Watched Lecture 3 of 24: The Sack of Rome, 410 A.D. by Charles Mathewes from The City of God (Books That Matter) | The Great Courses
While Roman elites viewed the sack of Rome as a turning point that changed the world forever, the event itself lasted only three days and served more as a catalyst for change than a cataclysm in its own right. In this lecture, you'll find out why the sack was so monumental, and how it inspired Augustine to write The City of God.
Sack of Rome as a context for the book.

Read - Reading: Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974 by Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer (W. W. Norton & Company)
When did America become polarized? For leading historians Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer, it all starts in 1974 with the Watergate crisis, the OPEC oil embargo, desegregation busing riots in Boston, and the winding down of the Vietnam War.
I’m 31% done with Fault Lines. Finished chapter 8 to page 220.

This last section covered the turmoil of the Supreme Court during the late 80’s Reagan era. 

Read Freeman Dyson, Math Genius Turned Technological Visionary, Dies at 96 (nytimes.com)
After an early breakthrough on light and matter, he became a writer who challenged climate science and pondered space exploration and nuclear warfare.
How did I miss this when it came out?

Bookmarked on March 21, 2020 at 02:39PM

Read - Reading: Fault Lines: A History of the United States Since 1974 by Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer (W. W. Norton & Company)
When did America become polarized? For leading historians Kevin M. Kruse and Julian E. Zelizer, it all starts in 1974 with the Watergate crisis, the OPEC oil embargo, desegregation busing riots in Boston, and the winding down of the Vietnam War.
I’m 29% done with Fault Lines (page 207/Location 3173)
Discussion of the tail end of Reagan’s presidency, Iran/Contra, and the beginning of the fall of USSR.
Listened to Two Schools in Marin County by Kai Wright and Marianne McCune from The United States of Anxiety | WNYC Studios

Cover art for The United States of Anxiety Podcast

Last year, the California Attorney General held a tense press conference at a tiny elementary school in the one working class, black neighborhood of the mostly wealthy and white Marin County. His office had concluded that the local district "knowingly and intentionally" maintained a segregated school, violating the 14th amendment. He ordered them to fix it, but for local officials and families, the path forward remains unclear, as is the question: what does "equal protection" mean?

- Eric Foner is author of The Second Founding

Hosted by Kai Wright. Reported by Marianne McCune.

Thank you Kai and Marianne. Hearing stories like this really makes me furious that we haven’t figured out how to do these things better. Having some common stories and history to help bring out our commonness certainly helps in getting us past the uncomfortableness we all must feel. Perhaps once we’re past that we might all be able to come up with solutions?

I’m reminded of endothermic chemical reactions that take a reasonably high activation energy (an input cost), but one that is worth it in the end because it raises the level of all the participants to a better and higher level in the end. When are we going to realize that doing a little bit of hard work today will help us all out in the longer run? I’m hopeful that shows like this can act as a catalyst to lower the amount of energy that gets us all to a better place.

Example of an endothermic reaction. nigerianscholars.com / CC BY-SA

This Marin county example is interesting because it is so small and involves two schools. The real trouble comes in larger communities like Pasadena, where I live, which have much larger populations where the public schools are suffering while the dozens and dozens of private schools do far better. Most people probably don’t realize it, but we’re still suffering from the heavy effects of racism and busing from the early 1970’s.

All this makes me wonder if we could apply some math (topology and statistical mechanics perhaps) to these situations to calculate a measure of equity and equality for individual areas to find a maximum of some sort that would satisfy John Rawls’ veil of ignorance in better designing and planning our communities. Perhaps the difficulty may be in doing so for more broad and dense areas that have been financially gerrymandered for generations by redlining and other problems.

I can only think about how we’re killing ourselves as individuals and as a nation. The problem seems like individual choices for smoking and our long term health care outcomes or for individual consumption and its broader effects on global warming. We’re ignoring the global maximums we could be achieving (where everyone everywhere has improved lives) in the search for personal local maximums. Most of these things are not zero sum games, but sadly we feel like they must be and actively work against both our own and our collective best interests.

Read Opinion | I Helped Fact-Check the 1619 Project. The Times Ignored Me. by Leslie M. Harris (POLITICO)
The paper's series on slavery made avoidable mistakes. But the attacks from its critics are much more dangerous.

Beginning in the last quarter of the 20th century, historians like Gary Nash, Ira Berlin and Alfred Young built on the earlier work of Carter G. Woodson, Benjamin Quarles, John Hope Franklin and others, writing histories of the Colonial and Revolutionary eras that included African Americans, slavery and race. A standout from this time is Edmund Morgan’s American Slavery, American Freedom, which addresses explicitly how the intertwined histories of Native American, African American and English residents of Virginia are foundational to understanding the ideas of freedom we still struggle with today. 

