Alternative History

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Riggerjack
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Alternative History

Post by Riggerjack » Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:30 pm

No, This is not another Trump bashing thread, sorry to disappoint.

When I was in school, history was a compilation of names and dates. Who, plus name of faction, and when, could get me thru the whole course, while reading another book in class. World history was ancient middle eastern history up to Rome, and European history from fall of Rome forward to 18th century where world history became American history. I went to 20 different schools, and history every year but my senior year. Lots of overlap, and repetition.

Since then, I have found out on my own about A LOT of history that was left out, or directly contradicts the history in the textbooks. For instance, we all know there were Japanese internment camps on the west coast during WWII. And that German Americans and Italian Americans on the East coast weren't interned. This was explained as racism, plus it was easier to pick Japanese out, whereas Germans and Italians just blend in. OK, so Grampa was from a generation of racist dickheads. That fits with the rest of what they taught, so I didn't question it.

So, who here has heard of the Niihau incident? Read about it here:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niihau_incident

Huh. So there was this solid reason behind the internment camps. I'm not saying they were justified, or that it was a good thing or even that Grampa's generation wasn't full of racist dickheads. But it causes me to question what I was taught. I have a few of these I've run across, I'll post them here as I get the chance. In the meantime, what alternative history do you know of?

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Re: Alternative History

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:52 am

Women who owned property were able to vote in the state of New Jersey prior to the widespread adoption of one man/one vote.
The average Englishman of 1900 ate more sugar than the average American of 2017.
North American Natives practiced more agriculture prior to the arrival of the Europeans, and the decimation of their population by disease brought by the first arrivals, led to the false notion that they were primarily hunter-gatherers.
Freedom of the Press being included in the constitution is likely in good part due to the popularity in the 18th century of rude, bawdy plays featuring thinly-disguised politicians as characters. The first published play by an American had a plot in which a politician is seduced and kidnapped by two men dressed up as women.
The vast majority of the huge mass of earthworms currently found in North America are members of an invasive species.

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Dragline
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Re: Alternative History

Post by Dragline » Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:16 am

7Wannabe5 wrote: North American Natives practiced more agriculture prior to the arrival of the Europeans, and the decimation of their population by disease brought by the first arrivals, led to the false notion that they were primarily hunter-gatherers.
The book "1491" has a lot more on this topic and is well worth reading if you are interested in life in the Americas pre-1492. I was fascinated by the Incan method of record keeping with knots that no one has still been able to decipher in modern times.

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Re: Alternative History

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 6:14 am

@Dragline: I will add it to my list. I have already pretty well determined that the "easiest" diet to scavenge in my natural environment would be something like venison cooked in maple syrup with a side of wild rice and dandelion greens. The earliest European-heritage pioneers in my neck of the woods burned massive amounts of lumber to clear fields in order to practice the sort of agriculture they knew. However, they understood that they were killing trees that had lived for hundreds of years and felt bad about doing it. Another interesting historical note from original writings was that beyond agricultural purposes, the pioneers felt the urge to clear the trees due to the psychological need to see the lights from other dwellings of humans.


@Riggerjack: Another one of my favorite (because it is in some conflict with all majority accepted narratives)factoids is that the paler your skin, the more likely it is that you are less human genetically. This is due to approximately 300 successful matings between human males and Neanderthal females approximately 50,000 years ago. I think more evidence of other successful inter-hominid-species matings are coming out of Asia too. This is also a very humorous example of "art" predicting science, because when Jean Auel's very popular "Clan of the Cave Bear" series was first published, none of this research had been done, and her premise seemed very unrealistic.

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Riggerjack
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Re: Alternative History

Post by Riggerjack » Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:48 am

The average Englishman of 1900 ate more sugar than the average American of 2017.
In the form of rum, or because they didn't use high fructose corn syrup yet?

Leading to factoid: we use high fructose corn syrup because we have protective tariffs on sugar high enough to double the price of cane sugar in Canada, even though we make it here.
Women who owned property were able to vote in the state of New Jersey prior to the widespread adoption of one man/one vote.
Yeah, it seems before the civil war, and the Jacksonian Democratic push to expand the vote, voting rights were defined by the States. Free blacks had the vote before the Democrats took it away. Though many states had property requirements.

Looking at the participation and results of the last election, maybe we have diluted the vote too far.

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Re: Alternative History

Post by Ego » Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:49 am

Ahhh... I see rigger is reading David Brooks again. His column this morning:
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/21/opin ... &smtyp=cur

Today’s students get steeped in American tales of genocide, slavery, oppression and segregation. American history is taught less as a progressively realized grand narrative and more as a series of power conflicts between oppressor and oppressed.

