A Student of History

January 18, 2008

How bad it is getting in the UK

Filed under: PC,The world today — John Maass @ 7:38 am

A village amateur dramatic group performing Robinson Crusoe has had to tell police about the use of plastic swords because of health and safety fears.

The Carnon Downs Drama Group, at Perranwell, Cornwall, must lock up its two plastic cutlasses, six wooden swords and a toy gun when they are not in use and appoint a “responsible guardian” for them.

The group said it informed police about the use of replica weapons after studying new health and safety guidelines and new legislation to crack down on violent crime. Later this month, about 700 people are due to attend six performances of the group’s pantomime, featuring several swashbuckling sword fights.

The Atlantic as a Theatre of War, 1500-1825

Filed under: Early America,The Academy,Wars — John Maass @ 7:37 am

Applications are invited for participation in the Seminar, to meet for approximately ten days at Harvard University in the first half of August 2008. Participants, for whom travel and accommodation will be provided, must be recent recipients of the Ph.D. or its equivalent or advanced doctoral students engaged in research on aspects of Atlantic history. Historians at the early stages of their careers in Latin America, Western Europe, and Africa are especially invited, to join scholars from the United States and Canada for presentation of work in progress and discussions of the theme of the Seminar. It is hoped that some of the expenses of the participants will be defrayed by their own universities.

Work in progress on the military and naval conflicts, whether officially sanctioned or not, among the European powers or their colonial proxies will be presented and discussed. Shifts in the modes of warfare, the recruitment and experiences of combatants, and the determinants and significance of success and failure will be especially important. Senior historians will chair the sessions on topics of special interest to them and join in the Seminar’s discussions.

The Seminar, under the auspices of the Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History and supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, is directed by Professor Bernard Bailyn. For application forms, to be returned by April 30, 2008, or information, please contact Pat Denault, Administrative Director, International Seminar, Emerson Hall 4th Floor, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138. Telephone: 617-496-3066; Fax: 617-496-8869; E-mail: pdenault@fas.harvard.edu. All application materials are also available on our Web site.

A picture tells a thousand words

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 7:37 am

From the Suffolk, Great Britian, we get this: “A council’s attempt to promote a tourist attraction has been undermined by an unfortunate picture, say critics.”  Below is the brochure they had printed without really examininhg the cover photo carefully enough.  Can you tell what they trouble is?

Tourist pamphlet spoilt by nose picking girl

A Mid Suffolk District Council spokesman admitted: “It’s not the best photograph”, but added: “They wanted a real picture, not a typical staged one.”  They got it. 

January 16, 2008

The Case for History and the Humanities

Filed under: The Academy — John Maass @ 12:14 pm

The latest edition of the AHA’s Perspectives includes an article by current AHA president Gabrielle M. Spiegel entitled “The Case for History and the Humanities.”  It is not available on line yet but should be in the next few months.  When it is I will provide a link.

Public sex is private, right?

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 6:38 am

This headline sums up how idiotic and distanced from reality much of the political left has become: 

ACLU: Sex in restroom stalls is private

It is from Yahoo news, describing the organization’s support of Larry Craig’s imorality in a bathroom.  The ACLU filed a brief Tuesday supporting Craig. It cited a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling 38 years ago that found that people who have sex in closed stalls in public restrooms “have a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

That means the state cannot prove Craig was inviting an undercover officer to have sex in public, the ACLU wrote.


A kinder, gentler AR-15

Filed under: The world today — John Maass @ 6:29 am

From the site riflegear.com:

So called “Assault Weapons Bans” such as the now expired 1994 Clinton ban and the one still in place in states such as California seek to ban rifles that our misguided legislators feel have no purpose in civilian hands.  They identify “evil features” they can use to generically classify these “military style” weapons in sweeping terms.  Of course these features, such as plastic pistol grips, barrel shrouds, and bayonet lugs have absolutely nothing to do with the firearms potential lethality in the real world and are merely cosmetic features.  After all, it really doesn’t matter what color the firearm is if it fires the same ammunition right?  Well, in the “spirit” of the California Assault Weapon Ban I decided to do my best to alleviate the fears of my fellow citizens and gun-banning legislators when I put together a new AR-15 for my wife.  Below is the result of my painstaking work to transform an Evil Black Rifle (EBR) into a Cute Pink RIfle (CPR).  Introducing the Hello Kitty AR-15!

