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1491 – The Atlantic October 12, 2015

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A long article about what the “New World” that Columbus discovered may really have been like, versus what we were taught in school.

Before it became the New World, the Western Hemisphere was vastly more populous and sophisticated than has been thought—an altogether more salubrious place to live at the time than, say, Europe. New evidence of both the extent of the population and its agricultural advancement leads to a remarkable conjecture: the Amazon rain forest may be largely a human artifact

Source: 1491 – The Atlantic

Marketing atrocity: Ancient Assyrians would have understood Islamic State’s methods March 10, 2015

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News, philosophy & politics, Religion.
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I also watched recent video of ISIS members in a museum smashing (alleged) archaeological relics from the very ancient Mesopotamian past. I felt a certain sense of historical irony while doing so. I wondered as I watched them use sledgehammers and power drills on a 3,000 year old Assyrian statue if they realized that they were following the ancient Assyrian playbook as they tried to erase the region’s past. The Assyrians of that era were masters at the art of atrocity marketing. The concept of publicizing horrific cruelty to cow and intimidate subjects or opponents has a long history, and only fell out of style relatively recently (and not everywhere). 

JoanArc17-eIt’s only in the last century or so that public executions, for example, have become rare. Having people view a burning, beheading or hanging (with or without a torture appetizer) was thought to be something that reinforced law and authority and demonstrated that justice was being carried out. Often it was thought an edifying thing to have children watch.

How would the German public living in the Third Reich have reacted to ISIS-like, slickly produced films showing the scenes inside a death camp gas chamber while people were dying? Even in a nation brainwashed by state-fostered anti-Semitism, it’s hard to imagine the reaction being anything the Nazi regime would have considered positive.

The fact that the Islamic State’s marketing gurus feel otherwise is interesting. Perhaps its more evidence bolstering the idea that ISIS seeks to return to the values of an earlier, much more harsh historical era. If so,we might be seeing a visual and visceral example of what our ancestors might have done with a good TV studio.

If online video existed in the Middle Ages, does the burning of Joan of Arc go viral? Would it go viral today?

via Marketing atrocity: Ancient Assyrians would have understood Islamic State’s methods.

The Rhyme of History: Lessons of the Great War September 15, 2014

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, philosophy & politics.
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The U.S. has so far been prepared to act as the guarantor of international stability, but may not be willing—or able—to do so indefinitely.

Though the era just before World War I, with its gas lighting and its horse-drawn carriages, seems very far off and quaint, it is similar in many ways—often unsettlingly so—to ours, as a look below the surface reveals. The decades leading up to 1914 were, like our own time, a period of dramatic shifts and upheavals, which those who experienced them thought of as unprecedented in speed and scale. The use of electricity to light streets and homes had become widespread; Einstein was developing his general theory of relativity; radical new ideas like psychoanalysis were finding a following; and the roots of the predatory ideologies of fascism and Soviet communism were taking hold.

Hbomb-detonation-colorizedGlobalization—which we tend to think of as a modern phenomenon, created by the spread of international businesses and investment, the growth of the Internet, and the widespread migration of peoples—was also characteristic of that era. Globalization can also have the paradoxical effect of fostering intense localism and nativism, frightening people into taking refuge in the comfort of small, like-minded groups. One of the unexpected results of the Internet, for example, is how it can narrow horizons so that users seek out only those whose views echo their own and avoid websites that might challenge their assumptions.

While history does not repeat itself precisely, the Middle East today bears a worrying resemblance to the Balkans then.
It is tempting—and sobering—to compare today’s relationship between China and the U.S. with that between Germany and England a century ago. Now, as then, the march of globalization has lulled us into a false sense of safety.
Like the world of 1914, we are living through changes in the nature of war whose significance we are only starting to grasp.

Read on at http://www.brookings.edu/research/essays/2013/rhyme-of-history

In the long run, wars make us safer and richer – The Washington Post May 3, 2014

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“The 10 most dangerous words in the English language,” Reagan said on another occasion, “are ‘Hi, I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.’ ” As Hobbes could have told him, in reality the 10 scariest words are, “There is no government and I’m here to kill you.”

So yes, war is hell — but have you considered the alternatives? When looking upon the long run of history, it becomes clear that through 10,000 years of conflict, humanity has created larger, more organized societies that have greatly reduced the risk that their members will die violently. These better organized societies also have created the conditions for their members will die violently. These better organized societies also have created the conditions for higher living standards and economic growth. War has not only made us safer, but richer, too.

WarWhatIsItGoodForWhile we a gone from World Wars to Cold Wars this book review, which is continued from the “more” link overlooks the ongoing danger of  even a “small” thermonuclear war, between emerging powers, annihilating our 10,00 years of “progress”. The miscalculations of rising powers has contributed to most wars of the Industrial age.

