Category Archives: History

Edible Wrappers Are Centuries Old. Why Are They Now Disruptive?

In 1846 a chef in Paris created a disruptive edible paper portrait of a visiting Egyptian dignitary, perched on top of a pyramid of pulled sugar steps:

On the top of the [sugar] pyramid was a portrait painted in food dyes on sugar paste, of the Pasha’s venerated father Ibrahim. As the Pasha picked it up to examine it more closely he saw that embedded in the filigree icing frame of the portrait was a tiny, but perfect, portrait of himself.

Pretty innovative, considering edible wafer paper already had been around for hundreds of years before that.

In another disruptive example about 50 years later, a London chef started a “fad” of edible paper, including a dinner menu.

It appears an ingenious chef conceived the idea of making an edible menu card, and, after many experiments, he produced one composed of the sugar tissue paper which is used on the bottom of macaroons, and which is, of course, edible.

Edible wrappers have been so common, so easy to make and use, we might take them for granted and forget they even exist.

Here’s a sentence I found on a site that sells very large boxes of edible wrappers at super low cost, right next to their DIY recipe:

Wafer paper is a single most affordable product in edible printing industry, everyone uses it, from big box bakeries to stay at home moms.

Surely that was supposed to say stay at home parents. Or are they trying to imply stay at home dads can’t afford or use edible wrappers?

Anyway here is some “big disruption” news, in stark contrast to all this ancient history of edible wrappers:

‘A disruptive solution to pollution’: introducing edible packaging.

Indeed. Someone has just introduced something very familiar.

We’re told an inexpensive and common thing, centuries old, is about to start disrupting.

Combining her engineering background with her passion for a ‘cradle to cradle’ lifecycle, Lamp has launched a new company, Traceless, to commercialise the idea.

Lamp? She didn’t want to name her new company something like Illuminated? Also “cradle to cradle” sounds like it’s going exactly nowhere. Like saying from point A to point A. Are we there yet?

And I would be more impressed if she was marketing her idea as a way to deliver one-time written passwords (OTWP), or send ephemeral messages, which obviously you eat after reading.

One can only imagine if she had an history background. Would she still have gone commercial? I suspect no historian would be framing something centuries old as her new idea.

Traditional nougat wrapped in traditional traceless edible packaging anyone?

Pedestrian Kill Bills Are Racist

I’ve written for many years about the systemic racism of American transit policies; from disastrous “Urban Renewal” projects using highway construction that “balkanize” cities and destroy black neighborhoods, to the racial disparity in pedestrian deaths and disgusting history of jaywalking laws.

[Car manufacturers] staged safety campaigns in which actors dressed in 19th-century garb, or as clowns, were hired to cross the street illegally, signifying that the practice was outdated and foolish. In a 1924 New York safety campaign, a clown was marched in front of a slow-moving Model T and rammed repeatedly.

Perhaps Benjamin Bunn, a former Green Beret who served from 2000 to 2016 and deployed in support of the Global War on Terror to both Iraq, Afghanistan, and the Baltic Region… put it best:

People are most vulnerable during travel.

The modern countermeasures for such domestic security threats should be pretty obvious to anyone engineering human-centric networks, as this before/after view illustrates:

Source: Makati, the Philippines by PGAA Creative Design

A new article tries to bring this all to light again, given the recent spate of “pedestrian kill bills”, yet it makes an awful error:

A few years ago, most people would have seen “politically motivated vehicle attacks” as a terrorist tactic pioneered by ISIS. Now American police regularly carry out these kinds of attacks, and Republican policymakers have officially endorsed the practice.

There was ample evidence by 2016 if not earlier that “run them over you won’t be convicted” was a coordinated hate campaign on social media by white nationalists.

Source: Twitter 2016

If anything, ISIS likely took the ideas from American domestic terrorists (although arguably there were foreign accounts stoking the message).

In January 2016, a police sergeant in St. Paul, Minnesota, was suspended after allegedly posting a comment on an article about a Martin Luther King Jr. Day march, instructing drivers: “Run them over. Keep traffic flowing and don’t slow down for any of these idiots who try and block the street.”

This February, Troy Baker, president of the police union in Santa Fe, New Mexico, shared an image from the “Prepare to Take America Back” Facebook page, a right-wing meme factory with links to conspiracy theories. “All lives splatter: Nobody cares about your protest,” it reads over an image of a jeep plowing through a crowd.

