Connecting with the past or stealing the future

November 24, 2009

If you have any interest in History you have seen for sale at places like ebay Roman coins and other ancient treasures in many other varieties.  If you haven’t just type Roman Coins in the search and you will see hundreds on sale in various conditions.

In some cases these are fakes seeking to dupe the unsuspecting.  A few years ago I bought a signed Bobby Thompson baseball which I am still not convinced is real, though the novelty of having a possible signed ball by the player who hit the “Shot heard round the world” makes it fun to have.

So if you bought a fake, sorry, it is ebay after all so you take your chances.  Much like our purchase of Sailor Moon Dvds for our daughter which obvious came from Chinese knockoffs.  The first big clue was on the packaging it was called Sail Or Moon… yeah that is sooo official.

While you might be miffed I am somewhat gladdened if you got a fake.  It means you are not supporting those who are selling history online for a few dollars.   While Roman coins are plentiful in many areas of Europe they can still be significant and important if they are in the ground.  In archaeology this is called stratification.  This means that the layers of soil can tell a story  of the area.  Much like tree rings soil can be found layered and each layer can represent a specific period in time.

When items like coins, broaches, clips, arrow heads or anything like it is moved it destroys the story associated with that object.

Read the rest of this entry »


If ye break faith with us who die

November 11, 2009

It has been eight years since the United States and other Nato nations entered Afghanistan. Seven years for the Canadian military. In fact Canada has now been at war with the Taliban longer than they were at war in World War 2.

For many Canadians in the years after World War 2 until 9/11 many did not understand or appreciate the work their troops did to fight for their freedom. Canadian soldiers lived, died and were largely mistreated by the people they were defending.

In Bosnia as UN peacekeepers the Canadians were forced into the middle of one no win situation one after another. As they put their lives on the line trying to prove War crimes the government and population were slowly strangling their financial lifeline.

In Somalia, an incident with the Airborne forces led to conclusions that our soldiers were not defenders of freedom but some kind of Rambo crazies. The Liberal government left the soldiers to pay the price for their own mistakes, thus the morale was placed at an all time low.

Yet time after time troops were shuffled like pawns into hellhole after hellhole. For the most part they did outstanding work with tiny resources, apathy or loathing at home. The truth was that most Canadians did not understand the need for the Armed Forces. They saw themselves defended by the United States and military spending as somehow redundant.

But yet we sent our men and women in the fire line over and over to act as peacemakers and peacekeepers.

I perceived that this has slowly changed since the terrorists attacked the United States. It showed no one was safe. And then terrorism came to our country once again. We arrested plotters bent on causing death and destruction in our back yard. Suddenly, it all changed. Now many of us sympathize with the soldiers, their deaths which have mounted in Afghanistan has brought back the realities of war.

Politicians are now referring to our troops outside of November 11th. The concerns have led to bitter debates over the role of troops in Afghanistan. As well there is a slowly growing discussion of the misuse and abuse our soldiers face. The government for the first time in twenty years are beginning to invest in the military. Sometimes badly and with no thought to what they are doing but they are slowly changing the lives of many.

Too often in Canada we have left to fall the torch passed to us by Canadian poet John McCrae in World War 1 when he wrote In Flanders Fields. He would die during the war of pneumonia but his message has lived on for nearly a century.

In remembering the sacrifice of our soldiers we often quote the phrase Lest We Forget, however, often we do forget.

My point here today is that giving our Armed Forces nothing to work with creates nothing good. We are the second largest country in the world. It is important that we defend ourselves and act more like a part of the free world rather than freeloaders. To do that we must continue to renew the faith with our soldiers.

Given that let us remember they are not just a tool for us to use. We should treasure our soldiers and not misuse them in places where they will be sacrificed for cheap reasons. Afghanistan needs to mean something, otherwise we will have wasted much for little.

To do that we should push our allies for meaningful contributions and continue to insist those who went into Afghanistan must not allow others to do the heavy lifting for them. Part of the reason others want Canada to stay past 2011 is because they are unwilling to do the hard things needed.

Part of the faith we have with our service men and women is for politicians to not just pay lip service to their defence of these troops. Thinking about how often our veterans continue to struggle to get the basic necessities because our government forgot about them. Let us not do that any more, let us not break faith anymore.

In Flanders, Vimy, Dieppe, Juno Beach, Kapyong, Medak and Panjwaii Canadian troops have entered the line of fire. We should recognize each of these places for their importance to our troops and not avoid mention because it is seen as jingoism. Our military history is significant to the country and should be honoured more than just on Remembrance Day, lest we really do finally forget.

Lest We Forget – Stepping Up

Lest We Forget – Forging a Nation


The Flu and me

November 2, 2009

Last Sunday I woke up feeling really ill.  I was dizzy and sleepy and off and on really hot.  I fell asleep about 1pm and woke up around 4pm, yet I still felt myself exhausted.   So at 9pm I went to bed for the night.

Feeling that way I called in sick the next day for work.  Then feeling a bit better that night I went to a meeting and Tuesday I went to work.  By Wednesday it was obvious I was still feeling the effects of some sort of flu, in fact each day until Friday I felt ok in the morning and awful as the day wore on.  By wednesday just sitting at my desk I broke out into a sweat like I was running a marathon.

So I went home early and stayed away from work for the following day.  Only on Friday did I feel good enough to go back into work and actually do normal things.

At this point if you have not tuned out I will explain why all this description is so significant.

Our local hockey team the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday announced that at least one player had come down with the H1N1 (aka the swine) flu.   At the same time many other players on the team had gotten the flu over the past week or so.  Read the rest of this entry »


Context, Syllubus and Confusion… ah it is good to be back

November 2, 2009

Well, today was first day of my Masters degree.  After a year and a half since my last class ended on my Bachelors I have anticipated this day for a while.

So far getting familiar with a new professor and a new system of dealing with submissions, discussions and readings has left me grasping a bit this morning.  As I had to go back to my fourth year history course to grasp exactly what was required.

It has taken a bit of stumbling and crawling around back with words and phrases that are not part of normal conversation.  Précis comes readily to mind.

After about an hour though I am finding my stride again, should be interesting course “Historical Research Methods” while seemingly a boring title underlies an important phase of historical understanding.    The course has reminded me a lot of my US Civil Rights course in that it offers a seminar style which obviously is the way graduate courses work.   The good thing is that the style is familiar.

Hopefully it is the start of better things to come.  As always as I work with the focus of my arguments I will bring some of them here for your perusal.

Anyway, self indulgence away!


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