Thursday, March 31, 2011

Fall of France, 9: Manpower, Part 6, 3: Computers. Drilling Down.

There are ways and ways to make this argument. The unpersuasive way is to swan about making dubious connections. The more persuasive way is to drill down and show the stakes entailed in something obvious and every day, rather like Marc Van De Mierop pointing out the implications of Late Bronze Age sheep shearing.

Now, nothing was more obvious and everyday during the long nightmare of Europe's great bomber war. Most places in a big German city were not far from one of these:

That's an 88/56 (88 mm diameter barrel with a barrel length 56 times the diameter) 8.8cm FlaK 37, firing a 9.2kg shell with a muzzle velocity of 790 meters/second. It weighed 7,407kg in action, and, like all quick-fire guns, has a nominal rate of fire of 15--20 rounds, basically the ergonomic estimate of how many rounds an experienced crew could get off when working at top rate.

In a British city, it would be one of these (though hopefully in better shape):

This is the QF 3.7"AA, a 94/50, for comparison's sake. It fired a 12.7kg shell at a muzzle velocity of 2670 feet/second. Given that lengthening the barrel (in calibre lengths) will have the effect, all other things being equal, of increasing muzzle velocity while decreasing barrel life, we can see that there have been some nice ballistic achievements made here compared with the earlier and slightly smaller German gun. 

Oh. And it weighed 9,317kg. Just to put this in perspective, the British army's standard field gun, the 25 pounder (88mm calibre, if you're interested in these things) weighed 1,633kg. The heaviest new British gun of World War II, the enormous 7.2" howitzer that rained 90kg shells on hapless enemies 15 kilometers away, was a 10 ton gun, and the 9.2" howitzer that was the BEF's standard siege gun at the outbreak of WWI weighed less than 6. That, alone, is an intimation of the social change this gun is going to enact. For this weapon to work as a means of national defence, we need a fleet of these, and the consequences of turning social logistics over to big trucks are still being worked out today. But it will probably turn out in the long run that it's something much more humble that leveraged all of this social change. That weight doesn't come from nothing. The nobby bits on this gun are machinery. Computery machinery.

(After the break, math.)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Gather the Bones, 5: What the Heck I'm Talking About, via Martin Byers

The thesis here is that the North American polities are much more like the mestizo societies of Latin America than is admitted in their public discourse. I wanted to be indirect here and develop the "context of discovery," because the idea of "miscegenation" has clearly not lost all of its charge. This is for grownups, and so you hint about these things. I've already hinted when I compared the Hill of Croghan to the Hill of Cumorah. But you know what, there's a limit to how many esoteric readings I can pack into my blog postings.

The central building is the first state capitol of Ohio, built about 1803 and now home to the Chilicothe Gazette. You can either call it "primitive," or note, as the Wikipedia article on Chilicothe starts out by noting, that the town is the centre of the old Hopewell Horizon of earth moundbuilding

Two problems with being straightforward: first, I am having trouble reconstructing the path that I took from worrying about logistics and the history of disease to blathering about how Natty Bumppo is actually George Croghan. That'd be what happens when you try to think while pulling three straight years of night manager shifts. That's a pretty trivial one when you get right down to it, but it does get in the way of developing a context of discovery into one of justification.

Second, I'm going to delay that discussion until I'm finished Lauren Groff's Monsters of Templeton , and that may take a while, since I have no plans on putting down Marc van de Mierop's Mediterranean in the Age of Ramesses II. Not only is it fascinating, but it is the second copy I've bought, the first having slipped out of my coat pocket on Skytrain. That reminds me of how tired I was already on my way to a recent party and that fatigue is an excellent excuse for my  failure to seize an opportunity there. I'm damn well going to read it before I wind my way through Groff's serpentine plot.

But what I can talk about is --flourish of trumpets-- theoretical apparatus! I don't want to put something called "culture" into a black box and use it to churn out "hegemony" and "ideology." I want to be specific and concrete. I want to reach down to the living presence of the (eastern Woodlands) North American past, to the mounds that tower by the riverside, sacred and ineffable places that speak to present as well as past.  

We've gone through centuries of fascination with these mounds. Archaeology, in its earlier, stumbling steps at getting into the minds of the past, dug bones and artefacts out of them in plenty and described them as "burial mounds," "mortuary temples," "civic ritual centres," and "charnel houses" while trying to account for these Moundbuilders. More recently, archaeology has come round to the radical notion that the "Moundbuilders" might have been "Indians." Thus this move.

