collection of interesting reads to provoke thought and provide fodder for conversation.
Why We Need to Start Seeing the Classical World in Color–A number of fantastic museum shows throughout Europe and the US in recent years have addressed the issue of ancient polychromy. The Gods in Color exhibit travelled the world between 2003–15, after its initial display at the Glyptothek in Munich. (Many of the photos in this essay come from that exhibit, including the famed Caligula bust and the Alexander Sarcophagus.) Digital humanists and archaeologists have played a large part in making those shows possible. In particular, the archaeologist Vinzenz Brinkmann, whose research informed Gods in Color, has done important work, applying various technologies and ultraviolet light to antique statues in order to analyze the minute vestiges of paint on them and then recreate polychrome versions. hyperallergic.com
Reading Thoreau at 200–One of the smaller ironies in my life has been teaching Henry David Thoreau at an Ivy League school for half a century. Asking young people to read Thoreau can make me feel like Victor Frankenstein, waiting for a bolt of lightning: look, it’s moving, it’s alive, it’s alive! Most students are indifferent—they memorize, regurgitate, and move serenely on, untouched. Those bound for Wall Street often yawn or snicker at his call to simplify, to refuse, to resist. Perhaps a third of them react with irritation, shading into hatred. How dare he question the point of property, the meaning of wealth? The smallest contingent, and the most gratifying, are those who wake to his message. theamericanscholar.org
Overdoses now leading cause of death of Americans under 50–Overdoses are now the leading cause of death of Americans under the age of 50. According to preliminary data compiled by The New York Times, deaths last year likely topped 59,000 -- 19 percent more than the year before. www.cbsnews.com
History we don’t teach: Mankato hangings an uneasy topic for MN schools–It's a troubling piece of Minnesota's past: Thirty-eight Dakota men hanged from a Mankato gallows in December 1862. Their deaths scarred generations of native people and cemented Minnesota as home to the largest mass execution in U.S. history.
Despite that infamy, if you're a Minnesotan in your 30s or older, it's likely you were never taught about the hangings — or the prairie war between the United States and the Dakota that led to them. Minnesota didn't require students to study that tragic chapter in the state's history. www.mprnews.org
America Made Me a Feminist–But the American woman is told she can do anything and then is knocked down the moment she proves it. In adapting myself to my new country, my Swedish woman power began to wilt. I joined the women around me who were struggling to do it all and failing miserably. I now have no choice but to pull the word “feminist” out of the dusty drawer and polish it up. www.nytimes.com
The True History of the South Is Not Being Erased–Let’s look at real history. Americans tend to assume that Southern segregation was a “natural” legacy of antebellum slavery. The truth is far more complicated. After the Civil War, the South went through a period of transition—not simply during “Reconstruction” (which ended in about 1877) but for the two decades that followed. There was no overall “system” of separation; gross racism and discrimination existed alongside tentative inter-racial cooperation and political coalition-building. Until the first decade of the twentieth century, black Southerners continued to vote, to serve on juries, and to hold state and local office. The last “first-generation” black member of the U.S. House left office in 1901. www.theatlantic.com
Stop Pretending You’re Not Rich–The rhetoric of “We are the 99 percent” has in fact been dangerously self-serving, allowing people with healthy six-figure incomes to convince themselves that they are somehow in the same economic boat as ordinary Americans, and that it is just the so-called super rich who are to blame for inequality. www.nytimes.com
Michigan Case Adds U.S. Dimension to Debate on Genital Mutilation–As more details emerge about the first-ever charges of female genital mutilation in the United States, the case is opening a window onto a small immigrant community, while stirring impassioned discussion about genital cutting among women who have experienced it.
At a hearing in Michigan this past week, a federal prosecutor said the defendants — two doctors and a clinic manager from a small Shiite Muslim sect — were believed to have arranged cutting for up to 100 girls since 2005. The prosecutor, Sara Woodward, said investigators had so far identified eight girls. www.nytimes.com
Evidence in Gardner Museum thefts that might bear DNA is missing–The trail had been cold for years when the FBI announced in 2010 that it had sent crime scene evidence from the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum to its lab for retesting, hoping advances in DNA analysis would identify the thieves who stole $500 million worth of masterpieces.
But behind the scenes, federal investigators searching for a break in the world’s largest art theft were stymied by another mystery. The duct tape and handcuffs that the thieves had used to restrain the museum’s two security guards — evidence that might, even 27 years after the crime, retain traces of DNA — had disappeared. www.bostonglobe.com