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Royal College of Physicians exhibit on John Dee - Review
Scholar, courtier, magician: the lost library of John Dee (Royal College of Physicians, 18 January - 29 July 2016)

London, Royal College of Physicians, 2016

John Dee is a name that often conjures up images of shady spells muttered in dark rooms with bubbling potions, but the exhibition at the Royal College of Physicians, titled Scholar, Courtier, Magician: the Lost Library of John Dee seeks to offer a view of Dee as an articulate, extremely well-read, educated man. Rarely the sole focus of examination, Dee has featured in a variety of exhibitions since the turn of the millennium, mainly showcasing his collection of magical instruments such as his obsidian mirror and crystal ball. An exhibition in 2013 at the Bodleian Library called Magical Books: From the Middle Ages to Middle-Earth and another at the BL from last year entitled Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination placed Dee firmly in the public sphere as a slightly sinister figure.(1) A brief examination of recent academic publications reveals a slightly more nuanced view, with articles covering his mathematical and geographical knowledge, although again there is a heavy emphasis on alchemy and magic.(2)

This exhibition challenges the imbalance of past portrayals by presenting the many sides of John Dee, as an educated man who rose to prominence under Elizabeth I and became part of the court. As the title suggests, the exhibition centres around his collection of books that came into the Royal College of Physicians library after being donated by the family of Henry Pierrepont, the Marquis of Dorchester. In 1583, Dee had the contents of his library catalogued, and using the original manuscript held in Trinity College, Cambridge as well as further academic work done by Robson and Watson in the 1990s, it has been possible to ascertain which books in the Royal College would have belonged to Dee (even if the books are otherwise pristine).(3) This places the Royal College in the enviable position of holding the largest collection of books that belonged to John Dee, at over 100 volumes, although it is believed that Dee originally owned around 3000 books and 1000 manuscripts.
John  Dee  Magic  History  Museums  London 
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Opinion | How Would You Draw History? - The New York Times
By Crispin Sartwell
Mr. Sartwell is a professor of philosophy.

Nov. 19, 2018
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Why we can’t quit the QWERTY keyboard • MIT Technology Review
<p>In 2011, Kyoto University researchers <a href="https://repository.kulib.kyoto-u.ac.jp/dspace/bitstream/2433/139379/1/42_161.pdf">proposed that QWERTY stemmed from key rearrangements</a> made to satisfy the habits of the typewriter’s earliest customers: telegraph operators, who used it to transcribe Morse code messages. (For instance, some letters that are often confused for one another in Morse are close together on the keyboard.) Those researchers were challenging the oft-invoked bit of folklore that QWERTY was chosen to prevent typewriters from jamming when people hit commonly used letters in quick succession. Either way, in 1893, several of the largest typewriter makers combined to form the Union Typewriter Company. By the turn of the century, QWERTY was the typing standard.

After that, it wasn’t long before children started learning QWERTY. These days, US kids are required to be able to type with a keyboard by third grade, and some schools are teaching kids as young as kindergarten basic keyboard skills.

QWERTY dominates not just in countries that use alphabets (with some regional variations), but in countries like China that developed their own systems, such as Pinyin, to type a vast array of characters with the same simple keyboard.

But the QWERTY keyboard’s success has not been due to lack of competition.</p>

The biggest - and in many places still the most-used - competitor is T9, for mobile phone keyboards. Though this article looks at the many, many other possibilities.
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Most Austrians saw Austria as an aberration, cut off from its wheat in the east, its port on the Adriatic and the industry of Bohemia; the Allies denied their wish to join a “greater Germany”.

“We see ourselves as a forum for debate,” says Monika Sommer, the director. “We are quite comfortable with showing that there isn’t always one view on history.” She hopes that exhibits like the Waldheim-Pferd will prove to be “friction points” that galvanise discussion. There are bound to be controversies, she acknowledges. The museum’s aim is to provide a stage on which to air them, perhaps even to forge a new consensus.
austria  ww2  victim  history  narrative  museum  travel 
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Forty-Five Things I Learned in the Gulag
For fifteen years the writer Varlam Shalamov was imprisoned in the Gulag for participating in “counter-revolutionary Trotskyist activities.” He endured six of those years enslaved in the gold mines of Kolyma, one of the coldest and most hostile places on earth. While he was awaiting sentencing, one of his short stories was published in a journal called Literary Contemporary. He was released in 1951, and from 1954 to 1973 he worked on Kolyma Stories, a masterpiece of Soviet dissident writing that has been newly translated into English and published by New York Review Books Classics this week. Shalamov claimed not to have learned anything in Kolyma, except how to wheel a loaded barrow. But one of his fragmentary writings, dated 1961, tells us more.

6. I realized that humans were human because they were physically stronger and clung to life more than any other animal: no horse can survive work in the Far North.

7. I saw that the only group of people able to preserve a minimum of humanity in conditions of starvation and abuse were the religious believers, the sectarians (almost all of them), and most priests.
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