history

/Tag: history

The Wave.

So apparently in 1976, high school History teacher Ron Jones was teaching a class on the Second World War when one of the students asked how the German population could possibly have been swept along, seemingly oblivious, in the rising tide of fascism. Jones didn’t have an answer that satisfied him and so, the next day, he decided to start covertly implementing a practical demonstration of just how easy it is to succumb to authoritarianism.

And that, in a nutshell, is how one teacher semi-accidentally started a fascist youth movement in a California high school.

I’d never heard this story before, although apparently it’s well-known enough to have had a novel, several films and a documentary made about it. I’m sure the fact that they’ve all enjoyed a resurgence in popularity lately is totally a coincidence…

2018-03-19T15:48:13+10:004th September, 2018|Tags: culture, history|

History.

How beautiful the Roman artifacts look now that the horrible Romans are gone. The mosaic pictures of daily life: fish on a plate, flowers, a pretty girl. Profiled on silver coins, the famous sociopaths look harmless and small, their features worn smooth by many hands and many centuries. Look, there’s Julius Caesar, and Augustus; here’s one with Cleopatra on one side and Mark Antony on the other, and who’s on this little one? Oh right, Vespasian, who sent his son to destroy Jerusalem and who built the Colosseum, where people of every class could sit in comfort and watch wild animals tear prisoners to pieces.

Katha Pollitt on ended empires.

2018-07-27T14:29:51+10:0028th April, 2018|Tags: culture, history, politics|

Silphium.

On the lost Roman herb, silphium, which could apparently do, like, everything, from birth control to making meat tender.

One of my favorite parts of this article is the fact that one of the names for dried silphium sap was “laser”, meaning you could wander around in ancient Rome and totally run into “laser dealers”.

2017-09-11T10:03:28+10:009th February, 2018|Tags: food, history|

Blitzed!

Given that the Nazis even today have a reputation for promoting “public heath” (for Aryans) including fitness and vegetarianism–plus a history of sending drug addicts to the gas chambers–I’m sure it’ll come as no shock whatsoever to anyone to learn that there’s evidence suggesting most of the Reich, up to and including Hitler himself, were raging meth addicts.

2017-09-28T13:54:06+10:0031st January, 2018|Tags: cw: drug use, cw: nazism, history|

A brief history of dry cleaning.

Apparently it’s not actually “dry“! I feel like I’ve been lied to all these years…

2017-06-29T07:46:45+10:0024th August, 2017|Tags: history, science, tech|

Broken branches.

On lost family histories.

Growing up, I was “blessed” with an entirely invented surname, although it’s a bastardization of a common Eastern European name. We’d assumed that immigration officials had changed it when my paternal grandfather came to Australia–they did that sort of thing, In Those Days–until very recently, when Dad discovered his father had been using it while still in Europe. It’s almost certainly a made-up alias.

The reality is we have no idea who Dad’s Dad was; a lot of people had a lot of reason to change their name and run away from things back in the era of the Second World War, and the dude left my grandma and possibly died long before Dad was adult enough to even think to ask. Dad’s done some work to track his father down since, but the trail is pretty cold.

Me? I’m… less invested. Dad’s Dad might be my biological grandfather, but my grandfather grandfather was a Polish and/or Ukrainian dude called Peter who lived with Granny for like fifty years. I always knew we weren’t biologically related, but it didn’t matter. Pretty much all of Dad’s side of the family, and the history thereof, was lost during the war and its aftermath. They all have terrible stories–Granny grew up in a Siberian orphanage and subsequently survived Lienz, Peter escaped from a Nazi work camp–they never wanted to talk about when they got to Australia. I won’t deny the lost history there is interesting; I’ve described the story of Dad’s Dad to Jewish people, who’ve pointed out the obvious inference, while Granny comes from one of the groups of Cossacks who were Nazi collaborators (we have some, uh, unfortunate family photos),1 and Peter and a friend were chased through the snow by Nazis with dogs and guns in their escape attempt (his friend did not make it).

Europe in that era was a mess.

Meanwhile, on the flip side, my Anglo-Australian mother can trace her family right back to First Fleet convicts, so… go figure, I guess.

  1. As it turns out, that entire ethnic group seems to’ve been co-opted by the far-right as poster children for “white genocide” which… as a literal descendant of people who were both survivors of Soviet ethnic cleansing and Nazi collaborators, you’ll have to excuse me while I go throw up in my mouth a bit. Basically, Nazis and holocaust deniers can fuck right off and stop pissing all over my family history. Thanks. []
2017-07-17T11:47:27+10:0021st June, 2017|Tags: culture, history|

Everything you know about Medieval England is wrong.

Seriously. Fantasy novels are not good historical sources.

2017-09-28T13:48:07+10:006th June, 2015|Tags: history, sff|