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As readers of this blog should probably realise by now, my wife is Danish. As anyone who has ever had an international relationship will know that this means you encounter many situations where traditions for the same thing are different to a greater or lesser extent. One of these differences between the UK and Denmark is Mothering Sunday and Father’s Day. In particular, Mothering Sunday / Mother’s Day and Father’s Day occur on different dates. We had a long discussion about which date to observe for these little events, and have chosen to honour both the British and Danish days. This has the wonderful side effect of getting two sets of presents each ūüôā .

So it was that last Wednesday – Father’s Day in Denmark – my wife let me know that she and Melian had decided to give me a very special present¬†– a trip of Tankfest that is being held at the Bovington Tank Museum at the end of this month.

Now, I had asked for a trip to the museum as a birthday present later in the year, but I was not expecting to go to Tankfest. So this was a really great surprise, and I have to say I am really very excited. The present includes a ticket for myself and my brother (I cannot drive, he can, but we all agree probably best not to take Melian for actual Tankfest given the numbers and expected loud noises!). So on Sunday 30th off down to Dorset to indulge in gaming and history at the same time – a perfect combination!

However, as mentioned I am expecting a lot of people. This can create some problems for me – I do not always react very well to crowds and have had minor panic attacks sometimes in busy places. I am hoping, however, that given the circumstances I will be able to keep engaged enough on what is going on and with stuff to look at rather than focus on the crowd.

Meanwhile I am immensely chuffed.

In a general sense I suppose most reasonably well educated people have some idea of the causes for the First World War. Most folk, and most popular histories, will have some sense of the coalitions of the Triple Alliance and Triple Entente, and how these alliances played out following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in a provincial backwater in the summer of 1914. The more advanced books, and those with a little more knowledge, probably know about the First and Second Balklan Wars that immediately preceded the Great War. I do think however relatively few people know why Agadir was important in that process. Given everything that came after, it is easy to overlook Agadir and the role Morocco played in the run-up to World War One.

Morocco was the unlikely ground for competition between Germany and France. Following the Tangier Crisis of 1905/6 a settlement between the powers had been agreed Рa settlement that France broke (for various reasons) in 1911. Germany sent a gunboat to the port of Agadir to make its case, and the Second Moroccon Crisis ensued. The two crises over Morocco were instrumental in the deepening the split between Britain and Germany, and thereby helped to ensure Britain sided with France as it did in the summer of 1914. To say that Agadir caused World War One is fairly ridiculous Рbut one can say that Agadir contributed to the circumstances which, in the summer of 1914, led to war.

There is some real doubt right now as to what is going to happen to Cyprus, and what it might mean. The threat of imposing a levy on deposits has created an atmosphere of some real fear Рit smells like a panic measure. More worryingly is the apparent disconnection between Eurozone Finance Ministers and the effects of what they proposed last weekend. I have no idea if the Eurozone is going to unravel, or not. The risk has, I think, gotten greater.

If the Euro does collapse however I do wonder if, in a hundred years’ time, this week’s events in Cyprus will be as easily overlooked as what happened in Morocco just over a hundred years ago.

So I am a few days behind discussing this news, namely that a new EVE-news site has launched: themittani.com.

Lots of people have had something to say about this, but I think the most interesting perspective I have read has been Mabrick in this post. I am particularly interested in his idea that this is an attempt to influence the “war of words” as Mabrick puts it.

The thing is, I suspect no one really knows the true make-up of the EVE playerbase. Oh, now and then we get told snapshots of the percentage of characters in hisec, lowsec, nullsec, and wspace. However, they don’t really mean anything given the proliferation of alts, and the fact not everyone in nullsec¬†is actually a hardcore pvper. However, traditionally the pvpers¬†tend to be the more vocal part of EVE’s playerbase. A few years ago there was an interesting conversation why so many EVE blogs (at that time) were written by pirates. The reasons seemed fairly obvious, the person who explores the pirate lifestyle benefits from the publicity. Contrast the industrialist, whose most effective weapon in EVE is anonymity. Plus reading about the intricacies of T1 manufacture is simply not usually as interesting as that of a roam.

Well, things have moved on, but pvpers still dominate the EVE bloggers, though there is no doubt a greater proliferation of them now than once there was. Amidst this group, events such as Hulkageddon and Burn Jita generally go over well Рregardless of whether they take part in the events themselves (or perhaps even oppose them ingame in the case of Burn Jita). However, to state something very obvious, EVE bloggers are hardly representative of the EVE playerbase.

The strong impression I have always had is that the majority of EVE players do not even regularly check to see if there are new devblogs. I myself hardly ever read the forums as I decided life was too short to regularly wade through all the rubbish РI use EVE blogs basically as a filtering system for my news. If Ripard Teg, Poetic Stanzial, Mabrick, The Nosy Gamer, or several others find it important enough to mention, I will pay attention.

