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Part Finnish, part Native American

In the Great Lakes region there are people with roots in Finland and among indigenous North American peoples. It’s impossible to know how exactly many of these so-called ‘Findians’ exist, but their numbers are estimated in the hundreds. Author Katja Kettu, journalist Maria Seppälä and photographer Meeri Koutaniemi documented their lives over the course of three years. Their experiences form the basis for their book, ‘Findian country’.
posted by infini on Aug 11, 2016 - 7 comments

A Drawing Of A Crying Lady Liberty At The Pearly Gates

In 1967 political cartoonist Pat Oliphant drew an editorial cartoon just to win the Pulitizer - "one of the worst cartoons I've ever drawn" - trying to appeal to the judges' tastes and prevailing political opinion. And guess what happened.
posted by The Whelk on Aug 10, 2016 - 38 comments

O Sister, Where Art Thou?

This past May on Metafilter, we looked at “Thirty Minutes Behind the Walls”, a wildly popular variety show that was broadcast every Wednesday night in the 1930's and 1940's from the state prison in Huntsville, TX. It featured performances by male and female prisoners. No recordings of the show have ever been found. In the early forties, eight inmates of the Goree State Farm prison unit formed one of the first all-female country and western acts in the country and their performances were broadcast on Thirty Minutes. The Goree All Girl String Band captured the hearts of millions of radio listeners but never cut a record or went on tour and have thus been ignored by music historians. When they were paroled, they nearly all vanished forever. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 9, 2016 - 2 comments

The new New Deal

How to Give Rural America Broadband? Look to the Early 1900s
posted by Michele in California on Aug 8, 2016 - 18 comments

"A Remarkable New Photo Map of Old London"

Citylab: "Launched last week, Collage, The London Picture Map allows you to trace London’s visual history street by street. Supported by the City of London Corporation, it’s the result of two full years of digitizing and mapping images from the London Metropolitan Archive and the Guildhall Art Gallery, which together possess the largest collection of London images in the world." [more inside]
posted by mandolin conspiracy on Aug 5, 2016 - 6 comments

Porta Polonica: culture and history of Poles in Germany

Porta Polonica is a site (courtesy of the Westphalian State Museum of Industrial Heritage) devoted to the culture and history of Poles in Germany. Some examples of the dozens of articles therein: an account of the novelist Witold Gombrowicz’s year in Berlin; a biography of the pioneering harpsichordist, pianist and composer Wanda Landowska; a piece about Jan Łukasiewicz, who devised what was once known as ‘Reverse Polish Notation’; a brief account of Rosa Luxemburg’s career; an article about star of stage & (silent) screen Pola Negri; and a piece about the letter ‘P’ worn by the millions of Polish forced labourers in wartime Germany.
posted by misteraitch on Aug 2, 2016 - 1 comment


Seymour Papert, Co-Founder and Chairman of the Logo Foundation went PENUP today. Many of us who learned programming in the 1980s started with LOGO, which spawned other langauges like StarLogo. Today, its spiritual successor is probably Scratch.
posted by dmd on Aug 1, 2016 - 70 comments

Xerox Alto: Restoring the Legendary 1970s GUI Computer

Startup incubator Y-Combinator acquired a Xerox Alto and Ken Shirriff is currently in the process of restoring it to working condition.

Overview of the Alto and Its Place in History
Day 1: Power Supplies and Disk Interface
Day 2: Repairing the Display
Day 3: Inside the Disk Drive
Day 4: Microcode Tasks and Trying To Boot
"Hello World" in the BCPL Language (Precursor to C) on the Alto Simulator [more inside]
posted by Pong74LS on Jul 31, 2016 - 25 comments

I've got yer credentials right here.

