Tag Archives | History

Decoding the Antikythera Mechanism, the First Computer

"NAMA Machine d'Anticythère 1". Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

The Antikythera mechanism (Fragment A – front)
NAMA Machine d’Anticythère 1“. Licensed under CC BY 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons.

By Jo Marchant via Smithsonian.com:

After 2,000 years under the sea, three flat, misshapen pieces of bronze at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens are all shades of green, from emerald to forest. From a distance, they look like rocks with patches of mold. Get closer, though, and the sight is stunning. Crammed inside, obscured by corrosion, are traces of technology that appear utterly modern: gears with neat triangular teeth (just like the inside of a clock) and a ring divided into degrees (like the protractor you used in school). Nothing else like this has ever been discovered from antiquity. Nothing as sophisticated, or even close, appears again for more than a thousand years.

For decades after divers retrieved these scraps from the Antikythera wreck from 1900 to 1901, scholars were unable to make sense of them.

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Science for the People!

CC-BY: BSSRS/Wellcome Images

CC-BY: BSSRS/Wellcome Images

There’s a smell in Battersea, south-west London. Today, there are streams of the internet devoted to a whiff of toast commuters notice on the train over the river. It’s something to do with local coffee roasters, apparently. But in the early 1970s, the area was very different economically, and the stink wasn’t nearly so pleasant. The strong stench – described at the time as “like dead bodies” – was colloquially known as “The Battersea Smell”.

There was various speculation about causes. Most likely was that the stench came from one or two local factories – the gin distillers John Watney and Co and the glucose manufacturers Garton Sons and Co. But no one really knew. Moreover, the local council seemed to be actively avoiding trying to find out, and avoiding attempting to do much about it.

As a local paper at the time noted, “We can get to the moon, phone relatives in Australia, perform miracles of surgery but a simple matter like getting rid of a smell seems to baffle everyone.”

Residents were especially annoyed as the local council insisted they use (expensive) smokeless fuel to cut air pollution yet seemed to do nothing about the stink.… Read the rest

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Is This Country Crazy? Inquiring Minds Elsewhere Want to Know

(Credit: Occupy Posters/owsposters.tumblr.com/cc 3.0)

(Credit: Occupy Posters/owsposters.tumblr.com/cc 3.0)

Ann Jones via Tom Dispatch:

Jan. 11, 2015 (TomDispatch.com) — Americans who live abroad — more than six million of us worldwide (not counting those who work for the U.S. government) — often face hard questions about our country from people we live among. Europeans, Asians, and Africans ask us to explain everything that baffles them about the increasingly odd and troubling conduct of the United States. Polite people, normally reluctant to risk offending a guest, complain that America’s trigger-happiness, cutthroat free-marketeering, and “exceptionality” have gone on for too long to be considered just an adolescent phase. Which means that we Americans abroad are regularly asked to account for the behavior of our rebranded “homeland,” now conspicuously in decline and increasingly out of stepwith the rest of the world.

In my long nomadic life, I’ve had the good fortune to live, work, or travel in all but a handful of countries on this planet.

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The Triumph of the Military-Industrial-Congressional Complex

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Ashton Carter’s predecessor, greets Sen. Carl Levin and Sen. John McCain, at right in the blue and red ties, respectively. Photo via Wikipedia

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Ashton Carter’s predecessor, greets Sen. Carl Levin and Sen. John McCain, at right in the blue and red ties, respectively. Photo via Wikipedia

Via Ben Cohen & Winslow Wheeler at Medium:

In his farewell address in January 1961, Pres. Dwight Eisenhower famously cautioned the American public to “guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.”

Today it’s routine for critics of wasteful military spending to cite Eisenhower’s warning. Unfortunately, Eisenhower did not warn us that the military-industrial complex would become increasingly malignant as it morphed into less obvious forms.

The “complex” is no longer just “military” and “industrial,” and it has extended far beyond just its congressional branch, which Eisenhower also intended to include.

It’s now deeply embedded in the fiber of the American political system, academia, the civilian leadership of the Defense Department and—increasingly—the White House itself.

• • •

The military-industrial-complex was on display—but passed without wide notice—on Dec.

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Read The Very First Comic Book: The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck

 

Obadiah Oldbuck

Via Open Culture.com

Comic books, as any enthusiast of comics books won’t hesitate to tell you, have a long and robust history, one that extends far wider and deeper than the 20th-century caped musclemen, carousing teenagers, and wisecracking animals so many associate with the medium. The scholarship on comic-book history — still a relatively young field, you understand — has more than once revised its conclusions on exactly how far back its roots go, but as of now, the earliest acknowledged comic book dates to 1837.

The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck, according to thecomicbooks.com’s page on early comic-book history, “was done by Switzerland’s Rudolphe Töpffer, who has been considered in Europe (and starting to become here in America) as the creator of the picture story. He created the comic strip in 1827,” going on to create comic books “that were extremely successful and reprinted in many different languages; several of them had English versions in America in 1846.

