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Watch Life on the Streets of Tokyo in Footage Recorded in 1913: Caught Between the Traditional and the Modern

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What cities have, over the past century, defined in our imaginations the very concept of the city? Obvious choices include New York and London, and here on Open Culture we've featured historic street-level footage of both (New York in 1911, London between 1890 and 1920) that vividly reveals how, even over a hundred years ago, they'd already matured as commercially, technologically, and demographically impressive metropolises. At the turn of the 20th century, the 6.5 million-strong London ranked as the most populous city on Earth, and New York had overtaken it within a few decades. But by the mid-1960s, a new contender had suddenly risen to the top spot: Tokyo.

Historically speaking, of course, the word "new" doesn't quite apply to the Japanese capital, since as a settled area it goes back to the third millennium BC. But Tokyo didn't become the capital, effectively, until 1869 (not that even today's denizens of Kyoto, the country's previous capital, seem ever to have ceded the distinction in their own minds), around the same time that the previously closed-off island nation opened up to the rest of the world. Provided by Amsterdam's EYE Filmmuseum, the footage at the top of the post dates from less than half a century thereafter and conveys something of what it must have felt like to live in not just a country zealously engaged in the project of modernization, but in the very center of that project.

These clips were shot on the streets of Tokyo in 1913 and 1915, just after the death of Emperor Meiji, who since 1868 had presided over the so-called Meiji Restoration. That period saw not just a re-consolidation of power under the Emperor, but an assimilation of all things Western — or at least an assimilation of all things Western that official Japan saw as advantageous in its mission to "catch up" with the existing world powers. For the citizens of Tokyo, these, most benignly, included urban parks: "Japanese enjoy to the fullest the pleasures afforded by the numerous parks of the Empire," says one of the film's title cards. "Uyeno Park, Tokio, is a very popular place, especially on Sunday afternoons." But then, going by what we see in the footage, every place in Tokyo seems popular.

On the brink of thoroughgoing urbanization, the cityscape includes shrines, woodblock prints, signs and banners filled to bursting with text (and presumably color), and hand-painted advertisements for the then-novelty of the motion picture. The Tokyoites inhabiting it wear traditional kimono as well as the occasional Western suit and hat. Young men pull rickshaws and ride bicycles (those latter having grown much more numerous since). Peripatetic merchants sell their wares from enormous wooden frames strapped to their backs. Countless children, both in and out of school uniform, stare curiously at the camera. None, surely, could imagine the destruction soon to come with the 1923 Kanto Earthquake, let alone the firebombing of World War II — nor the astonishingly fast development thereafter that would, by the time of the reborn city's 1964 Olympic Games, make it the largest in the world.

Related Content:

Time Travel Back to Tokyo After World War II, and See the City in Remarkably High-Quality 1940s Video

Immaculately Restored Film Lets You Revisit Life in New York City in 1911

The Oldest Known Footage of London (1890-1920) Shows the City’s Great Landmarks

Berlin Street Scenes Beautifully Caught on Film (1900-1914)

Download Hundreds of 19th-Century Japanese Woodblock Prints by Masters of the Tradition

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. His projects include the book The Stateless City: a Walk through 21st-Century Los Angeles and the video series The City in Cinema. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

Watch Life on the Streets of Tokyo in Footage Recorded in 1913: Caught Between the Traditional and the Modern is a post from: Open Culture. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Google Plus, or get our Daily Email. And don't miss our big collections of Free Online Courses, Free Online Movies, Free eBooksFree Audio Books, Free Foreign Language Lessons, and MOOCs.

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therealedwin
179 days ago
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Seattle, Washington
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200+ Films by Indigenous Directors Now Free to View Online: A New Archive Launched by the National Film Board of Canada

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The struggles of First Nations peoples in Canada have loomed large in the news, showing a far harsher side of a country Americans tend to caricature as a land of bland niceness, hockey fandom, and socialized medicine. Huge numbers of missing and murdered indigenous women, high rates of suicide, a multitude of health crises, and—as in the U.S.—the ongoing encroachment onto Indigenous lands by toxic pipelines and oilsands development…..

As with issues affecting other beleaguered communities across the globe, suffering from the continued depredations of colonialism and capitalism, these problems can seem so overwhelming that we don’t know how to begin to understand them. As always, the arts offer a way in—through humanizing portraits and intimate revelations, through detailed and compassionate stories, through creativity, humor, and beauty.

In March of this year, the National Film Board of Canada launched an “extensive online library of over 200 films by Indigenous directors,” reports the CBC, “part of a three-year Indigenous Action Plan to ‘redefine’ the NFB’s relationship with Indigenous peoples.” You can read the NFB’s plan here, a response to “the work and recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada.”

Their free online film collection is searchable by subject, director, or Indigenous people or nation, writes Native News Online, and “many of the films in this collection are currently being screened in communities right across Canada as part of the #Aabiziingwashi (#WideAwake) Indigenous cinema screening series.”

