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One plus one is equal to two - calculus in text is left as an excercise

I was surprised to learn that few people knew that almost all maths was written rhetorically before the 16th century, often in metered poetry. Even our wonderful symbol for equality – you know, those two parallel lines – was not used in print before 1575.
posted by sammyo on May 24, 2014 - 39 comments

The Songs of Summer

To kick off (in the U.S.) the long Memorial Day weekend (traditionally the unofficial start of summer!) the Boston Globe presents an interactive chart of iconic songs of summer from each of the last 100 years! No word yet on the 2014 earworm to be.
posted by Curious Artificer on May 24, 2014 - 60 comments

“Where do left and right meet? At the truth.”

Politically Incorrect was an American late-night, half-hour political talk show hosted by Bill Maher that ran from 1993 to 2002, first on Comedy Central and then on ABC. Four guests (usually including at least one comedian) would debate topics across the political spectrum in what Maher once described as “The McLaughlin Group on acid.” Of the 1300+ episodes produced, 190 can be viewed on YouTube. [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 23, 2014 - 66 comments

Illustration Is Story-Telling

Longtime veteran courtroom sketch artist Gary Myrick gives us a look inside his profession.
posted by gman on May 22, 2014 - 5 comments

"By our unpaid labor and suffering..."

"To celebrate freedom and democracy while forgetting America’s origins in a slavery economy is patriotism à la carte." Slavery, Jim Crow, and segregation both de jure and de facto--Ta-Nehisi Coates on The Case for Reparations.
posted by ilicet on May 21, 2014 - 153 comments

Thug: A Life of Caravaggio in Sixty-Nine Paragraphs

Thug: A Life of Caravaggio in Sixty-Nine Paragraphs
posted by Combustible Edison Lighthouse on May 20, 2014 - 14 comments

The Brewstorian

"With over 200 breweries, Oregon is often considered the craft beer capital of America. Beer geeks and casual drinkers across the country can also thank the state’s farmers for their brews: hops, the essential ingredient that gives beer its bitter flavor, is a rare crop throughout the U.S. but not in Oregon. Last year, Oregon State University established the Oregon Hops & Brewing Archives (OHBA), the first archive in the U.S., dedicated to preserving and telling the intertwined story of hop and beer production and the craft brewing movement. They're posting materials from their collection to Tumblr, Flickr and Zotero.
posted by zarq on May 20, 2014 - 31 comments

Perhaps Wikipedia is the ideal venue

I call on historians to dedicate their precious few hours of spare time to improving Wikipedia; as an incentive, I call on ­administrators to integrate Wikipedia contributions into the publication requirements for tenure.
posted by paleyellowwithorange on May 17, 2014 - 71 comments

Within Sight And Gunshot

This indignant map exposes the seamy underbelly of 1890s Washington, D.C., naming and locating “saloons” and “bawdy-houses” in the so-called Murder Bay neighborhood, located east of the White House. The Library of Congress, which holds the map, tells us that it’s a newspaper clipping from the 1890s, without a known author or publisher. (Slate.com)
posted by The Whelk on May 15, 2014 - 14 comments

You scream, I scream, we all scream...

The song "Turkey In The Straw" is one known to millions of Americans as well as many, many others around the world. Here's a National Public Radio article that shines some light on the virulently racist lyrics that attended that familiar old melody in its earlier incarnation. WARNING: Do not go to the link if you wish to avoid racist imagery and slurs.
posted by flapjax at midnite on May 14, 2014 - 117 comments

The Santa Maria found?

"More than five centuries after Christopher Columbus’s flagship, the Santa Maria, was wrecked in the Caribbean, archaeological investigators think they may have discovered the vessel’s long-lost remains – lying at the bottom of the sea off the north coast of Haiti."
posted by brundlefly on May 13, 2014 - 61 comments

"This Phineas was proud, well-dressed, and disarmingly handsome."

