Tree of the Roses


This post serves up a long overdue updated version of a tree showing the kings and queens of England who sprang from the many uncrowned sons of King Edward III (seen above with his wife and 2nd cousin Philippa of Hainault). It’s as tidy as can be, leaves out very little, actually, and conveys a lot without being totally overwhelming.

Firstly, though, here’s a chart as a frame of reference showing Edward & Philippa and their sons, not one of whom was ever King of England. (Always click on it, and then once you go to the tab it opens in, click it again so it assumes its full and I hope enjoyable capacity.)

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The king immediately following Edward’s death in 1377 was the son of Edward, the oldest son and was named Richard II. The next king was picked by Richard to be one of the grandkids of the 2nd oldest son Lionel, but instead the oldest son of the 3rd son, John, Duke of Lancaster, decided to be king and simply took the crown, telling his younger (half) brother that neither he nor any of his descendants ever got to be king, and then passed it on down to his son and then he to his son. But then it went to a great-grandson of the 4th son, Edmund, Duke of York named Edward (again, this time the 4th, or: IV), then very briefly to his teenage son before going to his (Edward IV’s) younger brother who happened to nicely bookend this hot-potato-like game of the throne that had commenced with Edward III’s death by being named Richard also, and thus the 3rd, or: III.

But then he went and got killed by someone who was a great-great-grandson of the 3rd son (John of Lancaster) who happened to be married to a lady who was both a 4x-great-granddaughter of the 2nd oldest son (Lionel, Duke of Clarence), a 2x-great-granddaugher of the 3rd son (John, Lancaster again) as well as a 2x-great-grandaughter of the 3rd son Edmund (of York). This guy was named Henry and when he took that crown became the 7th one, or Henry VII. The son of his and wife Elizabeth was of course, good ole Henry VIII, he was, and all three of this Henry’s kids would rule England when their time came, but since none of them had any kiddies, the crown passed, as is well known, to a man who was the great-grandson of Henry VIII’s big sister Margaret, one James, who was already by right of birth James VI, King of Scots, and on the death of his grandma’s and grandpa’s 1st cousin Elizabeth I in 1609, became King James I of England.

Click on this chart below, download it so you can zoom way in.

There will be a follow-up post that offers something in the way of an explanation of chart-making choices and highlighting some of the use-values of the chart.

If you repost, borrow, or in any way use it, please attribute. Thanks. Enjoy!







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Posted by on November 6, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Brothers Pt. 3

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Welcome to the third part of this little spree of posts on Y-DNA and the worldwide lines of descent of the men who’ve been the agents and embodiments of its dispersal. Here are links to Part 1 & Part 2.

In this post I’m sharing more detailed charts I’ve made showing these descents, first of which is a slight revision of the first one I posted showing the African “trunk” of what I’m calling the world’s brothers. The main difference is simply that it’s oriented left to right instead of top down; I’ve also added some brief explanatory notes on it. Again, all the charts I post should be clicked on and then opened again at their max size.


And next is the branch that came from “CT Little Brother” in the chart above. CT is the working designation of the Y-DNA haplogroup of the men who first left the garden-like cradle of Africa about 72,000 years ago, and from whom 90% of the world’s men descend.

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Next we have “The Rest” of us, the Brothers. It’s worth noting that almost all of the migrations demonstrated in these charts were back in the Old Stone Age (Paleolithic period).


And last for today is this amazingly elegant & simplified version of the big picture from a great site called The Genetic Atlas:



Posted by on September 3, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Brothers Pt.2

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I made this chart to just show the basics of what’s up with Y-DNA to give context for anyone who wants or needs it to yesterday’s post.

And the map below puts it in a geographic context. Always click on images like this map or charts so you can see them larger, more easily and in detail. Cuz it turns out that the degree to which we humans are just such a mix is truly astounding. This migration route maps only begins to hint at that.

More later today! Watch this National Geographic documentary if you haven’t seen it.


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Posted by on August 16, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Respect Pt. 1: The Real Big Brother…& His Little Brothers

Men of the world descend–as is now widely known and almost universally accepted, thankfully–from a shared ancestor dude who lived and died in Africa some 200 thousand years ago. Crazy, huh!