Way back in 2013 the problem was described in terms of authorized use and operator error.

Vehicles can do great damage, yet when people drive aggressively or vengefully, the destruction is often dismissed as “an accident.”

Speaking of 2013, a car plowed through protestors a year earlier at the University of California Santa Cruz.

He revved his engine, but the crowd briefly stopped him from entering. The driver then revved his engine again and drove through the crowd of demonstrators at the High Street entrance, striking several people and a bike. […] Samson [who was a passenger in the car] said they intend to press charges against those in the crowd. […] The demonstration had been peaceful until the incident with the motorist.

The driver of the car who revved his engine, paused, revved again and then tried to run over a crowd of protestors intended to press charges against his victims?

A very different tone that same year can be found in Cardiff, Wales after a Taxi driver hit eight pedestrians and was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

Sentencing Rehman, the judge said: “It was holy unjust behaviour – intolerable behaviour in a civilised society. To use a motor vehicle as a weapon is a an extremely serious crime.”

Back to a completely opposite perspective, here’s a story from a year before that in Brazil, where police said a car that drove over 12 people during a protest was the fault of the protestors because… they didn’t have a protest license.

De acordo com o delegado, o direito à livre expressão dos manifestantes não podia impedir o direito de ir e vir de pedestres e motoristas. “Aqui não é a Líbia. Aqui tem toda a liberdade para fazer manifestação, desde que avisem as autoridades. Faz a tua manifestação, mas não impede o fluxo de automóveis. Se tu impedes, dá confusão, dá baderna, dá acidente. Fica o alerta”, afirmou.

Roughly translated this is “free expression and demonstration can’t be in the way of the right of car mobility since Brazil is not Libya — people are free to demonstrate as long as they warn authorities and do not prevent car flow”.

But let’s not stop there. In 2009 videos were posted to the Internet from Iran, which showed police vehicles plowing into demonstrators.

In the video — shot Sunday, according to the posting on the Web site YouTube — green-and-white police trucks rush into crowds of protesters in the capital, Tehran. Demonstrators scatter, but one truck drives into a crowd trapped in a narrow street with a wall on one side and parked cars on the other.

Speaking of 2009, eight people were killed in the Netherlands when a car was intentionally driven into a parade in a failed attempt to kill the Dutch royal family.

And three years before that a philosophy/psychology graduate of the University of North Carolina drove a car through crowds of students, injuring almost nobody. Allegedly it was his attempt to “avenge deaths or murders of Muslims“… before calling police to turn himself in.

There are so many examples, I’m unfortunately leaving out many important ones. There’s a very, very important reason why:

Manslaughter with a weapon statistics from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, from 1996 to 2016, show the number of offenses with firearms and knives, but everything else falls under a category called “other.” There is no readily available breakdown of the number of times that prosecutors said a car was used as a weapon.

Let’s say that again, when we look at weapon statistics there’s NO BREAKDOWN OF TIMES A CAR WAS USED AS A WEAPON.

This seems particularly odd since, as the grieving mother of a murdered daughter explained, use of cars as weapons to kill pedestrians tends to be pretty obvious:

“He ran over my daughter three times,” she told the South Florida Sun Sentinel. “You’re not going to tell me the car’s not a weapon. He used it as a weapon. That’s all there is to it.”

And at least some judges seem to agree with her, making some obvious points of their own:

Just as an automobile’s primary purpose is for transportation, the primary purpose of a steak knife or baseball bat is for use as cutlery or sporting equipment. Yet no one could reasonably dispute that those items are also ‘commonly understood’ as ‘instrument[s] for combat against another person’ when used as such.

And on that note, you would think that the low frequency high impact of cars as weapons also would gather more attention from anyone trying to protect Americans from harm.

Vehicular attacks have caused 45 percent of all injuries and 37 percent of all deaths in Islamism-inspired plots since January 2014

So please allow me instead of trying to capture every incident to just skip back all the way to news from 1977 in Plains, Georgia — a white man drove his Jaguar XKE at 50 mph through a Klan “anti-Carter” rally sending 19 people already wearing white sheets to the hospital.

Source: Eugene Register-Guard, 1977

The NYT reported on motive.

