Category Archives: History

A Cataclysm Down Memory Lane…

Back in the early 1980s, I got to know William Clark, who was almost a father figure to my partner at the time. We would be frequent weekend visitors at William’s country retreat, a converted mill in the Oxfordshire village … Continue reading

Posted in Books, History, News and politics | 1 Comment

Chuck, Vlad, and Godwin’s Law

Heaven knows, I don’t have much time for Prince Charles. His views, particularly on the subject of alternative medicine, strike me as being not only misguided, but downright dangerous because of his position of influence. Still, just as a stopped … Continue reading

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Note To Self…

…wait until after the 7th September 2014 before visiting the Rijksmuseum. Why? Because until then, my least-favourite philosopher, Alain de Botton, has apparently filled the Rijksmuseum with giant Post-it notes of his own. It doesn’t sound promising: De Botton’s evangelising … Continue reading

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The Streisand Effect in Action

In 2009, Wendy Doniger’s book The Hindus: An Alternative History was published by Penguin. It seems to have attracted the wrath of Hindu (male) chauvinists; to the extent that a lawsuit from the Hindu group Shiksha Bachao Andolan accusing Doniger … Continue reading

Posted in Books, Folklore, History, Society | 1 Comment

You Say Tomayto…

…and I say tomahto… The Beeb has a new series of historical programmes being broadcast under the portmanteau title of Life and Death in the Tudor Court. Last Thursday saw the broadcast of The Last Days of Anne Boleyn, and … Continue reading

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It’s NOT a Coronation!

It’s been a momentous day here in the small country of The Netherlands. This morning, at 10:10, Queen Beatrix signed the document that confirmed that she has abdicated in favour of her eldest son, Willem-Alexander, who has now become King. … Continue reading

Posted in Events, History, News and politics, Society | 2 Comments

The Grand Reopening

I’ve always enjoyed visiting the Rijksmuseum, the grand old lady of Amsterdam’s many museums. However, she’s been closed since 2003 for a refurbishment that was supposed to have been completed in 2006. Here we are in 2013, and she’s about … Continue reading

Posted in Art, History, Society | 3 Comments

Best Laid Down – And Avoided

In recent years, there’s been a fashion for “historical drama documentaries” on TV. You know the sort of thing – get a historian to front a programme on say, the Wars of the Roses, and fill most of the airtime … Continue reading

Posted in History, Nature, Society, Television | 2 Comments

Keeping Tradition Alive

In this part of the Netherlands (the Achterhoek), there’s a tradition that when a new building is constructed, and the highest point is reached, then the neighbours will erect a Meiboom (a Maypole) alongside the building. Here’s a translation of … Continue reading

Posted in Folklore, History, Society | 3 Comments

Lest We Forget

The BBC showed a one hour documentary last night: Death Camp Treblinka: Survivor Stories. The survivors in question were Samuel Willenberg and Kalman Taigman. They were among 600 prisoners who escaped during a revolt at the camp on August 2nd, … Continue reading

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Meet The Romans With Mary Beard

May I just say, what an absolute pleasure it was to be in the company of Professor Mary Beard last night when she introduced us to a variety of long-dead Romans. This was TV in the very best tradition of … Continue reading

Posted in History, Television | 5 Comments

The Devils

Hurrah! The British Film Institute has just released the complete UK ‘X’-rated version of Ken Russell’s The Devils on DVD. It’s in its original aspect ratio of 2:35:1 and looks absolutely stunning. Derek Jarman’s sets are seen to the best … Continue reading

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A Short Tale of Two Alans

Today’s Guardian has a short tale (less than a page) in the My Hero series. It’s by Alan Garner and reveals a connection between him and Alan Turing. Worth reading.

Posted in History | 2 Comments

The History of the User Interface

Here’s a video of Bill Buxton talking about the history of (some of the) user interfaces in computing. http://channel9.msdn.com/Series/Show-Us-Your-Tech/Bill-Buxton-Shows-Us-His-Favorite-Tech/player?w=512&h=288 An interview with a researcher who has passion and whose passion shines through to teach important lessons. And the basic lesson … Continue reading

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Turing’s Papers Saved for the Nation

For a while, it looked as though there was a real possibility that Alan Turing’s papers might disappear abroad, possibly to a private collector in Silicon Valley. However, news comes today that the UK’s National Heritage Memorial Fund has pledged … Continue reading

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Then and Now – II

Here’s another example of the changes that have occurred over time on the Isle of Man. This time it’s views of Douglas Bay. The first photo was taken in about 1860 (I think). It’s a bit difficult to see, but … Continue reading

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Then and Now

Since I was looking through old photos of the Isle of Man for my last post, I thought that I might try and see if any of the locations corresponded with photos that I’ve taken. So here are a few … Continue reading

Posted in History, Photography | 2 Comments

The Wedding Party–A Mystery Solved

I’ve got a pile of postcards and old photos that I inherited from my father. Many of the postcards he collected from places that he visited around the world, when he was a merchant seaman in the 1920s and 1930s. … Continue reading

Posted in Events, Family, History | 22 Comments

Science or Dogma

A few days ago, I mentioned Jacob Bronowski and his TV series The Ascent of Man. Here’s that scene of him speaking at Auschwitz, explaining the difference between science and dogma. (hat tip to Alun Salt for providing me with … Continue reading

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My Father, The Bomb and Me

When I was growing up. Jacob Bronowski was a presence on the telly. He was the scientist, the boffin, who could be relied upon to explain science to the rest of us. In 1973, he presented a ground-breaking series, The … Continue reading

Posted in History, Science, Society, Television | 1 Comment