Recent History

The Vexed Posthumous Life of Oscar Wilde

In 1914 Max Beerbohm wrote to Vyvyan Holland, the younger son of Oscar and Constance Wilde, on the occasion of Holland's wedding. Beerbohm sent his regrets for not having been able to attend the wedding, together with a present.

It has the advantage of being easily breakable if you don't like it. The glasses are (you will be relieved to hear) of British manufacture, but I can't tell you just when they were made. I asked the old man in the shop to tell me the date of them. Whereat he stroked his chin and, looking at me over his spectacles, said "Well, Sir, what would you say to [...]


The Inconvenient Astrologer Of MI5

In the summer of 1941, delegates at the American Federation of Scientific Astrologers’ convention in Cleveland, Ohio, listened to a keynote address from an astrologer named Louis de Wohl. The bespectacled German-Hungarian—late thirties, rather corpulent, flamboyant in dress and confident in manner—told his rapt audience that Hitler was operating under advice from “the best astrologers in Germany,” who had plotted out the course for Germany to attack the U.S. The invasion, it seemed, would occur sometime after the following spring, once Saturn and Uranus, the two “malefic” planets, had entered Gemini, America’s ruling sign: “America,” he warned, “has always been subject to grave events when Uranus transits Gemini.” De Wohl’s [...]


Los Angeles, April 29 – May 4, 1992

April of 1992 seems like paradise now, in certain ways. The economy was bouncing back nicely, thank you, even if it wasn't yet fully obvious. We users of Prodigy, Compuserve and AOL were all yapping incessantly on our BBSes, and we were about to try out that newfangled "e-mail" thing. "Are you on e-mail?" people would soon be saying. Bill Clinton had only just clinched the Democratic nomination. (That Arkansas governor! Did you know he was a Rhodes Scholar, too?)

But the year before, in March, a man named Rodney King had been tasered twice and then beaten half to death by a pack of Los Angeles police officers. The [...]