Crash courses and sparks for historians and history enthusiasts on historical world events with clear descriptions as lessons and sparks.

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In 1841, near West Roxbury, Massachusetts, there was a socialist utopian experiment led by George Ripley at a two hundred acre estate. Based on the principles inspired by Charles Fourier, educated men and women participated and carried out a shared communal life and labour, building a Phalanstère (a self-contained utopian building). But in March 1846, the building caught fire. Starting with a severe financial setback, the experiment eventually failed.

Christopher Columbus was not a hero like your school books perpetuate. He was a genocidal tyrant. According to ‘The Legacy of Columbus’ by Hans Koning (https://www.jstor.org/stable/29766672?seq=1), Columbus ruthlessly killed Native Indians. He burned them slow in rows and mutilated anyone who rebelled. His followers hunted the natives who fled and fed them to their dogs and sold them as dog food in butcher shops.

Hans Koning also writes about the tribute system Columbus practised in Hispaniola. In order to find the gold he promised to the monarch, he forced Indian slaves to collect the gold dust from the river streams. For those who brought gold, a copper token was tied around their neck. For the Indians without the token Columbus had their hands cut off and had them wear the amputated hand around the neck!

After he failed to find the gold, he took the slaves to Spain and got them killed. He later introduced the encomienda system where his followers grabbed the lands of the natives and enslaved them as their slaves for labour and sex!

Not everything you learn in school is true! It is a shame that this despicable monster is honoured with city names and national holidays!

Around 6th Century BC, the Persian empire had a very nifty way of counting battle casualties. Before any battles, the soldiers would be lined up in the presence of their battle commanders and generals. In front of them, a basket. With the emperor as the witness, they’d throw a single arrow from their quiver into the basket, which would then be sealed.

When the soldiers return, they’d be commanded to take an arrow from the same basket. The remaining arrows would then give the empire an estimate of the men they have lost in the battle. This is akin to the digital checksum process we use to verify the integrity of a file that’s transmitted over the internet.