Quotulatiousness

January 30, 2015

All Or Nothing – Winter Offensive In The Carpathians I THE GREAT WAR Week 27

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

Published on 29 Jan 2015

Konrad von Hötzendorf has to prevent the Russian army from entering the Hungarian plains. So, he starts a huge offensive in the Carpathian Mountains — in mid winter. He also wants to demonstrate his power to Italy and Romania who are considering entering the war for the Entente. Meanwhile, in the Northern Sea the first Battle of Dogger Bank takes place which leads to the sinking of the German ship SMS Blücher.

January 28, 2015

Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck I WHO DID WHAT IN WW1?

Filed under: Africa, History, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 26 Jan 2015

Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck, also known as the Lion of Africa, was commander of the German colonial troops in German East Africa during World War 1. His guerilla tactics used againd several world powers of the time are considered to be one of the most successful military missions of the whole war. In Germany, he was celebrated as a hero until recently. But recent historical research show a picture much more controversial than the one of a glorious hero.

January 27, 2015

Shakespeare’s tender treatment of Catholicism

Filed under: Britain, History, Media, Religion — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

David Warren explains how he deduced that William Shakespeare was probably a Catholic:

Long before I became a Catholic, I realized that Shakespeare was one: as Catholic as so many of the nobles, artists, musicians and composers at the Court of Bad Queen Bess. I did not come to this conclusion because some secret Recusant document had fallen into my hands; or because I subscribed to any silly acrostic an over-ingenious scholar had descried, woven into a patch of otherwise harmless verses. My view came rather from reading the plays. The Histories especially, to start: which also helped form my reactionary politics, contributing powerfully to my contempt for mobs, and the demons who lead them. But with improvements of age, I now see an unmistakably Catholic “worldview” written into every scene that is indisputably from Shakespeare’s hand. (This recent piece by another lifelong Shakespeare addict — here — will spare me a paragraph or twenty.)

That our Bard came from Warwickshire, to where he returned after tiring of his big-city career, tells us plenty to start. The county, as much of Lancashire, Yorkshire, the West Country, and some other parts of England, remained all but impenetrable to Protestant agents and hitmen, well into Shakespeare’s time. Warwick’s better houses were tunnelled through with priest holes; and through Eamon Duffy and other “revisionist” historians we are beginning to recover knowledge of much that was papered over by the old Protestant and Statist propaganda. The story of Shakespeare’s own “lost years” (especially 1585–92) has been plausibly reconstructed; documentary evidence has been coming to light that was not expected before. Yet even in the eighteenth century, the editor Edmond Malone had his hands on nearly irrefutable evidence of the underground commitments of Shakespeare’s father, John; and we always knew the Hathaways were papists. Efforts to challenge such forthright evidence, or to deny its significance, are as old as the same hills.

But again, “documents” mean little to me, unless they can decisively clinch a point, as they now seem to be doing. Even so, people will continue to believe what they want to believe. In Wiki and like sources one will often find the most telling research dismissed, without examination, with a remark such as, “Against the trend of current scholarship.”

That “trend” consists of “scholars” who are not acquainted with the Bible (to which Shakespeare alludes on every page); have no knowledge of the religious controversies of the age, or what was at stake in them; show only a superficial comprehension of the Shakespearian “texts” they pretend to expound; assume the playwright is an agnostic because they are; and suffer from other debilities incumbent upon being all-round drooling malicious idiots.

Perhaps I could have put that more charitably. But I think it describes “the trend of current scholarship” well enough.

Now here is where the case becomes complicated. As something of a courtier himself, in later years under royal patronage, Shakespeare would have fit right into a Court environment in which candles and crucifixes were diligently maintained, the clergy were cap’d, coped, and surpliced, the cult of the saints was still alive, and outwardly even though Elizabeth was Queen, little had changed from the reign of Queen Mary.

