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Tag Archives: History

My Conversation with Masha Gessen

Here is the transcript and audio, here is the summary: Masha joined Tyler in New York City to answer his many questions about Russia: why was Soviet mathematics so good? What was it like meeting with Putin? Why are Russian friendships so intense? Are Russian women as strong as the stereotype suggests — and why do they all have the same few names? Is Russia more hostile to LGBT rights than other autocracies? Why did Garry Kasparov fail to make a dent in Russian politics? What did The...

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“You say you want a revolution…”

That was actually a conservative Beatles song of course, and these days the conservatism is popping up in the American lack of enthusiasm for the Hong Kong protestors.  That is the focus of my latest Bloomberg column, here is one excerpt: Since the protests in Hong Kong started two months ago, I have been struck by the coolness of the American response. I am referring not just to President Donald Trump, who has reiterated that the dispute is an internal Chinese matter. Both the social media I...

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Venice adopting the Renaissance

Venice’s adoption of these Renaissance styles was itself a remarkable break with the past, for the Venetians had always favored the sophisticated East when it came to artistic expression.  But times were changing.  The flame of Byzantium was flickering and even Venice turned its attention to the Western terra firma.  Among the earliest Renaissance artists in Venice was Jacopo Bellini.  The son of a Venetian tinsmith, Bellini worked under Gentile da Fabriano, who produced various...

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Slavery in the history of Venice

There was a thriving trade in human flesh.  By the twelfth century the slave trade in Venice far surpassed that of other cities and other countries.  The Venetians were incorrigible slave traders, and the markets of the Rialto and S. Giorgio were centres of slavery.  They were eager for this particular source of income, since the profit on each item was said to be 1,000 per cent.  They sold Russians and even Greek Christians to the Saracens.  Men and women and children were bought or captured...

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My favorite things Venice

1. Favorite playwright: Carlo Goldoni, eighteenth century, best if you can see one rather than try to read it. 2. Play, set in: William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice.  Read it carefully and repeatedly, it is far subtler on issues of racism and prejudice than you might have been expecting. 3. Opera, set in: Verdi’s Otello (James Levine recording).  Even as a dramatic work I (perhaps oddly) prefer this to Shakespeare’s play. 4. Memoir, set in: Casanova, though I suggest you read...

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Reading and rabbit holes

Let’s say you want to read some books on Venice, maybe because you are traveling there, or you are just curious about the Renaissance, or about the history of the visual arts. Maybe you will write me and ask: “Tyler, which books should I read on Venice?”  Now, there are many fine books on Venice, but I actually would not approach the problem in that manner.  In fact, I don’t know a single particular “must read” book on Venice that stands out above all...

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Open Borders in Svalbard!

Well north of Iceland there is a island archipelago that is governed by Norway but because of a peculiar treaty it has entirely open borders: When you land in Longyearbyen, the largest settlement in the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard, you can step off the plane and just walk away. There’s no passport control, no armed guard retracing your steps, no biometric machine scanning your fingers. Svalbard is as close as you can get to a place with open borders: As long as you can support yourself,...

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The new Quentin Tarantino movie

Richard Brody’s New Yorker review is titled: “Quentin Tarantino’s Obscenely Regressive Vision of the Sixties in “Once Upon a Time.in Hollywood”“. I didn’t love the film, and with each work of his I see, the more I like the others (and him?) less.  My main takeaway was to be reminded of an enormous and unprecedented historical shift.  In the 1960s, in part because of the birth control pill, the sexual opportunities of high status heterosexual men, or even medium...

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That was then, this is now

Poughkeepsie Journal: “Woodstock 50 festival has been canceled. Set for Aug. 16-18, Woodstock 50 was to memorialize the iconic event many consider to be the top achievement of the 60s counterculture. But there was a failure to secure permits or a venue.” That is from John Fund on Twitter. The post That was then, this is now appeared first on Marginal REVOLUTION.

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The Venetian electoral college

For more than five centuries (from 1268 to 1797) the procedure to elect the doge (chief of state) did not change. Choose 30 members of the Great Council by lot. These 30 people are reduced by lot to 9. These 9 people choose 40 other people. These 40 are reduced by lot to 12. These 12 people choose 25 other people. These 25 people are reduced by lot to 9. These 9 people choose 45 other people. These 45 people are reduced by lot to 11. These 11 people choose 41 other people. These 41 people...

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