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We Need a New Science of Progress - The Atlantic
Progress itself is understudied. By “progress,” we mean the combination of economic, technological, scientific, cultural, and organizational advancement that has transformed our lives and raised standards of living over the past couple of centuries. For a number of reasons, there is no broad-based intellectual movement focused on understanding the dynamics of progress, or targeting the deeper goal of speeding it up. We believe that it deserves a dedicated field of study. We suggest inaugurating the discipline of “Progress Studies.”

Before digging into what Progress Studies would entail, it’s worth noting that we still need a lot of progress. We haven’t yet cured all diseases; we don’t yet know how to solve climate change; we’re still a very long way from enabling most of the world’s population to live as comfortably as the wealthiest people do today; we don’t yet understand how best to predict or mitigate all kinds of natural disasters; we aren’t yet able to travel as cheaply and quickly as we’d like; we could be far better than we are at educating young people. The list of opportunities for improvement is still extremely long.
history  journalism  scholarly 
6 weeks ago by juliusbeezer
71,716 video tapes in 12,094 days | Internet Archive Blogs
Ms. Stokes was a fiercely private African American social justice champion, librarian, political radical, TV producer, feminist, Apple Computer super-fan and collector like few others. Her life and idiosyncratic passions are sensitively explored in the exceedingly well reviewed new documentary, Recorder: The Marion Stokes Project, by Matt Wolf. Having premiered last month at the 2019 Tribeca Film Festival, the film is on tour and will be featured at San Francisco’s Indefest, June 8th & 10th. For those in the Bay Area, please consider joining Internet Archive staff and leadership at the 7:00pm June 10th screening. Advance tickets are available now, seating is limited.

Long before many questioned the media’s motivations and recognized the insidious intentional spread of disinformation, Ms. Stokes was alarmed. In a private herculean effort, she took on the challenge of independently preserving the news record of her times in its most pervasive and persuasive form – TV.
archiving  television  internet  spectacle  history 
june 2019 by juliusbeezer
1990, meet 2018: How far does 20MHz of Macintosh IIsi power go today? | Ars Technica
As expected, the Macintosh IIsi is, unsurprisingly, not going to replace your modern computer. It's not going to replace mine.

To its credit, however, the IIsi was able to get me to where I wanted to go, whether it was a spot of writing, listening to music (kind of), checking emails, unwinding with a classic computer game, or browsing the World Wide Web. The more I interacted with the IIsi, the more I remembered what it was like to enjoy using a computer—to appreciate their capabilities as tools of business and leisure. While I initially wrote this off as misplaced nostalgia (something I am very susceptible to, I'll admit), I eventually found a subtle silver lining to my initial frustrations and setbacks.
Further Reading
A 1986 bulletin board system has brought the old Web back to life in 2017

Modern computing is all about supposed convenience: the convenience of connection, of multitasking, and of high performance. In my case, this means that I'll often have more than 30 open tabs in my Web browser before I even start my day, their contents often a mystery to me before I bother to clean house. I'll jump between multiple email accounts, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and other modes of communication throughout the day, fragmenting my attention further. I may write for a few minutes distraction-free before a popup appears on my taskbar—updates pending.

A modern computer, something a thousand times faster than the IIsi, might imply that I'm completing a thousand tasks at once or one task a thousand times faster. Neither is the case—all those open tabs, unread messages, and pending updates are a drain on resources, both computational and personal.

In contrast, taking the IIsi through its paces was a joy. The limitations of the machine, with barely enough power to run more than one application at once, demands your attention to be 100 percent devoted to any single task. Paradoxically, it often felt like I was more productive with significantly fewer resources at hand. It captured and holds my attention on a single problem, rather than splitting my attention across dozens of unrelated tasks. Coming in with low expectations and knowing roughly what 20MHz can do for me these days, I came away from my sojourn pleasantly surprised.
apple  history  internet  informationmastery  email  web  text_tools 
february 2019 by juliusbeezer
Europe’s new Reformation
In England the Reformation was not a doctrinal dispute over theological truth that developed into a political contest. It happened the other way around. It originated as a challenge by Henry VIII against the authority of the church – to be more specific, his desire to annul his marriage to his wife Katherine, despite the pope’s refusal to grant this, and marry another in order to produce a male heir. This escalated into a broader assertion of English sovereignty, most strikingly expressed in parliament’s Act of Appeals in 1533, which laid down “that this realm of England is an empire”.

In other words, England was a legal system unto itself. There could be no appeal to a higher authority. The doctrine of “praemunire”, which had previously applied only to matters of state, now became the law of the land. A wronged woman in Yorkshire could no longer appeal to Rome. England was increasingly separated from the European legal order. At the same time, Henry VIII relentlessly attacked the institutions of the Church, especially through the dissolution of the monasteries.
uk  history  politics  religion  Brexit 
february 2019 by juliusbeezer
Chew the fat with us
The easy way to keep in touch

Hackney LCC's email discussion group

What is it?

A small but growing group of Hackney cyclists (32 as of early March '98) who keep in touch about local cycling-related issues by email.

How do I join?

It's free and easy. Just send an email to borough co-ordinator Douglas Carnall, saying you want to be on the mailing list. He'll copy it to everyone in the group, including you, and we all then update our mailing list. Simple!

At the moment there aren't too many messages, so don't worry about having your mailbox filled up!
Hackney  cycling  politics  internet  email  history 
january 2019 by juliusbeezer
GeoBlogy: Solving the case of the Mercat Cross: conserving one of Edinburgh’s most important monuments... by Luis Albornoz
Edinburgh Council asked us to help with the Mercat Cross. Here is an interesting, multifaceted project, that involves geology, as well as chemistry, philosophy of conservation, history, sociology (public perception is definitely a big one nowadays, isn't it?) and of course, architecture – everything that has to be considered when dealing with such an important monument. However, to understand its problems, we need to know much more about the monument itself. I shall try to condense the essentials of a complex project and focus on the most interesting parts only...

First, geographical location: Edinburgh is a very rainy, cold city, which gets frosty winters. Its location in the Royal Mile means that as well as exposure to a lot of rain water, it also endures funnelled winds coming mainly from the West. It is in a very public pathway that sees hundreds of thousands of pedestrians around, so in winter there is a lot of salt gritting. In summer, many of those pedestrians stand and sit around it. Also, it is important to remember that Edinburgh was historically one of the most polluted ‘modern’ cities, as its nickname “Auld Reekie” (The Old Stinky) implies, and the blackened walls of non-cleaned old buildings still testify to this day. Acidic rain would have been common for most of the history of the cross, until recent years in which we breathe cleaner air. All this, as you can imagine, has important consequences. More on it, later.
edinburgh  history  architecture 
january 2019 by juliusbeezer
Stanislav Petrov - Wikipedia
Petrov declared the system's indication a false alarm. Later, it was apparent that he was right: no missiles were approaching and the computer detection system was malfunctioning. It was subsequently determined that the false alarm had been created by a rare alignment of sunlight on high-altitude clouds above North Dakota and the Molniya orbits of the satellites, an error later corrected by cross-referencing a geostationary satellite.[9][10]

Petrov later indicated that the influences on his decision included that he was informed a U.S. strike would be all-out, so five missiles seemed an illogical start;[1] that the launch detection system was new and, in his view, not yet wholly trustworthy; that the message passed through 30 layers of verification too quickly;[11] and that ground radar failed to pick up corroborative evidence, even after minutes of delay.[12] However, in a 2013 interview, Petrov said at the time he was never sure that the alarm was erroneous. He felt that his civilian training helped him make the right decision. He said that his colleagues were all professional soldiers with purely military training and, following instructions, would have reported a missile launch if they had been on his shift.[2]
nukes  history  error 
january 2019 by juliusbeezer
Boxing day belting: The fight that stirred the racial convictions of the nation | Sport | The Guardian
The symbolic significance of the fight transcended boxing and touched on white anxieties that were shared across the globe. The editors at Sydney’s Australian Star were alert to the global significance of the contest. They published a cartoon showing the fighters in the ring, surrounded by an audience of the white and black races. Under the cartoon was a comment rich with prophesy: “This battle may in future be looked back upon as the first great battle of an inevitable race war … There is more in this fight to be considered than the mere title of pugilistic champion of the world.”
Throughout the fight, Johnson battered Burns with a measured restraint, wanting the contest to go the better part of the allotted 20 rounds, wanting to give out as much punishment over the journey as he possibly could, so he said after the fight. But in the 14th round it looked so grim for the white man that a knockout seemed certain and the police had to act. Following a preconceived plan, they stopped the movie cameras and stopped the fight. And so, the world was spared the spectacle of a black man knocking out a white man. The race war in proxy form had been fought and the white race had lost, but the world was denied the finale.
sport  boxing  history 
december 2018 by juliusbeezer
How can we break the Brexit deadlock? Ask ancient Athens | James Bridle | Opinion | The Guardian
It’s clear that the blunt instrument of referendums and the sclerotic, corrupt framework of party and electoral politics have contributed greatly to the mess that we find ourselves in today. It is equally evident that viable alternatives exist, and their signal qualities are clear: diversity of representation (produced effectively by sortition), collective education and true participation in the democratic process, which involves not merely having one’s voice heard, but listening to others too. After all, the word “idiot” derives ultimately from the ancient Greek for “private citizen” – that is, one who has no interest in politics, and fails to engage meaningfully with their fellow citizens...
The 99 strangers who proposed radical alternatives to existing political positions in Ireland did not start out as a homogeneous group. The assembly – randomly selected from the entire population, and thus truly representative of it – included those who were anti-abortion, pro-abortion and undecided; those who were fierce advocates for climate-change legislation, and those who rejected the scientific consensus. Yet through a careful and deliberate process of education and debate, it was possible not merely to reach consensus, but also to change minds: to progress, together, towards workable and even radical solutions. Citizens’ assemblies carry the whiff of populism, but they are the opposite of strongman politics. By providing transparency and participation, they are an opportunity for people to actually engage with the messy business of politics, rather than shout and wave flags from the sidelines.
politics  history  democracy  methodology 
december 2018 by juliusbeezer
First British Soldier Killed In Action During WW1 Was Reconnaissance Cyclist
He was a reconnaissance cyclist in the 4th battalion of the Middlesex regiment. There were a great many cyclist casualties during the First World War because there were a number of cycling regiments, including the London Cycle Corps, the 26th Middlesex battalion and the 8th (Cyclist) Battalion of the Essex Regiment. Personnel from Britain's Automobile Association (AA) made up two companies of this last regiment...

