gnat + history   228

WWW-Talk Jul-Sep 1993: Execute a shell-script to search
my pre-CGI remote execution security nightmare :)
web  history 
march 2016 by gnat
Inventor who shocked tech world stumped by 43-year patent delay -
"Bob Noyce was an investor in everything," Misa said. "When he died, his family found a shoe box of promissory notes. He was very keen on building the electronics industry."
history  ip  technology 
march 2014 by gnat
Can Do vs. Can’t Do Cultures - Ben's Blog
great Western Union evaluation of the telephone
Alexander Graham Bell, inventor of the telephone, offered to sell his invention and patents to Western Union, the leading telegraph provider, for $100,000. Western Union refused based on a report from their internal committee. Here are some of the excerpts of that report:

“The Telephone purports to transmit the speaking voice over telegraph wires. We found that the voice is very weak and indistinct, and grows even weaker when long wires are used between the transmitter and receiver. Technically, we do not see that this device will be ever capable of sending recognizable speech over a distance of several miles.
“Messer Hubbard and Bell want to install one of their “telephone devices” in every city. The idea is idiotic on the face of it. Furthermore, why would any person want to use this ungainly and impractical device when he can send a messenger to the telegraph office and have a clear written message sent to any large city in the United States?

“The electricians of our company have developed all the significant improvements in the telegraph art to date, and we see no reason why a group of outsiders, with extravagant and impractical ideas, should be entertained, when they have not the slightest idea of the true problems involved. Mr. G.G. Hubbard’s fanciful predictions, while they sound rosy, are based on wild-eyed imagination and lack of understanding of the technical and economic facts of the situation, and a posture of ignoring the obvious limitations of his device, which is hardly more than a toy… .

“In view of these facts, we feel that Mr. G.G. Hubbard’s request for $100,000 of the sale of this patent is utterly unreasonable, since this device is inherently of no use to us. We do not recommend its purchase.”
history  technology 
january 2014 by gnat
ChristianGingras | Robotron 2084 Guidebook
security guard working nights, reverse engineers Robotron, finds OO code, fixes a level bug, meets founders.
game  history  programming 
october 2013 by gnat
Why you feel bad about money: Ostrogoths. - Quartz
the word geld is said to have originated from the word vergeltung, indicating retribution, revenge, even blood reprisals.
history  language 
june 2013 by gnat
Open Collections | OpenGLAM
Here we list openly licensed datasets from several cultural institutions. All collections provide digital scans or photos that can be freely used without any restrictions. Most of the objects are in the Public Domain because of their age, or are licensed u
art  cc  culture  history  books  commons 
june 2013 by gnat
When Dickens met Dostoevsky | TLS
Uncovering a literary fraud. Rather long. Stories!
This unique method of dissemination has had unexpected consequences in the digital age. Nenner’s contribution has no place in the Wiley digital library for History, where McGovern’s article continues to be available. Some libraries, including Swarthmore College’s, never gummed in the pages. Others, including those at Princeton and the University of Virginia, followed the journal’s suggestion, with the result that McGovern’s contribution was rendered inaccessible to anyone interested in the history of the journal itself.)
literature  books  history  people 
april 2013 by gnat
Creating Young Darwins – Phenomena: The Loom
Ned Friedman, a botanist at Harvard, has come up with an intriguing way to use Darwin’s life to teach the basics of evolution. He and a team of graduate students have created a freshman seminar called “Getting to Know Darwin,” in which the students recreate ten of Darwin’s experiments and observations, spanning his life from his college days to the work on earthworms, which he carried on during his final years. To get an intimate feel for Darwin’s ideas and work, the students read his letters in which he discusses each topic. They then run experiments very similar–or in same cases, identical–to the ones Darwin ran himself.

