Thirty Seven Days

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Back in the mid-1970s, the BBC launched a dramatic, 13-part series called Fall of Eagles, about the last decades of the 19th century and the lead-up to World War One. It also chronicled the end of the royal dynasties in the aftermath of the war. It was a brilliant series, sweeping in its broad brush across the royalty and politics of Russia, Austria, Germany, and England. France got a mere cameo role because France was not ruled by any of the … click below for more!

The Grey Wolf Escapes

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[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6XsuZUggi4I] Forget your chemtrails, your big pharma, your New World Order; forget UFO abductions, Bigfoot and GMOs. This is the granddaddy conspiracy theory of them all. This one makes all the rest look like grade school gossip. It makes the petty conspiracies of local bloggers look like the diaphanous piffle they really are.* What is it? That Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun escaped from Berlin in 1945 and survived until the 1960s in exile in South America. And his dog, Blondi, got … click below for more!

Rest In Peace, Mary Chadwick

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Mary Mabel Bernice Chadwick passed away quietly in the morning of April 13, 2015 in her room in the Tony Stacey Veterans’ Care Centre. She had awakened that morning, and spoke briefly to staff, but nodded off shortly after. She never awoke. She was 95 years old and lived a full, rich life, one of remarkable resilience and strength. Mary was born shortly after WWI, and grew up in Canada during the Roaring Twenties, the Great Depression and the years of … click below for more!

Pompeii: Swords-and-Sandals Flop

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As a film setting, the town of Pompeii in the first century CE is a lot like the deck of the Titanic in 1912: no amount of special effects or clever script writing is going to save it from the disaster awaiting. As a film, Pompeii has a lot of the former, but precious little of the latter to rescue it. That’s probably why it’s in the $7 section at the DVD store. Let’s start with the history. Pompeii was a … click below for more!

The Bully Pulpit

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“I suppose my critics will call that preaching, but I have got such a bully pulpit!” US President Theodore Roosevelt uttered those words in office (reported in the February 27, 1909, issue of The Outlook magazine), coining the phrase ‘bully pulpit’ in referring to the presidency as an ideal platform from which to expound his ideas and advocate his causes. Of course, in his day, bully – a word with which Roosevelt was very fond – as an adjective meant … click below for more!

Family, a Century Ago

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The gentleman in the uniform on the right is William Gordon Pudney, Chief Petty Officer and engineer on the cruiser, Niobe, one of the earliest ship’s in Canada’s fledgling navy. William (Bill) was born in Canada, in 1893. He is perhaps in his early 20s in this undated photograph, taken a century or more ago, maybe even younger. William, my grandfather, served on the Niobe shortly after it was acquired from England, and later served on it in WWI, when … click below for more!

Conrad Black: Off the Rails

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I generally read Conrad Black‘s columns for their entertainment value, but I also read them for the language. Black is the best tosser of pithy epithets since Spiro Agnew*. And like the former US VP, he’s a pompous git who puffs up his intellectual feathers like a pigeon in heat – that puffery of sound and fury that signifies nothing more than an ego he has to bring along in its own carriage. He is very amusing that way. Now … click below for more!

Weaponized Aryan Jesus?

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The term “weaponized Jesus” comes from an article I read on politicsusa.com, from November 2013, titled “The Religious Right With Their Weaponized Jesus Are Not Christians.”  It’s worth a read, if you enjoy the political-religious debate. I eventually traced the phrase back to a 2010 story in Mother Jones. It’s a good description of the way some fundamentalist Americans are taking their religion. But that’s not at issue right now. It’s the guy on the left of the movie still that … click below for more!

Human Smoke

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“The truth of history,” Napoleon wrote in his memoirs while exiled on St. Helena, “is a fable agreed upon.” Agreed upon mostly by the victors, one should add. The losers seldom agree with it. In 1865, Mark Twain added in his work, Following the Equator: “The very ink with which all history is written is merely fluid prejudice.” Two centuries after Napoleon, Dana Arnold wrote in Reading Architectural History: Historical reality is then a ‘referential illusion’, in which we try … click below for more!

Hate Crimes Against Non-believers Growing

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We all know about the hate crimes religious believers commit against one another, against people of a different faith. It’s headlines news, almost daily. Protestants against Catholics. Sunnis against Shiites. Muslims against Christians. Hindus against Muslims. Buddhists against Muslims. Christians against pagans. Christians against Jews. Muslims against Jews. Cults against anyone and everyone against cults. Pick a faith and it’s been involved in attacks, intolerance, intimidation, and killing sometime in its history. Even the normally pacifist Buddhists have been. Religions … click below for more!

Poor King Henry VII

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As Rodney Dangerfield might have said had he been cast in a role as Henry VII, “I don’t get no respect.” Henry VII is one of those English kings who never seem to get any attention, outside the rarefied realms of academia. Only of late, it seems, have a few writers and TV producers turned their heads towards him – no doubt because a lot of the other, more exciting monarchs have been thoroughly covered on screen and in print. Although … click below for more!

Timothy Leary Was Right. Maybe.

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This is your brain on drugs. Or rather, the right-hand image is your brain on psilocybin. The other side is your brain on a non-psychedelic drug. Researchers recently discovered some amazing facts about how our brains work on some chemicals. And some psychedelic drugs prove to have pretty amazing effects. But don’t try this at home… stick to building toy rockets and drones for your science experiments… Apparently Timothy Leary was right: psychedelic drugs change the way users think. For … click below for more!

The Cold War

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I was reminded by an article on Slate that the (to me) iconic film of the Cold War, Fail Safe, was released fifty years ago this week. And as the article records, more people remember the satirical film, Dr. Strangelove than the more chilling drama, Fail Safe. Perhaps they have forgotten it, as they have the Cold War itself. Forgotten too are the tensions and the fears that pervaded that era; the threats of nuclear war. the suspicions and paranoia … click below for more!

The Forgotten Gulag

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In the introduction to Anne Applebaum’s Pulitzer-prize-winning book, Gulag: A History, she ponders why the “crimes of Stalin do not inspire the same visceral reaction to the crimes of Hitler.” Yet Stalin’s actions and policies killed millions more than the Nazis. Maybe it’s because the USSR wrapped itself in as much secrecy as it could muster for so long. Maybe it’s because the Soviet camps were so far removed from sight and never received the pictorial and media coverage the … click below for more!

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