June 16

Amber pages

Geronimo, born today in 1829, in the No-Doyohn Canyon of what is now New Mexicoa son of the Bedonkohe band of the Chiricahua Apache tribe.  

Geronimo was his Spanish name. Goyaałé, pronounced "Goyathlay", in his own language, and meaning "one who yawns", though Apache websites say his name was really Goyakhla and "Goyathlay" just an affectionate nickname.

The conquest of the Apache by the Anglo-Saxons was completed on September 4th, 1886, when Geronimo really had no choice but to accept the disgraceful and shameful conditions of surrender imposed by the invaders. He died on February 17th 1909, at Fort Sill in Oklahoma, and was buried at Beef Creek Apache Cemetery, likewise at Fort Sill. I am not aware of any campaign to Boycott, Diversify or place sanctions against the United States of America for its illegal occupation of these lands, or for the policy of apartheid that it has practised against its native population for the past hundred and fifty years.

Joan Van Ark, actress, born today in 1943. Never heard of her? Me neither. I looked her up on the Internet and... never heard of any of the things she's done. Do I care? No. Do I have any interest in finding out more? No. Would I even have written this much, were it not for her name? Not a chance. But what really pleases me, and why I'm writing it, is that it isn't a pseudonym, an actor's name, a clever idea by an agent or a PR company to get her noticed; she really is called Joan Van Ark.

Hammurabi died, today in 1686 BCE, in Babylon... I wonder what would happen if we were to publish the Hammurabic Code, and maybe the Mosaic Code alongside it, in an Idiot's Guide to Human Responsibility, as a challenge to those who claim to be Responsible or even Ethical Capitalists? 

Lists, simple headlines, no essays or polemics, just the basics, and put a box next to each one, with a scoring system, 1-5, one equals "fails entirely", 5 equals "hits every target" - and then send it out to every employer and employee in the western world, private retail outlets, home businesses, government institutions, global corporations, everyone, private and public, regardless of size and scale, and with the rider that you must score an overall average 3 or better or you will lose your license to trade....

You can read the entire codex here (well, almost entire, there are fragments of the original which the archaeologists have been unable to discover)

The great Soweto uprising took place today, in 
1976, in what was still apartheid South Africa, but would not be for very long, given who it was that rioted, and why, and what they did. Schoolchildren. Refusing to be taught in Afrikaans. Burning down the schools rather than collaborate in their own victimhood. Nelson Mandela and the terrorism of the ANC? International sanctions and boycotts? Nope. None of them did any good. But when schoolchildren are ready to put their lives on the line and say enough is enough. It would take 12 more years, but this was the catalyst.

The First Congress of Soviets was convened in Russia, today in 1917  - interesting date: Kerensky was still in power, and the October revolution still four months away, Lenin having arrived back from exile in Zurich on April16

And funnily enough, when Lenin was still in Zurich, hoping, plotting, soon, very soon, he spent his days at a café named L'Odéon, which was regularly frequented at exactly the same time by an Irish emigré who the World War had forced to leave Trieste, which he had made his home; and by several accounts they sat at adjacent tables many times, but by no accounts did they ever actually speak, or even know who the other was. James Joyce.

And funnily enough.... because for writers like me, today, more than anything else, is Bloomsday, the day in 1904 on which James Joyce set his masterpiece, "Ulysses" - the date of his first date with Molly Bloom, or Nora Barnacle really. But also, and surely it was this as much as that, though I appear to be the only soul ever to have noticed it, the anniversary of the publication of the only version of Homer's "Iliad" that Joyce knew - today in 1716

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