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A spectacular historical atlas refashioned for the 21st century

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.
posted by cthuljew on Dec 28, 2013 - 8 comments

...and then "some clown invented the printed circuit."

During the 1950's, Wernher von Braun served as technical adviser for three space-related television films produced by Disney: Man in Space, Man and the Moon and Mars and Beyond. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Dec 24, 2013 - 40 comments

Happy Holidays

About the only place this book hasn't been is in my hands, open and upright, with my eyes pointed at it. But that's about to change. Because I'm going to read this book in 20-minute bursts over the next eight hours. Why 20-minute bursts? Because that's how long it takes for a batch of my mother's Slog-famous Christmas Snowball cookies to bake. I'm going to put a tray in the oven, read, swap trays out, read some more. And I think it's fair to say that by the end of the day today—after all my Christmas cookies are baked—I will have read more of this book than Sarah Palin wrote. - Dan Savage reviews Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas.
posted by Artw on Dec 22, 2013 - 91 comments

A Hundred Bucks Says You Won't Read This Story

Esquire's Chris Jones looks at the old techniques used to make the new US $100 bill.
posted by reenum on Dec 9, 2013 - 50 comments

"Most of America's Silent Films Are Lost Forever"

Most of America's silent films are lost forever, according to the newly released Library of Congress report The Survival of American Silent Feature Films: 1912–1929. (You can look up the ones that survive in this handy database). [more inside]
posted by bubukaba on Dec 4, 2013 - 39 comments

US Senate Democrats vote to change filibuster rules

You may find this brief history of the US Senate's filibuster fight timely and interesting, as the chamber just voted to end it for "executive branch and judicial nominees, except for the Supreme Court."
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Nov 21, 2013 - 163 comments

Gettysburg Address: 150 years ago today

In a week which also marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of JFK, the Gettysburg Address was delivered by Abraham Lincoln, 16th President, 150 years ago today. Mitch Rapoport narrates an animated version. [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Nov 19, 2013 - 17 comments

The eleven nations of America

"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]
posted by aka burlap on Nov 7, 2013 - 83 comments

"...research that is scientifically valuable but morally disturbing."

The Nazi Anatomists. "How the corpses of Hitler's victims are still haunting modern science—and American abortion politics."
posted by zarq on Nov 6, 2013 - 28 comments

America's New Masters

This shift in how companies are governed and raise money is bringing with it a structural change in American capitalism. That should be a matter of great debate. Are these new businesses, with their ability to circumvent rules that apply to conventional public companies, merely adroit exploiters of loopholes for the benefit of a plutocratic few? Or do they reflect the adaptability on which America’s vitality has always been based? - Rise of the distorporation - how changes in the way companies are financed and managed is changing the wealth distribution of America.
posted by Artw on Nov 2, 2013 - 23 comments

Hell Houses

Evangelical churches across the country run "hell houses" on Halloween. These attractions show how "sinful" activities can ruin young lives. Some churches are trying to be more positive in their messaging. For those who are interested, you can now buy your own "hell house" outreach kit. [more inside]
posted by reenum on Oct 31, 2013 - 68 comments

WWI in Color

World War I in Color is a documentary designed to make the Great War come alive for a 21st-century audience. The events of 1914-18 are authoritatively narrated by Kenneth Branagh, who presents the military and political overview, while interviews with historians add different perspectives in six 48 minute installments annotated within. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Oct 31, 2013 - 60 comments

Looking out the window while landing on the moon

Simultaneous video and selectively played audio of every Apollo lunar landing on one screen. (via Collect Space) [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Oct 22, 2013 - 8 comments

12 Years a Slave

"I'm here because my family went through slavery" - Steve McQueen on 12 Years A Slave, the story of Solomon Northup. ‘12 Years a Slave,’ ‘Mother of George,’ and the aesthetic politics of filming black skin. Before Solomon Northup: Fighting Slave Catchers in New York. The final fate of Solpmon Northup remains unknown. (Previously)
posted by Artw on Oct 20, 2013 - 56 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

