kmt + history   496

Glossaires Codicologiques
Codicologia est une application informatique qui fournit un vocabulaire multilingue pour la description des manuscrits. Elle entend proposer un instrument de travail à tous les catalogueurs de manuscrits, les éditeurs de textes et plus généralement à tous ceux qui s'intéressent aux manuscrits anciens.
history  sources  reference  humanities 
yesterday by kmt
The world’s not changing faster than ever at all - The Correspondent
They can be found at every convention: trendwatchers preaching the wonders of innovation. Organizations, the education sector, public administration – everyone has to adapt to the disruptive impact of technology.

There you have it, the persistent conviction that the world is changing faster than ever. And that we are going to have to adapt faster than ever to keep up.

Robert J. Gordon lays that cliché to rest in his new book The Rise and Fall of American Growth. He argues that ours is a time not of technological revolution, but of technological stagnation. However, there was a deluge of Great Inventions between 1870 and 1970 – Great Inventions that solved problems which we have long since forgotten ever existed.
technology  politics  argument  history 
12 days ago by kmt
The Galileo Circus is in town | The Renaissance Mathematicus
Before I go on I think it is necessary to restate something that people discussing the situation tend to forget or ignore. In the early seventeenth century the concepts of freedom of thought, freedom of speech and freedom of expression simply did not exist anywhere in Europe neither under secular or religious jurisdiction, no matter which church was involved. This was something that Galileo was well aware of but apparently in his hubris he thought his newly found fame would protect him from censure, he was wrong. A second point that also tends to get ignored is that when Galileo decided to go into full frontal attack with the Church on scriptural interpretation it was the middle of the Counter Reformation. The Reformation and the Counter Reformation centred on the question, who is allowed to interpret Holy Scripture. The Lutherans said anybody who could read, although they later changed their minds on that, whereas the Catholic Church said only the Church theologian were entitled to. Here was Galileo a mere mathematicus, the lowest of the low in the Renaissance intellectual hierarchy, telling the theologians, the pinnacle of the Renaissance intellectual pyramid, how to interpret the Bible, not a wise move. Not only did Galileo go out on a limb but he did so with his very best polemic and invective and if there was something in which Galileo was unrivalled at it was writing polemic and invective.
history  science  religion  argument  sources  reference 
14 days ago by kmt
Not a martyr for science. | The Renaissance Mathematicus
The discovery of pulmonary circulation actually got lost at least twice and Servetus was not its first discoverer. Pulmonary circulation had already been discovered in the thirteenth century by Ala-al-din abu Al-Hassan Ali ibn Abi-Hazm al-Qarshi al-Dimashqi, known as Ibn al-Nafis, and published in his Commentary on the Anatomy of Canon of Avicenna a text that simply disappeared and was first re-discovered in the twentieth century. Somehow this was a discovery that didn’t want to be made. However pulmonary circulation was discovered independently for a third time, and this time demonstrated empirically, by Realdo Colombo, Vesalius’ successor as professor of anatomy in Padua, in 1559 and this time it remained discovered.
history  science  sources  religion  reference 
14 days ago by kmt
The Secret Garden
The oral history of how a scientist found a rainforest on top of a mountain, then led a team of 28 scientists, logistics experts, climbers, and others to a place where humans had not set foot for a century or more.
history  africa  geology  people 
16 days ago by kmt
The Menace of Enormous Fortunes | Maclean's | FEBRUARY, 1906
Five thousand men in the United States are said to own one-sixth of the entire national wealth and the holdings of these five thousand are rapidly increasing. The birth-rate among them is very low, so that the proportion of very rich men will be much smaller in future years. The question is what will these men do with their money. Is it to be spent for their own selfish pleasures or for the amelioration of the poor?
politics  argument  history  journalism  labour-movement 
16 days ago by kmt
IASC: The Hedgehog Review - Volume 20, No. 2 (Summer 2018) - Privilege -
We hear it said a lot these days: white privilege, male privilege, cisgender privilege. It suggests an advantage that is in some way illegitimate. The concept of privilege acquired greater sharpness for me recently while I was reading Simon Schama’s Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution. Under the ancien régime, ennobled families were granted privilege in the literal sense; that is, they answered to a different set of laws (privy: private, leges: laws). In particular, they were exempt from taxation. Making matters worse, one could buy into this arrangement through the purchase of “venal offices,” which granted one the same immunities. One might become an inspector of cheeses, for example. It really was that ridiculous. Such positions proliferated as the fiscal crisis of the 1780s deepened; the sale of offices was a way for the crown to finance its present needs through the sacrifice of future tax revenue. Those who purchased offices were entered, along with their descendants, into the lists of noble families, permanently exempt from the tax burden.
academia  education  history  politics  argument  gender  literature 
16 days ago by kmt
Native American Artifacts at Denver Art Museum
Wendy Red Star brings illustrations from the Denver Art Museum’s card catalog to the Crow Nation’s annual gathering.
americana  culture  history  design 
16 days ago by kmt
Art Deco and Archaeology | MetaFilter
What do Art Deco and Archaeology have in common? Quite a bit, if you look at enough Art Deco architecture. The artistic movement spanned from the early 1900s in France and lasted until 1945, when the austerity of World War II making the lavish decorations seem gaudy. In the peak of the Deco period, King Tut's tomb was rediscovered in 1922, leading to the marriage of ancient Egyptian design and Art Deco. There were other diverse and "exotic" influences in Art Deco creations around the world, including African tribal design and forms, Mesoamerican forms and decoration, Greco-Roman relief, patterning and materials, and in the American Southwest, Pueblo Deco.

