Thursday, August 30, 2007

Pre-History of Cognitive Science

This site is more about philosophy than history but I have decided to highlight it here anyway. The Pre-History of Cognitive Science contains an annoted bibliography of models of human cognition from the seventeenth through nineteenth centuries. It includes works by Locke, Berkeley, Hobbes, and Burton, grouped by subject. More annotations from other philosophers are promised as forthcoming.

From the site:

Welcome to the Pre-History of Cognitive Science Web--an annoted bibliography of models of human cognition from the Seventeenth through Nineteenth centuries. The bibliography is compiled and maintained by Carl Stahmer, at the University of California, Santa Barbara, as part of a larger dissertation project. The list of authors represented and forthcoming is the result of ongoing research into early models of cognition, with a particular emphasis on those thinkers who sought to understand the relationship between the material world, our physical bodies, and abstract thought. Philosophies of mind that do not contain some reflection on or disscusion of the materiality of thought are not represented. Suggestions for inclusion in the web can be made via email to and are greatly appreciated.

All entries in the bibliograpy are hyperlinked to each other according to a list of key terms. The links to the right provide access to the bibliography via an alphabetical listing of authors. The bibliography can also be accessed using the chronological and subject indexes. A list of references is also provided.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Ming the Merciless on the SciFi Channel

Even though I like science fiction, I have never been a big fan of Flash Gordon. He always is crashing his space ship and having to rescue his helpless girl friend. The 1980 movie was too campy for me even when I was ten but I did like (and still do) the cool Queen soundtrack.

However, even campy science fiction should have it's history honored to a certain degree. Reimage a franchise for the 21st century all you want. However, some things should be sacred. One example that comes to mind is that Starbuck (Buck!) is a man and not a woman like the current retelling of Battlestar Galactica has been presenting. And further, Ming the Merciless is based on Asian dictators!

The new Flash Gordon series on the SciFi Channel has partially turned this aside. He is now white. Of course, he still has an Asian name (Ming!). I guess cultural sensitivity to Asians means a classic historical supervillain in popular culture history now has to have his identity challenged and changed for political sensitivity. How sad. What is wrong with a strong Asian villain? It is not as though they do not exist in the real world. (Kim Il-sung anyone?)

I will watch this series. It is pretty good so far. But I am going to be viewing the "benevolent leader" of Mongo (Asian name again?) through a different frame than most viewers.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

When Drunkards Revolt: The Chicago Beer Riot of 1855

Richard English at Modern Drunkard Magazine has a fun history article titled When Drunkards Revolt: The Chicago Beer Riot of 1855. While this magazine may not be the most reliable, this article appears to be grounded in some solid history based on some fact checking. It just has an interesting spin...

From the article:

Chicago, circa 1850, was a rough-and-tumble city crouching by the chilly, windy waters of Lake Michigan, a final outpost on the edges of the great western frontier. An argument can be made as to which was more hazardous — the city or the frontier.

The city’s population numbered some 80,000 souls, with newcomers arriving daily, most looking for work in the burgeoning stockyards or on the lake-front docks. The poor and working classes outnumbered the moneyed elite by almost five to one. Saloons, beer gardens, and taverns outnumbered other businesses two to one, and churches almost fifteen to one. The good people of Chicago liked to drink.

Crime, especially burglary and vice, was epidemic, a fact which disturbed many citizens, especially the upper crust. Chicago’s constabulary, believe it or not, was comprised of a whopping nine men, so little could be done to curb the city’s increasingly chaotic tendencies. The situation came to a head in 1855, and Chicago empowered its first official Police Department. A noted volunteer fireman and occasional private detective named Cyrus P. Bradley was appointed Chief of Police. He reported directly to the newly-elected mayor, Dr. Levi D. Boone, who, in addition to being Daniel Boone’s grand-nephew, was an important member of an up-and-coming political party called the Native Americans, or Know-Nothings. Generally speaking, the Know-Nothings were in favor of civic order and “traditional American values,” while being vehemently anti-foreigner, anti-Catholic, and anti-alcohol.

History of Malawi

History of Malawi. This is a brief history of the African nation of Malawi. The nation is young despite the rich history of the area.

The Encyclopædia Britannica notes, "Landlocked country in southeastern Africa. A country of spectacular highlands and extensive lakes, it occupies a narrow, curving strip of land along the East African Rift Valley. Stretching about 520 miles (840 kilometres) from north to south, it has a width varying from 5 to 100 miles and is bordered by Tanzania to the north, Mozambique to the east and south, and Zambia to the west. Lake Nyasa (known in Malai as Lake Malai) accounts for more than one-fifth of the country's total area. In 1975 the capital was moved from Zomba in the south to Lilongwe in a more central location."

From the site:

Hominid remains and stone implements have been identified in Malawi dating back more than 1 million years, and early humans inhabited the vicinity of Lake Malawi 50,000 to 60,000 years ago. Human remains at a site dated about 8000 BC show physical characteristics similar to peoples living today in the Horn of Africa. At another site, dated 1500 BC, the remains possess features resembling Negro and Bushman people.

Although the Portuguese reached the area in the 16th century, the first significant Western contact was the arrival of David Livingstone along the shore of Lake Malawi in 1859. Subsequently, Scottish Presbyterian churches established missions in Malawi. One of their objectives was to end the slave trade to the Persian Gulf that continued to the end of the 19th century. In 1878, a number of traders, mostly from Glasgow, formed the African Lakes Company to supply goods and services to the missionaries. Other missionaries, traders, hunters, and planters soon followed.

In 1883, a consul of the British Government was accredited to the "Kings and Chiefs of Central Africa," and in 1891, the British established the Nyasaland Protectorate (Nyasa is the Chichewa word for "lake"). Although the British remained in control during the first half of the 1900s, this period was marked by a number of unsuccessful Malawian attempts to obtain independence. A growing European and U.S.-educated African elite became increasingly vocal and politically active--first through associations, and after 1944, through the Nyasaland African Congress (NAC).

Monday, August 27, 2007

Middle Ages Sex Flow Chart

Click on the image above to read the words better. Source: James A. Brundage, Law, Sex, and Christian Society in the Middle Ages (1987). Hat tip.