‘The Difference Between Us’: The Illusion of Race

"Everyone can tell a Nubian from a Norwegian, so why not divide people into different races? That's the question explored in "The Difference Between Us," the first hour of this PBS series. This episode shows that despite what we've always believed, the world's peoples simply don't come bundled into distinct biological groups. We begin by … Continue reading ‘The Difference Between Us’: The Illusion of Race

Medici, Italian Renaissance’s Banking Family, Produced Four Popes and Two Queens of France

Traditional accounts of the Italian Renaissance portray the Borjias as corrupt and evil religious leaders, and the Medici as heroic financiers and philanthropists of stunningly beautiful art and architecture as well as fair-minded popes. I've already pointed out the reasons that popular portrayals of the Borjias, particularly the popular TV series, exaggerate their deviance. Two … Continue reading Medici, Italian Renaissance’s Banking Family, Produced Four Popes and Two Queens of France

Post-WWII, Europe Experienced Revolutions in Science and Tech

Crash Course European History: "In the decades following World War II, life changed in many ways, and a fair number of those changes were for the better. Many of those improvements were driven by advances in science and technology, in fields like biology, communication, energy production, space exploration, and especially medicine." Transcript. Sources Harvey, Brian. … Continue reading Post-WWII, Europe Experienced Revolutions in Science and Tech

Are We As A Species Going to Become Extinct in Our Lifetimes?

My friend Bruce writes: "This is the first time since the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962 that I have faced the possibility of extinction of the human race. Do you think we are done for? Or do you think maybe at least a few of us will hang on to keep the species going?" … Continue reading Are We As A Species Going to Become Extinct in Our Lifetimes?

Hyper-Partisans Seek Certainty Where It Does Not Exist

Jon Allsop of the Columbia Journalism Review has a clear-eyed analysis of the problem of seeing current events through an entirely partisan lens. Partisanship prizes certainty, "even when there is none to be found," he observes. On the one hand, Democrats and Republicans finally finding common ground, Congress acting quickly to pass legislation aiding families … Continue reading Hyper-Partisans Seek Certainty Where It Does Not Exist

‘Time Travel: A History’ By James Gleick

James Gleick, an American author and historian of science, who has been described as "one of the great science writers of all time," tackled "Time Travel: A History" in a 2016 book. Literal time travel, of course, as imagined by writers over more than a century, “does not exist. It cannot,” Gleick wrote. "There is no … Continue reading ‘Time Travel: A History’ By James Gleick

With Disease and Climate Change Undeniably Altering Societies, Science Must Be Included in Historical Study

The Covid-19 pandemic and the prospect of cataclysmic climate change are stark illustrations that science cannot be separated from history. I have diminished the importance of the history of science to world history, hence Hank Green's Crash Course series of 46 approximately 11-minute lectures (totaling nine hours) on the History of Science is particularly relevant … Continue reading With Disease and Climate Change Undeniably Altering Societies, Science Must Be Included in Historical Study

Gutenberg’s Invention of Printing Press in the 1400s Led to Information Revolution and Surveillance Capitalism of the 21st Century

Many observers have compared the Information Revolution now underway to that sparked by Johann Gutenberg's invention of the printing press in the 1400s. "The problem with living through a revolution is that it’s impossible to take the long view of what’s happening. Hindsight is the only exact science in this business, and in that long … Continue reading Gutenberg’s Invention of Printing Press in the 1400s Led to Information Revolution and Surveillance Capitalism of the 21st Century

541: First Plague in Recorded History Killed Half the World’s Population

Byzantium, or the Eastern Greco-Roman Empire, lasted for more than a thousand years. Its capital, Constantinople, now Istanbul, Turkey still has remnants of that history. This may seem very far away and like the very distant past to us, but the reign of Justinian the Great (527-565) echoes still. Like the world today, Byzantium was … Continue reading 541: First Plague in Recorded History Killed Half the World’s Population