Tag Archives: History

Scottish Hill Lists: The Classics

If you’ve spent any time at all reading The Oikofuge, you’ll have gathered that I’m quite interested in hills—climbing them, looking at other hills from their summits, understanding their names and their place in history, landscape and land-use. What you won’t have seen me mention very often is the plethora of classifications that have been … Continue reading Scottish Hill Lists: The Classics

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Old Lady-Day

Yesterday (as this post goes live) was Old Lady-Day, once a significant day in the English agricultural calendar. And today (April 6th), a new tax year begins in the UK. These dates are not unrelated to each other, and are also linked to the Christian Feast of the Annunciation, which commemorates the Biblical event depicted in the Leonardo painting at the head of this post—the arrival of the Angel Gabriel to inform the Virgin Mary that she was to conceive a miraculous child.

Arthur Conan Doyle In The Arctic

It is bloody work dashing out the poor little beggars’ brains while they look up with their big dark eyes into your face. Arthur Conan Doyle, Arctic diary entry, 3 April 1880 In February 1880, a third-year medical student from Edinburgh abandoned his studies, temporarily, to sign on as the ship’s doctor of the S.S. … Continue reading Arthur Conan Doyle In The Arctic

Three Books About The Franklin Expedition

The riddle of the last Franklin expedition has all of the elements required to elicit and maintain widespread interest—struggle, shipwreck, murder, massacre, cannibalism and controversy. The story of the lost expedition has become a magnet for speculative historians, a mystery that far outstrips the contrived unfolding of fiction, and an inviting field for those who … Continue reading Three Books About The Franklin Expedition

Michael Palin: Erebus

They might have had monogrammed dinner plates and personalised silver cutlery, but the didn’t have very good maps. Michael Palin needs no introduction from me. He rose to fame with Monty Python in the 1970s, and then in 1989 began a career as a presenter of more-or-less gruelling travel documentaries, starting with Around The World … Continue reading Michael Palin: Erebus

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Christoph Baumer: The History Of Central Asia, Vol. 4

  After the Soviet occupier and its vassal Najibullah were defeated, it was not long before the loose partnership of convenience among Afghan resistance fighters disintegrated along ethnic divides. The Pashtuns rallied around Hekmatyar, Khalis and Sayyaf; the Tajiks around Massoud, Rabbani and Ismail Khan; the Uzbeks around Dostum’s Junbesh-e Milli Islami (National Islamic Front) … Continue reading Christoph Baumer: The History Of Central Asia, Vol. 4

Stephen R. Wilk: How The Ray Gun Got Its Zap

I sometimes think that we should spend at least a little time explaining everyday manifestations of physics to undergraduates, so that they can talk about phenomena that appear in everyday lives. How The Ray Gun Got Its Zap (2013), is subtitled Odd Excursions Into Optics, which (combined with the manifesto above) pretty much covers what … Continue reading Stephen R. Wilk: How The Ray Gun Got Its Zap