history

Apocalyptomovie backdrop mayan man in front of stepped pyramid

Apocalypto: sacrificial practices, temples, and Mayan writing and math

Criticisms and controversy

So yeah, Mel Gibson is bad. But then the movies are… really good? Trying to get past his framing. The tug of war between historical accuracy and entertainment. Anthropological criticism.

Deciphering history

The problem with burning nearly the entire written history of a people. Deciphering scant ancient texts. The remaining resources: art, stelae. Mayan hieroglyphic writing.

Periods

The Maya pre-classic, classic, and post-cassic periods. The scale of the height of Mayan civilization. The abruptness of its fall. The period in which the film takes place and the ways in which it is not actually entirely apparent. Classic-period pyramids in the post-classic era.

Science and math

The mixing of astronomy and astrology in the Mayan tracking of the heavenly bodies for religious purposes. The Mayan written mathematical system. “Inventing” zero. Extensive calendaring and that whole 2012 kerfuffle.

Civilizational decline

The factors that may have contributed to the Mayan collapse. Plaster and mortar production. Deforestation for fuel.

Aztec/Maya

The possibility for cultural confusion in the film. Aztec and Maya sacrificial practices.

Links

The Case Study of Apocalypto by Richard D Hansen: ResearchGate
Apocalypto by History Buffs: YouTube

Game of Thrones backdrop - Ned Stark on the iron throne, leaning on a sword

Game of Thrones: medieval weaponry, variable winters, and final-season anxiety

The books

Appreciating GRRM. And appreciating him double and triple as the show goes on.

The setting

The middle ages. The “dark ages” and how much is that a misnomer? Magic and dragons stagnating technological progress. Volcanoes beat dragons in rock-paper-scissors. Air force exclusivity. Ancient artillery. Ballistae and Scorpions and the peak of human weaponry until the weaponization of gunpowder.

Winter is coming

Figuring out ways to make the seasons less predictable. Unsatisfying suggestions in axial precession and funny orbits. The possibility of the interplay of biology with climatological processes.

Disappointment and Predictons

Trying to understand, as we reach the conclusion, why the show feels so unsatisfying now. Why every turn of events feels so unearned. Predicting who will get the throne as of “The Last of the Starks.”

Links

Game of Fuckin’ Thrones by Anamanaguchi: YouTube
Nightflyers (SciFi!) & Other Stories by GRRM: iTunes | Amazon

Atlantis Disney movie backdrop

Atlantis: the Silurian hypothesis, ancient language, and updating the drake equation

Myth and history

Getting past the nonsense. The reasonable idea that civilizations have in fact existed and then fallen, without notice by modern study. Rocking Like a Hurricane in the B.C. era.

Human history irl

Humanity circa 10,000 years ago. The beginnings of civilization. Early agriculture. Making beer and eventually bread. How not to make bread by putting beer in the oven. More Rocking Like a Hurricane. Just invent pants, beer, and bread and you’re off to a really solid start. “Why are pants, different than shirts?

The Silurian Hypothesis

The Silurian Hypothesis. Imagining the difference in civilizational detectibility over hundreds of thousands or millions of years. Thinking like ze dolphin. Plastic permanence. Climate impacts written into geology. Radiological evidence.

Proto Indo European

The “Atlantean” conlang. Marc  Okrand and Klingon. Language before language was written down. How we figure out anything about a language from 6500 years ago that is no longer spoken and was never written down.

Links

Atlantis: iTunes | Amazon Prime Video
The Silurian Hypothesis: Would it be possible to detect an industrial civilization in the geological record?: arXiv.org

Q&A #4: Answering your questions and appreciating our friends

You folks asked us a bunch of questions. And we gave a bunch of answers!

I’ll leave the actual Questions and Answers to be listened to in the episode, but we did mention some resources etc which I’ll link below…

Past History coverage

To whet your appetite if you’re as excited as us about the possibility of Decipher History:

Podcasting advice

“Just make stuff!” But then for technical details for other Linux podcasters, my dotfiles (application configurations) are shared openly on Github. Files and scripts relevant specifically to our podcasting are probably all mentioned here.

