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Thread: Vestigia Vetustatis Helpful hints for beginners

  1. #1
    antaeus's Avatar neon
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    Default Vestigia Vetustatis Helpful hints for beginners

    The following is a basic guide for posting in the Vestigia Vetustatis. If you think there are any errors in the post, or if you think it omits any points, feel free to post in the topic below and they will be corrected/added to the guide.

    Contents:

    1) Posting new threads in the VV
    2) Sourcing information
    - what is a credible source?
    - what is not a credible source?
    3) Hot Topics
    - On History
    - On Religion
    - Miscellaneous


    1) POSTING THREADS IN THE VV
    (thanks conon394)

    There are few basic steps you can follow which will help you start a healthy discussion.

    (i)If you think your topic of discussion is likely to have been discussed before, search it out and see if you’re posting anything new about the topic. If its new information, a new thread is a good place to start. If it has been discussed before, or is not adding anything new and you must post... do it in an old topic on the subject – it makes things easier for those searching the forum in the future. If a previously discussed topic hasn’t been discussed for a long period then it can be considered "dead" and it's that way for a reason - you may get away with starting it again – it’s a judgement call.

    (ii)Avoid name calling, deliberate offence and sarcasm. If you are targeted by any of these, don’t bite back. The internet is full of trolling (people who post deliberately baiting remarks to cause offence) and people often use offensive remarks to hide their own errors.

    2) SOURCING INFORMATION
    (thanks ThiudareiksGunthigg, Bokks, and ray243)

    Where you source your information reflects on your credibility. You should be 100% sure of the credibility of your source before you present your case.

    What is a credible source?

    A credible source is one which is published, referenced and has a clear methodology - i.e. you can follow the argument back to its own source information.

    Credible work will have been through a process of ‘peer review’ where academics in the chosen field have checked the work out for authenticity. It will most likely have been published and made available to the general public. In both cases there may be review material available.

    What to Look For:

    (i) Is the author a professional academic associated with a university or research institution?

    (ii) Is the work published by a credible academic press?

    (iii) Does the author reference their claims and list the works used in their research in a Bibliography and/or notes? If so, are the books in the notes and bibliography reputable, professional works?

    (iii) Was the book well received by other experts and praised in reviews by qualified reviewers?

    (iv) With websites - does the writer refer to or reference source material and secondary works like the ones mentioned above? Are the claims found on the site supported and backed up by other sites, books, articles and sources (and how credible are they?)

    What is not a credible source?

    Think of it this way... if a man on the street walked up to you and told you that he had just seen a 200 meter tall pink elephant wearing a Darth Vader mask walking down the road would you believe him unquestioned?

    If you use articles which don’t have any sources or references showing where the information came from – you are trusting a complete stranger with unknown motives with your credibility.

    What to Beware Of:

    (i) Beware of books by small-time presses or self-published works that claim to present radical new information or perspectives - if the author has such amazing information, why can't he get it published by a major press?

    (ii) Beware of any book, even by a big publisher, that claims to "reveal hidden secrets" or "uncover the real story" or to otherwise overturn established ideas etc. This rarely happens via popular paperbacks.

    (iii) Beware of any book published by any press or organisation with an agenda. A book on how the Holocaust never happened is unlikely to be reliable if it's published by a Neo-Nazi group. A history of Christianity by the American Atheist press is less likely to be objective compared to one published by the University of Cambridge.

    (iv) Treat any self-published book with a high degree of scepticism.

    (v) With web pages, double and triple-check all claims on the web against several other sources, preferably books or web-pages which are heavily supported by references. Even then, check the references.

    (vi) How old is the material?. What was standard thought once may not be now. If you are using older material double check that it has not been discredited. Older material may reflect political or cultural biases which are no longer relevant.

    Special note: Commonly questioned sources

    Wikipedia: There is always a lot of debate about Wikipedia pages. Anybody can alter a Wikipedia page so you always have to be careful when referencing Wikipedia articles. If the page has a clear set of references that you can follow up which follow the guidelines (above) then Wikipedia can be a handy place to start your research.

    Television and commercial media: Commercial media is designed to sell advertising by keeping you watching or reading. Therefore any commercial information must be thoroughly checked out before you use it as a source. Is it free from bias? Does it have reputable references in the credits? Are they trying to sell you anything?

    The Bible: The bible contains a wealth of stories which can be used as source material. A lot of what you read in there is independently verifiable - But some is not. In a world where there are many religions with differing opinions, be aware that you will be questioned if you present information from the bible which hasn't been independently verified. This does not mean the bible is untrue. It just means that elements are unproven. The same is true for any religious text.


