History is Written by the Losers


thucydides_360x450

Those who rule do not have the time to write about it. Occasionally history produces a Caesar or a Mao, men who can lead the masses to war on the one hand, while serving as prolific propogandists for their cause on the other. The greater part mankind is not so talented. Sima Guang would never have finished his history had he not been shunted out of Song court politics. Had Thucydides defeated Brasidas, he would be known today not as a historian, but as a military strategist, a strategist who never had the time to travel the world and collect the material needed to write his history. Even winning historians need time in defeat to write their histories—had Churchill’s party not been kicked out of power by British voters after the Second World War was over, Churchill’s famous account of that war would never have been written.

The complete article

The Scholar’s Stage

Image source

Hero or War Criminal? Churchill in Retrospect


churchill1

A damning critique.

But the principal victims of Winston Churchill were Indians, ‘a beastly people with a beastly religion’, as he charmingly called us. Churchill’s beatification as an apostle of freedom seems all the more preposterous given his explicit declaration in 1941 that the principles of the Atlantic Charter would not apply to India. Churchill’s notions of freedom and democracy faltered at the frontiers of empire: he was an appalling racialist, one who could not bring himself to see people of colour as entitled to the same rights as himself. “Gandhi-ism and all it stands for,” declared Churchill, “will, sooner or later, have to be grappled with and finally crushed.” He spoke luridly of having the Mahatma tied to the ground and trampled upon by elephants.

The complete article

Shashi Tharoor — OPEN

Image source

The Surprisingly Intolerant History of Milk


273451-child-milk

But even with these deep cultural connections, milk held a peculiar status among early civilizations. The Greeks castigated barbarians for their gluttonous desire for dairy, and in Rome, milk was widely regarded as low-status food because it was something only farmers drank. Northern Europeans would earn similar ridicule for their love of reindeer milk, and Japanese Buddhists later rebuked Europeans as “butter stinkers.”

The complete article

Daniel Fernandez — Smithsonian

Image source

Is technology bringing history to life or distorting it?


gettyimages-107635891-e

Earlier History would be subject to interpretation of historians basis scant evidence. But, now History can be recreated to tell the story you want to say.

Taking more than 116,000 snippets of speech from samples of the 35th president’s other recordings, a Scottish “voice cloning” firm has produced a Kennedy-esque rendition of his final scripted words:

“America’s leadership must be guided by the lights of learning and reason,” a virtual version of that unmistakable Boston Brahmin accent intones, “or else those who confuse rhetoric with reality and the plausible with the possible will gain the popular ascendancy with their seemingly swift and simple solutions to every world problem.”

The complete article

Steve Hendrix — The Washington Post

Image source

What Not to Wear: The Deadliest Hats, Scarves, and Skirts in History


193afb6512f13928678f730d5cd63b491497956496-8084

Sometimes we do go overboard, don’t we?

While women often choose high heels for themselves for reasons of status, the sense of power that comes with added height, the amped-up sex appeal, and the element of danger implied by a sharp heel, there’s no question that the higher the heel you wear, the harder it is to run. It’s a cliché of horror, sci-fi, and adventure films to depict a beautiful woman stumbling in the face of danger or throwing off her shoes to run from a monster. But in real life, stilettos can deny a woman a quick escape from a monstrous man—and make an everyday activity a hazard.

In Killer Fashion, Wright explains how Winston Churchill’s mother, Jennie Jerome, fell to her death in 1921 trying to navigate a flight of stairs. “Jerome is my poster girl for high heels killing someone,” she says, “but I think it would be incorrect to assume that other women have not toppled off of high heels—especially if they were outrageously high, as they were for quite a bit of history.”

The complete article

Lisa Hix — Collectors Weekly

Image source

How Hunter-Gatherers May Hold the Key to our Economic Future


26679277

Do we have more leisure compared to our ancestors? Are we happier at our workplaces compared to hunter-gatherers?

The most compelling thing about this research was that it suggested that “economic problem” was not, as Keyne’s believed “the primary problem of the human race from the beginnings of time”. For where the economic problem holds that we have unlimited wants and limited means, Ju/’hoansi hunter-gatherers had few wants that were easily satisfied. It was for this reason that Marshall Sahlins, arguably the most influential American social anthropologist of the 20th century, redubbed hunter-gatherers “the original affluent society”.

Unsurprisingly, this simple idea briefly captured the popular imagination: “Imagine a society in which the work week seldom exceeds 19 hours, material wealth is considered a burden, and no one is much richer than anyone else”, gushed Time Magazine in an editorial about the Bushmen in November 1969, “The people are comfortable, peaceable, happy and secure…This Elysian community actually exists.”

The complete article

James Suzman — Evonomics

Image source

Raised by Wolves


bec8b8c28628d768e1f2fe86cbf3d238

Dogs have been our friends since more than 20000 years. Wolves is a different story.

The contemporary relationship between people and their dogs results from the long coevolution traced by Pierotti and Fogg, as well as genetic changes similar to those seen in Belyaev’s foxes. In some instances, the dog–human relationship can be deep—some would argue as deep as that between two humans. But do humans and dogs think in similar ways? Until recently the question seemed unanswerable. The American philosopher Thomas Nagel summed the situation up in his famous paper “What Is It Like to Be a Bat?,” in which he argued that the perceptions and experiences of bats and humans are so different that humans can never know the bat’s perspective, and vice versa. It’s an argument that’s been used to dismiss the idea that humans can know what it is like to be any animal species.

The complete article

Tim Flannery — The New York Review of Books

Image source