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“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

The Cake Felt 'Round the World

Less than a year after the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the United States detonated the fourth and fifth nuclear weapons under the name Operation Crossroads in July 1946. Beyond testing the capabilities of nuclear bombs, the Navy said it wanted the Bikini tests treated like "the story of the year, maybe of the decade, and possibly of a lifetime." Only two of the three bombs were detonated, and the project was shut down over the next months. To celebrate the efforts of Operation Crossroads, a cake in the shape of a mushroom cloud was featured at a publicized event on November 5, 1946. In response to this display, Reverend Arthur Powell Davies, the minister of the Unitarian All Souls Church in Washington, D.C., gave a sermon on the "utterly loathsome picture" and the message it sent to other nations. That sermon set off a flurry of replies and reactions, that extended around the world, including a connection formed between Reverend Davies' All Souls Unitarian Church and school children in Hiroshima. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Sep 8, 2010 - 62 comments

History of the first 50 years of the Idaho National Laboratory

It has gone by many names. "National Reactor Testing Station" (1949-1975), "Energy Research and Development Administration" (1975-1977), "Idaho National Engineering Laboratory" (1977-1997), the "Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory" (1997-2005), and now the "Idaho National Laboratory" (2005-present). It has been the site of more than 50 nuclear reactors, which has resulted in a fair bit of environmental impact. In 2000, the US Department of Energy published (and has since made available on the web) a history of the laboratory over its first 50 years: "Proving the Principle."
posted by rmd1023 on Sep 4, 2010 - 11 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

U.S. returns to Hiroshima after 65 years.

For the first time since the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb [NSFW photos?] on Hiroshima 65 years ago, the U.S. ambassador will attend commemoration ceremonies at the Hiroshima Peace Memorial. But is this an apology? Some say it better not be. The U.S. says - it isn't.
posted by stinkycheese on Aug 6, 2010 - 263 comments

"This human rights abuse is universal, and no one should claim immunity from its reach or from the responsibility to confront it."

This year, for the first time ever, the U.S. included itself in the State Department's annual report on human trafficking. Most Americans associate human trafficking with sexually exploited women and children, but the definition includes guest laborers who have been trapped into indentured servitude as well. "More investigations and prosecutions have taken place for sex trafficking offenses than for labor trafficking offenses, but law enforcement identified a comparatively higher number of labor trafficking victims as such cases often involve more victims.” The full report--with victim stories, "TIP Heroes," methodology, definitions, etc.--is here.
posted by availablelight on Jul 31, 2010 - 10 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

DOMA unconstitutional

The federal Defense of Marriage Act has been ruled unconstitutional by Judge Joseph Tauro of the District Court of Massachusetts.
posted by fireoyster on Jul 8, 2010 - 149 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

Immigrants out! (That is, unless you're white)

The newly-formed American Third Position aspires to be the United States' premier white nationalist party. [more inside]
posted by edguardo on Jun 13, 2010 - 139 comments

"Homer, I won your respect, and all I had to do was save your life. Now, if every gay man could just do the same, you'd be set."

Americans' Acceptance of Gay Relations Crosses 50% Threshold - To try to figure out why, NYT columnist Charles M. Blow taps sociologist Dr. Michael Kimmel and Professor Ritch Savin-Williams, who offer three hypotheses as to what may have lead to the surprising changes and what remains of the gender disparity in attitudes. [more inside]
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Jun 4, 2010 - 88 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

Into The Mud They Go

Yesterday, the New York Times published an investigative report showing Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal (D) either lied or spoke ambiguously about serving in Vietnam in several past public appearances. Blumenthal is currently the Democratic frontrunner for Senator Chris Dodd's Senate seat, and is expected to face former WWE CEO Linda McMahon (R). Today, McMahon's campaign announced they "fed" the story to the paper and posted the video of Blumenthal's statement to their YouTube channel. More from Politico. [more inside]
posted by zarq on May 18, 2010 - 124 comments

Make maps of the United States using demographics data

Make a Map is a website that lets you create your own maps of the US and areas thereof using various demographics data. It's still in beta stage but it's got all of the US (at least everywhere I've thought to look) and so far has datasets for median household income, population change 2000-9, population density, median home value, unemployment rate, average household size and median age. It's fun to use and taught me a great deal about my home city. The sitemaker, ESRI, also has a pretty good free globe map software, ArcGIS Explorer, for which you download map layers and add-ins.
posted by Kattullus on May 2, 2010 - 13 comments

Do you know the way to Lost Dakota?

