Category Archives: History

The Journal

The gun crew of SMS Nürnberg were relaxing, Franz was ignoring their idle banter using the moment’s respite to write in his journal: St Quentin Bay, November 24, 1914. Having finished coaling we are ready to round the Horn. The admiral has told the squadron that he would not make light of their situation, with the navies of the world allied against them a difficult task lay ahead. He and the captains would use their best endeavours to lead them safely home, if not for Christmas then the new year… . Read more of this post

Helicopter Money

This week on Facebook: Sees me return to economics, yet more history and the despair of an old man who — like all old men before me — thinks that the world is going to hell in a handcart. My first instinct was to ignore articles on helicopter money as it being something that I was incapable of having an influence on (which is true) and finding myself totally confused by the rationales offered by economists and politicians. Nevertheless, the notion of helicopter money made me think of some historic precedents that I believe are valid allusions to its use. Read more of this post

1666 and all that!

This week on Facebook: Last week saw the 350th anniversary of The Great Fire Of London, which broke out on the 2nd of September 1666.  It has since been dwarfed  — at least in scale — by subsequent man made wartime infernos, but this was time when cities like London were potential fire traps.
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The Siege

“So William, I beat you again!”

“Perhaps you should not brag so Georgina, when we are wed I may beat as often as I like.”

She hotly replied, “No man will ever beat me William Young, husband or not!”

Watching him as he unstrung his bow and started walking towards her, she immediately regretted her sharp-tongued reply. She remembered vividly her parents announcing her betrothal to him, the feeling of elation, the love for him. A feeling she had held from the very first moment they met, each time she looked at him love welled up inside her, so much that she thought her heart would burst.

As he approached her he said, “You are closer to the butt than me.”

“But always a better shot,” she replied. Read more of this post

Heaven’s Gate — The Great Plains

This week on Facebook: My attention was drawn to the death of Michael Cimino who died early this month, remembered more for his epic disaster in directing the film Heaven’s Gate than his cinematic successes that led him to it. I am an aficionado of western movies and despite its critics Heavens Gate was no exception. I saw the demise of the Great Plains as being implicit to Cimino’s theme of the Johnson County war. Hollywood has exploited the origins of this despoliation of the Great Plains in films such as Dances With Wolves and Cimino’s Heavens Gate. His allusions in Heaven’s Gate are still valid in the history of the Great Plains which, in less than 200 years, the intervention of man — unwitting or not — has endangered its environmental stability and continues to do so.  Read more of this post

A life of π

This week on Facebook a week of posts on the subject of pi (π) can surely only be of interest to a geek but don’t worry, there won’t be another week from me like this one until 2022. This week, beginning on Monday March 14, is known as world Pi (π) Day, which this year is 3.1416 (for those that use a non UK English notation).

Though as Michael Caine is wrongly attributed as saying, ‘Now there’s not many people know that’. I doubt that come tomorrow, the world would have been shaken by the riotous behaviour of those celebrating the advent of the day. Nevertheless, Monday’s annual event did result in the following π pertinent postings. (Incidentally — if the value of π is infinite: How can it be a constant?)

For those who, unlike me (apart from those befuddled moments brought on by old age) who are not geeky, there is always PI (π) Media.  I’m sure that you’re wondering why the name PI (π) Media was chosen.  Never short of an opinion about anything, I would hazard a guess that like the never ending π it’s intended to be a never ending source of online information. It may be of course that once a year it gets free publicity from us millions trawling the net annually in our never ending search for enlightenment regarding the never ending π. Read more of this post

I Liked Ike

Susan Eisenhower, the granddaughter of Dwight D Eisenhower, wrote an article for the Washington Post in 2011 with the title 50 years later, we’re still ignoring Ike’s warning. Her article referred to the ‘Farewell Address to the Nation’ made by her grandfather 50 years earlier, in which he said:  

“We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence with our peaceful methods and goals so that security and liberty may prosper together”. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s farewell address to the nation, January 17 1961

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Grading The War On Terror

Lincoln, Civil Liberties, and the Constitution proposes a grading system for those Presidents of the United States of America who enacted special ‘internal security measures‘ in a time of war. Mark Neely ‘graded’ four American Presidents, according to an analysis of their administration’s response to the internal security measures they enacted. He asked three simple questions that were all about behaviour and not about the law. Read more of this post

Lincoln, Civil Liberties, and the Constitution

My post Grading The War On Terrorwas prompted by my listening to a talk given by Mark Neely – McCabe Greer Professor in the American Civil War Era (Penn State University). The talk, given on behalf of The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, is shown as the first video and the following text is my – edited – transcript of that talk. There are links added to my transcript where something useful may be found. Mark Neely frequently refers to ‘Our Lincoln’, which is a reference to the book Our Lincoln: New Perspectives on Lincoln and His World, a collection of essays compiled and edited by Eric Foner (pdf reviewed by Jason Miller). Mark Neely contributed the essay ‘Civil Liberties and the Constitution’ to the book and this is the essay to which Neely refers in his opening remark.  Read more of this post

Beggars are coming to town.

The Tudor Age (1485 – 1603), especially during the reign of Henry VIII, was a period of great social upheaval. The Act of Supremacy coupled with the dissolution of the monasteries, the enclosures of common land and the great debasement, affected all strata of English society.  The wealth of English landowners vastly increased, as did the size of their farms and estates, but the effect on those not owning land and the hired labour, especially in rural communities, was catastrophic. Vagrancy became endemic as a largely self-sufficient, if often subsistent, rural culture effectively ended. The rural dispossessed swelled the bands of those regarded as idle vagabonds, who roamed the country plaguing all communities in England. Crime increased, as did the indigent population of English towns and cities. The punishments for vagrancy introduced after the Peasants Revolt of 1381, and meted out to the indigent considered to be deliberately indolent, were made even harsher. Read more of this post

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