History, Infinite Series 2009-07-02 08:10

“These low-hipped gobbies never worry me,” she said. “I keep my cash straight and my decimal points in order. Furthermore, if some dumbbell starts hanging onto the cage I tell him to move on. They don’t block traffic outside my cell. Why, then, should they be starting all this plain-jane-and-no-nonsense business? They’ll be putting us in gunnysacks with nothing but our hands sticking out the next thing you know.”

A quote in the San Francisco Chronicle from a female bank teller and self-identified flapper, circa 1922. She’s fighting the power, vintage style.

From the Sparkletack podcast.

Real-Life Steampunk

Technology, History 2009-02-14 04:44

Some real-life steampunk technology: a wristwatch which shows Google Maps-style navigation, made in the 1920s.

Life in 2008

History, Silly, Infinite Series 2008-09-09 07:03

What will life be like in 2008? An article from 1968 makes a slew of predictions. I’m impressed:

“The single most important item in 2008 households is the computer. These electronic brains govern everything from meal preparation and waking up the household to assembling shopping lists and keeping track of the bank balance. […]

Computers also handle travel reservations, relay telephone messages, keep track of birthdays and anniversaries, compute taxes and even figure the monthly bills for electricity, water, telephone and other utilities. Not every family has its private computer. Many families reserve time on a city or regional computer to serve their needs.”

Damn, it was doing so well right up until the last two sentences.

Some Good Podcasts


  • My History Can Beat Up Your Politics
  • American History Before 1870
  • The History of Rome
  • Technology

  • Girls Gone Geek
  • I, Cringely
  • Google Developer Podcast
  • Other

  • The Skeptic’s Guide to the Universe
  • Entrepreneurial Thought Leaders
  • Tool Talk
  • Podictionary
  • I’m too lazy to give links right now - just search, dangit.

    Soldiering and the Moral Fear

    Philosophy, History 2007-01-08 12:39

    What motivates a solider to throw himself into battle, knowing full well that he may be maimed or killed? “Patriotism” is the idealistic answer, and surely that is often true. But another motivation, and perhaps a more common one, is fear of being seen as cowardly by comrades and the folks back home. A Union soldier writing about his battle experience in the American civil war calls this a “moral fear” in this poignant passage:

    “When bullets are whacking against tree-trunks and solid shot are cracking skulls like egg-shells, the consuming passion in the breast of the average man is to get out of the way. Between the physical fear of going forward and the moral fear of turning back, there is a predicament of exceptional awkwardness.”

    Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud

    Politics, History 2006-11-28 03:14

    Who says you can’t apply fashionable Web 2.0 technology to content two centuries old? It’s the Presidential Speeches Tag Cloud. Grab the slider and scroll backward into time to see how American values (or at least, the president’s perception of them) has changed over time. For example, “constitution” is the largest word for most of the speeches over 100 years old, but in the most recent century “economic” and “economy” stand out the most. This decade’s biggest word? I’ll give you a hint: it starts with T and rhymes with “nerrorists.”

    A Formula for Two Millennia of Popular Appeal

    Culture, History 2006-05-06 12:07

    The Bible is indisputably the most important piece of literature yet created by mankind. Its significance spans many realms. In history, it is one of the most complete documents of historical record from its era. Culturally, it has guided and shaped societies and their moral and norms worldwide. Politically, it has provided principles and concepts which have guided the creation and execution of governments, and served as a moral centerpiece for their administrators. Linguistically, tracing the history of its translation reveals changes in language and thought as they have evolved over the course of two thousand years. Even considered purely as a piece of literature, it is an impressive work.

    But perhaps most astonishing is its continued popularity and application in the modern world. What is it about this collection of writings dating back nearly two millennia which could possibly have any relevance to modern life? The short answer is: very little. The lifestyles described in the Bible are nothing like our lives today. To take one glaring example, polygamy is a common and socially acceptable practice when depicted in the gospels.

    What, then, gives the Bible such incredible traction in cultures throughout history and even today in our own?
    Read more »