"One of the deep, dark secrets of America's past has finally come to light. Starting in the early 1900s, hundreds of thousands of American children were warehoused in institutions by state governments." An early part of the American experiment with Eugenics, the Walter E. Fernald State School inspired scores of similar institutions across the country, and more recently, one of the definitive histories of the era. [more inside]
Woody Allen: A Documentary (Part One, Part Two), a film by Robert Weide and part of the American Masters series on PBS, is now online. [more inside]
The Corpus of American Historical English is a searchable index of word usage in American printed material from 1810 to 2009. Powerful complex searches allow you to trace the appearance and evolution of words and phrases and even specific grammatical constructions, see trends in frequency, and plenty more. Start with the 5-Minute Tour.
"The next time you hear a bird chirping outside your window, you might think twice about what’s going on inside his little birdbrain."
Are birds’ tweets grammatical? [Scientific American] But are the rules of grammar unique to human language? Perhaps not, according to a recent study, which showed that songbirds may also communicate using a sophisticated grammar—a feature absent in even our closest relatives, the nonhuman primates. Kentaro Abe and Dai Watanabe of Kyoto University performed a series of experiments to determine whether Bengalese finches expect the notes of their tunes to follow a certain order.
Meet Jessica Beinecke. Her Chinese fluency and her bubbly personality make her a minor celebrity among young Chinese speakers. Her videos covers topics such as: Yucky Gunk ,which went viral. Fist Pumping. Badonkadonk. Yo, Homie. Mexican food. And her Thing. Brought to you by the Voice of America.
'Few Americans today can name more than one or two current boxers, but boxing once stood at the center of American life. It has become a ghost sport, long discredited but still hovering in the nation’s consciousness, refusing to go away and be silent entirely. But there was a time when things were very different. Boxing's history winds a thread through the broader history of the nation.'
Public Image Limited, Live on American Bandstand in 1980, that is all.
Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey defends his appointment of Sohail Mohammed to the state bench. Sohail Mohammed is New Jersey's first Indian-born Superior Court Judge. "After Christie nominated Mohammed in January for the judgeship, the former federal prosecutor found himself accused of cozying up to Islamic radicals. Mohammed’s confirmation hearing before the state Senate included two hours of grilling, including inquires about Sharia, jihad and Hamas." [more inside]
Going Straight: My Ex-Gay Friend Also: Living the Good Lie: Therapists Who Help People Stay in the Closet. (Both links NYT, via)
Eyes of a Generation is a "virtual museum of television cameras, and the broadcast history they captured," curated by actor and radio DJ Bobby F. Ellerbee. The site has hundreds of photos of cameras and of television sets backstage. It also includes vintage articles and a neat look at how the moon backdrop on the Conan set works. [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.
Between 1887 and 1892, John C.H. Grabill sent 188 photographs to the Library of Congress for copyright protection. Grabill is known as a western photographer, documenting many aspects of frontier life – hunting, mining, western town landscapes and white settlers’ relationships with Native Americans.
Of Another Fashion: An alternative archive of the not-quite-hidden but too often ignored fashion histories of U.S. women of color.
The American Festivals Project takes you along on two guys' National Geographic-funded 2008 tour of the "small, hidden, and bizarre" festivals celebrated all over the United States. Through photos, video, and a blog, discover Rattlesnake Roundup, Okie noodling, an American Fasnacht, the Idiotarod, and plenty more. [more inside]
Filibustery, making the filibuster — and the proposals in the U.S. Senate to reform it — more understandable. [more inside]
In the 1960's, 70's and 80's, urban decay and high crime rates caused retail chain supermarkets to flee New York City. (google books link) Korean immigrants filled the gap with corner grocery stores. For nearly two decades they were ubiquitous -- symbols of the group's ongoing quest to achieve the American Dream. But 30 years later, Where Did The Korean Greengrocers Go? [more inside]
Ussachevsky early tape manipulation piece Despite some of the synthesis sounding "dated", this and other similar pieces are still so full of audible discovery. You can find more of this and other instrumentation types here...
Twenty-four different accents in just over eight minutes. (NSFW SLYT)
Retroblog - the web version of one American student's year abroad, 1988-89
Congressional candidate (and MetaFilter's own) Sean Tevis (find his previouslies here) and XKCD [Update: nothing to do with XKCD, actually] bring forth a new concept in politics: American Nations, An Awesome and Practical Plan to Re-Balance the U.S. Political System.
