Going totally dieselpunk with the Antarctic Snow Cruiser

Picture the scene: you’re standing on an ice-shelf in Antaractica circa 1940 and suddenly spot a huge orange-red vehicle approaching on just four 10-foot high balloon tyres. It’s got a small aircraft on its back. And it’s absolutely enormous: 16 feet high, 20 feet wide and 55 feet long – a giant of a vehicle … More Going totally dieselpunk with the Antarctic Snow Cruiser

Why the way we think about history is important

There is a notion that history consists of ‘the facts’ – that all you have to do is discover ‘the facts’, which are literally true at face value, and that these ‘facts’ then ‘speak for themselves’. Such thinking, among other things, has fuelled the kind of dribble that I see pouring from the minds and … More Why the way we think about history is important

The obscure word of the week is cuckooning

This week’s obscure English word is cuckooning. It was coined by Lady Cynthia Asquith (1887-1960) to describe her lifestyle during the First World War. Her husband, Herbert ‘Beb’ Asquith, was serving in France; she was left to bring up their two young sons. Although she was daughter of Hugo Charteris, the 11th Earl of Wemyss … More The obscure word of the week is cuckooning

What do we mean by ‘left’ and ‘right’?

The idea of a political spectrum defined by ‘left’ and ‘right’ wing views has been around ever since September 1789, when they were invented. The revolutionaries had set up a National Assembly – meeting initially in a tennis court – which they declared indissoluble until they had resolved their issues with the King Louis XVI. … More What do we mean by ‘left’ and ‘right’?

Cars with silly names

Has anybody noticed how many cars have had extremely silly names. It was always a thing. Over a century ago, US vehicle makers produced cars with names such as ‘Pungs-Finch’ (22 hp, 4 cylinders and $1850), Piggins of 1910 – a snap at $3500 in period dollars – about $90,000 US dollars today. And let’s … More Cars with silly names

Literature versus science fiction

I am somewhat bemused by the way ‘literature’ is so often assumed to be a superior form of writing, above any form of genre fiction and, particularly, science fiction (‘ptooey’). Authors known for ‘literature’ are, apparently, more talented, competent and intelligent than ‘sci fi’ authors, who by definition are hacks, talentless and ignorant of basic … More Literature versus science fiction