In a very real sense, those men who are still in Africa, and many in America who are the great-great-great-(& them some, in many cases)-grandsons of men who were stolen from Africa are the actual big brothers of allllll the rest of us.

If you conceptualize it collapsing time it’s easier to grasp the familial, sibling (& then uncle, nephew) type dynamic of relationships: they are our elder brothers, the ones we (should) look up to etc sorta just by dint of the fact that they’re the ones who have been here, doing this whole living thing longer than we have. It’s a good thing.



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Posted by on August 15, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Dead Crazy! (Ringer)

Like those of you who stop by here, (I imagine) my intricate and endless fascination with history takes me down many a road, tangential often, but like National Geographic can’t quit Ancient Egypt and can be counted on to return to it, oNATL GEOS EGr like the always and forever “very big” arena of Space will find its way back on to the cover of Scientific American regularly I find I return SCI AMSto certain topics or periods with enough frequency that their centrality to my thinking must form veritable broad avenues unto highways in my thought patterns. And on occasion, from some familiar historical haunt of mine I’ll be afforded a view across, over, out, further to see some other thing I hadn’t before, as I again adjust my view of the world at large through the scrim of whatever of my the historical “comfort foods”/favorites it might be.

And in this case, the little connection I share here today I can’t believe it’s not already all over the web’s hang-out zones of the the two areas that cross-pollinate in today’s post.

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On the one hand, a contender if ever there was one for the Greatest of the “Greatest Hits” of history–a favorite not only of mine, but of no less a personage that guy who had the patience to write the 6 volume “History of [its] Rise and Fall”, of the Nat’l Geo’s weighing down everyone’s basements, to say nothing of being the bread and butter of the History Channel, weighing in at approximately 15,620,000 pounds becuz NG2Sthat’s how much their yearly revenue would weigh, it’s: the Roman Empire!


In the other corner, spied, as it was, as it were and as it shall be, by my little eye, and hailing from the mind of a master scavenger of History, culled from the Perfect Stormy Royale with Frommage du Plantagenet, pulled from the pages of Rose Colored Medievalania, the Histori-Tolkeinian Mashup Ye can always be Dragon out at cocktail parties, weighing in at a hefty 562 million pounds becuz that’s how much their viewers-per-episode weigh en masses is everyone’s favorite dragon dance of swords and dwarves: Game of Thrones!




I can’t be the first to point out the crazyresemblance between the smug little King Joffrey Baratheon of the HBO TV adaptation of (the fictional) Game of Thrones (as portrayed by young irish actor Jack Gleeson) and Caligula Caesar, the infamously off-kilter and cruel (and 100% real) 3rd Emperor of the Roman Empire for four years (37-41). I mean: look at that!Game-of-Thrones8

Cuirass bust of Caligula. Marble. 37—41 A.D. Inv. No. 1453. Copenhagen, New Carlsberg Glyptotek.

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Posted by on August 3, 2016 in Uncategorized


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Roots, now!


Obviously I’ve been excited since I heard that Alex Haley’s Roots had been re-adapted for TV and would be airing starting this coming Monday May 30th.

Screen Shot 2016-05-27 at 9.16.22 PMIt ties in with everything I care about as it pertains to collectively educating ourselves and using what learning and education (and learning about history) offer to unravel things like prejudice so we can–collectively–get on with the hard work of making this world a better place.


Roots the TV series circa January 1977 framed my worldview; I watched it then at all of 6 years old as I began 1st grade at an integrated school in Denver.


Roots the book had a greater impact on me than anything I’ve ever read.


720x405-121715-celebs-underground-tv-show-still-macon-7And have you been checking out that new series “Underground” on the WGN Network about slaves in Georgia and the Underground Railroad? Excellent, really excellent stuff. The show’s produced by the recent pop music phenom John Legend. And one of the executive producers is Akiva Goldsmith. Is the name not immediately familiat to you? He won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay for “A Beautiful Mind”, but of greater relevance in many ways to the topic at hand and of this as well as my past two posts, is that he was also a producer of the much-overlooked historical period piece I wrote about previously: Jonah Hex. And indeed, the same  production elements that I cited as groudbreaking in Jonah Hex are absolutely being deployed in this show “Underground”: contemporary, fast cutting (editing) style of visual pacing and contemporary music tending towards the more dissonant and dark side of the tune; these things help the productions feel immediate, rather than  historical, which to me, is the goal. Screen shot 2016-05-28 at 3.00.37 PM

And then Roots! Comin’ back. Crazy! And awesome. The production team, acting team, everything seems top notch and I can’t wait.

