Happy Halloween, you bunch of spooky dark [entrances to tunnels of terror]. It’s been too long! I know. I have so much [loving stink] going on in my professional and personal life that it’s been hard to carve out time for my normal in-season weekly forays into the ridiculous with you, you jovial [family men]. It’s good [positive developments], though, except for the part where it keeps me away from III Communication.
Here’s a quick wrap up of recent events around Conference III before I finish a 50+ slide powerpoint deck and head to the Halloween store to pick up this year’s costume…
Today in History
The Danish Civil War, which you didn’t know existed, came to its bloody conclusion at the Battle of Grathe Heath in 1157.
The slide to war begin with the abdication of Eric III, the reasons for which are unknown.
And as they do in a power vacuum, things got really bad.
Every Thursday we bring you III Communication’s Conference III Power Rankings, the Thursday Thirteen.
This week’s is the first song for your mixtape. It’s short just like your temper:
Today In History
What is known in English as the Battle of Leipzig — much more poetically, the Germans call it Völkerschlacht and the French Bataille des Nations — begins October 16, 1813 as the forces of the Sixth Coalition meet those of Napoleon near the city in Saxony.
It was to be the largest battle in Europe until World War I with some 600,000 belligerents in the field. On the Coalition side: Russians, Prussians, Austrians and Sweden. For Napoleon, not just French but Saxon, Polish and Italian troops.
Furthermore, each of the Coalition countries had, present in the field, their monarchs: Tsar Alexander I of Russia, Prussia’s Frederick William III and Emperor Francis I of Austria. This led to massive staffs and, one might call them “predictable” petty rivalries within the Coalition itself, already strained upon having lost the contributions of British and Portuguese forces (among others).
Nevertheless, all agreed that Napoleon’s German campaign had to be stopped and Leipzig was where they could make that happen.
After years of escalation — which included a war and a British-led raid to take Johannesburg — the Boer republics of Transvaal and the Orange Free State invade the British-held Cape Colony and Natal, beginning the Second Boer War. Talk about being united and divided simultaneously, eh?
The war began with rapid invasions by the Boers, who had the great advantage of having a fighting force that was nimble, familiar with the area, good on horses and fairly easy to mobilize. Within a few weeks, the Boers had made great inroads into British-held territory, driving back the British in some cases and laying siege to garrisons in others.
Spoiler alert: though the war pioneered the use of modern guerrilla warfare, the Brits ultimately win this one, the Boer territories are incorporated into the British colonies and the Union of South Africa comes to be in 1910…and then develops into a truly reprehensible country but then gets sort of OK again and then hosts the World Cup.
Welcome back, [poultry fetishists]. Teams from other divisions played yesterday, but [ignore] them. Today marks the first day of the real NHL regular season. To mark this momentous occasion, join me for a review of the teams that make our beloved Conference III a special division—a Great Divide—separating it from the Flortheast, the Californian, and the Metropolitan, where division name jokes write themselves. As J.R. so eloquently pointed out yesterday, it is our division that both unites us and divides us, and since he chose to focus on the former, I will examine the latter in the form of crass, brash, and morally distasteful power rankings.
In 1854, the Siege of Sevastopol begins during the Crimean War, as the French sapeurs begin digging trenches around the capital of the Crimea.
After the Allied fleet — which included the British and Ottomans along with the aforementioned French — landed in September with 50,000 men at Eupatoria, the intention was to march to Sevastopol with ease.
It didn’t quite go as planned. The Russians scuttled the fleet and began firing on the assembling Allies. The battle was won by the Allies nearly a year later, but at great cost: 128,000 casualties for the Allies, 102,000 for the Russians, which included civilians, many of whom died of disease in the encircled city.
There is almost nothing to see in southern Illinois. Interstates cross in Marion. Or is it Mt. Vernon? It makes very little difference as a practical matter unless one is traveling to either Marion or Mt. Vernon, which, unless someone is a convicted felon, is unlikely.
But beyond these crossroad towns, downstate Illinois is vast and empty. Once the land rises out of the Ohio River valley, it doesn’t even offer the courtesy of an occasional interesting hill. It is farms. And it is farm roads and it is farm people in a blanket of barren but beautiful farm land that seems far away from anything.
This isn’t to pick on downstate Illinois, by any means. Much of Missouri is like this, too: empty and flat, space bifurcated by Interstates and the occasional blessed town — sometimes even of size, but usually just wide spots where the gas station attendants make cracks about a band mistakenly thanking the good people of Washington for coming out when the gig was actually in Warrenton.
The same story is repeated, sometimes in extremes, across Conference III. Empty and cold in Minnesota and Manitoba. Empty and dry in Texas. And nothing but corn and the curve of the Earth clear from Kansas City to Denver.
And in southern Middle Tennessee, the farther from Nashville, the “-villes” turn to “-burgs,” the greens get greener in the summer and the browns get browner in fall and in the winter, it’s all grey, clear to Birmingham, where it’s grey all year.