What I’m Reading, April. 21, 2014

Торжествуют (They are triumphant) by Vasily Vereshchagin [Public domain], via Wikimedia CommonsThe Lost Empire that Ruled the Silk Road, Annalee Newitz, io9, April 15, 2014

Today, the city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan is relatively remote, known mostly for its magnificent medieval ruins. But over a millennium ago, it was one of the richest cities on the infamous trade route known as the Silk Road. Back in the 600s CE, that route was called simply “the road to Samarkand.”


The term “Silk Road” was popularized by European explorers in the nineteenth century. German scientist Ferdinand von Richthofen coined the term in 1877, while attempting to follow its eroded pathways centuries after the world economy had come to rely on ocean shipping routes. Also, there is no evidence that anyone traveled along the entire route from Europe to China until Marco Polo wrote about his journey in the thirteenth century. (Polo probably wasn’t the first traveler to do this, but his account popularized the idea and led to many more journeys.)

But for most people the Silk Road was just a local highway system. They used the routes to go from one city to another, and more rarely to cross the borders between empires.

Bill Russell, Boston Celtics Veteran, Sounds Off On Gay Athletes, Jim Vertuno, AP, April 10, 2014

NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell said Wednesday that gay athletes’ current fight for equality and acceptance reminds him of some of the same struggles black athletes faced in the 1960s. Continue reading


My Live-Facebooking of the Presidential Debate, October 3, 2012

For the heck of it, I went back and copied my stream-of-consciousness rants from Wednesday night’s debacle. I mean debate. The now-mythical evening will probably puzzle political scientists for a few minutes, but it at least gave us some memes. (Edited for typos and whatnot):

7:59 p.m. I’m live tweeting this bee-yotch! (I give my ADD 10 minutes before I start seriously thinking about boobs) #debate

8:02 p.m. The last time we had a Presidential #debate, I didn’t even have a Twitter account. How did I share my thoughts? How did we do anything???

8:04 p.m. I’m sure Jim Lehrer is a great #debate moderator, but you know who we need? Mills Lane, that’s who.

8:06 p.m. Obama may have the best excuse in history for skipping out on an anniversary dinner. #debate

8:07 p.m. Since the candidates always answer the first question with a “glad to be here” soliloquy, shouldn’t the first question just be “‘Sup?”

8:08 p.m. Is someone writing down Romney’s 5 points? Because I’m sure he’ll change them tomorrow.

8:12 p.m. Just for the record, Lehrer asked Romney if he had a question for Obama, and he’s making a speech. #debate

8:13 p.m. Okay, seriously, Jim, cut Romney off if he won’t ask a question!!! #debate

8:17 p.m. It’s hard to make accurate statements about Romney’s tax plan when he stays so coy about it. #debate

8:19 p.m. “Now he’s saying that his big bold idea is ‘never mind.'” #debate

8:22 p.m. Romney keeps referencing conversations he’s had with ordinary people. We’ve seen how that tends to go for him, though… #debate

8:23 p.m. Did Romney really just say his first priority is jobs? #debate

8:27 p.m. “Going forward with the status quo won’t work” says Romney. You mean like Republicans blocking everything Obama tries to do? #debate Continue reading