35 Classy Slang Terms for Naughty Bits from the Past 600 Years [more inside]
posted by Johnny Wallflower on Jul 31, 2016 - 36 comments

A vocabulary fight turned constitutional crisis

Law professor Zephyr Teachout first rose to prominence as the director of internet organizing for Howard Dean's 2004 presidential campaign. She's published the acclaimed political history book Corruption in America. In 2014 she primaried Andrew Cuomo from the left, winning half of NY's counties despite Cuomo refusing to even mention her name. And now? She's running for Congress. [more inside]
posted by galaxy rise on Jul 30, 2016 - 9 comments

Twinkle, Twinkle, Vogel Staar: On Mozart's Feathered Collaborator

If you whistle a tune often enough to a starling, the bird will not only sing it back to you, it will improvise its response and create something new. On May 27, 1784, Mozart whistled a 17 note phrase to a starling in a Viennese shop and to his delight it spat the tune right back — but not without taking some liberties first. So he bought it and brought it home. That bird lived with him for the three most productive years of his life, during which he completed more than 60 compositions, including Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. The piano concerto as we still understand it was built in those rooms. The “Jupiter” Symphony began and Figaro ended. Melodies that two centuries of humans have since whistled could have first been volleyed between a genius and his pet bird.
posted by zarq on Jul 29, 2016 - 21 comments

The Weed Route

In the winter of 1980 The Chicago Milwaukee St. Paul and Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road) abandoned almost 2000 miles of track between Miles City, Montana and Cedar Falls, Washington -- part of a passenger and freight shipping route known as the “Pacific Coast Extension.” Today, what's left of the Extension is "cut up among different railroads and the best engineered rail line through the rugged Rockies and Cascades is but weeds and trails, a vital transportation artery no longer available to shippers and the American economy." But in August 1980, before it was abandoned, two former locomotive firemen and engineers spent $400 to rescue a track-maintenance railway car, a 1952 M-19 Fairmont Speeder, from a scrap heap in a Maine train yard. They used it to travel the route and took photos along the way. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 27, 2016 - 20 comments

Lest we forget

European refugees in India, Africa and the Middle East
During World War II in Europe over 40 million refugees sought shelter away from the catastrophic bloodshed that engulfed the continent for over six years.
posted by infini on Jul 26, 2016 - 12 comments

Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in mine own house?

Victorian Women of Color: A Rare ViewPhotos of Women of Color from this era are hard to come by, especially "family" photographs. Sadly these beautiful and touching images go unnamed. A couple of these photos were taken when there was still slavery in the United States. [Downtown LA Life Magazine is] honored to present these images as part of our dedication to the photographic history of our country. [more inside]
posted by Johnny Wallflower on Jul 25, 2016 - 15 comments

How to buy a car in the U.S.S.R.

It was a bit harder than you might think....
Ronald Reagan told the joke:
a guy in a Soviet country is told he has a 10 year wait for a car.
This man laid down the money, and the fellow in charge said to him:
Come back in 10 years and get your car.
The man answered: Morning or afternoon?
And the fellow behind the counter said: Ten years from now, what difference does it make?
And he said: Well, the plumber is coming in the morning. [more inside]
posted by shockingbluamp on Jul 22, 2016 - 21 comments

Popcorn, always with the popcorn

Popcorn. Not just a snack, but a metaphor for schadenfreude. And darn tasty to boot. You can mix equal volumes popcorn and milk without raising the level of the milk, which is kinda fun but doesn't taste very good. Or.... [more inside]
posted by sotonohito on Jul 22, 2016 - 63 comments

You can’t be sure where any search will lead.

It all started with a question, one my parents had been unable to answer for 70 years. What happened to the French doctor they had taken in during the Russian siege of Budapest? He was an escaped prisoner of war. They were just trying to hang on. Together, they hid in a cellar, beneath the feet of German soldiers who had made the home their headquarters.
San Francisco Journalist John Temple follows the threads of World War II into the present.
posted by Rumple on Jul 16, 2016 - 20 comments

Hey Blondie! You know what you are?

A condensed history of white rappers
posted by Artw on Jul 15, 2016 - 124 comments

Roman Inscriptions of Britain

Roman Inscriptions of Britain is a searchable online database that "hosts Volume One of The Roman Inscriptions of Britain, R.G. Collingwood's and R.P. Wright's magisterial edition of 2,401 monumental inscriptions from Britain found prior to 1955. It also incorporates all Addenda and Corrigenda published in the 1995 reprint of RIB (edited by R.S.O. Tomlin) and the annual survey of inscriptions published in Britannia since."
posted by jedicus on Jul 14, 2016 - 5 comments

Medieval Graffiti

"The past five or six years have seen a massive rise in one particular area of medieval studies – an area that has the potential to give back a voice to the silent majority of the medieval population. New digital imaging technologies, and the recent establishment of numerous volunteer recording programmes, have transformed its scope and implications. The first large-scale survey began in the English county of Norfolk a little over six years ago. The results of that survey have been astonishing." [more inside]
posted by jedicus on Jul 12, 2016 - 24 comments

“What bothers me is the way people were applauding him.”