The politics were immensely complicated; we might get into them some day. The point to take here is that the persecution of Catholics was happening not inside, but outside that Court. Inside, practising Catholics were relatively safe, so long as they did not make spectacles of themselves; and those not wishing to be hanged drawn and quartered, generally did not. It was outside that Queen Elizabeth walked her political tightrope, above murderously contending populist factions. She found herself appeasing a Calvinist constituency for which she had no sympathy, yet which had become the main threat to her rule, displacing previous Catholic conspirators both real and imagined. Quite apart from the bloodshed, those were interesting times, in every part of which we must look for motives to immediate context, before anywhere else. Eliza could be a ruthless, even fiendish power politician; but she was also an extremely well-educated woman, and in her tastes, a pupil of the old school.

Indeed the Puritans frequently suspected their Queen, despite her own Protestant protestations, of being a closet Catholic; and suspected her successor King James even more. A large part of the Catholic persecution in England was occasioned by the need to appease this “Arab spring” mob, concentrated in the capital city. Their bloodlust required human victims. The Queen and then her successor did their best to maintain, through English Bible and the Book of Common Prayer, the mediaeval Catholic inheritance, while throwing such sop to the wolves as the farcical “Articles of Religion.”

The question is not whether Shakespeare was one of the many secretly “card-carrying” Catholics. I think he probably was, on the face of the evidence, but that is a secondary matter. It is rather what Shakespeare wrote that is important. His private life is largely unrecoverable, but what he believed, and demonstrated, through the media of his plays and poems, remains freely available. He articulates an unambiguously Catholic view of human life in the Creation, and it is this that is worth exploring. The poetry (in both plays and poems) can be enjoyed, to some degree, and the dramatic element in itself, even if gentle reader has not twigged to this, just as Mozart can be enjoyed by those who know nothing about music. But to begin to understand as astute an author as was ever born, and to gain the benefit from what he can teach — his full benevolent genius — one must make room for his mind.

Maddy Prior’s “The Sovereign Prince”

Filed under: Britain, History, Media — Tags: — Nicholas @ 02:00

Lyrics:

The mariner is sailing
Sailing across the sea
Seeking out the enemy
Bringing spices back home to me

Spanish gold for the taking
At the harbour of Cadiz
Their fleet they left a-blazing
On the Ocean bed, stone cold, her cannons lie

Eldorado lies a shimmering
Shimmering like a mirage
Luring the merchant venturers
On a brutal grim and overlong voyage

Treasure laden galleons
Lemons, melons and quince
Strange exotic cargo
Gift and garlands fit for the Prince

And Gloriana rules with a woman’s wiles
Plays the coquette with politics and smiles
A computer for a brain in the body of a child
All temper and guile

And the girls on the beach
They are lying out of reach
They rub oil on their skins
And roll in the sand of hated Spain

And the girls in sidewalk bars
Drink their coffee, smoke their cigars
And laugh at the waiting maid
Who covers afraid of the Prince

And Gloriana in stiff starched lace
With pearls in her hair and thunder on her face
Screams with rage: Has God left this place?
There’s no God in this place

And the girls on the phone
Ring collect when they call home
And talk inconsequent
Will pass in a moment a thousand miles

And the girls in the airport lounge
Are awaiting the tannoy sound
For the flight to Brazil
With a couple of weeks to kill in the sun

And Gloriana so harsh and chaste
The soldier in her breast is raging at the waste
Of Victories lost and battles left unfaced
For want of such haste

And the girls in high-strapped shoes
With a tan they never lose
Wear the cross of gold
In memory of stories told in Sunday School

And the girls without the Church
Leave their lovers in the church
But seldom sleep alone
And think no more of Rome than a tourist town

And Gloriana sits slumped on the throne
Her head in her hands is weeping alone
Dreaming of the past and times that are gone
Dreams of time to come

And the mariner is sailing
Sailing across the sea
Seeking out the enemy
Bringing spices back home to me

Bring me my scallops shell of quiet
My staff of faith to walk upon
My scrip of joy, immortal diet
My bottle of salvation
My Gown of glory, hopes true gauge
And thus I’ll take my pilgrimage

(Raleigh)

January 25, 2015

All my archer friends linked to this video

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

You were impressed by the mad archery skillz of Legolas? You ain’t seen nuthin’ yet:

Published on 23 Jan 2015

The ultimate archery trick!

Prove that Hollywood archery is not historical.

