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If you could sit down and talk with 5 people from history, whom would you choose and why?


Riggo-toni

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A couple caveats: it must be a genuine historical figure. You cannot pick "King Arthur" just so you can find out who and what title Arthur was.

Also, major religious figures are excluded. I don't want this derailed into a "Jesus or Abraham didn't really exist" thread. Also, for your #5, try to come up with a "wildcard" - someone most others wouldn't have considered.

Here's my list:

1. Cyrus the Great (as opposed to some annoying average looking twerking constantly licking Justin Bieber lookalike with titz). Perhaps the only conqueror in history who is spoken of in glowing terms by the people he conquered. A rare combination of military, political, as well as administrative genius. Even the Greeks, who hated the Persians, wrote in admiration of Cyrus.

2. Voltaire (Jean Marie Arouet) perhaps the most prolific writer in history, a champion of religious tolerance, and a biting wit.

3. Alexander Hamilton - the greatest of our founding fathers, the man most responsible for getting the constitution passed, the man who finally convinced Washington to change tactics in the Revolutionary War, whose work to establish the full faith and credit of the US enabled its greatest opponent Thomas Jefferson years later to finance the Louisiana Purchase. A true American fairy tale - rising up from the poverty of illegitimacy to becoming NY's most successful lawyer.

4. There are at least half a dozen people from the Italian Renaissance I would love to talk to - DaVinci,Michaelangelo, Galileo (okay, he's post renaissance), Machiavelli, Rafaele, Boticelli, Lorenzo de Medici.... I admire Michaelangelo the most, but I will go with DaVinci only because I think he would be more approachable. I'd give anything to get painting lessons from Raffaele, though.

5. Simon Bar Kochba (Kosiba) - It's one of the great losses to history that there is no equivalent of Josephus to leave us a record of the last Jewish revolt. Because the Jews lost, they didn't want to discuss it, and likewise because the Romans likely suffered surprisingly high casualties, they swept the affair under the rug. Nearly 2 millenia before the Viet Cong, the world's superpower was resisted by guerilla fighters living and fighting from an elaborate tunnel system. Not a guy I really imagine myself hanging out with, but it would be interesting to find out the answers.

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1) Temujin (Genghis Khan) --> For as much as he was a "ruthless killer" who came down with "Mongol Hordes" history has gotten it wrong. He often fought battles with huge numbers against him (which he disguised by having 3 horses per man) and came out of absolutely nothing to conquer a land area twice that of Alexander. Moreover, he did it through super work ethic, absolutely cunning tactics, and a surprising willingness to adapt to whatever came at him. This adaptive skill is the reason we know so little about them, as the mongols so happily took on Chinese culture after conquering them.

 

2) Da Vinci (or many other Italian Renaissance figures as you said). --> My wife is an artist. I am a scientist. Our first date involved 5 hours of "debating" whether Da Vinci was "more" of a scientist or an artist; with each of us arguing for the other's side. Dorky? Yes. But I'd love to hear how he saw himself. Also, it would be an honor just to talk to him about anything, even if it was the damn weather.

 

3) Montezuma --> I'm not a big fan of changing history, but I would warn him. I would tell him what was coming. I would be his prophecy to save his people. OR, I would pick Cortez, and snap his neck. There's genocide, and then there's what happened to my ancestors. Like I said, I'm not a big change history guy, but I'd break that for this.

 

4) Kublai Khan --> in my opinion, one of the most underrated historical figures ever. He had all of the cunning of his grandfather, with superior education, literacy, and a softness of culture and art. He won battles against absurd odds that defy all logic, mostly by being a superior chess player. He also had much more of a mind for politics, as opposed to just executing everyone who disagreed. 

 

And it may be cheating, or redundant, but number 5 would definitely be:

5) Tsubodai --> The great Mongol general. Spanning 3 Mongol Khans, Tsubodai conquered India, most of the middle east, large chunks of Russia, Hungary, Ukraine, most of Scandanavia, Poland, Germany, and was advancing on France. He had strong information that only one sizable army existed between their position and the coast. At that moment, work reached him that the Khan had died. Against his will, he was called back to deal with the politics at home of electing a new Khan. If not for that untimely death, He would have conquered every major city between the two oceans. He would have successfully won a land war in Asia AND Europe at the same time. Oh, and he is the only leader to ever successfully invade Russia (although Russia was not a united nation). He is, without a doubt, the greatest tacticn to ever live. His strategy in Hungary are still taught at military academies today. 

