Baden-Powell, Robert

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Could the Boy Scouts play a key role in winning the next world war?

As a British army officer, Baden-Powell frequently traveled disguised as a butterfly collector, incorporating plans of military installations into his drawings of butterfly wings.  His reconnaissance skills later became the basis of the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides.

In watching documentaries about the rise of Nazi Germany, I was struck by how Hitler’s Youth Group did outdoor activities very similar to those of today’s Boy Scouts, and how these outdoor activities were deliberately planned to create a group of boys ready for military service.  This made me wonder if the Boy Scouts serve a more valuable purpose than providing leisure activities for boys–creating a “warrior class.”  It seems that both British and Nazi German military officials had the same thoughts (“Baden-Powell,” Wikipedia):

On the outbreak of World War I in 1914, Baden-Powell put himself at the disposal of the War Office. No command was given to him. Lord Kitchener said: ‘he could lay his hand on several competent divisional generals but could find no one who could carry on the invaluable work of the Boy Scouts.’

Nazi Germany banned Scouting in June 1934, seeing it as ‘a haven for young men opposed to the new State.’ Based on the regime’s view of Scouting as a dangerous espionage organization, Baden-Powell’s name was included in ‘The Black Book’, a 1940 list of people slated for detention following the planned conquest of the United Kingdom.

Badarian culture

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Is imperialism really that bad?

Badarian culture is an “Egyptian predynastic cultural phase, first discovered at al-Badari…on the east bank of the Nile (EB).”

The article has a picture of various tools and utensils discovered by archaeologists, with the caption that they are in the British Museum.

As the British explored various parts of their vast empire they brought back thousands of artifacts and kept them in the British Museum.  It is easy now to dismiss the British as nothing more than thieves, but I wonder if they served a valuable role after all.

We see now  the resurgence of iconoclasts in the Middle East who systematically destroy cultural artifacts in the name of Islamic fanaticism.  Is there not a moral good served by taking artifacts out of this region and keeping them in a place without turmoil?

I am reminded also of another thing the British imperialists did.  They imposed a Christian view on India that forbade the burning of widows on their husbands’ funeral pyres.  Was it really so bad to “impose” Western values on those who wished to burn women alive?

Bad Aussee, Austria

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Aachen, Germany

Bathing has gone from being illegal between November 1 and March 15 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to being covered in Germany as a health benefit (as “taking the cure” or going to a spa)  (“Spa,” WP).

“Bad” (German for “bath”) begins a whole section of articles on European spa towns.  I was surprised at how many spas exist in Europe and how many different types of waters there are: salt, arsenic, iodine, sulfur and radioactive.

Spas have been used to “cure” rheumatism, arthritis, overindulgence in food and drink, heart and circulatory disorders, rheumatic conditions, nervous disorders, metabolic diseases, skin diseases, obesity, constipation, and infantile paralysis (WP).  I wondered if there were any scientific studies on whether bathing in or drinking each type of water had distinctive health benefits.

Wikipedia explains how attitudes toward bathing, both public and private, have changed:

With the decline of the Roman Empire, the public baths often became places of licentious behavior, and such use was responsible for the spread rather than the cure of diseases. A general belief developed among the European populace was that frequent bathing promoted disease and sickness. Medieval church authorities encouraged this belief and made every effort to close down public baths.

In the 17th century, most upper-class Europeans washed their clothes with water often and washed only their faces (with linen), feeling that bathing the entire body was a lower-class activity; but the upper-class slowly began changing their attitudes toward bathing as a way to restore health later in that century.