Category History

Mazower's Opinions

Mark Mazower has, for some time now, been writing poignant and increasingly strongly worded opinion articles about the effects of the crisis, the social and political repercussions that few politicians and economists bother worrying about while trying, unsuccessfully, if not plain badly, to enforce a flawed economic policy throughout Europe. His articles are grounded, accurate with the facts and highly worrisome, a scarily intense forewarning of how things can go wrong; they demonstrate the kind of foresight you would expect but seldom find in the foolish, greedy and highly myopic politicians currently governing Europe.

Tim Schafer's History of Videogames Adventure

You may have heard of him. No? Well, sc**w you! Because, err, you should.
Tim Schafer's video mini autobiography for Gamespot. Must see for all those that have enjoyed any/all of Day of the Tentacle, the original two Monkey Island games, Full Throttle, Grim Fandango or his later creations at Double Fine Productions.

Bletchley Park, by Google.

I've written before about Bletchley Park, when, in 2008, closure seemed imminent and the UK government seemed unable and unwilling to do much to keep it alive. Now Google has offered to help restore Bletchley Park --- an admirable endeavour that is very welcome, given the site's significance in World War II history. As a sidenote, it is a real shame that we have now come to depend on multinational corporations in order to preserve our monuments.

Willingly At the Forefront or Perpetual Testing Ground?

Mark Mazower is perhaps one of the most prominent historians of his generation, one that I respect and whose works I've have studied extensively over the past decade. This is his latest article on the NY Times and a good read; it may not be comprehensive --- as no newspaper article could ever be --- it may skim over a two thousand year period, in the process making an impossibly romantic, and if it weren't for its author I'd dare call it naive, argument: that Greece has repeatedly throughout its history had a leading role in shaping world events by being a forerunner of (r)evolution. The argument is romantic and flattering, but it's also flawed. It purposefully ignores that Greece has long lost its position as an enviable country (if it ever really had one) and nation, that it encompasses a society, a state and (a modern) culture admired by very few people that can discern between Classical Greece and Modern Greece. It hides the fact that since the founding of the modern Hellenic state in 1830, it is seldom Greece (the state) or its people that have chosen to shape the world, as Mazower puts it, but rather the world that has repeatedly coerced, if not forced, it to partake in its experiments, a guinea pig of sorts, the testing ground for change; whether for the imposition of western european monarchy on newly constituted nation-states in the 19th century, the fight against the Axis, the field testing of napalm in the 1940s, or the slow dismantling of the post-WWII status quo in Europe and the West that's happening now. In that respect, Mazower's article is unfounded and misleading; it makes the same mistake so many western historians, philhellenes and intellectuals have made over the past two hundred years: it flatters an intellectually, politically and economically corrupt state and an ignorant yet proud people by ignoring the very causes of their predicament, viewing the world through the stained rose tinted glasses of its long and glorious history and a form of nationalism, irrational as it always is. And that is the last thing that Greece needs, right now and --- arguably --- has ever needed.

Dismantling the EU

The past sixty years have been a time of unprecedented peace and prosperity in Europe. A continent devastated by two World Wars, empires undone in the span of a few decades, the formal subjugation of Europe under the United States…

Οπτικοακουστικό Αρχείο ΕΡΤ — Μέρος Δεύτερο

Τον Δεκέμβριο του 2007, έγραψα ένα άρθρο με τίτλο ‘Οπτικοακουστικό Αρχείο ΕΡΤ’. Ο λόγος ήταν η τεράστια σημασία του εγχειρήματος, τόσο για εμένα, όσο και για εκατομμύρια συμπολίτες μου αλλά και για την ευρύτερη σημασία της διάθεσης του αρχείου, μιας…

Naïve Brilliance

If anything can be said in retrospect about Robert McNamara is not that he was hawkish, evil, corrupt or duplicitous, but that despite his sophistication, the statistical prowess and scientific rigour that he showed in his work, his all-around intellectual capacity (or perhaps, in a way just because of all these) he exemplified the naïve brilliance that often accompanies highly intelligent people that fail to take that macroscopic view and consider where they place their focus and energy and why they do so. His 2003 'apology' film, the Errol Morris documentary 'The Fog Of War', as well as his 1995 'In Retrospect' book, both indicate that wisdom came late to McNamara; a clear and very welcome difference, nevertheless, to most of his contemporaries.

Bletchley Park to close?

In 2000 I visited what is probably one of the most interesting attractions for geeky history buffs in the UK: Bletchley Park. Even back when I visited it, the Park was in a dismal state, badly preserved, run down —…

Google Earth οι μεν, Lonely Planet οι δε.

Διαβάζω στη Καθημερινή [μέσω buzz] πως μέλη των Ταξιαρχιών Μαρτύρων του Αλ Ακσά δηλώνουν ανοιχτά πως κάνουν χρήση του Google Earth "προκειμένου να εντοπίσουν τους στόχους των αυτοσχέδιών τους ρουκετών". Kαι σχεδόν ταυτόχρονα διαβάζω το εξής άρθρο στο BBC News το οποίο συνοδεύεται από απόσπασμα video [RealPlayer] του νέου ντοκυμαντέρ του BBC 'No Plan, No Peace' στο οποίο δηλώνεται 'ανοιχτά' από την ταγιεροφορούσα συνταξιούχο εδώ και μια τριετία Αμερικανίδα διπλωμάτη, Barbara Bodine, πως οι αμερικάνοι χρησιμοποιούσαν έναν τουριστικό οδηγό Lonely Planet (ω τι ειρωνία!) των αρχών της δεκαετίας του 1990 ώστε να προγραμματίσουν τη κατοχή της χώρας. Δε ξέρω τι με τρομάζει περισσότερο...

Cryptonomicon and The Baroque Cycle

I got to know of Neal Stephenson from a good friend in the winter of 1999, some months after Cryptonomicon was published. He used to read it during the long boring lecture days at Imperial and over the course of…