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  1. Nikola Tesla – in my opinion one of the greatest inventive minds ever.  His tower theory is essentially the basis of wireless data networks.  He dreamt that voice, pictures, and type could be transmitted across the Atlantic in seconds.  Not bad considering he worked in the early 1900s.  I wonder how close he was before he died, and his Wardenclyffe Tower was torn down.
  2. Charles Darwin – Father of natural selection.  Would like to have some tea and discuss his voyage on the Beagle.
  3. Einstein – Duh
  4. Martin Luther King – the man had brass.  He fought against a system, a nation, and a global view and won.  Just a huge man crush on him and his work.
  5. Homer – Were you one guy?  Where you a guild of writers?  Were you really at atlantis?  WHERE IS IT?

 

Personally, I’d like to sit down and talk with my grandfathers and my biological father.  Am I who they thought I would be?  Are they proud?  They were all gone by the time I was 11.  They aren't global history figures, so I left them off my 5.

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i don't know why you exclude historic religious figures?   there is nobody i would rather talk to than Mohamed, and then Ali (and the other figures during the scism).   Or Jesus, and then St Paul... i would REALLY like to talk to the early adapters.  Get a feel for how much they feverishly believed what they spread and developed, versus how much it was just power broking... and the thinking that went into both of those aspects.

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3) Montezuma --> I'm not a big fan of changing history, but I would warn him. I would tell him what was coming. I would be his prophecy to save his people. OR, I would pick Cortez, and snap his neck. There's genocide, and then there's what happened to my ancestors. Like I said, I'm not a big change history guy, but I'd break that for this.

 

.

He has nobody to blame but himself. The Aztecs arrogance and brutalization of surrounding tribes led to their downfall. Cortez just sped things up. He could not have done it were there not so many tribes who wanted revenge on the Aztecs for years of systematic rape, torture, plundering, and murder. Also, Montezuma was warned repeatedly. But as an inbred narcissistic fool of the ruling elite, none of it did any good

My list would be difficult I've never given it any thought. Jesus would have to be on the list but outside of that I'm really not sure. Maybe Jefferson and some of the great Roman Emporers.

Also, Riggo, Im shocked as such an ardent laissez faire guy you are a Hamilton booster :)

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Lenny Bruce. I'd like to see what he thinks of how comedy and entertainment in general have changed since he was getting thrown off stages for using certain words.

Timothy Leary. Just because. and again, I'd like to not really learn about his times, but what he would think of ours.

Joshua Chamberlain - one of the most accomplished Americans of all times, hero of Gettysburg. Read on this man, he's remarkable. I'd want to see what true bravery looks like.

HG Wells. not so much to talk to him outright, but to let him look at our current world and dream up the future. Given what he came up with in his day, what he'd imagine now would be something.

Neil Armstrong- My hero.

~Bang

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The reason McSluggo is because I didn't want this to degenerate into yet another thread on religion. I agree with the sentiment, though, because tops on my list otherwise would be Jesus, and ask what he thought/believed of his own identity vis a vis what has been attributed to him.

The reason McSluggo is because I didn't want this to degenerate into yet another thread on religion. I agree with the sentiment, though, because tops on my list otherwise would be Jesus, and ask what he thought/believed of his own identity vis a vis what has been attributed to him.

Bang,

Neil Armstrong's son was in my 3rd grade class in MD. I actually went to his house once.

I've heard G Gordon Liddy interview Timothy Leary a few times back around '93 or 94 on WJFK.

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He has nobody to blame but himself. The Aztecs arrogance and brutalization of surrounding tribes led to their downfall. Cortez just sped things up. He could not have done it were there not so many tribes who wanted revenge on the Aztecs for years of systematic rape, torture, plundering, and murder. Also, Montezuma was warned repeatedly. But as an inbred narcissistic fool of the ruling elite, none of it did any good

My list would be difficult I've never given it any thought. Jesus would have to be on the list but outside of that I'm really not sure. Maybe Jefferson and some of the great Roman Emporers.

Also, Riggo, Im shocked as such an ardent laissez faire guy you are a Hamilton booster :)

All very valid points. My issue is not with the fall of the Aztec empire, the end of their raping and pillaging, or a loss of their way of life. MY issue is with the way in which it happened and the unfortunate fact that it came with absolute genocide. The complete inability to resist things like smallpox, combined with the sheer numbers when looking at the death count is what gets me.

 

I don't have a problem with their blood thirsty, oppressive regime coming down. But the sheer amount of natives, both Aztec and surrounding tribes, who died as a result of vicious outbreak makes me queasy.