One of the cyclist dispatch riders used by the German army was Adolf Hitler. As shown by his military records he was a bicycle messenger during the First World War. The records says he was a “radfahrer,” a cyclist. If he had been a motorcycle messenger his records would have stated he was a “Kradfahrer.”

The 25-year-old Hitler was a bicycle messenger for a Bavarian regiment, taking messages to the fighting units from the command staff. He was always keen to volunteer for dangerous assignments and – sadly, for later world history – he led a largely charmed cycling life, avoiding death on numerous occasions.
cycling  history 
november 2018 by juliusbeezer
Paris sans voiture, on en rêvait déjà en 1790
En 1790, un citoyen anonyme fait imprimer un in-octavo d’une étonnante modernité : Pétition d’un citoyen ou motion contre les carrosses et les cabriolets. Rédigé dans un style enlevé, ce texte de 16 folios relève à la fois du pamphlet, du traité moral, du mémoire policier et de la motion législative puisqu’il contient des propositions destinées à l’Assemblée nationale.

On ne sait à peu près rien de son auteur. Sans doute un bourgeois aisé (un médecin ?) car il déclare lui-même posséder « une voiture, un cabriolet et quatre chevaux » qu’il désire « sacrifier sur l’autel de la patrie », scandalisé par la brutalité avec laquelle les cochers conduisent dans Paris et écœuré par l’« oisiveté et la mollesse des riches ».
france  history  driving 
october 2018 by juliusbeezer
Il y a 75 ans.... Nantes était bombardée - France 3 Pays de la Loire
Le centre-ville n'est plus que douleur et ruines : et le bilan est lourd. 700 morts, des centaines de blessés, plus de 10 000 sans abris. Un autre raid aérien aura lieu le 23 septembre. Bilan total de ces deux séries de bombardements : 1463 civils tués, 2500 blessés, et des centaines d'édifices et d'habitations détruites.
nantes  history 
september 2018 by juliusbeezer
Francis Fukuyama: ‘Trump instinctively picks racial themes to drive people on the left crazy’ | Books | The Guardian
“Thymos”... comes from Plato’s Republic. It represents a kind of third way for a soul instinctively divided into two competing impulses – reason and appetite – by Socrates. If the former of those two made us human and the latter kept us animal, thymos fell somewhere in between. Most translations of The Republic suggest its sense for Plato as “passion”. For his purposes, Fukuyama takes it to mean “the seat of judgements of worth”, a kind of eternal status thermostat.

The importance of thymos, he believes, is not only that it has been seriously overlooked by other political theorists. Whereas classical economics tried to explain the world in terms of individuals acting to maximise their financial self-interest, behaviouralists, thinking fast and slow, have proved that our rational capacity is often undermined by more intuitive forces. Perhaps the most powerful of these, Fukuyama insists, is the desire for respect...
“You were told Brexit was clearly going to be very costly for the British economy, therefore it would be irrational to support Brexit,” he says. “But what has been proved is not only that a lot of people voting to leave the EU didn’t care about that, [but] they were actually willing to take a hit in terms of their prosperity. The issues were cultural and they were willing to pay a price, it seems, to have greater control of immigration. In general, the mistake a lot of elites have made is that you can have a politics led by economic rationality divorced from these feelings about national identity.”
philosophy  politics  history  economics  Brexit 
september 2018 by juliusbeezer
‘My father’s murder in Algeria shaped my life. That’s why Macron’s apology is so important’ | World news | The Guardian
Official investigations into what went on in France’s former colony were quashed as the state threw a blanket amnesty over atrocities by its forces, and each president found it politically expedient to avoid mentioning the war.

Josette Audin, who never remarried, wrote to each new French leader renewing her appeal for information. Shortly after he was elected in May 2017, Macron called her to say he was willing to do something. On Thursday, the Elysée Palace issued an official statement and the president visited Audin’s home with an apology...
In Algeria, Macron’s mea culpa has been welcomed. In France, academics hope his statement and promise to open official archives will encourage witnesses from the period, protected by the amnesty, to come forward. A historian, Gilles Manceron, said Macron had made a “break with the attitude of denial, silence and lies we’ve long had from the state”.
france  politics  francafrique  algeria  agnotology  history 
september 2018 by juliusbeezer
Rendez les routes aux cyclistes ! –
Au début du cyclisme, le Touring-Club et l’Union Vélocipédique de France, dans un bel élan d’émulation, avaient obtenu des départements et des communes, des trottoirs réservés aux cyclistes. Ce fut pendant quelques années, l’âge d’or du tourisme des familles entières partaient le dimanche se reposer loin de Paris, se délasser, en pratiquant doucement le sport le plus agréable et le plus économique.
france  history  cycling 
august 2018 by juliusbeezer
Son cœur mis à nu - l’impossible biographie de Michel Foucault - Ici et ailleurs
j’avais durablement négligé de lire pour cette raison même – la biographie de Foucault publiée au début des années 1990 par un universitaire états-unien, James Miller et intitulée, tout un programme, The Passion of Michel Foucault. Je me suis donc dit, au vu de la « mauvaise réputation » de ce livre, qu’il pourrait constituer un bon truchement pour détourner la commande qui m’était adressée et j’ai donc entrepris de la lire avec soin, dans sa version originale, en anglais – puisqu’il semblerait que la version française publiée par les Editions Plon soit quelque peu caviardée, à la demande des héritiers de Foucault. C’est donc de ce livre que je vais vous parler, espérant que ce sera une façon utile de traiter « de biais » le sujet que les organisateurs du séminaire ont annoncé.

C’est un livre qui a donné lieu à des manifestations de rejet et d’exécration comme il arrive assez assez rarement dans la réception, en France, d’ouvrages ayant pour objet, au sens large, la philosophie. Voici par exemple ce qu’en dit Didier Eribon, le premier biographe de Foucault, et le seul Français parmi ceux-ci , dans Foucault et ses contemporains (1994), un livre écrit, pour une bonne part, contre James Miller, dans le but d’allumer un contre-feu à la publication annoncée, en français, de La passion Foucault (titre français, encore plus choc que le titre anglais) : « Je fus frappé de stupeur quand il me fut donné de le [le livre de Miller] lire. Tout le parcours intellectuel de Foucault y était expliqué par son goût prononcé pour ‘l’expérience-limite’, toute sa pensée décryptée comme une ‘allégorie autobiographique’ où s’exprimeraient, par delà les masques d’une prose virtuose, les pulsions du sado-masochisme et la fascination de la mort. La vie de Foucault, son œuvre, ses livres, ses engagements politiques s’y trouvaient nimbés d’une lumière crépusculaire, zébrée par les éclairs intermittents de la folie ; la quête suicidaire inlassablement poursuivie s’achevant dans la terrible apothéose finale - le sida – dont Miller ose même se demander si elle n’était pas ‘délibérément choisie’ ».
philosophy  history  foucault 
august 2018 by juliusbeezer
What you can learn about marriage and migration from a 13-million member family tree
prior to 1750, most marriages in their data set occurred between people born about 6 miles from each other. After the start of the Industrial Revolution in 1870, however, that distance rapidly increased to about 60 miles.

You might think that as people traveled farther to find a spouse, they would marry people who were more distantly related to them. And indeed, that was true. Eventually.

The authors report that between 1650 and 1850 the average genetic relationship of married couples was on the order of 4th cousins. After 1850 it was on the order of 7th cousins.

But, the researchers found something strange in the data. Between 1800 and 1850 the distance couples traveled to marry each other doubled — probably because rapid transportation made railroad travel possible in most of Europe and the United States. However, that increase in distance traveled to marry someone was accompanied by an increase in genetic relatedness between marriage partners.