Modern archaeological theory says that we  can say a great deal about how ancient monuments work. And one of the most basic tricks that we do with them is to appropriate them.  Landscape is always politicised, because knowledge and power are inextricably linked in discourse, and there is no knowledge more familiar than that of the landscape we inhabit. So when we build, we are putting a roof over our head, but also reifying social orders, authorising knowledge transmission, and, however, unstably, storing a socially-constructed credit that will make long distance trade possible.

And, again, when we appropriate the built landscape, we're making a political move. So what about this?
The hill of Cumorah, where the Angel Moroni appeared to Joseph Smith, courtesy of

Let's all laugh at poor, backwards treasure digger Joseph Smith, seal of the prophets and historian of early North America. Some appropriations are just not on.

And why is that again? Because I don't think Smith was wrong at all. He was just writing, y'know, esoterically.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Fall of France, 9: Manpower, Part 6, 2: Computers: Wet Work

Norbert Wiener was probably a pretty difficult guy to work with. Apparently, he'd already cut ties with his fellow "cybernetic" enthusiasts by the time his book, Cybernetics: Or Communications And Control in Animal and Machine appeared in a well-orchestrated burst of publicity in 1948. Be that as it may, the book was a publishing sensation, a heads up about the startling world that's coming. I was never terribly clear on what "cybernetics" might be, but that may be because I'm the child of the waning days of the buzz, and my first idea of what it was about was that it allowed a miniaturised scientist to talk to ants, and, thereby, fight crime.
Other things, too, but we won't go there. Credit to ComicBookMovie.Com

Which wasn't nearly as wrong as it could be. It comes, of course, directly out of the antiaircraft experience, where decoding machines, radars, and radios fed national telephone networks with information that was synthesised by control centres and sent down to assemblies of vacuum tubes, magslips, "oilgears," amplidynes, and swashplate engines that pointed 3.7" AA guns and searchlights at German bombers. Surely there needed to be some kind of heuristic that swept this up into an easily comprehensible thing.

Bruno Latour is either still working on that, or he isn't. As it happens, John von Neumann ended up winning the heuristic war with another (and probably equally ill-considered) "machines are like brains, because brains are like machines" manoeuvre that may or may not have something to do with the thing that I'm typing on right now. Those are big questions, though, and while the Big Thinkers cogitate, it seems to me that there's room for Interesting Facts to perhaps deepen the discussion. That's why I'm going to talk about hydraulics today.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Plantation of the Atlantic, III: Happy CelticFest!

Did March 17th take you by surprise this year? It did me, and, not to project too much, a great many other people. Too much fretting over nuclear holocausts to be sure, but also, perhaps, wrong mood. It's not that spring isn't breaking and that the sap isn't rising, it's that it has so far to rise this year. It's that of a Thursday night after work, it's beyond Vancouver this year to drink a pint of Guiness and dance rather than sleep.  Perhaps that's why the Vancouver papers are talking about "CelticFest." Saint Patrick, you're as welcome as ever, and perhaps by Saturday or Sunday we'll even be ready to celebrate.

That's a personal reflection, but also a historical one, because we're reflecting on the end of the Dark Age as we try to pull free of the Great Recession of 2008--11, and it's none too obvious just when exactly one pulls out of the muck.  Have we yet? Everything we write about the sub-Roman Dark Ages in Britain is ultimately derived from a torrent of literature coming to us from perhaps the 680s on. There is considerable similarity between the literatures of Ireland, England, and Wales, a "Carolingian Renaissance" going on in France. Does it matter what Saint Patrick did, or only what was written about him?

St. Patrick, Saint Bridget, Saint Maughold, pray for us.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Fall of France, 9: Manpower, Part 6, 1: Computers. No. Seriously.

It is dawn on 21 May, 1940. 

