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.
Seattle's unbelievable transportation megaproject fustercluck — "In short: There is no plan to resolve the dispute over cost overruns, which are ubiquitous on projects like this; at $4.2 billion, it's the most expensive transportation project in state history. The tunnel will have no exits - no ingress or egress - throughout the entire downtown core (which makes the support of downtown businesses all the more mystifying). It won't allow transit, only cars. It will be tolled, highly enough, by the state's own estimates, to drive nearly half its traffic onto the aforementioned side streets. It will be a precarious engineering feat, the widest deep-bore tunnel in history, digging right between a) Puget Sound and b) the oldest part of Seattle, with vulnerable buildings and God-knows-what buried infrastructure. Also: Pollution. Climate change. It's the 21st f'ing century. On and on. People said all this and more, in real time, to no avail." [more inside]
The FBI announced today that they will open an investigation into the death of 17 year old Lennon Lacy. [more inside]
MapLight is a database that "looks at big industries and big interests, their elected beneficiaries and their votes." They also run Voter's Edge for personalized election information. Check out the contributions by vote on Net Neutrality and the Keystone XL pipeline. Maplight also contributes to the national law review. [more inside]
Product of Mexico: Hardship on Mexico's farms, a bounty for U.S. tables — the first in a series of four Los Angeles Times long-form stories about labor conditions discovered during an 18-month investigation of Mexican vegetable farms that supply produce to the United States. [more inside]
The Veteran Art Project is a visual experiment by 27-year-old photographer Devin Mitchell "who is exploring a part of the veteran’s experience that is sometimes difficult to articulate." [more inside]
Over the last few days, as the United States has stepped up its bombing campaign against ISIS in Syria, it has been hard to escape another reality: the US is still looking for a coherent strategy against the Islamic State. [more inside]
Tampa homeless program uses unpaid, destitute residents as steady labor force, revenue source [more inside]
Aunt Bertha is a web-based platform that connects Americans in need to locally available government programs, non-profit organizations, and community-based resources that offer free or low-cost assistance with health and dental care, job placement, emergency and long-term shelter, clothing and household goods, child and elder care, legal aid, assistance with navigating the social safety net, and much more. All programs are searchable and sortable by ZIP code, city, or eligibility. Find food, health, housing, job training programs and more, anywhere. [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:
Vintage Photo Finds is a site with vintage photographs. According to creator Joel Snow:
The following pictures were found as negatives at the bottom of a cardboard box at a flea market. I shot them with my SLR on a lightbox and inverted them back to positives with Photshop. I'm not sure if it was a single photographer, or many, but many of the shots show an artistic and creative eye and share a similar style.[more inside]
One-Fifth of Detroit's Population Could Lose Their Homes — Many families could stay put for just a few hundred dollars, if only they knew how to work the system. (SLAtlantic)
Planned cities are not a new idea (Palmanova, Italy, 1593). From Washington, D.C. (1791), to Canberra, Australia (1911), to Brasilia, Brazil (1957), planned cities have long been an urban dream (from space), perhaps most frequently applied to national capitals. But they don't always work out as planned. [more inside]
Can New Zealand teach the US anything about race?
The US was founded on the idea of freedom and liberty. But freedom and liberty, which might be called the “sacred” values of American society, were exclusive ideas. In the colonial period there was, writes Dee Brown in Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee, “an almost reverential attitude toward the ideal of personal freedom for those who already had it.” Treaties are the mechanism to extend that freedom and liberty – that is, the right to self determination – to indigenous peoples who were promised it, but do not have full exercise of it.
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver takes on the issue of civil asset forfeiture, including "Law & Order: Civil Asset Forfeiture Unit", a preview of how police procedurals could handle the topic. [more inside]
Arlena Lindley’s boyfriend Alonzo Turner beat her for months and murdered her child — so why was she sent to prison for 45 years? "...looking back over the past decade, BuzzFeed News identified 28 mothers in 11 states sentenced to at least 10 years in prison for failing to prevent their partners from harming their children. In every one of these cases, there was evidence the mother herself had been battered by the man." [article contains graphic descriptions of abuse]
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.
NPR's Planet Money explains the history of the sales tax in the United States by tracing what kinds of sandwiches get taxed and why: How the Burrito Became a Sandwich. Bonus: In-N-Out Burger history in the podcast.
A new study by Stanford anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann and others found that voice-hearing experiences of people with serious psychotic disorders are shaped by local culture – in the United States, the voices are harsh and threatening; in Africa and India, they are more benign and playful. This may have clinical implications for how to treat people with schizophrenia, she suggests.
In the past week, Germany has found and fired an American mole in their intelligence agency, investigated another suspect in their defense ministry, and asked the CIA station chief to leave the country. Media reports offer an interesting view of a post Cold War world grappling with the unexpected* - spy vs spy among friends and allies, while traditional intelligence targets Russia and China play the part of bemused bystanders. [more inside]
United States Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, Majority Leader of the United States House of Representatives, has lost the Republican primary election in Virginia's 7th Congressional District to Dave Brat, a political newcomer and economics professor at Randolph-Macon College. [more inside]
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]
Last November, after five years of remarkable negotiations that unfolded far from the Delta, representatives from the U.S. and Mexico agreed to a complex, multi-part water deal that will give them desperately needed flexibility for weathering the drought. More surprisingly, the two nations will join the team of environmental organizations to release a flood of more than 105,000 acre-feet of water – 3.8 million big-rig tankers' worth – into the Delta's ancient floodplain, and chase it with a smaller, permanent annual flow to sustain the ecosystem.For High Country News, Matt Jenkins describes the most ambitious water sharing plan ever created between Mexico and the United States (single page print version). For much more about this project and the water issues surrounding it, there's Eli Rabett's roundup of John Fleck's blogposts about this. (Or read the tl;dr version by Alex Harrowell.)
