Friday, October 21, 2016

History from the Interweb #76

Dropping the "Weekly" bit I've used in the past from this newsletter because let's face it, it's totally not.

History from the Interweb is a round-up of brand spankin' new history articles, selected by yours truly. Click on the link to be directed to the home site where you can read a professional being professional in their entirety.

Austria plans to convert and possibly tear down the house Hitler was born in to prevent it becoming a pilgrimage site for neo-Nazis, the Interior Ministry said on Monday.

Egypt's Antiquities Ministry has slammed an "inaccurate and hasty" French archaeological report on new cavities discovered inside the Great Pyramid of Khufu at Giza.

In a Groundbreaking Exhibit at Mount Vernon, Slaves Speak and History Listens at Smithsonian

Greek craft workers may have helped inspire the most famous Chinese sculptures ever made – the 8,000 warriors of the Terracotta Army who have been watching over the tomb of the first emperor of China for more than 2,000 years.

5 Under-The-Radar Female Authors from Antiquity at Book Riot
Throughout history, it’s simply been a lot harder for women to gain the time, space, recognition, and education necessary to write something with a chance of surviving centuries. Even today, the women who managed to beat those odds still tend to slide under the radar.

Wreck of German U-boat found off coast of Stranraer at BBC
The wreck of a WWI German U-boat that sank almost 100 years ago has been discovered by engineers laying subsea power cables off Scotland's coast. This story is blowing up because naval folklore suggests the entire crew of the U-boat is reported to have abandoned ship due to the "monster attack". Scotland has a penchant for water monsters.

When Nate Parker, the African-American writer, director and star of this year’s slave-rebellion biopic The Birth of a Nation, opted to use that title, he did so to reclaim it. One-hundred-and-one years before this film’s much-ballyhooed premiere at Sundance, where Fox Searchlight paid a record $17.5m to release it, and now its plummeting box office performance in America – stunted by the controversy of rape allegations resurfacing against Parker – there was another Birth of a Nation.

Archaeology in education is taking a back seat in Britain. And people are pissed.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

King Arthur Pendragon has a Reverb Nation and it's Everything I Expected

I first came across self proclaimed King Arthur Uther Pendragon a few years ago while reading about English Heritage's upcoming Stonehenge education plans. He...intrigued me. I devoured his whack autobiography. I framed a picture of him in his Druid robes. While wielding a sword. And a staff. While on a motorcycle. There's also a jack russell. 

Arthur is a Neo-Druid, a religion that promotes harmony, worship of nature, and respect for all things. Arthur has made the preservation of his ancient British ancestors in the ground around Stonehenge his life work. For decades, Arthur has pleaded with English Heritage to leave the skeletons undisturbed. English Heritage plans to unearth the bones and put them on display for visitors to ogle over. Arthur raises a very interesting question: Where do we draw the line between using artifacts for education purposes and our moral obligations? We haven't yet. I love Arthur for this.

Arthur is the gift who keeps giving. And this time, it's with Reverb Nation, an online platform for musicians to upload their music and connect with other artists. 

Arthur's Reverb Nation page includes videos of his recent protests at Stonehenge, advocating for "no pay to pray," and a few music uploads: 'King Arthur the Immortal' which is composed of out-of-sync Life Aquatic-style beats and repeating the words "truth, fire, justice" (I think? I can't be sure). This song was most definitely recorded through the 'echo' setting. It is disturbing. Then we have 'The King's Speech', literally. Arthur gives a rather cohesive speech about exonerating his ancestor's bones as music plays in the background. What I'm saying is, his Reverb Nation account is every bit King Arthur Pendragon. Passionate and like, a little fucked up.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Book Review: The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts: Murder and Memory in an American City by Laura Tillman

Title: The Long Shadow of Small Ghosts: Murder and Memory in an American City
Author: Laura Tillman
Pages: 256 pages
Release Date: April 5th, 2016
Publisher: Scribner
Genre: Nonfiction; Crime
My Rating: 2/5

In Cold Blood meets Adrian Nicole LeBlanc’s Random Family: A harrowing, profoundly personal investigation of the causes, effects, and communal toll of a deeply troubling crime—the brutal murder of three young children by their parents in the border city of Brownsville, Texas.

On March 11, 2003, in Brownsville, Texas—one of America’s poorest cities—John Allen Rubio and Angela Camacho murdered their three young children. The apartment building in which the brutal crimes took place was already rundown, and in their aftermath a consensus developed in the community that it should be destroyed. It was a place, neighbors felt, that was plagued by spiritual cancer.

In 2008, journalist Laura Tillman covered the story for The Brownsville Herald. The questions it raised haunted her, particularly one asked by the sole member of the city’s Heritage Council to oppose demolition: is there any such thing as an evil building? Her investigation took her far beyond that question, revealing the nature of the toll that the crime exacted on a city already wracked with poverty. It sprawled into a six-year inquiry into the larger significance of such acts, ones so difficult to imagine or explain that their perpetrators are often dismissed as monsters alien to humanity.

With meticulous attention and stunning compassion, Tillman surveyed those surrounding the crimes, speaking with the lawyers who tried the case, the family’s neighbors and relatives and teachers, even one of the murderers: John Allen Rubio himself, whom she corresponded with for years and ultimately met in person. The result is a brilliant exploration of some of our age’s most important social issues, from poverty to mental illness to the death penalty, and a beautiful, profound meditation on the truly human forces that drive them. It is disturbing, insightful, and mesmerizing in equal measure.

Impoverished couple living in an impoverished community have mental health issues and decapitate their three young children. The book didn't really dive deeper than that.

I was interested in what prompted the couple to murder their children, interested in the role poverty played in their actions. Poverty exacerbates drug use, malnutrition, mental health issues. Poverty passed down through generations can do further damage. Ex: when your mom is a heavy drinker all through her pregnancy with you, you're already fucked. 

