Sunday, January 01, 2012

Down the rabbit hole...

So, this morning I was checking my spelling of "von Pleve" via Wikipedia (they say it should be "Plehve", but I still say "Peking", so screw them) and noted that he had been killed in his carriage by a thrown bomb, just like his old boss, Alex the Deuce.

And that sent me off down the whole bomb-throwing rabbit hole. What was with this 19th Century fascination with lobbing bombs into politicians' conveyances? (In a suitably exotic and foreign twist, they'd even throw them into your howdah, proving that Biswas was more westernized than Lord Hardinge.) And why did politicians keep buying convertibles when it was an obvious invitation to have some anarcho-syndicalist yahoo fling half a pound of guncotton into your lap while yelling tedious slogans straight out of #OCCUPY_ST.MARTIN'S_HALL?

The Greens of today might want to re-think some of their obsessions with urban planning, by the way. You'd need an arm like Peyton Manning to get a bomb to the centerline of a modern American urban thoroughfare, but in the walkable mixed-use neighborhoods of olde European cities built on a "human scale", even effete soccer-playing college students who threw like girls were managing to hit oncoming traffic from the sidewalk. Here in America, it'd take a scoped rifle.

They got ingenious about their bombing, too. A guy named Orsini came up with a bomb surrounded by percussion fuses, so that while you were waiting for the Minister of the Exchequer's Chancellery to come past in his carriage, there wouldn't be a telltale wisp of smoke coming from the lit fuse under your black cloak, and whichever side landed down in the Minister's undersecretary's lap, it would be sure to detonate.

Incidentally, Napoleon Trey survived Orsini's plot, Orsini did not survive the guillotine, and one of his co-conspirators survived his escape from Devil's Island, joined the U.S. Army, fought in the Civil War, went to Little Bighorn, and survived that, too. Take that, Baron von Munchausen!

So, yeah, that's where I've been all morning.
.

19 comments:

libertyman said...

Tam, I always learn something when I read your blog. Many thanks and best wishes for a great New Year!

Odysseus said...

The politician in convertible trend didn't really die until 1963....what too soon?

Tam said...

Odysseus,

"The politician in convertible trend didn't really die until 1963..."

I know! You'd think they'd have taken a hint after Princip killed 17 million people in a convertible with his .32!

Anonymous said...

Pope J2P2 must not have got the memo. I don't think the domed the Popemobile until after he was shot in 1981

Gerry

Bob said...

"And why did politicians keep buying convertibles when it was an obvious invitation to have some anarcho-syndicalist yahoo fling half a pound of guncotton into your lap while yelling tedious slogans straight out of #OCCUPY_ST.MARTIN'S_HALL?"

No effective A/C during the time period? Who wants to be cooped up in a sealed-up car with politicians in July without A/C?

Bubblehead Les. said...

In the 19th Century, Anarchists threw Bombs and were executed if caught.

In the 21st. Century, Anarchists sit in Parks and whine if they get Pepper Sprayed.

Well, at least in the Middle East, protesters are willing to die for their beliefs.

Or shoot back.

All the veterans of the Battle of the '68 Democratic Convention must be covering their heads in Shame.

CalmGun said...

Orsini was a clever chap despite losing his head. I still marvel at the destruction wrought by Princip though. And he had help but still, to think his actions started the Great War is mind boggling.

MSgt B said...

That's an award-winning Wikiwander right there...

BobG said...

I think the fascination for bombs was due to the fact that most of them didn't have the skill or trust in the small firearms of the day to get the job done before the assassin would be shot by bodyguards who did have the skill needed.
Just my opinion.

STxRynn said...

Thank you for this post. It is refreshing to see I'm not the only tunnel rat on the inter-webbing. Thanks a ton for your historical acumen.

Your faithful student.....

Borepatch said...

Huh. I got lost in ancient music, but there was a complete lack of guillotines.

markm said...

BogG: Anarchists considered the bomb the even greater equalizer. A gun only makes you the approximate equal of one armed thug. The bomb gives you a chance even when your target has hired a bunch of armed thugs to protect him.

Kristopher said...

It's Sister Jenny's turn to throw the bomb ...

Chas Clifton said...

Something or Someone in the Universe just liked Charles DeRudio, apparently. Most people would be proud enough just to have escaped from Devil's Island!

Will said...

Hmm, is there a connection between bomb tossing anarchists and american football? And baseball?

Robert said...

You always provide the very best in intertube rabbit holes.

Otherwise I'd never have learned that Home Depot was really a nationwide one-stop terrorist supply network?

They sell stuff with molecules containing various combinations of nitrogen and oxygen!

To civilians!

...Some of whom may be Anarchists or even Constitution clinging Christianists with vehicle-borne Gadsden stickers!
8^0

Sombody grope me please!

staghounds said...

And bombing gave us, via Joseph Conrad,

"a blood-stained inanity of so fatuous a kind that it was impossible to fathom its origin by any reasonable or even unreasonable process of thought."

Anonymous said...

Tam, this is a great line, "even effete soccer-playing college students who threw like girls were managing to hit oncoming traffic from the sidewalk.?

I'm an old baseball player from wayback and the soccer reference coupled with the lame throwing motion almost made me spit out my coffee.

Love the blog and your insights.

DirtCrashr said...

Bose the Bengali didn't want those chutiya bokachoda Delhigaandus to steal his crowning capital from Calcutta, it was simply-only a means to keep the revenue coming to his perpetual sinecure - besides Delhi was so Old India and Bengal was all New Renaissance and progressive...