Tag Archives: history

Scotland Votes

By the time this post goes live, Scotland will have already been voting on independence for several hours. At the time of writing this post, it appears more a toss-up than anything else. And so today we highlight a piece that is a little bit different than what I might normally cover. Here we have a long-form piece from the BBC that looks at how different trends across recent decades of history have converged at this point in time to give Scotland this choice.

Scotland's Decision

Scotland’s Decision

Credit for the overall piece goes to Allan Little, Paul Kerley, Finlo Rohler, Jonathan Duffy, Kevin McKeown, Darren McLarkey, Marcelo Zanni, Sally Morales, Giles Wilson, and the opening illustration (the screen capture) is Cognitive Media.

Super Moon

Monday witnessed Super Moon. It’s not a bird, nor a plane. It’s the Moon. But bigger. Thankfully the Guardian put together a nice graphic that explains what was going on and puts the Super Moon into context of regular, average guy Moon.

How the (regular) Moon was formed

How the (regular) Moon was formed

Credit for the piece goes to Paul Scruton.

Borehole Graphics

Long articles often mean lots of vertical space. But it is only every so often when an item can complement itself with a narrow, vertical graphic. The Los Angeles Times has just that in today’s piece, looking at the layers of sedimentation from a borehole.

What's in the borehole?

What’s in the borehole?

Credit for the piece goes to Thomas Curwen, Lorena Elebee, and Javier Zarracina.

What if Britain Had Won?

A few weeks ago, one of my coworkers, sent me a link to a Newcastle Ale campaign video asking what would America be like if Britain had won the Revolutionary War. Anybody who knows me really well knows I am an Anglophile. I say mobile instead of cell phone, from time to time I switch from apartment to flat or truck to lorry or elevator to lift. So naturally I checked out the campaign site and what did I find? A map of place names if the Americans had not won the war. You can search for your residence or hometown and see what the Brits would have named it.

Though this ignores the fact that most of where I am from was actually named by the Brits. West Chester was originally called Turk’s Head, but after the a bunch of boundary changes that separated the British named Chester from my area, Turk’s Head was renamed West Chester because it is west of Chester, located on the Delaware River. Anyway, place names are cool. Happy Friday, everybody.

I would have grown up in West Chesterwich

I would have grown up in West Chesterwich

Credit for the piece goes to the design team behind the ad campaign.

Cannon Along the Walls of Québec

In what I think is the last set of diagrams and illustrations describing the fortifications of Ville de Québec, we have the reason why the overall design and construction were so difficult as well as why there are so many star-like bastions pointing out of the walls.

The difficulty comes from the topography. Québec was, as I mentioned earlier, described by Charles Dickens as the Gibraltar of North America. It features a high, defensible cliff and then a city on the lowlands below it. But building a wall that defends it from the cliffs to the river is not easy. Especially because the angles and slopes of the walls have to account for the fact that enemy cannon near Cap Diamant could otherwise see very well into the city below. And therefore target the city. But how drastic was the descent?

A 73 metre or 240 foot drop from Cap Diamant to the Saint Charles River

A 73 metre or 240 foot drop from Cap Diamant to the Saint Charles River

And then to point the second, why so many stars? Well, the problem with straight walls is that if you manage to get beneath the firing range of the cannon along the wall, the defenders really cannot fire at you. And that gives you all the time to plant explosives and blow a massive hole in the fortifications. So the stars actually give the defenders nearly a complete field of fire along the entirety of the city walls.

Defending the city walls with cannon

Defending the city walls with cannon

Credit for the pieces go to the graphics department of Parks Canada.

Palisades and Ramparts de Québec

Today I have a little bit more about the fortifications near Artillery Park. The original fortifications were not massive stone works, because those take time. Instead, a lot of the original defences of the town were wooden palisades and earthworks. The following illustration shows the wooden defences of 1690.

Wooden defences of Québec

Wooden defences of Québec

The woodworks were more than just timber inserted into the ground. It involved some earthworks to support the wooden posts, but also to give the defenders a better view of the approaches. And a better firing position.

Rampart design

Rampart design

The palisades were divided into sections by redoubts. These were the strongpoints along the town walls.

Redoubts of 1690

Redoubts of 1690

But due to the ever-present fear of an amphibious invasion, the palisades were eventually replaced with an earthwork fortification. Trees were planted along the walls and they served as spikes to deter forces from scaling the walls.

Replacing the palisade

Replacing the palisade

Credit for the piece goes to the Parks Canada graphics department.

City Walls of Québec

Beyond la Citadelle, Québec also enjoys a defensive wall that nearly surrounds Vieux-Québec, or Old Québec. These graphics come from the Barracks Sector, which used to house the Royal Artillery during the British period.

The Barracks Sector

The Barracks Sector

The walls in this section of the city date to 1745, but the redoubt in this area goes back to 1712, you can see that as the orange rectangle.

City walls over time

City walls over time

Credit for the pieces go to the graphics department of Parks Canada.

Understanding Museum Pieces in French

Yesterday’s piece was from the Musée de la Civilisation à Québec and looked at a bilingual exhibit on Greek and Roman mythology. The museum, of course, had many other exhibits. Today I want to show an interesting bit that explained why the museum, a modern construction dating to the late 1980s, incorporated an 18th century house called Maison Estèbe.

Maison Estèbe today

Maison Estèbe today

Well, the museum had a series of graphics with text explaining why. But they were only in French. But by some smart use of graphics and some thought as to how show the progression of time, the reader can piece together a good bit of the story.

Maison Estèbe

Maison Estèbe

Waterfront near Maison Estèbe

Waterfront near Maison Estèbe

Quay at Maison Estèbe

Quay at Maison Estèbe

And of course to make it abundantly clear, the excavation of Québec’s foundations also revealed longboats along the old shoreline, which when placed in front of a quay like below, just make perfect sense.

long ship

long ship

Credit for the pieces goes to the graphics department of the Musée de la Civilisation à Québec.

There’s No Diversity in Baseball!

Well, okay, actually there is. But the cultural reference would have made even less sense if I omitted the negative. Anyway, in honour of the two baseball games I am seeing this week—last night’s and tonight’s Red Sox games—here comes this piece from Pew Research Center.

It’s a simple but fairly clear graphic. We are looking at the ethnic breakdown of baseball since 1947, when Jackie Robinson broke the colour barrier. My only qualm, as ever, with this stacked area chart is that while you can see the clear trend upward in white share, it is a bit more difficult to see the directions the other ethnicities are moving.

Diversity in baseball

Diversity in baseball

Credit for the piece goes to Pew Research Council.

World War II Bombs in Hong Kong

Last month, police in Hong Kong defused a 2000 pound (900 kilogram) bomb found undetonated since World War II. The South China Morning Post created a small graphic to diagram just what the bomb was and how it was delivered (by US aircraft) to Hong Kong.

The 2000 pound bomb

The 2000 pound bomb

Credit for the piece goes to Adolfo Arranz.