Tag Archives | History

Haunting Voices of the Past: Ancient Greek Music Reconstructed

Delphi: ApollEver wonder what Greek music sounded like circa 450 BC? Well, a bunch of smart people came together and figured out vocal notation on Greek pottery. Voila. The ghosts of the ancient world sing again.

via Open Culture via BBC:

[Ancient Greek] instruments are known from descriptions, paintings and archaeological remains, which allow us to establish the timbres and range of pitches they produced.

And now, new revelations about ancient Greek music have emerged from a few dozen ancient documents inscribed with a vocal notation devised around 450 BC, consisting of alphabetic letters and signs placed above the vowels of the Greek words.

The Greeks had worked out the mathematical ratios of musical intervals – an octave is 2:1, a fifth 3:2, a fourth 4:3, and so on.

The notation gives an accurate indication of relative pitch.

David Cleese, a classicist from the University of Newcastle, brings this notation to life through this recording. Listen here: What Ancient Greek Music Sounded Like

If you like this sort of thing, be sure to check out Hear the Epic of Gilgamesh Read in the Original Akkadian, where the sounds of ancient Mesopotamia reach out from the past, and speak to us again.… Read the rest

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Rx for Revolution

MatrixBluePillRedPill“We were probably the most conservative-minded revolutionaries who put through a successful revolution.”  Kevin O’Higgins

“If they have real grievances redress them, if possible; or acknowledge the justice of them . . . . If they have not, employ the force of government against them at once. “  George Washington, letter to Henry Lee, 31 October 1786

“I am a monarch of God’s creation, and you reptiles of the earth dare not oppose me.  I render an account of my government to none . . . .”
Napoleon Bonaparte, speech at Breda, 1 May 1810

While the exact precipitants of overt rebellion are perhaps impossible to predict, history does grant us absolute certainty that the next regime will be a fundamentally conservative one.

The revolution of 1789 may have been reasonably foreseen given that country’s horrific long-term economic trends and decades of fiscal mismanagement by the French Crown.  However, before Easter 1916, few would have dared prophecy an end to nearly 800 years of English dominance in a disgruntled and disenfranchised but thoroughly exhausted and demoralised Ireland.  And even today it is more than a little perplexing as to why 1773 in particular should be the occasion for violent resistance to British Crown policies which had been pursued at least since 1696, when William III established the Lords of Trade.  But inevitably each of these momentous events was succeeded by a conservative regime.… Read the rest

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Did RFK Steal John F. Kennedy’s Brain?

jfkThe New York Post reports on one of the world’s most sought-after missing brains:

John F. Kennedy’s noodle didn’t get buried with him. “Not all the evidence from the assassination is at the National Archives. One unique, macabre item from the collection is missing — President Kennedy’s brain,” writes James Swanson.

During JFK’s autopsy at Bethesda Naval Hospital, the brain was placed in a stainless-steel container with a screw-top lid. “For a time, the steel container was stored in a file cabinet in the office of the Secret Service,” writes Swanson.

The brain was later taken to the National Archives, where it was “placed in a secure room designated for the use of JFK’s devoted former secretary…In October 1966, it was discovered that the brain, the tissue slides and other autopsy materials were missing — and they have never been seen since.”

An investigation ordered by then-Attorney General Ramsey Clark failed to recover the missing brain — which remains unaccounted for today.

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Huey Long; Hi Popalorum, Lo Popahirum

I need to learn not to fire my guns too soon.  I hit on this a while ago in a piece titled “Louisiana Oil; From The Kingfish to Deepwater Horizon” and then I thought, “No, more should be said about Huey Long.”

As a quick recap…  In our Public School System’s version of History class we, our parents, and our children are asked to memorize names, dates and places, but not the ones we should remember the most.  And never the ones whose memory will help us out.

Here is a clip which Ken Burns picked for the beginning of his Documentary on Huey Pierce Long, Jr. (August 30, 1893 – September 10, 1935)  I did not use Ken’s film for the source, but I highly recommend seeing it if you haven’t.

 

 

Many people don’t know it but Huey, as a Senator, came up with a Share The Wealth Program which featured the well known motto “Every Man A King”, though it is seldom remembered that it continued; “But No One Wears A Crown”.   The line was taken from a Williams Jennings Bryant speech.… Read the rest

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The Nazis’ Bizarre Plan To Breed Giant Angora Rabbits

angora rabbitsSecret Nazi pets, as revealed by the Daily Mail:

A bizarre Nazi plan to breed giant Angora rabbits in concentration camps to provide fur-lined clothing for Hitler’s armed forces has been unearthed in a German archive.

‘Operation Munchkin’, as it was known, was the brainchild of sinister S.S. chief Heinrich Himmler who was had a career as a trained chicken farmer before he became the architect of the Holocaust.