Sheriff Howard said at a news conference that Mr. Cochran apparently stopped at the Klan rally last night out of curiosity but “didn’t like what was being said” by the speakers. […] Mr. Cochran said “he had a lot of black friends and he was going to get even with Wilkinson for what he was saying about the blacks,” the sheriff said.

He had black friends and wanted to get even sounds very…wrong. I expect the driver to say he did it to fight racism, and not to say “some of my friends are black”.

Ok, I know what you’re probably thinking here. Use of cars as weapon go back as far as cars themselves go in history. But the 1977 incident, let alone other countries, seems to show the risk is to everyone, not linked to any one race.

Here’s the problem with that “race blind” argument to risk from cars in America. Given the wild and illogical fears being spread about AntiFa, wouldn’t we then see bills being written to criminalize use of cars as weapons against the KKK?

Kill bills are basically handing AntiFa the keys to drive cars through crowds of Nazis. Seems backwards for fascists to be giving anti-fascists license to a weapon, no?

Or as the Blues Brothers movie illustrated the concept back in 1980 (posted to YouTube in 2011):

A comment on that video follows it with this insight:

I’m all for free speech…but the free speech of a revved-up Dodge former cop car sounds even better.

Despite the movie reference, currently the belief is that no white nationalist crowds will be impacted by threat of cars (similar to how white crowds in America are statistically less subject to any police brutality).

Fundamentally (no pun intended) racist whites believe a blanket authorized use of force won’t put whites at any greater risk because blacks can’t target whites with violence in the same way that whites can target blacks (while at the same time claiming that authorization is required because blacks target whites with violence).

Indeed, we know that while the majority of pedestrian deaths in America are blacks, and that jaywalking laws are historically racist, so too the new pedestrian kill bills target non-whites — these laws essentially criminalize being black.

So here’s the real talk. International pressure has been mounting on American systemic white insecurity groups to stop killing black people with police brutality.

Police killings of Black Americans amount to crimes against humanity, international inquiry finds.

As a result, white insecurity surely realizes their racist strategy of police shootings may be over, and thus laws hastily are being pushed with new ways to oppress and terrorize black people en masse with systemic bias in transit and healthcare instead.

There are more than 60% more Black pedestrian fatalities than White, yet Black residents are more than five times more likely to depend on public transportation to access vital services and opportunities.

Kill Bills in America serve no purpose other than to remove protection against known domestic terror threats.

1990s Warnings About Cyber War That Nobody Heard

A “CyberWar 2.0” book published in 1998 had a chapter called “Information Peacekeeping: The Purest Form of War“.

Here’s the sort of cogent warning you will find, written by Robert D. Steele, which seems like it was written just yesterday.

…perhaps the most important aspect of Information Operations is the defensive aspect. Our highest priority, one we must undertake before attempting to influence others, is that of putting our own information commons in order. We must be able to assist and support our consumers with knowledge management concepts, doctrine, and capabilities, such that they can “make sense” of the information chaos surrounding them.

Also notable from Robert Steele was his keynote presentation called “Hackers as a National Resource” at Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE), New York, 13-14 August 1994.

And perhaps to emphasize again how similar things sound in the 1990s and today, here’s Strassman’s position that a mono-culture of big tech (Microsoft at that time) was a threat to US national security.

Microsoft has projected a vision of a world that is inter-connected with Microsoft centers from where each computer receives not only its operating software but also a continuous stream of data and applications.

Recently I’ve been interviewed for podcasts, etc and people have started asking what it was like being involved in cyber war so “early”… to which I have to admit that to me my timing felt a bit late.

There already was at least a decade if not more of experts and hackers with established reputations, headlines had been alarmist since the early 1980s, and thus I started my professional work in 1994 with a sense of urgency — had a lot of catching up to do. Hope that helps puts 2021 headlines in some perspective.

This Day in History 1943: Operation Mincemeat

A while ago I wrote about a 1917 saddle bag with bogus British battle plans that “fell” off a horse near the Turkish front lines. It was deception, which had a decisive influence.

Despite similarity, we’re led to believe that it did not inspire missions that had a huge impact in WWII. Instead, WWII missions are said to have been inspired by real life instead of an earlier deception operation.

On September 25, 1942 a British plane crashed on the coast of Spain. There were no survivors; one fatality in particular that worried Allied commanders was a courier who carried sensitive documents about invasion plans for North Africa, called Operation Torch.