These could be interesting to read.
Annotated on March 07, 2020 at 09:12PM


Scholars like Annette Gordon-Reed and Woody Holton have given us a deeper understanding of the ways in which leaders like Thomas Jefferson committed to new ideas of freedom even as they continued to be deeply committed to slavery. 

I’ve not seen any research that relates the Renaissance ideas of the Great Chain of Being moving into this new era of supposed freedom. In some sense I’m seeing the richest elite whites trying to maintain their own place in a larger hierarchy rather than stronger beliefs in equality and hard work.
Annotated on March 07, 2020 at 09:22PM

Read The fight to preserve a 44,000-year-old painting by Krithika Varagur (1843)
One of the world’s oldest artworks has been discovered inside a working Indonesian mine. It survived this long – Krithika Varagur ventures to Sulawesi to find out if it has a future

This painting was discovered in the Bulu Sipong cave on Sulawesi in 2016 and recent analysis has shown that it is the “oldest pictorial record of storytelling” and the “earliest figurative artwork in the world”, and is at least 43,900 years old. (The oldest known drawing in the world, a 73,000-year-old abstract scribble, was found in South Africa in 2018.)

Annotated on March 06, 2020 at 10:25PM

Bookmarked SOUTHERN REGIONAL COUNCIL "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" program files and sound recordings, 1956-1998 (bulk 1983-1998) (findingaids.library.emory.edu)
Program files and sound recordings from the award winning radio documentary, "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?: An Audio History of the Civil Rights Movement in Five Southern Communities and the Music of Those Times," produced by the Southern Regional Council (SRC). The collections consists of interview transcripts, audiovisual materials, scripts, program research files, and production files.
Read UTC is Enough for Everyone, Right? by Zach Holman (zachholman.com)
Programming time, dates, timezones, recurring events, leap seconds... everything is pretty terrible.
The common refrain in the industry is Just use UTC! Just use UTC! And that's correct... sort of. But if you're stuck building software that deals with time, there's so much more to consider.
It's time... to talk about time.

As programmers, we’re kind of inherently built to want the ABSOLUTE BEST HIGHEST FIDELITY FORMATS OF ALL TIME. Like dammit, I need the timestamp down to the micromillinanosecond for every cheeseburger that gets added to my bespoke Watch-The-BK-Throne app. If I do not have this exact knowledge to the millisecond of when I consumed this BBQ Bacon WHOPPER® Sandwich From Burger King® I may die. 

I totally want this as a Post Kind on my website now!
Annotated on March 03, 2020 at 07:28PM

Read Tracing The Story Of 'Lynch Mob' by Lakshmi Gandhi (NPR.org)
Last week, the CEO of AIG invoked the phrase "lynch mob" to compare the vitriolic reaction his company received about its employees' 2009 bonuses. Lynching was so common that a writer even referred to it being as "American as apple pie."
Read - Want to Read: The Second Founding: How the Civil War and Reconstruction Remade the Constitution by Eric Foner (W. W. Norton & Company)

From the Pulitzer Prize–winning scholar, a timely history of the constitutional changes that built equality into the nation’s foundation and how those guarantees have been shaken over time.

The Declaration of Independence announced equality as an American ideal, but it took the Civil War and the subsequent adoption of three constitutional amendments to establish that ideal as American law. The Reconstruction amendments abolished slavery, guaranteed all persons due process and equal protection of the law, and equipped black men with the right to vote. They established the principle of birthright citizenship and guaranteed the privileges and immunities of all citizens. The federal government, not the states, was charged with enforcement, reversing the priority of the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In grafting the principle of equality onto the Constitution, these revolutionary changes marked the second founding of the United States.

Eric Foner’s compact, insightful history traces the arc of these pivotal amendments from their dramatic origins in pre–Civil War mass meetings of African-American “colored citizens” and in Republican party politics to their virtual nullification in the late nineteenth century. A series of momentous decisions by the Supreme Court narrowed the rights guaranteed in the amendments, while the states actively undermined them. The Jim Crow system was the result. Again today there are serious political challenges to birthright citizenship, voting rights, due process, and equal protection of the law. Like all great works of history, this one informs our understanding of the present as well as the past: knowledge and vigilance are always necessary to secure our basic rights.

References to this book and Foner’s work Kai Wright and John Biewen‘s shows I’ve heard in the past week. [1] [2]

Listened to The Daily: The Coronavirus Goes Global from New York Times

The illness is on every continent except Antarctica, with more new cases now being reported outside China than within. But how threatening is the outbreak, really?