I’d like to try cooking them

I was amused to read that clay tablets, many thousands of years old, containing ancient Babylonian recipes have been decoded, and researchers are trying to prepare the dishes they describe. The instructions for lamb stew read more like a list of ingredients than a bona fide recipe: “Meat is used. You prepare water. You add fine-grained salt, dried barley cakes, onion, Persian shallot, and milk. You crush and add leek and garlic.” But it’s impossible to ask the chef to reveal the missing pieces: This recipe’s writer has been dead for some 4,000 years. Instead, a team of international scholars versed in

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Saturday Snippet: Repairing a capitalist motorcycle in communist Yugoslavia

Tim Severin is almost legendary among modern explorers and historians.  From his college days, he’s specialized in studying an ancient voyage of discovery or some other historical travel narrative, and recreating it using technology of the period and in as practical a way as possible.  In doing so, he’s dispelled many myths, but he’s also proved that many stories thought to be myth and fable were, in fact, firmly grounded in reality.  (Two of the most fascinating are the legend of Jason and the Golden Fleece, and Ulysses’ voyage from Troy to his homeland of Ithaca, both re-enacted aboard a galley built in

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QCprepper said…

I recently came across an extraordinary voice recording on YouTube that brought back many memories.  Before I embed it, a little background information is necessary. South Africa bought ENTAC anti-tank missiles from France during the 1960’s.  Like many such first-generation weapons, they proved pretty useless in combat, scoring some hits, but many more misses.  During the 1970’s, MILAN anti-tank missiles were added to the inventory, including a version produced under license.  However, this was a short- to medium-range missile, and did not provide the long range or striking power the Army wanted for bush warfare.  Unfortunately, thanks to the 1977 arms embargo against South

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Oh, my itchy trigger finger . . .

Yesterday Miss D. and I went to the Guardians of Freedom Air Show at Sheppard Air Force Base near Wichita Falls.  It was a lot of fun, with a surprisingly good range of aircraft for a training base, including the F-22 and F-35 fifth-generation combat aircraft.  There was a decent-size crowd, too. While we were walking from the parking lot to the entrance to the display area, our attention was caught by a silver dart-like aircraft zooming low over the runway, quite close to us. I don’t know what I looked like to my wife, but I could feel the tension right away as I recognized it. I must have

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Saturday snippet: the opening battle of the Red River War in 1874

Today’s snippet is taken from the autobiography of legendary Western scout and Indian fighter Billy Dixon, as recorded by his wife during the last year of his life, and completed by her after his death in 1913.  It’s titled “Life of Billy Dixon, Plainsman, Scout and Pioneer“. Dixon (shown below) was one of the great figures of the Indian Wars and the Old West. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his role in the Buffalo Wallow fight of 1874, shortly after the events narrated here (one of only eight ever awarded to civilians).  Due to his status as a civilian scout,

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It’s a bittersweet feeling . . .

Two Russian Tupolev Tu-160 strategic bombers are paying an official visit to South Africa at present.  They landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base near Pretoria yesterday.  Here’s video of one of them on final approach, escorted by two South African Air Force Hawk trainer aircraft.  I know the area where the photographer was standing very well;  I’ve stood there myself more than once, watching aircraft arriving and departing. It was a bittersweet sort of feeling for me to watch that video, for two reasons. The first is that, back in the days of my active military service, any such Russian (i.e. Soviet) aircraft showing up within

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An amazing find in naval and military history

I was amazed to read about a recent discovery in England. A sketch hand-drawn by Admiral Lord Nelson showing his plan for victory at Trafalgar has been discovered tucked inside the pages of a scrapbook after nearly 200 years. The map was found by Martyn Downer, a historian who is an expert on Nelson, in a book dating from the 1830s which was recently sold at auction. It shows his plan for splitting the Royal Navy fleet into three divisions to break and destroy the enemy French and Spanish lines coming out of Cadiz harbour. Lines representing wind direction also appear on

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An historic way of life to a different, slower drumbeat

Courtesy of Old Salt Blog, I was interested to come across a novel, centuries-old method of shrimp fishing – on horseback. Intrigued, I looked for more information, and found this longer, more detailed view of the same “industry” in Belgium.  I found it equally interesting. It’s fascinating to think that such an ancient method of fishing has survived so long;  and it’s good to know that the number of mounted fishermen in training has actually increased in recent years.  I imagine the occupation is a lot less stressful than much of modern living, which is an attraction in itself. Peter

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Bill Barr on the foundation of our Republic

US Attorney-General Bill Barr gave the commencement speech at Notre Dame University last week.  I think he summed up very well the real issue with American politics and society today.  I’ll quote from his remarks at some length. In one sense, Barr simply explained what President John Adams meant by a statement he made in a 1798 letter. He then showed the significance of that statement to American life today. “We have no Government armed with Power which is capable of contending with human Passions unbridled by … morality and religion,” Barr quoted from Adams’ letter. “Our Constitution was made only for

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A remarkable man

I recently came across a video interview of a British Army veteran who, at the age of 94, jumped into Normandy, France, as part of this year’s 75th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day Landings in 1944.  It surprised me to see it, because I’d met him before, more than 30 years ago. This interview with Mr. Hutton was filmed a few years earlier. Little did the cameraman and reporter know that Jock Hutton was far more than just another D-Day veteran.  He was – and remains – a living legend in the Special Forces community. Former Squadron Sergeant Major of the Rhodesian Special Air

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