Where Howard Carter's (re)discovery of King Tutankhamun's tomb turned the once-forgotten king into an international celebrity and the very face of Egypt and it's past, broader African influences into Art Deco can be traced to a few years later at the Great Exposition of Decorative Arts (aka the International Exhibition of Modern Decorative and Industrial Arts of 1925) in Paris, where "the predominance of the negro motif was obvious among the really new and distinctive notes in interior decoration." It was here that the Style Moderne, presented at the Exposition, later became known as "Art Deco", after the name of the Expo.

Pueblo Deco is largely credited to Mary Jane Colter, whose design for the El Navajo Hotel in Gallup, New Mexico, made national news (previously). Her designs were seen as far west as Los Angeles' Union Station, where she brought Navajo design inside the station (Google Streetview panorama).

Mayan Revival architecture is the earliest of these cross-cultural influences, which could be drawn to the Pan American Union Building, designed by Paul Philippe Cret with a blending of styles (PDF):
The building, widely known as the House of the Americas, presents a series of dialogues—between function and aesthetic, artifice and nature, and perhaps most memorably, between the Classical architecture that defines much of the nation’s capital and the architectural traditions, both ancient and colonial, of Latin America. Ultimately, each of these dialogues serves as a metaphoric expression of the Organization of American States’ core values: exchange, negotiation, and cooperation.
Completed in 1910, with the Aztec garden and 2-story arcaded annex pavilion being completed in 1912, Latin American forms and design were brought to the public who visited the building and grounds in Washington, D.C.

If you're looking to find more worldly influences in Art Deco, you can wander around the buildings yourself:
10 Art Deco buildings every D.C. resident should know
New York's most iconic Art Deco buildings, mapped
The 10 best Art Deco buildings in Los Angeles
Art Deco Society of California's map of notable buildings
And finally, a Wikipedia list of buildings that are examples of Art Deco around the world, sorted by continent
And this isn't even getting into jewelry, art, and objects in Art Deco styles that feature "exotic" influences, as seen coming from (PDF - 66 pg dissertation) and created in Japan.
architecture  design  history  culture  art 
16 days ago by kmt
The Origins of Yoga: Ancient + Modern Philosophies of the Practice - Yoga Journal
The pale winter sunlight shone from the high windows of the Cambridge University library onto a dark leather book cover. In the hall full of silent scholars, I opened it and leafed through picture after picture of men and women in familiar postures. Here was Warrior Pose; there was Downward Dog. On this page the standing balance Utthita Padangusthasana; on the next pages Headstand, Handstand, Supta Virasana, and more—everything you might expect to find in a manual of yoga asana. But this was no yoga book. It was a text describing an early 20th-century Danish system of dynamic exercise called Primitive Gymnastics. Standing in front of my yoga students that evening, I reflected on my discovery. What did it mean that many of the poses I was teaching were identical to those developed by a Scandinavian gymnastics teacher less than a century ago? This gymnast had not been to India and had never received any teaching in asana. And yet his system, with its five-count format, its abdominal "locks," and its dynamic jumps in and out of those oh-so-familiar postures, looked uncannily like the vinyasa yoga system I knew so well.

Time passed, and my curiosity nagged at me, leading me to do further research. I learned that the Danish system was an offshoot of a 19th-century Scandinavian gymnastics tradition that had revolutionized the way Europeans exercised. Systems based on the Scandinavian model sprang up throughout Europe and became the basis for physical training in armies, navies, and many schools. These systems also found their way to India. In the 1920s, according to a survey taken by the Indian YMCA, Primitive Gymnastics was one of the most popular forms of exercise in the whole subcontinent, second only to the original Swedish gymnastics developed by P.H. Ling. That's when I became seriously confused.
india  colonial-era  history  gotcha 
18 days ago by kmt
Spice: The History of a Temptation: Jack Turner: 9780375707056: Amazon.com: Books
In this brilliant, engrossing work, Jack Turner explores an era—from ancient times through the Renaissance—when what we now consider common condiments were valued in gold and blood.

