Submit a link Features Reviews Podcasts Video Forums More ▾

How schools got desegregated ... and then resegregated

The rise and fall of desegregation efforts in the three generations since Brown v. Board. Incredible work by Nikole Hannah-Jones at ProPublica, following the school careers of James Dent, his daughter, and granddaughter in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Maggie 8

Renaissance Space Invaders art


Artist Dan Hernandez painted a gorgeous series of frescoes depicting Space Invaders and other vintage game screengrabs as Renaissance and Byzantine art. They're hanging in a show called "Genesis" at the Kim Foster Gallery in NYC.

Read the rest

List of people who have mysteriously disappeared

My new Wikipedia list obsession: List of people who have mysteriously disappeared. Some of the "mysteries" are not as mysterious as you might hope (some Romans and ancient Gauls who disappeared in the midst of war, for instance) but the list goes back to 71 BC and there's enough interesting entries to warrant some high-quality time suck. Maggie 27

The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation, a nuanced and moving history of race, slavery and the Civil War


The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation sat in my pile for too long, and it shouldn't have. I loved The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation, the previous effort by Jonathan Hennessey and Aaron McConnell, so I should have anticipated how good this new one would be. Having (belatedly) gotten around to it, I can finally tell you that this is an extraordinary, nuanced history of the issues of race and slavery in America, weaving together disparate threads of military, geopolitical, technological, legal, Constitutional, geographic and historical factors that came together to make the Civil War happen at the moment when it occurred, that brought it to an end, and that left African Americans with so little justice in its wake.

Read the rest

Seminal "Anthology of American Folk Music" reissued on vinyl!

MG 9926 copy uqdr6f 1

In the late 1940s, avant-garde filmmaker, artist, and mystic Harry Smith scoured his massive collection of 78 rpm blues, country, cajun, jazz, and gospel records to compile what would become one of the most important collections of recorded music in history. The Anthology of American Folk Music, a six-album set with extensive liner notes was released in 1952 by Folkways Records. It was essentially a bootleg and the complete licensing of all the tracks wouldn't be worked out until 1997 when Smithsonian Folkways Recordings reissued the material on CD. The original LPs were kindling for the mid-century folk and blues revival and brought artists like Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mississippi John Hurt, The Memphis Jug Band (above), and countless other pioneering roots musicians to the ears of Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Joni Mitchell, Dave Van Ronk, Jerry Garcia and so many more.

"We all knew every word of every song on it, including the ones we hated," Van Ronk has said.

The 1997 CD box set is fantastic, but now, after decades out of print, the vinyl has been reissued in four limited volumes by Mississippi Records, a glorious tiny record label (and store!) in Portland, Oregon. If you dig wax (200 gram, baby!), this is an absolutely essential addition to your collection.

I purchased mine directly from Mississippi Records but they may be out of stock already. If so, try your local independent record shop or perhaps one of the Amazon third party sellers. And if you really search, you might still locate one of the complete sets that comes in a wood slipcase!

The Abels Raise Cain - An excerpt from Kembrew McLeod's PRANKSTERS


[Ed: I'm a huge fan of Kembrew McLeod, a writer, nerdfighter, media theorist and hoopy frood. From epic pranks like Freedom of Expression (R) to genius analysis like Creative License, Kembrew always amazes. Here's an excerpt from his latest: Pranksters: Making Mischief in the Modern World, with an introduction just for us -Cory]

Since I was a kid, I have been fixated on trickery, which played a role in why I grew up to be an occasional prankster (my dad recalls that, as an adolescent, I would surprise him by placing my Sesame Street Ernie doll in grim situations, such leaving him in a noose hanging from a shower head or pinned to the kitchen wall with a knife). Now that I am an adult, I spend most of my time as a teacher and professor being a bit more serious -- enough to take the subject of pranking seriously, which is why I wrote Pranksters: Making Mischief in the Modern World, published by NYU Press on April 1 this year. The word prank is more often used today to describe stunts that make people look foolish and little more. I'm not interested in celebrating cruelty -- especially the sorts of mean-spirited practical jokes, hazing rituals, and reality television deceits that are all too common in today's popular culture. Although "good" pranks sometimes do ridicule their targets, they serve a higher purpose by sowing skepticism and speaking truth to power (or at least cracking jokes that expose fissures in power's facade). A prank a day keeps The Man away, I always say. Nevertheless, I should stress that this book is not solely about pranking. Many of the characters who populate its pages aren't driven by noble impulses, and even those who are more pure of heart can muddy the ethical waters with dubious tactics. With this in mind, Pranksters examines everything from political pranks, silly hoaxes, and con games to the sort of self-deception that fuels outlandish belief systems. The following is an excerpt from Chapter Nine of Pranksters, about the exploits of a married couple named Jeanne and Alan Abel who began as professional pranksters in the late 1950s, and are still at it today.

Read the rest

My favorite history comic books, by Max Brooks, author of the Zombie Survival Guide

[Max Brooks, author of the Zombie Survival Guide, has a new historical comic book out, called The Harlem Hellfighters, about the historic black 369th infantry regiment from WWI. Here's an exclusive essay that Max wrote for Boing Boing about his favorite history comic books. It's a terrific reading list! -- Mark]

History is boring, and I say that as a former history major. In high school, history was the only subject I was any good at. It kept me focused, it kept me engaged. It probably kept me off drugs. To this day, the “life story of the human race,” to quote one of my college professors, is nothing short of a lifelong passion. However, it’s a passion I share with very few people. And why? Because history is boring. Or, to be more accurate, it’s too often presented in a boring way.