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Re: Alternative History

Post by Gilberto de Piento » Tue Mar 21, 2017 8:48 am


enigmaT120
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Re: Alternative History

Post by enigmaT120 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:19 am

7Wannabe5 wrote: Another interesting historical note from original writings was that beyond agricultural purposes, the pioneers felt the urge to clear the trees due to the psychological need to see the lights from other dwellings of humans.

This is due to approximately 300 successful matings between human males and Neanderthal females approximately 50,000 years ago.
Wow. I'm annoyed because somebody on the hillside across the river (probably a mile away) cut some trees down and now I can see the lights from his house. But I'm looking forward to Weyerhauser's young tree stand on that side of me growing a few more feet and blocking him out. All of my neighbor's lights annoy me and they are all pretty far away. I'm an antipioneer.

I do think you are using the term "human' too narrowly. I agree with the folks who categorized Neanderthals as Homo Sapiens Neanderthalensis (or something like that) -- same species, different sub species. Note that none of the races of humans living in the world today are categorized as separate sub species.

I read several of the Clan of the Cave Bear books. Pretty good erotica, at least for the age I was back then. One woman single-handedly inventing western civilization.

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Re: Alternative History

Post by enigmaT120 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 10:21 am

I don't get the whole "story" of history anyway. Stuff happened. We make up stories to try to explain it, but we can't know if they are right. Didn't Taleb talk about this in the Black Swan book?

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Re: Alternative History

Post by Riggerjack » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:06 am

Ahhh... I see rigger is reading David Brooks again. His column this morning:
Well, I've been thinking about this a lot lately, but the impetus was:

http://www.resilience.org/stories/2017- ... ocentrism/

I just finished a biography of Malcolm X, and the author had to massage his story to fit a progressive storyline. Nothing outrageous, unless you are a real fan. The worst was when explaining the tension in the African American community while hoping/waiting for the civil rights act of 1964. He couldn't help himself from mentioning the Republican filibuster in the Senate, delaying the Bill. The thing is, it was a Democratic filibuster.
https://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/hi ... _Ended.htm now that is just one link to a Google search for civil rights act of 1964 filibuster. But the only way to get the Democratic tie, is to look on right wing or conspiracy sites.

The Democratic history of black oppression is being erased. Slowly transformed into wierd conspiracy theory nonsense. That is what I thought when I first heard of it. But the more I look, the more I see that history is shaped to tell a story, and anything that conflicts with that story is marginalized. Like the Niihau incident, or Democratic race history.

Which makes me seem like a weird conspiracy theorist. A label I'm not comfortable wearing.

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Re: Alternative History

Post by ThisDinosaur » Tue Mar 21, 2017 11:25 am

the paler your skin, the more likely it is that you are less human genetically. This is due to approximately 300 successful matings between human males and Neanderthal females approximately 50,000 years ago.
http://science.sciencemag.org/content/3 ... 1490112233
http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/ ... NFN5LszXAU

Not exactly. This idea started when it was discovered that Neanderthals in Western Europe had a mutation for red hair and fair skin. Turns out, its a different mutation than any living redhead. Also, Croation Neanderthals likely had dark hair and skin. Fair skin evolved in both lineages independently, multiple times in northern latitudes. Fair skin in Europeans and east Asians is due to different mutations as well.
The Democratic history of black oppression is being erased.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13th_(film)
I saw this documentary recently. It convinced me that systemic racism is not the result of a few bad eggs in powerful positions with too much old-timey bigotry. It is on purpose and serves a specific economic agenda. Eye opening for me, since I used to naively believe we were approaching a post-racism society.

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Re: Alternative History

Post by OTCW » Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:23 pm

1491 was excellent. Highly endorse.

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Re: Alternative History

Post by OTCW » Tue Mar 21, 2017 12:24 pm

Also, for some 'real' (fun) alternate history, check out Harry Turtledove.

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Re: Alternative History

Post by Dragline » Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:34 pm

enigmaT120 wrote:I don't get the whole "story" of history anyway. Stuff happened. We make up stories to try to explain it, but we can't know if they are right. Didn't Taleb talk about this in the Black Swan book?
He does a bit, but you will find more of this in "Ubiquity" by Mark Buchanan and "More Than You Know: Finding Financial Wisdom In Unconventional Places" by Michael Mouboussin, which are about the applications of complexity theory to many things, including modern art and history.

