Dirt, Disease, And Death: What Life Was Like During The Dust Bowl

July 27, 2014
Dust Bowl Car Road

A car tries to outrun a massive wall of dust; storms could reach speeds of up to 60 mph Source: Wikimedia Commons

In the 1930s, the Great Plains of the United States had a bad drought. But it wasn’t drought that turned these grasslands into the Dust Bowl. The worst environmental disaster in the history of our nation was caused by man.

Most folks that lived in the Great Plains in the 30s moved there to take advantage of cheap farmland the government offered. Washington wanted wheat and the Plains were grasslands; it seemed to make sense.

The problem was that wheat has a short root system. The hardy prairie grass that the farmers tore out had roots several inches deep, allowing the plant to hang onto the soil when the heavy Plains winds blew as they had for thousands of years. It wasn’t so much a problem of the wheat blowing away, it was that the wheat wasn’t strong enough to keep the topsoil from the mouth of that hungry wind.

Dust Bowl Texas 1935

Dust storm looms over Stratford, Texas Source: Wikipedia

{ Read The Rest Of This Post… }

What We Love This Week, Volume LXXV

July 25, 2014
Body Art Insect

Source: Bored Panda

Gesine Marwedel’s Ingenious Body Art

Body Art Swan

Source: Bored Panda

In German artist Gesine Marwedel’s eyes, the body isn’t so much a temple as it is a canvas. Shining light on the human body’s transformative capacities as well as its relationship with other living creatures, Marwedel presents an artistic vision that challenges traditional portraiture. Her work is not anthropogenic; human faces and attributes are not the focus of the pieces so much as they are the constitutive elements. And in an age where interest in the physical form seems overwhelming, Marwedel’s humbling perspective on humanity is refreshing.

Body Art Heart

Source: Bored Panda

{ Read The Rest Of This Post… }

Ernest Hemingway Kicking It In A Bar In Havana

July 24, 2014

Hemingway Havana Bar

The United States has got a ways to go before it breaks down and admits that hey, Cuba isn’t all that bad; perhaps we could benefit from trading with them again. In the mean time, we can certainly reminisce on how various figures within the American canon have kicked it in Havana. We give you Ernest Hemingway, seen here drinking in a bar. Shocking, right?

If this didn’t sate your curiosity for all things Cuba, check out our gallery on what the island nation looked like before the days of Castro.

The Way Baghdad Was

July 24, 2014

Even before the United States set its sights on Baghdad, people began to note its decline. Long considered to be the intellectual capital of the Islamic world, in the early 1900s the Iraqi city had already begun its transformation into a “once was”.

Centuries of Ottoman rule and over a decade of British occupation allowed sectarian divides to fester, and would only culminate following the country’s 1932 independence and exploitation of oil. Around a century later, the formerly sophisticated center of Mesopotamia is embroiled ceaseless conflict, war and strife. Looking back to its days of normalcy makes present-day Baghdad all the more haunting. These 1932 photos courtesy of Foreign Policy show a Baghdad before the turmoil of the past half century.

Prev Next 1 of 23
Baghdad Streets

Pedestrians walk along the streets near the Midan mosque.

Baghdad Shoe Sellers Market

Shoe sellers in Baghdad's famous bazaars.

Baghdad Donkeys Markets

Workers load and unload goods from the river. Though Faisal attempted to change the nature of Iraq's economy early on, it still primarily consisted of agricultural goods.

Baghdad Old Man Mosque

An elderly man speaks to a boy at the Haidar Khana mosque. It has since been damaged by bombings (2007) in a Shiite-dense part of the city.

Baghdad Iraq Museum

Before being looted in the early 2000s, the Iraq Museum was home to some of the most incredible archaeological findings from the region .

Baghdad Pedestrians Tigris

Pedestrians cross the Tigris River. Once a primary contributor to the Fertile Crescent, today the river is entrenched in pollution.

Baghdad Street Barber

A street barber performing his artistry.

Baghdad Watermelons Tigris River

Boys sitting at the banks of the Tigris, in boats filled with watermelon. Watermelons grown in this region can grow up to 50 pounds and serve as a hydration resource for those afraid of drinking unclean water.

Baghdad English Presence

Iraqi army officers upon being inducted into the League of Nations.

Baghdad Tea Sellers

Tea merchants smile while on the job in Ur.

Baghdad Jews Iraq

Rabbis stand before the tomb of Ezekiel. In the early 1930s, Iraq featured one of the oldest Jewish populations in the world. But with Israel's creation in 1948, many Jews were pressured to leave. Today, there is virtually no Jewish population at all within Baghdad's walls.

Baghdad Basket Boys

Boys carrying baskets of unwanted sand from a highway. The sand in Baghdad is not ideal for construction.

Baghdad Kadah Bridge

Men walk near the Katah Bridge.

Baghdad Tigris Gathering

People crowding at the banks of the Tigris River, with Baghdad's walls looming in the distance.

Baghdad Quallaa Citadel

Outside the Turkish citadel, Qualla'a. The Ottomans conquered Baghdad in 1534 and occupied it until 1921.

Baghdad College Medicine

Women walking by the Royal College of Medicine, which still exists today as part of the University of Baghdad.

Baghdad Copper Workers

Works hammer out copper using traditional methods.

Baghdad Fires

A man stands amid the fires caused by natural gas explosions near the Iraq Petroleum Company.

Baghdad Gufa Boys

Men stand by a gufa on the banks of the Tigris. These boats are made from reed and asphalt, and can transport up to 20 people.

Baghdad 1932

The Baghdad cityscape in 1932.

Baghdad Fez

Men wear fezzes while walking about the streets of Baghdad.

Baghdad King Faisal

King Faisal I (left) sits next to his brother during a lawn party at the Royal Palace of Baghdad. Many Iraqis mistrusted Faisal, as they thought he was too deferential to the British and suppressed non-Sunni populations.

{ Read The Rest Of This Post… }

An Animated Crash Course Of The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

July 23, 2014

We don’t want to get too political here, or for you all to think that we’re treating violent conflict with levity, but this is a great, topical intro to present-day conflicts in the Middle East. For more supplementary information on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and answers to the questions you were too afraid to ask, we suggest you check out this Vox article. Keep in mind that this is not a stopping point, but rather a jumping off point for further inquiry.

These 5 Bizarre Word Origins Will Leave You Scratching Your Head

July 20, 2014
Bizarre Word Origins Statues

Source: Cloud Front

The words you use every day are like superheroes; they all have backstories of one kind or another, and while some (Batman) are awesome, others (Robin) are another story. Learning the bizarre histories—and in some cases origin myths—of the common words on this list is like bumping into an old acquaintance and discovering that not only has he always secretly been a crimefighter, he got his start as a circus acrobat.

Mullet

English and French writers have been using the word “mullet” to describe a type of fish with spiny fins from about the mid-15th century. Modern taxonomy nerd Carl Linnaeus hadn’t even been thought of yet, so the name seems to have been applied to different species over the centuries before settling down to describe just one species of North American game fish in 1866. It has a flat head. You can see where this is going.

{ Read The Rest Of This Post… }