To "more fully understand why conservative [American] politics [has] become synonymous with no-questions-asked support of Israel," Author Tom Bissell went on a ten day “Stand with Israel Tour” hosted by right-wing Jewish Conservative talk show pundit Dennis Prager. My Holy Land Vacation: Touring Israel with 450 Christian Zionists, is this month’s Harper’s Magazine cover story. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 12, 2016 - 29 comments


Margaret Hamilton's source code for Apollo 11 on Github! The extraordinary code from the original Apollo 11 guidance computer has been converted to .s files for syntax highlighting and posted to Github. The project was undertaken by Virtual AGC and the MIT Museum. [more inside]
posted by jasper411 on Jul 12, 2016 - 22 comments

(W)Here lies Constance Wilde?

"Oscar Wilde’s long-suffering wife is supposed to be buried in Italy. So what’s her gravestone doing in a cemetery in Spain, and who lies under it?" [more inside]
posted by mandolin conspiracy on Jul 11, 2016 - 4 comments

When the joke backfires

Women Were Included in the Civil Rights Act as a Joke And a racist joke, at that. But working women and black civil rights lawyers had the last laugh when they brought women’s workplace rights to the courts and won.
posted by infini on Jul 11, 2016 - 15 comments

Tired of the Treachery and Political Confusion of the 21st C?

If so, you can revel in the continual treachery and political confusion of the long history of England in its assorted forms via the History of England Podcast. The genial and enthusiastic David Crowther works his way through the tumultuous course of events, only occasionally enlisting his children to put on amateur theatricals to illustrate some dramatic moment or other. [more inside]
posted by GenjiandProust on Jul 10, 2016 - 12 comments

Globalization before Its Time: Kutchi traders

The Arabian Sea has a special place in Indian business history. For centuries the cities and settlements on the Arabian Sea littoral traded with each other, exchanging Indian textiles for horse, armaments, pearls and ivory. In turn, some of the textiles were passed on to the Atlantic slave trade in Africa as a medium of exchange, or sent overland to European markets. Coastal merchants* indigenous to the region bordering the sea engaged in this business and developed sophisticated systems of banking and shipbuilding to support the mercantile enterprise. The Hindu and Muslim traders of Kachchh were examples of such groups of people. text via [more inside]
posted by infini on Jul 8, 2016 - 7 comments

Long read essay on Africa

Africa In The New Century
An essay by the Cameroonian philosopher and post-colonial theorist Achille Mbembe. Entitled “Africa In The New Century”, the essay advances one of the most profound arguments yet for the growing—if still marginalised—hypothesis that the future of humanity is being subsumed by the future of Africa.
text via
posted by infini on Jul 7, 2016 - 15 comments

Space Junk

Bonhams is hosting an auction of Space History on July 20th. Now is the time to get that full scale Sputnik model for your living room.
posted by agatha_magatha on Jul 4, 2016 - 15 comments

Track Changes

Matthew Kirschenbaum talks to The Atlantic about his book on the history of word processing, what early word processing looked like, early adopter Len Deighton, and how writers of all kinds adapted to the new technology.
posted by Artw on Jul 2, 2016 - 28 comments

Don't make the mistake of anthropomorphizing Larry Ellison

This candid 2011 talk about the history of OpenSolaris fork Illumos doubles as a history of the late Silicon Valley giant Sun, its engineering and corporate culture, its disastrous acquisition by Oracle, and the rise of open source in the 2000's. [more inside]
posted by whir on Jul 1, 2016 - 21 comments

