The Shocking Savagery of America's Early History, a look at historian Bernard Bailyn's book.
Bailyn has not painted a pretty picture. Little wonder he calls it The Barbarous Years and spares us no details of the terror, desperation, degradation and widespread torture—do you really know what being “flayed alive” means? (The skin is torn from the face and head and the prisoner is disemboweled while still alive.) And yet somehow amid the merciless massacres were elements that gave birth to the rudiments of civilization—or in Bailyn’s evocative phrase, the fragile “integument of civility”—that would evolve 100 years later into a virtual Renaissance culture, a bustling string of self-governing, self-sufficient, defiantly expansionist colonies alive with an increasingly sophisticated and literate political and intellectual culture that would coalesce into the rationale for the birth of American independence. All the while shaping, and sometimes misshaping, the American character. It’s a grand drama in which the glimmers of enlightenment barely survive the savagery, what Yeats called “the blood-dimmed tide,” the brutal establishment of slavery, the race wars with the original inhabitants that Bailyn is not afraid to call “genocidal,” the full, horrifying details of which have virtually been erased.[more inside]
41 men targeted, but 1,147 people killed: New analysis of data conducted by the human rights group Reprieve raises questions about the accuracy of intelligence guiding 'precise' drone strikes.
In an unexpected move, Alan Gross is being exchanged with the (remaining) Cuban Five and the US and Cuba plan to start talks on normalizing relations. [more inside]
Halloween and Thanksgiving are two of the slipperiest holidays in the American tradition. Costumed masquerading and trick-or-treating used to happen on Thanksgiving, while Halloween was mostly devoted to vandalism. As Americans did they best to stamp out the vandalism, they also cleaned up the unruly traditions of Turkey Day, banishing the Thanksgiving Ragamuffins to October. [more inside]
The Marshall Project launched Sunday to provide "high-quality journalism about the American criminal justice system" and "amplify the national conversation about criminal justice." Helmed by Bill Keller, their first investigative piece was published in August and their second in October, but today they have several new feature pieces: Obama's Prison Crisis, Waiting for Ferguson, Right and Left Unite on Drug Sentencing. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?, The Men Who Should Have Been Free, Eric Holder on His Legacy, His Regrets, and His Feelings About the Death Penalty, and Dying in Attica. (Previously) [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:
The Death of the Southern White Democrat Hurts African-Americans the Most (previously) while the South’s Republicans Look a Lot Like Its 1970s Democrats
"Barajas and the veterans staying with him are establishing a new life in Tijuana — a life after deportation. Their stories are similar: Each was honorably discharged from the military, but was later charged with a deportable offense — for example, drug possession, discharge of a firearm or perjury...Most have spent the vast majority of their lives in the United States and are now starting over in a country they barely know." (Aj Jazeera)
I am on the western edge of the United States-Mexico border to understand more about the most publicised and most crossed border in the world. Ben Stubbs visits one of the most notorious borders in the world and reflects on Australia's frontier issues.
Gun Wars: the struggle over gun rights and regulation in America, in the aftermath of the Newtown school shootings and the ongoing congressional stalemate over federal gun legislation. An investigative report from "29 students from 16 journalism schools, as well as an experienced staff of editors" for Carnegie-Knight News21. [more inside]
Republican legislators in Missouri are pushing to expand abortion restrictions in the state. A bill mandating a 72-hour waiting period, vetoed by Governor Jay Nixon in July, is likely to become law on Wednesday in a special legislative session. [more inside]
"In reconsidering the metrosexual, we must first distinguish between the metrosexual’s imagined and actual properties. Like hipsterism, metrosexuality is an insult more readily slung than substantiated. According to canon, David Beckham is the ur-metro. Although Beckham initially goes unmentioned in the word’s first printing (in 1994), the word’s progenitor, Mark Simpson, introduced American readers to metrosexuality through the British football star in 2002, when he called Beckham a "screaming, shrieking, flaming, freaking metrosexual…famous for wearing sarongs and pink nail polish and panties…and posing naked and oiled up on the cover of Esquire." " - Johannah King-Slutzky for The Awl on the 'Metrosexual' situation a decade later
The Sad State of America’s Aging Sisters: Why are there so few nuns today?