    3) HOT TOPICS
    (thanks ThiudareiksGunthigg and SigniferOne)

    The following is a list of popular topics which re-occur and cause a lot of debate on the VV. Feel free to discuss them, but if you do discuss any of these topics, it's advisable to do a quick search on the forum to see where the conversations have gone in the past, and to come prepared with a little research of your own.

    On history:

    1. Common misconceptions about the Roman Empire... barbarism, christianity, moral decline etc...
    2. Causes of the Dark Ages - Including Christianity and Intellectual stagnation
    3. Period X was "bad"/ Period Y was "good".
    4. The crusades and the motives behind them.
    5. Medieval armies and their tactics.
    6. Corruption in the church.
    7. The Da Vinci Code.
    8. Misconceptions about The Inquisition.
    9. Education in the Medieval period
    10. Anything that is "true because my high school teacher said so".
    11. Who was the greatest?, this person vs that person, this country vs that country.. etc
    12. Alternative history.. what if "blah" hadn't happened?

    On religion

    1. The existence of Jesus (or any historic religious figure).
    2.The movie Zeitgeist.
    3. Theism vs Theism... Religion vs Religion... Atheism vs Religion etc
    4. Morality
    5. "The Bible" or "The Koran" or "other religious text" is true and proven by historians/schollars/researchers
    6. Stereotypes about the origins of particular religions
    7. Christianity in the Roman Empire
    8. Catholicism/Orthodoxy/Protestantism/my church is the real Christianity the way Jesus wanted it to be (Religion vs Religion).
    9. The truth about Miracles and Icons

    Miscellaneous

    1. Aliens: how they connected ancient civilisations, how they are to blame for unexplained phenomena
    2. Psychic powers.
    3. Random trendy theories
    Last edited by antea; April 03, 2009 at 05:27 PM.
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  2. #2
    ThiudareiksGunthigg's Avatar Tasmanian Devil
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    Some good guidelines. A couple of points though:

    "Peer review" doesn't actually refer to the reaction to a work by others in the field after it is published (that's its "reception"), but to a formal process of analysis before it's published.

    Articles in academic journals or other periodical publications and books published by scholarly presses usually go through a peer review process. This entails the publisher submitting the work to a number of acknowleged experts in the subject or area of the work in question and asking them to give a detailed analysis and recommendation whether or not the work should be published. The reviewers are anonymous to the author of the work and they submit a review report and their recommendation. They aren't asked if they agree with the conclusions or argument of the work (often they don't), but only to analyse whether the argument is soundly based on the evidence presented, whether any other evidence has been missed out, whether the arguments are coherent and valid, whether the works cited are correctly referenced and are reputable and reliable works of scholarship themselves and whether there has been any recognised plagiarism, misrepresentation or any other academic fraud.

    Once the published has received their reports they can decided to publish, not publish or to recommend revisions which may allow them to publish. This process is not foolproof, but it protects journals and publishers from presenting erronrous, badly argued or fraudulent information and it requires researchers to stick to the rules of academic analysis if they want to get their work into print.

    The information and opinions in peer-reviewed works are therefore far more likely to be reliable than something published without any academic oversight by a popular press.

    The trick is working out whether a work has been peer-reviewed or not. Generally any paper published in an academic journal has been, as have works published by the publishing houses of universities (eg the Oxford University Press). But there are also private publisher which specialise in academic books (eg Blackwells) and who submit their manuscripts to peer review as well. The author and the structure of the content will also give you a clue. Authors who hold teaching or research positions at universities will generally publish works through the peer review process or, even if they write a popular work, they will draw on books which have been. And most (but not all) works with footnotes, endnotes and extensive bibliographies are also more likely to be reliable than ones which don't reference their material.

    Popular publishers, on the other hand, are less interested in how reliable, coherent or credible information in a book is and more interested in whether it will sell. So they might publish a highly accurate and reliable book by a famous scientist or historian because they think it might have an audience. Or they might publish sensationalist garbage by a total lunatic simply because it might sell lots of copies. So just because something is in a book and even if that book is put out by a major publishing house doesn't mean the information in it is always reliable; non-academic presses are interested in money, not accuracy or credibility.

    Of course, the internet complicates all this considerably. Unlike with books, where you can usually tell if the author is a professional scholar or has relied on work by professional scholars, a web page can be put up by anyone. And even if they claim to have credentials, no publisher or reviewer has checked if these are true. Web pages can and often do cite books and other reference material, but can often do so in a way that doesn't allow you to check where this material has come from.

