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Wall Street Journal column, part II.

JULY 20, 2015
Hello everyone,
I've been on a bit of a hiatus, posting-wise, but hey, everythings a bit slower over here...and it's summer...
So here's the second edition of illustrations from a column called "Historically speaking", written by Dr. Amanda Foreman. It's bi-weekly and draws on behaviors of historical figures to illuminate similar behavior in modern contemporary society. It sometimes ends up being a rather straightforward portrait of said figure(s), but can also be purely conceptual (and all the grey areas in between).
Very fun gig!
AD on this is Keith Webb.
I'm actually gonna break this one up into two posts...boredom is boring...
First one's about the Philae space probe landing on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Grasimenko and the history of humanity seeking out new frontiers to discover and explore, both poet and scientist, and how the promise of new frontiers still holds true in the 21st century. Here's Galileo contemplating Jupiter's moons.

On the 2014 Scottish Independence campaign and how everybody in it seemed to be male. In contrast, the 19th century, especially the 1820s, was just teeming with female freedom fighters. Here's "Admiral" Laskarina Bouboulina, famous for fighting on behalf of Greek independence.

Airing of political grievances, social protests and even rioting was a common occurrence in theaters throughout history. And then the tickets became too expensive...

Here's Marie Antoinette. Apparently, she never even said the whole "let them eat cake" bit – though she may have said a few other things that eventually scored her a date with the executioner. One in a long line of misattributed quotes.

About May Day, and the many different meanings it has for many different groups of people.

Automatons. People have been fascinated with them since ancient times...the newer incarnations however, artificially-intelligenced and self-teaching and all – we might just have another thing coming...

Historically, the greatest swindles used to have a face or at least a name to vilify. By contrast, the financial scandals of today seem diffuse, transnational and as nebulous as their acronyms like Libor, ISDAfix, and HFT. Here's Charles Ponzi...

Just in time for wildfire season, an article about how fire still is, despite all of today's sophisticated technology, one of the most dangerous threats to humans. Yet it also has always been a source of inspiration and innovation. And terror. This is Nero, one of history's most notorious pyromaniacs.

Abdication fever is sweeping through the royal palaces of Europe. Recently, it was Spain’s King Juan Carlos who became the third monarch in just over a year to renounce his crown. It seems to be just like King Farouk of Egypt predicted:‘There will soon be only five kings left: the kings of England, diamonds, hearts, spades and clubs’.

About the Oscars, and the enormous financial rewards they can bring. By comparison, the awards given out by its spiritual ancestor, the ancient Greek festival of Dionysus, which is regarded to be the first festival to give out prizes for drama, were rather moderate. It's alleged first winner, Thespis in the mid-6th century BC, received a live goat.

Triumph over adversity. It always resonates with audiences. Teddy Roosevelt, in his speech ‘The Strenuous Life’, captured the true meaning of success, ‘which comes not to the man who desires mere easy peace, but to the man who does not shrink from danger, from hardship, or from bitter toil, and who out of these wins the splendid ultimate triumph.' Here he is, after losing his White House run in 1912, undertaking a hazardous expedition to the Amazon basin, exploring the River of Doubt, one of the great uncharted tributaries of the Amazon River.

© 2024 Thomas Fuchs