Quotulatiousness

August 25, 2017

The 2nd Battle Of Verdun – Lost Opportunities On The Isonzo River I THE GREAT WAR Week 161

Filed under: Britain, Europe, France, Germany, History, Military — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 24 Aug 2017

The 11th Battle of the Isonzo river continued this week and the Italians manage to break through parts of the Austro-Hungarian lines, they hesitate to exploit the breakthrough though and the opportunity is lost. Meanwhile the French break through the German lines at Verdun and Herbert Plumer comes up with a plan to defeat the German Hindenburg Line.

Great Northern War – I: When Sweden Ruled the World – Extra History

Filed under: Europe, History, Russia — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Published on 19 Aug 2017

A young boy king had inherited the crown of the Swedish Empire, and his neighbors saw an opportunity to attack. To their surprise, young Charles XII of Sweden turned out to be a fearsome opponent who quickly repelled their assaults – and then sought revenge.

Solving the mystery of the fate of H.L. Hunley‘s crew

Filed under: History, Military, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

When the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley was found, the bodies of the crew were still in their duty positions within the vessel, as if they’d been unaware or unable to do anything to save the situation. Sarah Knapton reports on what is now believed to have killed the crew almost instantaneously:

“Submarine Torpedo Boat H.L. Hunley, Dec. 6, 1863″ by Conrad Wise Chapman.
“The inventor of this boat, a man named Hunley, can be seen; also a sentinel. This boat, it was at first thought would be very effective; twice it went out on its mission of destruction, but on both occasions returned with all the crew dead. After this had happened the second time, someone painted on it the word ‘coffin.’ There was just room enough in it for eight men, one in front of the other, with no possibility of anyone sitting straight. The third time it started out, it never came back, nor was anything ever heard from it, but as one of the United States men-of-war in the harbor (USS Housatonic) was sunk at about the same time, the supposition was that they both went to the bottom together. Other objects to be seen in the picture are, Sullivan’s Island, and a Dispatch boat.” – Conrad Wise Chapman, 1898 (via Wikimedia)

The mystery of how the crew of one of the world’s first submarines died has finally been solved – they accidentally killed themselves.

The H.L. Hunley sank on February 17 1864 after torpedoing the USS Housatonic outside Charleston Harbour, South Carolina, during American Civil War.

She was one of the first submarines ever to be used in conflict, and the first to sink a battleship [Housatonic was actually a sloop-of-war, not a battleship].

It was assumed the blast had ruptured the sub, drowning its occupants, but when the Hunley was raised in 2000, salvage experts were amazed to find the eight-man crew poised as if they had been caught completely unawares by the tragedy. All were still sitting in their posts and there was no evidence that they had attempted to flee the foundering vessel.

Now researchers at Duke University believe they have the answer. Three years of experiments on a mini-test sub have shown that the torpedo blast would have created a shockwave great enough to instantly rupture the blood vessels in the lungs and brains of the submariners.

“This is the characteristic trauma of blast victims, they call it ‘blast lung,'” Dr Rachel Lance.

“You have an instant fatality that leaves no marks on the skeletal remains. Unfortunately, the soft tissues that would show us what happened have decomposed in the past hundred years.”

The Hunley‘s torpedo was not a self-propelled bomb, but a copper keg of 135 pounds of gunpowder held ahead and slightly below the Hunley‘s bow on a 16-foot pole called a spar

The sub rammed this spar into the enemy ship’s hull and the bomb exploded. The furthest any of the crew was from the blast was about 42 feet. The shockwave of the blast travelled about 1500 meters per second in water, and 340 m/sec in air, the researchers calculate.

The End of the Bronze Age

Filed under: History, Middle East, Science — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 28 Sep 2015

Around 1200 BC, the countries of the Eastern Mediterranean went into major cultural decline: The Late Bronze Age came to a sudden end.

Kingdoms that had wielded immense power completely disappeared. For several centuries after this, agriculture was people’s only means of subsistence. These were pivotal changes in history. Explaining them remains one of the big challenges in Mediterranean archaeology.

In this video, the foundation Luwian Studies presents a comprehensive and plausible scenario of what might have happened.

QotD: The “job” of literature between the wars

Filed under: Books, Economics, History, Politics, Quotations — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Until round about WWI when the wheels came off European culture (and in that strata, American taste always molded itself on European taste, starting before the revolution) “high culture” and “proper taste” which defined “quality literature” involved the author making sure the upper classes knew he was one of them. That is, the story would be full of literary references, to either classical literature (a lot) or to various artists and writers which had become hallmarks of high culture. (Shakespeare or Chaucer, not “quality” or high class in their own times, but rendered more difficult and therefore more rarefied a taste by the change in language.)

Then the wheels came off. There was some insurgence and some of this type of thing before then, mind, but it was after WWI that self-loathing became the hallmark of the upper classes in Europe. Then, because they were still the elite and (in their own eyes) the taste makers, the mark of rarefied good taste became the nostalgie de la boue. Where Shakespeare and his like had written about kings and queens or at least Lords and Ladies, increasingly the “modern” and cutting edge literature bypassed even decent middle class who were despised as bourgeois and concentrated on ne’er do wells, the criminal element, the lowest of the low in morals more than in money. Alternately it concentrated on the corruption and bankrupt morals of the [nouveau riche], the noblemen, those that could be seen as winners in life.

This is what Agatha Christie in her Miss Marple books more than once characterizes as “Unpleasant people in unpleasant circumstances, doing unpleasant things.”

This trend, roughly akin to an adolescent reveling in writing things that upset his parents, as communism became an established thing and the USSR reached out tendrils of propaganda to the west, turned into a mess of set-pieces, the “international realism” of socialists, about as artistically relevant as the national realism of the fascists. It became set pieces to the point that you REALLY need to question your cultural assumptions to get at the truth.

The “literature” of this type has given us the exploited mill workers, for instance, living in horror and squalor. While this is absolutely true when compared to the conditions of our time, those mill workers didn’t get the chance to live in our time, in the conditions of our time. They had the choice of living off the land or going to the city and living in factories. Life on the land has been painted with the soft tints of the romantics and the glorious tints of the early Marxists, but if you actually LOOK at the industrial revolution going on before our eyes in China or India, you realize people are coming to the cities and getting factory jobs because life is BETTER there than in the rural fastnesses they come from. Sure, their lives as industrial workers would horrify American workers, but they’re relatively good for what they have available.

In this sense, the literature of that time did its job which was to sell a socialist future (though most of the authors who were trying to write quality were probably unaware of what they were doing or how the dictates of “quality” came from a self-hating and often outright traitorous elite.) It shaped even the minds of those who are naturally suspicious of socialist tripe.

Sarah A. Hoyt, “The Quality of Writing”, According to Hoyt, 2015-10-11.

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