Most folks however rely on corporation chat channels, or other chat channels. There are many small, thriving communities in EVE that are focused on a channel of mutual interest, and this gamewide. In those channels usually a relatively few people filter the news for the channel’s members must like the bloggers I read do for me. So what?

Well, Goonswarm’s¬†reach has been getting bigger. It is a general rule of thumb that the hegemon of any era will attract a fair amount of opprobrium. In modern times the British Empire attracted¬†much opposition in the Victorian era, in part because it was so all over the place almost no matter what the Empire did at any one time it would offend someone (sometimes with cause, sometimes without). It doesn’t take many years of this for a great deal of the world to hold some sort of grudge towards Great Britain – and traces of this still remain. In today’s world, the role of Great Power and Great Antagonist has been taken by the USA. In the late seventeenth¬†century it was held by Louis XIV’s France, and in the sixteenth century by the Hapsburg Empires, especially that of Spain in the latter portion of that century. Goonswarm fulfils this role currently in EVE. This means that somewhere in Goonswarm’s¬†activities, be it Burn Jita, Hulkageddon V, Permageddon, or its nullsec activities, or even the Ministry of Love idea – they have been creating hostility.

A hostility that gets passed on by word of mouth (or typed text in a chat channel). This is not folks rage-quitting or anything like that, but just a general negativity. It does not occur overnight, but grows over the course of several months and years. This is dangerous to Goonswarm not in the short or medium term, but could potentially be very serious for them in the long-term. To be fairly blunt, BoB once held a similar position to what Goonswarm does now. Eventually BoB created so much opposition they brought themselves down. This is not so say their situations are mirror-images. EVE is a very different game from what it was during the Great War, but there enough similarities.

I am fairly sure the leadership of Goonswarm and the wider coalition realise this Рthey are smart people. So they are trying to navigate a way to avoid a fall, while somehow staying true to their own roots. History suggests at some point they will tumble Рall Empires eventually do. Sometimes they crumble quickly, sometimes slowly. Sometimes they are able to stave off the inevitable for very many years (see the Eastern Roman Empire). I have no doubt that this new website is part of the effort to avoid this fate. I also believe this is only part of the aims of the news site. I hope the propaganda I am exposed to is more subtle that I can read in The Guardian or The Telegraph, but that might be expecting too much. In the meantime I am interested to see how the site does.

Last night I watched my recording of Michael Wood’s new historical series. I am generally terrible at watching television series of any stripe, and the only reason I managed to watch this was thanks to Sky+ (and the only reason I will get to watch subsequent series is thanks to Series Link). I had high hopes for this, as I really do like Michael Wood. In fact it was one of Michael Wood’s earliest series (In Search of the Trojan War) that got me first interested in history, and I have never looked back.

The first episode at least did not disappoint.

A few obvious things Рthis series is clearly taking the opportunity to reflect on British history and the British people in the lead-up to the Diamond Jubilee. It is also occurring quite fast on the heels on The Story of England, which looked at the history of England through the lens of one English locality Рand no doubt it is similar Рbut unlike the Story of England does not restrict itself to just one area of the country. It is also very much a general history. I have read some negative comments about this Рbut a series of this nature is only ever talking about history in large sweeps. That means one can always find it lacking on details. In a sense therefore myself and other history buffs are not the target audience.

Except we should be.

The series is called “The Great British Story“. I do not think that word is accidental. Modern history began, quite literally, in the public spaces of Athens and other Greek cities as Herodotus declaimed his Enquiries. The Greek word became our word History. Herodotus was Enquiring about the recent history of his own times, the wars between the Greek city-states and the Persian Empire. All history is of course an enquiry, if only to answer the question of “What happened here?”. Herodotus was also telling a story. Storytelling is a very powerful historical technique, and I think the truest method of conveying the past. To be sure there is a place for technical academic articles discussing in fine details one point or another. There is no excuse for poorly written ones however that cannot link the sometimes dry facts with the wider historical narrative.

Narrative – another word to do with Story.

You don’t have to spruce history up to tell a good story – quite literally the history of humanity is full of the greatest stories (alas, for too many are untold). You just have to let the history do the talking. Michael Wood is excellent at doing this.

Michael Wood is also very keen on drawing links between the past and present. This tendency was evident right back in In Search of Trojan War, and it has become more and more pronounced with time. It is not for everyone.

With all that I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. I didn’t learn anything “new” in terms of major events – but then I never expected I would. The story was also simplified, and if one is of a picky disposition one could claim this makes errors (but in a general overview, this is unavoidable). That said, there were a few details about recent excavations and discoveries that I hadn’t heard about.

What stood out most though was how Michael Wood wove the very complicated strands of British History in the first five or so centuries of this island’s history into an interesting tapestry. I am sure his great hope is that he will spark the imagination of some of his viewers to find out more. He had that effect on me more than twenty years ago, and yet, this one episode already has me itching to pick up another history book and find out yet more stuff about us.