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american-history

11 facts about the modern peace movement

On this day on 28 August 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. Martin Luther King Jr.’s speech left an indelible mark on American history and the world. His universal cry for a more humane and united world became a source of inspiration for all.His speech and the Civil Rights Movement were an important part of the broader peace movement.

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Scenario analysis and political science

Scenarios are often mistaken for forecasts, expert predictions, or simulations. They are none of these. Instead, scenarios depict possible future states of the world by combining theory and story-telling in rigorous and resonant ways to facilitate creative thinking. The Geneva experience is not important because the financial crisis scenario happened to be prescient. Rather, it serves to illustrate how hemmed in our thinking about the future can be.

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The origins of political order

What importance do the civilizations of the ancient Mediterranean have for us? This question has been answered in different ways over the centuries, but for a long time the cultures of ancient Greece and Rome have been attractive as a baseline and a model, be it in economic, aesthetic, cultural, military, or political terms.

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A Flame as a Moth: How I began chronicling the life of Harrison G. Dyar, Jr., Part 2

I joined the staff in the Smithsonian’s Department of Entomology, National Museum of Natural History in 1992, at the time Pam Henson and I published “Digging for Dyar: The Man Behind the Myth”. Having stayed in Washington, DC long enough to complete the article, my job at the Museum would give me roughly a dozen years to accumulate information on Dyar, while performing other duties.

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Olympic swimmers meet Latin America’s vast gray area of private security

During the closing week of the Rio games, the biggest story was not about the pool, the mat, or the track but rather about the after-game party . . . and the after-party mess. As of Friday morning, the next-to-last day of the games, the home page of the New York Times was carrying headlines for five separate articles concerning the event. Clearly, the events that unfolded when the swimmers arrived at the gas station as well as the interviews given by American medalist Ryan Lochte, fit some powerful stereotypes about Brazilian (in)security and American hedonism and hubris.

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american-history

10 facts worth knowing about the U.S. women’s rights movement

Today, August 26th, is Women’s Equality Day which commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment in 1920, granting women the right to vote. This day reflects the culmination of a movement which had begun in the 1830s when rising middle-class American women, with an increasing educational background, began to critique the oppressive systems of the early 19th century.

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Fascinating facts about man’s best friend

Dogs have historically performed many roles for humans, such as herding, protection, assisting police, companionship, and aiding the handicapped. The tale of “man’s best friend” is a lengthy and intimate history that has lasted for thousands of years, and transcends modern cultural boundaries. Canines appear as poignant characters with symbolic meaning in mythological stories, famous works of art, and religious texts.

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Remembering John Muir on the centennial of the National Park Service

This year, Americans celebrate the centennial of the National Park Service. On August 25, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the National Park Service Organic Act. The bill culminated decades of effort by a remarkable generation of dedicated men and women who fought to protect the nation’s natural wonders for the democratic enjoyment of the people.

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Building community: lessons from swimming

What would be the impact if our current policy to insure safety and prevent drowning were to pay people to swim with each swimmer? No one could go swimming unless they had a paid professional, or paraprofessional, swim with them. Our present policy in human services and mental health is kind of like paying people to insure the safety and well-being of others.

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Protecting our children from profanity

We adults are careful about swearing around our kids. We don’t want bad language to confuse or corrupt or otherwise harm them. As Steven Pinker says in passing while talking about profanity in The Stuff of Thought (2007), “if some people would rather not explain to their young children what a blow job is, there should be television channels that don’t force them to,” and there are. We have every right to be protective of our children even if we don’t have a reason.

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10 interesting facts about the cello

Every summer since 1895, the Henry Wood Promenade Concert (commonly known as the BBC Proms) presents an eight-week orchestral classical music festival at the Royal Albert Hall in central London. This year’s Proms put a special focus on cellos.

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The Arms Trade Treaty and exports to Saudi Arabia: “Now is the summer of our discontent?”

For some campaigners, the acid test of the effectiveness of a putative global arms trade treaty was whether it would prohibit or somehow legitimize the selling of arms to Saudi Arabia. Of course, those who expected a total prohibition on arms trading were always going to be deeply disappointed, but many of us felt it similarly unlikely that an international instrument would ever make it impossible for internally repressive regimes to procure weapons on the open market.

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Etymology gleanings for August 2016

There was a desperate attempt to find a valid Greek cognate for cloth, but such a word did not turn up. One way out of the difficulty was to discover a Greek noun or verb beginning with sk- and refer its s to what is known as s-mobile (“movable s”). Movable s is all over the place. For instance, the English cognate of German kratzen is scratch (the same meaning).

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9780190215255

A flame as a moth: how I began chronicling the life of Harrison G. Dyar, Jr., Part 1

I first became acquainted with Dyar’s work on the moth family Limacodidae, my chosen entomology dissertation topic, in 1983 at the University of Minnesota. It was in the Hodson Hall library on the St. Paul campus where I noted how Dyar’s authorship dominated the Journal of the New York Entomological Society in the middle to late 1890s. Particularly notable was his running series from 1895-1899

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Australia in three words, part 2 – “Kangaroo court”

A ‘kangaroo court’ is no more Australian than a Californian kangaroo rat. The term originated in the California of 1849, as a legacy of the summary and dubious efforts at informal justice on lawless gold fields. By contrast, the Australian gold fields of that period felt heavily the overbearing hand of the law. This contrast epitomes a larger paradox. Australians are seen as ‘disrespectful of authority’; the truth is they have, from their beginnings, been highly law-prone.

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Dodgy dossiers in the Middle Ages

Government advisers don’t regularly admit to handling doctored evidence. The extent to which the actions of recent governments may have depended on documents which had been ‘sexed up’ have—quite rightly—become matters for close scrutiny in recent decades. But the modern world has no monopoly over the spurious, the doubtful, and the falsified.

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