Tag Archives: history

Viewing Time

A History of the World in 100 Seconds from Gareth Lloyd on Vimeo.


Two completely different approaches to making a concise videographic presentation of the sweep of “a” history. Gareth Lloyd explains his methodology, and, there is a bit of background for the second video by Nastio Mosquito at Africa Is a Country.

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The Fight for a Nation

civil war at national geographic
When I was a kid, say around nine years old, my favorite war was the Civil War. I would look at battlefield maps for the famous battles and try to get right into them from their bird’s eye views. My friend Stewart and me would replay battles using pencils and legal, drawing charges with scribbled arrows. I would spend hours building terrains with blankets on top of books and manage both sides. Boys have favorite wars and the carnage is abstract and obviously unreal.

A few years later, while on a drive with my family to South Carolina, we stopped at Gettysburg. From the ground the viewpoint was wholly first person, yet the nature of the long past battle had long been stripped from the Pennsylvania countryside.

The National Graphic has a web portal devoted to the preservation of Civil War battlefields. There is an interesting graphic presentation by Michael Melford about the status of the war’s historical sites.

The New York Times has an excellent topic page for the Civil War. However, I highly recommend jumping to the timeline where the underlying commentary tracks the events leading up to including the war itself and its resolution.

A few more finds:

Civil War Chronicles: America’s Oddest Election The Sure Win That Lincoln Nearly Lost
By Harold Holzer, American Heritage Magazine

The American Civil War – The History Channel

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Young and Infinite

A long, long time ago, in a distant universe…

Sometime around about 200,000 it “all” drops away. The current recorded evidence for the powers of creative artifice–that of homo sapiens sapiens–shows the story of adaptation and innovation to reflect a process of accrual. I don’t tire of reminding people who assert different using (usually magical) developmental facts, that their dodgy form of psychology, theology, or philosophy, or what-have-you, makes no account of the bare facts on the ground several hundred thousand years ago.

For example, the most ancient evidence serves as a powerful empirical rejoinder to the any theory of intelligent design. Why would a designer build the highest form of sentient life to be so primitive? Moreover, where is any account to be found in any theism or traditionalism or foundationalism able to make an actual account? No, in fact every bright idea can be seen to arise, to be evoked as-it-were, from a point of aroused curiosity or pressurized necessity. But, then, as one tracks backward, each and every bright idea literally disappears.

[qt:http://www.squareone-learning.com/video/Multiverse-Theory.mov 720 480]
(video:quicktime:takes 5 minutes to load)

Video: Stephen Calhoun, using photographs taken from the Hubble orbital observtaory.
Music: Kamelmauz

Lucy’s Species May Have Used Stone Tools 3.4 Million Years Ago

Evidence for the survival of the oldest terrestrial mantle reservoir

Study: 650-Million-Year-Old Sponges May Be World’s Oldest Animals

50,000 Years of Dreamtime

The settlement of Australia is a breakthrough in the “human story.” Very soon after anatomically modern humans began to replace (and to some extent assimilate) other lineages of our genus in Eurasia we pushed beyond the previous outer limits of the domains of humankind. The ancestors of Australian Aboriginals swept past the Wallace Line, and quickly settled the Ice Age continent of Sahul, consisting of Australia and Papua New Guinea. The biogeography of Australia is well known. Aside from bats and some endemic rodents the continent was free of placental mammals before modern humans arrived.

As for when these humans made landfall, there is some debate as to that particular issue. The oldest remains from Australia, Mungo Man, has been dated to anywhere between 70,000, and 30,000, years before the present. If we took the older date then Australia would have been settled almost immediately after the expansion of non-African modern humanity. If we accepted the younger date, then the settlement of Australia would have been concurrent with the final replacement of Neandertals by modern humans in Europe. The current consensus seems to be that Mungo Man dates to approximately 46,000 years before the present. As the first dating of a particular individual from a species in a region is liable to miss earlier individuals who were not fossilized it seems likely that Australia was settled by anatomically modern humans on the order of 46,000 years before the present, but somewhat earlier than that date. That would imply that Australia was populated by anatomically modern humans at least 10,000 years before Europe. One should probably not be too surprised by this. Out-of-Africa humans were probably initially tropically adapted so lateral migration would have been easier, but also, there were no hominin competitors in Australia.

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Temporal Directive

Onion, December 15. Did you ever wonder what the Thomist reasoning and attitude is toward precedents?

