Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Who Ate Republicans’ Brains?


(NY Times) – Paul Krugman:

A key moment came in the 1970s, when Irving Kristol, the godfather of neoconservatism, embraced supply-side economics — the claim, refuted by all available evidence and experience, that tax cuts pay for themselves by boosting economic growth. Writing years later, he actually boasted about valuing political expediency over intellectual integrity: “I was not certain of its economic merits but quickly saw its political possibilities.” In another essay, he cheerfully conceded to having had a “cavalier attitude toward the budget deficit,” because it was all about creating a Republican majority — so “political effectiveness was the priority, not the accounting deficiencies of government.” …

nytimes 2017/07/31 republicans

Irving Kristol

The Myth of the Kindly General Lee


(Atlantic Politics) – Adam Serwer:

The legend of the Confederate leader’s heroism and decency is based in the fiction of a person who never existed. …

theatlantic 2017/06 the-myth

Robert E. Lee statue removed in New Orleans, Louisiana

Colored Britain


(Guardian Comments) – David Olusoga:

Africans have lived in Britain since the Roman empire. When a leading historian confirmed this, she was vilified. …

theguardian 2017/aug/12 black

Peter Capaldi as Dr Who and Pearl Mackie as Bill Potts

How America Lost Its Mind


(Atlantic) – Kurt Andersen:

The nation’s current post-truth moment is the ultimate expression of mind-sets that have made America exceptional throughout its history. …

theatlantic 534231

American fantasies

North Korea: Origin Story


(FTB stderr) – Marcus Ranum:

The division of Korea ought to go down in history along with the other great “arbitrary lines drawn on a map” – every one of which has been a political and humanitarian disaster: the partition of Palestine, The partition of Germany, the partition of Vietnam and the partition of Korea. …

stderr 2017/08/01 north-korea

1945 Potsdam Conference

The End of Iran’s Democracy


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

The deep suspicion with which the West is viewed in the Middle East can be traced way back to the way that the west, especially the British in the early days, exploited that region’s oil reserves. This culminated in the 1953 coup that was organized by the CIA (and backed by the British) to overthrow the democratically elected leader of Iran Mohammad Mossadeq and replace him with their puppet Reza Pahlavi who was known as the Shah of Iran. His autocratic rule, his secret police that tortured and killed so many, and the lavish lifestyle of his family, laid the ground work for the rebellion led by Ayatollah Khomeini and the subsequent dominance of the Muslim clergy in running the country.

Now we have the release of more documents covering the period 1951 through 1954 that “includes not only embassy communications but also the minutes of the meetings of the National Security Council and the CIA on discussions of Iran.” …

singham 2017/07/16 irans-democracy

1953 Iranian coup d'état supporters

Bastille Day


(FTB stderr) – Marcus Ranum:

The French Revolution, which turned into The Terror, is the best known of about 9 revolutions that took place in France – some more, some less successful. [stderr] [stderr] It was a tumultuous time, to put it mildly. And it was a long time – 1645 to 1848 or thereabouts. …

stderr 2017/07/14 bastille-day

Jean-Pierre Houël: Storming of The Bastille

Psychology Discredited


(FTB stderr) – Marcus Ranum:

In an earlier posting, I set up a general attack on fields of study with an aim to being able to claim that they are “discredited” [stderr] – so that, at some point, we can say “phrenology is bunk” without having to endure a cascade of phreno-apologetics in response. …

The danger, in other words, is when you’ve got a field that is horribly and consistently wrong, engages in multi-generational pseudo-scientific behavior, abuses patients’ trust and is responsible for horrible unethical studies on unaware patients, then – when it should be dying from neglect – gloms on to some actual science and manages to survive.

I’m referring, of course, to psychology. …

stderr 2017/07/02 discredited


Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria


(The Atlantic) – James Somers:

Somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25 million books and nobody is allowed to read them. …

theatlantic 2017/04 523320

Burning Library of Alexandria

Hidden Figures


(Guardian Books) – Margot Lee Shetterly:

Before a computer became an inanimate object, and before Mission Control landed in Houston; before Sputnik changed the course of history, and before the NACA became NASA; before the supreme court case Brown v Board of Education of Topeka established that separate was in fact not equal, and before the poetry of Martin Luther King Jr’s “I have a dream” speech rang out over the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, Langley’s West Computers were helping America dominate aeronautics, space research and computer technology, carving out a place for themselves as female mathematicians who were also black, black mathematicians who were also female. For a group of bright and ambitious African American women, diligently prepared for a mathematical career and eager for a crack at the big leagues, Hampton, Virginia, must have felt like the centre of the universe. …

theguardian 2017/feb/05 hidden-figures

Margot Lee Shetterly: Hidden Figures