Allegedly those documents didn’t leak yet it was this incident that inspired Allied intelligence to attempt an intentional leak.

They set about staging a series of ruses and incidents (Operation Barclay) designed to get the Germans to take fake documents that would disorient them during coming southern Europe invasion plans for the summer of 1943 called Operation Husky.

Therefore on this day — April 19th — in 1943 the HMS Seraph submarine set sail for the coast of Spain to release a long-dead corpse of a London homeless man (preserved in a steel canister of dry ice, after starvation had led him to eat rat bait). He was dressed as a British major and “pushed” out to sea.

Operation Mincemeat.

Like the WWI saddle bag ploy, this decoy carried fake papers (including love letters, bank statements and receipts) as well as a briefcase filled with maps of Greece. I’ve found no evidence of poetry.

Because Nazis were so embedded and influential within Spain’s fascist government, especially in small southwestern cities like Huelva near Morocco, they were easily pulled into fake papers on a British corpse.

A fisherman dragged the body to Spanish authorities, a German spy quickly was summoned and was so excited he ran straight to Berlin.

Mincemeat swallowed rod, line and sinker.

The Allies then saw far fewer German resources during invasion of Sicily, moving more quickly and with fewer losses than anticipated, while the duped Nazis sat ready for action in Greece. Hitler even pulled troops off actual battles further weakening them just to sit and wait in the wrong spot. With Rommel easily routed by November 1942, the simple decoy operation sent Nazi command into disarray. Axis forces began to rapidly collapse such that Italy was invaded in July and quickly defeated by September 1943.

America’s History of Mistreatment of Black Service Members

“[Black] soldier of the US 12th Armored Division stands guard over a group of Nazi prisoners captured in the surrounding German forest”. Source: US NARA 535840

A new article on the history of American racism towards its black veterans points out it goes back to the Civil War:

Thousands of Black men who served in the Civil War, World War I, and World War II were targeted because of their service and threatened, assaulted or lynched, according to a 2017 Equal Justice Initiative report.

It’s a good article to read in order to have better context around the attempted lynching by Virgina police, which has been in the news a lot lately.

I would just add that this article leaves some pretty big gaps in history that shouldn’t be hard to close. For example:

  • Black veterans of Spanish-American war were decorated at particularly important time period. This really frames Woodrow Wilson’s racism that motivated his run for President (In 1881 Wilson said the South’s suppression of black voters was not because of skin but because their minds were dark. In 1902 Wilson said the South was the victim of Civil War). He in effect restarted the KKK from the White House, which is why lynchings and massacres targeting the veterans of WWI after his Presidency were so high.

    These American heroes ran directly into American racism. Instead of celebration and expansion, the backlash of resentment from white insecurity grew against these blacks who ventured to demonstrate their value and capabilities — success in America meant risk of being punished and relegated to lesser roles. ‘Shortly after the end of the Spanish-American War a decline began in the status of Black serviceman.’

  • Black women faced even more discrimination than men, and often were denied entry into service despite being overqualified.

    Bessie Coleman was the first American to have an International Pilot’s license. Racism in America actively prevented a black and Native American woman to learn how to fly, so she took night school to learn French, went to France and quickly became a pilot there. “…her brothers served in the military during World War I and came home with stories from their time in France. Her brother John teased her because French women were allowed to learn how to fly airplanes and Bessie could not…”

  • There are so many individual examples of black servicemen being silently killed by white police in America, like the 1960 murder of Marvin Williams, that it becomes almost impossible for people who aren’t aware of the magnitude of it all to understand where and how to look at systemic racism in America. In other words, ask who has been allocated the dedicated time and resources to drive justice in every individual case like Marvin Williams let alone in a “storm” (what white insecurity forces call themselves) perpetrating widespread domestic massacres of black American military veterans.

    The side-walks were literally covered with burning turpentine balls. I knew all too well where they came from, and I knew all too well why every burning building first caught from the top… ‘Where oh where is our splendid fire department with its half dozen stations?’ I asked myself. ‘Is the city in conspiracy with the mob?’

  • Slaves were forced to fight for US independence from Britain at a time when Britain was ending slavery. Men like the alleged mass rapist who hunted humans for sport, known as “Swamp Fox” by the British, in fact kept records boasting of putting their slave into action to do the actual fighting on their behalf. Just to be clear, Americans perpetuated slavery by using slaves to fight for independence from “tyranny”. It’s worth debating whether America losing its war for independence might have made life in America safer for black veterans and emancipated them by the 1830s.

