The Trumpization of Civil War history

As a general rule, I am not a fan of the term “history buff”.  Whenever I see someone referred to as a “history buff”, I tend to become a little irritated.  In my mind, history buffs collect the Civil War Chess Set and Stonewall Jackson beer steins.  Historians do research and then usually present their findings in one way or another.  Just because you read history doesn’t mean you are a historian, just as the fact you can speak English does not mean you could be an English teacher, you know?

So when I read about Paul LePage, Governor of Maine (and living example of how the combination of poor anger management and eating too much poutine is really bad for you), making the (to me) astounding claim that 7,600 men from Maine fought for the Confederacy during the Civil War, I nearly coughed Coke Zero through my nose.   Continue reading “The Trumpization of Civil War history”

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Today, April 12, is one of those days when so much happened

Today’s date is a day on which so many things happened, I doubt I can even remember them all.

Of course, it is the day that in 1861 the Civil War started with an artillery bombardment of the Union garrison in Fort Sumter, in the middle of Charleston Harbor.  That’s a gimme for a Civil War historian like me.

Continue reading “Today, April 12, is one of those days when so much happened”

The science and history of rogue waves, part two

While searching for some videos on YouTube that might do a better job of explaining the phenomenon of rogue waves than I can, I actually found some really, really good material.  First, one of my absolute favorite people on the Intertubes, Hank Green, who is also half of the awesome duo that is the vlog brothers.  Here, Hank talks about rogue waves on his SciShow channel.

Continue reading “The science and history of rogue waves, part two”

The science and history of rogue waves, part one

In what could prove to be a huge step forward in predicting how rogue waves are formed, and thus a tool for saving lives at sea, researchers at MIT have found a way to give 2 to 3 minutes warning of an incoming rogue wave.

I know it probably sounds stupid, but it’s hard for me to explain how excited I am about this research.  So much so that I am tempted to go speak with the researchers sometime (living in Cambridge does have its advantages).  But to understand why I am geeking out about this, it might help for me to go into some detail about what we know about rogue waves, and how they have affected ships at sea, as well as oil rigs, lighthouses, and coastlines.  This is one of those times that my love of history (especially maritime history) and my love of science come together.

Continue reading “The science and history of rogue waves, part one”

Boston Accent: the Movie

Although Seth Myers is not from Boston, he did spend a big chunk of his childhood nearby in New Hampshire.  And as a result, he totally gets the whole “Hollywood can’t get the Boston accent right” thing.  Admittedly, there have been times that I am watching a movie or a TV show set in Boston and the bad attempts at local accents really get to me – not to mention the brutally mispronounced names of Massachusetts cities and towns – (I am looking at you, Falling Skies).

So seeing this “trailer” was a real treat.  He totally gets it.

And the cameo from Rachel Dratch is just… wicked awesome.

-Geoff

A big story of Massachusetts maritime history is coming to the movies

I don’t know what it is, but something about the sea fascinates me, and has for most of my life.  Maybe it’s because the sea has played various roles in my family history – some big and some small.  Maybe it’s because ships captured my imagination as a little boy the way trucks or cars or airplanes do for most young boys.  For years as a kid, my favorite “souvenir” I would get from my trips to the Cape or Martha’s Vineyard was one of those little wooden ships, usually a fishing boat of some kind, that you find in local shops.  And I have been reading books about New England maritime history for years.

So anyway, it turns out that early next year there is a movie coming out based on the Michael Tougias book The Finest Hours

Continue reading “A big story of Massachusetts maritime history is coming to the movies”

The two different kinds of apocalyptic fiction

The first is the kind that I read and/or watch.  Stuff like The Walking Dead comics, or Mira Grant’s awesome Newsflesh trilogy of novels, or movies like Deep Impactand even video games like Left4Dead 2 and Fallout 3.  I guess the thing I find most interesting is seeing how people adapt. It’s compelling drama.  And while I find it entertaining, it does have a certain amount of practical value if it makes emergency preparedness a little less dull, as even the CDC has discovered.

Then there’s the other kind.  The kind that makes seemingly ordinary people lose their minds, because they think it’s real.

Continue reading “The two different kinds of apocalyptic fiction”