14 Oct

Actual European Discoveries

Thank you Andrew Sullivan:


Historian Bill Rankin has this to say:

Every Columbus Day, we’re reminded of the difference between discovery and “discovery” – and rightly so. But let’s not sell Europe short; after all, European explorers found plenty of diminutive islands that no human had ever seen before, along with extravagant amounts of ice and snow. Just the islands alone add up to more than 0.14% of the world’s total land area, and today they’re home to more people than live in all of Connecticut!

All sarcasm aside, it’s worth remembering that almost everywhere Europeans went, they were met by existing inhabitants. Even in the vast Pacific and the barren Arctic, only a few isolated coasts were truly terra nullius. (Indeed, this map particularly underscores the maritime expertise of Pacific Islanders. Unlike the islands of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, nearly all of the Pacific was settled by the 14th century.)

Also, today you should be reading The Oatmeal.



04 Jun

Neil Armstrong’s Ohio accent confuses historical quote

Well, there you go:

“The controversy surrounding why Neil Armstrong’s famous moon quote was misheard by millions of people worldwide may have been less to do with dodgy recording equipment and more to do with his unique Ohio accent.

When Armstrong walked on the moon the astronaut claimed to have said: ‘That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind’, but most listeners claim they can’t hear the first ‘a’ and the statement has become best known without it.

Poor recording equipment was previously blamed for the mishearing, yet linguistic experts now claim a unique feature of Armstrong’s Ohio accent could be to blame. “

(Via Neil Armstrong’s accent – rather than dodgy recording equipment – may be to blame for millions of people mishearing the astronaut’s famous moon quote | Mail Online.)

28 Mar

Letter from slave to former enslaver demanding money from him is wrenching

I forget who posted this on twitter, but I read the whole thing through three times. Brilliant, rage-ful, amazing writing. A letter from an escaped, and free slave, back to the wife of his former master who was demanding he pay her compensation:

“Woman, did you raise your own children for the market? Did you raise them for the whipping-post? Did you raise them to be driven off in a coffle in chains? Where are my poor bleeding brothers and sisters? Can you tell? Who was it that sent them off into sugar and cotton fields, to be kicked, and cuffed, and whipped, and to groan and die; and where no kin can hear their groans, or attend and sympathize at their dying bed, or follow in their funeral? Wretched woman! Do you say you did not do it? Then I reply, your husband did, and you approved the deed—and the very letter you sent me shows that your heart approves it all. Shame on you.”

(Via Letters of Note: Wretched woman!.)

Letters of note, the site hosting it, is always worth following. There has been a lot of amazing history there that astounds.