Press release:
http://www.clausraasted.dk/larsandersen/new.pdf

Podcast about how I started archery:
https://soundcloud.com/claus-raasted/77-special-edition-about-lars-andersen-and-archery

Quiver:
An archers with a quiver on his back is a movie icon which is widespread throughout the world. But putting arrows in a quiver on your back is not a good solution. It is bad in motion and the archer cannot see his own arrows, as he has an enemy in front of him. He must focus on his quiver, which makes him vulnerable. Past archers often had different types of arrows simultaneously in his quiver but since the quiver is on his back, he cannot see which arrow he takes. Placing the quiver in the belt solved most problems, and if the archer is horseback, the quiver could be placed on the horse in front of the rider. These methods were the most common ways to use a quiver.

The round divided target:
The two dimensional target is not known from the past. Historical targets were not flat, but three dimensional.

Quiver, arrows in the bow hand, arrows in the draw hand:
I think there has always been an evolution in archery. Archers from even the earliest times have gone from using quivers, to arrows in the bow hand, and ultimately, to hold arrows in the draw hand. Going from the quiver to holding the arrows in the bow hand is not difficult, it can be learnt. You get the arrow in front of you, so you do not have to focus away from an enemy It is far better in motion, so there are many advantages over a quiver. There are today archers which are really good with this method. Keeping the arrow in the draw hand provides a wide range of benefits, but it assumes that one can draw and shoot in a single movement automatically. If you must use multiple movements or have to use your fingers on the bow hand to get the arrow in place, then it is far better to go back and keep the arrow in the bow hand.

Double draw
I have for many years experimented with drawing with both hands simultaneously so while your hand with the arrow pulling the string behind, while bow hand is pushed forward, this providing more power on the arrow. when I 2 years ago made the video “Reinventing the fastest forgotten archery” I had seen many historic pictures of a low half drag, and then I thought it would be interpreted as past archers only drew the bow short, but today I think it is more likely that the images show a double draw,

To hit an arrow in the air:
I have currently tried 14 times (everything is filmed) For me this is the ultimate archery, which I until recently had thought was impossible. it can be done, but requires the handling of the bow and arrow to become completely bodily. you may not have time to aim or think, and you must first be completely convinced you hit, you see, “feel” the incoming arrow and shoot in an instant. do not attempt this I / we have been in doubt about wether this should be shown, because we were afraid that someone gets hurt if they try to emulate it,

I trained for many years and spent a really long time before I tried it the first time.
For several years, I along with my friends Peter and Ask also trained with harmless buffer arrows where I often have shot their arrows down and before we switched to proper arrows I had very safely hit 5 harmless arrows in a row. It will not be shot with a very strong bow (but it’s still dangerous) The arrow that fired at me is a light bamboo arrow with metal tip, I’ll shoot back with a heavy aluminum arrow so I’m sure that the incoming arrow flexes when they hit together. The archer shoots at me normally sits behind one large safety sheet, but in the video is filmed with the sheets pulled away, so you can see what is going on.

I hope to try again during the summer outside, with an HD camera in slow motion.

Do I hit everything?
I use a lot of time practicing, and it can take a very long time before I learn a new skill. For instance, when I got the idea of jumping to grab and enemy’s arrow before I land, it took me months to learn, where for a long time, the arrows would fly everywhere, until I learned to handle it.

Thanks for reading and watching my videos
-Lars Andersen

It took a bit longer to get to me than I expected, but here’s Jim MacQuarrie leading off the debunking train:

Since apparently hundreds of sites have uncritically repeated its many preposterous and unsupportable claims, with the result that many people have asked me about it, I thought I should offer a detailed analysis.

The question really comes down to three separate categories; (1) the claims made in the narration; (2) the trick shots shown, and (3) Andersen’s actual archery ability.

We’ll start with the third. Andersen’s quick-shooting technique is obviously effective (if speed is the goal), in that he is able to fire a lot of arrows at a very rapid pace. It’s worth noting that the narrator goes to great pains to explain why shooting at close-up distances is so important and denigrates “warrior archers only shooting at long distances,” (just one of many totally false claims) in order to paper over the fact that the man obviously can’t hit anything that’s more than about 20 feet away. No doubt there are literally hundreds of failed attempts that were cut out of the carefully-edited video. His gimmick is speed, not accuracy, and it’s obvious to anyone who actually knows anything about archery that his complete lack of any kind of consistent form is going to require camera tricks and a lot of luck, which is exactly what’s on display here. He may in fact be the fastest archer in the world; he just shouldn’t pretend to be accurate.