Did you forget about what the TSA allows in carry on bags? Need to know if that guy behind you in line is on the FBI's most wanted list? Need to look up a zip code? Calculate your BMI on the road? The US Government has an app for that. [more inside]
There are several conventional explanations for why so much corporate money has flooded into Washington over the last three or four decades. Large corporations have much more market power, which translates into more political power. Politicians have become more corrupt or rapacious. The Republican Party has been ever more effective at raising money. The increasing size and scope of the federal government have required that corporations spend more in order to protect themselves. Corporations have greater need to confront the countervailing power of unions. All of these explanations are wrong. Everyday Corruption by Robert Reich.
Born 88 years ago in a bear cave in Eastern Oregon, Virginia Beavert now teaches a language with no textbooks, no study abroad programs, and no dubbed TV shows. The only surviving elder of the Yakama who knows the sacred songs and parables of the "Dreamer Religion", Waashat, Beavert researches and teaches Sahaptin (Ichiskíin Sínwit). [more inside]
The New York Times covers a 'new celebrity trend', Unshaven Women, Free Spirits or Unkempt?
Playing basketball from the closet. From Dime Magazine's post - Secret Life of the Gay American Basketball Player. [more inside]
Watch out, Pat’s, Geno’s, Steve’s and Jim’s. A new woman on the block wants to bust up the cheesesteak boys’ club. Espionage? Stakeouts? All is fair in love and chessesteaks.
The Buffalo Beast has finally posted its list of the 50 Most Loathsome Americans of 2009. [more inside]
Edmunds released data this month on the results of the Cash for Clunkers stimulus. Freakonomics blog commented. Now the Detroit News has offered a state-by-state analysis of how funds were used. Which state was most likely to trade an American car for another American car? You guessed it...
Many kids read The Education of Little Tree in school, but the author of the book, Forrest Carter, was actually Asa Carter, a staunch racist and charlatan.
A Day in the Life of a Blacksmith (start here) is the 1869-70 diary of an apprentice blacksmith in Medfield, Massachusetts, in blog form. Brought to you by the American Antiquarian Society and its new blog Past is Present.
War Dances: “I wanted to call my father and tell him that a white man thought my brain was beautiful”. Sherman Alexie doing his thing in The New Yorker, excerpted from his upcoming book (early review; interview 1, 2.)
This Must Be The Place. For fans of The Talking Heads and American Psycho. NSFW.
Not For Sale: There are 27 million slaves worldwide right now. Here’s a map of where they are. [more inside]
Alice Austen (1866-1952) was a pioneering American female photographer who documented life in turn of the (last) century Staten Island. Her home, Clear Comfort, is a National Historic Landmark where she lived for many years with Gertrude Tate. [more inside]
Although in many ways a regional conflict, the American Revolution had an ideological dimension that attracted many non-Americans to the conflict, from the Polish revolutionary Tadeusz Kościuszko to the French aristocrat marquis de Lafayette.
“Do not do what I do; rather, take whatever I have to offer and do with it what I could never imagine doing and then come back and tell me about it.”
Mark C. Taylor, the chairman of the religion department at Columbia, offers a radical proposal in The New York Times for the restructuring of the American university system. Two key components of the proposal entail ending tenure and shuttering academic departments—replacing disciplines with problems, and then tackling them with a cooperative and multidisciplinary approach, e.g. The Department of the Future of Water made up of geologists, anthropologists, political scientists, and ethicists. Should we End the University as We Know It?
The death of SciAm. It's no secret that print media is getting hit pretty hard, but the butchering of Scientific American seems particularly brutal. [more inside]
Shockingly, a novel about a Nazi officer who abets murder squads, transports Jews to Auschwitz, has sex with his twin sister, possibly kills his parents and then dies rich, old and reflective has caused a trans-Atlantic controversy among literary critics. Published in the original French three years ago, the English translation of Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones hit American bookstores this week. [more inside]
It's almost as good as being at John Ashbery's home (bio) and there's more, including a preliminary inventory of his library* (search for "inventories" or scroll down). Ashbery's poetry is still very much invested in the reader's pleasure—more so than many supposedly "approachable" poets. You can hear him read his poems (more), watch him (here's -transcript- a brief taste and a half-hour video) or read a few of his poems. [more inside]
The Guardian is knocked for six by American sport references in British media Creeping cultural imperialism? The effect of internet media from foreign news outlets? Or just Guardian handwringing about something no one else notices? Is British media alone in this trend?