Spices made sour medieval wines palatable, camouflaged the smell of corpses, and served as wedding night aphrodisiacs. Indispensible for cooking, medicine, worship, and the arts of love, they were thought to have magical properties and were so valuable that they were often kept under lock and key. For some, spices represented Paradise, for others, the road to perdition, but they were potent symbols of wealth and power, and the wish to possess them drove explorers to circumnavigate the globe—and even to savagery.

Following spices across continents and through literature and mythology, Spice is a beguiling narrative about the surprisingly vast influence spices have had on human desire.

Includes eight pages of color photographs.
spice  food  history  books  trade 
21 days ago by kmt
Civilization and Capitalism 15th-18th Century, Vol. 1: The Structures of Everyday Life by Fernand Braudel
This is the first of three fascinating volumes in which Braudel, the renowned historian and celebrated author of The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World, offers what is in effect an economic and social history of the world from the Middle Ages to the Industrial Revolution. Like everything he writes, it is new, stimulating and sparkles like champagne.

Braudel's technique, it has been said, is that of a pointilliste. Myriads of separate details, sharp glimpses of reality experienced by real people, are seen miraculously to orchestrate themselves into broad rhythms that underlie and transcend the excitements and struggles of particular periods. Braudel sees the past as we see the present — only in a longer perspective and over a wider field.The perspective is that of the possible, of the actual material limitations to human life in any given time or place. It is the every¬day, the habitual — the obvious that is so obvious it has hitherto been neglected by historians — that Braudel claims for a new and vast and enriching province of history. Food and drink, dress and housing, demography and family structure, energy and technology, money and credit, and, above all, the growth of towns, that powerful agent of social and economic development, are described in all the richness and complexity of real life.

The intensely visual quality of Braudel's understanding of history is brought into sharper focus by the remarkable series of illustrations that of themselves would make this book incomparable

FERNAND BRAUDEL was born in 1902, received a degree in history in 1923, and subsequently taught in Algeria, Paris and Sao Paulo. He spent five years as a prisoner of war in Germany, during which time he wrote his grand thesis, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, which was published in 1949. In 1946 he became a member of the editorial board of Annates, the famous journal founded by Marc Bloch and Lucian Febvre, whom he succeeded at the College de France in 1949. He has been a member of the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes and since 1962 has been chief administrator of the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme. Professor Braudel holds honorary doctor¬ates from universities all over the world.

Jacket painting: Detail from Breughel the Elder's The Fall of Icarus, from the Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts, Brussels. (Giraudon)

"Braudel deserves a Nobel Prize. . . . [This is] the most remarkable picture of human life in the centuries before the human condition was radically changed by the growth of industry that has yet been presented. A book of great originality, a masterpiece."
—J. H. Plumb, The Washington Post

"Braudel's books enthrall. ... He is brilliant in demonstrating how most history is written on the backs of most people."
—John Leonard, The New York Times

"Even a preliminary glance at The Structures of Everyday Life shows a book that has no obvious compeer either in scope of reference or level of accessibility to the general reader. ... Its broad authority remains deeply impressive."
—Richard Holmes, Harper's

"Here is vast erudition, beautifully arranged, presented with grace of style, with humility before life's complexity and warm humanist feeling. Braudel's subject is nothing less than every¬day life all over the world before the industrial revolution.... He succeeds triumphantly in his first purpose: 'if not to see everything, at least to locate everything, and on the requisite world scale.'"
—Angus Calder, The Standard

"On neither side of the Atlantic does there live a man or woman with so much knowledge of the past as Braudel, or with a greater sense of its aptness to the intellectual occasion in hand....You can't pick up this big fat book without having your attention transfixed by something or other, if only the great gallery of pictures. They are a masterpiece in themselves."
—Peter Laslett, The Guardian

