Evolutionary Psychology, Memes and the Origin of War

Somebody (possibly Henson himself) posted Evolutionary Psychology, Memes and the Origin of War over at Kuro5hin in 2006. I had no idea Kuro5hin still existed, and Henson’s paper could use some consideration of group selection, but anyway it’s a worthwhile and controversial read.

It seems to me that if Henson’s basic thesis is right, our current global political situation is not just eerily similar to that of the mid-1930s, it’s actually the same phenomenon – so we better get it under control.

Happy St. Brice’s Day

November 13th, 1002 Æþelræd Unræd ordered the slaughter of all the Danes in England. Although at that point Aethelraed could only really enforce his will in about a third of his domain, this ill-advised plan did manage to cause the death of Harald Bluetooth’s daughter Gunhilde, and in some histories the St. Brice’s Day Massacre leads directly to the conquest of England by the Danish King Sweyn Forkbeard (Gunhilde’s brother) and Sweyn’s son Knut the Great.

Cryptic sword

British Library museum shelfmark 1858,1116.5

13th century double-edged European knightly sword, 2lb 10oz (1.2kg), 38″ (964mm) long and 6½” (165mm) across the quillons. Found in the river Witham, Lincolnshire, in July 1825, and presented to the Royal Archaeological Institute by the registrar to the Bishop of Lincoln. The blade was broken near the tip and mended “in modern times” according to the British Library website.

Said to bear an indecipherable inscription “+NDXOXCHWDRCHWDRCHDXORUN” inlaid in gold wire on one side, but to me it looks more like “+NDXOXCHWDRCHWDRCHDXORVI+”.

Boarding Axes

No, this isn’t another link to “Oh my god, there’s an axe in my head“. It’s to the very interesting (and very narrowly focused) Boarding Axes in the Age of Sail website.

Boarding axe, mid 1800s

The boarding axe was a combat tool and weapon from the fighting age of sail and has become one of the rarest survivors from that period. Once a common implement found in large quantities on all armed sailing ships, it has almost, by virtue of its lowly status, become extinct. Even the major arms and armour museums […] can boast only a handful of boarding axes.