Joyeuse – the Sword of Karolus Magnus

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Pictured above is the hilt of Joyeuse (Joyous), reputedly the sword of Charlemagne. Whether or not this is true remains a subject of debate for historians, but there is no question this artifact which resides at the Louvre, is very old. Visit the Wikipedia article linked above for more provenance information.

The sword is mentioned in the Song of Roland (le Chanson de Roland), France’s epic 11th-century poem based on the based on the Battle of Roncevaux in 778:

In the mead the Emperor made his bed,
With his mighty spear beside his head,
Nor will he doff his arms to – night,
But lies in his broidered hauberk white.
Laced is his helm, with gold inlaid,
Girt on Joyeuse, the peerless blade,
Which changes thirty times a day
The brightness of its varying ray.
Nor may the lance unspoken be
Which pierced our Saviour on the tree;
Karl hath its point – so God him graced
Within his golden hilt enchased.
And for this honor and boon of heaven,
The name Joyeuse to the sword was given;
The Franks may hold it in memory.
Thence came “Montjoie,” their battle – cry,
And thence no race with them may vie.

(Translation by John O’Hagan)

Li emperere s’est culcet en un pret.
Sun grant espiet met a sun chef li ber.
Icele noit ne se volt il desarmer,
Si ad vestut sun blanc osberc sasfret,
Laciet sun elme, ki est a or gemmet,
Ceinte Joiuse, unches ne fut sa per,
Ki cascun jur muet .XXX. clartez.
Asez savum de la lance parler,
Dunt Nostre Sire fut en la cruiz nasfret :
Carles en ad la mure, mercit Deu ;
En l’oret punt l’ad faite manuvrer.
Pur ceste honur e pur ceste bontet,
Li nums Joiuse l’espee fut dunet.
Baruns franceis nel deivent ublier :
Enseigne en unt de Munjoie crier ;
Pur ço nes poet nule gent cuntrester.

I wrote earlier about my encounter with the Rosetta Stone; artifacts of this nature have a curious way of drawing one into their time period, even if only in imagination. I’ve been to the Louvre countless times, but never encountered Joyeuse there; it goes without saying that seeing everything in the Louvre is not an affair for even several visits.

But it’s nice to know that such things are lovingly preserved.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Beauty in Paper – The 1896 Educational Currency

I previously wrote about what I considered to be America’s most beautiful coinage:

1907_uhr_pr69_cami

Today, paper money gets a turn.

From Wikipedia:

The Educational Series series of notes is the informal nickname given by numismatists to a series of United States silver certificates produced by the United States Treasury in 1896, after Bureau of Engraving and Printing chief Claude M. Johnson ordered a new currency design. The notes depict various allegorical motifs and are considered by some numismatists to be the most beautiful monetary designs ever produced by the United States.

one

The One Dollar Bill

The Goddess History instructing a youth, pointing to a panoramic view of the Potomac River and Washington D.C. The Washington Monument and the US Capitol Building are visible in the background. The United States Constitution is displayed to the right. Circling the motif are the last names of famous Americans. Some of those listed are: (George) Washington, (Benjamin) Franklin, (Thomas) Jefferson, (Robert) Fulton, (Samuel F.B.) Morse, & (Ulysses S.) Grant. Full Resolution.

Reverse: Martha and George Washington.

two

The Two Dollar Bill

Science (center) presents Steam and Electricity (the two children) to the more mature figures of Commerce (left) and Manufacture (right). Full Resolution

Reverse: Robert Fulton and Samuel F.B. Morse

five

The Five Dollar Bill

Electricity surrounded by other allegorical figures, representing the dominant force in the world. The United States Capitol building can be seen behind the female figures. Full Resolution

Reverse: Ulysses S. Grant and Phillip Sheridan

These beautiful works of art, embodying both aesthetically and factually pleasing images combine with superb engraving skill1 to create works of incredible beauty.

Not surprisingly, some Boston society ladies got their knickers in a twist over the bare breasts visible on the $5.00 note, and some bankers refused to accept these bills. The Bureau of Engraving planned a “draped” version for the 1897 series, much as the 1916 Standing Liberty quarter was re-designed the following year for the same reason (see the above-linked article), but the design was never used.

