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  • Did a Minnesota Bear Almost Cause World War III? September 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Did a Minnesota Bear Almost Cause World War III?

    The story is often told because it is a thrilling and terrifying one. In the midst of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 a bear triggered an alarm at a US base leading personnel to believe that their airfield was under attack by Soviet saboteurs. US nuclear bombers on the airfield were scrambled and were […]

    Human Knowledge of Change September 26, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Human Knowledge of Change

    Humanity began its long escape from the seasons about 10000 years ago when the Neolithic Revolution saw a nomadic primate named homo sapiens start to settle, grow plants, drink beer and domesticate animals. Though some of our cousins in the Amazon rainforest and the Pacific still keep up an essentially natural animal existence, most of […]

    Immortal Meals 16#: Stalin Meets China September 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Immortal Meals 16#: Stalin Meets China

    An immortal meal from 30 July 1949,* which took place at Stalin’s dacha in Kuntsevo. Present were Stalin himself, several politburo members and a number of the leaders (minus Mao) of the Chinese communist party, including Liu Shaoqi (obit 1969) . The reception is interesting from several points of view: a) because rarely have so many mass […]

    Modern Magic in Afghanistan: Omar and the Prophet’s Cloak September 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Modern Magic in Afghanistan: Omar and the Prophet's Cloak

    Acts of magic are rare in the modern world. But every so often things happen that individuals and more importantly crowds interpret in this light. 4 April 1996, Mullah Omar, the one-eyed Taliban leader, appeared in central Kandhar in front of a crowd of over a thousand devout muslims. Omar was about to undertake an […]

    Osama Bin Laden in the White House?! September 18, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Osama Bin Laden in the White House?!

    This is a very improbable story that has just come out of the Italian gossip industry. It is unbelievable, incredible… but as its cast includes the world’s most famous building, an American president, Osama Bin Laden and an Italian singer with bizarre dress sense, Beach couldn’t resist flagging it up here. First, enter, from left […]

    Late Witch Attack, 1924 September 16, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Late Witch Attack, 1924

    ***This post is dedicated to Jill*** This blog has long had an interest in witchcraft from western Europe and particularly bizarre late examples of witchcraft including alleged human sacrifice in Britain during World War II and even some witch killings in the nineteenth century. Here is a case of late witchcraft scratching: it was sincerely […]

    Review: The Holocaust in the Soviet Union September 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: The Holocaust in the Soviet Union

    Books on the holocaust have, broadly speaking, two choices. They can either focus on the big picture and describe the liquidation of an entire people from this or that national territory, or they can focus on an individual, family or a village and concentrate, instead, on the micro-tragedies: an excellent example of the latter is […]

    False Impressions on the Day of Infamy September 10, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    False Impressions on the Day of Infamy

    As all Americans and many non-Americans know, 7 Dec 1941, the day of infamy, was the date of a brilliantly planned and brilliantly executed Japanese attack on America’s most important Pacific base, Pearl Harbor. The attack was, for the Americans, a bolt from the blue. Yes, America’s leaders were aware that a Japanese assault was […]

    More On Cauls and Sacs September 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    More On Cauls and Sacs

    Anthropologists have their work cut out for them. Despite the fact that we are all – from the Kalihari Bushman to the Californian surfer – one and the same species, there are so many differences between human societies, as to be almost embarrassing. However, there are a series of important and trivial facts that bind […]

    Swallowed by a Whale? September 8, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Swallowed by a Whale?

    In the late twentieth century whales became cool. They appeared in Star Trek films, people bought cds and listened to whales talking to each other and, of course, undergraduates walked around campuses with ‘No Way Norway’ signs while talking earnestly about boycotting sushi bars. But whales are not only cool but massive and even if […]

    Review: Mrs Wakeman vs. The Antichrist August 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: Mrs Wakeman vs. The Antichrist

    Behind the Stars and Stripes wavering over corn fields and Malborough man coughing up his lungs, there is vast hinterland of American strangeness that European countries, cursed by more measured, deeper histories, fail to compete with. Perhaps it’s the melting pot, perhaps it is the relative lack of rules, perhaps it is the welcome failure […]

    The Other Dream Team: Basketball and the Baltic August 23, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Other Dream Team: Basketball and the Baltic

    The Other Dream Team is the best history documentary Beach has watched since starting this blog four years ago. As it doesn’t seem to have the fame that it deserves here’s a shout out: even the almost ahistorical Mrs B. was moved. Some background. Lithuania is a small Baltic State of three million that has […]

    The Oldest Flame August 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    The Oldest Flame

    Inspired today by the description of a nineteenth-century visit to a British church: a private chapel attached to the Arundell family house at Lanherne (Cornwall). Within the chapel there was a tabernacle and ‘the great interest is in the tradition that, since the house has always been in Catholic hands, the lamp before the Tabernacle […]

    Jane Stanley Paints Castle-An-Dinas August 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Jane Stanley Paints Castle-An-Dinas

    Jane Stanley is an extremely talented archaeological reconstruction artist, based out of Cornwall. Castle-an-Dinas is an Iron Age fort in the middle of that county, a six-acre site second only, in terms of its natural charisma, to South Cadbury in Somerset. Put Jane and Castle-an-Dinas together and you get some of the best historical fiction around, […]

    In Search of Enys Tregarthen: ‘The Little Cripple’ August 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    In Search of Enys Tregarthen: 'The Little Cripple'

    Imagine being born, in the winter of 1850, while your father is away at sea. You find yourself in a vulnerable but aspirational household, perhaps the worst nineteenth-century social gradient of them all in Britain. As you slowly emerge into consciousness you start to understand that your father, a seaman, is rarely present and by the time […]

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