We War of the Spanish Succession historians know this geography

The Dyle Line on which the Allies planned to halt the Germans if the Belgian Meuse/Maaß fortresses fell has been compromised, and Lord Gort has fallen back on a line of waterways. At Ghent in Flanders, the river Escaut/Scheldt joins the Lys and turns sharply westward towards Antwerp, below which it falls into the commingled estuary of the Meuse/Maaß and Escaut/Scheldt, a now-managed estuarine terrain prone to fall back into its prelapsarian chaos when heavy artillery or human ingenuity interferes with the drains, and, appropriately enough, called Zeeland. This isn't a sound defensive line, and between Ghent and the sea the Belgians have instead lined up on the 19th Century Ghent-Ternuizen Canal. South of Ghent, the line follows the river Escaut/Scheldt, with the army boundary between the Belgians and the BEF somewhere around Oudenarde. At Maulde on the frontier, the line abandons the Escaut/Scheldt and follows the Scarpe to Amiens, where the BEF has its GHQ, protected by a battle group, Petreforce. Between Maulde and Arras, however, the line is held by French troops, including a North African division in which it appears that the Commander-in-Chief, Lord Gort, has a misplaced lack of confidence. East of Arras is Prioulx's refitting Cavalry Corps, now up to its full strength of 3 armoured divisions.

 South of Arras along the Canal du Nord, Gort has deployed three whole divisions of the BEF that were brought over to France as "labour" units to quicken the work of building the BEF's infrastructure, a task made much more arduous by the decision to extend its lines of communication all the way back to the Norman and Breton coasts rather than to the Channel Ports, as in the last war. In practice these units are reasonably well trained infantry by the standards of the Battle of France, when ever army, in Karl-Heinz Friesen's phrase, was an iron spearhead on a wooden shaft. Unfortunately, they almost entirely lack artillery (and by this I mean actual gunnery-type persons and maybe tractors, since the one thing not lacking in any country's arsenals except Germany's is leftover WWI gun tubes). This makes them tit-useless in modern warfare, except possibly in urban terrain. Too bad that doctrine calls for them to deploy on the outskirts of towns, on the assumption that the massed siege artillery legions of WWI will promptly level every structure in sight! To add to the perversity of it, one of the labour divisions, the 23rd, is a "doubled" motorised division, and even has its organic mechanised reconnaissance battalion. I'm not clear if it has its attached motor companies, but since a large portion of it was overrun while making a mounted march, it may have. 

By the 21st, the labour divisions have disappeared, the Canal du Nord has been passed, and the Germans are extending that hook shown on the map all the way to the coast. Cue crazy talk about Hitler "letting" the BEF escape, and even more dubious talk about how Gort just sensed that the Belgians were about to crack, or had given telepathic permission for the BEF to bug out. Because that's what's about to happen. At Dunkirk to the north, there is a vast area of inundatable land behind the coastal dunes, with a Seventeenth Century channel cut through them to allow Dunkirk to function as a protected port and agricultural market town. Behind those inundations, the drained fields around Dunkirk, there is enough room for the BEF to stand around and await evacuation. The alternative, since the BEF has been cut off from ammunition resupply, is one last offensive southwards from Arras, and Gort has lost faith in that idea. 

But back up to the sad fate of the artillery-less labour divisions. In a country that has 1500 AA guns pointing skyward, how exactly does that come to happen? I've asked that question any number of times with the aim of putting a cynic's spin on it: cui bono

Up for examination this time round? The computer industry.

Monday, March 14, 2011

The Plantation of the Atlantic, II: Flatness Ending. A Technological Account?

Civil engineers create and conserve the state, but reify its injustices as a natural order in the process. So you can see where the whole  "smash the state" thing comes from. Sometimes, it is not hard to feel a niggle of agreement. Other times, you watch this, as, just after 2:08, the tsunami wave hits the Tōhoku Expressway.

 Here, by way of contrast, is the Mackenzie Delta. Notice the lack of expressways. Once, much of the world's coastline looked like this.

No state here. Paradise! (Northwest Territories Water Board)
Now, ask the people sheltering on that expressway and behind it think about smashing the state.

If I'm right about how the state reappeared (if it had to reappear) in sub-Roman times, it's a story of this contrast.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Plantation of the Atlantic, I: Geography

The Roman Empire in the west was built overland within an economic geography that, as far as we know, pointed inland and south towards the Mediterranean. Oh, there are exceptions. All the smart guys are saying that there's an Atlantic community embracing the western coast of the Island of Britain, Ireland, Brittany, the Basque country, and south along the coast of Galicia and Portugal. That's actually an older idea than the DNA studies that underpin it nowadays, and I'm certainly in no position to argue.

