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Radar ears 📡👂

In what looks like elephant ears, this listening device was actually an aircraft detection device before radar was invented in 1935. via  Advertisements

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The origin of “OK”

O.K. or “Oll Korrect” was originally a corny joke amongst Boston intellectuals in 1830s Boston who would intentionally misspell abbreviations. The Boston Post printed in what is the first known print of the word OK in 1839. Martin Van Buren even adopted the idiom during his 1840 reelection campaign as a nickname. His supporters called […]

NASA’s “women computers” 🚀

Katherine Johnson helped launch America’s first orbit around Earth. She also “computed the path” that would eventually get Neil Armstrong to the moon.  In 1962’s Mercury-Atlas launch, astronaut John Glenn personally requested that she hand-crunch the machine’s calculations around the planet.  She confirmed the math a day and a half later. The 2016 film Hidden […]

‘History cannot be interpreted without the aid of imagination and intuition’

History cannot be interpreted without the aid of imagination and intuition. The sheer quantity of evidence is so overwhelming that selection is inevitable. Where there is selection there is art. — B. H. Liddell Hart, Why Don’t We Learn from History? History remains incomplete, minus some themes.

Ancient Roman fleeing Mount Vesuvius crushed by flying rock

Imagine fleeing the ash that swept Pompeii during the catastrophic eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 A.D., only to crushed by a flying stone. According to the Telegram, the archeologists also found that the 30-year old merchant was carrying 22 silver and bronze coins in a leather pouch. They also found a house key buried […]

In fingerprints we trust

Your fingerprints are uniquely yours. No two people have the same friction ridges, not even twins. Writes The Paris Review: “Scientists describe the basic patterns of fingerprints in terms of arches, whorls, and loops. (Seventy percent of a fingerprint is made up of loops.) Closer features include dots, lakes, islands, spurs, crossings, and bifurcations. It […]

Views of Tokyo (1913-1915)

Last week, I blogged about a trip through Golden Gate City: San Francisco (1939). This week’s archival video goes back in time to views of Tokyo, 1913-1915. Some observations: Notice the clash of those wearing modern (Western) clothing versus the traditional feudal garb A lot these kids (and their kids) probably went on to fight in […]

The treadmill was originally a torture device

Treadmills were originally torture devices, meant to break the mind, body, and spirit of English prisoners. Two hundred years ago, the treadmill was invented in England as a prison rehabilitation device. It was meant to cause the incarcerated to suffer and learn from their sweat. Treadmills were originally installed as an outlet for exercise and […]

Western record hunters race to the past

Reader in Music and Media at the University of Gloucestershire and author of PJ Harvey and Music Video Performance Abigail Gardner, writes an interesting take in Quartz on the recent trend of collecting and reissuing African music. Are Western crate diggers the new colonists? John Peel liked the freshness of The Bhundu Boys, they were contemporary. He didn’t live […]

A 20-year-old Nas released Illmatic on this day in 1994

Today marks the 24th anniversary of [easyazon_link identifier=”B00DFQDNOQ” locale=”US” tag=”wells01-20″]Illmatic[/easyazon_link], considered one of the greatest rap albums of all-time. It saw 20-year-old Queens-bred Nas pair up with New York producers DJ Premier, Pete Rock, Q-Tip, and Large Professor. Below is the promo video introducing the release. The Streets Disciple “I never sleep, cause sleep is […]

A trip through New York City, 1911

In 1911, Swedish film company Svenska Biografteatern recorded its trip to New York. Fortunately, the footage survived and most recently was speed-corrected and reproduced with added street sounds of car horns, horses, and police whistles to give us a sense of the environment back then. Some observations: Notice all the people wearing hats The streets look a […]

Van Gogh’s fascination with Japan

Japanese art flooded Western Europe when in 1854, America forced Japan to open its borders to trade. Some of the prints of Japanese woodcuts made it all the way to Vincent Van Gogh in Paris. He grew obsessed with ukyio-e, or “pictures of the world,” joyful elements he copied into his own art. ‘Seeing with […]