On Sept. 13, 1848, at around 4:30 p.m., the time of day when the mind might start wandering, a railroad foreman named Phineas Gage filled a drill hole with gunpowder and turned his head to check on his men. It was the last normal moment of his life. Other victims in the annals of medicine are almost always referred to by initials or pseudonyms. Not Gage: His is the most famous name in neuroscience. How ironic, then, that we know so little else about the man—and that much of what we think we know, especially about his life unraveling after his accident, is probably bunk.
Phineas Gage, Neuroscience’s Most Famous Patient by Sam Kean.
posted by Kattullus on May 13, 2014 - 36 comments

Long Player

Long Player is a fortnightly show presented by [British music journalist] Pete Paphides. Conducted in a relaxed setting, these interviews see some of Petes favourite artists revisiting the highs and lows of their careers. Interviewees include Allen Toussaint, Linda Thompson, Neil Finn and Jimmy Webb. [more inside]
posted by jack_mo on May 11, 2014 - 7 comments

The Evolution of London, mapped through its roadways

In seven minutes, you can see the evolution of London, as seen in its road network, from the Roman port city of Londonium through the Anglo-Saxon, Tudor, Stuart, Early Georgian and Late Georgian, Early Victorian and Late Victorian, Early 20th Century and Postwar London, set to the scale of the 600 square miles of modern London, though the original city core is a very dense square mile. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on May 10, 2014 - 15 comments

Dragons are totally real tho

The uncommonly well-moderated and researched Ask Historians subreddit answers the question: What common medieval fantasy tropes have little-to-no basis in real medieval European history?
posted by The Whelk on May 8, 2014 - 54 comments

By 1909, the hatpin was considered an international threat

In March 1910, Chicago’s city council ran with that idea, debating an ordinance that would ban hatpins longer than nine inches; any woman caught in violation would be arrested and fined $50. The proceedings were packed with curious spectators, men and women, and acrimonious from the start. “If women care to wear carrots and roosters on their heads, that is a matter for their own concern, but when it comes to wearing swords they must be stopped,” a supporter said. Cries of “Bravo!” from the men; hisses from the women. Nan Davis, there to represent several women’s clubs, asked for permission to address the committee. “If the men of Chicago want to take the hatpins away from us, let them make the streets safe,” she said. “No man has a right to tell me how I shall dress and what I shall wear.” [more inside]
posted by JujuB on May 8, 2014 - 50 comments

A maze of twisty little borders, all alike

The world's most complex borders. Bonus: a closer look at Baarle, the Belgian Dutch Belgian enclave in the south of the Netherlands.
posted by MartinWisse on May 6, 2014 - 29 comments

40 Maps of the Middle East

Forty maps that explain the Middle East. Includes sections on Middle East history, the region today, Israel-Palestine, Syria, Iran, Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia and oil, Iraq and Libya, and "points of light." [more inside]
posted by Halloween Jack on May 6, 2014 - 8 comments

"What Girls Are Good For"

Today is the 150th birthday of Elizabeth Jane Seaman, née Cochran -- best known by her pen name Nellie Bly. She is perhaps most famous for her re-creation of Jules Verne's epic Around the World in 80 Days, but this real-life Phileas Fogg did it in a record-breaking 72 days, 6 hours, and 11 minutes, and wrote a book about her adventure. She was a pioneering investigative journalist, brave enough to get herself committed to an insane asylum to expose its practices, which resulted in the book Ten Days in a Mad-House. As she wrote, "I was too impatient to work at the usual duties assigned women on newspapers." [more inside]
posted by Celsius1414 on May 5, 2014 - 26 comments

playful technologies can help students understand how history is created

Pastplay: Teaching and Learning History with Technology. The fourth book from the digitalculturebooks imprint of the University of Michigan Press, Pastplay includes a wide range of essays, all available online for free. T. Mills Kelly reflects on his historical methods course which resulted in a historical hoax, “the last American pirate,” declared one of the 10 biggest hoaxes in Wikipedia’s first ten years. Matthew Kirschenbaum discusses if board games work better than computer games for teaching history. The book's chapters cover successful combinations of play, technology, and history. Yet, many are wary, as a "playful approach to teaching and learning with technology can seem like the worst of all possible worlds: the coupling of strategies developed for entertainment with tools created for commerce." [more inside]
posted by spamandkimchi on May 4, 2014 - 17 comments

Spy satellite images reveal Middle Eastern archaelogical sites

The Corona Atlas of the Middle East uses spy satellite imagery to reveal as many as 10,000 previously unknown archaeological sites.
posted by MoonOrb on May 3, 2014 - 8 comments

Does telling history honestly justify resurrecting human zoos?