NPR looks at American States That Might Have Been You've probably heard of the proposed Mormon state of Deseret, but have you heard of Nickajack? What about Absaroka, the 49th state? I bet you forgot about Forgottonia. The author of Lost States has a blog.
posted by desjardins on Apr 7, 2010 - 33 comments

The Entryway

"We are two reporters living with a family from Mexico, now in MacArthur Park, to learn a foreign language so that we may better report on our own city and country. We are living in their America."
posted by liketitanic on Mar 30, 2010 - 74 comments

Maybe Next Year

Every year for the past 26 years, the United States has faced off against New Zealand in rugby ... on the ice sheets of McMurdo Sound. [Pages 2, 3, 4] [more inside]
posted by SpringAquifer on Mar 23, 2010 - 25 comments

"We know that the first chance Obama gets, he will pounce on us."

Though President Obama has signed no laws since taking office that prohibit gun purchases and ownership, that hasn't stopped permit applications and weapons sales in the United States from rising through the roof and worried state legislators from passing laws they wouldn't otherwise pass, which greatly ease access and allow carrying weapons in, among other public areas, city, state and national parks. Schools may have to get their kids prepared.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Feb 23, 2010 - 102 comments

Other Pilgrims Came From A Place That Is Not England

This is a tale of a place you know from your time in America, but have never heard of. Until the 1960s, two-thirds of Chinese immigrants came from a single mid-size city in Guangdong Province in southern China. Its language is a dialect incomprehensible to anyone in the rest of China. The city tells its own stories: There is the story of China's collectivist past and relentlessly capitalist present, and there is the story of the people who left, and those who returned: its arcade market buildings, now in various states of disrepair, show the Western architectural heritage that many of the immigrants brought back with them when they returned to a place called Toishan. Photographer Alan Chin shows and tells in a New York Times essay about his ancestral home. [more inside]
posted by foxy_hedgehog on Feb 18, 2010 - 28 comments

Phillipine-American War in Photographs

A photographic history of the Philippine-American War.
posted by Atreides on Feb 11, 2010 - 20 comments

President Obama speaks at House Republican retreat in Baltimore

President Obama spoke at length to House Republicans at their retreat in Baltimore, responding to questions after his remarks. Video (also here). Transcript. [more inside]
posted by ibmcginty on Jan 29, 2010 - 222 comments

Americans in the Egyptian Army

In the wake of the Civil War, fifty Americans (audio alert), Union and Confederates both, accepted commissions in the Egyptian army. One of the most notable was William Wing Loring who wrote A Confederate Soldier in Egypt about his experiences.
posted by maurice on Jan 28, 2010 - 5 comments

"When the day's activities include the likelihood of getting your brains shot out, maybe a little slap and tickle - while not desirable - is not the end of the world."

The New York Times examines several reports of sexual harassments and assaults on women in the US Military. In the article's comments, current and former troops chime in to suggest that this is an inevitable result of including women in combat zones. [more inside]
posted by oinopaponton on Dec 28, 2009 - 138 comments

Not Afraid of Americans

David Bowie's response to his first American fan letter. In 1967, 14 year old Sandra Adams wrote a letter to Bowie. According to Bowie himself, this was his first bit of fan mail from the States. The response, though brief, is funny and sincere.
posted by spaltavian on Dec 14, 2009 - 79 comments

Refendum 71 is certified

Today, the State of Washington becomes the first state in the history of the United States to pass a law supporting the equality of same-sex partners by popular vote. [more inside]
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Dec 3, 2009 - 73 comments

Watch It Spread

The Decline: The Geography of a Recession Flash animated map showing county unemployment rates from Jan 2007 until Sept 2009
posted by hippybear on Nov 25, 2009 - 48 comments

The Happiest State

The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index is a survey that rated the 50 states of America from most to least happiest, based on things like emotional health, job satisfaction, and healthy decisions. The top states may surprise you.
posted by Taft on Nov 16, 2009 - 96 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

"Britain punches above its weight"

Britain: the birthplace of globalisation in the 19th century; ruler of a worldwide empire. But why, over a century later, is the UK still appearing as a major player on the political world stage? Its entire population of around 60m is comparable only with the population of California and Texas combined. Geographically it is a smaller size than Texas, and cut off from the larger and potentially more-politically-influential Eurozone. Is it relying on its history as a superpower, or on its current relations with superpowers? [more inside]
posted by Petrot on Nov 1, 2009 - 71 comments

Nineteenth-century lithography, in America and elsewhere

America on Stone: 19th Century American Lithographs is a browsable collection of lithographs on topics from advertising to uniforms. The viewer includes pan and zoom functions. (Harry T. Peters, who amassed this collection, was particularly interested in Currier & Ives.) Lithography became popular very quickly after its discovery at the end of the eighteenth century, rapidly finding its way into such commercial uses as sheet music covers. Needless to say, it also came in handy for far more exalted applications. (For previous MeFi adventures in lithography, try these posts.)
posted by thomas j wise on Oct 16, 2009 - 5 comments

