Category Archives: History

The Separation of Britain and Europe

Signposts bearing flags of UK and EU

Even before Brexit, there were debates as to whether the UK should be described as a European country. On one hand, the UK is certainly culturally closer to European countries than, say, Asian ones. On the other hand, there are significant differences between UK and the rest of Europe.

Empty London: Sheltering from the Blitz

Bus in Crater, London Blitz

In the early 19th century, this grand city became the first in the modern world* to reach a population of one million, and over the next 100 years, that number multiplied six times over.  By the mid-20th century, London was home to over 8 million people. Not that you’d think it looking at London at the height of the Blitz in 1940.  Buildings lay in crumbling ruins.  Millions of people are missing, either serving in the armed forces or having

Fleetingness of Life in History

Ashieldr, Doctor Who

In “The Woman Who Lived” this week on Doctor Who, the long-lived Ashildr explained how she gave up having children because she grew tired of burying them. Specifically, she lost three small children to the Black Death in the 14th century. The reality of most of history, however, is that people died all the time, and children died more often than most. Today, we have the good fortune to be able to say it’s a tragedy when a parent must

Volcano Day; or, the Fall of Pompeii

Pompeii excavation site

Sometimes,, historical tragedy is the archaeologist’s best friend. Most cities slowly fade into obscurity as people gradually pack up their belongings and move away, chasing greener or safer pastures. The buildings they leave behind slowly crumble until there’s nothing left but foundations which often become buried by debris, newer construction, or both. When death is instantaneous and on a massive scale, however, sometimes belongings survive intact and in their natural places for scientists to one day find. The eruption of

The Traditional Purpose of Marriage: Why Same-Sex Marriage is Rare in History

Roman Marriage

You’ve heard the claim ad nauseam at this point: homosexual marriage is not real marriage. It’s most commonly defended from a Judeo-Christian religious position declaring that God ordained marriage to be between one man and one woman (if one ignores the polygamous bits of the Old Testament). Others, understanding religious arguments have zero place in American debates of law, have pointed to history, where the vast majority of marriages are, indeed, between a man and a woman. While there’s some

The Passing of Quiet Hero Sir Nicholas Winton

Sir Nicholas Winton, a quiet civilian hero of World War II, has died at the age of 106. In a time of considerable disinterest in the Jewish plight, Winton rescued 669 Czech Jewish children, most of whom would have otherwise perished. In pre-World War II Europe, Jewish living conditions varied widely. Centuries of anti-Semitism were a reason locals often did little to support their Jewish neighbors when the Germans came and further persecuted them. Many were forced to live as

Bathroom Customs; or, Everyone Poops

Roman bathroom habits

There’s talk of late of where transgender people should go to the bathroom.  If you’re physically male, but you consider yourself female, do you use the men’s room or the ladies’ room?  What if you have gender reassignment surgery, so you’re physically a different gender than you were at birth? Or, a question I’ve always asked, long before I had heard of transgenderism: why the heck do we care? The Modern Urinal Of course, the urinal poses some problem, since

Today (Kind of) In History: St. Patrick

St. Patrick stain glass window

I don’t actually have a lot to debunk about St. Patrick Day.  More like just giving up tidbits of information. Feast Day March 17 is the official feast day for St. Patrick.  Theoretically, it’s the date of his death.  In truth, we have no idea when he died, nor, to the best of my knowledge, how he died.  Unlike many early saints, Patrick was not a martyr.  Had he died for his faith, the story of it would certainly have

Invoking the Templars; or, from Where Friday the 13th Came

Burning of the Knights Templar

Today’s post was inspired by a doctor’s visit when, in the waiting room, one patient abruptly informed another patient that Friday the 13th superstitions were based on the execution of the Templars. He also insisted most people don’t know that. Hasn’t everyone heard that story? Maybe it’s just a history major urban legend.  I sure thought most people had heard that claim. The fact is, it’s baloney. The Knights Templar on Friday the 13th On Friday, October 13, 1307, hundreds

Well, that’s Awkward: When the Cat Gets Hold of Someone’s Genitals

Nun bribing cat for a penis

This is my favorite WTF image in a long time. Dating from 1555, it’s a Renaissance image. I don’t officially know the story behind it, but there’s a good discussion of it on Reddit. Says sl99: ‘Flaisch macht Flaisch’ is from the old German proverb ‘Fleisch macht Fleisch, fisch macht nisch’. It would roughly translate to ‘meat gives meat, fish gives nothing’, meaning that meat is more nourishing than fish. Fleisch is in German also connected to ‘Fleischeslust’, which means

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