Letter to My Son, by Ta-Nehisi Coates, July 4, 2015: "I came to understand that my country was a galaxy, and this galaxy stretched from the pandemonium of West Baltimore to the happy hunting grounds of Mr. Belvedere. I obsessed over the distance between that other sector of space and my own. I knew that my portion of the American galaxy, where bodies were enslaved by a tenacious gravity, was black and that the other, liberated portion was not... And I felt in this a cosmic injustice, a profound cruelty, which infused an abiding, irrepressible desire to unshackle my body and achieve the velocity of escape."
Several recent developments reveal how political and institutional fragmentation in the United States has produced self-inflicted wounds for the U.S. abroad. In all of these instances, America’s ability to exercise economic power in the world has been deliberately curtailed through decisions made unilaterally in Washington by American political leaders.
Disruption’s Tragic Flaw The case of Uber shows why European companies should not follow the example of their American competitors too closely. It pays to take the needs of customers and contractors into account.
Jessica T. Matthews reviews Henry Kissinger's "World Order" and Bret Stephen's "America In Retreat":
Almost from the beginning of its history, America has struggled to find a balance in its foreign policy between narrowly promoting its own security and idealistically serving the interests of others; between, as we’ve tended to see it in shorthand, Teddy Roosevelt’s big stick and the ideals of Woodrow Wilson. Just as consistently, the US has gone through periods of embracing a leading international role for itself and times when Americans have done all they could to turn their backs on the rest of the world. Two new books now join this never-ending debate.[more inside]
Recently on The Blue we've had discussions about American Chop Suey and New Jersey Pork Roll, but what about other regional favorites, like Lutefisk, Scrapple, or the French Dip Sandwich? Just in time for Thanksgiving, here are a few links to get you started:
Presdient Obama gave a speech (video, transcript) at the United States Military Academy last month that outlined American foreign policy. Reaction has been mixed. [more inside]
Music Machinery presents a map of each U.S. state's most distinct favorite band or recording artist, as well as an app for playing with the data.
In 2002 Henry Louis Gates jr. published The Bondwoman's Narrative. It was the first publication of a novel written in the 1850s by a former slave who wrote under the name Hannah Crafts. The original manuscript has been digitized by Yale's Beinecke Library. The book caused a splash at the time, sold well and was reviewed widely, including an essay by Hilary Mantel in the London Review of Books. The identity of Hannah Crafts was uncertain, which cast a slight shadow on its provenance, but Prof. Gregg Hecimovich discovered the writer's true identity. Her name was Hannah Bond and after escaping slavery she became a teacher in New Jersey. Journalist Paul Berman further fills in the story of Colonel Wheeler, the slaveowner whose family was depicted in The Bondwoman's Narrative. Wheeler was the US ambassador to Nicaragua in the 1850s and played a major part in the administration of General Walker, the American who became a short-lived dictator of Nicaragua and tried to set it up as a slave state.
Here you will find one of the greatest historical atlases: Charles O. Paullin and John K. Wright's Atlas of the Historical Geography of the United States, first published in 1932. This digital edition reproduces all of the atlas's nearly 700 maps. Many of these beautiful maps are enhanced here in ways impossible in print, animated to show change over time or made clickable to view the underlying data—remarkable maps produced eight decades ago with the functionality of the twenty-first century.
"There’s never been an America, but rather several Americas—each a distinct nation. There are eleven nations today. Each looks at violence, as well as everything else, in its own way." " [more inside]
World War I in Color is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
Simultaneous video and selectively played audio of every Apollo lunar landing on one screen. (via Collect Space) [more inside]
Scrapple, Half-smokes, Marionberry Pie, Cowboy Cookies and Akutaq: Deadspin responds to Slate's wonderful state-by-state sports map (previously) with a map of regional foods, complete with highly opinionated rankings and commentary.