United States of Fury

"At 83, he has lived through one third of the lifespan of the United States. If anyone incarnates the American century that has ended, it is him. He was America's greatest essayist, one of its best-selling novelists and the wit at every party. He holidayed with the Kennedys, cruised for men with Tennessee Williams, was urged to run for Congress by Eleanor Roosevelt, co-wrote some of the most iconic Hollywood films, damned US foreign policy from within, sued Truman Capote, got fellated by Jack Kerouac, watched his cousin Al Gore get elected President and still lose the White House, and – finally, bizarrely – befriended and championed the Oklahoma bomber, Timothy McVeigh." Johann Hari meets Gore Vidal
posted by Elizabeth the Thirteenth on Oct 7, 2009 - 111 comments

Stuff Christian Culture Likes

Stuff Christian Culture Likes - A preacher's daughter marries another preacher's son and offers an insider's perspective about youth leaders, tips and hawks, sexual jewelry, hot wives, drama teams, video games, Jumbotrons, coffee, graphic design, typography and more.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Aug 31, 2009 - 197 comments

Healthcare on 4 Napkins.

The healthcare debate explained on the back of 4 napkins. Napkin 1: The health care equation. Napkin 2: It's not about health care. Napkin 3: The plans on the table. Napkin 4: What's it mean to me?
posted by lunit on Aug 26, 2009 - 95 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

Where do you get your health insurance from?

A simple question shows how complex the issue is. Chris at "Cynical C" asks his fellow citizens where they get thier health care (insurance) from and the incredible diversity of the current options and situations is immediately apparent. Quite spontaneously (but surely not unexpectedly), the question of "How much does it cost you?" becomes an essential part of the answers. Outsiders opine and tell stories and commiserate. [more inside]
posted by sid abotu on Aug 4, 2009 - 117 comments

Underground: USA

Geoff is on a road trip around the lower forty-eight United States visiting cities and towns with the same names as London's tube stops. He's calling it Underground: USA. [more inside]
posted by cdmwebs on Aug 1, 2009 - 18 comments

Building A New Culture Of Teaching And Learning

Dr. Tae describes the way the US system of education is failing and how to fix it.
posted by peregrine81 on Jul 10, 2009 - 40 comments

Don't worry, it's monopoly money anyway.

Overly confident in the economic health of the United States? Feeling sanguine about current spending levels? Haven't yet been scared out of your wits about your financial future? No worries! The U.S. National Debt Clock page is for you! Your one stop shop for all things financial meltdown related: Total debt, debt per citizen, budget deficits and spending year-to-date, total governmental bailouts, and much much more!
posted by Justinian on Jun 26, 2009 - 77 comments

Be all that you can be

The Department of Veterans Affairs has reported that military scientists tested hundreds of chemical and biological substances on them, including VX, tabun, soman, sarin, cyanide, LSD, PCP, and World War I-era blister agents like phosgene and mustard. The full scope of the tests, however, may never be known. As a CIA official explained to the GAO, referring to the agency's infamous MKULTRA mind-control experiments, "The names of those involved in the tests are not available because names were not recorded or the records were subsequently destroyed." Besides, said the official, some of the tests involving LSD and other psychochemical drugs "were administered to an undetermined number of people without their knowledge."
posted by Joe Beese on May 19, 2009 - 42 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

Fighting for God and...God.

Evangelical Christian soldiers on the march for Jesus in Afghanistan. SLYT
posted by zerobyproxy on May 4, 2009 - 53 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

Jesus who?

The End of Christian America. The percentage of self-identified Christians has fallen 10 points in the past two decades. How that statistic explains who we are now—and what, as a nation, we are about to become.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Apr 4, 2009 - 223 comments

Open For Questions

Open For Questions. Metafilter's Own™ box and klangklangston "skim the White House's Open For Questions, posting the best and brightest queries the American public can manage." [via mefi projects] [more inside]
posted by dersins on Mar 25, 2009 - 69 comments

“There’s culture shock, and then there’s the culture shock of moving to a country that started a war in your home.”

"The war has uprooted 4.7 million people from their homes. So where are they?" With the election of Obama and the economic crisis, the topic of Iraq has fallen by the wayside. As hard as things may be right now, Iraqis have been going through far worse for years now. If you're curious about what they have to say, hear them tell it in their own words. Iraqi Refugee Stories. [more inside]
posted by wander on Mar 23, 2009 - 16 comments

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