Category Archives: History

“How hard can that be? Saying that Nazis are bad.”

Vox: Read the full transcript of Obama’s fiery anti-Trump speech. “This is not normal.”

“People ask me, what are you going to do for the election? No, the question is what are you going to do? You’re the antidote. Your participation and your spirit and your determination, not just in this election, but in every subsequent election and in the days between elections. Because in the end, the threat to our democracy doesn’t just come from Donald Trump or the current batch of Republicans in Congress or the Koch brothers and their lobbyists or too much compromise from Democrats or Russian hacking. The biggest threat to our democracy is indifference. The biggest threat to our democracy is cynicism.

Cynicism led too many people to turn away from politics and stay home on Election Day. To all the young people who are here today, there are now more eligible voters in your generation than in any other, which means your generation now has more power than anybody to change things. If you want it, you can make sure America gets out of its current funk. If you actually care about it, you have the power to make sure what we see is a brighter future. But to exercise that clout, to exercise that power, you have to show up. […] This whole project of self-government only works if everybody’s doing their part. Don’t tell me your vote doesn’t matter. “

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Science Podcast

Motherboard: Science Solved It podcast.

“I grew up on shows like The X-Files and Unsolved Mysteries. I checked out books on UFOs and Bigfoot from the library. I was fascinated by all of the wondrous, unexplainable things in the universe. And I still am. Only now, as an adult, a science journalist, and a skeptic, I’m much more interested in the explanations behind these mysterious phenomena.

That’s why I created Science Solved It, a new weekly podcast from Motherboard. Each episode, I explore one of the world’s greatest mysteries that was solved by science. I talk to the actual, real live scientists who cracked the case, while also indulging in some of the bizarre conspiracy theories that accompany these mysteries. Throughout the season, you’ll hear about unexplained, underwater noises, floating lights, moving rocks, and even a cartoon that gave people seizures.”

I found the podcast via this MetaFilter post: Science Solved It: theories and solutions to strange occurances, which has links and summaries to all the episodes in the first two seasons. I especially liked the episodes about the underwater flies at Mono Lake and the moving rocks in Death Valley, because I’ve been to those places years ago – plus, now I want to go see albino redwood trees (which probably won’t happen, as their location is being kept secret for good reasons).

I’ve got a cold at the moment and spent the past two days on the couch binge-listening to all 14 episodes in the first two seasons. Highly recommended!

“To Obama: With Love, Joy, Anger, and Hope.”

The Atlantic: The Education of Bill Oliver. “How a letter to Barack Obama tells the story of two strangers who became family, and one lifelong Republican’s journey to a new kind of patriotism.” By Jeanne Marie Laskas.

“Word came that President Barack Obama wanted to see some of the mail just the day after he took office. Mike Kelleher was the director of the Office of Presidential Correspondence (OPC). He got the call from the Oval saying the president wanted to see five letters. Then they called back with a correction. The president wanted to see 15 letters. They called back one more time. He wanted to see 10 that day, and every day.

“It was a small gesture, I thought, at least to resist the bubble,” Obama later told me. “It was a way for me to, every day, remember that what I was doing was not about me. It wasn’t about the Washington calculus. It wasn’t about the political scoreboard. It was about the people who were out there living their lives, who were either looking for some help or angry about how I was screwing something up.”

And why should the president be the only one reading 10 letters a day? What about everyone else in the West Wing? Surely Obama’s advisers and senior staff could benefit from seeing this material.
[…]
Fiona Reeves, an OPC staffer who soon became the office’s director, developed a distribution list, kept adding to it. Letters to the president, dozens of them, just popping into people’s inboxes. Why not? And not just the 10LADs—the president’s 10 letters a day—but also others from the sample piles. “We send out batches of letters we think are striking,” she said. At first she worried about being an annoyance, but then she got bold. “I hope people read them; that’s why I spam them. But I mean, they don’t have to read them.”

They did. Soon people started asking why they weren’t on the distribution list. The people in OPC came to know which people in the West Wing were particularly tuned in to the letters. The OPC staff came to regard these people as special agents, ambassadors, and they had a name for them: Friends of the Mail.”

“This is about our survival.”

Outside: Yosemite Finally Reckons with Its Discriminatory Past. “Pioneers, the government, even John Muir helped kick out Native Americans from their homes on national parks. But in Yosemite, the Miwuk Tribe is getting its village back.”

“Though nobody will live in the wahhoga, the agreement is nonetheless a watershed moment in the park’s relationship with local Native Americans, who have long sought to reestablish their cultural and subsistence connection with the park. The wahhoga could also function as an example for other NPS units, nearly all of which were created following forcible or coerced removal of the Native population. “Our ancestors used to live there, and we always felt that what was available to our ancestors should’ve been available to us,” James says.

James, who chairs the Wahhoga Committee, sees this as one more step toward indigenous tribes reconnecting with their ancestral homeland. Next on the docket, he plans to start programs that teach Native youth about traditional plant and animal harvesting. As James says, “This is about our survival.””

Fresno Bee: Decades after destruction, Yosemite welcomes home Native Americans.

“Wahhoga’s return has been decades in the making. The American Indian Council of Mariposa County/Southern Sierra Miwuk Nation finally got the OK to begin construction a decade ago, only to have their work halted for nearly seven years by Yosemite’s former superintendent, who cited safety concerns.

“We knew how to build a roundhouse from traditional knowledge that’s been passed down. … The park service didn’t understand that,” said Tony Brochini, former tribal chairman and executive director of the Wahhoga Committee. “That is where we butted heads. The park service wanted us to follow project management protocol and we were moving forward with our traditional methods.”

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