Tag Archives: history

And they call the wind…?

St Margaret and the Dragon

For no particular reason, except that I fell in love with this dragon, from Stories of the Life of St Margaret, in the Musée des Beaux Arts, Dijon

Many years ago, I visited Lipari, one of the Aeolian Islands north of Sicily. It’s a lovely place, except that for a day or so while I was there, the sirocco blew. This is a hot wind that comes up from the Sahara Desert carrying on it tiny grains of sand. They must rub together to form an electric charge. Certainly the combination of heat, grit and positive ions is thoroughly unpleasant.

There’s a very good archaeological museum on Lipari, with lots of objects such as amphorae recovered from ancient shipwrecks, but what I particularly remember were the Neolithic remains from the region, in almost perfect condition, because they are buried under layer upon layer of fine Sahara sand. Because the sirocco blows so regularly every year, they can estimate their age from the depth of the sand they are deposited in.

At the moment, I am on holiday in the Rhône Valley in France and I’ve just been introduced to another famous wind: the Mistral. Continue reading

A Chain Letter Continues….

A fellow blogger, Mirabelle Flint at Thrill Seeking Behavior, has nominated me for a ‘Most Versatile Blogger’ award.

The conditions for accepting this award are as follows:

1. Display the award logo on your blog.
2. Thank and link back to the person who nominated you.
3. State 7 things about yourself.
4. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award.
5. Notify these bloggers of the nominations by linking back to one of their specific blog posts so they get notified back.

As Mirabelle points out, the whole thing is a bit like a chain letter – if 15 people nominate 15 people who nominate 15 people…. eventually the whole internet will be awash with nominations.  But the blogosphere operates largely on word of mouth, and there are too many good blogs that deserve a wider audience, so I’m very happy to accept my nomination, and obey the instructions.

So thank you, Mirabelle – and here’s the logo.

Now, 7 things about me that don’t already appear on my About Me page, in no particular order:

Continue reading

Australian history: kicking butt or the bottom line?

Nicholson cartoon of History Wars

‘History Wars’ by Nicholson, 23 September 2003

Is Australian history at universities in trouble?  Last week I came across a story about Australian History: neither fad nor fading which sets out to argue that Australian history is alive and kicking butt, at least at La Trobe University.  Or it does until you deconstruct the article, which is a little too defensive to be taken at face value:

While he admits Australian history may no longer be the most popular area with some of today’s students, La Trobe Dean of Humanities and Social Sciences, Tim Murray says: ‘It is important for us as a nation that students have a good grasp of our history’.

Then on Saturday, I heard a discussion on ABC radio with 2 Australian historians, Marilyn Lake and Anna Clark which suggests a grimmer picture.  In the age of the bottom line, university courses with small enrolments don’t get taught, and Australian history courses are struggling to attract enough students to get listed.  If they aren’t taught, the next generation of Australian Arts graduates will be ignorant about their own history.  If undergraduate courses aren’t taught, postgraduates don’t want to research in the area, and Australian history dies as an academic discipline.  It’s a downward spiral. Continue reading