Posts Tagged ‘history’
* OK, let us persist in the notion that I am an American citizen. Let us persist in the notion that I am the citizen of a self-governing political commonwealth. Let us persist in the notion that I have a say — and important and equal say — in the operation of my government here and out in the world. Let us persist in the notion that, in America, the people rule. If we persist in these notions — and, if we don’t, what’s the fking point, really? — then there is only one question that I humbly ask of my government this week. Please, if it’s not too damn much trouble, can you tell me what’s being done in my name?
* “Right to work” is the most dishonest phrase in American political discourse. It sounds like it’s defending people’s right to earn a living. But as used by its supporters, it means making it impossible for workers to form an effective union, couched in the language of “freedom” and “choice.”
* But the problem of eviction runs deeper and reaches back further than even the beginning of the 20th century. Modern history starts with eviction.
* Remaking the university: Suffice to say that major cost savings cannot be the rationale for the Georgia Tech arrangement. In the ramp-up period, terribly high per-MOOC costs could be justified by mass enrollments, but unfortunately from the VC point of view the masses take these courses for free. These production costs also collide with increasing awareness of large faculty time inputs: Duke’s Dan Ariely and Cathy Davidson report 150 hours of their time per hour of “actual MOOC.” Prof. Davidson’s phrase in a subsequent post is “insanely labor intensive” — in exchange for a $10,000 stipend that she spent entirely on assistants. Many MOOC watchers are now concluding, as she does, that MOOCs do not have a way of making up for massive public funding cuts.
* And The Hobbit 2: Hardly Hobbitin’ has a trailer. My tentative reaction is pretty serious disappointment: however the final effects will look, at this resolution just about everything looks really fake, from the dwarf in the barrel in the river to Smaug to anything involving Legolas in any way. I like the one shot of Bilbo poking his head above Mirkwood, and that’s it. Nerd rant over! But for how long?
* Local news: U.S. officials in Milwaukee have arrested a cancer researcher from China, Huajun Zhao, 42, on charges of “economic espionage” after a colleague at the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCOW) reported that vials of a research compound were missing.
* Nightmares ever-ending: 12 Hurt at New Orleans Mother’s Day Parade Shooting.
* And a data visualization of Game of Thrones. Spoilers through the most recent book, naturally!
* SFW (at least in my estimation) photography project depicting porn actresses with and without makeup. Discussion thread at MeFi, which links to a few more discussion threads at Reddit that are pretty soul-crushing.
* My three year old daughter and I play a lot of old games together. Her favorite is Donkey Kong. Two days ago, she asked me if she could play as the girl and save Mario… So what else am I supposed to do? Now I’m up at midnight hacking the ROM, replacing Mario with Pauline. Also via MeFi.
* The Britannica Advantage was not only illusory, it also reflected the way in which the market economy always finds a way to turn things that are good in themselves into means to an end.
* And some more interesting SF from Eliezer Yudkowsky: “Three Worlds Collide.”
* I saw this movie: Brains of rats connected allowing them to share information via internet.
* Beyond the MOOC: While other universities move quickly to offer courses online for free, Carnegie Mellon University is instead starting for-profit efforts designed to capture segments of the education market. I’ll promote this a bit more as the date gets closer, but I’ll be speaking at a “What’s the Matter with MOOCs?” event at UWM in mid-March.
* Justice, American style: The city’s complaint in federal court claims that if Ms. Truong is entitled to damages for the nearly three years she spent in jail awaiting trial, then Mr. Ryan is as much to blame as the city because he took too long to get the coerced confession tossed out of court by the judge.
* Will a Republican friend-of-the-court brief tip the Supreme Court in favor of gay marriage? I’m pretty sure it’ll have more luck than Obama’s.
* These numbers are unprecedented: by 2014 President Obama will have deported over 2 million people – more in six years than all people deported before 1997. That “before 1997″ actually means since 1892.
“We need union jobs today, not tomorrow,” said Rich Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO. “The resolution balances our desire to protect the fragile ecosystem of the earth, while acknowledging the economic benefits of a high-road strategy to develop the doomsday technologies of the future.”
* Never forget: The entire staff of the West Wing died on Voyager.
The social events of the 1948 holiday season had to be canceled. And with good reason: Experts called the third floor of the White House “an outstanding example of a firetrap.” The result of a federally commissioned report found the mansion’s plumbing “makeshift and unsanitary,” while “the structural deterioration [was] in ‘appalling degree,’ and threatening complete collapse.” The congressional commission on the matter was considering the option of abandoning the structure altogether in favor of a built-from-scratch mansion, but President Truman lobbied for the restoration.