The Paintings of Ben Sakoguchi

In a series of colorful, captivating, and often provocative paintings, Los Angeles artist Ben Sakoguchi (b. 1938) examines how baseball, long referred to as America’s national pastime, reflects both the highs and lows of American culture. The son of a grocer and avid baseball fan, Sakoguchi juxtaposes the iconic imagery of vintage orange crate labels from the 1920s to the 1950s with whimsical, eccentric, and sometimes scathing portrayals of America’s beloved sport. [more inside]
posted by dfm500 on Jun 30, 2016 - 8 comments

“This was not Holocaust education but miseducation,”

Man Who Claimed to Have Escaped Auschwitz Admits He Lied for Years [The Guardian] Joseph Hirt said he fabricated story of being sent to camp and meeting Nazi doctor Josef Mengele to ‘keep memories alive’ about history of the Holocaust. [more inside]
posted by Fizz on Jun 25, 2016 - 34 comments

and a star to steer her by

Being on a 61-foot vessel with no engine in the middle of the ocean is, indeed, as tough as it might seem. The Hokule'a is on a mission. Catch them on their east coast tour!
posted by vrakatar on Jun 23, 2016 - 12 comments

Lotteries were all the rage in eighteenth-century Paris.

Voltaire’s Luck by Roger Pearson [Lapham's Quarterly] “It was once said of Voltaire, by his friend the Marquis d’Argenson, that “our great poet forever has one foot on Mount Parnassus and the other in the rue Quincampoix.” The rue Quincampoix was the Wall Street of eighteenth-century Paris; the country’s most celebrated writer of epic and dramatic verse had a keen eye for investment opportunities. By the time d’Argenson made his remark, in 1751, Voltaire had amassed a fortune. He owed it all to a lottery win. Or, to be more precise, to several wins.”
posted by Fizz on Jun 22, 2016 - 7 comments

The shining

The Polyamorous Christian Socialist Utopia That Made Silverware for Proper Americans
posted by Joe in Australia on Jun 22, 2016 - 26 comments

African and African American Studies: Introduction to Wakanda

"T’Challa emerged as the fictional representation of those countless dreams denied; the unbroken manhood that Ossie Davis famously invoked after the assassination of Malcolm X. Wakanda symbolized the dreams of black utopias like Ethiopia and South Africa that had grown as the Black Freedom Struggle grew over the twentieth century. In this moment when superheroes become a way to explore contemporary anxieties about activism and authority, the Black Panther provides an opportunity for global audiences to study the traditions of black nationalism, Pan-Africanism, and the variety of African indigenous cultures. Dr. Walter Greason (Monmouth University) took a few minutes to suggest a collaborative exploration of these influences" in the Wakanda Syllabus.
posted by ChuraChura on Jun 19, 2016 - 6 comments

Metrocosm: The History of Cities Visualized

The History of Cities Visualized: Metrocosm
posted by y2karl on Jun 18, 2016 - 9 comments

"Jesus said to them, My wife."

The Unbelievable Tale of Jesus' Wife is an article by Ariel Sabar about his quest to trace the providence of a manuscript fragment in which Jesus refers to his wife. The trail leads from Harvard through old East Germany to the Floridian swingers' scene.
posted by Kattullus on Jun 16, 2016 - 58 comments


More Perfect is a seven-week long Radiolab spin-off series examining Supreme Court Cases.
  1. “Cruel and Unusual” examines the history of the death penalty, particularly lethal injection. A related MeFi Post
  2. “The Political Thicket” digs deep into the drama surrounding the Baker v. Carr redistricting case and the psychological toll it exacted on the justices.
  3. The next episode airs June 17. Kind of meh on the Radiolab style? Try Amicus for Dahlia Lithwick’s discussions of recent Supreme Court Decisions, the oh-so-dry debates on constitutional law at We The People, or just take your Supreme Court oral arguments straight up from Oyez.

posted by Going To Maine on Jun 14, 2016 - 21 comments

Uncovering Forgotten Stories of Hiroshima

Keiko Horikawa is a Japanese freelance journalist whose work, unknown in English translation until now, deals with the value of life and the weight of death. Her two subjects are the death penalty and the atomic bombing in Hiroshima, which has gained new urgency as bomb survivors, the hibakusha, die out after 70 years. Here is a translation of an event promoting her book about the Genbaku Kuyoto, the mound containing the unclaimed remains of approximately 70,000 bomb victims, and her effort to reunite the 815 identified remains with their families.
posted by Small Dollar on Jun 14, 2016 - 3 comments

We have entire cities discovered beneath the forest that no one knew...