That said, starting in the European Iron Age, say, about 500BC, the archaeologists start reporting a pattern of new and renovated "hill forts," now conceived as oppida in Caesar's phrase, littered with vast quantities of the kind of pottery amphorae that we know in other contexts were used to ship wine overland. Concentrations of the pottery (and, presumably, the remains of ancient drunks) indicate  that the trade entered the south of France through the river mouths of Provence and from there either ascended the Rhone and descended the Moselle via the portage at Nancy, or crossed the narrower isthmus to the south watershed to the river Garonne, reaching the sea at Bordeaux. Either way, the inference is that it mostly entered Britain via Hampshire (ie, Southampton port) and Kent. Far be it from me to overargue claims that I base in admiring consumption of secondary literature, but it seems as though London may not have seen much use at all. At the extreme, we could say something sprawlingly Braudellian, such as "Europe turned its back on the North Sea."

I'd like to make up a story: that in the great Mediterranean-wide wars of the Diadochi, Rome, and Carthage, wine fetched mercenary cavalry from the north and in the process began the millennium-long process of creating a European equine civlisation, that the new vitality of the oppidae reflects the power of wartime deficit financing (anachronism alert!) to reorganise peripheral societies to meed the demands of the centre.

I'd like to, but it's a story, not well-tethered to evidence; the kind that world historians offer in all seriousness, aware that their grandchildren will cringe at the silliness of it all. And I don't need to overexplain. It isn't terribly surprising to find heavy Roman goods reaching the Czech lands overland; Bohemia doesn't have a sea coast.

But Britain? That's just weird. To borrow once again from a youth misspent playing fun but silly games, everyone knows that your civilisation can spread across all-water areas of the game map once you buy the the Astronomy advance. You can't win without Astronomy, and it is plain as day that the Roman side won. Britain's an island. Everything imported there has to go by boat, anyway. What's going on?

Scrupulously accurate simulation! Two Salt for a  Gem?

Geography. Winds. Climate. That sort of thing.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fall of France, 10: Counterfactual, Or, Nimrods I have Read

Have I mentioned that I really didn't like Correlli Barnett's Audit of War? Not to wander off on a tangent or anything, but there is a province of fictional history, where novelists (and historians who like that sort of thing) borrow the conceits of economics and write "counterfactuals." Economic historians actually arguably produce solid results from this method, such as estimates of the contribution to Nineteenth century economic growth made by railways (though I'm still calling shenanigans on Robert Fogel.) Non-economists tend to write about how Napoleon, Robert E. Lee, or the Nazis could have won, an exercise that makes me nervous. Audit of War raises the same kind of concerns.

 Audit of War is, I would suggest, a counterfactual. It is admittedly an attempt to tell the industrial history of Britain's war (I approve!), but with the sustained counterfactual thesis that the Allies could have won the war more. I understand Barnett to be saying that in 1830, Britain was twenty years ahead of Europe. If it had maintained its lead, been  twenty years ahead still on 10 May 1940, it would have won the war single-handedly with one hand tied behind its back. Now, Hitler wouldn't have gone to war if the British had ray guns, or whatever, but I suppose that we can imagine (shades of perfidious Albion!) that the Brits hid all their good stuff until they'd suckered Hitler into attacking on 10/05/40.

Ooh! I want to play!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Plantation of the Atlantic: Lindisfarne to Benjamin West

Sometime between 790 and 796, the most reverend Alcuin wrote from King Charles' court to the Abbot-Bishop Higbald of Lindisfarne as follows:

Never before has such terror appeared in Britain as we have now suffered from a pagan race. . . .The heathens poured out the blood of saints around the altar, and trampled on the bodies of saints in the temple of God, like dung in the streets
Per two extant versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle compiled long after from various records and sources including perhaps Northumbrian chronicles carried north of the border during the troubles after the Conquest (but quite probably including Alcuin's letter) that on 8 January, 793, heathens committed a grievous disorder at Lindisfarne, killing some monks. Writing many years later, Simeon of Durham redacted the date to 8 July. Given that typoes happened even in the old days, it's not an implausible correction.

Just a little less than a millennium thereafter, in 1771, Pennsylvania-born painter Benjamin West exhibited a sequel, more-or less, to his sensation of 1770 Death of Wolfe canvas: William Penn's Treaty With the Indians. Commissioned by Thomas Penn, Proprietor of Pennsylvania and son of the founder, the canvas found such favour that West was made Royal Painter next year.
Which way is west?

Who is on "the bride's side?"

