EppsNet Archive: History

EppsNet Book Reviews; The Emigrants by W.G. Sebald

I can’t come up with a better synopsis than this article from the Boston Review: Each of these men suffers from memory and from the compulsion to obliterate it; from a mourning and melancholia so deep that it is almost unnamable; from the knowledge that he has survived while those he loved have not; from problems distinguishing dream and reality; from a profound sense of displacement. Highly recommended! Rating: Read more →

Crossing the Border

It takes so little, so infinitely little, for a person to cross the border beyond which everything loses meaning: love, conviction, faith, history. Human life — and herein lies its secret — takes place in the immediate proximity of that border, even in direct contact with it; it is not miles away, but a fraction of an inch. — Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting Read more →

Female Code Breakers Who Helped Defeat the Nazis

Politico tells us that more than 10,000 female “cryptoanalysts” were enlisted by the U.S. Army and Navy to help crack Nazi codes and ensure the Allies’ victory in World War II , but until now they have been mostly overlooked by history. (Politico: The Female Code Breakers Who Helped Defeat the Nazis) OK, but male code breakers have been overlooked by history too, haven’t they? Name a few famous male code breakers. Name one. Don’t say Alan Turing, he was British. Read more →

Feb. 5, 1631: Roger Williams Arrives in America

It’s hard to imagine the sense of infinite potential accompanying the arrival on the North American continent in the 1600s . . . Roger Williams came to the Massachusetts Bay Colony in Boston from England. Four years later, in 1635, he was banished from the colony for, among other things, speaking out against the right of civil authorities to punish religious dissension. After leaving Massachusetts, Williams, with the assistance of the Narragansett tribe, established a settlement near Narragansett Bay, located in present-day Rhode Island. He declared the settlement open to all those seeking freedom of conscience and the removal of the church from civil matters. Williams named the community “Providence.” Read more →

George Washington Died on this Day in 1799

On this date, Dec. 14, in 1799, George Washington, the American revolutionary leader and first president of the United States, died of acute laryngitis at his estate in Mount Vernon, Virginia. He was 67 years old. That is according to History.com. Acute laryngitis is not something that’s likely to kill you today but in 1799, medical “science” was still so medieval that doctors believed that diseases were caused by an imbalance of fluids in the body. In particular, they believed that fevers were caused by an excess of blood and they treated fevers by bleeding the patient. Not surprisingly, draining off almost half of Washington’s blood not only didn’t cure him, it probably killed him. The moral of that story is: When you don’t know what the heck you’re doing, just leave well enough alone. Read more →

Nov. 12, 1954: Ellis Island Closes

Via History.com: On this day in 1954, Ellis Island, the gateway to America, shuts it doors after processing more than 12 million immigrants since opening in 1892. Today, an estimated 40 percent of all Americans can trace their roots through Ellis Island, located in New York Harbor off the New Jersey coast and named for merchant Samuel Ellis, who owned the land in the 1770s. On January 2, 1892, 15-year-old Annie Moore, from Ireland, became the first person to pass through the newly opened Ellis Island, which President Benjamin Harrison designated as America’s first federal immigration center in 1890. Before that time, the processing of immigrants had been handled by individual states.   With America’s entrance into World War I, immigration declined and Ellis Island was used as a detention center for suspected enemies. Following the war, Congress passed quota laws and the Immigration Act of 1924, which sharply reduced… Read more →

On This Day

On July 19, 1980, the Summer Olympics began in Moscow with dozens of nations boycotting because of Soviet military intervention in Afghanistan. Thirty-five years later, there’s still a war going on in Afghanistan, so you can see what a shrewd foreign policy move that was. Read more →

Women’s World Cup: Why the US Will Beat Germany

A recurring theme in world history is the United States dick-slapping Germany: World War I, World War II, “Tear down this wall!” … maybe that’s not the most appropriate metaphor for a women’s soccer match but we’ve been winners all our lives. U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A! Read more →

Happy Flag Day!

During the American Revolution, the Continental Congress adopts a resolution stating that “the flag of the United States be thirteen alternate stripes red and white” and that “the Union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” The national flag, which became known as the “Stars and Stripes,” was based on the “Grand Union” flag, a banner carried by the Continental Army in 1776 that also consisted of 13 red and white stripes. According to legend, Philadelphia seamstress Betsy Ross designed the new canton for the Stars and Stripes, which consisted of a circle of 13 stars and a blue background, at the request of General George Washington. Historians have been unable to conclusively prove or disprove this legend. — History.com Read more →

Bad Luck

Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty. This is known as “bad luck.” — Robert Heinlein View image | gettyimages.com Read more →

Thanksgiving Day

Thanksgiving Day, a function which originated in New England two or three centuries ago when those people recognized that they really had something to be thankful for — annually, not oftener — if they had succeeded in exterminating their neighbors, the Indians, during the previous twelve months instead of getting exterminated by their neighbors, the Indians. Thanksgiving Day became a habit, for the reason that in the course of time, as the years drifted on, it was perceived that the exterminating had ceased to be mutual and was all on the white man’s side, consequently on the Lord’s side; hence it was proper to thank the Lord for it and extend the usual annual compliments. — Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 Read more →