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If I could pick one person... I would pick Madame de Pompadour... she was beutiful, she was smart, and she was luscious.. The official chief mistress of Louis XV, she was schooled from childhood to be a mistress. She was assertive, took charge of the king's schedule and made herself an indispensable advisor. She did all this without alienating the Queen. She was a major patron of the arts and architecture. She used her abilities to secure titles for herself and her family.. Everything she touched seemed to turn to gold. A personal friend of Voltare, She was just a very smart, capable, and intelligent lady.

Next Thomas Edison... The person who most influenced the 20th century.. Invented the light bulb, phonograph, Quadruplex telegraph, movie camera, power distribution, and mimiograph.. He is the formost technocrat, and the technocrats have most transformed humanity in the 20th century.

Next would be Charles Darwin... Author of the most influencial idea probable ever. Before Darwin men were servents to their religions.. Darwin's theory of Evolution transfored the role of the church in our society and started a debate which transformed the power of human reason.

Next would be Plato... The father of philosophy. A passionate seaker of the elusive reality behind thoughts and things. Probable the greatest thinker of antiquity. schooled by Sacrates, he was well versed in the tyranny of the masses, and architected the one of the most just and most sucessful forms of government in order to combat that tyranny ... The Republic.

Next would be Confusous... a secular moral philosopher, born into a time of decline and striff, who used his abilities and intelligence to turn the tide of decline. A conservative thinker with balls.

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Neat thread. There are many very interesting people mentioned above. I'll try to be a little different, which is the only reason why Einstein isn't on my list.

 

1. Abe Lincoln (December, 1860) - I'd love to hear about his motivations at the beginning of the Civil War and I'd like him to hear about the fallout from the Civil War (good and bad). 

 

2. Eisenhower and Truman - I'd be happy to be told I'm wrong, but I think I wish they made an impossible decision at the end of WWII. I wish they kept going east, took Berlin and continued to Russia. The cost in lives and treasure for the US in WWII was immense, and that's why this would be an impossible decision. However, the post WWII fallout makes the costs of an extension of that war look minimal, and it's still being felt today. Millions dead in Eastern Europe, Russia and China, nuclear proliferation, many international wars and ongoing geopolitical battles which, IMO, ultimately led to the continued instability in the middle east to this day. I can't help but wonder "What if" we had taken Stalin out and actually been a Super Power force for freedom and democracy with a tight grip on nuclear power, instead of a Super Power force for freedom and democracy unless dictators kept your country away from the Soviets? It would be a different, more peaceful and more prosperous world, I think, and the anti-American resentment may still exist, but probably to a lesser degree if we had used our powers in a way that would only be possible without a Soviet state.

 

3. Alexander the Great - for reasons similar to the Khan reasons mentioned above. Amazing historical figure.

 

4. Karl Marx and Adam Smith - It would be amazing to get them in a room together to debate the virtues and vices of their thoughts.

 

5. Lyndon Johnson - with the benefit of hindsight, how might he rethink the great society to make it more effective? I feel like modern politicians are caught up in support/opposition to existing programs rather then the continual intellectual process necessary to make them better.  Maybe I'd be better off talking to Thomas Dewey, champion of presidential term limits, to get him to support congressional term limits as well?

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A couple caveats: it must be a genuine historical figure. You cannot pick "King Arthur" just so you can find out who and what title Arthur was.

Also, major religious figures are excluded. I don't want this derailed into a "Jesus or Abraham didn't really exist" thread. Also, for your #5, try to come up with a "wildcard" - someone most others wouldn't have considered.

Here's my list:

1. Cyrus the Great 

learned a lot just with your post Riggo ... very cool. 

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Cool idea...here are mine:

 

1) Apollo Creed - I would want to learn more about his early years as the decorated heavyweight champion of the world while also trying to understand how difficult it was for him to back out of the limelight, including the weeks leading up to his tragic death in the ring. 

 

2) Yoda - Almost 1,000 years old, I bet he had some stories. He was lucky enough to live during the Old Republic before living out the last few years of his life under the rule of the Empire. It would be great to hear how proud he was of his role in mentoring Luke and assisting the young Jedi in restoring peace to the galaxy. 

 

3) Jack Shepherd - He dealt with daddy issues, a God complex, and the pressures of being looked upon as a leader when he and some strangers were stranded on a remote, magical island. I'd like to hear what he had to say about Kate now that he can reflect on the big picture. 

 

4) Edgar Stiles - Working closely with Chloe and Jack at CTU, he was a behind-the-scenes hero. 

 

5) *Wild Card* Tyler Durden - This one is "out there" since he wasn't exactly real. But in the end, did he feel remorse for Project Mayhem or was he ashamed that he could never quite push the narrator over the edge to completely lead his recruits? 