The really egregious part is the staggeringly inaccurate, misleading, and hyperbolic narration, written by somebody with little-to-no actual knowledge of archery history and a willingness to distort facts to make a bogus case.

[…]

The narration actually skirts close to accuracy when talking about target archery. With the invention of firearms, archery made the transition from weapon of war to sporting event, and with that came codification of rules, refinement of effective techniques, and modification of equipment, all in pursuit of what was regarded as the most difficult attribute to master. Something similar happened when the martial art of swordfighting became the sport of fencing. In the case of archery, accuracy at ever-increasing distances was chosen as the goal to focus on rather than speed or trick-shots. Having acknowledged that, the narration than launches back into bogus assertions and ignorance.

The narrator declares that shooting at a stationary target is “something that was unknown in the past,” which is patently absurd; archers who hope to hit a moving target such as an enemy combatant were obviously going to practice on a stationary target, and the modern archery target is a natural evolution of the ancient method; the difference is that what was once basic training is now the end goal.

[…]

If he wanted to shoot like the master archers of old, he would have to unlearn what he had learned,” the narrator tells us. If Andersen had ever actually learned anything from real archers before going on his historical quest, he would have had a lot less to unlearn. What he had learned is the usual collection of bad habits that self-taught amateur archers always display, many of which continue unabated in his new, allegedly historic techniques. He is a terrible archer who can shoot fast. He shoots very fast. He shoots very badly very fast.

His new technique is described as “simpler and more natural, exactly like throwing a ball.” This is accompanied by a shot of him throwing a ball very badly and awkwardly. He throws about as well as he shoots, but nobody would ever put up that segment and try to compare him to Major League pitchers, because most people know how to throw a ball at least enough to know that this is not a particularly impressive example of the skill. Another fun exercise would be comparing Andersen’s clumsy attempts at running and jumping to actual practitioners of parkour, martial arts, or gymnastics. Frankly, I’m surprised people aren’t mocking his awkward attempts at action shots, since to me he looks about as impressive and coordinated as the Star Wars kid.

Prescribing modern drugs for Richard III

Filed under: Britain, Health, History, Science — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

In Richard Lehman’s BMJ journal review, there was an amusing bit of interest to Ricardians:

King Richard III of England was 32 when he died at Bosworth and then famously suffered the indignity of being buried in a Leicester car park. I think I probably drew your attention to this account of his post-mortem examination when it appeared online last September. Had Richard III been spared avoidable mortality in the form of a bashed-in skull and a spear through his spine, he would probably have needed a walking frame by the age of 70. He was never in the best shape:

I, that am curtail’d of this faire Proportion,
Cheated of Feature by dissembling Nature,
Deform’d, unfinish’d, sent before my time
Into this breathing World, scarse halfe made up,
And that so lamely and unfashionable,
That dogges bark at me, as I halt by them.

(from The Tragedy of Richard the Third: with the Landing of Earle Richmond , and the Battell of Boʃworth Field by Wm Shakespeare c.1592, First Folio text 1623)

With his nasty scoliosis and his habit of moving around castles with smoky rooms and no hand rails on the stairs, Richard III would have needed an OT assessment and a dosset box containing all the drugs which are now compulsory for elderly people in the UK:

simvastatin 40mg to add 2 days to life and cause muscle aches
tramadol 50mg to fail to ease pain & cause dependency, falls, confusion
naproxen 500mg to cause GI bleeds and fluid retention
furosemide 20mg to reduce fluid retention due to naproxen
omeprazole 20mg to prevent GI bleeds, encourage C diff
senna 7.5mg to counter tramadol constipation
citalopram 20mg to cause serotonin syndrome with tramadol
trazodone 50mg for agitation due to serotonin, to worsen it & cause falls
gababentin MR 800mg to see if it will help pain
paracetamol 500mg because it hasn’t helped the pain
tamsulosin 400mcg for nocturia due to age and furosemide
lisinopril 5mg for “grade 2 CKD” due to furosemide & naproxen
Seretide inhaler for low FEV1 due to scoliosis
etc.

