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Suicide at Saipan: How Many? September 29, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Suicide at Saipan: How Many?

The most famous act of mass suicide in the twentieth century, are probably the extraordinary deaths that followed on the fall of Nazi Germany and the Jones Town massacre. However, one localised example from the Second World War in Asia trumps both of these in horror and intensity. Though not a ‘home’ island, Saipan had […]

Creative Pretexts for War July 2, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Prehistoric
Creative Pretexts for War

In the good old days when we had spears and lived in tribal societies war was, for much of humanity, a seasonal activity like boar hunting and berry picking. You did not have to explain why you wanted to steal the cattle of the clan on the other side of the hill: you just got […]

Tree Rings and Supernovas and a Red Cross in Anglo-Saxon England June 29, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Tree Rings and Supernovas and a Red Cross in Anglo-Saxon England

***Dedicated to Larry and Wade who sent this one in*** In early June a report came in from Nagoya University (Japan) that tree rings on the island showed evidence of a massive radiation blast in 774/775 of our era. This interested Beachcombing not the slightest as he doesn’t do radiation or tree rings. But this […]

Romans in Japan?! June 25, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Romans in Japan?!

***Dedicated to all these who sent this in: sorry I’ve misplaced the list!*** Beach has long since pioneered the wrong place, wrong time tags that set out examples of artifacts, languages, ideas and even DNA turning up in unexpected places or unexpected time periods. These have included such wonders as the last Latin speakers of […]

Nashville Debutante Fights Imperial Japan May 15, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Nashville Debutante Fights Imperial Japan

***With thanks to Larry*** A wish-i’d-been-there moment from 1941. Cornelia Fort was a twenty-three-year-old pilot and instructor flying a Cadet out of Honolulu in that year. Incredibly though CF had only been flying for a matter of months she was already deemed good enough to work as an instructor, putting a young Hawaiian through his […]

Zombie Planes May 3, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
Zombie Planes

***Dedicated to Ricardo*** Beach is properly modest about his knowledge of aeronautics – apart from perhaps the prehistory of flight. But he is as moved as the next man to see the spitfire test in First of the Few or (1.37.40)  or, for that matter, Corky sweating in Tales of the Golden Monkey as a […]

The Babel of History May 2, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
The Babel of History

  The past according to a much worn-line is ‘a foreign country, they do things differently there’. Of course, if this were all then history would be a doddle. It would be enough to fill the Cutty Sark with sabres and give the natives music sheets for their acres. But, unfortunately for those who like […]

Japanese Torpedo Boats in the Baltic March 8, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Japanese Torpedo Boats in the Baltic

In 1904 the Russian Tsar, Nicholas II, ordered his Baltic navy to travel around the world to take on the Japanese (who had already destroyed Nicholas’ Pacific fleet). It proved an extraordinary ‘voyage of the damned’ as almost forty Russian ships, including five capital ships sailed towards their doom at the hands of the able […]

Jesus Lived to 114 in Japan! January 11, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
Jesus Lived to 114 in Japan!

Beach has long been hearing rumours that Jesus Christ was actually buried in an obscure Japanese village of Shingo. But it was only this morning that he finally decided to climb up this particular mountain of madness and see what was really happening up in the mists. According to local ‘tradition’ (always a slippery word) […]

Rhyming with Death December 8, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Rhyming with Death

  Death concentrates the mind wonderfully and, at least in the east, a longstanding custom has been to pen a final poem: a last communiqué to the world. This custom stretches far back into the Middle Ages  and perhaps the greatest thing to recommend it is the brevity of the works in question So we […]

Secret Weapons September 22, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Secret Weapons

Ideas for books very often begin with nagging questions that compulsively irritate authors and that they then work through – think of it as therapy – by writing tens or even hundreds of thousands of words. Beach suspects that the nagging question that saw Brian Ford pen Secret Weapons: Technology, Science and the Race to […]

Fury and Cannibalism July 5, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Fury and Cannibalism

Cannibalism for most of us took place on ‘less happy (is)lands’ in less happy times, when neurologically-challenged Pacific folk loped from side to side suffering from Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. Others might also recall occasional starving humans on boats, in plane wrecks or beseiged cities obliged to eat each other. But cannabilism does not, surely, figure in […]

Beachcombing Beachcombs from Florida to Japan July 2, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Beachcombing Beachcombs from Florida to Japan

**Beach dedicates this post to Ricardo R and Tokyobling who supplied all the material** One area of bizarre history that Beachcombing has so far steered clear of in this blog is, well, beachcombing. He was put off the subject in the mid 1990s when he stumbled on a story in The Sun (Irish edition) of […]

The Last Foodtaster in History? March 11, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
The Last Foodtaster in History?

  Beachcombing has long thought that food tasting must have been among the very cushiest jobs to have had in the Middle Ages. Why? (i) No one is going to be stupid enough to kill a monarch or a duke by poisoning their food if they know there’s a taster around. You are safe. Beachcombing doubts there’s […]

The Search for Fusang December 21, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
The Search for Fusang

The snow is melting rapidly outside and just in time. Mrs B is suffering in the room above from what look like real contractions – Beachcombing conspicuously absent. Beachcombing then is going to let his source do all the talking today. If he hasn’t written much of a conclusion then the chances are that the […]

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