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George Washington.  The more I read and study about him, the more fascinated and awestruck I become.

 

The Wright Brothers.  I spent half a day in the Air and Space museum wing dedicated to them, and I could have spent days there.  Amazing men, brilliant minds, and drive to succeed.

 

Mark Twain, with lots of whiskey.

 

Edison. 

 

Wild Card- Pocohantas.

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Cool idea...here are mine:

 

1) Apollo Creed - I would want to learn more about his early years as the decorated heavyweight champion of the world while also trying to understand how difficult it was for him to back out of the limelight, including the weeks leading up to his tragic death in the ring. 

 

2) Yoda - Almost 1,000 years old, I bet he had some stories. He was lucky enough to live during the Old Republic before living out the last few years of his life under the rule of the Empire. It would be great to hear how proud he was of his role in mentoring Luke and assisting the young Jedi in restoring peace to the galaxy. 

 

3) Jack Shepherd - He dealt with daddy issues, a God complex, and the pressures of being looked upon as a leader when he and some strangers were stranded on a remote, magical island. I'd like to hear what he had to say about Kate now that he can reflect on the big picture. 

 

4) Edgar Stiles - Working closely with Chloe and Jack at CTU, he was a behind-the-scenes hero. 

 

5) *Wild Card* Tyler Durden - This one is "out there" since he wasn't exactly real. But in the end, did he feel remorse for Project Mayhem or was he ashamed that he could never quite push the narrator over the edge to completely lead his recruits? 

 

I'm not sure how Walter White didn't make your list.

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1) Benjamin Franklin - interesting all around - science, politics, and recreationally

2) Socrates - get the philosophy from the source.

3) Hammurabi - get insight into ancient Babylon and the development of the code

4) Sun Tzu - learn more of his thoughts on philosophy and military strategy

Wildcard:  5) Ibn al-Haytham - talk with an early scientist to learn where he came up with his ideas, especially optics.

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I don't get the idea is to go back in time and talk to them (ie given a chance to change history). If we could  do that it would change my choices

 

Here are my choices (Three of which are theoretically possible).

 

Zayman Zawahiri - I'd grab him and collect a $25 million reward

Dawood Ibrahim -  I'd grab him and collect a $25 million reward

Adam Ghadan - I'd grab him and collect a $1 million reward (Nah I'd just kill his traitorous ass)

Vladimir Lenin - So he could know what happened to the Soviet Union and communism

Winston Churchill - So he could know what happened to the Soviet Union and communism (Plus I'd get to meet the Man of the 20th Century - the real one despite what Time Magazine says - the greatest leader produced by western civilization).

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Oh, I dunno, maybe...

Nikola Tesla- Very important inventor of his time; laid the foundations for my field of studies

Benjamin Franklin- Another great inventor for his time, plus he was a founding father. I'd love to discuss technology and politics with him

That's all I got for now :/

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1. DaVinci (would be Jesus if not for OP's exclusions)- brilliant mind, amazing inventor and artist, advanced way beyond his time. Would love to talk about his philosophies on life, the universe, and science, and also discuss with him all the advances in science he has missed and get his reactions/thoughts on them.

 

2. Einstein- for many of the same reasons as DaVinci, to obtain a better understanding of how he viewed life and the universe.

 

3. FDR- great leader who inherited a nightmare and dealt with that, then with WWII, and also had his own personal battle with Polio. A great President in my favorite era of American history. The things he did to maintain strong image as a leader while battling that disease are incredible. His philosophies for economic recovery were interesting and would love to pick his brain about what he would have done had war not come, see if he would tell me if he did or did not know about Pearl Harbor in advance, find out his opinions on the other leaders of the big nations during the war, and find out what his thoughts are on the US today and the impact he had. 

 

4. George Washington- IMO our greatest President. Great leader, but also heeded advice well. The more I read on him the more I am fascinated with his philosophies, especially his warning about political parties. Would really like to hear his stories about guerilla tactics during the Revolutionary War, find out his views of America today and the Constitution, what he thinks of our applications and/or misuses of it, find out his opinion on many hot button issues, etc.

 

5. Wildcard- John Dewey- as an educator I find a lot of his theories fascinating and agree with his advocacy for hands-on learning and tying lessons to lives/experiences of students and his version of constructivism (not just letting the child choose, which is a common misconception of his philosophy).