Revealed: Cambodia's Vast Medieval Cities Hidden Beneath the Jungle [The Guardian] Archaeologists in Cambodia have found multiple, previously undocumented medieval cities not far from the ancient temple city of Angkor Wat, the Guardian can reveal, in groundbreaking discoveries that promise to upend key assumptions about south-east Asia’s history. The Australian archaeologist Dr Damian Evans, whose findings will be published in the Journal of Archaeological Science on Monday, will announce that cutting-edge airborne laser scanning technology has revealed multiple cities between 900 and 1,400 years old beneath the tropical forest floor, some of which rival the size of Cambodia’s capital, Phnom Penh.
posted by Fizz on Jun 12, 2016 - 16 comments

The Story of India

The Story of India, written and presented by Michael Wood for the BBC, is a six episode documentary that serves as an entertaining and solid introduction to Indian history. All six episodes are available in full (6 hrs). [more inside]
posted by cwest on Jun 9, 2016 - 22 comments

Tracking Down August Belmont Jr.’s Private NYC Subway Car, The Mineola

August Belmont Jr. builder of the Belmont Racetrack and founder of the Interborough Rapid Transit Company (IRT, now part of the numbered NYC Subway lines) had his own private subway car, the Mineola, built for him in 1903. Untapped Cities tracks it down. ''A private railroad car is not an acquired taste,'' wrote Eleanor Belmont, ''One takes to it immediately.''
posted by fings on Jun 8, 2016 - 19 comments

‘Is the city in conspiracy with the mob?’

A Long-Lost Manuscript Contains a Searing Eyewitness Account of the Tulsa Race Massacre of 1921
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 1, 2016 - 16 comments

Free State of Jones

The True Story of the 'Free State of Jones': A new Hollywood movie looks at the tale of the Mississippi farmer who led a revolt against the Confederacy (Smithsonian Mag). Newton Knight has always been a controversial figure. "This controversy was fueled in part by Knight's postwar marriage to a formerly enslaved black woman, which effectively established a small mixed-race community in southeastern Mississippi."(Jones County, Mississippi) [more inside]
posted by cwest on May 27, 2016 - 26 comments

Aristotle's Tomb

Is this Greek hilltop the 2,400-year-old burial place of Aristotle? "Greek archaeologists at Ancient Stagira, Central Macedonia, say they have found Aristotle’s tomb. Addressing the Aristotle 2400 Years World Congress, they point to the 2,400-year-old tomb as the most important finding from the 20-year excavation."
posted by homunculus on May 26, 2016 - 22 comments

Sapiens 2.0: Homo Deus?

In his follow-up to Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari envisions what a 'useless class' of humans might look like as AI advances and spreads - "I'm aware that these kinds of forecasts have been around for at least 200 years, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and they never came true so far. It's basically the boy who cried wolf, but in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." [more inside]
posted by kliuless on May 24, 2016 - 23 comments

City Readers

The New York Society Library maintains an elegant online database of its circulation records from 1789 to 1805, a period that includes its stint as the first library of the United States Congress. To help you get a handle on the data trove (assembled from 100,000 records tracking every book that every patron checked out), the Library offers visualization tools and two curated lists of interesting readers: 57 representative women and 40 Founding Fathers.
posted by Iridic on May 23, 2016 - 10 comments

This Was San Francisco, by Albert Tolf (1956)

Remarkable comic book work published in The San Francisco News. Scanned by Ron Henggeler from a book found in the UC Berkeley Library. (Previously!)
posted by azazello on May 23, 2016 - 17 comments

The symbolic value of rock is conflict-based:

Which Rock Star Will Historians of the Future Remember? by Chuck Klosterman [The New York Times] The most important musical form of the 20th century will be nearly forgotten one day. People will probably learn about the genre through one figure — so who might that be? [more inside]
posted by Fizz on May 23, 2016 - 173 comments

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