My kingdom for a bit of horse-sense.

January 24, 2015

QotD: General Elphinstone in Afghanistan, 1842

Filed under: Asia, Britain, History, Military, Quotations — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

But looking back I can say that, all unwittingly, Kabul and the army were right to regard Elphy’s arrival as an incident of the greatest significance. It opened a chapter: it was a prelude to events that rang round the world. Elphy, ably assisted by McNaghten, was about to reach the peak of his career; he was going to produce the most shameful, ridiculous disaster in British military history.

No doubt Thomas Hughes would find it significant that in such a disaster I would emerge with fame, honour, and distinction — all quite unworthily acquired. But you, having followed my progress so far, won’t be surprised at all.

Let me say that when I talk of disasters I speak with authority. I have served at Balaclava, Cawnpore, and Little Big Horn. Name the biggest born fools who wore uniform in the nineteenth century — Cardigan, Sale, Custer, Raglan, Lucan — I knew them all. Think of all the conceivable misfortunes that can arise from combinations of folly, cowardice, and sheer bad luck, and I’ll give you chapter and verse. But I still state unhesitatingly, that for pure, vacillating stupidity, for superb incompetence to command, for ignorance combined with bad judgement — in short, for the true talent for catastrophe — Elphy Bey stood alone. Others abide our question, but Elphy outshines them all as the greatest military idiot of our own or any other day.

Only he could have permitted the First Afghan War and let it develop to such a ruinous defeat. It was not easy: he started with a good army, a secure position, some excellent officers, a disorganized enemy, and repeated opportunities to save the situation. But Elphy, with the touch of true genius, swept aside these obstacles with unerring precision, and out of order wrought complete chaos. We shall not, with luck, look upon his like again.

George MacDonald Fraser, Flashman, 1969.

January 23, 2015

Zeppelins Over England – New Inventions For The Modern War I THE GREAT WAR Week 26

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

Published on 22 Jan 2015

For a decisive advantage on the Western Front, the military commanders of both sides are trying to use technological advances. And so this week, German Zeppelins are flying their first air raids on English towns. Winston Churchill is outlining his ideas for what would later become the tank. Meanwhile at the Western Front, the soldier Adolf Hitler is thinking about how this war is going to continue.

January 21, 2015

QotD: Teddy Roosevelt and the rise of the Progressives

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

When, after a generation of that sort of compromising, the so-called Progressive party was organized and he [Theodore Roosevelt] seized the leadership of it from the Westerners who had founded it, he performed a feat of wholesale englutination that must forever hold a high place upon the roll of political prodigies. That is to say, he swallowed at one gigantic gulp, and out of the same herculean jug, the most amazing mixture of social, political and economic perunas ever got down by one hero, however valiant, however athirst — a cocktail made up of all the elixirs hawked among the boobery in his time, from woman suffrage to the direct primary, and from the initiative and referendum to the short ballot, and from prohibition to public ownership, and from trust-busting to the recall of judges.