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What a great question and hard to narrow down.  I have a huge interest in British history so I'll try not to lean to far into that.  Made slightly easier with the no religion bit, so I'll stay away from that, too.  Off the top of my head:

 

1.  Abraham Lincoln - So very complex, I think his heart was in the right place.  The weight he carried trying to keep the country together was insane.  Just being able to talk to him would be amazing.

 

2.  Harold Godwinson - He's a very sympathetic character to me.  Seemed like a good king for the small bit he was. 

 

3.  Harald Hardrada - I tried not to overlap eras and such but couldn't resist.  He'd probably beat me up rather than talk to me, but this is the type of guy who's real life events you just can't make up.  If you tried you'd be laughed at for going too over the top.

 

4. William Shakespeare - As a wannabe writer I'd like to talk to him just to figure out how he gets into the essence of humanity so well.  I can't say I'm a huge fan, mainly because the language slows me down, but the stories themselves are awesome.

 

Wild Card - Francis McClean.  He was a Brigadier General for the Brits during the Revolution and commanded Fort George during the Penobscot Expedition.  I read the novel the Fort by Cornwell and liked the character who is a legit real person.  From all accounts McClean was a gentleman so it would be cool to talk to him to compare notes.

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Pythagoras of Samos - One of the most famous mathematicians of all time, and yet what we know about him is largely second hand.  It's hard to say what's true for sure.  I'd love to know about his academy and his thoughts on mathematics as a religion.

 

Johannes Kepler - One of the first astronomers to consciously and intentionally integrate the discipline with physics.

 

Ashurbanipal - Assembled a massive library of cuneiform tablets in the Near East.  As far as we know, it was the first library to be organized by genre.  He claimed to be able to read and do mathematics fluently at a time when that was uncommon for hereditary rulers.  What was his motivator?  Was it an expression of status?  Did he merely love learning?  Was he intending to preserve them for posterity?  Was he just a blowhard know-it-all?

 

Marco Polo - What was it like to travel across the largest continent in the world hundreds of years before any kind of communication more advanced than handwriting carried on horseback?  (I realize that he wasn't the first to do it, but since he dictated his travels, he gets a lot of credit and is an easy name to grab.)

 

My wild card choice may be breaking the historical figure rule, but I'm including him anyway.  Because his remains were so well preserved we actually arguably know more about him than about people like King Arthur: Ötzi the Iceman.

What was life like for him?  Was he a trader, as some originally thought?  A chieftain?  An Average Joe?

 

In 2001 X-rays and a CT scan revealed that Ötzi had an arrowhead lodged in his left shoulder when he died,[42] and a matching small tear on his coat.[43] The discovery of the arrowhead prompted researchers to theorize Ötzi died of blood loss from the wound, which would probably have been fatal even if modern medical techniques had been available.[44] Further research found that the arrow'sshaft had been removed before death, and close examination of the body found bruises and cuts to the hands, wrists and chest and cerebral trauma indicative of a blow to the head. One of the cuts was to the base of his thumb that reached down to the bone but had no time to heal before his death. Currently it is believed that death was caused by a blow to the head, though researchers are unsure if this was due to a fall, or from being struck with a rock by another person.[45] Unpublished and thus unconfirmed DNA analyses claim they revealed traces of blood from four other people on his gear: one from his knife, two from the same arrowhead, and a fourth from his coat.[46] Interpretations of these findings were that Ötzi killed two people with the same arrow, and was able to retrieve it on both occasions, and the blood on his coat was from a wounded comrade he may have carried over his back.[43] Ötzi's unnatural posture in death (frozen body, face down, left arm bent across the chest) suggests that the theory of a solitary death from blood loss, hunger, cold and weakness is untenable. Rather, before death occurred and rigor mortis set in, the Iceman was turned on to his stomach in the effort to remove the arrow shaft.[47]

 

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Old Bay-

One English king I would love to be able to talk to is Alfred the Great.

As someone of Viking ancestry myself, Hardrada is indeed an interesting choice....just not sure how the conversation would go.

Dfitz - "Otzi" is absolutely a valid choice, since it's clear he existed. I just wanted to avoid people who may or may not have been real people like Arthur, Homer, Aeneas, etc.

As I recall, Ashurbanipal's favorite texts seem to have been astrological/magical formulas. Guess he was trying to predict his future?

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Old Bay-

One English king I would love to be able to talk to is Alfred the Great.

As someone of Viking ancestry myself, Hardrada is indeed an interesting choice....just not sure how the conversation would go.

 

Alfred the Great is definitely up there for me as well.  Only English king to be dubbed Great, so he's got something going for him.  Not really the kingly 'type' either, but such a force of will.

 

And I don't think the Hardrada conversation would go very well.  :lol:

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