Are the two related? See, there's thing called "deconstruction." It gets a bad rap these days because too-smart-for-their-pants French intellectuals put lots of big words around them. But the core of the idea is very, very simple. We shouldn't take things at face value, and they may not be reaching us only at face value, either. We've even had a recent intellectual movement devoted to reviving the idea of "esoteric readings," whereby you read some text at one level if you're one person, and at another if you're another person.

It ain't rocket science, when you get right down to it. Guys are always doing things for two reasons (the other reason: to impress girls), and that would include writing. I assume that girls do that sort of thing, too, but, woosh, over my head. Anyway, question is: can we deconstruct Alcuin, Symeon, and Benjamin West (and for that matter Thomas Penn)?

This would be an awfully short post if I didn't think that I could.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Books That I Have Read And Don't Have in Bibliography Files Because I'm Careless Like That

[Edit: I posted in a bit of hurry because I had to get put myself to bed for a 5AM shift tomorrow. Since then my schedule has turned into a 10AM start, and I'm going to fix me some infelicities.]

Just a somewhat eclectic list of books that I have read (and mostly bought) over the last few years --good posting for a zombie day. Books get on this list by two votes: either it blew my mind, or I liked it enough to buy it. The two aren't mutually exclusive, but I've been able to afford a library card since getting out of school, whereas the "vote with my pocket" category is broken down into before-my-student-loan-made-a-big-crater and after-I-climbed-out-of-the-hole. In between, there are fun stories about meth-addled room-mates and bedroom-and-a-den living in Kitsilano, if anyone is interested.

Niall Barr, Pendulum of War: The Three Battles of El Alamein (London: Overlook, 2005). What can I say? A guilty pleasure inclusion.

Stephen Bungay, The Most Dangerous Enemy: A History of the Battle of Britain (London: Aurum Press, 2000). I'm going to stand on my small authority and say that this is the best history of the campaign yet. The link is to to an illustrated edition, because there just isn't enough memory-hogging on the Intertubes yet.

Pamela Kyle Crossley, A Translucent Mirror: History and Identity in Qing Imperial Ideology (Berkeley, etc.: UCP, 1999). Enough said already.

Barry W. Cunliffe, Europe Between the Oceans: Themes and Variations, 9000 BC to AD 1000 (Yale: YUP, 2008). Great book, great author, great publishing value! The extension to 1000AD was not well pulled off, but a good summary of where Cunliffe stands.

B.S. Hall, Weapons and Warfare in Renaissance Europe: Gunpowder, Technology, and Tactics (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2001). Long awaited, and worth the wait. Now if only Bert would accept that I'm right about the casting of iron guns.

Harro Höpfl, Jesuit Political Thought: The Society of Jesus and the State, c. 1540--1630 (Cambridge: CUP, 2004). Considering how much we think we know about the Society of Jesus and early modern political thought, this book is a revelation. Such a revelation that I'm going to let it stand in on this list for a far more comprehensive work, Philip Benedict's history of the so-called Calvinist churches. Benedict has written a great book, but it didn't set me on fire the way that Höpfl did.

Peregrine Horden and Nicholas Purcell, The Corrupting Sea: A Study of Mediterranean History (London: Wiley-Blackwell [check back next week in case this changes; also, nice going on presenting your bibliographic data on the Web, dudes], 2001). Hugely ambitious, and first of a promised two volume work. For which see Strachan, below for hideous threats to stimulate activity.

David Mindell, Between Human and Machine: Feedback, Control, And Computing Before Cybernetics (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 2002). So we've got this new technology, right? They're called computers? And we've got no idea how we got where we are. People can get away with writing stupid, stupid books on the subject because professional historians don't do this sort of stuff. Maybe we should start? Maybe, to put it more accurately, someone much smarter than I, who actually gets this stuff, could start? Thanks, David. (I could have cited Malcolm Campbell-Kelly instead, but Mindell drilled deeper.)

Mark Munn, The Mother of the Gods, Athens, And the Tyranny of Asia: A Study of Sovereignty in Ancient Religion (Berkeley, etc.: UCP, 2006). There's this edifice of established ancient history, a tripod erected to the Olympian Twelve that towers over us. Actually, it looks a little precarious since Burkert blew up one of its legs. Oops! There goes another, done in by a crazy Italian suicide bomber! Now Munn does for the last ...And, crap, it just hangs there in the air, unsupported. Maybe we should pull our narrative out from under it before it remembers about gravity?

