Category: History

Whatever Happened To The Metric System? An Interview with John Bemelmans Marciano

Whatever Happened To The Metric System? How America Kept Its Feet by John Bemelmans Marciano (Bloomsbury, 2014, 310 pages, hard-cover with inset of colour and black and white photos) Quick: Where were you the day the Metric System died in America? Actually, it’s a trick (and tricky) question. For one thing, despite what the gas-station attendant pumping your gas in gallons would tell you, the metric system is very much alive in The U.S.A. Your medicine comes in metric doses (no one, on a long trans-Atlantic flight, asks for 1/18th of an ounce of Xanax), as does cocaine (in...

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1864 Presidential Election: from rebuff to robust victory

On election night, November 8, 1864, as the day’s ballots were being tallied, President Abraham Lincoln anxiously stayed by a telegraph at the War Office. Believing in certain defeat the previous August, his hopes were raised a little by September military victories, but by election time, he was still quite apprehensive. In September, in despair and expecting defeat, the President wrote a secret memo of intent, stating that between November and the new President’s inauguration in March,1865, he would work with the new President elect and continue his utmost efforts to save the Union. By August, 1864, incumbent Abraham...

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Shackleton: By Endurance We Conquer

In 1922, a journalist remarked to General Bruce, leader of the British Everest Expedition, about British tenacity. Bruce replied with a single word: “Shackleton.” Ernest Shackleton is one of history’s great explorers, an extraordinary character who pioneered the path to the South Pole over one hundred years ago and became a dominant figure in Antarctic discovery. A charismatic personality, his incredible adventures on four expeditions to the Antarctic have captivated generations. He was a restless adventurer from an Irish background who joined the Empire’s last great endeavour of exploration— to conquer the South Pole with Scott on the Discovery...

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Northern Greece, “Greek To Me” And Thoroughly Enjoyable

I thought I knew a lot of Greek history, but this trip, among other things, greatly expanded my knowledge base. History Ancient Greece, especially in the 5th and 4th centuries B.C., is considered the foundation of Western civilization. These Greeks were the first to “think about thinking.” Athens is recognized as the center of this thriving culture. Aristotle and Plato were philosophical giants who first developed complete systems of philosophy. A few other city states also participated in this oasis, but not all of them. Sparta, for instance, was a military dictatorship and, in some ways, represents the blueprint...

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Neo-Impressionism And The Dream Of Realities At The Phillips Collection

During the late 1800s, painters in Europe were in search of new ways to express themselves. Impressionism was a major movement that came to prominence during the 1870s and 1880s. Shortly thereafter, Neo-Impressionism made its entry. The term “Neo-Impressionism” was coined by French art critic, Félix Fénéon, in 1886 to describe an exciting art movement founded by artist Georges Seurat and his friends. In 1886, Seurat and this new group of artists presented its first exhibition as the Société des Artistes Indépendants (Salon des Indépendants), in Paris. Seurat’s iconic painting, “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande...

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Historical Luxury in the Heart of the Oldest City

I’ll put St. Augustine up against any other U.S. city in terms of charm. Sure, as America’s oldest city, it’s bustling with historical ambiance and attractions, but it also has a certain je ne sais quoi that adds a level of quaintness I don’t find in other cities. This ranges from the historic district lined with cobblestone streets to quaint cafes and offbeat artisan shops. St. Augustine, located just 30 minutes south of Jacksonville, was established in 1565 by Spanish explorer Pedro Menéndez de Avilés and the Spanish influence is still prevalent throughout the city. The many historic structures...

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Four Seasons Preserves The Past For Modern-Day Guests

In travel, I’ve discovered a few things that I can always count on: New Orleans’ Café du Monde will forever be covered in powdered sugar; enchiladas shouldn’t be ordered outside of Mexico or Texas; and Four Seasons is a safe bet when looking for the best hotel in a city. And in a world where flight departures, car reservations and train schedules aren’t guaranteed, it’s nice to be able to rely on something in the travelsphere. I’ve been a Four Seasons guest on four continents at seventeen different properties. And despite the company’s 93 hotels and resorts in 38...

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Unraveling WWI’s Start – The Sleepwalkers By Christopher Clark

Review of The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 by Christopher Clark This book covers in minute, but always interesting, details the events of June through early August, 1914 in Europe. The Sleepwalkers shows how World War I started, but also points out several cases where more resolute actions by leaders might have averted war. Several interesting arguments are made from Clark’s voluminous documentation not seen before: Leaders of Germany and Russia, Kaiser Wilhelm and Tsar Nicholas (first and second cousins, respectively of King George V of England), are not portrayed as absolute rulers who alone made the decisions...

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The Art of Beer Craftsmanship

Oktoberfest has been an annual tradition for over 200 years, give or take the few dozen years it was cancelled due to war, disease and other political complications. The first celebration commenced on October 12, 1810, with the wedding celebration of Crown Prince Ludwig to Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen in Munich. The official Oktoberfest is celebrated in Germany, and travelers from around the world make their pilgrimage to celebrate in the beer celebration capital of the world. If you cannot make the journey, there is sure to be a local gala happening in your hometown. To get the most...

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Doing The Grand Canyon In Grand Style

Visits to our nation’s treasures, the U.S. National Parks, connect people with nature and history. Personally, they wake me up far better than a double espresso. They fill my soul with wonder and appreciation. A recent trip to the Grand Canyon became a glorious getaway and certainly ranked as one of my best. The view from the South Rim declares and defines nature’s power and beauty about as profoundly as possible. Trust me, no one leaves disappointed. The carving of the Grand Canyon by the Colorado River has taken place over the last six million years, exposing rocks at...

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The End of Innocence

Luxe Beat Magazine has the exclusive sneak preview of Allegra Jordan’s book The End of Innocence. Prologue The wind bit into his neck. It burned his bruised ear, and the quick- falling snow piled around his boots. But the question repeated ceaselessly in his mind, like a record’s needle turning after the song is through, the machine’s energy not yet spent. It seemed like such a short time ago when one single death had brought his world to a halt. Mere months before, he’d been a student in America, at Harvard, when Max von Steiger, a fellow German classmate...

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