Historically accurate leggings based on medieval armor

Lorica is a fully-funded Kickstarter campaign that started with the promise of making leggings inspired by medieval armor, with rigorous and accurate depictions -- now that the campaign has reached its stretch goals, it has grown to incorporate a range of armor-inspired clothes. Read the rest

America has spent more rebuilding Afghanistan than it spent rebuilding Europe under the Marshall Plan

After WWII, the US launched the Marshall Plan to help Europe rebuild, spending about $120B in inflation-adjusted dollars on the project, which lifted the war-stricken European nations out of disaster and launched them into post-war prosperity; the US has spent even more than that on rebuilding projects in Afghanistan since the official cessation of hostilities there, but Afghanistan remains a crumbling, corrupt, failed state where violence is rampant, opium exports are soaring, and soldiers and civilians alike are still dying. Read the rest

Charming animated short on The Power of Privacy

The Power of Privacy is a brisk animated jaunt through the legal development of privacy, starting with the fireplace chimney. Read the rest

Stunning images of church organ pipes

German photographer Robert Götzfried has published his latest series on the original high-tech wall of sound: church organ pipes. His beautiful symmetric photos show the remarkable variations possible. Read the rest

What will the 25th century call the 21st century?

Polymath historian-novelist Ada Palmer has just published Seven Surrenders, the long-awaited sequel to her astounding debut novel Too Like the Lightning, in which she continues to spin tales in an intricately devised, wonderfully original 25th century. Read the rest

Supply of old-fashioned CRT arcade monitors dries up

The last manufacturer of arcade-sized cathode ray tubes is out of the business, with one supplier having only 30 or so in stock and no chance of ordering more. The manufacturing process is difficult enough that it's unlikely anyone will step into the breach; Venturebeat's Jeff Grubb reports that times will be good for skilled repairers.

“I have a feeling that — y’know how there are those guys doing pinball repair on the side — there will probably be some guy you can send your monitor to and have him rewind the bulb,” says Ware. “I think it’s going to be really expensive.” A CRT tube is very heavy, so shipping costs alone would be costly. “Right now, I don’t know of anyone who does [the winding].”

To fill the void, Day suggests that new companies will emerge to reproduce those old machines using only modern-day technology. An LCD screen connected to a PC running a piece of software that approximates the original experience will be adequate for most people.

CRT emulation is amazing, but still obviously such to me. But I bet using curved OLED panels embedded in thick CRT-style glass would fool my eye in darkness. There's yer Kickstarter. Read the rest

For sale: the toy blocks Einstein played with as a kid

Richard Davies writes, "Einstein's childhood building blocks have been listed for sale on the AbeBooks.com marketplace for books and collectibles." Read the rest

In 1937, a judge quietly asked Meyer Lansky to form a squad of Nazi-punching gangsters to raid Bund meetings

Meyer Lansky was an infamous and ruthless gangster -- albeit one so personally charming that his life is chronicled in a book called But He Was Good to His Mother -- and no friend of New York State Judge Nathan Perlman; nevertheless, as the Nazi-supporting German-American Bund staged more and more toxic rallies in New York City, Perlman quietly asked Meyer to form a squad of Jewish gangsters to disrupt their meetings. Read the rest

Milosevic, Berlusconi, Trump

I saw this coming, for the past ten years or more. I saw small Trumps, rising and tramping around, first timidly, then bravely, and finally boldly.

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Femme Magnifique! A Kickstarter for an anthology about amazing women!

The fabulous Shelly Bond, former DC Vertigo editor and head honcho, just launched a kickstarter for an anthology called Femme Magnifique that she’s doing in conjunction with Kristy and Brian Miller at HiFi Color. Read the rest

Catastrophes are reliable levelers of inequality; inequality creates catastrophes

Stanford history and classics professor Walter Scheidel writes in the Atlantic that the only reliable ways for unequal societies to become more equal is to suffer catastrophes that upend the order of things; Scheidel concludes that our modern, unequal state may not be able to avail itself of a convenient catastrophe for this purpose because "Technology has made mass warfare obsolete; violent, redistributive revolution has lost its appeal; most states are more resilient than they used to be; and advances in genetics will help humanity ward off novel germs." Read the rest

Matt Ruff talks about his masterful antiracist novel Lovecraft Country, out in paperback today

When I reviewed Matt Ruff's incredible Lovecraft Country last February on its hardcover release dates, I wrote, "Ruff inverts the Lovecraft horror, which turned so often on "miscegenation" and the duty of advanced humans to trample those around them in their drive to recapture this lost wisdom (and humanity's lost grace). His Lovecraftian horror is the horror of the people whom the Lovecraftian heroes viewed as subhuman, expendable, a stain on the human race. By blending real history (such as the Tulsa riots) and Lovecraftian tropes, Ruff's characters shine as active protagonists in their own story who have lives, have dignity, and have indomitable spirit that they use to fight back against the power structure that Lovecraft lionized." Read the rest

Techdirt's "I Invented Email" gear

Techdirt, a fearless source of excellent technology news and commentary, is being sued for $15M by Shiva Ayyadurai, who claims to have invented email -- he is represented by Charles Harder, a key figure in the Gawker-killing legal campaign that Peter Thiel financed, and who is also representing Melania Trump in her $150m lawsuit against The Daily Mail. Read the rest

See radicalism's roots in this digitized vintage political poster collection

Trumpism is nothing new, as University of Michigan's digitized sets of historical political posters show. Many are in the public domain, including my fave announcing the 1918 "Grand Picnic and Re-Union of All the Radicals of the City of Chicago." Read the rest

A history of American collapse in science fiction, from 1889's Last American to today

Paul Di Filippo has written a masterful, lively history of the many ways in which science fiction has explored the collapse of the American project, from JA Mitchell's 1889 The Last American to contemporary novels like Too Like the Lightning, Liberation, DMZ and Counting Heads. Read the rest

The 1933 Chicago World’s Fair in Color

Most of history exists for us only in black and white. As a kid, we had a black and white TV because it was all we could afford. I grew up watching The Wizard of Oz every year in the 1960s and had no idea it was a color film.

At least that exists in color because it was a big budget motion picture; most moving images of pop culture before a certain period don’t—or, at the very least, the color film is hard to find.

I’m doing research for a new book which involves the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair. At ages 6 and 7 I spent many splendid hours at the 1964/65 World’s Fair in Queens, where I lived. Of course not only is my memory of it in color, but there’s lots of color film of it available. But the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair is something I only saw in black and white until recently. There are many intriguing photos such as this one.

via Chicago Collections

So it was quite shocking to discover this Technicolor short film (the first full-length motion picture made in 3-strip Technicolor, Becky Sharp, was still two years away). The buildings are painted in a wild assortment of colors. 

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Scientists, and their moral duty to resist trumpism

A trio of "scientists against a fascist government" set out a program for resisting trumpism with science, delving into the moral duty of scientists to resist the perversion of their work to attain cruel and evil ends. Read the rest

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