According to official propaganda, Kim Jong-Il was a remarkably impressive individual. He learned to walk when he was just three weeks old; he wrote 1,500 books while at university; and, during his first and only game of golf, he scored 11 holes in one.[...]
You know that story about Dutch settlers buying the whole of Manhattan for $24 (or 60 guilders) worth of junk jewelry? Not true.
What really happened in 1626 is closer in spirit to those old yarns about hapless suckers tricked into buying the Brooklyn Bridge by cunning locals.
The BBC’s acclaimed podcast A History of the World in 100 Objects brought us just that: the story of human civilization as told through artifacts from the Egyptian Mummy of Hornedjitef to a Cretan statue of a Minoan Bull-leaper to a Korean roof tile to a Chinese solar-powered lamp.[...]
Before Theodor Seuss Geisel AKA Dr. Seuss convinced generations of children that a wocket might just be in their pocket, he was the chief editorial cartoonist for the New York newspaper PM from 1940 to 1948.[...]
As a New York City subway rider, I am constantly exposed to public health posters. More often than not these feature a photo of a wholesome-looking teen whose sober expression is meant to convey hindsight regret at having taken up drugs, dropped out of school, or foregone condoms. They’re well intended, but boring.[...]
I know, it’s a dated reference now, but since I still watch the remade Battlestar Galactica series on Netflix, the mystical refrain—“All of this has happened before and will happen again”–still seems fresh to me. At any rate, it’s fresher than the clichéd “history repeats itself.[...]
If you know the work of Pierre Bourdieu, you probably know it as sociology, or perhaps philosophy. Whatever you call the discipline he worked in, the man remained thoroughgoingly concerned with the dynamics of power in every context.[...]
Working with his colleagues, Maximilian Schich, an art historian at the University of Texas at Dallas, took Freebase (Google’s “community-curated database of well-known people, places, and things”) and gathered data on 150,000 important artists and cultural figures who lived during the long arc of Western history (6oo BCE to[...]
World War I began 100 years ago, on 28 July 1914. The initial trigger, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, produced something of a “domino effect,” where European powers, bound by pre-existing international alliances, chose sides and fell rather obviously into a catastrophic war.[...]