"This new book is unarguably a brilliant survey of demog¬raphy, urbanisation, transport, technology, food, clothing, housing, money and business, social classes, state power and international trade in the fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries."
—Theodore Zeldin, The Listener
history  books  capitalism  reference 
21 days ago by kmt
What History Books Left Out About Depression Era Co-ops — YES! Magazine
It would seem that a movement that provided livelihood for more than 300,000 people in California alone would merit discussion in the history books.
americana  history  labour-movement  politics 
21 days ago by kmt
Scientific Autonomy, Public Accountability, and the Rise of “Peer Review” in the Cold War United States | Isis: Vol 109, No 3
This essay traces the history of refereeing at specialist scientific journals and at funding bodies and shows that it was only in the late twentieth century that peer review came to be seen as a process central to scientific practice. Throughout the nineteenth century and into much of the twentieth, external referee reports were considered an optional part of journal editing or grant making. The idea that refereeing is a requirement for scientific legitimacy seems to have arisen first in the Cold War United States. In the 1970s, in the wake of a series of attacks on scientific funding, American scientists faced a dilemma: there was increasing pressure for science to be accountable to those who funded it, but scientists wanted to ensure their continuing influence over funding decisions. Scientists and their supporters cast expert refereeing—or “peer review,” as it was increasingly called—as the crucial process that ensured the credibility of science as a whole. Taking funding decisions out of expert hands, they argued, would be a corruption of science itself. This public elevation of peer review both reinforced and spread the belief that only peer-reviewed science was scientifically legitimate.
science  history  methodology  research 
21 days ago by kmt
Boilerplate
Most texts and speech utterances are produced on the spot, by a particular writer or speaker, translating meaning into a linear arrangement of words. The final products of this process tend to be amazingly unique: you usually only need to google a short string of words in order to find the single source that they come from. (Try it – you rarely need more than four or five words, even very common words, and a whole sentence is usually overkill.) How incredible that most short strings are never repeated! Meanings are repeated over and over, expressed in different ways, but their manner of expression varies. However, there is a class of texts and speech utterances that are interesting precisely because they are boilerplate: they are reproduced over and over, pretty much verbatim, by different writers and speakers.

One class of these texts is the chain letter: a document whose content implores the human reader to reproduce it (or to share it on social media). But some of the most widely copied texts and speech utterances do not themselves ask to be copied. These pieces of boilerplate language are copied verbatim for reasons outside the context of the texts themselves. For example, boilerplate language in legal contracts is included not because the language says “include me in your contracts or you will be visited by the Litigation Demon;” rather, they are included because specific linear arrangements of words have been judged in the past to have a specific legal effect. Historically, in contract law, it was difficult to tell when a late performance still counted as performance. Courts held that the boilerplate incantation “time is of the essence” demonstrated that a performance had to be on time to count, and that exact string words still makes its way into contracts in order to ward off claims that late performance is good enough.

Boilerplate code is used for a similar reason: in some languages and programming environments, snippets of code must be reused over and over because they are not part of the default assumptions of the interpreting layer, even though they are part of the default intent of the writer.
writing  rhetoric  argument  advice  history  dev 
22 days ago by kmt
Ten Misconceptions About Financial Crisis on 10-Year Anniversary - Bloomberg
One of the most intriguing aspects of the 2007-09 financial crisis is how little understanding there is of what actually occurred. Some of this has to do with the complexities of the event, as well as how hard it is to identify forces lurking below the surface that had built up over the years.

Even a decade later, many people still cling to false ideas about the underlying causes (there wasn’t just one, folks!) of the crisis. What follows are my 10 favorite flawed memes, misunderstandings and just outright falsehoods about the financial crisis and its aftermath:
finance  politics  economics  history 
22 days ago by kmt
When the Facts Change, I Change My Mind. What Do You Do, Sir? – Quote Investigator
Dear Quote Investigator: John Maynard Keynes was an enormously influential economist, but some of his detractors complained that the opinions he expressed tended to change over the years. Once during a high-profile government hearing a critic accused him of being inconsistent, and Keynes reportedly answered with one of the following:

When events change, I change my mind. What do you do?

When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?

When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?

When someone persuades me that I am wrong, I change my mind. What do you do?

Because there are so many different versions of this rejoinder I was hoping you might determine if any of them is real. Is there any truth to this anecdote?

Quote Investigator: No direct evidence that Keynes made a comment of this type has been located by QI or other researchers. The earliest statement found by QI that fits this template was not spoken by Keynes but by another prominent individual in the same field, Paul Samuelson who was awarded the 1970 Nobel Prize in economics. He was well-known to students for creating a best-selling economics textbook.
history  reference  economics  sources 
25 days ago by kmt
Today in something is wrong on the Internet | The Renaissance Mathematicus
When I was growing up one of the most widespread #histSTM myths, along with the claim that people in the Middle Ages believed the world was flat and Stone Age people lived in holes in the ground, was that Galileo Galilei invented the telescope. This myth actually has an interesting history that goes all the way back to the publication of the Sidereus Nuncius. Some of Galileo’s critics misinterpreting what he had written asserted that he was claiming to have invented the telescope, an assertion that Galileo strongly denied in a latter publication. Whatever, as I said when I was growing up it was common knowledge that Galileo had invented the telescope. During the 1960s and 1970s as history of science slowly crept out of its niche and became more public and more popular this myth was at some point put out of its misery and buried discretely, where, I thought, nobody would find it again. I was wrong.
history  science  astronomy  optics 
28 days ago by kmt
Bernanke, Geithner, and Paulson's Lessons of the Crash
After the French Revolution it was famously said that the surviving Bourbon aristocrats had “learned nothing and forgotten nothing.”  Judging by their recent op-ed piece in The New York Times, “What We Need to Fight the Next Financial Crisis,” the same could be said of Ben Bernanke, Tim Geithner, and Hank Paulson.

