Category Archive: History

Oct 01 2013

Ayn Rand Illustrated


Read the story of Ayn Rand’s life. She was not a nice person… …and it’s hard to feel much sympathy when her ideology collides with reality, and she gets her comeuppance. I confess, I chuckled at that part.

Sep 26 2013

Please, please people: stop using the naive dictionary meaning of words in place of context

I know I’m notorious for complaining about those goofy definitions of atheism (“it just means “not believing in god”, nothing more!”, the superficial mob will say) because the word has acquired much deeper resonances that we ignore at our peril, and has implications far greater than simple rejection of one assertion. But the other word …

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Sep 02 2013

+++ Divide By Cucumber Error. Please Reinstall Universe And Reboot +++


I keep looking at this 57 year old sign and my brain just kind of shuts down. The world has changed just over the span of my life, and in this case…not for the better. (via Mike the Mad Biologist)

Sep 02 2013

Heh, “Colonial Colleges”

I like that title so much better than “Ivy League”. Here’s a brief and amusing history of American higher education that focuses almost entirely on those revered and over-rated East coast places (says the guy at a land grant college, a program which only gets a quick mention). Other things that get only the most …

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Jul 18 2013

The most precious jewelry in the world


It’s not the Koh-I-Noor or the Empress Eugenie Brooch or whatever my wife is wearing right now, it’s this: It’s a small, broken fossil shell, collected from a fossil outcrop and transported 110 kilometers to a hole in the ground in Italy. Close inspection reveals that before it was broken, there was a pattern of …

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Jun 24 2013

Remembering the UpStairs Lounge

Over at The Friendly Atheist, Terry Firma points out that today is the 40th anniversary of one of the deadliest hate crimes in recent U.S. history: the deliberate arson of the UpStairs Lounge in New Orleans. Just before 8:00p, the doorbell rang insistently. To answer it, you had to unlock a steel door that opened …

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Jun 23 2013

Taking a hatchet to Hitchens

I saw with some trepidation an article by an atheist that rebukes the man: the title is “Christopher Hitchens’ lies do atheism no favors“. I felt that trepidation because there really are very good reasons to criticize Hitchens: his politics were vile, he was a cheerleader for war, his ‘solutions’ for problems in the Middle …

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Jun 20 2013

No honor in the American Civil War

The sesquicentennial of the battle of Gettysburg is coming up soon. Let’s not romanticize it; Tony Horwitz has written a great antidote. On July 1st, 1863, Alfred Iverson ordered his brigade of North Carolinians across an open field. The soldiers marched in tight formation until Union riflemen suddenly rose from behind a stone wall and …

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Jun 19 2013

A quick note

You must read today’s xkcd: The Pace of Modern Life. That’s all, gotta go. I just had to pluck out one example. The managers of sensational newspapers…do not try to educate their readers and make them better, but tend to create perverted tastes and develop vicious tendencies. The owners of these papers seem to have …

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Jun 12 2013

Knowing a little history clarifies issues

We’ve had this long-simmering football controversy here in the upper midwest — a North Dakota football team named itself after an Indian tribe. They try to argue that it’s not racist and claim that it’s a respectful homage to the natives, but look at the history of such naming elsewhere: the Washington DC football team …

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