The weird(er) US-North Korea summit that ended with 4.5 hours of silent staring

In 1969, United Nations Command negotiator and US Maj. Gen. James B. Kapp and North Korean Maj. Gen. Ri Choon-Sun sat across the table from one another for 11.5 hours without eating or using the restroom. The delegates were only permitted to leave the room if the person who called the meeting proposes a recess. Ri never did. In fact, the two men spent the last 4.5 hours of the meeting silently staring at one another. At 10:30pm, Ri stood up and walked out.

During the meeting, Knapp had asked Ri for North Korea to begin a four-step process to calm tensions in the region.

The infamous meeting was featured in Jeffrey Z Rubin and Bert R. Brown's book "The Social Psychology of Bargaining and Negotiation" which sounds like a rather useful read.

"A long, awkward silence" (Weird Universe) Read the rest

The first "portable" computer fit in two trailer vans and weighed 20 tons

The first electromechanical computers occupied whole buildings, making them rather unwieldy; in the 1950s, an effort to create a "portable" computer called the DYSEAC bore fruit in the form of a computer on wheels that could be relocated, provided you had the trucking logistics to move two trailers with a combined weight of 20 tons. Read the rest

Obscure video games reviewed

The Obscuritory offers in-depth reviews of games "unplayed and unknown," lost to the rapid technological changes of the 80s and 90s and the countless mutually-incompatible platforms that came and went as the years rolled by. My favorite pick, though, is Knights of the Crystallion, the wonderfully weird and impenetrable magnum opus of legendary game designer Bill Williams, which baffled Amiga owners in 1989 or so. Psygnosis turned it down because it was too weird for them. I sometimes want to organize a modern sequel to this unfinished epic, but Bennett Foddy rightfully pointed out an Alley Cat remake would get a bigger audience. Read the rest

Brilliant new photography book captures the American West's vanishing signs and symbols

Vanishing Vernacular: Western Landmarks collects Steve Fitch's important photographic record of iconic imagery in the western United States: hotel neon, drive-in movie theaters, even ancient petroglyphs. Read the rest

Brilliant fashion analysis of Little Edie from Grey Gardens

Grey Gardens is one of the greatest documentaries of all time, and one of its subjects is style icon Little Edie Beale. YouTube channel The Ultimate Fashion History created a great bio and analysis of the eccentric recluse's impact on fashion. Read the rest

The first cyberattack took place nearly 200 years ago in France

France created a national mechanical telegraph system in the 1790s; in 1834, a pair of crooked bankers named François and Joseph Blanc launched the first cyberattack, poisoning the data that went over the system in order to get a trading advantage in the bond market. Read the rest

Germany's scientific texts were made free during and after WWII; analyzing them today shows the negative effect of paywalls on science

In 1942, the US Book Republication Program permitted American publishers to reprint "exact reproductions" of Germany's scientific texts without payment; seventy-five years later, the fate of this scientific knowledge forms the basis of a "natural experiment" analysed by Barbara Biasi and Petra Moser for The Center for Economic and Policy Research, who compare the fate of these texts to their contemporaries who didn't have this semi-public-domain existence. Read the rest

Photoshop was first sold as Barneyscan XP

Adobe's Photoshop, the all-conquering image manipulation software that now anchors the subscription-based Creative Suite, was originally written in Pascal and distributed under the name "Barneyscan XP" for its first licensor. Not long after...

The fate of Photoshop was sealed when Adobe, encouraged by its art director Russell Brown, decided to buy a license to distribute an enhanced version of Photoshop. The deal was finalized in April 1989, and version 1.0 started shipping early in 1990.

Over the next ten years, more than 3 million copies of Photoshop were sold. That first version of Photoshop was written primarily in Pascal for the Apple Macintosh, with some machine language for the underlying Motorola 68000 microprocessor where execution efficiency was important.

Here's an ad for Barneyscan's hardware, with the software lurking in the background, as described in this Quora thread.

Here's more on the legend of Photoshop-as-Barneyscan from Stories of Apple:

Barneyscan XP, which was actually more lauded than the scanning hardware, was the first commercial incarnation (and distribution) of a program which would be rereleased eleven months later to much greater impact.

Encouraged by its art director Russell Brown, Adobe decided to buy a license to distribute an enhanced version of the software. In February 1990 it released the first version of Photoshop, the name originally chosen by Thomas Knoll.

Read the rest

Getting dressed in the 14th century was a pain in the ass

For women, getting dressed in 14th-century Europe was apparently a full-time job.

So. Many. Layers.

That someone – probably some dude that never had to wear the stuff – thought it was a good idea to complicate things by making it so that you couldn't get dressed without assistance from a family member or servant? Ugh. Read the rest

Watch these newly discovered film clips from the glamorous birth of Technicolor

The British Film Institute discovered bits of very rare Technicolor film fragments from 1920s Hollywood. The fragments, attached to the beginning and end of other film reels, include Louise Brooks doing what may be a costume test for her first credited movie, The American Venus (1926), thought to lost. From Film News:

As Bryony Dixon, BFI’s Curator of Silent Film explains, “Everybody loves Technicolor but so much film from glamorous 1920s Hollywood is lost; when it turns up, however fragmentary it’s exciting. What to do with tiny clips that are only a few seconds long? Imagine an Egyptian vase shattered into pieces and the shards scattered across museums all over the world. You can imagine that one day you might be able to see it whole again. It’s like that with films; only an international effort by film archives like the BFI can bring the pieces of the jigsaw together. For now we have the shards but we can dream of seeing Louise Brooks’s first film or a lost Hedda Hopper in colour”.

