Beautiful animation about human origins

Design studio Kurzgesagt's latest fantastic "In a Nutshell" animation explores the origin of humanity and "What Happened Before History."

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Judenstaat: an alternate history in which a Jewish state is created in east Germany in 1948

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Theodor Herzl's seminal 1896 essay Der Judenstaat called for the creation of Jewish state as an answer to the ancient evil of antisemitism; its legacy, Zionism, underpinned the creation of Israel; in Judenstaat, Simone Zelitch's beautifully told, thoughtful and disturbing alternate history, the Jewish state is created in Saxony, not Palestine, and takes the place of East Germany. Read the rest

Archival video of original Hamilton cast will be made before Lin-Manuel Miranda moves on

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Lin-Manuel Miranda's final performance in his amazing, blockbuster musical Hamilton will come on July 9 (he'll be replaced by his alternate, Javier Muñoz), but before then, he'll allow a video-crew in to make an archival recording. Read the rest

The fascinating and ego-killing existence of human wormholes

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Ryan Holiday's Ego is the Enemy is available from Amazon.

A few months ago, Chief Medicine Crow, one of the last remaining links to the Native American tribes of the Wild West died at age 102. He had grown up hearing stories about George Armstrong Custer from his grandfather, who'd been a scout for the doomed general at Little Bighorn in 1876. A soldier himself in the Second World War, Medicine Crow was one of the last Crow people to ever accomplish the four deeds required to be considering a war chief (command a war party, steal an enemy horse, touch an enemy without killing him and taking an enemy's weapon).

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The forgotten blockbuster locksport competitions of the mid-Victorian era

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Today, organizations like The Open Organisation of Lockpickers Worldwide support locksport with tools, educational materials, training and organized events, but in the Victorian era, locksmiths competed at expositions to show off their talents and show off the weaknesses of their competitors' wares. Read the rest

Iron age sling bullets seem designed to make terrifying whistling noise

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Sling bullets, used by Roman soldiers in an attack on a fort in Scotland some 1800 years ago, appear designed to whistle in flight. A battery of them could be terrifying; or perhaps simply very loud and annoying.

These holes converted the bullets into a "terror weapon," said archaeologist John Reid of the Trimontium Trust, a Scottish historical society directing the first major archaeological investigation in 50 years of the Burnswark Hill site.

"You don't just have these silent but deadly bullets flying over; you've got a sound effect coming off them that would keep the defenders' heads down," Reid told Live Science. "Every army likes an edge over its opponents, so this was an ingenious edge on the permutation of sling bullets."

Archeology.co.uk conducted tests with replicas to see what it would have sounded like:

Two extraordinary facts concerning the small bullets with holes (now dubbed type IIIs) also emerged. First, they could be successfully slung in small groups of three or four to create a form of grapeshot. This had been independently confirmed by T Richardson in his work on Roman sling-bullets at the Royal Armouries. Even more intriguingly, the mysterious holes proved to confer an aerophonic quality: in flight, these lead shot whistled, or more accurately gave off a mechanical buzzing sound eerily reminiscent of an agitated wasp (click below to hear for yourself). Remarkable as it sounds, the simplest explanation for this design modification is that it represents an early form of psychological warfare. To put it another way, the Roman attackers valued the terror that hearing the incoming bullets would instil in the defenders.
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Color illustrations of 16th C eye-diseases, including those caused by witchcraft

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16th century barber-surgeon Georg Bartisch began his barber-surgeon apprenticeship in 1548 in Saxony, and three years later, became an itinerant barber-surgeon in Saxony, Silesia, and Bohemia. Read the rest

The time the BBC News reported that "there is no news"

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I suppose no news was good news on April 18, 1930. At 6:30pm during the regularly scheduled news bulletin slot, the BBC News announcer turned on the mic and said:

"Good evening. Today is Good Friday. There is no news."

Piano music followed.