Faces of the American Revolution

Actual photographs of people who fought in the Revolutionary War.
posted by empath on Oct 12, 2013 - 25 comments

The Ultimate (Frisbee) Argument For Visiting Healthcare.gov

John Hodgman posted about the ACA, which led his followers to tweet him about the various health problems they had encountered and the effect insurance or a lack thereof had to their lives. Hodgman retweeted many of the stories from people in their 20's and then posted 17 reasons for young people to get insured to his blog.
posted by reenum on Oct 9, 2013 - 189 comments

The thrillsville of it all...

Gay Talese's "Frank Sinatra Has A Cold" appeared in Esquire Magazine in April 1966. Sinatra had turned down interview requests from Esquire for years and refused to be interviewed for the profile. Rather than give up, Talese spent the three months following and observing the man and interviewing any members of his entourage who were willing to speak -- and the final story was published without Sinatra's cooperation or blessing. In 2003, editors pronounced it the best article the magazine had ever published. Nieman Storyboard interviewed Talese last month about the piece and has annotated it with his comments. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 8, 2013 - 46 comments

"I have never been custodian of my legacy."

In Conversation: Antonin Scalia "On the eve of a new Supreme Court session, the firebrand justice discusses gay rights and media echo chambers, Seinfeld and the Devil, and how much he cares about his intellectual legacy ("I don’t")." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Oct 6, 2013 - 89 comments

The Big Chill

Why American refrigerators are so huge, and what it says about our culture.
posted by reenum on Oct 6, 2013 - 265 comments

You say Canamerica, I say Americanada

What is the case for Canada merging with the USA? With the heady 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 still fresh in our memories, Dual Citizen and Editor at Large of leading Canadian newspaper The National Post, Diane Francis, has written a book proposing "the merger of the century" describing five models for how these two great nations could join as one, and estimating Canada's resource value to the US at about C$17 trillion (US$16.5 trillion). Reactions have been mixed.
posted by Bwithh on Oct 4, 2013 - 212 comments

United States of America

Warning! The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased, entry for the United States of America
posted by Blasdelb on Sep 29, 2013 - 49 comments

Move over, Reince Preibus

The Strangest Names in American Political History is a compendium of ludicrous nomenclature among America's political figures, from Arphaxed Loomis to Zerubbabel Snow (with stops for Outerbridge Horsey, Supply Belcher, and Odolphus Ham Waddle).
posted by snarkout on Sep 24, 2013 - 47 comments

"Stopping bad things is a significant public service."

"Ted Cruz: The Distinguished Wacko Bird from Texas"
posted by zarq on Sep 23, 2013 - 348 comments

By VLADIMIR V. PUTIN Published: September 11, 2013

A Plea for Caution From Russia (SLNYT) My working and personal relationship with President Obama is marked by growing trust. I appreciate this. I carefully studied his address to the nation on Tuesday. And I would rather disagree with a case he made on American exceptionalism, stating that the United States’ policy is “what makes America different. It’s what makes us exceptional.” It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.
posted by philip-random on Sep 11, 2013 - 316 comments

All Your Bacon Are Belong To Us

Politico: "The U.S. government on Friday approved Shuanghui International Holding’s bid to buy iconic U.S. pork producer Smithfield Foods in what would be the biggest Chinese takeover of a U.S. company to date." [more inside]
posted by Wordshore on Sep 8, 2013 - 47 comments

"Now the only thing they farm is wind.”

The end of American Prairie Farming.
posted by Chrischris on Sep 3, 2013 - 36 comments

Photos of people and places in bordertowns

"Borders feel like places of movement. A transition point from one place to another. You don't think of people making a home there. But they do."-A description of Photographer Lara Shipley's project, Coming, Going and Staying
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Aug 23, 2013 - 4 comments

Why Are Americans Afraid of Dragons?

