Review of 'The Soul of America' by Jon Meacham and 'Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America' by James Fallows and Deborah Fallows
Brown v Board of Education might be the most well-known Supreme Court decision, a major victory in the fight for civil rights. But in Topeka, the city where the case began, the ruling has left a bittersweet legacy. RH hears from the Browns, the family behind the story.
This is a stunning episode with several ideas and thought’s I’d not previously heard or considered. I feel guilty that I’ve been ignorant to some forces in society like these, but I suspect far too many others are as well. Veritas vos liberabit.
The brilliant idea here is that even the romantic view of Brown v. Board of Education many have isn’t really the victory it might have been. Because the continued racism and segregation of the teachers, things may have become even worse! The Supreme Court should and could have done better and the world would have healed a bit quicker.
Sadly we’ve still got similar problems today and they stretch across many other professions including law enforcement. I wonder what we can do to dramatically improve the teacher diversity problem?
Those who appreciated this episode are likely to appreciate this recent episode of The Daily’s podcast: Racism’s Punishing Reach which has several examples that underline the importance of teachers and provides some studies that just weren’t available at the time of Brown v. Board.
I hope to circle back and create a playlist of some of the more interesting things I’ve heard in the last year on the history of race and racism in the United States. This would certainly fit into that list.Syndicated copies to:
In 1984, Elvis Costello released what he would say later was his worst record: Goodbye Cruel World. Among the most discordant songs on the album was the forgettable “The Deportees Club.” But then, years later, Costello went back and re-recorded it as “Deportee,” and today it stands as one of his most sublime achievements.
“Hallelujah” is about the role that time and iteration play in the production of genius, and how some of the most memorable works of art had modest and undistinguished births.
And here I thought I knew a lot about the story of Hallelujah. I haven’t read any of the books on its history, nor written any myself, but this short story does have a good bit I’ve not heard before in the past. I did read quite a bit when Cohen passed away, and even spent some time making a Spotify playlist with over five hours of covers.
The bigger idea here of immediate genius versus “slow cooked” genius is the fun one to contemplate. I’ve previously heard stories about Mozart’s composing involved his working things out in his head and then later putting them on paper much the same way that a “cow pees” (i.e. all in one quick go or a fast flood.)
Another interesting thing I find here is the insanely small probability that the chain of events that makes the song popular actually happens. It seems worthwhile to look at the statistical mechanics of the production of genius. Perhaps applying Ridley’s concepts of “Ideas having sex” and Dawkin’s “meme theory” (aka selfish gene) could be interestingly useful. What does the state space of genius look like?Syndicated copies to:
Archaeologists in Sudan have uncovered the largest assemblage of Meroitic inscriptions to date
This is a cool discovery, in great part because their documentation was interesting enough to be able to suggest further locations to check for more archaeological finds. This might also be something one could apply some linguistic analysis and information theory to in an attempt to better pull apart the language and grammar.
h/t to @ArtsJournalNews, bookmarked on April 17, 2018 at 08:16AM
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Trove Of Inscriptions In Sub-Saharan Africa’s Oldest Written Language Discovered:
“Archaeologists in Sudan have uncovered a large cache of rare stone inscriptions at the Sedeinga necropolis along the Nile River. The collection of funerary texts are ins… https://t.co/8qb3gkkpsa
— ArtsJournal (@ArtsJournalNews) April 17, 2018
In the early 1960s, the Pentagon set up a top-secret research project in an old villa in downtown Saigon. The task? To interview captured North Vietnamese soldiers and guerrillas in order to measure their morale: Was the relentless U.S. bombing pushing them to the brink of capitulation?