In other words, during this 50-year period, people traveled farther to marry closer relations.
anthropology  genetics  history  sex  psychology 
march 2018 by juliusbeezer
Against the Grain by James C Scott review – the beginning of elites, tax, slavery | Books | The Guardian
there was a gap of 4,000 years between the first domestications and the rise of the state. Rather than embracing farming with enthusiasm, communities chose to adopt subsistence strategies that combined hunting and gathering with a low level of domestication and cultivation. It was the best of both worlds: the crops provided an assured fallback while foraging added a welcome variety. But over time, some groups allowed themselves to become increasingly dependent on cultivated grain, and by about 5000BC there were hundreds of agricultural villages scattered around the fertile crescent. As populations grew, new villages colonised the alluvial lands in the valley bottoms and it was from these that the early states began to develop around 3300BC.
food  politics  history  agroecology  agriculture 
january 2018 by juliusbeezer
The Quaker work ethic and the factories – Joe Turner – Medium
It seems more than slightly bizarre to contemplate anyone standing against the idea that children should only work 10 hour days, but there were some. And some of those were from the group we might least expect to stand against factory reform: the Quakers.
religion  history  work 
january 2018 by juliusbeezer
Jimmy Savile's 'clunk click' safety ads ejected from National Archives | UK news | The Guardian
Savile made 20 clips in the 1970s warning of the dangers of driving without seatbelts. The “clunk click” films, which were repeatedly broadcast in the 1970s, were seen as playing a key role in reducing road deaths before seatbelts were made compulsory in 1983.

One of the adverts featured in a collection of public information films issued by the National Archive in 2006. But a spokeswoman has admitted that the film was quietly removed from the National Archive’s website in 2014 after the extent of Savile’s child abuse became clear.

She said: “It was on our website as part of a selection of public information films that we curated there to mark the 60th anniversary of the Central Office of Information. We took it down in July 2014. We just felt with the current climate it wasn’t the best choice and it was perhaps ethically wrong to highlight it. So we removed it from the selection.
road_safety  history  uk  agnotology 
december 2017 by juliusbeezer
Ur-Fascism | by Umberto Eco | The New York Review of Books
I think it is possible to outline a list of features that are typical of what I would like to call Ur-Fascism, or Eternal Fascism. These features cannot be organized into a system; many of them contradict each other, and are also typical of other kinds of despotism or fanaticism. But it is enough that one of them be present to allow fascism to coagulate around it.
politics  authoritarianism  history 
october 2017 by juliusbeezer
The Best Speech Yet From Any U.S. President - World Beyond War . . .
“First: Let us examine our attitude toward peace itself. Too many of us think it is impossible. Too many think it unreal. But that is a dangerous, defeatist belief. It leads to the conclusion that war is inevitable–that mankind is doomed–that we are gripped by forces we cannot control. We need not accept that view. Our problems are manmade–therefore, they can be solved by man. And man can be as big as he wants. No problem of human destiny is beyond human beings. Man’s reason and spirit have often solved the seemingly unsolvable–and we believe they can do it again.....
“With such a peace, there will still be quarrels and conflicting interests, as there are within families and nations. World peace, like community peace, does not require that each man love his neighbor–it requires only that they live together in mutual tolerance, submitting their disputes to a just and peaceful settlement.
war  us  history  politics 
october 2017 by juliusbeezer
Santiago Ramon y Cajal: "The Father of Neuroscience" - Brain Connection
Cajal added several levels of preparation and made other refinements as the debate over the true structure of the central nervous system was intensifying. While no one had yet seen an entire nerve cell, or could tell whether it was independent or just part of a larger structure, some scientists already questioned the old “single network” theory. Fridtjof Nansen, better known today for his Arctic explorations, had joined several others in theorizing that nerve cells were independent, basic structures. Still, almost everyone else, including Golgi and Cajal, believed in the network structure.

cajaldrawIn 1887, Cajal became chair of Normal and Pathological Histology at the university in Barcelona. His most consuming work, however, was slicing, soaking, staining and affixing to glass slides, slivers of the cerebellum of the embryo of a small bird. Then he carefully drew what he saw under the microscope. He became an ardent convert to the independent-cell camp.
history  medicine  science  philosophy 
october 2017 by juliusbeezer
Anatoli Sirota. Neo-Marxism. An Attempt at Reformation. Karl Marx, Engels, evolutionary marxism, historical materialism, precapitalist economic formations.
In January 1889, V.I. Vernadskii wrote to his wife from Munich about the '"great truth'' that "Duerer's powerful mind" had expressed in his painting The Four Apostles. '"The dreamer. ... the profound philosopher seeks ... the truth and gives rise to a less profound pupil as an intermediary," who "cannot understand the full essence," but "is closer to life, . . . explains in concrete terms what the other has said,... distorts him, but that is precisely why the masses will understand him: because he will grasp a small piece of the new and combine it with age-old popular beliefs." Beside them stand two figures with the severe countenances not of thinkers but of politicians...

On the other hand, Marx's revolutionary temperament at times overshadowed the scientist's theoretical thinking. Moreover, the revolutionary character of Marx's views was exaggerated in later arbitrary interpretations that arose from the popularization of his works on Engels's insistence. (Yet another splendid confirmation of the "Duerer-Vernadskii law": the pupil is easier to understand, but only because he distorts his teacher.) In order to change, not merely interpret, the world slogans comprehensible to the masses were required. Marx sometimes set out his thoughts in difficult language, Engels tactfully pointed out in his letters to Marx. He called the tone of some of Marx's works "abstractly dialectical."13 remarking sadly that "now the public, even the scholarly public, is completely unaccustomed to this kind of thinking and it is necessary to do whatever is possible to make things easier for it."16
politics  history  writing  funny  art  criticism  marxism 
october 2017 by juliusbeezer
20 Years of Stuff That Matters - Slashdot
Today we're marking Slashdot's 20th birthday. 20 years is a long time on the internet. Many websites have come and gone over that time, and many that stuck around haven't had any interest in preserving their older content. Fortunately, as Slashdot approaches its 163,000th story, we've managed to keep track of almost all our old postings - all but the first 2^10, or so. In addition to that, we've held onto user comments, the lifeblood of the site, from 1999 onward. As we celebrate Slashdot's 20th anniversary this month, we thought we'd take a moment to highlight a few of the notable or interesting stories and discussions that have happened here in the past decade and a half. This is part of our 20-year anniversary celebration, and we've set up a page to coordinate user meet-ups. We'll be continuing to run some special pieces throughout the month, so keep an eye out for those.
slashdot  history  commenting 
october 2017 by juliusbeezer
How Civilization Started | The New Yorker
there is a crucial, direct link between the cultivation of cereal crops and the birth of the first states. It’s not that cereal grains were humankind’s only staples; it’s just that they were the only ones that encouraged the formation of states. “History records no cassava states, no sago, yam, taro, plantain, breadfruit or sweet potato states,” he writes. What was so special about grains? The answer will make sense to anyone who has ever filled out a Form 1040: grain, unlike other crops, is easy to tax. Some crops (potatoes, sweet potatoes, cassava) are buried and so can be hidden from the tax collector, and, even if discovered, they must be dug up individually and laboriously. Other crops (notably, legumes) ripen at different intervals, or yield harvests throughout a growing season rather than along a fixed trajectory of unripe to ripe—in other words, the taxman can’t come once and get his proper due. Only grains are, in Scott’s words, “visible, divisible, assessable, storable, transportable, and ‘rationable.’ ” Other crops have some of these advantages, but only cereal grains have them all, and so grain became “the main food starch, the unit of taxation in kind, and the basis for a hegemonic agrarian calendar.” The taxman can come, assess the fields, set a level of tax, then come back and make sure he’s got his share of the harvest.
food  agriculture  politics  history 
september 2017 by juliusbeezer
The Fall of Gruit and the Rise of Brewer's Droop by Stephen Harrod Buhner
Many people think hops became an additive to beer for its bittering and preservative qualities but the truth is quite different. Gruit was primarily a combination of three herbs: sweet gale (Myrica gale),
yarrow (Achillea millefolium), and marsh rosemary (Ledum palustre) though each commercial gruit ale varied somewhat. Different brewers added other herbs (such as juniper berries, ginger, caraway seed, aniseed, nutmeg, and cinnamon (1)) to produce unique tastes, flavors, and effects in their ale. The exact formula for competing gruit ales was, like that for Coca Cola, proprietary - a closely guarded secret. Each
of the three primary gruit herbs was also used alone in brewing simple beers in cottage practice. And references to one particular quality of those herbs abound in the literature of the times; they were extremely inebriating when fermented. The brewing historian Odd Nordland comments that among rural Norwegian brewers "It was said locally that when one drank much of [sweet gale], it was strongly intoxicating, with unpleasant after effects." (2) The English herbalist Maude Grieve notes in her seminal Modern Herbal that "The leaves [of marsh rosemary] are reputed to be more powerful than those of Ledum latifolium [Labrador Tea], and to have in addition some narcotic properties, being used in Germany to make beer more intoxicating." (3) But among them all yarrow, the innocuous garden herb, was best known as an inebriant.
alcohol  food  history 
september 2017 by juliusbeezer
Clitoris : pourquoi avoir attendu 2017 pour le représenter dans les manuels scolaires ?
Malgré les médecins protestants, le clitoris continue à intéresser la science. Ainsi, en 1844, le docteur allemand Georg Ludwig Kobelt schématise entièrement l'organe féminin : "Il a trouvé les bulbes vestibulaires, et pendant très longtemps il a été le seul à avoir décrit la neurologie sensitive du clitoris. Il a démontré que seul le gland du clitoris avait une riche innervation à fonction érogène", explique Jean-Claude Piquard, avant d'ajouter que jusqu'à 1920, ses travaux étaient présents dans tous les traités d'anatomie.

