When Mickey Mouse was sent to a Nazi concentration camp

In 1942, Horst Rosenthal was sent to the Vichy concentration camp Gurs, where he drew a comic-book that survived him: Mickey au Camp de Gurs, it tells the story of Mickey Mouse being snatched from the street and sent to Gurs, and features a tour of Gurs that uses a brave face of humor to cope with enormous suffering. Read the rest

Kickstarting a seminar series with Ada Palmer and me about the history of censorship and information control

Science fiction author, librettist, singer and historian Ada Palmer (previously), science and piracy historian Adrian Johns, and I have teamed up to create a seminar series at the University of Chicago called Censorship and Information Control During Information Revolutions, which compares and contrasts the censorship regimes and moral panics that flourished after the invention of the printing press with modern, computerized efforts to control and suppress information. Read the rest

The Most Perfect album: musical tributes to all 27 US Constitutional amendments

For more than two years, Radiolab has been running a brilliant side-podcast called More Perfect which involves deeply reported, engaging stories about Supreme Court decisions, skilfully mixing in audio from the trials, historic or new interviews with the people involved, and commentary from scholars and activists that serve to illuminate the incredible stories behind the court decisions that have shaped life in America. Read the rest

Gentleman who thinks Confederates were the good guys in the Civil War gets epically self-owned

In this clip from Rest in Power: The Trayvon Martin Story, Florida gun store owner and George Zimmerman pal Andy Hallinan explains that the Civil War was not about slavery. He is then asked what it was about. [via Lachlan]

Hallinan: The majority of people believe that it is a symbol of heritage, that it is a symbol of our history, that people think is associated with the South, and the South was fighting for slavery — that’s a common misconception about what actually took place. When you study the history, that was one thing that the war was about. People don’t go to war for one issue.”

Interviewer: Name three other things the war was about.

Hallinan: Uh, I mean, I’m not a historian. I mean, you’re putting me on the spot for something I — you know.

[a few seconds of silence]

Interviewer: So we got one thing the war was about -- slavery. What are two other things that the war was about.

Hallinan: Um, um, the Confederate... the, uh, um... in general, the war was about tyranny.

Interviewer: What is tyranny?

Hallinan: Tyranny is any time a government overreaches, and they control a life too much.”

Interviewer: Like slavery?

Hallinan: [silence, followed open mouthed silence]

Read the rest

History's solutions to runaway inequality: warfare, revolution, state collapse and plague

In Walter Scheidel's new book The Great Leveler: Violence and the History of Inequality from the Stone Age to the Twenty-First Century, the Stanford classics prof traces the rise and fall of inequality from humanity's history, showing how over time, the rich get richer and richer, creating an ever-more-unstable situation, until, basically, the world melts down or the people start building guillotines on their doorsteps. Read the rest

Terrific cartoon on the American Revolution, but oversimplified

One of the most wonderful history channels is Oversimplified, which has returned with an entertaining and informative two-part history of the American Revolution. Read the rest

Apple-1 up for auction

Of the 200 original Apple I computers ever made, only 60 or so are thought to have survived. One of them is now on the auction block. Expected to bring in $300,000, it includes an original Apple Cassette Interface and cables, Operation Manual, a period ASCII keyboard, a video monitor, and new power supply. Also, it works. From RR Auction:

This Apple-1 computer was restored to its original, operational state in June 2018 by Apple-1 expert Corey Cohen, and a video of it running and functioning is available upon request. A comprehensive, technical condition report prepared by Cohen is available to qualified bidders; he evaluates the current condition of the unit as 8.5/10. The most remarkable aspect of this Apple-1 computer is that it is documented to be fully operational: the system was operated without fault for approximately eight hours in a comprehensive test.

The later production ‘Byte Shop’-style of this Apple-1 is indicated by discrete component dates which match other known Apple-1 boards of similar vintage, assembled and sold by Apple in the fall of 1976 and early 1977. On the left side, the board is marked: “Apple Computer 1, Palo Alto, Ca. Copyright 1976.” Unlike many of the known Apple-1 boards, this unit has not had any modifications to the physical board, and the prototype area is clean and unused.

Image of the working Apple-1 using an iPod to load a program in lieu of a cassette:

Read the rest

Young man's PhD research focuses on the historical secrets of summoning fairies

New PhD student Samuel Gillis Hogan and colleagues at the University of Exeter are launching a deep study of 15-17th century spell books to understand how people attempted to summon fairies throughout history.

"Fairies were thought of as wondrous and beautiful, but mostly dangerous. But people wanted to summon them and harness that power for their own gain," Hogan told the BBC.

Hogan, a lifelong fan of the supernatural (see photo above) and, yes, Harry Potter, received a fellowship to move to the UK after completing his master's degree at the University of Saskatchewan. His thesis topic? The history of chiromancy, aka palm reading.

From the Canadian Press:

Gillis Hogan said taking a closer look at the magic people believed in gives us an intimate window into how they understood the world.

The way we see the world now, he noted, is just one perspective among many.

“I think that should give us a bit more pause when we have a tendency to look at past cultures, or even other cultures than our own that exist right now, and look down our noses at it as being backwards or strange.”