Too often teachers do nothing more than preach fact regurgitation, while using uninspired texts. They numb the brain and extinguish the heart with a flood of intricate details without ever taking the time to tie those details together. I’ve been lucky enough to have some great history teachers, and what made them great is that they always started with the BIG PICTURE. They introduced their subjects in the broadest, simplest, most easily digestible manner before diving into the specifics. That big picture thinking kept me as focused as the finished image on the box of a jigsaw puzzle, and it’s a method I continue to use whenever I tackle a new subject.

Before cracking a one ton tome by David McCullough or Doris Kearns Goodwin, I always try to find a big picture primer for their subject, and through the years, I’ve found no better primer than comic books. The visual aspect of illustrated work has always made history come alive for me. To see the clothing, hairstyles, architecture and technology in vibrant color (or even black and white) serves as an instant time machine.

Sometimes I’ve found all the information I’ve needed on a subject within a comic book’s pages. Sometimes those pages have served to stoke my interest. Sometimes they’ve even taught me something the prose volumes have missed.

Here are few examples of the illustrated books that have taught me about what once was. They are:

Read the rest

Historic "mixfilm" in Detroit this weekend

Archivist Rick Prelinger sez, "I'm bringing a new archival 'mixfilm' on Detroit's rich history to the beautifully restored, vintage-1927 Detroit Film Theatre this weekend. This is the fourth of my Detroit compilations, and it's packed with new footage (especially home movies shot by Detroiters themselves) that's never before been publicly screened. It's a fully participatory show, meaning that viewers (hopefully you) are invited to identify places, people and events, ask questions, and converse with one another as the film unreels. And it's anything but nostalgic -- rather than lamenting what's gone, it aims to contribute to the ongoing, spirited discussion about Detroit's future, and encourage people to talk with one another."

Events: Detroit Film Theatre — The Detroit Institute of Arts Auxiliary (Thanks, Rick!)

Photos of actors playing historical figures

ZZTCB0a

XXXGLHm

VanVictor made a terrific image series showing historical figures played by various actors, from Aristotle to Edgar Allen Poe, Jesus to John Lennon. "Famous people in fiction" (via Laughing Squid and Reddit)

Tony Benn, secret mounter of illegal Parliamentary plaques


When Tony Benn was a Member of Parliament, he would go around with homemade plaques celebrating heroes of democracy, such as suffragette* Emily Wilding Davison, and illegally screw them to the walls. He copped to this during a sitting of Parliament in 2001, saying, "I have put up several plaques—quite illegally, without permission; I screwed them up myself. One was in the broom cupboard to commemorate Emily Wilding Davison, and another celebrated the people who fought for democracy and those who run the House. If one walks around this place, one sees statues of people, not one of whom believed in democracy, votes for women or anything else. We have to be sure that we are a workshop and not a museum."

Read the rest

Tim Bray on the early Web's milestones

It's the Web's 25th birthday and Tim Bray, inventor of XML and Web pioneer, has a great remembrance of the milestones of the early Web:

Read the rest

The 727 that vanished without a trace in 2003

The ocean is big and deep. The most likely scenario, right now, is that Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 crashed into the water and no one has yet looked in just the right place to find evidence of that crash. (You can read more about losing planes in the age of GPS in a post Rob made earlier today.) But the case made me curious about other lost planes — cases where an aircraft just "vanished" and nobody ever found a crash site or debris.

Naturally, Wikipedia has a list for that ...

Read the rest

Documentary tracks down JFK's "Silly Bastard"

Scott writes, "We've just received word that our documentary short, The Silly Bastard Next to the Bed, will be debuting at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, NC next month. In the film, we set out to locate and interview 'the silly bastard' that JFK rants about in the YouTube phone call. The video has been a pretty big hit - as far as presidential phone calls go - and we're about to top 400K views. (Thanks, Scott!)

Survivor of Mengele's twin studies recounts her experiences on Reddit

I missed this Ask Me Anything when it was live back in February, but it's definitely worth going back and reading. It features Eva Mozes Kor, who was chosen at age 10, along with her twin sister, for experiments performed by Josef Mengele at Auschwitz. Really an amazing AMA. Maggie 9

The trouble with cat rockets

The CIA did not invent the concept of coming up with ludicrous, flaw-filled ways to kill someone. Around 1530, artillery master Franz Helm of Cologne wrote a treatise on gunpowder-enhanced warfare that featured suggestions for (and illustrations of) bombs and rockets carried on the backs of birds or cats. Scholars generally agree none of these ideas ever came to fruition. If, for no other reason, than an animal-carried bomb is liable to set your own camp on fire, rather than that of the enemy.

From the Helm document: "Create a small sack like a fire-arrow. If you would like to get at a town or castle, seek to obtain a cat from that place. And bind the sack to the back of the cat, ignite it, let it glow well and thereafter let the cat go, so it runs to the nearest castle or town, and out of fear it thinks to hide itself where it ends up in barn hay or straw it will be ignited."