Warning! The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased, entry for the United States of America
A month after its release, Naughty Dog's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us is being hailed as one of the best games of all time, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics. Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps fungus (previously), leaving behind lush wastelands of elegant decay teeming with monsters and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies. Into this bleak vision of desperate violence journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future. Boasting tense, immersive gameplay, compelling performances from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite and Half-Life 2 as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages. And don't miss the 84-minute documentary exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
During the decade 2000-10 in the USA, for the first time the number of poor people in major metropolitan suburbs surpassed the number in cities. Between 2000 and 2011, the poor population in suburbs grew by 64% — more than twice the rate of growth in cities (29%). By 2011, almost 16.4 million residents in suburbia lived below the poverty line, outstripping the poor population in cities by almost 3 million people. These are some of the grim findings of ‘Confronting Suburban Poverty in America’, a report by the Brookings Institution, and the implications of this report and its contents are that much more significant for Brookings is conservative in its outlook and advocacy. via
The practice of lying to one's children to encourage behavioral compliance was investigated among parents in the US (N = 114) and China (N = 85). The vast majority of parents (84% in the US and 98% in China) reported having lied to their children for this purpose. Within each country, the practice most frequently took the form of falsely threatening to leave a child alone in public if he or she refused to follow the parent. Crosscultural differences were seen: A larger proportion of the parents in China reported that they employed instrumental lie-telling to promote behavioral compliance, and a larger proportion approved of this practice, as compared to the parents in the US. This difference was not seen on measures relating to the practice of lying to promote positive feelings, or on measures relating to statements about fantasy characters such as the tooth fairy. Findings are discussed with reference to sociocultural values and certain parenting-related challenges that extend across cultures. [HTML] -- [PDF] [more inside]
The permanent collection of the (US) National Veterans Art Museum in Chicago contains more than 2,500 pieces of art by 250 artists, all of which can be seen at NVAM Collection Online. The site includes biographical material on the artists who created the work. Featured Artwork. A small selection. (Via. Images at links in this post may be nsfw, and/or disturbing to some viewers.)
The November 6th elections saw a lot of historic decisions made in the United States -- the first black president re-elected, marijuana legalized for the first time in two states, gay marriage affirmed by the voters in four, and even the first openly gay senator. But perhaps the most underreported result yesterday came from outside the country altogether: in the commonwealth of Puerto Rico, a solid majority voted to reject the island's current status and join America as the long-fabled 51st state. How the bid might fare in Congress is an open question, but both President Obama and Republican leaders have vowed support for the statehood movement if it proves successful at the ballot box (while D.C. officials ponder a two-fer gambit to grease the wheels). Though it would be the poorest state, joining the Union might bring economic benefits to both sides [PDF]. And politically, some argue the island might prove to be a reliably red state, despite the Hispanic population, although arch-conservative governor and Romney ally Luis Fortuño appears headed toward a narrow loss. But the most important question here, as always, is: how to redesign the flag? (Puerto Rican statehood discussed previously.)
Stephen Fry in America is a six part BBC television series of one hour shows in which Stephen Fry travels across the United States of America. He travels, mostly in a London cab, through all 50 U.S. states and offers his unique variety of insight as well as his infectious optimism and genuine love for many things American. New World, Deep South, Mississippi [US Edit], Mountains and Plains, True West, and Pacific. [more inside]
Ta-Nehisi Coates, a senior editor at The Atlantic, recently touched on a couple of interesting aspects of the American Civil War. First, Racism Against White People briefly looked at how Southern intellectuals argued that Northern whites were of a different race. Then a subthread in the comments on that post spawned an investigation of American Exceptionalism in History and the notion of preserving democracy in the context of the American Civil War. After all, "if a government can be sundered simply because the minority doesn't like the results of an election, can it even call itself a government?" Definitely check out the comments of both posts.
"During the proceedings, the prosecutor took the time to mention that no other printer in the world could do what Kuhl had done."
Hans-Jurgen Kuhl was able to create "shockingly perfect" copies of the American $100 bill by using his artistic talents to conquer the various security features present in the bill.
The US National Insitutes of Health recently filed notice of a prospective grant to give an exclusive license to New York based Kannalife for Development of Cannabinoid(s) and Cannabidiol(s) (i.e. marijuana) Based Therapeutics To Treat Hepatic Encephalopathy in Humans. Toke of The Town covers the issue, including an interview with Kannalife CEO Dean Pethanas.
