Watch this side-by-side video of Los Angeles in the 1940s and today

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A drive through downtown Los Angeles in the 1940s and today. Spoiler: Less traffic then! Uglier now!

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Make: Hobnailed Roman marching boots, the Caligae

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In 2010, Lee Holeva, a Roman legion reenactor, lavishly documented his efforts to create a faithful reproduction of caligae, the "ancient milspec Roman footwear" (as Bruce Sterling calls it), worn by Roman legionary soldiers and auxiliaries throughout the Roman Republic and Empire. Read the rest

History of white rappers

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MTV's Carvell Wallace offers a condensed history of white rappers.

As the genre grew from art to hustle to full-fledged industry, multinational corporations began to exert increased control over its products and direction. Protecting its cultural roots against the ensuing opportunistic influx became a martyr's errand; so much so that Rakim himself felt it necessary to reframe his famous line, placing it in entirely different context on his 1990 single “In the Ghetto”: "So I collect my cash, then slide / I've got my back, my gun's on my side / It shouldn't have to be like that / I guess it ain't where you're from, it's where you're at." Rather than an open invitation for all into rap, the line is flipped into a necessary reminder of the genre’s dour beginnings. And possibly a subtle dis at what it was already becoming.

Blondie's Rapture was the first rap video MTV saw fit to play. The second was a comedy song by Rodney Dangerfield, embedded above. Read the rest

The Wolves of Currumpaw – A true story about Lobo, a wolf from the Old West

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The Wolves of Currumpaw by William Grill Flying Eye Books 2016, 80 pages, 9.7 x 12.1 x 0.6 inches $14 Buy a copy on Amazon

In the early 1800s, half a million wolves roamed North America, but by 1862 settlers began pouring in from Europe and the landscape started to change. “These were the dying days of the Old West and the fate of wolves was sealed in it," begins The Wolves of Currumpaw.

The Wolves of Currumpaw, released today, is a true story about a wolf named Old Lobo, and a skilled hunter, Ernest Thompson Seton. Lobo was part of notorious pack of wolves in 1893 who, for five years, raided the ranches and farms of the Currumpaw Valley in New Mexico. Nobody was able to catch the stealthy wolf, and the locals began to think Old Lobo, or the King as they called him at the time, possessed supernatural charms. The locals finally offered $1000 to anyone who could catch him. Expert hunters set out to track him and hunt him down, but like the Terminator, Lobo couldn’t be killed – until Canadian-raised Seton came into town.

SPOILER paragraph: The story ends tragically, and might not be appropriate for more sensitive children. Seton does succeed in taking Lobo down, a section of the book that was hard for me to read. But then Seton has deep regrets and becomes a changed man. As a writer and sudden activist, Seton devoted the rest of his life to raising awareness about wolves. Read the rest

That time London was nearly destroyed by Nazi paleo-drones

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The Nazi V-1 "robot bomb" (AKA the "buzz bomb") was a kind of flying landmine that terrorized London during the Blitz, doing incredible damage to the city, sowing disarray and fear, as this Periscope newsreel makes clear. Read the rest

WEB Du Bois's infographics on black life, from the 1900 Exposition Universelle

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Activist/sociologist WEB Du Bois compiled a beautiful set of infographics on the state of black life since the end of slavery that were displayed at the "Exhibit of American Negroes" he created with Thomas J Calloway and Booker T Washington for the 1900 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Read the rest

Frederick Douglass' "The Meaning of July the Fourth for the Negro," read by James Earl Jones

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One of Frederick Douglass's most famous speeches was his 1852 "The Meaning of July 4th for the Negro." Read the rest

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

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