C'est en 1880 que tout bascule réellement, lorsqu'on comprend que l’ovule n’advient pas lors de l’orgasme, mais à un moment précis du cycle menstruel, et qu'il n'a donc aucun intérêt du point de vue de la fertilité. Le regard sur le clitoris change : non seulement il n'a pas de fonction procréative, mais en plus, il peut inciter les couples à pratiquer la masturbation réciproque, explique Jean-Claude Piquard.
sex  france  history  culture 
september 2017 by juliusbeezer
Britain has built a national myth on winning the Second World War, but it’s distorting our politics
The centrality of the Second World War to the national myth warps our view of history and our place in the world in all sorts of ways. For starters, it means we’ve never had to take an honest account of the consequences of empire. In a tale about British heroes defeating Nazi villains, British mistakes or British atrocities just don’t fit. (Winston Churchill’s role in the 1943 Bengal famine – death toll: three million – by ordering the export of Indian grain to Britain rarely comes up in biopics.) In this dominant version of the national story, the end of empire is just the price we pay to defeat fascism.

More than that, our obsession with the Second World War creates the bizarre impression that failure is not just heroic, but a necessary precursor to success. Two of the most discussed elements of Britain’s war – the evacuation of Dunkirk, and the Blitz – are not about victory at all, but about survival against the odds. The lesson we take is that, with a touch of British grit and an ability to improvise, we can accomplish anything. It’s hard not to see this reflected in Brexit secretary David Davis’s lack of notes, but it’s nonsense: had the Russians and Americans not arrived to bail us out, Britain would have been stuffed.
history  uk  eu  war 
august 2017 by juliusbeezer
Media Lens - Racing Towards The Abyss: The U.S. Atomic Bombing of Japan
A stumbling block until recently has been that no historian has been sufficiently fluent in English, Japanese and Russian to investigate the primary archival material – including internal government documents, military reports and intelligence intercepts - in all three languages. This partly explains why historical debate in the West has been so focused on the Truman administration’s motives and policy-making: this, after all, could be pursued on the basis of English-language material...

In 2005, Tsuyoshi Hasegawa, professor of history at the University of California at Santa Barbara, published a landmark study, ‘Racing The Enemy: Stalin, Truman, and the Surrender of Japan.’[4] Hasegawa, born and raised in Japan but now a U.S. citizen, appraised seriously the trilateral wartime relationships between the United States, the Soviet Union and Japan. His study has been critically acclaimed and has generated considerable scholarly, as well as journalistic, debate. Barton Bernstein, professor of history at Stanford University and one of the world’s foremost commentators on A-bomb issues, warmly praised the book as “formidable”, “a major volume in international history” and “a truly impressive accomplishment, meriting prizes and accolades.”[5] The book has also delivered a huge jolt to anti-revisionists.
history  language  japan  russia  us  war  nukes 
august 2017 by juliusbeezer
Nonviolent Resistance to the Nazis: Interview with George Paxton | Ian Sinclair journalism
The use of nonviolence itself is of great importance. A violent opposition will be resisted with maximum violence from the controlling power but nonviolent resistance will send different signals, e.g. we are less of a threat to you. This may give rise to a degree of sympathy among the security forces. The resisters have to be firm but not aggressive. The occupied population has the advantage of superior numbers if they choose to use their power.

IS: You contrast what you call Gandhian resistance with the pragmatic nonviolent action that people like Gene Sharp advocate. What are the main differences between the two?

GP: There isn’t a great deal dividing Sharp and Gandhi. But most of the NVR used by resisters during the Nazi occupation was pragmatic in the sense that it was not usually underpinned by nonviolent theory; in fact it simply did not involve the use of weapons and so other writers prefer to call it civilian resistance.

Sharp developed NVR theory which was independent of religious belief, Gandhi’s or others. In reality Gandhi’s beliefs were very inclusive although he tended to use Hindu terms which Sharp wanted to avoid as he did not want to tie nonviolence to any particular culture. Both of their approaches are grounded in ethics. Sharp’s academic work actually grew out of his interest in Gandhi’s career but Sharp put more emphasis on the use of power in considering the possible mechanism of NVR; Gandhi hoped for conversion of the opponent.
politics  india  history 
august 2017 by juliusbeezer
George Paxton, Nonviolent Resistance to the Nazis | Peace News
‘But what about Nazi Germany?’ No doubt many Peace News readers have been asked this question when they have voiced support for nonviolence.

Summarising a range of published material, George Paxton shows that nonviolent resistance to Adolf Hitler’s government was widespread. And though it is often poorly-referenced and somewhat repetitive, this feels like one of the most important books I’ve read in a long time.

From underground newspapers, open letters, graffiti, and socially ostracising the occupiers, to slow working, boycotts and hiding and rescuing Jews, Paxton sets out what is effectively secret history in a culture that reveres the violent struggle against Nazi Germany. Who knew, for example, that on the first day that Copenhagen was occupied handwritten leaflets appeared on the streets, titled ‘Ten Commandments for Passive Resistance’?
history  politics  germany 
august 2017 by juliusbeezer
1995: The Year the Future Began, or Multimedia as the Vanishing Point of the Net | transmediale
Returning to 1995 with a more nuanced perspective than that of Campbell, that year also marks a point in time that is very much defined by what Wendy M. Grossman called the “net.wars” in her 1997 book of the same name, which chronicled different struggles between control and freedom in the early days of (inter-)networked mass communication (concentrating on the early to mid-1990s). In those years, many of the digital culture debates that are taking place today on a global scale and in the wider public sphere, through mainstream politics and media outlets, were just being established. These concerned, for example, intellectual property, privacy, data collection, and online social behavior. Such topics were initially discussed mostly within a Euro-American discourse, with a bias toward the US euphoria about the endless transgressive possibilities of our virtual lives in cyberspace, as well as the promises of global entrepreneurial freedom on what the Clinton/Gore administra­tion famously referred to as the “information superhighway.” It would be all too easy, however, to present the 1990s as the years of digital euphoria and the dot-com bust that followed as a shift from utopia to dystopia. More reflective and critical voices on the topic were certainly also there in the mid 1990s
internet  theory  history  media 
july 2017 by juliusbeezer
A Brief History of Mass Theft | Darren Allen
If you’re not familiar with classical economics and the ideas of Mr. K. Marx, the process by which communal land and resources are appropriated by private wealth (or capital), and people are robbed of their self-sufficiency and thereby forced into a position where they have to sell their labour in order to survive, is called Primitive Accumulation. Today we might call this Privatisation, or in plain-speaking, Mass-Theft.

The classic, and in some senses original, case of mass-theft was enclosure, the lawful practice, which began in the fifteenth century, of amalgamating common land into a single property
politics  history  marxism  scotland 
july 2017 by juliusbeezer
The Rokkor Files - Minolta Lens History
The quality of the coatings on these lenses is as a general rule not as good as those on later MC and MD lenses, and in some cases radioactive compounds of thorium and lanthanum were added to the glass mixture to increase the refractive index. This is apparent in some of the faster lenses such as the 58mm f/1.2 and 85mm f/1.7, where some early versions that included this glass have had their radioactive ingredients progressively decay, discolouring the glass, and giving the images taken with the affected lenses a very warm cast.
photography  nukes  history  art 
may 2017 by juliusbeezer
Jill Lepore on the Challenge of Explaining Things | Public Books
But I’ve always been interested in the history of technology and arguments about progress. Much of my scholarship lies at the intersection of political history and the field known as the history of the book, a field whose very subjects—which include literacy and the printing press—are technologies. I have always been especially interested in technologies of evidence, communication, and surveillance, which would encompass everything from writing systems to lie detectors...
To be fair, it’s difficult not to be susceptible to technological determinism. We measure the very moments of our lives by computer-driven clocks and calendars that we keep in our pockets. I get why people think this way. Still, it’s a pernicious fallacy. To believe that change is driven by technology, when technology is driven by humans, renders force and power invisible...
I once wrote a piece about the history of the breast pump. I was using a breast pump at the time and every time I hooked myself up to that monstrosity I felt like I was in a Mary Shelley story and I wondered, “For God’s sake, how on earth did it come to this?” So I looked into it. And do you know why we have breast pumps in the United States? Because we don’t have maternity leave. Pumps are a very cheap and crappy substitute. Freeze your eggs, freeze your milk, work like a man. Phooey...
Here’s a way to think about that: what percentage of everything “published” in, say, 1952—that is, every radio and television broadcast, every magazine, newspaper, newsletter, book—was edited, in the sense that it passed through the hands of at least one person whose entire job was to consider the judiciousness and reasonableness of the argument and the quality of the evidence? Let’s say—wild guess—more than 98 percent. And how much of everything “published” in 2017—every post, comment, clip—is edited? Who knows, but let’s say, less than 2 percent. Doesn’t that explain a lot about the pickle we’re in?
editing  attention  history  breastfeeding  work  politics  authoritarianism  writing 
april 2017 by juliusbeezer
Neuralink and the Brain's Magical Future - Wait But Why
"Elon Musk started Neuralink to accelerate our pace into the Wizard Era—into a world where he says that “everyone who wants to have this AI extension of themselves could have one, so there would be billions of individual human-AI symbiotes who, collectively, make decisions about the future.” A world where AI really could be of the people, by the people, for the people."

