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Ferris Bueller in his dressing gown with the meme text "YOU'RE STILL HERE? IT'S OVER. GO TO BLUESKY"

After 14 years and 7 months, I've deleted all of my Twitter/X accounts.

The best place to find me now (other than here!) is Bluesky:

But you can also find me on Mastodon:

NB: the code for my bots can be found on Github: trovebot-mastodon2 and ttaships.

Twitter has been both fun and useful for me. I don't know if it's going to survive, but it's getting much less fun, it's getting much less useful, and it's definitely getting much too fascist. I'm sorry to lose touch with the people I've made friends with there over the years, but I hope to see them elsewhere. And I'm not at all sorry now to be gone from Twitter.

Bystander, 17 August 1938, 277

After thirty-six (!) months, 'Spectre and spectacle: mock air raids as aerial theatre in interwar Britain', my chapter in Michael McCluskey and Luke Seaber, eds., Aviation in the Literature and Culture of Interwar Britain, is now available for a free download under green open access (in this case, pre-copy editing). Here's the abstract:

This chapter argues that aerial theatre, in the form of annual air displays at Hendon and on Empire Air Day, was used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) to generate a sensationally modern image of technological sublimity through violent spectacles of aerial warfare, including the performance of mock air raids. This was amplified by a second, incidental kind of aerial theatre, performed as part of Air Defence of Great Britain (ADGB) exercises and air raid precautions (ARP) drills in the form of mock air raids on British cities. These attracted curious and even excited audiences, conscious that they might be seeing previews of their own deaths. In combining spectre and spectacle, the RAF’s mock air raids underscore the ambivalent nature of airmindedness in interwar Britain.

You can read a bit more about what's in the chapter, or you can just go ahead and read the whole thing.

Image source: Bystander, 17 August 1938, 277.

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The world is a bad place right now, and a lot of that has to do with bombing civilians. And it's impossible for me to look at the news from Gaza, or from Ukraine, and not think of my own current book project on the bombing of British civilians in the First World War. But I don't know whether what's happening now makes my history more necessary, or more inadequate. It hardly seems comparable. I just don't know how to think about it.

So instead, I made some AI art.

A street in a bombed city. A giant bull with a human mouth bellows in pain as a crowd ignores it
...continue reading

Thanet Advertiser, 29 April 1916, 5

The above facsimile letter was published in the Ramsgate Thanet Advertiser on 29 April 1916. It reads:

April 7th. The writer of the first 'German messages' has been absent from Ramsgate some time now, so the 'Alien’s post-card' is by another hand. If I did not fear prosecution for "failing to register an alien," I could give the police his address to find him, as he is due to return this Wedy. here. The enclosed I found in his overcoat pocket the night before the raid (after he left here on 18th ult.)
Veritas.
To the Editor.((Thanet Advertiser (Ramsgate), 29 April 1916, 5.))

The enclosure referred to was a second letter, 'another foreign missive, addressed to “Herr Chaney, Burgomeister von Ramsgate.” It states that the Zeppelins have a nightly victory and contains some abusive epithets'.((Ibid., 22 April 1916, 2.))

...continue reading

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"yes23" inside a stylised outline of Australia

On 14 October, Australians will be voting in a referendum on the following question:

A Proposed Law: to alter the Constitution to recognise the First Peoples of Australia by establishing an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice.

Do you approve this proposed alteration?

The proposed alteration is:

Chapter IX Recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Peoples

129 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice

In recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Peoples of Australia:

  1. there shall be a body, to be called the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice;
  2. the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice may make representations to the Parliament and the Executive Government of the Commonwealth on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples;
  3. the Parliament shall, subject to this Constitution, have power to make laws with respect to matters relating to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, including its composition, functions, powers and procedures.

I'll be voting yes. Here's why.

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