As part of the bicentennial celebrations of the constitution of Norway, two artists are recreating the "human zoo" featured at the 1914 Oslo World Fair. [more inside]
posted by MartinWisse on May 2, 2014 - 22 comments

The devourer and the devoured

"Nobody would believe how difficult it is to be the mother of a Wunderkind. Everything I do is wrong; everything the child does is “for effect”; everything we say is utterly untrue. If Vivien runs up to me and kisses me, I hear it murmured that she is trained to do so. (“Whipped to be affectionate in public!”) So I tell her never to do it again. Immediately people remark how cold I am to the child; how the poor little creature evidently fears me and prefers Fräulein Muller. We take her with her hoop and skipping-rope to play in the park? It is said we make her pretend to be infantine, force her to act the “happy child” when people are looking on! So we take her toys from her and conduct her for prim walks between us. “Poor little unnatural creature!” say our friends: “she has no child-life at all.” The Devourer and the Devoured is a long essay by Emily Hogstad about the intertwined lives of the novelist Annie Vivanti and her daughter Vivien Chartres, a world-famous violin prodigy, at the beginning of the twentieth century.
posted by escabeche on Apr 29, 2014 - 16 comments

Her Majesty's High Court of Chivalry of England and Wales

In England coats of arms and other issues of heraldry are registered and administered by the College of Arms. But what if some base scoundrel displays your family's ancient and noble coat of arms without the right to do so? You sue them in the Court of Chivalry. [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Apr 27, 2014 - 21 comments

Photographs of some historical & archeological artifacts

Michael Faraday's chemical chest, 19th century.
The end of Darwin's walking stick.
Galileo’s original telescope.
Napoleon’s toothbrush, c 1795 (with engraved "N“ at bottom).
Carved Olive Pit, China (1737).
Throne of Charlemagne (790). Until 1531, it served as the coronation throne the Kings of Germany, being used at a total of thirty-one coronations.
Ishtar Gate, ca 575 BC. Built on the orders of Nebuchadnezzar II, it was a gate to the inner city of Babylon.
Tolkien's service weapon from WWI.
Breastplate, North Peru - A.D. 1000/1470. [more inside]
posted by growabrain on Apr 27, 2014 - 33 comments

Lionpower!

In 1967, you needed the best filmed entertainment humanity could produce, it was important.
posted by vrakatar on Apr 26, 2014 - 26 comments

American Museum of Natural Unlocks 1000's Of Old Photos

The American Museum of Natural History will unlock thousands of old photos from their vault, they announced this week. The new online image database (officially launching on Monday the 28th) will take you behind the curtain, delivering images that span the 145-year history of the Museum. The collection features over 7,000 images—many never before seen by the public—and includes photos, rare book illustrations, drawings, notes, letters, art, and Museum memorabilia. They say "it’s like stepping into a time machine and seeing a long ago NYC or just catching glimpses of ghosts from a forgotten world now seen only by researchers and Museum staff." Previously. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Apr 24, 2014 - 6 comments

Anyone can see the road that they walk on is paved in gold

The 1998 hit "The Way" by Fastball was based on the real-life disappearance of an elderly couple in Texas: The song’s lyrics -- about an elderly couple who disappears from their home, finding immortality on the road -- seem sweet. That is, until "shadows" on the highway are referenced. The promises that the unnamed couple will never go home, grow old, or be hungry again seem a great deal less reassuring. Perhaps, the listener thinks, the "immortality" they found on the open road is purely allegorical.
posted by Cash4Lead on Apr 24, 2014 - 33 comments

How Hip-Hop Failed Black America

The Root's ?uestlove on the invisibilizing of Black culture... "...you can point to this as proof of hip-hop’s success. The concept travels. But where has it traveled? The danger is that it has drifted into oblivion. The music originally evolved to paint portraits of real people and handle real problems at close range — social contract, anyone? — but these days, hip-hop mainly rearranges symbolic freight on the black starliner. Containers on the container ship are taken from here to there — and never mind the fact that they may be empty containers. Keep on pushin’ and all that, but what are you pushing against?" [more inside]
posted by artof.mulata on Apr 23, 2014 - 32 comments

