Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.
--C.S. Lewis--

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Two Random And Completely Unrelated Incidents

Tonight, as I was walking my dogs, a snake slithered out of a field onto the sidewalk in front of us. I am terrified of snakes. Blind, irrational, fear. I consider myself a fairly brave guy. I've gone rock climbing and rappelling, broken up a dog fight, backed down two guys who got in my face in a parking garage, etc. I'm no John Wayne, but for the most part, I'm confident in my ability to overcome and control my fear. Not so with snakes. It is, to the best of my knowledge, the only irrational fear I have.

After I managed to get around him (by waiting for him to crawl off the sidewalk and into the street), I continued with the walk. As I did, I saw a car coming. It was in the lane currently occupied by the snake. Suddenly, I found myself feeling concern and pity for the snake. I actually stayed to watch what would happen, because I knew that if I didn't, I'd be concerned for the snake all night. Fortunately, the car missed it. (I've never seen an animal about-face and get off the road as quickly as that snake did when the car whizzed by!) I found myself weirdly puzzled by my concern for an animal that scares the living daylights out of me. Had I found the thing in my yard, I would have unhesitatingly beaten it into oblivion with a shovel while screaming like a girl. Life is funny.

The other incident occurred last night. I was watching a History Channel documentary on Hannibal. As with most History Channel documentaries, it had poorly done and unintentionally comical re-enactments to illustrate the various events the show discussed. But here's the problem. The actor playing Hannibal was black. Carthage may be in Africa, but it was a Phoenician colony. The Phoenicians came from the northern part of Palestine. As I understand it, Hannibal would have been Middle Eastern (to the extent that modern ethnic divisions are transferable to that era). Later, the documentary referred to Hasdrubal as Hannibal's older brother. In fact, Hannibal was the eldest son (At least that we know of. The Carthaginians practiced infant sacrifice.).

Neither of these facts are germane to the documentary itself. But they are pretty basic facts. I've never focused much on that historical era, so if I can pick them out it means anyone with any expertise on the subject should be able to do so. It makes me wonder what other historical errors I've picked up from the History Channel.