Category Archives: history

George Packer gets Hitchens Prize for free expression, decries the Offense Culture as a detriment to writing and thinking

Although I thought the Atlantic was pretty Leftist, it also seems to be pretty reasonable, or at least anti-woke. The latest issue contains two such pieces, the first a long critique of the New York Times‘s “1619 Project” written by Sean Wilentz, a history professor at Princeton and one of the signatories of a critical letter […]

Wednesday: Hili dialogue

It’s Wednesday, January 22, 2020, and today I’ll be flying back to a Chicago just as cold as Boston (right now it’s 21° F or -6° C in Boston). It’s National Southern Food Day (America’s finest regional cuisine), National Blonde Brownie Day (another word for a square, soft, chocolate-chip cookie), National Hot Sauce Day, National […]

How did the Romans go to the bathroom?

I’m sure you’ve asked yourself this question before, although not necessarily with Romans as the subjects.  What about the Greeks, the Babylonians, the ancient Chinese, the Mayans, and so on? And there’s not just the matter of where to dispose of your excreta, but how you clean your nether parts thereafter. In India, cleaning with […]

The 1619 Project: Historians versus the New York Times

There’s no doubt that America has been marked in a big way, with many people still marginalized, by the presence of slavery in our history. I see this every week in Chicago, America’s most segregated city, where (except for Hyde Park, where I live), white and black communities are largely separated, with the latter having […]

“Who was Egon Krenz?”

by Greg Mayer Egon Krenz was the last General Secretary of the East German Communist Party. He comes to mind today, the 101st anniversary of the end of the First World War (Veterans Day in the US), as the 30th anniversary of the opening of the Berlin Wall is also being widely commemorated.  A relaxed […]

Can it happen here? A Night at the Garden: New York Nazis in 1939

Well, yes, it did happen here, as evidenced by the video below and to a lesser extent, by our current administration, though Nazis (pretty much real ones) didn’t get much purchase on American sentiments. (For a nightmare scenario in which Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindberg defeats Franklin Roosevelt for President in 1940, and America turns strongly […]

Volunteers needed to transcribe suffragist material for the Library of Congress

I’m again asking you to consider doing something, but it doesn’t involve giving money. Rather, as Mental Floss notes, the U.S. Library of Congress is looking for volunteers to transcribe suffragist materials, putting them into text that can be searched. There are more than 16,000 pages of such documents, forming an important part of American […]

Conversation with attorney Andrew Seidel on June 11 about the secular origins of the United States

If you’re in Chicago, mark your calendars for June 11. For on that evening I’ll be having a conversation in town with Andrew Seidel (sponsored by the Freedom from Religion Foundation [FFRF] and the End of the Line Humanists) about Andrew’s new book, The Founding Myth: Why Christian Nationalism is Un-American. To be released in […]

Prohibition club in Chicago

This is the first time I’ve seen actual footage of a “speakeasy”—an illegal alcohol-dispensing joint that operated during Prohibition in America (between 1920 and 1933). Sent by reader Michael, the video even has sound, and shows dancing girls, a band, and an oily top-hatted master of ceremonies. And, as Michael pointed out, the booze is […]

Armistice Day 100

by Grania Armistice Day is commemorated every year on 11 November to mark the armistice signed between the Allies of World War I and Germany at Compiègne, France, for the cessation of hostilities on the Western Front of World War I, which took effect at eleven o’clock in the morning—the “eleventh hour of the eleventh […]