This homeric achievement made him the head of the most tatterdemalion party ever seen in American politics — a party composed of such incompatible ingredients and hung together so loosely that it began to disintegrate the moment it was born. In part it was made up of mere disordered enthusiasts — believers in anything and everything, pathetic victims of the credulity complex, habitual followers of jitney messiahs, incurable hopers and snufflers. But in part it was also made up of rice converts like Roosevelt himself — men eager for office, disappointed by the old parties, and now quite willing to accept any aid that half-idiot doctrinaires could give them. I have no doubt that Roosevelt himself, carried away by the emotional storms of the moment and especially by the quasi-religious monkey-shines that marked the first Progressive convention, gradually convinced himself that at least some of the doctrinaires, in the midst of all their imbecility, yet preached a few ideas that were workable, and perhaps even sound. But at bottom he was against them, and not only in the matter of their specific sure cures, but also in the larger matter of their childish faith in the wisdom and virtue of the plain people. Roosevelt, for all his fluent mastery of democratic counter-words, democratic gestures and all the rest of the armamentarium of the mob-master, had no such faith in his heart of hearts. He didn’t believe in democracy; he believed simply in government. His remedy for all the great pangs and longings of existence was not a dispersion of authority, but a hard concentration of authority. He was not in favor of unlimited experiment; he was in favor of a rigid control from above, a despotism of inspired prophets and policemen. He was not for democracy as his followers understood democracy, and as it actually is and must be; he was for a paternalism of the true Bismarckian pattern, almost of the Napoleonic or Ludendorffian pattern — a paternalism concerning itself with all things, from the regulation of coal-mining and meat-packing to the regulation of spelling and marital rights. His instincts were always those of the property-owning Tory, not those of the romantic Liberal. All the fundamental objects of Liberalism — free speech, unhampered enterprise, the least possible governmental interference — were abhorrent to him. Even when, for campaign purposes, he came to terms with the Liberals his thoughts always ranged far afield. When he tackled the trusts the thing that he had in his mind’s eye was not the restoration of competition but the subordination of all private trusts to one great national trust, with himself at its head. And when he attacked the courts it was not because they put their own prejudice before the law but because they refused to put his prejudices before the law.

In all his career no one ever heard him make an argument for the rights of the citizen; his eloquence was always expended in expounding the duties of the citizen. I have before me a speech in which he pleaded for “a spirit of kindly justice toward every man and woman,” but that seems to be as far as he ever got in that direction — and it was the gratuitous justice of the absolute monarch that he apparently had in mind, not the autonomous and inalienable justice of a free society. The duties of the citizen, as he understood them, related not only to acts, but also to thoughts. There was, to his mind, a simple body of primary doctrine, and dissent from it was the foulest of crimes. No man could have been more bitter against opponents, or more unfair to them, or more ungenerous.

H.L. Mencken, “Roosevelt: An Autopsy”, Prejudices, part 2, 1920.

January 20, 2015

Recap: The First Six Months I THE GREAT WAR

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

Published on 19 Jan 2015

World War 1 broke out in summer 1914, a little over 100 years ago. Our channel is following the historic events week by week. For everyone who recently joined this channel: this recap is specially for you! Catch up with the last six months, hence the first six months of the war. Between the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the Battle of the Marne and the Christmas Truce, hundreds of thousands of soldiers had to die. This is modern war.

January 19, 2015

QotD: Austria becomes Austria-Hungary

Filed under: Europe, Government, History, Quotations — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 01:00

Shaken by military defeat, the neo-absolutist Austrian Empire metamorphosed into the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Under the Compromise hammered out in 1867 power was shared out between the two dominant nationalities, the Germans in the west and the Hungarians in the east. What emerged was a unique polity, like an egg with two yolks, in which the Kingdom of Hungary and a territory centred on the Austrian lands and often called Cisleithania (meaning ‘the lands on this side of the River Leithe’) lived side by side within the translucent envelope of a Habsburg dual monarchy. Each of the two entities had its own parliament, but there was no common prime minister and no common cabinet. Only foreign affairs, defence and defence-related aspects of finance were handled by ‘joint ministers’ who were answerable directly to the Emperor. Matters of interest to the empire as a whole could not be discussed in common parliamentary session, because to do so would have implied that the Kingdom of Hungary was merely the subordinate part of some larger imperial entity. Instead, an exchange of views had to take place between the ‘delegations’, groups of thirty delegates from each parliament, who met alternately in Vienna and Budapest.

