Interesting to consider that this was a reality for school kids in the early days of the Cold War. By the 1970s, when I was in school and aware of such things, such an understanding of nuclear weapons would have seemed extemely naive.

In the mid-1980s, in the field artillery, we were taught to drop to the ground, asses to the blast and hands between our legs. That was for tactical nuclear artillery rounds, but it felt just as silly.

Source and further details: Prelinger Archives, https://archive.org/details/DuckandC1951.

Duck and Cover: 1951 Civil Defense Film for Kids

Calvin and Hobbes for Editors

A hard thing to teach

What was once seen as standing ‘outside’ history, demanding silent contemplation but resisting explanation or contextualisation, has now been firmly historicised. Comparative genocide studies, histories of colonialism and genocidal violence, studies of western penal practice and more besides have demonstrated that the processes which led to the Holocaust were integral to modern history, not an aberration from it.

Neil Gregor, “‘To Think is to Compare’: Walther Rathenau, Trump and Hitler,” History Today, February 20, 2017

Information, Sociability, Reality Check

I’ve been off RSS readers for a while, in part because of Google’s exit from the game, but also because of information overload. Thinking about using it again and revisiting some old stomping grounds in the blogosphere, I found Dan Cohen’s relevant comments on Ann Blair’s Too Much to Know. Seems I am in good company with my occasional ignoring of information—ignoring that I prefer to think won’t lead to, might even prevent, ignorance.

I treat Twitter rather cavalierly too, as if it were a place to hang out, learn stuff, share things, and then leave—sometimes for longer spells. If I view all these information inputs in social terms, this is a perfectly rational way to engage with the Twittersphere. If I worried about missing some bit of news, some fascinating article or weird event, I would never get anything done and my mind would become a still murkier mess. Besides, meaningful ideas and conversations tend to have longer lifespans, and they make themselves felt in other contexts.

Dan’s piece, indeed his whole blog, reminds me of another thing. Much ostensibly older writing on the web has value, and sometimes we should take a moment to read bits of it instead of gulping down and spewing forth a remixed version of the latest clever insight or rant. (I’m talking about myself here, bigly, uh, big league.)