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The Health of Money

The God In the Machine, Lewis H. Lapham, Lapham’s Quarterly, V.II,No.3

President Barack Obama during his first months in office seldom has missed a chance to liken the country’s healthcare system to an unburied corpse, which, if left lying around in the sun by the 111th Congress, threatens to foul the sweet summer air of the American dream. The prognosis doesn’t admit of a second or third opinion. Whether on call to the Democratic left or the Republican right, the attending politicians and consulting economists concur in their assessment of the risk posed by the morbid emissions. The country now pays an annual fee of $2.4 trillion for its medical treatments (16 percent of GDP); the costs continue to lead nowhere but up. Fail to embalm or entomb the putrefying debt, and it’s only a matter of time—ten years, maybe twenty—before the pulse disappears from the monitors tracking the heartbeat on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

So say the clinicians in Washington, and I don’t quarrel with the consensus. If I can’t make sense of some of the diagnoses or most of the prescriptions, at least I can understand that what is being discussed is the health of America’s money, not the well-being of its people. The symptoms present as vividly as the manifestations of plague listed in Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, but they show up as an infection of the body politic caused by the referral of the country’s medical care to the empathy of accountants and the wisdom of drug dealers.

If I can’t make sense of some of the diagnoses or most of the prescriptions, at least I can understand that what is being discussed is the health of America’s money, not the well-being of its people.

This is the most cogent comment about the current debate over reform of the health care system I’ve encountered.

Thank goodness for Lewis Lapham. More:

The medieval church marketed its healthcare product as the forgiveness of sin, in the form of Papal indulgences intended to preserve the vitality of the immortal soul. In an age that places a higher value on the flesh than it does on the spirit, the guarantees on the label promise to restore the blooms of eternal youth. To the extent that we construe physical well-being as the most cherished commodity sold in the supermarkets of human happiness, we stand willing to spend more money on the warrants of longevity than we spend on lottery tickets and cocaine. Our consumption of medical goods and services constitutes the performance of what Thorstein Veblen in The Theory of the Leisure Class characterized as a devout observance—the futility and superfluous expense of the exercise testifying to its value as an act of worship. The more health product that we conspicuously consume, the more of us feel conspicuously ill. To express our devotion we magnify every “riddling distemper” the flesh is heir to, deprive ourselves of food and blood, discover diseases where none exist, incise ourselves with liposuction and the angiogram. The pharmaceutical companies step up the dosages of terror in their print and television advertising; volunteer committees of vigilance gather in city parks to keep a sharp watch for obese wastrels who neglect their aerobic exercises, smoke cigarettes, fail to ingest their antioxidants, refuse to drink their pomegranate juice. We learn to think, as do the characters in a Woody Allen movie, that we become commendable, or at least interesting, by virtue of the stigmata verifying our status as victims and attesting to our worth as patients.

My only gripe with the Medicine issue is that for whatever reason, Ivan Illich, (author of the classic Medical Nemesis,) wasn’t included.

The Lapham Quarterly is the single most edifying and provocative publication now being produced in the sphere of the ‘public intellect.’ Of course, Lapham himself is a terrific essayist. As it turns out he’s also a visionary assembler of ideas, given the brilliant collections organized around themes he’s issued in the form of his journal. Above all, The Lapham Quarterly honors the intellect of the reader by juxtaposing classical and modern thinking around the themes, and then allowing the reader to reason through a robust clash of historical and contemporary perspectives. It’s not all words. Each edition includes graphic evidence and images aimed to do what 1,000 words cannot.

The web site for The Lapham Quarterly has evolved to offer content not in the journal. Highly recommended. At the web site are Lapham’s introductions for each issue and its centering theme. Right now, Lapham is second-to-none as a commentator on current events.

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We Are Stardust

Billion year old carbon
We are golden
Caught in the devils bargain
And weve got to get ourselves
Back to the garden.
excerpt, Woodstock, by Joni Mitchell

In August 1969, I was 14 years old, and spending the summer with my cousins and aunt and uncle outside of Charlottesville, Virginia. One of my cousins suggested that we go up to the music festival in Woodstock. This was vetoed by my uncle in explicit terms, ‘It’s no place for a 14 year old.’

He knew something I didn’t know. In truth, I was not a hippie at the time, wasn’t much in tune with the tie-dyed times, and was not anywhere near as motivated as my cousin, a college student.

