2016 just keeps giving; Photos of shocking historical moments; Challenges to our understanding of WWI, and of Anne Frank; Trump’s security; Some Christmas history!

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2016 just keeps being the year of one-damn-thing-after-another. Along with more celebrity deaths and the news that the Electoral College failed to make history (as expected, and no, Donald, saying it was a landslide does not make it true), today’s headlines are filled with terror attacks, including a diplomatic assassination that has shocked the world. Who knows what this will lead to? (The international community is likely pretty worried that our incoming president will do nothing to exert some sort of pressure to restrain how the Russians respond). The Washington Post has a short article on the history of diplomatic assassinations (including one that Trump’s comrade Putin probably engineered), though it only deals with fairly recent history. ABC News, (along with others) has a similar piece which goes a little further back, but not much.

The event was all the more shocking because of the photographs taken by an AP photographer of the assassin and his victim just seconds after the murder. The Washingtgon Post quickly tried to place the photos into historical context, going all the way back to Matthew Brady and the Civil War, to make the point that we may not be able to fully understand the magnitude of them until years later when we understand the full repercussions of the event itself.

Of course many of us probably immediately thought of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, the event that triggered the start of WWI (though this is most likely not the same kind of event). Over on Talking Points Memo, they’ve taken the opportunity to post an opinion piece arguing that our understanding of the events that led to WWI is all wrong. Germany, the author insists, engineered the whole thing.

Also challenging accepted history: The Anne Frank Museum supports a new study that challenges what many have long believed to be true about why her family was eventually found by the Nazis. They may not have been betrayed after all, as new evidence suggests that the capture was a product of mere chance.

And speaking of an autocratic regime: The other day when Trump announced that he intended to keep holding his huge rallies even after inauguration, I joked on Facebook that it is almost like he is now inviting the comparisons to Hitler and Mussolini. But now we learn that he intends to keep using a private security force to protect him even after he becomes president. Look, I understand why the guy is worried about his life, but beyond the points made in this Politico piece that argues he is “playing with fire,” the parallels with history’s emperors, dictators, and various other autocrats, is just getting downright creepy.

And on a more lighthearted note:

Over on History they have a fun essay about a West Point cadet party on Christmas Eve, 1826, that turned wild and then turned into a riot. Future Confederate Jefferson Davis was involved in the drunken revelry that started with some spiked egg nog, but to no one’s surprise, young Robert E. Lee did not partake. Check out the debauchery.

Not all Christmas songs are happy. Ever wonder about the origins of those sad ones? Where here ya go: The history behind 5 sad Christmas songs.

So what is the deal with the Christmas tree? Here’s a good history of how a pagan tradition became one of Christmas’ most visible symbols.

Here is another list of history making events that took place at Christmas, from the release of the To Kill a Mockingbird film, to a lunar orbit.

How about some old historic photos of people having a Merry Christmas from days gone by? Here’s a good collection of 32, ranging from soldiers in the field to Victorian families around the tree.  I love these things!


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