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E=±mc²=Thé Ðëòxÿríßøñµçlëìç HÿÞêrdïmèñsîøñ is back online – Was it ever really gone?

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Deoxy.org, one of the oldest alternative websites on the web has disappeared on and off for some time now. The last disappearance lasted for about 5 months. It’s now back online.

The cultural operating system we have, Consumer Capitalism 5.0 or whatever it is…actually has bugs in it that generate contradictions…such as…cutting the earth from beneath our own feet…poisoning the atmosphere that we breathe. This is not intelligent behavior. This is a culture with a bug in its operating system that’s making it produce erratic dysfunctional behavior. Time to call a tech and…the shamans are the techs.

Terence McKenna

Robert Gordon Wasson writes at Deoxy.org:

Bemushröömed

From Hallucinogenic Fungi of Mexico

I do not recall which of us, my wife or I, first dared to put into words back in the forties the surmise that our own remote ancestors, perhaps 4000 years ago, worshipped a divine mushroom.

In the fall of 1952 we learned that the 16th century writers, describing the Indian cultures of Mexico, had recorded that certain mushrooms played a divine role in the religion of the natives.

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Selma blurs line between past and present

Selma director and co-writer Ava DuVernay has crafted a new and important vision of an oft-examined era in our nation’s history. Stanley Wolfson/Library of Congress

Selma director and co-writer Ava DuVernay has crafted a new and important vision of an oft-examined era in our nation’s history.
Stanley Wolfson/Library of Congress

By Mary Schmitt, University of California, Irvine

Hollywood films that depict American history deeply influence our sense of national identity. Films that portray Civil Rights and Black Freedom history are particularly important.

Beyond entertaining moviegoers, films like Glory and Remember the Titans have served as barometers of US race relations. As (mostly) stories of progress and triumph, they provide us with the picture of morality we wish to project as the world’s leading superpower.

Needless to say, who gets to tell these stories, how they are told and why they are told is no simple matter. In her new film Selma, director and co-writer Ava DuVernay plunges into the history of the Civil Rights movement, and emerges with a new and important vision of an oft-examined era in our nation’s history.… Read the rest

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The Woman Who Tried To Murder Dr. King

izolaheadshot

William Bastone, Andrew Goldberg, and Joseph Jesselli write at The Smoking Gun:

On the eighth floor of a nursing home in Queens, New York, a 98-year-old woman sits slumped in a wheelchair in the hallway outside her room. She is sleeping, oblivious to the roar coming from the television of her next-door neighbor, who is watching “The Price is Right” at an ear-piercing volume.

Though the corridor is uncomfortably toasty on this July morning, the woman has a knitted shawl over her shoulders. She is wearing green sweatpants, a green t-shirt, and black shoes with Velcro closures. The remaining wisps of her hair are gray and tangled. In her clenched left hand is a wad of tissues that she will use to absent-mindedly dab at her face and rheumy eyes.

As she naps in the hallway, it is hard to imagine that frail Izola Curry was once a would-be assassin, a woman who nearly changed the course of U.S.

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A Wage or A Cage: We Are All Slaves

m.a.r.c. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

m.a.r.c. (CC BY-SA 2.0)

“None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free.”
— Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

In 1865 the US formally “abolished slavery” with the ratification of the 13th Amendment. The text of the 13th reads as follows:

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

That’s seriously it. Just that. Basically a resigned, “Alright guys, party’s over. No more slavin’ for us”. It even includes an “except”, because hey, there are always exceptions.

It is 2015. Slavery has only been explicitly ‘outlawed’ for the last 150 years. The historical momentum of slavery and the slave trade still informs the mentality of elites today because of its sheer ubiquity and depth as an economic system.… Read the rest

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Mummy Mask May Reveal Oldest Known Gospel

This mummy mask was one of the masks that the researchers took apart to reveal ancient papyri. This mummy mask is similar to the one that contained the first century gospel fragment. Credit: Courtesy of Prof. Craig Evans

This mummy mask was one of the masks that the researchers took apart to reveal ancient papyri. This mummy mask is similar to the one that contained the first century gospel fragment.
Credit: Courtesy of Prof. Craig Evans

Owen Jarus writes at LiveScience:

A text that may be the oldest copy of a gospel known to exist — a fragment of the Gospel of Mark that was written during the first century, before the year 90 — is set to be published.

At present, the oldest surviving copies of the gospel texts date to the second century (the years 101 to 200).

This first-century gospel fragment was written on a sheet of papyrus that was later reused to create a mask that was worn by a mummy. Although the mummies of Egyptian pharaohs wore masks made of gold, ordinary people had to settle for masks made out of papyrus (or linen), paint and glue.

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