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  • Whoops, Apocalypse! October 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Whoops, Apocalypse!

    ***Dedicated to Andy the Mad Monk, who suggested this topic*** When, 6 August 1945, the pilot Paul Tibbets revved up Enola Gay on the island of Tinian everyone on the ground held their breath. Since the bomb, Little Boy, had arrived  those in the know had understood that should it accidentally explode most human life […]

    Coins Out of Time October 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    Coins Out of Time

    ***Dedicated to Lehmansterms, whom Beach owes an email…*** An underdeveloped post on the wrong time use of coins. Any other examples gratefully received: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com The following passage comes from a book describing the adventures of an Allied serviceman in Italy in 1943: the serviceman in question had escaped from prison camp […]

    Japanese Cartoons from Siberia and Beyond October 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Japanese Cartoons from Siberia and Beyond

    ***Dedicated to Ricardo R and the Kiuchi family*** Beach’s best discovery on the internet this month (courtesy of Ricardo R) has been a fabulous series of Japanese cartoons, describing the ordeal of an air corps man, Kiuchi Nobuo, one of hundreds of thousands Japanese soldiers, dragged off by the Soviets at the end of the war. […]

    Modern and Early Modern Animal Sacrifices in Britain October 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Modern and Early Modern Animal Sacrifices in Britain

    Beach knows that animal sacrifices took place in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. He has even featured and celebrated a few cases himself, but he was much struck by this list. Can anyone add anything to it? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Mr. Henderson wrote his Folklore of the Northern Counties in 1879, and he says: […]

    Out of Place Artefacts: Eyebrow-Raisers and Eye-Poppers October 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Out of Place Artefacts: Eyebrow-Raisers and Eye-Poppers

    ***Dedicated to Amanda and BFM*** Bad Archaeology, a necessarily quarrelsome but very worthwhile corner of the internet, is presently hosting an article on Out of Place Artefacts: objects that have turned up in places or in times where they would not be expected. As readers of Strange History will know the present author has frequently […]

    Egyptologist Meets a Cat Goddess October 13, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Egyptologist Meets a Cat Goddess

    ***Dedicated to Silvia*** Today a cat, a goddess and the great Egyptologist Arthur Weigall (obit 1934). For those who don’t know the name, AW was a British national who got involved in the race for knowledge and treasure in the Nile Delta in the early part of the twentieth century. He worked as an archaeologist […]

    How Big Are Fairies? October 12, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    How Big Are Fairies?

    There is a lot of confusion about the size of fairies in tradition and we often read that ‘small’ fairies were the invention of Shakespeare and his hangers on. The proof that small fairies were there all along comes, instead, in Gervase of Tilbury’s Otia Imperialia written and ‘published’ in the early thirteenth century: long […]

    Majorana’s Mysterious Disappearance October 11, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Majorana's Mysterious Disappearance

    ***Dedicated to Cristiano and Mau*** Ettore Majorana (obit ?), a Sicilian who mysteriously disappeared in 1938, was an almost-genius in the field of theoretical physics: many of his ideas proved so insightful that they are still being explored today. The reminiscences of those who  worked with Majorana show that he was not only a remarkable […]

    On First Looking Into Lucas’ Star Wars October 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    On First Looking Into Lucas' Star Wars

    Most father’s have a tic list of things that they long to do with their children: riding on bikes, playing Risk, collecting horse chestnuts… And Beach is pleased to say that he and his four-year-old  daughter have just achieved the most important of them all: watching Star Wars together while eating caramelized popcorn. Star Wars has […]

    Church Porch Devilry October 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Church Porch Devilry

    Midsummer’s eve doubtless had significance to our distant pagan ancestors, yoked to the land and to the seasons like oxen. What is striking is how often these traditions survived Christianity, the Reformation and even industrialisation. Take one of Beach’s favourite: looking for the dead-to-come on Midsummer’s Eve. Tradition claimed – traditions that still survive in […]

    Cartooning the Great War October 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Cartooning the Great War

    ***Dedicated to KR*** Beach wasted a couple of hours this morning thanks to KR who got him interested in online Great War cartoon books. There are the first and second volume of Raemakers’ Cartoon History of the War and perhaps more to Beach’s taste Punch’s History of the War. Can he also advertise this little […]

    Roman Empire vs Caliphate in Sub-Saharan Africa October 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Roman Empire vs Caliphate in Sub-Saharan Africa

    By the mid first century AD the Roman Empire had run against four limits, limits that its subjects would never overcome: in the west, the Atlantic; in the north, the German tribes (thanks Varus); in the east, the ‘Persian’ Empire and its successors; and in the south, the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara Desert beyond. […]

    Mud, Blood and Poppycock October 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Mud, Blood and Poppycock

    Beach has a question that he always enjoys asking first year American university students:  did World War One/World War Two/the Cold War represent a fight between good and evil? Class after class, semester after semester the pattern repeats itself. The Second World War is almost universally held up as such a war. Usually a quarter […]

    A Phantom Inventor: Flavio Gioia October 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    A Phantom Inventor: Flavio Gioia

    Who invented the compass? The Chinese, of course. Sometime between 800 and 1000 that people began to use their lodestones to navigate at sea. But the compass also appears in Europe in the eleventh or twelfth centuries and do we have a case of borrowing (from the far orient, as with playing cards) or independent […]

    Transit of Venus October 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Transit of Venus

    Beachcombing had some fun earlier in the summer with the most famous act of nineteenth-century spiritualism: Daniel Home’s floating escapade back in 1868. He recently came across this description of a rival levitator, Agnes Nichol Guppy (obit 1917) and her famous ‘transit of Venus’.  Note that this took place some three years after Home’s own […]

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