Briefly Noted for March 14, 2008

Finally! From our talented Polish colleagues at Historia i Media comes Feeds, a much needed new resource that uses Google Reader to aggregate and filter RSS streams from digital historians around the world. “One Feed to rule them all, One Feed to find them, One Feed to bring them all and in the darkness bind them?”

“NASCAR Women’s History Month”. Outsports Jock Talk says it may not be an oxymoron for long.

Ole-Magnus Saxegard, a student at the University of Technology in Sydney, presents “A History of Evil”, a short animated film examining the changing place of “evil” in the western tradition. Its subject and message are somewhat muddled—Cerberus and Frankenstein are depictions of evil, the guillotine is a tool against/of evil, and early modern witches were both objects and subjects of evil—but “A History of Evil” is hugely compelling and very well crafted. Posted only on January 30, 2008, it has already been viewed 1,101,882 times.

Schill, Scorpions, and Louis Gossett Jr.

We all know the Mitchell Report has been digging into ball players’ pasts. So, it seems, has Boston Magazine. In particular, they have found a few embarrassing skeletons in Curt Schilling’s closet. For sure, there’s nothing in the signed 1986 minor league program found by the magazine as offensive as performance enhancing drugs. But the young Schilling’s fondness for Scorpions, Iron Eagle, and Miami Vice comes pretty close.

Curt Schilling Rocks Like a Hurricane.

Thanks, Ken.

"Boomers" and History

I can’t tell you how tired I am of reading about baby boomers and their impending retirements. The self-indulgence of aging newspaper, magazine, and television news editors in running story after story about just how interesting and important their generation has been is very nearly unbearable. Newsweek is case in point. Its 50-something editors’ self-congratulatory “Boomer Files” series has me very close to canceling my subscription.

I did, however, notice something in a recent story from the “Boomer Files” that could be of interest to Found History readers. For Celeb Boomers: 3 Things to Do Before Death, Newsweek asked a dozen or so famous boomers for a list of three things they want to do with the rest of their lives. It turns out several of them want to spend their golden years doing something historical. Here’s a sample:

  • P. J. O’Rourke, Satirist, 59 – “It’d be nice to have more time to fool around with old cars.”
  • Mark Morris, Choreographer, 50 – “Visit New York’s Morgan Library.”
  • Camille Paglia, Intellectual, 59 – “I’d like to go on an archaeological dig in North Africa or Turkey.”
  • Cal Ripken Jr., Baseball Player, 46 – “I have a real zest to learn. I’d like to bone up on my history and business reading.”
  • Bill O’Reilly, Fox News Host, 56 – “Build a collection of American historical documents. I have a letter from George Washington. You get to know people from them.”
  • Patti Smith, Musician/Poet, 60 – “Read the Bible, Torah and Qur’an.”
  • Ted Nugent, Musician, 58 – “Make sure every American remembers the Alamo and acts accordingly.”
  • Keith Olbermann, TV Host, 47 – “I want to find the proof version of the 1967 Topps Baseball card, No. 487, Tommie Reynolds, which I did not buy at an auction in 1989 because bidding went to about a tenth of what I’d pay for it now. This seems kind of arcane, but this card has haunted me since I was eight years old—the proof version misspells his name “Tommy,” so the final version of the card reads “Tom” with two spaces after it. This design inconsistency bothered me the day I first saw it. I just blew it at that auction.”

Kind of interesting. But interesting enough to renew what started as a gift subscription? Probably not.

What Not to Wear

A couple weeks ago I recklessly hypothesized that European sports fans are more likely than their North American counterparts to conceptualize history in terms of best and worst. Not surprisingly, it turns out this is a completely bogus conjecture, and to prove I’m not afraid to admit my mistakes, I’d like to point you two counterexamples. Both are American, and both provide a look sport’s great fashion faux pas. So here they are: Sport’s Illustrated’s “Fashion Mis-Statements” and Fox Sports’ “Top 10 Worst Sports Uniforms”. Appropriate choices, I think, for a post pointing out my own misstep.

Formula Un

I said in the introductory post to this series that it’s difficult for a blog like this one to draw any firm conclusions. I stand by that statement, but patterns do emerge. Over the past week or so of scouring the web for “best ever” and “top N” lists, I have started to see two trends. First, sports enthusiasts are especially prone to conceptualizing history in this way. Second, European sports enthusiasts may be even more partial to the form. My last two posts are good cases in point.

In the interest of good research, however, I shouldn’t simply trust my gut. Therefore, over the next couple of days, I’m going to try to disprove at least my second thesis by paying special attention to the sports pages to see how many “best ever” stories are posted about the NFL, NBA, MLB, NCAA, and (for Canadians) the NHL. In the meantime, Found History readers should enjoy AutoMotoPortal’s Greatest Drivers Ever: The Best of Formula 1—yet another tops of all time list for the EuroSport set.

High Rollers

InsideEdge, a British sports betting website, has published a list of the “top 25 most outrageous gambles of all time.” Most of these big bets come from the world of sports (especially cricket and soccer), but Nick Lesson’s disastrous turn at Baring Brothers also makes the list, as does Michael Jackson’s move from Motown to Epic.