James Layton, MOMA’s Film Department Preservation Manager adds, “Only a few Technicolor musicals from the dawn of sound survive complete and entirely in colour, whilst some only exist in poor quality black and white copies. It is always a cause for celebration whenever previously lost colour footage turns up. These excerpts provide fascinating glimpses at these films’ pioneering use of colour, which we could only guess at before.”

"BFI uncovers rare Technicolor footage of Louise Brooks in living colour" (Thanks, Bob Pescovitz!) Read the rest

Beautiful chart shows how the English alphabet evolved

Matt Baker from UsefulCharts.com made a detailed poster and video of how the English alphabet evolved over the last 4,000 years, but his elegant and colorful topline is the simplest iteration of the process: Read the rest

The BBC finally admits that MI5 secretly vetted its employees, an open secret for generations

My wife -- whose father is a TV director who'd worked for the BBC -- learned as a little girl that the British spy agency MI5 secretly vetted people who applied for work at the BBC and denoted possible subversives by putting a doodle of a Christmas tree on their personnel files; people who were thus blacklisted were discriminated against within the Beeb. Read the rest

Ancient bad ass had knife for a hand

So, there's this skeleton that archaeologists discovered in Italy during the mid-1990s. They reckon the man, who became the skeleton, was alive somewhere between the sixth and eighth century. Those were hard times. Life was short and seldom sweet. In the case of our man the skeleton, somewhere along the line, he lost his hand. Archaeologists say that it was taken off with a single blow. Maybe it was because he was involved in a war or being punished for a crime. It could have been removed for medical reasons. Anyway, BOOM, gone. It's amazing, in an era where antibiotics didn't exist, that someone would survive an amputation. Sure, it happened but it was rare. The recovery process must have been terrible. But did our pal from so long ago allow the lose of a hand and acquisition of a new stump get him down? Hell no. He did what I'd like to believe anyone of you reading this would do: HE REPLACED HIS LOST HAND WITH A FRIGGING KNIFE BLADE.

According to a paper published in the Journal of Antrological Sciences by Ileana Micarelli, Robert Paine, Caterina Giostra, Mary Anne Tafuri, Antonio Profico, Marco Boggioni, Fabio Di Vincenzo, Danilo Massani, Andrea Papini and Giorgio Manzi (something something Too Many Cooks.) Once the Middle Ages bad ass healed up, he found a way to lash a knife blade to his stump using a leather mount that he tied in place with his teeth. The paper makes for pretty dense reading, but Gizmodo's George Dvorsky does a great job of digging into it:

Further analysis of the man’s bones points to the use of a prosthesis.

Read the rest

Model of Ancient Rome fills room

Mussolini commissioned this enormous scale model of Ancient Rome and it took 4 years to build. Surely, much of this is guesswork? [via]

At the Museum of Roman Culture resides a 1:250 recreation of imperial Rome, known as the Plastico di Roma Imperiale, which transports viewers not just through space but time as well. "To commemorate the birth of Augustus (63 BC) two thousand years earlier, Mussolini commissioned a model of Rome as it appeared at the time of Constantine (AD 306-337), when the city had reached its greatest size," says Encyclopedia Romana. Constructed by Italo Gismondi between 1933 and 1937, then extended and restored in the 1990s, it takes as its basis Rodolfo Lanciani's 1901 atlas the Forma Urbis Romae.

There are more scale models of cities at io9. Someone should make three-dee scans of all these, to the finest grain! Read the rest

Forced prison labor put downward pressure on wages at American companies, worsening inequality

In Economic Consequences of the U.S. Convict Labor System, UCLA economist Michael Poyker uses data on prisons and their surrounding areas from 1850 to 1950 to examine the role that free/extremely low-waged forced convict labor had on wages. Read the rest

The Secret History of Mac Gaming

Richard Moss's been working on The Secret History of Mac Gaming [Amazon] for years, and now it's finally out.

Written by Richard Moss , with additional contributions by Craig Fryar Designed by Darren Wall Illustrated by JJ Signal Published by Unbound Made possible by 1,265 crowdfunding backers

Available March 22 online and in the UK; April 15 in Australia

You can read excerpts on Ars Technica and Gamasutra .

The Ars Technica excerpt is the chapter on Apple's doomed game console; Gamasutra's is on the legendary Mac-first game Dark Castle, video of which is embedded below. The official website has more, and a great Mac OS Classic theme to boot.

Read the rest

Public goods are REALLY good: thousands of years later, the Roman roads are still paying dividends

Social scientists often promote the value of public provision of infrastructure as a sound, long-term investment in development and prosperity, pushing back against the neoliberal tendency to abandon public goods in favor of private development. Read the rest

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