[Cross-posted at Revise and Dissent.]

At Investigations of a Dog, Gavin Robinson has proposed organising a military history carnival, which I think is a great idea. It would aim to gather together the best posts on the history of war in all its facets -- not just military operations (AKA "fighting"), but also how war intersects with social, cultural, political, gender, economic, diplomatic, local, public ... (you get the idea) ... histories. Representations, memories and forecasts of war are perfectly legitimate subjects too. Similarly, hosts and participants need not be specialists in military history: war affects us all, in one way or another.

Various issues under discussion include how frequently it should be held, whether to exclude recent-ish events, and most importantly, what to call it! So, please head on over and have your say.


Australian Ex-Prisoner of War Memorial

And marble, and granite, and wood ...

I wrote recently that every town in Australia seems to have a war memorial. Here are some examples, photos I took over a three day period without going too far out of my way. This post is image-heavy, but everyone has broadband now don't they?
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Adrian Gilbert. POW: Allied Prisoners in Europe, 1939-1945. London: John Murray, 2006. Due to recent findings, a subject I'd like to know more about. (Over and above the thorough grounding I've received from watching The Great Escape, Hogan's Heroes, etc.) Not to be confused with the celebrated author of The Mayan Prophecies and The Cosmic Wisdom Beyond Astrology. Thankfully.

K. S. Inglis. Sacred Places: War Memorials in the Australian Landscape. Carlton: Melbourne University Press, 2005 [1998]. A classic book which I've only just gotten around to buying. Just as in Britain (as I am led to believe, anyway), nearly every city, town and suburb in Australia, large or small, has a war memorial to commemorate their dead soldiers.

N. J. McCamley. Cold War Secret Nuclear Bunkers: The Passive Defence of the Western World during the Cold War. Barnsley: Leo Cooper, 2002. Who wouldn't be fascinated by a title like that? Well, most people probably. Mostly about British bunkers and post-apocalyptic contingency planning, but also has a few chapters on America and Canada. Well-illustrated.


Imperial Airways

A follow-on of sorts to a recent post.

Imperial Airways was Britain's main international airline between 1924 and 1939. It enjoyed semi-official status, as it was subsidised by the British government, and had the contract to deliver air mail throughout the Empire. Another international airline was formed in 1935, British Airways,1 which serviced European routes (and it was apparently subsidised as well, at least for the London-Paris route). Imperial did too, but only it flew the long-distance routes to South Africa, India, Hong Kong, Australia (with help from QANTAS) and points in between. I'm not sure if this was an official monopoly, or just because it was difficult to compete over such long distances without subsidies. I also wonder what would have happened if the Imperial Airship Scheme had gone into operation -- would Imperial have run that too? Anyway, in November 1939, Imperial and British were merged into BOAC, the British Overseas Airways Corporation.
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  1. Not the current BA, though they are related. 


Via Philobiblon comes word that the British Library is facing steep budget cuts, and may have to start charging scholars for access, and/or close its fabled newspaper collection at Colindale, among other measures. See here and here. As I'm not a British tax-payer, I don't really have the right to complain, but it would be distressing to see those who do (and, entirely coincidentally, those foreigners who don't!) lose access to Britain's heritage for the sake of a measly few million pounds. At the very least they should digitise Colindale's holdings before closing it down!

I hope it's just a scare campaign to minimise the funding damage, but perhaps it's one that should work.


Jack McGowan of Smashing the Window has some very interesting reflections on his experiences in seeing his first paper through to being accepted for publication (congrats!). A timely read for me, as I start to think about doing this myself.

While I'm on the matter of writing advice, here's a chance to use the WordPress Democracy plugin I installed the other day. Near the start of chapter 3, I have a sentence which begins 'In this chapter, I will briefly examine ...' 'I'. 'I'! While I use the personal pronoun all the time on this blog, and have already done so once this sentence, I find that it really cuts against the grain to do so for academic writing. I don't think it is such a sin in writing in the humanities, but I first learned academic writing in the physical sciences, where the personal pronoun, singular or plural, is rare (though not unknown). Instead, one would use phrases like 'the present author' where in less formal writing one would say 'I'. I guess this is to avoid the academic equivalent of breaking the fourth wall. On the other hand, taking ownership of a sentence with a personal pronoun is a good way to avoid the dreaded passive voice.

So, am I worrying too much about this? Does anyone care about this any more? Should I just embrace 'I'? Here's the poll:

Edit: I have removed the poll plugin for security reasons. But here's a screenshot of the poll results as of 22 November 2011:

Person vs person

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[Cross-posted at Revise and Dissent.]

[Image removed at the request of the copyright holder.]

The minute hand of the famous Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has just moved closer to apocalypse: it is now set at five minutes to midnight. This is the most dangerous level it has been since 1988. The dangers currenty facing humanity are summarised thus:

The world stands at the brink of a second nuclear age. The United States and Russia remain ready to stage a nuclear attack within minutes, North Korea conducts a nuclear test, and many in the international community worry that Iran plans to acquire the Bomb. Climate change also presents a dire challenge to humanity. Damage to ecosystems is already taking place; flooding, destructive storms, increased drought, and polar ice melt are causing loss of life and property.

Obviously, the precise position is fairly arbitrary -- the relative movement back and forth is more significant, i.e. whether the world is getting more dangerous or not -- but it's interesting to reflect on the past movements of the minute hand:
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