    On top of all this, "print-on-demand" self publishing services via the web now means just about anyone can publish a book about absolutely anything. They can also kit their book out with the illusion of scholarship, with forewords, charts and tables, footnotes and bibliographies which - unless you know how to analyse these things - can be totally flawed or bogus. Not only are these works not peer-reviewed or scruntinised for accuracy as academic titles are, they aren't even looked over by an editor or (in many cases) read by anyone other than the author before they get released online. So if a book is self-published then "let the buyer beware" - there's a good chance it's simply a fringe idea by an amateur who couldn't get into print any other way.

    What to Look For:

    (i) Is the author a professional academic associated with a university or research institution?

    (ii) Is the work published by a credible academic press?

    (iii) Does the author reference their claims and list the works used in their research in a Bibliography and/or notes? If so, are the books in the notes and bibliogrphy reputable, professional works?

    (iii) Was the book well recevied by other experts and praised in reviews by qualified reviewers?

    (iv) With websites - does the writer refer to or reference source material and secondary works like the ones mentioned above? Are the claims found on the site supported and backed up by other sites, books, articles and sources (and how credible are they?)

    What to Beware Of

    (i) Beware of books by small-time presses or self-published works that claim to present radical new information or perspectives - if the author has such amazing information, why can't he get it published by a major press?

    (ii) Beware of any book, even by a big publisher, that claims to "reveal hidden secrets" or "uncover the real story" or to otherwise overturn established ideas etc. This rarely happens via popular paperbacks.

    (iii) Beware of any book published by any press or organisation with an agenda. A book on how the Holocaust never happened is unlikely to be reliable if it's published by a neo-Nazi group. A history of Christianity by the American Atheist press is less likely to be objective compared to one published by the University of Cambridge.

    (iv) Treat any self-published book with a high degree of scepticism.

    (v) With webpages, double and triple-check all claims on the web against several other sources, preferably books or web-pages which are heavily supported by references. Even then, check the references.

    There's an increasing tendency today to trust anything that happens to be in print. Considering it's now easier than any time in history to get your work in print - via the web or even in book form - and in front of potentially millions of people, this is actually a time to be a lot more sceptical about what we read. And scepticism and constant checking and cross-referencing is the key to good research.

    Of course, you can also ignore all that and just post the first thing you find on the web that seems to support what you think. But then you run the risk of being hung, drawn and quartered in public by big meanies like me.

  3. #3
    antaeus's Avatar neon
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    awesome... have fixed the peer review part..

    added the "look out for parts.." to the first post cheers!
    Last edited by antea; April 01, 2009 at 10:32 PM.
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    Flavius Nevitta's Avatar Civitate
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    Good idea! Thanks guys
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  5. #5
    Stalins Ghost's Avatar Citizen
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    Sticky?
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    bushbush's Avatar Hime
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    another rule is that people actually should READ their own damn sources. Because it's often extremely embarrassing to catch a poster whose sources actually go against his argument.

    embarrassing example:

    source presented here...
    http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showt...27#post4696227

    him not reading his own source exposed here..
    http://www.twcenter.net/forums/showt...35#post4765835
    Last edited by bushbush; April 02, 2009 at 05:12 AM.
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    Romano-Dacis's Avatar Robespierre v2.0
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    For finding actual sources, I would highly recommend Google Books and Google Scholar rather than regular Google. Though they do sometimes screw up and let in things the BS-filters are usually pretty solid.

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    bushbush's Avatar Hime
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    Quote Originally Posted by Romano-Dacis View Post
    For finding actual sources, I would highly recommend Google Books and Google Scholar rather than regular Google. Though they do sometimes screw up and let in things the BS-filters are usually pretty solid.
    most students here should have access to various kind of scholar portals online through their school library too. You can access very good databases for free on books and journals simply by using your student ID.
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  9. #9
    Hookah Smoking Caterpiller's Avatar Suspended
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    This should be sticked, also would it be good to include a list of commonly debated topics and links to those? also can we include some additions:

    1, Never ever ever talk to TotalFanatic about the USSR and WWII
    2, What-if threads are a plague, if you start one, others will follow.

  10. #10
    Dayman's Avatar Romesick
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    This should be stickied, not only here but in all of the D&D.

  11. #11
    gaius valerius's Avatar Chidori
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    Sticky!
    Patronised by Voltaire le Philosophe

    Therefore One hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the most skillful. Seizing the enemy without fighting is the most skillful. War is of vital importance to the state and should not be engaged carelessly... - Sun Tzu

    Orochimaru & Aizen you must Die!! Bankai Dattebayo!!

