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A memorial for Gallows Hill

We now know the precise location where 19 innocent victims were hanged for witchcraft in Salem in 1692. I am honored to be a member of the Gallows Hill Project team who has worked with the City of Salem to confirm the location on a lower section of Gallows Hill known as Proctor’s Ledge. And I am pleased too that the city has already begun planning to properly memorialize the site.

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Old Nick on the ‘net: on Satanic politics

On 19 October 2015, the tech culture website Geek published another installment of procrastination-inducing click-bait lists, namely a rundown of “The 11 best Satanists.” Here, writer Aubrey Sitterson introduced 11 people associated with Satanism, from Church of Satan founder Anton LaVey to music icons Marilyn Manson and King Diamond.

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Holy horsecrap, Batman! The equine BS vocabulary

When horses were a common means of transportation, horseshit was as common as potholes are today. While actual horse feces is rare nowadays, horseshit is as common as ever in our vocabulary.The list of synonyms and euphemisms—such as horsefeathers, horse hockey, horse hooey, horse pucky, and horse apples—is huge, taking up many pages in the Dictionary of American Regional English, Green’s Dictionary of Slang, and the Historical Dictionary of American Slang.

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“Hotwash,” oral history, and wartime reflection

The military is a total institution and army chaplains are embedded deeply within it. They wear the uniforms and the rank, they salute and are saluted. I was reminded how deeply embedded we are, when I arrived at the US Army Chaplain Center and School at Ft. Jackson, South Carolina about two weeks ago.

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What should you read for ASIL Research Forum 2015?

The fifth annual ASIL Research Forum is taking place 23-24 October 2015 in Washington, DC. Attendees will present and discuss works-in-progress that explore many topics in international law including energy, financial regulation, international criminal courts, trade, and treaty practice.

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Rediscovering Frances Ellen Watkins Harper

If you’re a student of African American literature or of the nineteenth century in the United States, you may have already heard about Johanna Ortner’s rediscovery of Frances Ellen Watkins Harper’s first book, Forest Leaves, which has long been assumed lost – perhaps even apocryphal.

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Iconic trumpet players who defined jazz history

Since emerging at the beginning of the 20th century, jazz music has been a staple in American culture. Historians are not clear on when exactly jazz was born or who first started playing it, but it can be agreed upon that New Orleans, Louisiana is the First City of Jazz.

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How false discoveries in chemistry led to progress in science

In the popular imagination, science proceeds with great leaps of discovery — new planets, new cures, new elements. In reality, though, science is a long, grueling process of trial and error, in which tantalizing false discoveries constantly arise and vanish on further examination. These failures can teach us as much — or more — than its successes.

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Using religious repression to preserve nondemocratic rule

Religious repression—the nonviolent suppression of civil and political rights associated with religion—is a growing and global phenomenon. Though it is most often practiced in authoritarian countries, it nevertheless varies greatly across nondemocratic regimes. In my work, I’ve collected data from more than 100 nondemocratic states to explore the varieties of repression that they impose on religious expression, association, and political activities, describing the obstacles these actions present for democratization, pluralism, and the development of an independent civil society.

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Windows on the past: how places get their names

Standing underneath the monstrous Soviet statue of “Motherland Calls” looking out over the mighty Volga River, I could understand why the city should have been renamed, rather unimaginatively, Volgograd “City on the Volga”. Between 1925 and 1961 it had been called Stalingrad, and was site of one of the most ferocious battles in the Second World War.

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A Woman’s Iliad?

Browsing my parents’ bookshelves recently, in the dog days that followed sending Anna Karenina off to press, I found myself staring at a row of small hardback volumes all the same size. One in particular, with the words Romola and George Eliot embossed in gold on the dark green spine, caught my attention.

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The First World War and the development of international law

On 28 June 1914, Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife Sophie were assassinated in Sarajevo, setting off a six week diplomatic battle that resulted in the start of the First World War. The horrors of that war, from chemical weapons to civilian casualties, led to the first forays into modern international law. The League of Nations was established to prevent future international crises and a Permanent Court of International Justice created to settle disputes between nations.

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Ten landscape designers who changed the world

By Ian Thompson
It comes as a surprise to many people that landscapes can be designed. The assumption is that landscapes just happen; they emerge, by accident almost, from the countless activities and uses that occur on the land. But this ignores innumerable instances where people have intervened in landscape with aesthetic intent, where the landscape isn’t just happenstance, but the outcome of considered planning and design. Frederick Law Olmsted and his partner Calvert Vaux coined a name for this activity in 1857 when they described themselves as ‘landscape architects’ on their winning competition entry for New York’s Central Park; but ‘landscape architecture’ had been going on for centuries under different designations, including master-gardening’, ‘place-making’, and ‘landscape gardening’. To avoid anachronism, I’m going to call the entire field ‘landscape design’. The ‘top ten’ designers that follow are those I think have been the most influential. These people have shaped your everyday world.

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Make your own percussion instruments

By Scott Huntington
You’d probably be lying if you said that you didn’t spend at least a moderate amount of time during your childhood banging on various and sundry items that happened to be within reach. If we’re being honest, this particular sort of self-expression doesn’t seem to lessen with age; thankfully, our methods tend to get more sophisticated over time.

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