Paul Erdős's FBI file

Michael from Muckrock sez, "A Hungarian born in the early 20th century, Paul Erdős, mathematician, was well-known and well-liked, the sort of eccentric scientist from the Soviet sphere that made Feds' ears perk up in mid-century America." Read the rest

America's terrible trains are an ideological triumph

America's trains suck on purpose: "Ride a fast train to Washington today and you’ll start thinking about national health insurance tomorrow." Read the rest

Helen Keller, feminist, radical socialist, anti-racist activist and civil libertarian

Helen Keller's activism on behalf of people with disabilities was rooted in her radical socialism, which held that the problems of the most vulnerable in society were the fault of capitalism, not genetics or industrial accidents. Read the rest

J. Edgar Hoover palled around with a suspected commie spy

Michael from Muckrock sez, "Few American officials could even come close to the legendary paranoia of J. Edgar Hoover, but that didn't stop the notorious FBI chief from striking up a close friendship with Samuel Dickstein, House Committee on Un-American Activities founder, Supreme Court Justice -- and suspected Russian spy." Read the rest

Truth to power: Pete Seeger vs HUAC

In honor of Pete Seeger's passing today, please take a moment to read his testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee, which is a cross between a witch-hunt and a Marx Brothers' routine. It is inspired and inspiring. Goodbye, Mr Seeger. Read the rest

Spy-gadget photos from Berlin's Stasi museum

Egor Egorov visited Berlin's Stasi Museum and extensively photographed its collection of spy-gadgets from the Cold War (like the squeeze-bulb-operated jacket-button camera above). They're great photos, and at an impressively high resolution. Read the rest

David Cameron's favourite censorware is built and maintained by Huawei

UK Prime Minister David Cameron (and his thin-skinned, slandering advisor Claire Perry) have been cynically appealing to the Tory's reactionary base by promising to purge the British Internet of porn with a Chinese style, opt-out Great Firewall. Cameron has held out the UK ISP TalkTalk as a paragon in this regard, praising its "Homesafe" blocking product.

Now the BBC reports that Homesafe was built by Huawei, the Chinese IT giant Huawei, founded by Ren Zhengfei, a former officer in China's People's Liberation Army. Huawei has been characterized by senior Western spooks as an arm of the Chinese intelligence service, conducting industrial espionage on its behalf.

A poorly understood feature of censorship software is that it is also surveillance software. In order to stop you from clicking on "bad" things, it must intercept all of your clicks and examine them to make sure they're not on the blacklist. Read the rest

Spanish civil war posters

Retronaut has collected a huge gallery of posters from both sides of the Spanish Civil War that come from the Biblioteca Nacional de España site.

1936-1939: Posters from the Spanish Civil War Read the rest

Red scare ad for Canadair

I'm a bit baffled by the context for this Canadair red-scare ad -- maybe Korean War?

Do We Actually Know WHERE to Face Communism? Read the rest

Feynman's FBI files

Michael sez,

Loved your piece about the Trinity graphic novel this morning, and thought you might find this interesting. MuckRock has published the FBI files of noted physicist, esteemed author and all-around geek Richard Feynman.

Feynman and the FBI had an extended encounter after the Bureau discovered he had been invited to speak at the USSR, which set off a flurry of investigations into his loyalty — even as he pestered the State Department for guidance on whether he should or shouldn't go, guidance they only gave belatedly.

Of particular interest to the FBI was his avid devotion to the art of lock picking, his high school membership in a socialism club (for social reasons, he swore), and the fact that he was a godless scientist who loved his bongo drums.

As always, the original FBI files are available free and unencumbered.

Which all puts me in mind of the outstanding Feynman graphic biography. Read the rest