Happy Birthday, America

Now go and light up some fireworks, eat some good ol’ Murkin food (tacos?) and have a good time in general.

Because in the not too distant future, we may have some work to do.


Or, more likely:

Just sayin’.

Thought Experiment

If you could be transported back in time to any five historical events, which ones would you choose to witness?

Assume that it would be in your mind’s eye only, so you could not be involved in, change or be physically affected by the event, and you could come back to the present at any point you wished.  Also assume, though, that you could take photographs (or videos) to prove that you were there and what you saw.

Mine are below the fold.

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Wings Of Clay

…or, an unvarnished look at the WWII German Messerschmitt 262.

Along the way, this screamingly-funny chap slaughters all sorts of sacred cows, e.g. that the Me262 could have won the war for the Nazis, that Albert Speer was a genius, that German technology was superior to that of the Allies, and that Herman Goering was an incompetent asshole.

Okay, that last one happens to be true, as historian Lord HardThrasher sets about him with a cricket bat, calling most of history’s revered sources a pack of liars and completely debunking the myth of Germany’s technocrats, e.g. Willi Messerschmitt (yeah, the guy who designed the Me109).

Along the way, he proves that Allied bombing actually worked better than today’s naysayers would have you believe, and that bad things happen when you allow the reigns of power to be wielded by simpletons and incompetents.

But you all knew that.

There is plenty of bad language, but as Readers of this here website, you should be used to that by now.


On this day, a few years ago:

Not that we’re still angry about it, or anything — or else Toyota wouldn’t still be the top-selling automotive brand in the United States.

Reading Matters

For some reason, I’ve recently been reading French History, because why not?  I don’t know how it got started, but it did: and once started, I couldn’t stop.  Here’s the bibliography, so far.

The Collapse of the Third Republic — William Shirer

The Franco-Prussian War — Michael Howard

Dawn of the Belle Epoque — Mary McAuliffe

The Vertigo Years: Europe, 1900-1914 — Philipp Blom (re-read, because it’s brilliant)

The Marne, 1914: The Opening of World War I and the Battle That Changed the World — Holger H. Herwig (told from the German side)

The French Army and the First World War — Elizabeth Greenhalgh

France and the Après Guerre, 1918–1924 — Benjamin F. Martin

La Belle France: A Short History — Alistair Horne (I’m still busy with this one;  I’m only up to the succession of Henry II in 1547, so still a way to go.)

On deck:  France On The Brink — Jonathan Fenby

Yeah, that’s what’s been keeping me busy over the past three weeks.  All are well recommended except the last one (because I haven’t read it yet).

One last note:  I cannot recommend The Vertigo Years highly enough.  When people talk about the social- and psychological dislocation of the Information Age, you have to know that we’ve experienced it before:  when the Age of Speed dawned, in around 1900.  If you read no other book from the above list, this is the one.

From The Archives

Seen SOTI, this intriguing little question:

Note too the reference to Cuba.  Then this:

Someone tell James Cameron… and speaking of getting it wrong:

Still asleep, apparently.


Given the newspaper, I’m amazed they didn’t lead with “Connally Shot” and only then in the sub-head: “Kennedy Caught In Cross-Fire”.

Good times, good times.