Friedman has now gone the extra mile and put all the details of the class online at the Darwin Correspondence Project site.
science  history  education 
february 2013 by gnat
Silicon Valley's Favorite Stories -
At Intel you take the ball yourself and you let the air out and you fold the ball up and put it in your pocket. Then you take another ball and run with it and when you’ve crossed the goal you take the second ball out of your pocket and reinflate it and score twelve points instead of six.’ ”
history  technology 
february 2013 by gnat
dy/dan » Blog Archive » Is This Press Release From 2012 or 1972?
"Giving teachers tools to help them manage that is a good goal. Devising tools that remove teachers from the process is where we go wrong."
education  history  technology 
february 2013 by gnat
BBC News - Yang Jisheng: The man who discovered 36 million dead
Despite its samizdat status, Yang thinks there may be around half a million copies of the Hong Kong edition circulating in China. His own copy, discreetly kept in a cupboard, is a black-market version of the latter: its pages are photocopied, its binding stiff, shiny and amateur.

Start Quote

We learn a lot about history. However, most of it is fake. It is full of made up stories to meet the needs of ideology. Once you realise you've been cheated, you'll begin to pursue the truth. ”

Yang Jisheng
"It is estimated that there are about 100,000 of these knock off copies in circulation," he says. "People try to bring the real ones from Hong Kong but they get confiscated, so they make these. The response is very strong, I have received lots of letters from readers telling me the stories of relatives who died from the famine."
history  books  china 
november 2012 by gnat
61-year-old computer springs back to life -
Perhaps the machine is so mesmerizing because, in a way, you can see how it works. Modern computers -- much less the Internet or smartphones -- are largely silent, glowing devices. They seem powered by wizardry. The WITCH, by contrast, is a clacking, blinking, ticking mess of mechanical parts.
hardware  history 
november 2012 by gnat
If you’re 27 or younger, you’ve never experienced a colder-than-average month | Grist
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration summarizes October 2012:

The average temperature across land and ocean surfaces during October was 14.63°C (58.23°F). This is 0.63°C (1.13°F) above the 20th century average and ties with 2008 as the fifth warmest October on record. The record warmest October occurred in 2003 and the record coldest October occurred in 1912. This is the 332nd consecutive month with an above-average temperature.
weather  climate  history  demographics 
november 2012 by gnat
Los Angeles Review of Books - Literature Is Not Data: Against Digital Humanities
The great German scholar Trithemius’s “In Praise of Scribes” has become the clichéd example of early scribal resistance to print, but his arguments were not ridiculous: printed books were much less beautiful than handmade ones; copying out a text allowed the scribes to identify and stop the reproduction of errors. The process of writing out a text produced a spiritually powerful condition. “In Praise of Scribes” tells the story of one scribe who had to be disinterred after years of scribal work; his colleagues find the three fingers of his writing hand “incorruptible.” Nonetheless “In Praise of Scribes” was printed, not copied. Trithemius went along with the changing world even as he claimed to despise it.
books  history 
november 2012 by gnat
Surmounting the Insurmountable: Wikipedia Is Nearing Completion, in a Sense - Rebecca J. Rosen - The Atlantic
Jensen believes that there is a way out of this: "Wikipedia is now a mature reference work with a stable organizational structure and a well-established reputation. The problem is that it is not mature in a scholarly sense." Wikipedia should devote more resources toward getting editors access to higher-quality scholarship (in private databases like JSTOR), admission to military-history conferences, and maybe even training in the field of historiography, so that they could bring the articles up to a more polished, professional standard.
wikipedia  history  social  software 
october 2012 by gnat
The Bretton Woods Transcripts - The Center for Financial Stability
transcripts from the historic economics summit available (dissolve the gold standard, USD, etc.)
economics  history 
october 2012 by gnat
Slender Man | Know Your Meme
fascinating to see a new horror legend created from SomethingAwful forums. There's a dude. He created this. Wow.
meme  history  culture 
october 2012 by gnat
Steve Jobs, Romantic - O'Reilly Radar
To construct a work in accord with some “mean or average proportion” is to dilute its essence, said William Hazlitt, “for a thing is not more perfect by becoming something else, but by being more itself.”
history  literature  tech 
september 2012 by gnat
Quite Likely the Worst Job Ever | Past Imperfect
victorian sewer treasure hunters ("toshers")
history  england 
july 2012 by gnat
How the Chicken Conquered the World | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine
fmtyewtk about chickens