He ordered a breeding programme for the rabbits and specified that they were to be raised in luxury just yards away from the where crimes against humanity was taking place.

The plans were detailed the ‘Angora book’ which was discovered hidden at Himmler’s home on the fringes of the Tegernsee lake in Bavaria in 1945. A chart in his book counted 6,500 rabbits by the end of 1941 and 25,000 by 1943.

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Bill O’Reilly Has A New Book Claiming That Jesus Died In Protest Of High Taxes

killing jesusI can’t even. Via the Daily Beast, early Christianity expert Candida Moss reviews a new scholarly work for the Fox News crowd:

Jesus was killed because of taxes. That’s more or less the message of Bill O’Reilly’s new book. In Killing Jesus: A History, Bill O’Reilly and writing partner Martin Dugard bring us their long-awaited “accurate account of not only how Jesus died, but also the way he lived.”

The basic argument is that Jesus died because he interfered with the taxation-heavy Roman revenue stream. The reason the Jews eagerly anticipated the Messiah, writes O’Reilly, is, “When that moment arrives, Rome will be defeated and their lives will be free of taxation and want.”

It’s true that the people did long for the Messiah and that the majority of them were poor and oppressed. But even if the Romans had been overthrown the people would have still been paying tithes to Jewish authorities to sustain the Temple, as Biblical and Jewish laws demand.

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When Sugar Was Marketed As Healthy Eating

Buzzfeed has a collection of magazine advertising from the 1950s through 1970s run by the American Sugar Association’s PR division, Sugar Information. For decades sugar was aggressively advertised to consumers (specifically women) as a healthy source of energy and weight loss, providing the “natural energy” needed by busy kids and parents while containing less calories than “fattening” foods such as apples and grapefruit (no, really). Someone you know struggling with obesity? They better up their soda intake:

sugar

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The Forgotten Radical Science Movement

science for people

Via the Guardian, Alice Bell on the 1970s movement involving some of the UK’s top scientists:

“We have to face the fact that there is a crisis in science today.” So said Maurice Wilkins on 19 April 1969 as he opened the one-day inaugural meeting of the British Society for Social Responsibility in Science (BSSRS). That’s Nobel Prize winner Maurice Wilkins. Other early supporters of the Society included JD Bernal, Francis Crick, Julian Huxley and Bertrand Russell.

The hall was full to overflowing with more than 300 delegates. Two hundred signed up there and then, with membership reaching over a thousand by the following year. They started publishing a newsletter and BSSRS branches popped up across the country.

What distinguishes the BSSRS from other campaigns is that it was not simply a matter of scientists calling for more research funds or demands for their voice in public policy. Rather, they aimed to open up the politics of science to scrutiny so it might change and improve.

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Non-Human Holders Of Political Office

mule_voteIs human status a requirement for holding the reigns of power? Via Wikipedia, a brief look at notable and heroic non-human electoral candidates:

Incitatus, the horse of Caligula, who it is alleged became a consul and a priest.

Boston Curtis, a brown mule, was offered as a candidate for a Republican precinct seat in Milton, Washington in 1938, winning 52 to zero.

In 1967, an Ecuadorian foot powder company advertised its product, Pulvapies, as a mayoral candidate in the town of Picoazá. Surprisingly, the foot powder won by a clear majority.

Pigasus the Immortal, a boar hog that the Yippies nominated as a candidate in the U.S. presidential election, 1968.

The mayor of Sunol, California was, for ten years (1981–1990), a black Labrador-Rottweiler named Bosco.

Tião, a bad-tempered chimpanzee, was put forward by the fictional Brazilian Banana Party (Partido Bananista Brasileiro, actually the satirical group Casseta & Planeta) as a candidate for the Rio de Janeiro mayoralty in 1988.

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Bauhaus Surrealist Prisons Of The Spanish Civil War

prisonNot that I condone mental torture, but there is something appealing about anarchists using modern art as a weapon against the fascist war machine. From the Guardian archives:

A Spanish art historian has uncovered what was alleged to be the first use of modern art as a deliberate form of torture — mind-bending prison cells were built by anarchist artists 65 years ago during the country’s bloody civil war.

Bauhaus artists, as well as the surrealist Luis Bunuel and his friend Salvador Dali, were said to be the inspiration behind a series of secret cells built in Barcelona and elsewhere.

Most were the work of an enthusiastic French anarchist, Alphonse Laurencic, who invented a form of “psychotechnic” torture, according to the research of the historian Jose Milicua.

Mr Milicua’s information came from a written account of Laurencic’s trial before a Francoist military tribunal. Laurencic, a painter, created his so-called “coloured cells” as a contribution to the fight against General Franco’s rightwing rebel forces.

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