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.

Read the rest

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.

Live in a Tree Stump!

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Money is tight for the great majority of people right now. If renting an apartment is not for you, and you want a small house for less than $40k, then chances are it’s going to be a so-called “tiny house.” These are typically 50 to 400 square feet and most often use a compost or chemical toilet (or, god forbid the smell, an incinerator toilet).

Here (right) is a photo of a typical tiny house from Wikipedia.

People think this is a new thing. While the reason people may be building and living in houses the size of a single room in a home may vary (“I want to downsize,” “I can make do with less,” “Who can afford a regular size house?” “My wife and kids drive me nuts!”), the fact is that people have been living in eensy-weensy domiciles for hundreds of years.

I suppose we could start with the cave, and the caveman and woman, but that’s silly. They didn’t even know about toilet paper.

In the 1800s, as the migration toward the western part of the U.S. began in earnest:

As the first waves of loggers swept over great portions of the Pacific Northwest's old-growth forests in the second half of the nineteenth century, those men opened up the dark dense woodlands to settlement. …. Left behind was a scarred landscape, scrap wood, and stumps. Many stumps. Huge stumps. Stumps that still stood a full 10 feet high but were undesirable as lumber because they tended to swell down toward their base, making the wood-grain uneven. 

Read the rest

The Planet Remade: frank, clear-eyed book on geoengineering, climate disaster, & humanity's future

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Since its publication in late 2015, science writer Oliver Morton's The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World has swept many "best book" (best science book, best business book, best nonfiction book) and with good reason: though it weighs in at a hefty 440 pages and covers a broad scientific, political and technological territory, few science books are more important, timely and beautifully written.

Incredible miniature recreations of iconic photos

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Swiss artists Jojakim Cortis and Adrian Sonderegger recreated iconic photos from history in miniature, from cardboard, cotton wool, and other craft supplies. Above, "Making of AS11-40-5878 by Edwin Aldrin, 1969, 2014."

"Making of Nessie by Marmaduke Wetherell, 1934, 2013":

"Making of Concorde by Toshihko Sato, 2000, 2013":

"Making of Tiananmen by Stuart Franklin, 1989, 2013":

"War and fleece: DIY recreations of iconic photographs – in pictures" (The Guardian, thanks Plastic Ants!)

Previously:

• "Hoax photos of real events" Read the rest

Medieval music recreated and performed for the first time in 1000 years

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'Songs of Consolation,' performed at Pembroke College Chapel in Cambridge last month, was the first airing in a 1000 years of a medieval tune the way it would have been.
...reconstructed from neumes (symbols representing musical notation in the Middle Ages) and draws heavily on an 11th century manuscript leaf that was stolen from Cambridge and presumed lost for 142 years... Hundreds of Latin songs were recorded in neumes from the 9th through to the 13th century. These included passages from the classics by Horace and Virgil, late antique authors such as Boethius, and medieval texts from laments to love songs. However, the task of performing such ancient works today is not as simple as reading and playing the music in front of you. 1,000 years ago, music was written in a way that recorded melodic outlines, but not ‘notes’ as today’s musicians would recognise them; relying on aural traditions and the memory of musicians to keep them alive. Because these aural traditions died out in the 12th century, it has often been thought impossible to reconstruct ‘lost’ music from this era – precisely because the pitches are unknown.

They believe they've pieced together about 80-90% of the melodies. The performers are Benjamin Bagby, Hanna Marti and Norbert Rodenkirchen. Here's more:

Read the rest

Walt Whitman was into paleo and wrote a “Manly Health and Training” guide with sex tips

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Leaves of Grass? He probably ate them now and then.

A scholar at the University of Houston in Texas has discovered a 13-part, 47,000-word series by Walt Whitman, published by the New York Atlas in 1858, under the pseudonym Mose Velsor.

Under that most macho of aliases, “Manly Health and Training” amounts to a "part guest editorial, part self-help column," a “rambling and self-indulgent series” that reveals Walt Whitman's thoughts on a variety of manly-man topics. Including sex.

Read the rest

A look back at the D&D moral panic

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Retro Report did a short feature on the moral panics about D&D in the 1980s. It's a fun, 13 minute look back at the moment when D&D totally changed a bunch of kids' lives, only to be vilified and literally demonized by opportunistic members of the religious right. Read the rest

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