A chicken bred for the demands of American supermarket shoppers presumably has lost whatever magical powers the breed once possessed. Western aid workers discovered this in Mali during a failed attempt to replace the scrawny native birds with imported Rhode Island Reds. According to tradition, the villagers divine the future by cutting the throat of a hen and then waiting to see in which direction the dying bird falls—left or right indicates a favorable response to the diviner’s question; straight forward means “no.” But the Rhode Island Red, weighted down by its disproportionately large breast, always fell straight forward, signifying nothing meaningful except the imminence of dinner.
history  food 
may 2012 by gnat
Ten questions on Jane Austen | Books | The Guardian
Questions showing culture and mores of the time
books  people  history 
may 2012 by gnat
Kodak’s HQ secretly housed a nuclear reactor for over 30 years | VentureBeat
For thirty years, Kodak housed under its Rochester headquarters a research reactor equipped with over three pounds of enriched uranium. Kept secret, the uranium was removed in 2007, Democrat and Chronicle reports.

Though the reactor and its surrounding lab’s existence are perplexing and still a bit disconcerting, the idea behind the operation was fairly solid: Kodak used the uranium and reactor to test chemicals for impurities, as well as run neutron radiography tests. How that research was applied to its actual core operations isn’t clear, however.
business  history  science 
may 2012 by gnat
The Six Degrees of Bacon - Boing Boing
Sir Francis Bacon ... viz the history of science
science  history  people 
may 2012 by gnat
Beheaded for just pieces of silver - World - NZ Herald News
One correspondent in the Sydney Gazette told how he had seen a man carrying a cloth-wrapped bundle under his arm up George St, and asked to see it.

"With perfect indifference as to my feelings and consternation, the man replied it was the head of a New Zealander, which he had purchased from a person lately arrived from that country and that he was going to dispose of it for two guineas to a gentleman who was about to embark for England."

It was a cruel example of supply and demand in a free market.

As Maori discovered they could sell the sacrosanct heads of their enemies for muskets, some - especially among Ngati Toa, Ngapuhi and the tribes of the Far North - put aside their scruples and began producing more heads.

As first they boosted supply by manufacturing excuses to go to war and capture more enemy chiefs; then they began roughly tattooing their slaves, waiting for the scars to heal, beheading them and selling them.

But they created a market glut and prices plummeted.
business  history  nz 
may 2012 by gnat
Advertising and the Underground: The bottom line | The Economist
In some ways the Tube was far more open to private enterprise than it is today. The lines were at first run as distinct enterprises. For a spell, different companies ran the clockwise and anti-clockwise trains on the Circle Line, even maintaining separate ticket booths. The system may be burrowing back to its roots.
history  transportation 
may 2012 by gnat
BBC - History - Ancient History in depth: Critics and Critiques of Athenian Democracy
Not all anti-democrats, however, saw only democracy's weaknesses and were entirely blind to democracy's strengths. One unusual critic is an Athenian writer whom we know familiarly as the 'Old Oligarch'. Certainly, he was an oligarch, but whether he was old or not we can't say. His short and vehement pamphlet was produced probably in the 420s, during the first decade of the Peloponnesian War, and makes the following case: democracy is appalling, since it represents the rule of the poor, ignorant, fickle and stupid majority over the socially and intellectually superior minority, the world turned upside down.

