Who was the most badass military commander in history?

Today, while listening to the amazing Hardcore History podcast about The Mongol Invasions, I learned the answer to that question-


Subutai (1176–1248) was the primary military strategist and general of Genghis Khan and Ögedei Khan. He directed more than twenty campaigns in which he conquered thirty-two nations and won sixty-five pitched battles, during which he conquered or overran more territory than any other commander in history. He gained victory by means of imaginative and sophisticated strategies and routinely coordinated movements of armies that were hundreds of kilometers away from each other. He is also remembered for devising the campaign that destroyed the armies of Hungary and Poland within two days of each other, by forces over five hundred kilometers apart. (From Subutai – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)

As you will learn, if you give the amazing Hardcore History episode a listen (I recommend listening to the show in general, and this particular mini-series is one of their very best.) at one point he took a Scouting Force of 20,000 men on a little three year tour of Europe, and in the process conquered 11 nations, including Russia! He did this with fairly small casualties (he still had roughly 3/4 of his men at the end of the “tour”) and this was after fighting numerous battles where his army was outnumbered 2:1 or 3:1! The enemy was usually completely slaughtered with nearly 100% casualties.

There is also no record of him losing a single battle- ever.

Ah, if only Zhuge Liang was still alive when Subutai was, that would have been a glorious fight!

Free eBook: Suffer the Poisoner


“There’s poison in your soup.”

With these words, Little Gou is thrust into another adventure as he finds himself struggling to get the woman who poisoned him past an army of soldiers hunting her. Even if they can get past the army, their greatest challenge lies ahead- facing an ancient secret society who will stop at nothing to keep their existence hidden.


I’ve just released my newest Little Gou adventure, and I’m offering it for free for the next two weeks! Until July 2nd, if you go to Smashwords and enter the coupon code EG77P you can get it in the format of your choice absolutely free! All I ask is that if you enjoy it you leave a rating on Amazon, Smashwords or Goodreads to help me promote the story.

Free eBook: The Cat and The Whaler

I’ve just released my newest Little Gou adventure, and to celebrate I’m offering it for free for the next two weeks! Until June 7th, if you go to Smashwords and enter the coupon code NQ67B you can get it in the format of your choice absolutely free! All I ask is that if you enjoy it you leave a rating on Amazon, Smashwords or Goodreads to help me promote the story. This is a special Gou story, in that it’s illustrated as well, with art by Yi Weng! Check it out!


Senior Citizen | Futility Closet

Well that’s unusual. I’d like to know what Herbs this guy was taking! 🙂

When Chinese herbalist Li Ching-Yun died in 1933, newspapers were hard pressed to write his obituary. Li had contended that he had been born in 1736, which would have made him 197 years old.

In 1930, Wu Chung-Chien of Minkuo University had reported finding records showing that Li had been even older, born in 1677 and congratulated by the imperial Chinese government on his 150th and 200th birthdays.

Read more here:

via Senior Citizen | Futility Closet.

Chinese Rural Substitute Teachers Earn Little & See No Future – chinaSMACK


For all those local teachers here in London, Ontario who think the job market here sucks- take a look at what it’s like in China. I really admire the dedication of these men to teaching, without them very few of these students would get any kind of education at all. :-/


They have no social status, they earn little, and they are called “substitute teachers”, referring to those who work in rural schools as temporary teachers without formal employment, and once called civilian/private teachers [not employed by the government/state]. While the Department of Education put an end to civilian teachers as early as 1985, it is still difficult for the government to employ professional teachers because living conditions are miserable in rural areas. Currently, substitute teachers still constitute a boost to education in the western regions of China, especially the remote mountainous areas.

via Chinese Rural Substitute Teachers Earn Little & See No Future – chinaSMACK.

Qin’s Moon 秦时明月

I just stumbled across this series today on the Seven Sages of the Bamboo Grove site, and watched the first episodes. It’s a computer animated WuXia TV series from China set during the Qin Dynasty (210 BC) about a spunky orphan who has come under the protection/tutelage of the Emperor’s (former) greatest swordsman.

The animation in the first season is a weird combination between gorgeous and weak (it’s almost better to think of it as an animated comic book than an animated TV series) and the writing also seems to jump between almost profound and somewhat lowbrow. Whoever wrote this knew the limitations of the form they were planning it in, and they show some real skill in working around the limited animation at times. (Although it does look like the animation gets much better with each successive season.)

Overall in tone I’d compare it to The Clone Wars, although since it seems to have started around the same time I’d say that was a co-incidence instead of the Chinese animators following in CW’s footsteps.

The first three seasons are available on Youtube, or on the fansubber’s site for direct download. Either way, it’s probably worth a look if you’re a fan of fantasy or martial arts action. I will probably keep watching it for a bit just to see where it goes, but I’m still deciding if I like it or not.