The system also failed the murder couple in a way. They were having issues with their food stamps I think? I wish the aspect of 'how' one could decapitate two toddlers and an infant was expanded upon. Instead of seeing the couple as two monsters, the factors that drove them to do it make the triple murder (a little) understandable. Anyways, this book didn't seem to really have an angle besides reiterating "bad parents do bad thing in bad place."

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Book Review: Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World

"It's made to believe/women are the same as men;/are you not convinced/daughters can also be heroic?" - Wang Zhenyi, astronomer, 1768-1797

Title: Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World
Author: Rachel Ignotofsky
Pages: 128 pages
Release Date: July 26, 2016
Publisher: Ten Speed Press
Genre: Science; Reference; Gender Studies; Feminism
My Rating: 5/5

A charmingly illustrated and educational book, New York Times best seller Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. Full of striking, singular art, this fascinating collection also contains infographics about relevant topics such as lab equipment, rates of women currently working in STEM fields, and an illustrated scientific glossary. The trailblazing women profiled include well-known figures like primatologist Jane Goodall, as well as lesser-known pioneers such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist and mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon. 

Women in Science celebrates the achievements of the intrepid women who have paved the way for the next generation of female engineers, biologists, mathematicians, doctors, astronauts, physicists, and more.

Some of these biographies will tug at your heartstrings. The strength it took these women to compete with their male counterparts is admirable. Professors made women attend classes behind a screen to remain invisible. Women had to create home basement labs because they weren't allowed near professional ones. Yet a female doctor (Elizabeth Blackwell) was the first to point out to a male doctor that hygiene is a real thing. "Like, Doc, maybe you should wash your hands between going from that flu patient to delivering that baby. You're giving everyone typhus for fuck sake." Probably in those words.

This was a quirky little illustrated reference book. I loved it. The biography of each scientist wasn't more than a page. Ignotofsky's artwork reminded me of being so goddamn bored in high school that I would fill every inch of available space around my notes with stars. I loved and hated this. There was so much to look at. Too much. And not necessarily in a clear manner as you would find in most illustrated books or comics.

Not related, but perhaps very related: In the early 1900s, psychologist and industrial engineer Lillian Gilbreth co-authored books with her male partner but remained anonymous because a woman's name would sully any credibility blah blah blah. Gilbreth. Galbraith. Robert Galbraith. J.K. Rowling, did you steal Lillian's last name for your pseudonym because of this? Because if you did, fucking brilliant.

My personal favorite hardcore lady types from Women in Science:
Psychoanalyst Karen Horney, because she challenged the notion that women most definitely do not have Freudian "penis envy" and zoologist Joan Beauchamp Procter, because she walked her pet Komodo fucking Dragon around on a leash.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this honest review.

Additional links

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The Gettysburg Address: a very non-academic AP Government and Politics Lesson

Hey all. I recently developed a little AP curriculum lesson for an online project and I thought I'd throw it up on the site. Not literally. 
Considered one of the greatest speeches in American history, Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is sure to give you all the feels. In this lesson we are going to break down Lincoln’s speech while placing it within the larger context of the United States government and discuss why the Address is still relevant and highly regarded today.  
In A Nutshell: Following the Battle of Gettysburg during the American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln attended the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Pennsylvania on November 19, 1863. Asked to speak at the ceremony, Lincoln obliged and delivered a speech that would later solidify him as one of the most brilliant orators in United States history. Lincoln gave profound statements on freedom, equality, preservation of the Union, and governmental purpose. And he did it all in two minutes. (goals)  
The Speech: We don’t know about you, but we think the Gettysburg Address would be more entertaining if it was sung to the tune of Katy Perry's "Firework." The text can be found in the show notes of the video. If a sing-along isn’t your thing, you can find the text version here. This takes only a few minutes to read so have a quick look-see and let’s break it down.  
What Does It All Mean?: Lincoln lost us at “four score.” One score = 20 years. So, 87 years ago. YAY MATH! Lincoln begins the Address by referencing the 1776 Declaration of Independence. You know, that little statement of liberty you may have heard of? While addressing the casualties of the Civil War, Lincoln goes on to assure listeners that soldiers gave their lives to uphold American values, placing particular emphasis on those that uphold the equality of all citizens, and those who do not (ahem, the basis of the Civil War). Arguably the most important line to take away from the Gettysburg Address is that America was founded on the principle that it is a “government of the people, by the people, for the people.” This line is imperative to the study of the United States’ government because it reiterates America’s representative democracy. 
Why Should I Care?: The Gettysburg Address can be placed into the larger context of American government. Lincoln is reiterating that the nation can only thrive under a representative democracy. His words serve as a reminder of core American values.  
The Gettysburg Address has remained timeless. The speech has been referenced numerous times throughout history, including by bigwigs Martin Luther King (who referred to it in his 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech), John F. Kennedy, and astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. The Constitution of France straight up stole Lincoln’s lines by declaring the Republic of France as a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” Lincoln’s words continue to be a reminder of principles that can often fall by the wayside in politics.  
We do however have to disagree with one thing Lincoln said: “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here…” Oh he was so wrong.  
Free Response Questions: Give us a sentence or two that addresses the question prompt. Remember, there is more than one right answer. 
· Name another moment in US government or political history that the Gettysburg Address could pertain to. 
· Why did Lincoln believe the Civil War was necessary to preserve the survival of America? 
· Although Lincoln doesn’t directly mention the emancipation of American slaves, how does the liberation adhere to a representative democracy? 
· Why was the Gettysburg Address a defining moment for the United States government? 
· What is Lincoln asking of his listeners when he says “we here be dedicated to the great task remaining before us”?  
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