You are browsing the archive for 2019 February 05.

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10 Reasons the Knights Templar Were History's Fiercest Fighters

February 5, 2019 in History

By Livia Gershon

After Christian forces conquered Jerusalem in 1099, Europeans began making pilgrimages to the Holy Lands by the droves. On the way, they were often attacked by bandits, or even crusading knights. To protect travelers and help defend the new Christian states in the Middle East, a small group of fighters formed The Poor Knights of the Temple of King Solomon, otherwise known as the

Prepare for the new season of Knightfall, coming soon to HISTORY.

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How Measles Helped Destroy the Hawaiian Monarchy

February 5, 2019 in History

By Erin Blakemore

London’s St. Martin-in-the-Fields church was home to the graves of plenty of English noblemen, but it had never seen a pair of graves quite like this. They belonged to Kamehameha II and his queen, Kamamalu, and they were just temporary resting places. It was July 1824, and soon, the Hawaiian king and queen would be disinterred and put on a ship back to their home, the Sandwich Islands.

Just days before, the royals’ every move had been avidly covered by the press, from Kamamalu’s provocative enjoyment of cigars to Kamehameha’s trip to the city’s zoo and puppet theater. The interest was well warranted: The Hawaiian king and queen may have been looked down upon by George IV’s court, but they were also London’s most talked-about couple.

King Kamehameha II.

Now, though, they were dead, the victims of measles they are thought to have contracted during a visit to the Royal Military Asylum, an orphanage for the children of military parents that was known for its epidemics of childhood diseases.

The measles deaths of Hawaii’s monarchs were tragic—and foretold another tragedy. When measles finally hit the Hawaiian islands in 1848, it began a long sequence of epidemics that tore the kingdom apart. Until their contact with Europeans, Hawaiians had lived in an isolation that helped their culture and population flourish. That isolation ended up contributing to their downfall. During the 19th and early 20th century, epidemics of measles, smallpox and other diseases threatened to wipe out the entire Native Hawaiian population, and disrupted the culture and lives of the island’s residents.

By the time Kamehameha II and his queen, Kamamalu, headed to England in 1824, Hawaii had been in contact with Europeans for nearly half a century. In 1778, Captain James Cook had explored the islands. He paid the price: After attempting to kidnap Kalaniʻōpuʻu, who ruled over of the island of Hawaii, in retaliation for the theft of one of his boats, Cook was killed by one of the chief’s attendants. After Cook, Hawaiian culture changed. Sporadic contact with Europeans introduced Native Hawaiians to different forms of warfare and government. In 1810, Kamehameha I used European-style warfare to take over and unite all of the Hawaiian islands.

Captain James Cook with native Hawaiians.

European contact didn’t just change the structure of Hawaii. It also brought new diseases to the islands. Cook’s crew introduced sexually …read more


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The WWI 'Dazzle' Camouflage Strategy Was So Ridiculous It Was Genius

February 5, 2019 in History

By Patrick J. Kiger

If you can’t hide from the enemy, confuse them.

One of Germany’s most feared and effective weapons during .

Dazzle camouflage, as Wilkinson’s concept came to be called, “appeared to be counter-intuitive,” explains Roy R. Behrens, a professor of art and Distinguished Scholar at the University of Northern Iowa, who writes “Camoupedia,” a blog that’s a compendium of research on the art of camouflage. “For Wilkinson to come up with the ideas of redefining camouflage as high visibility as opposed to low visibility was pretty astonishing.”

As Peter Forbes writes in his 2009 book Dazzled and Deceived: Mimicry and Camouflage, Wilkinson—who commanded an 80-foot motorboat used for minesweeping off the British coast—apparently was inspired during a weekend fishing trip in the Spring of 1917. When he returned to the Royal Navy’s Devonport dockyard, he went straight to his superior officer with his idea.

“I knew it was utterly impossible to render a ship invisible,” Wilkinson later recalled, according to Forbes’ book. But it had occurred to him that if a black ship was broken up with white stripes it would visually confuse the enemy.

“The idea had precedent in nature, with the pattern disruption in the coloration of animals,” Behrens says. As a study by British and Australian researchers nearly a century later would reveal, zebras’ stripes seem to serve that purpose, turning a herd into what appears to be a chaotic mess of lines from a distance, and making it tougher for lions and other predators to intercept them.

As Behrens explains, when submerged, the Germans’ only way of sighting a target was through the periscope, which they could only poke through the water for a fleeting moment because of the risk of being detected. They had to use that tiny bit of visual data to calculate where in the water to aim the torpedo, so that it would arrive at that spot at the same moment as the ship they were trying to sink.

Wilkinson’s camouflage scheme was designed to interfere with those calculations, by making it difficult to tell which end of the ship was which, and where it was headed. With torpedoes, there wasn’t much margin for error, so if the dazzle camouflage threw off the calculations by only a few degrees, that might be enough to cause a miss and save a British ship.

“It was exploiting the limited view of the periscope,” Behrens explains.

An …read more


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Every Day, We Vote with Our Clicks That We Value Facebook

February 5, 2019 in Economics

By Ryan Bourne

Ryan Bourne

With front-page headlines including “Facebook paid kids
and spied on them”, “Generation of web addicts”,
“Wild West Web firms facing ban”, and “Stop
online giants who help kill our kids”, it’s fair to say
that it has not been the best UK press week for social media

Poor old Nick Clegg must have thought that he’d escaped
the life of touring TV studios looking solemn and saying
“sorry” after the passing of the coalition government.
Yet as Facebook’s new vice president for global affairs and
communications, the former Lib Dem leader now has the thankless
task of taking on this moral panic engulfing social networks.

With the traditional media circling (and they have their own
advertising revenue dog in this fight, let’s not forget),
Clegg’s conciliatory tone is understandable. But in this
cascade of negativity, are we at risk of forgetting the benefits of
an interconnected world?

Yes, Facebook has some
negative side effects, as do most activities. But amid current
controversies, it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that most users
value it highly.

Barely a day goes by without an online network being blamed for
worsening mental health, site addictiveness, spreading fake news,
fostering echo chambers, or “stealing our data”.

Yet Facebook alone has 2.3bn active users worldwide. In 2016,
the average user spent 50 minutes per day on the site.

As someone who has been a member since its UK launch in 2005,
I’m acutely aware of its value. The site has revolutionised
organising social events, keeping connected with the lives of
university friends, and remembering birthdays, as well as providing
communication channels for those overseas or temporarily
phone-impaired. Oh, and it offers hours of light relief too.

Economic evidence suggests that users generally feel this

In previous auction experiments, research has found that an
average American user would require being paid over $1,000 per year
to deactivate their account.

With Facebook free at the point of use, this suggests that the
site generates heaps of “consumer surplus” — a
measure of the total gap between our willingness to pay and what we
actually do pay.

Yet these days it’s fashionable to dismiss this evidence.
Despite new, under-reported research suggesting that the
“fake news” problem may be firmly on the decline,
panicked headlines imply that we are all irrational and do not know
what is truly good for us.

If we deactivated, might we realise we were really better off
without Facebook?

A fascinating new study from economists Hunt Allcott, Luca
Braghieri, Sarah Eichmeyer, and Matthew Gentzkow allows us to
assess exactly this question, as well as many other controversies
involving Mark Zuckerberg’s brainchild.

In the run-up to the US midterm …read more

Source: OP-EDS