For the longest time, American currency has been soul-searingly boring. We used to be able to get away with it because the world valued the dollar no matter how ugly it looked, but those times are coming to an end. I have long wished that we could redesign our currency along the lines of things done by Australia and other countries, but as long as government is dominated by people who are convinced that the almighty dollar is unassailable, this is unlikely to happen.

At least at one point in our history, people were willing to try something new and different.

The Old Wolf has spoken.


1 On a semi-related note, a wonderful and chilling tale which involves engraving skill can be found in “Don’t Look Behind You” by Frederick Brown. I recommend it, but not if you’re home alone on a dark night.

Customer Service – It even sucked in 1750 BC

I saw this image pop up on reddit somewhere, and thought it was amusing in light of today’s challenges with companies like Comcast:

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Well, of course I shared it round, and then people started asking me about the provenance. Stuff like this tends to go wild on places like Pinterest and Flickr, generally without attribution, so it took me a while to track down some relevant information about the piece.

According to the British Museum, this tablet is currently part of their collection; the description reads:

Clay tablet; letter from Nanni to Ea-nasir complaining that the wrong grade of copper ore has been delivered after a gulf voyage and about misdirection and delay of a further delivery; slightly damaged; 23 + 25 + 3 + 2 ll. Dated 1750 BC, Excavated/Findspot: Ur (Asia,Iraq,South Iraq,Ur (city – archaic))

A little more digging provided me with some intriguing information about the tablet itself, provided by redditor /u/labarna, who claims a PhD in Babylonian astronomy:

If you’re curious here’s the translation of the letter (emphasis mine). This is taken from Leo Oppenheim’s book “Letters from Mesopotamia“:

Tell Ea-nasir: Nanni sends the following message:

When you came, you said to me as follows : “I will give Gimil-Sin (when he comes) fine quality copper ingots.” You left then but you did not do what you promised me. You put ingots which were not good before my messenger (Sit-Sin) and said: “If you want to take them, take them; if you do not want to take them, go away!”

What do you take me for, that you treat somebody like me with such contempt? I have sent as messengers gentlemen like ourselves to collect the bag with my money (deposited with you) but you have treated me with contempt by sending them back to me empty-handed several times, and that through enemy territory. Is there anyone among the merchants who trade with Telmun who has treated me in this way? You alone treat my messenger with contempt! On account of that one (trifling) mina of silver which I owe(?) you, you feel free to speak in such a way, while I have given to the palace on your behalf 1,080 pounds of copper, and umi-abum has likewise given 1,080 pounds of copper, apart from what we both have had written on a sealed tablet to be kept in the temple of Samas.

How have you treated me for that copper? You have withheld my money bag from me in enemy territory; it is now up to you to restore (my money) to me in full.

Take cognizance that (from now on) I will not accept here any copper from you that is not of fine quality. I shall (from now on) select and take the ingots individually in my own yard, and I shall exercise against you my right of rejection because you have treated me with contempt.

This letter is quite interesting because it was actually excavated from Ur, so we have an approximate find spot, which is unfortunately somewhat rare for most cuneiform tablets.

It’s also interesting because of the mention of merchants who trade with Telmun. As far as we know Telmun (or Dilmun) was a polity in the Persian Gulf, probably near to if not located on the island of Bahrain. There was a certain type of merchant alik Tilmun (literally “one who goes to Dilmun”) who was associated with trade in the Persian Gulf. And not surprisingly (if you read the letter) copper was a major part of this trade network. Now it should also be said that there were many trade networks flowing into and out of Mesopotamia at this point and the trade through the Persian Gulf was just one facet of a larger network.

/u/labarna then also links to a pencil sketch of the tablet in question:

P414985_l

We are challenged to compare said sketch to the image of the tablet, and told that this passes for fun among those who study cuneiform. Intriguing indeed, doing such a comparison would give me a headache, and I have nothing but huge respect for those who can decipher such things.

It would be interesting to know the outcome of this particular trade dispute. if Ea-nasir was anything like Comcast, he would have sent back a clay tablet with the Bablylonian equivalent of “It sucks to be you.”

The Old Wolf has spoken.

It pays to shop around

Had a little accident with my oven a while back. The front glass got broken, and I went hunting around for a replacement part.

GE’s offering:

GE PartSelect

Are you out of your Vulcan mind? That’s extortion! Well, that was disheartening. Let’s see if we can find a competitor or aftermarket alternative.