You may wonder whether the global church the sisters belong to is interested in keeping the convents open. It sure seems like it isn't. By 2005, the Catholic Church had spent $1 billion on legal fees and settlements stemming from priests sexually abusing children. Yet church leaders have allocated no funds to take care of elderly sisters, and while priests’ retirement funds are covered by the church, the sisters have no such safety net. When their orders run out of money, that’s it.[more inside]
“Why would you want to be a nun if the archdiocese is going to treat you like they do?” Ann Frey at the Wartburg said. “Their whole lives they’ve been obedient and done what they were asked to do, and now nobody is helping them?”
"International fast food behemoth Burger King Worldwide Inc. confirmed Tuesday that it will pay about $11 billion to buy Canadian chain Tim Hortons Inc., which sells coffee, donuts, and other breakfast food fare. The deal would merge America's second-largest burger chain, which is valued at nearly $10 billion, with the Canadian equivalent to Dunkin' Donuts, which is valued at more than $8 billion. It would also move the new company's headquarters to Canada, where corporate taxes are significantly lower." [more inside]
First world war – a century on, time to hail the peacemakers "On the 100th anniversary of the start of the Great War, we should remember those who tried to stop a catastrophe" [more inside]
The US GAO Flickr page features selected photos and graphics from US Government Accountability Office reports that are searchable, viewable, and downloadable by visitors to their site. [more inside]
The Economic Risks of Climate Change in the United States (PDF); prospectus (PDF); press coverage (YT) - "The signature effects of human-induced climate change—rising seas, increased damage from storm surge, more frequent bouts of extreme heat—all have specific, measurable impacts on our nation's current assets and ongoing economic activity. [The report] uses a standard risk-assessment approach to determine the range of potential consequences for each region of the U.S.—as well as for selected sectors of the economy—if we continue on our current path..." [more inside]
Francis Fukuyama on 'The End of History?' twenty-five years later: "liberal democracy still doesn't have any real competitors," but to get there... [more inside]
There was a time when the US was a marijuana friendly country but the Roosevelt administration thought it was killing America's youth and future so in 1937 pot was banned. By an ironic twist of fate, five years later the Department of Agriculture encouraged farmers to grow hemp to help the country defeat the nazis. Of course, the mirage didn't last long. Cannabis was banned and rebanned. The US pushed forward the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Drugs and 9 years later President Nixon signed the Controlled Substance Act. War on Drugs was at full throttle. Now, after six months of Colorado's green experiment, money is flowing and crime is decreasing. Please, let me try to predict the future: Ironically, curiosly and logically, the US will be marijuana friendly again and a bunch of countries will follow its path... again.
Her image was built on the infrastructure of the status quo — a straight, white, doting mother engaged in a long-term monogamous relationship — but made just extraordinary enough to truly entice but never offend. [SLBF]
Portrait of a Young Man with Down Syndrome. A father reflects on his son's search for employment.
"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.
Military infographics are completely insane -- An analysis of some of the baffling infographics that the US military have made public on the web for some reason.
The most recent story in ProPublica's Living Apart: Examining America's Racial Divide series is "Segregation Now," which focuses on the Tuscaloosa, Alabama, city school district "and its fleeting experience with the challenges and virtues of integration." But beyond Tuscaloosa, "almost everywhere in the United States, the gains of integration have been eroded. And nowhere has that been more powerfully and disturbingly true than in the South – once home to both the worst of segregation and the greatest triumphs of integration. Freed from the federal oversight that produced integration, schools districts across the 11 former states of the Confederacy have effectively re-instituted segregation for large numbers of black students, in practical terms if not in law." [more inside]
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]
Thank Goodness We Don't Have To Do That Anymore: a selection of US social customs and rituals that have mercifully passed on. Spinster Etiquette! Paying Calls! Hand Kissing! Bathing Machines! Wedding Gift Displays!
