A serious question for all you readers . . .

We’re maxed out on features at the moment, but I have a couple of ideas for occasional posts I want to run by you. I haven’t put my history and international law geekery on display up to this point. I could do that if people showed an interest in reading such posts, though. So here are two ideas:

1. Historical moments as campfire stories. I’ve not studied history, but I’ve read tons of it. I know about lots of historical incidents. The idea of this post would be to write a short post straight out of my head that tells a story, and try to make itΒ  either suspenseful or funny. I’d publish with the disclaimer that you might want to verify the facts, because I’m telling a campfire story. I’m thinking about things like The Second Defenestration of Prague, a brief history of Rock and Roll, and Andrew Jackson’s hi-jinks in New Orleans in 1814.

2.Β  I have studied international law. I’ve briefed famous cases and written a master’s thesis on the development of international human rights treaties. I have a thick notebook that explains the history of international organization from 1648 to 2005. I’ve got so much international law stuff, I discussed building a twice-a-month international law blog with a friend when I first started blogging just to put it out there. Sadly, we both ended up having too much to do, and never got back to that conversation. I could write all kind of short, plain-language international law posts. I could explain things like just war theory, preemptive military action, how international treaties work, etc. in non-academic language.

If either of those interests you, let me know. Neither will ever turn into a weekly feature unless they become insanely popular, but both are things I’d enjoy writing about once or twice a month.

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43 thoughts on “A serious question for all you readers . . .

    • Thanks for voting. The history stories are the ones I’m most interested in doing. I think they could be good for the blog if I can keep them short and entertaining.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Honestly, I love the campfire stories. I love it when writers put a different spin on historical subjects. The law could be interesting and beneficial to many people but personally I don’t have much of a mind for it. Looks like I may not be in the minority.

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    • Yeah, I’m getting that sense. I want to do something with all that stuff, but I’ve already got quite a bit of political chatter going here, and the IL would probably be harder to write.

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  2. I’m a big history buff and over the last couple of decades have read much more history than fiction so you know where my vote goes.

    On Rock & Roll and the Battle of New Orleans: I had a friend who claimed to know Mick Jones from the Clash. In the late 80s she was playing me some of his new music from his new band (actually no longer new – it was I think the third album), Big Audio Dynamite. On one song I said, “Hey, that’s ‘The Battle of New Orleans’!” She said, “What?” I told her it was a folk song about a battle that happened in 1814. She said, “no way, Mick wouldn’t know that.” Well, “The Battle of All Saints Road” is a parody of “The Battle of New Orleans”. So I guess Mick Jones knew more about American folk music than she thought. Of course I never heard this version, which may be where he got it.

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    • I’d never heard this version until today. I actually went fishing on youtube for a heavy metal version, because I thought that would’ve been cool, but I struck out and this is the best one I found.

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        • Hannah, I think I had a breakthrough on this and I am sharing it with you because it will make you happy on a Sunday when you find it. Vicki missed this post, so I was explaining it. And it occurred to me that most of the principles of international law require some discussion of a historical event that might make a good campfire story. So . . .

          I can tell the story of The Second Defenestration of Prague as a campfire story and then say something like “The Second Defnestration of Prague was the precipitating event of the 30 years’ war, and the treaties which ended that war established the definition of the modern state. I’ll be writing about what states are on Thursday, if you’re interested”.

          Can do this incessantly if I can work it into the writing schedule.

          Just off off of the top of my head:

          The Caroline Incident (preemptive action v. preemptive war).

          The Naulilaa Incident (An obscure colonial conflict between Germany and Portugal conducted in their African colonies which established the limits of retributive military action).

          An incident in which the Duke of Burgundy beheaded a vassal who he’d left as proconsul over a conquered territory because the troops got out of hand — even though, medieval military administration being what it was, the vassal was powerless to stop it. (Hello, Command Responsibility!).

          Three things about this feature make it a no-brainer:

          1. A single idea gets me two posts.

          2. I have a well-organized notebook crammed full of this shit.

          3. The comments on this thread.

          I’ve barely touched the tags that these posts would be posted in. Can we say “new friends?”

          Thank you so much for feeding the intellectual fire. I don’t take ideas directly from you, but our conversations help me come up with stuff I could never come up with on my own. You point me in directions, lol.

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          • Yeeeeeees this is awesome!

            I’m wanting to do more historical “Hey, look at this cool thing that happened!” type posts, that was actually more what I had in mind when I started the blog, those just take me a LOT more time than a book review or brief statement of opinion. And, of course, pop culture gets the most hits and is super fun too. I’ll have more time in July and August though, so I’m hoping to get some more historical stuff written ahead of time to spread out amongst the other posts. Exciting!

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            • The time factor is why I haven’t done more of it, myself. Just no time to do one more research-heavy thing. That, and what you said about pop culture. It’s just more popular.

