Yes, North Korea won yesterday. Threatening 9/11-like violence, the DPRK scared Sony and America’s four largest theater chains into pulling the plug on the release of The Interview. And, just like that, Americans lost their right to watch their own propaganda films — even dumb funny ones — in their own theaters.[...]
Image by New York Public Library
Last Christmas, we featured Charles Dickens’ hand-edited copy of his beloved 1843 novella A Christmas Carol. He did that hand editing for the purposes of giving public readings, a practice that, in his time, “was considered a desecration of one’s art and a lowering of one’s dignity.
One thing is for sure: Before Ludwig Wittgenstein and Adolf Hitler took very different paths in life, they were, as young teenagers, students at the same school — the Realschule in Linz, Austria. According to the Historical Dictionary of Wittgenstein’s Philosophy, the young philosopher and dictator crossed over at the Realschule in 1904.[...]
In 1913, Germany, flush with a new nation’s patriotic zeal, looked like it might become the dominant nation of Europe and a real rival to that global superpower Great Britain. Then it hit the buzzsaw of World War I.[...]
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According to many historians, the English Enlightenment may never have happened were it not for coffeehouses, the public sphere where poets, critics, philosophers, legal minds, and other intellectual gadflies regularly met to chatter about the pressing concerns of the day.
Image by Wendy MacNaughton for NPR
Most people’s to-do lists are, almost by definition, pretty dull, filled with those quotidian little tasks that tend to slip out of our minds. Pick up the laundry. Get that thing for the kid. Buy milk, canned yams and kumquats at the local market.
Leonardo Da Vinci was, however, no ordinary person.
On this day in 1955, Rosa Parks took her fateful bus ride in Montgomery, Alabama.
As the story is often told, Parks was a diminutive African-American seamstress who was weary from a long day of work at a downtown department store.
The Darwinian theory of evolution is an amazing scientific idea that seems, at least to a layperson like me, to meet all the criteria for what scientists like Ian Glynn praise highly as “elegance”—all of them perhaps except one: Simplicity.[...]
If you don’t understand big history, you’ll never understand small history. That idea hasn’t yet attained aphorism status, but maybe we can get it there. Last month, we featured a free, Bill Gates-funded short course on 13.8 billion years of “Big History”.[...]