PartsDirect

Well, Sears PartsDirect did a little better, but a bit more searching came up with this:

BlackDrive Glass

Why a black sheet is so much less expensive than a white one is totally beyond me, but I ended up saving over $300.00 just by settling for a black front instead of a white one, and the contrast looks very good.

The Internet makes comparison shopping so much easier than it used to be. Back in the day, the Yellow Pages and a telephone was all we had, and one was limited to a very local search. I’m grateful for the miracle.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

But for Ireland I’d not Tell Her Name (Is ar Éirinn Ni n-Eósfhainn Cé Hi)

This beautiful ballad has long been one of my favorite songs of Ireland. I first fell in love with it as part of “Mary O’Hara’s ireland:”

Later, my wife introduced me to The High Kings, who performed an abridged but no less pleasing version:

There are numerous spellings of the lyrics out there, but I have chosen to use the one that appears on O’Hara’s recording.

Aréir is mé téarnamh um’ neoin
Ar an dtaobh thall den teóra ‘na mbím,
Do théarnaig an spéir-bhean im’ chómhair
D’fhág taomanach breóite lag sinn.
Do ghéilleas dá méin is dá cló,
Dá béal tanaí beó mhilis binn,
Do léimeas fé dhéin dul ‘na cómhair,
Is ar Éirinn ní n-eósfhainn cé hí.
Last night as I strolled abroad
On the far side of my farm
I was approached by a comely maiden
Who left me distraught and weak.
I was captivated by her demeanour and shapeliness
By her sensitive and delicate mouth,
I hastened to approach her
But for Ireland I’d not tell her name.
Dá ngéilleadh an spéir-bhean dom’ ghlór,
Siad ráidhte mo bheól a bheadh fíor;
Go deimhin duit go ndéanfainn a gnó
Do léirchur i gcóir is i gcrich.
Dó léighfinn go léir stair dom’ stór,
‘S ba mhéinn liom í thógaint dom chroí,
‘S do bhearfainn an chraobh dhi ina dóid,
Is ar Éirinn ní n-eósfhainn cé hí.
If only this maiden heeded my words,
What I’d tell her would be true.
Indeed I’d devote myself to her
And see to her welfare.
I would regale her with my story
And I longed to take her to my heart
Where I’d grant her pride of place
But for Ireland I’d not tell her name.
Tá spéir-bhruinneal mhaordha dheas óg
Ar an taobh thall de’n teóra ‘na mbím.
Tá féile ‘gus daonnacht is meóin
Is deise ró mhór ins an mhnaoi,
Tá folt lei a’ tuitim go feóir,
Go cocánach ómarach buí.
Tá lasadh ‘na leacain mar rós,
Is ar Éirinn ní n-eósfhainn cé hí.
There is a beautiful young maiden
On the far side of my farm
Generosity and kindness shine in her face
With the exceeding beauty of her countenance.
Her hair reaches to the ground
Sparkling like yellow gold;
Her cheeks blush like the rose
But for Ireland I’d not tell her name.

There are other versions out there, no less pretty; these two are my favorites.

Tá an Sean-Fhaolchú labhairthe.

Sometimes the Good Guys Win

From the website of the Boston Division of the FBI (this is the real McCoy):

Canadian Sentenced to 10 Years in Prison for Role in Telemarketing Fraud

U.S. Attorney’s Office, November 10, 2010

BOSTON, MA—A Montreal man was sentenced today in federal court in connection with his role in a long running telemarketing scheme that targeted victims in the United States and the United Kingdom.

MITCHELL KARACHINSKY, 59, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Patti B. Saris to 10 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by two years of supervised release. The court also ordered Karachinsky to pay restitution in the total amount of $1.624,750. Karachinsky pleaded guilty to telemarketing fraud on April 1, 2010.

At the earlier plea hearing, the prosecutor told the court that had the case proceeded to trial, the government’s evidence would have proven that Karachinsky participated in a fraudulent telemarketing ring operated from Montreal. Targeting elderly victims in the U.S., Karachinsky and others falsely represented that the call recipient had won a large money prize that could only be collected after the victim prepaid fees that needed to be mailed or wired to Canada. The money prizes were nonexistent and none of the victims of the scheme ever received any winnings. In total the scheme defrauded U.S. victims of more than $2.5 million. In December 2009 one of Karachinsky’s co-defendant, Gilles Maisonneuve, was also sentenced to 10 years in prison for his role in this fraud.