Then, to boot, I found out the other day that a cousin of mine is appearing in it! (He’s a fine actor and a guy of depth. He was also in Dallas Buyer’s Club.) How cool is that?! Very. It’s very cool.

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I mean, this production: Laurence Fishburne as Alex Haley, Forrest Whittaker as Fiddler. And annointing this iteration, in the role this time as a producer is LeVar Burton–who of course catapulted into his career as Kunta Kinte, Haley’s African ancestor back in the 70s…only to go on to enlighten millions of kids’ minds with Reading Rainbow and then to go …where no one Screen shot 2016-05-28 at 2.57.49 PMhas gone before in Star Trek the Next Generation. The Point is, it’s top brass on this deal, and I’m stoked for my cousin to get to be part of such a high-profile project.

LeVar Burton

And here’s another very cool thing:

My best and oldest friend’s grandfather–a man who was also the closest thing I ever knew or had to a grandpa since I didn’t know either of mine–I discovered a few years ago is related to Roots author Alex Haley. Check it out:

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Posted by on May 27, 2016 in Uncategorized


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History on the Screen


Suggestions Toward Best Practices
when Bringing History to the Screen

       Goal I

Endeavor to have the production feel contemporary (i.e., the opposite of drawing attention to the “pastness” of it).

And it’s this aspect and some of the details listed below that led me to cite jonah-hex-movie-posterJonah Hex. It’s NOT a great movie. It wasn’t trying to be. But it brought MTV music video style filmmaking to a period piece, and it completely succeeded on that level. I say that because from my last post my dear mother was curious …so curious I thought she might actually go out and watch it. So to her and others with–uhem, more refined tastes, you won’t find yourself watching what you might think of as great art, but 0611-jonah-hex-josh-brolin-on-horsejpg-5d1a92c487a77991_largemark my word: in the long run, it will be seen as a work that contained perfect versions of technical forms that will help male any historically based film or video work succeed where others have failed. 🙂 Plus Malkovitch (see top) always delivers wonderfully as an evil psycho.

Toward this end of shrinking the distance any viewer must go to ID w/ the flick:

1) contemporary music

2) dialog, while accurate to certain specifics of word choice and pronunciation, should be spoken in regular, contemporary American English, including cadence; it reduces the distance for the viewers’ vicarious experience


-> canonical example of success of this: Little Big Man (when the main character played by Dustin Hoffman, is in the Cheyenne Indian community, and so they’re supposed to be speaking in the Cheyenne language, 000078_15all the actors speak normally, especially Hoffman, contrasting sharply to then he’s in the “White” world where he speaks with a broad and low-vocabulary Appalacian-esque dialect.)


3) use (but not overuse) of contemporary/hyper-contemporary shooting and cutting style; e.g.:

– fast jump cuts, ala VH1/MTV
– moving tracking shots (i.e., POV moving in two directions @ once
– tight close-ups of faces w/ relevant background visible
– askew angles
– various gels (washed-out, fiery, etc)
– handheld/cinema vérité & drop-frame

– considered casting for historical figures;
– strong resemblance either literal or in their presence:
– actors who fit the part;
~ Thomas Jefferson: S. Dillane studied political philos b4 actingsaints_and_strangers_still


~ William Bradford: Victor Kartheiser has that “soft” deal (Saints and Strangers)


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~ U.S. Grant: Aidan Quinn looked just like him (Jonah Hex)


~ Nixon: John Cusak embodied him precisely (The Butler)



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~ Ike: actor in Right Stuff (Robert Beer) looked EXACTLY like him





Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 7.21.56 PM~ LBJ: Donald Moffat in Right Stuff embodied him to a tee





appomattox-1.jpgAnd of course Richard Mulligan as General George Armstrong Custer (Little Big Man).

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Posted by on December 10, 2015 in Uncategorized


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