* And American history, Breitbart style: Journalists on the campaign trail saw Johnson drunkenly board a plane armed with nuclear weapons and then accidentally drop them on the United States. We all saw it!
At the heart of the coming battle over the constitutional right to U.S. citizenship for everyone born in this country is how the 14th Amendment, adopted in 1868, is interpreted. And at the heart of that interpretation is a 112-year-old Supreme Court decision, based on a lawsuit filed by a young man from San Francisco named Wong Kim Ark.
…these office blocks in one of London’s most expensive districts are part of a surprising secret commercial property empire owned by the Vatican.
Behind a disguised offshore company structure, the church’s international portfolio has been built up over the years, using cash originally handed over by Mussolini in return for papal recognition of the Italian fascist regime in 1929.
I was talking with Traxus the other day about how slave rebellions mark an interesting difference between knowledge and belief. Everybody who is historically informed knows slave revolts happened, and moreover is perfectly eager to say so—but all the same nobody believes in them. They exist in history only to be bracketed: “Of course, there were slave rebellions, but…”
Two reviews of Django Unchained take this up. First, the New Yorker:
It is precisely because of the extant mythology of black subservience that these scenes pack such a cathartic payload. The film’s defenders are quick to point out that “Django” is not about history. But that’s almost like arguing that fiction is not reality—it isn’t, but the entire appeal of the former is its capacity to shed light on how we understand the latter. In my sixteen years of teaching African-American history, one sadly common theme has been the number of black students who shy away from courses dealing with slavery out of shame that slaves never fought back.
It seems almost pedantic to point out that slavery was nothing like this. The slaveholding class existed in a state of constant paranoia about slave rebellions, escapes, and a litany of more subtle attempts to undermine the institution. Nearly two hundred thousand black men, most of them former slaves, enlisted in the Union Army in order to accomplish en masse precisely what Django attempts to do alone: risk death in order to free those whom they loved. Tarantino’s attempt to craft a hero who stands apart from the other men—black and white—of his time is not a riff on history, it’s a riff on the mythology we’ve mistaken for history.
It’s a shame, because the history of North Atlantic slave revolts offers up a lot of interesting material. Try this: “For our declaration of independence, we should have the skin of a white man for parchment, his skull for an inkwell, his blood for ink, and a bayonet for a pen.” That’s Boisrond-Tonerre, Jean-Jacques Dessalines’ aide. Tarantino certainly couldn’t write that.
* An und für sich considers Django Unchained. I haven’t seen this yet either.
* Peter Frase: Occupy Beyond Occupy.
* Confirmed: US planned to nuke the moon. Not a Mr. Show link, not an imaginary story…
Questions like “how did things get the way they are?” or “how far back do we have to go to find the roots of this problem?” are usually more interesting—and more recognizable as historical problems—than questions like “what happened next?”
* This guide provides an introduction to a handful of the strange spatial typologies found within the “cold chain,” that linked network of atmospheric regulation on which our entire way of life depends.
* In “North by Northwest” and other movies, Grant — for all his good looks — represented the triumph of the sexual meritocracy — a sex appeal won by experience and savoir-faire, not delts and pecs and other such things that any kid can have. Oh man. How did this ever see print?
* Last Year’s Debt Ceiling Debacle Cost Taxpayers $18.9 Billion. We can beat that.
* We’ve all been there: Ann Arbor man punched during literary argument. But this story buries the lede: what book were they arguing about?
* And You Are Most Likely to Die at 11 a.m. If you’re in the Midwest, that’s about forty-five minutes from now, so you’d better get moving…
Tracking employment of history Ph.D.s outside the academy. It seems to me that history may be somewhat uniquely positioned among the traditional humanities insofar as its methods are more generally applicable (especially for historians using quantitative research)—but still, this information is quite interesting, even heartening.
Remember that chart of the last 2000 years of GDP? Here’s what it looks like without a presentist, Eurocentric bias that smushes the first thousand years into a single unit. Via the MetaFilter thread.
Kim Stanley Robinson, 2312: ”Alex often said that Chinese dominance is the default norm throughout history, except for the brief period of subjugation to Europe.”
The Atlantic, 2012: The Economic History of the Last 2,000 Years in 1 Little Graph. Via @mims.
Led by the enigmatic Dr. Shiro Ishii, Unit 731 committed thousands of macabre experiments and infected hundreds of thousands with the plague in China. Most of the scientists involved with Unit 731 escaped trial and entered mainstream society at the end of the war due to an agreement with Allied commanders, but a few are speaking of the horrors they committed in their old age.
I’m seeing at least a three-picture deal.