Alexandre Dumas and the Origin of ‘Slender Threads’

A prolific novelist and world traveler, the French writer Alexandre Dumas in the 19th century in such novels as "The Three Musketeers" and "The Count of Monte Christo" popularized the concept that "slender threads" determine the fates of individuals and nations. It's not some vague, pat notions of "God's will," destiny, predestination, divine retribution or a heavenly … Continue reading Alexandre Dumas and the Origin of ‘Slender Threads’

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Pop Culture Embraces Counter-Factual Scenarios

When the hit television series "Big Bang Theory" features a game called "counter-factuals," with the culturally iconic nerd Sheldon Cooper and his girl friend Amy playing and defending their conjectures.. When the Anti-Defamation League uses counter-factuals to inspire social activism... When Youtube.com measures millions of views for alternate history videos... When online game-makers such as … Continue reading Pop Culture Embraces Counter-Factual Scenarios

If Printing Press Was Invented in 1340 Instead of 1440, the Protestant Reformation Would Have Started 100 Years Sooner

German Cleric Martin Luther, in the early 16th century, is credited with "lighting the match" that started the Protestant Reformation. When he posted his 95 Theses, or complaints against the Roman Catholic Church, on a church door in Wittenberg, Germany that encouraged many other Europeans to complain about corruption in the church, to do so … Continue reading If Printing Press Was Invented in 1340 Instead of 1440, the Protestant Reformation Would Have Started 100 Years Sooner

Without Cold War, US Interventions in 3 Dozen Countries Probably Wouldn’t Have Happened

The Cold War between the US and the USSR caused both countries to intervene in the internal affairs of other countries, in anticipation of proxy wars. The pretext for aggression -- "we have to stop the communists/capitalists from obtaining a beachhead and winning an ally" -- some call imperialism.  It has led to lingering feelings … Continue reading Without Cold War, US Interventions in 3 Dozen Countries Probably Wouldn’t Have Happened

Vietnam ‘What If’s’ Still Haunt U.S.

Spending 10 days in Vietnam, I observed that 40 years after the American war, southerners, especially in Saigon, internalized a capitalist mindset of working long and hard hours to get ahead, pleasing customers, and going the extra mile for tips. This was much less true in the north, where a communist mindset of clock-watching by … Continue reading Vietnam ‘What If’s’ Still Haunt U.S.

Great or Bad Man or Woman Theory of History Or How One Person Can Make A Big Difference

"Many of the world's greatest movements, of thought and action, have flowed from the work of a single man or woman." -- Robert Kennedy Here are 10 individuals who changed history. Alexander III, a young king and general, extended an empire from his tiny kingdom of Macedonia to the corners of the earth. A young … Continue reading Great or Bad Man or Woman Theory of History Or How One Person Can Make A Big Difference

What If China Became A Capitalist Western Ally in the 1940s or 1950s?

The tragedies of modern Chinese history led, at least in part, to the Korean War of the 1950s, the Vietnam War of the 1950s through the 1970s, the Cambodian genocide by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s, and the Red Scare in America in the 1950s, not to mention humanitarian crises at home in the … Continue reading What If China Became A Capitalist Western Ally in the 1940s or 1950s?

What If George Washington Was Shot Dead Early in the War for Independence?

In the fall of 1777, Captain Patrick Ferguson, a Scottish marksman in the British army, had General George Washington in his sights near the Battle of Brandywine. If he had chosen to pull the trigger and killed Washington, he would not only have changed the course of the Revolutionary War, but of the new nation. … Continue reading What If George Washington Was Shot Dead Early in the War for Independence?