    In December 2006, two centuries after his death, Marion made news again when President George W. Bush signed a proclamation honoring the man described in most biographies as the “faithful servant, Oscar,” Marion’s personal slave. Bush expressed the thanks of a “grateful nation” for Oscar Marion’s “service…in the Armed Forces of the United States.”

  • To the last point above, in the 1815 Battle of New Orleans freemen (black soldiers) played a decisive role. 50% of Jackson’s force from Louisiana was non-white despite “free blacks” being just 10% of the population. Although these black men served with distinction and achieved victory, Jackson quickly double-crossed them and stole their valor, rights and even took their guns away.

    …while Spanish/French colonial-era slave codes had granted complete rights and equality to a “free man of color” (allowed to be educated, serve in military, own land, business, and even slaves) it was only the March 4, 1812 Louisiana Constitution that removed the right to vote from 2/3 of the people living there. That was long before Jackson would fight a vicious political campaign at the federal level to do them even more harm.

Hope that helps add even more detail to this ongoing tragedy of American history — how it treats its own military when they are black.

Mapping “America First” Revival of the KKK

Recently I wrote about a country song of encoded KKK/Nazi signals, called “The Big Revival“.

It got me thinking about whether a map might show how a KKK revival happened as a result of Woodrow Wilson’s “America First” campaign platform in 1915.

And then I found someone at Virginia Commonwealth University already had gone to the trouble of building an interactive map of “contagion”.

“The data for Mapping the Klan is based on a variety of sources, mostly newspapers sponsored by or sympathetic to the Ku Klux Klan. These publications reported on the activities of local units, known officially as Klaverns.” Source: Virginia Commonwealth University

Again, I have to emphasize an explosion of terrorism (e.g. lynchings and massacres) was linked directly to an extremely racist “America First” platform and the President who did nothing to condemn any of it.

In a 1881 article that went unpublished, Wilson defended the South’s suppression of black voters, saying that they were being denied the vote not because their skin was dark but because their minds were dark (yes, really).

Wilson’s racism wasn’t the matter of a few unfortunate remarks here or there. It was a core part of his political identity, as indicated both by his anti-black policies as president and by his writings before taking office. It is completely accurate to describe him as a racist and white supremacist and condemn him accordingly.

“The full story” of American history is one of racial inequality and genocide, where white supremacist terrorism and violence is the foundation of “America First”:

Who Invented the Personal Computer? “Apple Was Literally Following Us Around”

It is quite sad how someone can gleefully erase people to highlight himself. Anyone believe a claim by Steve Jobs in 2001 that there was no personal computer in 1975?

Being literate in history should require knowing that by 1974 personal computers already were on the cover of popular magazines.

July 1974 magazine highlighting the personal computer.

It also is useful to know that the first Xerox Alto personal computer (from Palo Alto, where Woz worked and took many of his ideas to start Apple) had been operational in 1972 and introduced on 1 March 1973. Note the high resolution bitmapped graphical display and the mouse.

Source: Twitter @kenshirriff

What really seems to be obscured in that 2001 Steve Jobs interview, and why 1975 matters so much as a particular time, is Bill Mensch was able to create a layout completely by hand from the 6501 schematics and produce an inexpensive working CPU on his first try.

It begins at Motorola, where Chuck Peddle, Bill Mensch and several others were employed in the early 1970’s design the MC6800 processor and its peripherals. The 6800 was not a bad design, it was however, very expensive, a development board for it costing over $300. Chuck worked largely as the 6800 system architect, ensuring all the ICs worked well together and were what was needed to meet customers needs. He attended many calls to potential clients and noted that many were turned off by one thing, price. With that in mind he sought out to build a lower cost version of the 6800 using some of the newer processes available (specifically depletion mode NMOS vs the enhancement mode of the 6800). Motorola management wouldn’t hear it, they wanted nothing to do with a lower cost processor available to the masses. And with that, Chuck, Bill and over half the 6800 team left.

They ended up at MOS Technologies, which at the time was owned in large part by Allen/Bradley. It was there, at MOS under the direction of Chuck Peddle that the 6501/2 was borne.

