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Archive for May, 2013

Summative Table: FDR’s New Deal

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

This table summarizes the New Deal programs we will address in class. It also offers some arguments for/against each program. Spend some time wrapping your head around the scope of the New Deal reforms.

Lagos’ Homeless: Paying the Price of Progress

Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

Under Lagos’s energetic governor, much lauded in the international financial media, this crowded megalopolis of high rises, filthy lagoons, fierce traffic jams and sprawling slums, home to perhaps 21 million people, has proclaimed its ambition to become the region’s, if not Africa’s, premier business center.

Infrastructure and housing projects abound, including a light-rail network whose trestles already vault crowded neighborhoods, and a vast upmarket Dubai-style shopping and housing development built out into the Atlantic Ocean, inaugurated last week by former President Bill Clinton. A new Porsche dealership has opened in the financial district.

In this gleaming vision, the old Lagos of slums has an uncertain future. Two-thirds of the city’s residents live in “informal” neighborhoods, as activists call them, while more than one million of the city’s poor have been forcibly ejected from their homes in largely unannounced, government slum clearances over the last 15 years.

Many said they were given 20 minutes, at most, to pack up their belongings.

Buckley, Kerouac, Sanders and Yablonsky discuss Hippies

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

A 1968 episode of William F. Buckley’s Firing Line, featuring a drunken Jack Kerouac, the Fug’s Ed Sanders and a clueless academic, Lewis Yablonsky, discussing the “Hippie” movement.

The Guerrilla Skirmishes of the Sexual Revolution

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

The front page of the The Daily Princetonian


Fifty years ago this week, panty-seeking college boys lit the fuse on the 1960s.

“Imagine being the typical 20-year-old American-male college student in May of 1952. You have come of age in the new era of the American teenager. You are living in close quarters with thousands of peers amid a campus boom made possible by the GI Bill. Whether you study rocket science or history, you are being trained to win the Cold War. You are eligible to be drafted to kill and die in Korea, but you cannot vote, and you cannot spend the night with your girlfriend, and you cannot console yourself by rocking out to “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” because Mick Jagger is still 8 years old. Which is not even to mention that homosexuality is grounds for expulsion. You have been waiting for spring. You have been studying Robert Herrick in English lit. The leaves are on the trees. The sun is in the leaves. The personal is the political, but there aren’t yet any second-wave feminists to say so. The sap is rising in the trunk. The panty-raider’s pursuit of unmentionables is sometimes a conscious act of political speech, sometimes the unconscious expression of teen lust in a repressive climate.”

Christopher Hitchens – On BBC Radio 4 ‘Great Lives’ discussing Leon Trotsky

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Matthew Parris is joined by Christopher Hitchens who nominates Leon Trotsky for great-life status, and the historian Professor Robert Service who argues against him.

1955 Map Shows No-Go Zones for Soviet Travelers in the U.S.

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

This map shows where Soviet citizens, who were required to have a detailed itinerary approved before obtaining a visa, could and could not go during their time in the United States. Most ports, coastlines, and weapons facilities were off-limits, as were industrial centers and several cities in the Jim Crow South.

These restrictions mirrored Soviet constraints on American travel to the USSR. Both the United States and the Soviet Union had closely controlled the movement of all foreign visitors since World War II. A 1952 law in the U.S. barred the admission of all Communists, and therefore of Soviet citizens.

The Soviets’ decision to relax their controls after Joseph Stalin’s death in March 1953 left the U.S. open to charges that it, not the USSR, was operating behind an Iron Curtain. President Eisenhower and his foreign policy advisers decided to mimic Soviet policy as closely as possible: As of early 1955, citizens of either nation could enter approximately 70 percent of the other’s territory, including 70 percent of cities with populations greater than 100,000.

Travel restrictions on Soviet private citizens stayed in place, enforced by the Departments of State and Justice, until the Kennedy administration unilaterally lifted them in 1962 as a symbol of the openness of American society. Controls on visits from journalists and government officials, by contrast, lingered until the end of the Cold War. As the recent story of the American diplomat arrested in Moscow on charges of CIA recruitment activities suggests, the history of mutual suspicion still occasionally surfaces.

Map of Prohibited Areas

Sovereign Nations Walk Out of Meeting With U.S. State Department Unanimously Rejecting Keystone XL Pipeline

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

The State Department, still with “egg on its face” from its statement that Keystone XL would have little impact on climate change, sunk a little lower today as the most respected elders, and chiefs of 10 sovereign nations turned their backs on State Department representatives and walked out during a meeting. The meeting, which was a failed attempt at a “nation to nation” tribal consultation concerning the Keystone XL Pipeline neglected to address any legitimate concerns being raised by First Nations Leaders (or leading scientific experts for that matter).

Climate Science WatchThe EPA and most people with common sense rebuked the State Department’s initial report and today First Nations sent a very clear message to President Obama and the world concerning the future fate of their land regarding Keystone XL.

Vice president for conservation policy at the National Wildlife Federation Jim Lyon said of the department’s original analysis that it “fails in its review of climate impacts, threats to endangered wildlife like whooping cranes and woodland caribou, and the concerns of tribal communities.” Today tribal nations added probably the most critical danger of the pipeline which is to the water.

American Experience Geronimo and the Apache Resistance

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

The Native American leader fought against U.S. expansion onto Apache tribal land. The story of a tragic collision of two civilizations.

And here for the PBS Page

Ghost Army: The Inflatable Tanks That Fooled Hitler

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

Blass and his cohort were members of the 23rd Headquarters Special Troops, an elite force whose specialty was “tactical deception.” They’re now better known, though, as the “Ghost Army” — a troop of soldiers that doubled, in Europe’s theater, as a troupe of actors. (The unit was the brain child, one report has it, of Douglas Fairbanks, Jr.) The 23rd were, essentially, the Trojan Horse builders of World War II.

Except that their wooden horses took the form of inflatable tanks. And rubber airplanes. And elaborate costumes. And radio codes. And speakers that blared pre-recorded soundtracks into the forests of France.

These props — “advanced technology” as advanced technology — wereamazingly effective, doing what all good theater props will: setting a believable scene. The Ghost Army, some 1,100 men in all, ended up staging more than twenty battlefield deceptions between 1944 and 1945, starting in Normandy two weeks after D-Day and ending in the Rhine River Valley. Many of those performances — “illusions,” the men appropriately preferred to call them — took place within a few hundred yards of the front lines.

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A 93-pound inflatable tank, of the kind used by the Ghost Army (National Archives)

And they relied on what the Ghost Army termed, awesomely, “atmosphere” — creating the overall impression of an omnipresent military force. Soldiers in the Ghost Army were Potemkin villages, personified. They pretended to be members of fellow units (units that were actually deployed elsewhere) by sewing divisional patches onto their uniforms and painting other units’ insignias onto their vehicles. The Army would dispatch a few of its members to drive canvas-covered trucks — sometimes as few as two of those trucks — in looping convoys that would create the impression (sorry, the “illusion”) of an entire infantry unit being transported.

Data: Industrialization / Post-Industrial World

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

annual hours


"The Improving State of the World" (c) Cato Institute 2007.