Tag Archives: buccaneers

What I Learned Today – 11/12/12 (of history, history and fake History)

Today didn’t yield a great deal of new information; a sad testament to my poor choice in reading material it seems.  Ah well, there is always tomorrow.

1.  The first demonstration of a moving television picture in 1925 featured a ventriloquist dummy with the nickname ‘Stooky Bill’.  The attempt required such bright lights that to use a human model would have been…. well, rather unfortunate for the model.

2.  The most notable quote for the day comes from a lecture by James Froude in 1864.  This seems to be sum up very well not only our view of history but also of current events as we enter this ever more divisive time: “It often seems to me as if History was like a child’s box of letters, with which we can spell any word we please. We have only to pick out such letters as we want, arrange them as we like, and say nothing about those which do not suit our purpose.”

3.  I would be remiss if I didn’t spend a brief moment on the history of piracy.  I’ve been reading the last week or so reading Patrick Pringle’s seminal work on the topic.  I won’t attempt to encapsulate its entire contents here (though I may bother to do so in a later post) but it is clear that everything we thought we knew about pirates is utterly wrong.  Those romantic, bloodthirsty buccaneers of the movies simply do not exist.  Nobody walked the plank.  With few exceptions there is no buried treasure.  The cruel, despotic captains of the high seas dispensing bloody justice were, in fact, much less bloody than the authorities who dispensed justice on land.  As a case in point, Captain Kidd, rather than being one of the most notorious pirates of all times was, in fact, just a sea captain who got railroaded by a rather corrupt legal system.  I could go on endlessly but suffice to say for now that fiction far outstrips fact when it comes to adventures on the bounding main.




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