Adventures in China: Strange Expat Jobs

Ahh, the fun of being a foreign Jack of All Trades! This is where some of the adventure of living in a foreign country comes from!

This is the job I’d want! (“Sorry honey! It’s my job!”)

If you can pass off that you are from an English speaking country, a whole slew of interesting jobs open themselves up to you. Some of my favorites are dressing up like Santa Claus (yes the real Santa speaks English), high school dropouts teaching Chinese professors how to teach English and doing voice acting for Chinese commercials. But one of the strangest English related jobs in China is interviewing airline attendant candidates.

A guy I know does this almost every weekend. Group after group of young, attractive and slim Chinese girls pour into the room. He, along with the other judges, check them for scars and height, while judging them on their beauty, composure, English level and fluency of their Mandarin (in China there are many dialects and many of the candidates are from far flung provinces). If they pass they get to study to become flight attendants. Not a bad job for 200 RMB an hour.


My favorite from the comments section:

3) Good Friend of a Dead Guy : I was hired to attend the funeral of a dead VIP/CEO so that other funeral patrons would see me and think “oh wow! This guy was sooooo VIP he even had foreign friends!”. I know its ‘low’, but hey the salary was unbeatable! The rouse was even more complete in that I even had to go up to his shrine and bow/kneel while offering up the 3 sticks of incense and doing the motion 3 times. Naturally we arrived by limousine and enjoyed free lunch and dinner that consisted of amazingly exquisite delicacies. Some people did attempt to come up and make small-talk or inquire about exactly how it is I *knew* this dead guy, but I was under strict orders to dodge any such questions.

Read the whole article (and comments) here. If you’ve been a “foreigner” in Asia, it will make you smile. If you haven’t you’ll be shocked at what goes on!

Adventures in China: Strange Expat Jobs– Expat Corner | eChinacities.com.

Yasheng Huang: Does democracy stifle economic growth? | Video on TED.com


Yasheng Huang: Does democracy stifle economic growth? | Video on TED.com.

Africans in Guangzhou: Opportunities & Discrimination – chinaSMACK


Africans in Guangzhou: Opportunities & Discrimination – chinaSMACK. is a fascinating article about the lives of a growing African presence in Guangzhou. I knew that China was investing heavily in Africa, but I didn’t know how much it was also going the other way!

Chinese Muslims

So today I came across an interesting bit of information I didn’t know.

It seems that in the Yuan Dynasty the Mongolian rulers didn’t trust the Han Chinese to administer themselves, so instead they imported (sometimes by force!) large numbers of Muslim Arabs and Persians to serve as their mid-level administrator class and serve as their tax collectors. These people were called the Hui people, and became the ethnic group known as the HuiHui’s.

Some interesting tidbits about the Hui:

  1. The name Hui is an abbreviation for “Huihui,” which first appeared in the literature of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127). It referred to the Huihe people (the Ouigurs) who lived in Anxi in the present-day Xinjiang and its vicinity since the Tang Dynasty (618-907). They were actually forerunners of the present-day Uygurs, who are totally different from today’s Huis or Huihuis.
  2. Islamism also had great impact on the political and economic systems of Hui society. “Jiaofang” or “religious community,” as once practiced among the Huis, was a religious system as well as an economic system. According to the system, a mosque was to be built at each location inhabited by Huis, ranging from a dozen to several hundred households. An imam was to be invited to preside over the religious affairs of the community as well as to take responsibility over all aspects of the livelihood of its members and to collect religious levies and other taxes from them. A mosque functioned not only as a place for religious activities but also as a rendezvous where the public met to discuss matters of common interest. Religious communities, operating quite independently from each other, had thus become the basic social units for the widely dispersed Hui people. Following the development of the Hui’s agricultural economy and the increase of religious taxes levied on them, some chief imams began to build up their personal wealth. They used this to invest in land properties and engage in exploitation through land rents. The imams gradually changed themselves into landlords. Working in collaboration with secular landlords, they enjoyed comprehensive power in the religious communities, which they held tightly under their control. They left routine religious affairs of the mosques to low-rank ahungs.
  3. During the Ming Dynasty, the Hui navigator Zheng He led massive fleets in making as many as seven visits to more than 30 Asian and African countries in 29 years. This unparalleled feat served to promote the friendship as well as economic and cultural exchanges between China and these countries. Zheng He was accompanied by Ma Huan and Ha San, also of Hui origin, who acted as his interpreters. Ma Huan gave a true account of Zheng He’s visits in his book Magnificent Tours of Lands Beyond the Ocean, which is of major significance in the study of the history of communication between China and the West.

More information on the HuiHui people here .

I also found this page about Foreigners and how they’ve historically become part of Chinese culture:


Interesting reading! It even includes a few tibits on intermarriage and assimilation! I didn’t know Kaifeng had a large population of Chinese jews! (Heck, I didn’t know there WERE Chinese Jews!)