Category Archives: General History

Changing Europe: a Dynamic Map

Map of Europe

I so wish I had this when I was teaching modern western civ this semester.  That course covers roughly the 16th through 20th centuries.  It’s only half the time frame of the map, but my other class starts at the beginning of time and runs up to the 16th century.  The map is only relevant for about the last six weeks of class. Maps change.  I always encourage students to spend time looking at the maps, not that many of

Friday the 13th, Birthday Edition

Friday the 13th Humor

Friday the 13th has always had special meaning to me as I happened to be born on one. My mother said that Friday the 13th was good luck for her, not just because she got her first child that day, but because she was damn tired of carrying a fetus that felt like it was swinging by its toes from her ribcage. Most people, of course, think the opposite. Friday the 13th is decidedly unlucky. But why? Rumored Ancient Origins

Why Do We Call People With Orange Hair Redheads?

Apparently the reason us redheads aren’t known as orangeheads is because the word orange as a color hadn’t yet been invented. I found this factoid out here: Why Do We Call People With Orange Hair Redheads? | Geekosystem, and the Online Etymology Dictionary backs it up. Either term, however, is way better than carrot top, considering: Even if our hair looks orange, it looks nothing like carrot orange, and Carrot tops are green.  Carrot bottoms are orange.  Yes, I do

Satan and the Short Memory of Society

People have a habit of presuming very old things are very unchanging things. Thus, however they see something today must be how it has always been. We do it to holidays all the time, but that’s a post for another day. Devil Horns Hand Sign On one side of the Satanic debate, all sorts of modern things are thought of by the more religiously paranoid as being inherently Satanic. The devil-horns hand-sign is one example. Historically, it has been a

Alt-History Fiction Needs History

There is historical fiction, and then there is alternative historical (or “alt-history”) fiction. I would like to think that most adults understand that writing historical fiction requires a knowledge of history, although experiences on the Internet continuing threaten to jade such optimistic outlooks. In writing alt-history, however, requirements seem more blurry, although they really aren’t. Historical Fiction Stories have a variety of elements to them. Setting is one of them, and setting involves both time and place. If you’re writing

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