A Glimpse of Antiquity

Yes, those are World Books and Reader’s Digest Condensed Books. No, this is not an archaeological dig. It’s a furniture store we visited over the weekend. When I was growing up, our family, like many American families at that time, had a set of World Book encyclopedias, so I knew they existed but I haven’t actually seen one in decades. Reader’s Digest Condensed Books are a relic from a time when many Americans still liked to think of themselves as the kind of people who read books but didn’t want to actually read a whole, entire book. Reader’s Digest stripped out all the boring passages about clouds and such that people don’t read and compressed four or five books into the size of one. Today, of course, no one reads books at all, with or without the cloud passages, so Reader’s Digest Condensed Books have joined World Book encyclopedias in… Read more →

Teaching Computer Science

Tomorrow is my first day as an AP Computer Science teacher at Corona del Mar High School. It’s a volunteer gig through the TEALS organization. Only about 10 percent of U.S. high schools offer computer science classes and at most of those schools, it counts as an elective, like Home Ec or Wood Shop, not as a class that can be applied toward graduation like math or science. The most popular AP exam in 2013 was US History — 439,552 students took the AP US History exam. Only 31,117 students took the AP Computer Science exam. That’s about the same number as the AP Art History exam. I don’t want to denigrate the study of art history, but given the ubiquity of computers and software and programming in daily life, the study of computer science seems more likely to enable a person to be self-supporting and to contribute to the… Read more →

You Say Anarchy, Sir, Like It’s a Bad Thing

Frankly, one of our political parties is insane, and we all know which one it is. They have descended from the realm of reasonableness that was the mark of conservatism. They dream of anarchy, of ending government. — Bruce Bartlett My fellow Americans — I’ll tell you who’s insane: anyone who’s not dreaming of anarchy at this moment in history is insane. People forget that this great nation was founded by anarchists, born out of an armed revolution against a corrupt government. As I said at the time, “Whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it.” I assure you, though, that regrettably neither current political party dreams of anarchy. They both dream of exactly the same things: self-aggrandizement and rewarding their most powerful supporters with political spoils. The well-known liberal cartoonist Ted Rall wrote a book a couple… Read more →

The Ruins

And now behold what remains of this powerful city: a miserable skeleton! What of its vast domination: a doubtful and obscure remembrance! To the noisy concourse which thronged under these porticoes, succeeds the solitude of death. The silence of the grave is substituted for the busy hum of public places; the affluence of a commercial city is changed into wretched poverty; the palaces of kings have become a den of wild beasts; flocks repose in the area of temples, and savage reptiles inhabit the sanctuary of the gods. Ah! how has so much glory been eclipsed? how have so many labors been annihilated? Do thus perish then the works of men–thus vanish empires and nations? — C.F. Volney, The Ruins, or, Meditation on the Revolutions of Empires and the Law of Nature Read more →

The Golden State Mutual Building

On June 1, 2011, the City of Los Angeles reached a significant milestone in its historic preservation program: the approval of City Historic-Cultural Monument #1000, the Golden State Mutual Life Insurance building at 1999 W. Adams Boulevard in West Adams. The Golden State Mutual Building is a very fitting recipient of this honor. Built in 1949, this six-story commercial building was designed in the Late Moderne style by architect Paul R. Williams 1894-1980. Williams was the first certified African-American architect west of the Mississippi River, the first African-American member of the American Institute of Architects, and also served on the first Los Angeles Planning Commission in 1920. — Office of Historic Resources, City of Los Angeles Read more →

Anne Frank

As I’ve said before, it continues to amaze me how many people around the world have been touched by the life of this one girl . . . I have seen the movie about Anne Frank and I was very emotional and hurt it was very hard to watch this movie the things they had to go through it makes you think twice as hard what if it was my family we take things for granted Anne Frank didn’t have a chance to have a family of her own go to the movies stay up late getting married every aspect of life what she had she cherished with all the love for everything she had this situation with race needs to stop we all bleed the same colour unless we have aliens or robot blood among us or those who choose to judge all races To me Anne Frank was… Read more →

200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes – The Joy of Stats

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Twitter: 2010-08-16

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to retweet it. # Read more →

Miep Gies, 1909-2010

AMSTERDAM – Miep Gies, the office secretary who defied the Nazi occupiers to hide Anne Frank and her family for two years and saved the teenager’s diary, has died, the Anne Frank Museum said Tuesday. She was 100. “I don’t want to be considered a hero,” she said in a 1997 online chat with schoolchildren. “Imagine young people would grow up with the feeling that you have to be a hero to do your human duty. I am afraid nobody would ever help other people, because who is a hero? I was not. I was just an ordinary housewife and secretary.” — msnbc.com Read more →

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