Lifehacker: "One of the more annoying things about Netflix, Hulu Plus, and Amazon's television streaming libraries is the vast difference between the selection available. It would be almost impossible to get a thorough idea of who has the better library without searching for hundreds of TV shows on each service and comparing them manually. So we did just that." [more inside]
Do the Apollo flags remain where they were planted or have they fallen or have they disintegrated after four decades of intense UV and heat? James Fincannon investigates flags left behind from Apollo 11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17 missions.
Dozens of armed men in Russian-marked military uniforms occupied an airport in the capital of Ukraine's strategic Crimea region early Friday, Obama warns Russia against any military intervention in Ukraine. But what is so dangerous about Crimea, and what is 'The Budapest Memorandum?'
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.
John Cleese: "I remember at a party I met these chaps from Viacom, who said they were working on a new Fawlty Towers. My ears pricked up at the sound of cash registers and said, 'That's wonderful, are you going to change anything?'. They said, 'Well we have changed one thing, we've written Basil out'. And that's absolutely true, they took Basil and Sybil's lines and gave them all to Bea Arthur." The resulting effort was a 1983 ABC series called Amanda’s By the Sea which could charitably be described as a fiasco. [more inside]
"In the mid-20th century, in response to the United States’ rapidly expanding telephone network, executives at the Bell System introduced a new way of dialing the phone. Until then, for the most part, it was human operators — mostly women — who had directed calls to their destinations." The new system, which eliminated letters from phone numbers and set the stage for an automated national (and eventually international) dialing system. was met with a minor rebellion against "creeping numeralism." The Atlantic examines "Our Numbered Days: The Evolution of the Area Code." [more inside]
Americans Try To Place European Countries On A Map, Brits have similar results attempting to place US States on a map.
What is the Williamsburg of your city? [SLGawker]
During their Freedom Hosting investigation and malware attack last year, the FBI unintentionally obtained the entire e-mail database of popular anonymous webmail service Tor Mail. And now, they've used it in an unrelated investigation to bust a Florida man accused of stealing credit card numbers. [more inside]
DEA Negotiated With Mexican Drug Cartel Members "An investigation by El Universal (in spanish) found that between the years 2000 and 2012, the U.S. government had an arrangement with Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel that allowed the organization to smuggle billions of dollars of drugs while Sinaloa provided information on rival cartels."
Jesse A. Myerson described five economic reforms millenials should be fighting for in Rolling Stone. Conservatives were generally aghast at the suggestions. Dylan Matthews at Wonkblog wrote a response, "Five conservative reforms millenials should be fighting for". Liberals disapproved. Both articles argued for I. Employer of Last Resort II. Basic Income III. Land Value Tax IV. Sovereign Wealth Fund V. Public Bank. Ezra Klein discusses the trolling.
There's some confusion surrounding Dennis Rodman's most recent visit to North Korea and his espoused 'Basketball Diplomacy' mission. He sung Happy Birthday (potential auto-play sound) and bowed deeply to 'Dear Leader', before his team of ex-NBA players scored 39 points to 47 against the NK team. Rodman played only in the first half and then sat next to Kim during the second half. [more inside]
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.
Following the state Supreme Court's decision in Griego v. Oliver [pdf], New Mexico has become the 17th U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage. [more inside]
In a six-month agreement, Iran will cap uranium enrichment at the 5% level, reduce its stockpile of already enriched uranium, and allow for more robust international inspections. In return, it will receive no new nuclear sanctions and "sanction relief" in the amount of $7 billion. [more inside]
The Fed Up project has collected over 7000 student-submitted photos of school lunches from across the US. They'll be used to create a map and report to make a case for better school lunches. [more inside]