Category: history

  • Invented adventure

    Invented adventure

    How building a spoken role-playing world for a friend eased a difficult transition.

  • The fine line between archaeology and grave-robbing

    The fine line between archaeology and grave-robbing

    How many years have to pass until it’s okay to dig up someone’s remains and pick them apart?

  • Living links

    Living links

    We saw Twelve Years a Slave last night. It’s not a perfect film,[1] but it offers an honest, heart-wrenching account of the most shameful “secret” in American history. Because lawful slavery ended long before we were born, we might be tempted to dismiss it as a half-remembered relic of a less-civilized age. That’s too easy, […]

  • Sinking ships fascinate me

    Sinking ships fascinate me

    It’s an incredible thought: a ship, once upright, now nose-down, propellers thrust into the sky. This massive world-unto-itself, suddenly violated, upended, and swallowed whole. Familiar environs—bedrooms, kitchens, TV lounges—plummeting towards the ocean floor. A sinking skyscraper, lights still shimmering, plunging down, down into the night. There’s a more morbid fascination here, too. Panicked passengers, entombed […]

  • Spoiling The Civil War for my wife

    Ken Burns’ Civil War documentary boasts a beautiful, nineteenth-century-inspired soundtrack. One particular piece, “Ashokan Farewell,” serves as the miniseries’ de facto theme song. It’s gorgeous: a plaintive string band ballad with a a heartbreaking melody. I’ve spoiled this song for my wife. Every time we hear “Ashokan”, I provide an impromptu voiceover, modeled on many […]