[He wants to implant chips in your brain and join the AI-enabled fourth planet (I didn't get this bit, I was too worn out skimming through the high school history and biology for idiocy, did find some)

Can I short neuralink with a Post Office savings account?

Where do I sign to have the chip implanted?

Canny even be arsed following up the obligatory science fiction references: "Iain Banks’ Culture series—a massless, volumeless, whole-brain interface that can be teleported into the brain." and "Ramez Naam, writer of the popular Nexus Trilogy, a series all about the future of BMIs,"

Good point about existing bandwidth of electrodes, but it's not at all clear what they plan to hook up to... and therein lies the "still 50 years-offness" of the whole thing cf nuclear fusion

So meh! Hats off for the effusiveness of the effusion, which will certainly fool millions]
agnotology  spectacle  business  psychology  history  evoscidebate 
april 2017 by juliusbeezer
The earliest writer on husbandry in the seventeenth century admits the fact of competition rents, defends the lord’s actions in taking what is offered him, and treats the farmers’ remonstrances with ill‑disguised contempt.” (E.I.H.) And this raising of rent went on until by the year 1879 the rent of agricultural land, which had for three centuries prior to the middle of the sixteenth century remained fixed at an average of from 6d. to 8 d. an acre, had risen to an average of more than 45s.(pages 179 and 293). But the most striking and important historical evidence on this point is to be derived from the sermons of dauntless old Hugh Latimer, who was burned at the stake at Oxford in 1555. Of these sermons, a writer in the Encyclopoedia Britannica says “It is possible to learn from them more regarding the social and political condition of the period than perhaps from any other source.”...
Where he that now hath it, payeth 16 pounds by year and more, and is not able to do anything for his prince, himself, nor his children or give a cup of drink to the poor. Thus all the enhancing and rearing goeth to your private commodity and wealth.
economics  history 
april 2017 by juliusbeezer
John Snow and the Broad Street Pump: On the Trail of an Epidemic
On 7 September 1854, Snow took his research to the town officials and convinced them to take the handle off the pump, making it impossible to draw water. The officials were reluctant to believe him, but took the handle off as a trial only to find the outbreak of cholera almost immediately trickled to a stop. Little by little, people who had left their homes and businesses in the Broad Street area out of fear of getting cholera began to return.

Despite the success of Snow’s theory in stemming the cholera epidemic in Soho, public officials still thought his hypothesis was nonsense. They refused to do anything to clean up the cesspools and sewers. The Board of Health issued a report that said, “we see no reason to adopt this belief” and shrugged off Snow’s evidence as mere “suggestions.”
health  history  microbiology 
april 2017 by juliusbeezer
Can quirky wind designs become mainstream? | Windpower Monthly
Arguably the antecedent of today's horizontal-axis wind turbine was the 1.25MW Smith-Putnam turbine. Built in the early 1940s in the US, the world's first wind turbine over 1MW operated for 1,100 hours before one of the two 20-metre blades broke off and was propelled over 200 metres away.
renewables  history 
april 2017 by juliusbeezer
L’orgasme féminin, c'est bon pour la société - Culture / Next
Jules Guyot (1807-1872), médecin et ingénieur, sous le Second Empire. En 1882 est publié à titre posthume son Bréviaire de l'amour expérimental qui connaît à l'époque un certain succès avant de tomber dans l'oubli. Sur quelques dizaines de pages, cet homme, inventeur maladroit mais viticulteur émérite, vaguement révolutionnaire dans sa prime jeunesse puis vrai bourgeois, explique comment et pourquoi le plaisir féminin est essentiel au bon fonctionnement du couple et de la société.

Rédigé en 1859 à une époque où le positivisme triomphe et où les milieux bourgeois inventent le mariage d'amour pour se différencier des aristocrates supposés libertins et des ouvriers supposés sagouins, ce bréviaire laïque fut l'un des premiers ouvrages à interroger le clitoris, l'orgasme et le plaisir féminin. Réédité par les éditions Payot & Rivages en 2012, s'il «ne préconise pas la liberté amoureuse ou le libertinage, mais au contraire les "symphonies conjugales", le mariage harmonieux, donc fidèle et durable», «il prône clairement l'égal droit et l'égale aptitude au plaisir de chaque sexe», comme l'explique l'historienne Sylvie Chaperon dans la préface.
français  sex  history 
february 2017 by juliusbeezer
Carrots grow fine in local soil | Home and Garden |
Chantenay carrot originated from the Chantenay region of France. Up until the 1950s, Chantenays were popular. They can withstand a variety of soil types and are disease and pest resistant. Chantenays are cold hardy, so they make a good fall carrot in our area.

Chantenay carrots were replaced in the 1950s by the easier to ship Imperator carrot. Chantenay carrots have shorter roots with broad shoulders and rounded tips; rich, sweet flavor and good storage potential. Red-Cored Chantenay, Hercules and Carson Hybrid are a few examples...
Nantes-type carrots are probably the best carrots to try in heavier clay soils. They have straight roots less susceptible to forking. They are less likely to form pithy cores when left in the field. Early Nantes, Nelson, Chantenay and Kaleidoscope Mix are examples of Nantes-type carrots.

Nantes is the capital of western Loire, France. The author Jules Verne is a Nantes native.
food  nantes  agriculture  agroecology  history 
january 2017 by juliusbeezer
EUROPA - Traités européens
Traité instituant la Communauté européenne du charbon et de l'acier (CECA)

Les traités fondateurs ont également été modifiés chaque fois que de nouveaux pays ont adhéré à l'Union européenne:

1973: Danemark, Irlande et Royaume-Uni
1981: Grèce
1986: Espagne et Portugal
1995: Autriche, Finlande et Suède
2004: République tchèque, Chypre, Estonie, Hongrie, Lettonie, Lituanie, Malte, Pologne, Slovaquie et Slovénie
2007: Bulgarie et Roumanie
2013: Croatie.
eu  history 
january 2017 by juliusbeezer
The High-fat Hep C Diet: What is a Maori Ancestral Diet?
The ancestors of New Zealand Maori probably left coastal Asia around 4,000 years ago, well within the Neolithic period. Therefore, in terms of evolutionary adaptation the foods of coastal Asia and the Asian and Melanesian archipelagos are fully ancestral for Maori, and this includes pigs, deer, and buffalo (i.e. land mammals, including ruminant species). Coconut too.

When Europeans arrived in New Zealand, six introduced cultigens (cultivated plants that have no known wild ancestor) were being grown by Māori. They were:

kūmara (sweet potato, Ipomoea batatas)
hue (bottle gourd, Lagenaria siceraria)
aute (paper mulberry, Broussonetia papyrifera)
taro (Colocasia esulenta)
uwhi (yam, Dioscorea species)
tī pore (Pacific cabbage tree, Cordyline fruticosa).
food  history  newZealand 
december 2016 by juliusbeezer
Le vélo comme signature de la modernité – Isabelle et le vélo
Le vélo dans la littérature :
les modernités alternatives d’un moyen de transport à propulsion humaine en Grande-Bretagne et en France, 1880 – 1920.
Thèse de doctorat en Langue et cultures des sociétés anglophones, école doctorale 131, langue, littérature, image. Laboratoire LARCA, (UMR 8225).
Soutenue le 18 novembre 2016
cycling  scholarly  history  literature 
december 2016 by juliusbeezer
Charles Darwin's reading habits - Marginal REVOLUTION
Search in an environment with an uncertain distribution of resources involves a trade-off between exploitation of past discoveries and further exploration. This extends to information foraging, where a knowledge-seeker shifts between reading in depth and studying new domains. To study this decision-making process, we examine the reading choices made by one of the most celebrated scientists of the modern era: Charles Darwin. From the full-text of books listed in his chronologically-organized reading journals, we generate topic models to quantify his local (text-to-text) and global (text-to-past) reading decisions using Kullback-Liebler Divergence, a cognitively-validated, information-theoretic measure of relative surprise. Rather than a pattern of surprise-minimization, corresponding to a pure exploitation strategy, Darwin’s behavior shifts from early exploitation to later exploration, seeking unusually high levels of cognitive surprise relative to previous eras. These shifts, detected by an unsupervised Bayesian model, correlate with major intellectual epochs of his career as identified both by qualitative scholarship and Darwin’s own self-commentary. Our methods allow us to compare his consumption of texts with their publication order. We find Darwin’s consumption more exploratory than the culture’s production, suggesting that underneath gradual societal changes are the explorations of individual synthesis and discovery. Our quantitative methods advance the study of cognitive search through a framework for testing interactions between individual and collective behavior and between short- and long-term consumption choices. This novel application of topic modeling to characterize individual reading complements widespread studies of collective scientific behavior.
screwmeneutics  history  sciencepublishing  science  evoscidebate 
december 2016 by juliusbeezer
WikiLeaks specializes in publishing, curating, and ensuring easy access to full online archives of information that has been censored or suppressed, or is likely to be lost. An understanding of our historical record enables self-determination; publishing and ensuring easy access to full archives, rather than just individual documents, is central to preserving this historical record. Since publishing Cablegate, WikiLeaks has continued to work to make PlusD the most complete online archive of US Department of State documents, adding to the library each year with newly available cables and other documents from the State Department communications system. It can be accessed through a set of specially developed search interfaces at
reading  research  writing  wikileaks  agnotology  attention  journalism  history  archiving 
november 2016 by juliusbeezer
Don't Just Build It, They Probably Won't Come: Data Sharing and the Social Life of Data in the Historical Quantitative Social Sciences | International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing
According to the research, the main hindrances to data sharing in history and related fields are as follows:

• Institutional repositories are perceived to exist to serve the institution and funding bodies, rather than the individual.9

• An institutional repository is not seen as a prestigious outlet for data publication and faculty are not convinced that their work will receive adequate exposure.10

• Not all disciplines have a tradition of using repositories.11

• Depositors are concerned about copyright, plagiarism, and intellectual property rights.12

• Younger scholars share data at low rates due to standards for career advancement that require publication in prestige journals.13

• Depositors find it difficult to contend with restrictive data consistency requirements and incompatible data types.14

• Repositories have inadequate preservation infrastructure and make it difficult to update data.15

• Depositing data requires too much time and effort, and there is a technical learning curve to use repositories properly.16

To summarize, the largest barrier to data sharing in history and related fields is the fear of loss of control over data and the subsequent potential loss of reputation related to data authorship.17
repositories  history  digitalhumanities  opendata 
november 2016 by juliusbeezer
Joseph Asbury Bell and the birth of randomized trials. - The James Lind Library The James Lind Library
Nowhere in the memorial issue of the journal, however, is there any discussion of Bell’s exemplary reports of randomized trials of pertussis (whooping cough) vaccines in the 1940s, the decade during which randomized trials can be said to have been born. This is particularly surprising given that Bell’s reports of his randomized trials were not published in obscure places, but in mainstream journals. Yet, as far as I am aware, none of the many people who have written about the history of randomized trials have referred to the remarkable report that Bell published in 1941, seven years earlier than the now iconic report of the randomized trial of streptomycin in pulmonary tuberculosis conducted under the aegis of the Medical Research Council (MRC 1948).
medicine  science  history 
november 2016 by juliusbeezer
Arms conversion – The Lucas Plan
The impetus for the Lucas Plan came from the Lucas Aerospace workers who faced losing their jobs, and wanting to produce socially useful products rather than weapons. During the 1980s final phase of the Cold War, the Plan was extremely influential in the disarmament movement, since it showed that, with political will and support, disarmament did not have to mean thousands of workers losing their jobs.

However, theirs has not been the only initiative seeking alternative employment for arms industry workers.
arms_trade  economics  history 
november 2016 by juliusbeezer
Scientific publishers are killing research papers | Ars Technica
I blame publishers. In the good old days of print journals, each edition only held a finite amount of information, so paper lengths were limited. Although you may have needed 30 pages of close-spaced text to describe how you accomplished some arcane scientific feat, some journals only gave you half a column. Any scientific results that could not be communicated properly in a short format ended up in another journal that could accommodate them.

This sometimes led to double publications: a short description of your results was published in one journal, while the extensive explanation of what you did appeared in a more technical publication.

Over time, short, direct articles have become more prestigious. Since university administrators are all about prestige, scientists now face increasing pressure to publish shortened forms of their research. The publishing houses, many of whom benefit from this pressure, are happy to accommodate.

To keep papers short, many journals emphasize results and conclusions at the expense of methods, often by moving them to the end and printing them in a font that requires a microscope. When I tried to report on a paper about adiabatic quantum computing recently published in Nature, I was dismayed to discover that all the useful information on methods wasn't in Nature at all, but in a separate document called supplementary information.
sciencepublishing  history  scholarly  science 
august 2016 by juliusbeezer
Language Log » Digital scholarship and cultural ideology
Allington et al. give a plausible account of the history of computational text analysis in the humanities. Their narrative is oriented towards literary studies, without much discussion of fields like history, archeology and musicology; and there's room to argue about their choice of people and works to feature. But from my perspective outside the field, they have cause and effect reversed. Digital Humanities is not a top-down neo-liberal conspiracy aimed at a corporatist restructuring of literary studies. Rather, it's the natural and inevitable response of students and younger scholars to the opportunities afforded by new technologies, entirely comparable to the consequences of the invention of printing...

From a historical point of view, at least, this is simply false. People began using computers in humanities research pretty much as soon as computers existed, and they did this because they wanted to get their work done more easily.
digitalhumanities  history  internet  scholarly 
july 2016 by juliusbeezer
How the CIA Writes History
When I asked to see the Cram and Applewhite papers, a staff archivist told me both collections had been removed from public view. The CIA, he explained, was reviewing the boxes for “security material.” He said he thought the material would be returned “by the fall” of 2015. When I asked to see the library records for the Cram papers again, I was told the CIA had removed those from public view, too.

“They knew you were coming,” Tim Weiner told me. Author of the best-selling CIA history Legacy of Ashes, Weiner suggested the agency had learned I was writing an Angleton biography and acted preemptively to protect itself.

Perhaps insufficiently paranoid, I hadn’t thought of that possibility, but I can’t dismiss it now. Trade publications reported in January 2015 that I had signed a contract for the Angleton biography. The Cram and Applewhite papers were removed from public view in the spring of 2015, according to one Georgetown employee.
history  archiving  agnotology  us 
april 2016 by juliusbeezer
Suleiman Mourad: Riddles of the Book. New Left Review 86, March-April 2014.
[punted to this by a search for Perry Anderson/Suleiman Mourad that pulled up as its top hit, this article linked at its foot. Seems to be of solid stuff...]

When the Great Mosque in Sana‘a was being renovated in the early 1970s, a secret attic was discovered above a false ceiling, containing a mass of old manuscripts. The Middle Eastern tradition (which applies to Christians and Jews as well) is that if a manuscript has the name of God or the name of the Prophet on it, you can’t simply destroy it. The best thing you can do is put it away, or bury it, as with the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Nag Hamadeh texts. You do so not to hide them for hiding’s sake, but to keep them from getting corrupted and thus insulting God. That was the case in San‘a. A German scholar was allowed to study the finds, but she has published very little on them for fear of the political consequences of doing so; it seems the Yemeni government threatened Germany with repercussions if anything embarrassing appeared. But from a few of what are believed to be very early parchments in the cache, using Kufic script, we know that they date to the late seventh or early eighth century, and we can already see one significant difference with the canonical version of the Qur’an. The traditional story tells us there were no serious variations between the different versions assembled by Caliph ‘Uthman around the year 650, though we know that down to the eighth century more popular versions of the Qur’an, without major discrepancies from the canonical text, were retained in certain regions—Iraq or Syria—out of local pride. The Yemeni manuscript, however, contains a very serious divergence. In the canonical Qur’an, there is a verse with the imperative form ‘say’ [qul]—God instructing Muhammad—whereas in the San‘a text, the same verse reads ‘he said’ [qala]. That suggests some early Muslims may have perceived the Qur’an as the word of the Prophet, and it was only some time later that his reported speech became a divine command. There is also some serious variation with respect to the size of some chapters.
religion  text  history  hermeneutics 
april 2016 by juliusbeezer
'Inside Sellafield' and military plutonium - the BBC's nuclear lies of omission - The Ecologist
For example, Al-Kalilili spent considerable time explain the key role of the £2.85bn Thermal Oxide Reprocessing plant (THORP), opened in 1994, once Sellafield's 'jewel in the atomic crown'. But he completely glossed over the severity of the THORP accident that disabled the plant for four years in 2004.

In May 2005, it was first reported that a serious leak of highly radioactive nuclear fuel dissolved in concentrated nitric acid - enough to half fill an Olympic-size swimming pool - had forced the facility's closure.

The highly dangerous mixture, containing about 22 tonnes of uranium and plutonium fuel, in liquid form, with a volume of around 83m3, had leaked through a fractured pipe into a huge stainless steel chamber in the 'feed clarification cell'.