              Decided the way to go is just tell what I know out of my head, use the Wiki for names and dates I don’t remember, and throw in the disclaimer as a way of saying “hey! I’d never misinform people intentionally, but these are for entertainment purposes only.”

              Liked by 1 person

    • πŸ™‚

      I’m hearing that those would be pleasing to the audience.

      The first one is officially on the to-do list. Might take a week or two to get around to it, but I’ll post one and see how it goes.

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  3. I like both. Campfire stories sounds very entertaining and international law sounds very interesting. I’d love to read some plain language posts on it, but I agree, it seems like it could be a bit too dry a subject to focus on it too much. I’m also thinking that with your wit though, it’s likely that you’d post some entertaining ones with cool twists. πŸ™‚

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    • Yes. Every case I’ve ever briefed started with some people who did stuff. Like people who used a steamship to ferry New Yorkers across the Niagra River and train them to invade the U.S, Or the two guys at a scientific outpost in one of the polar regions which are not owned by anyone. They fell to drinking and one killed the other. Since one was Canadian and the other American, there was a big to-do over who should try them, etc.

      International Law is FULL of stories like that.

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    • Just wanted you to know that Gene’O has told me most of the Campfire Stories and the International Law cases. He has fine tuned both to the point of removing the dry components from the tales. I think this group of nerdy folk would really enjoy this take on history & law.

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  4. #1 sounds delightful. Our group is very nerdy about history and sociology, so all of our parties end up being like Drunk History….

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    • LOL!

      That idea grew out of me explaining the history of Rock and Roll starting with Reconstruction, moving through the Jazz Age to Southern Rock and the big sound. I prefaced it by saying “hey, this is a campfire story, so don’t take it as gospel, but wouldn’t it make a great blog post?”

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  5. I like both ideas. I’d be especially interested in international law and how it relates to human rights. I’d like to know why we aren’t further along in actually making sure that everyone is able to enjoy those supposedly protected and guaranteed rights.

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    • Thanks for the vote! That’s a very complicated question you’re asking, but I’ll try and give you the short version.

      “Law” in the international context doesn’t mean the same thing it does within states. International Law is established by custom – enough states handle similar situations the same way, and a norm emerges – or by treaty. Treaties are not statutes, they’re just agreements, and they’re subject to interpretation. So . . .

      The only way to get a country to respect human rights when they don’t want to, when you come right down to it, is to compel them with sanctions or force. Or empanel a Tribunal after the fact and punish people, which has its own set of problems. That’s the best I can do on a comment thread, but thanks for the post idea.

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  6. Pingback: Thanks! | The Writing Catalog

  7. I wouldn’t mind some history posts. I’ve read a LOT of historical fiction over the years because I like learning about other time periods and people. I’d love to hear a few summarized stories. I’ve been so busy lately with the new library position, that I haven’t Had time to read every blog entry on every blog I follow, but I’d definitely read those.

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    • I understand the time problem. I have a hard time reading every blog entry, even ones written by people I chat with nearly every day of the week. Diana has to send me heads-ups for things on Part Time Monster sometimes to be sure I see them, and we’re practically in constant communication. That’s how difficult the keeping up is.

      The history posts are definitely in the queue. Not sure how often, or when they’ll start, but I’ve gotten too much feedback not to do it, and my wife will be happy for me to write all that stuff for people who are interested instead of forcing her to listen to it for 45 minutes at a stretch (I geek on history a bit – especially important political events which are so far in the past I can talk about them but not really be talking about “politics”)..

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  8. I missed this. Love being late to a party. International law stuff would be relevant to me in constructing story-world politics. Everyone thinks I’m insane though, so take that with a grain of salt.

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    • I don’t think that’s insane. The formal political science helped my worldbuilding out greatly. It got me over the hump. Got me a world so real I finally had to say to myself “There’s no question. Time to stop wanking and write scenes.”

      But then, social realism is kind of my thing. The balance of power is the concept I would start with, especially if you’re using lots of different autonomous groups. That’s typically the way states interact. The late 20th century is kind of a special case because we exprimented with multilateralsm. As unfortunate as it is, I think international politics is slowly but surely going back to the balance of power.

      It’s persistent throughout recorded history. You can find it in ancient Greece, Renaissance Italy, Medieval Japan (and most other Medieval systems – it’s very important to fantasy), and Napoleonic Europe.

      A finely-tuned balance of power means stability. If the balance is upset suddenly, or for too long, war breaks out. Usually big war. The 7 Kingdoms thrives on balance of power politics in Game of Thrones.

      Balance of power politics is important to story-world politics.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balance_of_power_(international_relations)

      (Sorry if you know this or it’s too simple. I am geeking out on your question.)

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      • Heh, yeah social realism is important to my writing in most cases. My stories typically have several factions that have evolved a complex system of interrelation and a history of conflict. I like looking at real-world examples even if they don’t have direct bearing on what I’m doing. Thanks.

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