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The Jehoshua Novels

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 [...]

Decline and Fall of The United States

Our nation is in decline, and we seem determined to follow the road which has been trodden by all world powers that have ever existed. It’s an unpleasant path, with an unpleasant result at the end. Let’s have a quick look at some examples.


What the Modern World Owes Slavery (It’s More Than Back Wages)

Naked Capitalism, By Yves Smith / Greg Grandin, February 24

Many in the United States were outraged by the remarks of conservative evangelical preacher Pat Robertson, who blamed Haiti’s catastrophic 2010 earthquake on Haitians for selling their souls to Satan. Bodies were still being pulled from the rubble — as many as 300,000 died — [...]

Anne Frank and the Culture Wars

I read this a couple of days ago in the SMH: “Scores of copies of Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl in public libraries across Tokyo have been vandalised, sparking alarm amid a rightward shift in Japan’s politics.”

Now I read “For many Japanese the book forms the basis of their knowledge about the [...]

U.S. has ‘failed’ narcotics fight in Afghanistan, says inspector general

CNN, By Mick Krever, February 3

Despite spending $10 billion in reconstruction money fighting narcotics in Afghanistan, the U.S. has “failed,” the U.S. Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction, John Sopko, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Monday.

“If you look at production, if you look at cultivation, if you look at breaking the tie between [...]

Sappho: two previously unknown poems indubitably hers, says scholar

University of Oxford papyrologist convinced poems preserved on ancient papyrus are by seventh-century lyricist of Lesbos

The Guardian, By Charlotte Higgins, January 29

Sappho is one of the most elusive and mysterious – as well as best-loved – of ancient Greek poets. Only one of her poems, out of a reputed total of nine volumes’ [...]

Why Are We Here?

That’s not a philosophic question – it’s the raison d’ etre for The Agonist.

John Adams’s answer:

“I must study politics and war that my sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. My sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history, naval architecture, navigation, commerce, and agriculture, in order to [...]

Rough and Tumble Politics

  In February 1874, Colorado prospectors Alfred Packer, George Noon, Frank Miller, Israel Swan, James Humphreys and “Shannon” Bell left the Uncompahgre for Saguache, intending to go by way of the Ute Agency on Los Pinos. Packer appeared at the Agency alone, insisting that his companions had abandoned him while he was ill.

  Suspicions [...]

Flinging Boogers During History Class

I’m reading a book of historical criticism by Gordon S. Wood presently. I am enjoying it. He’s a cantankerous old fart who doesn’t approve of anyone’s version of history, not even his own. That’s the best type of historian if you ask me. Humility like that takes you a long way. But I digress.

I’m [...]

Nuclear Savage

U.S. Human Radiation Experiments Covered Up by Public Broadcasting

Reader Supported News

Warning Sign

“The bomb will not start a chain reaction in the water, converting it all to gas and letting all the ships on all the oceans drop down to the bottom. It will not blow out the bottom of the sea [...]

Rare Iceland armed police operation leaves man dead

BBC, December 3

Icelandic police have shot dead a man who was firing a shotgun in his apartment in the early hours of Monday.

It is the first time someone has been killed in an armed police operation in Iceland, officials say.

Tear gas canisters were fired through the windows in an attempt to subdue [...]

Nobody Asked Me, But…

(Note: Nobody Asked Me, But… is a weekly feature at my personal blog where I post tidbits from the week’s news. From time to time, I’ll do a thought piece.)

My dad stepping on my favorite doll (my sister’s, of course.) A pigeon landing on my head (there are photographs.) Crying when my mom [...]

Armistice Day

For irony, click the photo and note the banner.

Some few people have noted that November 11 was originally designated Armistice Day, and commemorated peace, not the glorification of war and warriors. It was that way when I was younger and was observed in a solemn mood; sober, thoughtful sadness. People wept – [...]