How to build a medieval castle | History Extra

The Norman Conquest triggered a boom in castle building, but the process of creating a fortress from scratch was far from simple, as John Goodall finds out…

  1. Choose your site carefully
  2. Agree on a workable design
  3. Source a large, and skilled, workforce
  4. Secure the building site
  5. Landscape the area
  6. Lay the foundations
  7. Fortify your castle
  8. Deal with water and sewage
  9. Decorate as required

Source: How to build a medieval castle | History Extra

Syneidesis, a billionaires’ club run by William Doll, wants to stop Donald Trump’s anti-globalization agenda — Quartz

For starters, there is the question whether Trump’s accusations are legitimate. Is globalization truly to blame for the ills that he decried during the election?

For decades, scholars have discerned patterns in the long arc of events. Big, sprawling history appears to move in cycles, at turns reinforcing and at others annihilating the existing way.

if the story of 2016 is one of a cycle turning—which seems to be the case—it’s understandable that scholars, journalists and other observers have been rushing to give the doomed epoch a name. Figuring out what precise cycle has ended has proved to be much harder than it seems it should be, but doing so is crucial if you care about what comes next

on a scale from negative to plus 100, investments can be gauged for fairness to labor, capacity to strengthen strategic geopolitical relations, and their potential to sustain surrounding jobs and markets after a deal has run its course

“I don’t think globalization is the real issue. The real issue is automation and artificial intelligence,” Ted Goertzel, a professor at Rutgers University

If automation is the genuine, hidden source of the anger in rust belts everywhere, worse is on its way—far worse.

For democracy to work, an unconditional requirement is a hard-and-fast societal insistence on the truth: Facts have to matter, and those who demonstrate a light regard for them or outright lie must face scorn.

American leaders could not lie, and they had to stand up to power that did. This fanaticism about truthfulness is why the world more or less knows what went down in Iraq over the years. It is ultimately why Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are consequential people—because revelations about NSA spying, global diplomacy and hidden wealth are facts, and not someone’s fevered imagination.

Source: Syneidesis, a billionaires’ club run by William Doll, wants to stop Donald Trump’s anti-globalization agenda — Quartz

Joel Mokyr: Progress Isn’t Natural – The Atlantic

Humans invented it—and not that long ago.

Why might people in the past have been hesitant to embrace the idea of progress? The main argument against it was that it implies a disrespect of previous generations. As the historian Carl Becker noted in a classic work written in the early 1930s, “a Philosopher could not grasp the modern idea of progress … until he was willing to abandon ancestor worship, until he analyzed away his inferiority complex toward the past, and realized that his own generation was superior to any yet known.”

Progress, as was realized early on, inevitably entails risks and costs. But the alternative, then as now, is always worse.

Source: Joel Mokyr: Progress Isn’t Natural – The Atlantic

The Despair of Poor White Americans

Waste people. Rubbish. Clay-eaters. Hillbillies. Reckoning with the long, bleak history of the country’s original underclass.

The gloomy state of affairs in the lower reaches of white America should not have caught the rest of the country as off guard as it has—and mobilizing solutions for the crisis will depend partly on closing the gaps that allowed for such obliviousness.

Source: The Despair of Poor White Americans

After 100 years World War I battlefields are poisoned and uninhabitable

An estimated 720 million shells were fired during the Great War, with approximately 12 million failing to detonate. At places like Verdun, the artillery barrages were so overwhelming, 150 shells hit every square meter of the battlefield.

Though the Zone Rouge started at some 460 square miles in size, cleanup efforts reduced it to around 65 square miles. With such massive amounts of explosives left in the ground, the French government estimates the current rate of removal will clear the battlefields between 300 and 900 years from now.

Source: After 100 years World War I battlefields are poisoned and uninhabitable

A brief history of the nuclear triad | Restricted Data

How the US came to have three major strategic nuclear platforms, and why it started calling them a “triad.”

The redundancy was a hedge: the goal was to pick the top two of the programs and cancel the rest. Instead, Sputnik happened. In the resulting political environment, Eisenhower felt he had to put into production and deployment all six of them — even though some were demonstrably not as technically sound as others (Thor and Polaris, in their first incarnations, were fraught with major technical problems). This feeling that he was pushed by the times (and by Congress, and the services, and so on) towards an increasingly foolish level of weapons production is part of what is reflected in Eisenhower’s famous 1961 warning about the powerful force of the “military-industrial complex.”

What I find interesting about the “triad” concept — and what it leaves out — is that it is ostensibly focused on technologies and strategies, but it seems non-coincidentally to be primarily concerning itself with infrastructure. The triad technologies each require heavy investments in bases, in personnel, in jobs. They aren’t weapons so much as they they are organizations that maintain weapons. Which is probably why you have to defend them: they are expensive.

Source: A brief history of the nuclear triad | Restricted Data
— Alex Wellerstein, a historian of science at the Stevens Institute of Technology


US nuclear bomber deployments, 1945-1958. Shadings indicate blocs circa 1958. It shows what “containment” as a policy comes to mean and demonstrates the geopolitics of Cold War era bomber bases.


According to one estimate, the various long-term cultural foot-dragging about ballistic missiles in the United States delayed the country from acquiring the technology for six years. Which puts Sputnik into perspective.

A Brief History of Trial by Combat

For centuries, judges settled cases by asking God to help honest people win duels or complete impossible tasks like touching hot metal without getting burned.

Yet in many ways, given the limitations of the time, they could offer the best path for resolving a dispute, despite the potential for abuse.

It’s a trite point, but worth considering: Many aspects of our legal system could seem equally absurd to historians hundreds of years from now.

Source: A Brief History of Trial by Combat

Why Modern America Scares Me: By An Internment Camp Survivor

Kiyo Sato was an 18-year-old Japanese-American living in Sacramento when WWII broke out and the government decided she and her family couldn’t be trusted.

while it’s easy to look at something like the internment of the Japanese during World War II and lump it in with the Salem witch hunts in the category of “Weird Things People Did In Olden Times,” you have to remember some of the people involved are still around. You can ask them about it!

Source: Why Modern America Scares Me: By An Internment Camp Survivor (page 1)

many defenders of Japanese internment are using it as a platform to suggest we do something similar with Muslims

the impulse to exclude, lock up, or kill an entire category of people “just in case”? That shit isn’t going anywhere.

Source: Why Modern America Scares Me: By An Internment Camp Survivor (page 2)