(via Daily Grail) Read the rest

Windows 95 turned into a native app

Windows 95, that most beautiful of operating systems, has been turned into an application. It's available to download for MacOS, Linux and, indeed, modern editions of Windows. Tom Warren writes:

Slack developer Felix Rieseberg is responsible for this glorious app, based on an existing web project that supports Windows 95, Windows 98, and a whole host of older operating systems. Now nostalgia lovers can play around with Windows 95 in an electron app. Rieseberg has published the source code and app installers for this project on Github, and apps like Wordpad, phone dialer, MS Paint, and Minesweeper all run like you’d expect. Sadly, Internet Explorer isn’t fully functional as it simply refuses to load pages.

Read the rest

The Beach Boys' "Do It Again" with the delay removed from the drums

Do It Again is one of my favorite songs, not least because of the distinctive delay effect applied to the drums by sound engineer Stephen Desper, giving it its weird blend of electronic fuzz and nostalgia ("like something from another planet"). Here it is with the delay effect removed. Being honest with myself, I have to say it's better this way. But then, I wasn't there in '68. Read the rest

42-byte hack adds two-player battles to Karateka

Karateka is not just a classic game, but one of the most well-documented thanks to Jordan Mechner's memoirs and his habit for maintaining archives. 34 years after its release, Charles Mangin studied the game's source code and patched it to allow a second player to control the enemies—effectively adding a vs. battle mode.

I’ve taught myself 6502 assembly after getting back into the Apple II, through the thriving community online. The idea of a two player version of Karateka came back to me while at KansasFest a couple of years ago. I noodled a little on it back then, getting distracted by finding the code that created the unique music in the game. Long story short: I finally found the places in the game code that needed patching to allow a second player to control the enemies in the game, and create a functioning two player version of Karateka. The resulting patch is only 42 bytes long

42, the meaning of life! You can play the two-player Karateka at the Internet Archive.

I'd love to see this done to Great Gurianos (sometimes renamed Gladiator), another 80s' fighter with an interesting combat system whose attract mode suggested vs. battles that were not in the game itself. Read the rest

Artist describes the first time she ever saw white Australians as a teenager

Wangkatjungka artist Nyuju Stumpy Brown first saw white people in the 1940s as a teenager. Here, she describes that time and later shows some of her artwork. Read the rest

Treasures continue to be unearthed this summer in Pompeii

Pompeii is a vast archaeological site that continues to yield treasures buried beneath the pumice. This summer, workers discovered new murals and artifacts at the site of a wealthy homeowner's estate, nicknamed House of Jupiter for a statue of the god found there. Read the rest

Ancient Earth Globe: see what the world looked like from space in the age of the dinosaurs

The Ancient Earth Globe is an interactive 3D globe that depics the Earth at various points in geological history from 750m years ago until now. Here it is 300m years ago.

Late Carboniferous. Plants developed root systems that allowed them to grow larger and move inland. Environments evolved below tree canopies. Atmospheric oxygen increased as plants spread on land. Early reptiles have evolved, and giant insects diversify.

And here it is 0 million years ago, right before the Post-anthropocene Extinction Event.

Amazing! Look how green it all was. Read the rest

Japanese students recreate Hiroshima bombing in VR

A group of high school students in Japan spent two years recreating the sounds and sights of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945 in painstaking detail.

The Aug. 6, 1945, bombing of Hiroshima killed 140,000 people. Three days later, a second U.S. atomic bomb killed 70,000 people in Nagasaki. Japan surrendered six days after that, ending World War II.

“Even without language, once you see the images, you understand,” said Mei Okada, one of the students working on the project at a technical high school in Fukuyama, a city about 60 miles east of Hiroshima. “That is definitely one of the merits of this VR experience.”

Wearing virtual reality headsets, users can take a walk along the Motoyasu River prior to the blast and see the businesses and buildings that once stood. They can enter the post office and the Shima Hospital courtyard, where the skeletal remains of a building now known as the Atomic Bomb Dome stand on the river’s banks, a testament to what happene

Can anyone actually find this? Here's another clip. It's frustrating that there seems to be no good video of this anywhere online, let alone the VR experience itself: just brief moments polished into news clips sharing the same AP wire copy. Read the rest

Chicago journalists once opened a fake bar to document corruption

Forty years ago, investigative journalists in Chicago hatched an audacious plan to create a fake tavern packed with hidden microphones, cameras, and reporters everywhere working as bar staff and customers. Their goal was to document local corruption. Topic has a great oral history of the project. Read the rest

Article about legendary keyboard maker Cherry's 50-year-history

Nowadays, chances are you associate Cherry with the clickety switches on fancy keyboards. But it's been a global company for decades: if it's boring business-to-business hardware and it clicks, it might well be a Cherry.

With an assist from computing legend and junk mail collector Ted Nelson, the Internet Archive has collected a wide array of catalogs featuring some of Cherry Electronics’ Snap-Action switches from the 1960s. One such circular described Cherry’s appeal to manufacturers as such: “An entire company devoted entirely to one product—switches. This specialization means thorough application analysis … efficient, reliable assembly of switches … automated testing techniques … faster service.” And while the firm is best known for its keyboards today, these switches look nothing like the perfectly clicky mechanisms that Massdrop fans and heavy writers have been fawning over for years.

So where were they used? A notable example of a place where you’ve probably unknowingly used a Cherry microswitch is an arcade.

Read the rest

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