Category Archives: history

A must read: “My Family’s Slave”

The ashes filled a black plastic box about the size of a toaster. It weighed three and a half pounds. I put it in a canvas tote bag and packed it in my suitcase this past July for the transpacific … Continue reading

Posted in culture, history, life | 2 Comments

Dia da Liberdade (Freedom Day)

Last night, I was brushing my teeth when our flat was rocked with a deep BOOM. “Fletcher!” my wife called. “Come here! Fireworks!” I dashed down the hall and out to our smaller veranda, where Maria was already watching the … Continue reading

Posted in history, Portugal | 1 Comment

“Lights All Askew in the Heavens”

This PDF from the New York Times archives, dated 9 November 1919, is simply wonderful for its “in the moment” glimpse into the state of physics and astronomy at that time. Some obscure physicist that no one outside scientific circles … Continue reading

Posted in astronomy, history | 3 Comments

The tombs of Pedro and Inês

Time at last for the final installment of the Alcobaça Monastery series! If you are just now joining us, the series started with a wallpaper, continued with a tour of the church, and then toured the monastery. But before I … Continue reading

Posted in history, Portugal, travel | 10 Comments

The spookiest natural disaster you never heard of

Oh, look at the pretty lake. Too bad it’s a DEATHTRAP. On 21 August 1986, an invisible, odorless cloud of death came out of Lake Nyos, in the Northwest Region of Cameroon. The nearby village of Nyos was completely wiped … Continue reading

Posted in event, history, science | 3 Comments

The highlights of the DOMA decision

I was one of those people waiting by my computer at 10:00 EST — the moment that the decision on the challenge to the Defense of Marriage Act was announced — and downloaded the file as soon as I could … Continue reading

Posted in culture, history, politics, USA | 7 Comments

Some things never change

The Atlantic calls this “The 15th-Century Equivalent of Your Cat Walking on Your Keyboard,” and it first made me laugh, then gave me an odd sense of comfort. How nice to know that through 700 years of lightning fast changes … Continue reading

Posted in history, life | 4 Comments

The Shackleton lecture

I have long been fascinated with the story of the Endurance and Ernest Shackleton’s ill-fated voyage to the South Pole. It’s one of the greatest survival stories ever told. So when I saw in our local paper that the original … Continue reading

Posted in history | 3 Comments

August 1, at W-hour

Yesterday I watched a video lasting one minute and 32 seconds. It sent me scurrying to various research sites, where I learned an amazing and appalling story that was never taught to me in my history classes. The video is … Continue reading

Posted in Europe, history | 9 Comments

And now, to prepare for the Olympics

We’re stockpiling beer and pretzels for the opening ceremonies tomorrow (and feeling quite chuffed that they’re in our time zone), and I’ve been reading up on London’s preparations/dilemmas/scandals related to the Olympics. In the process, I ran across this wonderful … Continue reading

Posted in history, humor, video | 5 Comments