How Democracy Dies

Tocqueville taught that restless private obsessions would degrade civic commitments close to home.

The American Conservative, By Patrick J. Deneen, September 12

If there are two things that one is likely to hear from college faculty today, they are that 1. Students are too careerist, and 2. We need a more democratic society. They worry [...]

‘Before Stonehenge, there was Woodhenge and Strawhenge’

High-tech 3D digital map reveals vast ritual monuments complex

RT, September 10

Eddie Izzard, it seems, was right about the Druids. Before Stonehenge, there were indeed other “henges” on Salisbury Plain.

Thanks to a new, state-of-the-art 3D digital map, scientists have revealed that Stonehenge was surrounded by a sprawling landscape of chapels, burial mounds, [...]

Up to 2,100 Photos of US Soldiers Abusing Prisoners May Soon Be Released

Vice News, By Jason Leopold, September 4

Would the release of 10-year-old detainee abuse photographs, such as one depicting US soldiers pointing a broom handle at a hooded detainee’s rectum, incite terrorist organizations and threaten national security?

That’s a question government attorneys will have to answer next week when they explain to a federal court [...]

Cornel West: “He posed as a progressive and turned out to be counterfeit. We ended up with a Wall Street presidency, a drone presidency”

Exclusive: Cornel West talks Ferguson, Hillary, MSNBC — and unloads on the failed promise of Barack Obama

Salon.com, By Thomas Frank, August 24

Cornel West is a professor at Union Theological Seminary and one of my favorite public intellectuals, a man who deals in penetrating analyses of current events, expressed in a pithy and highly [...]

Middle History

Whereas the novelist creates characters to drive his narrative and arranges plot steps into a dramatic arc toward some sort of resolution, the historian is given his characters and tries to find a plausible narrative to support an unfolding record of events and outcomes. He searches the record to identify the circumstance, interpret the motive.

[...]

Lest we forget we are part of the glass house…The downing of Flight 655

NYT- U.S. DOWNS IRAN AIRLINER MISTAKEN FOR F-14; 290 REPORTED DEAD; A TRAGEDY, REAGAN SAYS; ACTION IS DEFENDED – July 4, 1988- United States Navy warship in the Persian Gulf shot down an Iranian passenger plane today that the Navy said it mistook for a jet fighter, and Iran said all 290 people on [...]

Ikea funds went to Romanian secret police in communist era

Secret police files reveal six-figure payments to Ceausescu’s henchmen, as retailer denies knowingly paying Securitate.

The Guardian, By Matei Rosca, July 4

Bucharest – Romania’s brutal communist-era secret police received covert six-figure payments from Ikea as part of the Swedish group’s deals with a local furniture manufacturer in the 1980s, according to documents obtained by [...]

Ten Years after D-Day

London Review of Books, By John Perry, June 27

Over ten days in June 1954, a decade after the D-Day landings, the CIA sent twelve planes to drop bombs and propaganda on towns in Guatemala in support of a coup against the elected government of Jácobo Arbenz. They did only minor damage at first: one [...]

Weekend Flashback: Touched By The Tremendum

The Edge, By Terence McKenna, March 27, 1990

[Speculative, but what the heck...]

First of all, I am delighted to be here. The great thing about being here in New York is you don’t have to worry if you’re the smartest person in the room. What impels me to talk to groups like this is [...]

It’s simple. If we can’t change our economic system, our number’s up

It’s the great taboo of our age – and the inability to discuss the pursuit of perpetual growth will prove humanity’s undoing.

The Guardian, By George Monbiot, May 27

Let us imagine that in 3030BC the total possessions of the people of Egypt filled one cubic metre. Let us propose that these possessions grew by [...]

Maya Angelou, Poet, Activist And Singular Storyteller, Dies At 86

Poet, performer and political activist Maya Angelou has died after a long illness at her home in Winston-Salem, N.C. She was 86. Born in St. Louis in 1928, Angelou grew up in a segregated society that she worked to change during the civil rights era. Angelou, who refused to speak for much of her childhood, [...]

Memorial Day – Reconciliation

originally posted on May 31,2010 by Michael Collins.

On the third day of the Battle of Gettysburg, Lee ordered an impossible charge against Union positions. Known as Pickett’s Charge, the engagement was a disaster for General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia. 4,100 men died in the engagement, mostly Southerners. These losses represented over half [...]

Ian Welsh : “The Problems of Social Sciences”

From Ian’s April 21 blog entry:

Are far harder problems than most of the problems of the hard sciences. Why people do what they do, under what circumstances is a problem of vast complexity, and we don’t have the necessary models. The models we do have (such as evolutionary psychology, and our abysmal knowledge of [...]

Happy fifty years to the mainframe

The IBM system 360 has survived 50 years. Please treat this as an open thread for mainframe related stories and links.

Black death was not spread by rat fleas, say researchers

Evidence from skulls in east London shows plague had to have been airborne to spread so quickly.

The Observer, By Vanessa Thorpe, March 29

Archaeologists and forensic scientists who have examined 25 skeletons unearthed in the Clerkenwell area of London a year ago believe they have uncovered the truth about the nature of the Black [...]

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