Hello Kitty AR-15

January 15, 2008

New finds near Tara

Filed under: Historic Preservation,Ireland — John Maass @ 12:55 pm

A 6,000-year-old engraved megalith uncovered at Lismullin, in Ireland’s County Meath, was moved from the path of the M3 highway. The stone had been reused as building material during the medieval period in an underground, defensive structure.

Megalith found near Hill of Tara picture

Marketing the South

Filed under: The strange place called the South — John Maass @ 7:00 am
“The historical, competitive, and ideological factors that structure the practices of commercial mythmaking remain largely unexplored and undertheorized. Now, a study from the February 2008 issue of the Journal of Consumer Research investigates these interrelationships by performing a comparative analysis of two prominent New South mythmakers – editors of nationally distributed magazines about the South – who are seeking to ideologically reconstruct the historical legacy of antebellum, confederate, and segregationist South in ways that serve their commercial agendas.”
More here….

January 11, 2008


Filed under: Art,Early America — John Maass @ 9:02 am

Yesterday I saw the exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery in DC called “Legacy: Spain and the United States in the Age of Independence, 1763-1848.”  It goes through 2/10.  It is very well done, includes some maps and the original copies of the Treaty of Guadalupe-Hidalgo, which ended the US-Mexican War in 1848.  There’s also the oldest known map of San Francisco Bay, which was interesting to see.  More details are available on line at the press release.  All in all, a well spent hour….

[King Carlos III]

January 10, 2008

Name trivia

Filed under: The past that is still with us — John Maass @ 2:44 pm

These are the top 10 names for boys and girls in the 1880s:

Boy’s Names

Girl’s Names

1.  John

1.  Mary

2.  William

2.  Anna

3.  Charles

3.  Elizabeth

4.  George

4.  Margaret

5.  James

5.  Minnie

6.  Joseph

6.  Emma

7.  Frank

7.  Martha

8.  Henry

8.  Alice

9.  Thomas

9.  Marie

10.  Harry

10.  Sarah

These are the top names in 2006:

Boy’s Names

Girl’s Names

1.  Jacob

1.  Emily

2.  Michael

2.  Emma

3.  Joshua

3.  Madison

4.  Ethan

4.  Isabella

5.  Matthew

5.  Ava

6.  Daniel

6.  Abigail

7.  Christopher

7.  Olivia

8.  Andrew

8.  Hannah

9.  Anthony

9.  Sophia

10.  William

10.  Samantha

Here are the top 10 boys names in Ireland for 2005:

1. Jack

2. Sean
3. Adam
4. Conor
5. James
6. Daniel
7. Cian
8. Luke
9. Aaron
10. Michael

Not as many overtly Gaelic names as I would have suspected….

January 9, 2008

New Va. Historical Markers Announced

Filed under: Historic Places — John Maass @ 2:38 pm

Eleven New State Historical Highway Markers Approved

 —Markers cover topics in the counties of Albemarle, Caroline, Chesterfield, Fairfax, Henrico, Middlesex, Orange, and Southampton; and the cities of Fredericksburg and Lexington— 

Richmond – The Department of Historic Resources has approved for placement along Virginia roadways and public places eleven new historical highway markers covering topics that range from prehistoric Virginia Indian camps to twentieth-century environmental conservation efforts.   

The eleven markers approved by the Historic Resources Board of the Department of Historic Resources during its quarterly board meeting in December are as follows: 