THAT chip moment changed everything for the personal computer market (15% of the cost of an Intel 8080), which already existed. (Apple used the 6502 at the same time as Commodore. Who? Commodore, who in fact purchased MOS to save it and put in their own line of personal computers, although you’ll never hear Jobs mention either).

Chuck Peddle designed the KIM-1 personal computer while at MOS in 1975, and released it April 1976 as advertised by BYTE magazine.

Peddle also had developed a personal electronic transactor (PET) concept for a personal computer and in January 1977 displayed it at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Chicago.

Note this personal computer at the January CES trade show was months before Apple II (June 1977) or Radio Shack TRS80 (August 1977).

Steve Jobs in 2001 was quite literally erasing history by claiming there were no personal computers in 1975. First, the KIM-1 was designed by the same people who created the 6802 that Jobs was using. And second, CES had a personal computer on display from the same people who created the 6802 six months before both Apple and Radio Shack produced their competing products.

Jobs is saying “we had to create something where nothing existed” when he was doing the exact opposite: reacting to others creating things and promoting only himself unfairly as original.

Peddle had in fact had pitched his PET to Radio Shack hoping to have them retail it in stores (like Apple stores today). Radio Shack refused and it was soon afterwards, in the summer of 1977, that Commodore’s founder Jack Tramiel bought MOS Technologies — staff, patents, and production facilities.

And this is how the January 1977 PET personal computer moved into production. The Commodore acquisition (not to mention lawsuits from Motorola for the 6801, as well as a series of upgrades to memory, keyboard, and screens) led to delays of widespread availability until late in 1977.

Want to hear the real history? This is the real guy telling real truths right here:

(3h:48m:30s) The idea that Apple invented the personal computer, they literally were following us around. The Mac was a rip-off from [Xerox] Parc… With all due respect I don’t know what new things they’ve done. […] Everything was demonstrable in 1973. […] Star [in 1981, based on the 1972 Alto] was a great product it had all those things in it. Xerox deserves the credit.

(3h:51m:10s) Apple II by the way was getting its butt kicked by Radio Shack in the US and Europe, by us in Europe, until VisiCalc was on it. VisiCalc is what pulled them in… the first piece of software that was unique to the PC. Those guys at VisiCalc deserve the credit [for Apple’s success]. […]

I just want to be sure I give credit…

Peddle delivered a chip that made the inexpensive personal computer possible and then followed it by creating the worlds first “real” consumer-ready personal computer. And he even delivered the idea of the personal computer being sold in retail computer stores. Xerox had delivered the graphical screen and the mouse concepts years earlier on their Alto.

Apple definitely saved a lot of time by shamelessly taking other peoples’ ideas, as anyone can plainly see. The question remains whether Jobs intended to make more money by not crediting many of the people who had saved him so much time.

How Individualism Ruins Democracy

New book from Robert D. Putnam called “The Upswing” attempts to explain why American democracy won’t work if individualism is over-emphasized like southern Italy versus northern Italy:

The Upswing builds on the author’s celebrated concept of “social capital”: the web of non-contractual associational relationships that constitutes a community.

The idea acquires normative force through that word capital – the claim that social relationships are in aggregate not merely enjoyable but productive. In particular, they are able to generate and enforce common purposes.

Putnam initially used the concept to explain the divergence between a now- prosperous northern Italy and a now-dysfunctional southern one. With originality and courage, he traced northern success back to the eleventh century, when the north’s cities began fostering webs of mutually trustworthy relationships.

These developed through citizens’ participation in devolved associations, both political and social – emblematically, in choirs. In contrast, the South was invaded by Norman gangs who imposed feudalism, their hierarchical suppression of independent association helping to establish an autocratic state juxtaposed against suspicious individuals.

Putnam then made a radical inference: since the political institutions of Italy’s regions had been common for over a century, yet had led to wide differences in outcomes, institutions were not enough: democracy only succeeded if preceded by social capacity. He had the chutzpah to entitle his study Making Democracy Work (1993).

Nixon Drove “balkanization and polarization” While Claiming the Opposite

I stumbled across a 1970 clipping from Nixon’s administration where they claimed “urban renewal” (widely recognized today as intentionally racist and destructive to American cities) would do the exact opposite of what we know they designed it to accomplish.

The President’s study group on urban renewal has recommended that the controversial Federal program be continued and used as a major means of halting the “balkanization and polarization of American society.”