The Nuclear Installations Inspectorate - now the Office for Nuclear Regulation - report on the accident, issued in December 2005, said that 160kg of plutonium was leaked - enough to make more than 30 nuclear weapons. The NII investigation identified that the company had been in breach of nuclear site licence conditions at the Sellafield site.
nukes  uk  military  history  environment 
april 2016 by juliusbeezer
Photographing software | david mcClure
What if – instead of trying to preserve software – we tried to systematically record it like this? What would that look like? What kind of information would we want to capture? What matters, what doesn’t matter? How should it be structured and archived? I guess I’d start by taking a huge battery of screenshots, capturing all possible states of the application and on all different screen sizes – a high-resolution desktop monitor, a laptop, an iPad, a phone. Then, to capture a sense of the lived, in-motion experience of the code, I’d round up a diverse set of contributors and stakeholders – PIs, developers, students, colleagues, target users – and have each record a 20-30 minute screencast of the software, walking through the functionality in detail and talking out an account of what’s there, what’s not there, what works well, what doesn’t work well, how (whether) it fits into some kind of larger technical or intellectual project. Maybe most important – write this, bake it off into a kind of technological-ethnographic account of the software, something that records the body of tacit knowledge about information design, interaction mechanics, and knowledge representation that’s always created in the process of trying to make software that actually works. We’d essentially be “taping” the software, sort of like a Grateful Dead concert.
software  archiving  history  linkrot  ubuntu 
march 2016 by juliusbeezer
The Sisterhood of the Easter Rising - The New York Times
AROUND 12:45 p.m. on April 29, 1916, Nurse Elizabeth O’Farrell left 15 Moore Street in Dublin to deliver the surrender message that would end the Easter Rising. Inside the house, where the division of Irish rebels under the command of Padraig Pearse had retreated, her comrades in arms watched her walk away through the bullet-riddled streets, fearing she would be shot down. But as she neared the British military outpost, the firing eased and Ms. O’Farrell accomplished her mission without injury.

Ms. O’Farrell’s act of bravery has become one of the iconic moments of the Rising, not so much for the act itself, but for how it was documented.
ireland  war  history 
march 2016 by juliusbeezer
Copyright versus community in the age of computer networks
OK. Copyright versus community in the age of computer networks. The principles of ethics can't change. They are the same for all situations, but to apply them to any question or situation you have to look at the facts of the situation to compare alternatives, you have to see what their consequences are, a change in technology never changes the principles of ethics, but a change in technology can alter the consequences of the same choices, so it can make a difference for the outcome of the question, and that has happened in the area of copyright law. We have a situation where changes in technology have affected the ethical factors that weigh on decisions about copyright law and change the right policy for society.
rms  copyright  history  philosophy  freesoftware 
march 2016 by juliusbeezer
On the Origin of Fuck | so long as it's words
So, for your enjoyment and workplace sniggering, here’s a potted history of fuck.

Instances of fuck before the fifteenth century are rare. Despite it commonly being classed as one of the Anglo-Saxon four-letter words, Jesse Sheidlower (author of an entire book on fuck, and past editor of the OED so he knows what he’s talking about) suspects that it came into English in the fifteenth century from something like Low German, Frisian or Dutch. While ‘fuck’ existed in English before then it was never used to mean rogering, instead it typically meant ‘to strike’ (which was, way-back-when, related to the word that became fuck because it’s a kind of hitting…). Anything that appears earlier is most likely to be the use of fuck to mean ‘to strike’.
english  language  history 
february 2016 by juliusbeezer
It wasn’t all nasty, brutish and short | Times Higher Education (THE)
Only a small number of the words we consider profanity have Anglo-Saxon roots: arse, bollock, fart, shit and turd. The others are all later arrivals into the English language. Cock and piss come via Norman English, and bum, cunt, fuck and twat are of unknown origin and appeared from the 13th century onwards. There is, in fact, very little that could be considered profanity in the surviving corpus of Old English, the language of the Anglo-Saxons.
english  language  history  funny 
february 2016 by juliusbeezer
Voltaire on Quakers | Quakers in Scotland
Voltaire's "Lettres Philosophiques," published in 1734. These contain 4 very interesting letters about the Quakers.

At the time the letters were written, Voltaire had already had two spells of imprisonment in the Bastille for his advocacy of toleration and enlightenment. He was released from prison on condition that he left France and he chose exile in England. He was taught English by a Quaker and became sympathetic to the Quaker outlook
religion  voltaire  france  history  philosophy  language  english 
january 2016 by juliusbeezer
Apologies | Matt Carr's Infernal Machine
As I have tried to make clear since I wrote my piece about Hilary Benn last Thursday, I never meant to suggest any moral equivalence whatsoever between Daesh and the International Brigades. I continue to believe that the overall context of the article makes it clear that I intended no such thing, and that nobody who is familiar with my writing could ever believe that I would make such a suggestion.
war  syria  philosophy  religion  history  dccomment 
december 2015 by juliusbeezer
The Meaning of Marxism - Lana Turner Journal
My thesis is that the object of the early Marx is different from the object of the Marx of Capital and it is upon this basis that an adequate periodization arises. The object of critique and analysis for the early Marx is an inherited concept called bourgeois society. The object of the later Marx was an invented, newly conceived object called the capitalist mode of production. This new concept of the capitalist mode of production involved a shift in Marx’s relation to political economy and what was meant by a critique of political economy...
My version of an early and a late Marx can be traced to the account that Robert Brenner presents of two stories of the origins of capitalism in Marx. There’s an earlier account in which bourgeois society arose out of the spread of commerce from its modest medieval beginnings. In his later work Marx develops another conception - that of the agrarian origins of capitalism unfolding through structural changes in the English countryside, involving the separation of direct producers from their means of subsistence. That separation from subsistence launches a pattern of socio-economic development that distinguishes England from the larger persistence of the socio-economic old regime on the continent.
marxism  politics  economics  history 
november 2015 by juliusbeezer
Garum: Fermented Fish Sauce for the Ancient Roman Masses
Fish sauce is widely seen as unique to Eastern cooking —distinctive of Thai, Vietnamese, or Phillipine cuisine. Less well known is the fact that it was one of the main condiments used by the ancient Romans, and that they had an extensive, low-tech trade network to produce it in large quantities. Making fish sauce also helped reduce food waste both in the food industry and for households.

Ancient Roman and modern fish sauces are probably identical in preparation, color, and taste. Making garum, as it was called then, is simple. Place some fish—such as mackerel, sardines, anchovies, or discarded fish innards—in a barrel with salt at a 5:1 ratio. Place a weight on top of the mixture, and let sit for 2-3 months. By this time the fish will ferment and liquify, creating an umami flavor similar to that of parmesan, and a slightly pungent smell. You can now take out the liquid, and use the remaining residue to make a second batch of fish sauce with more salty water.
food  history 
october 2015 by juliusbeezer
Translation and Virginity
He was also by far the crabbiest of the Church Fathers, as befits a man who earned sainthood by scholarship and rigorous asceticism, not working with people. As important a theological polemicist as he was a translator, he fired off letter after letter, volume after volume, from his library in Palestine, written in elegant classical Latin studded with choice insults. To someone who questioned his translations, he countered: “What men like you call fidelity in transcription, the learnèd term pestilent minuteness”; a heretic, Pelagius, was “a very stupid dolt weighed down with Scottish porridge.”

Yet strangely, Jerome is also one of the most admired saints, even most loved. Maybe it’s not so strange, given the overlap between antisocial scholars and reputation-makers. Three early fourteenth-century forgeries purporting to be by Jerome’s disciples and colleagues, describing his last hours, death, and numerous miracles, were runaway hits in the original Latin and, appropriately, in Tuscan, Sicilian, German, Dutch, French, Spanish, Catalan, Danish, and English translation. (Some four hundred manuscripts and thirty-six printed editions are known before 1501.)
translation  history  funny 
september 2015 by juliusbeezer
function concept
If today we try to answer the difficult question "What is mathematics?" we often respond with an answer such as "It is the study of relations on sets" or "It is the study of functions on sets" or "It is the study of dependencies among variable quantities". If these statements come anywhere close to the truth then it might be logical to suggest that the concept of a function must have arisen in the very earliest stages in the development of mathematics. Indeed if we look at Babylonian mathematics we find tables of squares of the natural numbers, cubes of the natural numbers, and reciprocals of the natural numbers. These tables certainly define functions from N to N. E T Bell wrote in 1945:-

It may not be too generous to credit the ancient Babylonians with the instinct for functionality; for a function has been successively defined as a table or a correspondence.