(BBC News History via r/todayilearned) Read the rest

History podcasters occasionally mention women, butthurt dudes complain it's "all women"

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There's a well-studied phenomenon that men overestimate even occasional participation by, or mention of, women, but in case you had any doubt... Read the rest

In 1977, the CIA's top lawyer said Espionage Act shouldn't be applied to press leaks

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Yesterday, the State Department declassified and released Organization and Management of Foreign Policy: 1977-80, volume 28, a Carter-era document that includes startling statements by CIA General Counsel Anthony Lapham on the role of the WWI-era Espionage Act in prosecuting leaks of classified material to the press. Read the rest

Why medieval monks filled manuscript margins with murderous rabbits

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Long before Sergio Aragonés filled the margins of MAD Magazine with tiny, weird cartoons, the margins of medieval manuscripts were a playground for bored monks with crude senses of humor. Read the rest

129 of Gandhi's speeches on India and self-rule

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Rogue archivist Carl Malamud writes, "From May 11, 1947 until January 29, 1948, Gandhi gave a speech after prayer meetings 129 times. It was a narrative of his life and of the times. All India Radio broadcast his talks to the nation, and everybody stopped to hear what the Mahatma had to say. On January 30, Gandhiji didn't make it to the microphone. " Read the rest

Xenophobic UK politician ranting about "political correctness" gets a public spanking from an historian

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Chris Wood is a councillor from the UK Independence Party (UKIP), a xenophobic party known for its leader and lawmakers' racist and sexist gaffes; this week, he added to the annals of UKIP inanity when he took to Twitter to complain that the BBC had cast a person of color as Margaret of Anjou, wife of King Henry VI. Read the rest

Brian Wood's REBELS book one -- read the first issue here!

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Today marks the publication of Rebels: A Well-Regulated Militia, the first collection of Brian Woods comic about the American revolutionary war that tells "the epic story of the colonists, explorers and traders, wives and daughters, farmers and volunteer soldiers who, in a few short, turbulent years, created the brand-new nation of America."

Reading With Pictures: awesome, classroom-ready comics for math, social studies, science and language arts

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Since its inception as a 2012 Kickstarter, the Reading With Pictures project has gone from strength to strength, culminating in a gorgeous, attractively produced hardcover graphic anthology of delightful comic stories that slot right into standard curriculum in science, math, social studies and language arts. Read the rest

Railway Paradise: How a Fine-Dining Empire Made the Southwest Palatable to Outsiders

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Who were the Harvey Girls, and what were the Harvey Houses in which they worked? It's actually more innocent than it sounds, as Hunter Oatman-Stanford explains in his latest piece at Collectors Weekly. The Harvey Houses were a series of eateries and hotels run by a British ex-pat named Fred Harvey alongside the Atchison, Topeka & Santa Fe railroad tracks that ran from Chicago to Los Angeles. The Girls were women from the East Coast and Midwest, imported to replace the local, often uncouth male waiters in towns like Raton and Belen, New Mexico. Together, the Girls and the dining establishments they worked in lent an air of respectability to the still-wild American Southwest at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, as Hunter learned when he spoke to Richard Melzer, author of Fred Harvey Houses of the Southwest.

Here's a snip from the article:

In 1883, Harvey had decided to fire the rowdy male waiters at his restaurant in Raton, New Mexico, and hire respectable young women in their place. Customers responded so positively to the female staff that Harvey began replacing all of his company’s male servers, advertising for women employees in newspapers throughout the Midwestern and Eastern states.

Unlike much of the Eastern United States, in small Western outposts, it was acceptable for single young women to work and live away from their parents — though they were often stigmatized as being prostitutes or sexually promiscuous. “The Harvey Company called its servers ‘Harvey Girls’ — not waitresses — because the term waitress had a bad connotation: It was linked to the saloon girls,” who were viewed as bawdy and indecent, Melzer says.

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Too Like the Lightning: intricate worldbuilding, brilliant speculation, gripping storytelling

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Ada Palmer -- historian, musician, librettist -- debuts as a novelist today with a book called Too Like the Lightning, a book more intricate, more plausible, more significant than any debut I can recall.

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