The panel, appointed by President Nixon last Oct. 17, said that urban renewal should be used to “help exorcise the specter of increasing apartheid” by building within the central cities communities that would bring together people of various ethnic and income groups.

I mean we know the exact opposite happened because of systemic racism, right?

Those opposed to redevelopment had little recourse in a pre-Civil Rights era; the neighborhood had scant political clout, and most residents were tenants, not homeowners.

The residents of the heavily African-American neighborhood had also, by no accident, been precluded from getting home loans that would have helped them buy their own homes. (Meanwhile, racist homeowner groups in booming nearby suburbs like Palo Alto were also working hard to ensure that “white flight” from the city stayed white.)


“You have to read into the idea that these absolutely beautiful Victorian buildings were also blighted because they were populated by black people,” said [long time SF resident] Collins. “It’s amazing to me when you look back at the amount of housing that was removed.”

Urban renewal wiped out diversity, and instead further balkanized and polarized cities such as SF.

The number of African-Americans displaced from the Western Addition as a result of urban renewal is unknown, but estimates start at 10,000 people. Less quantifiable is the cultural aftermath; a once-thriving district studded with minority-owned businesses, nightclubs and hotels in the heart of San Francisco now exists mostly in faded photos and oral histories.

Incredible to see how the Nixon administration falsely projected the terms balkanization and polarization onto their targets, especially when you think about who pushes that exact terminology today when talking about the Internet.

This Day in History 1861: Confederacy Starts War With United States to Force an Expansion of Slavery

A nicely written summary of the attack on Fort Sumter can be found on the Smithsonian’s page called “The Civil War Begins

In December 1860, a little more than a month after Lincoln’s election, South Carolina’s secession convention, held in Charleston, called on the South to join “a great Slaveholding Confederacy, stretching its arms over a territory larger than any power in Europe possesses.” […] According to historian Douglas R. Egerton, author of Year of Meteors: Stephen Douglas, Abraham Lincoln, and the Election that Brought on the Civil War, “To win over the yeoman farmers—who would wind up doing nearly all the fighting—the Fire-eaters relentlessly played on race, warning them that, unless they supported secession, within ten years or less their children would be the slaves of Negroes.” […] Militiamen itching for a fight flooded into Charleston from the surrounding countryside. There would soon be more than 3,000 of them facing Fort Sumter, commanded by the preening and punctilious Pierre Gustave Toutant Beauregard, who had resigned his position as West Point’s superintendent to offer his services to the Confederacy.

This explanation of the war-mongering blood-thirsty slaveholders contrasts heavily with the description of calm and professional soldiers finding themselves surrounded by hostile enemies of America.

With communications from his superiors reaching him only sporadically, Anderson was entrusted with heavy responsibilities. Although Kentucky born and bred, his loyalty to the Union was unshakeable. In the months to come, his second-in-command, Capt. Abner Doubleday—a New York abolitionist, and the man who was long credited, incorrectly, with inventing baseball—would express frustration at Anderson’s “inaction.” “I have no doubt he thought he was rendering a real service to the country,” Doubleday later wrote. “He knew the first shot fired by us would light the flames of a civil war that would convulse the world, and tried to put off the evil day as long as possible. Yet a better analysis of the situation might have taught him that the contest had already commenced and could no longer be avoided.” But Anderson was a good choice for the role that befell him. “He was both a seasoned soldier and a diplomat,” says Hatcher. “He would do just about anything he could to avoid war. He showed tremendous restraint.”

After some negotiation and brinkmanship, the Confederates fail patience and begin the Civil War with America.

In the early hours of April 12, approximately nine hours after the Confederates had first asked Anderson to evacuate Fort Sumter, the envoys were again rowed [by their slaves] out to the garrison. They made an offer: if Anderson would state when he and his men intended to quit the fort, the Confederates would hold their fire. Anderson called a council of his officers: How long could they hold out? Five days at most, he was told, which meant three days with virtually no food. Although the men had managed to mount about 45 cannon, in addition to the original 15, not all of those could be trained on Confederate positions. Even so, every man at the table voted to reject immediate surrender to the Confederates.

The pride of these Americans surrounded and heavily outnumbered and outgunned, refusing to surrender, enraged the Confederates who responded by announcing they soon would begin war. Aiming for the American flag they managed to knock it down only to find it would be raised again, as the Americans defended their country valiantly for days.