We are now moving into a world of what I call Soft Wars, waged by guerrilla tactics of cyber and economic warfare. And now with so many empowered transnational bad actors on the world stage, it will be hard to determine who really hit you and how do you counter.

 

via In the long run, wars make us safer and richer – The Washington Post.

Same Place, Different Time May 3, 2014

Posted by tkcollier in Cool photos, Photography.
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SamePlaceDifferentTime

34 Famous Photos in History Colorized January 22, 2013

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Hbomb-detonation-colorizedReddit user mygrapefruit and self-taught colorizer Sanna Dullaway has colorized famous photographs in history. You can find the entire 34-image collection on Imgur . http://imgur.com/a/wapUe Using a Wacom bamboo tablet and Photosohp, each photo takes anywhere from 20 minutes to 2 hours.

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Napoleon Wasn’t Short and 4 Other Historical Myths – Video January 12, 2013

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“In this four-minute video, C.G.P. Grey tackles five historical misconceptions, contrasting the commonly accepted stories with what the historical record actually shows.”

 Read the full text here: http://mentalfloss.com/article/32125/napoleon-wasnt-short-vikings-didnt-wear-horned-helmets-and-3-more-historical#ixzz2Hnpo7CTv
–brought to you by mental_floss!”

Last Known Painting of Ancient Vesuvius January 8, 2013

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VesuviusReduced

Classical Archaeology News – Today in Classical Receptions… onestopartfun:….

“Da Vinci Code” evidence found? September 19, 2012

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A historian of early Christianity at Harvard Divinity School has identified a scrap of papyrus that she says was written in Coptic in the fourth century and contains a phrase never seen in any piece of Scripture: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife …’ ”

The finding was made public in Rome on Tuesday at the International Congress of Coptic Studies by Karen L. King, a historian who has published several books about new Gospel discoveries and is the first woman to hold the nation’s oldest endowed chair, the Hollis professor of divinity.

via Historian Says Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus’ Wife – NYTimes.com.

Why the Arabic World Turned Away from Science September 15, 2012

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From coffee to cheques and the three-course meal, the Muslim world has given us many innovations that we take for granted in daily life. Click on this link to see 20 of the their greatest discoveries. How Islamic inventors changed the world – Science – News – The Independent.

Today Muslims are a fifth of the world’s population, yet contribute only 7% of the world’s GDP. Arabs comprise 5 percent of the world’s population, but publish just 1.1 percent of its books, according to the U.N.’s 2003 Arab Human Development Report. Between 1980 and 2000, Korea granted 16,328 patents, while nine Arab countries, including Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the U.A.E., granted a combined total of only 370, many of them registered by foreigners.

What went wrong?

The Islamic turn away from scholarship actually preceded the civilization’s geopolitical decline — it can be traced back to the rise of the anti-philosophical Ash’arism school among Sunni Muslims, who comprise the vast majority of the Muslim world.

While the Mu’tazilites had contended that the Koran was created and so God’s purpose for man must be interpreted through reason, the Ash’arites believed the Koran to be coeval with God — and therefore unchallengeable. At the heart of Ash’ari metaphysics is the idea of occasionalism, a doctrine that denies natural causality. Put simply, it suggests natural necessity cannot exist because God’s will is completely free. Ash’arites believed that God is the only cause, so that the world is a series of discrete physical events each willed by God.

The Ash’ari view has endured to this day. Its most extreme form can be seen in some sects of Islamists. For example, Mohammed Yusuf, the late leader of a group called the Nigerian Taliban, explained why “Western education is a sin” by explaining its view on rain: “We believe it is a creation of God rather than an evaporation caused by the sun that condenses and becomes rain.” As Robert R. Reilly argues in The Closing of the Muslim Mind (2010), “the fatal disconnect between the creator and the mind of his creature is the source of Sunni Islam’s most profound woes.”

Inquiry into the history of Arabic science, and the recovery and research of manuscripts of the era, may have a beneficial effect — so long as it is pursued in an analytical spirit. That would mean that Muslims would use it as a resource within their own tradition to critically engage with their philosophical, political, and founding flaws. If that occurs, it will not arise from any Western outreach efforts, but will be a consequence of Muslims’ own determination, creativity, and wisdom — in short, those very traits that Westerners rightly ascribe to the Muslims of the Golden Age
The New Atlantis » Why the Arabic World Turned Away from Science.

The Empire Strikes Back August 11, 2012

Posted by tkcollier in Geopolitics, In The News, philosophy & politics.
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Yale Prof. Charles Hill sees two very different kinds of challenges to the liberal, state-based world order. One, the aggressive kind, is exemplified by China. The other, very different, can be seen in the European Union.

