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the work of history

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    Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

    I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.”

    I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

    I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

    I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

    I have a dream today!

    I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of “interposition” and “nullification” — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

    I have a dream today!

    I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; “and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.”

    This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with.

    With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

    Washington, D.C. - August 28, 1963

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    August 28, 1963: The March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom begins.

    Fifty years ago, between 200,000 and 300,000 protesters gathered in Washington, D.C. for a historic march that, 100 years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, sought to bring national attention to the persistent problems faced by black Americans. Most were related to economic inequality, and others to disenfranchisement and segregation, and so the march was dubbed the “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom”. At the time, the Kennedy Administration was taking steps to pass a civil rights bill, for which the march was also meant to show support, that was originally proposed to the American public by the president earlier that summer. This bill was eventually signed into law as the Civil Rights Act of 1964. 

    The demonstration was primarily led and coordinated by a coalition of different organizations and leaders: A. Philip Randolph, longtime civil rights activist and labor leader; James Farmer of CORE; John Lewis of SNCC; Martin Luther King, Jr. of the SCLC; Roy Wilkins of the NAACP; and Whitney Young of the National Urban League. Bayard Rustin, whose homosexuality was often attacked by other civil rights leaders and perceived as damaging to their cause, was the march’s chief organizer. Other influences perceived as too radical (communists, and anything that might have drawn demonstrators away from non-violent protest) were excluded as well. Phrases criticizing the federal government’s inaction, criticisms of the president’s civil rights bill, and mentions of revolution and “scorched earth” were cut from John Lewis’ speech, deemed too inflammatory.

    Martin Luther King’s iconic “I Have a Dream" speech, delivered from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, remains the defining moment of the march and a defining moment of the era. 

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    September 1, 1939: The Invasion of Poland begins.

    One week after the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, a treaty of non-aggression between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, German forces launched an attack against Poland. Preceding events like the occupation of the Rhineland, the Anschluss, the Munich Agreement, and overall the gradual revitalization of all parts of the German military (despite restrictions placed by the Treaty of Versailles) bode ill for Europe, but World War II is considered to have officially begun with the invasion of Poland, and with the declarations of war on Germany by France and Great Britain two days later. Though outmatched, Polish forces held off German (and Russian, after the Soviet invasion began on September 17) forces until the final Army unit surrendered on October 6. Though often viewed as weak, backwards, and obsolete, the Polish military inflicted heavy damage upon German forces within the first days of fighting. Around 200,000 Polish civilians were killed during the action.

    The conquered territories were subsequently divided up; some portions were directly annexed by Germany, while one area, which contained Warsaw and Krakow, became the separate General Government. Each of the six major Nazi extermination camps (Auschwitz II, Chełmno, Belzec, Majdanek, Sobibor, and Treblinka) - used in the systematic extermination of nearly 3.5 million people - was established in either the annexed territories or in the General Government of Poland. 

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    World War II - the European Theatre (September 1, 1939 - May 8, 1945)

    and the story does suggest
    a part 2 to the Turing Test:
    1. can machines behave like humans?
    2. can we?

    The Atlantic

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    Katsuhika Hokusai (October 31, 1760 – May 10, 1849)

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    Masked Bowa dancers including Balden Lhamo (left) with her son's corpse in her mouth performing in the courtyard of the main chanting hall at Cho-ni Lamasery during the Cham-ngyon-wa ceremony

    China, Kan-su (Kumbum). Kumbum Monastery.

    Fourteen-year-old Fan-tze bride in her finest silk clothes and jewelry at Cho-ni

    Lamas sounding trumpets from the roof of the main chanting hall at Cho-ni Lamasery to summon lama priests to put away the garments used for the Cham-ngyon-wa dance

    China, Kan-su (Tandrukika). Looking east from Tandrukika.

    Five Tibetan men with rifles and gun rests in the Pashetenga District in lower Tebbu land

    Lamas on a street in Cho-ni Lamasery near the main chanting hall (left background) and Temple for the Recompense of Kindness (right)

    China (Yunnan)] Title: Alternate Title: Terraced rice fields in a valley with misty hills behind

    Two novice lamas standing next to massive wooden kettles (right) and tea buckets (left) in the kitchen at Labrang Lamasery


    Some of the work of Joseph Rock, a National Geographic photographer in the 1920s, documenting life in Tibet and Western China.


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    September 7, 1533: Elizabeth I is born.

    The future Queen Elizabeth I, the last monarch of the Tudor Dynasty, was the daughter of King Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn, who was executed in 1536. By the Second Succession Act, passed by Parliament that same year, she and her half-sister Mary were removed from the line of succession, although both were returned to the line by the Third Succession Act; though she was an illegitimate child for most of her early childhood, Elizabeth enjoyed a first-class education and was a favorite (as were all of Henry’s children) of Catherine Parr, the king’s sixth and final wife.

    She became queen at age 25, following the death of Mary I in late 1558. Although not free from problems, which she dealt with mostly with pragmatism and moderation, her forty-four year reign is often described as a “Golden Age”: the arts and particularly theatre flourished (at the head of this flowering stood the era’s foremost playwrights, Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare); the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588 granted the English a great sense of national pride; there was comparatively little internal religious strife; and the first seeds of the British American colonies were planted during her reign. She never married, and therefore never produced heirs, and so, following her death in 1603, the throne passed to the Scottish Stuarts. 

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    September 8, 1951: The Treaty of San Francisco is signed.

    On September 8, 1951, delegates representing forty-eight nations gathered in San Francisco, California, to sign a treaty that officially ended the state of war between Japan and the Allied Powers, six years after V-J Day, and six years after the American occupation of Japan began. China was not invited to the treaty deliberations or signing, because the Allies were unable to decide whether the Taiwanese government or the communist PRC should represent the nation.

    The agreement also served to affirm Japan’s sovereignty - when the treaty came into force in April of 1952, Allied occupation ended; it also settled issues of territory: according to the terms of the treaty, Japan was to recognize the independence of Korea (which was formally annexed by the empire in 1910); it was also to relinquish its hold on Formosa (Taiwan) and the neighboring Pescadores, and the Kurile, Spratly, and Paracel Islands. In addition, Japan agreed to accept the judgements of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, and to carry out its sentences. All in all the treaty is commonly regarded by historians as “relatively generous" toward Japan, but it also marked the beginning of what Akira Iriye dubbed the "San Francisco system”.

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    September 13, 1229: Ögedei succeeds Genghis Khan as Khagan of the Mongol Empire.

    Upon his death in 1227, Genghis Khan, founder and first ruler of the Mongol Empire, passed his title and his lands - which at the time of his death spanned an area twice the size of the Roman Empire - to his third son, Ögedei. As famous as Genghis Khan was as a conqueror, the Mongol Empire expanded even further during Ögedei’s twelve year reign, stretching into Central Europe and Russia. 

    Ögedei was formally elected to succeed his father by a kurultai (a kind of military-political decision-making assembly), and by their decree he was proclaimed Khagan - emperor, king of kings. His mostly stable reign was marked by a continuation of Genghis Khan’s legacy; it was also marked by a series of military exploits and conquest. In 1231, the Mongol Empire launched an invasion of the Korean Peninsula that was to last until after Ögedei’s own death, ending in Goryeo’s surrender. In 1237 an invasion of Russia led by the Great Khan’s nephew Batu was launched, resulting in the disintegration of Kievan Rus’, and enormous repercussions (both short- and long-term) for the development of the region and its inhabitants. 

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    Water Lillies (1895) - Isaac Levitan

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    September 15, 1963: Ku Klux Klan members bomb the 16th Street Baptist Church.

    At 10 AM on a Sunday morning, a box of dynamite planted in the basement of a Birmingham church exploded. The ensuing blast injured twenty-two people and killed four - all black girls, three of them 14 years old and one of them only 11. During the riots that followed, two more black youths, Johnny Robinson and Virgil Wade, were shot to death by police attempting to disperse crowds. 

    The year 1963 was an eventful year for the American civil rights movement: President Kennedy announced to the nation his intention to get passed a civil rights bill; activist Medgar Evers was assassinated outside his home in Mississippi; the University of Alabama was desegregated under the pressure of the National Guard; hundreds of thousands gathered at the National Mall for the March on Washington; and numerous protests, demonstrations, and boycotts were organized across the South. Birmingham, Alabama, was a particularly divided - and violent, when it came to issues of race - part of the country. Images and news of the Birmingham campaign made national headlines. 

    The 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, the senseless killing of young and innocent bystanders, and the violent clashes that resulted in reaction to the bombing were highly-publicized stories that alerted Americans to the struggles of the civil rights movement, although bomb threats and violence were not uncommon occurrences in Birmingham. The men responsible, later identified as members of a KKK splinter group, were not tried for the crime until 1977 (in the case of the group’s leader) and 2000

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    Combat of the Giaour and the Pasha (1827), Eugene Delacroix

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    September 19, 1356: The Battle of Poitiers is fought.

    The Battle of Poitiers was one of the great battles of the Hundred Years’ War, a series of intermittent conflicts fought between the Kingdoms of France and England (and their respective allies) over the throne of France. Edward III of England proclaimed himself the rightful king of France over the Valois king Philip VI, through his mother (the sister of the previous king), although he never pursued the claim until the kingdoms became embroiled in various diplomatic disagreements. Approximately twenty years into the first stage of the conflict, forces under Edward, Prince of Wales (later popularly known as “the Black Prince”) met French forces near the city of Poitiers. 

    Also present was John II of France, who had since succeeded Philip as king since the latter’s death in 1350. His armies outnumbered the English nearly 2:1, but superior tactics (and French blunders) granted a great victory to the English, who also suffered far fewer casualties. John and other French lords were captured during the battle. While the Dauphin and future king Charles served as regent, he was forced to enact unpopular taxes in order to pay for his father’s three million crown ransom, and deal with opposition from all segments of society (from the peasantry to the bourgeoisie to the nobles). A weakened and divided France was forced to conclude the 1360 Treaty of Brétigny, which signaled the end of the first phase of the war and ceded large chunks of France to the English, including the areas of Aquitaine, Gascony, Poitou, Saintonge, and others. In return, Edward abandoned his claim to the throne of France. The effects of the treaty were fleeting; war proceeded once more nine years later, and French efforts pushed the English out of the territories they had gained by the treaty. 

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    September 21, 1937: The Hobbit is published.

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    September 23, 1215: Kublai Khan is born.

    Born Kublai, this grandson of Genghis Khan served as the fifth Khagan of the Mongol Empire, succeeding his brother Möngke, and defeating another brother, Ariq Böke, for the title in a war of succession. The Mongol Empire at the time of Kublai’s accession was large - but also largely disunified, due in part to the nature of the Mongol leaders’ style of ruling, which emphasized conquest over maintenance. One adviser reportedly told him, with this very problem in mind:

    I have heard that one can conquer the empire on horseback, but one cannot govern it on horseback.

    As Khagan, Kublai’s most famous exploit was the completion of the Mongol conquest of China, which had begun with the conquest of the Jin and Xia dynasties under Ögedei Khan, and ended with the conquest of the Song and proclamation of the Yuan Dynasty in 1271. Even before that time, Kublai adopted many Chinese customs and naming systems and developed an appreciation for Chinese culture and philosophy, though most of his high officials were typically not actually Chinese. Afterward, he attempted to consolidate power and establish a centralized government in China, a mode of rule unlike that of his nomadic predecessors and an exceptionally difficult task given the fact that he was a foreigner and that China had been fragmented for several centuries. In 1274 and 1281, the Khagan also attempted to conquer Japan, but his naval invasions were repelled by fierce ocean storms. 

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    The Empress Theodora at the Colosseum (1889), Jean-Joseph Benjamin-Constant

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    September 24, 1896: F. Scott Fitzgerald is born.

    That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover that your longings are universal longings, that you’re not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.

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    Danse Macabre, Op. 40 (1874), Camille Saint-Saëns

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    “But the world is so full of people, so crowded with these miracles that they become commonplace and we forget… We gaze continually at the world and it grows dull in our perceptions. Yet seen from another’s vantage point, as if new, it may still take the breath away. Come… dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg.”

    - Watchmen (1987)

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    "Greatest" is such a vague word, haha, I don’t think it’s possible to say that there was one single greatest historical moment or that one female figure in history towers over all others. So! I’m going to interpret this as "most interesting to personally read about/study". 

    - moment: probably the Trinity test/the detonation of the H-bomb, whatever marks the beginning of the Atomic Age. The reason that famous Oppenheimer quote is so widespread and so widely quoted and intrinsically linked to that age is because (imo) it encapsulated a pure feeling that is so difficult to capture in words, the way the bomb changed everything, not only thru its practical applications - the amount of pure destruction humans could now unleash, and the velocity at which they could do so, but also the psychological effect it had on peoples’ consciousness(es?). Like if you ever read those accounts of people viewing atomic bomb detonations firsthand they always react with both awe and terror, terror at the destruction and awe at…. also the destruction, but the beauty of it. Whatever way they react, even if it’s contradictory, it’s impossible to not have an incredible visceral reaction to the thing. On the other hand you also had that optimism inspired by that prospect of a future fueled by atomic power… The ramifications were enormous either way, though obviously there were so many other things besides the bomb that factored into the development of Cold War culture in the U.S (which is so interesting). But I think it’s just stuff like this that reminds you that history and people and human nature are the exact opposite of separate realms. Wow this was seriously such a bad answer, I’m sorry.

    - female figure: I think Leni Riefenstahl is really, really, really interesting because she was this influential technical innovator, a woman working in a field dominated by men (overwhelmingly, even today), and a Nazi propagandist? Her work is interesting, her attitude toward her own work and the impact of her work is interesting, she’s interesting. Re: women in history that I actually admire, I really dig the modern woman scientists, especially Lise Meitner. When I was a kid, I thought Margaret Mead was really cool, too. And, um… Ching Shih, and all of those Badass of the Week types.

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