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The Moas of Cannibal Gorge November 4, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Moas of Cannibal Gorge

Beachcombing is in an ornithological mood this month. It all started off with the druidic ravens at the Tower of London, then came the hibernating swallows, the parrots of Orinoco, swan-necked Mary Beard and today, to round off the series, he turns to one of his favourite bird stories of all time: the moa of the Cannibal […]

Rant: Lost Works, Mary Beard and ‘the Survival of the Fittest’ November 3, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
Rant: Lost Works, Mary Beard and 'the Survival of the Fittest'

‘Mary Beard’, ‘Mary Beard’..: even now, twenty years on from the beginning of Beachcombing’s infatuation (naturally unfulfilled), the words are enough to send a lightening bolt into that blogger’s overstrained central cortex. Beachcombing still remembers seeing Mary’s swan-like body for the first time, in the reading room at the UL: indeed, Beachcombing trembled as Britain’s most beautiful […]

The Parrots of the Atures November 2, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Parrots of the Atures

  Since beginning this blog five months ago Beachcombing has noticed a monotonous pattern. He takes out a long-treasured fragment of bizarre history, all fired up to write a cracking whiz-bang post. And then, when he comes to triple-check the facts, he discovers that the event never happened – that it was based on a misunderstanding […]

Beachcombed 5 November 1, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
Beachcombed 5

Dear Readers, 1st November, With the spirits of sacharine-hungry children rolling around the streets of Little Snoring last night – Halloween and all that – Beachcombing had been planning to post some triumphal stuff up about his new (if as yet slight) Bizarre Bibliography and a record thirteen thousand visits in October! Instead, he has been […]

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 These explanations are then superseded by other explanations – that typically bear as little relation to truth – and so knowledge marches heroically on… Inevitably, though some branches of […]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 […]

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