As treasury secretaries and chair of the Federal Reserve, these three were the most powerful regulators of the financial system during the disastrous crisis of a decade ago. Yet they devote only a few words to their own failures to predict or prevent the last crisis (“Although we and other regulators did not foresee the crisis…”) and the lessons that might hold for today. Just a brief paragraph is devoted to the state of post-crisis regulations. 
finance  argument  politics  history 
28 days ago by kmt
What Links Abraham Lincoln to Euclid’s Elements? | Math Teacher's Resource Blog
On February 27, 1860 Abraham Lincoln gave a speech at the Cooper Union Institute in New York City. The vast majority of the audience of approximately 1,300 were members of the Republican party. Lincoln, like many in the audience, was well aware that this speech was his one chance to show the party’s movers and shakers that the prairie lawyer from Illinois was cut from presidential timber. Lincoln’s physical appearance, poorly tailored suit, awkward gait, and frontier twang caused many in the audience to form the initial opinion that he would not be a suitable Republican candidate for President.
americana  books  math  sources  rhetoric  history 
4 weeks ago by kmt
The Dictatorship of Data - MIT Technology Review
McNamara was a numbers guy. Appointed the U.S. secretary of defense when tensions in Vietnam rose in the early 1960s, he insisted on getting data on everything he could. Only by applying statistical rigor, he believed, could decision makers understand a complex situation and make the right choices. The world in his view was a mass of unruly information that—if delineated, denoted, demarcated, and quantified—could be tamed by human hand and fall under human will. McNamara sought Truth, and that Truth could be found in data. Among the numbers that came back to him was the “body count.”
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oh yeah, this is classic:
"McNamara rose swiftly up the ranks, trotting out a data point for every situation. Harried factory managers produced the figures he demanded—whether they were correct or not. When an edict came down that all inventory from one car model must be used before a new model could begin production, exasperated line managers simply dumped excess parts into a nearby river. The joke at the factory was that a fellow could walk on water—atop rusted pieces of 1950 and 1951 cars."
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big-data  data-analysis  stats  bias  history  methodology  argument 
4 weeks ago by kmt
What African Philosophy Can Teach You About the Good Life » IAI TV
Modern African philosophy continues to be animated by philosophy as a guide to the good life. In the mid-1970s, the Kenyan philosopher Odera Oruka undertook a ‘Sage Philosophy Project’ for which he interviewed sages – people designated as wise in various African communities – on metaphysics, epistemology, ethics and philosophy of religion. Oruka highlights strikingly critical, self-reflective practices of thought flourishing in societies often caricatured in the North Atlantic world as lacking abstract, second-order thinking.  

But in one of his interviews, for instance, Njeru wa Kanyenje, a sage from the Aembu community in central Kenya, pushed back against religious beliefs and ways of life: “I do not care much about God or religion. Right from the beginning, that is, when the muzungu [white people] first brought organized religion, I saw religion as a bluff. It is a white man’s witchcraft! But this witchcraft has today triumphed over the traditional African witchcraft. Today, I recognise its victory but not its truth. It is still a bluff. I do not pray to God nor do I consult witchdoctors. Both religion and witchcraft are bluffs. They have no truths in them. My great wish is that I should be spared the interference from religions and witchcrafts.”  
philosophy  history  africa  sources 
4 weeks ago by kmt
Victorian Doctors Didn't Treat Women With Orgasms, Say Historians - The Atlantic
It’s not hard to see how the idea spread. The entire story of Victorian vibrators originates from the work of one scholar: Rachel Maines, a historian and a former visiting scientist at Cornell University. Her 1999 book, The Technology of Orgasm—described at the time as a “secret history of female sexual arousal”—argued that clitoral massage was used as a medical technique for centuries, from the time of Hippocrates to the modern day.

