A Trumpian Bargain

A Trumpian Bargain

I didn’t watch Trump’s speech at the GOP Convention, and as an historian, albeit not one of United States history specifically, I felt a considerable shade of guilt. My decision was deliberate: rather than watch him feel his way through his latest and most rigorously constructed attempt to reach out to what he apparently sees as the common man, I watched television with my wife and did some reading. I knew in advance it would be monumental, not that this...

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A Short note on DOTA 2 and online culture

A Short note on DOTA 2 and online culture

I played a game of DOTA 2 last night where one of my teammates had named himself (I’m going to go ahead and assume it was a he) “WHORE,” all caps included, and another called us all “faggets” as soon as he loaded onto the map. This isn’t okay. Now, if you’ve come upon this with little knowledge about how people communicate in online video games you might think that’s a fairly obvious statement. Since my decision to resurrect my...

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Brexit

Brexit

Into the abyss we go, smiling and waving flags… So, they really did it. The Brexit vote started off as a needlessly risky concession David Cameron made because he saw little risk; in the end, he probably didn’t need to extend the promise to hold the referendum in the first place and momentum grew behind the Leave campaign beyond his wildest nightmares. He may ultimately receive some credit inside some Conservative circles for helming an impressive expansion of the party...

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DOTA 2, Theory and Practice

DOTA 2, Theory and Practice

I have a book to write, classes to prep, a family to hang out with and, in theory, a social life to try and keep alive. So, I’m reviving my interest in DOTA 2. I played DOTA 2 rather briefly a couple of years ago, won more games than I lost, and generally gained a little insight into why the game is just so popular. I can’t quite recall why I stopped, but I vaguely remember it being centered on...

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The Chinese Gaming Frontier: Assassin’s Creed Mobile

The Chinese Gaming Frontier: Assassin’s Creed Mobile

I learned today about a plan by Ubisoft to make, with their Chinese development partners Ourpalm (zhangqu or 掌趣 in Chinese, which literally means “interesting palm” but to a Chinese reader would convey a message of “grabbing attention”), a mobile massively multiplayer online Assassin’s Creed game specifically for the Chinese market. It’s an exciting idea, and a rather alien one to Western ears I would think. In the United States and Europe we are used to the idea of “massively...

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Baseball is nerdy

Baseball is nerdy

Joe Posnanski interviewed the always wonderful Bob Costas on his podcast a few days ago, and listening to Costas got me thinking, of all things, about the discipline of history. There’s more to come in a future (and considerably longer) post, but for now I’ll just make the point that I’m increasingly concerned historians have essentially abrogated our responsibility to inform the public. This is sometimes out of frustration with the kind of narratives that appear to gain traction, it...

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Short Thoughts About Public History

Short Thoughts About Public History

I’m reading John Dower’s Ways of Forgetting, Ways of Remembering and thinking about conceptions of public history. Dower, writing specifically on the controversy centered on the 1995 Enola Gay exhibit at the Smithsonian debating how to present the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in terms of aftermath and context (or lack thereof), presents the importance of public history as part of an obligation on the part of historians to participate in a fuller exploration of our mission...

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The slow, slow move from inertia to momentum

The slow, slow move from inertia to momentum

A quick word about reviving blogs: I hate writing posts like this, but I still write them, compulsively. It’s terrible, making a promise I suspect I won’t keep, for no real concrete reason beyond the numerous times I have broken similar promises. The central argument in favour of such posts is essentially that it creates a precedent that must be sustained, but that’s not why I write these; really, I’m trying to give that boulder a really hard shove, and...

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The Fidelity Wars

The Fidelity Wars

Hefner’s most appealing variety of weirdness, for me, was their willful, enthusiastic and deeply self-conscious embrace of the pathetic. The Fidelity Wars was a masterpiece for a heartbroken twenty-something, which is exactly what I was when I first discovered the album. Darren Hayman’s vocals were plaintive, the songs’ themes unabashedly bathed in the deep treacle of self-pity, the depth of the instrumentation stripped back to resemble talented lounge rockers in a large empty room; it’s a masterpiece designed for someone...

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Johan and Garry

Johan and Garry

Two men passed away today. They were in completely different fields but both were influential in my life. My grandfather’s house was a house of football. In the back of the house, by the pit in the back garden where my grandmother hung clothes to dry and, on the other side, a cavernous garage that I’m not sure was ever used to house a car but was always full, sat a washing room with two washing machines and more football...

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