Noah Veltman gives us a comparison of Google Search Suggestions By Country for America, Canada, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.
posted by 23 on Aug 12, 2013 - 56 comments

Something split and new

Njideka Akunyili's acrylic painting over photocopies combines figurative, domestic scenes with the cacophony of globalism and traditional decorative motifs.
posted by klangklangston on Aug 12, 2013 - 5 comments

"Some things...can only happen once."

The Blip: What if everything we've come to think of as American is predicated on a freak coincidence of economic history? And what if that coincidence has run its course?
posted by Sticherbeast on Aug 12, 2013 - 107 comments

'Paying Till It Hurts': Why American Health Care Is So Pricey

NPR's Fresh Air interviews Elizabeth Rosenthal about her year spent investigating the high cost of health care.
"Every part of the system needs to rethink the way it's working. Or maybe what I'm really saying is we need a system instead of 20, 40 components, each one having its own financial model, and each one making a profit." [more inside]
posted by arcticseal on Aug 11, 2013 - 105 comments

"Elites preying on the weak, the gullible, the marginal, the poor."

"We condition the poor and the working class to go to war. We promise them honor, status, glory, and adventure. We promise boys they will become men. We hold these promises up against the dead-end jobs of small-town life, the financial dislocations, credit card debt, bad marriages, lack of health insurance, and dread of unemployment. The military is the call of the Sirens, the enticement that has for generations seduced young Americans working in fast food restaurants or behind the counters of Walmarts to fight and die for war profiteers and elites."
-- War is Betrayal. Persistent Myths of Combat, an essay by Chris Hedges of Truthdig. Responses within. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 9, 2013 - 57 comments

Capturing America

In 1971, the newly-created US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hired a bunch of freelance photographers to collectively document environmental issues around the country. They were given free rein to shoot whatever they wanted, and the project, named Documerica, lasted through 1977. After 40 years, the EPA is now encouraging photographers to take current versions of the original Documerica photos and are showcasing them on flickr at State of the Environment. There are location challenges, and a set has been created with some of the submissions, making side-by-side comparisons. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Aug 8, 2013 - 16 comments

It Don’t Gitmo Better Than This.

It Don’t Gitmo Better Than This. Inside the Dark Heart of Guantánamo Bay By Molly Crabapple.
posted by chunking express on Jul 31, 2013 - 32 comments

Who gets to speak, where, in front of whom, and about what  

Why the controversial (and somewhat backfired) Lauren Green interview of Reza Aslan is is about more than just Fox News idiocy.  
posted by Artw on Jul 31, 2013 - 162 comments

...never believing the people who think they have you figured out.

"It's his charm. It's his gift. It's his political liability, and it's part of an American conundrum. We beg for authenticity, and then when we get it, oh man, it's hilarious. [Vice President Joe] Biden can be fantastic when he's on his game. At the 2012 Democratic National Convention, his speech got higher Nielsen ratings than either Bill Clinton's or Obama's. He killed the debate against Ryan, pumped air back into a campaign deflated after Obama's miserable first performance against Romney. Watching those performances, it's almost impossible to see him as a person once crippled by speech."
posted by zarq on Jul 18, 2013 - 75 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

The Star-Spangled Fork-Flip, the Freedom Fork-Over, the Homeland Handoff

The American way of using a fork and knife is inefficient and inelegant. (SLSlate) Do you cut-and-switch? Well, you've got to stop. The more time you waste pointlessly handing utensils back and forth to yourself, the less time you’ll have to cherish life and liberty, pursue happiness, and contribute to America’s future greatness. And also—though that snob at dinner surely didn't know this—the supposedly all-American cut-and-switch is in fact an old European pretension, of just the sort we decided to free ourselves from 237 years ago.
posted by Cash4Lead on Jul 5, 2013 - 221 comments

Racial Slur or Honorific?