But that’s just not true, according to Lieberman and Eric Schatzberg, the chair of the School of History and Sociology at Georgia Tech. There is scant evidence that orgasms were widely understood as a cure for female hysteria, and there’s even less evidence that Victorians used vibrators to induce orgasm as a medical technique, they say. “Maines fails to cite a single source that openly describes use of the vibrator to massage the clitoral area,” their paper says. “None of her English-language sources even mentions production of ‘paroxysms’ by massage or anything else that could remotely suggest an orgasm.”

Instead, they argue, Maines conceals this lack of support by relying on a “wink and nod” approach to primary sourcing and by “padding her argument with a mass of tangential citations.”
science  history  methodology  argument 
5 weeks ago by kmt
When will Britain face up to its crimes against humanity? | News | The Guardian
After the abolition of slavery, Britain paid millions in compensation – but every penny of it went to slave owners, and nothing to those they enslaved. We must stop overlooking the brutality of British history.
history  british-empire  imperialism  j'accuse 
5 weeks ago by kmt
Hasok Chang, Anti-Alchemist | Forbidden Histories
I have shown this experiment to dozens of professional chemists and chemistry students. There hasn’t been a single person not surprised to see gold dissolved in salt water with the help of mere 3 volts of electricity. The kinds of things I was looking into, arising from my work in the history of science, are quite far from cutting-edge issues in today’s chemistry. It was surprising to me that none of the chemists I spoke to had ever conducted this experiment before — but then again, why would they? Perhaps I have a heretical sense of what scientists ought to be attending to.

I have a lot more work to do. As yet I don’t know the exact identity of that yellow streak that comes off the gold electrode. It must be some sort of gold chloride, but an exact analysis will need to be performed. I also don’t know why the reaction happens only in a narrow range of voltages applied. I am not a chemist, and my chemist colleagues at the Universities of London, Cambridge and elsewhere have not had ready answers to all of my questions. But I hope they will continue to help me in my research.
physics  chemistry  magic  science  history  blog 
6 weeks ago by kmt
Peter Turchin More on Labor Supply (Why Real Wages Stopped Growing V) - Peter Turchin
The previous blog in this series showed that a simple three-factorial model can reproduce very faithfully the long-term dynamics of real wages. The model not only explains why the real wages stopped growing in the late 1970s, but also (surprisingly) the ups and downs since 1980. Furthermore, the model predicts the real wage five years in the future (due to the lag time with which the wage responds to current conditions). Unfortunately, the model forecast for 2013–17 is an unrelenting downward trend in wages (mainly due to a combination of stagnating GDP and continuing growth of the labor force).

Although the model is very simple, this simplicity is somewhat deceptive. The model, in fact, combines a number of factors, which have been proposed as explanations for the wage slump, in a very frugal way. Thus, immigration (both legal and illegal) enters the equation by making the labor supply increase faster. Trade deficit, on the other hand, subtracts from the GDP, and thus decreases the demand for labor. Real minimum wage moved in parallel with a number of other indicators reflecting the action of non-market forces. The model, thus, can be used as a common framework within which different explanations can be compared to each other quantitatively.
economics  history  argument  models 
7 weeks ago by kmt
Leibniz: Explanation of Binary Arithmetic (1703)
EXPLANATION OF BINARY ARITHMETIC, WHICH USES ONLY THE CHARACTERS 0 AND 1, WITH SOME REMARKS ON ITS USEFULNESS, AND ON THE LIGHT IT THROWS ON THE ANCIENT CHINESE FIGURES OF FUXI
history  math  philosophy  sources 
8 weeks ago by kmt
The Rules of Monopoly | Current Affairs
The game of Monopoly was originally quite different when it was first patented in 1904 by a progressive woman named Lizzie Magie. Magie’s game, called “The Landlord’s Game,” was like the version you grew up playing, in that it could be won by accruing as many land lots, properties, and cash as possible. But her version came with a twist. At any time, the players could choose a more egalitarian future by voting in the Single Tax rules.