Mali's Ancient Manuscripts

Bonfire of the Humanities. "Nobody goes to Timbuktu, right? Patrick Symmes did, to discover what happened when jihadi rebels set out to burn one of the world’s finest collections of ancient manuscripts. Bouncing around by truck, boat, and boots, he got an intimate look at West ­Africa’s most mythic locale." [Via] [more inside]
posted by homunculus on Apr 21, 2014 - 12 comments

The Broadway community has always been at the forefront of this issue

If you go to see a Broadway or off-Broadway show this June, the masthead of your Playbill will look a little different; for the first time in its 130 year history, the program, along with their digital properties and social media sites will turn rainbow during the last week of June to commemorate Pride weeks in New York City, San Francisco, Chicago, and other major cities around the world.
posted by roomthreeseventeen on Apr 19, 2014 - 4 comments

What's New?

What's New With NCSA Mosaic?
posted by Pope Guilty on Apr 19, 2014 - 33 comments

Rose Rose I Love You

In 1952 Malaya, cabaret dancer Rose Chan's bra snapped on stage. Noticing the enthusiastic response from the audience, she decided to capitalise on this, and transformed herself into Malaysia's first (and so far only) Queen of Striptease. (Many of these links have NSFW pictures) [more inside]
posted by divabat on Apr 18, 2014 - 13 comments

The Hundredth Anniversary of the Ludlow Massacre

Alan Prendergast writing in Westword reflects on the history of "Bloody Ludlow."
posted by audi alteram partem on Apr 18, 2014 - 25 comments

Bottles and ballast stones!

NOAA's Okeanos Explorer (previously 1, 2) is currently exploring the Gulf of Mexico. Today, they're exploring a 19th century shipwreck! Watch the discoveries on three live streams.
posted by mudpuppie on Apr 17, 2014 - 17 comments

SLYT * 85000

British Pathe releases 85K videos to YouTube. An archive of film from the late 1800s onward is now available on YouTube.
posted by bitmage on Apr 16, 2014 - 22 comments

Une agreable surprise!

Victorian Prudes and their Bizarre Beachside Bathing Machines. If you were a beachgoer in Georgian or Victorian times, more specifically, a female beachgoer, your day at the seaside would’ve likely had all the fun sucked out of it by a little invention known as the bathing machine.
posted by Bunny Ultramod on Apr 16, 2014 - 46 comments

The better robots of our nature

War! What was it good for? Quite a lot, argues historian and archaeologist Ian Morris. Over thousands of years humans used war to build our societies, then turned it against itself. With luck our newly acquired habits and forthcoming robots will keep the world from returning to older levels of bloodshed.
posted by doctornemo on Apr 14, 2014 - 23 comments

Pansy Club

Deviates, Inc is a tumblr devoted to exploring the visual culture of LGBT history ranging from Gilded Age drag queens, classic Hollywood lesbians, to militant gay activism.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 13, 2014 - 7 comments

If I get killed, please don't bury my soul.

The Ballad of Geeshie and Elvie. No grave site, no photograph. Forget that — no anecdotes. This is what set Geeshie and Elvie apart even from the rest of an innermost group of phantom geniuses of the ’20s and ’30s. Their myth was they didn’t have anything you could so much as hang a myth on.
posted by oinopaponton on Apr 12, 2014 - 42 comments

Massacres, Toponymy, Inertia, Easter

In the Spanish province of Burgos, Castile y León, about 200 kilometers north of Madrid, is a tiny little village named Castrillo Matajudíos (pop. 60). The village is considering changing its name. [more inside]
posted by skoosh on Apr 12, 2014 - 37 comments

101 Years Have Passed Since I Wrote My Note

101 year old message in a bottle found in the Baltic and that's all there is to it.
posted by mygothlaundry on Apr 9, 2014 - 30 comments