The Other Redskins. 62 US high schools in 22 states currently use the name "Redskins" for one of their sports teams. 28 high schools in 18 states have dropped the mascot over the last 25 years. As public pressure continues to intensify on the Washington Redskins football team to change their name -- one many consider a racial slur that disparages Native Americans -- similar debates are being waged in towns across the country about their local high school teams.
posted by zarq on Jul 2, 2013 - 183 comments

Rape on the Job in America

Rape in the Fields is a Frontline documentary that explores the persistent allegations that female agricultural workers in the U.S. are frequently sexually assaulted and harassed by supervisors who exploit their (often undocumented) immigrant status. Victims typically do not seek help from US law enforcement, either out of fear that they will be fired, deported or worse, or from a lack of understanding of U.S. law. Reviews: Popmatters. NY Times [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 26, 2013 - 19 comments

An Account Of War At Sea

Samuel Leech, R.N., fought in the battle between the 38 gun HMS Macedonian, commanded by Captain John Surman Carden, and the 44 gun USS United States, Commodore Stephen Decatur on October 25th 1812.
A strange noise, such as I had never heard before, next arrested my attention; it sounded like the tearing of sails, just over our heads. This I soon ascertained to be the wind of the enemy's shot. The firing, after a few minutes' cessation, recommenced. The roaring of cannon could now be heard from all parts of our trembling ship, and, mingling as it did with that of our foes, it made a most hideous noise. By-and-by I heard the shot strike the sides of our ship; the whole scene grew indescribably confused and horrible; it was like some awfully tremendous thunder-storm, whose deafening roar is attended by incessant streaks of lightning, carrying death in every flash and strewing the ground with the victims of its wrath: only, in our case, the scene was rendered more horrible than that, by the presence of torrents of blood which dyed our decks.

posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 24, 2013 - 8 comments

President Correa and Ecuador's Economy

Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado was first elected president of Ecuador in Nov. 2006 and most recently for his third presidential term in Feb. 2013. Ecuador is sometimes identified as joining the Latin American leftist "pink tide" movement by electing Correa, and Correa in turn joined the Bolivarian Alliance for the Americas (ALBA) economic bloc in 2009, which also includes the countries of Venezuela, Cuba and Bolivia, and which was explicitly conceived by Hugo Chavez as an alternative to US-lead economic partnerships in the region. [more inside]
posted by airing nerdy laundry on Jun 24, 2013 - 34 comments

Tell us what you think about human spaceflight

The Aeronautics and Space Engineering Board (ASEB), on behalf of The National Academies, is seeking input papers on human spaceflight until July 9th, 2013. You can also read the current submissions. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jun 19, 2013 - 3 comments

American Rhetoric

Perhaps slightly obscurred by its charmingly primitive web design, my new favorite website is a fantastic reference resource for delving into American speeches that have changed history as well as discovering new amazing ones. [more inside]
posted by Blasdelb on Jun 17, 2013 - 5 comments

Nordamerikanische Bundesländer the Beautiful

What would a balkanized United States look like if it was divided along ethnic lines? (original map) Alternate divisions here and here.
posted by seemoreglass on Jun 12, 2013 - 112 comments

It's just not the same without Caaaaaptain Chaos!

There are just 2,795 miles of interstate and 31,000 highway cops between them and the all-time speed record for crossing the American continent on four wheels. Welcome to the Cannonball Baker Sea-to-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash, later known as the US Express race: The Cannonball Run. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jun 5, 2013 - 103 comments

All The Ladies in the (White) House

First Ladies: Influence and Image is a C-Span series covering the entire history of the US through the eyes of the First Ladies that have occupied the White House.
posted by empath on Jun 5, 2013 - 1 comment

"Through a revolutionary change in the way US income is distributed."

A look at the post-war middle class, brought to you by the editors of Life, and Fortune Magazines.

Opportunties Unlimited (via)
posted by timsteil on Jun 2, 2013 - 1 comment

"Now, There Are Two Americas"

In 1964, Goldwater campaign strategist Clif White made a 28-minute long film called "Choice." Once Senator Goldwater saw it, it was never shown publicly. Now it's on YouTube! [more inside]
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 1, 2013 - 44 comments

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