Archive | History

First Great in Jazz: Jelly Roll Morton

ferdmortonFerdinand Joseph LaMothe, better known as Jelly Roll Morton is one of the greats of the roots of jazz, and is too often overlooked.  His virtuosic playing is larger than life, innovative, highly characteristic and a delight for the ears. With his salty beginnings playing in whorehouses as a teenager, he was known throughout the South and West Coast before finding success in the thriving Chicago scene. He will have been born 125 years ago this fall. has compiled a great many of his finest works to listen to and download for free!  Now, how ’bout dat!

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Archeologists discover 400-year-old remains of Jamestown, Virginia colonial leaders

Loney Abrams writes at Hopes&Fears:

Archeologists have unearthed the human remains of four colonial leaders in Jamestown, Virginia. The bodies were buried more than 400 years ago near what had been the US’ first Protestant church, and are believed to belong to some of the earliest English settlers in America. It is the same church where Pocahontas married John Rolfe, which marked the beginning of a peace treaty between the Powhatan Indians and colonists. Archeologists had discovered the remains in November 2013 but they wanted to trace and confirm the findings before making an announcement.

The most interesting aspect of the discovery, however, was not of the bones themselves, but of the relics that were buried with the bodies. For example, on top of the coffin belonging to Capt. Gabriel Archer, a nemesis of the one-time colony leader John Smith, archeologists found a Catholic reliquary that contained bone fragments and a container for holy water, raising questions of whether Archer was part of a secret cell within the Protestant community, or even a Catholic spy on behalf of the Spanish.… Read the rest

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Hunter S. Thompson on Outlaws

“I keep my mouth shut now. I’ve turned into a professional coward.”
— Hunter S. Thompson in 1967

In the 1960s, Hunter S. Thompson spent more than a year living and drinking with members of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club, riding up and down the California coast. What he saw alongside this group of renegades on Harley’s, these hairy outlaws who rampaged and faced charges of attempted murder, assault and battery, and destruction of property along the way–all of this became the heart of Thompson’s first book: Hell’s Angels: A Strange and Terrible Saga. Shortly after the book came out, Thompson sat down for a radio interview with the one and only Studs Terkel.


“I can’t remember ever winning a fight.”

“I used to take it out at night on the Coast Highway, just drunk out of my mind, ride it for 20 and 30 miles in just short pants and a t-shirt.… Read the rest

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Four B-Grade Science Fiction Films in the Public Domain

Inspired by Open Culture’s new post, “The 5 Best Noir Films in the Public Domain,” I did a brief search to see which other films reside in the public domain.

Behold the wonder that is b-grade, public domain sci-fi.

The Brain That Wouldn’t Die

The Brain that Wouldn’t Die entered the public domain after American-International Pictures failed to add copyright information to the new title card.

Completed in 1959, the film was officially released in 1962. Directed by Joseph Green with an estimated budget of $62,000, The Brain That Wouldn’t Die follows a grief-stricken doctor who keeps his decapitated girlfriend’s head alive while he searches for a replacement body. The girlfriend, Jan Compton (Virginia Leith), is understandably pissed that the doctor won’t let her die. So, she communicates telepathically with a mutant locked in the laboratory, willing it to kill the doctor.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 covered The Brain That Wouldn’t Die in episode 513 and was the first film watched by Mike Nelson after he replaced Joel Robinson.… Read the rest

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Exploding the nuclear family

Sparky (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Sparky (CC BY-NC 2.0)

Test-tube babies, surrogates, single parents, gay fathers – the modern era is redefining what a family is. Linda Geddes finds out if the kids are alright.


Lesley and John Brown had been trying to conceive for nine years. The ongoing failures took their toll: Lesley became depressed, and at one point suggested that John find a “normal woman”.

Eventually, she was referred to Patrick Steptoe, a gynaecologist at Oldham General Hospital in Greater Manchester. He offered Lesley an experimental treatment he had been working on with his colleague Robert Edwards. The procedure would use a long, slender probe to pluck an egg from one of Lesley’s ovaries, before mixing it with some of John’s sperm and nurturing the developing embryo outside of her body. Finally, the embryo would be placed into Lesley’s womb, where hopefully it would continue to develop. At the time, the technique had never before resulted in the birth of a live baby.… Read the rest

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Labh: A General, His Wife and the 1980s Sikh Insurgency

Police said that 12 to 15 Sikhs—most wearing police uniforms—walked into a branch of the Punjab National Bank in Ludhiana, about 60 miles northwest of Chandigarh, shortly after it opened.

Mistaking them for real officers, bank employees shook hands with the robbers. Two security guards complied with requests to hand over their weapons for inspection.

The extremists, armed with rifles and submachine guns, then took keys to the safe from the manager and a cashier and locked the bank employees in a room, the spokesman said.

The Sikhs fled in a van after filling sacks with 58 million rupees—$4.5 million. Part of the money belonged to the Reserve Bank of India, the country’s central bank, which does not have a branch in the city.

Police said the robbers shouted slogans supporting Khalistan. Bank employees told the Press Trust of India news agency that the robbers said they would use the loot to buy arms.

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Ball’s Pyramid — Last Home to the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect

Atlas Obscura showcases Ball’s Pyramid in one of their newest videos. Ball’s Pyramid juts out of the Pacific Ocean 1,844 ft into the air and is actually the remnant of “a shield volcano and caldera that formed about 6.4 million years ago.”

What makes this island particularly special is that it’s home to the last remaining wild population of the Lord Howe Island Stick Insect. Watch the video for more information.

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