Eppur si muove

The Great Ptolemaic Smackdown is a nine-part series posted by sci-fi author and statistician Michael F. Flynn to his blog last year, covering the historical conflict between heliocentrism and geocentrism, with a special focus on Galileo. They are based on an article (pdf) by Flynn which originally appeared in the Jan/Feb 2013 issue of Analog. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 8, 2014 - 10 comments

Maybe I Don't Want To Be A Princess After All

Game of Thrones: Being A Princess Is A Rough Gig "...The privileges held by princesses came at an enormous price. They were used and valued as diplomatic chess pieces, often sent at a very young age to far away places, often to places where they didn't speak the language to live among people who might not care for them or may even be openly hostile.... Game of Thrones does an extraordinary job of showing what being caught in that particular trap must have looked like and felt like. Some flail, some are lucky, some are doomed, some do their best to turn it to their advantage, some become monsters. In this post, I'm going to take a look at the various Game of Thrones princesses in the context of some possible real life counterparts"
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard on Apr 7, 2014 - 200 comments

"therfore the holi fader, the pope, hath ratefied and confermed my book"

The Travels of Sir John Mandeville is a remarkable 14th Century book which tells the autobiographical story of Sir John Mandeville's travels from England to Jerusalem and beyond to Asia. The only problem is that the book "had been a household word in eleven languages and for five centuries before it was ascertained that Sir John never lived, that his travels never took place, and that his personal experiences, long the test of others' veracity, were compiled out of every possible authority, going back to Pliny, if not further." The book was very popular for many centuries and was illustrated many times. For more about the book there is the introduction to a recent scholarly Middle English version and an illuminating podcast interview [iTunes link] with Professor Anthony Bale, the translator of a new version of the "defective" version of the book, which was the best known version for centuries. The interview goes into the many errors and fantasias of Mandeville but also puts the work in the context of its time and place.
posted by Kattullus on Apr 5, 2014 - 18 comments

On Engastration

His recipe calls for a bustard stuffed with a turkey stuffed with a goose stuffed with a pheasant stuffed with a chicken stuffed with a duck stuffed with a guinea fowl stuffed with a teal stuffed with a woodcock stuffed with a partridge stuffed with a plover stuffed with a lapwing stuffed with a quail stuffed with a thrush stuffed with a lark stuffed with an ortolan bunting stuffed with a garden warbler stuffed with an olive stuffed with an anchovy stuffed with a single caper - The Roti Sans Pareil or Roast Without Equal.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 5, 2014 - 70 comments

Terrabyte Incognita

Africa Might Not Look Like You Think It Does
There is no such thing as an objective map. This was true of cave paintings, Roman tapestries, and colonialists' charts of Africa. It is also true of Google Maps.

posted by infini on Apr 2, 2014 - 58 comments

The NYPL's Open Maps Project adds 20,000 High Res Maps

The New York Public Library has released more than 20,000 high resolution cartographic works (maps!) for free, to view and download. "We believe these maps have no known US copyright restrictions." All can be viewed through the New York Public Library’s Digital Collections page and downloaded through their Map Warper. (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Mar 31, 2014 - 11 comments

Paintings and Google Street View mashups

London to Amsterdam, Saint Petersburg and Tokyo to New York, well known historical paintings of city scenes around the world superimposed on to Google Street View by Halley Docherty (whose username is shystone on Reddit) | Google Street View Paintings by Raul Moyado Sandoval that he calls Metapanoramas | Also Paintings as Google Street View Maps via Lileks' wonderful Lint. [more inside]
posted by nickyskye on Mar 31, 2014 - 4 comments

Street life in the Great Wen

If you don't like Marcellus Laroon's pictures of London street life in the late 1600s, perhaps Thomas Rowlandson's "Characteristic Sketches of the Lower Orders" from 1820 are more to your liking. Moving up in society, take a look at what the fat cat bankers of 1824 wore, courtesy of Richard Dighton and contrast them with the costumes of the lower orders as depicted by T. L. Busby in the same year. All found at the Spitalfields Life blog, which has an uncanny knack for finding these extraordinary depictions of London street life in previous centuries.
posted by MartinWisse on Mar 30, 2014 - 11 comments

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