Once activated, the Single Tax required players to redirect all fines and rents on empty lots into the Public Treasury’s coffers. For any player to erect properties or collect a fine on an existing property, the Treasury first had to receive rent on the land. These public funds paid for public utilities, transportation, and college, which then became available to everyone for free. Residual funds were redistributed as higher wages for everyone. No individual could really win the Single Tax game, other than by collaborating to break up all monopolies.
economics  business  politics  capitalism  history  games 
8 weeks ago by kmt
Lenses for philosophers – Jules Hedges
Lens tutorials are the new monad tutorials, I hear. (This is neat, since monads and lenses were both discovered in the year 1958.) The thing is, after independently rediscovering lenses and working on them for a year and a half before Jeremy Gibbons made the connection, I have a very different perspective on them. This post is based on a talk I gave at the 7th international workshop on bidirectional transformations in Nice. My aim is to move fast and break things, where the things in question are your preconceptions about what lenses are and what they can be used for. Much of this will be a history of lenses, which includes at least 9 independent rediscoveries.
haskell  category-theory  esoteric  logic  argument  reference  history 
8 weeks ago by kmt
Wage Labour and Capital
Delivered: December 1847;
Source: Wage Labour and Capital, the original 1891 pamphlet;
Edited/Translated: Frederick Engels;
First Published (in German): Neue Rheinische Zeitung, April 5-8 and 11, 1849;
Online Version: Marx/Engels Internet Archive (marxists.org) 1993, 1999;
Transcription/Markup: Zodiac and Brian Baggins;
Proofed: and corrected by Alek Blain, 2006.
marxism  history  sources  read-later 
8 weeks ago by kmt
History of Symbolics lisp machines
Richard Stallman has been telling a story about the origins of the Lisp machine companies, and the effects on the M.I.T. Artificial Intelligence Lab, for many years. He has published it in a book, and in a widely-referenced paper, which you can find at http://www.gnu.org/gnu/rms-lisp.html.

His account is highly biased, and in many places just plain wrong. Here’s my own perspective on what really happened.

Richard Greenblatt’s proposal for a Lisp machine company had two premises. First, there should be no outside investment. This would have been totally unrealistic: a company manufacturing computer hardware needs capital. Second, Greenblatt himself would be the CEO. The other members of the Lisp machine project were extremely dubious of Greenblatt’s ability to run a company. So Greenblatt and the others went their separate ways and set up two companies.

Stallman’s characterization of this as “backstabbing”, and that Symbolics decided not “not have scruples”, is pure hogwash. There was no backstabbing whatsoever. Symbolics was extremely scrupulous. Stallman’s characterization of Symbolics as “looking for ways to destroy” LMI is pure fantasy.
lisp  history  computing  people  argument  AI 
8 weeks ago by kmt
Kurt Gödel: A Contradiction in the U.S. Constitution?
The story of Gödel's citizenship hearing had been much repeated over the years. What was known was that on 5 December 1947, Kurt Gödel went to his citizenship hearing in Trenton, New Jersey. The examiner was Judge Philip Forman. As his witnesses, Gödel brought his two closest friends, Oskar Morgenstern and Albert Einstein. Gödel was granted citizenship, and took his oath on 2 April 1948. Those were the reliably established facts.

Afterwards, Morgenstern told many people that he and Einstein had had their hands full preventing the brilliant, but politically naive, Gödel from derailing his citizenship chances. No account directly from Morgenstern or anyone else at the hearing had survived, but hearsay versions circulated widely. The hearsay versions show considerable variation, but their burden is something like the following:

Gödel, in his usual manner, had read extensively in preparing for the hearing. In the course of his studies, Gödel decided that he had discovered a flaw in the U.S. Constitution -- a contradiction which would allow the U.S. to be turned into a dictatorship. Gödel, usually quite reticent, seemed to feel a need to make this known. Morgenstern and Einstein warned Gödel that it would be a disaster to confront his citizenship examiner with visions of a Constitutional flaw leading to an American dictatorship.

Arriving in Princeton, the trio had no idea who the examiner would be. They happened to run into Judge Forman. Forman was a friend of Einstein's -- when Einstein became a citizen, Forman had administered the oath. How lucky this was became apparent almost immediately during the questioning. Forman happened to remark how fortunate it was that the US was not a dictatorship, which Gödel took as a cue to explain his discovery. A surprised Forman exchanged glances with Einstein and Morgenstern, cut Gödel off, and forced-marched the hearing through to a successful conclusion.
logic  history  people 
9 weeks ago by kmt
Why bad technology dominates our lives, according to Don Norman
“Science Finds–Industry Applies–Man Conforms.” That was the motto of the Chicago 1933 International Exposition. I used it as the epigraph of my 1993 book, Things That Make Us Smart, suggesting that it be flipped to read “People Propose, Technology Conforms.” I have helped develop design principles that make technology easier to use and understand, principles that evolved into my book Design of Everyday Things, and that today are called human-centered design.


