Great Danes

Posted on by Guy Fox and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

(If you’re looking for the Hamlet Cliff Notes for your homework, this probably won’t help. But it might.)

Tycho Brahe

Tycho Brahe was a famous Danish aristocrat and astronomer. Actually, he wasn’t really much of an astronomer. He was loaded, so he bought lots of fancy optical kit, which cost a mint back then, and just wrote down what he saw. He had to hire Johannes Kepler to do the math and discover elliptical orbits, but that’s a story for another day.

Tycho Brahe was/is also famous for two other notable deeds:

1) He lost his nose on a bet. Think about that. On the one hand, you can say that he was a pretty serious dude. I mean, talk about putting your money where your mouth is, or putting your nose where your money isn’t, as the case may be. On the other hand, consider this from the perspective of the bet’s counterparty. You make a bet on, let’s say, the Stanley Cup Finals. You bet your nose (expect some anatomical variation over time) that the Penguins are gonna win. You lose. Who’s really gonna expect you to part with your nose? Really? But there are probably some people who will say to themselves, “Y’know, if he’s gonna be that much of an ass, let him do it. Let the world see what an ass he is.” Or they’re not gonna think about it at all, forget about the bet, and when they hear that you’ve cut off your own nose, they’re going to be mortified. “Krishna on a crutch! I was in the same room as that maniac! What if I had lost?! One more Facebook profile I gotta block!”

One lesson, among several: there’s always a counterparty, and one or more of you is possibly being an ass. Don’t let it be you.

2) How poor Tycho died. Legend has it that Tycho was at a big banquet, one of those exaggerated aristocratic deals where they have several kinds of exotic game with several kinds of exotic fruit stuffed into their mouths, spread out across several extraordinarily long tables. Back then, it was considered very impolite to excuse yourself to use the lavatory. (This makes perfect sense. If you’ve ever been to a real, old-timey castle/palace, you will probably have noticed the conspicuous lack of lavatories. No wonder it’s rude if the only facilities are the little pot in the corner – while everybody else is eating.) Anyway, Tycho had drunk too much mead by around course #17, and he had to go really bad, but he was ashamed. In a state of what must have been tooth-oscillating pain, his bladder burst. Inside his abdomen. Apparently, he languished for a few days before eventually dying of infection of the everything.

One lesson, among several: shame can be fatal, and such a death leaves an enduring, but not endearing, memory. Who knew? (present company excepted, of course)

Cnut the Great
You may have heard of this guy, but you probably never remembered the name. See lesson #2 above. He’s the one who, to show what a righteous son of a Rex he was, had his throne placed between the low and high tide lines on the beach and, as the water started to rise, commanded the tide back into the sea. This sounds utterly preposterous, but hey, it worked for Moses, right? Right?!? Cnut learned the hard way that, even if prophets really are prophets, kings are not.

One lesson, among several: Don’t try to bend your environment to your will,. That’s impossible. Instead, if you want to conquer the sea, do the obvious, which is also obviously possible:

Row, row, row your boat
Gently down the stream,
Merrily merrily merrily merrily
Life is but a dream

But if you build the boat, think about who’s in it. There might be room for Emzara, Ham, Shem and Japheth, but don’t try to fit the whole world in there. Or are you a prophet too?

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  2. Cyjackers?!

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3 Responses to Great Danes

  1. MarcusB says:

    How could people have missed this? Fantastic post.

    That 2nd anecdote on Tycho Brahe was great. I think the pain of having to go pee only enhances the shame.

  2. Guy Fox says:

    Holy Crap! I didn’t even notice this had been posted! I thought it had gone under in Mr. Bagel’s inbox. Thanks.

    • Guy Fox says:

      It also doesn’t show up in my RSS records for that day and week. Alas, it looks like it might have been buried between the classifieds and the obits.