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"Just because we have the best hammer"

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]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 10, 2014 - 57 comments

Grateful Dead vs. Phish and Other Distinctions

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.
posted by Navelgazer on Feb 26, 2014 - 75 comments

The True Story of America's First Black Female Slave Novelist

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.
posted by Kattullus on Feb 11, 2014 - 2 comments

Nuke 'em till they glow, shoot 'em in the dark

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]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Feb 3, 2014 - 39 comments

Shell Games

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]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jan 22, 2014 - 32 comments

YHBT YHL HAND. Repeat.

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.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth on Jan 11, 2014 - 107 comments

New Mexico Fully Legalizes Same-Sex Marriage

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]
posted by jedicus on Dec 19, 2013 - 59 comments

Warning: This will probably make you angry about silly things.

Scrapple, Half-smokes, Marionberry Pie, Cowboy Cookies and Akutaq: Deadspin responds to Slate's wonderful state-by-state sports map (previously) with a map of regional foods, complete with highly opinionated rankings and commentary.
posted by Navelgazer on Oct 17, 2013 - 186 comments

"Big waste country, the U.S."

To a Chinese Scrap-Metal Hunter, America's Trash Is Treasure: Johnson Zeng is a Chinese trader who travels across the U.S. in search of scrap metal. By his estimate, there are at least 100 others like him driving from scrap yard to scrap yard, right now, in search of what Americans won’t or can’t be bothered to recycle. His favorite product: wires, cables, and other kinds of copper. His purchases, millions of pounds of metal worth millions of dollars, will eventually be shipped to China. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 7, 2013 - 29 comments

The jury's in... and they can't deny that view, either.

A month after its release, Naughty Dog's sweeping interactive epic The Last of Us is being hailed as one of the best games of all time, with perfect scores even from notoriously demanding critics. Inspired by an eerily beautiful segment from the BBC's Planet Earth, the game portrays an America twenty years after a pandemic of the zombiefying Cordyceps fungus (previously), leaving behind lush wastelands of elegant decay teeming with monsters and beset by vicious bandits, a brutal military, and the revolutionary Fireflies. Into this bleak vision of desperate violence journey Joel, a gruffly stoic Texan with a painful past, and his ward Ellie, a precocious teenager who may hold the key to mankind's future. Boasting tense, immersive gameplay, compelling performances from a diverse cast, a movingly minimalist score from Oscar-winning Gustavo Santaolalla, and an array of influences from Alfonso Cuarón's Children of Men to Cormac McCarthy's The Road, it's already being slotted alongside BioShock Infinite and Half-Life 2 as one of modern gaming's crowning achievements. And while it's hard to disentangle plot from action, you don't have to buy a PS3 to experience it -- YouTube offers many filmic edits of the game, including this three-hour version of all relevant passages. And don't miss the 84-minute documentary exploring every facet of its production. [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi on Jul 14, 2013 - 81 comments

Audio recordings of 1964 interviews with Civil Rights activists

Robert Penn Warren's book Who Speaks for the Negro? was a collection of interviews with various men and women involved in the Civil Rights Movement published in 1965. Vanderbilt University has made all the interviews available as audio and transcripts, taken from the original reel-to-reel recordings. Among the interviewees were Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Septima Poinsette Clark, Ralph Ellison, Stokely Carmichael, James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin. On the page for each interview there are links to related documents, such as letters, photos and contemporary news articles.
posted by Kattullus on Jul 5, 2013 - 13 comments

This space is the no-touching zone.

The bizarre border between the United States and Canada (SLYT)
posted by desjardins on Jun 5, 2013 - 62 comments

Nonvoters in America

In 2012, 40 percent of Americans didn’t vote. The research on this website is an attempt to determine why so many citizens opt out of this fundamental civic duty, using extensive survey research as well as interviews with nonvoters to give a voice to those who are often ignored or marginalized by politicians and the news media. [via this phys.org article that provides a nice summary]
posted by cthuljew on Dec 18, 2012 - 63 comments

Is America ready for a white, male Secretary of State?

Erin Gloria Ryan asks: Is America ready for a white, male Secretary of State? She's not the only one satirically contemplating this question - John Norris over at Foreign Policy magazine has also wondered: Is America ready for a male Secretary of State? [more inside]
posted by flex on Nov 13, 2012 - 46 comments

United States of Clusterfuck

What if the Presidential election is a tie?
posted by desjardins on Oct 10, 2012 - 65 comments

"During the proceedings, the prosecutor took the time to mention that no other printer in the world could do what Kuhl had done."

