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  • The mystery of the hibernating hirundines October 31, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The mystery of the hibernating hirundines

    Humans create ideas to explain natural phenomenon. Most of these explanations are worth little more than the cinders that Beachcombing nightly sweeps up from the fire. These explanations are then superseded by other explanations – that typically bear as little relation to truth – and so knowledge marches heroically on… Inevitably, though some branches of […]

    Review: Farquhar, Foolishly Forgotten Americans October 30, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Farquhar, Foolishly Forgotten Americans

    A small note: today’s the day that Beachcombing’s first Bizarre Bibliography goes up – Mrs B has taken little Miss B to music therapy (truly…) so Beach has a couple of hours to burn. This bibliography should appear on the horizontal tabs above before evening. It will be short. At first. Any contributions or links […]

    New Born Lambs, New Born Ideas October 29, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    New Born Lambs, New Born Ideas

    The progress of a good idea depends not only on that idea’s quality, but also on the dress-code of its supporters and the mood swings of the establishment. For every good idea whose time has come: there are twenty or thirty who have to spend a generation kicking around in the bush before being welcomed up to the […]

    The Made-Up Battle of Karánsebes October 28, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Made-Up Battle of Karánsebes

    Wishing to distract himself from various home traumas Beachcombing thought that he would write today on one of his favourite ‘cobbler’ (tosh, nonsense) reports of all time: the Battle of Karansebes (Karánsebes for the minority who like accents on their conflicts). Here’s the game-plan. Beachcombing will start with the facts, move on to the legend […]

    Aristotle and the Flatulent Earth October 27, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Aristotle and the Flatulent Earth

    Beachcombing is always loath to give any publicity to the appalling Aristotle – and recently had a piece on Aristotle’s lost work on comedy wrung out of him against all his better judgement. However, after Beachcombing’s first experience of an earthquake last year he found himself grazing in Aristotle’s Metereology where the non-Platonic one gives […]

    The Last Scalping in History? October 26, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Last Scalping in History?

    Beachcombing cannot deny it. He has a bit of a thing about the removal of heads this week. First, there was the question of the last western beheadings, second an exploration by photograph of Japanese decapitations in the Second World War and today he is going to move on to a close cousin of beheading, […]

    Pytheas and the Mysterious Marine Lung October 25, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Pytheas and the Mysterious Marine Lung

    Pytheas of Marseille was a Greek sailing captain who, in the fourth century BC, ventured from the comfortable and known Mediterranean out into the northern Atlantic describing what he found there. Later generations believed that Pytheas was a fantasist and decried him. But, from the bits and pieces of Pytheas’ work that have survived – […]

    Image: Decapitation at Aitape, 1943 October 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Decapitation at Aitape, 1943

    Beachcombing continues with his series of striking images. He is offering today though not the neat studio photograph of an Australian, Leonard Siffleet (1916-1943), opposite. But another more worrisome photograph of the same man that he has included in the middle of this post. There any reader, who feels up to it, will see the brave Australian […]

    Rhyming Violence in Early Medieval Ireland October 23, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Rhyming Violence in Early Medieval Ireland

    Ireland, the early seventh-century. It is a cold, cold day in late autumn and the monastery is buzzing with excitement. ‘The faminators are coming. There is to be a duel’. As soon as the master of studies hears the news he waddles off to tell the abbot.  It takes him half an hour, but after […]

    The Great Republic of Rough and Ready October 22, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Great Republic of Rough and Ready

    Pascal and Small Coloured Things’ visit to Beachcombing’s Italian house is continuing, Little Miss B is changing her sleeping patterns, to the consternation of all, and Mrs B is not getting any (sleep). But, not withstanding this whirl of inactivity, Beachcombing can still find it in himself to slip down to the study with a […]

    Last Axe Decapitations in the West October 21, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Last Axe Decapitations in the West

    A description this morning from one of Beachcombing’s books of the season Charles Duff’s A Handbook on Hanging, reviewed in September. To make sense of what follows it should be remembered that Germany had inherited from Prussia beheading as a form of capital punishment. Of course, France too favoured decapitation but employed the more lithe and winsome […]

    Getting the Future Wrong: Book titles October 20, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Getting the Future Wrong: Book titles

    Beachcombing is in disgrace this morning. Friends of his from Britain, Pascal and Pascal’s wife Small Coloured Thing have been planning a jaunt over to Italy and Beachcombing’s home there. This was a cause of great celebration two weeks ago when the holiday was agreed upon. But then Beachcombing was so overwhelmed by mid-term exams […]

    Elizabeth Siddal: poets behaving badly October 19, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Elizabeth Siddal: poets behaving badly

    Beachcombing has a distant day almost constantly in mind – one that he fears tremendously – when little Miss B will arrive home from school prom or a disco or a walk in a wood with an ear-ringed possibly nose-ringed man on her arm, only to announce in dulcet tones: ‘Mum, Dad this is John, he is a poet’. For […]

    Image: Dancing to Save the World October 18, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Dancing to Save the World

    Mirella over at History and Women has the happy phrase, ‘Wordless Wednesday’, for her regular posts with images. And this ‘wordless’ approach is certainly the sensible one. But Beachcombing gets worryingly loquacious when powerful pictures come up and today is going to be no exception. The photograph above was one of a series of the […]

    Review: After the Funeral – the Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses October 17, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: After the Funeral - the Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses

    Beachcombing has been spending a tense evening debating with Mrs B over their choice of Au Pair – God help the poor girl! And it is with some relief that he now escapes to the computer to write up his first review in a month. Of course, it is not that there are no good […]

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