Graham Rhys-Jones, The Loss of the Bismarck: An Avoidable Disaster (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1999). The title may leave the impression that Annapolis has been colonised by Neo-Nazis, but this is the first treatment of the Bismarck chase that seems to have been written by an actual naval strategist. Hello? Turns out that navigation is important in naval campaigns? See, this is the advantage in having experts write on subjects like these.

N. A. M. Rodger, The Command of the Oceans: A Naval History of Britain, 1649--1815 (New York: Norton, 2004). Volume 2? Volume 2 of what? Safeguard of the Sea was Volume 1, so is this the second volume of a work that has a title? Nice going, bibliographer/title-writing guys. That bitch aside, this is the masterwork of a great historian. And unlike many such works, Rodger is not afraid to take bold new positions in what others would regard as a chance to sum up and be done.

Susan Ronald, The Pirate Queen: Queen Elizabeth I, Her Pirate Adventurers, and the Dawn of Empire (New York: HarperCollins, 2008). Timely revisionism, and perhaps also showing that when you write about monarchs, you should have a personal touch? Ah, I'm probably descending into gendered essentialism again.

Steven Shapin, A Social History of Truth: Civility And Science in Seventeenth Century England (Chcago, etc.: UCP, 1994). Needs more religion. Most early modern history does.

Hew Strachan, The First World War Volume 1 (Oxford: OUP, 2001). Doctor Strachan? Not to feel like you're under pressure or anything, but I doubt that you would enjoy being locked in a room with George R. R. Martin until you both produce a manuscript.

Chris Wickham, Framing the Early Middle Ages: Europe and the Mediterranean, 400--800AD (Oxford: OUP, 2006). If I'm right about the consequences of short-run demographic history (and the way that tenure is failing to promote research and publication in the humanities, but that's another story), this ought to be a golden age of historical scholarship right now. So it's perhaps not surprising that we are seeing works reminiscent of the greatest scholarship. In this case, we have a work that is very similar to Braudel's Mediterranean in the Age of Philip II. Wickham's Framing recalls the first part of Braudel's classic, Inheritance of Rome the second part. I make this comparison in a formal sense, of course. Wickham's approach is most definitely not Braudel's. And pardon the non-sequitur, but holy crap, I've got to get to the library! Holy crap! I'm tempted to just order it now ....done.

Corner Vann Woodward and Daniel Walker Howe, What Hath God Wrought: The Transformation of America, 1815--1848 (Oxford, etc.: OUP, 2007). With authors' names like that, you don't have to be Glenn Beck to suspect that you're getting the Whig party line. But a masterpiece nonetheless and a huge boost to the Oxford History of America series. Neither of the two volumes in the series that I have picked up since have been anywhere near as impressive. The title, though... I've had pretty avid lay readers of history steer clear of the book just because it mentions "God" in the title. I would have gone off over "Transformation" instead, had I been in the mood to be dismissive.

Adam T. Smith, The Political Landscape: Constellations of Authority in Early Complex Polities (Berkeley, etc.: UCP, 2003). It blew up my brain! Tone's a bit smug, but then, he is a prof at the University of Chicago, so it could be worse.

Benjamin Woolley, Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Founding of America (New York: HarperCollins, 2007). Read alongside this for the long-run perspective.

Norman Yoffee, Myths of the Archaic State: Evolution of the Earliest Cities, States, and Civilizations (Cambridge: CUP, 2005). "Nothing is more normal than for an early state to fail." Or something like that. Post-processual archaeological theory has the potential to transform the whole historical project. This is a very lucid undertaking in the field.

John Zammito, A Nice Derangement of Epistemes: Post-Positivism in the Study of Science From Quine to Latour (Chicago: UCP. 2004). The sound you hear is me patting myself on the back for reading this fascinating but challenging book cover to cover. Screw the self-congratulation, though. This is lucid coverage of a big and important subject. Note the inclusion of Quine, who doesn't even get into Suppe. This would be a great assignment for a graduate seminar. It's argumentative, taking, for example, a cautiously positive view of Sokal at risk of Michael Berubé dropping another "hilarious," but also offering us cautious affirmation of our intuitive belief in epistemic progress. And it's the same account that I mocked when Glenn Deer presented it in an undergraduate seminar in 1989. Colour me embarrassed!