Hate speech is like mold: Its enemies are bright light and fresh air.
Cartoon: “Science Articles: A Guide” (to the ratio of subject matter complexity to prose complexity)
New Yorker cartoon whose premise is that historians matter.
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I’ve been taking some time to think more about a slow-moving article on Wilhelm Groener I’ve been working on. It has received a big boost recently from the GHI’s… Read more Preparing to Fight the Last War? Maybe Not →
Categories on a blog have a way of getting out of control over time. Am trying to reduce their number, make them more useful, and put tags to better use.
A younger historian on Facebook called this picture a “Nice primary source of the late Cold War!” I don’t know what that makes me, the guy in front, but I… Read more Grafenwöhr 1983 →
. . . A friend called me full of sadness, full of anxiety about conflict, about war. Why not leave the country? But despair is no answer. To combat authoritarianism, to call out lies, to struggle honorably and fiercely in the name of American ideals—that is what is left to do. That is all there is to do.
American national leaders gain their legitimacy by competing in compliance with not merely the outward forms but the clear values of our Constitution—equal dignity, religious freedom and tolerance, open deliberation, and the rule of law. These values don’t bind Donald Trump; norms of decency do not apply; he shrugs off the very burden of fact itself.
My initial personal takeaway from tonight’s lecture on digital mapping: It looks useful as an analytical tool, and for presentation, but in the end we still have to write narratives. Historians have to make choices, not present facts that merely speak for themselves. During the question and answer period, the story-telling aspect of such enterprises became clearer. Apparently a kind of directed narrative is the idea. Unfortunately, that got lost in the presentation of tools aimed at the already initiated. An inordinate amount of space was given to talking about… Read more Tonight’s Lecture →
I was standing near the driver in my bus yesterday, waiting for the light to change so I could get off. When the light turned green, but the car in front of us didn’t move, the driver beeped his horn. I said, “People need to get off their phones,” which earned a laugh from the driver. Then he added something I hadn’t recognized about the situation: “Uber drivers are the worst. I thought taxi drivers were bad . . .” I almost quipped something about how automation will soon take care… Read more Automation →
It is no surprise that the American face of fascism would take on the forms of celebrity television and the casino greeter’s come-on, since that is as much our symbolic scene as nostalgic re-creations of Roman splendors once were Italy’s.
A woman I met way back when my son and her daughter were still in kindergarten or the first grade has written a piece that drives home the unfortunate contradictions in what passes for a national conversation in these United States. It’s not preachy or partisan, just personal, the kind of thing that can make you think, even if you don’t happen to know the man in question.
My husband of twenty-seven years is a police officer. He’s a decent man, a kind man, the kind of police officer you’d want if you were in trouble. He’s also a black man. A black man who I worry about more when he is out of uniform than when he is wearing one.
Read the whole piece: Black Man Driving
One of the new research focuses at the GHI since our director, Simone Lässig, began her tenure last October is the history of knowledge.1 The study of knowledge in its… Read more A Few Notes on the History of Knowledge →
In most of today’s university disciplines, professional training serves to distance an individual from the public, to refine them into an ‘expert’ whose speech and writing are marked by incomprehensible formulae and keywords. But history-telling came out of an age before the era of experts, and its form is inherently democratic.
—Jo Guldi and David Armitage, The History Manifesto (2014; Cambridge UP, 2015), 56.
Technology, institutions, mentalities and practices change at different rates. Technology, especially in the age of what has been called ‘the institutionalization of innovation’, changes rapidly. Society and its institutions change more slowly, a result of what has been called institutional ‘inertia’. Last to change are mentalities and practices, illustrating the presence of the past in the world of today.
— Peter Burke, A Social History of Knowledge II: From the Encyclopaedia to Wikipedia (Polity, 2012), Kindle ed., chap. 9, “Chronologies of Knowledge.”
Some years ago, I used a Tumblr blog as a kind of commonplace book. That fell by the wayside, but lately I’ve felt the need to have a place to save quotes again. Rather than use a separate venue, however, I’ll just collect them here under the commonplacing
I don’t intend to take extensive notes this way, but rather to grab things that I think can stand on their own. That’s the plan for now anyway.
This New York Times story sure hits close to home: 272 Slaves Were Sold to Save Georgetown. What Does It Owe Their Descendants? As a human being and as an alumnus, I find this startling. As a historian, I can’t think of a better way to make history relevant to students in the present.