  12. #12
    conon394's Avatar hoi polloi
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    This should be sticked, also would it be good to include a list of commonly debated topics and links to those? also can we include some additions:

    1, Never ever ever talk to TotalFanatic about the USSR and WWII
    2, What-if threads are a plague, if you start one, others will follow.
    On the second point you might also add the even more insidious X vs X thread (would a viking with a tommy gun defeat a samurai with a sten gun?).

    (iii) Was the book well recevied by other experts and praised in reviews by qualified reviewers?
    One quick tip here when looking for reviews of a book in the large archives like JSTOR or MUSE, etc.. I usually find they works better remove any colons, commas and such from the title.

    It also informative to follow the linked articles that cite an article you looking at (JSTOR has this functionality to some extent know and it will also try Google book/scholar- its sometimes an easy way to figure out if the work has been superseded or has been challenged or updated.



    Last edited by conon394; April 03, 2009 at 06:06 PM.
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    'One day when I fly with my hands - up down the sky, like a bird'

    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place; some swearing, some crying for surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.

    Hyperides of Athens: We know, replied he, that Antipater is good, but we (the Demos of Athens) have no need of a master at present, even a good one.

  13. #13
    Starlightman's Avatar Calling Card
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    Sticky!

    Great job!

    Many thanks to ThiudareiksGunthigg and antea...

    EDIT

    and conon...(forgive me to don't mention you)
    Last edited by Starlightman; April 03, 2009 at 04:12 AM.

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    "You can fool all of the people some of the time
    You can fool some of the people all of the time
    But you can't fool all of the people all of the time. "
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    "There are three truths: my truth, your truth and the truth."
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    Originally Posted by Ferrets54
    It's relevent if you argue the Elgin Marbles should be returned to Athens because they were "stolen", because the Athenians themselves stole the money to produce them.

    ________________________________________________________________

  14. #14
    ThiudareiksGunthigg's Avatar Tasmanian Devil
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    Quote Originally Posted by conon394 View Post
    That is kind of an interesting ideal - perhaps a poll - what kind of thread is likely to bring down the sarcastic but always fun to read wrath of ThiudareiksGunthigg
    A list to begin with - On history:

    1. The Roman Empire fell because the Late Roman Army was weak/"barbarised"/didn't wear segmentata and fight with the gladius (cos they rock and are cool and stuff!)

    2. The Roman Empire fell because of Christianity/"corruption and moral decline"/lead pipes/anything other than economics and civil wars.

    3. Christianity caused the Dark Ages by crushing reason and burning all books and scientists.

    4. People in the Middle Ages didn't wash regularly.

    5. Period X was "bad"/ Period Y was "good".

    6. The Crusades were mainly motivated by greed and politics rather than religion.

    7. The Crusaders were idiots who generally got spanked by the Muslims in battle.

    8. Medieval armies were made up mainly of peasant levies, were led by knights with no sense of group tactics and had no discipline, drills, command structure or co-ordination.

    9. All Medieval churchmen were corrupt and most of the people were secret pagans who worshipped the Goddess/the old gods/Cthulu etc

    10. The Da Vinci Code was well-researched and contained some real history that "really makes you think".

    11. Dan Brown never claimed The Da Vinci Code is true - it's FICTION!!!

    12. Witch burnings were a Medieval phenomenon and were mainly carried out by the Inquisition and the Catholic Church.

    13. Anyone accused of heresy was tortured by the Inquisition and then automatically executed and this happened to millions of people.

    14. Medieval people thought the Earth was flat and this was taught by the Church.

    15. The Middle Ages were dominated by something called "the Feudal System" because my high school teacher said so.

    And on religion ...

    1. There's no good reason to believe Jesus even existed.

    2. Jesus was probably either a composite character or made up out of earlier pagan myths.

    3. There are many striking parallels between Jesus and the Roman god Mithras because this kooky New Age web-site says so.

    4.The movie Zeitgeist is credible about ... anything.

    5. All Atheists say that there is no God.

    6. Agnostics are people who aren't sure, are 50/50 or who are still waiting for enough evidence.

    7. Atheism is a choice. As such, it's also a faith.

    8. Atheism is a religion because it fits this figurative dictionary definition of "religion", so there.

    9. Atheism leads to nihilism.

    10. Without God you can't be moral.

    11. The Bible is 100% true and "historians" (who happen to be fundamentalist Christians) have "proven" this.

    12. The Council of Nicea made Jesus into a God/compiled the Bible/set the date of Christmas/ caused the explosion of the Crab Nebulae.

