Soukie's Place

keeping track of random thoughts

Archive for history


Of Keyboards and Men
The Inventors

One thing that children do very well is asking questions. “What is this?” “What is that?” The most difficult and important questions start with ‘Why.’ “Why are the letters on the keyboard arranged like this?”

Glad you asked. There are many detailed accounts of the history of the typewriter and its keyboard layout, and at least as many myths. The typewriter that became wildly used was invented by Christopher Latham Sholes in 1867.

Continues » 

A Walk Through the Changes

Soukie’s Place turned one year old on September the 17th. But as Harrison Ford beautifully ad-libbed in Raiders of the Lost Ark: “It’s not the years … it’s the mileage.” Join me for a brief look at what has changed, and a lamentation on the decline of media. Continues » 

Czech Heroes (Considered) Fictional

Josef Švejk, Jan Welzl, Jára Cimrman. These are three distinct heroes of the Czech past. Two of them are fictional, one has often been incorrectly regarded as such, and one of them was prominent in the poll for the greatest Czech person ever.

If the hero manages to be fictional, he’s on the fast track to the hall of fame.

Not that Czechs would have a shortage of “regular” national heroes—there are Charles IV, Hus, Comenius, Dvořák, Kafka, Wichterle, Forman or Jágr (not to mention Pilsner Urquell, because beer almost does qualify here)—but the Czech mentality often prefers heroes of a not-so-international stardom and more-of-an-average abilities with non-standard achievements (a “Joe the Hero” who is best in something I don’t care about). And if on top of that the hero manages to be fictional or to become famous against his will, he’s on the fast track to the hall of fame. Continues » 

President Behind the Scenes

Václav Havel

Havel’s humanist values defined the social transformation of the post-communist Eastern block

A documentary spanning 15 years, 45 hours of film and 25 hours of video tapes offers an intimate look at the presidency of Václav Havel. It is unparalleled that a head of state would allow to be captured to this extent behind the scenes arriving at key political decisions with his staff. Continues » 

Not Just Czechoslovakia

Today marks the 90th anniversary of the official proclamation of Czechoslovakia (October 28, 1918). This day has been celebrated in various guises: First as the establishing of the independent, democratic republic and its first president, Tomas G. Masaryk. After WWII and the communist takeover, the emphasis was shifted to liberation after 300 years of Habsburg monarchy, and then to the Nationalization DecreesThe decrees were signed on October 24, 1945 and nationalized mines, banks and some industrial enterprises effective on October 27.. Continues »