Tag: History

Worldbuilding Wednesday 11/17/21: States of Confusion
xxxx (Heart of Dixie)

Where did the word “Dixie” as a reference to the southern United States come from? Most likely from the Mason-Dixon line, a demarcation used to separate the states where slavery was legal from those where it wasn’t. But it could also refer to a ten dollar note used in pre-Civil War New Orleans with the …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 11/3/21: Russian Palaces

Russia retained a feudal type of government until well into the 20th century (before the Russian Revolution, of course) that depended on the backbreaking labor of its serfs to fund the lavish lifestyles of its ruling elite. Not only that, the Czars were considered chosen by God himself to rule, and considered sacred, which is …

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Choose Your Weapon

You’re stranded in Medieval Russia and can only pick one. Which is it?

Worldbuilding Wednesday 9/15/21: National Parks

On first glance, it’s pretty hard to tell which poster is of a real place, and which poster is fictional, yes? Brightly colored travel posters that look like silkscreens began in the 1930s, as part of a Works Administration Project (WPA) funded by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, designed to give employment to otherwise unemployed artists. …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 6/16/21: Gallic Chieftains

  Where did the name of Mr. Tumnus, the helpful faun of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, come from? Gallic chieftains, of course! Where -umnus and -umnos were frequent components, as in names Togodumnos and Dumnorix.  Of course, these were also latinised; the only way we know these names today is through Roman …

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Secret Agent [Reading Challenge 2021]

Secret Agent Britain’s Wartime Secret Service by David Stafford BBC Worldwide, 2000 [Challenge # 12 : A book featuring spies or espionage.] Super-spy shenanigans, the kind we’re familiar with from James Bond movies and Cold War espionage novels, began in WWII — in the offices of Britain’s Special Operations Executive, a secret agency separate from …

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Atompunk: A retro-futuristic aesthetic centered around the technology of the 1950s extended into the 21st century and beyond. It often depicts “traditionally American” values such as the nuclear family and a suburban lifestyle; conversely, the totalitarian regimes of Communist Russia and its satellites with their emphasis on technological power. I define its heyday as the …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 3/3/21: Fairy Tales III

This illustration by Arthur Rackham appeared on the cover of a book of Grimm’s fairy tales given to me by my parents. I forget the name of the story, but in it, the child hero, who is peeking out of the stove at the illustration’s approximate center, is hiding from the ogre. He has been …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 2/17/21: Fairy Tales II

The plasticity of fairy tales is demonstrated by these illustrations of Beauty and the Beast from over the years. In the original fairy tale, the Beast is never explicitly described, so artists had to use their imaginations. From the top left, going clockwise, he’s a spotted hyena, a wolf-boar, a very weird walrus-mole hybrid, and …

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Worldbuilding Wednesday 2/10/21: Fairy Tales I

Fairy tales were not intended for children. I repeat that, fairy tales were NOT intended for children. Just take a look at the Kay Nielson illustration for Cinderella above. Despite the name, Kay is a he, a classically trained Danish artist who worked heavily during the first half of the 20th century. The moment depicts …

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