Sunday, 2016 June 19, 10:40 — history, religion

next time you hear someone blame Hitler on Darwin or atheism

Nazi racial ideology was religious, creationist and opposed to Darwinism — long and thoroughly documented

Wednesday, 2013 December 4, 13:03 — astronomy, history, neep-neep

do you speak my calendar?

In MacBSD, the command cal 9 1752 shows the shortening of that month in the British Empire. If I reinstall MacOS and choose Italian as its default language, will the shift show up instead in October 1582?

Wednesday, 2009 December 2, 10:59 — arts, history

Circe the siren?

Patrick Henry said in 1775:

It is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth, and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts.

Was he aware that he conflated two episodes of the Odyssey?

Thursday, 2007 November 8, 13:34 — history

sometimes there are no good possibilities

Years ago, in a Usenet thread about Lincoln’s unconstitutional reconquest of the South, someone asked me (I paraphrase): “As a descendant of slaves, why should I prefer to live in that alternate history where the CSA continued to keep slaves after 1865?”

I had no answer then, but one has recently occurred to me:

For several reasons I believe that slavery was more likely to end if secession was successful than if the secession had never happened. If the end of slavery were not tied to a tremendous grudge of blood and devastation, might not social equality come sooner even if formal liberation came later?

Wednesday, 2006 June 21, 21:08 — history

where was Waterloo?

I have twice raised the question: “In what country was the battle of Waterloo fought?” Waterloo is now in Belgium, but that state was created fifteen years later. Well, I finally bothered to go looking for an answer to the question . .

Waterloo was fought nine days after the end of the Congress of Vienna, during which the United Kingdom of the Netherlands, which included what we now call Belgium, was created.

Saturday, 2006 June 17, 10:53 — history

say, Colonel DuBois?

Heinlein’s Starship Troopers has a teacher say that all wars are caused by population pressure.

Did Europe have a lull after 1348?

Saturday, 2006 June 3, 09:10 — economics, history


Mom is in town, and yesterday we went to the Arts & Crafts exhibit at the de Young.

One of the wall placards says, “The problems caused by free trade and the Industrial Revolution had been recognized since the 1830s . . . .”

The part about free trade is easy to debunk: the first triumph of the British free trade movement was the repeal in 1846 (motivated in part by the Irish famine) of the protectionist Corn Laws.

The plight of the working classes before that is familiar from Oliver Twist (1837–9) and A Christmas Carol (1843), but since I can’t see how industrialization itself could cause it, I prefer to blame the Inclosure Acts which dispossessed small landholders and thus depressed wages (while the Corn Laws kept food prices high). The new industrialists naturally took advantage of cheap labor, but one cannot reduce wages by offering employment.

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