Some of the highlights of the collection include Alanis Obomsawin’s The People of the Kattawapiskak River (top), a 2012 documentary that Judith Schuyler, of the Toronto-based ImagineNATIVE film organization, describes as “highlighting the government, the diamond mines and the skyrocketing freight costs as the contributing factors keeping the [Kattawapiskak] community in impoverished third world conditions.” Below it, see Lumaajuuq, a beautifully-animated short 2010 film by Alethea Arnaquq-Baril that tells the Inuit story of “The Blind Man and the Loon.”

Further up, see First Stories—Two Spirited, a 2007 film by Sharon A. Desjarlais that filmmaker Bretten Hannam describes as “a message of hope and healing not only for two-spirit people, but for all indigenous people," and, just above, Dennis Allen’s CBQM, a documentary about a radio station in Fort McPherson, Northwest Territories, which ImagineNative’s Jason Ryle describes as “a tender, intimate portrait of a northern community.”

Native News Online and the CBC list several other recommendations from the collection, or you can simply dive in and start watching here. Also, check out this crash course on rising Indigenous filmmakers. And if at any point you feel inspired to don the garb of a First Nations people and hit the clubs or music festivals, well, maybe heed the ultra-short public service announcement, “Naked Island—Hipster Headdress,” below, and “Just Don’t Do It.”

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therealedwin
179 days ago
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Carl Sagan’s tools for critical thinking and detecting bullshit

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In this short video, science writer Michael Shermer discusses a set of rules first proposed by Carl Sagan for the detection of baloney (aka false truths, bullshit, chicanery, fake news).

Back in the late ’90s we introduced the Baloney Detection Kit, inspired by Carl Sagan’s ‘Demon-Haunted World’ where he had a chapter on the Baloney Detection Kit. He had his set of questions; I kind of developed my own because I started encountering other people that disagreed with me, you know, “we never went to the moon” people, conspiracy people, whatever, and I thought okay so: How do we know — if I don’t know what’s coming down the pike in ten years from now, if I am going to teach my students how to think critically, what are the key points, like just basic questions they can ask?

Shermer’s full list that he teaches to students in his Skepticism 101 class is:

1. How reliable is the source of the claim?
2. Does the source make similar claims?
3. Have the claims been verified by somebody else?
4. Does this fit with the way the world works?
5. Has anyone tried to disprove the claim?
6. Where does the preponderance of evidence point?
7. Is the claimant playing by the rules of science?
8. Is the claimant providing positive evidence?
9. Does the new theory account for as many phenomena as the old theory?
10. Are personal beliefs driving the claim?

And from The Demon-Haunted World, Sagan’s original partial list of “tools for skeptical thinking”:

Wherever possible there must be independent confirmation of the “facts.”

Encourage substantive debate on the evidence by knowledgeable proponents of all points of view.

Arguments from authority carry little weight — “authorities” have made mistakes in the past. They will do so again in the future. Perhaps a better way to say it is that in science there are no authorities; at most, there are experts.

Spin more than one hypothesis. If there’s something to be explained, think of all the different ways in which it could be explained. Then think of tests by which you might systematically disprove each of the alternatives. What survives, the hypothesis that resists disproof in this Darwinian selection among “multiple working hypotheses,” has a much better chance of being the right answer than if you had simply run with the first idea that caught your fancy.

Try not to get overly attached to a hypothesis just because it’s yours. It’s only a way station in the pursuit of knowledge. Ask yourself why you like the idea. Compare it fairly with the alternatives. See if you can find reasons for rejecting it. If you don’t, others will.

Quantify. If whatever it is you’re explaining has some measure, some numerical quantity attached to it, you’ll be much better able to discriminate among competing hypotheses. What is vague and qualitative is open to many explanations. Of course there are truths to be sought in the many qualitative issues we are obliged to confront, but finding them is more challenging.

If there’s a chain of argument, every link in the chain must work (including the premise) — not just most of them.

Occam’s Razor. This convenient rule-of-thumb urges us when faced with two hypotheses that explain the data equally well to choose the simpler.

Always ask whether the hypothesis can be, at least in principle, falsified. Propositions that are untestable, unfalsifiable are not worth much. Consider the grand idea that our Universe and everything in it is just an elementary particle — an electron, say — in a much bigger Cosmos. But if we can never acquire information from outside our Universe, is not the idea incapable of disproof? You must be able to check assertions out. Inveterate skeptics must be given the chance to follow your reasoning, to duplicate your experiments and see if they get the same result.

I found this via Open Culture, which remarked on Sagan’s prescient remarks about people being “unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true”.

Like many a science communicator after him, Sagan was very much concerned with the influence of superstitious religious beliefs. He also foresaw a time in the near future much like our own. Elsewhere in The Demon-Haunted World, Sagan writes of “America in my children’s or grandchildren’s time…. when awesome technological powers are in the hands of a very few.” The loss of control over media and education renders people “unable to distinguish between what feels good and what’s true.”