Hans-Jurgen Kuhl was able to create "shockingly perfect" copies of the American $100 bill by using his artistic talents to conquer the various security features present in the bill.
posted by reenum on Jul 4, 2012 - 28 comments

The War of 1812

"Canada exists for no natural reason.... [This] is not to say that no significant differences exist between Canadians and Americans — just that our shared national border, unlike those of Europe, was not shaped by linguistic and ethnic variations. The War of 1812 made all the difference here. A complicated and unpleasant struggle, mostly forgotten, sundered our two countries. And that struggle is now 200 years old, which makes this as good a time as any to start remembering."
posted by Johnny Assay on Feb 20, 2012 - 119 comments

United States v. Jones

In a unanimous decision [PDF], the Supreme Court has ruled on United States v. Jones and found that placement of a GPS tracker on a car by police is a violation of the fourth amendment—but is the ruling as clear-cut as it seems? [more inside]
posted by reductiondesign on Jan 23, 2012 - 35 comments

Did McDonalds cause the decline of violence in America?

Did McDonalds cause the decline of violence in America?
posted by Fiasco da Gama on Oct 26, 2011 - 49 comments

"It begins with a knock at the door."

Final Salute. Between 2004 and 2005, "Rocky Mountain News reporter Jim Sheeler and photographer Todd Heisler spent a year with the Marines stationed at Aurora's Buckley Air Force Base who have found themselves called upon to notify families of the deaths of their sons in Iraq. In each case in this story, the families agreed to let Sheeler and Heisler chronicle their loss and grief. They wanted people to know their sons, the men and women who brought them home, and the bond of traditions more than 200 years old that unite them. Though readers are led through the story by the white-gloved hand of Maj. Steve Beck, he remains a reluctant hero. He is, he insists, only a small part of the massive mosaic that is the Marine Corps." The full story ran on Veteran's Day, 2005 and won two Pulitzer Prizes: one for Feature Photography, another for feature writing in 2006. A nice single-page version of one section: Katherine Cathey and 2nd Lt. James J. Cathey (via.) The Rocky Mountain News closed in 2009. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 12, 2011 - 12 comments

Red state in the red?

Where Federal taxes are raised and spent. "Some American states receive more in federal spending than they pay in federal taxes; others receive less. Over twenty years these fiscal transfers can add up to a sizeable sum." A graph of the United States, color-coded to indicate surplus or deficit.
posted by dubold on Aug 6, 2011 - 52 comments

Let Facts be submitted to a candid world

The Declaration of Independence is perhaps the most masterfully written state paper of Western civilization. As Moses Coit Tyler noted almost a century ago, no assessment of it can be complete without taking into account its extraordinary merits as a work of political prose style. Although many scholars have recognized those merits, there are surprisingly few sustained studies of the stylistic artistry of the Declaration. This essay seeks to illuminate that artistry by probing the discourse microscopically -- at the level of the sentence, phrase, word, and syllable. The University of Wisconsin's Dr. Stephen E. Lucas meticulously analyzes the elegant language of the 235-year-old charter in a distillation of this comprehensive study. More on the Declaration: full transcript and ultra-high-resolution scan, a transcript and scan of Jefferson's annotated rough draft, the little-known royal rebuttal, a thorough history of the parchment itself, a peek at the archival process, a reading of the document by the people of NPR and by a group of prominent actors, H. L. Mencken's "American" translation, Slate's Twitter summaries, and a look at the fates of the 56 signers.
posted by Rhaomi on Jul 4, 2011 - 72 comments

"The Package"

Inside the Secret Service. Sidebars: Radio Chatter and The Presidential Motorcade (Via) [more inside]
posted by zarq on Feb 8, 2011 - 48 comments

American Worker Cooperatives

American Worker Cooperatives: a library, resource centre, startup guide, and map of over 200 industrial cooperatives. [via mefi projects]
posted by Fiasco da Gama on Oct 27, 2010 - 6 comments

“The purple glow in the sky — that was so eerie”

Lookout Mountain Laboratories (Hollywood, CA) was originally built in 1941 as an air defense station. But after WWII, the US Air Force repurposed it into a secret film studio which operated for 22 years during the Cold War. The studio produced classified movies for all branches of the US Armed Forces, as well as the Atomic Energy Commission, until it was deactivated in 1969. During this time, cameramen, who referred to themselves as "atomic" cinematographers, were hired to shoot footage of atomic bomb tests in Nevada, Utah, New Mexico and the South Pacific. Some of their films have been declassified and can be seen here. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Sep 14, 2010 - 6 comments