Some of the reigning controversies in history relate to overall views of what the "narrative" of history should be. In the US at least circa 1955 - 1995, we were traditionally taught a combination of the "Great Man" theory of history, which focused on particular leaders and their deeds and destinies, and the "Progress" theory of history, which is the teleological idea secularized from religions that things are "evolving" to some end.

But there are many other ways of viewing history. Some of the more interesting include cyclical theories of history and the "sand-pile" theory of history that is an offshoot of complexity theory:

"Complexity theory has also been applied to human sciences and historical events. An accessible and enjoyable summary of some of these applications is presented by science writer Mark Buchanan in Ubiquity: Why Catastrophes Happen, which explains that historical actors might be analogized to grains of sand who just happened to fall in the right place at the right time:

"For each great event, they can identify some standout grain that touched it off, and perhaps a few others that kept it going at crucial stages. And these grains, they might conclude, are the real agents of history. Our historian might be tempted to agree, and yet, after such a long career, he may have learned a few things. As a subtle observer of individual character, he will have noticed that in his world every grain is identical to every other, so there really can be no question of any one being a “great grain.” As a result, he realizes that whatever the psychological pull to identify great events with great grains, the idea is a mistake. Only by understanding that his pile is always on the edge of radical change can he resist this temptation. If he does his job well, our historian comes to understand that there are always places in the pile at which the falling of a single grain can trigger world-changing effects. These grains are only special, however, because they happened to fall in the right place at the right time. In a critical world, there are necessarily a few great roles, and some grains by necessity fall into them.

Might the same be true of human history? There is no denying that some people, by virtue of their personality or intelligence, are more influential than others. And yet it is at the very least a theoretical possibility that our world lives in something very much like a critical state. In such a world, even if human beings were identical in their abilities, a few would nevertheless find themselves in situations in which their ordinary actions would have truly staggering consequences. They may not even be aware of it, as the potential for their actions to propagate may become apparent only as history unfolds. Such individuals may come to be known as great men or great women, as creators of vast social movements of tremendous import. Many of them may indeed be exceptional. But this need not imply that their greatness accounts for that of the events they sparked off. Just as it is almost irresistibly tempting to seek great causes behind the great earthquakes or the great mass extinctions, it is also tempting to see great persons behind the great events in history. But the sandpile historian comes down firmly against the “great grain” theory of history, and would counsel his colleagues in the human world to follow his lead. He might agree with Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, who concluded that the great man of the age is the one who can put into words the will of his age, tell his age what its will is, and accomplish it. What he does is the heart and essence of his age; he actualizes his age.

In this view, the greatness of an event is not traceable to an equivalent greatness existing in some individual. Rather, what makes an individual notable and “great” is his or her ability to unleash pent-up forces—the will of an age—and so enable those immeasurably greater forces to have their effect. In the context of science, Einstein was a genius of the first order. Because of his genius, he could draw the implications of Maxwell’s equations before his contemporaries did. But the theory of relativity was revolutionary not because of Einstein’s genius, but because it represented a terrific avalanche in the fabric of ideas.""

http://www.prospectingmimeticfractals.c ... -lens.html

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Re: Alternative History

Post by jacob » Tue Mar 21, 2017 2:55 pm

Dragline wrote:In the context of science, Einstein was a genius of the first order. Because of his genius, he could draw the implications of Maxwell’s equations before his contemporaries did. But the theory of relativity was revolutionary not because of Einstein’s genius, but because it represented a terrific avalanche in the fabric of ideas.""
There were several people working on the special theory of relativity when Einstein came out with his in 1905. The Lorentz transformations already existed, and it was known from the Michelson-Morley experiment (high school stuff) that the speed of light didn't depend on the speed of the reference frame. So the issue already had a bunch of partial results and theories and could be compared to the very early days (the Bohr and Planck era) of quantum mechanics before Schroedinger and Heisenberg. IOW, if Einstein hadn't proposed the special theory in 1905, Lorentz or Poincare (the leading contenders) would most likely have come up it shortly thereafter. SR is simple enough mathematically speaking that an enthusiastic high school physics nerd can understand it and even derive independent results. I think the genius here was Minkowski's (Einsteins old math professor) geometric representation or SR which followed a few years later.