“The way the world through almost all of history has been ordered is through empires. The empire was the normal unit of rule. So it was the Chinese empire, the Mughal empire, the Persian empire, and the Roman empire, the Mayan empire.”

What changed this was the Thirty Years War in Europe in the 17th century. “That was a war between the Holy Roman Empire and states, and states were new. They had come forward in northern Italy in the Renaissance and now they were taking hold in what we think of as a state-sized entity. The Netherlands and Sweden and France were among these. . . . France was both an empire and a state—and the key was when [Cardinal] Richelieu took France to the side of the states, which was shocking because France was Catholic and the empire was Catholic and the states were Protestant.”

“My view is that every major modern war has been waged against this international system. That is, the empire strikes back. World War I is a war of empires which comes to its culmination point when a state gets into it. That’s the United States.” And then we get something very interesting added: “That’s Woodrow Wilson and [the promotion of] democracy.”

“World War II, and I think this is uncomprehended although it’s perfectly clear, . . . World War II is a war of empires against the state system. It’s Hitler’s Third Reich. It’s Imperial Japan.” The Axis goal “is to establish an empire. The Nazi empire would be Europe going eastward into the Slavic lands. The Japanese empire in the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere, as they called it.”

via The Weekend Interview with Charles Hill: The Empire Strikes Back – WSJ.com. (more…)

See How Fast “The West Was Won” July 21, 2012

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By 1881, Indian landholdings in the United States had plummeted to 156 million acres. By 1934, only about 50 million acres remained (an area the size of Idaho and Washington) as a result of the General Allotment Act* of 1887. During World War II, the government took 500,000 more acres for military use. Over one hundred tribes, bands, and Rancherias relinquished their lands under various acts of Congress during the termination era of the 1950s.

By 1955, the indigenous land base had shrunk to just 2.3 percent of its original size.

Click the map to see it happen.

via Somersaultr – This is a series of maps charting the shrinkage of….

Easter Island Heads Have Bodies! May 30, 2012

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Our EISP excavations recently exposed the torsos of two 7 m tall statues (Figure 4). Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of visitors to the island have been astonished to see that, indeed, Easter Island statues have bodies! More important, however, we discovered a great deal about the Rapa Nui techniques of ancient engineering:

  • the dirt and detritus partially burying the statues was washed down from above and not deliberately placed there to bury, protect, or support the statues
  • the statues were erected in place and stand on stone pavements.
  • post holes were cut into bedrock to support upright tree trunks
  • rope guides were cut into bedrock around the post holes
  • posts, ropes, stones, and different types of stone tools were all used to carve and raise the statues upright Thanx to Neil Rooney  Read More

The Invention of Ctrl+Alt+Delete June 20, 2011

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At this rate, even with 12 of the country’s best engineers working round-the-clock, IBM was never going to deliver its first computer prototype to Microsoft in a matter of four months. The parts were all new. The software. The hardware. Even the names “software” and “hardware.” They were treading new ground. There had never been a “PC,” a personal computer, until this group of programmers built the first one in that lab.

So, as you can imagine, there was a lot of frustrating rebooting going on as Dave Bradley tried to get the CPU – the central processing unit, which they named – to talk to a printer or a monitor for the first time, code he had spent months writing.

He needed a quicker way to restart, to refresh, to escape from a computer quagmire than just switching the computer off and waiting for it to reboot. So he wrote nine lines of code, a “10-minute job,” Bradley remembers. He wanted to make sure it wasn’t something you could just press by accident and wipe out your work. He wrote it so that with his left hand, he held down the keys Ctrl+Alt. With his right hand, he pressed Del.

The screen went black, came back to life and voilà: A cultural icon was created and some great one-liners from the creator, such as “I got to meet Bill Gates when he was only worth millions” .

Actually, about that meeting – At a panel discussion with Gates for the 20-year anniversary of the PC, Bradley was asked about how he created the keystroke. Google Dave Bradley and Bill Gates to see video of Bradley quipping, “I may have invented it, but I think Bill made it famous.” The crowd rolls with laughter. Bill Gates, frozen in a smile-shaped grimace, is not amused.

Read more at  Palm Beach Post : In flash of keystrokes, Dave Bradley changed computer history..

Click more to see the video (more…)

Video – Our 200 Year Increase in Life Expectancy and Wealth December 2, 2010

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A Brief History of Debt May 2, 2010

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The emergence, in almost the exact times and places where one also sees the early spread of coinage, of what were to become modern world religions: prophetic Judaism, Christianity, Buddhism, Jainism, Confucianism, Taoism, and eventually, Islam. While the precise links are yet to be fully explored, in certain ways, these religions appear to have arisen in direct reaction to the logic of the market. To put the matter somewhat crudely: if one relegates a certain social space simply to the selfish acquisition of material things, it is almost inevitable that soon someone else will come to set aside another domain in which to preach that, from the perspective of ultimate values, material things are unimportant, and selfishness – or even the self – illusory.