Mai Elliott, working in the RAND villa on Rue Pasteur. The windows are taped to prevent the glass from shattering in case of an explosion from a mortar round. Saigon, 1965 is the story of three people who got caught up in that effort: a young Vietnamese woman, a refugee from Nazi Germany, and a brilliant Russian émigré. All saw the same things. All reached different conclusions. The Pentagon effort, run by the Rand Corporation, was one of the most ambitious studies of enemy combatants ever conducted—and no one could agree on what it meant.VIETNAMESE TRANSLATION COURTESY OF RONNY CHIENG"My father-in-law was a government scholar and later government official in South Vietnam during the Vietnam war. After listening to this compelling and well crafted episode of Revisionist History, I knew he too would find this perspective on the war fascinating. So I set about to produce a Vietnamese translation of the episode so he could fully understand all the nuances of the story in his native language. Thankfully I found the extremely capable professional translator Miss Died Ngoc Bui who not only created the written translation, but also went out of her way to create the audio translation below. I hope all Vietnamese speakers, including the elderly Vietnamese diaspora who lived through the events described in the story can listen to this episode and get as much out of it as I did."- Ronny Chieng
The American RAND staff and Vietnamese interviewers on the front porch of the villa on Rue Pasteur. Courtesy of Hanh Easterbrook. A disclosure, in the fall of 2015, I was named to the Board of Directors of the RAND Corporation—the subject of this episode. It’s not a paid position (RAND is a non-profit). And I did the bulk of my reporting for this episode before taking the position. But you should know, that when I say that Rand is a incredibly fascinating place, I’m biased. And if you were on the RAND board, I daresay you’d think the same thing.
Some really great history and analysis here. It reminds me I need to go back the Vietnam doc on PBS.Syndicated copies to:
Revisionist History is Malcolm Gladwell's journey through the overlooked and the misunderstood. Every episode re-examines something from the past—an event, a person, an idea, even a song—and asks whether we got it right the first time. From Panoply Media. Because sometimes the past deserves a second chance.
An anthology of some of the greatest music stories never truly told.
This eight-part series includes a look at the FBI investigation into a classic rock anthem, unheard conversations with Captain Beefheart, a critical examination of New Edition’s basketball connection and the chronicle of a man plucked from Folsom Prison by Johnny Cash and thrust into country music stardom.
h/t Kevin Smokler
The opening keynote from the inaugural HTML Special held before CSS Day 2016 in Amsterdam.
I wasn’t able to attend the original presentation, but I think it’s even more valuable to listen to it all alone rather than in what was assuredly a much larger crowd. There is a wonderful presence in this brief history of the internet, made all the more intriguing by Jeremy’s performance as if it were poetry about technology. I find that he’s even managed to give it an interesting structured format, which, in many senses, mirrors the web itself.
I hope that if you’re starting your adventure on the web, that you manage to find this as one of the first links that starts you off on your journey. It’s a great place to start.Syndicated copies to:
This is a great thread by@palewire
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The new @latimes owner is moving the newsroom from its historic HQ to El Segundo.
I’ve been lucky enough to inhabit and explore the interlocking buildings at 1st and Spring for over a decade.
— Ben Welsh (@palewire) April 14, 2018
President Trump has chosen John R. Bolton to be his new national security adviser. In 2005, a Republican-controlled Senate committee refused to confirm Mr. Bolton as President George W. Bush’s ambassador to the United Nations. We look back at those confirmation hearings, which portrayed Mr. Bolton as a threat to national security.
On today’s episode:
• Elizabeth Williamson writes about Washington in the Trump era for The New York Times.
• Not since the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, have national security leaders so publicly raised the threat of armed confrontation if foreign adversaries do not meet America’s demands.
Most outlet’s I’d seen early on simply used shorthand to call Bolton a hawk, but without digging back into history to actually show the broader facts. I love how The Daily has done it here. The fact that he’s a hawk actually seems to be the least of his issues. Worse is that he comes off as a bully and doesn’t understand what facts are.Syndicated copies to:
Obituaries in The New York Times have been long dominated by white men. We’re adding the stories of remarkable women like Ida B. Wells, who took on racism in the South.
Some nice pieces of history here that I’m sad to say I hadn’t heard about and didn’t know they were as egregious as I had thought. I knew about lynchings in general, but didn’t know that they rose to a level as high as the one described here.Syndicated copies to:
Our tech columnist tried to skip digital news for a while. His old-school experiment led to three main conclusions.
A somewhat link-baity headline, but overall a nice little article with some generally solid advice. I always thought that even the daily paper was at too quick a pace and would much prefer a weekly or monthly magazine that does a solid recap of all the big stories and things one ought to know, that way the stories had had some time to simmer and all the details had time to come out. Kind of like reading longer form non-fiction of periods of history, just done on a somewhat shorter timescale.Syndicated copies to: