IT IS a familiar-sounding tale: after decades of simmering discontent a new form of media gives opponents of an authoritarian regime a way to express their views, register their solidarity and co-ordinate their actions. The protesters’ message spreads virally through social networks, making it impossible to suppress and highlighting the extent of public support for revolution. The combination of improved publishing technology and social networks is a catalyst for social change where previous efforts had failed.
That’s what happened in the Arab spring. It’s also what happened during the Reformation, nearly 500 years ago, when Martin Luther and his allies took the new media of their day—pamphlets, ballads and woodcuts—and circulated them through social networks to promote their message of religious reform.
Scholars have long debated the relative importance of printed media, oral transmission and images in rallying popular support for the Reformation. Some have championed the central role of printing, a relatively new technology at the time. Opponents of this view emphasise the importance of preaching and other forms of oral transmission. More recently historians have highlighted the role of media as a means of social signalling and co-ordinating public opinion in the Reformation.
howjsay.com “A free online Talking English Pronunciation Dictionary – simply mouse over your entry to hear it pronounced. American and British spellings, with alternative pronunciations. Sounds are fast, clear and completely natural, pre-recorded by native speakers.”
The blue whale is the largest of all whales and is also considered the largest animal to have ever existed in the world. An adult blue whale can measure up to 108 feet in length and can weigh nearly 200 tons. – Provided by RandomHistory.com
Topsy the Elephant is Executed by Electrocution (Today in 1903)
Topsy was a circus elephant at Coney Island’s Luna Park. After killing three people—at least one of whom was mistreating her at the time—in as many years, she was deemed a threat and schedule to be put down. After hanging was deemed too cruel an execution method and ruled out, Thomas Edison suggested electrocution in an attempt to further his campaign to portray alternating current electricity as dangerous. Electrocuted with 6,600 volts, Topsy died in seconds. What was “Topsy’s Revenge”? More…
She hoped, but never imagined, she’d see her Betty Jane again.
The cruel act of violence bore in Disbrow an enduring love for the child. She kept a black and white photograph of the baby bundled in blankets and tucked inside a basket.
It was the last she saw of the girl – until the phone rang in her California apartment in 2006 with the voice of an Alabama man and a story she could have only dreamed.
Disbrow, the daughter of Dutch immigrants, weathered a harsh childhood milking cows on South Dakota dairy farms. Her stepfather thought high school was for city kids who had nothing else to do. She finished eighth grade in a country schoolhouse with just one teacher and worked long hours at the dairy.
On a summer day in 1928 while picnicking with girls from a sewing class, Disbrow and her friend Elizabeth were jumped by three men as they went for a walk in their long dresses.
Both were raped.
“We didn’t know what to do. We didn’t know what to say. So when we went back, nothing was said,” Disbrow recalled.
Months passed. Her body began to change.
Disbrow, who had been told babies were brought by storks, didn’t know what was happening.
Her mother and stepfather sent her to a Lutheran home for pregnant girls. At 17, she gave birth to a blond-haired baby with a deep dimple in her chin and named her Betty Jane.
Every year, she thought about Betty Jane on her May 22 birthday.
Five years ago, Disbrow prayed she might get the chance to see her.
“Lord, if you would just let me see her,” Disbrow remembers praying. “I promise you I will never bother her.”
On July 2, the phone rang.
Lots. lots more at the link you can read but here’s the money shot about the daughter:
Her name was now Ruth Lee. She had been raised by a Norwegian pastor and his wife and had gone on to marry and have six children including the Alabama man, a teacher and astronaut Mark Lee, a veteran of four space flights who has circled the world 517 times.
A mom, now 100 years old, meets long lost daughter:
On a hay-mown crest, dozens of people are crouching in the dark. The Earth has turned away from the sun, and the sky has flowed down a color chart, from light gray to orange to bluish-black. A sliver of a waxing moon has appeared briefly and then slipped below the western horizon, leaving the sky to blinking airplanes rising from La Guardia fifty miles to the south, to satellites gliding in low orbit, to Jupiter and its herd of moons and to the great river of the Milky Way beyond.
The crowd that sits in this chilly field in North Salem, New York, is surrounded by a ring of telescopes. There’s a Dobsonian, a giant barrel-shaped contraption that’s so tall you have to climb a stepladder to look through its eyepiece. Small, squat Newtonian cylinders sit on tripods, rigged to computers that give off a weak lamp-glow from their monitors. A few older men are fussing over the telescopes, but everyone else is huddled on the grass.
“Just get snuggly. There’s nothing wrong with that. Get snuggly.”
The voice is deep and loud–not loud from shouting, but from some strange acoustic property that gives it a conversational boom. It comes from a man who looms in the dark at the edge of the crowd.
Top 4 Tech Features I Wish I’d Done
Scott Forstall, the Sorcerer’s Apprentice at Apple (BloombergBusinessWeek): The folks at BusinessWeek realized what few others have: Forstall is the Apple executive most like the late Steve Jobs. While everyone else was still fixated on Jobs retrospectives or wondering about CEO Tim Cook’s next move, BBW delivered a surprising profile of the guy responsible for iOS, the Apple software driving its future.
Does Quora Really Have All the Answers? (Wired): Gary Rivlin cooly looks in depth at what was the hottest startup of winter 2011 and delivers an engrossing look at its potential without any of the hyperbole.
Inside Groupon: The Truth About The World’s Most Controversial Company (Business Insider): Hard to believe a company that at its core peddles coupons could be so controversial, and yet, as this gets to in great depth, it most certainly is.
This Is Why Your Tumblr’s Down (Betabeat): A rich exploration into the growing pains of the increasingly popular blog platform in the heat of its server meltdown earlier this year.
At 14, Satnam Bhamara dwarfed even the biggest NBA big men when they were his age.
This story appears in the Jan. 9, 2012 NEXT issue of ESPN The Magazine.
THIRTY OR SO YEARS AGO, in the Indian state of Punjab, in a tiny village surrounded by rice paddies, miles from the nearest home with air conditioning or even with glass and screens on all its windows, there lived a teenage boy named Balbir Singh Bhamara who did what had once seemed impossible; he grew to be taller than his mother.
Balbir’s father was a wheat farmer and miller with a string of glistening black water buffalo that gave milk as sweet as honey. His mother was 6’9″, and young Balbir grew to be a little over seven feet tall — the tallest person in the village.
Everywhere the giant boy went, people told him he ought to play basketball, a game many of them had heard about but never seen. Then, as now, cricket was the only sport that mattered. Hockey (meaning field hockey) — the official national game — was, by comparison, a niche sport. As was football (meaning soccer). Then, as now — but probably not for much longer — basketball was little more than a curiosity.
Soon, in a nearby village, the boy found a hoop. In no time, hoops found the boy — as, perhaps even in India, was not surprising for a kid whose turban nearly reached the net. People began telling Balbir that, in the cities, there were schools with proper courts where he could learn the game and, as a bonus, get an education. If he took to the game, as seemed certain, he’d have a chance to see the country. Maybe represent the country. Maybe, just maybe, the boy could see the world.