Tag Archives | History

13 real technologies Woody Allen (of all people) predicted in the ’70s

ecodallaluna (CC BY-SA 2.0)

ecodallaluna (CC BY-SA 2.0)

via DVice:

Back in 1973, eternally eccentric filmmaker Woody Allen made Sleeper. Set in the year 2173, Sleeper is, to date, Allen’s sole venture into overt sci-fi. A slapstick comedy, Sleeper pokes fun at other sci-fi classics, notable amongst them Fahrenheit 451 and 2001: A Space Odyssey. The political and social aspects of the film are thinly veiled 1970s sentiment, set in a dystopic inept police state.

What is truly interesting is Sleeper’s perspective on the progress of technology, 200 years from its production. While Woody Allen did not predict technological miniaturization, he did get a lot of things right. Was Woody Allen a tech prophet? Here’s a list of technologies predicted in Sleeper that already exist, 161 years ahead of schedule.

1. Sleeping Pods Not once, but twice in Sleeper are we given glimpses of long-term sleeping devices. I guess that’s appropriate, given the title.

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The insane history of how American paranoia ruined and censored comic books

secretlondon123 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

secretlondon123 (CC BY-SA 2.0)

via Vox:

One of the most hurtful things you can say to a comic book reader is that comic books are for kids.

It’s a chilling insult that the stuff they read — the stuff they love — never advanced beyond its funny-page beginnings. But it’s also — often unknown to comics fans — a blunt reminder of one of the worst things to ever happen to comic books.

Some 60 years ago, during the era of McCarthyism, comic books became a threat. The panic culminated in a Senate hearing in 1954. This, of course, isn’t to say that McCarthyism and the comic book panic were comparable in their human toll. But they share the same symptoms of American fear and a harsh, reactive response to it.

The reaction to the suspected scourge was the Comics Code — a set of rules that spelled out what comics could and couldn’t do.

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The True Practice of Binding Books in Human Skin

book fleshEarlier posts have verified that Harvard University’s library contains books bound in human skin, but in case you missed it Rob Velella has summarized what you need to know about the somewhat bizarre practice, at Atlas Obscura:

There are a few urban legends that poke up here and there that certain libraries — usually dusty, private, or academic ones which are not easily accessible by the public — hold books bound in human skin. Few of these stories turn out to be true: the “human” skin is often proven to be lamb, sheep, or deer. But Harvard University’s Houghton Library was recently surprised — and somewhat taken aback — to find one of its books was absolutely an example of the practice known as anthropodermic bibliopegy.

The book in question (pictured here courtesy Houghton Library, Harvard University), a French volume titled Des destinées de l’ameby Arsène Houssaye, is also relatively recent, dating only to the 1880s.

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America Is Built on Torture, Remember?

takomabibelot (CC BY 2.0)

takomabibelot (CC BY 2.0)

via Pacific Standard Magazine:

The release of the Senate Intelligence Committee report has sparked a great deal of outrage—and justifiably so. The details are grim and sickening: The report says that the CIA tortured innocent people, threatened to murder and rape the mothers of detainees, and used rectal feeding or, essentially, anal rape, as a punishment. The report paints a picture of heedless brutality, cruelty, and sadism.

Given the details from Abu Ghraib, and the long-known, supposedly sanctioned techniques like waterboarding, these revelations aren’t exactly surprising. But they still have the power to shock. Andrew Sullivan, who has been a bitter and committed critic of American torture, summed up the reaction of many when he suggested that readers “reflect on a president [George W. Bush] who cannot admit to being the first in that office to authorize such an assault on core American values and decency.” To numerous critics on the left and some on the right as well, the torture seems like a violation of the basic American commitment to freedom, justice, and human rights.

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Researchers use real data rather than theory to measure the cosmos

Incase (CC BY 2.0)

Incase (CC BY 2.0)

via Phys.org:

For the first time researchers have measured large distances in the Universe using data, rather than calculations related to general relativity.

A research team from Imperial College London and the University of Barcelona has used data from astronomical surveys to measure a standard distance that is central to our understanding of the expansion of the .

Previously the size of this ‘standard ruler’ has only been predicted from theoretical models that rely on general relativity to explain gravity at large scales. The new study is the first to measure it using observed data. A standard ruler is an object which consistently has the same physical size so that a comparison of its actual size to its size in the sky will provide a measurement of its distance to earth.

“Our research suggests that current methods for measuring distance in the Universe are more complicated than they need to be,” said Professor Alan Heavens from the Department of Physics, Imperial College London who led the study.