A Greek trireme © But - a big 'but' - it works: that is, it delivers the goods - for the masses. After all, at the time of writing, Athens was the greatest single power in the entire Greek world, and that fact could not be totally unconnected with the fact that Athens was a democracy. The specific connection made by the anonymous writer is that the ultimate source of Athens' power was its navy, and that navy was powered essentially (though not exclusively) by the strong arms of the thetes, that is to say, the poorest section of the Athenian citizen population. They therefore in a sense deserved the political pay-off of mass-biased democracy as a reward for their crucial naval role.
history  democracy 
may 2012 by gnat
Birth of Democracy: Practice of Ostracism
The procedure of ostracism was simple. Once a year the people would meet in the Agora and take a vote to determine if anyone was becoming too powerful and was in a position to establish a tyranny. If a simple majority voted yes, they met again in the Agora two months later. At this second meeting each citizen carried with him an ostrakon (potsherd) on which he had scratched the name of the person he wished ostracized. if at least 6,000 votes were cast, the man with the most votes lost and was exiled for ten years.
history  democracy 
may 2012 by gnat
Two Hundred Years of Surgery — NEJM
Atul Gawande. Surgery is a profession defined by its authority to cure by means of bodily invasion. The brutality and risks of opening a living person's body have long been apparent, the benefits only slowly and haltingly worked out. Nonetheless, over the past two centuries, surgery has become radically more effective, and its violence substantially reduced — changes that have proved central to the development of mankind's abilities to heal the sick.
medicine  history 
may 2012 by gnat
The History of Key Design: From Ancient Wooden Rods to the Hotel Keycard - Slate Magazine
As locks and keys proliferated across Europe, they became increasingly sophisticated. This 1680 “detector lock,” designed in England by John Wilkes, is a technical marvel. To spring the bolt, you cock the cap of the merry musketeer; to find the keyhole, you slide his leg, hinged at the knee. And each time the door is unlocked, the numbered dial takes note, ticking forward a notch. That means that if you lock up your study when the dial’s at 98 and you come home to find it at 99, you know someone’s been messing around with your stuff.
security  history 
may 2012 by gnat
Nazi rules for jazz performers - Boing Boing
so-called jazz compositions may contain at most 10% syncopation; the remainder must consist of a natural legato movement devoid of the hysterical rhythmic reverses characteristic of the barbarian races and conductive to dark instincts alien to the German people (so-called riffs);


plucking of the strings is prohibited, since it is damaging to the instrument and detrimental to Aryan musicality; if a so-called pizzicato effect is absolutely desirable for the character of the composition, strict care must be taken lest the string be allowed to patter on the sordine, which is henceforth forbidden;
music  history 
march 2012 by gnat
Types of vagabonds, 1566 - Boing Boing
The following is a list of the "23 Types of Vagabonds" as identified in a 1566 book by Thomas Harman called "A Caveat or Warning for Common Cursitors, vulgarly called vagabonds." These "types" were the chapter titles and a decade later compiled into a list in William Harrison's book "Description of Elizabethan England, 1577"
history  language 
march 2012 by gnat
Use what strength you have — The Endeavour
Nor, again, do I now miss the bodily strength of a young man … any more than as a young man I missed the strength of a bull or an elephant. You should use what you have, and whatever you may chance to be doing, do it with all your might.
history  people  quotes 
december 2011 by gnat
Shakespeare's Chancre: Did the Bard Have Syphilis?
Syphilis was more severe in the 15th and 16th centuries than it is today [9–11]. Gruesome clinical descriptions of primary, secondary, and gummatous syphilis quickly appeared. Quétel, in History of Syphilis, notes that all the works which appeared before 1514 agree on the principal characteristics of the new disease: its contagiousness and ability to spread quickly...its multiplicity of cutaneous manifestations, and the intensity of pains in the head and bones...most authors mention the primary chancre and its induration...followed by a reddish rash...after a brief respite...large rounded tumors [gummas] start to appear at random in muscles or bones, eating away cavities within them...they ulcerate the body extensively, exposing the bones and eating away at the nose, the lips, the palate, the larynx, and the genitals. [11, pp. 26–7]

By Shakespeare's time, syphilis was less explosive in onset, perhaps because of attenuated virulence or improved population immunity, nutrition, and hygiene, with decreased bacterial superinfection. Use of the term “syphilis” was not common until the 19th century [10]. Shakespeare refers to syphilis as the pox, the malady of France, the infinite malady, the incurable bone-ache, the hoar leprosy, and most oddly as “the good-year” (a corruption of the French term “goujere,” from “gouge,” meaning prostitute) [15, 16].

