History

I have heard the theory that every time we remember something it is influenced by our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs at the time of remembering. That implies that the memories we think most about are the ones that have been most distorted from their original form. An exaggerated version is in effect for stories recounted […]

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On a global level, bin Laden’s 9/11 attacks set the course of U.S. foreign policy for the first two decades of the twenty-first century and reshaped the Muslim world in ways that bin Laden certainly didn’t intend and that few could have predicted in the immediate aftermath. The Authorization for Use of Military Force, which […]

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It’s worth mentioning here that there is simply no evidence for the common myth that bin Laden and his Afghan Arabs were supported by the CIA financially. Nor is there any evidence that CIA officials at any level met with bin Laden or anyone in his circle. Yet the notion that bin Laden was a […]

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There’s a voguish argument that in an era of easy information availability there is less cause to have any substantial body of knowledge memorized. I have seen articles arguing that the crucial cognitive skills for young people today are the ability to find what they are looking for, given access to the internet. I think […]

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Researching social movements — where relevant information is often on social media, or the websites of NGOs, universities, or corporations that reorganize them frequently — link rot is an acute problem. Increasingly, the default way to let a reader see the source you’re referencing is to provide an internet hyperlink, and yet there is no […]

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In Rhodes’ energy history I came across an interesting parallel with the 1988 STS-27 and 2003 STS-107 space shuttle missions, in which the national security payload and secrecy in the first mission may have prevented lessons from being learned which might have helped avert the subsequent disaster. Specifically, the STS-27 mission was launching a classified […]

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By [President Jimmy] Carter’s own account, his poor opinion of nuclear power originated in personal experience. In 1952 the future president was a US Navy lieutenant with submarine experience stationed at General Electric in Schenectady, New York, training in nuclear engineering under Hyman Rickover. That December, an experimental Canadian 30-megawatt heavy-water moderated, light-water cooled reactor […]

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I’ve noted before the exceptional and enduring influence Hyman Rickover (‘father of the nuclear navy’) has had over the subsequent use of nuclear technology. Richard Rhodes’ energy history provides another example: At the same time, Rickover made a crucial decision to change the form of the fuel from uranium metal to uranium dioxide, a ceramic. […]

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After finding his quartet of books about the global history of nuclear weapons so valuable and intriguing, when I saw that a used book shop had a recent history of energy by Richard Rhodes I picked it up the next day. It includes some nice little historical parallels and illustrations. One that I found striking […]

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The Biden administration has announced that most US forces will withdraw from Afghanistan by September 11th. What have we learned since 2001 and what have the consequences of the war been? Could Al Qaeda have been expelled or destroyed without the invasion? How will the US / NATO / Canadian intervention affect Afghanistan’s long-term future? […]

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