·        “Benjamin F. Hicks 1847–1925,” for placement in the county of Southampton, discusses the efforts of a local man to improve peanut farming technology.  Inventions included a gasoline powered machine for stemming and cleaning peanuts, as well as contributions towards the development of a mechanized peanut harvester.  Hicks is believed to have helped revolutionize the peanut farming industry in the Southampton and other peanut farming areas. ·        “Early Indian Tool Making Camps” draws attention to the Caroline County location of several tool making camps used by Virginia Indians beginning around 8,000 years ago.  These camps were repeatedly used, and provide an interesting look at the development of technology along Virginia’s fall line, including the progression from stone to clay pottery used in vessel-making. ·        “Ira Noel Gabrielson 1889–1977” discusses Fairfax County resident Dr. Gabrielson’s contributions to the fields of wildlife and environmental conservation.  Among other items, the marker mentions that Gabrielson served as the first director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, as well as the first president of the U.S. chapter of the World Wildlife Fund and founder and first chairman of the Northern Virginia Regional Park Authority. ·        “John Mitchell’s Map,” which will be placed in Middlesex County, offers a brief look at the life of John Mitchell and his creation of a map of the eastern portion of North America.  According to the marker, “British and American diplomats used the map, acclaimed for its accuracy, to negotiate the Treaty of Paris in 1783, which ended the Revolutionary War and established boundaries for the new nation.”  ·        “Oakley,” to be installed in Orange County, is about a nearby Greek Revival–style house constructed for prominent local physician Dr. Robert Thomas.  The house was later owned by Dr. Thomas’s son-in-law G. Judson Browning and frequented by well-known satirist George Bagby. Browning went on to organize the Orange Raiders during the Civil War. ·        “Original African American Cemetery” commemorates the location of a Lexington cemetery for African Americans which dates to the days of slavery.  One person of note who was buried there is Jim Lewis, who according to the marker “served as Thomas J. ‘Stonewall’ Jackson’s body servant and cook during the Civil War.”   ·        “The Sentry Box” discusses the Fredericksburg house of the same name which was built around 1786 by Brigadier General George Weedon, who later served as mayor of Fredericksburg.  The house saw intense fighting during December 1862, when the Union army built a pontoon bridge across the Rappahannock just below the Sentry Box’s location. ·        “Tommy Edwards 1922–1969” honors the life of Henrico County native Tommy Edwards, African American singer/songwriter. Edwards was the composer of 13 songs to reach the charts, as well as 12 full albums. Although he composed songs for such performers as Tony Bennett and Tony Fontane, Edwards is best remembered for his number one hit, “It’s all in the Game,” the 1958 version of which sold over 3,000,000 copies. ·        “William Ransom Johnson 1782–1849,” which will be placed in Chesterfield County, notes Johnson’s contributions to the early days of horse racing.  Nicknamed the “Napoleon of the Turf,” Johnson trained more than twenty champions.  One of these, Sir Henry, raced against American Eclipse in one of the many North-South match races held in Long Island. ·        “Wilson Cary Nicholas 1761–1820” notes the life of Albemarle County resident Wilson Nicholas, a close friend and political ally of Thomas Jefferson.  Nicholas served several terms in the General Assembly, as well as the U.S. Senate, the U.S. House of Representatives, and as Governor of Virginia from 1814-1816.  Nicholas was buried at Monticello. ·        “Wreck at the Fat Nancy” discusses an incident of July, 1888, in which a train of the Virginia Midland Railroad broke through a trestle in Orange County, sending the engine and several cars plummeting into the creek 44 feet below.  One of the passengers killed was civil engineer Cornelius G. Cox, who had designed an alternative to the unstable trestle, but had not yet had a chance to install it.  The Virginia highway marker program, which celebrating its 80th anniversary in 2007, is one of the oldest in the nation. Currently there are 2,000-plus official state markers, mostly installed and maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation.  Funds for new highway markers come from private organizations, individuals, and local jurisdictions. 

Urban Ops in GWOT

Filed under: Wars — John Maass @ 1:26 pm

For some reason not made clear to me, my Creek War project at work was killed, or maybe just put on hiatus.  Either way, its not what I am to work on for the future.  What I have been assigned is way out of my field, but that means lots of reading to catch up, and learning new things. 

My new work will be a comprehensive look at urban operations in GWOT, including the major actions in urban locations in Iraq and elsewhere.  The goal is not to produce a detailed narrative of every battle, though some description of operations will be included, but to focus on how the Army handled the significant challenges it faced in this environment.  The manuscript will describe how units and organizations attempted to create and modify MOUT (Military Operations on Urban Terrain) Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and tactics, often “on the fly” and without significant prior training in this field.  Additionally, this project will examine the need that emerged during urban operations for specialized weapons and equipment to effectively battle both regular soldiers and insurgents in cities and towns.  The study is about adaptation during wartime to a situation that had received minimal attention prior to the conflict and which evolved during the war in ways that were outside the Army’s historical experience.


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