hand, we should be appalled when people try to use violence to further their political agenda. On the other hand, that's loser talk. Winners fuck shit up when it doesn't go their way.

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