Clash of the Tea Party Travel Agents

There is a bitter feud between the two women who are trying to gain supremacy in the battle to make all of the Tea Party's travel arrangements.
posted by reenum on Aug 9, 2010 - 70 comments

The 28th through 51st Amendments to the United States Constitution

A 136-person Senate. A 1,000-strong House. A 12-person Supreme Court. A President with a line-item veto whose one term is six years. Mandatory national service. A balanced budget requirement. Some of the 23 measures that Prof. Larry Sabato proposes be enacted at a Second Constitutional Convention in his 2007 book A More Perfect Constitution. (And readers' suggestions for the 24th measure.)
posted by WCityMike on Aug 7, 2010 - 105 comments

FDR: "People who are hungry, people who are out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made."

The United States was engaged in the largest two-front war of its, or any nation's history. Though victory was not yet certain, there were discussions on a multi-national level regarding the future peace, and on the President of the United States was looking to the post-war prospects for the nation. With that in mind, the annual address of the President to Congress and the nation was summed up in one word: Security. "And that means not only physical security which provides safety from attacks by aggressors. It means also economic security, social security, moral security -- in a family of nations." This was Franklin D. Roosevelt's third-to-last Fireside Chat, presented on Tuesday, January 11, 1944, which included what he proposed to be the Second Bill of Rights. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Jul 16, 2010 - 67 comments

"All the great contests at some point become head games."

The whistle has blown in Port Elizabeth. Stoppage time in Pretoria, and three men run into the box. Altidore flicks the ball across, but Dempsey walks it straight into the goalkeeper. On the rebound, Donovan puts it in the net. The world reacts. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Jun 24, 2010 - 194 comments

Another World is Possible, Another US is Necessary

The United States Social Forum (USSF) is being held in Detroit, MI, starting tomorrow, June 22nd-26th. Organizers are expecting as many as 20,000 people to attend. Could this meeting make Detroit a model for growth that can be propagated elsewhere?
posted by one teak forest on Jun 21, 2010 - 24 comments

Joe Gaetjens scored a goal in the World Cup, died as a political prisoner of Papa Doc Chevalier

A heartbreaking 10-minute documentary on Joe Gaetjens who scored the single goal in the USA's shocking victory over England at the 1950 World Cup. Gaetjens was a Haitian accounting student at Columbia University who went to Europe shortly after the 1950 World Cup and returned to Haiti a few years later. His story, and the story of the upset victory, was until recently largely unknown in the US.
posted by Kattullus on May 31, 2010 - 12 comments

Journey to the Bottom of the (Cold War) Sea and Back

Submarine causalities are tragedies of war that are not always directly associated with combat. Systems failures at sea are often mysterious, with evidence and remains disappearing to all but the deepest diving vehicles. This was no different in the Cold War, with non-combat losses from the US and the Soviet Fleets. In that era of nuclear secrets, both those of nuclear-powered submarines and nuclear weapons, learning about the enemy's technology was paramount. Such an opportunity came to the US with the sinking of K-129, a Golf Class II Soviet submarine that went down with 98 men on board. The recovery took over six year, involved the possible payback of Howard Hughes, a videotaped formal sea burial that was eventually copied and given to then-President Boris Yeltsin, and decades of CIA secrecy. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on May 27, 2010 - 41 comments

The Economist: The World in 2010

In 2010, Obama will have a miserable year, NATO may lose in Afghanistan, the UK gets a regime change, China needs to chill, India's factories will overtake its farms, Europe risks becoming an irrelevant museum, the stimulus will need an exit strategy, the G20 will see a challenge from the "G2", African football will unite Korea, conflict over natural resources will grow, Sarkozy will be unloved and unrivalled, the kids will come together to solve the world's problems (because their elders are unable), technology will grow ever more ubiquitous, we'll all charge our phones via USB, MBAs will be uncool, the Space Shuttle will be put to rest, and Somalia will be the worst country in the world. And so the Tens begin.

The Economist: The World in 2010. [more inside]
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Nov 14, 2009 - 60 comments

VIMBY?