There are no certain references to genital chancres in Shakespeare's writings, although the “embossed sores” in As You Like It (act 2, scene 7) and the “canker” in Sonnet 95 associated with “vice” and “” are suggestive [7]. A catalog of the secondary and tertiary manifestations of syphilis in Troilus and Cressida (act 5, scene 1) includes “raw eyes” (syphilitic episcleritis, iritis, or uveitis), “bone-ache” (syphilitic periostitis), and “limekilns in the palm” (the papulosquamous, palmar rash of secondary syphilis).
medicine  bio  history  lit  books 
november 2011 by gnat
Just My Type: A Book About Fonts by Simon Garfield – review | Books | The Observer
stories of font revolutionaries, from the money-motivated Johannes Gutenberg to the sexual libertarian Eric Gill,
fonts  history  books 
october 2011 by gnat
Rider on the Storm • Damn Interesting
parachuted through cumulo-nimbus and lived
science  weather  people  history 
october 2011 by gnat
Ten Notable Apocalypses That (Obviously) Didn’t Happen | History & Archaeology | Smithsonian Magazine
An Assyrian clay tablet dating to around 2800 B.C. bears the inscription: “Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching.”
history  quotes 
september 2011 by gnat
Monk signs
A table of signs used during hours of silence by the sisters in the Syon Monastery in Isleworth, Middlesex, in the 15th century:

Ale — Make the sign of drink and draw thy hand displayed before thine ear downward.
Bed — Make the sign of a house and put thy right hand under thy cheek, and close thine eyes.
Book — Wag and move thy right hand in manner as thou shouldest turn the leaves of a book.
Cheese — Hold thy right hand flatways in the palm of thy left.
Cold — Make the sign of water trembling with thy hand or blow on thy forefinger.
Drink — Bow thy right forefinger and put it on thy nether lip.
Eating — Put thy right thumb with two forefingers joined to thy mouth.
Girdle — Draw the forefingers of either hand round about thy middle.
Glass — Make the sign of a cup with the sign of red wine.
Incense — Put thy two fingers into thy two nostrils.
Mustard — Hold thy nose in the upper part of thy right fist and rub it.
Salt — Fillip with the right thumb and forefinger over the left thumb.
Sleeping — Put thy right hand under thy cheek and forthwith close thine eyes.
Water — Join the fingers of thy right hand and move them downward droppingly.

Giraldus Cambrensis, describing the monks of Canterbury in 1180, wrote that they were “so profuse in their gesticulations of fingers and hands and arms, and in the whisperings whereby they avoided open speech, wherein all showed a most unedifying levity and license,” that he felt as if he were sitting “at a stage play or among a company of actors or buffoons: for it would be more appropriate to their Order and to their honourable estate to speak modestly in plain human speech than to use such a dumb garrulity of frivolous signs and hissings.”
language  history 
august 2011 by gnat
Shady Characters » The Pilcrow, part 1
The pilcrow is not just some typographic curiosity, useful only for livening up a coffee-table book on graphic design or pointing the way to a paragraph in a mortgage deed, but a living, breathing character with its roots in the earliest days of punctuation. Born in ancient Rome, refined in medieval scriptoria, appropriated by England’s most famous modern typographer and finally rehabilitated by the personal computer, the story of the pilcrow is intertwined with the evolution of modern writing. It is the quintessential shady character.
history  typography 
march 2011 by gnat
Shady Characters » The Pilcrow, part 2
one might forgive the Almighty for His melodramatic use of capital letters when one recalls that His subjects had not yet developed lower case
typography  history  religion 
march 2011 by gnat
Pleiades gives scholars, students, and enthusiasts worldwide the ability to use, create, and share historical geographic information about the Greek and Roman World in digital form.
history  maps  geo 
march 2011 by gnat
Poetry bestseller boasts saucy secret in the bookbinding … 18th century porn | Books | The Guardian
Dr Claudine van Hensbergen, a researcher at Oxford University, thinks she may have stumbled on the reason for the success of an apparently serious volume called The Works of the Earls of Rochester and Roscommon, which ran to more than 20 editions and was reprinted throughout the 18th century.

Bound in at the back of the 1714 edition, van Hensbergen found, was a section called the Cabinet of Love. It contained three poems, "the organising principle of which," van Hensbergen says, "appears to be the dildo".
history  sex  poetry  books 
february 2011 by gnat
“Astrology is rubbish”, but… | Whewell's Ghost
Thirdly, while I agree with the best skeptics that “astrology is rubbish”, this is because there is no evidence that celestial objects can affect our lives, events and emotions in the way that is claimed, not because practising astrologers don’t understand basic celestial mechanics and positional astronomy.
astronomy  history  science 
january 2011 by gnat
Getting Medieval on Higher Education - Advice - The Chronicle of Higher Education
Hemmed in by barbarians on every side, it's time for academe to get medieval.
education  history 
january 2011 by gnat
‘The Diary’ at the Morgan Library - Review -
sections of Sir Walter Scott’s journal that show his gradual loss of language after a series of strokes.