United States Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said, “Telemarketing fraud is a crime that targets members of some of our most vulnerable populations, including senior citizens. I am committed to the prosecution of these predators and dedicated to recovering as much money for victims of telemarketing fraud as possible.”

U.S. Attorney Ortiz and Richard DesLauriers, Special Agent in Charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation Federal Bureau of Investigation announced the sentencing today. The case was investigated by Project Colt, a cross border law enforcement telemarketing initiative based in Montreal including the participation of the FBI and other federal agencies and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Lori J. Holik of Ortiz’s Economic Crimes Unit.

I don’t mind doxxing this scumbag because the information presented here is a matter of public record, and this is the turdcasket who scammed my mother out of about $65,000.00 while she was still alive.

Ever since he was sentenced, we’ve been getting regular updates from the USDOJ Victim Notification system; the last one we got is as follows:

You have requested to receive notifications regarding MITCHELL KARACHINSKI, an inmate incarcerated at the Rivers Correctional Institution in Winton, NC. [snip] This notice is to inform you that MITCHELL KARACHINSKI will be released on April 22, 2015. Additionally, will release to the custody of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement for possible deporation to Canada.

So it looks like Mr. Scumbag has served his time and is about to be released, with the hope that ICE sends his sorry ass back to Montreal where, it is to be hoped, he will face additional sanctions from the Canadian authorities.

The notification mentions restitution, but Mogg only knows where any funds for that would come from. At any rate, I am most grateful to the FBI and the RCMP for working together to put this piece of camel ejecta and his cronies behind bars for a goodly bit of time.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

Am I (DEAD) or am I (ALIVE)? [Scam]

This Sam Nwa guy is working hard. A pity he doesn’t care to do anything but run an advance-fee fraud scam.

Subject: DHL COURIER SERVICE IMMEDIATE DELIVERY NOTIFICATION
From: Linda Williams <sarahkahls@gmail.com>
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

DIRECTOR DHL COURIER SERVICE.

TEL: +229 99935738

Dear Beneficiary,

I am writing to confirm the fact if you are (DEAD) or (ALIVE) and failure to reply back in the next 24hrs simply means what Mr Jude Betsy said was right that you are dead. Mr Jude Betsy has agreed to pay the needed charge fee valued of $50.00 dollars required for the Bond Stamp Duty Fee of your consignment box , but we have not gotten the money from him yet as we want to find out if you are DEAD or not, so if you are still (ALIVE) you are advice in your own best interest to reply back, The only money you will pay to our office here is just $50.00 for the paper works, Take note of this now, so we can stop further communication with Mr Jude Betsy and deliver the (Consignment Box) to your door step being the original benefactor of the $2.5 Million US Dollars. Be the reassurance that once we hear from you with this payment, i promise that your delivery will commence immediately without any further delay to hand over the consignment box to your designated address and do not miss this Good opportunity that you have to receive the consignment box at last for the pass effort that you are trying to get it receive to your home address this is an opportunity for you don’ t miss it is for you.

BELOW IS THE PAYMENT INFORMATION YOU WILL USE TO SEND THE $50.00 TO OUR CASHIER NAME THROUGH WESTERN UNION OR MONEY GRAM.

Receivers Name= = = Sam Nwa
Address:= = 12/1 Midombo Expressway Cotonou-Benin
Country= = = = = = Benin Republic
City= = = = = = = =Cotonou
Text question= = = =Who is father
Text answers= = = = God
Amount= = = = = = $50.00usd
MTCN Number= = = =?

You must send us the details provided by Western Union or money gram immediately you made the payment of $50 usd for us to receive it and commence for your delivery immediately.

Senders Name= = = =
Sender Address= = =
Sender Country= = =
Sender City= = = = =
MTCN= = = = = = =
Amount sent= = = =

Beside if you fail to comply with the needed $50 Dollars required there is no way we can deliver the consignment box to your country,

Looking forward to hear from you if you are still ALIVE, reply back for fast action so that your delivery will commence upon receipt of your payment.

Best Regards,

Dr Mrs.Linda Williams
DIRECTOR DHL COURIER SERVICE.
COMPANY BENIN REPUBLIC.
TEL/ +22999935738
Address 12/1 Midombo Expway Cotonou-Benin

Be careful out there.

The Old Wolf has spoken.