Bartitsu demonstration (Pearson’s Magazine)

“Carry your overcoat upon your shoulders without passing your arms through the sleeves, in the style of a military cloak, with your right hand ready upon your left shoulder to use your coat in the way explained below, should the necessity arise. Be careful always to walk in the middle of the road. Directly your assailant attacks, face him and wait until he is within a distance of two or three yards. Then envelop his head and arms by throwing your coat at him, with a sweeping, circular motion of the arm. …

How a language dies — and how it can come back to life

Lizard Point, Cornwall (Wikimedia Commons)

“Me deskey Cornoack moas da more gen tees coath”

(I learnt Cornish going to sea with old men)

From a letter from William Bodinar to Daines Barrington, 1776, one of the last surviving written lines of traditional Cornish

Eighteenth-century Mousehole was not, by any stretch of the imagination, a bustling place. The residents of the small, out-of-the-way Cornish village about two miles south of Penzance spent their time fishing, repairing their boats and nets, and doing their best to keep the Atlantic gales out of their cottages. …

How the Wild West, industrialisation, and public education led to votes for women

British poster by the Women’s Social and Political Union, 1909 (Wikimedia Commons).

At the outbreak of the First World War in July 1914, three countries had fully enfranchised women at a national level. They were New Zealand (1893), Australia (1902), and Norway (1913). The Grand Duchy of Finland, then part of the Russian Empire, had enfranchised women in 1906. Every Australian colony or state had granted women the right to vote, beginning with South Australia in 1894 and ending with Victoria in 1908 (the colonies federated into one country and became states in 1901).

In the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man allowed female property owners to vote in 1880. In the…

It’s an unlikely scenario, but we have a rough idea how it might play out.

Antony Green on the ABC on election night (Australian Broadcasting Corporation).

It is the night of a federal election, sometime in the future. It’s clear the Government is doing badly, losing seat after seat. Antony Green projects that the Government has been defeated. TV stations turn to the governing party’s campaign HQ, where the Prime Minister is taking the podium before a crowd of cheering supporters to give what everyone assumes must be a concession speech. Instead, they insist they’ve been robbed of a landslide victory by widespread fraud, and refuse to concede defeat.

With former…

Sadly, The Tasmanian Tiger probably is extinct after all

Thylacines at National Zoo, Washington D.C., c. 1903 (Wikimedia Commons).

On Monday, Twitter lit up with the hashtag #Thylacine. “We found a thylacine” declared Neil Waters, president of the Thylacine Awareness Group of Australia (TAGOA), in a video posted to Youtube. When checking the SD card of an automatic camera in remote north-eastern Tasmania, Waters claimed to have found photos of three thylacines — two adults and a joey. This would be proof that the animal, officially considered to be extinct since 1936, was both alive and breeding. There was, he admitted, some ambiguity about the two adults, but the joey…

How felons built a successful community

The founding of Sydney, 26 January 1788 (Wikimedia Commons)

On a sultry summer day in January 1788, beside the languid waters of Sydney Harbour, Great Britain began a truly strange, unprecedented experiment. It would build a colony using convicted criminals as colonists. Under the plan, Britain would turn Australia into a profitable and strategically-important colony, and the felons who would otherwise be hanged under harsh Georgian penal laws would be given a second chance at life.

James Mario Matra, one of the champions of the scheme, described it as “a most desirable and beautiful union […] economy to the public, and humanity to the individual”. …

Their natural advantages helped. But it also came down to the strategies they implemented.


On November 1, the world recorded over 573,000 new cases of COVID-19 and 7,512 deaths. The U.K., with nearly 25,000 new cases, entered a four-week lockdown. France, which had gone into a lockdown two days before, recorded nearly 50,000. The U.S., in the frenzy of the final week of a presidential election, recorded 100,000 new cases in a single day for the very first time while reports were coming out of the virus’ “uncontrolled spread” in over 40 states. Canada, where the pandemic was more contained, still recorded 3,457 new cases. …

An unlawful law

The court at Nuremberg (Wikimedia Commons)

On an Autumn morning in 2008, a Canadian Army Operational Mentor and Liaison Team (OMLT) was accompanying an Afghan Army detachment on a patrol in Helmand province when it suddenly came under attack from a superior Taliban force. The Canadian commander, Captain Robert Semaru, called in fire support from an American Apache helicopter gunship, which strafed the Taliban position with its thirty millimeters 30mm cannon. Advancing, Semaru came upon a badly-wounded Taliban fighter, practically cut in half by a 30mm shell.

Semaru and the senior Afghan officer concluded he was beyond medical help. “If Allah wants him, he will die…

Review of David French’s “Divided We Fall“

It began, as these things often do, on Twitter. In May 2019, conservative commentator and New York Post opinion editor Sohrab Ahmari tweeted his frustration with a Facebook ad for drag queen reading hour at a Sacramento public library. There was, he warned, no “polite, David French-ian third way around the cultural civil war.”

French’s name had already become synonymous with the classically liberal school of American conservatism, where the neutral institutions of the courts, the free market, and the Constitution arbitrate America’s competing interests and ideals. …

Adam M Wakeling

Adam Wakeling is an Australian writer, lawyer and historian. He is online at and on Twitter @AdamMWakeling.

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