But if these principles are so powerful and useful, why do they continually have to be taught and retaught? Why does each new industry repeat the failures of earlier industries? I now realize that my approach was wrong: We were addressing the symptoms, not the core, fundamental issues. The phrase “man conforms” is technology-centered, rather than people-centered. That much is obvious, but what was not so obvious was how much this view has permeated everything we do.
design  technology  history  argument 
10 weeks ago by kmt
Two histories of Myst – Picking Up the Pieces – Medium
The ripples of Myst are visible even today, most obviously but far from exclusively within so-called “walking sims” like Firewatch: a focus on atmosphere, on a sense of being there, coupled with a seamless interface. Influence-finding, though, is not my main interest here. What follows is a history of this game’s histories. I want to analyze the dueling narratives that arose to contextualize and explain the single, seismic event that was Myst.
games  history 
10 weeks ago by kmt
Timothy Snyder’s Lies
When is a bad book important? When it tackles an important topic, for one thing, something meaty and emotional such as, say, Nazism and the Holocaust. Another is when its arguments resonate, when they capture the imagination of a segment of the reading public and shape thinking in some significant way.

One such book was Daniel Goldhagen’s 1996 Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, which argued that the real reason for the death of six million Jews was not Nazism per se but an “eliminationist” mindset that had taken hold of the German psyche decades earlier and that only Americanization could expunge — music to the ears, needless to say, of fans of “the indispensable nation.”

A more recent example is Timothy Snyder’s Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin, a high-voltage account of Eastern Europe’s bloody travails between 1933 and 1945. Bloodlands made it onto the bestseller lists in America, Germany, and Poland, racked up numerous awards, and has been translated into some twenty-six languages. The praise has been lavish. Anne Applebaum called it “brave and original” in the New York Review of Books, Samuel Moyn said that it was “a remarkable, even triumphant accomplishment” in the Nation, Adam Hochschild described it as “immensely valuable” in Harper’s, while Neal Ascherson lauded Snyder in the Guardian as “a noble writer as well as a great researcher.”
book  review  history  politics  argument  soviet-union  germany 
10 weeks ago by kmt
Porges/programming-history: Inspired by Cajori’s A History of Mathematical Notations, and/or TV Tropes.
nspired by Cajori’s A History of Mathematical Notations, and/or TV Tropes.

[On computing as pop culture:] … But pop culture holds a disdain for history. Pop culture is all about identity and feeling like you're participating. It has nothing to do with cooperation, the past or the future — it's living in the present. I think the same is true of most people who write code for money. They have no idea where [their culture came from]… — Alan Kay
esoteric  PLT  history  read-later 
11 weeks ago by kmt
Figures in the Stars
Let's compare 28 different "sky cultures" to see differences and similarities in the shapes they've seen in the night sky. Ranging from the so-called "Modern" or Western constellations, to Chinese, Maori and even a few shapes from historical cultures such as the Aztecs.
astronomy  culture  history  visualisation  design 
11 weeks ago by kmt
Crimes of Britain – Revisiting and monitoring the crimes of Britain
Crimes of Britain is a platform that was set up in 2015 dedicated to monitoring British imperialism of the present day and revisiting it of the past. British Foreign policy of today is rooted in that of the British Empire.

As it stands Britain is currently waging war on Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen. Rarely, if ever, does the British media report on these conflicts. If they do, Britain’s true role is often mitigated or presented as heroic.

Today at least 500 British troops remain in Afghanistan advising and assisting Afghan forces. The British media frequently misinform the general public that Britain withdrew from Afghanistan in 2014.
colonial-era  history  argument  british-empire  genocide  reference  read-later 
12 weeks ago by kmt
Ian Hacking reviews ‘For and against Method’ by Imre Lakatos and Paul Feyerabend, edited by Matteo Motterlini · LRB 20 January 2000
English-language philosophy of science is still dominated by ideas brought to it by refugees. In the first wave, England got the Austrians, including Karl Popper and Otto Neurath (not to mention Wittgenstein), and later got Paul Feyerabend from Vienna and Imre Lakatos from Budapest. The United States got the Germans, including Rudolf Carnap and Hans Reichenbach. The famous Vienna Circle, or Wiener Kreis, was established by Moritz Schlick, a German, who brought other Germans to Vienna. Neither of the two most memorable Viennese philosophers, Wittgenstein and Popper, was a member of this discussion club, although there were various kinds of interaction between them all. The Germans who went to the United States were a solemn lot, at least in print, who have cast a sombre shadow of propriety over American philosophy of science to this day. The Austro-Hungarians, in contrast, were a wild bunch, never comfortable anywhere, but finding England the best refuge. Lakatos really was a refugee; he remained stateless and had to travel on a British Travel Document in lieu of a passport. Feyerabend was in no literal sense a refugee, but he never found a geographical home, even when, at the end of his career, he settled in Switzerland. He was adored by a generation of students in California, but he despised the philosophy practised there by his colleagues, and his spiritual home was certainly London, at least until Lakatos’s death.
methodology  philosophy  history  philosophy-of-science  read-later  book  review 
july 2018 by kmt
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