It is the unlikeliest of times to pull off a deal like this. Rather than hoarding all the water for themselves in this drought –– the river supplies some 35 million people –– the West's largest water agencies have pledged to send some all the way to the sea. That move is, to some extent, a long-overdue acknowledgment that the U.S. bears responsibility for the impacts its dams have caused beyond its borders. And after years of fruitless court fights in the U.S. by environmental groups, the Mexican government finally insisted that water for the Delta be a cornerstone of the broader deal.
"NFL teams stepped easily into the creepy patriarch role. Today, they enforce expectations for the way their cheerleaders look (according to the suit, the Jills’ guidebook mandates everything from the cheerleaders’ nail polish color to how they clean their vaginas) while rewarding them, not with money, but with the supposed prestige of appearing as one of their city’s most desirable women."Amanda Hess for Slate writes about the cheerleader revolt against low pay and humiliating working conditions. (previously) [more inside]
"The old stereotype of cheerleaders as bimbos has also worked in the NFL’s favor. NFL cheerleading is such an obviously raw deal, some might assume that women must be stupid to agree to it. (Tell that to Dr. Monica Williams, who cheered for the Tennessee Titans while fulfilling a research fellowship at Vanderbilt.) That’s not a stigma that, say, coal miners fighting against unfair working conditions have to overcome to get what they’re owed."
Nik Freeman has created a map, based on census data, to illustrate the 47% of the United States where nobody lives.
In 1984, the Canadian branch of the United Auto Workers, represented by Bob White, and General Motors Canada, represented by Rod Andrew, sat down to negotiate a new wage agreement. GM had gotten the American UAW to agree to profit sharing and was dead-set on doing the same in the North; the Canadians were bitterly opposed to the idea. By the end of the negotiation, workers had struck, negotiators had been stabbed in the back, White and his allies had split from the UAW to form the CAW, and a compromise was reached that left everyone a bit unhappy - but the workers less so than their managers. Filmmaker Sturla Gunnarsson used his unprecedented access to both teams of negotiators to craft Final Offer, "the best collective bargaining film ever made." You can stream the movie in its entirety at the National Film Board's website.
"Debate has surrounded the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes for decades. Some have argued medical marijuana legalization (MML) poses a threat to public health and safety, perhaps also affecting crime rates ... we analyzed the association between state MML and state crime rates ... Results did not indicate a crime exacerbating effect of MML on any of the Part I offenses. Alternatively, state MML may be correlated with a reduction in homicide and assault rates, net of other covariates." (Press Release) [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.
After coming it at #19 in 2012, the great state of North Dakota was the happiest state to live in for 2013, according to The Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index. [more inside]
Thomas Scully, the Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President George W. Bush, once said, “Fifty percent of the social safety net was created by Henry Waxman when no one was looking.” After 40 years and 17 consecutive terms, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) is retiring from Congress. [more inside]
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.
The Littlest Boy - Twenty years after Hiroshima, elite American troops trained to stop a Soviet invasion -- with nuclear weapons strapped to their backs. [more inside]
The secretive business havens of Cyprus and the Cayman Islands face a potent rival: Cheyenne, Wyoming. At a single address in this sleepy city of 60,000 people, more than 2,000 companies are registered. The building, 2710 Thomes Avenue, isn't a shimmering skyscraper filled with A-list corporations. It's a 1,700-square-foot brick house with a manicured lawn, a few blocks from the State Capitol.[more inside]
"I was startled and encouraged to see that under current policies, we are at a two decade-year low in the prison admission rate. To provide historical perspective, peg the change to Presidential terms: When President Obama was elected, the rate of prison admission was just 3% below its 2006 level, which was very probably the highest it has ever been in U.S. history. But by the end of Obama’s first term, it had dropped to a level not seen since President Clinton’s first year in office." -- Good news everybody, prison admissions in the US are at a two decade low, with total prison population decling for the fourth year in a row, leading Keith Humphreys to wonder why this hasn't been reported more widely.
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.
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]
We were left wondering why a man who served 16 terms in Congress and who bravely came out as gay all the way back in 1987 felt the need to hide his atheism until he was out of office. Was it really harder to come out as an atheist politician in 2013 than as a gay one 25 years ago? Incredibly, the answer might be yes. For starters, consider that there is not a single self-described atheist in Congress today. Not one.
Researchers have located a sunken World War II Imperial Japanese submarine on the ocean floor off the coast of Hawaii. [more inside]
"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]
From 1949 onwards, the closed city of Semipalatinsk (now Semey, Kazakhstan) was the test site for 456 nuclear devices. The test site was known as "The Polygon." Testing was stopped in 1989, but the long term effects remained. [more inside]