Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Talking Corpses


(National Geographic) – Erika Engelhaupt:

From unreliable hair analysis to mishandled DNA samples, modern forensic science has seen its share of troubles. But there’s still plenty to be thankful for in the ways courts today gather evidence of a crime: Just a few centuries ago, people were convicted of murder based on the idea that a corpse would spontaneously bleed in its killer’s presence. …

nationalgeographic 2017/10 cruentation

Skull of Richard III


1491 and 1493


(FTB stderr) – Marcus Ranum:

It is essential to the American myth that North America was wilderness when the European colonists began to arrive. Sure, there were people, but they weren’t ‘civilized’ and therefore didn’t count; they could be brushed aside.

Charles C. Mann’s 1491 and its sequel 1493 oppose that myth. He can only hint at the complexity of the politics of the era but it’s overwhelming. …

stderr 1491-and-1493

Charles C. Mann: 1491+1493

Playing the national anthem in professional sports is a political act


(FTB) – Mano Singham:

The protests during the playing of the national anthem before professional sports events has caused some controversy with Donald Trump, as usual, inflaming the situation. In an earlier post, I asked why this practice even existed since it seemed to me to be so silly. Many people have criticized the protesting players for injecting politics into sports but as Justin Levin, the author of a “history thesis on sports as instruments of domestic mobilization during the Vietnam War”, writes, it was the introduction of the national anthem into these events that was an overtly political act to serve an overtly political purpose, to stifle dissent that was erupting during the Vietnam war.

So players now using the occasion as an act of protest is perfectly appropriate. The anthem was introduced to serve a political purpose and they are merely continuing the practice. …

singham 2017/10/02 anthem

NFL players kneeling protest

Trigonometry Before the Greeks


(Telegraph Science) – Sarah Knapton:

A 3,700-year-old clay tablet has proven that the Babylonians developed trigonometry 1,500 years before the Greeks and were using a sophisticated method of mathematics which could change how we calculate today. …

telegraph 2017/08/24 babylonian

Plimpton 332 tablet

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