    13. We know when Jesus was born.

    14. The Emperor Constantine adopted Christianity for cynical political reasons and was never really a Christian.

    15. Catholicism/Orthodoxy/Protestantism/my church is the real Christianity the way Jesus wanted it to be.

    16. Small devout children in superstitious peasant communities who claim to have seen the Virgin Mary are credible witnesses and should be taken very seriously.

    17. Despite all the evidence, including carbon-dating by three top notch laboratories, pointing to it being a Medieval fake, the Shroud of Turin is genuine and is proof Jesus rose from the dead.

    Miscellaneous:

    1. The Pyramids of Egypt and the Pyramids in Central America are somehow connected due to aliens/Atlantis/other spooky woo woo stuff.

    2. Psychic powers have been proven by scientists/the CIA/me.

    3. The most likely explanation for lights in the sky that random people with no understanding of astronomy or aerial phenomena can't explain immediately is that they are spacecraft from distant stars/galaxies.

    4. This amateur kook has exposed the lies of academics and proven conclusively that the Chinese circumnavigated the world/the Phoenicians discovered America/there's a pyramid in Bosnia/a Roman legion was settled in China/Shakespeare didn't write Shakespeare/Geoffrey Chaucer was a woman/Robin Hood was gay/King Arthur was a Sarmatian etc etc.

    That will do for now. I'm sure we'll come up with some more. No wonder I'm almost permanently wrathful. Fear my wrath!

    (PS If anyone wants to dispute any of the above, start new thread. And gird yer fricken' loins.)

  15. #15
    Atterdag's Avatar Knus zionismen!
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    Stickied. Any further posts should be about further tips
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  16. #16
    conon394's Avatar hoi polloi
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    ThiudareiksGunthigg

    Now that list deserves to be stickied - cross at your own risk...

    But honestly I thought everyone knew Robin hood was a lesbian Sarmatian alien from Sirius here to update the book of the Mormons with new information after using the 10,000 year old sphinx for landing guidance?

    Edit: oops well now thanks mods go and sticky this and make me look silly adding trivial banter...
    Last edited by conon394; April 02, 2009 at 05:42 PM.
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB Dromikaites

    'One day when I fly with my hands - up down the sky, like a bird'

    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place; some swearing, some crying for surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.

    Hyperides of Athens: We know, replied he, that Antipater is good, but we (the Demos of Athens) have no need of a master at present, even a good one.

  17. #17
    conon394's Avatar hoi polloi
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    Here is a question - rather than advice: Since necroposting is discouraged after what period of time is a new thread that replicates an old one viewed as OK? I mean take the current Atomic bomb thread. In 6 months maybe new documents might have been released, or a new book written, new people join and old fall away?

    If you have been here for a couple of years your first thought might be to roll your eyes but someone who wants to offer an opinion could well feel trapped - don't resurrect an old thread or get flack for starting a debate already done one twice or more in the memory of long standing members
    Last edited by conon394; April 02, 2009 at 06:36 PM.
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB Dromikaites

    'One day when I fly with my hands - up down the sky, like a bird'

    But if the cause be not good, the king himself hath a heavy reckoning to make, when all those legs and arms and heads, chopped off in battle, shall join together at the latter day and cry all 'We died at such a place; some swearing, some crying for surgeon, some upon their wives left poor behind them, some upon the debts they owe, some upon their children rawly left.

    Hyperides of Athens: We know, replied he, that Antipater is good, but we (the Demos of Athens) have no need of a master at present, even a good one.

  18. #18
    antaeus's Avatar neon
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    UPDATED... does the colour coding make it easier to follow or is it distracting?

    cheers guys, keep them coming. but its probably best to avoid any personal or sarcastic or overly intellectual comments, i'm hoping this will help people with no historical background as well.
    Last edited by antea; April 02, 2009 at 09:19 PM.
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  19. #19
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    15. The Middle Ages were dominated by something called "the Feudal System" because my high school teacher said so.
    Not disputing here, just wondered what you meant by this. I was under the impression that feudalism and seignurial privileges were commonplace in the majority of European countries during the medieval age?
    Under patronage of: Wilpuri

  20. #20
    antaeus's Avatar neon
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    Default Re: VV helpful hints for beginners

    Quote Originally Posted by KingOfTheIsles View Post
    Not disputing here, just wondered what you meant by this. I was under the impression that feudalism and seignurial privileges were commonplace in the majority of European countries during the medieval age?
    perhaps it should read

    "random historical thing happened because my high school teacher said so"
    IN PATROCINIVM SVB MARENOSTRUM

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