Random NotesDead again. That is, my lap top is out of commission. Apparently this new problem is actually something Dell overlooked in the last overhaul, and I enjoyed a pleasant, burning aroma over the weekend instead of a functioning research tool. I hate Dell.
Perhaps I can recover from the Tour de France, which I watched religiously every day. As much as I revelled in Lance Armstrong's final victory, I can't help but feel sorry for Jan Ullrich, the perpetual second fiddle whose accomplishments will be forever obscured. Their rivalry reminds me of Dimaggio-Williams, the later's legacy weakened by years on the frontline and the lack of a World Series ring. Despite his other accomplishments in racing outside of the Tour, a fellow countryman, a cyclist, declared that "he gave nothing back to cycling." [ADDED:] Here are Ullrich's victories: winner Tour de Suisse 2004, German Champion (road racing) 2001, Olympic Champion (road racing) 2000, winner Vuelta 1999, World Champion (ITT) 1999, winner Tour de France 1997, German Champion (road racing) 1997, Amateur World Champion 1993.
David Sucher points out this really cool website, Water History (pretty self-explanatory). Some readers might enjoy this article on Medieval London's water system, which serves as a prehistory to the 1666 fire:
Circumstances conspired to make the fire a catastrophic event. London was in the throes of a long drought. The flow of springs, which fed the city's conduits, was greatly reduced. The wells, still numerous in city, were low. Additionally, the houses were nearly all made of wood and packed closely together; the stores and warehouses were full of oil, pitch, hemp, flax, and other combustible wares; a strong wind carried the fire from roof to roof and from street to street; and there was a lack of organization and equipment to deal with the fire."Neither trees nor commerce nor life, but death takes root in the concrete shade of twelve lanes of interstate traffic": I have passed Ralpjh Luker's A Strange Career of Alleys, Avenues, Boulevards, and Interstates around to a number of people, who have all reacted positively to his look at geographical segregation in Auburn. One person, a sociology grad student, told me that his advisor refused to see the deeper roots of this segregation. Ralph's post raises questions, however, about the effectiveness of reconciliation across No Man's Lands, not just in the South, but in very conflict where people have refused not just to live with each other, but also continguously to one another (I am especially thinking of Israel's security fence).
London's water systems, as it turned out, were in no condition to assist in putting out or controlling a major fire. The flames as they started out from London Bridge put the wooden water system of Peter Morice out of commission. But, worst of all, there was a great deal of shortsighted carelessness. In the perplexity and confusion of the early hours of the fire, no authority was respected. Roads were torn up to get at the wooden water pipes. The pipes were cut so that fire buckets could be filled. Cutting the pipes for short-term gain turned out to greatly hamper longer-term firefighting efforts. Water soon ran to waste in some areas while pipes and cisterns were dry in areas where water was most needed.
Is Vahdettin, the last sultan of the Ottoman Empire, ripe for rehabilitation? Some Turkish historians argue that he was not the traitor portrayed by Turkish nationalists. The historical revision/correction has sparked political controversy, the conservative press coming to the aid of the historians.
Johno, updating his progress on the 50-book challenge, looks at two books that have been overlooked in the reviews of new history: Chernow's Alexander Hamilton and Philbrick's Sea of Glory. Jonathan Dresner looks at a history of ninja, which he finds lacking.