Free software and licenses

Creative Commons and free software and making the world better by helping more people make their stuff.

Episode image made using:
A Nice Cartoon Guy Filming A Live Marketing Video by Free Clip Art, CC-BY-SA 4.0
Fake Studio by Josh Hallett, CC-BY 2.0

They Shall Not Grow Old backdrop - soldier looking over his shoulder

They Shall Not Grow Old: film restoration, persistance of vision, and vfx

Review

Well, we don’t normally do this sorta thing, but oh man this was so good! What the film is about, how it is about, and why it was so special. Appreciating those who do the best work of making history relatable (cough Dan Carlin cough).

Restoration

Film degradation. Scratching, exposure, shrinkage, physical tearing. The crapshoot that is video frame rates in early 20th century film footage. Crank cameras and gearing and compressed-air constant-framerate cameras. Correcting for all of this and the challenge of bringing it all up to a standard 24 fps.

Film is an illusion

The optical illusion that we perceive as movement on a screen. Persistence of vision. Video framerates and the “refresh rate” of the human eye. Motion interpolation as an offense against art and all things good. Tom Cruise fighting the good fight. Motion interpolation as a really neato technology which is actually really cool when not on by default on new televisions. Motion interpolation in VR or video games.

Academic controversy

Historian types and objections to the “enhancements” introduced by the filmmakers. Art vs education and the importance of relatability. Modernizing history. Colorization. 3d-ification. Finding it hard to complain about digital enhancement and remastering which leaves the original materials untouched.

Links

They Shall Not Grow Screenings (Jan/Feb 2019): Fathom Events
They Shall Not Grow Old (Digital pre-order): YouTube | iTunes
“YOU WON’T BELIEVE YOUR EYES!” by Smarter Every Day: YouTube

Transformers The Last Knight backdrop

Transformers The Last Knight (feat. Jolene Creighton from Futurism) : Episode 129

Stream the movie:
iTunes | Amazon

Transformers The Last Knight

What: Robots fighting, and then a robot planet fighting earth which may also be a robot planet somehow, it’s hard to tell.
Directed by: Michael Bay
Starring: Mark Wahlberg, Anthony Hopkins, Josh Duhamel

Featuring guest co-host
Jolene Creighton headshotJolene Creighton, managing editor at Futurism.com

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Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (feat. Brandon Rollins, Game Designer) : Episode 79

Stream the movie:
iTunes | Amazon

Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure

What: Bill Preston and Ted Logan are two totally excellent dudes facing one most heinous history exam.
Directed by: Stephen Herek
Starring: Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter, George Carlin

Featuring guest co-host
Brandon Rollins
Brandon Rollins, creator of War Co. Expandable Card Game

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Conan the Barbarian backdrop

Conan the Barbarian ’82 (feat. Joe Ruppel, History Nerd) : Episode 70

Stream the movie:
iTunes | Amazon

Conan the Barbarian ’82

What: Arnold is awesome and cuts through a bunch of bad guys on his quest for revenge.
Directed by: John Milius
Starring: Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Earl Jones, Max Von Sydow

Featuring guest co-host
Joe Ruppel PhotoJoe Ruppel, our co-bff

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Island of Dr Moreau (1996) backdrop

The Island of Dr. Moreau (feat. Joe Ruppel, History Nerd) : Episode 62

Stream the movie:
iTunes | Amazon

The Island of Dr Moreau

What: Marlon Brando goes to island, does creepy things to animals
Directed by: John Frankenheimer
Starring: Marlon Brando, Val Kilmer, David Thewlis, Fairuza Balk, Mark Dacascos, Ron Perlman

Featuring guest co-host
Joe Ruppel Photo
Joe Ruppel, history nerd

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The Man From Earth (feat. Adrian Falcone, Nerd) : Episode 41

Stream the movie:
iTunes | Amazon

The Man From Earth

What: One of our favorite movies! A really interesting extended thought experiment.
Directed by: Richard Schenkman
Starring: David Lee Smith, Tony Todd, John Billingsley

Featuring guest co-host
adrian falcone headshot
Adrian Falcone, general-purpose internet nerd

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