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

A 19th century Lithuanian book smuggler defies the autocrat's book-ban

This is Vincas Juska, a knygnešys -- "book smuggler" -- one of the brave people who defied Tsar Alexander II's "Temporary Rules for State Junior Schools of the Northwestern Krai" by smuggling books written with Latin characters into Lithuania, defying the ban put into place after the Polish-Lithuanian insurrection of 1863. Read the rest

You know who else invested in infrastructure? Autobahn spending was key to Hitler's consolidation of power

In Highway to Hitler, Nico Voigtländer (UCLA) and Hans‐Joachim Voth (University of Zurich)'s 2014 paper analyzing the impact of the massive infrastructure investment in creating the Autobahn, the authors conclude that the major spending project was key to Hitler's consolidation of power. Read the rest

Meet Saccorhytus, bloblike human ancestor that shat through its mouth

Behold the 540 million-year-old fossil remains of the earliest-known human ancestor! Saccorhytus was "likely an egg-shaped creature that ate and expelled from the same gaping orifice," just like Senior Counselor to the President Stephen Bannon.

"This may represent the primitive beginnings of a very diverse range of species, including ourselves," said co-author Simon Conway Morris, a professor at Britain's University of Cambridge. Saccorhytus belongs to a broad category of organisms called deuterostomes, and is the most ancient specimen unearthed so far...

The sack-like animal's most distinctive feature is a large -- relative to the rest of its body -- mouth ringed by concentric circles of raised bumps. It probably ate by engulfing food particles and microscopic creatures. Intriguingly, the researchers did not find anything corresponding to an anus.

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Stunning 23-foot wall chart of human history from 1881

Sebastian C. Adams's Synchronological Chart from the late 19th century presents 5,885 years of history (4004 BCE - 1881 AD) on a magnificent 27 inch x 23 foot illustrated and annotated timeline. What a stunner. You can zoom and pan through the whole thing at the David Rumsey Map Collection or order a scaled-down print.

According to the book Cartographies of Time: History of the Timeline, the Synchronological Chart "was ninetheenth-century America's surpassing achievement in complexity and synthetic power."

(via Clifford Pickover)

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"Claque": how Trump revived the ancient practice of paid applauders

Trump launched his campaign in front of an "audience" of actors paid $50/each to wear campaign shirts and cheer wildly, and he's brought his paid cheering section with him into the presidency, bringing along staffers to applaud at key moments during his press conferences and other appearances. Read the rest

The Abominable Mr Seabrook: a sympathetic biography of an unsympathetic, forgotten literary legend

William Seabrook was once one of America's foremost literary stars; now he is all but forgotten. Seabrook travelled the world, writing a series of (decreasingly sympathetic) accounts of indigenous people and their culture, outselling the literary giants he kept company with, and who pretended not to mind the women he paid to let him tie them up and keep around his home. In The Abominable Mr. Seabrook, graphic novelist Joe Ollman presents an unflinching look at Seabrook, his literary accomplishments and failures, his terrible self-destructiveness, and the awful spiral that took him from the heights of American letters to an ignominious suicide after his discharge from a psychiatric facility.

1000-year old windmills still in use

Nashtifan, Iran, is home to some of the oldest windmills in the world. Ali Muhammad Etebari, the last custodian of the mills, laments that he cannot find an apprentice. Read the rest

John Green asks: How young is history?

In this new Vlogbrothers video, John Green tries to put human history into perspective. Read the rest

Haunting a Tiny House with Lady Delaney

Mysterious things that unfold with multiple mailings are all the rage, but some are infinitely better than others. Personally, I find those that include a murder with a nice spatter of blood to be among the more interesting. If there’s insanity involved, so much the better.

And thus we have The Haunted Dollhouse, a subtle tale of horror which takes place almost a century ago in New Orleans, and which is reliant upon you to do your part: you have to build the house. And there are puzzles to solve, as well, which reveal a narrative of misfortune and murder. What is that enormous bloodstain on the carpet in the parlor?

The pieces come delivered in four packages over the course of a month, each box containing items both small and large. When you’ve put in your time with a straight edge, X-Acto knife, small scissors, and the imaginatively titled “goo,” the end result is a miniature doll house that bears witness to a story of death, madness, and murder which occurred in 1923.

Numerous letters, newspaper articles, postcards, and miniature items (I’m quite fond of the bloody pair of scissors) to decorate said house come within the packages, all of which taken together with the house provide clues to a mystery.

Who killed who? Who’s dead? Who’s alive? Who’s nuts? Your recreation of the crime scene and the many pieces of evidence lead you down a curious path to the truth. When you have gathered sufficient evidence and puzzled it out, an online portfolio is revealed that, like a crystal ball, answers some questions. Read the rest

Drone footage of a massive star fort

Fort Bourtange is a 16th-century star fort that is now a museum. This drone footage captures the scope of the spectacular engineering feat. Read the rest

Gay bathhouse TV commercial from the 1970s

This commercial for New York City's Man's Country bathhouse aired in the late 1970s on Channel J, Manhattan's influential public access television channel.

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After Ways of Seeing, watch Robert Hughes' Shock of the New

In the Ways of Seeing post, commenter Frederick_Hagemeiste suggested the 1980 series Shock of the New. The first episode makes a compelling case that engineering had a vast influence on 20th century art. Read the rest

For sale: one 19th century Quebec village, slightly fake, $2.8M

Canadiana Village is an hour north of Montreal and sports 45 buildings that are intended to recreate rural Quebec life in the 19th century (though only one is habitable); and once served as a destination for school groups and film-crews. Now it's for sale for CAD$2.8M. Read the rest

The arc of history is long, but how do we bend it?

Ada Palmer -- novelist, singer, historian -- just dropped a 10,000 word essay on the nature of progress and historical change that has provided some of the most significant perspective on our own strange moment that I've yet to read -- and in so doing, has provided a set of mental tools for figuring out how to survive 2017 and beyond. Read the rest

This simple timeline puts the long, long history of slavery in perspective

The Twitter account @gloed_up shared this historical meme:

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Nitrous, weed, opium and peach-pits: the intoxicants of 18th C England

Historical novelist Debra Daley posts a master guide to the intoxicants of 18th century England, which ranged from modern favorites (laughing gas, cannabis) to historic classics (laudanum) to ratafia, "a sweet liqueur flavoured with peach or cherry kernels," which contained cyanogenic glycosides that broke down into fatal, insanity-causing hydrogen cyanide. Read the rest

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