The BBC finally admits that MI5 secretly vetted its employees, an open secret for generations

My wife -- whose father is a TV director who'd worked for the BBC -- learned as a little girl that the British spy agency MI5 secretly vetted people who applied for work at the BBC and denoted possible subversives by putting a doodle of a Christmas tree on their personnel files; people who were thus blacklisted were discriminated against within the Beeb. Read the rest

Ancient bad ass had knife for a hand

So, there's this skeleton that archaeologists discovered in Italy during the mid-1990s. They reckon the man, who became the skeleton, was alive somewhere between the sixth and eighth century. Read the rest

Model of Ancient Rome fills room

Mussolini commissioned this enormous scale model of Ancient Rome and it took 4 years to build. Surely, much of this is guesswork? [via]

At the Museum of Roman Culture resides a 1:250 recreation of imperial Rome, known as the Plastico di Roma Imperiale, which transports viewers not just through space but time as well.

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Forced prison labor put downward pressure on wages at American companies, worsening inequality

In Economic Consequences of the U.S. Convict Labor System, UCLA economist Michael Poyker uses data on prisons and their surrounding areas from 1850 to 1950 to examine the role that free/extremely low-waged forced convict labor had on wages. Read the rest

The Secret History of Mac Gaming

Richard Moss's been working on The Secret History of Mac Gaming [Amazon] for years, and now it's finally out.

Written by Richard Moss , with additional contributions by Craig Fryar Designed by Darren Wall Illustrated by JJ Signal Published by Unbound Made possible by 1,265 crowdfunding backers

Available March 22 online and in the UK; April 15 in Australia

You can read excerpts on Ars Technica and Gamasutra .

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Public goods are REALLY good: thousands of years later, the Roman roads are still paying dividends

Social scientists often promote the value of public provision of infrastructure as a sound, long-term investment in development and prosperity, pushing back against the neoliberal tendency to abandon public goods in favor of private development. Read the rest

Introducing Faces of Auschwitz

The Auschwitz Memorial Archives preserves 38,916 photos of registered prisoners: 31,969 photos of men & 6,947 photos of women. These photographs were taken from the first quarter of 1941 until spring 1943. Read the rest

This man is capturing the memories of World War II veterans while he still can

The Second World War came to an end 73 years ago. The men and women who served during the war are rapidly succumbing to the ravages of old age. Read the rest

Norman Bel Geddes, creator of the 1939 New York World's Fair Futurama

Writing in The Believer, B. Alexandra Szerlip offers a fascinating profile of Norman Bel Geddes, the man who built the Futurama at the 1939 New York Worlds' Fair. Read the rest

The Oversight: conspiracies, magic, and the end of the world

Charlie Fletcher's new novel The Oversight ships today. It's a dark and glinting book set in Victorian London, a fat and aggressively readable novel about a secret society -- the Oversight -- charged with the policing of all the magical and supranatural (yes, supranatural) elements of Britain. Read the rest

Piketty, Capital, and the World Wars: does government policy make a difference in wealth concentration?

I'm halfway through Thomas Piketty's magisterial Capital in the Twenty First Century, a vital, incredibly influential, brilliantly researched history of wealth concentration stretching back through several centuries and spanning the globe. Read the rest

Video series about medieval lives

Medical historian Holly Tucker recommends checking out Medieval Lives: Birth, Marriage and Death — a BBC series about personal lives in the Middle Ages. Read the rest

Shakespeare's Beehive: analysis of newly discovered dictionary that Shakespeare owned and annotated

Here's a review of Shakespeare's Beehive: An Annotated Elizabethan Dictionary Comes to Light, a newly published analysis of a recently discovered Elizabethan dictionary that Shakespeare used for his plays, and which he heavily annotated. Read the rest

How schools got desegregated ... and then resegregated

The rise and fall of desegregation efforts in the three generations since Brown v. Board. Incredible work by Nikole Hannah-Jones at ProPublica, following the school careers of James Dent, his daughter, and granddaughter in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Read the rest

Renaissance Space Invaders art

Artist Dan Hernandez painted a gorgeous series of frescoes depicting Space Invaders and other vintage game screengrabs as Renaissance and Byzantine art. They're hanging in a show called "Genesis" at the Kim Foster Gallery in NYC. Read the rest

List of people who have mysteriously disappeared

My new Wikipedia list obsession: List of people who have mysteriously disappeared. Some of the "mysteries" are not as mysterious as you might hope (some Romans and ancient Gauls who disappeared in the midst of war, for instance) but the list goes back to 71 BC and there's enough interesting entries to warrant some high-quality time suck. Read the rest

The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation, a nuanced and moving history of race, slavery and the Civil War

The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation sat in my pile for too long, and it shouldn't have. I loved The United States Constitution: A Graphic Adaptation, the previous effort by Jonathan Hennessey and Aaron McConnell, so I should have anticipated how good this new one would be. Read the rest

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