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Viking families traveled together, research shows

Frank Douwes CC BY 2.0

Frank Douwes (CC BY 2.0)

via Phys.org:

(Phys.org)—A new study shows that when Vikings moved to new territories, men and women traveled together. Erika Hagelberg of the University of Oslo and her colleagues compared ancient Norse and Icelandic mitochondrial DNA with mitochondrial DNA of modern Northwestern Europeans. They found similarities between the ancient and modern DNA suggesting women played a significant role in Viking migrations. The research appears in The Royal Society Philosophical Transactions B.

Vikings traveled long distances, establishing colonies in Iceland and many parts of Northwestern Europe. They even traveled as far as North America. It’s a commonly held belief that Viking expeditions consisted entirely of men, and that a shortage of women at home compelled Viking men to seek out women in foreign lands. Earlier genetic studies have suggested that while Viking men ventured forth to pillage and plunder, women and children stayed home.

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The 1918 Flu Pandemic: History In Photos

Historical photo of the 1918 Spanish influenza ward at Camp Funston, Kansas, showing the many patients ill with the flu (: Original source description)

Historical photo of the 1918 Spanish influenza ward at Camp Funston, Kansas, showing the many patients ill with the flu (: Original source description)

via All That is Interesting:

According to the numbers provided by the U.S. Department of Justice, over five million souls died in WWI, excluding prisoners of war or missing persons. This is admittedly an incredibly high number, but it pales in comparison to the estimated 50 to 100 million more people the world over who lost their lives to the especially virulent influenza pandemic of 1918.

With modern medicinal practice still in its infancy, many misunderstood how individuals could contract and spread this illness, and often misdiagnosed it given its similarity to the common cold. It was originally thought that a certain bacteria – Pfeiffer’s bacillus – was the culprit, though no autopsies were able to find it in any of the bodies. The virus was not isolated until 1930 – far after the Spanish Flu would wreak havoc on the world’s population, eventually taking out 3-5% of it.

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“Riddles” Surround 36th Dead Banker Of The Year

via Global Research:

52-year-old Belgian Geert Tack – a private banker for ING who managed portfolios for wealthy individuals – was described as ‘impeccable’, ‘sporty’, ‘cared-for’, and ‘successful’ and so as Vermist reports, after disappearing a month ago, the appearance of his body off the coast of Ostend is surrounded by riddles…

Tack disappeared on November 5th…

 Impeccable. Sporty. Cared for. Successful. Just some qualifications that are attributed to the 52-year-old from the Belgian Geert Tack Haaltert.

Geert Tack worked as a private banker for ING and managed portfolios of wealthy clients. The Belgian was much respected in the financial world and was known as an up and top professional. His sudden disappearance had the effect of a bombshell. “If Tack himself was having trouble he has managed to keep it well hidden”, colleagues say.

Nobody then could have guessed that the man would not return on Wednesday, November 5th to his wife in their villa Vondelen.

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John Lennon death anniversary: Legendary Beatles singer shot dead by Mark David Chapman

Roy Kerwood (CC BY 2.5)

Roy Kerwood (CC BY 2.5)

via New York Daily News:

(Originally published by the Daily News on Dec. 09, 1980. This story was written by Patrick Doyle, Robert Lane and Hugh Bracken.)

Former Beatle John Lennon, the 40-year-old lead singer of the most popular rock group in history, was shot to death last night as he stepped from a limousine outside his home in the Dakota, an exclusive apartment building on Central Park West and 72d St.

Police arrested a suspect, “described as a local screwball,” minutes after the shooting and charged him with Lennon’s murder. The “smirking” suspect, identified as Mark David Chapman, 25, of Hawaii, was seen in the vicinity of the Dakota for several hours before the shooting and reportedly had hounded Lennon for an autograph several times in the last three or four days.

Lennon and his Japanese-born wife, Yoko Ono, were returning to their apartment from a recording session when the shots rang out.

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Bush Joins Bid to Block Senate Release of CIA Torture Report

453px-George-W-Bush

via Bloomberg:

Current and past U.S. officials, including former President George W. Bush, have mounted a campaign to try to block the release tomorrow of a Senate report detailing harsh interrogation tactics previously used by the CIA on suspected terrorists.

The opposition comes as Democrats on the Senate intelligence committee plan to release an executive summary of the 6,200-page report, which found the CIA used extreme interrogation methods at secret prisons more often than legally authorized and failed to disclose all the activities to lawmakers and other officials.

Despite warnings of retaliation abroad against Americans from those opposed to making the report public, the Obama administration supports its release, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said today.

“The president believes that, on principle, it’s important to release that report, so that people around the world and people here at home understand exactly what transpired,” he said. Earnest said the administration has taken steps to improve security at U.S.

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