39 years ago today, Apollo 17 splashed down in the South Pacific, marking the end to manned exploration of the Moon. What we learned from those 10 years of discovery was amazing. [more inside]
The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable. The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study. More on the Declaration: full transcript and ultra-high-resolution scan, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft, the little-known royal rebuttal, a thorough history of the parchment itself, a peek at the archival process, a reading of the document by the people of NPR and by a group of prominent actors, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation, Slate's Twitter summaries, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers.
50 years ago today, on May 25 1961, US President John F. Kennedy decided "...this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth." Eight years later the Apollo program fulfilled the task, leaving the world with a legacy that includes advances in computers and communciation, lessons in managing complex projects, technological innovations and new views of the Earth. [more inside]
A Tragedy of Errors. On Feb. 21, 2010, a convoy of vehicles carrying civilians headed down a mountain in central Afghanistan and American eyes in the sky were watching. "The Americans were using some of the most sophisticated tools in the history of war, technological marvels of surveillance and intelligence gathering that allowed them to see into once-inaccessible corners of the battlefield. But the high-tech wizardry would fail in its most elemental purpose: to tell the difference between friend and foe." FOIA-obtained transcripts of US cockpit and radio conversations and an interactive feature provide a more in-depth understanding of what happened.
Filibustery, making the filibuster — and the proposals in the U.S. Senate to reform it — more understandable. [more inside]
Robert F. Gallagher served in the United States Army's 815th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion (Third Army) in the European Theater during WWII. He has posted his memoir online: "Scratch One Messerschmitt," told from numerous photos he took during the war and the detailed notes he made shortly afterwards. [more inside]
American Worker Cooperatives: a library, resource centre, startup guide, and map of over 200 industrial cooperatives. [via mefi projects]
Europe according to... is a project to map stereotypes of European countries according to other countries and groups of people. [more inside]
There is a bitter feud between the two women who are trying to gain supremacy in the battle to make all of the Tea Party's travel arrangements.
NPR looks at American States That Might Have Been You've probably heard of the proposed Mormon state of Deseret, but have you heard of Nickajack? What about Absaroka, the 49th state? I bet you forgot about Forgottonia. The author of Lost States has a blog.
David Bowie's response to his first American fan letter. In 1967, 14 year old Sandra Adams wrote a letter to Bowie. According to Bowie himself, this was his first bit of fan mail from the States. The response, though brief, is funny and sincere.
Suburban farming, an idea whose time may have come. Short and sweet SLYT from the Wall Street Journal about people growing herbs and vegetables in their own yards in American suburbia.
PDX History is a veritable treasure trove of information about (and pictures and postcards of) the history of Portland (Oregon). Department stores, streetcars, long-dead amusement parks (yes, Jantzen Beach was once much more than a dying mall surrounded by big-box stores) and more. The web design leaves a bit to be desired, but the site is wonderful nonetheless.
The End of Christian America. The percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen 10 points in the past two decades. How that statistic explains who we are now—and what, as a nation, we are about to become.
Open For Questions. Metafilter's Own™ box and klangklangston "skim the White House's Open For Questions, posting the best and brightest queries the American public can manage." [via mefi projects] [more inside]
" ... the recession, particularly if it turns out to be as long and deep as many now fear, will accelerate the rise and fall of specific places within the U.S.—and reverse the fortunes of other cities and regions." From The Atlantic Online - How the Crash Will Reshape America
A People's History for the Classroom [pdf] is a high school history lesson plan/workbook based on Howard Zinn's A People's History of the United States. The entire 124-page workbook available for free as a downloadable PDF, as part of the Zinn Education Project, supported by Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change. You must enter an email and agree to take a later survey to download.
Humorist and candidate for the US Senate for Minnesota Al Franken draws a map of the United States from memory.
WWJD (Which Words Jefferson Digested) Some Flash
In honor of the Fourth, I give you the 50 States and their Capitals, the U.S. Presidents, and in hopes for a better future, what the hell, all the Nations of the World. [more inside]
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