Posts tagged history
Posts tagged history
My friend, mentor, and spirit animal James Folta on the Malbone Street Wreck:
The 1918 subway wreck violently ended the lives of over a hundred people, halted a transit labor strike, changed a young mayor’s career, and pushed one of New York’s last private transit companies into bankruptcy. It was so devastating that the name Malbone, after that night, could no longer be stomached in Brooklyn–the signs for Malbone Street were torn down and replaced with signs reading “Empire Boulevard.”
Fantastic, gripping writeup which is moreover a great snapshot of the NYC transit system evolving in the early 20th century. Don’t miss this.
John F. Burns and Alan Cowell reporting for The New York Times in Leicester, England:
In one of Britain’s most dramatic modern archaeological finds, researchers here announced on Monday that skeletal remains found under a parking lot in this English Midlands city were those of King Richard III, for centuries the most widely reviled of English monarchs, paving the way for a possible reassessment of his brief but violent reign.
I was born and raised in Hawai’i, where a lot of ancient burial sites have been discovered while turning up land for development, so for me there’s not a lot of novelty in finding a corpse under a parking lot. There is, however, a lot of novelty in finding royalty under a parking lot.
Stephen Wolfram, in a 2000 address to the MathML International Conference:
So, where did all the mathematical notation that we use today come from?
Well, that’s all bound up with the history of mathematics itself, so we have to talk a bit about that. People often have this view that mathematics is somehow the way it is because that’s the only conceivable way it could be. That somehow it’s capturing what arbitrary abstract systems are like.
One of the things that’s become very clear to me from the big science project that I’ve been doing for the past nine years is that such a view of mathematics is really not correct. Mathematics, as it’s practiced, isn’t about arbitrary abstract systems. It’s about the particular abstract system that happens to have been historically studied in mathematics. And if one traces things back, there seem to be three basic traditions from which essentially all of mathematics as we know it emerged: arithmetic, geometry, and logic.
If you read along with Wolfram’s text and this corresponding Wikipedia entry, Wolfram’s kooky writing voice really stands out. I can’t believe I read hundreds of pages of A New Kind of Science in that voice without going bonkers.
The Guardian in 1999:
July 1982. Israel invades Lebanon, Britain declares an end to hostilities in the Falklands, and, at a mill in Adria, a town near Venice, a small band of dedicated flour experts talk dough. One of their number, Arnaldo Cavallari, a miller in his late forties, is especially excited. For years, Rome could only look on, horrified, as large-scale baguette imports from France threatened to monopolise the lucrative sandwich market in Italy. It was time to hit back with an equally commercially viable product. After weeks spent testing new dough mixes and bake-times, refining and adapting existing regional loaves and using his own mineral- and gluten-rich flour, Cavallari came up with Italy’s very own dedicated snack bread. He called it Ciabatta Polesano. It was hailed as the bread that saved Italy, and rocked the sandwich world.
Really cool piece, lots of great history. I found it through a citation on the Wikipedia article for ciabatta.
Nice post on Nightmare Mode:
We thought it might be interesting to compare how the American Revolution was taught to an American vs a Canadian in light of Assassin’s Creed 3 (made by a Canadian studio!) So we got two NM contributors to examine what the game depicts.
There aren’t too many places that would post a lengthy conversation between two guys about the teaching of history and how that affects history’s portrayal in video games. Nightmare Mode is one of them. Check it out.
Alison Flood, The Guardian:
An eminent former editor of the Oxford English Dictionary covertly deleted thousands of words because of their foreign origins and bizarrely blamed previous editors, according to claims in a book published this week.
Robert Burchfield’s efforts to rewrite the dictionary have been uncovered by Sarah Ogilvie, a linguist, lexicographer and former editor on the OED.
Ogilvie worked for 11 years to research and write Words of the World, published by Cambridge University Press, which challenges the widely held belief that editors of the OED between 1884 and 1933 were Anglocentric Oxford dons obsessed with preserving the Queen’s English, and that it was not until Robert Burchfield’s four supplements, produced between 1972 and 1986, that the dictionary was opened up to the wider world.
An absolutely bonkers story. Who would do something like this? Why?
Elizabeth Lopatto, Bloomberg:
A scrap of papyrus dated to the fourth century has written on it in the ancient Coptic language, “Jesus said to them, my wife,” reopening the debate about whether Jesus was married, as some early Christians believed.
Neat. I found this part pretty fascinating too:
“One of the things we do know is that very rarely in ancient literature was the marital status of men discussed,” [Professor Karen] King said in a conference call with reporters. “Silence in marital status is normal.”
Only women were identified in terms of family relationships, as someone’s sister, mother, or wife, King said. The question of whether Jesus married came up later when people wanted to use him as a model for their lives, she said.
Christopher Sullivan, AP:
… Gen. Robert E. Lee’s secret Special Orders No. 191, detailing the Southern commander’s audacious plans for an invasion of enemy territory that would propel the Confederates to victory. Carelessly left behind as Lee’s army marched north, [a] copy was spotted in a field by the Indianans, and Lee’s name jumped out as Mitchell and Bloss read it.
When they passed their stunning find up the chain of command, Lee’s counterpart, the famously cautious Union Gen. George McClellan, exclaimed, “Now I know what to do!”
Four days later came the cataclysmic clash along the Antietam near Sharpsburg — what James McPherson, the eminent Civil War historian, has called “arguably … THE event of the war.”
The orders were found wrapped around a few cigars in a farm field. History is totally weird sometimes.
The Maritime Executive:
The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which has been investigating the infamous Amelia Earhart plane crash for years, have recently discovered what is thought to be pieces of her plane in the waters off Nikumaroro island in Kiribati – a southwestern Pacific republic.
The underwater mission began on July 12th and used an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) and a Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) to man the operation. Hours of high-definition data was produced. The famed Lockheed Electra aircraft was not immediately identified due to a harsh marine environment and technical difficulties.
The 25th anniversary of this is coming up. I had never heard about it until now.
The Max Headroom broadcast signal intrusion was a television signal hijacking in Chicago, Illinois, on the evening of November 22, 1987. It is an example of what is known in the television business as broadcast signal intrusion. The intruder was successful in interrupting two television stations within three hours. Neither the hijacker nor the accomplices have ever been found or identified.