The dualist compromise had many enemies at the time and has had many critics since. In the eyes of hardline Magyar nationalists, it was a sell-out that denied the Hungarians the full national independence that was their due. Some claimed that Austria was still exploiting the Kingdom of Hungary as an agrarian colony. Vienna’s refusal to relinquish control over the armed forces and create a separate and equal Hungarian army was especially contentious — a constitutional crisis over this question paralyzed the empire’s political life in 1905. On the other hand, Austrian Germans argued that the Hungarians were freeloading on the more advanced economy of the Austrian lands, and ought to pay a higher share of the empire’s running costs. Conflict was programmed into the system, because the Compromise required that the two imperial ‘halves’ renegotiate every ten years the customs union by which revenues and taxation were shared out between them. The demands of the Hungarians became bolder with every review of the union. And there was little in the Compromise to recommend it to the political elites of the other national minorities, who had in effect been placed under the tutelage of the two ‘master races’. The first post-Compromise Hungarian prime minister, Gyula Andrássy, captured this aspect of the settlement when he commented to his Austrian counterpart: ‘You look after your Slavs and we’ll look after ours.’ The last decades before the outbreak of war were increasingly dominated by the struggle for national rights among the empire’s eleven official nationalities – Germans, Hungarians, Czechs, Slovaks, Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Romanians, Ruthenians, Poles, and Italians.

Christopher Clark, The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went To War In 1914, 2012.

January 18, 2015

The [f]utility of mass demonstrations

Filed under: History, Middle East, Politics, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 10:30

David Warren had a short essay get out of hand on him the other day:

Everything is coming out of Egypt these days, just like in the Bible. The Paris demonstrations were a throwback not only to the grand gatherings of a century ago, when the masses in each European capital were demanding war, but also to the recent “Arab spring,” when the masses in Egypt and every Middle Eastern capital were demanding “democracy.” Mobs often get what they want. The best that can be said for the Jesuischarlies, is they haven’t a clew what they want, beyond making an emotional display of their own vaunted goodness.

And yet, large demonstrations are expressions of despair. They bring momentary relief in a false exhilaration: the idea that something can be done, by men; something that will not cost them vastly more than they are now paying. Verily, it is the counsel of despair. I don’t think I can provide any example from history in which mass political demonstrations did any good; only examples when they did not end as badly as they could have.

I hardly expect agreement on this point, especially on non-violent demonstrations that affirm some simple moral point, such as the wrongness of racial prejudice, or of the slaughter of unborn children. But these must necessarily politicize something which should be above politics, and cannot help bringing an element of intimidation into what must finally be communicated cor ad cor. Pressure politics change everything, such that even when the cause is indisputably elevated — the American civil rights marches of the 1960s are a good example — the effect is dubious. What came out in that case was not simply the destruction of an evil, but its replacement with new evils: welfare provisions which undermined the black family, the poison of race quotas and “reverse discrimination,” the canting and excuse-making and radical posturing that has wreaked more aggregate damage to black people — both spiritual and material — than the wicked humiliations they suffered before. (Read Thomas Sowell.)

“Be careful what you wish for.” Be mindful of what comes with that wish. Be careful whom you ask to deliver it.

January 16, 2015

Onwards! – The Western Front Of Early 1915 – THE GREAT WAR Week 25

Filed under: History, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 15 Jan 2015

French general Joseph Joffre is stuck in a dilemma: the Champagne offensive has been going on for weeks now — without any expected results. Should he dig in and tolerate the enemy on French soil? Or should his soldiers continue to run up against the impenetrable German defences? Meanwhile, South African troops attack German South West Africa and in London, Winston Churchill’s plan for an invasion of the Dardanelles has been approved.

January 14, 2015

What Was The Bloodiest Battle Of World War 1? – OUT OF THE TRENCHES #6

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

Published on 12 Jan 2015

“Indy is answering your questions again. In this episode of OUT OF THE TRENCHES he is explaining how airplanes got armed with machine guns and what was the bloodiest battle of WW1.

January 13, 2015

QotD: The high-water mark of European colonialism

Filed under: Britain, Europe, History, Quotations — Tags: — Nicholas @ 01:00

… by the close of the century, eight Western European powers — Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Belgium and the Netherlands — together in extent slightly under 1,000,000 square miles, had within a generation added some 11,000,000 square miles of foreign territories to their homelands; and area three and a half times the size of the United States, and rather more than one-fifth of the land surface of the globe! So extensive a conquest had no equal since the invasions of the Mongols in the thirteenth century, and no previous conquest had been so rapid and bloodless since the age of Alexander the Great. Like his, it was destined to be followed by the wars of its Diadochi [Alexander’s successors].

J.F.C. Fuller, The Conduct of War, 1789-1961, 1961.

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