With the advent of the great European empires – Iberian, then North Atlantic – the world saw both a reversion to mass enslavement, plunder, and wars of destruction, and the consequent rapid return of gold and silver bullion as the main form of currency.

One of the main factors of the movement back to bullion, for example, was the emergence of popular movements during the early Ming dynasty, in the 15th and 16th centuries, that ultimately forced the government to abandon not only paper money but any attempt to impose its own currency. This led to the reversion of the vast Chinese market to an uncoined silver standard. Since taxes were also gradually commuted into silver, it soon became the more or less official Chinese policy to try to bring as much silver into the country as possible, so as to keep taxes low and prevent new outbreaks of social unrest. The sudden enormous demand for silver had effects across the globe. Most of the precious metals looted by the conquistadors and later extracted by the Spanish from the mines of Mexico and Potosi (at almost unimaginable cost in human lives) ended up in China. Read the whole 5000 year history at this link.

via Debt: The first five thousand years

Allied Mole in 3rd Reich Uncovered February 13, 2010

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The documents, uncovered in the Churchill Archives in Cambridge and the National Archives, show that Knopf and his sub-agents alerted British Intelligence to German plans for an invasion of Malta in 1942, relayed Rommel’s intentions in North Africa and revealed Hitler’s fatal obsession with capturing Stalingrad on the Eastern Front.

The Führer was “determined to capture Stalingrad at all costs”, Knopf reported. Hitler’s disastrous assault on the Russian city, which led to the destruction of the German 6th Army, is seen as a turning point in the war.

via Uncovered documents reveal spy who fed information on Hitler’s secrets – Times Online.

Why is There Peace? August 30, 2009

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Violence has been in decline over long stretches of history, and today we are probably living in the most peaceful moment of our species’ time on earth.

When the archeologist Lawrence Keeley examined casualty rates among contemporary hunter-gatherers—which is the best picture we have of how people might have lived 10,000 years ago—he discovered that the likelihood that a man would die at the hands of another man ranged from a high of 60 percent in one tribe to 15 percent at the most peaceable end. In contrast, the chance that a European or American man would be killed by another man was less than one percent during the 20th century, a period of time that includes both world wars. If the death rate of tribal warfare had prevailed in the 20th century, there would have been two billion deaths rather than 100 million, horrible as that is. Read on with the link below.

via Greater Good Magazine | Why is There Peace?. (more…)

See Vintage TV Ads July 28, 2009

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AdViews is a digital archive of thousands of vintage television commercials dating from the 1950s to the 1980s.

via AdViews.

Winston Churchill Didn’t Really Exist, says British Teens February 5, 2008

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Winston Churchill didn’t really exist, say teens – Telegraph
A fifth of British teenagers believe Sir Winston Churchill was a fictional character, while many think Sherlock Holmes, King Arthur and Eleanor Rigby were real, a survey shows.

The canvass of 3,000 under-twenties uncovered an extraordinary paucity of basic historical knowledge that older generations take for granted

Despite his celebrated military reputation, 47 per cent of respondents dismissed the 12th-century crusading English king Richard the Lionheart as fictional. More than a quarter (27 per cent) thought Florence Nightingale, the pioneering nurse who coaxed injured soldiers back to health in the Crimean War, was a mythical figure.

Sherlock Holmes, the detective, was so convincingly brought to life in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels, their film versions and television series, that 58 per cent of respondents believe that the sleuth really lived at 221B Baker Street.

Fifty-one per cent of respondents believed that Robin Hood lived in Sherwood Forest, robbing the rich to give to the poor, while 47 per cent believed Eleanor Rigby was a real person rather than a creation of The Beatles.

(more…)

“The Plague” did not kill indiscriminately January 28, 2008

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Study shows Black Death did not kill indiscriminately | Top News | Reuters
“A lot of people have assumed that the Black Death killed indiscriminately, just because it had such massive mortality,” anthropologist Sharon DeWitte of the University at Albany in New York, said in a telephone interview.

People already in poor health often are more vulnerable in epidemics. “But there’s been a tradition of thinking that the Black Death was this unique case where no one was safe and if you were exposed to the disease that was it. You had three to five days, and then you were dead,” DeWitte said. The plague epidemic of 1347 to 1351 was one of the deadliest recorded in human history, killing about 75 million people, according to some estimates, including more than a third of Europe’s population.

DeWitte analyzed skeletons unearthed from the East Smithfield cemetery in London, dug especially for plague victims and excavated in the 1980s, for bone and teeth abnormalities that would show that people had health problems before they died of plague. She found such abnormalities in many skeletons, suggesting these people had experienced malnutrition, iron deficiencies and infections well before succumbing to the Black Death.

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