Author Archives: mike

have you got a piece of work….

Have you got some research, a small conclusion, an idea or possibility; some piece of work which isn’t really suitable for the standard journal format? Maybe a piece which doesn’t fit easily in any single discipline? Would you like feedback on an idea you’re struggling with? Would you like to publish this work in a […]

The Architecture of the Cell Phone

For various reasons, too tedious to go into, my wife and I still don’t have cell phones. That puts us in a small minority, the less than 17% of American adults who don’t. The interesting thing about not having cell phones is the perspective it gives you. It’s pretty clear that a new form of […]

Is Elizabeth Warren an Indian?

The question posed above is extremely hard to answer. She doesn’t “look like an indian.” But what do Indians look like? Just to recap: Elizabeth Warren is running for the Senate in Massachusetts. She’s been widely mocked for claiming herself as “native American” at various points in her career. Warren grew up in what’s now […]

“Just Made-up Money”

Part of the recently released video of Mitt Romney talking to wealthy potential donors includes Romney’s answer to a question on the Federal Reserve buying debt. Romney insists that the Federal Reserve is buying most of America’s debt, which isn’t true. But he also says this: So who’s giving us the trillion? And the answer […]

The Pace of Change

The pace of change, declares Jim Roberts of the New York Times, gets faster and faster. I suspect most historians would find that statement s0mewhat irritating. In a basic sense, the pace of change can’t be getting faster, unless time itself is speeding up. People still grow old at the same rate; apples still take the […]

A brief history of American money

The GOP has revived talk of a gold standard. The Wall Street Journal, which nodded approvingly when we went off the gold standard in 1972, now says “realization that America’s system of fiat money is part of its economic problem is moving from the fringes of political discussion to the center.”  There are so many […]

Colored Me

This is the marriage license of my great-great grandfather,  born in Ireland in 1854 and married to a Virginia native in 1884. His race, you’ll notice, is given as “colored.” Since when are Irishmen colored? My father found this when he started doing family history after he retired. We mostly laughed, a lot, when he […]

Going for the Gold

The Republican Party’s 2012 platform calls for the establishment of a “Gold Committee,” to explore ways of returning to the gold standard. It would also call for or conduct an audit of the Federal Reserve. The gold standard has been a favorite hobby of the GOP, off and on, for many years. The last gold […]

The Ego Fountain

Lesser-known DC: the Cogswell Temperance Fountain, an example of how ego paints good intentions with ugliness. Henry Cogswell started adult life as a dentist, in an age when dentistry didn’t require formal credentials, a discomforting fact to contemplate. Born in New England, he took his dental skills to California during the gold rush. Although he […]

The Olympics, Race, and the power of Government

The Olympics send a very clear message, not about individualism, or about race, but about the importance of government. The BBC website offers a nice list of medal rankings by nation. It’s an interesting list, because of what it says about human diversity, race and culture. The US at the moment is ranked second, almost […]