Sunday, 18 March 2018

Some of my recent reading: dark ages Frisia

Another couple of books I read the past moths were triggered by plans for some medieval wargaming. Somebody suggested that we should try the Battle of Vlaardingen in 1018, a smallish affair by today's standards. It was pretty momentous however, as it established the independence of the counts of Frisia against the Holy Roman Emperor.

Sadly the execution wasn't compatible with stuff I already had lying, waiting to be used, so my project will deal with the Battle of Hastings. But I read the stuff on Frisia anyway...

And the most amazing I learned is that the Dutch coast was mostly deserted in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD. Apparently rising water levels, combined with moving sand dunes made life extremely hard so it essentially depopulated. The people that came to inhabit the area afterwards were not the original Frisians of Roman times, but migrants from present day Northern Germany and Scandinavia, with a different material culture and different language. However, they were named after the area and for a long time people assumed there was a continuous link of Frisian inhabitation.

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Some of my recent reading: military innovation

So I'm on for a new adventure, starting in October. I'll be cooperating on a part of a larger series of handbooks about Dutch military history. Personally, it looks like I will mostly be writing on the 1813-1870 period.

Of course there'll be several themes discussed in this book, but I have taken a special interest in the development of technology and how it's integrated into military practice. It's become an interesting field in this century, since the military revolutions / revolutions in military affairs discussion blossomed up. Mostly this is a discussion about how you can foster innovation and draw the right lessons from the past to guide technological development towards succes while avoiding the pitfalls.

Part of that discussion focusses on where in the military organisation this innovation takes place? Is it top down (reforms of Prince Maurice or Gustavus Adolphus), is it bottom up (battlefield adaptation in WWI)? Or is it perhaps a complex interaction of military entrepreneurs in the military hierarchy that may or may not succeed in catching the ear of those with decision making power. And perhaps, I add as an historian, this changes based on social structures over time and space?

So I'm diving into some old and new literature...

Mostly on the 19th century, but if a valid theoretical point seems to be made, I'm happy to look beyond.

Let's say I'm pretty psyched about this project

Saturday, 6 January 2018

And it don't stop!

Having cleaned up and dined, I returned to Satan's gifts, mulling the evil intentions by gifting me a euro game about hospital managament. So I lifted the top expecting cardboard and wooden blocks...

Mark my surprise as I peered inside and found not just that but infact a buttload of cool stuff!

Exhibit A:

1920s furniture: perfect for some Pulp or Lovecraftian roleplaying! Diederik, can we have another go at your campaign?

Exhibit B:

A game of doubt and dread. That certainly fits my current state of mind and the above gift!

Exhibit C:

A suspicious looking compact disc that triggered my interest. Will have a listen sometime later this evening (with the candles burning low and the Cramps on the stereo)

Exhibit D:

Spock's Socks that I'm wearing right now! Good fit! Satan knows these things

Exhibit E:

Some weird looking chap, I suspect of representing broccoli. I think I have a solution for that...

Exhibit F:

And the Quarantine game itself. Not a lot of stuff for such a big box, but for once I'm not complaining!

So many more thanks Satan!

Not sure what I've done to deserve to be heaped in gifts twice in a row. I guess I must have signed over my soul while accepting the terms of service on some piece of software...

So I Had Been Warned

So I had been warned: NO KNIVES! Obviously something precious and frail was inside...

But my years long experience with all things Satan has taught me caution, and my first reach into the box proved me correct

After removing a first layer of shiny filth there appeared a box. For some reason I grew even more cautious

And again I was rewarded with averting catastrophy!

The box had been boobytrapped! 

True to the manual, I wouldn't use a knife to remove the tripwire. That made my further venture more exciting and a bit more time consuming.

Satan had obviously been enjoying the packaging!

After I cleared several layers of glitter from the box, I found some familiar looking game cards.

Ah... Petropolis! A hint perhaps?

Still without a knife I assaulted the layers of tape with the only sharp weapon at my disposal

A gruesome struggle that left left me with the debris of war

As much as the spoils!

And a self portrait of Satan! This will end up above my bed and provide grizzly joy for years to come

So thank you Satan. So much joy and punishment for such an unfit minion! Please, hit me one more time!

Now, where did I leave the vacuum cleaner?

Secret Satan has arrived!

It's that time of the year again!

This may take a while....