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  • The Digital Abyss July 28, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    The Digital Abyss

    Beach has, this summer, been chasing a ‘neglected’ legend and to do so he and a series of friends and colleagues have ransacked the planet’s digital archives: from Mexico to New Zealand, from Ireland to Russia. Two observations. First, the difference in coverage from country to country is now dramatic: if you want to look for […]

    Operation Resurrection: British Folklore July 3, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Operation Resurrection: British Folklore

    British folklorists badly screwed up their own discipline in the late nineteenth century. When they should have been collecting the rich crops from the home counties and the north and midlands they, instead, indulged in premature comparative work, looking overseas for answers to stupidly ambitious questions. The comparison with some of Britain’s smaller European neighbours […]

    History Branching June 23, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    History Branching

    Today is the anniversary of Britain’s vote, suicidal or brave as you see fit, to leave the European Union. Beach thought he would remember that day with a quotation that has more resonance with him than anything else he has read on the campaign because it describes a strange lived historical experience: the sense of […]

    Crazies and Gentles: Two European Families June 7, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Crazies and Gentles: Two European Families

    Beach has recently been thinking a lot about a crucial difference between European nations, one that is perhaps not immediately evident to outsiders, but one that divides the continent into two camps: the capacity of these countries for bold if stupid actions. Put in the most vivid terms possible if Spain or Sweden or Lithuania […]

    Freedom in the Classroom: An Outdated Concept? May 23, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Freedom in the Classroom: An Outdated Concept?

    It is absolutely unsurprising that there is a strong liberal bias in university classrooms, particularly in the social sciences and to a slightly lesser extent in the humanities: and that this is true throughout the Anglo-Saxon and, indeed, the western world. It has been estimated, for example, that only one in forty sociologists in the […]

    Review: Teach Us to Sit Still May 13, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Review: Teach Us to Sit Still

    Tim Parks, Teach Us to Sit Still Tim Parks is an acerbic and to this blogger’s tastes over-intellectualised British writer based in Verona northern Italy. He writes novels and, much more enjoyably, books explaining Italy to Anglo-Saxons: TP is one of those very rare foreigners who neither patronises nor idealises the bel paese.  Teach, however, […]

    The One Percent Victorian Style April 28, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    The One Percent Victorian Style

    A phrase that has recently gained more and more currency: even to the point where undergraduates shout it out in class discussion, is ‘the one percent’. It is an offhand, contemptuous way of referring to the internationally wealthy.* Beach was delighted, the other day, to come across, in a ghost story no less, to the […]

    The Supernatural on Ngram April 19, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    The Supernatural on Ngram

    Beach has recently been messing about with Ngram, as his leisurely ancestors used to mess around on southern English rivers. Ngram for the uninitiated is a Google tool that allows the user to measure the frequency of certain words in Google Books. It is not as sophisticated as Google Analytics, which measures search terms. But […]

    Snakes and Sleeping Humans March 15, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Snakes and Sleeping Humans

    Beach has been wondering more about the legend of snakes as milk stealers: the satisfyingly bizarre idea that snakes suck milk both from nursing mother’s breasts and from cows’ and other ruminants’ udders. Beach has given examples of this belief and also speculated about the origins of this belief: was the idea Paleolithic or Neolithic […]

    Shiatsu and Hallucinations March 12, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Shiatsu and Hallucinations

    An autobiographical post. For the last months I have been invited by a friend to help with her shiatsu training. Shiatsu, for readers who might not know, is a form of Japanese massage where the body is pressed in certain key locations. It is frequently described, in fact, as acupuncture without the needles: the shiatsu […]

    The Problem with Shamanism March 3, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient
    The Problem with Shamanism

    ***dedicated to a misguided friend in Estonia*** All academic disciplines have terminological issues. Medievalists get excited about ‘feudalism’; archaeologists head-butt each other over ‘Celtic’; there are even some linguists who get upset about ‘Indo-European’. These words have been energized and arguments over them are about more than just semantics: disputes are bitter, useful and productive. However, […]

    Beach’s Book of Shadows February 9, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Beach's Book of Shadows

    Beach has a heaving filing cabinet full of spells: spells from the Middle Ages, spells from early modern Europe and spells from as recently as the Second World War. Some of these apparently date back to deepest antiquity; some are probably the spontaneous invention of men and women with borderline psychologies and would, as such, […]

    Hinge Moments: Leave! February 6, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Hinge Moments: Leave!

    History, particularly military and political history, often enough seems to be a series of interlocking junctions and roads. The roads splay and, as we march along, other roads and junctions appear as those behind us disappear in the twilight. In the same way that we sometimes remember our mortality, stroking the skull on the desk, […]

    Kidnapped by the Pombero February 2, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Kidnapped by the Pombero

    The story starts nicely enough and then takes a decided turn for the bizarre. In July of last year (2016) a two and a half year old child was lost in the Argentinean countryside in an area of ‘bush and mountains’. Beach’s youngest is two and he shivers to think what this means. The little […]

    How to Turn around Political Punditry? January 21, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    How to Turn around Political Punditry?

    The most interesting thing that Beach has read so far in 2017 has been Dominic Cumming’s extraordinary piece for the Spectator on fighting a modern political campaign. The campaign he had in mind was the Brexit referendum in June 2016. Cummings gives 20,000 words to the fight over Europe in the UK, but to the […]

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