However this surely is the result of modern mathematicians seeing ancient mathematics through modern eyes. Although we can see that the Babylonians were dealing with functions, they would not have thought in these terms. We therefore have to reject the suggestion that the concept of a function was present in Babylonian mathematics even if we can see that they were studying particular functions.
mathematics  history 
september 2015 by juliusbeezer
Deserting the Digital Utopia / CrimethInc. Ex-Workers' Collective
Understood as a class, programmers occupy the same position today that the bourgeoisie did in 1848, wielding social and economic power disproportionate to their political leverage. In the revolutions of 1848, the bourgeoisie sentenced humanity to two more centuries of misfortune by ultimately siding with law and order against poor workers. Programmers enthralled by the Internet revolution could do even worse today: they could become digital Bolsheviks whose attempt to create a democratic utopia produces the ultimate totalitarianism.
politics  internet  history  theory 
september 2015 by juliusbeezer
Vole O'Speed: Taking the lane: a personal history
The new standards LCC adopted in 2013 meant that without speeds of 20 or lower plus very low motor vehicle volumes (generally only attainable on roads closed to through motor traffic), the campaign would henceforth not except as adequate route implementations those which were not physically segregated by some means or another. This was, at last, the clear and definitive endorsement of the policy I had been seeking since before 2000. The long internal arguments were over (in LCC, if not in the national organisations CTC and Cyclenation), and we could campaign unequivocally for what we needed for inclusive mass cycling. One novel means of segregation was being experimented with in Camden, where the Royal College Street track was rebuilt in 2013 with lightweight segregation on both sides of the road, to allow a capacity increase of at least 33%. This was another significant bit of taking the lane.
cycling  London  history  pqpc 
august 2015 by juliusbeezer
Nantes. Histoire. Les pionniers du cyclisme breton, raconté par Cadiou | Presse Océan
Un autre club, qui a pour nom le Véloce club nantais, est fondé le 7 juin 1883. Avec son siège administratif basé au café Cambronne (mais où était le dit café ?), il se propose de « réunir les amateurs de vélocipède du département ». Troisième création le 4 mai 1888 avec la naissance du Club des cyclistes de Nantes.

Les pistards locaux
Cette fois, ils entendent « développer le goût et l’usage du vélocipède » et de « fournir à l’armée des vélocipédistes aptes à rendre des services au pays ». Et ainsi de suite. Dès 1892, les courses s’étaient développées dans le pays nantais : Nantes-Machecoul, Nantes- Challans, Nantes-Blain, Nantes-Nort-sur-Erdre, Nantes-Vallet ou encore la Nantes-Rennes-Nantes.
cycling  nantes  history 
august 2015 by juliusbeezer
How to Write a Thesis, by Umberto Eco | Times Higher Education
While lots of the advice is hands-on (“begin new paragraphs often”), some is more metaphysical. Writing a thesis involves learning academic humility, the “knowledge that anyone can teach us something”. Eco illustrates this with a beautiful story of how a chance remark in a century-old book, badly written and full of preconceived ideas, by Vallet, an abbot, gave him a vital insight for his own thesis. And then, demonstrating the complex ways that work and intellectual inspiration are related, he tells of discovering years later, on returning to the book, that while the insight was not there on the page at all, somehow, as a student, he had himself taken it from the book: “is this not also what we ask from a teacher, to provoke us to invent ideas?”
writing  education  postgradology  history  memory  learning 
june 2015 by juliusbeezer
Mystery Of How The Egyptians Moved Pyramid Stones Solved | IFLScience
With the right amount of water, wet desert sand is about twice as stiff as dry sand, allowing the sled to glide far more easily.

“I was very surprised by the amount the pulling force could be reduced -- by as much as 50 percent -- meaning that the Egyptians needed only half the men to pull over wet sand as compared to dry,”

“Egyptologists had been interpreting the water as part of a purification ritual," Bonn says, "and had never sought a scientific explanation.”
science  agnotology  history  egypt 
april 2015 by juliusbeezer
Derrida: The Excluded Favorite by Emily Eakin | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books
Even Derrida claimed astonishment at the way his elusive and poetic glosses on Heidegger and Husserl were refashioned into a blunt, all-purpose tool—a kind of lethal deep-reading app—wielded by Americans determined to wage war on a canon they hadn’t always bothered to read.

Looking back on the tumult in 1997, he ventured a gentle rebuke:

“Deconstruction was becoming not only an act, an activity, a praxis, but it was becoming practicable, and, as they say in French, practical, in the sense of easy, convenient, and even salable as a commodity…. The paradox of this situation…is that what we were then trying to appropriate by making it possible, that is, functional and productive, was in any case that which had already shown itself explicitly as impossible.”

No doubt, some American uses of deconstruction were crudely literal. (One typical late-1980s feminist avowal: “The philosophical work of getting to the bottom of unjust power relations involves the desire to think outside the structures of thought and consciousness we have inherited. But because outside these structures there is no thought and signifying language, the very thinking that deconstructs them must also inevitably reconstruct them.”)
philosophy  theory  history  attention 
april 2015 by juliusbeezer
Murder Machines: Why Cars Will Kill 30,000 Americans This Year | Collectors Weekly
By the end of the 1920s, more than 200,000 Americans had been killed by automobiles. Most of these fatalities were pedestrians in cities, and the majority of these were children. “If a kid is hit in a street in 2014, I think our first reaction would be to ask, ‘What parent is so neglectful that they let their child play in the street?,’” says Norton.

“In 1914, it was pretty much the opposite. It was more like, ‘What evil bastard would drive their speeding car where a kid might be playing?’ That tells us how much our outlook on the public street has changed—blaming the driver was really automatic then. It didn’t help if they said something like, ‘The kid darted out into the street!,’ because the answer would’ve been, ‘That’s what kids do. By choosing to operate this dangerous machine, it’s your job to watch out for others.’
road_safety  transport  us  history 
march 2015 by juliusbeezer
How Snobbery Helped Take The Spice Out Of European Cooking : The Salt : NPR
the elite recoiled from the increasing popularity of spices," Ray says. "They moved on to an aesthetic theory of taste. Rather than infusing food with spice, they said things should taste like themselves. Meat should taste like meat, and anything you add only serves to intensify the existing flavors."
The shift began in France, in the mid-1600s, adds Paul Freedman, a professor of history at Yale University. "It was a way to also show off the wealth of the French provinces," Freedman says.
cooking  food  history 
march 2015 by juliusbeezer
#Marx21c | Literature, the Humanities, & the World
After Debord, we can think of two ways of articulating pasts to presents via the archive. One is quotation, which works from past to present, in which the legitimacy of a statement rests on its anchoring in statements from recognized authors in the past. This is the standard practice of the humanities academy. It gives the academy a conservative tendency. This is of course not always a bad thing. It is a guard against fashion. But it can also set scholars, even Marxists ones, up to play what Lyotard called language games with the archive and with each other, games that no longer have anything to do with any situation outside of them.

The other path is détournement. As Keston Sunderland has shown, détournement was part of Marx’s own practice. Marx constantly copies and critically corrects the epigrammatic illuminations of his age. Détournement works first from the present situation, and only then selects cuts from the past and brings them into the present, copying and correcting in the direction of possibility. Practiced as scholarship, détournement can at least begin from the question of the historical situation.
spectacle  debord  marxism  history 
march 2015 by juliusbeezer
After Debord - Berfrois
The other path is détournement. As Keston Sunderland has shown, détournement was part of Marx’s own practice. Marx constantly copies and critically corrects the epigrammatic illuminations of his age. Détournement works first from the present situation, and only then selects cuts from the past and brings them into the present, copying and correcting in the direction of possibility. Practiced as scholarship, détournement can at least begin from the question of the historical situation. It is a matter of articulating a common task for this situation, and for that task to call out of the past the resources for organizing thought and action in the present. In the era of digital means of production, the twist on class conflicts that this brings, and the facts of the Anthropocene that can no longer be considered as secondary, must be drawn into the very heart of thought.
theory  spectacle  philosophy  zizek  marxism  history  debord 
february 2015 by juliusbeezer
Stop Googling your health questions. Use these sites instead. - Vox
Then, in the early 1990s, came "evidence-based medicine." It sounds redundant, almost silly, but it was a revolution in medical practice. Essentially, the movement called on doctors to apply the scientific method to the clinics through "the conscientious, explicit, and judicious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the care of individual patients."

One of the key insights of evidence-based medicine was that doctors needed accessible and trustworthy research to inform their decisions. They, too, needed help wading through all the research out there.

Statisticians paved the way by coming up with particular methods for making sense of science.
ebm  history 
february 2015 by juliusbeezer
Walter Benjamin and the "Tradition of the Oppressed" | ANTHROPOLOGICAL MATERIALISM
For Benjamin history is not based on a progressive flow of “homogeneous, empty time” directed to the future but on a disruptive constellation of the present and the past. The past is not simply gone; it can never be fully historicized. The medium in which the present is connected to all lost causes and struggles of those who lost their histories is called the “tradition of the oppressed.” Against the continuous temporality of the humanist idea of cultural heritage, “the tradition of the oppressed” forms a fractured medium the dialectics of which Benjamin discussed in two fragmentary notes.
history  benjamin  theory  time 
february 2015 by juliusbeezer
The return of big history: the long past is the antidote to short-termism
Their main injunction derives from Avram Goldberg, the chief executive of a New England grocery chain. Whenever a manager came to him in a flap, he wouldn’t ask, “What’s the problem?” but say, “Tell me the story.” That way, Goldberg said, “I find out what the problem really is.” His maxim became the premise of the book by Neustadt and May. Rather than focus on the crisis at hand (while already straining for a quick-fix solution), one should stand back and ask, “How did we get into this mess?” That is the first step to seeing a way out.

Telling the story requires identifying critical events and turning points, asking what happened when. This basic chronology then has to be fleshed out by addressing “who” and “why” questions about personalities and motivations: what Neustadt and May call “journalists’ questions”. Digging out this kind of human detail is as much a historical activity as constructing a chronology.
history  business  coaching 
february 2015 by juliusbeezer
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