The general theory took Einstein 10 years to develop and came out in 1915. GR is generally considered a theory way before its time. It might have been relegated to archives if it wasn't for Eddington's validation in 1919. The subsequent experiments did not come about until the late 1950+. Here too, though, it was speculated that gravity would bend light; so there was a little bit to go on. However, the work here is at such a high level that few were able to understand it for decades. Even today, it's still grad level stuff. And of course testing is still a big issue---mainly due to the inability to measure effects at extragalactic ranges which requires either weird assumptions (dark energy and matter) or a correspondingly more advanced theory out of which GR is a subset.

Genius should be attributed to the second discovery. The first was just strong work.

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Re: Alternative History

Post by Riggerjack » Tue Mar 21, 2017 4:38 pm

I intuitively buy into the sandpile theory of history. Leaders are formed by the group, not the other way around. And great leaders are very rarely great men.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/13th_(film)
I saw this documentary recently. It convinced me that systemic racism is not the result of a few bad eggs in powerful positions with too much old-timey bigotry. It is on purpose and serves a specific economic agenda. Eye opening for me, since I used to naively believe we were approaching a post-racism society.
I'm familiar with the material from the movie, but haven't seen it yet. The overarching theme of racism defining actions and goals never seemed realistic to me. That could just be my lack of experience, or of empathy. But I have known both casual racists, and active, hateful racists. The casual racists were really just xenophobic. They were fine with the examples they knew. The hateful racists were all ex-cons. Neither group was motivated enough or would ever be positioned to make the systemic problems pointed out in that film.

However, the systemic abuse of the poor (with associated overrepresentation of blacks) is just a natural consequence of our "justice" system. When you create black markets, you create criminals in your least franchised populations. Then you punish those populations to keep the middle class in line. That's just administration. No evil intent or racism required, just bureaucratic indifference.

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Re: Alternative History

Post by BRUTE » Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:38 pm

brute thinks that humans in power readily abuse the ignorant humans' casual or overt xenophobia for their own purposes. for example, inciting black-hate and mexican-hate helped make marijuana and other drugs illegal, because "mexicans and blacks high on marijuana" were "raping white women". those crimes did not actually occur more often than rapes by white men, and marijuana doesn't make humans aggressive, but it was enough to push through the law. in this case, part of the reasoning was apparently economic, to prevent competition from hemp producers.

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Re: Alternative History

Post by 7Wannabe5 » Tue Mar 21, 2017 5:53 pm

Riggerjack said: In the form of rum, or because they didn't use high fructose corn syrup yet?
Apparently most civilizations become pretty quickly hooked on any form of refined sugars as soon as they are available. By the late 19th century, the British were already eating a lot of it in the form of preserves, biscuits, puddings and cakes. That's why I think it's a bit of a stretch to pin the obesity epidemic on increased sugar intake alone.For instance, I think consumption of the abomination known as macaroni salad is more highly correlated.

enigmaT120 said: I'm an antipioneer.
lol- I think I am something in between since I am in favor of the conservation of both trees and libraries.

Note that none of the races of humans living in the world today are categorized as separate sub species.
I don't even think that race is a meaningful concept beyond inherent infantile xenophobic "Human that does not look like my Mommy" reactivity. All classification systems are sort of simultaneously useful but false. Since every human being is known by a unique name, every human being is a unique variety. Or vice-versa.

@ThisDinosaur:
Even though most non-African individuals have 1 percent to 3 percent Neanderthal DNA, it appears that over 60 percent of the Neanderthal genome is distributed in small pieces throughout the non-African human population- "The Invisible History of the Human Race" -Christine Kenneally

This isn't in conflict with the information that you linked. I had previously read about a genetic study that proved that humans who are currently practitioners of the Jewish religion, although quite varied in appearance, are highly genetically related, so I knew that skin/eye/hair color were very transient or ambient expressions. The Neanderthal DNA tended towards traveling North with the human population, so the correlation between skin tone and Neanderthal DNA percentage is not dependent on which mechanism was causative.

It is pretty likely that I am one of the many, many descendants of Genghis Khan (I inherited Asian tooth structure from my Russian/Polish heritage mother), but also that Sarah Orne Jewett is a distant cousin. My BF is also likely (barring maternal adultery) a distant cousin because we are both descended from Thomas Stanton on the side of our British/Irish heritage fathers. It all kind of adds up to simultaneously interesting but not very informative.
Riggerjack said: I intuitively buy into the sandpile theory of history.
Me too, but I think it's more like a garden plot you keep semi-randomly throwing seeds on than a sandpile. Although, I have to say Genghis Khan was a pretty serious Keystone Species Member.

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Re: Alternative History

Post by Riggerjack » Tue Mar 21, 2017 7:55 pm

I would interpret that as nomadic horse archers with sturdy horses bred for endurance, on a giant grassy plain, is a huge, steep sandpile.