“I am not the man that I was,” he writes. “The plough is coming to the end of the furrow.”
books  people  history  quotes 
january 2011 by gnat
TIME article on interactive TV trials
Some analysts think that by focusing on TV viewers, the companies building
these systems may have overlooked a more promising market: the millions of
computer users who are already playing games, exchanging mail and
entertaining themselves on the computer networks. Although a switched,
broadband network could serve both computer users and television viewers,
cable-TV operators in particular seem reluctant to allow computer owners to
plug in. The cable operators, contends Michael Godwin of the Electronic
Frontier Foundation, a public-interest group involved in electronic
communications issues, ''have a couch-potato vision of the future.''
web  history  interactivetv 
january 2011 by gnat
Measuring hell - The Boston Globe
In 1588, when Galileo was a 24-year-old unknown, a medical school dropout, he was invited to deliver a couple of lectures on Dante’s “Divine Comedy.” Many in Galileo’s audience would have been shocked, even dismayed, to see this young upstart take the stage and start poking holes in what they believed about the poet’s meticulously constructed fantasy world.
science  history 
january 2011 by gnat
Hints on Writing Love Letters
"As a physiological law, man should be twenty-five, and woman twenty-three, before marrying."
culture  history 
january 2011 by gnat
Men's clothing: Suitably dressed | The Economist
The practice of fitting cloth closely to the human form rather than draping it around the body was new. As fashion historians point out, medieval linen-armourers had long made padded undergarments that fitted beneath suits of armour, reducing a little the discomfort of wearing plates of steel. But the Enlightenment and neoclassicism brought tightly fitted clothing to the surface. In an attempt to emulate Greek statues of naked men, Brummel commissioned figure-hugging trousers and coats. He used plain colours to focus attention on form and line, ushering in what Mr Kelly calls “the tyranny of monochrome”. When the prince regent swapped his flamboyant wardrobe for [Beau] Brummel’s stripped-down style it spread across London and beyond.
clothing  history 
january 2011 by gnat
Roman Numerals…not quite so simple « 360
"Roman Numeral Rules were maybe not quite as hard and fast as I once believed"
math  history 
january 2011 by gnat
The battle of Towton: Nasty, brutish and not that short | The Economist
It is the only mass grave of known medieval battle victims to have been found in England. The only comparable find is that of a mass grave of victims of the Battle of Wisby in Sweden in 1361, which was excavated in the early 20th century. That find was considerably larger—1,185 individuals from four separate pits—and notable, too, for the fact that the dead had been buried in their armour. The Towton men had been stripped before being thrown into the pit. The only personal effect found in the grave was a silver ring still encircling the little finger of Towton 39; it may have been missed because of the sheer quantity of gore.
history  from instapaper
december 2010 by gnat
Recreating the THX Deep Note - EarSlap
backstory on the THX sound and programmatically recreating it
audio  fun  history  from delicious
april 2010 by gnat
Op-Ed Contributor - Algebra in Wonderland -
Dodgson has the Hatter, the Hare and the Dormouse stuck going round and round the tea table to reflect the way in which Hamilton used what he called quaternions — a number system based on four terms. In the 1860s, quaternions were hailed as the last great step in calculating motion. Even Dodgson may have considered them an ingenious tool for advanced mathematicians, though he would have thought them maddeningly confusing for the likes of Alice (and perhaps for many of his math students).<br />
<br />
At the mad tea party, time is the absent fourth presence at the table. The Hatter tells Alice that he quarreled with Time last March, and now “he won’t do a thing I ask.” So the Hatter, the Hare and the Dormouse (the third “term”) are forced to rotate forever in a plane around the tea table.
math  books  history  from delicious
march 2010 by gnat
BBC NEWS | Europe | Shedding light on the Catacombs of Rome
3 months until it becomes a first-person shooter, I figure
history  mapping 
may 2009 by gnat
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