This state involves, he says a “slide… back into superstition” of the religious variety and also a general “celebration of ignorance,” such that well-supported scientific theories carry the same weight or less than explanations made up on the spot by authorities whom people have lost the ability to “knowledgeably question.”

Yeeeeeeeep.

Tags: Carl Sagan   Michael Shermer   religion   science   video
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therealedwin
201 days ago
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Software Bug Behind Biggest Telephony Outage In US History

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An anonymous reader writes: A software bug in a telecom provider's phone number blacklisting system caused the largest telephony outage in US history, according to a report released by the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at the start of the month. The telco is Level 3, now part of CenturyLink, and the outage took place on October 4, 2016. According to the FCC's investigation, the outage began after a Level 3 employee entered phone numbers suspected of malicious activity in the company's network management software. The employee wanted to block incoming phone calls from these numbers and had entered each number in fields provided by the software's GUI. The problem arose when the Level 3 technician left a field empty, without entering a number. Unbeknownst to the employee, the buggy software didn't ignore the empty field, like most software does, but instead viewed the empty space as a "wildcard" character. As soon as the technician submitted his input, Level 3's network began blocking all incoming and outgoing telephone calls — over 111 million in total.

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therealedwin
202 days ago
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letssurf
197 days ago
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Lol
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The Ordinary Engineering Behind the Horrifying Florida Bridge Collapse

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from WIRED: The people of Sweetwater, Florida were supposed to wait until early 2019 for the Florida International University-Sweetwater University City Bridge to open. Instead, they will wait about that long for an official assessment from the National Transportation Safety Board of why it collapsed just five days after its installation, killing at least six people. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, many queries have centered on the unconventional technique used to build the bridge, something called Accelerated Bridge Construction, or ABC. But ABC is more complicated than its acronym suggests -- and it's hardly brand new. ABC refers to dozens of construction methods, but at its core, it's about drastically reducing on-site construction time. Mostly, that relies on pre-fabricating things like concrete decks, abutments, walls, barriers, and concrete topped steel girders, and hauling them to the work site. There, cranes or specialized vehicles known as Self-Propelled Modular Transporter install them. A video posted online by Florida International University, which helped fund the bridge connects to its campus, showed an SPMT lifting and then lowering the span into place. In a now-deleted press release, the university called the "largest pedestrian bridge moved via SPMT in U.S. history," but that doesn't seem to mean much, engineering-wise. SPMTs have been around since the 1970s, and have moved much heavier loads. In 2017, workers used a 600-axle SPMT to salvage the 17,000 ton ferry that sank off the coast of South Korea in 2014. The ABC technique is much more expensive than building things in place, but cities and places like FIU like it for a specific reason: Because most of the work happens far away, traffic goes mostly unperturbed. When years- or months-long construction projects can have serious effects on businesses and homes, governments might make up the money in the long run. Workers installed this collapsed span in just a few hours. These accelerated techniques are also much safer for workers, who do most their work well away from active roads. The report goes on to note that the bridge collapse is still under investigation and the search for a culprit is ongoing. "The answers could run the gamut, from design flaws to fabrication flubs to installation issues," reports WIRED. As of publication, The Washington Post is reporting that an engineer called the state to report cracking two days before its collapse.

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therealedwin
217 days ago
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The Compelling Case For Working Less

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An anonymous reader shares a report from the BBC, written by Amanda Ruggeri: As we fill our days with more and more "doing," many of us are finding that non-stop activity isn't the apotheosis of productivity. It is its adversary. Researchers are learning that it doesn't just mean that the work we produce at the end of a 14-hour day is of worse quality than when we're fresh. This pattern of working also undermines our creativity and our cognition. Over time, it can make us feel physically sick -- and even, ironically, as if we have no purpose. Think of mental work as doing push-ups, says Josh Davis, author of Two Awesome Hours. Say you want to do 10,000. The most 'efficient' way would be to do them all at once without a break. We know instinctively, though, that that is impossible. Instead, if we did just a few at a time, between other activities and stretched out over weeks, hitting 10,000 would become far more feasible. "The brain is very much like a muscle in this respect," Davis writes. "Set up the wrong conditions through constant work and we can accomplish little. Set up the right conditions and there is probably little we can't do." Many of us, though, tend to think of our brains not as muscles, but as a computer: a machine capable of constant work. Not only is that untrue, but pushing ourselves to work for hours without a break can be harmful, some experts say. Ruggeri goes on to highlight the negative health effects associated with working long hours. "One meta-analysis found that long working hours increased the risk of coronary heart disease by 40% -- almost as much as smoking (50%)," she writes. "Another found that people who worked long hours had a significantly higher risk of stroke, while people who worked more than 11 hours a day were almost 2.5 times more likely to have a major depressive episode than those who worked seven to eight."

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therealedwin
295 days ago
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