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Re: Alternative History

Post by ThisDinosaur » Wed Mar 22, 2017 1:31 pm

It is pretty likely that I am one of the many, many descendants of Genghis Khan
Many, many, many....
http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com ... l-royalty/
http://articles.latimes.com/2006/may/19 ... oe-olson19
http://www.stat.yale.edu/~jtc5/papers/C ... lease.html
Hey, cousin!

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Re: Alternative History

Post by enigmaT120 » Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:00 pm

"I don't even think that race is a meaningful concept beyond inherent infantile xenophobic "Human that does not look like my Mommy" reactivity."

In the rest of the living world, the term "race" is pretty much synonymous with sub-species, which makes it even more weird that we refer to different races of modern humans (H. Sapiens sapiens, last I checked). I do with they would quit changing species names after I've learned them.

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Re: Alternative History

Post by enigmaT120 » Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:02 pm

Riggerjack wrote: "However, the systemic abuse of the poor (with associated overrepresentation of blacks) is just a natural consequence of our "justice" system. When you create black markets, you create criminals in your least franchised populations. Then you punish those populations to keep the middle class in line. That's just administration. No evil intent or racism required, just bureaucratic indifference."

I hope you're right, though what you describe is bad enough. The summary of that film describes a pretty awful narrative and one that doesn't look as though it will end any time soon.

Oh: I like this thread, thanks for starting it.

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Re: Alternative History

Post by ThisDinosaur » Wed Mar 22, 2017 2:21 pm

OTCW mentioned "alternative history" as a literary genre. Which reminded me about the fact that JFK was "not that interested in space."
(His own words on bottom of page 17)
https://history.nasa.gov/JFK-Webbconv/p ... script.pdf
There's a lot of alt-history fiction about if Kennedy had lived, we would have cities on Mars by now. In fact, the Apollo program was a stunt, and not evidence of mankind's inevitable expansion to the final frontier.

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Re: Alternative History

Post by Myakka » Wed Mar 22, 2017 4:55 pm

In my reading of history (and I read extensively the history of the Empires of Eurasia in times from the Roman Empire to modern times in
earlier years), the most important step in weeding through what to give credence to and what to look at with scepticism was to look directly at the point of view of the person doing the writing.

When I contemplate the presentation of history as the workings of a few remarkable men I perceive that as a logical extension of a nobleman or man
of the elite who tends to think that only guys like him matter and the rest of us are worthless scum. It is a viewpoint in line with
the books which list the notable men and women of a city and the stories commonly found in comics -- where some superhero required to save the day.

On the otherhand, the sandbox theory of history (which I am only now encountering in this thread), instead places the reasons for history unfolding
as it does entirely in the river of time -- where individuals are entirely unimportant and there are many individuals who could have fulfilled the
crucial roles which the men we hear about in our history courses are famed for.

It seems obvious to me that there is some truth in both of these. But I also think both are imbued with one of the recurrent and overarching
mythologies of our culture -- that ordinary and average people are powerless to influence history.

But it is not at all true that ordinary people are powerless. And to hear more about instances of how ordinary and average people have indeed been able to influence history, I recommend "A People's History of the United States" by Howard Zinn. (A book that many arch-conservative types
are happy to ban from libraries and keep people from knowing about.)

I don't know that it makes sense to entirely discount any of these three views on why history unfolds as it does. Obviously,
history is made out of the interaction of each of these three forces. Each is important to varying degrees over the course of time.

It is silly to reduce it down to just one of them, isn't it?

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Re: Alternative History

Post by Dragline » Wed Mar 22, 2017 6:49 pm

BRUTE wrote:brute thinks that humans in power readily abuse the ignorant humans' casual or overt xenophobia for their own purposes. for example, inciting black-hate and mexican-hate helped make marijuana and other drugs illegal, because "mexicans and blacks high on marijuana" were "raping white women". those crimes did not actually occur more often than rapes by white men, and marijuana doesn't make humans aggressive, but it was enough to push through the law. in this case, part of the reasoning was apparently economic, to prevent competition from hemp producers.
Reefer Madness! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sbjHOBJzhb0

You can learn a lot about "the way things were" by watching and reading entertainment vehicles from a particular time period, like the cartoons they used to show in movie theaters prior to the advent of television. But what you are looking for is not really the content or story, but the background fixtures as to what was considered to be "normal" at the time. These had to be accurate to make the story seem credible to its audience.

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