However, noting this reminds me of how much on the cusp I was at the time. By the fall of 1969 I had undergone various initiations and soon was long-haired and full of authority-questioning notions. Etc.. As it turned out, in my new school, several of the seniors and juniors had made the trek to Woodstock. It sounded fun and I understood from their tales what my uncle must have meant.

Counter-culture. Thank goodness for it. Survived it; learned a ton; got some of the current in my cells; had many adventures; continued to be informed by the transformative ripples.

It was a tough time–full of wreckage for greatest generation parents. There’s much I might say, doors of perception and stuff, but, instead I would like to introduce a map showing in what locations the counter-culture took hold (in blue).

By the way, this also is a map of the Presidential vote in 2008. Red=not hippies.

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Kseniya Simonova – Sand Artist

Hat tip to Huffington Post (*).

Here, ((Kseniya Simonova)) recounts Germany conquering Ukraine in the second world war. She brings calm, then conflict. A couple on a bench become a woman’s face; a peaceful walkway becomes a conflagration; a weeping widow morphs into an obelisk for an unknown soldier. Simonova looks like some vengeful Old Testament deity as she destroys then recreates her scenes – with deft strokes, sprinkles and sweeps she keeps the narrative going. She moves the judges to tears as she subtitles the final scene “you are always near”.

*Kseniya Simonova is a Ukrainian artist who just won Ukraine’s version of “America’s Got Talent.”

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“History” (excerpt from A Bibliography On America For Ed Dorn)

click to see large version
“Theory” Theory of Society

click to see large version
(source: Additional Prose of Charles Olson Four Seasons Foundation 1974)

I offer three pages for closer inspection, the only way to start —

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Who was Cain’s wife? Okay, old conundrum for the literalists in the monotheistic clans.


Eve–ruled out by all
sister–must be considered
Lilith (Adam’s first wife?)–must be considered pending one’s treatment of Lilith
pre-adamic beings–why not?

“If we now work totally from Scripture, without any personal prejudices or other extra-biblical ideas, then back at the beginning, when there was only the first generation, brothers would have had to have married sisters or there would be no more generations! We are not told when Cain married or any of the details of other marriages and children, but we can say for certain that some brothers had to marry their sisters at the beginning of human history. ”

A very similar tack is adopted by Bible Answers. Apparently this is justified by the need to populate the Earth – although why god did not work the old hokum on a spare rib and create Cain a wife from scratch is a bit of a puzzle. For a deity it must be a fairly trivial trick. Christian Answers bravely goes on to tackle the risks of inherited problems resulting from breeding with a close relative. This happens now but back then Adam and Eve were created genetically perfect and so errors could not happen. By the time of Moses “degenerative mistakes would have built up in the human race to such an extent that it was necessary for God to forbid brother-sister (and close relative) marriage (Leviticus 18-20).[12] (Also, there were plenty of people on the earth by then, and there was no reason for close relations to marry.) ”

Well, that’s another biblical mystery solved. It is best to leave Christian Answers to sum up – as we stand in stunned admiration of the mental gymnastics that make incest a part of god’s plan.

“Genesis is the record of the God who was there as history happened. It is the word of One who knows everything, and who is a reliable witness from the past. Thus, when we use Genesis as a basis for understanding history, we can make sense of questions that would otherwise be a mystery. ” (via Skeptical Reviews)

The funniest treatment I happened across by anyone who views their authority seriously, was:

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The essence of Mithen’s cathedral metaphor — that closed-off sectors of mental life became open to integration, cumulative speculation, and enthusiastic discovery — is most compelling. It surely describes a quantum leap in the flexibility and scope of consciousness that does, indeed, make sense of the cultural explosion of the period 40k to 10k, B.P. One aspect of his theory, however, appears unacceptable in light of the material we have collected, namely that there was ever a time when our ancestors had only general intelligence and no mental modules or archetypes to organize their experience. On purely logical grounds, it makes no sense to think that evolution had to start all over with Homo sapiens and create entirely new archetypes. Our brain is an advanced primate brain, and when we began to walk upright and assemble in larger and larger numbers, we must have had mental modules which were variations on those inherited by our closest relatives among the primates. But even if we set logic aside, the evidence tells us that we share fundamental structures of mind with bees, blackbirds, beavers, and bonobos. excerpt

Archetypal Memory and the Genetic/Darwinian Paradigm (John Ryan Haule)

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