Posts concerning history

KJ Parker on Siege Warfare

22:57 29 Sep 2013

I enjoyed this short treatise on the history of sieges.

Unfortunately I can’t see how to apply its precepts to writing.

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Telehack Interview

23:54 16 Jun 2011

Most of you who need to know about Telehack doubtless already do, but you might have missed this interesting interview with its author by Andy Baio.

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Nothing on Facebook is Then

22:56 09 Jun 2011

This is an excellent post/rant about Facebook from Jason Scott; one of the key aspects of being a proprietary walled garden is that it’s very easy to be an information black hole, with the attendant ill effects on historical archiving.

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Defending Tennessee from the Specter of Islamic Rule

22:54 01 Mar 2011

This is amazingly ridiculous: “Tennessee Jumps on the Anti-Sharia Bandwagon”. That’s right, Tennessee State Senator Bill Ketron has introduced a bill that essentially equates the practice of Sharia law with treason. While it might not pass, and if it did pass it would pretty clearly not be Constitutional, it’s really sad that it’s even been proposed.

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Educational Flash Game: High Tea

19:44 13 Feb 2011
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Appropriation Isn’t Respect

15:25 17 Jan 2011

Martin Luther King, Jr., 4 April 1967: “I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today—my own government.”

Full transcript.

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Best in Life/The Greatest Joy?

23:38 08 Jun 2010

These are arguably the most famous lines from Conan the Barbarian:

Khitan General: What is best in life?
Conan: To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women!

Random browsing recently led me to learn that this was inspired by the words of Genghis Khan.

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The History of Debt

13:34 23 Apr 2010

“Debt: The first five thousand years” is a fascinating long-term overview of how debt has evolved and been managed through its history. The perspective granted by the long view is quite different from how I’d been looking at recent debt-related events, in particular regarding the “virtual versus real” money debate.

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“Scott and Scurvy”

19:18 19 Mar 2010

This blog post, about how the Terra Nova Expedition struggled terribly with scurvy, is quite fascinating, particularly because the correct prevention for scurvy had been discovered long before it. It’s an illustrative example of how incomplete understanding, even when already armed with the right answer, can lead to awful mistakes.

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Karl Heinz Kurras was a Stasi Agent

15:36 02 Feb 2010

This is probably old news to people who follow German politics closely, but I just found out about it (via MetaFilter).

Karl Heinz Kurras was the West German police officer who killed student demonstrator Benno Ohnesborg in June 1967 during a protest against the Shah of Iran’s visit to Germany. This was one of the major radicalizing events of the period for the German left, and hugely influential.

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Team O’Higgins

23:55 04 Oct 2009. Updated: 17:03 05 Oct 2009

More accurately, Club Deportivo O’Higgins. I had already thought about visiting Chile, but now it seems like I should not only do that but try to see this team play a match, preferably at home.

Naturally, they’re based in Rancagua, capital of The O’Higgins Region.

(Yes, somewhere back along the line, I’m distantly related to Bernardo O’Higgins.)

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A Clearer Picture of Mass Killings

03:50 16 Aug 2009

Timothy Snyder has an interesting article on how contemporary understanding of the Holocaust is tilted towards Western victims in the New York Review of Books, which includes an overview of mass death in the period around World War II. Upsetting, as you would expect, but worth reading.

(Via Who Is IOZ?)

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Costikyan on Europa Universalis

22:52 10 Jul 2009. Updated: 00:28 28 Jul 2009

Over the last couple of days I’ve encountered, more or less randomly, references to three computer games that each seem extremely deep, and as if they would consume vast amounts of time and attention. They are Defense of the Ancients, Dominions 3, and Europa Universalis III.

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The First of May

22:40 01 May 2009

It irritates me, every year, that May Day isn’t an official holiday here. It irritates me further that US Labor day is tucked far away at the other end of the year. It just seems petty. And today I discovered that, indeed, the US Labor Day was a deliberate attempt to gain distance from the “radical left”.

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WWII Racist Posturing

19:28 06 Apr 2009

I guess it’s not surprising, but it’s pretty disgusting: the Allied commanders wanted to ensure that Paris was liberated from the Germans by “white only” units.

The leader of the Free French forces, Charles de Gaulle, made it clear that he wanted his Frenchmen to lead the liberation of Paris.
Allied High Command agreed, but only on one condition: De Gaulle’s division must not contain any black soldiers.
—Mike Thompson, “Paris liberation made ‘whites only’”, BBC News, 6 Apr 2009

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Who Really Takes Fukuyama Seriously?

18:46 17 Feb 2009

I just watched this Slavoj Žižek lecture, which he gave at Google NYC and which I recommend, and was somewhat shocked at an answer he gave to the question (at about 1:03:10 in) “how do you respond to claims that Marxism and radicalism are dead?”—he answered, “the only serious question we have is this one, is Fukuyama, Francis, right or not?”

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Putative Handshake Origin

23:51 08 Dec 2008. Updated: 17:06 28 Jan 2009

In The Left Stuff: How the Left-Handed Have Survived and Thrived in a Right-Handed World I came across an account of the origin of the handshake that I’d never encountered before and which I find quite interesting:

The Roman ritual of touching right hands—the precursor to the modern-day handshake—was originally intended to demonstrate that one was weaponless. It was allegedly promoted by the left-handed Julius Caesar, who could use it to conceal a weapon in his dominant hand.
—Roth, Melissa (2005), The Left Stuff, M. Evans and Company, p28.

Obviously too good a story to not be true!

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MLK on Vietnam

16:45 06 Apr 2008

Just over forty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr. spoke out against the Vietnam War. In doing so, he made clear the connection between war and economic exploitation, and exposed the hypocrisy of those who applauded his nonviolent stance on civil rights demonstrations while also applauding violence against the Vietnamese.

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William F. Buckley

23:38 28 Feb 2008

I’ll refrain from speaking ill of the recently-deceased, but suffice it to say that I am not a William F. Buckley fan. Dennis Perrin dug up some clips of Buckley debating Chomsky about Vietnam in 1969, and I include them below to let interested parties draw their own conclusions.

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Elites, History, Progress

23:51 28 Jan 2008. Updated: 02:04 29 Jan 2008

This is a fourth-order post, a post about a post about a review of a book. Such are the times we live in. Which times, according to the book, are not necessarily cut off from much of human existence by the division of the past into history and ‘prehistory’. The blog post is Internal Affairs: Biochemistry and the Body Politic, the review is Steve Mithen in the London Review of Books on Daniel Lord Smail’s Deep History and the Brain.

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Naked Racism

23:55 03 Dec 2007. Updated: 21:50 18 Mar 2009

Short post today, I’m not feeling well. I’ll just point you to Jonathon Schwarz’s note regarding how National Review acknowledged serious errors in a piece of theirs reporting on Lebanon.

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Naomi Klein on Disaster Capitalism

23:55 28 Sep 2007. Updated: 01:57 29 Sep 2007

I went to a Naomi Klein lecture this evening. She was promoting her new book, The Shock Doctrine. I haven’t read it yet, but certainly intend to now that I’ve been to this lecture. The overarching idea she put forth is that corporatist ideas are pushed through after disasters in order to take advantage of public confusion, and that the psychology of shock is applied deliberately by elites in order to push their agendas.

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Hunter/Gatherers Slandered

21:29 10 Aug 2007

I know it’s The New York Times, but still, an outright lie in the first sentence of an article is a bit much.

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