Suburban farming, an idea whose time may have come. Short and sweet SLYT from the Wall Street Journal about people growing herbs and vegetables in their own yards in American suburbia.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Aug 18, 2009 - 64 comments

PortlandFilter

PDX History is a veritable treasure trove of information about (and pictures and postcards of) the history of Portland (Oregon). Department stores, streetcars, long-dead amusement parks (yes, Jantzen Beach was once much more than a dying mall surrounded by big-box stores) and more. The web design leaves a bit to be desired, but the site is wonderful nonetheless.
posted by dersins on May 15, 2009 - 15 comments

Going Dutch

[E]ven if you are unemployed you still receive a base amount of [vacation money] from the government, the reasoning being that if you can’t go on vacation, you’ll get depressed and despondent and you’ll never get a job.
[...]
But does the cartoon image of [the Dutch system] — encapsulated in the dread slur "socialism," which is being lobbed in American political circles like a bomb — match reality? Is there, maybe, a significant upside that is worth exploring? [...] I think it’s worth pondering how the best bits might fit.
After a year and a half of living in the Netherlands, American writer Russell Shorto compares the Dutch "welfare state" to the tax, health care and social security systems of the United States.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on May 4, 2009 - 119 comments

NIOBY

In Our Own Backyard: Resisting Nazi Propaganda In Southern California 1933 - 1945, a digital exhibition from the Oviatt Library at Cal State Northridge. "The Nazi Propaganda period, 1933 to 1945, chronicles a crucial twelve years in American history. This exhibit's story about the local threat to American ideals demonstrates how European events reached across the ocean and affected people in Southern California -- in our own backyard." Magazines, pamphlets, newspapers, stickers and more. [more inside]
posted by dersins on Apr 10, 2009 - 33 comments

Foreign Military Financing?

The Average Man's Tax Dollars from thetoiletpaper.com
posted by blue_beetle on Apr 8, 2009 - 40 comments

The Iron Heel

The Iron Heel, published a century ago this year, is a novel by Jack London about socialist revolution in the United States. It is set mostly between 1912 and 1932, with a foreword and numerous footnotes written from the point of view of a historian who has just discovered the manuscript some 700 years later. Here is an excerpt (which is printed on the back cover of some editions) from chapter five:
"This, then, is our answer. We have no words to waste on you. When you reach out your vaunted strong hands for our palaces and purpled ease, we will show you what strength is. In roar of shell and shrapnel and in whine of machine-guns will our answer be couched. We will grind you revolutionists down under our heel, and we shall walk upon your faces. The world is ours, we are its lords, and ours it shall remain. As for the host of labor, it has been in the dirt since history began, and I read history aright. And in the dirt it shall remain so long as I and mine and those that come after us have the power. There is the word. It is the king of words--Power. Not God, not Mammon, but Power. Pour it over your tongue till it tingles with it. Power."

posted by finite on Oct 10, 2008 - 30 comments

Doesn't everyone exaggerate the size of Lake Ontario?

Humorist and candidate for the US Senate for Minnesota Al Franken draws a map of the United States from memory.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Aug 5, 2008 - 83 comments

"NIXON-AGNEW", in red and in blue.

United States election logos, 2008-1960.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on May 15, 2008 - 84 comments

The story of the Democratic primaries so far, boiled down to seven minutes.

The Democratic Primary Season in 7 Minutes.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on May 6, 2008 - 63 comments

The Rise of the Rest

The Rise of the Rest. Fareed Zakaria's Newsweek article about a "post-American" world.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on May 5, 2008 - 42 comments

US Presidential Greatness as a Function of Experience

Is an Experienced President a Good President?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Mar 10, 2008 - 92 comments

Landlord tenant law in every US state

Links to the landlord-tenant law of every state in the US from Consumerist. [more inside]
posted by dersins on Dec 5, 2007 - 21 comments

I do not plan on voting for or against any US legislation not directly related to Texas Independence

Texan Larry Kilgore is running for a seat in the US Senate. Agree or disagree with the man, he certainly has the courage of his convictions.
posted by dersins on Oct 10, 2007 - 45 comments

What. The. F*ck. Clean Air Act (2005)?

The US Clean Air Act makes it illegal to sell highly environmentally-friendly cars in 42 states. Apparently.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 on Sep 4, 2007 - 42 comments

Turns out Turkey is the cornerstone of Europe.

Statetris is Tetris with European countries or American states as blocks.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Aug 7, 2007 - 28 comments

Regime change for the Big Orange.

Hear our demands: give us back New York. Just think of the possibilities! Join the struggle. Or else.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Apr 1, 2007 - 35 comments

Samantha Smith

In 1982, ten-year old Samantha Smith from Maine wrote a letter to Yuri Andropov asking whether there was going to be a nuclear war. Andropov responded, and Samantha accepted his invitation to stay at a Russian pioneer camp with Soviet children. Tragically, within the following two years both the young Samantha and Secretary Andropov passed away. (wmv)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane on Dec 23, 2006 - 23 comments

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